Oct 09

Black Tap Burger

Why Come Here? One of NYC’s best burger joints

“Pizza” and “Texan” burgers sound like the sort of things you expect to see in a TGI Friday’s commercial. Usually a list of ten types of burgers like these slathered with all types of different toppings and sauces means the restaurant is trying to cover up their second rate beef. But there’s nothing to hide in the burger at Black Tap Craft Burgers. They’re serving up the Cadillac of burger meat, that of Mr. Pat LaFrieda. And unlike most places, even without asking they serve it a medium rare that actually comes out closer to rare than well done. It’s so good I preferred the ones with less toppings on them. Thank God someone can properly cook a burger in this town.

Black Tap is one of my favorite burger spots not just because the burgers are great, but it’s the perfect atmosphere to eat them in. The original Black Tap in SoHo has that quality where you’re not quite sure whether it’s more bar or restaurant. The place is as narrow as an East Village watering hole and features the same classic rock and hip hop playlist. Most of the seating is at the bar or counters around it. You’re probably ordering from a guy behind the bar, and you could feel perfectly comfortable coming in solo and watching the game while downing your meal with a side of one of their many craft beers. Also, thanks to Shake Shack, a place that serves mostly burgers must offer shakes as well. And so Black Tap does that too.

They just opened a larger location in Meatpacking and I’ll be interested to see how the more restauranty vibe plays out. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the burgers with some unfortunately poor quality photos (the lighting is weird ok!):

Black Tap Burger, Soho, NYC, Best Burger NYCSteak Au Poivre Burger (3/4 stars) The blue cheese, the use of Prime Steak, the just right amount of peppery peppercorn sauce. This is a top 10 burger in NYC.


Black Tap Burger, Best Burger, SoHo, NYCThe Greg Norman (3/4 stars) Bonus points to anyone who can tell me why this is called the Greg Norman. This one also comes with the blue cheese so maybe I’m obsessed with it. But there is something seriously magical about this blue cheese sauce. The extra taste funky flavor from the wagyu beef doesn’t hurt either.


Black Tap Burger, Best Burger, SoHo, NYCThe Texan Burger 2.5/4 stars This one comes topped with cheddar, crispy onions, bacon and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. The main reason not to order this would be that the onion ring and sauce actually take away from the great taste of the patty itself, but it makes a solid second burger.

Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Onion Rings (1/4 stars) You get your pick of one these bad boys to go along with your burger. I preferred the onion rings but they’re all good without being anything special.

Black Tap Burger
529 Broome Street (Sullivan & Thompson Sts.)
New York, NY
Black Tap Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer

Chelsea/Meatpacking Location:
248 W 14th Street (7th & 8th Aves)
New York, NY
Black Tap



Posted in burger, Chelsea, MePa, SoHo | Leave a comment
Oct 02


Why Come Here? Unique Hawaiian-inspired cooking, adventurous eats

Noreetuh describes itself as a Hawaiian restaurant. Previously I had never been to an eatery focused on the cuisine of the Aloha State, but I think most of us would imagine such a place to be filled with tiki masks, bright flowers and volcanoes. Perhaps the servers would be wearing leis, slowly dancing to luau music playing in the background. Maybe the walls would be done in vibrant colors or covered in photos of beach sunsets. Oh, and they would definitely serve Mai Tais. That is pretty everything I associate with Hawaii. And it has absolutely nothing to do with dining at Noreetuh.

Noreetuh is not a Hawaiian themed restaurant. It’s a restaurant for people who take both their food and decor very seriously. The inside pays absolutely no tribute to the 50th state, instead going the minimalist route that make it look like every other trendy restaurant in the East Village. The bar not only doesn’t serve tropical drinks, but in fact has no liquor at all. That said, there is a pretty tempting global wine list which they’ll pair to your meal for a reasonable $35.

The food is also not really what you think of as Hawaiian. But it is influenced by the Asian melting the islands have become with a big focus on seafood. So expect a lot of ingredients from places like Japan, The Phillipines and Korea that you’ve never seen before. I’d really call it Hawaiian-inspired New America – not surprising given that the chefs are from Per Se. But unlike Per Se, it’s quite reasonably priced with no dish (for one) cracking the $25 mark. The menu breaks down into smallish snacks, starters and mains, but one from each from the latter two sections will easily be enough per person. Even if somethings were a bit strange, nothing was too strong, spicy, sour or anything liable to make it inedible. In fact everything was quite enjoyable. So order adventurously. Here’s what we had:

Noreetuh, Hawaiian, East Village, NYCCrispy Mushrooms (2/4 stars) Tempura fried mushrooms in a sweet miso dipping sauce. There are worse ways to start the meal.


