Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Yankee Stadium Eats

I went to the Yankee game on Tuesday (we realized we had a pair of tickets to the game 20 minutes before it started) and decided to try out the Garlic fries.

Whoa!! These guys are intense! Now I am a garlic lover so when I saw all that luscious chopped up goodness on top I was psyched. I chowed down on some fresh off the top and was quite a happy camper. Then somewhere around bite number four or so the strong taste began to get to me. I started to feel little overwhelmed with the flavor so I dug down below to find some that were plain.

That’s when I realized- there were no plain!! The entire box was uniformly covered in garlic from head to toe. I was a little shocked and both Mr. T and I could not see eating this whole on its’ own. So we decided to do what any food loving couple would do.

We went over to Lobels and ordered one of their Steak sandwiches so we could enjoy the garlic flavor with something a little more substantial. It ended up being awesome.

The first Lobel’s sandwich I had at the stadium had been extremely rare and chewy. This time the meat had been marinating in the sauce for a while and came out tender, juicy and delicious! Put some of the crushed garlic inside under the roll and it was a match made in heaven.

I saw my first Yankee lose in the new stadium that night so thank goodness for the seriously good stadium eats!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Brunch at Mercadito Grove

Ahhh Mercadito Grove….Remember this place? The one with fantastic fish tacos but surley and unprofessional service?

Well I retuned against my better judgment the other day. I had been craving fish tacos and we were meeting friends later at Blind Tiger. It just made sense since they were nearby.

So Saturday afternoon we walked down to 7th Avenue South for brunch. The hot humid weather gave way to a sun shower and by the time we arrived we were both quite soaked. We got a seat at the front table and drank in the air conditioning above. Even though it had rained we were still sweating from the thick humid air.

I knew I wanted fish tacos and Mercadito has a $15 brunch special that includes the tacos and a drink. Mr. T got an orange juice and I went for a mimosa. The waiter asked me if I wanted any fruit flavor added to my drink. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that but I decided to go with Strawberry.

My drink came and there were pieces of strawberry floating on the top.

This wouldn’t have been an issue if the chunks’ were smaller but they were long and stingy. Each time I took a sip I started to gag on the slimy long bites of fruit. It was really disgusting texture wise. After a few sips I fished them out so I could enjoy my drink without fear of chocking.

For our entrees we both ordered the fish tacos. Okay here is where the service issues start to come into play again. Although we had received our menus quite quickly our waiter took forever to come back and take our order.

Once we finally placed our order another couple came in and sat beside us. This couple had a different waiter who was apparently much better since they ended up receiving their food at the same time as us even though they came in about 20 minutes later.

I’ll get back to the service in a minute- but onto the food.

The fish tacos came just as always- beer battered Mahi Mahi topped with a spicy Mexican style coleslaw. At first I thought the tacos were bigger than usual but then I realized the fish simply had more breading. A little bit too much breading in my opinion. I used to enjoy all four tacos and be pleasantly full. This time I got full halfway through the dish and my stomach felt like a ton of bricks. I enjoy a lighter breading for fish tacos.

Well Mr. T and I finished our meal and got ready to pay the check. Now here is where the service just got kind of annoying. Our waiter had been standing behind us the entire time we were eating just kind of staring out the window. He never checked in to see if we wanted more to drink or to ask about our meal. Then rather than bringing over our check once the buser cleared our plates I practically had to flag him down by waving both hands.

It’s not like this is a big place either folks! It’s tiny! So the service issues still seem to be going at Mercaditio Grove which is too bad. I swore last time that I would only go to the East Village location. This is what I get for going back on my word. Next time I swear it’s Avenue B or bust.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Interesting Brews at the Blind Tiger

Blind Tiger had a ton of Sly Fox beers on tap last weekend and a couple really stood out. One in particular was the Sly Fox Incubus.

This is a Belgain style Tripel that poured with a fair amount of head and a bready sweet aroma. Since this beer weighs in at 10.3% alcohol, I couldn’t believe how drinkable it was! It had a very sweet taste, almost like honey that was rounded out by a slight spicy kick on the finish. A very nice beer I would get again.

