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  1. Having heard of Prune through its chef's popular cookbook ("Blood, Bones and Butter"), I hadn't tried it before coming here on a cold, rainy Sunday for brunch this weekend. Brunch is a hard time to judge a restaurant - I'm sure the staff would rather be elsewhere and often many of the customers would rather be at home in their beds (particularly with the aforementioned weather), but the 30 minute wait outside suggested that enough people thought this was worthwhile. Sitting at the bar, the bartender was amiable and efficient and could make an excellent Southwestern Bloody Mary ($12) - one of 8ish bloody mary options on their beverage menu. Its always odd to see bars in New York line up customer orders for a half hour, just waiting to deliver our needed libations at 12:01pm due to an antiquated blue law. I ordered what was the finest Huevos Rancheros I've yet eaten - two eggs baked into the tomato/chili sauce with a light topping of white cheese, served with black beans and a little avocado ($15). +1 received what appeared to be a technically perfect omelet with cheese and bacon, though it seemed to lack a certain penache, and the +2 ordered an omelet with fried orders that looked, and I was told was, delicious. The Monte Cristo's coming out of the kitchen made me wish I'd had my cardiologist on call so I could have ordered one... All in all, a very pleasant meal that made me want to return for dinner. One note - this place is small. Small to the extent that I found my 6'3" frame grew to be uncomfortable relatively quickly. Maybe this helps turn the tables at a popular spot faster, but definitely not a location I wanted to linger after brunch. (We paid in cash as our local +2 suggested they may not take credit cards - probably worth confirming if you're planning a visit...)
  2. I had lunch solo at the bar recently at Gotham Bar and Grill. I enjoyed the food, but more than that, I was incredibly impressed by the service. What sticks in my mind is that the bartender was just so nice, yet formal, in the manner in which he checked in during the meal and asked the usual routine questions. The service was also excellent otherwise. For example, someone served me a roll promptly, and once I finished it, the bartender asked if I'd like another piece. None of my usual craning to try to locate and accost the bread server. My food was delicious. I started with the yellowfin tuna tartar (menu description: Japanese cucumber, shiso leaf and sweet miso asian ginger vinaigrette). The mound of tuna included chopped scallion mixed in and was speared with 3 pieces of toasted bread. I had the miso marinated black cod for my main dish (menu description: bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and sticky rice, soy lemongrass ginger sauce). The dish had 2 pieces of black cod, and the rice was seasoned. The bar had boards bridging the gap between the bar and the railing to make it easier to dine (see picture).
  3. Tried Amor y Amargo last night (Friday). Yes, it's very small, and I'm glad I was there early when it wasn't crowded. It's a narrow space with only about 6, 7? (not sure exactly how many) seats at the bar plus standing room. I got there soon after it opened at 5pm, and I thought I was too early, but by 5:20pm, the bar seats were all taken and a couple of people were standing. I enjoyed the Diamonds and Guns (going by the menu online: Atsby Armadillo Cake vermouth, chartreuse, genever, white rum, celery bitters). Boozy but balanced so you weren't overwhelmed. Based on the menu, the cocktails seem to be pretty strong in alcohol so I only had one cocktail (pacing myself because I was going to Booker and Dax and Pouring Ribbons next
  4. On a trip to NYC with my family that was filled with great eats at casual restaurants, the duck lunch at the Ssam Bar was the clear winner. The rotissiere duck over rice with chive pancake, the duck wings, the duck duck noodles, and of course the obligatory steamed pork buns were all amazing.
  5. When planning our recent NYC jaunt, we remembered reading that the Hong Kong dim sum mini chain, Tim Ho Wan, recently opened a NYC outpost. We'd been to Hong Kong last fall and went twice to one of their outposts there and fell in love with it. So, knowing all of this, we HAD TO GO if we were going to NYC. We tried to get there the first morning we were there. They open at 10AM and we got there at 10:15 and discovered that there was a one to two hour wait. We gave up (trying to get to the nearby Artichoke Basille's Pizza, but there had been a fire there just the night before - there were a bunch of firefighters there getting instructions from the fire marshal to help figure out the source - so sad, we love that place). Rebuffed, we ended up going straight to Die Neue Gallerie and had a wonderful lunch at their Germanic restaurant on site (but that is another post!). So the NEXT day, we got smart and got to Tim Ho Wan by 9:25. We were 9th and 10th in line. Yes, yes, I HATE to wait. But they open at 10:00 and we both really, really wanted to go here so the 35 minute wait was what we had to suffer through to get our fix. Be forewarned, if you want to get in the first seating of the day, you'll probably have to get there early or suffer much longer waits later in the day. We ate our way through the menu, but we ordered two of the baked BBQ pork buns. These are SO MUCH BETTER than steaming them. The NYC version was quite, quite good, though not quiiiiiiite as amazing as those in Hong Kong. Their Deep fried eggplant with shrimp were fine, but I would not bother ordering them again. I wanted the eggplant to have far more crispiness. Their various dumplings are all worth consideration and trying out - we tried many and they were wonderful. I really enjoyed their steamed rice rolls - difficult to eat but very, very good. Their steamed rice with minced beef and pan fried egg was EXCEPTIONAL. The congee, which Hong Kong made me a fan of, with preserved egg was kind of flat. They did not have adequate toppings to doctor up your congee like I expected. I'd certainly go back here. If you can go with a group, you get to try more. And remember, this is the order off the menu on to little sheets of paper place, not the rolling trolley kind of dim some place. It's some seriously good dim sum. Photos
  6. Ko next weekend. Is it worthwhile? Had a disappointing experience at Ssam Bar recently but I've long targeted Ko for a try and it just didn't work until now. Has anyone been recently? Did it crest too long ago? Thank you!
