TriBeCa

American Cut Burger Bar – NYC’s Best Kept Lunch Secret?

american-cut-mfcBloggers who lunch.  Doesnt quite have the same ring to it, but holds much truth.  Bloggers love to eat, and unlike many others respect and value each lunch like their life dependent on it.  There’s nothing more disappointing than a lunch fail, or checking the hours of a hot tip only to discover they open at 6 pm.  Well, I guess I can think of a few things more disappointing (current Walking Dead season feels like the writers got replaced with real zombies) but you understand what I mean.  Talking to some restaurant owners lately, like Bruno Pizza, you get a sense that they would really love to open for lunch but just dont have the talent to do so.  Not to mention the slower lunch demand in residential neighborhoods like East Village and Hell’s Kitchen.

Even Yelp is confused on how to handle the current hours of Z-List noob American Cut, as its listing the restaurant, not the bar.  But the “Burger Bar” is open in Tribeca and it might be NYC’s biggest lunch secret.  You see for a while fellow Anguilla lover Marc Forgione and American Cut offered limited burgers at the bar.  They would send a tweet each day at 4:20 to announce how many burgers were available.  As a result, people started missing parole interviews and would forget to pick up their kids from daycare, in order to get a crack at the burger.  After day care owners complained, and local senior citizens petitioned that they cant get there fast enough, American Cut decided to convert its bar into a Burger Bar with its own dedicated menu a la a less fancy NoMad Bar.

And as you can imagine, burgers dominate much of the menu.  There’s a burger of the day, a “competition” shake shack like sounding burger (perhaps thats why its called competition), and a full 8 oz American Cut Burger.  Gotta start this new relationship with the namesake, which is a proper steakhouse burger.  A perfectly cooked medium rare patty of brisket, short rib and dry aged rib eye, with bourbon onions and beer cheese.  Beer cheese!   A common thing if you are from Wisconsin, but not so much in NYC.  Some will scold at the idea, but if the option is there to add egg, I do it even on premium beef.  This burger ranks high up there with the best of them.american-cut-burger

And then there’s the MFC, Marc Forgione’s Chicken which I had on another day.  Possibly the most outrageous fried chicken sandwich in a city suddenly filled with outrageous fried chickens.  Buttermilk/Tobasco marinaded, sprinkled with a special spice blend from the spice master Lior Lev Sercarz, and coated with Chili peppercorn honey which you get more on the side.  The chicken lies between two house made everything Biscuits lightly smothered with their own ranch, and pickles.  It all somehow works nicely, with the juicy tender crispy chicken leading the way.  Only caveat is that the sandwich is a little large and to eat it can be a little laborious.  But the way I see it, to fully enjoy a Marc Forgione’s Chicken, you need to work it my friend!  Ok ok, sounded funnier in my head

Another little issue with both the chicken and the burger is that the slaw you get on the side is a little too oniony (and i love oniony).  And the fries the second time around were overcooked, otherwise they can be solid.  Go!

American Cut Burger Bar
363 Greenwich St (Franklin/Harrison), Tribeca
Rating: Two Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as thatamerican-cut-burger-bar

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The Grand Banks – Shaken, Not Stirred

Grand Banks ViewA rare post about a meal that frankly wasn’t great.  I dont normally write those, and I’m not necessarily starting now.  On the contrary in fact, this is a recommendation.  On occasion, even foodies have to swallow their pride, and eat overpriced potato chips with a hint of sea sickness, and a view that turns those potato chips into very good potato chips.  Just dont be me and forget your big boy camera at home.  Even take a photography lesson if needed for this one.  To have any sort of view in the city, you either need to be up somewhere, or swim somewhere else.  This is the latter.

Someone asked me recently to recommend something for a couple in their 30’s on a first date.  30 minutes and 20 questions later, I recommended The NoMad Bar, Santina, and The Grand Banks, a schooner (boat) docked on the tip of pier 25 in Tribeca between May and October.  Albeit, this was before my recent meal there, though my confidence in the place wasnt exactly shattered.  The Grand Banks is the kind of place you want to take everyone.  Friends, neighbors, co-workers, work neighbors.  In My office floor, there are two companies, and you can easily distinguish the two when you visit the man’s bathroom (maybe the female too, who knows).  While we go in and out and do our business as quickly and clean quiet as possible while playing Doodle Jump, the other office members like to chat to each other, and wheel and deal while sitting in their stalls.  Yes, those guys especially would enjoy the Grand Banks.  But I cant picture them enjoying the stalls there nearly as much

There’s a good chance upon sitting down, that your first urge will be to get up and leave (wonder how many do).  The boat will shake.  Its just a matter of how much shaking you are willing to take.  But unless you easily get seasick, you should be golden.  It’s sort of a hot spot at peak times, so plan accordingly.  They take reservations on OpenTable which I find a little bizarre, yet convenient.Grand Banks Ceviche

Something tells me the food is better than this.  I’ve been to the Grand Banks before for the coveted lobster roll, but this time we came back with another couple for lunch.  The menu consists of seafood driven small plates ranging between $15 – $28.  The more expensive items like the pictured three piece Tilefish is still considered a small plate by all measures.  The fish was cooked well, but did not offer any distinct flavor.  The Ceviche this day (it changes based on market availability) featured slices of scallops that lacked any sort of oomph, and were rather limp.  The asparagus was perhaps the surprising highlight after the roll.

The lobster roll was still as good as before based on my three bites (I shared it this time with my significant other).  And as with pretty much any lobster roll in town, it will not win any value awards.  But for this price ($26?), I wish they’d pull a Cull & Pistol and offer it with their terrific fries instead of potato chips.  The roll is served Maine style cold, with cucumbers that would probably make roll traditionalists vomit at the sight.  But I dont mind it as it helps keep the bread texture intact, and never gets soggy (I’m looking at you Red Hook Pound) without interfering with the meat flavor.

So whether you are a young couple looking for something different to do, an older gentlemen who likes young couples, someone who likes to chat in the bathroom, or sing in the shower, check out this little love boat.Grand Banks Asparagus Grand Banks Lobster Roll Grand Banks TileFish The Grand Banks Grand Banks

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American Cut – An American Review

American Cut SteakI had a strong hunch about American Cut.  Aided by clues I gathered here and there, there was enough to believe that it is one of the strongest, unsung heroes of the NYC steak scene.  When our fine Hungarian Damian Lewis waiter asked us if we’ve been here before, I suppose I should have said yes, to save the usual 5 minute spiel about the menu and its content.  I already had your signature steak, and even the chili lobster, even though I’ve never actually set foot at American Cut.  But now I’m finally here, and I dont know what took me so long.

