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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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Noodle Pudding: The Hidden Gem Located in Downtown Brooklyn

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They say even in the worst relationships, you can find one positive thing – for me that positive was learning about Noodle Pudding in Downtown Brooklyn. A few years back I began going to Noodle Pudding, and I try to make it there once every few months. So like most people, you are probably wondering, why is this place that serves some of the BEST ITALIAN food in all of the borough called Noodle Pudding. Rumor has it, the last name of the owner Antonio Migliaccio, translates to Noodle Pudding but I can neither confirm or deny this.

The restaurant is located on Henry Street, and has no sign on the outside. The only reason I know where to go all the time, is by looking at the large gathering outside of the door. They do not do reservations (however, I have called up a few times for large tables and they were cool with it) and are cash only. The places is the epitome of old school Italian – with a ton of rotating specials every time you visit – which makes it hard to write this review, especially since you cannot find an accurate menu anywhere. I am going to go off memory for some of these dishes, so bare with me, keep in mind I have been there more than a dozen times.

  • Gnocchi: Homemade and pretty much melt in your mouth, no need for using any of your teeth. You have two options for the sauce, on a regular red sauce or the butter sage sauce. Both are great, but you can always get red sauce – go with the butter sage sauce. You taste all the components, including the nuttiness of browned butter and earthiness of the sage.
  • Tagliatelle Bolognese: another dish you can taste the freshness of the pasta. Great basic dish, with some hearty chunks of meat. Last time we went, , last Tuesday, my fiancé’s father had it – and wiped the dish clean.
  • Straccetti: Thinly pounded beef, finished with truffle oil and shaved parmigiano. The beef has always been tender, and cooked beautifully with a charred outside and pinkish red on the inside (the way I ordered it).
  • Tagliata: I think the better out of the two beef dishes, and I have ordered this/recommended this multiple times. To often the steaks flavor is concealed behind the seasoning of the chef. Not the case when it comes to this prime rib, which is just done perfectly – seasoned with rock salt and rosemary. The crystals of salt and flakes of rosemary just truly compliment the meat, rather than mask the taste of this juicy cut. The only time I had anything similar was, once in Florence and once at Aurora Soho.
  • Rabbit: Which is one of the main reasons I goto Noodle Pudding. The style changes often, one of which includes a four-course dinner all of rabbit, which I have been dying to try. Last time I went, last week, I had the Rabbit Ragu, which was out of this world. Highly recommend ordering the rabbit, give it shot – I can practically guarantee no matter the style, you will love it.
  • Salmon: I generally do not like salmon, unless its sashimi – but the other night my fiancé’s mom order this, so I figured I would give it a try. The salmon is pounded thin, cooked medium, with a side of escarole and beans. I actually enjoyed it, and my future mother-in-law, said it was some of the best salmon she has ever had.
  • Lasagna: had it for the first time last week, stole some off the person to my left, and it was a perfect pieced of lasagna. Homemade pasta sheets, meat, and delicious sauce – perfection.
  • OCTOPUS BRUSCHETTA: Leaving one of my favorite dishes for last. Noodle Pudding has definitely mastered the art of pulpo cooking – and they served the eight-legged creature in a tomato sauce, with some slices of toasted Italian bread. The braised outside, with tender meat, makes this one of the best octopus dishes I have come across. As you can tell from my Charlie Bird, Peasant, Piacere, Rubirosa …etc, I know my pulpo, and you should take my word when I say ORDER THIS.

I should be heading back over soon, but above is just a start of all the items I have ate over the years. Also, one of the best things – which isn’t even on the menu – the bread they come out with once you sit-down. The bread seems fresh out of the oven, and is accompanied by olive oil with fresh herbs and pepper. I would have been content making a meal out of that.

In a few years when I retire, approximately 40 years, I want to goto the island of Ischia and see if the food is anything close to the amazing food created by Anthony Migliaccio and his team.

Additionally there is a great interview with the owner, click this link, from Nona Brooklyn. I think you should give it a read to better understand this amazing establishment.

38 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
***Cash Only***

Photo Credit: Bored in Brooklyn

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Del Posto: Best Meal of the Year?

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As you could tell from previous posts, our trip to Del Posto was something that both Nicole and I were really looking forward to. Exactly thirty days prior to our anniversary I called at 10:00 on the dot, along with a couple dozen calls between 9:58-9:59, only to hear the pre-recorded message about the hotline being closed. When the call went through to the receptionist, I literally jumped out of my desk in excitement. The phone call was really enjoyable, we discussed that it was our three-year anniversary, and that we recently got engaged and wanted to celebrate at Del Posto. By the end of the call I setup a 7:30 reservation, on a Saturday. From that day forward, we both eagerly awaited what would become one of our favorite meals ever.

