Monday, February 27, 2012
(drinks at Lani)
AOC in the West Village was our first stop on my birthday bar/restaurant crawl. After some beers and sandwiches, we headed to Lani Kai for some cocktails. After a few Queens Parks Swizzles and Mai Tais, we went to the Pegu Club for more cocktails. Being bartenders, we definitely appreciate a well crafted cocktail. Up a flight of stairs at this quiet West Houston spot is an awesome cocktail lounge that exudes a sexy and exotic vibe with its subtle asian accents. It's named for, and inspired by, a hangout for British colonial officers in Rangoon in the early 20th century. We had reservations otherwise we would have stayed longer.
(drinks at Pegu Club)
We headed east to Fourth Ave for our 8:00 reservation at Ippudo--an east village ramen favorite. Even with a reservation, our party of six had to wait in the packed bar area as tables were being turned. We didn't wait long although the crowded room made it seem longer. We were lucky enough to post up against the bar for a Sapporo while we watched the masses try to score a table. We were seated in an awesome three-sided booth that aligned the back wall. Ippudo is known for their ramen, but there were other delicious treats on the menu. The pork buns were among the best I've ever had while the baby octopus with wasabi was a nice treat. Shishito peppers were another delicious appetizer to stimulate your appetite before your ramen.The Ramen was incredible! The broth was so rich and flavorful that I barely spoke during dinner. I got the original "Tonkotsu" noodle soup topped with Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, kikurage, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil. I topped my ramen with pork belly! Now I know why they consider ramen Japan's soul food.
shuffle board are just some of the games available. So grab a beer and get the competitive juices flowing. Live jazz plays and everyone is merry.
Next, we headed to Bowlmore; but there was a 2 hour wait so we headed to Fat Cat in the West Village. Fat Cat is an awesome place to go whether with friends or on a date. Ping pong, billiards,
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
"Get steak for your birthday", said Chris, one of my coworkers, when I asked: where should I go for my birthday? I don't usually go to steakhouses--not because they're not good; but because you could have a more elaborate and exciting meal for the price. But Chris was right, you should treat yourself to a good steakhouse atleast once a year. Only Keen's isn't known for their steaks, they're known for their "legendary mutton-chop". Don't get me wrong, Keen's puts out some of the best meat in NYC; but the mutton is what separates them for the competition.
Dodging people only seemed right as I walked against the flow of traffic at rush hour. People were hustling to Penn Station to catch their train as all rules of politeness are tossed out. Keen's is on West 36th St--only a few blocks away from Penn Station. Keen's was very much like any other steakhouse I've been in: a man's club. To Keen's credit, I felt like it had a bit more character. You definitely got that old school New York vibe, especially when you looked up all the pipes that lined the ceiling. Back in the day, Keen's had a pipe club so the pipes belonged to the members before smoking was prohibited in restaurants. There was a lot of history if you took the time to check it out.
So on to the legendary mutton chop-- a 26 oz saddle of lamb that can please any carnivore's appetite even if they thought they were coming for steak. The mutton chop served at Keen's is among the best lamb that I've ever had--only probably is that its hard to get all that delicious meat. its one of those dishes you wish you were eating at home, so that you could pick it up with your hands enabling you to get the hard to reach crevices.
The t-bone was not to be overlooked as Ed and I split both. It was our birthday dinner and both of us were well pleased. A light Bordeaux paired beautifully with our meat and brought us further into food ecstasy. Get some hash browns and some asparagus to round out your meal. Overall, a great dinner. Keen's should definitely be on your radar!
Its been a few months from my last visit to Marea and I couldn't stop thinking about the octopus and bone marrow fusilli. Being my birthday week, Genesa, fellow bartender, and myself decided to treat ourselves to a three course lunch and a bottle of their cheapest Chablis. She started with the grilled octopus; which was accompanied by smoked potatoes, pickled red onions, radish, chilies, and tonnato (creamy mayo based sauce flavored with tuna). I got the trio of crudo: seppia, pacific jack mackerel, and marinated razor clams. The seppia might have been my favorite of the three, although all were very delightful. Both antipasti were delicious and got us ready to our pasta course. For pastas, Genesa got the spaghetti with crab and sea urchin while I got the fusilli. We ordered full orders of pasta, which was probably a bit ambitious; but we managed to eat all of it (thanks to G!) For secondi, G got the creekstone farms' prime sirloin with bone marrow pazanella and braised romaine while I got the scallops. Although I didn't need more food, I thought the scallop entree was a bit small. Only three scallops made it to the plate--but I guess thats normal? The scallops were cooked nicely although they might have gone a couple seconds too long. The pearl onion agrodolce combined with caperberries and parsley root was a nice touch. House made biscotti came with my espresso while house made chocolates came with the check. An expensive, but awesome lunch! Remember you need to treat yourself!
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
In a city full of flash in the pan restaurants, Freeman's has endured the finicky and spoiled NYC restaurant scene. Freeman's opened back in 2004 by William Tigertt and Taavo Somer and despite a less than great NYT review it is still jam packed. So packed that we had to wait an hour to be seated for brunch. But is the meal worth the wait? Its hard to say. I often ask myself that after waiting in the Shake Shack line.