Remember when I said “now I’m finally here, and I dont know what took me so long”?  Well, I lied!  I do know.  Living in NYC, and its ever evolving food scene can make you forget about good ole’ boring steakhouses rather quickly.  Especially those classic, old fashioned ones, where the waiters are over 60 and the clientele is even older.  The same fine dry aged cuts can nowadays be found in [name any Italian, American French, Portuguese, your uncle Bob, you name it restaurant].  Not to mention the many modern steakhouses like the fine, Z-List winner Bowery Meat Company in the East Village.  But American Cut feels like a steakhouse like no other.  Perhaps the perfect kind for those looking for that classic American steakhouse experience.American Cut

At the great risk of sounding like a Yelp review…  From the moment we entered until the moment we left, with Hungarian Damian Lewis taking good care of the four of us during, its was pretty flawless.  Long time EWZ historians will tell you that its a tough feat, as I always, I mean always find a flaw, or four.  It was just about the opposite of our recent experience at the meat experts at Quality Italian in Midtown where the flaws just kept coming and coming like erectile dysfunction commercials.  Perhaps a testament to eating in the heart of Midtown vs residential Tribeca.  American Cut felt unique.  Like old and new New York  rolled into one.  Comfortable, elegant, fun, theatrical, attentive, unfussy, with a great menu that delivers.  Flawless!

Biscuits – I’ve had worst bread that I paid for than this complimentary beauties.  Everything Seasoned, extra large biscuits with room temperature (key) buttery veggie cream Cheese.  Its the Scarpetta affect (owned by same group) where you in danger of losing yourself and your appetite during the bread course.  Save some for the saladAmerican Cut Biscuits

Caesar Salad – Excellent.  Prepared table side, old fashioned by your waiter, with eggs and croutons.  A fine rendition.  And if there was ever a time and place to order the Caesar, it’s hereAmerican Cut Caesar Salad

Octopus – Expertly cooked octopus, with marcona almonds, nutty romesco sauce, and celery for some reason.  Solid starter nonetheless

Latkes – This was a side that we elected to have a starter.  A very respectable version that would make any Jewish mother proud.  That’s perhaps the best compliment I can give to latkes.  A “bissel” heavy so be carefulAmerican Cut Octopus American Cut Latkes

The New York City Cut – The somewhat confusingly named signature dish.  Its not a NY Strip, but a 20 oz bone-in rib eye, 30 day dry aged, rubbed with Pastrami spices.  The spices aren’t as overwhelming as one might expect.  Nor the layer of mustard seeds sitting underneath that just gives it a little more tang.  Its a nicely marbled, high quality cut that couldn’t be cooked any more perfect.  As I mentioned we already had this at half sister Khe-Yo nearby as a special.  It was slightly different (without the mustard seeds) but with similar results.  We ordered two of those babies.American Cut Rib eye
Sides – This is where I feel American Cut separates itself from the rest.  In addition to the Latkes, you got some very impressive sides here that makes ordering a little difficult.  That’s one reason you should order the latkes or something else a starter.  Unless we just hit the jackpot with the creamy, bacony “Dry Aged” thin sliced Potatoes, and the banging Brussel Sprouts infused with that spicy Khe-Yo Bang Bang sauce.American Cut Potato
Dessert – The Crackerjack ice cream with popcorn ice cream is the undeniable crowd favorite here, but what stole the show for us was the AC Carbomb, chocolate bread pudding with boozy Jameson Butterscotch, bananas, and Guinness Ice Cream.  As I said, flawless
American Cut Steakhouse Tribeca
363 Greenwich St
$$$$
Recommended Dishes: All of the above
American Cut Bread Pudding
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Khe-Yo – Steak of the Year and More

Courtesy of Zagat

Courtesy of Zagat

Feels weird writing about steak after the horrific events in Paris.  But life goes on.

Steak to me is like Family Guy.  I enjoy it tremendously, but rarely seek it.  I grill it at home, I order it when I feel like it, but rarely crave and go out of my way for it.  Steakhouses in general are not part of my regular diet, and the vast majority of my steak intakes come from non-traditional steakhouses and elsewhere (Italian, French, American).  But then, about once a year, I get to taste something like this, which makes me question my diet and our overall existence.  I’m well overdue with this post since this particular piece of meat has been on my radar for a few years now.  And for the same reason I dont record new Family Guy episodes, I’ve never actually made it to American Cut to have it.  But I thought this was a post about Khe-Yo Ziggy.  Liar!

American Cut is Marc Forgione’s steakhouse in Tribeca.  Khe-Yo is its exotic, wild half sister.  She sleeps naked, whistles at construction workers, and doesn’t come to company meetings on time.  Khe-Yo is a collaboration of Forgione, another dude, and Laos born Soulayphet Schwader offering Laos inspired dishes (Essentially Thai on Crack).  I’ve been to Khe-Yo before including four days after it opened in 2013, but this time I figured I’ll bring Mrs Ziggy for her first Khe-Yo experiences.  However, things didn’t quite go as planned.  They were better.Khe-Yo Sticky Rice

Before the waitress had a chance to tell us about today’s specials, I already knew that we were having the steak special.  That’s because my sharp steak radar was able to pick up these words from the table nearby “Pastrami, rubbed, rib eye, hmmmm, yes, so good”.  It sounded like what you normally hear at the other end of a sex line (I was told).  The Ribe eye, rubbed with pastrami seasoning is after all, the Amarican Cut classic I keep hearing about.  And it was as magnificent as I imagined.  Expertly cooked, good size steak, that’s easily shareable between two ($56).  The meat cant get much more tender for a rib eye, with perfectly rendered fat.  The peppery pastrami crust is nicely charred and buttery.  Its the perfect steak!

If you want a great steak you should probably go to American Cut.  If you wan to experience the bold flavors of Laos, dont mind to get your hands dirty (or dont mind having your spouse feed you in public), and can handle some heat, than I highly recommend Khe-Yo.  They start you off with a bang, the complimentary sticky rice with fiery “Bang Bang” sauce (lime, chili, fish sauce) that sets the tone for things to come.  You eat that and much of the rest with your fingers.  The smell for the next 10 hours is complimentary as well.  Try the complex Jurgielewicz Duck Salad, the quail, and the crunchy coconut rice balls with sausages.  I wish they would provide more sausages with that rice.  And finish off with the apple crumb with pineapple and rum raisin ice cream.  The whole meal is like Havah Nagila in your mouth!

Khe-Yo
157 Duane St
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Jurgielewicz Duck Salad, quail, coconut rice, Rib Eye (if you lucky)Khe-Yo

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Best Wings in NYC

Kolkovna Olympia wings

Updated 1/24/17

Ok, so we are all adults here.  We all know perfectly well that these are NOT the best wings in the city.  In the city that never sleeps, and never runs out of wings, there are hundreds of wings out there, not counting the simple bar wings you can find in every corner.  But I’m just one Ziggy, with different taste sensitivities than many readers, and I cant taste them all.  “Decent wings” or “favorite wings” doesnt sound as convincing, or Google friendly.  With that said, there’s only one certainty:  The competition is rather fierce.  And any new joint offering wings has to be creative, and deliver something more than palatable.

