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Monday, April 15, 2013

NYC Weekly Blog Post - 4.15.2013

This week's blog post is not just about food/drinks but more about great experiences in and around NYC.


So I'll start this week's blog with a super crazy realization!  I've hiked Breakneck Ridge twice, once last weekend and once sometime last year.  On the hike I was contemplating when the last time was exactly and when I looked back on the blog I realized that I had accidentally hiked this trail on the EXACT same weekend a year ago.  It was my Breakneck-a-versary!  WEIRD.

Anyways, just like last time we were doing a great job navigating the trail but made one major error which this time ended us up at the north end of Cold Springs rather than IN town so we had to trek along the highway for a minute which was not ideal.  This version of the trek started out the same with the 700 foot incline but instead of hiking along the ridge we went down through the middle (yellow trail).  Lunch at The Depot was delicious yet again although I've been taking a 20 day hiatus from drinking (competing in Tough Mudder this weekend) so lunch was lacking the refreshing, well-earned beer.



Shanghai Mermaid
The Shanghai Mermaid is essentially an experience that was created by one woman back in 2008 in DUMBO who wanted to bring to life a true underground speakeasy from another time.  In 2008, she didn't have the funds for a true location so these underground parties were sparked by word-of-mouth and happened in locations ranging from under-renovation stripclubs to bathhouses.  In 2009, she found an abandoned warehouse in Brooklyn and a permanent location, the Red Lotus Room, was created.  Now every month or so they throw themed parties from past eras where you can't get in unless you are decked out in period costume or fancy dress.

We attended the April event.  The theme was 1920s Paris.  It was a night of hookah, Chinese noodles, and 20s cocktail indulgence.  The stage was alive with burlesque and jazz.  The lighting was red and low.  I truly felt transported to another age dressed in a sequined dress with feather headdress, black tights and thick fur vest.  Due to the elegance of this particular theme the party didn't get out of hand but we did spend some time with a Shanghai Mermaid veteran who told us that some of these parties get quite out of control (in a good way).  I will definitely be back and highly recommend it to those artistic people who don't mind extending themselves out of their 2014 NYC above-ground lifestyle.


Every an exciting night cooking in the kitchen, we desperately needed chocolate so we went on a hunt for a restaurant touting chocolatey desserts.  Bottino was the first place we came across and we ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Gelato as well as a glass of mango sorbet and caramel gelato.  I've never been less impressed with a dessert in my life.  The tart tasted like stale almond paste and the mango gelato was lumpy (not in a good way).  The caramel gelato was decent and the only thing that kept me from being super bummed out!

Photo Credit: Bottino Website


Black Market
I've been hearing all sorts of good things about this place and was admonishing myself for not having been here seeing as it is just down the street.  They are known for their oysters, which sadly I cannot eat, but I did find some stellar menu items to try.  It gets pretty packed (not a lot of room between tables so you are sort of eating on top of each other) but two of us walked right in and got a table at 9pm on a Friday so you never know.  Oh, and the service was impeccable.

Photo Credit: 

The deviled eggs with Pimenton de la Vera, chives and American Hackelback caviar were DELICIOUS.  They were huge for eggs and had just enough caviar that you could clearly taste it along with the egg and the pepper.

The roasted corn with chili, lime and manchego caught me slightly by surprise since I was anticipating it coming on the cob rather than spread on a plate but it too was pretty seasoned and fresh tasting (and I hate veggies).

Lastly, I had a bite or two of the BLT served on Balthazar multi-grain toast with herb mayo and loved it.  I think the reason the sandwich was so good was because it was a gourmet deconstructed BLT - a couple slices of thick fatty/crispy bacon, a leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato - so you could really taste each piece (as opposed to your usual BLT which to me is always soggy and tastes like lettuce).

We ended the delightful meal with the chocolate mousse cake with cookie crust and raspberry sauce.  Not the best dessert I've ever had but definitely didn't detract from the meal.  Overall a great experience.  I will definitely come back.


We stopped in here for a hot second last Sunday because they have a fireplace, it was cold out and I was in need of a cozy bar.  Unfortunately the three seats in front of the fireplace were taken so we wandered next door.  But, the bar is really cool and dark and somewhere I would definitely come back and try.

