New York’s first gourmet Baked and Stuffed Potato Bar is slated to open its doors on Monday, March 31st. totally baked (8 W. 18th St., just west of Fifth Ave., (646) 336-6118, Open 11 a.m. – 6 pm, Mon-Sat, closed Sundays, seating for 14 guests) is the brain child of 38 year old, food/business entrepreneur, Jason Apfelbaum, CEO of Chef & Company, the multi-million dollar catering/event planning company he started just eight years ago. “I’ve wanted to bring this concept to life for some time, said Apfelbaum, and with the United Nations citing 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, I knew the time had come to make this happen! The time of the baked potato is now!”
Calling on the expertise of two of Apfelbaum’s Executive Chefs, Jeffrey Crawford (formerly of Tentation and Great Performances and currently Executive Chef of Fuel Restaurant & Bar located within Grand Prix New York, in Mt. Kisco, another of Apfelbaum’s new ventures) and Miguel Urrego (Executive Chef of Chef & Company), the team has worked for a year refining the perfect selection of stuffed spuds. Using top of the line ingredients and featuring a broad sweep of menu options, this is meant to be delicious, upscale fast food.
totally baked will offer potatoes stuffed with a variety of mixtures and each will be served using custom-designed, recyclable packaging. Each natural brown cardboard box houses the spud and in the case of “Favorites”, their accompanying side salad. All knives, forks and spoons are biodegradable and are composed of 80% potato and 20% soy or vegetable oil!
Designed entirely in shades of beige and deep browns (of course), this contemporary spot offers counter seating for 14 and will rely heavily on take-away. Approaching the main counter, diners read the menu from wall signage, and give their order to a waitperson who will custom-create each spud a la minute. A large three-dimensional spud is mounted on the wall.
And, for those fortunate enough to score a stool at the counter, they can enjoy gazing at a gallery of original animation production layout drawings made for the 1970’s television commercial for Hasbro Toy’s best seller, Mr. Potato Head.
About The Menu
Everyday a selection of 13 “Favorites” will be offered. Baked on-site, the 14-16 oz. Yukon Gold Chef’s Potatoes are slightly scooped out and then stuffed to overflowing with a variety of ingredients and choices ranging from “The Classic” (chive, sour cream, applewood smoked bacon and cheddar, $7) to “The Truffle” (a spud stuffed with imported Italian truffle compound butter, truffle oil, truffle salt and topped with fresh black truffle shavings, $55). Others like “The Nacho” (black bean & salsa salad, guacamole, sour cream and tortilla strips, $9.) and “The Brisket” (tender braised beef brisket, parsley, and a marsala reduction, $10.) are surely headed for fame.
Each of the “Favorites” will be served with a small green side salad.
The menu’s “Fresh” section starts with 1 Â½ lb. Idaho potatoes (40 count). The spuds are sliced in half, and some potato is removed to make room for the salad ingredients that fill these boats. Selections include the “Spinach Salad” (baby spinach, red wine shallot vinaigrette, walnuts and dried cranberries, $9), “Seared Ahi Tuna” (sushi grade tuna, romaine, seaweed salad, sesame seeds and ginger vinaigrette, $11). and the “Nova” (smoked salmon, pickled red onion, capers, crème fraiche and mesculin, $11).
The “Sweets” section takes the sweet potato as a base and stuffs it with cottage cheese, maple syrup, crunchy praline and banana caramel to create the “Sweet Spa Potato” ($7.). Or in the case of the “Sweet Potato Pie” ($7.), it is filled with melted marshmallows, topped with candied pecans, nutmeg, and finished off with a maple syrup drizzle.
There is a selection of hot soups, “Hot” section, and a selection of gelati, “Cool” section, made exclusively for totally baked by the New England (Berkshire-based) ice cream manufacturer, SoCo Creamery. These totally original gelati are made from sweet potatoes and come in flavors like Sweet Potato Heath Bar Crunch and Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. Cold drinks will also be served.
Prices range from $7-11. for the stuffed potatoes except “The Truffle” at $55. Soups are $4.50 and gelati $4.50. One can also build his own potato choosing up to three fillings from a large selection of ingredients for $7. Add $3 more to include roasted turkey or grilled chicken, and $4. more for grilled steak.
Plans are already underway to open more of these units in New York City and to go national. “These potatoes are out of control,” says Apfelbaum. “I want to help New Yorkers discover what a delicious and exciting meal option my stuffed potatoes are. Move over pizza, cause we have “totally” arrived!”