Stage Restaurant

Cooks behind the counter at Stage Restaurant

Cooks behind the counter at Stage Restaurant

About two weeks ago we went to a place called Stage Restaurant, a Ukrainian and Polish restaurant at 128 2nd Ave in Manhattan. I can’t believe it’s been that long already. With classes going, time is flying by.

We wound up in Stage because we were looking for a place to take my mother for a late birthday lunch. She happened to see an article in the paper about Stage potentially closing due to leasing problems and she wanted to spend some money there and support local neighborhood establishments. A lot of other restaurants that had been in the neighborhood for decades have been driven out by rising rent costs, including places that we used to go to often as kids, like the 2nd Avenue Deli. Now the 2nd Avenue Deli is way up town on 75th Street. I haven’t been there since they moved, because it’s so far out of the way. I remember the food being really good. I suppose we could go there before or after visiting the Met one day.

Anyway, we found out later from one of the employees that Stage has a long lease already set up that can’t be broken by the new building owners, so hopefully things work out for them. It seems like a lot of property in the area is getting bought up by NYU for classrooms and dorms. The whole character of the neighborhood has changed since NYU put those dorms up at Union Square. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. The place looks a lot nicer. On the other hand, it runs up prices on everything and the neighborhood was predominantly lower income before. Basically, people were run out of their homes because they could no longer afford to live there. That’s gentrification, I guess.

French toast and apple blintzes.

French toast and apple blintzes.

Stage Restaurant is a hole-in-the-wall sort of place with one long bar for seating directly in front of the cooking area. The latkes (fried potato pancakes) pierogies were recommended in the news article, but I went with the French toast.  My wife and I shared a plate of apple blintzes. I can’t remember what she ordered now, but she didn’t have any complaints at the time. My mom went with a plate of pierogies, stuffed cabbage, sausage and sauerkraut. The portions were huge and she had plenty of food to take home for another meal.

Pierogies, sausage, stuffed cabbage and sauerkraut.

Pierogies, sausage, stuffed cabbage and sauerkraut.

Stage Restaurant isn’t fine dining, but it’s fast, comfortable, and the food was good. It was also busy. Every time a seat opened up, someone sat in it. I don’t think the restaurant is going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m glad we found it. We can add it to our list of potential lunch venues when we’re in the neighborhood.

Singapore’s French Toast is Not French Toast

Singapore is often hailed as a ‘food heaven’, and in some cases that’s true, especially if you have the money to afford the ‘authentic dining’.  More often than not, it’s impractical to constantly go to high end restaurants, so I get excited when I see cuisine from ‘home’ that’s listed at an affordable price.

It was with great excitement that I saw French Toast on the menu at a beverage stall in the Tampines 1 food court on the upper level.  I could, of course, just make French Toast at home if I wanted to, but when I saw it on the menu and realized how long it’d been since I had it, it seemed the perfect dish to go along with the iced kopi I had ordered.

What I was given was nothing short of the murder of a dish I grew up loving.  I was a bit thrown off when the auntie behind the counter asked me if I’d like some kaya to go with my French Toast.  I couldn’t figure out how that would go well with a sweet dish that is supposed to be coated in sugar, cinnamon, and syrup.

Well, the answer was simple.  This stall’s idea of French Toast was a piece of bread with scrambled egg and butter fried to the sides.  There was no sugar, cinnamon, or syrup, which are what make French Toast … French Toast.

 

While it tasted well enough on its own, this isn’t what I thought I was going to get when I ordered it, and I couldn’t help but be disappointed.  The sign shouldn’t list this as French Toast, because it’s definitely not.