We sat down with New Yorker and Top Chef Just Desserts judge Dannielle Kyrillos to find out where she goes for a hot meal in the city.
HP: What's your favorite brunch spot?
DK: One of my favorite spots in all of NYC is the Little Owl. It's such a tiny little gem that sometimes it's hard to get in for dinner, but they make some of the best brunch in town (pancakes! sausage biscuits! bangers!). The secret, whether you're hungover or not, is to order the bacon cheeseburger and ask for a little dish of Sambal chili paste to give it the kick to cure whatever ails you.
HP: What's your favorite date night haunt?
DK: It's so sexy to sit at the bar at Barbuto and share some Italian red wine, pasta and Jonathan Waxman's chicken. It's the right set-up for a date because you're sitting close and in your own little world, but there's such an energy in the rest of the room. And mmmm, that chicken.
HP: Where do you go for just dessert (sorry couldn't help myself)?
DK: It's ok, I spend a lot of time thinking about both dessert and clever dessert puns. It's always fun to have dessert separately from a main meal. The bread puddings (both chocolate chip and banana walnut) at Blue Ribbon Bakery are dense, moist and everything bread pudding should be. An ice cream from Cones on Bleecker, especially in the summer. In winter, apple strudel at the bar at Wallse with coffee. For a sweet treat in the morning, the caramel pecan pretzel at Sigmund Pretzelshop.
HP: What is your favorite place to grab a drink?
DK: If I'm in a really dive-y mood or it's late, Johnny's bar on Greenwich Ave. is one of the best, crumbling, old-school watering holes there is. The jukebox is awesome. But it is a real-deal dive, like Charles Bukowski-style, which is why I always end up talking to someone interesting at the next stool. On the other end of the spectrum, Angel's Share has been such an elegant sanctuary for so many years, and you feel like you're in a Murakami novel. I had a delicious drink with shiso leaf just last night at the new Lani Kai, which is cocktail maven Julie Reiner's new tiki place on Broome St.
HP: What's your favorite getaway, accessible by car or train?
DK: I promise I mean it: my in-laws' house in Middletown, New Jersey, and the nearby beach at Sea Bright. They have an ancient colonial with a wraparound porch, and being there just lowers my heart rate. There's fresh air, green grass, long days at the beach and cookouts with friends and family. Heaven!
HP: What's your favorite place to order-in from?
DK: Always, always Kobma Thai. They are so nice, make such yummy food and it appears almost instantly. Their chicken green curry is my favorite. It's even fun to go there because the enclosed front porch with big ceiling fans actually feels like a hole-in-the-wall in Thailand.
HP: What's your favorite coffee joint?
DK: As luck would have it, the greatest café in all the land is one block from my house, and it's a cozy, wooden, perfect nook called Mojo, on Charles between Greenwich and Washington Streets. It's the Far West Village's living room. The coffee is of course top-notch, but the food they produce in a tiny little square-foot of a kitchen boggles the mind. The Lorraine wrap (eggs, spinach, ham and swiss in a flour wrap) is my go-to breakfast. Levon and Gio, whom you'll usually find behind the counter, become your true friends the second or third time you visit.
HP: Where do you head for a business lunch?
DK: Lure on Mercer St. is always on point, with sumptuous fish and that excellent wood-y, leathery yacht feel, and it's even better when someone else is paying. In midtown, The Lambs Club is stellar. So glamorous and so delicious.
HP: What's your favorite late-night grub spot?
DK: Village Pizza on 8th Ave., but it closes early-ish. If we're too late, we beg our friends at Casa La Femme to keep the kitchen open and gobble up their hummus, baba ghanoush and fresh-baked pita, and we are sometimes tempted by their apple hookahs.
Top Chef Just Desserts airs Wednesdays at 10pm on Bravo.