Thursday, January 14, 2010

2009 Recap

I was fortunate enough to visit some great places in 20o9. Since its impossible to remember all the places and all the dishes, I will make a list of ones that stood and any memorable dishes/cocktails/service experiences that made it great. I'll just ramble...

Spice Market (New York, NY)
I'm not going to lie, spice market was my go-to date spot for awhile. Although it is a bit on the pricey side, Spice Market is definitely a place where you know you'll have a good meal. As many of you know, Spice Market is one of many Jean-Georges restaurants. His concept is really amazing from the atmosphere right down to the food.
The last time I was there I was with Stefanie on our first date. You've probably read some of my more recent restaurant adventures with Stef so it is safe to assume this spice market date went well. But then again, maybe it was the bowling at Bowlmor afterwards that sealed the deal (haha).
I have no idea what we got for drinks, but I want to say there was probably a bottle of wine involved. I do remember our meals! For an appetizer, Stef ordered the Tuna Tartar with chili Tapioca, Asian Pear, and Lime and I ordered the spicy thai fried chicken wings with mango and mint. I always get the chicken wings because I think they are awesome. The wings have just enough spicyness and the mango and mint compliments the heat so well. After the wings I decided to take a leap of faith into the tuna tartar. I tried fish a couple times before this but the fish was always cooked. I thought to myself: I don't like cooked fish, i'm definitely not going to like raw fish. BUT something about her made me take the leap of faith and try the dish. What she thought was delicious, I thought was eh. Nothing against the Spice Market, I just don't think I'm able to enjoy fish JUST YET (hopefully soon).
For our main course, Stef ordered grilled chicken with lemongrass dressing and kumquats. I'm sure I tasted the chicken, but honestly don't remember. Stef said it was good and she could be a strict judge sometimes. I do remember my main course which was the grilled strip steak with garlic, coriander, and seasame. The steak was cooked beautifully and it was definitely memorable.

Bar Americain (New York, NY)
One of Bobby Flays Restaurants. I think I had a good meal, but don't remember to much about it. Maybe thats because Stef wasn't there? Who knows. I would like to go back and check it out!

Other New York Restaurants

Nick and Stefs (attached to MSG)
Went here before the John Legend concert at Madison Square Garden. I remember the skirt steak was pretty good, but nothing crazy memorable besides my company...who else.

PJ Clarks
Moved to NY in Nov and already been here twice. Had a really good burger on my first visit. I also enjoyed these homemade potato chips that accompanied the bacon cheeseburger. The second time I went to PJ Clarks I went to the one near Lincoln Square with my mom and sister. Here I enjoyed a skirt steak as well as some of Jen's BBQ ribs. Maybe I should have gotten the ribs instead! Washed it all down with a brooklyn lager, delicious!

Bowlmor (Union Square)- Sweet bowling alley with a clubbish vibe. Pretty decent bar food!
300 (Chelsea piers)A similiar concept to bowlmor, but a little more expensive I want to say. Sweet Bud Light bottles in the shape of bowling pins.
Lucky Strike (west 40s)- Yet another bowling alley not too different from the others. (Stef thinks she could beat me, but im still waiting...)

Chelsea Piers Brewery- Stef and I enjoyed a beautiful day outside drinking some of the brewery's finest microbrews including the checkered cab blonde ale, sunset ale, and some others.

Victors (theater district)- This cuban restaurant was picked because of its location, right across the street from the Jersey Boys theater. Turns out it was a great pick. Highlights of the meal were the red sangria, the pulled pork, and the homemade churros.

Cafeteria (chelsea)-Fried oreos
Grimaldis (Brooklyn)- I thought the pizza was very good, but overrated and overpriced.
Blockheads (east 50s)-Home of the $3 margarita. A nice little spot for a cheap food and drinks.

Hotel on Rivington-Supposedly a tough spot to get in, I had a great time here with some old high school friends. Buying rounds at $12 a drink seemed cruel on my wallet, but hey I could use the points. The DJ was really good and made me forget about my $150 tab so I guess I could appreciate that. A very cool scene.

