February 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
Southern cooking has been enjoying a lot of popularity in New York recently, with lots of joints offering up their variations on fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and red velvet cake. Laura and I recently tried Peels on Bowery for brunch, and even though I won’t be able to visit again for a while, I’m pretty sure Laura will be stopping by frequently this semester.
The first floor was very cozy-looking, with a bakery and dessert case displaying various pastries and delicious-looking loaves of bread. It was a bit cramped though, so we were seated upstairs where we were greeted by a beautiful bar and lots of natural light. I’d love to be able to sit at the bar on early Sunday mornings, with a cup of tea (I’ve given up coffee) or brunch cocktail and catch up reading magazines.
Laura ordered the shrimp and grits, with a fried-egg, housemade tasso bacon, and jalapeno grits. The only other time I’ve ever had shrimp and grits was at Riverpark by Tom Colicchio, and these came very, very close. For whatever reason, to me, the Riverpark version had a lot more flavor and spice and a more generous serving of much creamier grits. Initially, I was a bit thrown by the jalapeno flavor in the grits and the tasso sauce was extremely smoky, but the shrimp was perfectly cooked. Plus, I’m as much of an egg slut as anyone else so when Laura sighed with happiness at the first bite, I could only agree with her.
I had the classic biscuits and gravy, but topped with two lusciously poached eggs (told you I couldn’t resist a bit of golden, oozing yolk). The biscuit wasn’t too bland, which is a frequent problem, and studded with mini-pockets of butter, and the sausage gravy was slightly spicy without being too heavy. Mixed with the richness of two egg yolks, it was comfort food nirvana.
So yes, there are a ton of Southern restaurants popping up in New York right now, but as with any other food “trend,” some are better (at times, much better) than others. Granted, I haven’t been able to eat at all these new eateries so maybe I simply don’t know any better, but I’d argue with anyone that Peels is high up on the list, not only because of the great, heartwarming food but also because of the homey atmosphere and friendly service.
Unfortunately, this is my last winter-break/NYC post for the time being and I don’t know when I’ll visit the Big Apple next. On the plus side, I have promised myself to try new recipes this semester (my mom gifted me a Le Creuset dutch oven for Christmas so definitely using that!) so I’ll be keeping you posted on future kitchen successes (and disasters).
New York, NY 10003