Jul 01

La Sirene

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.

Why Come Here? Excellent renditions of French classics, intimate and affordable SoHo bistro

French cooking, once viewed as the pinnacle of high-end cuisine, has fallen somewhat out of favor in New York. Whether it’s trendiness or a desire to eat lighter, when is the last time your friend told you she wanted to go to a French bistro? And to be fair, many places in New York aren’t doing a great job with it. Because of this I think many of us have forgotten why the French are considered Kings of cuisine. Do yourself a favor and visit La Sirene for a reminder.

La Sirene is the flagship of Didier Pawlicki, who also owns next door fondue spot Taureau and healthified French eatery Le Village. Didier – who hails from the South of France and owned a restaurant in Paris for 13 years before coming to New York – somehow manages to serve as owner, executive chef and pastry chef at all three. I doubt he has a moment to think about anything other than serving you incredible French cuisine. But the effort definitely pays off.

La Sirene has the intimate feel of a traditional bistro with wooden tables, wrought iron panels and framed French artwork. The dishes are of the classic French decadence. Items like escargot, coq au vin and cassoulet often have corners cut in NYC or are only available certain nights of the week due to their complexity. But at La Sirene the hard work and traditional methods are used and it’s apparent as soon as they hit your mouth. Another nice touch are the vegetable sides. All entrees come with a rotating selection of 4 different veggies, which allows you focus on ordering the richest, meatiest things you can.

After years of being BYOB, La Sirene recently got its liquor license and now offers a full bar. The wine list is small and mostly French with many affordable bottles, but you can also still bring your own for a reasonable $10 corkage fee. French food is required to be paired with wine after all.

Le Sirene, French, SoHoEscargot (3/4 stars) These little guys are often so drowned in butter, garlic and breadcrumbs you’re not sure what you just ate. While the garlic is certainly potent here, it enhances without overpowering. It’s also great for dipping your bread in afterwards.

 

Le Sirene, French Bistro, SoHo, NYCCreole Mussels 2.5/4 stars The creole mussels come in a tomato herb cream sauce that’s actually lighter than it sounds and is another one you want to soak up with bread once the shellfish are gone. The generous hunks of spicy chorizo certainly don’t hurt either.

 

Le Sirene, French Bistro, SoHo, NYCCassoulet (3/4 stars) The list of ingredients in this dish is practically a who’s who of deliciousness: Cannellini Beans, Carrots, Tomato, Garlic Duck Confit, Slab Bacon and Pork Sausage all Braised with Noble Duck fat, White Stock and Foie Gras Jus. Sadly I only got to try a few bites of someone else’s.

 

Le Sirene, French Bistro, SoHo, NYCFilet Mignon Foie Gras (3/4 stars) Another dish of nearly outlandish decadence – a filet topped with foie gras topped with black truffles in a port and red wine truffles sauce. The filet was melts in your mouth and the foie makes the perfect creamy compliment. I’m pretty sure King Louis eating this every day was the cause of the French Revolution.

 

Le Sirene, French Bistro, SoHoProfiteroles (3/4 stars) Think of this as the French ice cream sandwich. It’s topped with melted dark chocolate and homemade whipped cream. Yes, it’s as good as it looks. (And yes Johnny Prime, I did steal this photo from you.)

 

Le Sirene, French Bistro, Le VillageChocolate Lave Cake 2.5/4 stars Chocolate-heavy desserts aren’t normally my thing so I just tried a bite of another diner’s. I have to say this is some seriously good chocolate.

Right Amount for 2? An appetizer, 2 entrees, 1 dessert

La Sirene
558 Broome Street (Varick & 6th Ave)
New York, NY
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Posted in French, SoHo | Leave a comment
Jun 29

Superiority Burger

Why Come Here? To get a damn good veggie burger

Superiority BurgerLate last week, Superiority Burger opened to much hoopla and hype. What’s with all the excitement? The reason is owner Brooks Headley, formerly of Del Posto, whose veggie burgers have appeared at numerous pop-ups over the past couple years and become the stuff of legend. Finally we are graced with a permanent location. Come to think of it, veggie burgers may have been the last remaining food item not to have a dedicated restaurant in New York. Or maybe even just the East Village. So there’s that too.

