Tag Archives: beers

Abita Brewing Company: One of My Favorite Breweries In ‘Merica

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As you can probably tell by now, I am pretty obsessed with Abita Amber. It is definitely one of my favorite beers, and I was convinced the best Abita product – until a shipment from Abita arrived at my apartment.Came home from dinner @ Kuma Inn (Followed by Drinks at Los Feliz and Spitzers), walked into the mail area and saw a huge box addressed to yours truly, Hedge Fun NY. In a semi-drunken state I ran into the apartment and opened up the box like a kid discovering the awesomeness of Christmas. Cutting through the tape, and throwing packaging peanuts everywhere, I got down to the bottom and found 6 six-packs of three different types of Abita Brews (36 Beers for all you non-mathletes) and a beer koozie. They sent Abita Bock, Abita Restoration Pale Ale, and Abita Wrought Iron IPA. In a burst of excitement I threw them in the fridge, and there they sat getting cold until the right night to give them a try.

A week later, I decided to have my buddy Nick come over and give me his opinion on these Abita beers. Since he works at Brinkley’s, thought it would be a good idea to involve him since he knows beer. Also, similar to my article on Anchor Brewing Company, I had Nicole drink some of the beer to see her comments. The night prior we ordered Mile End Deli, so we figured this was a perfectly good time to order it again and start the drinking process.

In their package to me, and on their website, they have a great display of color/bitterness – ‘Color and Bitterness Comparison Chart’. I put this below so you can check it out as well.

Abita Restoration Pale Ale
Type: American Pale Ale (APA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 5.2%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 25

Side Note: Abita’s brewery is located in Abita Springs, LA about 30 miles north of New Orleans. Through their sales of Restoration they have raised over $550,000 for hurricane relief efforts. Round of applause gentlemen, now back to the beer…

The Restoration Pale Ale is brewed with pale, caramel and carapils malts. It is liberally hopped and dry hopped with Cascade hops. Fresh out of the bottle and into a pint glass, the beer pours a cloudy gold color. Nicole mentioned it was more orange, which she may have been right considering I stare at Bloomberg and Excel sheets all day. Picked up some of the floral aromas from the Cascade Hops, and I was ready to drink.

From the initial appearance and reading the ingredients, I was expecting it to be similar to the Anchor Brewing Company Liberty Ale. After tasting I realized they were similar but definitely not the same. Similar to the aroma we all picked up a citrus, piney, hoppy taste on the backend that  left the bitterness of the grapefruit/lemon zest taste in your mouth. Definitely a characteristic of most IPA, but where as some ales overdue it I find the Restoration Pale Ale to be mildly bitter, which left us all with the same conclusion: We can drink 1 or 2, definitely not something we can drink all night. Abita suggests pairing with fish, and different types of cheeses. We had it while eating a ‘Smoked Meat Sandwich‘ on rye bread from Mile End Deli – think the two went well.

Abita Wrought Iron IPA
Type: Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 6.9%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 80

Remember back before the weather was below freezing, and their wasn’t snow blanketing the side walks? While walking through Central Park, you would see something called grass. This beer smells like freshly cut grass, so much so I am using it as an air freshener in my apartment because I miss warm weather.

This IPA is forged with the intensity of Apollo, Equinox and Mosaic Hops. Brewed with pale ale malt, the beer pours a golden/copper color, not much different than the Restoration Ale. The name Wrought Iron comes from the color of iron when it’s being forged – thinking outside the box with that one.

One sip in Nicole’s face looks like a little kid eating a Shock Tart for the first time. She hates bitter IPA’s, and with an IBU of 80 safe to say we should have known she was going to  dislike it. But still fun to see her reaction.

Nick seemed not to mind the beer. Being around a multitude of different beers, he has definitely tried his fair share of IPA, i.e. having Ithaca Flower Power  IPA on tap.

For me, this was a one every once in a while type of beer. Abita suggest pairing the Wrought Iron IPA with meats, luckily my diet consist of 98% Red Meat, 2% Bread/Potatoes. As mentioned earlier, we were eating smoked meat from Mile End, and the two definitely went well. The overpowering of the malts by the hops gave the bitterness and piney resin feeling, so biting into smoked brisket and mustard was an awesome mix with it.

Abita Mardi Gras Bock
Type: Bock
Availability: Seasonal (Jan – March)
ABV: 6.5%
Chart: Color 13 / IBU 25

Let me start off by saying, this is one of my new favorite beers – and a contender for my favorite Abita product over Abita Amber. I never thought those words would leave my mouth, but I love this Bock Beer. I also think I might like this as much as Shiner Bock, which is another thing I thought I would never say. When we finished drinking the beers, we all said Abita Mardi Gras Bock was the best of the three.

Once poured into a pint glass we were able to see the amber/auburn color, and with a color of 13 it is just a few shades away from Abita Amber. Abita Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. This combination is great, and the beer goes down smooth. I didn’t even realize the size of my gulps until I would be done with a bottle after a minute or two.

From the first taste you pick up the malty sweetness and caramel, a bit of a bread taste – which I thought may have been left over from the rye bread on my sandwich. But once the sandwich was long gone I realized it was part of the beer.

