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Found 19 results

  1. This storefront beer emporium is your favorite beer tasting room meets your favorite beer store. The front of Top Hops is sort of general store wood decor with a curved bar and maybe 15 beers on tap. A chalkboard behind the bar tells you beer style, ABV, when the keg was tapped, when the beer lines were cleaned etc. The back of the store is all standing cases stocked with more than 600 bottles. If you live, dream and love to talk about beer, this is your kind of place. They seemed to have a good selection of N.E. American beers that you don't see much in these parts. I enjoyed a Boris the Spider Russian Imperial Stout (10% ABV) from Spider Bite Beer Company in Long Island.
  2. The only place to go right now is Scarr’s on the LES. That little write up doesn’t do it justice. Hands down the ultimate NYC pie. Also their subs and Caesar salad and natural wine list in a setting that is so throwback are perfection.
  3. Katz's might be my favorite place in New York. Their pastrami on rye is the best sandwich in the world. (Note: I have not been close to everywhere in the world)
  4. I know it's not answering the original question but for sheer number of items on menu, gotta give a shout-out to Shopsin's in NYC's Lower East Side: http://www.shopsins.com/
  5. That kind of talk can get you thrown out of certain bars in Manhattan. East Village Bar Bans Customers Who Say ‘Literally’ by Clint Rainey, January 24, 2018, on grubstreet.com.
  6. From the owners of The Queens Kickshaw comes their new venture, WASSAiL - a cider bar and restaurant, located on Orchard St., on the lower east side of Manhattan. The Queens Kickshaw has been known, since its opening, as one of the best places to get your cider on. Trouble is, it's in Astoria, not exactly an easy schlep from Manhattan. So, I was extremely excited when I read that the owners had taken a space, right here in my neighborhood. It opened this week. And to say I'm happy would be an understatement. We visited Tuesday night, their public opening, and were wowed - at any one time, they'll have between 80 - 100 ciders available, from all over the globe. There will be about a dozen available on draught, and a bunch more available by the glass. We only tasted 7 or 8, so we've got a ways to go. And of course, I blogged about it as well. Hail WASSAiL
  7. I nearly missed the ticket dispenser when I first stepped into Russ & Daughters. Packed from end to end with me just barely fitting inside the door, and suddenly engulfed by all sorts of food curiosities I wanted to pursue, it took a moment before I realized to snag my number in line. Ticket 590. I looked down to the end of the store, where the sign flashed 557. It was 11 a.m. on a rainy Friday and I hunkered down for a wait, surrounded by like-minded tourists, locals, chefs, and an angry woman “who drove 45 minutes” and had “never waited an hour in all her years coming here.” One employee smiled and told her to come during the holidays, where she’ll wait for two hours instead of just one. After a few walkout casualties and little regard for the distracted (your number is called once, then promptly skipped after a beat or two), I finally made it to the counter with my order recited: everything bagel, toasted, with cream cheese and Scottish salmon loin. Nothing more. A few minutes later, on a street bench away from all the cellphone picture-taking, elbows and clatter of the 103-year-old institution, I unwrapped perfection. The ideal ratio of bagel, cream cheese and smoked fish. Hot, cold, crisp, tender, fatty, salty. I am not an expert on bagels or salmon or the heritage behind their combination, but for me this was a new personal benchmark. The best of its kind I’ve ever had. What’s the Michelin tagline for three stars? Worth a special journey. Over 1,500 miles from home, finishing my last bite of a Russ and Daughters Classic, and all I could think was -- absolutely.