Superiority burger is little more than a place to purchase the burger and handful of other menu items (including a veggie sloppy joe). The space is tiny and uncomfortably crowded at about 15 people. There are less than 10 seats, each with a pull out tray table like you’re sitting in the front row on an airplane (because there’s no chance of getting actual tables in here). So expect to be doing most of your waiting and eating outside. Fortunately Tompkins Square Park is just down the street.

So what is this mythical burger like? I’ll start with what it’s not. Nothing made of a mash of grains and vegetables is ever going to compare to a juicy medium rare beef burger. So if that’s what you’re into then just move along. But compare it to other veggie burgers or even a well-done fast food style burger, and things get interesting.

Superiority BurgerSuperiority Burger 2.5/4 stars One of the things that stood out on this versus other veggie burgers is it really resembles a beef burger in many ways. The patty looks like meat. It’s got a nice charred exterior similar to meat. It doesn’t fall apart like many veggie patties. It of course doesn’t taste exactly like meat, but that’s why I compare it more to the less flavorful well-done burger. In terms of actual taste, the mustardy special sauce adds a pleasing zing that’s cooled by ample use of pickles and slow cooked tomato. And it comes encased in a soft potato bun similar to what you get at Shake Shack. Overall it’s a very enjoyable burger, with a fraction of the guilt of a traditional one.

 

superiority burgerCharred Broccoli Salad (2/4 stars) It’s worth noting the burger is kinda of small, so you’ll want something else to make your visit into a meal. The charred broccoli is the only permanent side on the menu as of now and comes with bird’s eye chiles, cilantro, peanuts in a mushroomy paste. It’s pretty unique and tasty and much easier on the waistline than an order of fries.

Superiority Burger
430 East 9th Street (1st Ave & Ave A)
New York, NY

Posted in burger, East Village | Leave a comment
Jun 24

Plant Love House

Why Come Here? Hard-to-find Thai specializes, the Sizzling Brownie

Plant Love House is located in the Thai food haven around Elmhurst, Queens. So the fact that they serve Thai dishes relatively unknown to Americans shouldn’t come as a surprise. What does is the fact that they (or any Asian restaurant for that matter) offer up some destination worthy sweets.

Plant Love is on a side street off Queens Broadway that you would never find on your own, although it is just up the road from hot spot Chao Thai. It’s a tiny space with about ten tables, a blackboard and display case counter that looks more like a bakery than a restaurant. There is a small savory menu though that looks intriguing with dishes like shrimp paste rice with sweet sausage and spicy pork blood noodle soup. But dessert was the focus when I came here recently with the amazing baked goods blogger Jenn Baker. We tried their two dessert specialties:

Plant Love House, Elmhurst, Queens, ThaiSizzling Brownie (3/4 stars) It’s presented sizzling in a piping hot skillet like some sort of dessert fajita and this is definitely part of the appeal. But it’s also a really good brownie covered in what will soon become a delicious goo of melted ice cream, caramel and marshmallows. If that sounds good, you need to make this trip. If not, something is wrong with you.

 

Plant Love House, Elmhurst, Queens, ThaiPlant Love Toast 2.5/4 stars This is nothing like the toast you’ve been eating for breakfast. It’s an airy, buttery thick cut of bread covered in honey, powdered sugar and ice cream. You came all the way to the middle of Queens – don’t stop at one dessert.

Plant Love House
86-08 Whitney Avenue (off Broadway)
Elmhurst, NY
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Jun 17

Little Park

Why Come Here? Amazing things done to vegetables, ample booth seating

Credit: Yelp

I have been a fan of Andrew Carmellini since the opening of Locanda Verde six years ago. I find he’s at his best when cooking Italian – pastas in particular – so it was good to see that heavily represented at Little Park. Here the menu is more vegetable-driven using seasonal, sustainable meat and produce. At some point you have to wonder how much local, sustainable food is actually in season at any given time, but its seems like we’re okay for now. And at Little Park, these ingredients are certainly not squandered.

Little Park sort of feels like you’ve entered a rich guy’s farm house. The airy, light filled corner space is filled with little trees, earthy modern art and light wood tables and chairs all feels one with nature. It’s rustic but at the same time modern and sleek. One feature I am a big fan of is the ample usage of booths, which makes it a great spot for a date or catching up.

