Valentine’s Day: Time To find a bit of Heaven in Hell’s Kitchen

By on February 14, 2013


Kyotofu, a Japanese Dessert Spot welcomes Sarah Rolleston and Onur Ozkan eating their way through Hell's Kitchen

Kyotofu, a Japanese Dessert Spot welcomes Sarah Rolleston and Onur Ozkan eating their way through Hell’s Kitchen


In a neighborhood known for poverty, rough trade, and unexplained murders,  the sweet side has emerged.  Hell’s Kitchen is also adjacent to the famed theatre district in New York City, and – while still having low rents – it’s possible to do a start-up food business and succeed here. Hidden bakeries in New York have popped up here.  do stop in.

And there to share with visitors the hidden wonders of Hell’s Kitchen bright side comes actress, Sarah Rolleston, (last seen as Belle in the touring company of Beauty and the Beast) who cooked up a better way to fund her acting start than waitressing: she and her cousin invented a service for New York City they call Sugartooth Tours, where for an affordable price they escort visitors on  very personal tours of their New York:  The Sweet Side.

If you don’t have a plan for your sweetheart today,  might I heartily recommend a visit to one or more of Sarah’s finds from the “Find Heaven in Hell’s Kitchen” dessert tour.

Of the six stops we made,  my fave was the last which is called Kyotofu, a Japanese dessert place at 705 9th Avenue, 212-974-6012 which is funky in a smooth, urbane Japanese sort of way.  It is tiny,  it serves entire dinners, and small plates as well as scrumptious desserts.

Even Thomas Keller has endorsed Kyotofu, and no wonder.  Highly recommended for your sweetheart today is the Miso Brownie with Yuzu Crème Fraiche.  It is dark, deep, and dangerously chocolate.  Yummalicious.

If you’re looking for a veritable trip home,  you might like Donna Bells’ Bake Shop, 301 W. 49th Street, 212-582-8403 which serves up Southern desserts with a big dose of mother love.  And no wonder, named for the late mother of owner-actress Pauley Perrette, known for her role in NCIS, every single crumb is baked up fresh in the tiny on site kitchen every day.  Do try the Chess Pie.  It will take you back.  It will.

Sweet Pralines for your Valentine

Sweet Pralines for your Valentine

We also loved Schmakery’s, 362 W/ 45th Street,  646-801-9866 where the cookies are lip-smacking good.  Surprising to us was how good the bacon flavored cookie was.  And remember to give the bakery’s mascot, the dog Potato a pat on the head.  He runs the place.

And for more sweet tastes of New York, where you’ll learn not only the unknown hotspots in the sweet foods world, but a bit of history you won’t find in the guidebooks,  check out  917 856 6761.  They have a variety of interesting tours to choose from.


About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”