I am a little confused as to why Abita lists this as having an IBU of 25, which is the same as Abita Restoration Pale Ale. I tasted no hoppy bitterness as all, and for Nicole (who hates IPAs) and Nick (knows all things beer) not to notice it further confuses me. From drinking so many IPAs lately, and having my mouth punched with that piney resin everyone loves so much, this was exactly what I needed. Considering my love for Amber, Bock, Brown, and Dark Beers – I think this is the reason I enjoyed this so much.

The only true complaint I have about this beer is that it is not produced all year-round. I wish they would send me over a 6 month supply along with some of the Abita Turbodog that I have been wanting to try that the waitress at Balthazar steered me away from … But that’s a whole different story all together.
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PUBLIC: One of the Best Places in Nolita

The other day we were driving around the neighborhood looking for a spot, which is pretty easy in Nolita. While driving up Elizabeth Street we past some of our staple restaurants – Peasant, The Egg Shop, Fonda Nolita (Tacombi), Musket Room… the list goes on. As we passed PUBLIC, we both looked at each other and said how much we missed PUBLIC.

We went to PUBLIC about two years ago when I first moved into the neighborhood – and it is still one of my favorite places to go in New York.

It all started one night when we stopped in to see if there were any open tables last minute, which there weren’t as it was a beautiful spring day and it was busy as per usual. So we went in, asked the host – to which she directed us to The Daily. The Daily was really cool, and I was happy we were able to get a seat and hangout on one of their tufted leather couches, order some small plates and some drinks. This was our first time at The Daily, but definitely not the last.

While hanging out inside the girls couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was inside PUBLIC – and they were right. Don’t get me wrong, The Daily is really cool in it’s own way, but PUBLIC is a sight to be seen. Exposed brick, subway tiles, industrial lights, vintage mailboxes, cool candles, and a glass garage door that overlooks Elizabeth Street Gardens. If you took a woman here and didn’t get laid after, you are doing it wrong. I mean, the owners/designers received a James Beard Foundation award for  Best Restaurant Design @ PUBLIC. Those things don’t come easy…

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So we all decided we would come back to PUBLIC for dinner. Not feeling like waiting on other people schedules, both Nicole and myself decided screw it – we are going by ourselves.

On that night we walked up the block, and with every step I got more and more excited for this SEVEN-times Michelin Stared dinner. To win anything seven years in a row is impressive, but to win the coveted Michelin Star definitely speaks for the amazing place they manage.

We ordered two specials which included a watermelon salad with feta, and a squid ink pasta dish that was unreal. We also split the octopus, because as you can see by now we are pulpo-addicts. The eight legged creature was served with piquillo pepper purée, warm potato salad, pickled chiles and three herb pistou.

For dinner I was stuck between venison, lamb, and duck. We had recently returned from Spain, and while there I had some excellent venison while dining at El Xalet de Montjuïc, which really put me on a venison kick. Lamb, I had the week before at Il Buco, which was also delicious. Which leaves me to Duck, which the waitress assured me was one of their best dishes. She was right, this was one of the best pieces of duck I have had in a long time. I would even go as far as saying it is up there with Gramercy Tavern, which is a legendary dish to me. I have contemplated on many occasions walking up the block, sitting at the bar and ordering this dish again.

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Now about 2 years later, we actually were thinking about doing our wedding at PUBLIC. Yea, we are that obsessed. The space as I mentioned above is absolutely stunning, and the food amazing. We were both so much in love with the place that I considered cutting out some friends and family from the invite list so we can have the wedding there, but unfortunately I was over-ruled.

Since we are not having the wedding here I may have to convince her that we should join the PUBLIC Wine Mailbox Program. As I discussed earlier, there are some vintage mailboxes through out the space. Along with those, some pretty cool keys that unlock them. For $50/per month their Wine Mailbox Program brings you a bottle of wine every month in your very own PUBLIC bronze mailbox. Each artisanal wine from Australia, New Zealand, and around the globe, is hand-selected by Chef Brad Farmerie. But that is not all, you also receive tasting notes, pairings, and sometimes imported food items, and PUBLIC kitchen creations. And, if you thought this deal couldn’t get better – there is more: you will receive invitations to PUBLIC special events and private tastings. Rumor has it, you also receive some special access to their reservation line…

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Draught 55: Beer After a Long Day in the Office

Majority of the week, around 4:00PM you are itching to get out of the office and get a drink. Sometimes, you don’t want to go anywhere crazy/bougie, and just want a beer – thats when I goto Draught 55. Located on 55th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, this is a perfect location for majority of finance workers in Midtown. This place has become a bit of a local watering hole for the guys in our office, and with 42 Craft Beers on Draught + an additional few dozen in Bottles/Can – you now know why. Also, they generally rotate the selection and bring in new beers on a regular basis – so the options are pretty endless.

When you eventually get hungry – they also have a pretty awesome food menu. I have drunkenly consumed the Apricot Beer Glazed Soft Pretzel, Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Rogues Chipotle Ale Chili Nachos, Flash Fried Calamari, Wings, Beer Battered Mozzarella Sticks, and some other items – and all have been really delicious on a buzzed stomach.

If you are looking for low-key, beer, talking with co-workers, and eating some bar food – you will definitely like Draught 55.

