Now that I'm down to only two more weeks of living in NYC, I'm going through the same sort of mild panic that hits every time I leave a place – namely, the 'I have so much more to do here' sort of panic. I still haven't been through the entire Met! I really want to go back to MoMA! So much of America lies undiscovered by me! Mostly though, the panic is food-related. If you'd asked me back before I decided to head back to New Zealand, I would have guessed that I would have mainly experienced food-related FOMO – a deep sense of concern over all the food in New York that I have not yet tasted. I still haven't been to Mission Chinese Food. I haven't eaten a cronut*. A vaguely considered summer lobster roll challenge lies abandoned. I have never been to Per Se (which is consistently rated the best restaurant in all of New York**).
This isn't the case, though. Instead, I have food nostalgia. I want to go back to all my favourites, time and time again, and soak up all they have to offer.
Obviously, I can't go back to all my favourites. I can make a strong attempt, however – and I plan to. Over the weekend, H1 and I started this in a small way, with a dinner at Jacob's Pickles.
Jacob's Pickles has been our favourite restaurant on the Upper West Side since even before we moved up there. We chose it for dinner one evening after viewing a few apartments, drawn in by the crowds and the great decor – and the swinging sign outside that read, simply:
It's hard to argue with a sign that says that. Initially, we thought that was the name of the restaurant, as there was little other identifying information outside the restaurant. It was only when the bill came at the end that we realised it was actually called Jacob's Pickles.
As you'd expect from a place with pickles right there in the name, Jacob's Pickles is kind of a hipster mecca – albeit, one that clearly got lost on its way to Bushwick. If you feel like it, you can get pretty much any type of food there in a pickled form. Jacob's Pickles is where I tried my first fried pickles (which are delicious, but the sort of thing you should really only be allowed to eat once a year), my first pickled carrots, my first pickled beets, my first pickled jalapeño peppers...
The list goes on.
The rest of the menu is broadly Southern, with an emphasis on fried chicken, biscuits (the American kind, which are like light, buttery scones), and a casual disregard for the times of day when maple syrup should be served, as well as the types of food it should be served alongside. The meals are enormous – I don't think I've ever finished a meal there – and, in my opinion, really well-priced. Take that with a grain of salt, though. After three years in New York, I've no longer got any idea how much anything should cost.
My favourite dish (and the one I chose over the weekend) is the honey chicken biscuit sandwich with pickles. The pickles contrast with the subtly-sweet honey beautifully, and also add a nice touch of green, so you can feel like you're not eating something that's all that bad for you***. It comes with grits, which I like but never touch (see previous comment about the size of the meals).
H1 likes everything, especially the chicken and pancakes (his weekend choice). He kept trying to convince me that they're better than they sound. I tried some to humour him, and they were good, but I stand by my assertion that maple syrup does not belong on dinner.
With a couple of glasses of rosé for me, and a couple of glasses of American craft beer for H1, we ended up well-fed and merry, our heads close together over the tiny table as we laughed about cheese**** and talked about all the other times we had been to Jacob's Pickles – once with some Texans, once with a friend from North Carolina, once with a vegetarian (that was interesting)...
And of course, just the two of us, as it was, hanging out in our favourite local. Bye Jacob's Pickles. Thanks for everything.
*I don't really want to, actually. Am I the only one who thinks they look disgustingly, over-the-top sweet?
**At around $1000 for the tasting menu for two with wine, I'm not likely to either, so we'll just all have to believe the professional critics on this one.
***You are, but it's okay every once in a while.
****It was really funny, although I don't remember exactly why.