Since the average wings researcher has shorter attention than other researchers (eg Ramen), I’m only listing my favorite five, with more solid options at the end

Ma Peche – Jerk Wings. (Upate 9/19/16:  Havent seen them on the menu in a while due to rotating chefs.  Shame, shame, shame!).  If I have to pick one, this is probably it.  The love affair started with the wings being part of the cart service.  Whenever I would bring guests here, my attention span would drop to wings researcher levels until I’d finally spot the cart of dreams carrying them.  These days the wings are part of the menu and they are better than ever.  An explosion of complex jerky, zesty, habanero, brown sugary flavors fill your palate and stay for a few good minutes, or days sometimes if you don’t rush to wash those handsMa Peche wings

Distilled – Distilled Wings.  A former Momofuku alumni has been quietly dishing out great wings in Tribeca.  Distilled may be better known for their mixologist team as of late, but those wings have been on the menu since day one.  These are grade A quality hefty wings.  They are double fried to crispy perfection, and coated with a thick and messy layer of Gochujang (that fermented Korean sauce you put on your Bibimbap).  And they serve it with their own version of not too funky blue cheese dressing to cool things down.  Truly excellent wings.Distilled wings

Danji – Spicy ‘k.f.c.’ Korean Fire Chicken Wings.   Love at first sweat, around four years ago.  I like to bring visitors here on occasion, though I don’t love when they witness me lick my own fingers which may be considered rude.  What’s more rude me thinks is wiping off that awesomeness with wet napkins.  Heat level has been steady all these years, so make sure to have the fantastic tofu before altering your palate.  This is pure delicious heat, as opposed to senseless.Danji - Wings

Biang! – Chicken Wings Skewers. This dish prompted me to bump up this post.  In fact it was as soon as I finished my wing, and right before trying to convince my daughters that its way too spicy and there’s more food coming.  It didnt work, as they gobbled those things in full force.  One can easily overlook them because Biang! is known for just about everything else but wings, but dont make the mistake.  Like Pok Pok below these are full high quality wings, and oh so nicely seasoned to absolute perfection.  And while you at it, also try the Cauliflower skewers.  Yes, not a typo.  Cauliflower!

biang-wings

The Cannibal (Gotham West Market) – Chili and Garlic Wings.  These wings dont carry the same spice punch as the others.  They are milder, but far from lacking in flavor.  The wings are marinated, slow roasted, and breaded before cooked in the Cannibal’s high powered oven.  Kitchen space is limited in Gotham West so they need to be creative.  The zesty aioli and the little oniony salad served on top compliment nicely.  And the skin and the juicy meat are happily married.  And dont forget about the sick Pig’s Head Cuban.  This is quickly becoming my favorite Gotham West menuCanibbal - wings

Jun-Men Ramen – Chicken Wings.  A must order for me on each visit since discovery.  4 plain looking wings, but far from plain tasting.  They are double fried to give them a nice crisp, but retain plenty of juice and strong peppery notes from the secret Jun-Men sauce.  Even without the wings this is one Chelsea favorite.

jun-men-wings

Pok Pok – Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings.  Unlike the other wings here, wing historians out there are probably already well too familiar with this legendary pick.  Articles, cookbooks, essays, children books (Goodnight Pok Pok Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings!) written about these wings.  Somewhat inaccessible to most people so you wont find any tourists or Staten Islanders here normally.  You can have the wings at the Whisky Soda Lounge next door while you wait for your table.   The wings are huge, spicy, garlicky, on the dry side, but flavor packed.  Put this one on your bucket list.  Before the Great Wall of China, after Story Time with Bill Cosby.Pok Pok Wings

Pondicheri – Masala Wings.  These wings are as complex as the name.  Is it Masala wings? Is it Madras?  Doesnt matter, its all good.  The wings are slow baked, liberally coated with Garam Masala, and Mango Powder seasoning and served with two chutneys including chili and tamarind.  They are aromatic and delicious, with the proper texture in and out.  And while you at it, try any of the Thalis for breakfast or lunch, followed by anything from the unique bakery like the ice cream sandwich

pondicheri-masala-wings

Bar Goto – Miso Wings.  Black Sesame, Scallions, House Spicy Miso Sauce.  These are some of the best bar wings you will find in NYC.  But in this semi-classy tiny Japanese cocktail joint, they will test your high-toned manners.  You may find yourself sitting at the bar, talking politics with the bartender, while in desperate need of extra napkins to wipe the Miso glaze around your lips and sponge your sweaty forehead (these are hot!).  And while the bartender exclaims his views on Trump, all you can think about is “Is it Miso, or is it Buffalo”.  And once you think you got your classiness under control, you cant help but lick your fingers.  All of them.  Slowly.

goto-wings

Han Dynasty – Dry Pepper Chicken Wings.  For a white, spicy lover like myself, these are what the Mission Chinese Food wings should taste like.  They are marinated in sherry, cayenne, garlic, white pepper, and ginger. And stir-fried with a hefty dose of chili paste, chili peppers, garlic and scallions.  They are more subdued than Mission’s, but not without its share of nice pleasant heat.  Some of the pepper action bunched together into something reminiscent of a Yemeni S’chug (hot pepper spread).  The skin is as crispy and delicious as it comes, which made me wish for more flesh to balance.  Wonderful stuff!

han-dynasty-wings

FOB – Spicy Chicken Langkawas.  This one is all about the sauce.  When the waiter takes the plate before you are totally done with that sauce, you stare at him like he’s a bully trying to take your food.  The wings are grilled, so not so much of a skin crunch.  But the flavor is there thanks to the wonderful, addictive thick salsa of chilies, lime, and coconut milk.  I’m starting to think that finger-licking-good was invented in the Phillipines, with all that Adobo, and various sauces they make.  The wings are one of many inspiring goodies coming out of this homey Filipino kitchen in Brooklyn

fob-chicken-wings

Other Notables:  Mighty Quinn’s, Mission Cantina, Bonchon, Mission Chinese Food (not a fan personally but it has a huge following), International Wings Factory

Categories: Brooklyn, Midtown West, New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Battle of The Bridges: Seeking Best Pizza, Fuku, Wings

204Winter is coming!  Time to file some Citibike miles under the belt.  About twice a year the Hummus Whisperer and I take a day riding between the boroughs (Brooklyn and Manhattan) losing crazy amount of calories, while gaining back three times as much from munching in various places.  We try to hit at least 5 random spots, some are planned, some not.  This time HW couldn’t make it, but we did meet up at some point.  Here’s how the ride went

