All posts by Jenn

About Jenn

Jenn was raised in Battery Park City and as a child one of her favorite places was Picasso Pizza. Being older and wiser, she now is a connoisseur of all the fantastic restaurants and bars in the area as the food/culture writer for

Eat: World Financial Center Restaurant Showcase Menu

EAT: WFC Restaurant Showcase

Eat: World Financial Center Restaurant Showcase Menu
Eat: World Financial Center Restaurant Showcase

To all of you who work in or near the World Financial Center and are packing your lunch for tomorrow, or thinking about what to order from the usual catering menu, STOP!  Look no further, because tomorrow, the restaurants at the World Financial Center are gathering in the Winter Garden to offer you $1-$5 samples of their signature items, as well as some seasonal selections.

I managed to pick up a menu for the event on the way home, and many of the offerings seem very typical, such as P.J. Clarke’s mini cheeseburgers and pulled pork sliders (2 for $5), Au Mandarin’s pork and shrimp dumplings ($3 and $4 respectively), and Godiva’s chocolate-dipped strawberries, macaroons, and oreos.

However, there were some stand-out seasonal items such as Columbus Bakery’s Corn Chowder with Pomegranate ($4), The Grill Room’s Wild Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan Sauce ($5) and Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Apples and Pumpkin Seeds ($4), Southwest NY’s Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon with Mango-Jicama Salsa ($5) and Financier Patisserie’s Apple Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla Cream ($3) and Pumpkin Cheesecake ($3).

Here is a list of participating restaurants:

Au Bon Pain
Au Mandarin
Blockheads Burrito
Ciao Bella Gelato
Columbus Bakery
Devon & Blakely
Donald Sacks
Ed’s Lobster Bar
Financier Patisserie
Godiva Chocolatier
The Grill Room
Harry’s Italian
P.J. Clarke’s on the Hudson
Quality Burger
Southwest NY
Starbucks Coffee
World Financial Center Greenmarket

Pig Island

Pig Out this Weekend at Pig Island

Pig Island
Governors Island will be transformed into a pork-lover's paradise this Saturday. (Photo:

Yes, that’s what I said.  Pig Island.  It’s exactly what it sounds like: every Vegan’s nightmare, and every fatass’ food fest fantasy!

Tomorrow, October 2nd,  from 11:30 AM- 4:30 PM, Governor’s Island will be transformed into a “pork-lover’s paradise.”  20 + chefs will be entertaining your senses and your stomach with both innovative and traditional pork dishes, ranging from bbq and porchetta sandwiches to Vietnamese pork soup and Maple Bacon sticky buns.

Tickets to the main event cost $85, although there is a group rate of $80 for groups of 4 or more people.  Although the price seems steep, this ticket gives you unlimited access to the pig feast, as well as Sixpoint Craft Ales and NY State Wines.

For those of you who don’t think an all you can eat and drink pork festival is worth $80, there will be a public area with snacks and drinks available for purchase.

As always, transportation to Governor’s Island is free via ferry, departing from the Battery Maritime building at 10 South Street.

Cipriani Wall Street

Get This Deal: 30% Off Cipriani Wall Street

Cipriani Wall Street
Cipriani Wall Street

Wall Street bankers rejoice!  BlackboardEats is offering a coupon code for 30% off lunch or dinner for a party of 2-4 people at Cipriani Wall Street!  The best part of BlackboardEats is that unlike other companies that provide deals in New York City, they offer their coupon codes absolutely free, no strings attached.  You can get your personal code sent straight to your cellphone- how convenient is that?

If you want this deal, you must get your passcode before 5:30 AM tomorrow, and use it by October 15.  Get it before they run out!

Best Battery Park City Burgers

Race to My Place: Burger Battle 2010

Best Battery Park City Burgers
Best Battery Park City Burgers

We’ve been holding these food races for a few months now, selecting two unsuspecting restaurants and pitting their chefs and delivery boys against each other, completely at the whim of my stomach.  Slowly but surely, we’ve waded our way through the surprising variety of cuisines offered in what is generally considered a culinary wasteland.

