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Monday, March 26, 2012

NYC Weekly Blog Post - 3.26.2012

I hit up some new areas of Manhattan in the past two weeks which was super exciting!


I've been meaning to go here for awhile and just recently got around to it. Even with a group of four girls we still had to wait in line for over 20 minutes so ladies don't expect preferential treatment. The bar is huge with high ceilings which is a relief considering how packed it gets on sports weekends. Even when crowded it is relatively easy to get a drink from the bar. I would definitely come back here although it's much more "sports bar" than Bounce.

Photo Credit: Ainsworth Website

Red Cat
I'm always excited to discover new restaurants in Chelsea because I sometimes feel like Chelsea is under-loved in comparison to the West Village, Lower East Side, etc, when it comes to great food. Red Cat was half hit/half miss for me.

Photo Credit:

I'd been told the Saute of Zucchini with toasted almonds and pecorino was the most amazing thing ever and I found it pretty tasteless and overly cheesy.

My grilled salmon with sautéed baby bok choy, cremini and red curry butter was relatively good. The crust was really crispy which I really liked.

But the two dishes that impressed me the most were the burrata with eggplant caponata, sliced prosciutto and roasted peppers and the pistachio semifreddo with hot fudge, creme fraiche and brownie. The prosciutto was some of the best I've ever tasted and completed the dish.

The semifreddo was one of the best desserts I've ever had (and I'm a dessert freak). I do think the description on the menu was misleading. It's not so much a brownie as a dark cookie crust which has the mound of semifreddo on top covered with the hot fudge almost like a shell. Again. AMAZING. Would come back just for this.


The Redhead
Another place that has been on the list for months, I finally had a reason to head to the Redhead. This restaurant features a twist on Louisiana cajun food that I found both interesting and delicious. Not to mention they serve drop biscuits which are my favorite things on Earth. ALMOST as good as John O Groats which is a bold claim.

Photo Credit: The Redhead Website

We started with the housemade soft pretzels served with kentucky-style beer cheese which were okay. We had to wait almost an hour for a table as they won't even put you on the wait list until your entire party is there which is really frustrating.

But the dinner and the service more than made up for the wait and hey, it was a peak time on a Friday night so understandable. Our server's name was Bill which I wanted to point out because he was great! He even gave me a side of biscuit which isn't a normal side because I so desperately wanted some and they only come with the fried chicken plate which I didn't want for dinner even though I've heard it's amazing.

Instead I went with the red wine braised short rib pot roast with sweet carrot puree and pot vegetables. The short rib was perfectly cook and melted in my mouth. It also wasn't too sweet which was nice.

I also got a taste of the roasted duck gumbo with andouille sausage and carolina rice. That dish packs a KICK but was delicious.

Whiskey Town
I can't remember if I referenced this bar back at the beginning of the blog when I visited New York in October of 2011 but the location I went to had closed and I thought this bar was gone forever. Turns out it just moved! The new location fits the theme of the restaurant even better. Granted I'd just had my birthday and walked up with an expired ID so they almost didn't let me in. Luckily my friend is close with the owner who made an exception just this once so I didn't have to go all the way home to get my passport. The place obviously focuses on whiskey drinks so that's what I suggest getting there. I drank wine which wasn't very good but expected. You can also order beers which come in a Whiskey Town koozy that you get to keep! I probably won't be back simply because I'm not a huge whiskey fan but if you are you should definitely check this place out.

Photo Credit: Dave H. from


Bridge Cafe
I met up with friends for brunch at the Bridge Cafe near the South Side Seaport. The cafe is part of a building that has been around since 1794 which adds a cozy history to the place. It's agreed to be the oldest drinking establishment in New York City (older than McSorley's). However, the "establishment" has changed names and purposes from bar to porter house to brothel to cafe.

Photo Credit: Bridge Cafe Website

You can order the Bridge Cafe brunch for $24 which includes an alcoholic drink (Bloody Mary, Mimosa, etc), an appetizer and an entree. It's way too much food. I ordered the corn & red onion fritters which were to carb-y for me but the jalapeno cheddar sauce they came in was tasty although not spicy enough.

Since I'd gone savory with the appetizer I opted for the honey glazed fruit crepes with sweet peppered apple wood smoked bacon and over roasted potatoes and onions. I was already full but the crepes were still well done. The bacon was WAY too sweet and the texture was moist and honestly disgusting. The potatoes were mushy and cold. I was not impressed. The Bloody Mary was overly salted and didn't come with any vegetables - LAME.

While it was cool to eat in a historical landmark I can't say it will last long with this menu.


Fig and Olive

I have been desperate to go to this restaurant and I have never been more disappointed! I ordered the 3 for $10 crostinis which came on kind of soggy bread and were pretty tasteless considering they were topped by some of my all-time favorite ingredients.

  • Roasted Bell Pepper, Ricotta, Caper
  • Copa, Chèvre, Scallion, Honey, Almond
  • Prosciutto, Ricotta, Fig, Olive, Walnut

I was so unimpressed that I tried again and ordered the French Omelet with fine herbs, scallion, chive, asparagus and goat cheese. The only difference is I ordered it as a scramble instead an omelet. Also tasteless!

