Friday, April 29, 2011

Snap Crackle Pop! Will the Bubble Burst?

The pop-up craze is only getting crazier in New York and the latest one is the James Beard Foundation at Chelsea Market. For only 27 days, top chefs from all over the country are cooking dinner for 3 days each. Tickets are selling in advance and selling out in only a few hours. I got tickets to the chefs from Frankie's Sputino since I knew it was guaranteed to be decent fare. It's a 4-course dinner, and wine and tip IS included! So once you are finished you just get up and go because everything is paid ahead.

The food was good, although nothing mind blowing. Lots of their famous olive oil on everything! The appetizer was a lovely smoked salmon with olive oil and aged peperoncino. Then the first course was a faro risotto which had a nice chewy texture. The second course was this meat in red sauce thing, which I can't say that I loved. It was like a pizza or a pasta without the pasta. The flavour of the sauce was good but the meat was a bit chewy and had too much fat on it. The dessert was really good. it was a simple piece of olive oil cake with marscapone and rhubarb on the side. Each course came with a glass of wine 1 prosecco, 1 white and 2 red. It really added to the meal, the wines they chose were really great!

The space itself was a bit funky. It felt like you were in an emptied out Gap store, it was quite big and clearly not designed for a restaurant. But the cafeteria-like style suited the 3 long communal tables that were placed in the middle of the space. It was nice because as soon as you sat down you quickly realized that you wouldn't be dining alone but rather with the whole table. The people were a total mix of eager foodies who were all too excited that they had managed to get their hands on one of these hot tickets. They all seemed to frequent every pop-up in town... they were pop-up crazy! I think Terry and I were the youngest people in there, and we aren't that young! But it was nice to do something out of the ordinary, outside our hoods and usual scene.

JBF Pop Up
at Chelsea Market

That Coffee Is Still Ace

Every time I have a coffee at Stumptown I think to myself "why don't I come here all the time?". I then remember the usually lines, the scenesters and the tourists that hang out there. I swung by there this week when I miraculously was off work early and it was lovely. I could have stayed a sipped on my cappucino all day. Hands down still one of the best coffees in the city.

Stumptown (at the Ace Hotel)
18 W 29th Street
New York, NY

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Private Happy Hour

Norwood is a private club that is targeted at New York's creatives as a place to meet, greet and socialize. It seems like it has been around for years but somehow I had never been there. I had a meeting there last week and it was indeed quite civilized. It was nice to be able to enjoy delicious cocktails, tasty snacks over leisurely conversation. It's not as snobby as Soho house and it's not overrun by stiff British men playing board games. It was a nice enough scene. The food was really tasty. We shared few little bites, fish tacos, lobster roll sliders and a giant meatball. The sliders were my favourite, they were great! It was a great place to hang out for an hour or two before starting out the night. I've heard the backyard is really nice so looking forward to that once the weather gets nicer.

241 West 14th Street
New York, NY

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thirsty for Spring

The spring that is supposed to be here by now (and isn't) is in full effect at Elsa. They just updated their menu yesterday to include some amazing new spring cocktails. They have kept some favourite on the menu, like the S.M. Jenkins and have added a whole slew of new ones. I asked which were the most amazing and they were all too happy to point out the 3 or 4 not to be missed. The first one I tried was a habanero tequila-based one which was nice and spicy. It was topped with cilantro which make it surprisingly savory. Not even a drop of sweetness. Then I tried this caraway-infused rye drink, (pictured below) which was unreal. It was the first cocktail on the menu and it was delicious! I have yet to be disappointed with Elsa (during the week). Their staff is so friendly and their cocktails are on point. It's probably my favourite bar in the east village.

217 East 3rd Street (btwn ave A + B)
New York, NY

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hear Me Roar

Friday night is date night and this place is most definitely date-worthy. This past Friday I was treated to a very lovely dinner at the very trendy speak-easy restaurant, The Lion. The space, once a gentleman's club now-turned-restaurant, is beautiful. The walls are covered with an eclectic mix of art from photography to pieces of Warhol and Basquiat. You feel special, powerful, and quite celebratory as you sit above this magnificent room looking down at the art and the hustle of the staff and crowded tables below. The menu, which typographically is quite nice, covers a range of all the usual suspects, salads, meats, and of course a burger. The food is a bit hard to rate. It's good enough to make The Lion worth a visit. But it's not the food that you go there for. That being said it was fine and very well presented. The burger comes accompanied by a lovely little jar of pickles and topped off with a giant (almost grotesque) slab of pork belly. I loved how intense it looked but was also relieved to not have to eat it. I ordered fish, a lovely pink trout. It was fresh, simple and not at all memorable.

The service however was quite exceptional. Our waiter was most attentive and offered a strong opinion with some good suggestions. The lighting was nice and the noise well controlled and we really enjoyed ourselves sipping on wine over great lengthy conversations.

