Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Clinton Street Baking Company

Clinton Street Baking Company is one of those places that you HAVE to go back to. Whether its for your original favorite or for something new that you hope will be your new favorite. On my second trip to Clinton Street, I stared blankly at the menu trying to decide if I wanted to get the Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich; which was awesome or if I should try a new dish. Stef did as she normally does and guided me towards unfamiliar food options. I ordered the Country Breakfast which came with three eggs (any style), grilled "cure 81" ham steak, hash browns, and a buttermilk biscuit. I also treated myself to a shake that HAD to be good--costing $8. The black & white shake might have actually been worth the money as it was heavenly. Clinton Street uses ice cream from The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for all their shakes. The Country Breakfast was another good choice, but doesn't compete with the Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich (with sugar cured bacon), French Toast, or Waffle.

Stef's Southern Breakfast was pretty amazing as well. Two eegs (any style), sugar-cured bacon, cheese grits and fried green tomatoes made up these breakfast masterpiece. The sugar-cured bacon is phenominal and the cheesey grits were right on point! The fried green tomatoes were a great addition to this southern breakfast. I think I actually liked Stef's breakfast better than mine! Good thing she shared her sugar cured bacon, because thats what keeps me coming back! I'm sure you'll see another Clinton Street review soon enough. Love it...will definitely be back.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Random Bars

Bowery Bar/Traffic/Opal/Off the Wagon/Johnny Foxes/Bull McCabes/The Ainsworth
(coming soon)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Ace Hotel

The Ace Hotel is a sweet boutique hotel in midtown Manhattan on 29th street. Located only a few blocks away from my school, a group of us decided to go check out No. 7 Sub ( a new funky sandwich shop attached to the hotel). This boutique-hipster hotel is home of Stumptown Coffee, an Oregon based purveyor, and the Breslin, an English-styled restaurant explores "nose to tail" cuisine. The lobby of Ace kind of reminded me of a Starbucks as many guests had their coffee and laptop. It almost seems a bit nerdy, but in a cool, fun fashion.

No. 7 Sub wasn't actually in the hotel, but it was attached so I guess that counts. The sub shop was really unique, but scared me away. Braised Lamb seemed like a nice afternoon treat till I saw the peanut butter and mint jelly topping. General Tso's also seemed like an awesome sandwich till I saw it was Tofu. The Roast Beef also seemed promising, but then I couldn't come to grips with the pickled blueberries as a topping. Maybe I'm just picky, but No. 7 Sub seemed a little too "mad scientist" for me. I did like the shop though as it carried the coolness of the hotel into the little sub shop. Maybe when I become a little more adventurous, I'll try it again!

My classmates didn't seem to talk about their sandwiches too much other than the fact that it was a bit too salty. No. 7 Sub definitely gets an A+ for creativity, but will it keep people coming back? We'll see...

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Zeppelin Hall Restaurant and Biergarten

"One of the best places in NJ" one of my friends told me as we got on the PATH and headed over to Grove Street in Jersey City. I might have to agree with him after having my first beer hall experience.

Leppelin Hall is an authentic European style Biergarten with both indoor and outing seating. Unfortunately it was a little cold yesterday, so we didn't get to enjoy the beautiful outdoor area. But the inside part of the restaurant/biergarten is just as cool. Zeppelin Hall is not only known for their beers, but for the friendly atmosphere. Communal tables allow complete strangers to socialize over a huge stein of beer. A large stein of beer will run you $8-$12 bucks but you'll get three beers worth of GREAT BEER. Biergarten boasts an impressive beer selection with beers from all over Europe including Belgium, German, Czech, Ireland, and English styles. They also have a good selection of domestic beers.

The staff was friendly and pretty knowledgeable about beer. We also got some food, which was pretty good but then again that was after a few steins of beers. While others decided to get Zeppelin's Halls specialty sausages, I opted to get the spicy buffalo wings which definitely had some kick. Perfect to wash down with a Oktoberfest. Overall Zeppelin Hall was an awesome place. I would recommend it to anyone looking to drink social with a group of friends. Or you could simply make friends.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Cuban Pete's

Montclair is a sweet little town with lots of restaurants and shops. One person once described Monclair as a little Hoboken. Although there weren't nearly as many bars as Hoboken, there were a bunch of restaurants. Stef and I parked by the Wellmont theater and walked the streets of Montclair with no particular destination. We walked about a few restaurants that we considered, but ended up at Cuban Pete's.

