Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy Hour at Tasca Chino

The newest restaurant to hit our neighborhood is Tasca Chino loctaed inside the old Sushi Samba on Park Avenue South.  The restaurant helmed by Chef Alex Urena is billed as Spanish and Chinese fusion which is playfully evident from the decor of bullfighters and Chairman Mao covering the bright red walls.  We stopped in a few times for happy hour at the bar where the small food menu covers everything from dim sum to tapas.

Each order begins with some warm complimentary breadsticks covered in toasted sesame seeds and some wonderful dipping sauces.

There are crisp salty Spanish Croquetas in both Salt Cod and Ham served with a spicy szechuan pepper aioli; a perfect marriage of the two cuisines.

Less successful plates were the Black Bass Ceviche and Spanish Mackerel Crudo.

The bass was overcome by an aggressive tomatillo sauce and the mackerel had so much soy on top my tongue felt like sand paper after just a few bites.  Hopefully these are just part of opening jitters as an even hand could easily turn these two dishes around.  

We've tried many of their cocktail options like this dry Cinquenta- Cinquenta of Gin, Navarro and Orange Oil or a gorgeous Uva Roja made with vodka, muddled grapes and ruby port.

At only $8.00 a piece during happy hour these are incredibly affordable and  for those not so cocktail inclined there's beer, wine and sangria at just around $7.00 a glass.  Cheers to that!

245 Park Avenue South @20th Street
New York, NY 10010

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The House of Angostura U.S. Cocktail Challenge

This past week I was invited to the U.S. Cocktail Challenge hosted by The House of Angostura.  It was a face off between East Coast bartenders all vying for a spot in the finals at the fabulous Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and ultimately a trip to Trinidad for the Global Cocktail Challenge finale.  

The rules were simple...create two cocktails under six ingredients the first using 5 dashes of Angostura Bitters and the 2nd using Angostura Rum.  Maggie Arts the bartender/manager from Salt of the EarthButcher & The Rye and the brand new Tako out in Pittsburgh was the first to compete with her cocktail the Hummingbird's Garden.

Spencer Warren (Beverage Director from Butcher & the Rye) was up next with his cocktail Rum for the Money followed by Megan Arts from Marvel Bar in Minnesota with the CocoTea and finally Aaron Butler from West Village favorite L'Artusi with his drink the Julia's Conundrum.  And the winner is...

...Aaron!!  I have to say I was thrilled with the outcome.  Not only was it fantastic to see a local guy win the competition but I truly loved his drink the most for it's perfect balance of Pisco and Angostura Bitters (and that he said Pisco was the most underrated spirit- AGREED!).

Honestly we were all winners since we got to enjoy the wonderful cocktails created along with some great food and drink from Seamstress like this Deviled Egg with Mezcla pickled pepper.  Here's the recipe for Aaron's winning drink so you can try it at home- Cheers!

Julia's Conundrum
1.5 oz Benedictine
1 oz Kappa Pisco
.75 oz fresh Lemon Juice
.25 oz Angostura Bitter

Shake well and garnish with a lime peel

House of Angostura

339 East 75th Street between 1st & 2nd
New York, NY 10021

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Brunch at Mezcla

I'm so freaking excited to have found a solid brunch spot right in the neighborhood- Mezcla! Okay for some reason walking all the way over to 2nd Avenue sometimes feels a bit far but the extra avenue or two is worth it for three big reasons...

#1- Free Drink with every entree.  And not just a boring OJ mimosa but choice of peach puree, mango and one of the most incredible looking Bloody Mary's I've ever seen.  WHY IS THIS DEAL SO HARD TO FIND ANYMORE!

#2- Ridiculously delicious food that will actually keep one full all day from Huevos Rancheros to Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and Seared Tuna Salad.

Seriously Mr. T's dish came with sausage, bacon, eggs, guacamole and a warm buttery jalapeno biscuit with homemade raspberry preserves.  That's a solid meal.

#3- Farm to Table.  It really makes such a difference not just for fresh delicious food but also for helping to promote and grow our local farms in the area.  It's a win win for everyone.

327 2nd Avenue @19th Street
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Seaport Eats at Barbalu

When Mr. T and I first moved here I loved the Seaport area.  It always blew my mind that we lived so close to such a beachy little spot.  Of course I quickly grew tired of dealing with the hordes of tourists so I slowly stopped going.  Then Sandy hit and so many places were destroyed it seemed like the area would never recover and I realized how much I still loved this NYC spot.  

Lucky for me places did recover and one of those is Barbalu; a restaurant known as Barbarini before being completely destroyed in the storm.  This husband and wife team love the historic area so much they decided to rebuild on the very same location and hence Barbalu was born.

The menu is focused on Italian fare with an array of salads, pastas and secondi like Potato Crusted Salmon and Veal Scaloppine.  We skipped secondi in favor of a big Spinach Salad loaded with funky Gorgonzola cheese and crisp pancetta followed by a bowl of Fettuccine with Shrimp, cherry tomato and zucchini.

Everything tasted fresh from the greenmarket and it never got too crowded which was nice.  Plus there's two options for catching some summer rays; a cute little skylight in the back or a handful of tables up front.  Jeremy's Ale House is right across the street so those outside tables can be great for people watching but also a prime target for a drunken encounter...choose wisely.

225-227 Front Street
New York, NY 10038

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Hour at Flatiron Lounge

 I've been on a mission to rediscover some of my old favorites in the city and the Flatiron Lounge was the perfect place to start.  This bar was pretty much flawless when it opened way back in 2003 and it hasn't lost a step.  From the sexy curved banquettes to the low playing jazz...it's just a fantastic place to hang out and have a delicious cocktail or two from the always fabulous Julie Reiner.

The Beijing Peach is a gorgeous blend of Jasmine vodka, peach puree and lime.  It's a touch fruity and tropical...something to whisk away all the worries in life and make everything seem just wonderful.

Plus it's only $9 during their happy hour from 5- 7...it doesn't much better than that.

37 West 19th Street between 5th & 6th
New York, NY 10011