Three restaurants, three boroughs, three days

Must Try

By Randee Dawn,

October, November, December. As the year winds down, we all start eating, and eating, and eating. Think about it: Halloween = candy. Thanksgiving = turkey, turkey coma. Hanukkah/Christmas = the works plus candy. And in my case, throw a birthday in there, plus a visit from relatives (in which my husband and I just had to show them some amazing food joints), and you’ve got a recipe for pigging out.

No wonder we all go on diets in January!

Still, it’s been fun thus far and will continue to be so for the next few weeks, until the piper must be paid. In the meanwhile, I wanted to share a few of the hot spots I hit with my loved ones in the past 72 hours, visits that turned out to be a tour of three of New York City’s boroughs and some of the best food they had to offer!

Friday: The Honorary Birthday Dinner

Gotham Bar and Grill

Location: Gotham Bar and Grill (12 E. 12th Street, New York City)

Eaten: Roasted Cauliflower Risotto, Whole Roasted Maine Lobster, Pumpkin Cheesecake (me); Cold Smoked Tasmanian Sea Trout, Roasted Muscovy Duck (husband)

Why here? The Gotham Bar and Grill remains my favorite restaurant in the entirety of the city. Yes, the food is splendid; they’ve been open since 1984 and have earned most every honor in the book; the New York Times’ Sam Sifton called it “all very civilized” and noted “it still tastes terrific, with every flavor in balance.” It may not be the trendiest of locales, but the Gotham treats every guest like gold. And when the dishes arrive, they’re so artfully arranged you feel like you should take a picture before you dig in. I don’t wait, myself. A few years back when I made the rookie error of ordering sweetbread (and not knowing that sweetbreads were organs), they took it back without even looking at me funny and didn’t charge for my error. It isn’t cheap: Our meal for two, including two drinks, came out to over $200. But it won’t break your bank on a special occasion, either.

Saturday: The Family Arrives (one Sister in Law, two teenaged, hungry boys)

Fette Sou

Location: Fette Sau (354 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn)

Eaten: Hand pulled Berkshire shoulder, Burnt End Baked Beans, Piedmontese Beef Tongue Pastrami (all of us)

Why here? Literally “fat pig,” Fette Sau is just a terrific BBQ place squished down an alley (and past picnic benches) deep in the heart of hipster Williamsburg. Everything is smoked with a mix of woods and dry rubbed; they know exactly what farms the meat comes from (and list them on their website). You buy what’s on offer — sadly, no ribs were available when we showed up, which seemed an odd omission for 5pm on a Saturday — by the pound after standing in a slow-moving line. One of us asked why they let the line get so long, why it couldn’t move faster (there were perhaps six people ahead of us when we showed up and it still took about 20 minutes to get the food to table), and a worker said they felt the anticipation fueled the restaurant’s appeal. Whatever: I want ribs and I want ’em faster than that. Still, it was all very delicious and fun to eat at communal tables by the light of a (televised) fire. The small interior room fills fast, so get there at odd hours and be prepared to leave stuffed like the pig you just ate.

Sunday: The Family Departs (After Brunch)

Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant

Location: Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant (133-30 39th Avenue, Queens, New York)

Eaten: More dim sum options than you can keep in your pretty, overfull little head

Why here? My husband’s goal this weekend was to feed his nephews until they cried uncle … and we came close. Fette Sau was just the warmup; for brunch prior to their train trip home we headed out to Flushing’s Chinatown area and settled inside the gigantic Asian Jewels facility, where workers wheel around carts of steaming dim sum constantly; all you have to do is point and the bamboo steamer tray (with approximately three dumplings each) is yours. We had everything from taro cakes to roast pork buns and dumplings and fish balls. I lost count, but the experience is almost as good as the food itself. Try everything, then try it with the chopsticks. Afterward, we picked up dessert in the form of gooey egg custards and Tiger roll sponge cakes just down the street at Tai Pan Bakery (37-25 Main Street). Then I cried uncle myself.

Fortunately, my birthday is tomorrow, which means another great meal awaits. And what have you been enjoying lately?