Unfortunately the other two Sly Fox beers I had were not very good at all. The Oktoberfest had a strong skunky taste to it and the Sly Fox Grisette was just plain weird. It poured slightly darker than a glass of pineapple juice and had almost no beer flavor. Everyone at the table tried it and not one person thought it tasted good. It is possible however,. that all the strong beers before trying this might have damaged our palettes a little. Maybe I’ll give it another shot.

They did have one surprise- a new spin on an old classic- DogFish Head 90 Minute (via Randell) What is the via Randell part you may ask? Well this guy explained it great in his blog here

But it’s basically adding extra hops to the beer as it leaves the keg. Only Sam Calagion would come up with something like this. He’s the founder of Dogfish Head and quite an interesting character. The New Yorker did a great piece on him last year. I highly recommend reading the article if you have the chance.

Anyway the added hops in the end process created a very different flavor to the beer. It was a little bit silkier in the mouth and definitely had more pronounced hops both on the nose and on the palate. Very interesting to be able to try.

Blind Tiger is truly a beer lovers dream. A great homey environment, nice regulars at the bar and a wonderful rotation of excellent craft beers.

Blind Tiger

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Drink at Mari Vanna

We stopped in for a quick drink Friday night at the new Russian spot Mari Vanna. I had been pretty devastated when the Silver Swan closed down and this prime real estate across from Gramercy Tavern sat empty. Luckily they kept some of the charm of the Silver Swan but gave it quite the makeover.

The inside reminds me of going to visit an old and wealthy relative who has never changed the decor. From the garden out front to the white linen tablecloths and antique cutlery, I definitely did not feel like I was in New York City anymore.

Apparently you are supposed to be buzzed inside just like a residence as well. However the warm weather called for open doors, so we just breezed right in and took a seat at the bar.

I asked to see the drink list and I was struck by how many different kinds of beer they had listed. I’ve had all of the Baltica’s before (and loved them) but I had never had any of the Obolon’s.

However I was in a cocktail mood that night so instead I opted for the Mari Vanna Apricot Martini.

This is a blend of their house infused apricot vodka and lime juice. As you can see it came with a little piece of apricot on the bottom. It was a tad on the sweet side but the apricot vodka was smooth and refreshing. This was a very well made drink but for $15 shouldn’t the drink always be excellent? I think it was a tad too pricey, maybe $12 at the most I would say.

They had some cute bowls on the bar filled with various kinds of Russian candy that I usually pick up when I’m in Brighton Beach.

They also had a mason jar filled with what looked like round pretzels.

Behind the bar I noticed they had a ton more bottled beers. I’m not sure why they didn’t have these on the list as well. There were some really excellent and rare bottles to enjoy.

While we enjoyed our drink we saw them pouring their house made vodka out of the large terrines and into bottles. It seemes like there were many different varieties but again there was no list anywhere. If you’re going to specialize in vodka you should let people know what you have.

Overall I did enjoy Mari Vanna- the service was friendly and the vibe was very relaxed and enjoyable. Although my cocktail was a little pricey I would come back again to try out some of their Borscht and Blini’s. It’s just nice to have something in that space again as well.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Minetta Tavern

Saturday we spent with friends touring around the city from Sardi’s in the Theater District all the way down to the NYU part of town on MacDougal Street. We tried to pretend like we were in college again and played some beer pong at Off the Wagon. You know what I discovered? I am NOT in college anymore and I can not drink that much. So after 2 short games I was a little tipsy and ready for some serious food.

We walked outside to get a cab over to the East Village when I remembered Minetta Tavern was right next door.

I’ve tried to get into Minetta Tavern a bunch of times now. Every time we walk by I stop in and ask if there’s a table and I’ve called for a reservation at least 4 or 5 times as well. Every time my request is answered by the same response- “We have an 11:30 available”.

Okay I don’t know about you but I’m thinking about sleepy time around 11:30 not a big meaty dinner.

Well this Saturday I decided to try again. I walked inside right at 8:00 and asked for a table for four.

I was so sure they would say no I was already turning around to walk out the door when she said “Right this way.”

Right this way! Really! Yay!

We got seated right in the middle of the main dining room. I absolutely love the feel of the place. The secret underground kind of vibe, the vintage murals on the wall, the hustle and bustle of the crowd, everything!

