Posts Tagged With: Cull & Pistol

Chelsea Lately – 2018

Miznon CauliflowerIts that time of the year, readers.  When I dissect piece by piece this tourist trap in Chelsea we call the Chelsea Market.  Did I get your attention now?  “Tourist Trap”, a term used often when you read reviews about ultra touristy establishments.  “Migrane” is something you get when you read what others have to say about something you know and love.  “Himalayan Meditation Retreats” is what you Google three months after you open a restaurant in NYC.

But I suppose every touristy restaurant on the planet can be and will be called a Tourist Trap by visitors from all over, who fail to capitalize on the establishment’s full potential.  After all, I just called such market in Madrid, and I have a very hard time believing otherwise.  But there are two very important ingredients missing in Chelsea Market in order to quality as a Tourist Trap.  Mediocre food, and lack of local interest.  Make it knowledgeable local interest like the Chowhounds who know NYC food scene better than anyone

Food courts are popping all over the US like presidential tweets.  NYC alone has around 20 of them.  And due to that vastness you keep seeing some of the same generic names in many of them.  Like food trucks that keep multiplying, selling the same items all over the city.  They are there more for convenience rather than destinations.  What makes CM different is that its not loaded with the usual suspects, but vendors who call CM their only home.  Why?  Well, mainly due to the fame and foot traffic that comes with it.  I just dont recall CM being as culinary rich when mostly locals used to go there.

Miznon

Miznon

But Chelsea Market is soooo crowded, you say.  Well yeah!  But its really the cramped former Nabisco factory space that is the main culprit.  Its a pita smack in the face as soon as you walk in, and some cant wait to come out from the other side (10th ave).  But if you do, at least check out the pictures on the right near the 10th ave exit where you’ll see the old factory and a picture of the last west side cowboy with his flag down.  Before the High Line rails got elevated, these cowboys rode before the trains on “Death Ave” waving their flags as a signal for the coming trains.

But if you opt to stay for a while and you like to eat, deliciousness awaits… and seats!  When you start branching out of the main hall you will discover that CM is not as crowded as it seems and you can sit down.  Here’s a list of items I would target.  Its a nice mix of items for pescatarians, vegetarians, carnivores, and even pediatricians.  I would pick about 3-5 items of the list (to share with your special someone(s)), allow 90 minutes, and perhaps walk it off on the High Line after or during.

Hummus at Dizengoff – You are not there just for the Hummus, but the entire package. The hummus with the rotating toppings (right now they got a good looking Sabich – egg, eggplant, Amba combination on the board), the pita, the Salatim, and homemade Z’hug.  This is a a nice light option to share.

Dizengoff Hummus

Cauliflower at Miznon – Its a simple roasted cauliflower, but delightfully salty and quite delicious.  You can bring that to Dezengoff and start eating it there while you wait for you Hummus.  Though there’s something about eating inside Miznon.  Like stepping into a Tel Aviv fast food joint.  If you skip Dizengoff, share a pita sandwich here.  I’m partial to the veggie combos

Cumin Lamb at Very Fresh Noodles – If I have to pick one item in the entire market, this is probably it.  It doesnt get as spicy as Xi’an Famous but what it lacks in heat, it gains in flavor.  This is the only place where I struggled with seats in the past, but they now added counter seating facing the “Biang Bianging!”, and there are usually seats.  The Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup is another hit

Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Saxelby Cheesemongers – A good excuse to go downstairs and escape the selfie sticks of the main hall.  While you wait for your sandwich, sample some hot sauces at the shop next door.  I’m partial to the Bronx sauce.