Here are a few beers I have tried over the past few months:

  • Stone Brewing Company: Arrogant Bastard Ale (7.2% ABV): First time having it on draught, last time at Minetta Tavern I had it out of the bottle. This beer puts the ‘strong’ in American Strong Ale, and definitely has one of the hoppiest bites you will taste. The beer has a nice red/amber color to it with citrus (grapefruit) bitterness. Kind of similar to their Levitation Ale – but more hoppy. Can drink one every once in a while, not an everyday/all night beer.
  • Founders Brewing Co: Founders Black Rye (7.5%): Dark with a tan head, tastes of coffee, rye, chocolate, and some pine hops.  Well balanced and medium body, would drink again – and on draught @ $7.00, that is no brainer.
  • Goose Island Beer Co: Matilda (7.0%): Poured this out of the bottled and into a glass, and was surprised about the color – orange/amber color, which I did not see coming. This is a Belgian Ale, with some complex flavors which I can say are definitely unique. Little to much of that fruit taste – one time was good enough for me.
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company: Imperial Stout (9.8%): chocolate, coffee, roasted taste – with a little sambuca/black licorice taste to it. Good Russian Imperial Stout, and at $8.00, pretty good bang for your buck.
  • Innis & Gun: Oak Aged Beer (6.6%): This UK Export picks up the oak flavor from the aging process with some caramel, vanilla, and toffee. Definitely strange, one time was good for me.
  • River Horse Brewing Co: Tripel Horse (10.0%): Happy to support these guys out of Ewing New Jersey, and to drink local. Not much of a Belgian Style Ale person, but this beer is intriguing – vanilla, clove, citrus, and hops with a little bitterness on the back-end.

Stop in, have a beer, and let me know what you think – as I mentioned they constantly rotate in beers.

Anchor Brewing: America’s First Craft Brewery?

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In 1849 German brewer Gottlieb Brekle (hence Brekle’s Brown Ale) settled in California. Purchasing a saloon a few years later in San Francisco, this later on became the brewery known know as Anchor Brewing – which officially was born in 1896. Over the next couple dozen decades, the brewery witnessed two of it’s founders die in freak accidents, The Great San Fransisco Earthquake, Prohibition, the brink of bankruptcy – and being shipped in a box delivered to the lobby of my apartment. My life is pretty awesome.

I open the fancy box, which was shipped from my friends at Dog and a Duck, and threw the beers right into the fridge. The other night while my fiancé was over, I figured this might be a good time to taste the beers. She isn’t a beer drinker, but on occasions she will order one. Additionally, I will usually make her try my beers sometimes if they are good to see what she thinks. She has been getting pretty good at picking out details of each beer, so I felt like this was a good idea since the Anchor Brews would be something she would probably like.

Anchor Steam Beer
Type: California Common / Steam Beer
First Brew: 1896
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 4.9%

This is the flagship beer, and as you can see was first brewed the year Anchor Brewing  was founded. The beer gained early popularity prior to the years of Prohibition, and in fact was the reason the company was saved from the brink of bankruptcy by one of its fans, an Stanford Graduate named Fritz Maytag. By the 1970s, the brewery began pumping out bottles of this recipe out of its newer locations.

The beer pours a golden, almost burnt auburn color with a thick white head. The Anchor Steam Beer has a blend of pale and caramel malts, which provides a bit of malty sweetness with a hint of biscuits. There is also a slight taste of minty, fruity taste (citrus/apricot) however not as much as I tasted in the Liberty Ale. The hops, which are Northern Brewer, which gives mild bitterness but far from overwhelming. Nicole mentioned she tasted something familiar, the only thing she could relate it to was Blue Moon. The smell of the beer is nice, mix of floral and fruit smell, which makes sense due to the taste mentioned above. The beer is finishes extremely crisp, and very refreshing. The carbonation level is almost perfect, and I think this would be a great beer to drink on a hot day. Highly recommend this beer, and after drinking it is no wonder why the company has been around for so long built of the back of this beer.

Liberty Ale
Type: American IPA
First Brew: 1975
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 5.9%

Although considered an IPA, this beer is extremely well balanced. The ale is brewed with pale malted barley, cascade hops, and a special top-fermented yeast. Liberty Ale is also goes through the process of dry-hopping which is the practice of adding fresh hops to the brew during aging. During this time period, Anchor Brewing also produced some of their other beers including Anchor Porter, Old Foghorn Barley Wine Ale, and it’s first annual Christmas Ale. For reasons such as this, they believe they are America’s first craft brewery/micro brewery – and to be honest, they are putting up a pretty good argument.

Once we put the glasses up to our mouth, we smelt the citrus, earthy, and pine smells from the cascade hops. The taste, was exactly like the smell – but with less bitterness then I expected considering there was a prevalent aroma of grapefruit and pine. The carbonation, which the company describes as ‘champagne-like bubbles’, makes the beer very drinkable. I recommend this as well, this was Nicole’s favorite due to the lemon-zest and resinous taste. If you girlfriend drinks beer, or is willing to try beer, this is a good beer to have her try.

Anchor IPA
Type: India Pale Ale
First Brew: 2014
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 6.5%

This is one of Anchor Brewing’s newest beers, and they included the press release in their package. From reading over the details, you can see the company went out to establish an IPA that stands out from the overcrowded space. According to their Brewmaster, Mark Carpenter,

“Right now a lot of Pas are so hop forward that your palate can only enjoy one because of the high bitterness . Our IPA will have a strong hop flavor so you know you’re drinking an IPA. But, the combination of malts we’re using are strong enough to hold up to the bitterness, allowing you to enjoy more than one.”