In my constant pursuit of great chicken wings as of late (another middle age crisis symptom), I targeted two year old Distilled in Tribeca.  Distilled originally opened as an interesting looking destination spot from a Momofuku Noodle veteran, and settled down into more of a popular neighborhood gastropub with a talented team of mixologists (partly judging by the exceptional Bloody this morning).  But the one constant since the beginning seem to be the glorious wings.  They are double fried to crispy perfection, and coated with a thick and messy layer of Gochujang (that fermented Korean sauce you put on your Bibimbap).  They serve it with their own version of not too funky blue cheese sauce to cool things down.  Really excellent hefty, top quality wings.Distilled wings

Back on the bike, sort of full after just 5 wings (I left one for good luck), where to go next?  Cutting across east I decided to bike the selfie stick happy Brooklyn Bridge.  With all the crowds and craziness, I still rather bike iconic Brooklyn Bridge than any other bridge.  Then down to Sands street, Flushing, and Kent before crossing the Jewish side of Williamsburg and parking by old favorite Zizi Limona.  The one big surprise here is the large Puerto Rican community in this part of the woods.  The big parade was in Manhattan this day, but I felt the celebration here in Brooklyn.  With Citibike, I feel like I’m rediscovering my own city

Best PizzaMy next destination is a slice of Pizza.  Yes, I biked all the way here from Tribeca for a slice.  But lets go back for a sec.  About a year ago, when I had one of those cherished free days, I decided to drive around Brooklyn for various iconic slices I haven’t had in a while and more.  I had the great L&B Spumoni, the legendary Di Fara (after a 45 minute wait), and then drove to Williamsburg for Best Pizza which proved to be Best of the bunch especially while factoring in some of the pain involved getting some of the others.  The funny part is that Roman based food writer Katie Parla did something similar a month later, and also proclaimed Best Pizza as the winner.  Now, back for yet another NY style slice (need to save room for the next most highly anticipated stop) from the wood burning oven, with that signature basil leaf in the middle for added aroma.  Great slice again with an unusually well balanced cheese/sauce proportions.  Owner Frank has an extensive pizza resume, along with a stint at the Culinary Institute of America.  The paper plate art alone including the “Jews love Best Pizza” plate is worthy of a schlep.Best Pizza art

photo (18)Back on the bike, and back to the “city” via the much quieter Williamsburg Bridge.  The emptiness means more freedom to move around so you can fly like a bold eagle!  Until you realize you are on a Citibike, and you are dangerously close to being passed by an 80 year old woman (that actually happens often to me in Italy).  Its hard to look cool on those little blue bikes, especially in Central Park.  The only chance you have is to ride in the rain (not drizzle, rain), or with just one hand.  Until you face another blue frontal balding biker riding with one hand and you realize it doesn’t look as cool as you thought.

Anyway, sometimes the most anticipated items prove less than thrilling at the end (see Best vs Di Fara).  Such is the case with Fuku, the hottest sandwich in town at the moment from David Chang’s Momofuku empire (As some of you know, I’m a fan).  Perhaps I got Fukued.  My 30 minute wait was about half outside, half in after paying for it.  “Credit Only for now” is something I haven’t heard anywhere yet I don’t think.  After paying, you get a number with a stick, and you can stand with your number just about anywhere looking like a dork, for the order girl to eventually find you.  Sort of like one of those bachelorette games…”bachelor #23 if you were a kitchen appliance, what appliance would you be”… Eventually the “spicy fried chicken” arrives.  Its a flat almost schnitzel like, thigh meat sandwiched by a tiny potato roll that is meant to serve as a handle.  Not the sexiest looking thing.  There are also sliced pickles in there somewhere that serve almost no purpose.  The first few bites were interesting, featuring decent flavor, then the struggle took over.  Stringy, uneven texture throughout, with crust and meat not so happily married.  Not very spicy for a sandwich called Spicy Chicken. It wasn’t a total mess, but far from that hot, much anticipated item I was so looking forward to.  Try for yourself!Fuku

photo (99)A Battle of the Bridges is incomplete without my favorite thirst quencher which happens to be nearby, the Grasshopper from Liquiteria.  Its not cheap at around $9, but so refreshing on a hot day.  I proceeded then west, cruising 13th st, passing Da Andrea, All’Onda and eventually Santina on the way to meet Hummus Whisperer and baby Hummus Whisperer at the new Whitney Museum by the Highline.  There I rediscovered the joys of quirky American art, and the joys of watching quirky American art while holding hands of a baby surrounded by the striking Manhattan upper class.  Its a a scientific theory that’s proven time and time again; Babies, preferably cute ones, are babe magnets!  The museum is actually very cool.  You can couple it with the Highline, and dinner/lunch at Untitled (thats the name) inside the museum, or Santina a few steps away.photo (16)

I said goodbye to HW and baby for hire and headed uptown via Hudson River Park, perhaps our most important and one of the most scenic bike paths.  Between the rotating art in the 50’s and 60’s, various parks (another good place to bring your neighbor’s babies!), piers, people watching, and stops along the the way like Chelsea Market, Gotham West, I can easily spend a whole day here.

My last stop was at one of the newest Hell’s Kitchen bakeries, Bibble & Sip.  Well technically just outside Hell’s Kitchen but got all the making of another unique Hell’s Kitchen bakery.  Nice place to sit, relax and BS all you want!  The Earl Grey Banana Bread is quickly gaining neighborhood fame.  Add the Matcha Cream puffs, various scones, the occasional English Muffins sliders and all sorts of rotating goodies.  I visited it three times before, and on this day the Earl Grey Panna Cotta proved to be the perfect finisher to a fun day.

bibble photo (13) photo (14) photo (15)

 

 

 

 

Categories: Brooklyn, East Village, Midtown West, New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

What to Eat in NYC – The Ethnic Plays

Taim falafelContinuing the What to Eat in NYC miniseries.  Part 1 is here.  Ethnic food is a big part of our daily diet hence it requires its own page.  What should you target in NYC of course depends on where you are coming from, but these are generally the areas of excellence in NYC…

Eat Thai – NYC has a thriving Thai food scene, and for reasons unknown to me the area known as Hell’s Kitchen is leading the Pad pack.  New Thai restaurants keep opening and existing ones keep multiplying right next to each other.  Yum Yum 1,2,3 all on the same block, and Wondee Siam with its three locations is another example.  But my favorites are Pure Thai Cookhouse with its vibrant menu, and fun vibe, and Larb Ubol specializing in Isan (North Thailand) cooking.  Lately however I’ve been cheating on those two with an old timer, Pam Real Thai.  Outside of HK, you got the great Somtum Der in East Village, and the popular Uncle Boons not too far.  Zabb Elee is another excellent Isan, and if you can somehow make it to Pok Pok in Brooklyn, you are in for a treat.  While not exactly Thai, the Laos inspired Khe-Yo is quite unique in itself and deserves a mention

