Lee Lee's Baked Goods

Stopped by this small, old-fashioned bakery after brunch at Vinateria.  

Apparently the bake shop is known for its Rugelach, a traditional Jewish pastry. The story is (I googled this after I got home), the owner/baker, Mr Alvin Lee Smalls first came across a rugelach recipe on a newspaper over four decades ago. After making the rugelach per the recipe, he decided he didn't like the recipe. He then tinkered with the recipe for about six month and created his own version of the traditional Jewish treat!  How cool is that?!

I have to say, his version tastes amazing!  I got the traditional ones to go because I was simply too stuffed from brunch. But... when I realized that the rugelachs were still warm, I magically found room in my stomach. Nothing like freshly baked treats! I loved the touch of cinnamon and raisins in this "traditional" version.  Now that I know how amazing Mr. Lee's rugelach are, I will go back and try the other flavors.  

Rugelach  

Rugelach  

These round treats covered in a dusting of white powdered sugar are Sandies. At this shop, they are affectionately called Sandie Tots by the owner. One of the patrons called them Mexican Wedding Cookies. Whatever you want to call them, they are absolutely delicious!  I'm usually not a fan of these types of densely packed cookies. These Sandie Tots somehow managed to be crunchy, but light, with a slight nutty flavor. I can easily inhale a couple of these. 

Sandie Tots

Sandie Tots

I am never one to pass up on cinnamon rolls, especially since I have such a hard time finding good ones these days.  This cinnamon rolls are a bit thinner than most cinnamon rolls.  I was worried that they would be a bit dry, since I didn't get a chance to eat them on the day I bought them.  To my surprise, these cinnamon rolls were perfectly yummy when I had them for breakfast the next day. 

Cinnamon Rolls  

Cinnamon Rolls  

Verdict: AA+; This unassuming bakery is a great find. It is definitely worth trekking uptown for these special treats.  

Lee Lee's Baked Goods
283 West 118th Street (Between St. Nicholas & Frederick Douglas Blvd.), Harlem
http://leeleesrugelach.com

Vinateria

This eatery in Harlem is a little bit off the beaten path for me.  I don't usually venture that far uptown for food.  Since this place has become one of the go-to places for a foodie friend of mine, I thought I should check it out. 

I liked the energy and vibe of the place almost immediately after entering the imposing black doors. The space was light-filled and airy, lively but not chaotic. I was able to get a seat at the bar and have my morning coffee before my friends arrived. 

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The brunch menu had all the usual brunch items.  I liked that brunch items automatically include coffee/tea and orange juice/mimosa/bloody mary. 

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Not sure how I got talked into ordering the Steak and Eggs  I was surprised to see such an enormous portion. The steak was a bit overcooked, but very tender and juicy nonetheless. It was a very yummy dish. Definitely the thing to order if you are hungry!

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I had a bite of my friend's French Toast. It tasted as good as it looked. I would totally come back and order this. 

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My other friend's burger looked ridiculously decadent! 

The french burger with Caramelized onions, Bacon, Mustard Sauce, White Cheddar

The french burger with Caramelized onions, Bacon, Mustard Sauce, White Cheddar

On my second visit, I got the Porchetta sandwich.  Since the sandwich was topped with a fried egg, it counts as breakfast in my book.  The pork was nice and juicy, but not super flavorful. I did like the aioli sauce on the toasted bread.

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Believe it or not, we actually found room in our stomachs for dessert!  This Olive Oil Cake was my friends' favorite dessert item. I liked the combination of the Olive Oil Cake with kumquat.  The citrus of the kumquat balanced out the richness of the olive oil nicely. The sesame seed ice-cream, on the other hand, was a bit of a miss for me. I liked the sesame ice-cream fine, I just didn't think the flavor went with the cake well. 

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This house made blueberry and orange sorbet was my favorite. It was icy, refreshing, and the intensity of the fruit really shines through. Excellent palate cleanser and a great way to end the meal. 

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Verdict: A; Comfortable space, friendly service, good price, and not hard to get a reservation….all good reasons to check this place out if you are in the neighborhood. 

Venateria
2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd (@119th Street)
http://www.vinaterianyc.com