Once I poured the beer, I was able to tell there was a huge difference in the color from the other two beers. The first two, poured a golden/auburn color, this more of a bronze caramel color. I think the best way to describe the Anchor IPA is calling it the ‘Liberty Ale on Steroids’. Some of the same characteristics, but more intense – for example the piney hops taste. This is due to Anchor using Cascade hops, like the Liberty Ale, but with some additional hops as well. Also, they use five hops during the dry hopping process. The hops give a bitter bite to the beer, and the strong metallic after taste. Way to much of an IPA for Nicole, however if you are big into IPA’s, this is definitely the beer for you.

Where to Find?

On their website, they have a great Beer Finder App, which shows you where you can finder their products. After searching a 1 mile radius from Soho, I can see this a long list of places where I can find their beers. This includes both restaurants, bars, and stores.

Oyster Fest in Brooklyn This Weekend

Tomorrow is going to be 79 Degrees and Sunny, so you should probably check this out. The good people at Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook are doing a Spring Oyster Fest, and for $55/per person you could get unlimited beer and unlimited oysters.

Grab ticket on there site now.

www.BrooklynCrab.com
24 Reed Street
Brooklyn, NY

Most Important Chart of the Day: Beer Taxonomy Chart

Today in honor of ‘National Beer Day’ our friends at Business Insider/RateBeer.com put up their Beer Taxinomy Chart to show the different types of beers. I personally hate any type of ‘National (Insert Stupid Object) Day’ posts from any website – but this one is actually pretty awesome. Enjoy image

Club A Steakhouse: Fantasy Football Dinner

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The other week we held our annual office fantasy football dinner, where the bottom half of the pool picks up the tab. We have a weekly pick em league, with over 30 guys, so it’s safe to say you want to be on the top of the table. The bill per loser can really rack up, especially when some people go for the jugular, i.e. Porterhouse for 2 for 1, or bottles of Opus One. For me, win or lose, I do it for the networking and face time.

The past few years the dinner has been held at Smith & Wollensky, but this year my boss decided to change it up. He has his assistant look into private rooms at Del Frisco’s, Quality Meats, Maloney & Porcelli, Keens… I think even at one point the idea of STK Midtown was thrown around. However, due to the dinner being scheduled around some pretty important people and the size of the group, none of the above were able to accommodate us. That’s when we came across Club A Steakhouse, which was close to the office and has a private dinning room on the second floor that we would be able to fit the group.

Earlier that morning, in true sore winner fashion, my boss sent out an email to all the winners/losers advising on how to maximize tonight’s eating potential by not filling up for breakfast and/or lunch. I definitely took note, and ordered a light lunch from Certe around 11:00, so I would be starving.

We all walked down 58th Street and saw the trees outside Club A wrapped in lights, which made me realize I passed this place the other day going back to my apartment from Home Depot. We walked in, and quickly realized this place loves the color red. There was red ceilings, red walls, red seat cushions… Also, they had a ton of velvet. They had enough velvet to make velour suits for the whole borough of Staten Island. With the decor of red, gold, and velvet, I felt like I was in Tony “Scarface” Montana’s Miami Mansion – I was waiting to see a globe with the words ‘The World is Mine’ on it. So we walked up the stairs into the ‘Living Room’ section – which could seat up to 45 people. As you could have guessed, more red and velvet, and a fireplace which was nice.

The feast was about to begin and I was starving. I ordered a Chimay as we waiting to order. Haven’t had a good Trappist beer in a while, and wanted to see what the good old Belgian monks have been brewing. As soon as the waiter took our order we saw the first rush of appetizers come to the table, thick cut bacon and seafood towers. The bacon was unbelievable, cut about 1/4 of an inch thick, and was getting some great reviews from the table. It was tender, juicy, and had a nice charred outside. From every angle I was able to see people cutting the bacon and stuffing it into their mouths. The steak sauce they provided went well with the smokiness of the meat. Since going to to Club A, I have been contemplating stoping their for lunch just to get some swine – and at $5/slice it’s extremely tempting. Onto the seafood towers, which were massive. I honestly do not remember how many of these we ordered but all that remained was crushed ice and the discarded inedible carcasses of the shellfish. The platters included U7 Shrimp (which means 7 shrimp per pound so they were huge), Lobster, King Crab Meat, and Colossal Crab Meat. Seafood was all extremely fresh and before I knew it I was ducking out of the way of pieces of shells flying from fellow employees cracking open massive lobster claws.

Once the shared appetizers were cleared from the table, we received our personal appetizers. I went with the Tuna Tartare since the waiter talked it up so much, and it didn’t disappoint. The portion was massive, which was worrying me as I had a huge steak coming soon. Then I realized I am a bottomless pit, and ate the heaping mountain of raw tuna. We had a nice pause so we can all digest, and continue drinking before the main courses came. I drank another Chimay, followed by some Red Wine since the waiters kept refilling my glass – I mean, why not, I did come in the top 15 of the pool, and I was not chipping in for the bill.