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Eat Indian – We eat a lot of Indian food, and the scene overall is fairly competitive.  Between Curry Hill and Curry Row in the East Village alone you have a slew of very good options.  In the East Village, guidebooks and TV shows may direct you to the Gimmicky Bricklane Curry House, but I suggest heading to Malai Marke around the corner.  In Curry Hill you have Chote Nawab, the vegetarian Vatan, and the southern flavors of Kokum and Anjappar.  Moving uptown, Moti Mahal Delux is part of a worldwide chain known for their butter chicken, and newcomer Awadh across in the west.  But if you are mesmerized by the Times Square lights and cant leave, Basara on 9th may do the trick

Moti Mahal Cauliflower

Moti Mahal Cauliflower

 

Eat Middle Eastern -Middle Eastern plays a big part in our Mediterranean diet.  You got a few mini empires fighting for the top rights.  Einat Admony with Balaboosta, Bar Bolonat and Taim is perhaps the biggest Israeli name at the moment.  While Taboon continues to be a strong option in midtown, especially now with its original chef coming back.  Baby sister Taboonette dishes out unique healthy[ier] street food in Union Square.  Modern Lebanese hot spot Ilili has been around for some time now.  Gazala showcases her Druze specialties in two location, Gazala’s and Gazala’s Place.  And Zizi Limona in Williamsburg is a product of three veterans who know how to treat the classics well.  Speaking of which…

Bar Bolonat - Creme Brulee

Bar Bolonat – Creme Brulee

Eat Falafel – While visitors seek that perfect New York Cheesecake, keep in mind that we New Yorkers argue more on who has the best Falafel.  Is it Taim  in the village?  Is it Azuri in midtown where watching Ezra make it is like watching Picasso paint.  Or is it the nostalgically cheap Mamoun’s.  None of the above.  Top marks go to Nish Nush which is yet to be discovered by many locals, and those who did will certainty not appreciate me touting it.  But the others, especially Taim’s marvelous platter, and Azuri’s sandwich and Shawarma will do you just fine.

Nish Nush - Falafel

Eat Ramen – We are in the midst of a ramen revolution in NYC, and I dont hear anyone complaining.  Except for Mrs Z perhaps who wants to go to Ippudo now on a regular basis including Jewish holidays.  In Hell’s Kitchen alone you can feel that craze.  Even former none ramen establishments are joining the fun.  The delicious Akamaru Modern at Ippudo is leading the pack, while the Spicy Ramen at Totto is not far behind.  Ivan Ramen in Gotham West is another option, though I would be tempted to get the Smoked Salmon Donburi, formerly known as Smoked Whitefish Donburi instead.  But to get a fuller taste of the Ivan without sounding too dirty, one must go to the downtown location.  One option that gets overlooked by many is Bassanova in Chinatown with its fiery and unusual Green Curry Ramen.  And while you ate it, give the lemon and pepper Ramen a shot as well.

Ippudo - Akamaru Modern

Ippudo – Akamaru Modern

Eat Chinese – Some folks familiar with the Chinese scene here, may be asking themselves at this point, how is this guy going to cover our entire Chinese arsenal in one paragraph.  I cant, and I wont, but I’ll offer a small glimpse just like with the rest.  Some of the best Chinese Food is offered outside of our many Chinatowns, like the Szechuan Gourmet empire (I frequent the one on 56th st).  A recent discovery for me is Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns and their addictive Shanghai style soup dumplings.  Talking of which, Prosperity Dumplings is perhaps the biggest value in town, and that’s saying a lot.  Mission Chinese Food is the hottest Chinese play in the city right now, and may even be when you read this a year from now.  Han Dynasty, a Philly chain is doing a lot of things right seems like.  And do check out at least one of our Chinatowns.  Dim Sum in Golden Unicorn, or if you feel adventurous, East Harbor Seafood Palace in Brooklyn’s Chinatown, followed by cruising along tourist free zone 8th ave.

Gourmet Szechuan 56 - Shredded beef

Gourmet Szechuan 56 – Shredded beef

Eat Mexican – Lower your eyebrows and listen up.  The notion that there’s no decent Mexican in NYC is sooooo 2013.  In the last few years a slew of exciting young chefs like Alex Stupak has given us some very cool options.  Stupak perhaps is leading the rat pack with the Empellon empire… Empellon Cocina is the flagship, Empellon Taqueria is the high end Taqueria, while the new Empellon Al Pastor is the more basic Taqueria highlighting the namesake Al Pastor.  Other options include Tehuitzingo, the fine taqueria in Hell’s Kitchen and its bigger neighbor Tulcingo Del Valle.  Visitors flock to the more polished and Toloache practically in Times Square, and while I don’t have any quarrels with it (I recommended it myself), I tend to feel more at home in the previous two.  Los Tacos #1 at the Chelsea Market is another great option if you can brave the crowds, though I would opt for something more along the lines of Otto’s Tacos which is in the process of opening a branch in Hell’s Kitchen.  Another one to consider is Mission Cantina, home to the best Burrito in NYC, not surprisingly coming from the Mission neighborhood in SF

Mission Cantina Tacos

Mission Cantina Tacos

Eat Eastern European – Perhaps this is more for the Coney Island bound tourists who should keep in mind that there’s much more to downtown Brooklyn than a Hot Dog.  The area adjacent known as Brighton Beach is loaded with all sorts of great Uzbek, Russian, Georgian and even Uzbek/Korean delights.  Consider Cafe Glechik on Coney Island Ave, sort of a Russian institution in the area.  Or perhaps Tone Cafe, aka Georgian Bread for the great Adjaruli Khatchapuri.  Uzbek/Uyghur specialty Kashkar Cafe is an absolute gem, and one of my favorite restaurants in whole of Brooklyn.  For a livelier Uzbek filled with Russians on a daily basis there’s Cafe Nargis a few blocks north on Coney Island ave.  Cant leave Manhattan but still want a small taste?  Veselka, Oda House, and Uncle Vanya in midtown should be able to take good care of you.  Unless you are a vegeterian

Kashkar Cafe - Geiro Lagman

Kashkar Cafe – Geiro Lagman

Eat Tapas – Basque, other Spanish, Mediterranean tapas galore all over.  In Chelsea alone you can Patata Brava to your heart’s delight, starting with tiny Tia Pol and ending with Toro near the Chelsea Market.  In the East Village you have the fun Cata, and lately I’ve been itching to go back to her sister AltaTertulia has its fans in the West Village, while I’ve been enjoying its sister El Colmado in Gotham West Market lately.  Many locals are in love with Casa Mono, but I need a bit more convincing.  And watch out for newly opened Espoleta, some big names behind this project

Casa Mono Razor Clams

Casa Mono Razor Clams

Eat Miscellaneous – Do you honestly need more ideas?  I didnt think so.  But all of this is just scratching the surface of what the greatest food city in the world has to offer.  In Staten Island for example, you can take advantage of the large Sri Lankan community by trying the museum-like Lakruwana, San Rasa or New Asha.  Vietnamese food, while still lagging behind other cities, is getting better.  Try Co Ba and Co Ba 53.  How about some Korean like Danji, Jungsik, HIT Korean Deli or Food Gallery 32Filipino inspired?  We got plenty of that too.. Lumpia Snack Shack, and Maharlika are just some

Overwhelmed?  Join the club.  I only live here.