I cannot begin to describe to you how many times the both of us checked out the menu on their website. My browser history had more Del Posto links than my teenager-selfs porn history. I would sit at work, spreadsheet on one screen, Bloomberg on another, and Del Posto’s menu on the the third – drooling while thinking of the endless possibilities of what I would eat.

Since it was our anniversary, I decided to change things up and we booked a hotel room at The Maritime Hotel down the block. Even though I live in Nolita, thought it would be nice to have a perfect evening and really treat ourselves. When we woke up that morning, we had a light breakfast followed by lunch at Hu Kitchen in the afternoon. Looking back I would have skipped the lunch, as I wanted to be completely hungry by the time dinner rolled around. We even turned down meeting some coworkers at ZZ’s Clam Bar, they were stoping in before trying Carbone for the first time based off my recommendations (review here). I didn’t want any non-Batali substances in my body prior to tasting the food at Del Posto. Kind of like not eating before taking communion.

When it was time, we walked over to the restaurant. Excitement building between the two of us, both waiting to try what we have been dying to try. With each step the back of my mind was spinning with different antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolci variations. As the door man opened the doors, we were greeted by the maître d and hostesses.

Host: “Hello Mr. Hedge Fun NY, happy third anniversary and congratulations on your engagement! Welcome to Del Posto.”

Nice touch. Who would have expected a phone call thirty days prior which contained casual conversation with the receptionist would be remembered.

We made our way to the table, and our waitress came over to engage in some conversation. She explained the menu, along with wishing us a happy anniversary as well. She was extremely friendly, and we enjoyed her presence.

Next the sommelier came over, at first I thought it was Joe Bastianich due to the similar haircut, however it was not him (was missing the bright green sneakers.) He provided us with a few suggestions, and then left the iPad with us to take a look. The software was amazing on the iPad and made narrowing down our options extremely easy. We would up choosing the Castell’ In Villa Chianti Classico Riserva 2008, which was one of his recommendations to us. After the initial taste I realized how great the bottle was, and was happy we went with his suggestion.

We said cheers, and then something amazing happened. The bread mades it’s way to the table. There were three types, which included an olive-loaf, all of which were made fresh. Accompanying the bread was their butter and lardo. The lardo was mind blowing, and also a duel-edged sword. All I wanted to do was to keep smearing it across the warm bread, but I also didn’t want to fill up too quickly. I had five courses ahead of me, I did not want to sacrifice any room in my stomach.

We started our first course with the Minted Octopus and Lobster all a Cesare, which is a fancy way of saying Cesare Salad. I will start with the salad, since I was a little hesitant to try due to the fact I never eat Cesare Salad since it looks like mayo. Not the case here, the salad was great with huge chunks of lobster. The dressing wasn’t overly creamy and was well balanced with the grilled romaine and onions. The octopus was for lack of a better word, dope. Being Pulpo-Aficionados we pride ourselves on distinguishing the good from the bad, the rubbery from the perfectly cooked. This was one of the best octopus dishes I have had in a long time. I would say, neck-and-neck with Charlie Bird, and better than Toro, Carbone, and Peasant. The tentacles are served over Nduja, Giant Beans & Hearts of Palm. The njuda spread was on the bottom and gave a nice flavor to the pieces of octopus I smeared into it’s red-pasty spread. Despite the amazing flavor and tenderness of the tentacles, the best part of the dish was the size. Firstly the tentacles were not those wimpy skinny tentacles, they had some girth. Also, they must have had at least four pieces on the dish. We enjoyed each bite, how could you not? The outside was charred, the inside was juicy and cooked to perfection. Really a perfect dish.

