Showing posts with label Eighth Street. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eighth Street. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New in New York: Populence and Pop Karma Make a Crop Pop

Delicious popcorn at the New in New York popcorn venue Pop Karma
By Mitch Broder

For Porcini Cheddar popcorn, you want the East Side. For Three Cheese popcorn, you want the West Side. Then again, for Pumpkin Spice popcorn, you want the West Side, whereas for Bacon Apple Bourbon Caramel popcorn, you want the East Side.

It could have been simple. But nothing ever is. So the popcorn department of your life just got complicated. Through what you’d have to call karmic opulence, New York has just furnished you with two new popcorn shops — Pop Karma and Populence.

Visit the New in New York Populence

Each is a little place run by a woman inspired by corn. Both popped up at practically the same time, though apparently by coincidence. Each offers popcorn in flavors that you don’t get in cellophane bags. Both sell popcorn with a conviction that it will make you happy and healthy.

Pick your popcorn flavor at Pop Karma

So take your pick. Or don’t, for if you love popcorn, you’ll want to try both. They’ve made themselves just different enough so that you have no choice.

The menu at this New in New York establishment makes your mouth water
Populence, in the West Village, is run by Maggie Paulus, whose very life was essentially launched by popcorn. “My dad proposed to my mom with a ring in a Cracker Jack box,” she told me. “So growing up, popcorn was always associated with something fun.”

Pop Karma, on the Lower East Side, is run by Jean Tsai, who wants to inspire you in much the same way that popcorn inspired her. On the chalkboard outside her store, she puts inspiring quotes like Herbert Spencer’s “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.”

A white board of popcorn goodness at the New in New York Pop Karma
Populence carries six flavors at a time — usually three sweet and three savory. The top sellers have been Salted Caramel, Sun-dried Tomato, and Jalapeño Cheddar. There’s also Kettle Corn, Ginger Caramel, Garlic Rosemary, Real Raspberry, and Sweet Cinnamon. Salted Caramel could count as sweet and savory.

Pop Karma carries six flavors at a time — usually three “classic” and three seasonal. The classic are Caramel, Mediterranean, and Zen Cheddar. The seasonal have included Barbecue, Margarita, and White Truffle Cheddar, and now include Za’atar, which is described as “a visit to a Middle Eastern souk.”

The Populence Web site says: “Our artisanal method of creating cornfections involves small batches of heirloom popcorn combined with the finest whole ingredients.”

The Pop Karma Web site says: “Our ingredients lists are minimal since we source the best food possible from responsible, sustainable producers.”

It’s close, but I have to give that round to Populence, because of “cornfections,” and in spite of “heirloom.”

Don't stop with just a days worth of popcorn, bring a bucket of Populence home with you

Maggie and Jean, of course, are not the first to have popcorn stores in New York, regardless of which one of them thought of having one first. Awhile ago, Times Square had a store called Popcorn, Indiana. In the eighties, the Upper East Side had Jack’s Corn Crib. The Jack was Jack Klugman.

Those are gone, of course. But they were chains. Pop Karma and Populence aren’t. Yet. And their owners both seem devoted to their products and their neighborhoods.

As the Pop Karma Web site puts it: “Kind words and kind actions inspire a beautiful day. A lifetime of beautiful days is a work of art. Live it.”

A good sign is an imperative for any New in New York establishment

Pop into Populence, at 1West Eighth Street, and Pop Karma, at 95 Orchard Street, in New York City.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vintage New York Presents: The Great Joints of New York City

Big Nick's Burger Joint is a great place for some casual dining in New York City.
By Mitch Broder

You can always get out of a joint — unless, of course, it's the joint.

But you can't always find a Joint, unless you bone up on your Joints.

New York just got its latest Joint, Sticky's Finger Joint, which is a great joint if you happen to like Joints that have fingers. But in its Jointhood, it is a rarity: New York is not crawling with Joints. It has little more than a handful, and they're not exactly hip joints.

Here, nonetheless, is a gallery of Manhattan's best-known Joints. I won't be surprised if I've missed a couple. Joints are just the sort of thing you blow.

Maybe you'd rather Big Nick's Pizza Joint to get a taste of traditional New York City Pizza

Above is Big Nick's Pizza Joint, which is to the left of Big Nick's Burger Joint, which is shown at the top. The joints are on Broadway near 77th Street. I took these pictures on February 22nd, the day that Big Nick celebrated his golden anniversary by selling burgers for sixty cents. The enormous lines alarmed passersby.

Big Nick's Burger Joint & Pizza Joint Too combines the best of dining in New York City, but is no longer owned by Big Nick.

While Big Nick also founded Big Nick's Burger Joint & Pizza Joint Too, he no longer owns it, though it still acts as if he does. It's on 71st Street at Columbus Avenue. When I took this picture, its burgers were $6.75, and there were no lines.

Paul's Da Burger Joint is another great place for casual Dining in New York

Paul's Da Burger Joint, on Second Avenue near St. Mark's Place, has long claimed to have the best burger in the city. Either way, it has one of the best fake burgers in the city, and it's next to Gem Spa, which has long claimed to have the best egg cream in the city.

