Puff & Pao
At Puff & Pao, the new West Village bakery, owner Stephen Elliot brings together two delicacies seldom seen in the same place: the cream puffs that have lately overtaken New York, and the Brazilian cheese bread you might encounter in outer-borough pizzerias. His, though, have undergone certain subtle tweaks: The puffs (made with sugar or Splenda) are equipped with a thicker-than-average brioche shell for enhanced portability; the manioc-flour paolitos are enriched with either New York Cheddar or its British Isles counterpart, and flavored with ingredients like chorizo and peppadew. The international theme extends to beverages like Cuban coffee, Moroccan mint tea, and South American maté.
105 Christopher St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-633-7833
The sushi bar is dead! Long live the sushi bar! A Chelsea corner’s recent transformation is more aesthetic than culinary: One venerable neighborhood landmark of a Japanese restaurant (Meriken) has been replaced by an open-fronted, minimalist-bordering-on-bare one (the month-old Momoya). Chef-partner Chie Shirahata has cooked at Nobu, Obeca Li, and Mi, and she diversifies her mostly traditional menu (and her Momoya bento box, pictured) with fusion touches in dishes like black-sesame salmon with balsamic sauce, and sardine tempura with wasabi vinaigrette. She even throws vegetarians a bone—or rather, a “tofu chop.”
185 Seventh Ave., at 21st St.; 212-989-4466
Compared with remote Red Hook, where chef Alexandre Tchistov used to cook, Prospect Heights is the cradle of civilization. It’s also the home of his new restaurant, a breezy glass-walled corner spot serving a $20-to-$25 prix fixe “market menu” that changes daily. Tchistov describes his style as American home cooking, a catchall phrase for dishes as diverse (and occasionally winter-hearty) as snails with spaetzle and scallion coulis, chicken with corn and shiitakes in pink-peppercorn sauce, and cantaloupe soup. In the spirit of his former employer, 360, Tchistov tries to buy his meat and produce from small local purveyors and stocks his cellar with affordable French bottles. Another similarity: It’s cash-only.
605 Carlton Ave., at St. Marks Pl., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-622-1190
Cold OneIt may not go down as easy as a Belgian witbier, and it doesn’t have the hipster-doofus cachet of a can of Pabst, but nothing stays as cold for as long as an Iron City beer served in its new high-tech aluminum bottle—maybe not a great concern among those who quaff their beer in quick gulps, but good to know, let’s say, in case of brownout.
Available at Lodge, 318 Grand St., at Havemeyer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-486-9400.