We were starving so we got right down to business and ordered our entrees. I went for the much lauded Black Label Burger and Mr. T got the regular Minetta Cheeseburger.

Okay the pictures came out horrible but I kind of like the dark shadowing of my hands. It reminds me of the speakeasy vibe of the place so I’m using them anyway.

Here is the famed $26.00 Pat La Frieda Black Label Burger.

Wow. This was definitely unlike any burger I have ever tried in my life. It was a blend of short rib, brisket and skirt steak. The meat was almost creamy in texture with a salty crispy char on top. It tasted like a steak that had been dry aged and then ground down into patty form. It was cooked exactly as I asked- medium rare- and had a crazy earthy quality that is almost too difficult to describe. It came topped with some caramelized onions that were so fantastic I almost asked for more.

Okay- call me crazy but as much as I liked this burger I just couldn’t love it. It completely lived up to the hype, it was utterly amazing in texture and flavor but it just wasn’t for me. It tasted too much like steak. When I want a burger, I want a burger. When I want a steak I want a steak. Part of me found the two combined just strange and I didn’t really understand what part the toasted bun played when the meat was so fantastic on its’ own.

Luckily there was another burger on the table- Mr. T’s regular Pat La Frieda cheeseburger.

Now this was a burger! Again it was cooked perfect, a blend of short rib and brisket, with a nice deep red middle and a salty char on top. Then they topped it off with some fabulous cheddar cheese and more of those amazing carmalized oinions. This was a classic example of a burger done well. It was moist, a little greasy and had a perfect bun to beef ratio. I absolutely loved it!

Well it turns out that Mr. T absolutely flipped over the taste of the Black Label burger. He loved the cremy texture and earthy flavor of the meat- so we switched! It worked out pretty well for both of us.

The burgers came with a serious amount of fries on the sides that were so skinny they were almost shoestring but not quite. Very delicious.

So the burgers were amazing just as everyone has said but that wasn’t even the best entrée at the table.

Our friends had decided to go a different route and ordered the Trout and the Bone-In NY Strip.

Okay the Trout was nothing to write home about that’s for sure. Maybe we were all just in such carnivorous moods or something but it just fell completely flat. The steak however…OMG the steak!!!!

Just thinking about makes me drool a little. This was one of the best steaks I have ever had in my life. I can’t even describe how good it was. When I read Frank Bruni’s review of Minetta Tavern he described the steak almost by describing what it didn’t have compared to Peter Lugers and I have to say I agree.

Don’t get me wrong- I am a complete lover of all things Peter Luger (well except the steak sauce) but somehow this steak rocked in a different way. There was no melted butter on top, no super crunchy exterior, just a slightly charred, super drippy, incredibly moist piece of flavorful meat.

Would I say it was better than Lugers- I’m not sure? I don’t think I tried enough to make that kind of statement. I will say that I have been craving it like a madman this week. I have literally thought about it every single day and I may have to go back this weekend just to get my fix.

We were so stuffed at the end of our meal that we couldn’t even think about dessert. I wish we could because the soufflés walking by looked absolutely magnificent.

I would say without a doubt that Minetta Tavern rocks. You have to work incredibly hard to get a table-that is true; but in the end it is totally worth it. The cool vibe, the excellent service and the ridiculously good food make up quite the perfect package. Keith McNally has truly done it again.

Minetta Tavern

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Day In the Park

Our old college friends were visiting this past weekend and we had basically a non-stop party. They got in late Thursday night and we went out for Thai food in our neighborhood. Friday we awoke and felt like the same type of food! So we ended up at Sea Thai in the meatpacking where we proceeded to walk the Highline.

The true reason for the friends visit, besides to see us, was to go watch a Mets game.

Yes, my friends are Mets fans and that’s okay!

So we headed to Citifield for the first time this year. I love baseball but I was mostly excited about the food this time since the Mets aren’t exactly doing so well.

We got to the stadium and after about the third inning we headed over to Centerfield where all the fancy concessions stands are- Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, Box Frites, etc.

First we stopped at the middle beer stand where they had a ton of good beers listed. Unfortunately the woman behind the counter had either just woken up or smoked a huge joint before work, because she was slow and spacey to say the least.

