Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fidi Food

Part restaurant, part Italian grocery: Barbarini is a hidden gem on the cobblestone streets of Front St right outside the Seaport. There are actually a couple solid restaurants there on Front St that often get overlooked. They are quaint, cozy spaces with decent food. Maybe not destination restaurants, but perfect for the local (although Suteishi might be a destination sushi spot!). Barbarini is no different-- with a warm, inviting ambiance and solid food. Barbarini is a great spot for a snack whether its a sandwich or some salumi and wine. Today I had Bresaolo with shaved Parm and arugula that was pretty tastey. I also had the chicken sandwich with walnuts, apples, and a house-made mayo. The sandwiches were good; but they weren't too filling. I split 2 sandwiches with my roommate and we were both still plenty hungry afterwards. The market or grocery part of the store was awesome. Cheese and salumi were only some of the options. Definitely a good spot that I will go back to.

I also stopped by Financier for a nut cornetto and a cappuccino-- a perfect mid-morning snack. This pastisserie started on Stone Street and grew to a few locations throughout the city. They have atleast three locations in a stone's throw of my apartment. The financier was named for its Wall Street clientele. The Financier has some good coffee, which they roast daily in their BK factory. Solid spot when its not crazy busy.

West Village Eats

Thursday night, I went out to dinner with Souch and Jackie to Recette in the West Village. I've heard both good and bad things about Recette so I was looking forward to experiencing it for myself. Some reviews hated on Recette for small portions while NYMAG praised Recette in an article "Tasting Menus that Taste Good". Inspired by that article, I talked Jackie and Souch into getting the 7-course tasting menu. Talking them into it wasn't very hard as they get just as excited for good food. Unfortunately, I don't have a detailed account of every dish; but here are some of the dishes we tried.

We asked the kitchen to try to send out all different dishes, because we all tried each other. All courses were different for the most part; except the amuse bouche and the last course. I thought the food was awesome. Some of the flavor combinations were odd (to me), but somehow worked. The vibe was cool, but what else could you expect from the West Village. A mixed crowd made up the cozy dining room. The place got pretty loud--so loud that it was hard to hear the descriptions of the dishes as they were brought out. Our waitress seemed frazzled and didn't really spend much time at our tables. Once she got our order (Tap water, 3 tasting menus, and a bottle of Cote de Rhone) she didn't really come back besides to put clean silverware after we had finished a course. One of the managers seem to take charge of our table and that was just fine with us. The manager lady seemed more relaxed and did an excellent job in describing the dishes. She raised her voice and gave thorough descriptions so it was always nice when she brought out the plates.

So some of the plates we had...

MARINATED ARCTIC CHAR, Oyster, Crunchy Salad, Bonito Broth, Bottarga ... 14
BEEF CARPACCIO, Burrata, Tomato Jam, Porcini Purée, Basil, Watercress ... 15
"ONION SOUP", Onion Espuma, Oxtail, Gruyere, Consommé ... 15
LOBSTER TORCHON, Marinated Wild Mushrooms, Olive Purée, Micro Celery ... 18
ROASTED FOIE GRAS, Peppercorn Biscuit, Chicken Skin, Spiced Honey ... 21
GRILLED PULPO, Black Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon, Fennel ... 20
FALL SQUASH RAVIOLO, Sepia, Guanciale, Squid Ink, Ocean Broth ... 19
FRESH CUT SPAGHETTI, Sweet Shrimp, Stewed Tomato, Chili, Sea Urchin ... 24
ROASTED FLUKE, Shellfish "Congee", Leeks, Sauce Bouillabaisse ... 24
WILD STRIPED BASS, Salsify, Black Truffle Barley Cake, Kale, Almond Cream ... 25
ORZO, Sunchoke Purée, Forest Mushroom, Parmesan, Black Winter Truffle ... 41
CRISPY SWEETBREAD, Escarole, Brown Butter, Lemon, Capers, Parsley ... 19
DUCK BREAST, Foie Gras & Duck Leg Terrine, Swiss Chard, Mushroom,Walnuts ... 24
BERKSHIRE PORK BELLY, Rock Shrimp, Turnips, Romesco, Sherry Caramel ... 18
SOUS VIDE VENISON LOIN, Ragu, Sweet Potato Purée, Chicharon,
Huckleberry Sauce ... 32

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Worst Meal Ever"

I don't know if it qualifies at the worst meal ever; but it was pretty bad. My roommate Greg and I decided to grab some sushi at a local sushi spot; but it turned out to be pretty brutal. I usually go to Suteishi, but we took the cheap way out. Suteishi is a bit pricey; but totally worth it. You get great quality fish and good service. At Sushi a la Kawa the food and service both suck. We sat down and waited a good 5 minutes before we asked for water. The waitress then took our order before getting the water. After the water finally arrived we downed it not knowing we wouldn't be getting refills. They also forgot our appetizer, which was probably a good thing in retrospect. When the sushi arrived we were hardly impressed. Greg said he was close to walking out, one of the worst meals he ever had. The food wasn't good and made us sick just thinking about it. "I would throw it up, but I don't want to see it again", said Greg.