Today, my stomach decided it was ready for something EPIC.  We at were going to take on Lower Manhattan’s burgers, and we weren’t going to take this task lightly.  Instead of the usual two contestant race, we were going to order not three, not four, but five different burgers.

Three of the restaurants we chose are burger joints: PJ Clarke’s, Zaitzeff, and Burger Burger.  We added one of Merchant’s restaurants, Pound and Pence, to see how their burgers stacked up, and threw Kitchenette, a chic diner in Tribeca that has burgers on their menu, into the mix as well.

We tried to make this race as even as possible; we tried to order all our burgers with the same toppings:  Lettuce, Tomato, and American Cheese, but Zaitzeff only has white cheddar, and Pound and Pence had plain cheddar instead of American, so we had to take these small advantages into consideration.  Some restaurants included french fries with their burgers, so we ordered fries from all five restaurants to compare value and taste.  Also, knowing that Kitchenette had a much longer distance to deliver their food, we ordered from them first, and gave them some leniency in delivery time.

Delivery Speed

– At 21 minutes, Pound and Pence was our fastest contender, beating

PJ Clarke’s‘ 22 minutes, even though PJ Clarke’s is literally right around the corner.

Zaitzeff placed third with an honorable 27 minutes.

Kitchenette surprised us all by not coming in last with a 49 minute delivery time, only beating

Burger Burger, at 50 minutes, by a mere minute!

Packaging & Presentation

Burger Burger had the messiest container- we literally had to extract our burger from the mountain of fries and reassemble it- although Kitchenette and Pound & Pence also used a single container for both their burger and fries.  PJ Clarke’s and Zaitzeff, our fancier burger joints, packaged their burgers separately from their fries.  PJ Clarke’s placed their burgers in small cardboard containers (like the ones you use at the Whole Foods salad bar), and delivered their french fries in a separate paper bag.  Although Zaitzeff also used the paper bag approach for their fries, their burgers were wrapped in insulated paper instead of the cute cardboard box.

Although I thought PJ Clarke’s burger box was cute, I also thought that the fries that were haphazardly thrown into a box were actually crispier than the bagged fries.  When I’m eating a soft juicy burger, I like the crunch of a well-fried fry to balance out the textures in my mouth, but maybe I’m just weird like that!

For presentation, I’d have to give the prize to PJ Clarke’s.  For practical packaging, however, Pound & Pence came in first place with a tall plastic container that provided a little heat insulation as well as enough air circulation to prevent the burger and fries from becoming soggy.

Quality & Taste

For this category, some of the qualities I was looking for in the burgers was whether or not the burger came cooked Medium as we ordered, whether the patty was juicy or dry, the quality of the bread and whether or not it complimented the burger patty, and the overall flavor of the burger, bread, and the toppings combined.

Pound & Pence was the only burger that didn’t arrive a nice pink Medium color, but somehow, the overcooked patty was still incredibly juicy, soft, and the most flavorful out of the five.  Lizbeth detected some marinade on the meat, and this definitely hoisted this overcooked burger from last to first place.

Burger Burger‘s burger (how weird does that sound?) was liked all around, and designated “the perfect backyard BBQ burger” by one of our taste testers.  The burger was cooked Medium as asked, and was the only burger that had any char flavor!

Zaitzeff won juiciest burger by a mile, and the soft, squisy, sweet Portuguese bun it was served on complimented the meat and the toppings perfectly.  Although Zaitzeff’s patty wasn’t the most flavorful, their fancy white cheddar & grilled onion toppings definitely made up for it.

Surprisingly enough, next to all these other great burgers, PJ Clarke’s only made honorable mention.  I’ve always really enjoyed PJ Clarke’s, and before this race, may have even dared to call it one of my top 3 burgers in NYC.  It’s still a great burger, and we couldn’t find anything wrong with it, but in a direct comparison it just wasn’t as juicy or as flavorful as the other three burgers.