Prior to the main courses, a slew of waiters came into the private room like something out of a movie. They were dropping down on the table the family style sides, which included 5 Cheese Truffle Mac, Onion Rings, Creamed Spinach, Jumbo Asparagus, Mash Potatoes, Garlic Herb Fries, and Hash Browns. Then came out the meat, I ordered Prime Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak for 3, to split with someone. The steak was good, however was a little over cooked – more towards medium, which was a little disappointing. This is something I could expect at a regular restaurant – but not somewhere with ‘Steakhouse’ in the name. I didn’t let this ruin the experience as the steak was still pretty good. I would say I ate my fair share of the Porterhouse, would even go as far to say I ate around 65% of it. The sides were all great, the best were definitely the hash browns and onion rings – definitely recommend ordering them.

After dinner we finished with some dessert and a Lagavulin 16, was going to order the Laphroaig 10, but as mentioned earlier I wasn’t paying…

Brinkley’s: Chicken Pot Pie Awesomeness

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I have been going to Brinkley’s for close to 5 years now. I even moved as close as possible to it, on the same block and a mere 0.1 miles from it. Not only do I love their beer selections, but they have great food as well.

I have had everything from their duck fat fries, to black garlic humus, to the lobster club. I even would say they have one of the best burgers in the neighborhood, along with Randolph’s. Over the thousands of hours drinking local beers, slurring words, and dropping beer on their black and white checkered floor – I never noticed they have a Chicken Pot Pie on the menu.

The Chicken Pot Pie is a special, and only served on Monday – which may cause issues with my current drinking schedule being that Monday is my off day/recovery day.

The CPP is done with Puff Pastry, Poached Chicken & Seasonal Veggies in Béchamel. When it gets to the table, it is still in the hot cast iron skillet and the size of my head. About 10 inches in diameter, I could have used this thing to play Kan Jam. Instead, I poked my fork through the puff pastry into the gooey filling and burnt the fuck out of my mouth. I have been alive for twenty-eight years, and I still have not learned to let things cool down before eating. Although I singed off a good portion of my taste buds, I was able to tell this CPP had some awesome flavors. The mix of the peas and carrots with the butteriness of the roux blended together perfectly. The pie also had generous chunks of chicken, you can tell it was chopped off the breasts of the Kate Upton of chickens. With the meal I decided to drink some Empire Amber Ale, which made a great pairing. The biscuity and caramel sweetness, mixed with the piney/hoppy bitterness on the backend.

Get over your case of the Mondays (next Monday), take the 6 Train down to Spring Street, and get some Chicken Pot Pie. Also, wash it down with an Empire Amber Ale.

Barraca: Tapas That Was Okay…

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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.

Balthazar: Most Disappointing Dinner in Months

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For the past few years I would walk by Balthazar on almost a daily basis. When I didn’t walk by it, I could see the red awnings on the corner of Crosby and Spring as I was running to/from the 6 Train. The place is always bustling, usually with people hanging outside by the entrance waiting for tables. Even when you are not in Soho, it is have to avoid the Balthazar, with their trucks driving around NYC. So last night I made two reservations, one at Saxon + Parole and one at Balthazar. Both have been places I wanted to try for a while, and after eating I regretted my decision.

The Good:

I will start with the waitress’s (Pepper) knowledge of the drink menu. For my first beer, she suggested their Balthazar Ale, which was pretty good. She mentioned it was similar to a Bass – and she was dead on. Always like to try restaurant/bar’s proprietary beers. Not really into the Pale Ale style, but I enjoyed it – however $11.00 for their own beer is a little on the high side. In terms of local Soho Restaurant Beers think Toby’s Public House’s Toby’s Cheap Ale is the better move, and half the price. For the wine, my fiancé asked for something similar to Cab Sav, and the waitress suggested Haut-Medoc, which she really enjoyed.

The fries were really good – which makes sense since this is owned by the same group that owns Minetta Tavern.

The Okay:

For one of our appetizers we chose the Kabocha Squash Risotto, which was served with duck ham, heirloom apples, mascarpone cheese, and pumpkin seed gremolata. This has nice chunks of duck, and all the ingredients went together nicely. The second appetizer we ordered was Chestnut and Ricotta Agnolotti with caramelized fennel, country ham, candied orange zest, and brown butter. This dish was okay, kind of like thinner rectangular raviolis but the orange zest was a little too stronger and overpowered the rest of the flavors. One thing I found strange was that the dishes came out almost within minutes of ordering – which leads me to believe these are pre-made and then just heated up, which if so WHY THE HELL ARE YOU CHARGING $21.00/20.00 per APPETIZER?

One of the mains we ordered the Skate, which was pretty large. My fiancé enjoyed it, came with raisins and pine nuts, which can make anything good.

The Disappointing: 

The Duck Confit! I read so many great things about this online, the waitress said it was great … and I  was really disappointed. The meat, which came over potatoes and mushrooms, was extremely dried out. The skin has no real crisp to it, the only flavor I got from it was burnt dry meat. What made it even worse was I was – I was really looking forward to eating good duck. Over the past few months I have had duck at Dirty French, Gramercy Tavern, PUBLIC, Tao Downtown, Hakkasan – all of which were delicious. After reading all the great things people had to say online, and then trying it – I can only guess maybe it was an off day?

The Bread! One of the other things I was really looking forward to was the famous Balthazar Bread. Their bread is highly regarded as some of the best in the city, so why not get excited. The bread came, my eyes light up, and the taste fell flat. It was nothing special at all. In comparison to somewhere like Il Buco, Peasant …etc Balthazar’s bread was subpar.