Jungsik Steak

Jungsik Steak

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

What to Eat in New York City

 

Best Pizza

Best Pizza

Oh no you didn’t…  Oh, yes I did!  A post on.. well.. everything.  I’m not writing about pizza or Indian food, or where to get the best Cheesecake, this is a post on everything.  A one time stop for the confused visitor that knows only what he reads in his guide book, and Trip Advisor ranking.  In other words, just a tad smarter than Klauss.  I have news for you Mr visitor.  We New Yorkers don’t eat Cheesecakes, Knishes, and Manhattan Clam Chowders.  Well, the last one on occasion, but having the word “Manhattan” in it should not automatically qualify it for the guidebooks.

A month ago at our company we had visitors from Minnesota.  When we ordered food for lunch, there was a moment that shook me a little.  One member of the Minnesota gang pointed to something and said “What’s that”.  To which I replied “this my friend, is a Falafel”.  Locals eat more falafels than Cheesecakes, Knishes, and Manhattan Clam Chowders combined in NYC, but you would never guess by just reading the guidebook.  Let me help set you straight

I will try my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, and update as often as I can.  Something to chew on before I leave for yet another trip to Turks (lobsta calling my name).  But there’s a chance I may forget a few things, so I would appreciate some help via comments if that indeed happens.  Its essentially a guide to help you understand what you should be targeting in NYC.  Here we go…

Eat Pizza – Yes, we eat a lot of pizza.  Every block where I live has these 3 essentials.  Pizza, Bagels, and a pharmacy to help you cope with all that pizza and bagels.  There’s great pizza everywhere in NYC and I’m not going to even attempt to name all the best spots, but here are a few

Merilu (2)

Merilu

   Slice – You have the usual suspects like Joe’s on Carmines and Di Fara in Brooklyn, but the truth is that there are plenty of solid slices out there and the 50th best slice is not really that far behind the 2nd best slice taste wise.  Consider Sacco in Hell’s Kitchen, Prince Street Pizza, Best Pizza” in Williamsburg might very well be best with their wood burning oven slice, and for something a bit different and not very New Yorky consider the thin squares at Merilu.  BTW, for those Di Fara bound, the pilgrimage may cost you half a day of travel and waiting for quite a while for your slice.  Not worth it if yo ask me, but if you must…

   Pies – While the guide books will guide you across the bridge and make you stand for 30-90 bone chilling minutes on a long line (and fail to tell you that the real Grimaldi is actually next door dishing them out at Juliana’s), you can get similar or better quality all over the city.  Consider Capizzi in midtown, where you will not find any long waits whatsoever.  Or how about the thin vodka pies at Rubirosa, an offshoot of the great Joe and Pat’s in Staten Island.  For your fancy Neapolitan pies there are a lot of great options and I strongly suggest to try at least one.  Consider Motorino, Don Antonio, Keste, Paulie Gees, and Roberta’s at a food festival near you (if you cant Bushwick it).  You can even get a decent pie in Eataly.  Also consider the Neapolitan archenemy, the mighty Roman pie at Marta.  Well, its not very mighty with its matzoh like thickness, but its quite delicious, not to mention everything else Marta offers.  You can have a great meal here without even touching the pies

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Eat Burgers – As with pizza this is a very difficult topic to cover as there are so many choices, and so many kinds.  You are not only dealing with a plethora of Burger joints but you also have them on just about every French/Italian/American, you name it menu and everyone trying to outdo each other.  For your fast food smallish burger, yes, I suppose Shake Shack will do, and the pain that comes with it (long lines, fighting an old lady for a seat).  But head to Gotham West Market, and you can find another solid burger at Genuine Roadside where you’ll find no lines, and no old ladies to fight.  Try the terrific Chicken Sandwich too while you at it.  For the middle of the road, regular burger try Corner Bistro, Island Burger and Shakes and the rest of my Hell’s Kitchen picks I outline here

Dutch - Burger

Dutch – Burger

For the fancier stuff, Minetta Tavern’s Black Label is still the king, as one of a few burgers out there where the meat is so good, you can get it practically naked.  Meaning the burger!  Also consider Minetta’s sister Cherche Midi’s much hyped burger these days.  Bowery Meat Company uses the same supplier for its excellent patty (though I wish the fries would have been better).  Other solid players include the Breslin’s terrific Lamb Burger, Bar Sardine’s popular Fedora burger, The Gender’s burger with beef aioli, and the Spotted Pig with its addictive fries.  But if you’d point a gun at my head and make me choose one, I would ask you to please put the gun down, then proceed to kick your ass and call the cops.  Once you are out, I would direct you to the NoMad Bar where you’ll find the best combination of quality burger, fries, and ease of getting a table (No reservations tho)

Spotted Pig Burger

Spotted Pig Burger


Eat Bagels, Lux
 – No shortage of great bagels all over town.  With Absolute Bagel, Pick-a-Bagel in midtown, Ess-a-Bagel, and Murrays you pretty much have all the corners covered.  And while Russ & Daughters doesn’t bake their own, their Brooklyn Supplier is as old school and solid as they come.  R&D is an icon, and so very touristy for good reason.  But once you experience it, consider something like Shelsky’s in Brooklyn, or Nordic Preserves in Essex Market, for much of the quality and none of the pain.