Noreetuh, Hawaiian, East Village, NYCBig-Eye Tuna Poke (3/4 stars) Poke is the tartar of Hawaii. This one comes with macadamia nuts, pickled jalapenos, seaweed and some seriously good raw tuna. If there’s a must order at Noreetuh, this is it.


Noreetuh, Hawaiian, East Village, NYCMonkfish Liver Torchon (1.5/4 stars) I’m gonna go ahead and put this guy in the more interesting than good category. The passionfruit mixed with the “foie gras of the sea” delivers a funky sweet taste off the bat. But then the aftertaste of bitter fish skin drops it some points. It’s definitely worth trying because you won’t see anything like it anywhere else, but I probably won’t be getting it again.


Noreetuh, Hawaiian, East Village, NYCMentaiko Spaghetti (2/4 stars) Think of this one as the carbonara of the sea. Mentaiko is pollock roe and provides a bit of crunchiness. Mix in some seaweed, smoked butterfish and chilis and you get a pretty unique pasta. But I have to say that while I enjoyed it, I recommend it more for the novelty than as a pasta I want to eat everyday.


Noreetuh, Hawaiian, East Village, NYCGarlic Shrimp Over Rice 2.5/4 stars On a menu where most dishes have at least two ingredients you haven’t heard of, this one looks pretty pedestrian. But don’t hit the snooze button here. The perfectly done jumbo shrimp are in an awesome creamy garlic sauce with some coconut sticky rice to balance every thing out. There’s also some pineapple on the side to remind you it’s Hawaiian.


Noreetuh, Hawaiian, East Village, NYCPineapple Braised Pork Belly 2.5/4 stars Seriously tender hunk of pork belly with a nice hint of sweetness from the pineapple glaze. You’ll want one.


Noreetuh, Hawaiian, East Village, NYCBruleed Hawaiian Pineapple (2/4 stars) In case you haven’t had enough pineapple, why not order another half of one for dessert? Actually the creme brulee like topping on the sweet pineapple make it a pretty cool (and maybe even healthy) way to end the meal.

Right Amount for 2? 2 starters, 2 mains

128 First Avenue (7th & 8th Sts.)
New York, NY
Noreetuh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in East Village, Hawaiian | Leave a comment
Sep 30

Joe’s Ginger

Why Come Here? Cheaper alternative to Joe’s Shanghai without the wait, Soup Dumplings

A few year’s back Xiao Long Bao – or soup dumplings – were all the rage in NYC. It all started when Joe’s Shanghai brought the broth filled dumplings of China’s Jiangnan region in Chinatown. But just because the trendsters have moved on to fried chicken and cronuts doesn’t mean soup dumplings are any less delicious. This fact is not lost on most NYC diners, as they still line up for up to an hour at the Chinatown location to be stuffed into communal tables. What is lost on them is that Joe’s Ginger – only a few doors down Pell Street – is serving the exact same thing without the waits.

Joe’s Ginger was opened by Joe Si (of Joe’s Shanghai) ten years ago, but somehow most people never make the connection it’s the same chef. Maybe they think it’s a Ray’s Pizza situation. Or maybe there are just a lot of Joe’s in China. Whatever the reason, it’s good news for you. Joe’s Ginger has a very similar menu, including the signature soup dumplings which I’m happy to say are just as good hear as 100 steps on the road. And while Joes’ Shanghai had a 30 minute wait for a table on a recent Friday night, Joe’s Ginger was half full. And you get your own table. Did I mention it’s also cheaper?

The only downside of Joe’s Ginger is the decor is more typical Chinatown, which is to say there is none to speak of. But if that’s something you’re willing to pay up and wait an extra 30 minutes for, you’re probably not reading a blog called The Dishelin Guide. Because in terms of the dishes, it’s right on par with it’s neighbor. Although it still charges a bit of a premium to lesser known Chinatown haunts for smaller portions, it’s still worth coming in to get our hands on the soup dumplings. Here’s what we had:

Xiaolongbao, Joes', Chinatown, NYCCrab Meat and Pork Steamed Buns (Joe’s Soup Dumplings) (3/4 stars) From the thin skin, to the salty broth to the sweet/savory blend of the sea & land, this is one of my favorite foods and these guys do it as well as anyone. Just remember the first rule of xiaolongbao: place the dumpling on your spoon and take a small bite first lest you want a soup explosion in your face.


chinatown, joe's ginger, nycKung Pao Chicken (2/4 stars) The Americanized classic of fried chicken with peanuts and peppers is everything you want it to be.

