Monthly Archives: February 2015

Barraca: Tapas That Was Okay…

bar

The other night we went to dinner with my fiancé’s friends – and were supposed to goto Rubirosa, but they couldn’t accommodate us. We choose to get some tapas, and coming down from my high of Saturday Nights Toro Trip, I was excited to crush some small plates. They chose Barraca, which is owned by the Quimeria Group – also own Macondo and Rayuela. So I did what any normal food obsessed person would do, and checked around a few websites to see how the food. Saw a bunch of 4s out of 5, and a 21 on Zagat.  So I was looking forward to giving it a shot, and embarrass Nicole while I eat like a beast in front of her friends.

Once we got on to Greenwich, I knew exactly what place it was. Feel like I passed a couple hundred times, usually going to and from the Meatpacking District. Place has some nice curb appeal, decorated nicely with some plants in the windows. Once you walk in, you see the bar area which was pretty busy – large glass containers filled with their multiple types of sangria concoctions. While in the bar area we were smelling the dishes as they were coming out of the kitchen – in my head I took mental note of what items I should order.

Once we sat, the waiter gave us both their regular menu and Restaurant Week menu. Knowing we would like to do multiple dishes, we decided to go with the regular menu. The girls ordered a pitcher of sangria, and the guys ordered Mahou because Barraca ran out of Estrella. This was actually a nice change, I haven’t had Mahou since my Madrid trip two years ago and always choose Estrella when I see it.

We then began the ordering, and I tried to mask my excitement when everyone ask me to order a few things. We held onto the menus to order again after the first round of items came. The excitement started to drift away once I tasted the food, it wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t great. It was, ‘okay’ at best. Thinking it was just me, I asked Nicole and she described it as ‘just okay’ as well. The best part I would say was the Idiazabal cheese – which says a lot considering I am not a big cheese person.

Below is some of the items we ordered:

The Good

  • Charcuterie Board: We chose Jamon Serrano, Manchego, and Idiazabal. Everything was good, with the smokiness of the Idiazabal making it really standout as my favorite.
  • Suquet: grilled monkfish, clams, mussels, artichokes, shrimp, almond ‘picada’. This was good, went pretty fast since there was five of us. The fish was good, and enjoyed the broth.

The Okay

  • Patatas Bravas: Crispy home fries spicy tomato sauce, and aioli. Pretty good, definitely not as great as the Patatas Bravas at Toro.
  • Croquetas De Jamon: Croquettes with Seranno ham. Its pretty much impossible to mess up a croquette, its potato and fried. Was good, definitely nothing special.
  • Datiles con Bacon: dates wrapped in bacon with blue cheese.
  • Carne a La Brasa: Skirt Steak, salsa verde, fingerling potatoes, roasted shallot, and crispy kale. Was cooked nice and red on the inside, wish I would have ordered this solely for myself.

The Disappointing

  • Calamar a la Plancha: Grilled squid, and possibly one of the worst octopus dishes I have ever had. The presentation looked great, long tentacles with peppers. One bite into it, kind of wish I didn’t. Coming from the Octopus Plancha the other night at Toro, Barraca’s version was extremely disappointing. The seasoning was totally off, some pieces with Mediterranean spices but kind of just tasted like someone threw Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on it.
  • Canelon de Pato: tube pasta filled with duck, duck liver, orange, and manchego cheese. This was pretty bad as well, kind of felt like these were pre-stuffed and sat in a fridge for a while until some unlucky prick ordered it. I would stay away if you end up going to Barraca.

Parm: Meat + Cheese + Sauce

photo

Although I have a long history of my obsession with Parm, this weekend was the first time I ever actually sat down and ate a full meal inside. Over the years I have persuaded my bosses to pay for catering orders on a semi-annual basis, ordered from Seamless, and picked up food for takeout. On the times we did attempt to eat there, I was turned off by their one-hour wait. So this weekend, with the snow and all, was the weekend to make it happen.

