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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Weekly NYC Blog Post - 4.4.2013


The Cabanas at Maritime Hotel
I always see a line outside this random door at the Maritime and I could never figure out what it was for.  Turns out it's this almost secret backdoor entrance into The Cabanas, a fun indoor-outdoor bar/club on one side of the hotel.  I loved the look of the place with the plants, checkered beachy lounges and the pizza I had there was excellent!  I was there for a work event so obviously liked the people there.  I've heard that it can be a weird crowd otherwise but I can't say for sure.  It was nice enough that I would probably check it out again on a "regular" night although probably not worth waiting in line?

Photo Credit: Maritime Hotel Website


I bought a Livingsocial deal for this place because I've walked by it a few times and though it could be a fun girls night out dinner.  The interior is adorable with low lighting and live music.  Turns out all the things I wanted on the menu like the lamb chops and the fish weren't part of the deal (LAME).  The deal included two apps, four entrees, four desserts and a bottle of wine for four.  It was enough food but sort of hit or miss.  And the service was TERRIBLE.  I felt like our waitress couldn't give two sh-ts about us.

We started with a free bowl of Zaatar which is a spice mixture of dried wild thyme, sesame seeds and sumac which was kind of weird delicious.  I can't begin to describe the flavor but it was herby and sweet and so good on pita.  Highly recommend.

The grilled halloume cheese with grilled Cypriot cheese slices, tomatoes and cucumber was pretty lackluster and the desserts (we ordered most of the dessert menu) where all TERRIBLE.  The Nutella pancakes were soggy, the baklava was hard and both the ice cream and mousse-esk custard tasted like soap.  Not soup, SOAP.

The one redeeming dish was my entree order of hummus beef shawarma with tomatoes, scallions, parsley, sumac and onions.  It came with pickles and Tahini Sauce.  It was a large portion, the beef was well cooked, and the hummus had a lot of flavor.

Overall not a terrible experience but I don't really need to go back.  And it's definitely overpriced if you don't walk in with a deal.

Photo Credit: Balade Website

This week seems to be all about the middle eastern/mediterrean because I also stopped by Mamoun's St Marks location on Sunday for a quick pita.  I tried the falafel (onions, parsley, garlic and spices) with lettuce, tomatoes and tahini and the shawarma.  The falafel one was good and only $3.00!!  It's mostly a take-out place but there are places to sit and the guy behind the counter was chill.  Not the best food I've ever had but good for what it is!

Mini Thai Cafe
I've now ordered takeout from this place twice so I can't speak to the restaurant experience but takeout has been quick, delicious AND cheap.  I ordered the chicken satay, veggie dumplings and the pad thai for a whooping $20 and that was plenty of food for two people.  The chicken shredded right off the stick (instead of being chewy and hard like a lot of satay) and the peanut sauce wasn't too "peanut-y" which I appreciated. The dumplings could've been a little crispier on the outside but were still good and the pad thai was outstanding both in portion size and price.  I will for sure order from them again.

 Photo Credit: Mini Thai Cafe Website

Ugly Kitchen
I feel like this place is a "work-in-progress" place.  It has everything it needs to be really great but just needs some polishing.  What's funny is that I was debating with my guy friend about how I really wanted to watch the NCAA playoffs at a bar that also had good food, good music and above all good cocktails.  He said no bar has TVs AND good cocktails.

We then randomly walked past Ugly Kitchen which appeared to have both!  What a win!  So, turns out the cocktails (we ordered the spicy mango and the ginger mint mojito) were sub pare.  Not BAD, just not good.  It tasted kind of watered down with juice and not very fresh.  Almost like they used mango juice from a jug.  But the inspiration behind them is right on track!  They just need to step up their game.  Same in the food department.  The menu SOUNDS incredible but the execution is just a little bleh.  The ugly pork buns weren't bad but weren't memorable either.

They've got the atmosphere and the music and the vision... they just need to take it from good to great.  I have hope for this place but also high expectations for next time I come back.  Come on owner!

 Photo Credit: Ugly Kitchen Website

Yuca Bar

My last review on Yuca Bar continues to hold its water.  I loved this place when I ate there in person and their takeout managed to astound me yet again.  To start, I will feeling SUPER lazy on Saturday and desperately wanted pancakes.  I figured 7A would be the best bet (literally next door) and they neither deliver nor do takeout.  Screw them.  So I called Yuca and one of the managers offered to deliver for me because they were having a slow morning (they don't normally do this).  That was going above and beyond and was SO nice of him.  HUGE points.

Not only that my food came fairly quickly and was just as good as it is in the restaurant (again keep in mind I live right by it).  I had the "Pankekes" (plain pancakes with tropical fruit and dulce de leche butter rum and maple syrup) and the Scrambled Egg Burrito (burrito with chorizo, jalapeno jack cheese, onion and tomato).  The pankekes were still warm and the syrup was sweet and thick... so warming.  The burrito was HUGE, hearty and hit the spot.  I saved the second half and ate it the next day and it was STILL good.  This place amazes me.  Top spot.


Max Fish
Saturday was NOT a good day... it was "Line Day" in the LES apparently.  We couldn't get into anywhere (granted we had a large group).  So we defaulted to Max Fish which I thought was pretty fun!  Certainly lively.  I think their PBRs are $4 too which is a nice change to the expense of LES elsewhere.  I wasn't in a great mindset that night but I still thought this place was pretty fun.  I might venture back!

Photo Credit: 


Campbell Apartment
Another one of those random places that I've heard about but never managed to make it to.  It the former office and salon of John W Campbell, a tycoon from the 1920s.  It's since been converted into a cocktail club but has retained the original look of the salon.  I had a work event nearby and had to step in even just for one drink.  The place is SUPER yuppy but the bar itself is BEAUTIFUL.  Not sure I need to go back but you should stop in if nothing else just to make a circuit and check out the interior.  Again breathtaking architecture and design.  Don't need to go back but it's definitely a hit once.

Photo Credit:

On a side note, CA is located in Grand Central Station and there is only one entrance.  It's at the SW corner of Grand Central.  Below is a map to try and help you but you might need to wander a bit to find the correct door.

La Fonda Del Sol
On my way to Campbell Apartment, my coworkers insisted on stopping in here for drinks.  We ended up getting food as well and I was impressed with both my drink and two of the dishes.  One was the blistered shishito peppers with sea salt and Spanish olive oil.  Simple, done everywhere, but done well here.  The really winner was the Fig Montadito with Mita crema and orange honey on country bread.  The figs were HUGE, juicy and the orange honey added the perfect amount of sweetness.  Pretty sure I forked anyone who tried to share with me.  I'd come back just for that dish.  In terms of atmosphere it was pretty generic.  Some attractive suited people there for happy hour but meh.

Photo Credit: Fonda Del Sol Website

St Andrew Pub
Another work event (it must be that time of year), and I have to say.  Irish pubs don't really do it for me but the chicken fingers and sliders certainly did.  No need to come back but wouldn't hate it if I had to.

Photo Credit: St Andrew Website


Sotto 13
Sotto 13 was my very first Yelp Elite event!  The restaurant is gorgeous - clean lines, cool lighting fixtures, and rich mahogany (in the words of Ron Burgundy).  Granted it was a Yelp event so I feel like they were on their best behavior but the staff was extremely pleasant.  Sadly I thought the food and cocktails were only decent.  Probably falls into the category of "glad to have tried it; don't need to come back."

Photo Credit: Sotto 13 Website

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