A line of 6 people took almost 20 minutes. I mean come on- it’s not like you’re cooking anything. Just put the beer in the cup! Then when it was our turn to order they were out of my first two choices. I was not having any luck at this beer stand.

After finally settling on my third choice (boo!) we walked over to El Verano Taqueria where I was super excited to try their Chicken Mole Pipian with ground pumpkin seeds.

After a few minutes though, it was evident that the taco guys might have been puffing the same huge joint as the beer lady! The line wasn’t moving at all.

We were both a little frustrated at this point and very hungry so we left. We noticed there was no line at Cascarino’s Pizza so we grabbed a couple slices from there.

This is the Grandma slice.

This slice was actually pretty good. The sauce was a little on the sweeter side and there was an excellent ratio of cheese and fresh basil.

The dough was a little bit on the thin side though and extremely soft. Maybe it was the whole wheat crust but it just tasted bland. A little more crunch and some salt could have livened that up a bit.

One other minor complaint was the price- $5.75. That’s pretty steep for a slice that won’t even come close to filling you up.

After the pizza we looked back at the taco line and there was still no movement! We decided to give up on the fancy food and split a hot dog instead (where there was no line but actually took forever as well).

So my Citifiled food experience was pretty disappointing. I did like the new stadium however- it’s about 20 times nicer than Shea. If I had to choose though I enjoy the feel of Yankee stadium better. There’s just something about walking into that huge grand entrance that sends chills up my spine.

After the Mets win we hopped on the LIRR and went back into the city.

I was still hungry and in need of something greasy and filling fast. We were right next to Koreatown so we headed over to Forte Baden Baden. Luckily a large group was leaving right as we arrived and we got a great table by the windows.

Now if you don’t know Forte Baden Baden it’s pretty neat because it’s hidden from the street. There is no sign outside and you basically just have to know to walk behind the newspaper stall to find the stairs up to the 2nd floor.

The special here is Korean Fried Chicken and man is it good!

Some pitchers of beer after arrival, they brought out Korean Fried Chicken wings and the regular Baden Baden fried chicken.

Okay the picture is pretty fuzzy but this fried chicken is awesome. It’s crunchy, greasy and filled with huge chunks of white meat chicken and extra crispy fries. I was in heaven.

The wings were pretty good as well but the sauce on top was so hot I couldn’t even finish one. Literally my lips were on fire for a while after eating. My friend loved them however so maybe I got the super spicy one of the batch.

We demolished our food and walked back to the apartment for a nightcap. Baden Baden was the perfect choice for the end of a long and beer filled Friday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Disappointing Lunch at Chinatown Brasserie

Sunday afternoon I was having a serious craving for some Chinese food. I wanted to go somewhere a little nicer than our usual Chinatown joints since I was still in a celebratory mood. Luckily Chinatown Brasserie fits that bill exactly. We've eaten there 3 or 4 times before and always had a good meal even if it was a lot more expensive than Chinatown. Sometimes you pay for the atmosphere.

Another good reason to head here is for their drinks! We got seated at a nice table outside and I ordered a Bellini Martini.

Now I had just had a fantastic regular Bellini the day before at Onda so maybe I was expecting something just as good but this cocktail kind of fell flat. It was strong, that's for sure. I could really taste the vodka and peach but it had no balance. It was like drinking sugar flavored alcohol water, not a cocktail. For $10 I want a cocktail.

Chinatown brasserie was doing its' restaurant week menu but we decided to go a la carte. Mr. T ordered a Won Ton soup to start.

The soup had an absolutely lovely smell and there were nice big Won Ton balls throughout the broth. Quite a tasty start.

For appetizers we ordered the Chicken and Shrimp Lollipops and the Scallop and Shrimp Dumplings.

The Chicken and Shrimp lollipops tuned out to have a ton of cilantro both inside the breading and in the dipping sauce. Neither of us like cilantro so it was pretty off putting. Plus the shrimp inside was super tiny and all I really tasted was the breading.

The Scallop and Shrimp dumplings looked absolutely beautiful. It was very evident that a lot of hard work went into the presentation of this dish. However more time should have been spent on the execution. The shrimp dumplings middle was tasty but the scallop on top was chewy and overcooked. I also didn't enjoy the piece of cucumber on the bottom. There were too many textures going on at once in usually simple dish.