Double Cheeseburger at Creamline – If you are coming from another country, and have this thing called “American Burger” on your list, this is as good as it gets in NYC for this price range.  To me it beats Shake Shack, from the bun, beef, and the optional egg which you should add.  I also like the choc milk here, and Turkey burger

Creamline Burger

Hot Dog at Dickson’s Farmstand – A very solid hot dog. Or for something perhaps a bit more tangy and tingly…  Paprika or Kaese Currywurst from Berlin Currywurst.  If you never had a proper hot dog, go for the former.  If you did, do the latter (yes, add some spicy sauce, at least on the side)

Adobada Taco at Los Tacos #1 – The Shawarma of the south. Well it did come originally from Arab immigrants in Mexico.  This is a quick delicious snack you eat standing up.  Or/And get a Fish Tacos at Los Mariscos to at least earn that secret bathroom visit.  Yes, a bathroom with no lines.  When standing on that line to Los Tacos, look left for the Los Mariscos entrance.

Los Mariscos Tacos

The Splurges….

Lobster Roll at Cull & Pistol – This is one of my overall NYC faves.  Owned by the Lobster Place so everything comes from next door, the city’s top fishmongers.  Ignore confusing old reviews by Infatuation.  The lobster roll at $29, is one of the most expensive in town, though you will not find a lobster below $25 at any full service.  And yes, they are this tiny everywhere, and most not quite as good.

Sushi at Lobster Place – Its my go to place for Chirashi bowl.  I also buy Salmon burgers here to grill later.

For Dessert….

Halvah from See & Mill – Especially for those who never had Halvah.  Try it with their ice cream as well

Cherry pie at Sarabeth’s bakery.  A classic!

Gelato at L’Arte del Gelato – Or for something a little more interesting, explore the High Line and area head to Gelato Giusto on 9th.  Owner Lorenzo from Milan is like a sorbet wizard but knows his Gelato as well

Cull & Pistol Lobster

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5 Destination Sandwiches

Cull & Pistol LobsterA post about Sandwiches!  How exciting!  John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich (Kent county, England) must be rolling (the dice) in his grave.  After all, he was the one that asked his servants to bring him something, perhaps meat, between two pieces of bread, so he could hold in one hand and not interrupt his gambling.  After a while, town residents started flocking to the same shop asking for “give me same as Sandwich”.  Yes, the sandwich was invented by someone who thought eating was a waste of time.  Granted, 250 years before the invention of the Fuku.

Sandwiches in general rarely excite.  They can be good or decent, but rarely you get that ‘Ratatouille Moment’ that makes you forget where you are and maybe even wet yourself a little.  Well, bring your diapers to this journey, as we are about to change all that.  I’m talking about a thrill, as in reaching for something in your bag and finding half a cookie you were saving for your spouse but forget to give her kind of thrill.  Looking at “Best of” lists out there, I see an army of sandwiches that frankly dont sound very interesting (chicken parm, Italian, BLT).  Sure they can be satisfying, but I wouldnt go out of my way for a nicely crafted club sandwich.  These 5 on the other hand, are worthy of a subway ride across town, and dont appear on many lists for various reasons.

Roberto Tuesday at City Sandwich – This Hell’s Kitchen Sandwich Award post looks extremely odd without the mention of only the best sandwich in the area.  Most likely I havent discovered it in time.  Slow roasted, delicious pork combined with salty Portuguese Bacon, jalapenos, sauteed onions and fresh spinach.  All in that top notch signature Portuguese baguette that makes us go back to City Sandwich even on non-Tuesdays.  649 9th Ave (45/46 Hell’s Kitchen)City Sandwich Roberto

Lobster Press at Lobster Press (The Pennsy) – We need another food hall like we need another food hall.  Yes it’s officially an expression now that we have as many food halls as pharmacies.  But the brand new Pennsy, with only about 6 high end celebrity chef filled hall is quiet different.  Marc Forgione’s Lobster Press may not have the biggest line in the room, but his Lobster Press, a Panini like pressed lobster sandwich may be the best sandwich in the neighborhood.  More like a lobster salad with plenty of chunky lobster aided by a tangy lobster chili sauce.  Try it with cheese or without.  2 Pennsylvania Plaza (Midtown West)Lobster Press Pennsy