Shanghai Fried Flat Noodle w/ Chicken (2/4 stars) You can’t get Chinese without getting noodles. These are the ones you want.

Right Amount for 2? Soup Dumplings, 2 entrees

Joe’s Ginger
25 Pell Street (Mott & Doyers Sts.)
New York, NY
Joe's Ginger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Joe's Ginger


Posted in Chinatown, Chinese | Leave a comment
Sep 24

Kottu House

Why Come Here? Sample Sri Lankan street food, cheap eats

Kottu House, Sri Lankan, NYC, LESKottu House epitomizes the current state of the New York casual dining scene. It’s fast! It’s cheap! It’s easy-to-eat! It’s got hard-to-find authentic ethnic eats! From the streets of Sri Lanka! I’m sure many of you are sold already, but I’ll finish the review anyway because that’s my job. Sort of.

Kottu occupies a shoebox of a space on Broome Street, but in true South Asian form makes use of every available inch. They’ve managed to squeeze three tables and two counters seating about 15 in a a place smaller than the entry way to many suburban restaurants. One wall is covered with photos of the owner’s family in Sri Lanka which is ideally situated above the side counter you’re likely to sit at if dining solo. The rest is covered in brick walls with a neon sign announcing where you are.

So what food have we been brought from the Sri Lankan streets? The signature kottu (typically spelled kothu) is sort of a mix between curry and stir-fry with chopped veggies, roti, spices and choice of protein served in a newspaper laden box with a branded spoon. If Wikipeida is to be believed, these are as popular in Sri Lanka as burgers are in America. It comes in medium spicy (“a notch above American medium”), spicy and “Sri Lankan spicy.” The Sri Lankan spice will give you the nose runs for sure, but the heat works perfectly with the dish and I recommend it if you can take it. It doesn’t hurt to mix in one of their sambols – a blend of chilis, lime and coconut to cool things down. The kottus come in small and large, but take them the small to save room for another small plate like the lentil patties or popular beef rolls. Apparently people “race down the street” to get their hands on the latter, but unfortunately I couldn’t try them due to an egg allergy. Add in one of several Sri Lankan beers to round out the experience for a very reasonable $20 a person.

Kottu House, Sri Lankan, NYC, LESShrimp & Chicken Kottus 2.5/4 stars Obviously the choice of protein matters, but the peppery spices and roti/veggie blend are similar enough I’ll rate them together. The flavors really blend nicely and it’s a pretty dry dish for a curry (similar to Malaysian rendang). If I lived on the LES, I’d be putting these down on a weekly basis.


Kottu House, Sri Lankan, NYC, LESLentil Cake (2/4 stars) These crispy little fritters are spicy and heavy on the chili flavor. If you haven’t gotten enough heat from your kottu, add an order of these bad boys.


Potato Roll SambolPotato Roll (1.5/4 stars) This was a special and sort of reminded me of a softer samosa. Although I found it a little bready, it makes a nice vegetarian or vegan alternative to the beef rolls.

Pol Sambol (2/4 stars) Pictured next to the potato roll is the coconutty, limey pol sambal. It’s perfect for cooling your mouth down or adding extra flavor to your kottu. It’s only $1 so just get one.

Right Amount for 2? 2 small kottus, 2 short eats

Kottu House
250 Broome Street (Ludlow & Orchard Sts.)
New York, NY
Kottu House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Kottu House

Posted in Lower East Side, Sri Lankan | Leave a comment
Sep 18


Note: I was invited as a guest of the establishment and received a complimentary meal. This was not in exchange for a positive review and opinions expressed are my own.

Byblos Owners NYC

Owners Sabeh and Sonia Kachouh

In New York, Middle Eastern food is generally associated with street meat carts and casual falafel & kebab joints. While I have no beef with these inexpensive mainstays of the local diet, this region has much more to offer on the food front. This is on full display at Byblos, where Lebanese owners Sonia and Sabeh Kachouh offer an upscale Mediterranean dining experience that will change the way you think about Middle Eastern cuisine.