Finally, we have Kitchenette‘s burger.  What can we say?  When we added this to our list of five, we certainly weren’t expecting this restaurant to come out on top.  Kitchenette was our underdog, and unfortunately, this was not a Cinderella story.  The burger was cooked as we asked, but somehow, even though the patty was nice and pink, the texture of the meat was hard and dry.  The bread was also really dry and altogether it was like biting into a cork covered in Styrofoam.  The taste was also really off-putting, and I couldn’t decide if it was the stale bread, the vegetables, or the meat that tasted funny.  I literally took one bite of this, made a funny face, and didn’t touch it again for the rest of the night.


The cheapest and simplest order by far was Burger Burger.  $9.45 flat for a cheeseburger with fries.

Pound & Pence was next in both value and simplicity- their $10.75 burger comes with fries, and adding cheese to the order only costs you another 99 cents.

The next cheapest order was Kitchenette, which came to a total of $13.  However, if you order just a bare-bones burger sans cheese or fries, Kitchenette actually serves the most expensive burger of the bunch, at a ridiculous $11.

With a grand total of $14.8, PJ Clarke’s seems very comfortable at 4th place.   I’m equally surprised about this ranking as its quality and taste ranking.  I very much expected PJ Clarke’s to have the most expensive cheeseburger & fries, but today, that honor goes to…

Zaitzeff, where a sirloin burger with cheese and fries will set you back $16!

All things considered, this would be my final ranking for today’s burger battle:

Pound & Pence

Burger Burger

Tie between Zaitzeff and PJ Clarke’s


Surprised?  Where is your favorite burger in Lower Manhattan?

(Oh… and Check out images of our Burger Battle below!)

Race to my place soma by nature versus seh ja meh

Race to My Place: Korean Bulgogi

Race to my place soma by nature versus seh ja meh
Soma By Nature vs. Seh Ja Meh in our Race

For each installment of the Race to My Place, we will be pitting two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times, and prices against each other and see whose delivery reigns supreme!  We will compare delivery speed, packaging & presentation, quality & taste, and value.  For this Korean Bulgogi race, our contestants were Soma by Nature and Se Ja Meh.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Korean food, Bulgogi is a Korean BBQ dish consisting of thin sliced sirloin that is marinated in a mixture of garlic, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, and sugar, and then grilled.  If you eat this in house, you are often given the option of barbecuing it yourself, but this practice can often result in making your hair, clothes, and all your belongings smell like smoke!  For this Korean race, we ordered pre-grilled Bulgogi lunch boxes from Se Ja Meh and Soma by Nature.

Delivery Speed: Tie
We have a new delivery record!  Both restaurants delivered their food in exactly 8 minutes. I don’t know how, and I’m not sure I want to know how, but literally right after I placed my order for Se Ja Meh, Soma by Nature was already calling me to come downstairs.  Then, Se Ja Meh called as I was in the elevator on my way back up; it was a hectic lunch hour!

Packaging & Presentation: Tie
This category was a tie because both restaurants had their pros and cons.  The container that Soma by Nature used had really high partitions which made it very neat and stopped all the sauces from running into each other.  However, the partitions didn’t keep the flavors from melding together, so each item had a hint of some other taste.

Se Ja Meh kept all their side dishes in separate containers which eliminated flavor contamination.  Their Bulgogi, Jap Chae, and dumpling, on the other hand were all placed in one container with low partitions, and the Bulgogi marinade ended up infiltrating everything.

It’s difficult to keep everything separate when there are so many different parts to a meal, and neither restaurant got it quite right.

Quality & Taste: Se Ja Meh
Se Ja Meh wins this category on the basis of their Bulgogi alone.  Both deliveries came with so many different side dishes, they would be impossible to compare.  Soma by Nature’s Bulgogi tasted like the kind you would get at an international buffet; it was overcooked and the garlic overpowered the marinade.  Se Ja Meh’s Bulgogi was finely grilled and the sauce wasn’t as oily or as garlicky as Soma’s.  Their rice was also softer and stickier as Korean rice is suppose to be.

