Tag Archives: FOOD

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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Joe & Misses Doe: Awesomeness in the East Village

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A few months ago I woke up hungover, and didn’t really feel like posting an article. However, it was the morning after the James Beard Awards, so I figured it would be totally irresponsible for a food blogger to not write an article. After I posted it, and put up a tweet, my phone lit up with a tweet from a local chef:

“@JOEDOEchef: So. Where are the new winners?? So sick of the circle jerk those awards are. #politicsoverfood”

After laughing out loud in my cubicle, I realized I totally agree with his view. There are so many small places, or low-key places, or neighborhood spots that do not get the acclaim they deserve by JBA. Thats when I decided I would reach out to Chef Joe Dobias at Joe & MissesDoe and learn more about their place. I use the term ‘their’ because it is actually owned and operated by both Chef Joe and his wife, Jill Dobias, aka Misses Doe.

After bullshitting on Twitter, they invited us in for dinner one night to test out their new summer menu. How can I turn that offer down, especially when they mentioned one of the items on the menu had three of my favorite things – ravioli, ricotta, and marrow butter.

We walked over a few blocks east, over to 1st and 1st, and found their little neighborhood joint. Realizing I was a couple hundred feet away from Dirty French, I told Nicole if we were still hungry after we could stop over there for some of their charbroiled oysters – that was definitely not the case. When we walked in we were greeted by the famous, Misses Doe. Along with her awesome presence, we were greeted with a bar full of small plates. We started with some of their ‘quirky cocktails’ while Misses Doe gave us some background on the place. I had their Spring Old Fashion – bourbon, honey, and grilled lemon (excellent touch). The old fashion was great, and the honey mixed with the bourbon gave it a nice sweetness while the grilled lemon, which was pretty much blacken, gave some acidity. Nicole started with The Livins Easy, which is like a pina colada but without the horribleness of sugary pre-made store-bought mixtures. It was made from rum, coconut cream, caramelized pineapple. She liked it a lot, but definitely felt it was one of those drinks you can start the evening with rather than go all night with.

As we sat with Jill, we learned more about the restaurant and their relationship. The whole time I kept thinking this hot-head chef was going to walk over and question why I liked James Beard winners and highly-publicized spots such as Charlie Bird, PUBLIC, Carbone, Mercer Kitchen … But then he came over to us. The only way I can describe him is a gentle-giant, as Jill is more of the sparkplug I saw via Joes Twitter (in the best way possible – she is awesome). Between the two of them, and their outside the box concept on culinary cuisine they can definitely expect to see me sitting at their bar more often. Now onto the food …

To start we snacked on their assortment of finger-foods. Nicole grabbed a piece of matzah, which I kind of scoffed at. Out of all the food she chose a piece of unleavened bread, but hey she seemed happy as she spread the ‘beer cheese’ over it. Once she bit into it, I felt compelled to try it, and I was shocked how much I enjoyed it. It was matzah, but with a twist kind of like a Wheat Thin flavoring but a sweetness kind of like the bottom of the cereal bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. This matzah was so good I contemplated converting. The beer cheese had bleu, pecorino, cream cheese, cheddar and was dope. Next up, a deviled egg. Something I would never try due to the fact the yolk is whipped with mayonnaise, aka my worst enemy. However, Nicole assured me it was good and I gave it a shot. Pretty delicious, and if I didn’t know it had mayo – I would eat it again.

Next up, the real food. We had the Green Gazpacho with cucumber, almonds, and grapes. This combination of flavors was surprisingly enjoyable and very refreshing. Then we had their Beets & Watermelon Radish, which was one of Nicole’s favorite dishes. I ate around the beets and radish concentrating on the ricotta. Nicole devoured the beets and seemed pretty happy that I left my portion for her. I am going to skip over the next course, Sausage Bread, and leave it for last, since this was one of my favorite things. We then tried their take on Potatoes Bravas, but with a better name ‘Brave Potatoes’. This was no ordinary potato, it was more of a mini latke that was perfectly fried and crispy. This was served over an anchovy dressing and fried herbs. This was great, and do not be afraid of anchovies they are delicious. The first main course was the salmon, which was served with roasted garbanzo beans and a yogurt sauce. Normally I wouldn’t gloat about salmon, but this salmon was cooked to absolute perfection on the restaurants electric stove. The roasted garbanzo beans were crunchy, but soft at the same time. The yogurt sauce was also awesome, even dipped some of the potatoes in it. All together a perfect combination and if I happen to ever crave salmon, I would definitely come back for more.

Now we will discuss my three favorite dishes, and the reason I left with a huge smile on my face (or could have been their waitresses bringing me old fashions on an every-twenty-minute schedule). First up, the Summer Ravioli, as I mentioned above, was with ricotta, marrow butter and summer vegetables. It came out as one large stacked ravioli that was cooked perfectly al dente, with the creamy richness of the marrow butter drizzled over it. I wish they would give me a weekly supply of the raviolis that I can make from the comfort of my own apartment, hungover. This was crack, and once again do not fear the fact that it is made with marrow, because marrow is delicious (see my obsession with the it here). Back to the above mentioned Sausage Bread, which I figured would be bread baked with sausage in it, kind of like a typical focaccia bread. NOPE. This was freshly made amazing soft bread which came with a side (more like mountain) of crumbled up sausage with oils and a tomato vinaigrette. This was truly perfection, and since having this I could not get it out of my mind. Kind of like getting to second-base for the first time, you will never forget it. I cannot stress enough how much I loved this, and writing this is making me want to go back tomorrow (or now). Nicole who rarely eats meat scoffed this and begs me to go back for it daily. Last up, Joe’s famous dish – Hot Dipped Chicken. The way I kind of described this was like getting round-house kicked in the mouth by non other than Chuck Noris (yeah, bold statement). This thing had so much flavor, but with a nice crispy exterior and perfect white juicy interior. Joe takes regular fried chicken, and once again puts his spin and vision into it to make it more than just a boring piece of poultry. All of my friends who say they are in the mood for fried chicken I now send there – and they all tell me a variation of ‘that was one of the best things I have ever eaten.’ I never tried crack before, but I am going to say this is as addicting as crack.