Enter Byblos and you find yourself surrounded by palm trees, terrazzo tiled floors and Jerusalem stone columns that transport to the Medieterrenan resort town from which the restaurant gets its name.  White table cloths, ivory walls and the soft sounds of Lebanese music in the background add to a charming yet relaxing vibe. On Saturday night things pick up when live bands and belly dancers come in beginning at 9:30. The wine list also stays true to the region with 70% of Lebanese origin. We were served a Massaya and Domaine Wardy Les Terroirs, and both impressed.

When it comes to the food, the menu ranges from fan favorite mezze (dips) to local specialties you’ve likely never seen before. All the of dips were among the best renditions I’ve ever had. They offer a $6 mezze and Lebanese wine happy hour from 5-7 which make this a perfect place for a drink and bite after work. They also offer delivery, which would have been great when I worked many nights through dinner a few blocks down the street. But make sure to grab a sit down meal here too for a full-on Lebanese feast with first rate hospitality.

Some of my favorites are below. As this was a tasting event, portions are larger than normal.

Hummus, Byblos, Nomad, Lebanese, NYCHommos with Meat (2/4 stars) Creamy hummus with a sprinkling of lamb and pine nuts. This is how hummus is meant to be done.


Byblos, Nomad, Lebanese, NYCBaba Ghannouj 2.5/4 stars I actually thought this was the hummus when it came out as it lacked the gray color I typically associate with Baba. But I now know this is the color you want to see. This rendition was light and smoother than usual with a great smokey flavor.


Vegetarian Grape Leaves (2/4 stars) Grape leaves are the old standby everybody is happy to snack on but nobody gets excited about. These are worth some excitement. They’re soft, not overstuffed with rice and nicely spiced.

Muhammara 2.5/4 stars Of all the Mediterranean dips that exist, why I have never seen this one before is a mystery. It’s like a spicy red pepper hummus with a nutty taste. You want it.


Byblos, Lebanese, Nomad, NYCFalafel 2.5/4 stars A light crispy fry covers an interior consisting only of chickpeas, coriander and garlic. These are a must order even if you don’t usually like falafel.

Cheese Rikakat (2/4 stars) You could stuff pretty much anything with cheese and I’ll happily eat it. But this light filo dough filled with haloumi was particularly good.


Byblos, Lebanese, Nomad, NYCStuffed Squash with Yogurt Sauce (2/4 stars) Sort of like the grape leaf, except instead of the leaf its a zucchini. This one comes stuffed with spiced lamb and rice in a yogurt sauce that gives it a nice comfort food quality.

Grilled Shish Taouk  (3/4 stars) The grilled chicken kebab is another old Middle Eastern standby that’s generally solid but not exciting. This one however was surprisingly incredible. The meat was seasoned in a way I’ve never had before – was that nutmeg? It was moist, juicy and my favorite of many excellent dishes here.


Byblos, Lebanese, Nomad, NYCGrilled Striped Bass 2.5/4 stars Seasoned with lemon and herbs and perfectly cooked it’s a great light alternative if you’re not feeling the meats.

80 Madison Avenue (28th & 29th Sts.)
New York, NY
Byblos Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Byblos Restaurant


Posted in Middle Eastern, NoMad | Leave a comment
Sep 15

Babu Ji

Why Come Here? My favorite Indian restaurant in NYC, creative dishes, fun/relaxed vibe

Let’s face it, Indian food in NYC people get particularly excited about. With a few exceptions, you could generally waltz into any mid-sized town in England and find better Indian food than you will here. For whatever reason most of our restaurants go too heavy on the butter and cream and have nearly identical menus, maybe because 80% of people just order samosas, naan and Chicken Tikka Masala anyway. You’ll also generally find the same dark green or red hues with a little Hindi paraphernalia sprinkled in and service that’s awkwardly formal for what most people consider a casual meal.

Babu Ji is nothing like this and is the place that will get you excited to eat Indian in New York again.  Instead of being formal, it feels almost whimsical.  On the street you’re greeted with a giant sign of a man with a turbin and handle bar mustache. Inside you’ll find a bright white, well lit space with more comical Bollywood-esque artwork. The service is so relaxed they even let you take your own beer out of the fridge. Chef Jessi Singh surprised me with a pat on the back at one point in our meal as he made the rounds to make sure all was well. And indeed it was. But while this concept is a pleasing change of pace, it’s the food that has people lining up for hour long waits on Avenue B.

