Browsing: Restaurant Features

Ess-a Bagel NYC


We were delighted to find this landmark on our second trip to New York.  The original location Ess-a Bagelat 1st and 21st  was a lovely destination for an early morning walk from our “home away from home” near Gramercy Park.

The decor has seen better days but was not even noticed by the line up of people ordering their “to go” items.  The couple of older gentlemen that were seated at the tables looked right at home.

On our first visit to what I call carb heaven,  I would have described the service as “curt” as the counter guy had so many people to take care of but on this occasion he was willing to have his photo taken (or maybe it was because I was with my sister-in-law and not my husband on this visit).  He shouts your order to another staff member who obediently counts and bags the confections.

Now bagels from home are pretty good especially with a smack of Winnipeg cream cheese and I’ve even had the wonderful good fortune to sample bagels in Jerusalem, but Ess-a bagels are another species.  They look like over inflated tires!  The are appropriately chewy on the outside requiring a real good tug to assist your teeth in tearing off a bite.  The inside is tender and yeasty-a perfect platform for the piece de resistance, the schmears: savoury cream cheese with herbs, garlic and spices and smoked fish of course.  And sweet offerings with cinnamon, nuts and  an endless array of fruit and berries.

These were our backyard breakfasts for our extra long New York weekend and the memory of them have me searching out seat sales once again.

Ess-a-Bagel on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “the first printed mention of bagels…is to be found in the Community Regulations of Kracow, Poland, for the year 1610 which stated that bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth.”
‘The Joys of Yiddish’ by Leo Rosten

Inadvertent Quest


For some reason unbeknown to me, I seem to be on a quest for Winnipeg’s best chicken finger. The primary criteria is that it is made with a real chicken tender or breast and that is a given with the list below.  I ‘ve sampled these in the last weeks:

Barney Gargles: see yesterday’s full review, I’m thinking I like fish in beer batter better than chicken

Confusion Corner: a healthy portion, stacked high and attached with a skewer, crunchy and not greasy

The Keg:  the ones we grew up on so we may be impartial.  But the recipe actually seems to have improved of late

Mitzi’s: an interesting breading and juicy lean meat but I missed out on the dipping sauce

My son declares that the ones made at the Bison Grill at U of M are the ones to beat.  They are made according to the 100 mile criteria and the breading is full of oats and other whole grains.

So what’s your preference? floured, cornmeal, bread crumbs, panko flakes or beer battered?

Is what’s inside as important as the coating?

Who has the best dipping sauce?

Where’s the biggest portion/best value?

I’ll compile the definitive list when I’ve heard from enough of you.

Kath’s quote:  “Once we sowed wild oats, now we cook them in the microwave.”-anonymous

Barney Gargles


Thanks to a reader, I have now experienced Barney Gargles.  We can easily take an alternate route to the cottage to include a drive through Selkirk.  We arrived at 6 pm and there was a line up out the door.  Now I’ve only seen lines like this at Red Lobster and Olive Garden, so to be frank I was a little skeptical (and impatient).  I had saved my calorie, fat and carb quota for the day to have this dinner and I was good and hungry.  But the crowd at the door was an amicable bunch and anything worth having is worth waiting for.

The bustling servers are all female and very pleasant.  Ours looked looked like a young Goldie Hawn (read: a young Kate Hudson if you are of a younger generation) or so D thought.  The decor is not my cuppa tea but cottage-like and after all, that’s we were heading.  D started with a soup of cream of potato and dill and I had the garliest Cesar salad I had ever tasted.  I love garlic, but this was enough to keep all those new and handsome vampire types at bay.  D also treated himself to a flagon of chocolate milkshake.

We thought that their specialty must be fish and chips because we saw many of the plates zoom by us from the kitchen.  But no, their famous chicken fingers are batter fried like cod and halibut.  I do prefer other versions but D quite liked them and we both agreed on the fresh-cut French fries.

We got a good look at all their desserts since we spent so much time in the lobby: an ABC pie with crumble topping (Apples, Blueberries and Cherries),  Turtle Pie and Nanaimo Bars (as big as a diary) all caught our eye but alas, they’ll have to keep for another calorie accumulation.

Barney Gargles on Urbanspoon

Urbanspoon rocks!

My husband declared that he was so full that he could not possibly get back into the car without a walk around but because the sun had just set, he wanted to walk around indoors.  He was totally setting me up-because my favourite place to bargain shop is in Selkirk and so we “strolled” through Big Dollar before making the rest of the ride north. Boy I love my man!

The sky to the west was still aflame and the silhouette of the trees and geese made it a lovely trek.

Kath’s quote: Do not be afraid to talk about food. Food which is worth eating is worth discussing.”-X. Marcel Boulestin

Mesa Grill NYC


We saved the best for last.  It was the final day of our ladies’ adventure in NYC.  We packed up and set out for a neighbourhood shop of Gramercy and Flat Iron. And so our last meal was on 5th Ave.: 102 to be exact at Bobby Flay’s urban masterpiece.-Mesa Grill.  I was immediately impressed by the soaring ceilings and showcase bar.  We settled in to a big round table right in the middle of the lunch time scene.

Comfort food of burgers and fries came out in portions so huge that only half was being consumed.  Thankfully we ordered prettier little morsels that were sublime.  A warm basket of cornmeal muffins arrived almost immediately.  I started with a smoked salmon cake and proceeded to the eggplant stuffed Chiles Relleno.   People who know me well, are aware that I am a Chiles Relleno fanatic, an eggplant aficionado and am crazy about New York city-so how could I be in a better place?

Lingering over each savoury bite, I did manage to save room for the peach bread pudding with raspberry coulee for dessert.  All this for an amazing $24. as it was still restaurant week when we were there in August.

Mesa Grill on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “A cook, when I dine, seems to me a divine being, who from the depths of his kitchen rules the human race. One considers him as a minister of heaven, because his kitchen is a temple, in which his ovens are the altar.”-Marc Antoine Désaugiers



I had worked downtown for years and had never had an occasion to try lunch at Mitzi’s on Garry and St. Mary Ave.  I arrived considerably after the lunch hour and the place was packed!   How did all of these people know about this place if I didn’t (pretty ego-centric thought I admit)?

I went with the intention of sampling their famous chicken fingers and so did not have a very long read of the menu but could not help but notice that Mitzi’s is primarily a Chinese food restaurant.  Who knew?  Every other option surrounds their signature chicken fingers.  You can order one chicken finger or 48 and almost any number in between.  The fingers are available on their own or with fries and cole slaw, Caesar salad, tossed salad or mixed greens.

The fingers themselves are said to be “homemade” which I know means made on premise, why do so many restaurants use the homemade label?  They are delicious-using fresh chicken breast strips in a crunchy breading.  Once you take a crunchy bite, the meat inside is tender and juicy.  There was no dipping sauce which was okay because on this occasion, I ate my lunch at the bus stop.

Mitzi’s is open for lunch and then reopens for dinner time.  Their menu indicates that they also cater banquets and parties.

Mitzi's Chicken Finger Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “I never see any home cooking. All I get is fancy stuff.”-Prince Philip

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