Other New York Bars
Turtle Bay- Home of the $35 drinkup. Always a night you will never remember.
Cornerstone- If your sick of turtle bay madness, sneak down the street
Patriot- dive bar with PBR specials, YES!
Brother Jimmys- I actually go to brother jimmys alot. Good BBQ food! Natty Light if you'd like.
Off the Wagon
Stumble Inn
Down the Hatch
Jakes Dilemma
Calico Jacks- Stay away from the shot girls, they'll take all your money!
John St Bar- $10 all you could drink keg beer from 5-7:30 = every thursday
Fat Annies Truck Stop
Mocca Lounge
Mad River
Black Fin
Fat Black Pussy Cat

Iron Horse- What an experience this was. My roommate greg and I got the urge for a drink on Tuesday night within the first two weeks of moving in. We asked around and noone really knew a good place around us. We walked around trying to find a good spot, afterall we need a good place to throw acouple back around our apartment. So this bar, Iron Horse, is right around the corner so we wanted to check it out. We got in there and saw a female bartender swinging on this wooden swing above the bar. We were curious to what the heck was going on so we bought ourselves a $2 rolling rock can and watched the show--little did we no what we were in for.
The bartender picked this guy out from the bar and started feeding him Southern Comfort. She even poured some in her mouth then bird-fed it to him (pretty sick I know). So after that, I'm already a little skeptical about this place but greg seems to love it. So we stay despite the weird shit going on and the awful throw-up like smell lingering around the place. The bartender then takes the guy on the bar and has him sit on the swing while she starts to whip him with a studded belt. Thats when we chugged out beers and left. I don't know if we left because we were scared we'd be next or because we were weirded out by the guy who liked the fake ass coyote ugly dominatrix. Unless you're into that, I'd skip that place.

Ulysses- Really good potato skins. Sliced then with lots of cheese and bacon!
Trattoria(Seaport)- Nice little italian spot. Good pizza.
Pacific Grill (Seaport)
Heartland Brewery (seaport)

Texas BBQ (Fulton St)- Really good quickservice BBQ to go!


Casa di Napoli (Atlantic City, NJ)
I've probably been down to AC 25 times and have very few dining experiences to recount. I don't know if I can't remember the experience because of a long night of drinking and gambling or simply because we always go down to party, not eat. I went down there with Stef and Andrea, a work friend.
Casa di Napoli is an italian restaurant in Ballys recommended to us by our fearless- leader chef. Jerry knew the head waiter who's name escapes me at the moment. As soon as we got there we were treated like family. He immediately took our drink orders and started bringing us complimentary appetizers. Its hard to recall what exactly we ate because it was awhile ago, but it was delicious. I remember one of the dishes being a big, fancy mozzerella stick. By the time we finished the three appetizers, we were all pretty full but felt obligated to order a main course. Don't remember what we ordered, but i'm sure it was really good. We were also served a glass of "really good" wine as the waiter told us. And it was really good indeed, especially after a couple Johnny Walker Blacks.

Other AC hot spots:

The Pool (Harrahs)
You feel like you're in Miami when at this nightclub bombarbed with good-looking people and cabanas. I was down at The Pool with some buddies from college where we enjoyed bottled service, hot tubs, and most importantly- the pool. We actually had a couple incidents which almost got a few of us kicked out, but I won't disclose any names. Apparrently some guests didn't appreciate the cannon balls or indecent exposure. But none of us got kicked out and it proved to be an awesome night.

Mur Mur (borgata)
Mur Mur is one of my favorite clubs. From the music to the people; a great time. We went on a Monday and it was still poppin'.

Best Damn Sports Bar (Tropicana)
This sports bar is one of my favorite places to go when in AC. I don't know if its because you could get $5 40 oz or because they have tables to play beer pong, Americas past time. This is a good spot if you don't want to spend alot of money or go to a club. Its a chill atmosphere with plenty of TVs to catch the games.

Bread and Butter (Borgata)- Awesome french toast
Firewaters (Trop)
Ri Ra (Trop)- sweet irish bar with decent food and even better Jameson!
Red Square (Trop)
Hooters (Trop)- Wings of course!!!!
Game On (Pier at Ceasars)- Sweet place to watch the game, dance, or ride the mechanical bull.
Beach Bar (Trump)-Was having an awesome time till Gartner started ordering double shots of jack. Palp might have puked on like five people that night...or something like that??? alittle hazy. This wasn't 2009, oops.