The menu is equally refreshingly in both it’s brevity and creativity. It consists of food “from the street” and “from the pot.” Basically the former are the appetizers and the latter more entree-sized curries. The street food jumped out to me as the more exciting section and that is indeed where the highlights of the evening were found. Everything was solid though and I’d certainly consider the $50 “Eat Like a Babu Ji” tasting menu next time to get my hands on more of it. Prices are above average for Indian, but cheaper than top tier spots like Tamarind and Junoon and honestly I prefer eating here anyway. This is no doubt my new favorite Indian spot in New York. If it weren’t as crowded as a New Delhi market, I’d be here all the time. Here’s what I tried:

Indian Nachos, Babu Ji, NYC, East VillagePapadi Chaat (3/4 stars) These are proclaimed to be “Indian Nachos”, although they’ve inverted the topping to chip ratio so this is mostly a fork affair. No matter, it’s a delicious mix of chutneys, chickpeas, tamarind and pomegranate where eat bite presents its own joy. As the menu unabashedly states, these are “a must try.”


Babu Ji, NYC, East VillageYoghurt Kebab (3/4 stars) This is more croquette than kebab but let’s not get caught up on words. The spiced yogurt filled whatever-they-are on bed of a beetroot ginger sauce are the bomb. My favorite dish of the night.


Babu Ji, NYC, East VillageRainbow Trout (2/4 stars) It’s hard to get me excited about trout, a fish that’s fairly lacking in taste on it’s own. Enter honey-ginger glaze. If there were more of it this could be a showstopper but it’s very good as it is.


Babu Ji, NYC, East VillageLamb Roghan Josh (2/4 stars) Big hunks of tender lamb leg are stewed in a curry of fennel cardamom bay leaves and cloves. The lamb leg is perfectly tender and juicy, but the curry itself feels more like something you could find elsewhere.


Babu Ji, NYC, East VillageAnjeer Kofta 2.5/4 stars A curry of cashew & shallot, however, is something you won’t find on any other menu in the city. The question is why. It’s tanginess is perfect with the slightly sweet pomegranate and fig koftas inside. These guys really are kings of hitting all the taste buds.


Babu Ji, NYC, East VillageCardamom, Honey & Pistachio Kulfi 2.5/4 stars I’m not gonna lie, the fact it’s presented basically like a sword is a big part of the appeal for me. But it’s also a tasty mix of cardamom, honey and pistachios frozen into condensed milk. You’re not allowed to leave until you’ve had one.

Babu Ji
175 Avenue B (@ 11th Street)
New York, NY
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Babu Ji

Posted in East Village, Indian | Leave a comment
Aug 28

MP Taverna Brooklyn

Why Come Here? Sharable Greek plates good for groups

Chef Michael Psilakis became a Greek cooking star with restaurants Anthos and Kefi followed by appearances on Bravo and BBC America. He since has expanded his empire with the more casual MP Tavernas on Long Island, Astoria and now Williamsburg. Despite a seemingly exciting concept that offers everything from small plates to entire animal roasts, MP Taverna ends up feeling like a restaurant stuck in the Long Island ‘burbs that wasn’t quite ready to make the jump to the big city.

The first reason is the size. The place is massive by New York standards. It even includes a music hall. This could be a cool feature if not for the fact that it’s hard to tell which room is said hall. The main dining room has a bar taking up one entire wall with tables and booths scattered around the rest that could easily be rearranged to slip a stage in. Regardless of it’s intended function, it does a provide great large group dining restaurant or potential small event space for an area that lacks places fitting this particular bill. The large number of share plates and generally crowd pleasing menu adds to its appeal in this role as well. However it also means it can seem a bit cold for a more intimate gathering. I could see myself coming back with a large group for drinks and dips, but that’s about it.

The other reason is the food, which unfortunately is also more what you expect from a suburban restaurant. Despite hitting a good chunk of the small plates on our waiter’s rec, the feta dip ended up the only item I would legitimately consider coming back for. Probably coupled with pitcher of white sangria. The prices don’t help either with smallish mezze averaging around $15 each and 2-3 making a meal. Unless they get a lot more people paying those prices, it’s going to need some serious work to survive occupying this amount of prime real estate.

As usual at Greek restaurants I dodged the entrees and stuck to a wide array of small plates. Here’s what we ate.