Joint hunters shouldn't miss the Burger Joint which is a place for dining in New York that is tucked behind Le Parker Meridien

Behind a great curtain at Le Parker Meridien is the somewhat secret Burger Joint, whose only signage is a neon burger and the jaunty poster you see here. The hotel is fancy; the joint is a dump. That's the irony. Find it on 56th Street between Sixth and Seventh.

Vegetarian joint lovers will have one less joint to frequent as Kate's Joint has now closed down

Clearly, joints are for meat, except in the case of Kate's — which may be why her joint, on Avenue B at Fourth Street, shut down last week. Kate Halpern's "vegetarian diner" sold things like Buffalo Unchicken Wings and the Not Reuben Sandwich. At the end, Kate was thinking of adding some meat. Maybe she just should have changed the name.

Sticky's Finger Joint is casual New York City dining at it's finest

Tell me if you know of another Joint. Just don't get yourself out of joint.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New in New York: It's Time to Take a Dip at Sticky's Finger Joint

The New in New York Sticky's Finger Joint

By Mitch Broder

I believe that Paul gave me his candy fries to shut me up.

If nothing else, the guy knows how to work his crowd.

But he does know something else: He knows how to perk up a finger. This explains why he has opened a place called Sticky’s Finger Joint.

Casual dining in New York will never be the same with Sticky Finger's like these.
These are my fingers. Above, the guy standing up is Paul.
It’s as good an explanation as any, and I didn’t press him because he was busy and because his candy fries really did grab most of my attention. They were the Okinawa Purple Sweet Potatoes Drizzled with Honey and Glitterbanged with Pecan Coconut Glitter. Per his plan, they made me less inclined to ask anything.

What's a good chicken finger without fries and this New in New York establishment has some tasty fries.
Paul Abrahamian has taken his potatoes and his chicken, not to mention his chocolate-chip sauce, and created an all-finger restaurant. Actually, he created a sign. The store took months to open. I’d have gotten the details if I hadn’t been preoccupied with his Creamy Pineapple Mint Slaw.

Paul is just a guy who can’t sit still, at least not while he’s trying to get his fingers in your face. So he made me a tantalizing lunch, sat with me briefly, gave me a fist knock, and disappeared into the kitchen, secure that his chicken would speak for itself.

It was eloquent. I had The Wasabi Finger, crunchy with zesty panko. It made me weep, though that was because I can’t tolerate wasabi. I had The Southern Finger, crunchy with fried-chicken batter. It had a buttermilk-ranch dressing described as “secret,” which I know means “healthful.” I had The Lemon Lime Candied Rind Finger, which was grilled and thus not crunchy, but candied enough so that I didn’t notice.

Step right up to the menu and begin dining in New York at this New in New York chicken finger restaurant
Along with these, I had the fries, the tastiest I can remember, and the pineapple slaw, which confirmed that what other slaws are missing is pineapple. I also had the Strawberry Slurp, which tasted like strawberries and yet didn’t clash with the lemon, the lime, the honey, or the pecan coconut glitter.

It was an unlikely meal, yet not as unlikely as it might have been. For one thing, I didn’t try the chocolate-chip barbecue sauce. And alternate fingers include The Pecoconut, The General Sticky Tso, The Salted Caramel Finger, The Pepperjack Flauta Finger, and The Buffalo Balsamic Maple Finger.

You get three of most fingers for $9, and three make a meal, particularly when you add a side order and a drink for $5. Other side orders include the Green Bean Fries and the Idaho Truffle Fries, which are “Glitterbanged With Lemon Pepper Glitter.” Sticky’s introduced me to glitterbanging.

Sticky Finger's Joint Robot mascotPaul was undoubtedly up to his hips in glitter, but he gave me the Sticky’s Finger Joint backstory thumbnail. He calls himself a “serial entrepreneur.” His last hit was a tech start-up in China. “Things weren’t working out so well, so I turned to my love of food,” he said. “I looked at the market and saw that there really wasn’t an option for fast-casual chicken.”

New in New York the restaurant may be, but this is the Sticky's Finger Joint vintage TV.You could argue that point, especially since there’s already a finger chain called Raising Cane’s. But it’s not in New York, and it wouldn’t recognize glitter if it got banged with it. Paul teamed up with Jonathan Sherman, whose father had worked for the Bojangles’ chicken chain, to build what he hopes will be a chicken chain for the cheeky.

Bojangles, of course, was a dancer. Sticky is a robot. The other thing Paul has a love of, besides food, is robots. So Sticky became the symbol of Sticky’s, and robot retro rules. On the counter is a red Panasonic TV that broadcasts snow.

Sticky’s isn’t exactly a comfy place. It’s set up mostly for take-out, its few seats are metal, and its few tables are down at your knees. But people still party there, because furniture doesn’t matter when you’re with friends and you’ve got the latest food. And half of it tastes like dessert.

Do some dining in New York at Sticky Fingers Joint.

Get stuck on Sticky’s Finger Joint, 31 West Eighth Street, at MacDougal Street, in New York City.