While sitting in the apartment, we noticed the whole apartment had a mini power surge. Thinking nothing of it considering Nicole was doing her hair, I had my projector and speakers on, we left the apartment. We trekked outside in the snow to head up the block to consume some meats covered in red sauce and cheese, excellent way to spend any Saturday. When we go there, I ordered a round of drinks from the waitress – to which she replied “tonight we are cash only since a power surge knocked out the servers  on our computers.” When I went to pay for the round, she paused, and then told the whole bar due to the issue the drinks were on the house and everyone would need to pay cash for their food. The bar let out a huge celebratory cheer, and we hung out until our table was ready. I have to say, you know you have a great business when it’s snowing outside, you have to last minute make the place cash only, and there is still a 45 minute wait for a table.

I started off with a Bronx Pale Ale, last mug before the keg kicked, and then moved on to an Ommegang Witte. While hanging around out the bar I noticed two of the best words possible under the Specials for Saturday ‘VEAL PARM’. Up until that night, that was the only Parm I have never tried. I was literally drooling in the corner of the bar, when Tommy, the host, came to grab us for our table. As we sat at out table for four, I felt like I was at my grandmother’s house awaiting Sunday Dinner.

The girls began the ordering and decided to start with a few appetizers: Charred Broccoli, B&G Chickpeas, Brussels Sprouts, Spicy Rabe, and Beets Aranciata. Initially I was a little pissed they only ordered vegetables, since none them were smothered in mozzarella or gravy (Italian American for Red Sauce). It was the equivalent of going to Peter Lugers and just ordering a salad. Once the food came, I was no longer angry – the broccoli was charred and delicious, the spicy rabe out of this world, and causing me to grab some water due to the spice level. I cannot leave out the chickpeas, since I was eating them up like a waspy-human version of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Once the empty dishes, where greenery once sat, were cleared – the items I ordered were brought to the table. First up, the Ricotta Toast which has been a staple in my Seamless and Pickup orders. Toasted prosciutto Italian bread with a generous helping of ricotta, olive oil, and a little bit of basil. As always, a phenomenal appetizer and great way to start the meal. Best part was trying the bread, as it was meant to be, fresh out of the oven and crispy and smeared in the cold ricotta. Next, the baked clams. One of the corner stone dishes out of any red-sauce joint, and these were great. My only regret was not saving some bread to dip my bread in to the remaining sauce. Lastly, the fried calamari – which was unbelievable. Apparently the non-marinara sauce, which was an aioli, was mind blowing. Since I do not eat mayo, aioli included, I cannot advise on that aspect of the dish – however the other people I was with, said it was great. The squid was perfectly fried, not rubbery, not just rings but tentacles as well – great dish.

Now, as I have previously mentioned I was extremely excited to try the veal. However, from my past dozen experiences, I did not want to miss out on the meat ball and the chicken. I also wanted some eggplant, but that was the least of my worries – and I knew there was an easy chance of having some from one of the girls.So here I am, decided between three different meats, being told by everyone I can only choose one. However, I had a good feeling I would be able to accomplish both. The girls decided upon splitting a hero of the Eggplant Parm. This was easy for me, knowing that they would not be able to finish even more than half of their dish.Next up, my cousin’s boyfriend ordered platter of veal – which I negotiated with him, to split half of my pending order, for half of his. So I ordered the Chicken Parm roll. While everyone was receiving a refill of wine, at this point our second bottle, I spoke to the waitress and discreetly ordered a Meatball Parm roll as well. Mission Accomplished, technically I won and got to have everything. The veal, was possibly the best veal I have ever ate. While at Carbone, I originally had a little bit of buyers remorse for choosing the Ribeye over the coveted Carbone Veal. At the time I couldn’t pick Veal Parm over a Ribeye, especially when the Veal was $13 more and the ribeye was smothered in rosemary (so amazing). But here I am, a little bit over a year since my trip to Carbone, and I am eating some Major Food Group Veal Parm – it was a great night. The veal was a little thicker than I was accustom to, but was fucking delicious. I literally might march up to my grandmother this week, and let her know she was feeding me subpar veal parm for the past 28 years of my life.

