Negronis at MomofukuSsam Bar hit the spot after a hard nights work. The classic italian cocktail was made right with all equal proportions of sweet vermouth, campari, and gin while being stirred and strained over a large ice cube. You'd be surprised, but some classic cocktails including the negroni, martini, and manhattan are ruined by bartenders who don't know or just don't care. Its good to have a good cocktail even if it cost a little more. Another night after work I ended up at a bar on the corner of 14th and 7th. I thought the name was Tommy's, but I could be wrong. This bar was a shot/beer kind of place which was exactly what we were looking for. Friendly service, clean beer lines, and darts kept us there a little later than I planned; but thatsok.
Sushi Samba blew up when Sex and the City was big; but the chain-like sushi joint has passed its prime. Granted I had lunch there around 4:00; but the place was a ghost town. I couldn't even find my server to fill up my water or bring me my check. The sushi combo ($26) was alright; but alright doesn't make loyal guests. At the very least, they didn't even describe the fish in the combo labeled on the menu as chef's choice. I never had high expectations of this Latin-Japanese fusion spot, but I wanted to like it due to its proximity to work. But unfortunately Sushi Samba did not give me a reason to come back.
I would go back to OsteriniMorini, Michael White's Soho hotspot. Michael White has gained a great reputation over the last couple years after great success at Marea, Corvivio, Alto, and AiFiori. I believe Michael White is now only involved in OsteriaMorini, Marea, and AiFiori as well as two NJ restaurants. But we're glad he hasn't spread himself too thin because that's a curse of over-expansion that many chefs/restauranteurs endure. Our dinner at OsteriaMorini proved that Michael White has trained his staff well even if he's not running the kitchen.
I was happy to see the bartenders at OsteriaMorini were not only friendly, but knowledgeable on their craft. Our server continued the trend of knowledge and hospitality as we had a corner table overlooking the whole restaurant. People flocked in and the space became bustling. We started with a bottle of Lambrusca which only felt right as the osteria featured food and drink from Emilia-Romagna. Our first course seemed to hit the table in no time; but then again we probably got caught up in conversation. The ricotta gnocci was tossed in a pomodoro sauce with some speck and basil. The pillow-like gnocci was full of flavor and had a nice smokey-porky flavor from the speck.The garganelli was house-made penne pasta tossed with truffle butter, cream, prosciutto, and peas. This pasta was very tastey and provided a good sauce to dunk your bread in afterwords. Three crostinis also graced the table--two artichoke and one duck liver. Both were tastey although Dan thought the duck had a cat food texture. We were also sent out meatballs compliments of the kitchen. The meatballs were really good especially when placed on the toasted bread that accompanied them. After our pastas and sparkling wine, we moved on to a bottle of Sangiovese that Dan picked out. The wine might not have been Sue's favorite, but I thought it was good and paired well with my meat dish. My entree was a mixed grill of lamb, skirt steak, pork, and fennel sausage. This was a great way to try the different meats which OsteriaMorini grills or split roasts. The combination of meat was simply seasoned and delicious. Dan got the branzino while Sue got the short rib which was the special of the evening. Both those dishes were solid dishes that reaffirms the talent in the kitchen. For dessert, we got the GiandujaBudino which is a chocolate-hazelnut custard, caffecrema, and cherry lambruscosorbetto. This dessert was awesome. I usually pass on dessert because I'm never really intrigued enough; but this budino did the trick. We kept with Italian tradition and had a flight of amaro with dessert. We had nonino, luxardoalbano, and fernetbranca which is a good spectrum of the italiandigestif. Our server gave us a pretty good descriptions of the amari while pouring them table-side. Three hours laters, it was time for an espresso and the check.
We then went across the street to La Esquina on the corner of Kenmare and Cleveland. La Esquina might just look like a taqueria, but a whole different world exists once you get past the girl with the clipboard. If she deems you OK to enter, you will enter a door labeled "Employees Only", head down the stairs, and zig-zag through the kitchen to a dimly lit space that looks like a mexican speakeasy. The place looks old and decayed, but I'm pretty sure thats a look that was designed rather than acquired through age. I don't know if La Esquina is as hip as it use to be; but its definitely still a scene. After our meal at OsteriaMorini, we just wanted a drink so we sat in a cove-like indent and sipped our variations on the margarita. I didn't love the drinks, especially for the price; but the scene was cool and the company was cooler so all was good. Next time I will drink tequila on the rocks instead of an over-sweet margarita. I definitely want to try the food, i hear its bomb.
After drinks at La Esquina, we decided part ways. Dan and Sue went back to their Hoboken pad while I headed uptown to 23rd Street for a farewell party. One of my managers left, so he had a going-away party at The Globe between Lexington and 3rd. I've been here a few times and it proved to be a good time. There wasn't any dancing; but there was tons of drinking. Just when I thought the night was ended, a couple of us went over to KumgangSan, a 24-hour restaurant in K-town. We ordered way to much food for 4am; but everything was pretty good. K-Town got a bunch of late night spots if your ever craving Korean food at early-morning hours.