If we were to compare the side dishes separately, Soma by Nature would probably be the winner.  While Se Ja Meh offered more traditional side dishes such as kimchi, jap chae, vegetable mandoo, and other various pickled vegetables, none of the items tasted quite right.  The pickled zucchini was mushy, the jap chae and vegetable mandoo were drowned in bulgogi marinade, and their side salad, while fresh, had a really strange dressing that just wasn’t very appealing.

Soma by Nature’s side dishes were an eclectic hodgepodge of quasi-Asian items.  They included two pieces of a California Roll which were actually quite tasty and brimming with avocado, two varieties of yam: one bright purple and one orange, an Asian style frittata with jap chae cooked into it, a tiny nickel-sized crab cake, a really bad seafood pancake, and oddly, a banana muffin.  There was also a random meatball on top of the rice, but nobody dared to try it, and we weren’t quite sure how it tied into the Asian theme.

Most of the side dishes took on a hint of banana flavor from the banana muffin, but besides that oddity, eating this meal was like going on an adventure without leaving your office.  We all had so much fun guessing what everything was, and sometimes, even after trying some of the items, we still weren’t quite sure what we had eaten!  When I learned that Soma by Nature was in fact a buffet style eatery, the randomness of the side dishes began to make sense.  I would definitely order this again just to see what side dishes I would get, it’s all very exciting!

Value: Soma by Nature
With all the fun side dishes, Some by Nature won this by a landslide!  Their lunchbox, at $10.95, was also cheaper than Se Ja Meh’s $12 lunchbox.

In the end, this race is still kind of up in the air.  Both restaurants deliver at a lightning fast speed, and both have their pros and cons.  If you’re looking for authentic Korean food, I would order from Se Ja Meh.  But if you’re having one of those days where you want “Asian food,” and you’d like to be taken on a flavorful adventure, Soma by Nature is your best bet!

Chicken Tikka Masala Baluchis

Race to My Place: Baluchi’s vs. Taj Tribeca/Indian Express

Chicken Tikka Masala Baluchis
Who's chicken tikka masala won the race?

For each installment of Race to My Place, we pit two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times, and prices against each other to see whose delivery reigns supreme! We will compare delivery speed, packaging and presentation when applicable, quality and taste, and value.  This week, our contestants are Baluchi’s and Taj Tribeca.

Indian food is one of the most flavorful cuisines in the world, and for most people, authentic Indian is just way too spicy.  Therefore, one of the most popular “Indian” dishes is Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish that actually may have originated in the UK.  The dish is made with chunks of chicken that have been marinated in yogurt and baked in a tandoor oven, and then paired with a creamy tomato sauce.

Both restaurants serve their Chicken Tikka Masala with rice, but I decided to order plain Naan on the side as well to dip into the left over sauce.

Delivery Speed:  Taj Tribeca
Both restaurants delivered their meals in under half an hour, but Taj Tribeca beat Baluchi’s by a little over five minutes.

Quality & Taste: Baluchi’s

Baluchi’s Chicken Tikka Masala was really creamy and buttery.  The chicken was soft and moist, but you could tell they actually roasted the chicken beforehand in a tandoori oven- the tandoori flavor was discernible through the sauce.  You could taste the tomato in the sauce as well, and the Naan was soft and pillowy, perfect for soaking up the sauce!

Taj Tribeca’s chicken on the other hand was really dry, but it still managed to be strangely soft and tender.  The sauce was nice and spicy, but it really didn’t taste like tikka masala- there wasn’t much of that buttery tomato flavor.  Instead, it tasted kind of sweet like a Malaysian curry.  The Naan was flat and dry, and wasn’t really the best for dipping into sauce.

Value: Tie
Both Taj Tribeca and Baluchi’s Chicken Tikka Masala cost $13.95.  Although Baluchi’s naan was 45 cents more expensive than Taj Tribeca’s, Baluchi’s  naan was definitely worth the extra price.

Although Taj Tribeca’s delivery speed and price were marginally better, Baluchi’s was definitely the clear winner.  What really gave Baluchi’s the upper hand was their use of a tandoor oven, or at least something similar to one.  The tandoori flavor really shone through in the chicken, and their Naan was puffy as it should be.  Taj Tribeca’s chicken wasn’t roasted or marinated in a tandoori style, and the naan was more like a pita.