Overall the food was great, environment was great, and best of all – its family owned and you see their love for the place while spending time with them. This place is truly their baby, despite Jill’s dog she treats like a human (check her Instagram), and their pride in their establishment is what makes it even better.

Luke’s Lobster + Coney Island Brewery + Boat

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Looking for a fun idea, call the girl and ask her if she wants to do something a little different. There are currently three days left, so act fast before they are sold out May 19th, June 2, and June 16

Basically the guys @ Luke’s Lobster have teamed up with Coney Island Brewery, and the people of Clipper City for a Lobster & Beer Fest. For $150, you and whomever you decide is worthy enough, get to take part in Maine-Style lobster rolls (2 per person), chips, pickles, coleslaw, and potato salad. Thirsty, they are being supplied by one of my favorite NY Breweries. Also, you will be on a boat, which will be cruising around the waterways of New York City.

You can buy the tickets through Gilt City here.

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Queens Food Festival: May 12th

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Tomorrow night I am going to Queens. Not something I normally say, and despite a Mets game last week – it has been a while. However, on May 12th they are hosting a food event, so I will have to make the trip over.

The event, Queens Taste 2015, will have over 50 different food/drink vendors giving out some samples of their offerings. Tickets are going for $125, which is a small price to pay for eating some small dishes with Mr.Met…

Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET)

Location:
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th St.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park

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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

Hu Kitchen: Awesome Healthy Food

Last week I went over to Hu Kitchen on 5th and 13th. For weeks people have been telling me how great this place is, and I figured I would give it a shot since I am in my final half of my diet.

When we got there I was really surprised, the place was like a dark trendy Korean Deli. There was a coffee section, juice bar, cold food section, hot food section, prepackaged items…etc. Luckily I went with some people who have been there before, because there was a lot to choose from and they were smart enough to grab seats upstairs before we grabbed our food. People were holding down tables like it was there job. I was just waiting for a fight to breakout between these paleo-addicts.

I decided to start with The Wild Meatloaf, with a two sides. The meatloaf was 100% grass-fed org ground beef, wild elk, Berkshire pork, org egg, onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, housemade BBQ sauce, cayenne pepper. This was one of the best pieces of meatloaf I have ever ate. Nice consistency with a little kick from the cayenne pepper. This will definitely be my goto main dish at Hu. The side dishes I got the Roasted Butternut Squash and Rotisserie Pineapple. Both great sides, highly recommend both. When I went back on Saturday afternoon I actually ordered the same sides again.

Along with the meatloaf, which is a nice portion, I decided in the sake of research to try the bison burger also. The Iron Mike Bison Burger is only a special I believe, and I didn’t see it the next time I went back. If you see this on the menu, grab it. The meat was pretty juicy for bison, and had some great flavors.

This Saturday we went back I grab a healthy lunch before our massive upcoming meal at Del Posto later that night. I went with the Diesel Parker which is the Grandmaster Veg with 100% grass fed HuJoe Beef. The Grandmaster Veg is a grain/dairy free lasagna, made with eggplant, carrot, green cabbage, cashew, house made marinara, garlic and chili flake. This is massive and pretty good, definitely check it out as well.

Hu Kitchen
78 5th Avenue (btwn 13 & 14th)

Eat Your Way Through Yankee Stadium

Opening day has gone and passed, and the Yanks are now 1-1. I personally have not attended a game as I prefer to get inebriated while watching the game in 60 degree and above weather. The most important thing you should read before going to the stadium, my guide of where to eat.

First and most important place to stop is Lobel’s. With two locations, I really find it important to goto the Section 134 location if it’s your first time. While waiting on a pretty large line, you can watch their butchers slice through various cuts of meat. Watching the butcher work his way through the Lobel’s dry-aged meat behind a glass window is the best display in the Bronx – fuck the Sea Lions Feeding at the Bronx Zoo.

Since their opening in 2012, I have officially ruined over 13 Yankee Jerseys. The sandwiches are extremely messy, and well worth ruining the replica jersey you purchased at Modell’s prior to the game. The meat is piled onto buns, and is pure deliciousness. Juicy, thinly sliced, and dripping in juices – expect to make a mess. I can personally eat three of these, but than again I have a bit of an eating problem. There is also another stand in Section 321 you can checkout, but I am sure the lines will be pretty large regardless.

Next up, one of my personal favorites, Parm. As you can tell from my post, I have a thing for all restaurants related to Major Food Group, aka all places that come from Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone. This includes, Dirty French, Torrisi, Carbone, Parm…etc. I live down the block, and have made myself a regular via takeout or delivery. So when they opened up in Yankee Stadium – life got even better. Located in the Great Hall, this should definitely be on your stopping list.