The menu has big sections of things that grow out of the ground and is sure to keep your veggie friends happy. This is where LP has gotten it’s biggest praise and was my focus too as my companion was not an eater of the flesh. However, there is a large selection of seafood and meat to keep carnivores happy as well. Plates are small so expect to order 2-3 person. They aren’t cheap either (this is the hotel the Kardashians stayed in after all), but reasonable for the quality and amount of space you get. Here’s what we tried:

 
Little Park, Tribeca, Vegetarian, Smythe Hotel, NYC, Andrew CarmelliniSnow Pea (3/4 stars) A light and refreshing salad perfect for summer with mint cooling the bite from the salty piave.

 

Little Park, Tribeca, Vegetarian, Smythe Hotel, NYC, Andrew CarmelliniGrilled Asparagus 2.5/4 stars The asparagus is sliced lengthwise in a Thai green curry sauce with crushed marcona almonds. If you can get me to eat the bottom part of an asparagus, you know it’s good.

 

Little Park, Tribeca, Vegetarian, Smythe Hotel, NYC, Andrew CarmelliniButterball Potato Ravioli  2.5/4 stars I’m not sure I’ve had potato ravioli before, but think of it as a sort of a piergorie. Except it’s covered in morel mushrooms, fava beans and pecorino. Carmellini always nails his pastas and this is no exception.

 

Little Park, Tribeca, Vegetarian, Smythe Hotel, NYC, Andrew CarmelliniBeetroot Risotto (3/4 stars) This was the standout dish of the night and I’ve never had anything quite like it. It also just looks really cool. The mix of beet and goat cheese with al dente risotto make it a tangy, sweet winner.

 

Little Park, Andrew Carmenelli, Smythe Hotel, Tribeca, NYCLive Diver Scallops (1.5/4 stars) I think in liquifying the watercress and coriander, the chef may have outdone himself a little on this one. Plus it looks like your scallops are being engulfed by Slimer.  The scallops topped with spring garlic are still good, but this was the clear weak link of the evening.

Little Park, Tribeca, Vegetarian, Smythe Hotel, NYC, Andrew CarmelliniStrawberry Shortcake 2.5/4 stars Fresh strawberries, airy cake and “milk jam” ice cream makes this one of the best renditions of the classic I’ve had.

Right Amount for 2? 5-6 plates

Little Park
85 W Broadway (@ Chambers St.)
New York, NY
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Jun 14

Big Apple BBQ Block Party Guide (2015 Update)

madison sq park, big apple bbq block party, nyc

The Pig @ 17th Street Championship BBQ

After a few more years of working the rounds at my favorite NYC food festival, I’ve decided to update my original post to represent my new faves and the current lineup. If you’re not familiar with the Big Apple Block Party, I feel sorry for you. But here’s the concept: in early June each year some of the country’s top pitmasters (wizards of making barbecue) bring their smokers and crews to Madison Square Park to gorge you on pulled pork, ribs, brisket and sausage. No tickets are required to enter, which means lines can get long for the good stuff. I recommend you either come with a group of friends to divide-and-conquer.

My top picks are below. I exclude the New York-based Houses of ‘Cue as they can be visited any time.

madison sq park, big apple bbq block party, nyc

Pulled Pork Shoulder @ Ubon’s Barbecue (Yazoo City, MS) rating-4stars Simply put, the best barbecue I’ve ever had. I first had it here in 2006, and I’ve come back every year if for no other reason than to grab a sandwich from these guys. The reason for the 4 stars is not just that the meat is amazingly moist and the slaw somehow perfectly crisp despite sitting in mayo all day, it’s because Ubon’s make the best BBQ sauce period. It combines the tart vinegariness of NC style with the richer, thicker sweeter stuff you typically find in the Deep South. Incredible. And it’s available at Fairway Markets in NYC, as is their outstanding BBQ Bloody Mary Mix.

madison sq park, big apple bbq block party, nycBaby Back Ribs @ Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO) (3.5/4 stars) What make these the best ribs I’ve eaten? First of all, the meat is fall-off-the-bone perfect with loads of flavor. But if you like ribs, you’ve probably seen that trick before. No, this one comes down to the sauce. It’s not the really wet stuff your ribs sometimes come drenched in, nor is it an entirely dry rub. It also isn’t sweet, but smokey with an earthy blend of spices like nothing you’ve never experienced before.

madison sq park, big apple bbq block party, nycChopped Whole Hog Sandwich @ Skylight Inn (Ayden, NC) (3.5/4 stars) I grew up on North Carolina BBQ (well, when I visited my mother’s family) and this is the first place to do it right in New York. The pork is tender  but mixed with the occasional crispy skin cracklin that adds a smokey crunch (though I’d like to see more of them next time). The spicy vinegar-based sauce packs a nice heat without overdoing the vinegar. There was also no line whatsoever this year. Add it to your must-try list.

