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Friday, February 22, 2013

NYC Weekly Blog Post - 2.22.2013


10 Degrees
I'm surprised I haven't reviewed this place already.  I'll keep it short.  The drinks aren't very good, the beer selection is crap and the wait for said drinks can be really long.  On the other hand it is conveniently located and has a nice ambiance so when my friends who love it go, I don't mind spending a couple of hours there with them.  Not MY first choice but not terrible to spend time there.  And they do have the best playlist of any bar in the city (besides Bounce) so that's something!

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For my friend's birthday last week we needed an all you can drink sushi sake restaurant with about three hours notice.  Ashiya (the East Village one) after some negotiation agreed to take on our table of 10.  We had to wait upon arrival for about 20-30 minutes but then we were showering in sake and sushi.  The sushi was ACTUALLY good!  That never happens at all you can drink.  The place was packed which is just the kind of atmosphere you want when you are taking sake bombs to the face.  I had a great experience here and would 100% recommend it for birthdays.

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Boulton and Watt
This is one of my new favorite neighborhood hangouts.  It's a very industrial themed gastropub with what looks like an amazing menu (I have not yet eaten there) and incredible drinks.  My personal favorite is the Lady Ashley (applejack brandy, lemon, honey, egg white, ginger beer) which seems mild until you've sucked down a couple and it hits you.  The egg white foamness with the sparkle of the ginger beer and the sweetness of the brandy make you feel like you are drinking alcoholic apple juice (yes please!).  Highly recommend this place.

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Post a standard Sunday afternoon at 10 Degrees my stomach started rumbling for Mexican food (this happens sometimes).  My friend and I started down the street only to be waylaid by the chef at 10 Degrees who insisted on treating us to tacos at Five Tacos two doors down.  Turns out the same people owns this place.  Next thing we know we have tried all the tacos on the menu (spicy chorizo, pulled chicken, pulled pork, five spiced ground beef, and veggie which is ginger butternut squash and spiced red bell peppers).  The pulled chicken was probably my favorite but they were all delicious!  The place is small and sparse but everyone was really nice.  It totally feels like a neighborhood hangout.  And it was free which never hurts!  I highly recommend dropping in when you are looking for a snack or some takeout.

Kingston Hall
Randomly happened across this place and LOVE IT.  In fact I hate to tell anyone about it because it's so unassuming from the front and I don't want the riffraff of 13th Step realizing there is an awesome bar next door.  This place is Caribbean themed in terms of their drinks but the general look of the place reminds me of an old mansion.  The music selection is terrible but if you can get past that it's SO cool.  There are multiple rooms so you really feel like you are in someone's house and there is even a covered veranda overlooking 2nd Ave.  So comfy on weekdays and crowded on weekends.  And a breeze to get in.  My personal favorite topic to cover while sitting at the bar is whether the two stuffed humping monkeys are real or not.  Love it.

Photo Credit: Kingston Hall

This place is literally across the street from me and I've been desperately trying to get someone to go with me!!  Luckily my best friend from LA was in town and thus stuck going wherever I wanted... so to Pylos we went!  Our waiter was adorable and the Greek restaurant is SO homey.  They have earthenware bowls hanging from the ceiling which has such a cool effect and the food was interesting and almost across the board delicious.  The dishes of note were the octopus with balsamic and capers (finger lickin good) and the artichoke heart moussaka.  There were so many tasty sounding options that we opted for sharing five appetizers and splitting a salad.  Plus they were out of the red snapper which is the entree I would've ordered so it was an easy decision.  I felt so warm and cozy I could've taken a nap in my seat at the end of dinner.  I definitely recommend.

Photo Credit: Pylos Website

When you are hungover there really isn't anything better than noodles.  Yet again I tried to get into Ippudo at TWO IN THE AFTERNOON ON A MONDAY and the wait was still two hours.  This place is outrageous... so I looked up the next best thing and Soba-ya it was.  My friend and I met for a rehash of last night's events over a platter of seaweed salad and a lunch box.  SO much food for $14 if you do the lunch box.  I ordered the tuna sashimi one which came with huge chunks of fresh fish, veggies, and a sizable bowl of hot soba OR udon noodles (I went with udon).  I was so warm and full and happy by the end of this meal that I was barely able to drag my fat ass back to work.  GREAT option for lunch.

Photo Credit: Soba-ya Website


Actor's Playhouse
Post dinner at Commerce, we stopped by Actor's Playhouse for a drink with a friend of a friend of a friend.  This place is horrible.  It was late on a Friday night (like close to 1am) and there was no one there!  It's a dance lounge for crying out loud where are all the drunk revelers???  The music selection was pretty awesome but the beer choices were terrible.  I opted for cafe Patron out of pure lack of options.  We spent about two seconds at this place and then hightailed it outta a there.  No need to go back.  Ever.

Photo Credit: Actor's Playhouse Website

Another restaurant that has been on the list for awhile but since moving to the east side I just haven't have the occasion to try it.  My friend wanted to start her birthday night with drinks at Employees Only and viola Commerce was conveniently located and perfect for a birthday dinner.  My main grip was that we had a reservation and ended up waiting almost an hour for our table which in my book is just unacceptable especially when I can see THREE open tables for four sitting empty for 20 minutes or so.  This place seriously lacks management.  The food was very good but decidedly overpriced for the size of the portions.  It should've been mindblowing for that cost.  I'm glad that I came and tried it but not a place I would go back.

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Joseph Leonard 
I have NEVER heard about this place and yet yesterday when my friend asked if I wanted to meet up for lunch she waxed poetic about it.  We easily grabbed a seat at the bar (they don't take reservations and it's a very small place) and spent the remainder of our lunch chatting it up with the manager who gave us free carrot cake because alas I was having a chocolate craving that they couldn't satisfy so he did his best.  I also really wanted a lemonade (man I was a pain that day looking back) and the bartender made me the tastiest lemonade with sparkling water, lemon and mint.  Mmm.  I had the tempura fish tacos which I only ordered after asking painstakingly questions about the menu because everything looked so good and I was worried I wouldn't order right.  The food was delicious, the service clearly topnotch, the restaurant was cute and at the end of the day not too expensive.  I was definitely be back.

Photo Credit: Joseph Leonard Website


The Gutter
So Sunday night I spent a couple hours at the upstairs bar of Los Feliz discussing 90s Portland Oregon bands with the bartender who ironically was in a 90s band in Portland Oregon!  He was great fun and invited my friend and I to his birthday later that week.  The birthday was at the Gutter, which is a bar meets bowling alley in Brooklyn.  It's at the cross street of Berry and N 14th although you need to turn left onto 14th and walk down a pretty deserted street to find it (so don't worry).  We weren't there for long but it was definitely interesting to hang with a truly hipster crowd.  Made me miss Portland like crazy.  Highly recommended if you want something different then West Village trendy cafes.

Photo Credit: Gutter Website


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