Garlic Fries is one of the main reasons I decide to trek up to The Bronx, rather then watch a game in HDTV on my couch. They are the best thing ever created (made out of a potato) and if you feel like being a fatass ask them to put some nacho cheese on top.

If a bank takes you out, try to get them to swing the NYY Steak or Legend Suite Lounge…

Now here are some that are okay, but you should skip to pursue the above mentioned.

Carl’s Steaks: Philly Cheesesteaks that are okay, but nothing special. I am not saying this because all things from Philadelphia suck, and that the city is subpar in comparison to NYC, I am saying it because the sandwich is just okay. Really nothing special.

Nathan’s: You can get a Nathan’s hotdog pretty much anywhere. Even airports and The Staten Island Mall sells them, so why bother wasting room in your stomach. Goto Coney Island and get a real one…

Brother Jimmy’s: I hate Brother Jimmy’s, and even worse people who call it Bro Jay’s. If you show poor enough judgement to goto the one in Murray Hill (and think it’s cool) than I rather you not look at this site. Just kidding, kind of… It’s not a bad idea to stop in the location at Yankee Stadium, but once again it’s not my first choice.

Johnny Rockets: Skip…

Souvlaki GR: Great Greek Food in LES

Over the past few years I have walked past Souvlaki GR a couple dozen times and never thought much about it. The other night before heading to a concert at Mercury Lounge we decided to book a table and eat some Greek.

When we walked into the restaurant I was really surprised by the decor. The place looks like you are sitting in an alley way of an Aegean Island. Really cool idea, and I guarantee I could have fool some people if I took a picture from the right angle of us eating at our table.

We started off with two bottles of wine, one Rose and one white. I decided to go with a beer and ordered a Red Donkey, which is Red Ale produced by Santorini Brewing Company. This is a great beer, which was well balanced, and had a bit of bitterness on the backend. Order two more before the meal was done.

There were eight of us, so we decided to order a bunch of appetizers for the table – and every single one of them was amazing. We started with the Mezedes – and ordered three spreads: Hummus, Melitzanosalata (Eggplant), and Tzatziki. This came with a bunch of pita, and all the spreads were great, definitely recommend all three. We then moved to Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) and Tyropita (Cheese Pie). Classic Greek dishes, which were executed perfectly. We also ordered a few salads, Horiatiki (Traditional Greek Salad) and Revidosalata (Chickpea Salad). I personally did not try the salads as I didn’t want to waste any room in my stomach on non-meat items. Apparently the salads were great, and the three girls ordered them as entrees as well and added shrimp and/or chicken. We also order a large order of Lamb Chops for the table. This was my first time ordering anything legal by the kilo, just kidding, and the 2.2 pounds of meat came with about 18 pieces of lamb on the bone. This was charcoal grilled & marinated with greek salt & extra virgin olive oil. After racking up a dish of bones in front of me, I realized this was the best lamb I have had in a long time. The dish was simple and authentic, tasting just like it did while in Croatia. The use of charcoal, salt, and evoo disproves the need for any god damn green mint jelly. For my main I got the Pork Souvlaki Pita, which were delicious. I only ordered one, which although small, was the perfect size considering how much we ordered prior. For $6, which is a great price, you get a choice of chicken or pork with tomato, red onions, fries & tzatziki. Also, we ordered a few platters of Greek Fries that were unreal. They were hand cut fries sprinkled with feta. They were crispy, they were salty, they were awesome.

As mentioned above, everything was awesome. But the items I suggest the most were the Souvlaki Pita, Fries, Lamb, Hummus, and Eggplant Dip. Next time your girlfriend says she wants to goto Greece, take her here…

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.

Parm: Meat + Cheese + Sauce

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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.

Charlie Bird: Even Better The Second Time Around

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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
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Siggy’s Good Food: Sometimes You Need to Eat Healthy

You can’t always eat Mac n’ Cheese from Mercer Kitchen, Pizza from Rubirosa, Bagel from Black Seed, and pretty much everything else I eat on a weekly basis. Yes I would love to shove a bite-size sandwich from PARM into my face or a burger from Minetta, but I will inevitably end up fat, broke, and single. Lets face it, unless you are the Fat Jewish or Zach Galifianakis – no body likes a fat person.

So I found the perfect compromise to eating healthy, and stuff that taste great. Up the block on Elizabeth Street, between Houston and Bleecker, is Siggy’s Good Food. For my Brooklyn people, don’t feel left out – there is one in Brooklyn Heights as well. They use organic and locally sourced ingredients to pump out some great food. I generally order the Herbs Beef Stew (description below) or their Beef Ragu Pasta Bowl (also below). They also have burgers, which are presumably healthy – however I feel they use a little too much of the herbs. Despite the seasoning on their burgers, my only complaint would be that they do not have online ordering, which leads to the ancient practice of calling up and ordering.

Below are a few of their items which I have had, and I highly recommend. Check them out, and let me know what you think.

  • Herbs Beef Stew: NY Farm Beef, Lean, Tender & Juicy. Slow Cooked in Mediterranean Herbs & Seasonings in Red Wine Sauce Served with Spinach & Quinoa Grain (Gluten Free)
  • Beef Ragu Pasta Bowl: Tender braised beef in herbs wine & tomato sauce with choice of pasta
  • Organic, Grass Fed Flank Steak Sandwich: with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, green herbs vegan mayo on ciabatta hero.
  • Parsley Hummus Plate: hummus with parsley & garlic topped with paprika & extra virgin olive oil. served with crunchy ciabatta bread.

