East Village Dinner: Peels Offers Comfort Food at Discomforting Prices; Leave the “Secret” Burger a Secret
November 7, 2011
Peels is known for brunch, but since I refuse to wait for a table at brunch on weekends, I decided to give dinner a try. Unfortunately, the $7 side of Brussels sprouts was the most memorable part of my $100 meal for two. I should have known that in this food-consumed city, if the waitress has to up-sell me on an off-menu “secret burger ($18)” – Bacon and pimento cheese atop a Piedmontese beef patty, shredded iceberg lettuce and pickled onion, jalapeno slaw – I’d have known about it by now if it was any good. It wasn’t. The flavor of smoke and cheese product overwhelmed; thick cut bacon was so chewy I pulled out an entire piece of bacon with my first bite. This is why meatball-shaped burger patties should be simply adorned, there’s not enough surface area for the toppings to hold onto. The veggies provided no redemption, iceberg lettuce is pointless and the slaw offered no acid or heat to cut through the bacon and cheese. The accompanying house made parmesan and chive tater tots – hearty like mini knishes, as Lil NYC Food Guy noted – were the only saving grace. At $21 for two pieces of fried chicken (not pictured), this better be the I’ve ever had. Not even close. One drumstick and one breast? At least give me the option for all dark meat so I can experience some flavor if the breading is going to be so ordinary. The bed of mashed sweet potatoes – which as Lil NYC Food Guy observed, “got old quick” – were gloppy and overly sweet; any chicken resting on it was rendered soggy. Moving forward, The Cardinal will be my first stop for East Village fried chicken. The shrimp and grits ($13) appetizer looked better than it tasted; it delivered in the texture department – creamy grits, chewy bacon, just firm enough shrimp – but it needed a dousing in Secret Aardvark habanero hot sauce to really satisfy. The biggest insult of all may be the fact that Sir Kensington gourmet scooping ketchup is offered over Heinz. Comfort food without Heinz? Blasphemy.
Peels Link 325 Bowery at 2nd Street New York, NY 10003 (646) 602-7015 Phone only leads to recording for reservation line Open Daily 7:30am-12am