Monday, May 31, 2010
Happy Memorial Day everyone. We didn't go out of town or even attend any BBQ's this year, instead we spent a lot of time in the park with Bella and just took the time to go to some places we'd been wanting to check out, including Foodswings in Williamsburg and Counter in the East Village. So I have one good review and one not so good review to share with you. Aren't you on the edge of your seats now, knuckles white from gripping your chair in suspense?
Here's a hint: Foodswings is AWESOME. Those little gems you are looking at are the "drumsticks." We tried one of each flavor: Buffalo Style, BBQ, Southern Fried, and Sweet Southern Fried BBQ. Asking me which one I liked best would be like asking someone which one of their children they love the most. These are moist and juicy, and the texture was almost frighteningly realistic, but the different sauces (vegan blue cheese, BBQ, and what I think was a honey mustard) really put them over the top and are very literally finger-licking good. Look, I've eaten plenty of gourmet and fancy food, but I'm going to say that these are one of the best things I've ever had. If I'm not being clear here, they're REALLY REALLY GOOD.
Oh yeah, we also had a breaded chick'n cutlet sandwich, with soy bacon and ranch dressing, which was also crazy good, but after eating the drumsticks everything else kind of pales in comparison. The sandwich was really juicy and flavorful though, and their fries were perfection.
This is a very casual place, but everything is vegan and from what we can tell, really delicious. This isn't health food, people, but it's vegan fast (junk) food at its finest. It's a good thing for my waistline that we don't live close enough to eat here more often, but I'm already anticipating an excuse to head back over to W'burg for another round.
Which takes us to our second restaurant visit this weekend, which I'm not so enthusiastic about. This is the first time I'm giving a negative review on my site, and I feel bad about it, but I have to be honest. Counter was not very good.
We ordered from the brunch menu and my first complaint is that although they have several vegan options, they are not clearly labeled on the menu. So you end up having to ask which dishes are vegan and which are not. I asked if the frittata was vegan (it was) but our server said "yeah, yeah" as if it should have been obvious, but when they also serve real eggs on their menu, it's not at all obvious that the frittata would be vegan. We settled on an order of the french toast (again, vegan but not labeled on the menu as such) and the veggie burger.
The french toast wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either, and for $12 it should have been great. As you can see, it came plain, without any fruit or even garnish for that matter. And now that I'm looking again at their menu online, it should have come with fruit. On top of that, the bread was mostly dry and way too thickly cut. The side of hashbrowns that we ordered, though, were pretty good, although the homemade ketchup that we got with them was bland and had a strange aftertaste.
I was so excited when the burger came because it looked fantastic, but was disappointing. Again, the bread was really dry and also far too thick. After a couple bites, I ended up taking the top off and eating the rest of it open-faced. The burger itself was described as a mix of mushrooms and homemade seitan, which made me think it would be really savory and meaty, but sadly it was also dry, grainy, and somewhat crumbly. It honestly reminded me of that veggie burger mix you get from a box. The fries that came with it were nicely spiced, but slightly on the greasy/soggy side instead of being crispy. It didn't taste horrible, but again, it was a whopping $16 and for that much, I expect a lot more!
Counter is a really cute, bistro-style place with such a tantalizing menu that just doesn't live up to expectations. That, on top of being overpriced, is a bad combination. I'm willing (and lucky to be able) to pay more for food that is organic, fresh, local, and high quality, but I don't think I'll be spending my money again at Counter. With so many other great vegan places, especially in the East Village in Counter's proximity, there's no need to be disappointed with your meal.
295 Grand St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
105 First Ave.
NY, NY 10003