Alidoro: Best Sandwich Shop in NYC

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 4.47.21 PM

The other day before going to Toro, we decided to stop for lunch at Alidoro. I have been living in Nolita for over two years, and I am pissed at myself for not knowing about this place sooner. Located on Sullivan Street, this is their original location which opened up in 1986 – with their Midtown location opening a few months back. With forty sandwiches on their menu, and the opportunity to customize the sandwiches, I guarantee anyone would love this place.

Back in 1995, Seinfeld released their Soup Nazi episode – which may really be based off this Italian Sandwich shop. When you get to the counter, know exactly what you want. In the words of the owner, Walter Momente, he is trying to keep the place “as Italian as possible”, so to the left of the menu you will see a long list of things not to ask for. Some of these items include: mayo, ketchup, turkey, roast beef, free cup of water, avocado, mustard ..etc. Additionally, there is some more signs such as “Do Not Ask Me What My Favorite Sandwich Is” and “If You Don’t See It We Don’t Have It”. That being said, know what you want before its your turn to order.

We ordered two sandwiches, not realized they are massive. The first item we order was the Alyssa on their Italian Bread, which was about 15 inches long. This sandwich comes with smoked chicken breast, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and dressing. The second item we ordered was the Dino, which we decided to do on the focaccia. The Dino has prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, sun dried tomato, and arugula. Once we sat down, we were lucky it was a slow day and none of the tables were occupied, we went to work on these sandwiches. In one of my recent articles I mentioned how great the sandwiches are at Alleva, once I had Alidoro – I immediately forgot Alleva existed. Alidoro prides itself on using the best Italian ingredients, and with each bite you taste it. They should get used to seeing this face every weekend, because we are now obsessed.

I have not yet ordered from the Midtown Location, which is on 39 Street, but I look forward to heading over there soon.

 

Lunch in Midtown: Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen

image
On my off days from either Certe or Dig Inn (strange using gym terms since I haven’t seen the inside of one in months) I usually go with Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen. They currently have three locations in Manhattan:

8th Avenue & 41st
23rd Street & Madison
570 Lexington & 51st

With the Lexington Location being their newest, and the one I order from. Not only is the food great, but it comes delivered from Seamless pretty quickly. I generally order the Turkey Burger, with an extra patty, avocado, on a whole wheat bun. The burger already comes with arugula and tomato, and their special sauce – however I do not get the sauce. For a turkey burger, I have to say it is really juicy. Each bite you see the juices leak out, kind of looks like worcestershire sauce, unlike the hundreds of dried out turkey pattys across this great city. Whenever our food runners drop the order off on my desk, I see everyone stop and stare as they smell the burger – kind of an oniony, garlic, arugula smell – it is great. Although I cannot speak for the rest of their menu, I can say you should definitely order this if you are looking for a healthy and great tasting lunch order.

Toro NYC: Tapas, Octopus, Paella, and Churros

photo

I knew from the beginning, it would be extremely hard to beat last years Valentines Day dinner at Carbone. But, I had a good feeling Toro might be able to do it – or at least get close. Toro definitely impressed me, and I already want to go back.

Last summer we went to Boston for a music festival called Boston Calling. This was held on Memorial Day weekend and included bands such as Bastille, The Neighbourhood, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jack Johnson and Brand New. Before going I spoke to some friends for recommendations – everyone came back mentioning Toro. While eating brunch the next morning at The Beehive (Great Place to check out) the bartender also said “Do not leave Boston until you goto Toro.” So we decided to call up, book a reservation and were told that is not possible. So we decided, let’s go for brunch. While there, we ordered up a storm. We started with the olives, foie gras, patatas bravas, escalivada catalana, and finished the apps up with an order of jamon serrano. We then moved to some egg dishes (since it was around 11:00) and moved to the creme de la creme, duck prosciutto and an order of Asada de Huesos aka Bone Marrow with Oxtail. As you can see from my reviews on Minetta Tavern and Charlie Bird, I hold the marrow from Toro in high regard.