Alleva: Great Place to Grab an Italian Hero

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Alleva claims to be the oldest Italian cheese store in America, which I can neither confirm or deny, but I can say they make a great sandwich. Established in 1892, and located on Mulberry Street and Grand Street, this place sits in the heart of Little Italy. I strongly feel this is one of the few places on Mulberry Street I can recommend (below Broome Street) due to the over-commericalization of the neighborhood. The food generally stinks in Little Italy, where tourist are lured in by employees pretending to be Italian and trying to shove their shitty pasta down your throat.

Back to Alleva, they carry a huge assortment of Italian Foods – cheese, meats, pasta, olives … etc. The main reason I come here, other than getting that nostalgic feeling of being in a real Italian Salumeria, is for their sandwiches. Off the bat, under any circumstances – do not ask them if they have domestic or imported prosciutto, you will offend them and you will look like an idiot . I usually order a hero with Turkey, Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella, with some balsamic on a semolina loft of bread. Amazingly, the hero is about twelve inches – and cost around $10.00.

Next time you are in neighborhood, walk down Mulberry – pasted tourist – and walk into this store and get some real Italian Food.

Alleva of Little Italy
188 Grand Street (Mulberry St)
New York NY

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Apizz: Great Italian Food in the Lower East Side

As mentioned in my article on Mercer Kitchen, I hate going to the same places and I hate ordering the same thing twice. But like I have always said, Apizz is definitely an exception to those feelings. Apizz (pronounced ah-beets) is located over on Eldridge, and one of the places I always recommend when people are looking for good Italian food around the Lower East Side. Everyone assumes they will goto dinner, and then go out after – but trust me , you will be stuffed.

The first time I went to Apizz, it was a few weekends after my fiancé and her cousins went for the first time. They all came back raving about it and telling me how much I would love it. So, I decided to book a reservation. Let me start by saying, any restaurant that brings out ricotta and sauce with their bread (Peasant and Bacaro, as well) automatically gains a spot in my favorite restaurants. So we started with a few appetizers, Apizz Rocket Pizza and Insalata di Polpo. The pizza which is about maybe 12″ long and 6″ wide, came topped with arugula, prosciutto, parmigiano, and fresh mozzarella. All the ingredients complimented each other nicely, with them definitely not skimping on the beautiful meat from Parma. The polpo was good, not my favorite surprisingly – could have just been an off day though.  Then for the mains my fiancé was torn between the Lobster Risotto and the Skate, which I could tell up until the entrees came she still was debating which was the better choice. She chose the Skate, which she had a few weeks prior when she went with the girls and couldn’t stop talking about it. The skate was filleted, with white wine, breadcrumbs, and potatoes. The fish really soaked up the lemon flavor along with the other seasonings, with the capers being a nice added touch. I have to admit, she was completely correct about how delicious this fish was – and I am not a flounder, fluke, sole ..etc kind of person. Now the waiter, who could tell she was between both dishes has the kitchen whip up a small order of the Lobster Risotto so we could try it. When I say small, it was not small – it was enough in size to be featured at another restaurant with a $40.00 price tag. The dish was amazing, creamy and possibly the best risotto I have had in ages. I still cannot believe the waiter did that for us, I really made the experience even better then it already was.

Now, my main course – which was the best gnocchi dish of 2014, the Short Rib Gnocchi. The plate of pasta is massive, so much pasta and meat it could fill up Chris Christie prior to his Lap-Band operation (also, check out the video of him celebrating Dallas’ win the other night). The sauce is so different, it only compares to sauce I had in Croatia – which they refer to as ‘dirty sauce’ due to its spreads of beef and cinnamon. The ragu is filled with the ribs, and boasts a dark red almost brown color. Each bit you taste the hints of honey used while they braise their short ribs. To describe how much I love this, and to put it into terms you would understand, I have been to Apizz three times – I ordered this as my main course ALL THREE TIMES. I can guarantee you, other than Spaghetteria Toni in Dubrovnik, you will not taste a sauce like this.

Now, as I mentioned above – I have been there three times before, below is a few dishes I think you should checkout and order.

Appetizers:

  • Pera con Prosciutto: Pears, Prosciutto, Walnuts, Shaved Parmigiano-Romano, and Balsamic Glaze.
  • Gambero: Lemon/Garlic Shrimp with chorizo and breadcrumbs
  • Quatro Formaggi: White Pie, amazing blend of the four cheeses.
  • L.E.S Special: Flatbread pizza with chorizo, onions, and fresh mozzarella – GET THIS FLATBREAD.

Main Courses:

  • Razza: Skate, mentioned above
  • Short Rib Gnocchi: Also mentioned above, don’t be an idiot – ORDER THIS.
  • Ravioli Con Zucca: Open faced ravioli, ricotta, mascarpone, caramelized butternut squash, with browned butter and sage – DELICIOUS.

Also, Apizz was created by Frank Decarlo – one of the partners of Peasant and Bacaro. So with the above, and the amazingness of the other two restaurants, you should feel 100% comfortable with the fact that you will have a great dinner leaving completely satisfied and stuffed.

