We typically learn new things about our partners when we go on holidays… things that generally does not surface unless you spend 24-7 with someone for a period of time. One of the things that I learnt about M was his amazing knack of demolishing cheesecakes. Good cheesecakes. We soon learnt that NYC was full of cheesecakes, and M started his cheesecake eating campaign. After a month in NYC, and endless calories dedicated to trying out various cheesecakes, we have finally narrowed it down to the top 5 cheesecakes we enjoyed.
1. Our favourite cheesecake in NYC was easily decided between ourselves to be Eileen’s Special Cheesecake. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake shop is located at Cleveland Place in downtown NYC, and can be easy to miss despite it’s bright blue sign (we walked around in circles using google maps for a good few minutes). However once inside, all is forgotten and we found ourselves in cheesecake heaven. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake has been around since 1975, and they pride themselves on serving up consistent good-quality and well-made cheesecakes. The retail store is simply decorated, with a few tables and seats squeezed in the small area. The focus really is all on the cheesecake here, and when we get to the front of the line we’re greeted with a cabinet displaying a good range of individual sized and larger sized cheesecake goodies.
After much umming and indecisiveness, we ended up choosing two individual cheesecakes: the “best-seller” strawberry cheesecake, and the richer cookies-and-cream cheesecake. Both are delicious, but the simple strawberry cheesecake was definitely superior. The cheesecake is simple, light, creamy and not too sweet. It’s then rolled in a crumbly buttery biscuit base, and topped with a whole strawberry sitting on top of a bed of sweet strawberry sauce that is heavenly.
2. We were quite torn between our second and third favourite cheesecakes in NY, but in the end we decided on Junior’s Cheesecake. Junior’s Cheesecake was founded in 1950 by Harry Rosen, and has since expanded to 4 stores. We visited the original store in Brooklyn that is impossible to miss with it’s large storefront size and bright red colours. There is 3 lines upon entering the store – one to be seated at the restaurant, one for takeaway whole cheesecakes, and one for takeaway individual portioned cheesecake slices.
Perhaps it was from the continuous hazy food coma state that M and I were in, but found ourselves lining up in the whole cheesecake line as we thought it would be a good idea to just buy a whole cheesecake to eat between ourselves. We reasoned that we did have a fridge at our service apartment, so really we were saving money if we compared the portion size to cost ratio between the individual and whole cheesecakes. We really should have thought more about our waistlines, but thankfully the cheesecake at Junior’s was really delicious so a slice (or two) would not have been enough. We ended up buying the 3 fruit cheesecake which consisted of their 3 popular flavours of cherry, pineapple and strawberry. The cheesecake is richer and denser than Eileen’s Special cheesecakes, and is topped with juicy plump fruit pieces in a jelly-like set sauce.
3. Coming in a very close third for us was the cheesecake at ChikaLicious. ChikaLicious was established in 2003, and is an intimate 20-seat eatery that is focused on making American desserts presented in a French manner with Japanese tasting portions. In other words, it is fancy fancy fancy (especially compared to most of the other cheesecake shops). What I really do love about the eatery is the centred open kitchen where you can watch the two chefs work passionately to create each individually ordered dessert. There is a no reservation policy, but we were seated within 10 minutes when we arrived there at 4pm on a Saturday.
The eatery does not have al-la-carte, and instead offers a 3 course Prix Fixe menu for $16, which includes an amuse, dessert of your choice, and assorted petits fours. In all honesty the amuse and assorted petits fours were probably delicious but forgettable. However the cheesecake was amazingly light and fluffy, but at the same time had this rich cheese flavour that was blissful with every spoonful. To take it to another level, the cheesecake at ChikaLicious swims in a heavenly pool of sweet rich fromage-sauce.
While it is hard to justify spending around $50 for two people for what is essentially just cheesecake accompanied by some extras and a coffee, it was definitely a worthwhile experience for us. If not only for the cheesecake, then for the whole “fine dining” experience that was focused solely around desserts. It was amazing to see the passion and devotion that the staff at ChikaLicious put in to their desserts.
4. Whilst Veniero’s cheesecakes are probably less known then the first three places, the shop itself is by no means unestablished. Veniero’s Pasticceria has been around since 1894, and has a large range of cheesecakes, cakes, pastries, biscuits and more. There is also a large cafe portion that is connected to the pasticceria which provides customers with easy seating after making their hard decisions at the front of the store.
Upon recommendation from the friendly staff at the front counter, we chose the raspberry, blueberry and blackberry cheesecake. There is no crumbly buttery base that I love in cheesecakes, but the richness and creaminess of the New York style cheesecake more than makes up for it. The raspberry, blueberry and blackberry pieces on the top are juicy and sweet, although there was not much sauce on the top to stick the fruit pieces to the cheesecake so they did end up falling around the plate when we dug into the cheesecake.
5. Our fifth favourite NY cheesecake experience probably isn’t the most conventional “cheesecake”, however I decided to mention it here since I had enjoyed it so much! I loved the concept of the Rice to Riches store, which is a store that serves up rice pudding in flavours varying from “fluent in French Toast” to “Sex Drugs and Rocky Road”. The store is also fitted out with random quirky quotes such as “we put the XXX in XXXL” and “dieting is optional”.
The rice pudding is served in cute disposable bowls, and the flavours are all named with equally adorable and funnily appetising names. I couldn’t go past the “Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug” whilst M decided to go with his NY cheesecake theme by choosing the “Coast to Coast cheesecake”. Both flavours were true to their names, and were rich and creamy.
Whilst we will probably always have a soft stop for Papa’s cheesecake in Haberfield (Sydney), NYC is a mecca for cheesecakes. There are numerous cafes and eateries claiming that they have NYC’s “best cheesecakes” but these were our favourites from our month-long of eating around NY.
So dear readers, where do you go for your favourite cheesecake?
Eateries that appeared in this blog:
1. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake (17 Cleveland Place Soho NYC)
2. Junior’s Cheesecake (386 Flatbush Ave Brooklyn NY)
3. ChikaLicious Dessert Bar (203E 10th St NY)
5. Rice to Riches (37 Spring St Nolita NY)
If you liked this post, why not share it?