When we got back to Manhattan we all said we need to make it a point to goto Toro over in Chelsea. With everyone’s busy schedules, it seemed difficult to get everyone together to book a reservation. So, I said fuck it – Nicole and I are going for Valentine’s Day. Since the day I made the reservation, I kept thinking about the absurd amount of dishes I would be ordering. Removing the romantic aspects of the day and replacing them with a gluttonous sloppy feast. As we were running around doing errands in the neighborhood, I made us stop at Alidoro to get a sandwich early – and avoid ruining my appetite.

We arrived for our reservation, and once we walked in through the maze of wind-blocking tunnels, I was amazed by the size and decor of the restaurant. There we definitely a nice amount of aspects from their Boston location, such as exposed brick, distressed wood, and open ceilings showing the HVAC system. But, they definitely threw a New York/Meat Packing vibe into the mix, which was beautiful. We spoke with the hostess, which didn’t catch her name, but she was extremely nice and she walked us over to our table. Once we sat down, and looking around, I heard the great soundtrack – some songs of Nas’ Illmatic, some Tribe Called Quest – once again, similar to Charlie Bird, it was awesome to hear some hip-hop with amazing food.

The waiter came over, and we ordered our drinks. Nicole mentioned she was looking for something similar to a Pinot Noir, and he recommended two different ones. Initially she ordered the Bodegas Ponce ‘Pino’ Bobal, which she really enjoyed. After she wet with the Cvne Real, which was a little more Old World and earthy – another winner. I went with the Estrella (couple of Estrella) followed by a Smuttynose ‘Brown Dog Ale’ with dessert.

After the first round of drinks came, we placed our order. I gave the waiter a disclaimer to stop me if ordered to much – but then disregarded it and decided to surpass his ‘rule of thumb’ of 6 plates per two people. Here is our order:

  • Pan Con Tomate: Toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil and sea salt. This dish was so basic, but the pureness of it brought me back to Barcelona. I highly recommend this as a great way to start, and won’t fill you up to much for the other items on the menu.
  • Tuna Tartare: The most amazing thing about this is the way it is listed on the menu “tuna tartare with stuff that we really like“. I mean, come on – how can you not order that? The tuna is served in a anchovies tin – and was delicious. I wanted to order the Tuna Belly initially, and might go with that next time, but the tartare was good.
  • Jamon de Pato: which is aged duck prosciutto, which was great. Nice mix of fat/meat, and was really nice. Tasted even better when I threw it on my Pan con Tomate ***Make that happen***.
  • ColesBrussels sprouts with olive oil and maldon salt. Probably some of the best brussels I had in a long time.
  • Costilla de Carne: Braised beef rib with pigeon peas, farro, and persimmons. This was one of those dishes you will be scraping the dish with your fork, picking up every last molecule of the items. The ribs were nicely cooked, and went extremely well with the farro and peas. I would suggest this if you want some red-meat, but don’t want to fill up on ordering the Chuleta de Buey – which is the 40 Day Dry Aged Rib-eye. **Order this dish**
  • PulpoGalician octopus with potatoes and charred onions. This was one of the best pieces of octopus I have ever tasted. Additionally, I would like to see the size of the octopus this tentacle was cut off – as I immediately yelled in my head, in Liam Neeson’s voice, “Unleash the Kraken!” If I were to take the time to straighten out the tentacle and measure it, I would say it would be 12 inches, thats what she said. Instead, we began to cut this into chunks and devour the Galician Greatness. At first taste I got a bit of a sweet tangy taste, but once I bit threw the charred outside and into the tender inside, I picked up a smokey taste – possible paprika. The potatoes were delicious, kind of looked like mini caramelized scallops and went nicely with the onions and tentacle. Hard to compare with the pulpo from Charlie Bird Noodle Pudding, Rubirosa, or Peasant – since those are more Italian style. This octopus is extremely unique, and I would definitely say this is some premium pulpo,  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS DISH ****
  • Paella Langostino: Lobster and black summer truffle paella. This was the final item of our order, and since we ordered a lot, and I had full intentions of ordering dessert, I decided to go with the half order. This was a great choice, the pan that comes out is a great size for two people who just ate a ton of tapas. The paella was moist, and full of flavor. I highly recommend ordering the half size, which at $45 isn’t too bad considering it is a large portion with lobster and black truffle.
  • Dessert: The semifreddo was good, however the CHURROS WERE AMAZING. These were by far the best churros I have ever had – better than Barcelona, Madrid, and anywhere in Manhattan. They had the perfect blend of cinnamon-sugar, kind of like taking the bottom of the cereal bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It came with a chocolate dipping sauce, which is not even needed. Trust me, Order these Churros.