Cuban Pete's was one of the first restaurants we walked by and checked out the menu. I've heard good things about Cuban Pete's so we wanted to check it out. You have to walk through the whole restaurant in order to get the the tiny host stand. Once you get to the small stand in the back of the restaurant, you have to dodge servers hustling from the kitchen with multiple plates in hand. We looked at the menu, which looked awesome but we decided to walk around a little more for another, less crowded spot.

We continued to walk around town in search of a restaurant that both Stef and I were happy with. We tried to find a place with outdoor seating, but our attempt fell short. We walked by this Greek restaurant that had outdoor seating, but there was not one person in the whole restaurant.

As I mentioned earlier, we ended back at Cuban Pete's. We wanted to sit in the semi-outdoor space alongside the wooden boardwalk entrance. Instead we were seated in the loudest room in the house. The Cuban music blasting brought the restaurant to life, but it was just a little bit too loud. I felt the noise level was appropriate for a Cuban lounge and not a restaurant. I think the restaurant would have been good for a group of people celebrating, like the rowdy table next to us, but as for a nice dinner--not too sure.

The hostess zig-zagged through the tables while taking us to our table which was switched from a four top to a two top at the last minute. We were seated before the tableware was even down. The table was even still damp from the towel used to wipe it down.

The server wasn't as attentive as one would hope for when dining out. The server greeting was late, our water was often empty, and we waited around a half hour just to get our check. Normally I don't mind hanging out at a restaurant waiting for the check, but this was getting out of control. I guess I was eager to get out of the noisey room and actually have a conversation with my date. I don't think it was the server's fault for his lack of attentiveness, I think it was the restaurants fault for giving him too many tables. Half the time we were looking for our server, he was playing the tambourine in Cuban Pete's happy birthday skit.

On a good note, the food was pretty good. I got the skirt steak with pineapple served with coconut rice and yams. The skirt steak and coconut rice was delicious. The serving size was good although the skirt steak could have been a little bigger--but that's just me LOVING steak.

Stef got a chicken dish with black beans, rice, and plantains. Her chicken was good, although I liked my meal a lot better. She enjoyed her rice and beans, but seemed to really enjoy the plantains. I tried the plantains and they were good.

Cuban Pete's scores high on food, portion size, ambiance, and its price point. I think the place had good value, especially because it was BYOB. I would have enjoyed the place a lot more if the music was a bit lower OR we were seated in a less loud area. The table spacing could have given guests a little more room, but not a big deal. The decor was incredible! You felt like you were in Cuba. I've never been to Cuba, but it felt right. The servers looked and played the part. They wore authentic cuban attire including the Cuban straw hat which I thought was great.

I would probably go back....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some Hot Spots

Brooklyn Bowl
Its really remarkable how bowling alleys have evolved in the past couple years. I've always viewed bowling alleys as smokey, brightly-lit spaces that middle-aged people went for their weekly bowling leagues. Now bowling alleys, especially in New York, are nightlife hot spots for younger adults. Brooklyn Bowl is a perfect example is this transformation.

A group of us ventured over to this hip Williamsburg hang-out for my buddies birthday. We got there around 7:00 on a Friday and it was already packed. We had to pay a $5 cover just to get in as The Pimps of Joy Town performed their funky songs. We immediately put our names down to bowl, but never made it to the top of the list in the two hours we were there. We did get to check out the food, which is anything other than your typical bowling alley food as its prepared by Blue Ribbon.

I ordered a huge platter of Fried Chicken (what they are known for) and some Mac and Cheese. The chicken was so good. Beautifully battered chicken served with honey to compliment the brilliant flavoring. Crispy outside with a moist inside ...really well done. The Mac and Cheese was incredible as well. Creamy shells in a cast iron bowl with a delicious breadcrumb finish made this simple dish a masterpiece in my eyes.

The venue itself is brilliantly designed. The space itself is a huge warehouse, but they really made it work. The dance floor was HUGE! I wish the band was a little better. Next time we'll have to check it out before. The place isn't cheap but its a good time. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone trying to have a good night out in a very unique environment.

A class project on service brought two classmates and I to Danny Myer's Maialino after class had gotten out. Our project was to go to a restaurant and rank it's service based on a survey that we created. Our survey included but was not limited to greeting, attentiveness, appearance, friendliness (attitude), and knowledge. We were expecting great things as we often hear about Danny Myer and his extraordinary service. Everything started out well, but took a turn for the worst.