  8. Last night was hot, hot, Mission Chinese Food's "opening" night, and a friend and I were lucky enough to score a pair of seats, after a nominal 20 minute wait, at the ungodly dinner hour of 6:30; normally, we're drinking at that time - and aren't you? Whatever; here we were, greeted warmly by the host and hostess (Anna and Aubrey), and invited to share a celebratory beer while we waited for our seats to become available making for a festive atmosphere in the waiting area. Mission Chinese Food, for those who have either been Rip Van Winkle-ing or who don't check Huff Po, Eater, Twitter, et.al. obsessively every 10 minutes of their life, is the New York City outpost of, ummmm, Mission Chinese Food. Except that MCF is in San Francisco, and it opened as a pop-up inside an already existing Chinese restaurant called Lung Shan, on you guessed it, Mission St. The brainchild of Chef Danny Bowien and partner Anthony Myint, SF's MCF took the food world by storm, and ever since it became clear that Orchard Street and the lower east side would become the home of the 2nd Mission Chinese, NYC's been all atwitter (hmmm) with anticipation. All well and good. It's not like there aren't 100,000 Chinese restaurants here already; it's just that most of them suck. I've gone into that before and don't need to go into it again right now, but anyone trying to do the right thing with a great cuisine is OK in my book. And a quick chat outside with Chef (who might indeed be TV ready, looking all California-cool in his white chef's jacket, white shorts, baseball cap, hipster glasses and flowing tresses) led me to believe that he's very excited to be on this beautiful block of Orchard Street, dealing with some of NYC's finest purveyors both at the high-end (that meat guy) as well as the ones that supply Chinatown with a vast selection of greens and other goodies. As a matter of fact, he was simply qvelling when telling me how great some of the wholesale prices are here compared to SF - and take that, SF! The team has also taken what was home to a few less-than-successful fooderies over the years and turned it into a nice, fun space that feels bigger than it really is. I liked the atmosphere, and there are even backs on all of the chairs, which is good for the altacockers like my buddy and me. I ordered way too much food, but what the heck? The sharp tang of Chinkiang vinegar, heat from chili pepper and buzzy numbness from Szechuan peppercorns is thankfully not dumbed down, at least not in any of the dishes we tried. So, for instance, the Chili Pickled Turnips and Long Beans blow open the taste buds but are impossible to stop eating. As are the Beijing Vinegar Peanuts, meant to be eaten one at a time with chopsticks - order these immediately, so you can eat them with your beer. Lamb Cheek Dumplings in Red Oil are explosive...and good...a lot of amazing stuff going on in that bowlful of dumplings. The Tea Smoked Eel was a favorite of ours; it's wrapped in cheung fun, a rice noodle made on the spot at a few places around Chinatown; as a matter of fact, my very first blog post was about this type of noodle, made around the corner at Sun Light Bakery! I think my favorite dish last night was the Mouth Watering Chicken, a chicken "terrine" with dry-spiced chicken hearts and vegetable "noodles." The hearts are cooked medium-rare, lending them a unique flavor and tenderness, and the breast is nice and moist. They hit it out of the park on this dish. Was everything perfect? Hell no...I would've liked a little less salt (or saltiness in whatever form) in the Broccoli Beef Cheek with Smoked Oyster Sauce, impossibly tender beef nestled under a bed of some sort of Asian broccoli. But it's oyster sauce and that stuff is, shall we say, saline (and I ate all the cheek anyway). So - when am I going back? As a matter of fact, I've already made a reservation for this coming Sunday night. They're taking reservations, but only for the bar seats at this point. Otherwise, it's all walk-in. And delivery. And lunch soon. Orchard Street sure has been looking better and better; now with Mission Chinese Food hitting the street running on all cylinders, it's gotten that much more tasty. Pictures over at Tasty Travails.
  9. My cousin booked Beauty and Essex for our family brunch gathering. I think my cousin hates breakfast food as much as me, so he found a place with a large diverse menu and we ordered quite a lot of food. The dishes are meant to be shared and our waiter offered to adjust the dish size to accommodate our large group, but we assured him it wasn't necessary. Chinese people are used to sharing, even a single grain of rice can be shared by an entire village. The red velvet waffles won the approval of both my daughters. We also had crispy fish tacos, chicken fried steak, fried chicken biscuit, frittata espanol, chilaquiles, brunch pizzetta, everything bagel & lox pizzetta, kale & apple salad, and Brussels sprouts and Serrano ham on toast. I would note that the chicken fried steak were hockey puck shaped croquettes of braised short-rib, topped with McMuffin like eggs. That was a distinctly weak dish. Otherwise the dishes are decent to tasty, though not meant to be authentic, e.g., I thought the frittata was too sweet and the chilaquiles not crunchy enough. The restaurant is fronted by a pawn shop. The vibe is hip but the service is friendly yet professional. This place won't win any Michelin stars but it is a fun place to go with a group of food obsessed people.