The Bill

So for the two glasses of wine, two beers, two appetizers, side of fries, two main courses, and one of their deserts – we are talking $201.00 before tip. I would have much rather spent this elsewhere, and I do not recommend Balthazar to anyone. Don’t buy into the hype, there are dozens of better restaurants in the neighborhood – skip Balthazar.

Claw Daddy’s: Cajun/Creole Crabs and Crawfish

As you can tell by now, I hate going to the same place multiple times – unless they have exceptional and original food. This Friday was my 4th time going to Claw Daddy‘s, so it is safe to say they fall into this category. Even though it was my fourth time, I was equally excited as the other 3 times going. With the exception of The Boil, which is down the block there is really not many places that specialize in crab legs. Yes, you can go up to Hooter’s on 57th but chances are you will get better crabs from the waitress.

We went over to Claw Daddy’s early to meet some friends, and we made it there for Happy Hour (5:30-7:30). They have $1 Blue Point Oysters and Buffalo Wings, $4 Draft Beers (great list), $5 Wine, and $6 Cocktails – pretty awesome way to start off a Friday. So we started off with dozen Blue Points and a Dozen Wings. Wings were great, crispy and spicy – had them last time I went and decided these were a necessity. The Blue Points were okay, not a big Blue Point fan – so my judgement could be off. Than again, $1 per Oyster – which is the size of my Little League baseball cup, is cool. We than ordered one of their Specials, Squid Ink Fired Rice – which was dope. Few slices of calamari mixed in white the rice and squid ink, which is given to you in pretty much a frozen yogurt to go cup. We than decided to order a dozen Kumamoto (my favorite type of Oyster) and Fried Oysters. The Fried Oysters were so good, we ordered another order – and then contemplated ordering a third order. They were crispy with the right amount of salt, brought me back to New Orleans. Then to end the appetizer session, which was a bit aggressive – we order the Oysters Rockefeller. As if we didn’t have enough oysters or enough food, this was not necessary. But then again, oysters with practically creamed spinach is never a bad thing. When they came out I had a flash back to Dirty French or Acme Oysters. But sadly they fall short of both, not because they were bad – but because the two previous mentioned happened to be some of the best things I have ever eaten.

To the mains, which by this time we already almost full – but that didn’t stop us. We ordered the Garlic Noodles, which I ordered the first time I came – and every other time I came. Picture Lo Mein, with grated cheese, garlic, and oil. If Ramen tasted like this, I would probably actually goto more Ramen places (not into the hype). For their Louisiana Boils, this time we chose Shrimp/Snow Crab Combo and the Dungeness Crab/Craw Fish combo. VERY IMPORTANT: Be very careful to check the Market Price before ordering – one time we ordered the same thing it was $75, this time is was $50. In terms of sauce selection, I always go with the Claw Daddy Special, which is a mix of their sauces, and I go Mild. The pots come out, in a bag which seals in the flavors – along with the seafood they have the potatoes and corn basking in this Cajun Greatness. So we put on the gloves and bib (yes, this is mandatory) and went to work. Cracking the shells, tearing the caucus of the crawfish, and peeling the shrimp. At one point, caught a splash to eye from the sauce – luckily it was mild. As we were eating the bucket of shells piled up like the Bridge and Tunnel crowd at Bounce. By the time we were done, I don’t think there was one piece of seafood left. Even the piece of crawfish is dropped on my Bonobos chinos was gone since I used my fork to scoop it up and eat it.

For the drinks, as I previously mentioned they have an awesome beer’s with 10 on Draft. I usually go with the Shiner Bock, Blue Point Toasted Lager, or Fire Island Lighthouse Ale. The girls order cocktails, which since they don’t have a full bar are pretty much made with Saki. After a few of them, there were definitely feeling it.

Now to the BIG QUESTION. Is it better than The Boil over on Christie Street. My answer Yes – but here is why. Both places have great food, so on a food standpoint I would say the quality of the food is equal. Menu size is definitely larger at Claw Daddy’s. In regards to the bar aspect, The Boil has a full bar and carries the wide range of Abita – Including my Favorite Abita Amber, where Claw Daddy’s carries Abita Purple Haze. But the thing that makes me Love Claw Daddy’s, is they take reservations! The Boil is absurd, and the last time I tried to go there, which was a Wednesday, the wait was an hour. Since Claw Daddy’s opened I have refused to even attempt The Boil, why be cramped and wait ridiculous times when you could have a bigger menu, great food, and nicer waitstaff? That being said, if you were to ask me which one to goto Claw Daddy’s – hands down.

Below are a few appetizers/sides I have had, and that I think you should try. In terms of the Boil Pots, you cant go wrong any which way you choose. Its all about the seafood preference, but they are all amazing.

  • Garlic Noodles: Read Above, Definitely Get These.
  • Deep Fried Oysters: Read Above, Definitely Order Also.
  • Brussel Sprouts: Never Thought I would say this, but really good and filled with garlic.
  • Cajun Fries: Sweat Potato Fries with Cajun Seasoning, you can’t go wrong DEFINITELY ORDER.

Randolph’s Beer: A Few Dark Beers …

On Saturday, after eating some takeout from 69 Bayard and feeling full, we decided to go meet some friends out for some drinks. Not looking to leave my usual 5 block radius, decided to have them meet us @ Randolph’s Beer across the street. It was nice and early, and we grabbed a table in the back before it go to crowded – and I began to start ordering some beers. Before you go and order these, want a little bit of a disclaimer – I LOVE DARK BEERS.