Prince Street Pizza: Home of the Original Soho Square

The wedding is booked, the dress is bought – we deserve to eat like fat asses. This past Friday we decided to hang out in the apartment, due to the mild 9 Degree weather. While watching Better Call Saul we were determined to order pizza – just didn’t know from where. We were between Toby’s, Rubirosa (would of had to pick up), Piacere, Prince Street, or L’asso. The Struggle is Real. After debating the choices, and personifying the issue of First World Problems, we mutually agreed we watched a Sicilian Pie (Square to all you non New Yorkers).

When getting a square pie in Manhattan, I really think there is no better place to get it than Prince Street Pizza. I came across this gem when one of my traders who used to live in Noho said to me in disgust “You have never been to Prince Street?” I have now reformed my ways, and have been there/ordered about 10 times. The truth is, once you crave a square pie – there is no chance of not getting one. Additionally, everyone is looking to make the perfect round pie – that everyone over looks the square. That is not the case at Prince Street. They even refer to themselves as the home of ‘The Original Soho Square Pie.’

The last time we went there it was 11:00 on a Saturday night, drunk from a friends’ all you can eat sushi / all you can drink sake parties. After going out, we Irish exited to make it to Prince Street in time. I definitely over ordered for the two of us, but once we got back to the apartment we were in pizza heaven. This Friday, I some how over ordered again (surprise) and we wound up ordering 2 Prince Street Perfection slices, 2 Mercer Margherita slices, and 3 Spicy Spring slices. Also, felt the need to order two orders of Prosciutto Rice Balls, with two dipping sauces of pesto and vodka. I did try to order the Broadway Breadcrumb but they were sold out, which is the second time this happened, starting to feel like it’s not meant to be. When it was all said and done, the only thing that was left over was two slices and an overwhelming feeling that I should really start this wedding diet. The next morning when I left my room to goto the bathroom, Nicole found me sitting on my kitchen cabinet stuffing the remains of the Mercer Margherita down my gullet – it was not my finest moment.

Below are a few of the items I highly suggest. You will notice it is pretty much the whole menu, with the exception of the round pie – which one day I will try.

Prince Perfection Pie signature square. fresh mozzarella cheese and our secret sauce.

Mercer Margherita Pie thin crust. fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and marinara sauce.

Spicy Spring Pie fra diavalo sauce, spicy soppressata and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Stuffed Prosciutto Balls ricotta & mozzarella cheeses and prosciutto.

Sicilian Rice Balls With Beef & Peas beef, rice, peas and marinara sauce.

Neapolitan Rice Balls mozzarella & romano cheeses and rice.

Prince Street Pizza
27 Prince St (btwn Mott and Elizabeth)
New York, NY 10012

Wine Wednesday: Louis Jadot

logo-louis-jadot

Want to impress your girlfriend’s family with a good looking bottle of wine without spending your bonus check? Walk to your liquor store, and pick up pretty much any bottle of Louis Jadot. Not only does it look vintage, fancy, and more-expensive than it really is, the wine is really good. I personally have been drinking this vineries’ wines for years. When I am drinking red, which I usually am, I go for either the Beaujolais  (Around $13/per bottle) or the Pinot Noir (Around $20/per bottle). On the rare occasion I have white wine, Pouilly-Fuisse is a great bottle.

