Friday, April 22, 2011

Our New Philosophy: It's Not Even Noon Somewhere

French Onion Soup Dumplings – Stanton Social Club
Stanton Social Club

Our next Best Thing I Ever Ate tour location is near and dear to our hearts.  Why?  It is the birthplace of our new life philosophy: It’s Not Even Noon Somewhere.

We had made brunch reservations at Stanton Social Club, a place that is entirely too cool for the likes of us, for 11:45am.  Unfortunately, we finished with our PB&J “sandwich” by 11:00am, leaving us 45 minutes to wander around the Lower East Side.

We’re not really one for the wander. We like to stick to itineraries.  The Lower East Side is also not the place to wander at 11am on Saturday morning.  The streets are deserted, and everything is closed: hangovers have laid up the entire population of the neighborhood.

So to pass the time and to quench our thirst, we sit ourselves in the coffee shop across from Stanton Social Club so that we have a clear view of when they raise the gates.  Ginger regales Vodka with summaries of her new favorite show, Extreme Couponing, while Vodka tries unsuccessfully to swallow sinus medication (and ends up chewing it like a toddler).  Needless to say, we believe people like of us are not usually allowed in such highbrow institutions as the Stanton Social Club.
Rest Stop
When the pearly gates of security eventually ascend, we stumble over snowbanks (dammit Bloomberg!) to cross the street.  We have decided, however, that in order to avoid another hate-filled waitress (we’re looking at you, Five Points) and/or stomach explosion, we would prefer to sit at the bar.  We tell the hostess this, and she looks at us skeptically before sending us upstairs.  We enter the bar area.

Incidentally, for someone unaccustomed with the Lower East Side, Ginger had found herself in this very bar the previous Friday night, fighting crowds for a drink, unable to hear or see a damn thing. What a difference broad daylight, silence and bar full of empty seats makes: we have ascended into the high heavens.
Crickets
We are alone.  Not one other person – bartenders, waiters, busboys, or renegades from last night’s festivities -- makes an appearance for at least 10 minutes.  We are highly entertained with ourselves.  The closest we have come to such feelings of exclusivity is Vodka’s forays into the VIP section at Live with Regis and Kelly and Ginger’s run-ins with greatness in the form of Bethenny Frankel’s fired intern, Max.

Finally, a bartender straggles in, and we are fairly certain that he thinks we are either a) still drunk from last night and/or b) certifiably insane.  We order our respective martinis and they are placed in front of us at exactly 11:55am.  So, as we toast day drinking, we say:

“It’s not even noon somewhere.”

Amen.
It's Not Even Noon Somewhere
With our martinis, we order Claire Robinson’s favorite APPETIZER: French Onion Soup Dumplings.  By the time they arrive before us, the vodka has washed away any lingering knoblewurst fullness, and we dive in.  Our eagerness discounts the fact that, like Chinatown Brasserie’s eggrolls, these dumplings are scalding hot.
Heaven in a Snail Dish
Served in what appears to be an escargot dish (though neither of us are much of snail eaters), there are six dumplings, each encasing the taste of French onion soup, and covered with a thick layer of assorted cheeses.  Picking up a toothpick with a hot dumpling, oodles of melted cheese, and a crunchy crouton, we bite.

The dumplings are delectable, mind-boggling in their ability to hold the full contents of a soup in such a small, unsoggy compartment.

The cheese, however, is what makes the dish.  Gooey in the center and crispy on the outside, it adds a perfect layer to the top, and it pulls away easily with each individual dumpling.

Bless you, Claire Robinson.
Perfection on a Toothpick
So word to the nerds: avoid the madness of the people who descend on Stanton Social Club after dark, and instead arrive as soon as they open.  Head to the bar, pull up a stool, and indulge.

And no one will be there to judge you when you get drunk before noon.

Stanton Social Club’s French Onion Soup dumplings: 5 stars*

*Certifiable Best Thing We Ever Ate

4 comments:

  1. Um I want that right now.

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  2. The french onion soup dumplings look so good (I actually like escargot :) Also, I am hooked on Extreme Couponing too!

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  3. FINALLY! After 6 years watching this show, 5 days reading this blog, and 4 nights in NYC, the three finally coincided when I had this dish tonight! They were pretty damn goowd, but unfortunately got a little lost in the chaos of everything else we ordered. It's a tapas-style place, so we had like 6 different things. Though in my mind on the way there, I was wondering if the dumplings would be so good, I'd order them as an app AND dessert.(That ended up being Momofuku, BTW...Chikalicious was mysteriously closed)

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