New Brew Friday- Map of the Sun

All of this rainy weather has really been getting me down this week.  I need some serious sunshine and if the weather won't cooperate I'll create my own with today's new brew, Map of the Sun from The Rare Barrel out in Berkeley, California. 

This beautiful beer is a blend of golden sour ales, aged in oak barrels with the addition of apricots.  It pours a bright, white foamy head that dissipates almost immediately leaving behind almost zero bubbles.  The smell is straight sour apricot with a sharp citrus and funk aroma while the flavor is a more balanced blend of sour and juicy, almost like biting into a ripe, fleshy apricot with just a hint of vanilla and oak on the finish.  Every time I have this beer I'm blown away; definitely one of my all time favorites.  Cheers to Friday!

The Rare Barrel
940 Parker Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

Row House Harlem

Friday night was spent diving into comfort food up at Row House; a lively new spot on Harlem's restaurant row boasting an outdoor patio up front and a large, spacious interior filled with people celebrating the start of the weekend.

It was such a cool, chilly night it seemed like the perfect excuse for a hearty bowl of Macaroni & Cheese. This sizzling cast iron skillet arrived loaded with plump shells of pasta, dressed in a five cheese mornay sauce with panko bread crumbs on top.  I loved the different textures of the cheese throughout the skillet; thick and crispy on top with a rich, creamy interior similar to the classic Velveeta Shells & Cheese of my childhood.

We balanced the hearty pasta with a classic Brick Chicken served with roasted potatoes, broccoli rabe and light lemon jus that really brighten the entire dish.  I highly suggest splitting both of these dishes for a fantastic meal.  

Row House is open for brunch, lunch and dinner and even houses a gorgeous speakeasy …

Cocktail Crawling Through the Weekend

I can't remember the last time Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby fell on the exact same day.  Not to mention it being a fabulous sunny Saturday on its own.  This called for some serious day drinking away from all of the crowds over in Alphabet City.

First stop The Wayland, one of my all time favorite Avenue C spots for a Rose Sour garnished with fresh leaves of basil.

Then onto the new hot spot Loverboy for a boozy brunch carafe of vodka, St. Germain and peach puree with a slice of the signature Loverboy pizza.

Cut square with a crunchy buttery bottom (reminiscent of Pizza Hut) and a blend of melted house cheese, crisp pepperoni and ramp ranch dressing drizzled on top; this was one messy, decadent and delicious slice.

Then up the block to Mace Bar for a round of herbaceous drinks including this fantastic Fennel Pollen cocktail which tasted just like a warm McDonald's Apple Pie (in a very good way).  

The Wayland
700 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10009

Loverboy Bar
127 Avenue C
New Yor…

Simon & The Whale at The Freehand Hotel

On the first floor of the Freehand Hotel sits Simon & The Whale, one of the city's hottest new restaurants helmed by Chef Matt Griffen formerly of Fedora and Bar Sardine.  The sleek space features a long wooden bar, cushy circular booths and wrap around windows that showcase the busy city streets outside.

The menu is composed of delicious small plates like the bacon and gouda Zeppole served piping hot with a creamy mustard sauce...

...and a bright Arctic Char Tartare dotted with finger lime and smoked cream cheese on top of crispy multigrain toast.  I highly suggest beginning every meal with one of these dishes. Then move on to more hearty fare like Spaghetti Acqua Pazza, Roast Chicken or the delicious Fish Sandwich served on soft, fluffy poppy seed challah with creamy coleslaw and spicy dijonnaise on top.  This massive sandwich is a little bit unruly but it's worth it for the excellent flavor. 

Simon & The Whale is only open for dinner and has been getting rave reviews f…

The George Washington Bar at the Freehand Hotel

Yesterday we checked out The Studio at the Freehand, today we'll go across the hall to the cozy little cocktail bar the George Washington.

Situated inside the hotel's old library this beautiful room is decked out with dark mahogany walls, antique furniture and an all star line up of cocktails like the froth For Sarah, a blend of gin, rose, cardamom, pomegranate, creme, egg white and soda...

...and the bright, fizzy Opulent Cartel made with basil, fennel seed and preserved lemon.

In addition to drinks there's a small menu of bar snacks including deviled eggs, Osetra Caviar and a buttery pretzel twist served with creamy goat cheese and a sweet drizzle of honey.

The George Washington bar opens daily at 5:30 PM.  The small bar usually gets packed by 7:00 PM so head early to guarantee a spot.

George Washington Bar at the Freehand
23 Lexington Avenue
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10010

The Studio at the Freehand Hotel

The Freehand Hotel opened it doors to the public in February, taking over the old George Washington building directly across the street from our apartment. Having this hotel so close by has really changed our culinary world with the addition of two new restaurants, a cocktail bar and soon to be rooftop opening of the famous Broken Shaker Bar from Miami. Let's check out the Studio today...

The Studio is Freehand's all day cafe and restaurant; a bright, airy spot located on the 2nd floor overlooking the bustling 23rd Street.  This is a great spot for a morning meeting when the restaurant is at a low hum with guests munching away at egg platters and delightful baked goods like the Simit Everything Bagel served with butter or a creamy herb labneh.

At 11:30 (on the weekdays) the all day menu kicks in with specialties like the Freehand Burger stacked high with caramelized onions, smoked american cheese, pickles and a spicy harissa sauce. 

The 23 Lex Chicken Club sandwich; three slices …

Purdy's Farmer and the Fish

I love going out to eat in Upstate New York, everything just feels more cozy and comfortable than city restaurants.  The Farmer and the Fish in Prudy's is a great example of this.  While I enjoy the sleek look of the Gramercy outpost the one in Purdy's has so much more character.  It's located in an old house built back in 1775 with worn wooden floors, a roaring fireplace and fresh grown vegetables dotting the garden out back.  Its a beautiful spot and their brunch menu is pretty wonderful as well.

Roasted Scallops served on a bed of frisee lettuce with crispy chunks of bacon, fingerling potatoes and a sunny side up egg with lemon aioli. I was a little worried about having scallops for the first meal of the day but this dish was fantastic.  The bacon gave a rich smokey depth to the salad and the egg was cooked to be a little bit runny, which is just the way I like it.

The salad was more than enough for a brunch entree but we decided to add on an order of the Polenta Fries an…