Pulled Pork Shoulder @ Big Bob Gibson BBQ (Decatur, AL) 3 Star Dish  Chris Lilly is a big time BBQ personality and he makes a mean pulled pork sandwich. The meat is moist and smokey, but it loses points on the sauces which are more overwhelming than flavor enhancing. You also have to wait on typically the fest’s longest line to get your hands on it. For this reason I haven’t been in a couple years and probably won’t unless I find myself in Decatur.

madison sq park, big apple bbq block party, nycBrisket 2.5/4 stars & Sausage (3.5/4 stars) @ Salt Lick Bar-B-Q (Driftwood, TX) The Salt Lick is probably Texas’ best known brisket joint. The salty & spicy rub and 14-hours of smoking pack in a lot of flavor. And their spicy sauce is a top tier mustard-based sauce. Unfortunately when I’ve had it here the meat has been on the dry side. The sausage on the other hand is sort of kielbasa like in style and the best BBQ sausage I’ve eaten.

madison sq park, big apple bbq block party, nycBaby Back Ribs @ 17th Street Barbecue (Murphysboro, IL) 2.5/4 stars Meaty, fall-off the bone ribs with a spicy and tangy dry rub. These are great ribs that have won multiple awards as the the smoke shed painting proudly points out. But personally I prefer the “wetter” sauce and shorter lines at Pappy’s. Though I certainly wouldn’t fault you for trying both. Bonus: These guys put their fully smoked pig on display and offer hunks of meat straight from the carcass free of charge if you get there early.

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
First or Second Weekend in June
Madison Square Park
New York, NY

Posted in American, Food Festival | Leave a comment
Jun 10

The Pavilion

Why Come Here? Outdoor eating in Union Square, people watching with cocktails

UNION SQUARE RESTAURANTIf you have walked through Union Square recently, you may have noticed there’s now a giant restaurant sitting on the north side of the park. With a large courtyard overlooking the square and Roman style open-air restaurant in back, it’s hard not to be tempted by The Pavilion’s visual charms. If you’re hungry however, resist the temptation. Like far too many restaurants that offer a fancy space and great view, The Pavilion offers only that.

I’ll start off with the good, as I’m told is proper to do. The space is pretty cool. Sitting in the restaurant area feels like dining in King’s Landing on Game of Thrones with its stone columns, chandeliers and open air walls overlooking both the square and park. The tropical leaning cocktail list also delivered as both the Rialto 15 and Market Whiskey Sour were perfect for a summer day. If only I had ended my visit there.

The meal started off well enough as we were promptly seated and received our first round of cocktails and two dishes in a reasonable if not expedient amount of time. At this point it seems the waitstaff decided we’d had enough. We were unapproached for nearly half an hour as our glasses sat dry. Finally we were able flag someone down for another round. However instead of a much needed libation, we were presented with the check despite the fact we were waiting on two more dishes. In retrospect I should have accepted their generous offer to let us bail, but decided to correct the error.

The food is basic New American / Italian with crudos, lots of vegetables and some pasta and meat dishes. It’s the type of menu you see in a decent hotel restaurant that wants to sound fancy: a large number of dishes that sound like crowd pleasers but ultimately are overpriced and underwhelming. If you feel the need to come for the ambiance, grab a cocktail and maybe a share plate but get your meal somewhere else.

The Pavilion, Union Square restaurant, NYCFarm Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart (2/4 stars) This was the best dish of the night with tangy goat cheese and poached tomato over a flaky pastry crust. If you need a snack with your cocktail, get one these.

The Pavilion, Union Square RestaurantRainbow Cauliflower (1.5/4 stars) Crispy and served in a creamy tahini sauce, these are a respectable way to take your veggies.