  10. This could be my most controversial post BUT it must be said considering the ludicrous hype around this restaurant. Serious people told me to go and I listened. The menu sounded interesting the chefs are alumni of great institutions but alas this meal was shitty (dunno if I can curse but I can take it out if necessary). I love fine dining restos, I am not one of these guys whose like "holes in the wall ARE ALWAYS BETTER" like some people I read but this was just not very good. The space is incredibly uncomfortable particullarly the banquet chairs which are made of wood like you'd find in Central Park and it's pretty hot etc. Anyway our first and second course were the two faves of the meal. My parents liked the first one better I liked the second which was little neck clams. The first course was tuna. Interesting flavors and interesting combos etc but it was after where the world started falling. Our cooked herring with butter was gross. It was like oil butter. Herring is a fave of mine and while I appreciate the chef's going against the grain and not just serving like pickled herring it is already a very oily fish and to have it with butter sauce was ridiculous. Then we had chicken and my one was slightly undercooked and the flavor combo just didn't work. It was a very headstrong dish and combined with the fattiness of the chicken I was disappointed to say the least. Our Desserts were underwhelming as well. I am being vague admittedly which I am sorry about but I am just incredulous that this restaurant gets such hype. Save your money and go to 11 Madison Park it's ions better or even Le Bernadin or Marea etc etc AVOID CONTRA!!! I am tired of these NYC faux Denmark (I guess hipster as well) new age restaurants. I also went to Take Root as well and hated it. Can one of these restaurant be good please!!!! And I should repeat I like these sort of places particularly in Europe where they somehow pull it off many a time but in New York they often fall flat. Sorry not well written rant over
  11. Just to add: if looking for a good Austrian place instead, Cafe Katja in Manhattan has always been good when we've gone. As for the beer halls, the Bohemian Beer Hall has always been a great big outdoor place to drink & used to be pretty much the only place of its type in NYC. Now, there are many outdoor beer halls, including a decent one attached to the New Prospect Hall in Bklyn (the catering place that does the tv commercial "we make your dreams come true") so its not so special anymore. And the food is just not anything other than a good way to soak up the beer. I'm not sure about the Istrian Sports Club in Astoria. It may be worth a look as well. I'll just sit here and live vicariously while you do the field work.
  12. On the strong advice from a friend (and Pete Wells), we had lunch on Monday at Dirty French. One of the things I miss about living in NYC was how wonderfully empty the city was on long weekend holidays, and this Memorial Day was no different. We stayed in SoHo, and the neighborhood felt like a ghost town as we made the walk east to the LES. So for lunch at noon, we had the restaurant to ourselves. Our waitress was charmingly odd, recommending things not by saying "this is one of my favorites," but "Oh man, I totally want you guys to get this...it's just so cool," and then stopping by later to make sure we thought it was as cool as she did. She also wanted us to get a particular dessert just because she hadn't seen it before and heard it looked cool. Like I said, odd, but a little endearing. The grilled flatbread that comes out gratis with fromage blanc is addictive. It lasted about 90 seconds before we completely devoured it. The mushroom mille-feuille is as amazing as it was cracked up to be in Wells' review. The buttery mushrooms paired with a thick Thai green curry, crunchy snow peas, and lightly pickled red chiles and ramps. Go here and order this. (Paired nicely with a Loire rose.) A salad of kale with chèvre, fried sun choke chips, and pear was a refreshing counterpoint to the heaviness of the mille-feuille. A "banh mi" of foie gras and duck confit was totally ruined by being served on a thick, dense, sesame seeded roll. We ended up scraping out the innards, and leaving all the bread behind. We passed on dessert, planning to grab some gelato near the high line later, but the selections sounded promising.
