Visited two of my favorite lunch spots this week. Can you name them?
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Great lunch at Lupa--Batali's Roman Osteria on Thompson Street. Some might argue that the old Lupa was better and the place has become tired; but Lupa is still a favorite spot for many New Yorkers. I went for lunch with Matt who used to work there; so they hooked us up big time. The bartender poured some bubbly and the food followed.
Sweetbreads with shishito peppers
Beets and pistacios
Marinated mushrooms and farro
Ricotta gnocchi with sausage and fennel
Bucatini all' Amatriciana
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
My favorite local sushi spot, Suteishi, was destroyed by Sandy and still remains closed, which leaves me in a sushi crisis. Suteishi fell in the category of great sushi at a great value. Sure, it wasn't cheap; but its not gonna force you to sell your unborn children. The higher end sushi spots of NYC put out some of the best raw fish I've ever eaten; but they're not your everyday sushi spots and thats what concerns me. There's a lack of sushi spots like Suteishi that fill the void of value driven sushi. Maybe I'm a snob considering I stay away from low end sushi spots that have the quality of the rolls you find at your local Duane Reade. If I could afford places like 15 East and Sushi of Gari then I wouldn't be on this rant; but there's noway I could spend 100+ every time I crave sushi. Do you know any good value sushi spots that should be on my radar?
So the other night I was suppose to meet my buddy at Kanoyama in the East Village. Kanoyama has been a sushi spot that has gotten much praise for its fish quality while staying value driven. My friend bailed, so I was left hungry and confused. Where should I go? Should I stay my course and hike it up to the East Village or is there something walkable? After racking my brain, I couldn't think of any sushi in the Financial District, so I immediately thought Tribeca. Brushstroke seemed like too big of a splurge and Sushi Azabu seemed a bit too far considering It was snowing. I then thought Sushi of Gari which is always raved about by sushi connoisseurs. The tribeca location was their most recent addition to their UES and UWS locations. I looked up the menu and it didn't seem "too expensive"; but thats before I sat at the sushi bar upstairs.
Downstairs, the room definitely needed some remodeling. Carpet floors, cramped, and overlit are the first words that come to mind in describing the room. The maitre d' assumed I ordered "to go" and seemed really surprised when I wanted a seat for one. He then told me to wait while he helped an older couple that seemed more fit to dine at such an expensive restaurant. Upstairs, there was a 11-seat sushi counter that was more my speed--super simply fixtures and soft music. Sitting at the sushi counter is great because you get to talk to the chef and watch him at work. Unfortunately, I didn't get to do much talking because my chef was too involved with the Japanese couple next to me. But sitting at the counter, you almost feel obligated to get the omakase. So when asked, I agreed and my wallet trembled in fear. At Sushi of Gari, there's no set price on the omakase so the chef starts cooking for you and you tell them when you are done. Unfortunately for me, my dialogue with the chef was nonexistent and therefore he was just preparing whatever he thought was right. I do love when chefs take control of the experience; however, I would have like to incorporate some rolls into my experience so I wouldn't leave hungry. And I did leave hungry!
Everything I ate was delicious from blue fin toro to salmon roe; but its just way out of my league. If you ever go to a place like Sushi of Gari, make sure you keep a tab of what you're eating because your bill will certainly surprise you at the end. Seven single pieces of sushi could run you $120, so set a budget with your chef or server. If you don't have a budget, you will love Sushi of Gari. A great place for celebrity sighting (I'm still trying to figure out the guy sitting next to me) and great sushi; but not a place where value hits home.
Probably won't go back unless I hit the lottery!
Met up with some of the guys at The Fat Radish on Orchard Street for some food and drinks. This is my buddy Tim's favorite local hangout and I could see why. Comfortable in both atmosphere and price. Solid food that probably won't blow your mind; but will fully satisfy you. After The Fat Radish, we went to 169 Bar which is Blake's favorite bar in the city. Described as a tiki bar meets a Western saloon--its a solid spot for cheap beers and whiskey.