05.07.2012
By Terry Flanagan

City Guide: Dine Out in NYC and Chicago

You know the feeling: springtime rains abound, the cold won’t go away (and it’s May), and you’re absolutely ravenous for comfort food, and in this rain no sandwich, salad, or artfully arranged trendy dish will do. Today’s City Guide hones in on places that will fill you, warm you, and help you settle in till May’s flowers finally arrive.

New York’s best ramen: hand-pulled noodles with silky, savory pork broth at Ippudo.

CHICAGO

1. Blokes & Birds Public House. That’s right, it’s an unabashedly English pub. A fantastic one, with a welcoming, wood-laden interior made all the better by the massive international beer list. Menu choices include baked mac ‘n cheese, black pudding with sautéed apples, a lamb burger, and of course, classic Brit fare such as shepherd’s pie, fish ‘n chips, and the most popular dish in the U.K.: chicken tikka masala. Should you go, the Sam Smith Nut Brown Ale is a must-have beer to go with shepherd’s pie. 3343 North Clark Street, Chicago | blokesandbirdschicago.com

2. Slurping Turtle. This isn’t the ramen you had in college. Made the traditional Japanese way (some have called ramen “Japan’s soul food”), this noodle soup is made by simmering a house-made silky broth in pork for hours, seasoning it and then simmering for even longer, and then, upon serving adding superlatively tender hunks of pork, freshly made noodles, a poached egg, seaweed, and spring onions on top, amongst other things. For a fancier option, check out Slurping Turtle’s higher-end sister restaurant, Takashi. 116 West Hubbard Street, Chicago | slurpingturtle.com

3. Chicago Q. Ah, good ol’ American barbecue. There are very few occasions in which it doesn’t satisfy, and you can well expect us to write about BBQ as a great summer food option, too. In Chicago’s Gold Coast, this restaurant sits atop the list for its upscale, more artisanal take on smoky meats: chefs begin smoking Kobe beef early in the morning, every day. If you’re unsure where to begin in the menu, try their “BBq flight”, which samples their house-smoked Kobe beef, pulled pork, and pulled chicken. 1160 North Dearborn Street, Chicago | chicagoqrestaurant.com

NEW YORK

1. Clinton Street Baking Company. Craving breakfast at any time of day or evening, but don’t want to go to just any diner for warmed-over short stacks and slightly sloppy sides? This Lower East Side restaurant is your best bet, with the best pancakes in the city, done with a uniquely authentic touch. Musts here include pancakes with warm maple butter (choose from blueberry, banana walnut, chocolate chunk, or plain), their buttermilk biscuits with bacon, and huevos rancheros with chorizo…or anything on their all-day breakfast menu, really. 4 Clinton Street, Lower East Side | clintonstreetbaking.com

2. Tea & Sympathy. Found on a small stretch of Greenwich Avenue known by some as “Little Britain”, this tiny, kitschy nook of a restaurant serves up the best of hearty, homestyle U.K. fare. Some of this writer’s favorites include Guinness steak pie and bangers and mash; hang around for dessert, order a pot of hot tea from their vast selection (chocolate and vanilla tea is to die for), and have it with either sticky toffee pudding or treacle pudding. If you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood on an unusually chilly spring afternoon, drop in for their Tea for Two ($66 for a ton of small sandwiches, scones, and other treats, plus a pot of tea each, your choice). 108 Greenwich Avenue, West Village | teaandsympathynewyork.com

3. Ippudo. Brave the cold and the sometimes hour-long waits at this acclaimed ramen restaurant. Considered by many to be the best ramen in New York (with Momofuku Noodle Bar a close second), Ippudo’s meltingly savory broths, tender chunks of seasoned pork, and house-made, hand-pulled noodles are sure to win over any diner, whether they be a ramen expert or a ramen newbie (have the Shiromaru Hakata Classic ramen or their spicier Akamaru Modern) . While you’re waiting for your table at the bar, order some Sapporo beer and a plate of their hot pork buns (and perhaps a shot of cold sake–not hot, as hot sake tends to be served by most establishments as such to mask lesser quality sakes). When you’re finally seated, take in the congenial atmosphere, and be sure to greet the staff as they all shout together to welcome you. 65 4th Avenue, East Village | ippudony.com

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