  7. I just got back from a quick weekend to New York. The whole trip was animated by absurd amounts of hype--mainly because I reread my dogeared Goethe and decided that sometimes you just gotta pull a Faust and make a bargain. At least that's how I explain how I procured those Hamilton tickets for Saturday night. I was afraid the hype would sully the experience, like poor Japanese tourists with Paris Syndrome. But it didn't! So the next day rolls around and I decide to keep the hype train going. Superiority Burger in the East Village has been getting a lot of buzz, especially with the James Beard nomination and glowing reviews from the Times and the New Yorker. It's a fast food joint, but less like one done by Danny Meyer and more like one done by Ian MacKaye and John Belushi's Olympia diner guy. Everything is vegetarian or vegan but not in a crunchy Moosewood sort of way. They've got a burger, a wrap, sloppy joes, and various side salads. The burger is the best veggie burger I've ever had--that first bite took me back to sitting outside LAX, jet fumes in the air, tearing into an In-N-Out burger. It had that balance between patty, cheese, sauce, and toppings. It used its iceberg lettuce not as a throwaway, but as an integral textural component. It was incredible. The wrap was also insanely good--it's everything you expect from a vegan wrap, but, you know, actually delicious. I sadly didn't get a chance to try the sloppy joe. The two sides I tried (burnt broccoli salad and crispy potatoes) were both more complex and nuanced than they had any right to be. They could be at home at a Jose Andres restaurant. I suspect most of the sides are equally amazing. The burger, wrap, and two sides ran about $25. Like Hamilton, Superiority Burger lives up to the hype. And thank goodness because it's about the only place I can afford after getting those tickets.
  8. We got in very early tonight (right at opening)...far from a gastropub, in the true sense of the word, but it was pretty impressive... Start with these "pigs in a blanket"... Move on to the "pub cheese," which tasted sorta like a really excellent version of cracker barrel... Not to be missed tonight, the Caesar Nigiri... Topped with some of the freshest mackerel I've tasted in a long time. I didn't love the merguez stuffed kumquats (at least not as much as one of my dining companions)... But I did love the Chicken Liver Toast (with extremely crispy chicken skin)... The much lauded Rye Pasta... Was really great. As was this foie dish (don't let your eyes deceive you)... Desserts - foregone...we'd had too much to drink. So we walked on. For those who think they'll "be hungry" after dinner - not to worry. I stopped at Il Laboratorio on the way home. It was the perfect dessert.
  9. So far, we have a Bakeries, Cupcakes, and Doughnuts thread, but no love for remaining types of goodies. So, here is one, because I thought others could share their finds, given the wide girth of options available in New York City. This past weekend's find was OddFellows Ice Cream, originating in Williamsburg, with an outpost (tiny) in East Village. I determinedly visited here after seeing Chef Johnny Iuzzini's tweets with photos about this place. I like that it uses local dairy to make its ice cream, as well as that it donates $0.05 per purchase to a food bank. The Village outpost is kind of a fun teeny place, with its uniform throwbacks and wholesome flavors, offering typical and unusual flavors, along with shakes, sundaes, splits, and such. When little man and I visited yesterday, his order of mint chocolate and my thai ice both hit the spot. I like how the ice creams weren't super sweet, and it was nice his wasn't so minty like some can be. The unusual flavor yesterday was Ants on a log, where the customer before us proclaimed, "there is such a succinct celery taste to it!"
  10. Bar Primi is Andrew Carmellini and friends' new "hot spot" (per eater, it's a hot spot, but how it can be a hot spot before it even opened I'll never know) on Bowery. Bowery is the place to open new restaurants, evidently. Walk-ins - they'll take ressies for 6 - how refreshing! Anyway, snark aside, a friend and I walked in the other night and grabbed 2 seats at the bar. Nicely made Negronis and Martinis were had. 2 apps - baked clams (4 for $12!) were just okay, but the stuffed meatballs were delicious. 2 pastas - it's a pasta place after all - were great. AC has always been good at pasta. Should be a major shitshow. Or, as eater likes to call it, a hot spot.