We arrived between breakfast and lunch which was a bummer because we had heard such great things about the food. We were offered a small list of items that we could order between service periods. I ordered the Mortadella Panini which was a nice light snack. Granted I could have ate 5 of them, but then again what could you expect for $5. I also ordered a Screwdriver to wash down the hot crusty panini. Both the screwdriver and the panini were good.

The server disappeared after we recieved our food, so we couldn't get the check. Drew, one of my classmates, went up to hostess and asked for the check--which is REALLY ANNOYING from a guest perspective. But we did consider how we were being served between periods and maybe she got distracted or replaced with another server. I don't think its a good excuse, but hey i'm not trying to be the asshole.

I'd like to go back for lunch or dinner, but its not top priority.

New York Burger Company
Greg and I ended up at the New York Burger Company one friday afternoon after walking from 90th and York where he picked up his scuba diving materials. Walking from all the way Uptown, one would think we would have found a nice spot along the way--but NO we didn't! We didn't want to eat in some dark place when it was so nice outside. I don't know if we were being too picky, but nothing jumped out at us. I then told him we could go eat at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. He never had Shake Shack, so he was pretty pumped. After walking several blocks, we finally arrived at the park where Shake Shack's line was practically wrapped around the whole park. It had to be a good 45 minute wait at best. We then walked aimlessly where we told ourselves we'd eat at the next decent spot, whether indoors or out. We saw the New York Burger Company so we stopped in.

The burger was pretty legit, but it was cooked improperly. I ate the whole thing anyway and enjoyed it, but then again I was famished. I remember the fries being really good. With New York being flooded with burger joints, I probably won't go back--but thats not because its not good.

Momofuku Milk Bar
Now this was a pretty sweet spot if you ask me, no pun intended. Momofuku Milk Bar offers guest a variety of treats to satisfy their sweet tooth. The Milk Bar doesn't offer you normal dessert as it focuses on crazy combinations and unique ideas. For example, I got the Compost Cookies which were pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. Now that's an unusual combination of flavors that actually worked really well! The compost cookies were awesome.

I also took advantage of sampling the soft serve which also had some unusual flavors such as carrot cake, cereal milk, red velvet, and cream cheese frosting. I tried the cereal milk out of pure curiosity and the red velvet because of my life of red velvet cakes. The cereal milk soft serve was not my thing, but that's just me--apparently, people LOVE it. The red velvet was good, but I don't know if I'd pay for it.

I definitely want to go back to the Milk Bar and try some of their other creative desserts. I will probably snag another compost cookie as well! See you in the winter when I could afford to put on your well-worth-it calories!

Dos Toros
Dos Toros has recieved much hype lately for their Cali-Mex cuisine. Two classmates and I ventured over to Dos Toros one day after class. We got our food to go, not because the space was small and the tables were filled; but because we wanted to eat in Union Square.

Dos Toros reminded me a lot of Chipotle, but thats not a bad thing. I got the carne asada taco and the carnitas burrito. The taco with carne asada was better than anticipated as many quick serve restaurants overcook steak. The carne asada was juicy and tender, so props to you Dos Toros. The burrito was also good. The burrito was a good size, so I only could eat half. The second half was a great treat after beer tasting class. Everything in the burrito was delicious from the tender pork to the homemade salsa. Although pretty similiar, I think I'd go to Dos Toros before Chipotle. If your craving a burrito in the Union Square area, go check it out. I'd go back if I was in the area and I wanted a taco or burrito...or corona.

Leisure Time Bowl
Stef and I have been to our share of bowling alleys across the city. Bowling is a fun thing to do, especially at some of these club-like alleys. Leisure Time in Port Authority was alright, but I definitely enjoyed some of our other spots better (Bowlmor, 300, Brooklyn Bowl). The atmosphere was pretty cool. They played good music although a bit all over the place. They went from Blink 182 to ABBA. The front desk was extremely slow in getitng us a lane and the place wasn't really busy. We had one family in front of us that took 15 minutes getting situated. Three games and shoes cost around $75 bucks--but I guess its all the same around the city. I went to the bar to get us drinks, which our cranky server didn't appreciate and gave me an attitude for. I asked the bartender to make me her specialty, which ended up costing me $15 bucks for one damn drink. The drinks we got were alright, but nothing great.