  13. Lunch here last Saturday... The wife and I split the Tokyo shoyu and a cold ramen with a lemon/shio broth and poached shrimp. Top notch bowls of ramen. The broth on the shoyu was nicely porky, but not overly so. I think broth-wise, I may prefer Daikaya by a hair, but it would be close. Ivan really shines when it comes to noodles, though. The skinny, rye noodles in both bowls really took the noodle game to a whole new level. Wonderfully chewy in both hot and cold versions. The cold ramen was super-refreshing. Compared favorably to the cold citrus tsukemen I had the other day at Toki in DC. The broth at Ivan was a bit subtler, with less of a heavy citrus presence. Thinking on it now, I might have loved it even more if it came as tsukemen rather than a bowl of soup. Strangely enough, the real showstopper was the appetizer of shredded daikon radish topped with XO sauce. I could have eaten 4 more plates of that. The daikon was lightly pickled...the acidity of the pickle paired with the funk of the dried seafood in the XO sauce was fantastic, as was the interplay of 2 levels of crunch (daikon vs. dried shrimp/scallop). There are a ton of great ramen options available to you in NYC, but the rye noodles alone make Ivan worth a stop if you're in town.
  14. Dropped a couple of hundred dollars eating everything on the menu (the tasting menu and the "from the vault" menu) at WD-50 the other night. Came away underwhelmed. I admit it might be me -- maybe my palate is just too juvenile to appreciate the nuances of this particular joint. It might be the whole "seasonal and local thing," because winter foods tend to be bland, what with all that squash and turnips turning up on the plates. And it might be Wylie, who seems to have stepped away from the mad scientist stuff I used to read about back in the day. I remember the first time I heard the acoustic version of "Layla" from MTV unplugged and thinking "when did Clapton start doing a lounge act?" Maybe Wylie should only play when he's plugged in. At any rate, even with the menu posted on line, it's hard to recall some of the dishes. A sweet shrimp with "pine needles" (one of the few science experiments I recall -- pine essence extruded and congealed to resemble needles) and chestnut came together flawlessly and intriguingly (it takes a second to to figure out if you really like pine flavor in your food), and popcorn soup was quite rich, understated and yet forceful. And the red meat dishes -- squab, flatiron steak and smoked duck -- were quite tasty. But any decent pho place would have served up a better broth than that accomanying the "pho gras;" bone marrow in a fake mashed potato "bone" needed more than a little pomegranate to wake it up and I barely remember the monkfish or the sea bass at all. Admittedly, I was was with a charming dining companion who may have proved a distraction, but I do remember restaurant meals where I don't remember the cab ride home (and the set list from Dead shows where I barely remembered the planet I was on), so the night is oddly blank. We found ourselves very hungry long before our nine o'clock reservations but were advised that there were seats in the bar, where a very friendly and knowledgeable bartender -- with help from an assortment of besuited management-looking types -- took excellent care of us at a comfortably sized four-top. Those who regard my reviewing with an appropriately jaundiced eye and wish to see for themselves without committing to the $155 tasting menu should know that the bar offers the option of ordering any two courses for $25, and additional courses for $15. When the bartender said he'd have to check and see if we could order both menus rather than choosing one or the other for the entire table (apparently SOP at WD-50) we threatened to get the two-course deal and then order every other plate on the menu at $15 per. And when he laughed rather than rolling his eyes and mouthing "what an asshole" to the manager, we knew he was a good guy. We put ourselves in his hands for the wine and didn't pay too much attention except to note an excellent Sylvaner early on and two Pinot Noirs, neither of them from either France or the U.S. -- and the Chliean version (the other was German) being excellent -- "Litoral Vineyards Casa Marin '09." Wylie Dufresne is, of course, under no obligation to be the madman he seems to have been back in the day -- or maybe quinoa fries just aren't as much fun as they would have been in 2002 -- but I would have enjoyed a little more zing in my cuisine rather than the understated elegance that was delivered.
  15. Hugh Merwin of Grubstreet.com reports that El Sombrero aka "The Hat," at 108 Stanton Street in Lower East Side, will be closing this October after being in business for 30 years. It's going to be replaced by an Artichoke Pizza.
  16. Anyone who puts (the original) 2nd ave Deli at the top knows what he is talking about. And validates my belief (since he agrees) that Brooklyn's tops Altmans.