Russ and Daughters lox

Russ and Daughters lox

Eat Italian – In NYC, one should take advantage of our Italian dining. Even Italians coming from Italy do so, and appreciate the wide array that NYC has to offer.  From the amazing seafood of Marea, to simple neighborhood spots like Da Andrea.  Consider Mercato and its southern Italian fare (real southern, not Brooklyn southern), or perhaps Bat Pitti in the village.  How about All’onda, and Piora for some Asian influence.  Or a taste of Emilia Romagna in Osteria Morini or Salumeria RossiMarta can certainly enter the discussion, and its sister Maialino is perhaps my favorite of all.  If you need to choose one, thats the one.  Or consider Scarpetta whose menu includes many popular staples.  Babbo is possibly entering icon territory, Del Posto may be already there among the high ends, while the inventive Lincoln remains under everyone’s radar.  In NYC we also have the classic New York Italian, aka red sauce American Italian cuisine that one may try.  The Guide Books will direct you to the Theater District and Little Italy, but for proper tasting consider something like Rubirosa or Carbone

Lincoln Strozzapreti

Lincoln Strozzapreti

Eat American – This is another big topic.  The one place that always comes to mind where you can get that old quintessential NY feel is Minetta Tavern.  Eleven Madison Park light, The NoMad is another solid choice with its celebrated Chicken for two.  In Midtown consider Betony, runner up for James Beard’s Best New Restaurant award last year.  Louro is a dependable neighborhood joint with rotating menus, and theme dinners on Mondays.  Consider the Dutch and its terrific fried chicken and more, which brings us to Root and Bone where the bird reigns over a solid southern inspired menu.  The veggies reign supreme at Narcissa, and the Marshal is not only extremely veg friendly, but covers all the classics well.  For something different consider the winter game festival at Henry’s End.

You also have a slew of Asian inspired American like the inspiring Annisa, and the David Chang’s empire, especially Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Ma Peche.  Consider a visit to newcomer Tuome, featuring a young chef with an attitude.

NoMad Chicken

NoMad Chicken

Dicksons pastrami

Dicksons pastrami

Eat Pastrami – Yes, yes go to Katz’s.  That’s not a tourist trap, but the real deal.  In Midtown, Carnegie Deli keeps chugging along, while Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop in Flatironhas been raising New York’s cholesterol since 1929.  Try perhaps the Montreal Jewish style pastrami at Mile End.  Or for something completely different, consider the pastrami sandwich at Dickson’s the great meat purveyor in Chelsea Market where the pastrami is more marbled and comes with a smear of apricot chutney or however they do it that day.  Yummo!

Eat Steak – Visitors come to NYC looking to eat steak in something called a “Steakhouse”.  It’s one of the most common questions on Trip Advisor… what is the Best Steakhouse.  Well, you do have the icons like Keen’s, and Peter Luger that folks will no doubt pick over Wolfgang’s which started by an employee that worked for Luger for 40 years and offers a similar Porterhouse.  But the beauty of NYC steaks is that just like burgers, you can get great steak anywhere pretty much including in modern “I cant believe this is not a steakhouse” steakhouse.  Consider the Bowery Steak at Bowery Meat Company, which consists of the Ribeye cap (the best part of the ribeye).  The Minetta Tavern Cote de Boeuf is perhaps the most celebrated cut in Manhattan.  Though for us, that honor would go to the Costata Tomahawk Ribeye which like the Cote de Boeauf, can feed a small Armenian village.

Costata - Ribeye

Costata Ribeye

Eat French – Classic french, new and old are still plentiful in the city.  You got the usual haute suspects with Per Se, Le Bernardin, Jean-Georges, Bouley, Daniel (who am I missing.  I dont want to upset anyone and get hate mail).  Then you have the bistro fair like Balthazar, and yes even Minetta Tavern which I’m adding to just about every category here (they even have a take on the Italian Carbonara, called Pasta Za Za).  Consider Benoit in Midtown, and Chez Napoleon may be as old school as it gets.  For something different however, consider Le Philosophe for a fresh take on old classic

Le Philosophe - tournedos rossini

Le Philosophe – tournedos rossini

Eat BBQ – A few years ago, the proper recommendation would be to skip BBQ in NYC.  But time, they are a changing.  In midtown if you must, head west to Daisy May’s BBQ USA, in case you forget what country you are in.  In Brooklyn you have Fette Sau and BrisketTown which also sells its sick brisket on the High Line in the warmer months.  But the mightiest of all might very well be Mighty Quinn’s which you can enjoy in both West and East village, among other more remote locations.  For the “I cant believe this is not BBQ” experience that almost no one talks about, consider Georgia’s Eastside BBQ in the Lower East Side.

Eat Ethnic – Need to take a break.  More to come after these words from our sponsors…  Are your menopause changes causing bleeding, irritation, pain during sexual intercourse?  Try Premarin, a Virginal Cream you can count on.

Ok, I have a confession.  This was not a real commercial!  But, I do need to take a break, as my arm is tired and I already used all the adjectives known to me on one page

The ethnic plays will have their own page when the time comes.  Stay tuned…

Mighty Quinn's Brisket

Mighty Quinn’s Brisket

 

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Houston Street, We Have a Problem!

161A Note from the Editor:

In the summer, during my much anticipated staycation, there was a moment on the High Line that is etched in my mind.  We found ourselves almost paralyzed, stuck in rush hour Sunday afternoon traffic behind a family of 4, a rooster, and a pair of parakeets.  It was like a zoo!  We’ve seen our share of tourists at the High Line before but not to this degree, and with characters no less.  We needed to get out of there and we had to do it fast, after a bite of the Delaney Brisket of course.  A trip to the storied High Line coupled with braving the crowds of the Chelsea Market is now firmly on the tourists path.  Great for NYC, and all those Chelsea eateries that must be thriving just about now, right?  Not exactly.

A few weeks ago someone asked me if my knowledge of Hell’s Kitchen extends to Real Estate, for the purpose of finding a new home for La Lunchonette, a long time Chelsea institution.  In what seems like a daily occurrence of businesses closing its doors, La Lunchonette is just another one to bite the dust of rising rents.  Culprit in this case:  The High Line.  The park, along with new zoning permits attracting Real Estate developers who now see a lot of green in West Chelsea, and I’m not talking about the plants along the High Line that no one looks at anyway.  Current building owners succumb to offers they can’t refuse, essentially forced to evict their tenants in many cases.  According to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, the High Line is the cause of La Lunchonette’s demise, and presumably, many more will follow.

I guess we are done with gentrifying the island and now focusing on hyper gentrification?  I’m not pretending to know anything about economics or real estate.  I’m just a poor software developer who wants to have a f*** bagel or matzoh whenever I choose to, or whenever Jewish holiday dictates.  Excuse my Yiddish there.  Oh did I mention Streit’s Matzo Factory is closing soon and so is the original Ess-a-Bagel to make room for Bank of America and you guessed it.. a bagel shop.  How can anyone afford to run a business or live in NYC anymore.

The Union Square Area alone is one giant “For Rent” sign, led by Union Square Cafe which is forced to move after its lease is up.  Restaurants are getting squeezed left and right from 57th street to Houston Street.  In Hell’s Kitchen the action is slowly shifting to the West.  A Mexican restaurant owner recently told me he couldn’t afford being on 8th ave anymore and had to move all the way to 10th.  Meanwhile downtown, Brigadeiro Bakery finally found affordable space in Soho after selling their Brazilian Truffles from a Basement nearby for years.  Do you have a Bodega (Mexican deli) near you nowadays?  Bodegas are closing all over or forced to transform and unbodega themselves.