Next up, our primi course. Going into this course we were extremely excited, especially since we have not had pasta for close to thirty-days. We had been on a diet since we are getting married in a few months, and we figured if we were going to cheat it might as well be with some of the best pasta you can find. This was also a very difficult choice for us to decide on. I have at one point or another said in my head over the past thirty days that I am getting the 100 Layer Lasagna, or Lidia’s Jota, or Orecchiette with Lamb Neck. When we decided to order, we went with neither of the above. We chose The Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab, and the Gnocchi. Once again, two perfect dishes. The Spaghetti and Crab was probably one of my favorite pasta dishes I have ever eaten. The spaghetti was nice and al dente, and mixed into the bowl were jalapeños, scallions, and the sweet meat of the crustacean. The jalapeño definitely provided some heat, in fact I actually had to ask the busgirl for a tissue at one point, but the spice was not overbearing. The crab flavors definitely keep this bowl of pasta well balanced. This is one of their most famous dishes, as I learned after, with many pages discussing the perfect execution of this dish. There is actually a video Del Posto put on YouTube a few years back that shows the process of making this dish, CLICK HERE, and if you don’t have a seizure from the music – you might gain an appreciation for this dish. Definitely do not skip this dish. Next up, gnocchi. One of my favorite types of pastas, and favorite form of potato. As if the idea of gnocchi could get any better, especially to two people on diets who have been pasta deprived. The recipe was handed down by Batali’s Grandmother. The gnocchi was light and fluffy, unlike that heavy junk you get at majority of these so-called ‘Italian’ restaurants. Also, unlike most places who drench the pasta in sauce to compensate for the pastas lack of flavor, also not the situation here. The sauce was light, and tasted like fresh tomato. Nice and basic, and the flavoring from the Thai basil gives the dish the simplicity and freshness one would expect while eating in non-touristy areas of Italy.

Right around this point of the evening, I began to really regret getting lunch at Hu Kitchen earlier. I was beginning to get full, and the constant stuffing of my face with bread and lardo didn’t help. But we had our secondi course coming, and the excitement kept me going.

Once the food came to the table, we acted as if those past courses didn’t happen and kept consuming our entrees. I ordered the Burnt Beef, medium rare of course, which came with seared green onions, parmigiano zeppole, and tomato raisins. Everything about this dish was perfect – so much so my fiance, who is not a meat person found herself voluntarily picking pieces off my plate. I have to say, for a girl who hasn’t had meat in eight-years I have started her on some awesome places – Black Label Burger from Minetta, Steak from Del Posto… Highly recommend this dish, worth the extra money – TRUST ME. Nicole ordered the Baked Halibut, which came with mashed sun chokes, chicory salad, and smoked truffles. Once again, perfect entree. We still talk about this dish and how it was the best piece of halibut, possibly the best pieces of fish we have ever had.

To finish the meal we had some dessert, but really was hard to enjoy since we were so full – but we somehow managed to finish it. We had the Grilled Semolina Cake and Fette Biscottate, also they brought out some additional items for our anniversary – which we finished as well…

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party: June13-14


While hundreds of finance employees will be out in Queens competing in the Wall Street Decathalon – I will not be attending. I will not be doing the 400m run, nor the pull-ups, also won’t be taking part in the dips, rows, bench press, or vertical jump. It’s not that I don’t want to take part in the fundraiser, I just rather eat at The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.

This year, I am sticking with the New York natives but might have to stop by Tim Love’s stand along with Scott Roberts’ The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que. Below is the full menu, and with those prices I look forward to getting rushed over to close by NYU Langone due to food coma.

Head over to Madison Square Park, grab a few plates and don’t forget to donate to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center since you are choosing BBQ over the Decathlon.
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Mile End Deli: The Best Jewish Delicatessen

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You hear Jewish Deli, and you immediately think about Katz Deli or Carnegie Deli. There is nothing wrong with that, they are both famous and old school – however, you should introduce yourself to the New School with Mile End Deli. They have two locations, one in Brooklyn (Boerum Hill) and the other in Manhattan (Noho), and depending on where you live, they deliver via Seamless. Another fun fact, Black Seed was created by the people of Mile End – so you know its good.

My first time there we started with the Matzo Ball Soup and their special of the night, Pastrami Soup. Both were really good, I definitely never had anything like the Pastrami Soup – have been calling them up on a weekly basis to see if they have it as a special. If you ever see this on the menu, definitely order this.