MP Taverna, Michael PsilakisSpicy Feta Dip (2/4 stars) The highlight of the meal came out first: a creamy feta dip mixed with spices and topped with sundried tomatoes and caramelized onions. If you find yourself here, don’t miss this one.

MP Taverna, Michael Psikalis, Greek, WilliamsburgCrispy Cod & Ricotta (1.5/4 stars) Usually I’m not a fan of double fried dishes but this worked reasonably well. The cod comes in a tempura like batter while the ricotta is deeper fried. Personally I’d prefer it with fresh ricotta, but mixed with stewed tomatoes and garlic it’s enjoyable for a few bites at least.

MP Taverna, Michael Psikalis, Greek, WilliamsburgCalamari (1/4 stars) A fairly standard fried calamari plates. No complaints, no raves.

MP Taverna, Michael Psikalis, Greek, WilliamsburgSalt & Pepper Ribs (1/4 stars) The description says these come topped with shishito peppers but last I checked that’s a baby onion on top. I was intrigued by the spiced yogurt sauce which does give it an interesting flavor, but this version at least was undone by the meat being too dry.

MP Taverna, Michael Psikalis, Greek, WilliamsburgGnudi rating-0stars The lamb sausage and feta and sun dried tomato drew me in on this one but everything ended up drowning in an acidic sauce. On the plus side, the sausage was pretty good on its own.

Caulflower & Fried Peppers and Thrice Cooked Smashed Potatoes rating-0stars These two sides sounded intriguing but ended up feeling like after thoughts. The cauliflower was bland and the potatoes were basically mediocre steak fries, which are of course already the worst type of fry to begin with.

Right amount for 2? 4-5 small plates

MP Taverna
470 Driggs Avenue (N 10th & 11th Sts.)
Brooklyn, NY
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MP Taverna

Posted in Mediterrenean, Williamsburg | Leave a comment
Aug 20


Why Come Here? Summery food & vibes, good eats in Meatpacking

Unlike the more dapper Major Food Group restaurants like Carbone and Dirty French, Santina just feels like a party. The room is filled with colorful flamingo chandeliers, giant flowers and plants all illuminated by massive floor-to-ceiling windows that make it feel like a trippy garden. And everyone looks to be having a good time, from the fruity cocktail pouring bartenders to the cabin boy dressed waitstaff. You can’t help but do the same.

Currently Santina is one of the hottest restaurant in NYC and this summery good times vibe is no doubt a big part of it. Another part is the fairly light “Coastal Italian” menu that pairs well with the weather, even if most dishes are very good without being spectacular. On top is their specialty “Cecina” section, which is a fun-to-make-if-not-particularly-exciting-tasting chickpea crepe offering a number of different topping options. The rest of menu offers a crowd pleasing variety of veggie dishes, pastas and entrees heavy on proteins of the sea. Somewhat frustratingly none of them have descriptions so be prepared for a long interaction with your waiter unless you want to chance it. Fortunately ours was friendly and clearly well-versed in reciting all the preparations. Here’s what we tried:

Santina, Major Food Group, Meatpacking, NYCCalabrian Tuna Cecina (1.5/4 stars) This sort of reminded me of a dosa, but without the delicious flavoring of Indian spices. They do give you a duo of sauces to counteract that, but this is more about the fun of creating your own little crepe than being a really great dish. Or maybe I just made mine wrong.


Santina, Major Food Group, Meatpacking, NYCSquash Carpaccio (3/4 stars) The most talked about dish on the menu because it’s without a doubt the best. Thinly sliced squash is covered in peppers, spices and oils and topped with creme fraiche. Its lightness makes it ideal for summer, but I’d be quite pleased eating it year-round.


Santina, Major Food Group, Meatpacking, NYC, pasta, pestoRigatoni Verdi (1.5/4 stars) Another dish made for the season, it’s a green pasta covered in ricotta. Light and well prepared but sort of lacking any memorable punch.


Santina, Major Food Group, Meatpacking, NYCSwordish Dogana 2.5/4 stars Swordfish can be real hit-or-miss fish but this was one the best I’ve had. The dogana is a Mediterranean styling with fava beans, olives in a pool of olive oil. As far as simply prepared fish goes, this one nails it.