For our main we ordered the Crispy Orange Beef with chilies, orange zest and grand marnier.

We've had this dish here before and absolutely loved it. Today however it wasn't as good. Many times I had a bite I wasn't ever sure if there was beef inside. It simply tasted like breading. When there was beef inside it was so hard and stringy it was very difficult and unappetizing to eat.

I was really unhappy with our overall meal at Chinatown Brasserie. The food seems to have taken a nose dive. Our service wasn't that great either. The waiters and busers seemed like they were brand new to the job and there was a lot of fumbling between dishes. Plus it took our waitress an extremely long time to get our check and didn't even remember till I flagged her down 15 minutes later.

And look at my fortune from the fortune cookie.


Our bill for the meal ended up being almost $100 as well. That's a lot of money for inadequate Chinese food. We weren't even full at the end. I'm not sure what's going on at CB but the meal wasn't very good or celebratory. Hopefully we can get a good meal this weekend sometime and celebrate instead.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Return to Pearl Oyster Bar and A Big Surprise!

So after our wonderful brunch at Onda on Saturday we spent the afternoon walking around the Seaport and enjoying the weather. We checked out the newly opened Water Taxi Beach. It’s kind of neat but kind of weird with people hanging out in bikini’s left and right. I mean it is a fake beach but it’s right near Wall Street right?

Then it was time for the Yankees to play the Red Sox so we hopped in a cab and headed to the Blind Tiger to watch the game and enjoy some good beers.

Now the plan had been to go to Blind Tiger and then run over to Pearl Oyster Bar at some point to put our name on the list. So about 6:45 I decided to check it out. I didn’t see any line while I was walking but I was still nervous. Pearl is ALWAYS packed.

I looked inside and couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Tables, bar stools, empty! Lots of them! I went back and told Mr. T I didn’t think we had to worry. So we watched the rest of the game and returned about an hour later and got the last table in the back right away.

Blame it on summer; blame it on the recession- whatever. We didn’t have to wait in line so I was happy!

We started out with a big old pot of Steamers.

OMG I love the Steamers here! They were steamed perfectly so they retained a good amount of moisture and were soft not rubbery. They came with a generous portion of clarified butter that we didn’t even come close to finishing even though the bucket was the size of my head!

For the main course I got the coveted Lobster Roll which I always order.

Now I’ve had this Lobster roll at least 5 times in my life and I have to say I’ve never had a bad showing. Although I am getting to like a roll with less mayo in my old age, the chunks of lobster meat seemed even bigger than the last time.

As always the shoestring fries were excellent. I love putting a couple of the long skinny fries right inside the sandwich. Then you get a little salty crunch with each rich lobster bite!

During dinner Mr. T and I talked about our very first time at POB. I was actually visiting from Buffalo while we were still in college and it was my first week ever being in NYC. Besides some pizza and Gray’s Papaya hot dogs, Pearl was our first fancy (and expensive-yikes college!) meal together.

It was nice being able to reminisce.

By the end I was so stuffed I could hardly move. Mr. T wasn’t doing much better so we hopped in a cab and headed back home.

It was still such a gorgeous evening Mr. T suggested a drink on our rooftop to end the night. I thought that was a great idea! I grabbed a couple of beers for us and we headed up.

We walked over to our usual spot where there is a fantastic view of the Empire State building and most of Midtown. I was busy taking in the beautiful view when I heard Mr. T say he wanted to ask me something. I knew right then and there what was about to happen.

All of a sudden I was really nervous. I knew I wanted to give him my full attention so I tried to gently set my beer on the railing. Of course it didn’t stay put like it was supposed to. Somehow that stupid bottle slipped out of my hand and went crashing to the ground, spilling beer and glass everywhere!!!

I turned around in horror to see Mr. T going down on one knee (right where the puddle of beer was quickly forming), ring in hand about to propose. For a second there was a very awkward silence….and then we both burst out into laughter.

What would a romantic proposal be without me and my klutziness being a part of it!

So long story short I am now engaged!!!! I love my ring, I loved the rooftop proposal and of course I love Mr. T. I’m quite happy.

