Monday, March 19, 2012

Birthday Week #2

Corner Bistro
If you consider yourself a burger connoisseur than you MUST check out Corner Bistro in the West Village. Coined as the "last bohemian bar in West Greenwich Village", Corner Bistro should be on every New Yorker's radar. You get the old New York vibe from the scenery to the service. An old man rocking a mets cap served the whole place. Unless you were ready to order, he didn't have time to chat or answer questions. The menu is on the wall, but most guests don't need it. The Bistro Burger is their signature burger with bacon and cheese; but they also have a Chili Burger if you're feeling spicy. They also have a chicken sandwich or BLT if you're not feeling like a burger. But you should get a burger, its delicious and pretty cheap. Granted you could probably order two, but one 8oz burger proved to be a great afternoon snack. Wash it down with a McSorly's ale to keep with tradition and you will be one happy camper. An afternoon is the perfect time to go if you want to avoid the long lines that keep Corner Bistro bustling with business.

It's hard to judge Crispo, because I didn't get to enjoy their menu as I wanted. It was a Friday in lent and for some reason, I felt guilty about eating meat. I went with Colette and we both laughed at the idea of adhering to this Catholic tradition when neither of us have been inside a church in months, maybe years? We looked over the menu, a rather large collection of Northern Italian trattoria fare. Sometimes I get nervous of a large menu, because I wonder how a restaurant could keep everything fresh. But Frank Crispo, chef/owner of Crispo does a brilliant job in creating dishes that reuse ingredients. Besides the same ingredients being used throughout the menu, Crispo is always busy from what I hear.

Crispo opened in 2002 on 14th Street in Chelsea and has gained quite a reputation. The 150 seat restaurant is dimly lit and cozy. The food was good, but the company was even better. Our attempt to abstain from meat was successful! We enjoyed fresh mozzarella/peppers and fried calamari/zucchini for appetizers while I got the branzino for an entree. Crispo is a classic example of trattoria fare done right. Nothing here will blow your mind creativity wise, but the flavors are all good--familiar flavors. Then again, Crispo was recommended to me by my sister and G-mart--two of the harshest restaurant critics I know. So maybe I need to give Crispo another go -around.

I always wanted to visit one of Tom Colicchio's restaurants after seeing him serve as the main food authority on Bravo's Top Chef. Although I wanted to go to Colicchio and Sons, I found myself with Kayte and Schopp in the Flatiron area; so we stopped by Craftbar to grab dinner.

We sat at a communal table in the bar area and started with a nice bottle of Malbec, a crowd pleaser. The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, salumi, cheese, large plates, and sides. The menu is pretty exciting--you see things that might seem unusual--like guinea hen mortadella and beef tongue wagyu--two things that we got to try. The homemade salumi was delicious and paired well with the Pecorino Fonduta--a bowl of pecorino cheese, pine nuts, honey,and pepperoncini with crostini for dipping. For main course, Kayte got the spaghetti and veal ricotta meatballs which showed the kitchens skill in Italian cooking. Schopp got the pork chop and I got the pancetta wrapped guinea hen--both solid dishes. The food itself was good, but easily forgettable. Service was decent, pushing toward good rather than bad. Our server seemed a bit rattled by the busyness of a Friday night, but she stayed afloat.

My meal at Craftbar was solely memorable because of my company. The food was good, but the prices didn't align. I don't mind spending money on a good dinner, but this place might have been a bit expensive for what we experienced. Maybe Colicchio and Sons or Craft might be better value restaurants--I guess we shall see.

Pok Pok
Wings were OK! Flavor was good, but the quality of chicken was offputting. Greg and courtney disagreed. Small place on Rivington could get stuffy, so it might be better to take these treats elsewhere. Also, wasn't crazy about the water that was served from a sketchy water jug. It tasted like they added some herbs to the water--not really sure. They had a delicious limeade to wash down your order of Andy Ricker's famous Ike's Wings. Ricker's, a Portland based chef, became famous in Oregon for these wings before bringing them to NYC. The wings are meaty and the Vietnamese fish sauce will have you licking your fingers clean. But for some reason, there was a flavor that made me think the wings were freezer burnt or something? I couldn't put my finger on it, but something was taking away from these wings that had so much potential.

Another interesting thing about Pok Pok was their drinking vinegars. We didn't try them, but they definitely stood out, especially because that's all they offered besides their weird water and tastey limeade. I think I may have to try Pok Pok again.

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