Petite Abeille West Broadway

Petite Abeille on West Broadway

Petite Abeille West Broadway
Mussels on the menu at Petite Abeille West Broadway

Petite Abeille is a quaint Belgian restaurant most known for its Mussels and Belgian Waffles.  With four Manhattan locations, no one can deny that this restaurant has outlived New York’s Belgian food buzz, and their Tribeca location certainly does them justice.

If you choose to dine here, do yourself a favor and try a new beer- your waiter will definitely be able to find something you’ll enjoy out of their 50 different Belgian beers.  All four of the beers our waiter recommended- from the strong and heavy Scaldis ($8.50) to the sweet and fruity Lindemans Framboise ($9.50)- were delightful and a great way to start the meal.  They also had the added benefit of enhancing our appetite which we were extremely grateful for later on in the evening!

The appetizer portion of the Moules Marinieres ($9.50) were more than enough for two people to share.  I could definitely see why their Wednesday night all you can eat specials are so popular; the mussels were fresh and not the least bit grainy, and the white wine broth was divine.  Petite Abeille also provides diners with deliciously crusty, chewy, and sour bread that’s perfect for dipping into the broth.

Belgian Waffles from Petite Abeille
Belgian Waffles from Petite Abeille

For my main course, I got the Vol Au Vent, Frites ($18.50), which was basically a deconstructed pot pie with pommes frites on the side, definitely not a meal for the calorie cautious!  The pommes frites were kind of overkill, especially since they were soggy and undercooked.  The chicken, on the other hand, was slightly dry and overcooked, but the sinfully creamy gravy provided a great textural balance.  The deconstructed nature of the Vol Au Vent insured that the puff pastry stay puffy, and the bacon and mushrooms were a perfect addition to this indulgent meal.  If the chicken weren’t so dry, this would definitely rank in my top 5 chicken pot pies.

Vol Au Vent from Petite Abeille
Vol Au Vent from Petite Abeille

After that heavy dish, I definitely felt the need to unbutton my pants and call it a night, but I couldn’t leave without trying the Belgian Waffles.  This was an instance in which the masses were correct: The Gaufre Chantilly ($7.00), or the waffle with whipped cream and strawberry sauce, was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t even like waffles!  Actually, I don’t particularly like waffles, whipped cream, or strawberry sauce, but together these three elements create perfection!

Even if you’re not into mussels, please, take my advice and drop in for dessert, or try one of their tamer options like a burger or steak frites.  You won’t be disappointed!

Race to my Place: Fish N' Chips

Race to My Place: Lilly O’Brien’s vs. Biddy Early’s Fish and Chips

Race to my Place: Fish N' Chips
Lilly O'Briens vs. Biddy Early's: Who was faster?

For each installment of the Race to My Place, we will be pitting two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times, and prices against each other and see whose delivery reigns supreme!  We will compare delivery speed, packaging & presentation, quality & taste, and value.  For this Irish pub race, our contestants were Lilly O’Brien’s and Biddy Early’s.

One thing we are lucky to have in downtown Manhattan is a decent amount of Irish pubs.  You probably frequent these places for the Irish charm, a mug of Guinness, but today, we are sampling some pub grub: Fish and Chips!  And because the fish and chips alone wasn’t enough to satisfy the delivery minimum, we also ordered some bread and butter pudding, a quintessential Irish/UK dessert.

Delivery Speed: Biddy Early’s
Biddy Early’s only took 27 minutes to deliver, while Lilly O’Brien’s took 40 minutes.  The two restaurants are basically right next to each other, so that shouldn’t make a difference in delivery time.  Biddy Early’s won this category fair and square.

Packaging & Presentation: Tie
Both restaurants served their food in the same plastic bags and tin containers with cardboard tops.  They both included tartar sauce and lemon wedges.  Biddy Early’s Fish and Chips was presented better, but Lilly O’Brien’s bread pudding looked more legit, so this category is a tie!