So next time you are forced into going to one of those dinner parties, or family parties, drop one of these bottles in the hands of the host – and look like a boss.

beaujolais-villages

Charlie Bird: Even Better The Second Time Around

photo

This past Friday night, I had an 8:30 reservation at Charlie Bird. As you know from my previous article on The Bird – than you know I am a little obsessed with the place. I chose to go here for a small family dinner, both my sister, her boyfriend, and my cousin never ate here – and they were all probably sick of me asking them “Have you gone to Charlie Bird yet?” So I reached out to the team, and they booked me the reservation – and since that day I have been salivating, patiently waiting to eat their delicious food.

Friday morning came around, while at work I ordered lunch at 11:00 and ate a turkey burger on a whole wheat wrap from Certe. I wanted my stomach to be empty for the reservation, nine-and-a-half hours later. I literally sat at my desk punching keyboard keys, with a jovial smile of a kid on Christmas Morning. Now is it normal to get so excited for a restaurant you have been to twice, to most people probably NO, but for me 100%.

We got to the restaurant at 8:20, with my party already at the bar, and the host escorted us to our table. From the minute I walked in I re-remembered one of best  non-food features of Charlie Bird – the soundtrack. Where else can you enjoy fine-dining while listening to Black Street’s No Diggity. Another great feature, the staff. Everyone who works there seems to be extremely happy, and love their job. This definitely carries over to how they handle their guests. From the hosts, to the waiters, to the coat check – excellent service.

Now to the food. To start the meal, and to give these Charlie Bird virgins the true experience – I ordered the Octopus Saltimbocca, Farro Salad, and Razor Clams. We also ordered the Burrata Toast, Lamb Belly, and Bone Marrow. The Octopus was possibly even better than the two previous times I had it. The pieces of tentacles were large, cooked perfectly with a nice char on the outside skin. The prosciutto crispy, and sprinkled along the dish in flakes. Once the octopus was all gone I literally scraped the plate and go every last ceci bean and ounce of sauce like a teenager having the munchies for the first time. The Farro Salad, was great since it had some of the aspects I had while at Charlie Bird over the summer – but with a nice fall/winter twist, roasted pumpkin. To think I went 28 years of my life without eating farro, to eating it for the first time at Charlie Bird – and then craving it ever since – crazy. The razor clams, also were a bit different due to the season. They had fennel and pickeled chili, and were delicious. On to the rest of the appetizers, which were my first time trying. The bone marrow was delicious, and equally as good as Minetta Tavern and Toro, maybe better. The bone marrow was done with anchovies and lemon, but the true highlight was the rich butteriness of the marrow. I think, and still am pretty sure, that I was the only one who ate it – and I devoured every last bit of fatty goodness out of the cavity of the bone. Should also note, the bread they give to spread onto was amazing as well. Next up, the Burrata Toast. I personally am sick and tired of Burrata. Every restaurant has it listed on their specials board every week – and act like they are doing something different from every other place. It’s generally, all the same. However, this Burrata was out if this world. From the first bite it took me back to eating it at one of the stands in the Plaza de San Miguel in Madrid. The cheese was fresh and creamy, with some earthiness from the chanterelles mixed perfectly. Last, my certainly not least, the Lamb Belly, which was done with parsnips and salsa verde. The meat had a nice balance of fat/flavor, if it was a little larger, I would order this as a main course. I have to say, in all the places I have been over the past few months – this might have been the best ordering I have done in a long time. Every dish was amazing, the only issue I was left with was trying to figure out my favorite.

On to the main courses. Out of the five of us two people got the pork shoulder, one bass, one chicken, and I went with the rib eye. We will start with the pork, which got rave reviews from the table, which was done with salsa verde and heirloom beans. My sisters boyfriend, who just spent a few hours on a plane, finished the entire plate with in 3 minutes. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to try this, but I will take his word for it that it was a great dish. The black bass, with broccoli raab, spiced carrots, and citrus au jus was great. The fish was cooked great, with a buttery light taste. The chicken, as you have probably read on every website, is amazing. I could definitely say, with complete confidence, this is the best chicken in all of Manhattan and the five boroughs. I always say it’s a sin to order chicken at a restaurant considering most of them taste the same, or are dried out. Believe the hype, the chicken at Charlie Bird is absolutely amazing. Additionally I would also say the portion was definitely bigger than the fish and pork, so if hungry and between the three – go with the chicken.

