Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New York Travels: Artichoke, Canal Seafood Restaurant, and Duane Reade Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know the reason you're reading this.  You're dying to know how amazing Duane Reade's chocolate chip cookies are, right?  I mean, who hasn't heard of this wonder and wished that they could only be so fortunate as to live near a Duane Reade.  Well, my friends, I am here to save the day.  But first, I just have to get the other minor reviews out of the way.

I have officially begun my internship at Serious Eats and will be assisting them in their community relations and social media marketing efforts.  I am extremely blessed and can't imagine a better job than to make a living eating and talking about eating.  My temporary home is near Gramercy Park which is conveniently situated smack dab in the middle of happy taste bud town.

Case in point.  I was walking to the local CVS and then on to the Verizon Store (so I could get ripped off) when I happened upon Artichoke.  I remembered seeing positive reviews on  Slice and I was hungry (when am I not?) so I decided to step in.  Don't ask me why I thought burning hot pizza sounded good when it was 97 degrees and 99% humidity.  Other people in New York were doing this...

Anyway, I strolled into Artichoke and looked at the menu which consisted of four items:  Margherita, Clam, Artichoke, Sicilian.  I went with the Margherita.  Classic and hard to screw up (although it's possible.)

Here's what it looked like when they handed it to me.

You can tell by the ooziness of the cheese that it's really, really hot.  And indeed, it was.  I burnt my poor tongue and roof of my mouth when I tested the tip to see if I could dive in.  Darnit, I hate having to wait for it to cool when I know it's good!  In the meantime, here was the pizza upskirt.

And then the eating began.  I was really impatient.  The small, volcanically hot bite I had was too much to resist for much longer.  I dove in as carefully as I possibly could.  Mmmmm.  The sauce is fantastic.  It tastes incredibly fresh and is neither too sweet nor too savory as some can be.  And the cheese, well it was fantastico.  It looks a little different - you can see it breaking up in this pictures after I'd had a few...

You know, posting to blogs can be really painful sometimes.  I'm looking at these pictures and now I really need to walk down my five flights of stairs (did I mention I moved into a 5th floor walk up?  I decided I needed it to balance the eating), and then walk a few more blocks over to Artichoke.  The cheese also lived up to its fame.  Salty, chewy, and softly stringy.  And the fresh basil?  Well, that just put it over the top for me.  Sauce, cheese, and basil - win, win, and win.  Unfortunately, the crust was a fail.  It was exceptionally crisp which I wouldn't say is a bad thing.  However, I being a crust person, did not even eat my crust.  It was too thick, too dense, and overcooked.  Maybe a fluke.  I'll have to test it out to see.  Even if it's not I'd still return for the three wins.

So today after work, I decided to take a jaunt down to Chinatown.  It only made sense that I get some Chinese food while I was down there, right?  Especially because I needed to be fed in order to make it home.  So I wandered around and looked for a spot that looked like it was filled with Chinese people.  This place seemed to fit the bill:

And actually, the fact that this was hanging in the window helped convince me.

They also had roasted pig heads and duck heads inside that were popular items.  I decided to spare you the picture in case you have a delicate constitution.  The menu and signs in the restaurant were pretty much all in Chinese which is lovely in terms of decor but unhelpful if you are ignorant in this language.  Fortunately, they also had an English menu.

Not wanting to hold the line up, I ordered based off of the pictures I'd seen outside.  Boring, I know.  Sesame chicken, pork dumplings, and a Diet Coke.  After ten minutes of waiting and head chopping viewing, I picked up my order, hopped on the subway, and then hoofed it up to the 5th floor.  Why did I think the 5th floor walk up was a good idea again?

Here are my unwrapped goods:

I'm not even going to go into detail.  It was not good.  I should have walked the three extra blocks to a restaurant I knew was good.  Ten bucks down the toilet.  Well, actually, in the garbage.  I'll give them a little wiggle room for the fact that I had to schlep it back to my place before eating.  But I'm pretty sure that doesn't fully cover them.

Looks arent' everything.  
Looks can be deceiving.  This chicken looks good, right?  Nope.  It wasn't crispy but a bit gooey.  It required more sesame seeds in my opinion.  And as much as it pains me to say this, Panda Express makes better food than this.

As for my beautiful dumplings?  I've never truly had a dumpling I wouldn't eat.  Until today.  They were thick, dry, and just not good.  I'm so sad.  How do you screw this up?  I couldn't figure it out.  I tried to taste different ones at least in hopes that I'd figure out what went wrong.  I guess I'd have to watch their process.  Either way, they went in the trash.

And now for the piece de resistance - and what you really came here for.

'cause grandma's stuck in traffic

I'll be honest.  I bought these mostly for the packaging.  I thought the quote was hilarious, "cause grandma's stuck in traffic."  Also, the coloring looked such that maybe they really would taste buttery, chewy, and homemade.  My grandma didn't bake chocolate chip cookies so I had to rely on my assumptions here.  
The cookies were indeed soft and chewy.

But, ehhhh (insert buzzer noise) on the grandma reference.  These cookies tasted in no way homemade.  Less chemically than Nabisco's Chewy Chips Ahoy but other than that pretty similar.

I didn't care tonight.  After the Chinatown upset, I needed chocolate.

There's always tomorrow.  Which reminds me, where do you think I should eat?

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza & Brewery on Urbanspoon


  1. I would suggest not ordering American Chinese food at places that cater to real Chinese palettes - your food was bad because they don't often make or sell sesame chicken etc. You need to order the real stuff when you are more familiar and it will be far better and fresher (e.g. some of the stuff in the window) and some veggies on the side).

    Artichoke's pizza is comparatively weak (separated cheese and an unpleasant, thicker crust). Try Motorino etc.

    The cookies look to be from Duane Reade not CVS.

  2. Hi John,

    Right you are on most accounts! I shouldn't post on little sleep. I've fixed my name "whoops." I know I shouldn't have ordered American Chinese - definitely a rookie mistake which I normally know better than. But I'm still surprised about the dumplings.

    I do like Artichoke's pizza still - I'm going to give them another go and see how the crust turns out on take two. I definitely have to try Motorino! I have heard so many great things about them.

  3. Hey Alison,

    I am sure you will find plenty of stuff you love to eat and of course some that you will remember to avoid.

    Hope you are having fun in NYC :)!