Lunch in Midtown: Dig Inn Seasonal Market

Definitely good to switch it up here and there when ordering food to your desk, working through lunch, and watch the time slowly go by. So on Seamless I order a few different things from Dig Inn, which according to their site are ‘locally sourced, and reasonably price’. Here is what you should order from them, which is possible via Seamless.

  • BRAISED BEEF: Comes with two sides, and pretty much shreds apart like pulled pork. The dish is pretty healthy, and I usually order it with SICILIAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER W/ CHICKPEAS and BROCCOLI W/ ROASTED GARLIC & ALMONDS.
  • SPICY MEATBALLS: Lucky for me, its not that spicy so I am able to order this regularly – also comes with sides, try it with FALL COUSCOUS W/ LOCAL BUTTERNUT SQUASH

With ten locations throughout NYC, including both Midtown and Downtown, you should be within their delivery range – so check them out on Seamless and place your  order.

Mercer Kitchen: Second Time Around, Same Delicious Food w/ Subpar Service

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Going to start off by saying I hate going to the same restaraunt  (with the exception of Grey Dog, Rubirosa, Parm… Etc) and I especially hate people who order the same thing twice (with the exception of  the Short Rib Gnocchi at Apizz). That being said, I returned to Mercer Kitchen for the second time, ordered The Mercer Burger again, and added more blockage to my arteries by stuffing my face with their fries and Mac and Cheese – again. With a combination of that, plus a Stone Brewing Company Levitation Ale, it was a pretty nice way to start off my Sunday.

To move away from the feeling of Groundhog Day, we decided to go with the Peekytoe Crab Fritters and the Warm Salad of Squash. The crab was an awesome way to change it up, perfectly fried up and full of taste. The crab balls come with a side of aioli which just looked like a bowl of mayo – and due to a childhood phobia or mayo – I did not fuck with it. The fritters were good enough as is, would order again. The Squash Salad came with a few clumps of squash (kind of more like mashed-potato style) with Pecorino Romano shavings and some strips of prosciutto, then finished with balsamic vinegar. At first wasn’t crazy about the idea or ordering this because it had the word ‘salad’ in the name – but that feeling went away once I started scooping it up like ice cream.

So sounds like an awesome meal so far, different/out of the normal appetizers, juicy burger… But it wasn’t, the meal was kind of ruined by the staff – whom only were attentive when I received the bill and was about to leave a tip… Frustrating.

To begin, we arrived one time for our 2:00 pm reservation – and the host said the table will be ready shortly. After hanging out at the bar, they tried to seat us at the communal tables – which bothers me. Communal tables should only be for walk-ins, sitting with 3 inches of space on each side of your elbows isn’t the best way to eat trying to enjoy while some girl with a Nassau County accent who just moved into Murray Hill speaks about how she is ‘over kale‘. Than we were seated – and the waiter didn’t come over for approximately 20 minutes – which I could understand due to the place being busy. Once we ordered the drinks, we didn’t see him or our drinks for another 20 minutes. When we finally ordered, we ate our appetizers and finished up our drinks. Waiter never came back to the table to ask if we would like another round of drinks (didn’t see him until the check came). You would think with alcohol having such a high profit margin, which would in turn increase the bill, and in so facto his tip, he would ask – but that didn’t happen. We asked the runners for a drink menu, which never came. Then the Mac and Cheese, one of my favorite items on the menu comes out – Ice Cold. Add in waiting another 20 for the check to come, it definitely put a few negative thoughts in my head.

Would I go back again, probably not – not because of the service but because I have been there twice already. Would I recommend, definitely. The food is delicious, it has a great atmosphere, and it is in Soho – win/win scenario. My experience with the service may have been an one-off, and I would like to say the last time I went for dinner, it was perfect. So go, check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

 

Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince Street (Corner of Mercer)
New York, NY 10013
www.themercerkitchen.com

Charlie Bird: The Obsession Continues

Charlie Bird

Back about a year ago, the Whythe Hotel hosted one of the best days of my life – Prosciutto di Parma Palooza. At this amazing event, different chefs from all over NY had to make a dish that evolves around everyone’s favorite pork product. To name a few, Danny Bowien w/ Mission Chinese (at the time), Sara Jenkins  of Porchetta/Porsena, and the people of Charlie Bird. Although all dishes were great (second favorite, was Porchetta) my vote for Charlie Bird helped them grab the trophy for the best dish. What did they make? Octopus Saltimbocca w/ Prosciutto  and Ceci Beans.

Now, for months after I have been meaning to go and eat in their actual restaurant. However, that became increasingly difficult. In November 2013, EATER named Charlie Bird the presitigious Restaurant of the Year – beating out Carbone, Estela, The Elm, and Betony. Chances of getting a reservation at a decent time was like trying to get into NYU with a GMAT score of 400 – unless you know someone. So, I went for lunch – and I ordered up a storm:

To Start

  • Farro Salad w/ Mint and Pastaschio  *****
  • Razor Clams w/ Fennel *****
  • Octopus Saltimbocca ***** (you probably saw that coming)

Main Course

  • Veal Pastrami Salad ***** (I had no idea you could do that with Veal – DOPE)
  • Grilled Long Island Squid ****

Sides

  • Carmelized Cauliflower *****
  • French Fries w/ Rosemary *****

So that was the food, which was one of the best meals I ate all year. Now, the music – best soundtrack I have heard in a long time. There is a nice mix between Nas, The Beastie Boys, and Run DMC. The staff is completely down to earth, especially considering they are one of the best restaraunts in NYC. I think everyone should check out Charlie Bird, and if you don’t like it – you don’t know food.