For my main course, I was torn between the pork and steak. Going last in the ordering rotation, and seeing that two of the five ordered the pork, I felt the rib eye was definitely the better decision. I could always try their pork (or so I thought) and the server Kalen told me the steak is absolutely delicious, so the Ribeye was the winner. Once the dish came out, I couldn’t believe I ever thought about not getting it. The ribeye, which of course I ordered medium-rare, came out with a chunk of anchovy-butter on top and duck fat potatoes on the bottom. I will say if you are like me, and are not big on anchovies, do not shy away from this dish. Additionally, if you wanted I am sure you could probably get it on the side – but it was so good. The heat from the steak melted he butter, and the saltiness of the anchovy coated the steak. The nicely charred exterior and pinkish-red inside, was so delicious it made steaks I have had recently seem subpar. I really, and truly, am holding this as my new standard for how all steak should be. You could goto Sparks, Ruth Chris, Del Frisco’s, Delmonico’s … and they are all cooked the same, delicious, but the same. Try something different, get with the new age of culinary greatness, and save the old fashion steakhouse for when you fifties – referring to a night out in Manhattan as ‘Date Night’…

Charlie Bird
5 King Street
New York, NY 10012
photo 2

Kuma Inn: Filipino Food in the Lower East Side (BYOB)

photo

Almost exactly two years ago, my cousin told us to meet her on the LES for dinner. She told us before we came to pick up wine and beer, as we were going for BYOB Filipino Food. It was Friday and the streets were filled with the usual hipsters and frat boys, and we made our way through the crowds to a little red door next to Los Feliz. Once we trekked up the stairs, we pretty much found ourselves in an Asian Families living room. We sat in the waiting area, with our four bottles of wine – for four people, and I looked at all the press/reviews framed on the wall.  It has a Zagat rating of 25 for Food, which is pretty impressive  (12 for decor lol), and pretty good reviews from NY Times, Timeout New York, and Gothamist.

I do not remember much of that night, probably due to the one bottle of wine per person, but that was the night I agreed to move into Manhattan. Now, my two year lease is up – funny how things came full circle.

Last night as we walked over, and walking up the stairs – kind of felt like that scene in Beer Fest when they find the Underground Beer Olympics. This time, we were under prepared with only 3 bottles of wine for the six of us, we began looking over the menu. Like floor brokers on the NYSE in the 80s, we began yelling out our orders. At one point the waitress, was a little overwhelmed an walked away, and then came back.

Here was the order, and keep in kind that the dishes are tapas style.

Lechon: deep–fried pork belly lechon kawali with atchara. Probably one of my favorite dishes of the night. The pork belly was tender underneath the crispy skin. We ordered two dishes, the portions are a nice size for the lechon, and it disappeared pretty quickly.

Sausage: sautéed chinese sausage with thai chili-lime sauce. Definitely my second favorite dish. The sausage was crispy on the outside (Kind of like the pepperoni at Prince Street Pizza) and the sauce was great. I generally stay away from spicy things that have the word ‘chili’ in them – but the sauce was well balanced with a kick.

Seared Ahi Tuna: seared perfectly with nice rare inside. Good dish, tuna picks up some heat from the Thai chili and some nice flavors from the miso vinaigrette.

Tuna Tartare: Yellow fin served raw over rice noodles

Rice Crepes: steamed and pan-fried topped with kuma pork bolognese.

Pork Bun: Pretty good, comes two in an order. Definitely not the best I have ever had, but I scarfed it down.

Octopus: grilled baby octopus with pickled bamboo shoots. Wasn’t cooked right, a little rubbery.