Quality & Taste: Biddy Early’s
I was surprised at the outcome of this comparison.  I’ve been to both pubs before, and compared to Lilly O’Brien’s, Biddy Early’s is a bit of a dive; I expected their food to pale in comparison.  When I opened the containers of food and saw their dinky bread & butter pudding, which didn’t look like any bread pudding I’d ever seen, I didn’t have very high expectations.  Their fish and chips, however, were expertly battered and fried and arrived still crispy!  The fish was soft and flaky, and didn’t taste fishy at all.  Their bread & butter pudding tasted a lot better than it looked, although it tasted more like really awesome french toast than bread pudding.

Lilly O’Brien’s offers a malt whiskey bread & butter pudding, which is much denser and bread pudding-like than Biddy Early’s.  You can definitely detect the malt whiskey, although the flavor isn’t over powering.  Unfortunately, their fish and chips did not live up to my expectations.  The batter came out oddly flat and was extremely greasy and soggy.  The fish was just as fresh and flaky as Biddy Early’s but the bad batter completely ruined the experience for me.

Value: Biddy Early’s
Here’s the price breakdown:

Biddy Early’s
Dublin Style Fish & Chips:  $9.95
Bread & Butter Pudding: $3.25

Lilly O’Brien’s
Beer Battered Fish & Chips: $10.95
Malt Whiskey Bread & Butter Pudding: $6.95

Both restaurants gave the same amount of fish & chips, and Lilly O’Brien’s was not worth an extra dollar.  Although Lilly O’Brien’s did give a substantially larger serving of bread pudding, I’m not sure it was double the amount of Biddy Early’s.

Winner: Biddy Early’s

Overall, Lilly O’Brien’s cost $4.7 more than Biddy Early’s, and that’s before tax and tip.  I understand why you would pay that extra price if you were eating on the premises, because Lilly O’Brien’s is a classier establishment.  However, if you’re just ordering in, the faster delivery, better tasting food, and better value make Biddy Early’s the clear winner!

L&L Hawaiian BBQ Mixed BBQ Combo Plate

Restaurant Review: L&L Hawaiian BBQ

L&L Hawaiian BBQ Mixed BBQ Combo Plate
L&L Hawaiian BBQ Mixed BBQ Combo Plate

When I moved to Battery Park City, one place that was recommended for cheap eats was L&L Hawaiian BBQ.  I’ve passed by the restaurant a few times, and to be honest, it looked a little run down and dirty, even by New York standards.  However, I checked out the prices on one night, and everything was super cheap!  I figured there was no harm in checking it out.

I ordered the Mixed BBQ Combo Plate ($9.99) which came with a combination of beef, short ribs, and chicken, rice, salad, and macaroni salad.  All of the meet was super soft and tender and were flavored with a sauce that could only be described as “Asian”-it wasn’t quite teriyaki, and not quite Korean BBQ, but it had similar sweet garlicky soy flavors.

The macaroni salad was the best I’ve ever had (I normally don’t even like macaroni salad!) and the rice was cooked to perfection!  What I really want to know is how they get everything from the rice to the meat so incredibly soft without getting mushy.  Every bite was delicious, and the plate was enough for just over three whole meals- definitely the best 10 bucks I’ve ever spent!

Masubi Combo from L&L Hawaiian BBQ
Masubi Combo from L&L Hawaiian BBQ

I also got to try the Musubi Combo ($4.49) which included one Spam Musubi, one BBQ Chicken Musubi, and one Chicken Katsu Musubi.  They were all covered in the same sweet BBQ sauce, and despite the fact that the seaweed had become soggy, it was still really soft!  Usually, warm and soggy seaweed is really hard to chew and bite, but somehow, even though it wasn’t crisp, it was super easy to chew through.

The Chicken Katsu somehow managed to stay crispy- crispier than any Katsu I’ve ever had!  My favorite, however, would have to be the Spam Musubi, mostly because I like strange unidentifiable salt ridden processed meats.  The Spam and sweet BBQ sauce was a match made in heaven, and I would happily eat this for lunch everyday, blood pressure be damned- just don’t tell my doctor!

