New York City dining scene this year has been particularly active in the fast casual front. In the age of rising rent and labor cost, a temptation for chefs who used to be in fine dining to hit the fast casual sector is understandable, but I wish that they do so while ensuring that the level of quality stays consistent (and not surprisingly restaurant critics have voiced their frustration over how NYC dining scene this year was a disappointment due in part to such race to the fast casual). Some chefs, however, have managed to keep their fast casual options at high level of quality, and Brooks Headley is certainly one of them with the way he put his Superiority Burger on the map with casual vegetarian dishes. I had a pretty nice meal at Superiority on my first visit a couple of years ago, and I wanted to see how the restaurant was keeping up so made a quick return trip with my wife Jun on a Friday evening.
The food at Superiority Burger remained most delicious, and just like last time the star was not the veggie burger. I let Jun eat most of the burger and while she said it was delicious, she was also overwhelmed by the amount of flavor that went into it. After finishing the burger, she had to gulp down the entire Arnold Palmer tea. On the other hand, the other dishes were definitely more successful. The sloppy dave (a playful take on the classic American sandwich sloppy joe) was rich and delicious and stand out on its own against any sloppy joe. My favorite dish of the night was called “new creation”, with griddled Yuba (tofu skin) on a roll. I loved the textural approach of this dish as the Yuba gave a meaty sensation that was pleasant to chew on every bite. Add a side of Tahini ranch romaine salad with cauliflower and avocado (a little bit underwhelming as I was hoping to get the crunchy texture of cauliflower that was almost non-existent in the plate) and crunchy potatoes with spicy cashew cream and scallions (a much better one, with spicy kick that Jun and I both enjoyed), and you have a dinner meal that could easily feed two even though the portion of each dish doesn’t look big at first glance. During our visit, Superiority had sour apple sorbet (which was pedestrian) and rye gelato (which was really interesting). No matter what the flavor is available that day, you should always give a try.
Despite its continued popularity, Superiority is still primarily a take-out joint. While the “seats” become available quickly, if you are inclined to sit at the restaurant, you might have to wait a while and also bear all the inconveniences of crowd of locavore, health-conscious youngsters on the line waiting to order. There still is no alcohol served but this restaurant is designed for a quick meal anyways, so head over to any East Village bar nearby afterwards. Superiority shows how fast casual can and should be done. For every chef thinking of heading to the race to the fast casual, I suggest they look into the blueprint for success at Superiority.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009
Telephone: (212) 256-1192