Sunday, October 31, 2010

The 13th Step

Went here on Halloween. I don't know what its like on other nights, but it seems like a fun place. Our party was hosted in the VICE room, so if you got some friends and want a room to yourself--book a party. But I'm sure you could find a cheaper spot to do so as a "all you could drink" wristband will set you back $45 for four hours of drinking. And don't try to take it easy because the wristband is not an option, its mandatory if you want to party with the rest of the gang.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Lani Kai
Julie Reiner, the owner of Clover Club and Flatiron, has brought New York City a new cocktail lounge in Soho. Lani Kai, the Polynesian-styled lounge is Reiner's attempt to bring together her two favorite places--Hawaii and Manhattan. Reiner explains, "Lani Kai pairs the tropical beauty and flavors of the Pacific with the pulse and edge of Gotham" I think she does a great job because the idea of Hawaii and tiki bar could be very gimicky and cheesey but Lani Kai doesn't go there. Lani Kai transports guest into a Polynesian atmosphere while also reminding us we're in New york. The concept focuses on cocktails as their beverage menu is much more extensive. After reading all the cocktail descriptions, I guarantee you have not heard of some of the ingredients used.

My buddy Jared is an up-and-coming mixologist with an impressive resume, so it seems right that he would be on the opening team for the new cocktail lounge. Giving him the OK, he made us an assortment of drinks throughout the night. We tried cocktails such as the Hotel California, Leilani's Fixx, La Tropicalia, and Crystal Skull to name just a few. Each drink was more intricate and delicious than the previous. It was fun to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders work their magic, recreating these well crafted cocktails.

Overshadowed by cocktails, the food at Lani Kai is awesome. We got the Pupu platter, which was our choice of four of the small plate options. Although all the options sounded fantastic, we went with the duck potstickers, crab wontons, chicken wings, and squash tempura. The platter was served on a spinning, wooden plate that spit fire from the middle. Talk about that "wow" factor that many restaurants look for. I thought this was a great way to serve the a combo platter. Everything on the platter was delicious, but my favorite had to be the Crab Wontons. The wings were a close second as they were spiced rubbed which was a good change as most restaurants stick with the tradionally buffalo wings. The duck potstickers were also good and my least favorite had to be the squash tempura because I felt like the tempura batter could have been a little more crispy. The flavor was there, but the texture was not.

I would definitely recommend this place whether you're hanging with some co-workers or on a date. Or even if you're looking to grab a drink by yourself and pick the bartenders brain. They could educate you on the various syrups/bitters than line the bar or how they use different ice cubes for different drinks. Definitely a cool spot and it definitely helps knowing the bartending as your bill could get pretty pricey as the drinks go down easy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Union Square Area

Side Bar is a good spot if you feel like reliving your college years. The music is pumping and the liquor is flowing. Its a good spot to dance and meet some people of the opposite sex, but its also a good spot to get into a fight for stealing a dude's girl, but hey, whatever you're into!

Brother Jimmy's
I like Brother Jimmy's for food, but its late night scene isn't too bad. Its usually hit or miss as sometimes its alot of fun while other times you can't get out of there quick enough. Its usually a mix of younger, a few years out of college crowd. Sometimes it could pack out with beautiful girls but its mostly frat dudes looking to slam tall boys and shots of Jamo.


The Lamb Sandwich might Tabla's most popular item as a cook told me they had to take it off the menu at one point because they couldn't keep up with the demand. The sandwich is pretty pricey, but the lamb on the sandwich takes serious time to prep. The lamb is sandwiched between a tandoori naan with some tumeric mashed potatoes. The sandwich also has some lime and cilantro and comes with some bhondi raita. Its something you definitely have to get before Tabla closes on Dec 30th. You could even split the sandwich as it is HUGE! They also got some other really good menu items. I would definitely recommend going to Tabla before it closes

Chicken or the Egg (LBI)

(coming soon)

Lasagna Ristorante

Decent Italian spot in Midtown East. Very homey, not too pricey. Sat at the bar and enjoyed an appetizer and bottle of wine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Located in the W Hotel in Union Square, Olives is a good place to have a drink and hang out. If you're into people watching, this is the spot for you. Drinks could get pricey, but what do you expect?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

California (Day #1)

My friend Nadine and I planned a rather impromptu trip to California in the beginning of October. With ideas of moving to the West Coast, our trip started in San Francisco and ended in Los Angeles ten days later with no specific plans other than have a good time. Going on vacation with no plans was a bit scary, but it really worked out. It allowed us to be flexible and really do what we wanted to do. Having an open itinerary gave us total freedom of our vacation.