So it was quite a wonderful weekend- the Yankees swept the Red Sox, I had one of the best brunches ever and Mr. T and I got engaged. I would say it was a pretty good time to be a girl in the city!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brunch at Onda

After spending a ridiculously long time at Yankee stadium Friday night watching the 15 inning game, we awoke to a beautiful Saturday morning with absolutely nothing to do.

It was such a sunny day we decided to head down to the Seaport and walk around a little and find a brunch place. We walked off the main drag on Front Street and stumbled upon Onda- a new Latin place. It looked kind of interesting and there was a nice table outside that was available so we stopped in.

They had a special going that day for $4.00 Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and Bellini’s. I can’t turn that offer down so I ordered a very nice and refreshing Strawberry Bellini.

Look at that color! They used fresh strawberry puree and it really made the cocktail wonderful. I could have drank about 10 of these things!

After we placed our order they brought over a nice basket of crispy cheese sticks. The cheese sticks were kind of plain but the sauce they came with was absolutely scrumptious. Chickpea puree, olive oil and a little bit of chili powder were absolutely delicious together on the crispy bread. Yum! I want to make this at home!

For my main course I ordered the Avocado Salad.

I was hoping this dish was going to have a little bit more than just frisee lettuce but it ended up being perfect. A huge mound of avocados was surrounded by pumpkin seed, almond pralines and manchego cheese. For some reason everything in this dish just worked. The vinaigrette, the pumpkin and cheese. I pretty much licked the plate clean.

Mr. T’s dish was also a winner. He ordered the Colombian Arepa and Poached Egg.

Okay first of all, look at how beautiful this dish is!!! Such vibrant colors with the green and red, it was almost too pretty to eat!

The poached egg was accompanied by a nice big piece of chorizo, creamed spinach and crispy little bits of bacon. This dish rocked!!! Possibly the best brunch dish I have ever had. The creamy spinach complemented the spicy choizo and salty bacon perfectly. The only thing wrong with this dish is that there wasn’t more of it!!! So freaking good.

So overall we really enjoyed Onda. Everything tasted super fresh and our service was very friendly and efficient. If I lived downtown I would eat at Onda every weekend- seriously! I absolutely loved it. It may be my new excuse to hang out near the Seaport a little bit more..

Mr. T and I left very happy and set off to the next adventure in what turned out to be a very exciting day…..

Onda Restaurant

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mr. T's Birthday Weekend- DBGB

It was Mr. T’s birthday this past week and we celebrated by having three nights of good food and drinks.

Thursday night we I took him out to his favorite Japanese place in the city- Sushi Yasuda. We sat at the counter right in front of Yasuda himself and enjoyed piece after piece of utterly delicious sushi. I swear there is no better fish in the city and Yasuda’s laugh alone is reason enough to go!

Friday we braved the rain storms and made our way to Radegast in Brooklyn to celebrate with friends. If you know anything about me it’s that I love, love, love German beer and beer halls. Radegast is huge compared to my favorite Zum Scheinder and has a ton of fantastic beers.

It was too dark inside to get any pictures but they have one of the best additions to a brat I’ve ever seen- a pretzel bun. OMG!!! Why doesn’t Zum have this!! A buttery warm pretzel roll with nice big grains of salt was the perfect carrying case for my freshly grilled brat. All of the meats are done cafeteria style on the big grill at the back, ensuring each order is piping hot and super fresh.

If Radegast wasn’t such a trek from my apartment I would be hanging out there a LOT!

Saturday Mr. T’s folks came into the city and we decided to check out Daniel Boulud’s new restaurant DBGB Kitchen and Bar.

We arrived a little bit early for our reservation so we grabbed a couple of seats at the bar. I liked the décor of the front area. There were nice big windows for people watching and cute little phrases about food written all over the mirrors and wall.

I was impressed with the number of craft beers they have in stock and found it quite difficult to choose. I ended up trying a Hopf Hefeweizen that was pretty good. It came in a big bottle so they kindly put it on ice so it would stay cool.

Once everyone in our party arrived they brought us to our table and we set to ordering up some appetizers. DBGB is known for its’ varieties of sausage so we decided to check out four different types and compare.

The first one was my favorite of the bunch the Chipolata with pommes mousseline.