If only I had a connection to get reservations whenever I wanted …

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From the Good People at Major Food Groups, Dirty French (Spoiler: F***ing Awesome)

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With the exception of ZZ’s Clam Bar, Dirty French was the only Major Food Groups establishment I did not stuff my face at. That all changed a few weeks back when my girlfriend turned another year older. Going into it, read some negative reviews on Eater and other foodie websites – which bothered me, but we didn’t let that jade our opinions. We had a Friday night reservation at 8:30 (Thanks Katie) which was the 2014 equivalent of Patrick Bateman getting a table @ Dorsia, so I owe my friends at Parm big time. Thought it would be hard for us to top our Valentines Day date @ Carbone – this is equally great, possibly better. Do yourself a favor – call up their reservations hotline and make a reservation.

Below is the play-by-play of what we ordered – and I highly recommend getting it all (with the exception of broccoli gratin – was okay but nothing special). You will see the asterisks next to each item, they are my shitty rating system due to not being computer literate – 5 Stars (* * * * *) is the highest mark something can get. Keep in mind there was two of us, and she is tiny …

To Start

  • Half Dozen Grilled Island Creek Oysters * * * * *  (Probably one of the best things I have ever ate)
  • Jamon Special w/ bread and Jam * * * *
  • Tuna Tartare w/ Birdseye Chili and Crepe * * * * *

Main Course

  • En Papillote: Black Basss w/ Clams and Pistou * * * * *
  • Duck al Orange * * * * *

Sides

  • Bacon (Thick Cut) * * * *
  • Pommes Frites * * * *
  • Brocoli Gratin  * *

Dessert

  • Beignets * * * *
  • Gateau * * *

Dirty French
180 Ludlow Street (Ludlow Hotel)
New York, NY

 

Website: www.dirtyfrench.com
Yelp: Yelp Dirty French
Zagat: Zagat Dirty French
OpenTable: Make Reservation

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

The Smith: Best Option for NYE

Let’s face it, New Years Eve might be one of the worst holiday’s to go out. It is almost as big of an amateur hour as Thanksgiving Eve. For these two horrible events, you can usually come across an ‘Open Bar’ which becomes so pack, within the 4 hour time-frame, you have possibly 3 drinks. A few years back, me and a few friends decided to say screw the bar/club scene and lets goto The Smith. For $135/per person you get Full Open Bar (10:00pm-1:00am) along with food – choice of one appetizer, one main, and one dessert. For additional you can order some oysters, sides, other options. My suggestion, pickup their Mac and Cheese and Pretzel for the table. I personally would suggest the East Village location since the crowd is generally better, and I hate passing 14th Street for non-work activities.

The Smith: East Village

55 East 3rd Street (Between 10th and 11th)

 

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Bacaro: Think Peasant in an Italian Dungeon

imageWe went to Peasant a few weeks back, after wanting to go for a long time, and we really loved it. We knew we would, I have been tracking the menu changes for the past year – but more on that in my post for Peasant. Before I got engaged I looked into renting out the bottom floor of il Buco and Peasant – and stumbled across Bacaro. People always ask me, how is it living in Chinatown – which I don’t not consider Nolita being Chinatown – especially after walking to Division Street and Canal. This is real Chinatown, but tucked in there is one of my new favorites, which being related to Peasant I should have guessed this would have been the verdict.

First thoughts, from looking at the pictures I thought the downstairs was only for private parties or large groups. Didn’t realize it was pretty much the majority of the restaurant – and after walking past the building with no sign – we made our way down. The basement cellar was really nice, and made you feel like you were back in the Catacombs in Italy. The name, Bacaro, comes from the Venetian spubs which serve small dishes – think Italian Tapas. This place definitely got it right.

I have been wanting to go here as well for a while, but due to the limited menu on their website I would always cancel the reservation since we would be going with people who aren’t as open to trying new foods. This time it was just me and the fiancé (yea that happened) and we were ready to order some food with no people complaining. We started with the Razor Clams (Amazing – breadcrumbs and peppers), Artichoke Special (cheese with a great broth, dip some bread in it) and the Fried Oysters. The first two were amazing, really fresh and done correctly. The Fries Oysters, weren’t my favorite. Instead of being fried and crispy – they were more similar to a fried Oreo or Zeppoli. With all the batter, makes it hard to really taste the oyster. Wasn’t bad, just not my favorite.

Main courses, we split the Pasta in Duck Ragu, and the Garlic Shrimp over Polenta. Both dishes were fucking delicious. I will start with the Duck Ragu, didn’t realize until just now the pasta was whole wheat. It was so good, I would have bet my bonus it was regular pasta. Served up al dente with a chunky red sauce with nice pieces of duck swimming in the bowl. Complete bowl was scraped clean, any remaining bread was used to soak up whatever sauce was left. Next the garlic shrimp, which was amazing as well. Came with six shrimp, cooked perfectly with great seasoning. The polenta was a perfect side dish, was creamy and easy to scoop up the shrimp, sauce, and polenta in each bite. Think at one point I might have licked the plate. We held one menu in case we wanted to order some more, and I definitely could have ordered one more item because everything was great. Decided to go with flour less chocolate cake, surprise – it was great as well.