It was a huge shame because the decor of the restaurant is light, airy and beautiful. Almost like eating in a cloud. And the menu from a glance has all the types of foods I love. I am honestly astounded at how bland the actual dishes were. I left feeling really bummed! Not to mention hurting in the wallet - way expensive considering how bad the food was.

Photo Credit: Fig and Olive Website


Ella Lounge
Yet another one on the list, I randomly ended up here very late on Saturday to meet up with some friends who had a table. You definitely need a name to get at that time on a Saturday even as a lone girl showing up. The bouncer at the front was at least apologetic and not a jerk about it until I referenced the name on the table at which point I was immediately let in.

The place is tiny but has great music and awesome Moulin Rouge-esk decor. The upstairs is almost completely taken up by the bar and few tables while downstairs in the "cellar" are more booths and a dance floor. Most people who have tables are downstairs so don't be discouraged. The guy at the top of the stairs had no idea that my friend had a table so I had to be pretty firm until he went down and checked.

Great dance party, drunken crowd. I'm actually going back tonight.

Photo Credit: Ella Website

Viktor and Spoils
My friend had her birthday here on a Friday which meant immediate entry into this difficult-to-find bar. Once inside I was blinded by the crazy decor which includes a wall covered in highlighter-filled liquor bottles. The DJ that night was amazing and the margaritas and mini tacos also looked pretty fantastic although they were HORRIBLY expensive. I spent $68 on three mixed drinks and a glass of wine which is ridiculous. I had a good time although the crowd could've been better. It was a little too tame for me.

Photo Credit: Viktor and Spoils Website


Little Owl
I finally resigned myself to bearing the two hour wait to eat here because I so badly wanted to try it. Saturday dawned with a deluge of raindrops causing the streets of New York to clear out. So I walked in for brunch and got a table immediately. SCORE. I had the beignettes with nutella and raspberry sauce and the gravy meatball sliders made with a combination of beef, pork, veal and pecorino.

The beignettes were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside although a little too raspberry-tasting for me (not a huge fan of fruit sauce). They were still almost perfect though. The sliders on the other hand were perfect. The three meats combined together gave them a unique, delicious taste and they had been cooked in the gravy rather than having it poured on top which made them seem healthier and also not too rich.

The place itself was small and very homey. The staff seemed a little all over the place but they were still very friendly. I would definitely come back but probably for dinner as the brunch menu was somewhat limiting...

Photo Credit: Little Owl Website

I've lately been on a quest for non-Italian food in New York because I've been eating a ton of Italian. Coming from Los Angeles, I'm always nervous about Mexican restaurants but I was having a bad day and nothing makes a day better than an amazing margarita. And boy does Mole have amazing margaritas. I tried the Sex in a Mexican Prison (tequila, cranberry juice and a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice) and the Smoky Margarita (tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice and Mezcal float). Not to sweet and definitely strong.

My Mexican restaurant go-to is always enchiladas so I had to order the enchiladas de "Mole Poblano" which is t
hree chicken enchiladas with imported mole sauce and melted cheese. They were very good and a large portion which was nice but the mole sauce was a little too chocolatey and rich for me. I could barely eat half of one.

Since enchiladas are such standard fare, I asked the waiter for a unique dish that we could also try that we can't find at every Mexican restaurant. We ended up with the craziest sounding dish on the menu - the Cochinita Pibil with is a traditional “Yucatan” platter of shredded pork marinated in “axiote paste” then wrapped and roasted in banana leaves, served with the traditional pickled onions, salsa verde and black beans. It was BUENO. The axiote paste is VERY spicy though (my stomach was pretty angry at me the next day) so it is not for the faint of heart. The pickled onions were pretty done and it comes with flour tortillas so you can make a wrap with all the ingredients. A great dish - I'm so glad I gambled.

Lastly, the restaurant itself was hopping for a Tuesday night. It was packed both at the tables and at the bar which was impressive. One thing to note is if you are looking for a romantic place to have a quiet chat or a place for a large group it will be hard to do here since you are packed in right next to each other but for a dinner with a friend to lift the spirits it was perfect.

Photo Credit: Mole Website

Watch out ABC Kitchen because Spasso is SO close to passing you up! This place I randomly ran by about a week ago and it looked cute so I decided to go there with a friend just because. We had the pappardelle with braised oxtail ragu and ricotta salata and the risotto with braised pork belly, burrata, and caramelized onions. Both pastas were INCREDIBLE. The pasta was super fresh, the meats perfectly cooked and the cheese was added in just the right amount. I was literally stunned. The wine selection by the glass was also great. They also have outdoor seating on Hudson Street which is ideal for people-watching! A MAJOR hidden gem.

As a side note I ended up there randomly to meet friends for brunch (I'd already eaten at Fig and Olive) and their brunch dishes looked phenomenal. I will be back multiple times to this restaurant both for the food and the service which is also impeccable.

Photo Credit: Spasso Website

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