Pop’s Pastrami at Harry and Ida’s – The only sandwich spot on the Z-List says something about this place (My wallet says:  slow down pal, I’m no PayPal).  Something tells me there are 2 or 3 sandwiches here that could have made this list (my money would go on the pastrami dog, and smoked eel).  But I’ve only had this marvelous pastrami sandwich loaded with think, beautifully spiced, juicy slabs of pastrami with buttermilk fermented cucumbers, dill and mustard.  An  homage to papa Harry’s original.  189 Avenue A (E. 12.  Alphabet City)Harry & Ida's Pastrami

Porchetta at Porchetta – This is one of those situations where describing the making process may lead a stranded web surfer who came here accidentally to choke on his own vomit.  There are various ways of making Porchetta (Porketa) but generally it involves a whole pig, deboned, and stuffed with heart, liver (hungry yet?), and other parts you didn’t know exist.  Along with a heavy hand of herbs, and spices, its then rolled, tied up, and slow roasted for hours before slicing for sandwich use.  I’ve had it in classier joints that I didn’t enjoy as much, and in Italy.  Here, the simple Porchetta in a Ciabatta is the real deal.  Although the ciabatta isn’t arriving from Sullivan St Bakery anymore, it’s still holds its own.  110 E 7th (A/1st Est VillagePorchetta East Village

Lobster Roll at Cull & Pistol – There are lobster rolls, and then there are lobster rolls.  See the difference?  There’s no shortage of lobster rolls around town these days but around 90% of them carry very little value, and wont fill you up.  This one will.  A hefty amount of mouthwatering, sweet claw meat is stuffed into a toasted bun, served along with excellent skinny fries.  I prefer the Connecticut style, here at least, warm with a little bit of Mayo.  Yes its $27, but at least you get a complete meal out of it.  Chelsea market (Chelsea).  Pictured at the top

Bonus Pick:

The Koreano at Fuku – This one is growing on me.  A Chick-fil-A inspired David Chang creation.  Fried to perfection, habanero marinated, buttermilk coated, and spiced some more thigh meat with cucumbers inside a rather simple potato roll that’s pretty much served as holder.  The off menu Koreano adds pickled Daikon to the mix which adds more layers to the flavor profile.  163 1st Avenue (E 10th.  East Village)Fuku Koreano

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Cull & Pistol – Escape the Room

Cull & Pistol LobsterWhen we were done with our meal at Cull & Pistol the other day, right before we stepped out, we paused for a few seconds.  “Its like a scene from the walking dead out there” I told the hostess who nodded nervously, almost as if she was saying, “I hope you got the proper protection”.  I did not.  I never do.  We felt safe inside, but out there they were in large numbers, walking gingerly and awkwardly in one direction, some even salivating.  And before the hostess had a chance to call the manager, we had no choice but leave.  And there we were again walking among them, slowly, in the same direction, toward the same goal… ice cream.  Five minutes into the walk, we only made it to Lobster Place next door.  We reminisced about the meal we had five minutes ago.

Cull & Pistol is more than just an oasis in this lobster, taco, zombie, Chelsea Market frenzy.  And its not exactly a new-comer to EWZ.  I already blogged about it here, and here.  I can’t even update the latter ‘here’, because I visit C&P or sister Lobster Place on just about every Chelsea Market visit these days, including three visits in the last 4 weeks.  Why?  its the fresh seafood stupid (Its just an American expression, I’m not calling any of my readers stupid, again)

What I like at Cull and Pistol doesn’t really matter much, because chances are, unless its lobster or fish and chips, it wont be on the menu by the time you visit.  The menu is not only seasonal, changes based on sister Lobster Places availability, but also benefits from a chef with a menu OCD.  One of my favorite chefs on the planet suffers from a menu OCD – a chef that will ride the hot stuff, but also likes to dare, experiment and invent.

Cull & Pistol

If you have to pick just one lobster roll in NYC, this is it.  To me around 90% of the lobster rolls out there carry very little value, and are as filling as a Doritos snack.  A very expensive snack.  C&P stuffs theirs with a lot love – sweet, juicy, claw meat kind of love.  And they pair it with excellent almost shoestring fries (though a little bit less salt please).  Another must for me as of late is the Spanish/Portuguese octopus.  A few weeks ago it was a Portuguese beauty that came with a porky and veggy mix of some sort.  One of the best octopus dishes I’ve had in NYC.  Nowadays, its a heftier Spanish stallion, simply paprika’d, and served with crispy fingerling potato.

