With Jen out on a date, it was left to me to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Lockhart Steele and actually take the trip to Rice to Riches. For those of you in Basra, or Carroll Gardens, Rice to Riches is the new rice pudding place that opened on Spring Street across from that little park right off Mulberry. It was under construction for about a year- I think mostly because they were busy locating the remaining sets from Kubrick's 2001 and repurposing them for pudding service. Having walked by it a thousand times, and reading about it in every blog south of Houston Street, I was feeling certain that Rice to Riches wouldn't live up to the hype. Surprise! Once I got over the decor, the neon lights, and the Japanese TV crew, I actually enjoyed the pudding.
The decor: do you remember that place Bot that opened next to Rice on Mott Street? Well, if that place got into a threesome with the Remote Lounge on Bowery and a Haagen Daas, this is the mutant child that would result. Start with the rice grain shaped cutout on the front door. Then the neon lit plastic tables in abstract shapes. Throw in about twenty flat screens, all playing animations about pudding. Bright, bright lights everywhere- no shadows in the corners. Actually, no corners, because the place has curved walls. Seating is generally limited- a floating island in the front, a little table opposite, and a long sort of bench type thing in the back. Most of the place is dominated by the pudding display unit (or PDU, as it's known in the trade). The years of research that they put into it clearly paid off, because the pudding was well lit, appetizing, and nicely chilled.
The food: it's pudding. The sweet kind. My friends thought it would have been good if they also offered other options: non-sweet puddings (more like porridges), and also traditional rice pudding (less sweet and unflavored). I started off with two or three free samples- banana, a couple of different kinds of chocolate, and the vanilla. In the end, I went with a vanilla/chocolate mix. The vanilla was good- lumpy in a pleasing way, very sweet, and full bodied (can you say that about pudding?) I ended up not liking the chocolate- it was just too much- like eating a liquified chocolate black-out cake. If that's your bag then you might enjoy it. The best part about Rice to Riches' pudding turned out to be the unique serving container, which looked like a giant version of a Silly Putty egg. Not just that- they also make their own spoons.
Final thoughts: it's clear that no one in their right mind would put this much effort into opening a single rice pudding shop. Isn't it obvious? Rice to Riches is aiming at global domination of the rice pudding retail industry. It's the only plausible explanation. Twenty years from now, when your town has twenty Rice to Riches and thirty Starbucks, and you are living on Mochachinos and strawberry pudding, think back to this post and remember that you heard it here first.
Bonus: five things you can do with the Rice to Riches pudding container after you are done with it:
1. Soap dish
2. Fancy dog food container
3. U.F.O. for your low budget animation movies
4. Place to put your change
5. A reminder that you need to get the fuck out of New York and start living a real life where you don't think about rice pudding all the time