  11. I finally had the opportunity to have lunch at Ippudo last weekend while I was in the city. As expected, the place was packed and luckily I could get right in since I was dining alone on this particular occasion. I was seated at a communal table and ordered their Hirata Pork Buns and the Akamaru Modern ramen. The buns were on the thicker side and had that nice fluffy gooey consistency that reminded me of the siaopao I used to eat as a little kid. The pork had that rich fatty flavor that you would expect but I was thrown off a bit by the lettuce in the buns. I don't know if I've ever had lettuce in buns and it was just a foreign taste to me when associated with these. I added a soft boiled egg and some pork belly to the ramen. The egg was a good choice and provided some extra richness. The pork belly was surprisingly flavorless and didn't have a ton of fat. The pork chashu that came with the ramen, however, more than made up for it as it seemed to have ample time to soak up the broth. The noodles were tasty enough but I think I prefer them to be a touch on the thicker side. The broth had a great depth of flavor and, at least to me, tasted a bit lighter than the ramen I've had in the past since I think they used considerably less pork fat in this broth. I'm glad that I finally got to try out Ippudo since it had been recommended to me by one of the owners of Sakuramen way back when they opened. I don't know if I prefer it over Momofuku Noodle Bar but I'm glad to know that it's out there in case I want another option.
  12. My last post of this morning--I felt I had to share of this special little place before I forget about its details. I cannot remember how I came upon reading about Sakaya, a mom-n-pop-owned store by Rick Smith and his wife, Hiroko Furukawa, but I knew it had to be on my visit list before I left Sunday evening. A super quaint little shop in East Village, its decor and organization are remarkably Japanese in its Zen-like serenity. I could have probably spent an entire afternoon in here, looking at the different bottle sizes, options, price-point, and descriptions. Ever so patient, Hiroko-san asked questions much like a skilled-sommelier with a first-time wine novice: dry vs. sweet, clean vs. fruity, et al. It was a very non-intimidating exchange for this unskilled, novice sake-drinker. I came away with something within my price point (under $15) without feeling like I got a "two-buck chuck." If you are interested in learning more about sake, or already are an expert, I would recommend visiting. They also offer online ordering, although, of course, selection will be restricted on your delivery location and state laws. 324 East 9th Street New York, NY 10003 212.505.7253 (SAKE)
  13. From today's NY Times--- for all of you debating how many restaurants David Chang has...... MOMOFUKU David Chang’s expanded noodle bar opens today with 53 seats, including five tables. The kitchen is “so enormous we’re all giddy,” he said. The menu is pretty much the same as in the original, which is being turned into a small restaurant for prix fixe dinners: 171 First Avenue (11th Street), (212) 777-7773.
  14. Empire Biscuit is located at 198 Avenue A (between 12th and 13th St) and opened relatively recently. I went there last night and had a biscuit with sausage gravy and a spiced fried chicken biscuit (with pickled carrots and sauce a l'orange). To my surprise, the sausage and gravy biscuit was served as a sandwich. A sliced biscuit with ground sausage and gravy in between and inserted in a paper pocket. The biscuit was fine with a crunchy bottom. I prefer my biscuits and gravy to be served on a plate with enough gravy to soak the biscuit, which wasn't the case here. Besides that, no complaints about the sausage gravy, but the sausage gravy wasn't exceptional either. The spiced fried chicken biscuit was also served in a paper pocket. I didn't find the spiced fried chicken to be "spiced," and I thought both the breading and the chicken really needed salt. The pickled carrots and orange sauce didn't add enough flavor to offset the blandness of the chicken. They seem to be pretty popular.
  15. I have to say we were a little underwhelmed by Baohaus. This spot came to our attention when they did a “pop-up” collaboration last fall with Toki Underground in DC, and we really enjoyed their bao there. On this New York trip we were arriving late on Friday night, and were looking for someplace where we could get a little snack, that wasn’t too expensive, and that was open quite late. In all three categories Baohaus delivered. It just wasn’t that great. Not sure if this is helpful at all. I wouldn’t advise you not to go, but I kind of doubt I’ll be back if that makes sense. If I lived in that neighborhood I’d probably pop in every now and then when I wanted bao, particularly to go, and didn’t want to wait in long lines for something from Momofuku. But when I'm in New York from out of town I think there are too many other good places in the East Village alone for me to stop in again.
  16. Florence Fabricant of the New York Times reports on the new Han Dynasty at 90 Third Ave. "A First Look at Han Dynasty in the East Village" by Robert Sietsema on ny.eater.com
  17. Upstate, opened by a guy from Utica, is a cozy bar in the East Village, lots of wood and brick, dim lighting kind of place. Despite trumpeting its Upstate background, not much on the menu would give you an impression of Upstate New York. One doesn't find much in the way of oysters nor bouillabaisse in Utica or Syracuse. That said, Upstate is a fun place to meet friends for happy hour and catch up. Until 7pm they run a special, a mug of beer and 6 oysters for $12 (Founder's Porter and 6 oysters for $12 in NYC, that ain't bad.). The oyster list runs about 20 deep, split almost evenly between East Coast and West Coast. I would suggest hitting Upstate for Happy Hour or late night and skip the dinner rush...or you might find yourself standing by the door waiting for an open seat while others slurp down tasty bivalves.
  18. Does anyone have a recommendation/preference for Noodle Bar v Ssäm Bar? I've not been to either, but would like to give one of them a try this weekend. Schedule is flexible, so if there are suggested times to avoid crowds, that info would be appreciated. Thanks!
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