So whats in store for 2015 and beyond.  Brace yourself for more Bank of America, 7-Eleven, Chipotle, and Eataly which plans to open two more stores in NYC in the future.  While I love Eataly as much as the next guy (I spent 3 hours there last Sunday), I need more Eatalys like I need a pimple on my ass.  This expression never made much sense to me, until recently when I finally got one.  Those things can be truly annoying.  Anyway, I cant help but wonder how many more small mom and pops will close as a result of two more Eatalys.  Places like Di Palo’s, where you get a much more personal service, need to cherished like we cherish our kids.

But is it time to panic?  Yes!  I suppose 2014 also saw many new restaurants open, and I believe I even saw “Record Year” being proclaimed somewhere out there.  But with that I also noticed that my spending has increased, so no doubt I’m paying for the rent hikes as well.  How many of the new openings are truly affordable, with entrees below $20.  For every Lumpia Shack there seemed to be 10 Batards opening last year.  In Hell’s Kitchen new business owners used to find refuge on 9th ave, but now they find it on side streets where foot traffic is much lighter, or 10th ave where traffic is even worse.  Whenever I walk to Inti, a Peruvian gem on 10th where the Rotisserie chicken rivals anyone’s, I always wonder how they are still in business.  My co-worker believes they have a healthy delivery business

I still believe NYC is the greatest food city in the world, don’t get me wrong.  And the options I have in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens are limitless.  But I’m a little worried about the direction.  Perhaps the worry is for nothing and I should stick to writing about food.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, avoid the High Line

Ziggy

Editor in Chief

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, Queens, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, Trucks, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Tourist in My Own Town – Day 4

136   Partially thanks to the new view, I slept like a baby.  I woke up every 3 hours needed to be fed and changed.  I’m attaching a picture of the “Courtyard View” which I requested over the street view we got last week.  We checked out after playing a game we invented called “I spy a courtyard” (I won!) and off we went to Everyman Espresso for another fantastic latte.

We are walkers, especially in the morning, and on this morning we decided to walk all the way to Battery Park passing approx 17 neighborhoods on the way give or take.  East Village, West Village, South Village, Greenwich Village, Nolita, South East Village, Chinatown, Soho, you get the picture.  Free tip for men:  The best time to walk through Soho is Sunday morning where its nice and quiet, and all the stores are closed!

138

143We reach the Irish Hunger Memorial, dedicated to the million Irish killed in the great potato famine around 1850.  The great hunger led to millions fleeing to NYC, New Orleans, Australia and the relocation greatly shaped many NYC neighborhoods especially Hell’s Kitchen.  Its a memorial, not a museum, so there’s not a whole lot to see, but its fairly unique.  Large stones were brought in from the different Irish counties to represent them, and other stones were brought in to replicate a typical 1850 Irish cottage.

The transformation from the hustle and bustle of the city to Battery Park is akin to travelling from Milan to a small unassuming Italian Village with fewer cars, tourists, and more families.  We walked by the water toward our main destination of the day passing unique playgrounds, nice looking lawns with stunning settings, beach volleyball, and skateboard courts.  Kids here have it all.  When I was a kid, all I had was a tiny toy soldier, and a pack of cigarettes (I started smoking at 5, quit when 6, true story).  The Times They Are a-Changin’.

159 147 145 144

 

156It may sound strange to new readers, but perfectly fine to the rest, that I built the entire day around a Lobster Roll.  Well, not just a Lobster Roll.  The Grand Banks is a Schooner (a ship for the German readers) that is parked off Pier 25 and offers one of the best lobster rolls in town until November when they go south.  The roll is done Maine style which means cold, and I’m not the biggest fan of Maine style rolls unless they are done right using the meatiest parts of the lobster.  This one features plenty of Maine claw meat with tarragon mayonnaise, cucumbers and worth every penny of the $25.  Fries would have been nice but the potato chips are spiced so very nicely.  “Is Very Nice!” Borat would have said.  The boat rocks by the way.  I mean literally.  At some point after a few beers, the thought of pirates came creeping in.  The Somali type!

154

We then picked up CitiBikes and rode Hudson River Park a bit toward Chelsea and the Highline.  By this point Mrs Z is like a pro, utilizing all her fingers and command of the language.  I’m very lucky to have her.  The Highline on a Sunday afternoon is Meshugenah!  Crazy busy.  At some point we were stuck behind a family of 4, a rooster, and a pair of parakeets.  It was a zoo!

Real tourists, you are standing on the wrong line.  Instead of tacos, you need to stand for the greatest Brisket in the tri-state area, Delaney’s Brisket.  It was comical to see no line to this while a long line for the tacos.  A trip to Briskettown the flagship in Williamsburg may also be necessary if you are a brisket fan.  I once drove for takeout with the Hummus Whisperer to bring back to Staten Island.  Also right next to Delaney is great gelato from L’Arte del Gelato and not too far, north is a La Newyorkina stand offering artisanal ice pops.  Don’t discount those stands, as this is great stuff folks.

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We shared the brisket sandwich, with the 2 great sides, and off we went to the subway to catch the L to cross East to 1st Ave.  We then picked up the bikes again and rode them all the way to 60th, and I must say once again, if Mrs Z can do this, so can anyone.  And besides, 1st and 2nd avenues are great for bikers and very Obamacare friendly since all the hospitals are right there.

We took the Roosevelt tram to Roosevelt Island.  I was there a few weeks ago for the first time and this time came back with Mrs Z for her first time.  Again, I went the south route to the new FDR memorial park via the only ruins in the city of New York (Smallpox hospital).  FDR has a special meaning for us since we met in FDR high school in Brooklyn (awwwwe!).  Cant say enough about New York parks these days

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I picked dinner close to the tram and for me it was a no brainer especially after the movie the day before, Moti Mahal Delux.  Locals and most visitors may not realize that this is actually part of a world wide empire chain, originating in India.  While menu wise it didn’t feel as sexy as a Kokum, Chote Nawab, and some other we’ve visited over the years, this was a solid North Indian fare.

Evening time, we realize we have kids, they are coming tomorrow, and fridge is empty.  Back to Union Square and Whole Foods.  But right before, we found ourselves singing and dancing with Israel supporters at Union Square Park, which over time became a center for political rallies.

After Whole Foods we loaded the car next to Liquiteria, a new location right in front of the Hyatt which I only noticed on Day 3.  Got my favorite juice the Grasshopper, and back home to Staten Island.

And thats all she wrote folks.  Now if someone volunteers to take my kids to Aruba (or Turks and Caicos) next year again, I would write another NYC Trip Report.  But, until then…Ciao baby!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

 

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Categories: East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Midtown East, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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