Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Hour at Lucky Strike

A full day of shopping always deserves a drink at the end which is why SoHo has some great happy hours.  The always popular Lure of course with it's fruity martini's and crisp calamari, the wonderful Pera SoHo with it's bright, fabulous bar and then there's Lucky Strike, one of the first restaurants from Keith McNally that is my absolute favorite.  This lively little brasserie has just the right amount of glitz and grit with a somewhat worn but comfy decor.

From 4:00-7:00 every day Lucky Strike offers $5 glasses of wine, beer and margaritas along with a small food menu including delicious Moules Marinieres with white wine and garlic, Tomato Bruschetta with Avocado Cream and a big bowl of classic Bistro Fries for just $3.00.

The tiny round tables may be a bit cramped but the soundtracks overhead are always awesome (Jimmy Hendrix and John Coltrane the last visit), the drinks are stiff and the prices can't be beat.  

Lucky Strike
59 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Brighton Beach Evening

I realized the other day that I hadn't been out to Brighton Beach in over two years.  I love exploring the city but somehow this section is just far enough off the grid that I completely forget about it; which is a shame because it's a fascinating spot.  This area also known as Little Odessa, a nod to the Ukrainian city where many of the residents come from, feels light years away from NYC.  Restaurants boast over the top Old World decor (the more gold the better), vodka is the local drink of choice and everything is in Russian.  EVERYTHING.  Just walking into the various stores and restaurants you are greeted with привет instead of hello and many people don't seem to know English at all, or at least they pretend not to.

I began my little journey at the Wise Espresso Bar on Coney Island Avenue.  This cozy, owl themed coffee bar was absolutely hopping with a mix of couples and friends enjoying house specialties like the creamy Caffe Viennese, Blueberry Frappes and a surprisingly large selection of wine and cocktails.

After my caffeine fix I wandered across Brighton Beach Avenue and stopped into the St. Petersburg Bookstore to stare at the Faberge style eggs and decorative board games, then over to Vintage Food Corporation to load up on cashews, sunflower seeds and spices at ridiculously low prices.

Then finally to the rustic little restaurant Skovorodka for a delicious bowl of plump Peimeini Siberian Dumplings stuffed with beef and served with a side of sour cream.  The service wasn't exactly the best but I do believe my waiter tried to fit as much wine into my glass as humanly possible which was quite amusing to watch.

After that I stumbled to the train with a full happy stomach and quite a nice wine buzz going on. Until next time Brighton Beach!

615 Brighton Beach Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235

3120 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235

Monday, January 16, 2017

La Pasta at Eataly

It's been so cold and windy lately it's been hard to venture to far from home.  Luckily we have Eataly right nearby for all of those winter food needs.

There is little in life that makes me happier than lush, beautiful ribbons of prosciutto and thick sliced chunks of mozzarella dusted with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Fior di Zucca~ house made ravioli filled with butternut squash and ricotta cheese, tossed in a wonderful brown butter sauce topped with crispy sage and a flurry of grana padano.

And for a little something green the Fusilli with broccoli, pecorino cheese, house made mozzarella, breadcrumbs and chili.  It's got a fantastic crunch from the breadcrumbs and a spicy little kick at the end that's just lovely.

La Pasta at Eataly
200 5th Avenue at 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


The insanely popular Japanese noodle chain TsuruTonTan made its United States debut this past fall by dropping into the old Union Square Cafe space on 16th Street.  I'll admit I was biased from day one...anything that pushed out MY Union Square Cafe was terrible and should be shunned.  However after reading some great reviews and finally accepting the true fact that they did NOT push USC out, the landlord did, I jumped at the chance to check it out when Mr. T suggested we dine there.

 First thing to note- this place always has a line.  Even at 5:45 PM we were quoted an hour and 30 minute wait.  We were about to see what else was available when I noticed two spots at the tiny bar up front.  Udon is only served in the main dining room but the bar is a great place to sip some delicious cocktails while you wait.

We were both starving that night so we may have slightly over ordered.  Here’s a rundown of our appetizers:

Creamy Spicy Shrimp Tempura topped with spicy sesame cream and micro-greens.  The tempura batter was so clean and light with an intense nutty flavor from the sauce.  Mr. T loves absolutely loved these.

Seared Wagyu Beef Sushi- not so pretty to look at but quite tasty.

Beef Sukiyaki Buns slow cooked with cucumbers.  These were delicious; tons of flavor in the tender beef with fried crisps on top to give it that satisfying crunch.

Only the Spicy Tuna Tartare Cones missed the mark.  The crispy cone and avocado puree completely over took the flavor of the tuna and all of the textures just kind of ran together.

For our main entree the Uni Udon with shiso, nori and uni daishi sauce.

This dish was so silky and rich; the fresh uni melting right into the cold noodles with just a bit of stirring while the sesame and shiso enhanced that salty, bottom of the ocean flavor only uni lovers can fully appreciate.

Mr. T and I both loved TsuruTonTan.  The dishes were excellent and the portions were large. We both agreed we could split a hot udon (which were slightly larger) and one appetizer on our next visit and be quite satisfied.  This is an excellent new addition to the Union Square neighborhood and now that USC is back open up the street, everything is as it should be.

21 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lunch at Salvation Burger

Being a huge fan of April Bloomfield's burgers at both The Spotted Pig and The Breslin I was excited to check out her new midtown spot Salvation Burger.   This rustic joint inside the Pod 51 Hotel sells three different types; Veggie made with carrot & tomato chutney, the Salvation Burger with caramelized onion & taleggio and the Classic Cheeseburger pictured here.  

This burger is certainly aesthetically pleasing.  The fluffy sesame studded roll looks gorgeous holding two juicy all beef patties with house made cheese and thick sliced pickles jutting out at the seams.

However as you can see by the mid-section shot this burger is way off on bun to burger ratio.   The hearty flavor of the meat got lost among the outer shell of toppings and stunted any sort of orgasmic burger moment.  Both the Spotted Pig and Breslin burgers have fluffy buns but the patties at both are bigger and bolder in flavor from the funky Gorgonzola cheese at the Pig and the richness of the lamb at the Breslin.  This one sadly just could not stand up to the messy bread and pickle overload.

Perhaps the namesake Salvation Burger would hold up to the bun a bit better than the Classic Cheeseburger however the steep price of  $25 for one burger (no fries included) will probably keep me from coming back to try it. With places like Minetta Tavern and Bar Sardine churning out great burgers at a lower cost its hard to imagine a repeat visit.

Salvation Burger
230 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022