Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Lunch in the East Village

I like my Sundays.  I have a routine and I thoroughly enjoy it.  I (try) to go to church.  I get my laundry done (ahh, clean clothes!) and watch Food TV while I'm waiting in between the cycles.  I grocery shop.  I make soup to last me the rest of the week.  And very often, I try out a new place for lunch that I've been reading about during the week.

This Sunday, I decided to try out the Pho Real sandwich at Sunny and Annie's Deli and for dessert, cupcakes at the Butter Lane.

Sunny and Annie's
94 Avenue B
between E 6th and 7th Streets

I've been reading about Sunny and Annie's on Yelp lately.  Almost every reviewer was raving about the Pho Real sandwich.  It was basically all the ingredients of a bowl of pho, minus the noodles and soup, in a sandwich.  The deli is located in a quiet corner of Alphabet City, right around the corner from Tompkins Square Park.  It is an unassuming deli, pretty much looks like any random bodega / deli you would walk by in Manhattan.  The sandwich counter is inside, right behind the cashier.  There are menus pasted onto the glass fronted sandwich counter and menus written on chalkboards behind the sandwich counter.  Take your time to read through them all.  The sandwiches are named after politicians etc.  Rather hilarious.

The Pho Real Sandwich is a roll layered with sliced tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, hoisin sauce, sliced avocado, raw bean sprouts, siracha chili sauce, and freshly-sliced roast beef.  The avocado was perfectly ripe, the crunchy onions and beansprouts served as a perfect foil to the richness of the avocado.  The only letdown was the roast beef.  If you order it 'hot,' it comes with a toasted roll and the roast beef is warmed up.  I was psyched to see them freshly slice the roast beef (Boar's Head) with my order, however, the heating process (microwave?) unfortunately totally overcooked the beef.  I would definitely go with the 'cold' sandwich in future.

Butter Lane
123 E 7th Street
between 1st Avenue and Avenue A

I've heard of Butter Lane before, having walked by it on E 7th Street.  However I was quick to dismiss it as yet another cupcake place.  Then when I was in Singapore earlier this February, I heard from a cousin-in-law that this place is so good she has tried every single flavor (30 or so!?).  So I decided to try it out when I'm back in New York City.  The store is tiny, pretty much a take-out place with a small counter to stand against if you really must eat in the store.  There is a board that shows all the flavors available that day.  The unique thing about Butter Lane is that you can choose whichever frosting that is available to go with whichever cupcake flavor that is available.

I'd read up a little bit on Yelp about this place and since most people seem to rave about the french vanilla frosting, I decided to try that on vanilla cupcake and because I'm such a Reese's fiend, I also decided to try the peanut butter frosting on banana cupcake.

The french vanilla frosting was wonderful.  It was almost like creme chantilly, which is simply lightly sweetened whipped cream.  In this case it was also flavored with visible flecks of vanilla bean.  This frosting was so delicate it seemed to almost begin to melt from the warmth of my hands when I handled the cupcake.  The vanilla cupcake itself was very moist and had that coarse-crumbed home-made quality.  The peanut butter frosting was a less impressive contrast to the french vanilla.  The peanut butter frosting was very sugary and not particularly memorable.  The banana cupcake was moist nonetheless and is a good base to go with another frosting.

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