Zafra (Hoboken, NJ)
Dining at this cuban-latino restaurant turned out to be quite memorable. The restaurant was cozy, which always makes me feel right at home. The restaurant was BYOB so we brought a bottle of wine, which the server turned into sangria for $10. I thought it was a bargain considering Stef and I love to drink. The sangria lasted throughout the dinner and posed as our only dessert which we were more than happy with. We shared an appetizer of Yuca Fries with cilantro sauce presilla and beef empanadas with a spicy Chilean sauce. Both the Yuca fries and empanadas were good, but the fries especially stand out.
For our main course Stef got chicken skewers with sweet potato, rice and beans. Her chicken was delicious, but I think I passed on the rice, beans, and sweet potato. I got Zafra's "Ropa Vieja", which is shredded beef in a white wine sauce. Another great meal.

Carlos Bakery (Hoboken, NJ)
Never been to the actual bakery, but had a piece of peanut butter cake from there which was AMAZING. Definitely planning a trip there, preferably before summertime.

Other Hoboken Bars
Mullingans-Cool irish bar
Bahama Mama- My friend AJs favorite spot. College scene with cheap beers and a dance floor for his weak ass soldier boy routine. Aaaa-HA
Black Bear- Sweet sports bar.
Whiskey Bar- Good spot for drinks and usually has a good band playing.

More Jersey...

Basilico (Millburn, NJ)
Stef brought me to this delightful italian place where we brought our own wine(of course) and experience a great dinner! Can't remember if we got an appetizer, but for dinner I got the short rib. The short rib was good, but not as good as Stone house's.

St. James Gate (Maplewood, NJ)
Nice little neighborhood spot where Stef use to work. Enjoyed a steak with some sort of delicious white sauce. Good thing I had some fries to dip in the sauce when the steak was gone!

Village Trattoria (Maplewood)
Got to experience this sweet neighborhood trattoria for both lunch and dinner. Good stuff! Good variety of pizza!

Valencia (Elizabeth, NJ)
"Steak on a Stone" and sangria make it no big deal to drive 20 minutes to this Portuguese hot spot. You cook you're own hunk of filet mignon on this hot stone brought out by your server. A wonderful garlic butter spread accompanies the steak to create straight bliss.

Lucas (Edison, NJ)
One of my family's favorite italian restaurants. I've been there a few times in the last year and its always a good meal. My most memorable meal was when I took Stef there and got crispy mango calamari for an appetizer followed by a double-cut pork chop. Both the pork chop and the calamari were phenominal. I'm so upset that they don't care those items regularly. This is another BYOB place, which makes the dinner on the less expensive side (although still pricey).

Harolds New York Deli Restaurant (Edison, NJ)
Harolds is known for its extensive pickle bar and its HUGE sandwich. Whether you get their famous corned beef or pastrami is up to you; but either way you are getting a HUGE portion that will leave you with leftovers for days.
My last trip there was with Stef. She ordered a turkey sandwich that lasted her 2 days. I ordered the BBQ spare ribs which was actually one huge rib. I never seen anything like it. The rib was so tasty that I didn't have any leftovers, although I probably should have. The restaurant does give you big portions, but you do pay for it. The first time I went there I thought it was going to be a bargain since it was a deli styled restaurant, but I was mistaken when the check came. I'm looking forward to going back, hopefully on a day where I don't eat breakfast or lunch.

Cheeseburger in Paradise (Woodbridge, NJ)
My friend Erin and I were looking for a good place for a burger in our area. We couldn't think of anything so we decided on Cheeseburger in Paradise. I thought a place with the name cheeseburger in it has to have somewhat decent burgers. So we went there and tried it out. I figuered Jimmy Buffet couldn't let me down! I've actually been here before but totally forget what I ate so I needed to go again and check out their burger scene. We started off with some nachos which are always a crowd pleaser. We also got some huge frozen drinks which were so good. Granted I got a brain freeze a couple times, but all well worth it. Maybe a smaller size would have been better considering I consumed enough sugar in the drink to get me through the week. Either way it was very tasty. The burger was alright, nothing to brag about. Fun atmoshphere though, would go back.