  • Nitro Milk Stout by Left Hand Brewery: Not my first time having this, and possibly one of my favorite milk stouts. Dark jet black color, with some chocolate and coffee taste to it – a little smoked taste to it. With 6.0% ABV, great way to start the night.
  • Java Head Stout by Troegs: Similar to the Nitro Milk Stout, smooth medium body – with some tastes of coffee, toasted malts, and a little bit of vanilla. Beer has 7.5% ABV, and would definitely drink again.
  • Kelso Nut Brown Ale: One of my usual go-to beers at Brinkley’s down the block. Definitely lighter than the Java Head, and being more similar to a traditional brown ale. Brewed in NYC with 5.75% ABV, you get some tastes of the malt, nuts (no jokes please), and hops – without the bitter after taste of Indian Brown Ale.
  • DBA by Firestone Walker: Close to an Octoberfest, definitely more carbonated than there others with a nice oak/wood flavor. Was a little thrown off when the bartender handed it over due to its color – kind of a burnt orange. Good beer to drink if you are feeling full from the darker stouts, and at 5.0% – very drinkable.
  • Maduro Brown by Cigar City: This was my favorite of brown ale of the night. Light feel to it, and nice carbonation with tastes of porter mixed with a brown ale. Coffee, molasses/toffee (but not to sweet), with some nutty-maltiness. With 5.5% ABV, I could definitely drink a few of these.
  • Peace Loving Decoy by Gigantic: Don’t really remember much of this one, but it has 6.0% and was towards the end of the night.

By this point, I had all of the above – and in some cases multiple of them. When I went up to the bar to get one more, the Bartender recommend one of there newest beers – Wulver by Thirsty Dog. At a whopping 12.0% ABV, this beer had a kick to it. The beer came in a wine glass, which is not cool, but has a dark color to it – which could have passed as a Malbec. From the first smell, and taste, you pick up the bourbon from the aging process. Behind the bourbon you have some caramel, toffee and malts. Drinking a few of these will definitely knock you on your ass – but for 12.0% its very drinkable.

Just when you thought the night was over, we ended up going to Joe’s Shanghai …

Minetta Tavern: Best Burger in the World

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So for years I have heard of the infamous Black Label Burger @ Minetta Tavern, usually in the top-five of any Best Burger list. So looking to try not only their coveted, but some other items without paying the hefty price tag – I did what anyone on the Buy Side employee  should do, mention it to one of their brokers, and they will take you. So we scheduled a lunch, invited my boss to gain some brownie points, and the two of us – and the big whigs from [BIG BANK] and headed down to Greenwich Village from our perches on Park Avenue. It was a 2:00 Reservation, and once we sat down I waited for my bosses drink order before I placed mine (always a good idea). The bank asked what we would like to start with, and with complete carte blanche we ordered up a storm. My favorite of the appetizers, Roasted Bone Marrow – until this day, the only time I have had marrow that came close to comparing was TORO Boston. Roasted to a golden perfection, with a butter texture that smeared across the toasted bread they provided. I personally would like to thank the cow that donated it’s shin bones so we could scrape the gelatinous goodness out of. Between the four of us, along with the other appetizers we ordered, we devoured 4 orders of the Roasted Bone Marrow. Now to the main event, The Black Label Burger, which as everyone knows is absolutely amazing. My first bite, I was at a loss for words. Lets start with the meat – comes from one of the finest poureyor of meats, Mr. Pat La Frieda. Prime grade meat, blend of Short Rib, Skirt, Brisket and Dry-Aged Ribeye – which is dry aged and then finished with clarified butter. The only way to show this meat the respect it deserves is to order it up Medium-Rare, anything more would be a mortal sin. The second proponent which should not be overlooked is the caramelized onions. Some say this is done in truffle oil, others the tears of orphans, whatever is in them is nothing short of culinary genius. So take the meat, then add a healthy helping of these onions – which is then place on one of the best buns I have ever consumed. One thing I do not think gets enough praise – the fries. I am a sucker for skinny fries thats are perfectly salted – especially when they are given in massive quantities.

You would think after all that I would have a sense of accomplishment to which I could then move on. Wrong, a few weeks later I took my fiancé to Minetta. We had a 6:00 Sunday Reservation, and she was a little hesitant – which probably could have been due to the fact that she hasn’t had red meat in close to a decade. We happened to be out one day, and she mentioned how much she used to love burgers and loves the smell, so if I was going to reintroduce her – I had to do it the right way.

So she ordered their Pinot Noir, which was from Oregon, and great. I ordered an Arrogant Bastard, and we began the food ordering. We went with two of their specials, and although I would have loved to have her try the marrow – I was happy enough she was ordering the Black Label Burger and trying meat. The Verdict: She liked it a lot, she ate a half – which left me eating 1 1/2  Black Label Burgers, which quickly became one of the best eating days of my life.

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Bachelor Party Guide: New Orleans

Went to New Orleans for an awesome bachelor party a few months back, should have been two but had to back out of one due to no more vacation days. Here is a guide to ensure you have an awesome time out there – we got you covered.