Bennies Thai vs. Mangez Avec Moi

Race to My Place: Bennie’s Thai vs. Mangez Avec Moi

Bennies Thai vs. Mangez Avec  Moi
It's Bennies Thai vs. Mangez Avec Moi!

For each installment of Race to My Place, we pit two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times and prices against each other to see whose delivery reigns supreme! We compare delivery speed, packaging and presentation, quality and taste, and value. For this Thai food race, our contestants were Bennie’s Thai Cafe and Mangez Avec Moi.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like there has been a huge Thai food craze in NYC in the past few years. Either way, I can’t complain, because Thai food is one of my absolute favorite cuisines.  It was the most authentic Thai food I’ve ever had in NYC was at Tong Thai Brasserie in the West Village. As the most authentic and affordable Thai food I’ve had in the city, I was devastated when Spice took over, and have been on a hunt for good Thai food ever since.  I almost laughed at the prospect of finding that here in BPC, but I’d heard good things about both Bennie’s Thai Cafe and Mangez Avec Moi, so I was excited to see how their pad thai and red curry with chicken measured up as I pitted them against each other for this series of Race to My Place.

Delivery Speed: Bennie’s Thai Cafe
Both restaurants delivered their food in a decent amount of time, but Bennie’s only took 29 minutes opposed to Mangez’s 36 minutes.

Packaging & Presentation: Mangez Avec Moi
Although neither restaurant did anything special with their presentation, Bennie’s packaged their chicken curry in a tin tray with a plastic cover- not exactly the best container for a dish with lots of sauce.  The curry ended up leaking everywhere, so it was a mess to clean up and there wasn’t enough curry to mix with all the rice!  Mangez’s simple plastic container was much more secure and kept all the food where it was supposed to be.

Quality & Taste: Tie
I have to be completely honest and say that for the first time since I’ve started these races to my place, I’m looking forward to eating these left overs.  This food was absolutely  mouth watering- I can’t remember the last time I ate food so rich and flavorful.  Although the two restaurants tied in quality and taste, they each had one dish that was better than the other.

Bennie’s pad thai was the best I’ve ever had, hands down.  The noodles were cooked perfectly and it was well seasoned with just the right amount of tang.  They placed some crushed peanuts on the side which made the whole dish even more rich and buttery.  Mangez’s pad thai came in a much smaller portion and the noodles were really hard.  It wasn’t as flavorful either, although they provided some sweet and sour sauce on the side so you could control how tangy you wanted the noodles to be.

Bennie’s curry chicken, on the other hand, was a little on the dry side.  The curry sauce, however, was sinfully creamy and had a really robust coconut flavor which I found absolutely delectable, and they also delivered some of the softest rice I’ve ever gotten from a restaurant in NYC.  While Bennie’s red curry was pretty rich, Mangez’s red curry chicken was out of this world.  Their curry was a little spicier and had a noticeable ginger taste to it.  What really set them apart though, was their succulent chicken.  The meat was fall-apart tender like a perfect pot roast, and it was incredibly juicy and had an intense flavor of its own, which added another layer to the complex flavors of the curry.  This was so good I could order this every single day and be perfectly content.

Value: Tie
Bennie’s Thai Cafe has some lunch specials that are cheap and give you the most bang for your buck.  However, none of their noodle dishes are on the lunch special list, so their pad thai is a little more expensive.  Mangez has most of the popular Thai dishes on their lunch specials list, but it’s not as cheap as Bennie’s specials.  Here is the breakdown:

Bennie’s Thai Cafe
Pad Thai: $9.95
Red Curry Chicken Lunch Special: $5.95

Mangez Avec Moi
Pad Thai: $7.95
Red Curry Chicken: $7.95

I was genuinely surprised at how good the food from both of these restaurants were.  My ideal meal would be Bennie’s pad thai with Mangez’s red curry chicken, but I’m not sure if that would satisfy the delivery minimums for each restaurant.  Either way, I’m extremely relieved that I no longer have to venture far for my Thai food fix!