  17. The other night, a friend and I paid our first visit to the recently opened ECC, another branch of the cocktail lounge that first took Paris by storm in 2007 (following that with an ECC in London). ECC is in the old Kush space, a lounge that I was never fortunate enough to (or, fortunate enough to never) set foot in. What's interesting is that the Paris ECC was modeled after the new wave of cocktail lounges that were opening in NYC and now NYC's ECC kind of looks like the type of lounge you might find in Paris. If you think this is confusing, it's not - our ECC is absolutely gorgeous inside, designed by the wife of one of the owner's; lots of French flea market finds, and I wish my living room looked like this. My pictures do not do it justice... The back bar is nice too... And the glassware, at least for now (because we all know what happens when the stems start breaking) is great... That was my first cocktail, called Black Heart, from Joseph Akhavan at La Conserverie in Paris, and it's made of Buffalo Trace bourbon, Cynar, Luxardo Maraschino, a touch of French Roast Coffee, Bitterman's Boston Bittahs, a Laphroaig rinse and orange oils. A real winner, balanced as can be. My drinking companion started with the L'Américain: artichoke infused NP Sweet Vermouth, toasted walnut infused Campari, thyme water, orange oils - all of which is carbonated and bottled and served like this... Which will be perfect for when the kids pour in on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and can't hold a glass. The drink is damn good, though it probably can use, and probably will get, some more carbonation. I followed up with a classic Manhattan, and it was nice to be asked by my bartender (Aaron, iirc) whether I wanted a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio - I'm a classicist, so my 2:1 Rittenhouse Manhattan was just how I like it. My buddy moved on to a drink called The Artist: Drouin Calvados, verjus, pear and apple cider shrub, Peychaud's, Didier Meuzard Ratafia, Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe and Billecart-Salmon Champagne to top it all off - wowser. Many of the drinks are creations of the bar manager Nicolas de Soto, a Frenchman who now lives most of the time just off of Avenue B. Some of you may have seen him behind the stick occasionally at Dram - I know I had. Nicolas' drinks are pretty complex, lots of infusions, but as I said above, balanced and delicious. He'll be working the bar here some nights, and overseeing the show all the time - a true gentleman who is as nice as can be. Okay, okay - we did have a third round; after all, we were checking the place out. By this point, the place was filling up, and Xavier was working our end of one of two bars. He's a 7-year alumnus of Daniel, and quite the pro. So, the appropriately named The Last One: Cardinal Mendoza Brandy, Bonal Gentiane, Cocchi Barolo Chinato and Akanono carrot Shochu. Simple, and practically an aperitif, no? And the Curious Prescription, a tequila/mezcal lover's dream: Pueblo Viejo Reposado, Pukhart Pear Eau-de-Vie, La Cigarerra Manzanilla Sherry, housemade salted mezcal caramel syrup, lime juice and Bittermen's Habanero bitters. Food will be soon to come; bar snacks, and they will be supplied by The Fat Radish, another one of my neighborhood faves. I expect, and have heard from Nicolas, that ECC was already packed on the weekends...and will continue to be so. Doesn't matter to me, though - I rarely go out for drinks on Friday or Saturday nights - and if we do, it'll be earlier than the throngs. Disregarding my own advice, and because I was literally around the corner at a gallery opening, I returned with a friend last night (a Friday) to try a bit more of the menu. I might've found a new favorite cocktail, as the Noblesse Oblige was the first drink I tried on this second visit. Cognac based, with both Pedro Ximenez and Del Maguey as sidekicks, it's another one of Nicolas' fine, fine cocktails. It'll probably stay on the menu, though he did say that he finds people here shying away from Cognac cocktails, which is a big mistake, in my opinion. My friend started off with the Black Heart and immediately pronounced it his "new favorite drink." He also tried the L'Américain, the drink served in the bottle and pictured in my first post, and they've got the carbonation level up to where it should be and making the drink that much tastier. They're not heading off-menu much at this point, though Aaron was kind enough to mix me up a boozy Vieux Carré. Finally, here's a tip to all the kiddies - if you want cranberry juice in your drinks, go soon. From what I've heard, it won't be available for long and if it stays on the menu, you may be paying a pretty premium for it. Have a real cocktail. Comp Disclosure: A round or two over the two visits.
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