Shannon Rose (Woodbridge)
Sun Tavern (Fanwood)- Pretty good pizza
Fox and Hound (Edison)- Decent wings. Pint night= Tuesday
Big Shots (Woodbridge)
Champs (Edison)
Cheesecake Factory (Edison)- Buffalo crisp things are AMAZING. Always a good meal here.
Waiting Room (Rahway)
Colorado Cafe (Watchung) Get your cowboy hat on'. Good times.
Rolfs (Warren)- dive bar for after work. Pool Table and foozeball!
Fridays-I'm actually a big fan of fridays.
Delicious Heights (Berkley Heights)- Another after work spot.
Jose Tejas- Great Mexican place. Good margaritas and FOOD. Good price as well!
WOW Cafe (Metuchen)- Went here for wings...kind of disappointed. But still good I suppose
Benihana (edison)- Probably will never go back. Overpriced and really not that good.
RIO 22 (Union) First Rodizio styled restaurant i've ever been to. So good! Can't wait to go back.


Guanabana-(Jupiter, FL)
-Good food, good drinks, with an awesome atmoshphere.

Square Grouper (Jupiter, FL)
- Enjoyed some delicious drinks while sitting in a very comfortable chair overlooking the marina. This is a pretty famous bar from what i'm told...and it should be. Awesome tiki bar right on the water!

Rum Bar (West Palm Beach)
Definitely another awesome spot in florida. I enjoyed a few delicious cocktails while lounging, listening to good tunes with my feet in the sand.

Dr. Feel Goods (West Palm beach)
This two-level bar got pretty wild. My only complaint has to be the leather vests that the bartenders wear. DJ was good, people were beautiful, and the drinks were pouring.

Duffys (Jupiter area)
-Sweet ass sports bar combines love for Floridas sports and being Irish. Had some good wings here while also enjoying some pints in the afternoon.

Yard House (Palm Beach area)
This restaurant reminded me alot of a cheesecake factory with less food selections and more beverage selection. The first thing I noticed when i walked in was the extensive list of beers on tap. I don't remember the food, but I know it was a good dinner spot.

BEACH PLACE (Ft. Lauderdale)
I've been down here a few times and it never disappoints. Whether its Lu Lu's Baitshack, Hooters, Fat Tuesdays, or that awesome piano bar (howl at the moon?)- you're in for one hell of a night. There's also a bar across from Lu Lu's if you're trying to get your grind on. You will probably end up on the beach after experiencing this mall of madness.
Suggestions: Start with frozen drinks (with floaters of 151 of course) at Fat Tuesday and continue exploring once you get your buzz on.


Lawry's- One of the best pieces of prime rib i've ever gotten! This was phenominal! And the side dishes were good as well!

PURE (Ceasars)- Ultra-club with some of the most beautiful people you will ever see. Roofdeck with private cabanas overlook the strip. If I didn't get food sickness from the Wynn buffet, I'm sure bottleservice would've been worth it...well probably not considering my friend morven and I spent over 1,000 each. I really hope my mom isn't reading this. I'd love to go back and really experience it.

Tao Beach (Venetian) Such a cool concept! Live DJ spinning good tunes, hot people, and really good drinks. I actually had a cocktail here that I've been trying to find since I had it. I asked the bartender to make his specialty and it was sooo good. Unfortunately, He wouldn't tell me what was in it. Dying to go back! Also dying to go to Rehab on Sundays in the summer, never been but i hear its crazy.

TABU (MGM GRAND)- Sectioned off VIP area with girls dancing on neon-lit tables changing with the music. Awesome! Gotta thank Gartner for this one... and the next one.

JET (Mirage)- 15,000 sq ft of craziness! This club was definitely one of the best clubs i've ever been too. Bottle service in the back room where the DJ was spinning classic rock hits that kept us dancing till the early mornings.

Rum Jungle

Pink Taco (Hard Rock)-Margaritas and Tacos!
Margaritaville- Classic Jimmy Buffet.
Le Village Buffet (Paris)- My mother and John love this breakfast buffet at the Paris casino. Pancakes, waffles, crepes, omletes, and loads of bacon...what else do you need besides the chocolate milk and orange juice to wash it down.

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