This was a long pork sausage that had a nice garlicky taste. I’m such a sucker for pureed potatoes so that might have tipped the scale of this dish a little as well.

There are actually two in this next picture- the one in front is the Toscane and the one in back is the Vermont. The Vermont is listed on the menu as smoked pork & cheddar link, hash browns and red onion crème frache. Sounds pretty good right?

Unfortunately the sausage wasn’t that great. The cheddar was more on top of the sausage than inside and the red onion crème frache really didn’t have that much flavor.

The Toscane fared a little bit better. I enjoy Italian sausage and while the garlic olive oil was a little too spicy for my tastes it still had a nice flavor.

Our last sausage was the Boudin Basque which I didn’t get a picture of. I had never had blood sausage before and I wasn’t exactly keen on trying it, but I had a little bite. I have to say it had an amazing rich taste that was unlike anything I have ever eaten. I just can’t get over the whole blood thing. It kind of grosses me out.

For my main course I ordered the Piggie Burger.

This was a 6 oz beef patty topped with BBQ Pulled Pork from Daisy Mae’s, Boston lettuce and jalapeno mayonnaise on top of a cornbread cheddar bun.

Quite a fun presentation I thought! Here it is close up.

Whoa. This was a good concept but it just didn’t work. The pulled pork had so much smoky bbq flavor that I couldn’t taste the beef at all! I mean not one bit! I would never have known a burger was lurking under there somewhere if I didn’t see it. I ended up taking the pork off and there was quite a tasty burger underneath. It was too bad the flavor had been completely overwhelmed in the beginning.

Mr. T ordered the Paleron Carbonnade.

This had tender pieces of Flatiron steak that had been braised in a dark beer with root vegetables, making each piece of meat incredibly tender and moist. I loved the big pearl onions and the whole dish was extremely comforting.

I was incredibly stuffed at this point but I knew that desserts were in order. Luckily Mr. T’s mom agreed to split with me so I was able to indulge. I’m a sundae freak and these looked amazing.

This is our Coffee Carmel Sundae.

Huge scoops of Coffee and Carmel ice cream had little pieces of chocolate cookie, brownie, candied pecans and chocolate sauce all topped off with a fluffy dollop of whipped cream.

This dessert was awesome!!! I was so happy just looking at it. I don’t know why more places don’t specialize in sundaes. A little bit of extra topping goes a long way!

Mr. T was the only one who didn't order from the sundae list and got the Crepe Farcie.

This was a French crepe filled with warm chocolate coolant, roasted cherries and a side of Chantilly. I have to say this dessert pretty much rocked the house as well. The chocolate sauce was absolutely decadent and the roasted cherries had a strangely wonderful sweet and sour taste.

And did you notice the nice Happy Birthday message on the plate. I think Mama T. had something to do with that!

Okay now service wise I felt things were only just okay. It seemed like everything took a little bit longer than it should have. There were extended periods of wait between each course and I couldn’t figure out if it was our waitresses fault or the kitchen’s. Our server was certainly friendly enough but I felt like things weren’t going as smoothly as they should have.

Overall I liked the décor and vibe of DBGB. I would like to come back again and try some of their non-meat items and see how those are. I know I will be coming back again for their sundaes but that goes without saying!!

Overall it was nice to enjoy some time together and Mr. T had a wonderful birthday weekend.

DBGB Website

Radegast Website

Sushi Yasuda Website

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Black Iron Burger

The last meal of Mr. Pruner’s visit and he still hadn’t had a burger. The one thing he said he really wanted to get on this trip was a good burger and I hadn’t produced yet.

I was planning to take him to Prune for their English Muffin bonanza of beef on Thursday, but his plane was delayed and we lost our reservation.

Now it was Saturday night and I wasn’t sure what to do. Our three person group had grown to seven and everyone was looking to toss back some beers and chill out.

It was such a nice day the Stoned Crow seemed too underground, PJ Clark’s too far away, Shake Shack way too long a line. Then I thought of Royale, one of my favorite bars to grab a great burger and sit outside with some beers.

We hopped in a cab and headed to Royale only to find out they were closed for a private party.

Drat. We had taken a cab all the way down to Alphabet City and our only burger and beer idea was shot.

We started walking around kind of aimlessly looking for some ideas when Mr. T suddenly remembered that Black Iron Burger Shop was nearby.