We ordered an asian snack mix that had nothing spicy in it--big disappointment! Probably won't go back to Leisure Time Bowl--there are way too many better options.

Kicked Stef's assssssss :)

City Winery
Stef and I stumbled across the City Winery one day as we decided to get off at a random subway stop and find a spot to eat. The City Winery was the first place we saw, so we ventured into the candle-lit restaurant. We sat at the bar because there was a concert going on. The music wasn't exactly something we'd want to hear, but it wasn't too bad for background music. The concept behind the City Winery is awesome though. I thought the experience could have been quite memorable if there was a band that played our kind of music. I thought the TVs at the bar displaying the concert was really neat. I did really enjoy the atmosphere though.

The service at the bar was pretty good, nothing to write home about but pretty standard. The first bartender to take our order wasn't very helpful when asking about the menu, but maybe he was just indecisive. The second bartender to come over couldn't even talk about the wine he was pouring us. I asked if the City Winery produces its own wine and he told me that he's not a wine drinker. Its OK if you're not a wine drinker, but atleast know your menu. He was very nice though, just not too knowledgeable. We did order a Pinot Noir produced by City Winery that was delicious. Stef and I discussed serving wine in smaller glasses to larger glasses. $13 might seem like a lot for a glass of wine, when you see the pour, but then you realize-its the same pour; but a different glass. I appreciate the larger wine glass.

We ordered Herbed Fingerling Frites for an appetizer, which were alright. Stef didn't like the rosemary herbaciousness of the frites, but I thought they were alright. I ordered grilled skirt steak for my main course, which was actually a small dish entree. The serving size was pretty good for a small plate option, but I could have definitely gone for a larger portion. The steak itself was marinated and grilled perfectly. Stef got the Pomegranite Glazed Petit Poulet, which was pretty tasty; but definitely too small even as a small plate option.

I'd definitely like to go back to City Winery for a good concert. The food was good and the wine was even better. Add some good music and you got a great night.

Clinton Street Baking Co
I've heard rave reviews about Clinton Street Baking Company for the past couple months whether from classmates or friends. The small restaurant has recieved a lot of media coverage including a feature on the Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

I believe all the hype is well deserved as I had a great meal there. I went with my buddy Pete on his first kind-of date with a girl he had met two weeks earlier--pretty random, I know! I could talk more about Pete's dating habbits or having brunch with complete strangers, but lets stick with the food.

The brunch line is usually out of control on Saturdays and Sundays, but we only had to wait 15 minutes or so. The restaurant is quite small with only 32 seats or so, but it gives the cozy feel which is great during brunch.

I got the buttermilk biscuit sandwich that was made with scrambled eggs, melted cheddar, and sugar cured bacon. If that wasn't amazing by itself, throw some hash browns on the side and you got one hell of a breakfast. Ok, lets break down this sandwich. The buttermilk biscuit was so good! It was light and fluffy, but not dry. The cheddar was solid, but the show-stopped had to be the sugar cured bacon. I never even heard of sugar cured bacon let alone tried it. It was incredible. I need to go back and get a plate of just bacon!

I tried Pete's French Toast which was served with carmalized bananas, roasted pecans, and a maple butter. This was definitely top three french toasts I've ever had- really well done! I also got a bite of Jamie's (Pete's random date) waffle. This was another delicious dish! I only got one bite of the golden brown waffle, but it was heavenly. It was topped with some kind of pineapple maple butter which worked really well, especially because I'm not a huge fan of pineapple.

Overall, it was a great experience. Got to meet some new friends and had one of the best breakfast meals of my life. Not only would I go back, but I can't wait to go back!

Pommes Frites
Who would have ever thought a concept just serving fries would ever work. French Fries are known as frites or pomme frites throughout many parts of Europe. I stumbled upon Pomme Frites after taking a beer tasting course and boy was I happy. What a great drunk snack, perfect for their downtown location.

These were some of the best fries I've ever had. Golden brown in color, crispy in texture, and salted perfectly, but I didn't even get to the best part yet: the dipping sauces. Pomme Frites offers over 25 dipping sauces to compliment your fries. Julie, a fellow beer taster and I opted to get the Rosemary Garlic Mayo and the Sweet Mango Chutney Mayo. I enjoyed both of the sauces, but the mango chutney was ridiculously good. We got a large order of fries and shared them at Bull McCabes as we continued our beer education with some Brooklyn Lagers (Mmmm...delicious!!!).

coming soon

coming soon