Onto the most important part of the night, The Smoked Meat Burger. Prior to ordering this, I was stuck between the Smoked Meat Burger and the Smoked Meat Sandwich. I mean, my head was spinning, and the only difference really was the word ‘burger’ in the name. The waitress, who was great, knew I was torn between the two options and advised I should go with the burger – and I always can come back for the sandwich. Apparently these two are two of the most popular choices, and being that the place is only a few blocks away – I felt comfortable with my decision. The burger is made out 30% smoked meat, red onion, pickle, fried egg, american cheese,  on an onion roll. The burger also comes with mustard-mayo, but since I despise the two I steered clear of this and stuck with Ketchup. Every time I am hungover, I debate stumbling up to Bond Street to eat one of these. My first impression when I saw this was pure shock, it was a thing of beauty. First off, anything that is served on a true onion roll – is pure genius. Second, the smell of smoked meat that comes off this burger should be bottled and sold as air freshener. Lastly, the size of the burger. It was massive, I almost had to cut it in half – but didn’t want to ruin the gooeyness of the fried egg. When I left my jaw hurt from taking bites of it, the struggle is real. Now to the taste, FUCKING DELICIOUS. It was so good, that within three-minutes (has to be some type of record) I had the whole thing down. If you have never had this burger before, I can assure you once you have it – there is no burger in the world that taste remotely similar. As I am writing this I am actually pissed off that I did not order this tonight (fucking blizzard). This may have been one of the top 5 burgers I have ever eaten, definitely the best burger with an egg on it. Another positive, they served Shiner Bock – which as you can tell from my other posts, is one of my favorite beers. This beer is a perfect pairing for the burger.

ONE REGRET: I did not order the poutine, but at least this gives me another reason to back.

Lunch in Midtown: Charlie Palmer Steak

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The other day I was meeting with one of our banks for lunch, and decided to stay close and try Charlie Palmer Steak over on 54th Street. This used to be the old Rothman’s, and is definitely a great choice for lunch if you work in the area.

To start I got the clams casino, which were probably some of the best I have ever had. They were not over done with the toppings, that made you forget that there was a clam underneath it all. It was served with a small sliver of applewood smoked bacon, and some seasoning. They were delicious and I highly recommend this dish, below is a picture I had to grab from their website as I didn’t want to take pictures during lunch.

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For my main, I went with their Dry Aged Red Tag Burger. This was served with bacon, aged cheddar, red onion, and crispy fries. The burger was good, nothing too outrageous. Could definitely see myself making this a weekly snack. Also, the fries were dope – so they may also bring me back.

Next time I am going to come after work and check out their dinner menu, along with their 400+ wine labels. Review coming soon…

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…

Dig Inn: First Time Going In Person

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So I am on this Whole30 Diet, so as you can see from my post – hasn’t been too much about going out and eating/drinking. But I assure you, there will be a bunch coming soon.

Last night before the ALT-J Concert at MSG, the four of us decided to avoid any restaurants that would make it hard to eat healthy, so we went to Dig Inn. As you know from my previous post, I love this place. However, I have never been there in person until last night. I am so used to eating it while hovering over my keyboard, and reading news articles.

We went to the location by my office on 52nd, and when we sat down it kind of reminded me of a mix of Chipotle and Bianca on Bleecker Street. Country style decor, but with a fast moving front counter.

I got my usual Mom’s Braised Beef and it was just as great as the last thousand times I ordered it. Meat cooked perfectly, with a ton of flavor. This was also the first time I tried the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Sunflower Seeds, which is easily a new favorite. I pride myself on being a carnivore, but I literally ate every single piece of the sprouts before I even touched my meat (that doesn’t sound right).

I really cannot stress how much I love Dig Inn, and how much I now look forward to stepping away from my Bloomberg Terminal to actually take a lunch break.

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…

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…

The Grey Dog: Bring Back the Chicken Florentine

Let me start this by saying, I am in love with the food from Grey Dog – which is probably why I order it at least once a week. But, it has been a while since they have had one of their best dishes.

imageSince the weather began getting cold, which feels like decades ago, I would call on a nightly basis to see what their soup selection is – to which I would generally get in response “Texas Chili, Root Vegetable, and Carrot Ginger.” These are not bad choices, and from time to time they would have the Chicken Meatball which is delicious. However, the Chicken Florentine has been gone for some time.

This tomato based soup of chicken, spinach, and cheese was one of the best soups I have ever tried. When Grey Dog would have it, I would be like a squirrel getting ready for winter and stock up. But, my arsenal of soup has been depleted and I am now left with nothing. Yes I still order my usuals – either a Turkey Burger, Roast Beef Press, Grilled Chicken Press, and/or Philadelphia Cheese Steak – but something has been missing, and it is the Chicken Florentine Soup.

Similar to the time I requested Rubirosa to bring the Clam Pie back via Twitter, and they did, I am hopping for the same outcome here. Grey Dog, make it happen. Also, please send me some of your homemade potato chips ASAP.

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.

Toro NYC: Tapas, Octopus, Paella, and Churros

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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Bianca: Northern Italy, Without Passing Bleecker St

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When I first moved into Nolita, people told me about a small place named Bianca. Being young and arrogant, I refused to go due to their no reservation policy. Well I was an idiot, because since I went the first time – I went two more times.

This is the food that people think about when they say they want to try Italian Food in Italy – not the shit they actually eat when they visit Rome. I have long said, cuisine that hails from Emilia-Romagna is the best. I mean this section of Italy is blessed with Parma (Yes, where prosciutto comes from) and Modena (Balsamic Vinegar), just to name a few. There is actually an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain and Michael White drive around in Ferraris (also from this region) and eat at small places – find it on Netflix.

So back on track, Bianca. When you get to Bianca you will put your name down with the person at the door, and they will most likely tell you to goto the bar next door – which I think has no name on it, and is only in business due to Bianca’s popularity. The bar has an ATM, which you may need since Bianca is cash only. Have a drink, and wait for the person from next door to grab you for your table. When you walk into Bianca, you will notice it kind of feels like you are sitting in your grandmother’s kitchen – don’t worry, she is not there waiting to hit you with a wooden spoon.

Above I mentioned the place is cash only, but I didn’t mention how reasonably priced the menu is. The last time we went, the four of us were supposed to goto Rubirosa but they were packed, and I suggested Bianca. For $200.00 total, we had 5 Appetizers, 4 Main Courses, 3 Desserts, and oh yea 2 Bottles of Nero d’Avola.

Below are some of the highlight dishes I remember from trips there – it’s actually a surprise I remember much due to the amount of wine consumed – but the food is that awesome. It is authentic Italian, which sometimes is rare to come by…

Appetizers:

  •  Gnocco Fritto: Fried piggy dough Rectangles with Imported Cold Cuts or Stracchino Cheese
  • Saute di Cone: Mussels Sauteed with White Wine and Garlic
  • Carciofi Fritti: Fried Baby Artichokes with Crispy Parsley ***DEFINITELY ORDER

Mains:

  • Ravioli di Ricotta con Burro e Salvia: Butter and Sage
  • Lasagna: Bechamel and Meat Sauce
  • Brodetto di Pesce: Adriatic Fish and Shellfish Stew
  • Starccetti di Manzo: Pan-Seared Thin Slice of Filet Mignon with Rosemary ***DEFINITELY ORDER

Bianca
5 Bleecker Street (Between Elizabeth and Bowery)
http://biancanyc.com/home.html

 

 

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

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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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The Eggshop: Sometimes You Just Need Some Eggs

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When i first moved into Nolita, the one thing I realized is there was no where to buy a old school bacon, egg and cheese – which is frustrating. Then a few months back, THE EGG SHOP opened! Before it was this my new home, it was Piex which pretty much gave me the worst stomach pains – I almost didn’t make it the 73 steps back to my apartment to avoid ruining a pair of pants. Now thats gone …

So back to The Egg Shop, it was started by two self-proclaimed ‘Egg-Heads’ and it is awesome. I have been there three times (once I went in to take-out due to being hungover) and the other two times sitting down like a decent human-being. I haven’t had one thing I didn’t like yet, and I have not one complaint. The photo above is from the first time we went, which as you can see for the two of us – we ordered a lot. Below are the items I had, and that I recommend. Next time you are looking for a great breakfast sandwich – check them out.

Some of What I Ate, and What You Should Eat:

EGGSHOP B.E.C: BROKE YOLK, SHELBURNE CHEDDAR, BLACKFOREST BACON, TOMATO JAM, FRESH PICKLED JALAPENO, PANINI ROLL

THE BEAST: PULLED PORK CARNITAS, SUNNY UP, FRESH CILANTRO, PICKLED ONION, CHIPOTLE BOURBON KETCHUP, FRENCH HERO

PEPPER BOY: SOFT SCRAMBLE, GRUYERE, BELL PEPPER,MAPLE CURED PEPPER BACON, CARAMELIZED ONION AIOLI, (IN A BELL PEPPER OR ON A PANINI ROLL)

STEAK AND EGG : GRASS FED TENDERLOIN, SUNNY UP, CHIMI-CHILI, FARM GREENS, FRENCH HERO

EL CAMINO :POACHED EGG, AVOCADO, PULLED PORK CARNITAS, TOMATO, FRIED TORTILLA, CILANTRO

FRENCH TOAST: RONNY BROOK CHOCOLATE CREAM, FRESH BERRIES, MAPLE SYRUP

Also, while you are there – order some sides:

FRIED CHICKEN
HASHBROWNS
BUTTERMILK BISCUIT WITH HONEY BUTTER
BACON
Instagram: @EggShopNYC
151 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012

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