Our first stop was in San Francisco. I had never been to San Francisco, but heard it had an incredible food culture and I was so interested in discovering it. The "fusion" and "farm to table" movements were said to be started in San Francisco. Alice Waters was one of the chefs credited for starting these movements. California is one of the biggest states geographically and it produces some of the nations richest ingredients. After a five-hour flight, I was ready to explore the city and its world-renowned food culture.

We started our food adventures at the Ferry building. Our first stop was at Boccalone where we enjoyed a meat cone of tasty, salted pig parts. The cone came with an assortment of cured meats for $3.50! Boccalone is a creation of celebrity chef Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore. Boccalone is a small spot, but packs a big punch with its great variety of cured meat. I would definitely recommend getting a meat cone if in the Ferry Building. While in the Ferry building, we stopped by The Slanted Door for a few cocktails and appetizers. The Slanted Door is one of San Francisco's most popular restaurants as Chef Charles Phan brings his renditions of Vietnamese classics to the San Francisco community whether it be businessmen, hipsters, or tourist.

We elected to sit at the beautiful bar that wrapped around the restaurant. I liked the fact that the bar was clean and elegant whereas there was no bottles up for show. Most of the cocktails on the menu used low batch spirits, which I could definitely appreciate. The bartenders wore black t-shirts were gave a casual vibe, but they knew their stuff. Chatting it up with the bartenders was fun as they seemed to really love the cocktail and wine culture which is so prevalent in San Fran.

The cocktail list seemed pretty legit, but I definitely took note of the lack of bourbon/whiskey and tequila cocktails. Gin and rum seemed to be the most popular spirits involved in many of the drinks on the menu. Nadine first drink was the Agricole Rhum Punch which La Favorite rhum agricole ambre, lime, cane syrup, with dashes of Angostura and allspice dram with nutmeg. My first drink was the Bee's Knees which is Miller's Westbourne strength gin, blackberry honey, and lemon juice--simple yet delicious. These two cocktails were great started cocktails as they were light and refreshing--perfect for the mid-afternoon sun. Being close to wine country, I decided to get a Gruner as my next beverage as Nadine stuck with the cocktails getting the Clover Club--Beefeaters gin, organic raspberries, lemon, dry vermouth, and egg white served up.

Her cocktail and my wine were both delicious and paired wonderfully with our food. The food menu was limited because we were there on off peak hours, but we had some great food. We got the Slanted Door spring rolls which was a great mixture of shrimp, pork, mint, and peanut sauce. We also got an order of the Grilled Tiger Prawns which was served over rice noodles with vegetarian imperial roll, cucumber and mint. Both the Slanted Door Spring rolls and tiger prawns were awesome. Just writing about it makes me want to go back and start that vacation all over--in that very exact spot.

Our next spot was La Mar, just a quick walk from The Slanted Door. La Mar is a chic outpost for Peruvian cuisine and pisco-based cocktails. We sat in the bar area, which was kind of small but had a great vibe. There was one waitress holding down the small, but bustling space--pretty impressive. The waitress was not only hardworking, but friendly and knowledgeable as she described some of the menu items to us.

All specialty cocktails are derived from pisco, a liquor distilled from grapes. Despite many disputes between Chile and Peru, the region of Pisco is actually in Peru. Signature drinks include the pisco sour, pisco sangria, and pisco punch. Not only did I love how La Mar stayed true to its concept with all pisco drinks, but they were all $5! Creating a signature drink with an uncommon liquor such as pisco could be tricky as guests could sometimes be scared of something different, but La Mar does a good job in promoting the cocktails through the price and the service. Not only did we try all the above mentioned pisco drinks, but we also tried the Saxon which was pisco, basil, lemon twist, and yellow chartreuse--delicious!

