Time Square Bistro & Atomic Chocolate Company: Feel good food

Soup, pizza, bread, mac-n-cheese and chocolate. Sean Henninger of Times Square Bistro and Atomic Chocolate Company takes these comfort food classics to a new level; let’s call it “pamper food.” I say this not because there’s some decadent ingredient added to the classic or that it’s anything fancy-schmancy, but because they are done very, very well.

If you’ve ever stopped into Times Square you may have noticed an interesting pig related special. The day WMSE’s Promotion Director  Ryan Schleicher and I stopped in for lunch did not disappoint in this department (or any department for that matter). Soup of the day: roasted hog head. Yup, he roasted a hog’s head, pulled off the meat, threw in some cannellini beans and some other magic and came up with a soup I will dream about for years to come. Ryan said it was “succulent.” I’d say he’s about right. A warning about eating soup with Ryan. “I get mad when people don’t dunk their bread in their soup,” he said. Good to know, and good thing soup and pizza come with wonderful little hot buns covered in butter.

Roasted Hog Head Soup aka Hog Heaven

Ryan also said, “Sean is such an unassuming creative force.” He’s right about that too. Sean talks about his food with restrained joy and pride. You’d never guess a place tucked into a gas station strip mall could blow your socks off. But Honey, my feet are bare! As one might imagine, Times Square does New York style pizza; crust crisp then chewy, pie cut into triangles, not Milwaukee squares. (Though Sean jokes he’ll cut squares for a dollar extra.) It’s, frankly, pretty perfect.

And then the mac-n-cheese, which just may be making an appearance at a certain WMSE event in a couple of weeks. Yowza. Sean said he resisted putting it on the menu, first because “it’s one of those things you make at home that’s never as good at a restaurant,” and secondly because the Milwaukee restaurant where it was really good, Social, had been once up the street. Social closed and Sean decided to put it on the menu. Thank the Polish Moon he did! Until I had this mac-n-cheese I completely agreed with Sean about restaurant versions. “The pasta’s perfectly cooked!” Ryan said, “Look at that sauce! It’s so creamy! How’d he get it so creamy?”  Indeed the sauce is so tasty one imagines there is a certain amount of alchemy going on in there, but certainly the cheese blend is one of the many things it has going for it; provolone, cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella and monterey jack. For our visit, Sean tucked some home made garlic and sage sausage in with the pasta. There was so much making of yummy noises at our table it was almost obscene.

WMSE Promotions Director Ryan Schleicher and a big plate of cheesy goodness

Right in Times Square Bistro is Sean’s other brilliant baby, Atomic Chocolate Company, which will also be delighting us all at Food Slam. This is the kind of chocolate that should be eaten slowly. It’s crazy creamy. You owe it to yourself to spend time letting it linger in your mouth, you really do. Sean’s creativity come through in flavors such as cinnamon/lavender, pumpkin spice, whiskey macadamia nut and Ryan’s selection, mango/habanero – a combo he said was a perfect balance of tart, heat and coco. Like the pizza and mac-n-cheese, the raspberry and peanut butter classics are so, so good they will ruin you for all others.

Ryan’s Musical Pairing: “I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Complexions

“It was a feel-good meal in a feel good place so I chose a song that has a lot of feel-good associations.”

Of course there is the New York association with the song on the soundtrack to A Bronx Tale. “I think about blue collar stiffs sharing life with the mobster elite and how they all worship the ritual of food. Times Square and Sean care about the ritual of food and the care and thought required to not simply make and serve food, but to carefully craft and serve great food, food that is so good that if feels like it was cooked just for you.”

Ryan, who also hosts The Disclaimer on WMSE Wednesdays noon-12:30 and who you may have heard  filling in for Dick on The Richard Nice Show on Thursdays from noon – 3pm, suggests  pairing a Times Square meal with Terry Havel’s Doo Wop Corner, which airs at 4 pm every other Wednesday on WMSE. “You can not listen to the Doo Wop corner without feeling good. And in my experience, you can’t visit Times Square Pizza without feeling good. ‘I only have eyes for you’ is also a sentiment tied to when I’m eating there and experiencing what Sean creates, the rest of the world need not bother me.”

Tickets to the 11th Annual WMSE Food Slam are 50% sold. Advance ticket sales end September 28th. You better get yours soon; they’ve sold out the last three years and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on Times Square’s pamper food and all the other deliciousness.

Yours in a big fat cloud of food bliss,

Steph Kilen

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One Response

  1. […] Promotions Director Ryan Schleicher and I were lucky to experience a wide range of what the fine folks at The Noble are capable of. Every soup I’ve had at The Noble has made me want to lick the bowl, and if you’ve been to the Rockabilly Chili Contest you may be familiar with the genius owner David Kressin puts into his chili. We started off with a little of both; a super fresh gazpacho with dill and a slice of avocado floating in it and a pork chili with big chunks of veg and a nice kick. God bless them, a perfect white-bread-and-American-cheese grilled cheese kept the soup company. Their food is always inventive, interesting and well executed, but damn! That grilled cheese! That is the kind of thing that can fix a really bad day. Ryan offered unheard apologies to the chef and dunked his in the chili, because that is a Ryan thing and he cannot help himself. […]

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