Tag Archives: WHERETOEAT

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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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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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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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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Roberta’s: This is Probably Going to Be Controversial

Roberta's Restaurant Bushwick

So a few months back, I went over to Bushwick and decided to see what all the Roberta’s hype was about. My cousin, happens to work there, so we figured we would go while she was working and we had her boyfriend meet us there (who now works there also). First of all one of the best things about this place, the Action Bronson playlist. Second, it is extremely hard to tell who works there and who doesn’t. Everyone kind of just floats on by – occasionally asking if you would like something – other times you feel like an idiot because you are trying to get someone’s attention who doesn’t really work there … So after walking in, we sifted through the bar to find the right guy with a beard, mustache, and flannel shirt – and we all sat down to order a bunch of stuff.

First we ordered a bunch of appetizers:

  • Meat/Cheese Board: Good, until someone referred to one of the cheeses as tasting like a ‘foot model’s foot’  – stayed away from that one.
  • Carrots w/ Grilled Mussel and Lime: I have never seen seafood come second to a vegetable, and this truly was some of the best fucking carrots I have ever consumed. I think I was actually against ordering this at the time, considering it was a vegetable, but felt like a dick when I realized how great it was.
  • Duck Prosciutto: I mean, two of my favorite things in one, so you know I had to order it. Great shavings and perfect mix of meat/fat drizzled with some oil and served with warm bread.  Highly suggest this to anyone heading over to Roberta’s. Also, if you are with someone who refuses to try duck – make up some story ‘that it is not really duck, they just call it that because …’.
  • Orecchiette: Pig tail ragu with ‘njuda (spicey pork sausage) with ear shaped pasta. Great to order as an appetizer, before the pizza.

There were a few other dishes that my cousin brought out, all of which were outstanding. Now with this, you are probably thinking the next course, Pizza, would top all of the below. But it didn’t, for me the pizza did not come close to Rubirosa, also would have preferred the white-pie from BEST Pizza. For starters, the crust was okay – not crispy enough and more towards the undercooked soggy feel. Could have been just that night, and next time I would request the pie more well done. Second, some of the toppings are a little out there. I get it, its Brooklyn, and everything that is cool – is also artsy, and a bit avant-grade. But sometimes, you just want something simple – thats what Pizza is, simple food. It is fine to dress it up, but to an extent – adding parsnips, brussel sprouts, kale, carrots … is overkill.

Below is the Pizza we ordered, which were definitely better than average, but to me the appetizers/pasta were definitely the best part of the meal. Some of the pies below are not currently available due to them being seasonal – but they seem to be pretty popular with the Roberta’s Cult. Also, the pies are small – so feel free to order a few so you can try multiple, and see if maybe I am wrong.

  • Margherita: their most basic pie, which was my favorite of the pies.
  • Nightman: Interesting, topped with Vermont cheese, eggplant and tomato.
  • Maiz Maiz: Pizza topped with maize, definitely more towards the out-there end of the spectrum.

I am definitely going to go back to Roberta’s soon and try more of their pies – and I will keep everyone updated.

Toby’s Public House: Most Underrated Pizza in NYC

This Sunday I got back to my apartment from a snowboarding trip around 8:00 PM. While sitting there watching Season 2 of Ray Donovan we got hungry and I decided to order one of my favorite pies in Manhattan, possibly even all of NYC. So we went to Seamless, put in the order and within 20 minutes – buzzer rang. This was my first time ordering from Toby’s Public House, which I was worried this pie would be ruined due to it being freezing outside – but it was not, box was steaming from the heat of the brick oven. I opened the box, starred down at the work of art I ordered and breathed in the white truffle oil. So I have had a few different pies at Toby’s, including their Eggs Benedict Pizza served during Brunch – and they are all great. However my favorite, The Spinach Pie. The pizza had pecorino and mozzarella baked onto the dough, the finished with clumps of ricotta, spinach, and white truffle oil.  The crust and bottom were a nice brown, thin but not floppy (impressive since the ricotta is a heavy cheese) charred perfectly from the wood fired brick oven.

So if the Spinach Pie was enough to make you want to goto Toby’s – you need to see their beer menu. They carry over 20 Beers on Tap, including their own Toby’s Cheap Ale. Also, if you join their beer club – you receive your own mug, which the keep hung over the bar, and you get invited to their monthly private parties. When you go, ask the bartender – members come and go, and you could secure an opening – and the beer gut that will ensue.

Here are some things I have order over the past few times, definitely give them a shot:

Pizza:

PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA arugula, parmigiano reggiano, olive oil
QUATTRO STAGIONI parma cotto ham, crimini mushroom, artichoke hearts, olives
QUATTRO FORMAGGI mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino toscano

Small Plates:

ARTICHOKE SPINACH DIP parmigiano, pecorino toscano, mozzarella
BEER BATTERED PEARL ONIONS cayenne ranch sauce
POLENTA FRIES sharp cheddar cheese-bacon (or no bacon) fondue

Toby’s Public House
86 Kenmare (Corner of Mulberry)

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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

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