During our final morning in New York, we couldn't help but breakfast at our now-beloved Champs. We loved the '80s pop soundtrack they'd selected for the morning (that's Michael above bopping along to Madonna's 'Like a Prayer') and our waiter's Luke Perry 90210 T-shirt. Michael went all out and doused maple syrup over the formidable pancake bowl (US$13 ~ AU$13.80) - yep, that's a big bowl lined with a large fluffy pancake then filled with home fries, tofu scramble, soysage and tempeh bacon.
I wanted one more biscuit - this one sandwiched around a thick piece of breaded chick'n with mayonnaise, a pickle slice and a slug of sweetener (listed as honey, though I'd bet it was a vegan alternative; US$7 ~ AU$7.40). Both meals were testament to what this vegan diner does so well (and why no-one should really be eating there four times in a week).
Momofuku Milkbar was on our walk back to our apartment, and I stopped in to grab a couple of cookies (US$2 ~ AU$2.10 each) for our plane trip. I'd made the compost cookies at home once before and was keen to compare with the commercial product (pictured left); the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie (pictured right) was just a punt.
These little numbers didn't end up distinguishing themselves from your average chewy choc-chip cookie at all. I was disappointed. Having enjoyed the milkshakes well enough and flicked through the Milk Bar cookbook, my fascination with this franchise was done. The recipes are centred around nostalgia for processed junk foods - froot loops, potato chips, M&Ms, etc - and augmented with extra milk, sugar, eggs and whatever additives are needed to shift or stabilise the texture.
I reckon we can do better - we certainly did better eating our way around New York City. While plenty of our meals had their junky elements, the offerings at Champs and Seasoned Vegan felt uniquely American and memorable, and offered welcoming, friendly atmospheres. We received more formal hospitality and meticulously presented food at Kajitsu and Hangawi. And I've felt inspired to try new things with corn and vegan icecream in my kitchen at home (...maybe even simultaneously).