820 Washington Street (Gansevoort & Little W 12th Sts)
New York, NY
Click to add a blog post for Santina on Zomato



Posted in Italian, Mediterrenean, MePa | Leave a comment
Aug 04

4011 Deli Grocery

Why Come Here? Secret taqueria serving the best goat taco in NYC

4011 deli groceryIn the age of Yelp, Instagram and ten thousand food blogs per city, it’s pretty damn near impossible to keep a food secret these days. Yet somehow this little spot in Sunset Park has managed to serve the best barbacoa taco I’ve ever had without an ounce of social media coverage. So what’s their secret?

Step One: Don’t have a name. Yes, it seems to sort of goes by 4011 Deli Grocery as I noted above. But that’s just the address followed by a description of what it is. It’s like naming a chair Left Side Living Room Chair. That’s not a name, that’s just how you describe it because you don’t want to give it a name.

Step Two: Don’t appear to be a restaurant. Look like all the other Mexican groceries in the area. Hide the restaurant behind an unmarked door all the way in the back. Make sure the first thing the patron sees in said room is boxes so they are 85% sure they have wandered into the storage room. Yes, only once you look around do you notice a few tables and decorations which bring you to the realization this is in fact the restaurant.

File Aug 04, 12 57 05 PM

“Secret” Dining Room

Step Three (and perhaps most important): Don’t be on Instagram. And I don’t mean don’t post photos on Instagram. Or even don’t have an account. This place literally does not exist as a location on Instagram and you cannot add it. As far as the world of social media is concerned, no one has ever been here. In fact I’m starting to wonder whether I was actually there.

Whether the secrecy is intentional or not, it adds to the allure of what might be New York’s greatest neighborhood taqueria. The staff is very friendly and everyone else eating there seemed to be a local. They do advertise Barbacoa (goat) on the window so we decided to get an order. Because this was a stop on a crawl, I didn’t get to try anything else but they have the typical offerings as well as an assortment of fresh fruit juices.

4011 Deli Grocery, Goat Taco Sunset Park BrooklynBarbacoa Taco 2.5/4 stars This was the best goat I’ve ever had. It was moist, juicy and only a little gamey. The tortillas were fresh and the generous heaping of cilantro and onion give me confidence other tacos here would also be quite good. But get the goat, even if it’s not usually your thing. It was a real game changer for me.

4011 Deli Grocery Inc.
4011 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Posted in Mexican, Sunset Park | Leave a comment
Jul 30

10Below Ice Cream

Why Come Here? Made-to-order ice cream that’s the best I’ve ever eaten

10Below Ice CreamI’m not a big sweets guy. In fact, this is my first post about a place focusing on sugary treats. And if I were to choose one, ice cream wouldn’t even be that high on my list (mmm pie…) So why the decision to write about new ice cream-only shop 10Below?

First, the concept is really cool. They begin by placing the ingredients on a thermal plate that’s below -10 degrees Fahrenheit. The liquid cream is then poured on and it’s all vigorously chopped while freezing right in front of you. The whole thing takes about three minutes and given all the pounding and scraping I imagine the staff will have some pretty impressive triceps by the time Fall rolls around. Check out my video below to see the whole thing go down.

The result is rolled up into what’s basically the freshest ice cream possible and placed in a cup to your enjoyment. Naturally, there’s no need for preservatives or artificial flavoring. The only downside to the process is with three stations taking about three minutes each the waits get pretty long. Bring a friend or good book and allow 45 minutes to an hour.

The second reason to come is the ice cream is just really good. 10Below offers seven flavor combinations with names like Strawberry Shawty (strawberries, graham crackers), Mo Money Mo Mangoes (mango, strawberry, coconut) and S’More Galore (Chocolate, Graham Cracker, Marshmallow). Prices aren’t cheap at six bucks a cup but considering the manual labor you witness after ordering, you’re in no position to complain. Plus it includes all the toppings you want. I went with the Honey Boo Boo (blueberries, raspberries, honey)

10Below, best ice cream, chinatown, nycHoney Boo Boo (4/4 stars) Like I said, I’m not normally a big ice cream guy. But I couldn’t help but devour this thing. Somehow the rolls of ice cream make it even more fun to eat than the normal stuff. And it had a great fresh fruit taste, probably from the fresh fruit they just chopped inside of it. I topped mine off with extra berries, honey and condensed milk. I wouldn’t advise doing it any differently.

10Below Ice Cream
10 Mott Street (Bowery & Pell Sts.)
New York, NY
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