I had never tried it out but if burgers are their specialty they have to be good right?

We walked into Black Iron and found it quite a tiny space. They kind of jammed the 7 of us back in the corner table explaining that they couldn’t move the tables at the front together because it just wouldn’t work.

So we squeezed in and ordered up some beers from their short, but impressive craft beer list.

For our mains almost everyone ordered the burger medium rare with cheddar cheese.

The patty was a lot thinner than I thought it would be and kind of greasy. The bun didn’t fit the size of the wide burger but did a good job of soaking up all of the juices.

I have to say I really enjoyed this burger. I like a greasy burger now and then and this one was dripping with grease and had a great beefy flavor that went well with the cheddar cheese.

The fries were pretty good as well- long, skinny and crisp.

However the star of the show would have to be the Onion Rings. Man these things were huge and had the best salty, sweet, I want to gobble you up in two seconds flat even if it gives me a heart attack flavor!!! Whew!!

All that being said however, I’m not sure if I will be back right away.

First of all I told you about the cramped seating. When we left, I noticed a group of seven had come in and pushed the tables up front together like we had asked to do. I don’t understand why they accommodated them and not us?

Second of all, if you bill yourself as a burger shop, than I expect your burgers to be pretty spectacular. Overall they were pretty good but no where near to being up there as far as burgers joints go. In fact- when I think about burger places in the city this place probably won’t even come to mind.

However if I’m craving onion rings it probably will. So maybe they should call it Onion Ring shop?

Oh well- we were in desperate need and it did the trick. Next time the Pruner visits I may have to make up for it by having a purely burger weekend. That sound pretty damn good to me.

Black Iron Burger

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Brunch at PS 450

Saturday morning I awoke with the hugest craving for bacon and eggs I’ve ever had in my life. Sometimes I get carvings like this and they won’t go away until the need is met. I actually start to feel a little crazy if it lasts too long.

Anyway- I anxiously awaited the arrival of my other friend and once she got in the city we headed to PS 450 for some brunch.

PS 450 is basically a bar but I heard it had some good brunch specials so I thought we’d try it out. I would love to find a brunch place where I can get some good food and be able to watch some sports on TV.

Walking into PS 450 one of my requirements was met immediately- two plasma TV’s right above the bar. Perfect.

Once we were seated they brought us over a nice little basket of baked goods to start.

Mini muffins, cornbread and biscuits were accompanied by two different jams and some butter.

The biscuits were a little dry but the mini cornbread and muffins really hit the spot. I love it when brunch starts with some free pastries!

Of course I had to order exactly what I was craving Two Eggs Scrambled with Bacon.

Holy Pig Products Batman!!! That’s a lot of Bacon!

I couldn’t believe how much food they gave me. Four slices of toast, eggs and an enormous mound of hash browns. I powered my way through as much as I could but at least half of my plate was leftover.

My dish was nothing special but it was a solid bacon and egg breakfast that completely satisfied my craving.

Other options on the menu included a Cobb Salad.

The lettuce came shredded which my friend loved and with a generous amount of avocado, blue cheese and a crispy fried piece of prosciutto on the top. Unfortunately there was some kind of herb in the salad I didn’t like. It kind of reminded me of cilantro but I’m not sure. There were so many flavors going on in that bowl it was a little overwhelming. It said it came with an herb dressing that might have been the culprit.

However my friend loved it and again the portion was more than generous.

Our third and last dish were the Egg Sandwich Sliders.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese all sandwiched between some mini brioche buns made for quite a nice and filling breakfast. Again the dish was too huge to handle and we were all stuffed at the end.

So the Pros: Good food, TV’s, great service, free muffins, mimosas…WAIT I didn’t even tell you about the best part! The mimosas!

Okay so for each enormous dish you saw, the bread basket and UNLIMTED Bloody Mary’s Bellini’s and Mimosas… it was $20 each.

Now that is a bargain. I think we had about 3 drinks a piece and we could have kept going if we didn’t have plans to be productive that day.

So PS 450 may be one of my new favorite brunch spots. It’s not fancy, don’t come here expecting to be blown away by the food. It’s just good solid food in a laid back setting and lots of drinks!

PS 450