Getting There:
Flight is only 3 hours direct from New York, and fairly cheap around $330 for a round trip leaving on a Thursday and coming home on a Sunday. Flew JetBlue, which had some flights leaving after work which was an awesome option.

Where to Stay:
The Royal Sonesta is located on Bourbon Street and Conti Street, smack in the middle of where you want to be. Definitely look into the suites, we had the two corner suites that ran along Bourbon and the side street – great place to watch/throw beads and pregame before going out. There is also a pool in the courtyard, decent size and can get pretty wild depending on the crowd. We packed coolers of beers and hung out there during the day, there is also a bar there which serves food – could get a couple dozen crawfish for dirt cheap.

Where to Go:
Bourbon Street is filled with bars, which are next to strip clubs, which are next to souvenir stores, which are in turn next to bars, and then to strip clubs ..etc. There are tons of places you could stumble into, and you are sure to have fun. You can drink in the streets, so go for their best beers from Abita Brewing Company and stay far away from those grenade drinks.

Penthouse Club is definitely the best of the strip clubs out there, with a couple of dozen women walking around and on stage (Quality and Quantity) – it is where you want to be. They have a VIP Area in the back, which you could order bottles and cigars – also they have packages for groups  which you can check out prior to getting there on the Bachelor Party Link. This is also a 0.1 mile walk from The Royal Sonesta – so even if you walk out @ closing time of 4:00am – there is a good chance you can make it back to your hotel without getting lost.

Harrahs Casino for  gambling, if you want to throw the dice or play some cards they have a casino which gets a little shady a night.

Where to Eat:
Acme Oyster is the best place to eat some seafood, do not miss going there. They serve a couple thousand oysters a night, there specialty the Charbroiled Oysters. They come out hot w/ melted cheese, creole seasoning, and some other ingredients – definitely the best oysters I have ever tried – Dirty French, was a very close second. Also order some Boo Fries, which come with roast beef gravy and melted cheese.The line is usually pretty huge, and depending on how late you go, only gets worse.

Mother’s Restaurant is pretty close to Harrah’s Casino, about a three minute walk. When hungover, order The Famous Ferdi Special which is ham, roast beef, ‘DEBRIS’ and au jus. If you don’t know what debris is, doesn’t matter – just order it. It will soak up all the poison you ingested a few hours earlier.

Best Beer of the Month: Fat Tire Amber Ale

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For years my buddy has been telling me that Fat Tire Amber Ale is the best beer around. He went to school in Colorado, which is where New Belgium Brewing Company is based, and he was able to pound cases of that while I was drinking kegs of Natty Ice. While we were out in Vegas, we had breakfast at Aria Cafe – which so happened to be carrying Fat Tire Amble Ale. So ordered a Steak and Eggs, and began the consumption of amber/copper colored liquid deliciousness. First thoughts, kind of similar to one of my other favorite beers, Abita Amber, but strangely better and with 0.7% more alcohol. It has a crisp, toasted malt, medium-bodied sweetness to it which makes it extremely easy to drink.

Went through two bottles prior to my food coming, and then a few more after. Since having this, I have been trying to find it everywhere I go. Coincidently, across the street @ Randolph’s they have a sign on top of the bar for it – but do not carry it. Its not there fault, for some reason I will never understand – the company does not ship to New York, or New Jersey, or Connecticut … According to their website, which has a BeerFinder application, the closest location I could find a Fat Tire would be Wilmington, Delaware – awesome.

So, if you are lucky enough to come across this – do yourself a favorite and drink one. Than, please send me an email/call and I will provide my shipping address in return for a reservation at where ever you would like (this is a serious request/proposal).

Randolphs: Beer and Brunch

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I have been to Randolph’s a few times, doesn’t hurt that it is literally across the street from the apartment – and to have an extensive beer list, makes it even better.

Going to start with the beer:

They have a huge list on a daily basis, many of which you can’t find any many bars. Their beer menu has a breakdown of what types of beer they have on tap, and a long list of seasonal beers. Started with the Indian Brown Ale by Dogfish Head, have seen it around but never ordered it. First thoughts, kind of a mix of Brown Ale, IPA, and a Scotch Ale – with 7.2% alcohol.  A little to hoppy, but I would drink it again. Tried on of their seasonal beers, recommended by the waitress, Dark Horse 4 Elf – tasted like if the Indian Brown Ale fucked a Christmas Tree – not for me. No matter what kind of beer drinker you are, you can find something on their list. You cannot leave here without enjoying one of the dozens of different beers and different styles.

The Food:

  • Breakfast Nachos: Two Cheeses (Cheddar and Jack), Baked Egg, Black Beans, Ranchero Sauce. Great way to help out the earlier hangover, soaks u up all the night before’s horrible choices.
  • Burger w/ Fried Egg: Never got the fried egg unfortunately, and the burger did come with mayo even though I asked for no mayo – but it was a juicy burger. The size of a hockey puck, cooked perfect medium-rare with waffle fries – I was like a little kid eating it. Would even go on record saying might be one of the best burgers in the neighborhood – up there with Brinkley’s.

Conclusion:

If you are in the neighborhood, definitely go. If you are not – but are in the mood for excellent beer lists, diverse music (Vampire Weekend to Zeppelin), and laid back atmosphere make the trip. No matter how you look at it, still beats spending a night in Murray Hill.

Radolph’s Beer/Randolph’s Broome

343 / 349 Broome Street

New York, NY 10013