Bacaro has a nice wine list, saw many names which I saw from Peasant. We went with a carafe of Pinot Nero and I had three Menabrea Ambers (my favorite beer since I came back from Italy a few years back). So for the three appetizers, two mains, drinks, cake and double espresso – total bill 127.38! Great value for such amazing food.

I highly suggest this place and put it on my recommend list. Definitely an awesome first date spot – great atmosphere, great food, great drinks menu – and if you don’t like the girl, you at least have a great meal for relatively cheap.

Ruby’s Cafe: Tight Fit, Good Burgers

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I have never been to Ruby’s Cafe, which is up the block from the apartment, prior to today. Every time we would walk by, it looked packed – with people waiting to get in standing on the side walk. The recently expanded, doubling the size of the pre-existing location, which left me wondering all through out lunch – how small was it before the expansion? It must be crazy being a waiter in there, sitting on the end of the bench was like sitting on the aisle seat on an airplane – getting hit by the people going to the bathroom or the occasional drink cart. All in all, this place was good – and exactly what I was looking for today. I originally started the day with making my weekly stop at Grey Dog, but due to a large crowd waiting to order and lack of seats – figured we would give Ruby’s a try.

I ordered a burger (Bells Burger) w/ no mayo and my girlfriend ordered the avocado toast w/ an egg. Ever since Two Hands, which is ironically also Australian, she has been obsessed with avocado and egg. The burger was good, not greasy and perfectly medium-rare, served on an awesome piece of bread. The fries, also really good – with truffle aioli which I did not eat due to my fear of mayo. The egg toast was nice, good amount of avocado with some red pepper flakes. We both cleared our plates, she probably won’t be happy I mentioned that – but the food was really good. Best part, the bill came out to $35.00, which is almost unheard of now a days, especially in Soho/Nolita. I highly recommend giving this a try, yes the lines are pretty large and it always is packed, but it was really enjoyable.

 

Ruby’s Cafe

19 Mulberry St (between Spring St & Prince St)
New York, NY 10012

http://www.rubyscafe.com

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Black Seed: Long Wait, Small Bagel, Large Bill

I have been to Black Seed twice, both times I left with the same opinion. Living outside the city, you become accustom to great bagels. Inside the city, it becomes a difficult task to find a decent bagel. Either they have the consistency of Styrofoam or lack any sort of taste. When I learned these veterans of the food business were cooking up fresh hand-rolled bagels, coming out of a wood-burning oven – I was excited. So lets start with my two experiences:

The first time I was running to catch a train out of Penn Station and figured I would grab a quick bagel before heading out to Montauk. This is when the place first opened, and the weekend prior they sold out of bagels early in the day. The line was pretty big, took about seven minutes to order and another ten or so to pick up the bagels. When we go the bagels, they were delicious – for the first time I wanted to try a bagel as is and not with any of their more out-of-the-box toppings. Did notice they were small, but no big deal – its Manhattan.

The second time, it was painful. First, I was hungover (visciously) from my buddy’s engagement dinner. When I woke up, I needed a bagel – and that was going to be the only thing that would cure this. So I left my girlfriend in bed, threw on some shorts and ran up the block. Line was out the door. When you finally get in the door, and are on line, you are constantly being bumped into the people exiting. Now, after 15 minutes of waiting I finally place my order. I ordered 3 bagels – The Salmon, The Avacado/Tomato, and the Ricotta/Honey. I originally ordered one Stumptown Ice Coffee figuring I would take it back with me, but after waiting an additional 15 minutes for the food, I had to order another one. So all in all, three bagels and two ice coffees – with a thirty minute wait – Total Cost was around $50.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do LIKE Black Seed – and if they came up with a better ordering service (i.e. calling it in and picking it up) I would put up with the high cost. But until then, I am staying away.

Website: www.blackseedbagels.com
Yelp: Yelp Black Seed Bagels
Instagram: @BlackSeedBagels1310903119988_ORIGINAL

Cafe Select: The Snooty Ski Chalet

We went to this place based off the recommendations of people I usually trust, and I was not impressed by this place. It could have been the douchey guy at the door who made it seem like he was doing us a favor seating us. It may have been the waitress seemed like she didn’t want to be there – and seemed bothered by me asking for a second round of drinks. But, I could look past that considering that is most of the restaurants lately. But the food, was only okay. Below is what we ordered, and nothing really impressed me. Best part of the night, they had an awesome beer called He’brew Beer – which had an awesome tagline “The Chosen Beer”. The only reason I came across this was due to them having outdated menus that  stated they had New Castle – which they didn’t. Now on to the food…

Appetizers:

  • Ricotta Fritters: Interesting, not as heavy as it sounds, but pretty good.
  • Zucchini Chips: Probably my favorite thing we ate, came with eggplant, tzatiki, humus … and I really did enjoy this.
  • Charcuterie Board: meats were good, cheeses were okay – not my style.

Main Course:

  • Veal Schnitzel: Okay, definitely not the best that I have had. I think Schnitz (East Village) blows this out of the water, and the lack of any good sides kind of made it just okay.
  • Half Chicken: Was pretty good, juicy and not dried out.

If you are on Lafayette and looking for a place to go, I would suggest you choose Jacks Wife Freda or Brinkleys – or walk a few blocks over and check out Ruby’s.

