Tag Archives: Chelsea

Julian Medina and Pichet Ong Open Cuban Diner Coppelia

Coppelia Cuban Diner

Anything Cuban—music, food, you name it—and I’m there, instantly. Coppelia Diner, a joint venture of famed chefs Pichet Ong and Julian Medina, is a warm casual spot for chowing down on traditional and inventive Cuban and Latin American specialties. And then there are Ong’s fabulous confections to finish off the meal.

I’ve been to Cuba twice and prowled around Little Havana in Miami. In Cuba, with strict rationing, the native cuisine has virtually disappeared except for a handful of “private” restaurants that cater to tourists.

So it’s always with mixed feelings that I approach Cuban food in the U.S. I remember the bare shelves in stores across the island nation. But the name Coppelia Diner–Coppelia’s is a famous ice cream parlor in Havana—grabbed me. So I had to check out this new eatery, open 24/7, to see what Ong and Medina, who also owns Toloache and Yerba Buena, were cooking up.

Inside the vibrantly decorated diner that brightens up a bleak stretch of 14th Street, there’s a long counter and tables and booths. Cuban music plays in the background because, as Ong told me,”of utmost importance to myself—and all of us—is our love for Cuban music.”

Coppelia “is inspired by an old fashioned diner with an ice cream and soda fountain eating counter, as found in Cuba, New York City, and many parts of the world,” Ong explained.

The menu consists of Cuban standards like ropa vieja, eggs and fried plantains, and yucca. But there are also inventive pan-Latin dishes like Chaufa de Mariscos and Peruvian fried rice, with shrimp, tilapia, mussels and tomato salsa, fufu (a root vegetable paste)  and plantain puree.

The desserts are Latin-themed.

“For me, I think New York City needs a place where you can get a fabulous cajeta ice cream sundae, or a slice of carrot manchego cake, at 4am in the morning, with homemade everything,” Ong said.

The first time I was there, Ong handed me a serving of his luscious ice creams and sorbets to taste. Two in particular, salted tamarind and apple mojito sorbet, were nothing short of sublime.

A week later, I returned with my hubby. Our starters were crisp-on-the-outside, succulent on-the-inside ham and cheese empanadas, followed by plump tender quesadilla, stuffed with Chihuahua cheese, turkey, bacon and pico de gallo for $8.95. A Cubano, with roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, also priced at $8.95 was delicious and meaty. I did miss the crunch of real Cuban bread, the kind you find everywhere in Little Havana in Miami. Still, the roll was impeccably fresh and helped meld together the flavors of the meats and cheese.  For dessert, I dug into yet another scoop of the addictive apple mojito sorbet.

Coppelia

207 W. 14th St.

New York, NY

 

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Chelsea: Gluten-free Yucca-Cheese Roll from Big Booty Bread Company Satisfies

Finding something savory, satisfying and gluten-free for a breakfast on the run isn’t always easy. But at the Big Booty Bread Co. on 23rd St, you can get your needs met for a mere $1.75 with the bakery’s crunchy, rich—and gluten-free—cheese-yucca roll.

Pan de Yucca.  Photo: by rhiannondavid via flickr.

Pan de Yucca. Photo: by rhiannondavid via flickr.

Dubbed the “Cheese Rock” by owner Jose Rojas, the treat is is actually pan de yucca, a traditional Colombia bread. It’s made with yucca flour; the white cheese, queso blanco; eggs and butter, Rojas explained.

The roll derives from “a family” recipe, he said. His parents who have owned Don Ricky Colombian Bakery in Elizabeth, New Jersey for over 30 years, have long produced the savory treat.

Big Booty also displays in its simple shop croissants, muffins, cakes and its signature red velvet cup cake.

Big Booty Bread Co.
261 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
212 414 3056

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Cheslea: Tipsy Parson for When You Have a Yen for Almost-Southern

Photo: by PlaysWithFood via flickr.

Photo: by PlaysWithFood via flickr.

New York chefs are on a bit of a southern kick.  Take Tipsy Parson in Chelsea.  It’s almost southern.

Some lapses. The grits aren’t enriched with enough butter and cream. Soft shell crabs should be fried, not sauteed. I didn’t try them, but sauteed soft shells are for wimps or for people who have never set foot in Maryland.

But there’s lots to like:

The pork was amazing, kind of like a southern style monster-size Chinese sparerib. If you’re anti-fat, don’t go there, though.  This 12 oz hunk of maple cured meat  on the bone is really marbled.

The salad with country ham and asparagus was just the right combo for a hot spring night.

The waitress recommended the strawberry shortcake.  We didn’t order it, but I would next time. Instead, we had the Tipsy Parson, a kind of trifle.  It was a nice fruity finish to the meal.

Tipsy Parson
156 9th Av.
212 620 4545

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Great Paella May Be Coming to the Upper West Side

The best news about the authentic and tasty paella served at Socarrat Paella Bar in Chelsea is that it may be traveling uptown.  Our waiter said that the Upper West Side could possibly be in this bar-like restaurant’s future.  That’s a very good thing, given the outstanding quality of food currently offered at the downtown locale.

It’s very hard to find an authentic paella in the U.S.; the one at Socarrat comes as close as any I’ve eaten.  There are several varieties, including a seafood version; one that’s totally vegetarian; and one with pork, chicken, duck and chorizo.

We ordered a classic Socarrat Paella, which consisted of chicken, beef, mussels, clams and green beans. The seafood was cooked so that it was tender and juicy .  But it was the rice that truly blew us away.  It was perfectly seasoned and formed an intensely flavored crunchy crust on the bottom of the paella pan, just like a proper version of the classic dish should.

Don’t go to Socarrat for an intimate dining experience.  Everyone is seated elbow to elbow at a long bar.  The waiter was friendly and eager to answer all questions.

Socarrat Paella Bar
259 W 19th St
(between 7th Ave & 8th Ave)
New York, NY

212 462 1000

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Unsung Salumi is Ordinary

A few weeks ago, we took the advice of Ed Levine, founder of Serious Eats, and traveled to Chelsea to taste the goods at Sumeria Biellese.  “Unsung Salami” is how Levine titled his piece describing the shop for Edible Manhattan.

Maybe we ordered wrong, but the salami heroes in this place should remain undiscovered.  They weren’t anything that we couldn’t have found at nearly any corner deli in the city.  It wasn’t worth the treck to this small drab place on Eighth Avenue.

One item that Levine nailed was the bread.  Spongy doesn’t even begin to describe its doughy consistency.  Still, the roll wasn’t the problem.  The salami was.  Ordinary as ordinary can be.

Salumeria Biellese
376-378 Eidth Ave.
212 736 7376
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