As far as food, we ordered from the platos frios section. These dishes were small plates, perfect for exploring this exotic Peruvian cuisine. Some of the things we tried...

rollo fashion 6
sushi roll with dungeness crab, cucumber and avocado topped with sliced
salmon and crispy rice noodles with a sweet soy reduction

causushi limeña 4
rolled yellow potato with dungeness crab, avocado purée, cherry tomato
and huancaina sauce anticuchos

Cebichin Mixto 7
chopped mahi mahi, calamari, Japanese octopus and habanero pepper in
a lech de tigre natural with cilantro and red onion

ensalada playera 9
Arugula with calamari, octopus, shrimp, roasted bell peppers, avocado, onions,
tomato and fava beans with a parsley, lemon and rocoto vinaigrette

butifarra 7
Roasted pork leg, butter lettuce, mayonnaise and huancaina sauce on a bun
served with salsa criolla

Everything we ordered was great as it was artfully presented and delicious. All the ingredients used were super fresh! My favorite out of the bunch was the causa limena--so freaking good!

Our final stop was to the Embarcadero's Pier 23, recommended to us by the bartender at The Slanted Door. This was a slight change of pace from the first two scenes as Pier 23 was a casual eatery meets dive bar. We sat outside on the ramshackle patio as a diverse crowd piled in around us. I don't know why we ordered food, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The menu was typical of a sports bar--nothing too exciting. We got chicken wings, calamari, and an artichoke dip to pick at while we sipped on some more drinks. Nadine got a sugary concoction that was pretty gross as I tried a Widmar Hefeweizen that was pretty delicious. After some further research I found out that Widmar is a brewery based out of Portland Oregon--for you beer lovers!

The server at the patio didn't seem old enough to serve alcohol and wasn't too knowledgeable on the menu BUT its not that kind of a place so we'll give the kid a pass. I did find it odd that there was a lady dressed in a weird costume selling cigarettes, candy, and other goodies. Of course Nadine chatted the lady up while I enjoyed beautiful views of the sunset over the bay. After a few beers, I found myself in a food coma so we did what anyone would have done--went home and took a nap! Unfortunately, we didn't make it out that night but we had an awesome first day so we couldn't be upset.

Quick Eats

Sandwich House (Anne St)

Got a delicious sandwich from here the other day.
Fresh mozzerella, roasted red peppers, prosciutto, and chicken on thick-cut rye bread. If you are in the financial district and craving a good sandwich, this is a good spot.

Deli Marche
Gramercy deli I stopped in when on a double at work. Pretty decent.

Plaza Deli
Pretty good deals for breakfast and lunch at this always crowded deli. Personable staff and fast service.

Cowgirl Seahorse
Take out from here seemed to be a bad choice. Screwed up order, took forever, and wasn't that good. Although it has a catchy name, you should probably skip past Cowgirl Seahorse when on seamlessweb or


Richard Sandoval uses Latin and Asian influences for his midtown restaurant Zengo. The restaurant itself is a beautiful three story space, but I think the concept could be a little muddled. Zengo offers three different bars, all with different concepts. My friend Colette and I went down to La Biblioteca, which is Zengo's tequila library. This basement space is designed as a legit old library with a few side side tables that are more loungey. La Biblioteca offers guests over 400 agave-based drinks and a tequila sommelier to help you pick out the perfect drink. I don't know how many people actually use the tequila sommelier, but I think thats awesome.

We went for happy hour so we opted to go with some of the discounted drinks such as the Margarita, strawberry margarita, and hibiscus mojito. I wasn't really impressed by the drinks, but the atmosphere was pretty cool. Maybe next time I'll speak with the sommelier and enjoy some rare tequila on the rocks. The food was tastey, but so small. We got an order of ahi tuna tacos and kobe beef tacos. Each order only had 3 small pieces, but the flavors were good. We decided not to dine there, but maybe dinner upstairs is different.

I would recommend Zengo if you like tequila, but I can't recommend the food or the happy hour drinks as I think you could get more of a bang for your buck.