Thursday, March 25, 2010

NYC spots

There's a Cosi around the corner from my school, so I stopped in here one day for a quick bite. This place reminded me of a Panera, which I'm down with. I'm not in love with Panera or Cosi for that matter, but its not a bad spot to grab a quick lunch.

The ambiance in the Cosi was relaxing and laid back as some guests were eating lunch while typing away on their laptop. I really liked the art on the wall and the spacious seating. I ordered a grilled chicken Caesar salad, which was good. It tasted fresh and it wasn't overwhelmed with dressing. I liked the fact that your salad came with a little piece of foccacio bread. The bread was good on my first bite, but seemed to get hard as the meal went on. I think I probably could have found an equally good salad for a cheaper price somewhere else.

I probably won't go back there only because the city is full of options.

Blue Smoke
It didn't seem like we were in a recession/depression when I visited Blue Smoke a few weeks ago. This place was packed as Stef, Greg, and I waited a good 20 minutes or so for a table. Blue Smoke is Danny Myer's famous BBQ restaurant that stands above Jazz Standard.

While I waited I got Blue Smoke's Original Lager that helped pass the time. The ale was very good--it was light and had some nice fruit flavors. Waiting for a table allowed us to peek at other peoples tables and see what looked good.

As we were seated, our server greeted us; but he didn't seem too enthusiatic about being there. Finding a good server isn't an easy task at all, but Danny Myer is always talking about his 51% percent--that basically means that servers need good personalities and learning to become a good server will come naturally. Basically attitude is more important than skills. If you part of this 51% then good service will come easy to you. I don't know how this guy skipped through the screening process because he wasn't the least bit friendly. OK, enough about service and on to the food--the reason we're here!

For appetizers we got BBQ chips, Tuna Tacos, and the Chipotle Wings. The BBQ Chips were good, but I like potato chips for dessert, not an appetizer. I thought the tuna tacos were pretty good, but Greg and Stef weren't impressed. The Chipotle Wings were definitely the best appetizer as they were tender, smokey, and had some kick to em'.

We then moved onto our next course as Greg and I got combo platters and Stef got a salad. I got the rib sampler which came with Texas, Kansas City, and Memphis style ribs. I lost my notes, so I don't recall which one I liked the best; but they were all very good. I think my favorite was the Texas rib, which was dry rubbed for a nice smokey flavor. The Memphis style ribs were prepared with Blue Smoke's magic dust and their original BBQ sauce while the Kansas City ribs were slathered with Blue Smoke's sweet and spicy KC sauce. All three ribs were really good, but the combination platter for one fell short as I didn't order any sides.

Greg got the Rhapsody in 'Cue which was a combo platter of KC ribs, pulled pork, sausage, and smoked chicken. Everything on his platter was good especially the pulled pork.

Blue Smoke is an awesome restaurant! They serve good food and have a really great ambiance. I really enjoyed the food, but it seemed a little too much for BBQ food. I'm use to BBQ joints being less polished and rugged...and cheaper at that. I think Danny Myer is genius for converting casual BBQ into a restaurant experience, but why not go to a smaller hole-in-the-wall place for the same BBQ at halff the price. I would go back, but probably after checking out some other local joints first.

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)
Who would have though a burger and shake joint in Madison Square park would rake in over $3 million dollars a year? I guess Danny Myer did! Danny Myer has many restaurants in this area, but Shake Shack is arguably the most famous. The Shake Shack crave started on the Upper West Side, but has moved downtown to Madison Square Park. Rumors have it that Shake Shack is in the process of taking over more locations around the city. The line for Shake Shack gets so ridiculous that they "roadside" burger joint has a camera to monitor the line for those of us who can't wait 45 minutes for a burger and fries.

The bar was definitely set high as many claim Shake Shack is home to the best burger in New York. Don't get me wrong, their burgers are definitely good--but not the best burgers in the city! You appetite for the burger might trick you into thinking its the best burger, but that's because you just waited in line for half of your lunch bread. Lunch in Madison Park is lovely, especially when the weathers right. Even when its not so nice, the heat lamps warm you right up. The only setback to outdoor dining in the park has to be the animals as pigeons and squirrels eye up your meal.

Before ordering, I was told that the burgers were on the small size so it was in my best interest to order a double. I ordered a double cheeseburger with a black/white shake which cost me $12--no wonder they are making so much money. The burger had good flavor and was incredibly juicy. I also enjoyed the potato bun, which compliments the burger big time. The shake was incredible! They seemed to have the perfect mix of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. The shake was even blended to the perfect consistency as many places make the shakes too thick to even suck out the straw. I was also able to taste the fries, which a friend had ordered. She LOVES the fries and I thought they were good; but nothing too special!

I would definitely go back to Shake Shack, especially because its right down the street from my school. The staff is friendly, the burgers are good, the shakes are even better, and the eating outside component is hard to beat. I will definitely be back!

Atomic Wings
Atomic Wings has a few different locations around the city. We went to the one on 1st Ave between 11th and 12th street. My friend Jackie and I were looking to grab a quick bite, we wanted something fast and cheap. Both of us are suckers for wings so as we passed Atomic Wings, we did a double-take and went back to check it out.

Luckily for us, the place was empty--but i imagine it could get pretty crowded in there. The space is small, but I'm sure they do more pickup and deliveries than sit downs. We ordered a plate of hot wings and waffle fries. The wings and fries were both good, but nothing that's going to drag me back there. The wings had good flavor and left the mouth with a nice spicy ting, but you could get the same quality wings at a local bar so save the money on your metrocard and stay local. If you're in the area and craving wings--go for it.

Open Door Gastropub
This was my second trip to the Open Door Gastropub on John Street. The first time I had the Wall Street Burger than proved to be one of the better burgers in the neighborhood, but this time I opted to go with the Pulled Pork Sandwich. The Pulled Pork Sandwich was really good, but its hard to tell you anything else as I had the burger after a bunch of cocktails and some beers as well. I do remember the flavoring being on point and the pork itself was very tender. I thought the bun was too big or the serving of pulled pork was too small. When making a sandwich, you want the right meat/bun ratio and Open Door failed me on this one. Their burger is a good example of a good ratio, but the pulled pork sandwich fell a little bit short.

The service was good, especially because one of my friends was a little intoxicated which could have been seen as rude. The server even comped me a beer as we pretended it was my birthday for some reason. The gastropub is a nice addition to the Financial District and I'll probably be back there again considering its right around the corner.

Nelson Blue
Amanda and I decided to grab a quick bite to eat after walking around the neighborhood on a georgeous Friday afternoon. After a walk along the water in Battery Park, we decided to walk over to Front Street down by the Seaport. Front Street has a bunch of nice, little restaurants that serve good food and drinks. We picked Nelson Blue, a restaurant serving New Zealand styled cuisine. We sat outside as the weather was beautiful. We decided to get some wine and appetizers instead of a heavy meal. It was also a Friday during Lent, so us Christians couldn't eat meat.

We shared Corn & Zuchini Fritters and Crab Cake Sliders for an appetizer. The Corn & Zuchini Fritters were awesome. The fritters were lightly breaded and came with a white creamy sauce that kicked them up a notch. The Crab Cake Sliders were also good. Both appetizers were really good. They were also light, which was perfect!

Although I usually don't order white wine, I ordered a New Zealand Riesling; which was GREAT. I felt that it went with the appetizers and the weather very well. Couldn't have asked for anything more! Appetizers and wine outside by the water with a good friend--awesome. Would definitely go back!

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