Website: www.cafeselectnyc.com

Went Twice in one Week: Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina

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Known also as Rana NYC, we came across this venue to throw a private party in the near future. The first time we went, we sat down and had a full dinner (details and ratings below). The second time we went we brought both my family, and the girlfriends family (first meeting of the families) for brunch. Not sure if we mentally convinced ourselves we liked the food so much because we were excited to throw a party there – we used all thirteen of them as judges on the food and atmosphere the second time around. Final Survey – everyone thought the food was great, and they really liked the atmosphere. There is a pretty large list of things we ate, and our rating (best score 5 stars, i.e. * * * * *). Also wanted to mention, they make the pasta daily – and have huge selection of raviolis…

Dinner (First Time, just the two of us)

  • Rock Shrimp Bruschetta * * * *
  • Crostini Trio * * * (Best thing was the truffle honey)
  • Buratta * * * *

 Main Course

  • Eggplant Ravioli * * * *
  • Chili Pork Sausage Ravioli * * *
  • Squid Ink Pasta * * * *

Dessert

  • Chocolate Ravioli * * * * *
  • Tiramisu * * * *

 Brunch (w/ the family)

  • Crispy Cauliflower * * * *
  • Charcuterie Board * * * *
  • Ravioli Carbonara * * *
  • Cappelletti al Proscuitto * * * *
  • Scrambled Egg w/ Proscuitto * * * *
  • Rana Benedict * * *
  • Pandoro French Toast * * * * * (Best I ever Had)
  • Steak and Eggs * * * * *

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina
75 9th Avenue (Chelsea Market – 9th & 16th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
Website: www.RanaNYC.com
Zagat: Zagat Rana NYC
Yelp: Yelp Rana NYC
Open Table: Make Reservation Here

In The Land of Coffee Shops – Two Hands is the Best

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I used to be a ORO loyalist, and don’t get me wrong I still go often – but ever since we found Two Hands, we find ourselves wanting their coffee and food over Gimmie Coffee, Nolita Mart, and Happy Bones. So in the above picture, you will se their Avocado Toast w/ Egg – which was insane. You see them behind the counter opening up fresh avocados and spreading them over the bread, you can easily taste the freshness in the sandwich. We also ate the Banana Bread toast, with fresh ricotta and honey over it. The bread, which was great, was baked daily.

The coffee, I guess i will start with the fact that I drank three from there in one sitting. I had two while eating the above mentioned items, and then one more on the way back to my apartment. Granted, I drink a lot of coffee – but their coffee is great. My girlfriend ordered a latte, which was massive – and she has been talking about their latte’s ever since.

This place is great, and I highly recommend everyone to go out and give it a try.

Website: http://www.twohandsnyc.com
Instagram: @TwoHandsNYC

 
164 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

Vendy Awards: Dough Doughnuts

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While at the Vendy’s – I ate which was probably the best doughnut I have ever ate. Going into the Vendy’s I was excited to try Cinnamon Snail’s Crème Bruele doughnut, Dough blew it out of the water. They were walking around with an assortment – some of which I thought were impossible to be good, i.e. Passion Fruit. After eating the different options I was hooked. I tried the Dulce de Leche, Passion Fruit, Hibiscus, and one other. All were great, later that night I began to follow them on Instagram – it is safe to say I cant wait to go back. They have two brick-and-mortar locations in Brooklyn and Flatiron, which I think you should check out.

Dough Brooklyn
448 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Dough Flatiron
14 W. 19th St.
New York, NY 10011

Website: http://www.doughbrooklyn.com
Yelp:  Dough on Yelp
Instagram: @DoughDoughNuts
Twitter: @doughbrooklyn

Vendy Awards: Snowday

Going to make this short and simple, the place won the Rookie of the Year category. Impressive. This category included DUB Pies, which we know I love. This place brings you back to exactly what the name suggest, Snow days when you were a kid. First, they make Grilled Cheese – then, they drizzle Maple Syrup from upstate on it. That’s it. Get out there, follow them on Twitter, and find them.

Website: www.snowdaytruck.com
Twitter: @SnowdayTruck
Instagram: @SnowdayTruck

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Lunch in Midtown: Certe

For the past few years I have become a Certe loyalist, both their regular location and their pizza location have some of the best food you can find on Seamless. Here is what I suggest you give a shot:

  • Craving Steak? Glazed Sirloin Sandwich – with crispy onions & romaine on grilled flatbread.
  • Feeling Crazy? Chubby Chinese Girl – 5-Spiced Duck Breast, Pickled Vegetables, Cilantro, Hoisin, Sriracha on Toasted Baquette
  • Case of the Mondays? Brisket of Beef w/ vegetable sides.
  • Hungry on Wednesday? Irish Stew w/ Spinach Mash Potatoes and Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts.

Yeah, find them on Seamless and make that happen …

Website:  www.certenyc.com
Yelp: Certe on Yelp

 

Vendy Awards: Dub Pies

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DUB Pies, which I just found out while writing this stands for Down Under Bakery – since they specialize in Australian/New Zealand style meat pies. First off, the woman dumped a scoop of mash potatoes on top of mini-pie stuffed with Steak and Cheddar cheese – AWESOME. I also tried their Chicken and Vegetable’s also good – but I prefer the red meat. While we were waiting on line their staff came over with shots of ice coffee, so between that and the Meat Pies, they earned my vote Rookie of the Year.

The truck is all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, which included guest spot at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus. Follow them on twitter to see all their locations, along with their brick-and-mortar location In Prospect Park.

Website: http://www.dubpies.com
Instagram: @DUBPies
Twitter: @DUBPies