That will be my last visit there...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

North End Grill

North End Grill, Danny Meyer's newest restaurant has finally opened to complete Battery Park City's trifecta (Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, and North End Grill). The space itself is awesome and I have a feeling its gonna kill it. With Shake Shack already bringing in tons of business, Blue Smoke and North End Grill will be great for the area. Being that the kitchen and front of house are still finding there stride, I will just post some pictures. I will say that I had some good food there and the service is shaping up to be nothing less than expected from Meyer. Chef Floyd Cardoz takes the reigns in the kitchen, which is the centerpiece of the restaurant. The beautiful open kitchen is on display and adds to the spaces "wow factor". I'm sure N.E.G. will be a destination spot--not just for the bankers in the area; but for people everywhere. Chef Cardoz is still reveling in his Top Chef Masters title and will be looking to put out food that tops Tablas. I look forward to seeing N.E.G. grow and become one of NYC's great restaurants. They don't have their liquor license yet but its coming soon! They have an eclectic wine list and a very impressive scotch program.

Kortaco hits while CNL misses

Kortaco, a Korean Taco place near my apartment was a hit. My roommates have ordered a few times since we tried it 2 weeks ago.

Cabana Nuevo Latino in the South Street Seaport was a miss with a sorry selection of booze and a bartender who didn't know how to mix em. Maybe thats a little harsh considering people probably only drink margaritas here. Maybe I should go back for a burrito and margarita. I just get mad when you order something on the rocks and they give you this little ass shot glass with awful ice. Atleast get proper glassware and learn how to make a manhattan. KEither way, I got to hang with my buddy Dan and see an arm wrestling match!

Fette Sau

(Coming soon!)

Sports Bar Nation

Among the construction on Fulton Street, there's a new bar called The Fulton and its a great addition to the neighborhood. With only a couple trips to The Fulton, it might be the best bar in the area. It doesn't have much competition with bars such as Liams or Lemongrass (R.I.P.) but its definitely a solid bar. The space itself is kind of swanky for a sports bar. Not out of place; but just a bit nicer than the usual dives. Dark fixtures and hot bartenders add to the sexy sports bar vibe. The Fulton has plenty of TVs and a great selection of booze--both spirits and beer. Sorry Ulysses, I think we found a new watering hole.

Staying on the subject of sports bars, Bounce of 21st St is a great sports bar. This is Bounce's second location: the first is on the UES. Bounce is not only great for watching the games, but the atmosphere is pretty cool. Good music will get you dancing on the banquettes and the crowd could get pretty rowdy. So when you graduate from Brother Jimmys, stop here.

Happy Endings

Good End to 2011
I started the day with Adam and Souch at Peels on Bowery. Taavo Domer and William Tigertt are the masterminds behind Peels and Freeman's--another popular LES restaurant. Adam suggested Peels after talking up the food, so Souch and I agreed to check it out. The wait was a 45 minutes, but that seemed short compared to what we had heard (2 hour wait for brunch!). There's nowhere really to stand inside, so guest that are waiting for a table are encouraged to grab a coffee and wait outside. Peels serves Stumpton-- the coffee provider of a lot of hip spots around NYC. The wait seemed short--maybe thats because the people watching is so good. Hipsters and models were only two kinds of people that you might find at Peels. Good food has no demographic --it attracts all and thats why there's such an array of people that flock to Peels. I haven't heard anything GREAT about Peel's lunch or dinner; but people rave about the brunch.

Peel's serves Southern style cuisine, so I was pumped. Fried chicken, biscuits, and shrimp and grits are some of my favorite things--especially when a little hungover. We sat upstairs at a communal table that resembled an old farm table. This tables make up most of the floor plan with the exception of a couple of booths. The place was bustling as servers ran around frantically. While we waited, I paid close attention to the dishes that flashed before my eyes; so I can see what looked good. The menu had a bunch of great options, but I'm a sucker for "build your own biscuit". I bypassed building my biscuit with eggs and went for the fried chicken. The combination of the buttermilk biscuit and fried chicken was only amplified with pepper jack cheese and bacon. The biscuit was hard to get your mouth around, but once you did --you closed your eyes in pure pleasure. The fried chicken was perfectly crunchy and packed a nice background heat that was more spicy that the pepper jack. It was really an incredible sandwich that I would get again. In fact, I've been thinking of when the next time I can go for brunch--too bad I work on weekends. I also ordered the grits which were beautifully cooked with jalapenos. Again, Peels does a nice job in giving you flavor and spice. Being that it was the last day of 2011, we decided to get some drinks with our meal. The Bond St Swizzle is a great brunch cocktail that will get you ready for the day to come. A combination of gin, orgeat, mint, lime, and an absinthe float provided that zing that made me believe getting a drink was a good idea! Adam and Souch went with the Cold Toddy-- a delicious combination of whiskey and spices.

The service wasn't great; but I'd still go back so it couldn't of been that bad. I felt our server seemed bothered by a simple question regarding her favorite dishes; when it was a perfect time to up-sell. I wanted to get a few things for the table to share; but she didn't have an answer for me; so we just ordered and moved on. It turned out that it was a good idea we didn't get more food because we all left stuffed. At first glimpse, my biscuit sandwich looked small; but turned out being quite filling.

After Peels, we hit up a couple of stores and ended up at Gramercy Tavern. We managed to get a nice spot at the corner of the bar. We started off with some nice cold draught beer than moved on to Manhattans. We had a bit of a Manhattan tasting as our barkeep mixed three Manhattans three different ways--one with bourbon, one with rye, and a perfect Manhattan which has both sweet and dry vermouth. Somehow it turned out that we all agreed on which one we liked better--all different. After meeting a nice local Jillian and grabbing some oysters, we headed out to begin the festivities that are New Years Eve.

(bond st swizzle @ Peels)

A great way to end the year!

Peels baked goods