Sage General Store, Long Island City

With its cutesy decor and dishtowel napkins, Sage General Store is definitely aspiring to be something–perhaps a country general store, as their website claims. It isn’t clear. What’s evident, however, is that their food and service are aspiring to be something and falling just short of making it.

sage general store ranchero burrito

ranchero burrito

We started our brunch with some coffee, sweet tea, and cheddar biscuits. The coffee tasted bitter and required extra sugar. The sweet tea was okay–no complaints there. We accidentally ordered two cheddar biscuits. This turned out to be an accident because the biscuits arrived in the size of a baby’s head, with some butter on the side. We ate our way through one, wishing it was warmed by their brick oven that is obviously dedicated to pizzas-only, and took the other home. The biscuits had a crisp, crusty exterior and warm, cheesy interior. There was definitely a kick of cheddar in them.

For my entree, I ordered the Ranchero burrito, filled with organic eggs, caramelized onions, ham, tomato, and cheddar. The potatoes on the side came out cold and lacked flavor. The burrito tasted fine–perhaps too ham-heavy for my taste–but needed something to distinguish itself as a burrito, said my dining partner. Hidden Valley Ranch, of course, would have been the ideal condiment to accompany my lacking burrito. HVR! HVR! HVR! Too bad there wasn’t a Hidden Valley Ranch party in my mouth.

Sage General Store Wisconsin Pizza

wisconsin pizza

Sage General Store offers a bevy of pizzas as part of their brunch menu. My dining partner ordered the Wisconsin pizza, which was topped with Neuske’s bacon, caramelized onions, ricotta, and creme fraiche. To my surprise, the pizza was excellent. The crust was on the thin side and golden brown. The ricotta-creme fraiche combo definitely delighted the senses. It was delicious.

A word about the service: My burrito came out at least five minutes sooner than the pizza did. I noticed this trend at every other table in Sage General Store. As my dining partner said, “They just bring things out here”–without any order or synchronicity. I didn’t like this, and don’t think you would either.

Overall, Sage General Store is an okay brunch spot, but definitely do not go out of your way to get there. If you happen to be at MoMA PS1, you might try Sage afterward. Otherwise, stick to your trusted Manhattan reliables.

Sage General Store

24-20 Jackson Avenue

Long Island City, Queens

Take the 7 train to Court Square and walk a few blocks. 

Rachel’s Taqueria, Park Slope

After eating adequate Tex-Mex in San Diego, I was interested to revisit New York’s rendition. On our way to see Melissa Ferrick at the Bell House, my dining partner and I stopped at Rachel’s Taqueria in Park Slope. Its over-the-top Mexican kitsch decor turned me off at first, but the food proved to impress.

guacamole at Rachel's Taqueria

guacamole

We started with the fresh-made guacamole. A guacamole man rolled a cart to our table and proceeded to unwrap two avocados, sprinkle some cilantro and onions into the mortar, and smash away using two spoons. At the end, the guacamole man placed one of the avocado pits on top of the guac and inserted two chips, which were, by far, the highlight of the meal. The homemade chips are thick, substantial. We went through two baskets of them. As for the guacamole, it was well-seasoned and dotted with small chunks of avocado–just the consistency I like. When we were in San Diego, we ordered guacamole and chips from El Zarape. They gave us guacamole that was near-liquid. Gross.

El cholo at Rachel's taqueria

El Cholo burrito

My dining partner and I both ordered burritos. Mine was the Baja, which is a smaller version of the giant California burrito they offer. It contained shredded chicken and spinach, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, and cheese. It was great, but I could only eat half of it. I can’t imagine what a feat it would be to finish the California burrito.

My dining partner’s burrito was called El Cholo, a special, featuring carnitas, green tomatillo sauce, and cheese on top with a scallion for decoration. He ate the entire thing, so I’m thinking it was pretty delicious.

We didn’t order dessert at Rachel’s, though they do offer it. In addition to our meals, we drank pink lemonade margaritas on the rock, which were only $4.50 apiece. (It was too sweet for me, but MDP enjoyed his.) Overall, Rachel’s delighted our palettes in a way that San Diego’s Tex-Mex (that we tried) never could.

Rachel’s Taqueria

408 5th Avenue (between 6th and 7th sts.)

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Take the F/G/R to 4th avenue and walk a few blocks

Here’s a video of Melissa Ferrick playing “Freedom”, one of my favorite songs: