Friday, August 17, 2012

Lassen & Hennigs

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a place on my block that was a combination deli/catering business from where I pick up food at least twice a week. It's 100 feet from my front door. Two different people asked me further questions. Since I've been taking photos of 99% of the things I eat in New York, it turns out I have a lot - I'm talking about 70 - of photos of items from Lassen & Hennigs. So I decided to share them with you now.

Most people seem to really like Lassen & Hennigs. The only two knocks I hear about the place are that 1) it's too pricey. It's not cheap, but nothing in Brooklyn Heights is cheap. It's definitely cheaper than going to most restaurants. And 2) the food used to be better a year or two ago. I have no way of knowing if this is true, but I've heard enough people say it that I tend to believe there is some validity to it.

Above are a few low-quality photos I snapped with my phone just to give you an idea of what it looks like inside. 

The chicken teriyaki dumplings I featured once before when I wrote about "Eight Chinese Eats." They are just fine if you don't have time to cook your own dumplings at home. But if you do, I would go ahead and make them yourself.

The vanilla custard is really good, but too small. I always want more when I finish. 

Elizabeth has the yogurt parfait at least once or twice per week, and she really likes it. I have never tried one - it's got fruit in it. 

The Italian potato salad - red potatoes tossed with olive oil, vinegar, peppers and red onions - is delicious. A perfect cool potato salad for a hot day. 

I picked this up for Elizabeth to take to work with her one day, and she liked it, but did not love it the way she does the Whole Foods salmon. 

The smoked turkey sandwich on croissant was very good. I have never had slices of apple on a turkey sandwich and I'd expected it to be too sweet, but it was a nice complement to turkey and mustard.

The "country" cole slaw is great. I don't mind mayonnaise-based slaw, but some dishes I make are complemented much better with vinegary slaws, and this one fits the bill perfectly.

I also wrote about the chicken teriyaki pieces before, but I'm adding them again, because they are my second-favorite item from Lassen. When they are freshly cooked - maybe about half the time - they are delicious, tender pieces of chicken with a very tasty sweet ginger sauce. I like to spice them up a little by dipping them in wasabi sauce. I eat a package of these once every week or two.

I ate a lot of black & white cookies when we first got to Brooklyn. But, of course, I only ate the white part. Sometimes Elizabeth would eat my black part, but usually she had her own black & white cookie and didn't want any of mine, and then it would just go to waste. So I hardly ever buy them any more. But Lassen & Hennigs makes one of my favorite. 

The only thing I've strongly disliked was the "Old English Wrap." The roast beef was gummy and fatty and the wrap disintegrated as I tried to eat it. I tried to cover up the taste with a horseradish sauce, but it didn't work. 

One day I brought Elizabeth a cucumber and tomato salad at her work and I sat with her in a park as she ate it. She was not a big fan. I tried some of the cucumber and red onion - it tasted like cucumber and red onion drenched in oil. Not bad by any means, but it definitely left me with an "Is that all there is?" feeling. 
Elizabeth had half of a prosciutto sandwich on olive foccacia one day and she really didn't like it. I took half of it - it was incredibly dry. So I added some "bistro sauce" to it, which made it better, but not anything either of us are interested in trying again. 

The Chinese chicken salad is wonderful, tossed lightly with a soy-ginger dressing. I have had this three times and it has been great all three, perhaps my second-favorite item from Lassen & Hennigs. 

Sometimes I crave a glass bottle of Mexican Coke. Fortunately, they always have it in stock.

My favorite Lassen & Hennigs item is the chicken curry wrap with cranberries and yogurt. The curry chicken is delicious enough to eat on its own, but is complemented nicely by the other flavors. I'm really not a wrap guy, I much prefer sandwiches, but this wrap is a spectacular exception. 

I've only had the Swedish meatballs once and I was disappointed. Most of the meatballs were good, but quite a few were just way too fatty. I guess when the weather gets cooler I might try these again and warm them up... nah, probably not. Trader Joe's mini meatballs are much better. 

One night I was making burgers and Elizabeth's dad was coming over for dinner.  He asked what he could bring and I said "Why don't you pick up a couple of small sides from Lassen?" He came by with two things, including the macaroni salad. I'd stayed away from that because it looked to me like it was drenched in mayo and that would be the only flavor you would taste. But it was fantastic, one of the best macaroni salads I have ever had.

So I went back two days later and got another container. It was drenched in mayo and that was the only flavor I tasted. Damn. I'll probably try it for a third time, but I have this nagging feeling it will be like the latter time, not the former.

Last weekend I went across the street to get us lunch. Elizabeth wanted a chicken salad sandwich but added that she only wanted it on a roll, she did not want a wrap. In the cold case of assembled sandwiches, they only had the wrap, so I went up to the deli counter and ordered a "Jamaica Height" - a chicken salad sandwich with the addition of bacon. That sounded a little strange to me, but, whatever. If she didn't like the bacon should could take it off.

It turns out she loved the crispy bacon, and she gave me a bite so I could try it too. It was great. I never would have thought to put bacon on a chicken salad sandwich, but it was really good. 

If you've actually read this far, you deserve a bit of a story, so I'll give you one.

Remember in Apollo 13 when Tom Hanks's car stalls and he says to his wife: "That's the second time it's done that"?