But brunch was good! I think it was more the company than the food; but thats all that really matters. Then again, my burger was quite delicious. Cooked perfectly medium rare, this burger had great flavor --you could tell they used high quality meat. The fries that accompanied the burger were also delectable. I NEVER finish my fries, but my plate was clear after my meal. We started off with Devils on Horseback and the artichoke dip--both good, but nothing to call home about. The hot toddies seemed more citrus forward rather than spice forward; but they still were enjoyable especially after waiting for our table in the alley.
All in all, I would recommend Freeman's. Its moderately priced, so its a good place to go without breaking the bank. Also, it almost feels secretive being down the alley off the street; which adds to its excitement. We lucked out in a back room that looked like a dining room in the country. We shared a table with a couple of ladies; but pretty much felt alone. It was quiet in this room and allowed us to enjoy conversation--an essential element to every brunch. The decor was a bit stranger with ram's head and other stuffed animals on the walls; but it added to the mystery of Freemans. I'm not sure how this restaurant hasn't gotten old; but I'm glad it hasn't. Its interesting to see if Peels (its sisters restaurant) will last as long!
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Running on fumes, I packed and headed to LGA. Beers and paninos started the trip in the airport as we were about to embark on a wild weekend. After a short flight, we landed in New Orleans and hit up the town. Being a bachelor party, we spent most of the weekend visiting the fine establishments on Bourbon Street. It was the start of Mardi Gras and superbowl weekend, so the streets were packed. The variety of people on Bourbon Street was quite remarkable. You had people of every age from all over enjoying the debauchery of Bourbon Street. Most of the bars blend together on Bourbon Street, but if you want to change things up--head to Frenchman Street for more of a local scene. New Orleans is said to be one of the best cities in the United States and I couldn't agree more.
Giants taking the superbowl at Mannings.
(duck wings and gator sliders + lots of beer/whiskey)
Po' Boys @ Mothers
Seafood feast @ Deanies
Monsoon's and Burgers @ Port of Call
Hurricanes and flaming shots @Pat O'Briens
Double-Dutching with Bubba Gump Shrimp girls
Last week, My friend Jared and I spent the night on 17th Street and two awesome cocktail bars. The first, Rye House, might not be considered a cocktail bar per se, but the bartenders treat it like one. We were lucky enough to sit at the bar and watch the lady barkeep do her thang. She had great technique and could tell she knew what she was doing. Both the house cocktails and classics were well balanced and delicious. The food was OK--nothing special. The French dip sandwich fell short of expectations while the house-made jerky almost made me order two. Mac and cheese balls lacked salt and were easily forgettable. But Rye House got a lot going on that might keep you coming back. Its a bar that you could get a well crafted cocktail or a great tap beer without being in one one of those dark intimate rooms that most cocktail bars are in. You get more of a sports bar feel, which is kind of different...kind of cool. The atmosphere allows you to talk a little louder and mingling seems to be appropriate. Rye House seems to draw on a young, affluent demographic. Jared prefers the beagle, but I think Rye House is definitely easier to get to. A good spot for sure.
While on 17th Street, we hit up a more traditional cocktail bar--Raines Law Room. By traditional, I mean that Raines has the speakeasy feel to it that most cocktail bars are going for. Dimly lit caves with no windows, comfortable couches, and soft music. Raines is an awesome spot for a couple cocktails on a low-key night. Choose from their extensive cocktail list, ask for an old favorite, or allow the well-trained barkeep whip you up something new. Don't expect to see the bartender at work, because he's in the back in a prep kitchen space surrounded by a plethora of tools and glassware. Not only did I try some of their house cocktails, but I also enjoyed a delicious negroni and an awesome mint julep. Each table comes with a buzzer that signals your waitress, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ambiance and your cocktail of course. I would definitely recommend stopping by Raines especially if you enjoy other cocktail bars like PDT, Death and Co, Milk and Honey, Flatiron Lounge, Etc. The only down side is actually getting a table!
Latest trip to North End Grill proved to be a good time. They got their liquor license so I enjoyed a delicious Brooklyn Brewery Saison on tap while enjoying some oysters. It was packed with businessmen drinking beer and whiskey. North End Grill boasts an impressive list of scotches and had a Cold Draft machine which cranks out huge block cubes that are perfect for drinks worth sipping. N.E.G. has recycled some of Tablas drink menu with the ever-so popular Kachumber Kooler and Tamarind Margarita.
Chef Cardoz's kitchen seems to get better every visit, so I'm excited to see where it goes.
After North End Grill, I went to Gramercy Tavern for dinner. I sat in the tavern with Jen, a fellow Maialini. GT always provides an excellent meal with an unbeatable ambiance, superb food, and incredible service. We got the mushroom lasagna and smoked kielbasa for entrees and the roasted oysters with hot sauce and an octopus dish both off the daily specials. A nice bottle of Carema drove us through the meal until dessert when our server brought us Madeira to complement our cheese plate. The desserts were also noteworthy and delicious. I look forward to my next visit!
We ended the night at Lilly's for Megatron's farewell celebration. Solid afterwork place to drink beers and chat the night away.
Croissant sandwich took way too long, but once it arrived it was delicious. Its always kind of hard to pay over $14 for breakfast sandwich though. I guess thats what ya get outside of Emma's $2.25 bacon, egg, and cheese. The waitress seemed friendly and the place looked pretty big. I'm sure its rocking for brunch, especially in that area.
I thought it was awesome how they give you two water bottles at the beginning of your meal. One is filtered while the other one is sparkling. I'm not a huge fan of sparkling water, but a lot of people are so I thought this was a great idea!
I'd go back, because my experience was cut short due to time crunch.