The highlight from the last meal was four Ecuadorian head-on shrimp baked with tarragon-vermouth salt.  They were huge, sweet, and missing the funkiness/fishiness of similarly sized gulf shrimp.  Oysters and happy hour always one of the main draws.  Yesterday I grilled their succulent salmon burgers which are on the menu and can be purchased next door.  Two nights before we sauteed their excellent garlic shrimp and served over pasta.  Another hit on the current menu is the whole Dourade fried Thai style with mango, coconut, Thai basil, cucumber, chili, mint and fish sauce on the side.  I found this more expertly done than in some Thai places where the fish is often dry and overcooked.

Great drinks is the norm, outstanding chocolate mousse for dessert.  One of my NYC favorites at the moment.

Cull & Pistol
75 Ninth Ave (Chelsea Market)
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Lobster Roll, Octopus, Shrimp, Thai style Dourade, Salmon Burgers

Cull & Pistol Shrimp Cull & Pistol Octopus Cull & Pistol Mousse Cull & Pistol lobster RollCull & Pistol Dourade

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Great Vietnamese Combo at Cull & Pistol

Cull & Pistol Lobster PhoIt hit me, like the sharp dressed man, missing a step, stumbling on the steps of the subway today, that I havent been to Chelsea Market since spring.

But lets stay with the stumbler for just a minute.  Have you ever stumbled while walking and decided that its the perfect opportunity to start jogging so to avoid the embarrassment of stumbling.  That doesnt work very well sometimes, especially if you are wearing heels, or a suit.  The frontal balding stumbler this morning, wearing a sharp black suit, holding a suitcase in one hand and a bag in the other, stumbled on the next to last step coming off the subway into street level.  But he’s waaaay to proud to stumble.  The folks behind him, me included watched in horror as he tries to regain his balance by stumbling and pretty much jogging his way into a full blown puddle after refusing to go down initially.  I admire the baldy’s perseverance and technique but a quick fall would have been far more graceful.  His entire right leg along with the $800 Salvatore Ferragamo shoes was inside a puddle on a beautiful sunny day.  I dont know about you but this is why I go to work.

I also go to work to eat, and this week has proven very interesting so far.  I came to Cull & Pistol looking for more Uni Tagliatelle (below) but instead I got back to back visits eating some of the best Banh Mi and Pho I’ve had in NYC.  Introduced just this Friday as part of a new Fall menu.

Swordfish sandwich was simply outstanding.  Hoisin glazed, moist, meaty Swordish, pickled carrots, ginger aioli in a nice warm baguette.  Swordish is a tough fish, and I normally try to avoid after having one too many dry ones.  But this preparation nailed it.

Cull & Pistol Banh Mi

Lobster Pho the next day was even better.  Lobster stock with vermicelli, lobster and hake chunks, mussels, with strong lemongrass action.  It was served with a plate of condiments that included coriander, basil, and mint leaves.  I turned possessed while eating this thing, like eating after a fast.

Cull and Pistol, is quite possibly Chelsea Markets biggest gem, somewhat hidden.  Its owned by the same team that owns Lobster Place next door, and so they share some of the same fresh seafood.  In addition to the fantastic squid ink Taglietelle with Uni you also have a hefty lobster roll with fries, fish and chips, and the scrumptious Long Island Clam Toast with ham from Disckson’s a few doors down.

Check it out.  Just watch your step.  And try not to open the main door unless you dont mind suddenly turning into a door man waiting for an entire polish tour group to walk in.  Just let someone else open the door for you

Cull and Pistol Tagliatelle Cull and Pistol Clam Toast Cull and Pistol Fish and Chips Cull and Pistol Lobster Roll Cull and Pistol Counter

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