Well, my brother refused to accept that that could be a throwaway line. He thought there was some deeper mystery to it, like perhaps if you could solve the riddle of exactly what is behind the words, you would understand some kind of foreshadowing for what was about to happen to the Apollo.

Well, when I got that Jamaica Heights sandwich for Elizabeth, I also got myself the above turkey and cole slaw wrap. And it was fine, but a touch on the dry side. So I went into to the fridge and found a bottle of Grey Poupon mustard with white wine. I squeeze some out, but for some reason it came out diagonally and dripped on the table. I cleaned it up and ate.

When it was time to eat the second half, I again tried to squirt mustard onto it. The mustard again came out diagonally and landed on the table. I looked at Elizabeth. "That's the second time it's done that."

Nothing. Crickets chirping.

But I emailed the anecdote to my brother and he appreciated it.

The Vegetarian Delight was actually the first thing Elizabeth got from Lassen just after we arrived here. I took a nibble; it was very good. But I haven't gotten one since. I like chicken too much.

The chicken fingers are probably really good when they're fresh. The chicken is high-quality white meat and I like the breading. But they keep them on a warming rack, and each package steams itself. When you buy the thing at the store it literally has condensation dripping from the roof of the package onto the chicken. I've tried it three times now, and every time it's the same thing. It pretty much ruins the experience. So I don't think I'll try it again.

I forgot about the Curry Chicken Chowder until I was going through these photos. It's been so hot and humid for the last couple months that I'd forgotten it was actually quite chilly when we arrived here in April. Lassen & Hennigs has plenty of fresh, hot soups available in the colder months, and I plan to eat a lot more of them once the weather changes again. This chowder was really good.

The potato salad is as creamy as any I have ever had. If you don't like mayo-heavy potato salads, you will hate this. I don't mind them, but I can only eat this in small batches. I do, however, love the way the potatoes are sliced and the addition of bell peppers. If they only went a little bit lighter on the mayo, this would be my favorite store-bought potato salad.

I bought the spinach bowtie pasta salad for Elizabeth to take to work the next day, but first I opened it, took a picture, and a taste. I never told her I did that. I thought it was good. I'm not really a pasta salad lover, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I would never buy something like this for myself, but she liked it.

I actually don't remember anything about this tuna salad sandwich. It must have been Elizabeth's.

The roasted garlic potatoes are always a nice addition to meals, especially when I make sandwiches but don't feel like cooking fries myself. I buy a container and reheat the potatoes in the oven just before serving them. They get a little crispy around the edges but stay tender and garlicky in the center.


Jessica said...

What a cool place!!! My local grocery store in Olympia, WA charges pretty much the same prices but they are far far less imaginative with their recipes. I pay $6.99 for roast beef on focaccia.

JustinM said...

Yeah I don't think the prices are bad. If you were going to make these things yourself you'd have to spend a lot more in groceries. But, you know, there will always be people who complain about the price of something if it's not free.

Anonymous said...

A lot of that looks great, but nearly every item had me thinking that would be better with the addition of some Penzey's spicy or smoky salt. I don't know if you have tried any Penzey's spices but they are awesome. My spice cabinet is almost exclusively their products. Google them. They used to have a store in Grand Central but I think they closed it, Don't know if there are any other NY stores. Almost any mayo based salad I eat gets a sprinkle of either of those salts.

Emily said...

Chicken and bacon salad sandwiches are pretty standard here in the UK. That Chinese chicken salad looks DELICIOUS.

JustinM said...

Anon: I am not aware of that, but I will give it a try. Most of those things got cracked black pepper, but I rarely add salt to anything. It's not about health, I just don't get the same pleasure from salt that a lot of people do.

Emily: It's better than the Chinese food I had in Bushmills... the single worst meal of my life.

Anonymous said...

great post, pp. $17 for a wrap? damn, playa!

JustinM said...

Seven dollars, bro, not seventeen. I wouldn't spend seventeen on a wrap unless it had lobster or drugs in it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I'm from Iowa, or maybe you are just very wealthy and we don't know it. But the prices on all the food just really surprised me. For example - I know I'm way too cheap to spend $3.50 on a yogurt/granola cup even once in my life; let alone once a week. Or $5.84 on 4 chicken tenders. I have to echo the other anonymous poster: damn, playa.

JustinM said...

I'm curious if you have ever been to New York City. I'm guessing no, or you wouldn't be really surprised by these prices, because they're not bad. At the market just down the street, a similar-size chicken fingers is eight bucks. A six pack of Pacifico is $13.99. Prices are ridiculous here.

Anonymous said...

I think the proper term is "Baller". Not that Justin isn't a playa.

JustinM said...

Half past midnight on Friday night. Sitting on the couch in my underwear eating gummy lobsters and watching the godawful Angels. We should probably ease up on the baller/playa talk.

Rodzilla said...

I'm with you on the veggie wraps, it's not that I wouldn't eat them but I have trouble justifying the price to myself when they lack some form of animal protein (or drugs), even if the ingredients are just as expensive.

Nosh Gnostic said...

Cooking for 2, or for 1 mostly in my case, means a lot of unused, wasted groceries ($). To be able to have a satisfying variety of choices so conveniently available is worth an extra buck or two now and again. Sometimes what seems like luxury can actually be rather practical.
And, BTW, bacon makes everything better!