My mom came in for a girl’s brunch and we were trying to decide where to go. A deal came up to try brunch at Stecchino, an “Italian Burger Joint” in the neighborhood, from TravelZoo. I had been to Stecchino prior, for wine and appetizers, and I heard good things about the brunch but had never made the effort to go.
For $29, we got brunch for two with unlimited mimosas.
Mom was craving pancakes, so she went with the Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes made with whipped ricotta cream. These were fluffy and delicious, and obviously quite warm as the whipped cream slid right off.
I got a benedict with sausage. The sausage had a great flavor and the eggs were very well cooked.
Brunch also came with a lovely dish of fresh grapes and oranges. A nice touch.
And we had to get a side order of the rosemary candied bacon (in addition to the brunch deal). This bacon was awesome. It didn’t look all that crispy, but it was perfect. Great flavor, great texture, nice mix of herbs and sweet. I would go back just for the bacon.
The unlimited mimosas may have loosened us up a bit, but we both really enjoyed our brunch here. I’m not sure if I would have gone if not for the deal, but our meal there was definitely something I would return for and would recommend. Very good brunch.
Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10
Number one area I am asked to recommend dining locations for: Penn Station/Madison Square Garden. Not an easy task… and mind you, I live in the area! If you are looking to stick somewhere close to the train or the game, there just aren’t that many locations. But there are a few gems. Niles is one of them.
I have brought a number of clients here for breakfast, and it always delivers. The room is stylish and has enough room between tables that you can have an actual meeting there.
Even the bread basket is elegant.
My eating companion ordered the chocolate chip pancakes, which she very much enjoyed.
I had their Eggs Benedict which came on a honey wheat English muffin with smoked salmon or Canadian bacon (I chose the salmon) and breakfast potatoes. The English muffin was crisped enough that I could cut through it (a bit pet peeve of mine is when you can cut through the blasted things), the salmon tasted great, and the hollandaise was great.
Niles is a nice breakfast in a nice setting. It’s in a veritable wasteland of food options, so it’s a welcome restaurant and one I have and will revisit often. I wouldn’t call it destination dining, but if you need a breakfast spot near Penn Station, this is where to go.
Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10
One thing I get complimented on often is my pancakes. I think this is funny, because pancakes are SOOO easy. All you need is a few tricks of the trade.
Oh… and a little extra of a secret ingredient that isn’t so secret… vanilla.
I always like to make my batter in a measuring cup, because it makes it so easy to pour the batter onto the pan. I originally used this measuring cup to mix vinegar with milk and let it sour (it takes 5 minutes, and adds a wonderful taste to pancakes!)
And I love that the center burners pull out and a griddle pan locks in. Makes for a lot more room to cook pancakes!
I add extra vanilla to my pancakes which gives it a little extra somethin somethin. Most recipes call for about half of what I put in, but everyone seems to like them when they are extra vanilla-y.
So what is the key to pancakes that are not overcooked but not raw on the inside? Bubbles! In the below picture, you can see a pancake just start to bubble with one little hole.
You want to wait until it looks like that across most of the surface.
So when you flip them over, they are perfection. (Hint: if they are getting too brown before bubbling, turn the heat down… if they aren’t browned enough, turn it up. If you get mass bubbling and no browning, turn them over to cook on the other side, then flip them back over to brown to your liking on the original side when the pan is hotter)
Not everyone likes chocolate chips in their pancakes (I call these people “crazy people”) so I always make a plain batch and then mix in what I want (this is another great reason to use the measuring cup to pour… you can make small batches with different mix-ins).
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. of vanilla
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- cooking spray
- Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”. (I do this directly in the measuring cup)
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk and add the vanilla. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone. (I like this recipe because it’s one bowl and one measuring cup, which I re-use to pour the batter)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray or butter. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.