 Photo Credit: Schoolbred's Website

Think Coffee
Below is a picture of my very first cappucino!  I know crazy right?  It was delicious and this East Village coffee shop is perfect for hanging out and sipping the coco.  I was seated between a sketch artist and a writer.  Cool.  Oh... and the coffee was tasty.

Thirsty Scholar
I've been here once or twice and it's a pretty standard bar but the thing I like about it is the area just to the right of the front door when you walk in.  There's a hightop with four chairs and a little shelf along the window.  I love sitting on that shelf, drinking beers and watching people walk by.  Random but nice.

Photo Credit: Thirsty Scholar Website

Yaffa Cafe
This is the strangest looking place and one that I walk by all the time and think to myself... not sure I want to eat there.  The "C' rating on the front door also detracts from my interest in the place since I'm pretty sure it doesn't stand for "Classy" or "Clean."  Nevertheless one of my adventurous friends insisted on brunch there so I tried it out.  The restaurant is fun even just to walk through - it's like a museum of weirdness.  My scrambled eggs and bacon were also surprisingly good and they have both a front patio and a huge backyard deck.  Once the weather gets a little warmer I would probably try this place again.  Although, the service was horrendous... plan to be there for awhile.  It took 45 minutes to get our check.

 Photo Credit: Yaffa Website


124 Rabbit Club
Pretty sure I walked past this place multiple times before I finally found it (it's the definition of underground!)  In fact to help you out I found the entrance on Google Maps and have posted it below so you know what to look for.  The place is tiny and cash only so be prepared to move out of the way and hit the ATM on your way but the bartender was way cool, the atmosphere is chill, and the Belgium beer list is out of this world.  Again, visited this place during my drinking hiatus so will definitely be back to actually try out some of these beers.

Photo Credit:


Standard Bingo
So my birthday was over a month ago, and thus this review comes WAY late but I wanted to save it for when I had a moment to give the Standard Bingo experience justice.  This is one of my favorite activities in New York City.  I make a big stink out of my birthday every year and have extremely high standards (pun intended) for the activity.  This is literally the best birthday you could have.

Basically at 10:30pm every Sunday, the interior of the Standard Grill converts into Standard Bingo.  The bingo aspect means you each get two bingo cards but in the two times I've been there I don't think I've ever actually played bingo.  Instead I spend the whole time dancing and singing to the random songs they play and making friends with people at the different tables.  Every weekend has a theme and they take suggestions.  I lucked out and they decided to go with my submission of 80s/90s cartoon characters.  My table featured She-Ra, Luigi, Popeye, Bam-Bam, Inspector Gadget and an assortment of Ninja Turtles.  The highlight of the evening was the "Quail-Off" between the two Quail-Mans (one of whom was the MC) and the giant pitchers of punch (definitely the best bang for your buck).

So I'm sure you are saying to yourself "this must cost an arm and a leg.." and I am happy to tell you that I had a table of 20 people who ate and drank copiously and our total at the end of the night was $800 for 5 hours of fun (they let you stay until closing at 4 in the morning).  That's $8/hour per person for an EPIC night which puts day clubs like LAVO and Beaumarchais in the doghouse for their $1000+ brunches.

Three important things to remember:
1) You MUST get there on time or they give away your table
2) You MUST reserve a table about a month in advance or you ain't gettin' in
3) You WONT accomplish anything on Monday so don't schedule a 9am call


Sik Gaek
So I've been to Queens for the Mets and the biergartens but never ventured up there to eat at a restaurant just because.  When my Australian friend told me he was doing his birthday up in Queens my immediate feeling was laziness quickly followed by intrigue and then excitement.  SO glad that I went because this place was CRAZY.  It's your standard Korean BBQ place with a VERY interesting menu.  Yes you can get ramen, pork skin, and others dishes OR you can get the fresh octopus and/or seafood platter.  Be prepared for VERY fresh, as in, still moving.  It's SO cool but not for the faint of heart.  There's nothing like watching a lobster still moving served to your table.  Or, feeling an octopus tentacle suction your tongue before you swallow it.  He he. Awesome.  See video below.  I totally want to take my mom here and watch her squirm.  A can't miss.

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