Wings: chicken wing adobo, rice vinegar, garlic and soy. Didn’t get to try them, they flew off the table too quickly. From the looks on everyone’s faces, they seemed great.

Kuma Inn
113 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10012

Momofuku Classes: Best Gift You Can Get Your Significant Other (Trust Me)

So for Christmas I bought my fiancé, and my two little cousins, classes to goto Momofuku Milk Bar. Unless you have been living under a rock, I will assume you know what Momofuku is – if not, I guess I can try to explain. Momofuku was created by David Chang, and their Milk Bar is probably one of the best creations known to man. They take classic desert items, and put their own crazy twist to it, and the end product is fucking amazing. So wouldn’t it be nice to have these snacks whenever you like – thats where my idea formed. BUY THIS CLASS for your girlfriend, wife, mistress, someone else’s wife … JUST DO IT. At the end of the day, you will be the one reaping all the benefits.

The classes will cost you $95/per person and I definitely suggest grabbing the Milk Bar Cookbook, so she can make these items whenever she (you) would like. Just in time for Valentines Day, I just gave you one of the best options ever. Also, even if she wants you to go with here – its not that bad, and they serve Brooklyn Lager during the class. The minute we got done with the class, both my fiancé and cousins were going on about how they can’t wait to make crack pie, cakes, truffles …etc.

Go to their link, Classes @ Momofuku Milk Bar, and look at their schedule and I can guarantee she will be extremely happy, but more importantly you are the true winner. The classes are in their Williamsburg Location, and last about 2 hours.

photo

Forty Four @ The Royalton Hotel: Best Old Fashion Ever

8989_88_z

Back around the holiday’s we were invited by LARGE BANK to goto their Client Appreciation Night at Forty Four in The Royalton Hotel. The Morgan Hotel Group definitely did not skimp on the decor of this hotel lobby, with their 20 Foot Fireplace and sunken lounge areas, this is definitely a nice place to grab a drink after work. This is the second year in a row the LARGE BANK decided to host this event there, and although I found this to lack an originality – I found the hidden gem of Midtown West.

Their Hickory Old Fashion 2.0 keeps me coming back to this venue. This made with Bulleit Bourbon, Black Dirt Applejack, Crown Royal Maple, honey water served over a large block of ice and garnished with the smoke of a cherry wood chip. Before they serve the drink, they light a piece of cherry wood and capture the smoke in a glass – covering the drink, which traps the smoke. After a few moments, they release the top cup, and serve the drink (Video Here). From the second you put that cup to your nose, you get the smell of that sweet cherry wood smoke. The taste, is fucking superb! I have had Old Fashions all over New York City, including Brooklyn Bars that specialize in the art form – i.e. Rye in Williamsburg, and Forty Four definitely has THE BEST OLD FASHION in all of New York. If you feel you have something better, please let me know. Until then, I will be getting some second-hand smoke from my Bulleit Bourbon.

a0226e2a2c9e198a9d6b5739be4a6391

Blunt Umbrellas: Best Umbrella Ever

All this snow and rain is starting to get extremely depressing…A few months ago I made one of the best purchases of the year, a well constructed umbrella. This is no regular umbrella, I constantly tell people it is the umbrella Bruce Wayne would have, if he were real.

The model I bought, Blunt_XS Metro, is compact and durable. Like all Blunt Umbrellas, it features their Radical Tensioning System (RTS). The RTS redirects, transfers and distributes the effort used in opening the umbrella throughout its entire canopy surface. Once opened, you can see how taut the fabric becomes around the ribbing, which helps combat the wind. These umbrellas are aerodynamic, and tested in Wind Tunnels to ensure they can withstand even the toughest of storms. Additionally, this umbrella is so easy to walk around Manhattan with. The XS Metro, is 37″ in diameter – and has rounded tips, which help avoid injuring people next to you.

You can buy this directly on their website, Blunt Umbrellas, or you can sometimes see them on Urban Daddy for cheaper. The XS Metro on the site is $49.00 while UD has it listed for $39.00 – so utilize the 20% Off.