The Lion
62 W. 9th Street
New York, NY 10011 (nr. 6th Ave)

Morning Brew

This cute café is quietly located on the corner of adorable 12th street at avenue A. There's a lot of hidden gems on 12th street, Motorino, Northern Spy Co. to name a few... And notice it's always kept so clean? I never really make it over that east especially first thing in the morning, but it was lovely and a great place to have a nice chat over a good morning cappucino.

441 East 12th Street (at Ave A)
New York, NY
(212) 477-5600

The Good Guys

You're craving a burger... you're are way on the west side of Midtown... and the line up at Shake Shack is always too long... what to do? Never fear, Five Guys is near.

I have been avoided this place like the plague. Everyone I work with always grabs it to go and eats it in the office. It looked like my worst fast food nightmare... cheap, decent but nothing outstanding. I had heard that exact feedback, that the burger is just... okay. I don't like okay, especially with burgers. It's like a croissant, I don't eat them unless I know it's going to be good. If I'm gonna slap a stick of butter on my ass, it better well be worth it! I stand by this same philosophy for burgers. It's not exactly a lunch without consequence. It's not the healthy choice, so it better taste amazing. I pride myself in finding those gem burgers in the city and try to only treat myself to those once and a while.

None the less, I did go in (without any expectation) to try the burger at Five Guys and it was good! It fits all my requirements of squishy bun, american cheese, mayo (or special sauce) and pickles! The menu is customizable, which I love. You can add or take away from their master list of condiments and toppings. The place, which is less than inspiring is a well functioning operation. All in all, I really enjoyed my burger. Fries, which everyone raves about, are not worth noting. Then again I don't really like fries.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries
316 West 34th Street
New York, NY
(212) 564-6115 ‎

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fading Beauty

Sadly my great experience at Miss Lily's was not to be repeated. I took my friend J there last night for dinner and was sadly disappointed. The drinks were near impossible to drink, the cod fritters way too oily, and the mains, just not the same. I had tasted my friend's oxtail stew last time but this time it just wasn't as good. The portions were also out of wack. Mine way too big and J's was so small that he finished in just a few minutes. I felt terrible leaving so much on my plate. The other strange thing is the crowd felt completely different than the first time I had gone, which was only a week or two ago. Very strange. I'm hoping its just growing pains and they will find their sweet spot soon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Martinique, Mon Amour

I just came back from an amazing trip to Martinique, a department of France in the Caribbean. It's was magnifique! And the food was wonderful. I had the opportunity to taste all the local cuisine from the luxury of the hotel to a private meal on the beach. I can't wait to go back again.

To read all about the food in Martinique, see here at Martinique Slop >

Taim Moves East

The Taim mobile has moved it's way to the East Village... well Tuesday and Thursday nights only. I was all too excited to be able to pick one up on my way home on Tuesday :) I had yet to try this famous Taim falafel and it did live up to my expectations! The pita was super chewy and the falafel was fresh and not too crunchy. The sauce was just enough and the hummus was tangy and citrusy. It was delicious! I want to try their smoothies next.

Taim Mobile

Monday, April 4, 2011

Miss Lily Sure is Pretty

Miss Lily's is the talk of the town after opening (not officially) about a month ago. By the same owners of La Esquina, they are doing this one Jamaican style. And boy are those Jamaicans pretty. From the moment I walked in it was apparent that being gorgeous is a pre-requisite to getting a job here. The hostess at the front door was beautiful and greeted us with a big smile. The bar boys...umm so delicious! I could barely focus on ordering a drink. Our waitress, who was from Paris, was ridiculously cute! All the staff was cheerful, and even dancing as they brought us our food. One thing I noticed is that they were all so positive and amazingly nice! It was really refreshing after all the attitude you get at La Esquina on any given night.

The space is really cozy and quaint. There's a first section set up more like a dinner with the bar and kitchen to the right. Then there's a dinner room in the back, that's got larger round tables with booth seating. It was really great for our group of 6.

The menu isn't huge, it's one page of appetizers, entrees and a few desserts. I really loved that it was simple and easy to navigate. We tried almost everything on the menu. The jerk chicken wings, the ceviche, the plantain chips and dip, the pepper shrimp and the cod fritters. There were all delicious but the cod fritters really stood out. For mains, I had the whole fried fish, which was tasty. Kevin had the Oxtail stew (which was probably one the best things on the menu) Sarra had the jerk chicken, which was great. Koko and Andre had the vegetable stew, which was surprisingly excellent. For dessert there was this coconut bread pudding which our french waitress warned us would make us all fall in love. Since we were all already in love with her it was easy to enjoy this dessert :) We also ordered a Guinness float, which came with a mini glass of Guinness that you pour over the ice cream. The combination of the tart beer with the creamy ice cream was awesome!

Even thought Miss Lily's isn't officially open to the public they are open for "previews" but it is running as a fully functioning restaurant. They are obviously trying to keep in on the DL so that it doesn't get overrun by the typical weekend crowds. Which is fine by me because it felt like a nicely filtered crowd and Questlove was right behind me at the next table!

Miss Lily's
132 West Houston Street (at Sullivan)
New York, NY