Tag Archives: ZAGAT

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…

1_thespace 3_main_dining_room

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.

public-web1

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…

5_keys

Barraca: Tapas That Was Okay…

bar

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

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

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

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

Below is some of the items we ordered:

The Good

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

The Okay

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

The Disappointing

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

BareBurger: One of My Weekly Goto Seamless Orders

Over the past year, I have been ordering Bareburger on a weekly basis – but lately, its been more of a twice per week obsession. If I look at my order history on Seamless, its pretty much a shrine to the organic burger chain. It turns out I am not the only one in love with this place, but Zagat voted it in their 10 Best Burgers in NYC list for 2011-2014, and they have been Michelin Recommended for those years as well. Since their first location in Astoria, they now have 18 locations – and luckily for me, their La Guardia Place location delivers to me.

One of the reasons why Bareburger is amazing, their menu can make even the most picky eaters happy. Generally, when I order “My Usual” (details below) – my fiancé has choice between their multiple salads, sandwiches, turkey burgers, or veggie burger. This is clutch considering she does not like red-meat, and only had her first burger in ten years a few months back while at Minetta. This really makes Bareburger and easy option for us.

The second reason, you have the opportunity to eat healthy – without compromising taste. Their food is rarely ever greasy, and which different options on the menu you can make you own choices including protein, bread, cheese, sauce, veggies, etc. Also, when I am eating one of their healthy options, i.e Turkey Burger, I do not feel guilty ordering the FRY & ONION RING COMBO. If you have never had their onion rings and fries, you are an idiot. I have often realized, no matter how great a fried food is, it never transports well – by the time it comes, its soggy and losses the texture you want. Not the case with Bareburger, their fries and onion rings come *almost* as crispy as they would be if you ate them in their locations. For dipping sauces, this is a big decision I cannot solve for you – I prefer the Red Pepper Pesto, and good old fashion Ketchup.

With the upcoming nuptials, and the sad realization that I need to eat more healthy – I have been creating my own burger. I also strongly believe Bareburger should name this burger after me, maybe The HedgeFun NY Burger, but it consists of: Turkey Patty, Bison Patty, Avocado, and Caramelized Onions on a Whole Wheat Wrap. This is such an awesome combination I literally find myself looking forward to going home and ordering this – I am a sick loser, but it is awesome.

If you have never had BareBurger, definitely give it a try. If you have had it before, you know exactly what I am talking about. Great quality ingredients leads to great food.

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.

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

photo

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)

B136531CQAE6dLB.jpg-large

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

The Rubirosa Chronicles: Clam Pie

Back a few years ago, I landed from Madrid Airport, dropped off my luggage and went straight to Rubirosa. This was the first and only time I had their ‘Razor Clam Pie’ which I than talked about to every single person I knew once the topic of pizza came up. This than turned into me calling on a daily basis to check to see if they had the specialty pie. In August, I threw a tweet up stating I would trade my first child if Rubirosa brought back the Clam Pie – on 10/30 my prayers were answered when they tweeted me back ‘Ask and you shall receive. Clam Pizza is back …”

We tried to go that following Sunday, but the place was packed and the wait was  closed to two hours. So we tried again the following Thursday thanks to some help (Thanks J.) and we sat down with two other couples who heard for years how they will some day have the best pizza of their life, the clam pie @ Rubirosa. We started with my usual order of starters:

Appetizers:

  • Bracciole * * * * *
  • Octopus * * * * *
  • Rubirosa Antipasto * * * * *
  • Fried Calamari * * * *

From their we moved on to the main event – Clam Pie, along with the Classic Tie Dye Pie. So it wasnt the same as the one I had back a few years ago, this was a straight up clam pie in garlic and white wine sauce – and it was dope. If this moved from a special to a daily pie, I would actually even be there more than I already am, The only thing I can compare it to is Lee’s Tavern in Staten Island (Google It) – which up until this point was the best white clam pie I ever ate. When it was all said and done, Rubirosa – as i expected, was the undesputed champion.

If you have never been to Rubirosa, do yourself a favor order the appetizers i mentioned above and if they do not have the Clam Pie order yourself a Tie-Dye and a Vodka pie. TRUST ME.

RUBIROSA Ristorante
235 Mulberry Street (Btw Spring and Prince)
New York NY 10013

 

Website:  www.rubirosanyc.com
Yelp: Yelp Rubirosa
Zagat: Zagat Rubirosa
Open Table: Make Reservation

B09YliSIQAAU7zg.jpg-large

Went Twice in one Week: Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina

food-31

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

Dinner (First Time, just the two of us)

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

 Main Course

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

Dessert

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

 Brunch (w/ the family)

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

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