The Pavilion, Union Square RestaurantMashed Potatoes (1.5/4 stars) If you make mashed potatoes buttery enough, they always taste good. Covering them with chives doesn’t hurt either.

 

The Pavilion, Union Square RestaurantShort Rib & Broccoli Rabe Lasagna rating-0stars Classic case of something beautiful on the outside, but ugly within (your mouth). The short rib was overcooked to the point it turned a deathly shade of gray. I wouldn’t have known there was rabe in there if I didn’t open it up and find a few specks of green.

Right Amount for 2? 2 (or 4) cocktails and a share plate

The Pavilion
20 Union Square West (North Side of Union Square)
New York, NY
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Posted in Gramercy, New American | Leave a comment
Jun 05

El Original

Why Come Here? Satisfy your Tex-Mex cravings

Since New York was brandished with two new Tex-Mex restaurants earlier this year, there has been no shortage of hype and hate. On the one hand, the promise of true Tex-Mex in this city  has kept both El Original and Javelina as packed with people as their enchiladas are with cheese. On the other, a herd of big name reviewers have come in and trampled over both places. So what’s the deal?

It’s true, neither has gifted us with food on par with the best the Lone Star has to offer.  But in my opinion the hate has gone way too far. Complaints about slow or forgetful service (which I did not personally experience) are like at least partially the result of being understaffed for the explosion of diners that came knocking once the queso started flowing. And while I wouldn’t call either place a “foodie destination,” the handmade tortillas, rich refried beans and creamy queso dips are a big improvement over what we had before. If you’re missing creamy, cheesey goodness of Tex-Mex and don’t set your expectation too high into that big Texas sky, both places can make you happy as a hog in mud.

You can read my Javelina review here.

Compared to Javelina, El Original occupies a large Hell’s Kitchen space more reminiscent of a restaurant you would actually find in the Lone Star State. The menu is also more traditional Tex-Mex. There are big sections of enchiladas and fajitas, frito pies and the much loved but rarely seen in NYC combo platters. The food was a little hit-or-miss but I enjoyed most of it, especially when washed down with something from their long and strong list of margaritas. Here’s what I tried:

El Original, Hells Kitchen, Tex-Mex, NYCChips & Salsa (2/4 stars) Texas hospitality demands that every table receive a complimentary basket of chips and salsa. The chips were fresh and crispy, the salsa tomatoey and nicely spiced.

El Original, Hells Kitchen, Tex-Mex, NYCChile con Queso (2/4 stars) Unlike the fancier Javelina version, this feels more like Texas with thick, melted Velveeta cheese engulfing bits of tomato and jalapeno.

El Original, Hells Kitchen, Tex-Mex, NYCBeef Enchiladas (2/4 stars) As you can see, they don’t hold back on the cheese on these bad boys. The real star though is the picadillo beef, which is shredded and spiced with cumin and coriander. The creamy refried beans are also solid with a bacon-y flavor. Feel your arteries clogging yet? Fortunately they add a slice of carrot and floret of cauliflower to balance everything out.

Photo May 28, 9 38 34 PMPuffy Beef Taco (1.5/4 stars) & Chile Con Queso Tostada (1/4 stars) I had the Pablo Deluxe Combo, which came with these in addition to the enchiladas above. The puffy taco had the same tasty picadillo beef but the shell was a little soggy and overpowering due to its puffiness. The tostada is basically a poor man’s version of the queso dip. It gets a star for the cheese, but kind of makes me sad to look at. Just stick to the enchiladas.

Right Amount for 2? 1-2 apps, 1 entree or 1 dip, 2 entrees (entrees are large)

El Original
735 Tenth Avenue (@ 50th St.)
New York, NY
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Posted in Hells Kitchen, Mexican | Leave a comment
May 28

Roebling Sporting Club

Why Come Here? Williamsburg’s best sports bar, very good bar food

I’ve lived in Williamsburg for about a year now and generally have no regrets about leaving the isle of Manhattan. But one of the few problems with living here is that bars are more likely to be showing Fight Club than an actual fight. Fortunately after much searching I’ve finally come across a solid spot to catch a game. And on top of that, they serve some of the better bar food in NYC.

The Roebling Sporting Club manages to fit into the neighborhood as well as a sports bar can. There’s a smattering of vintage sports posters, a decent beer & cocktail selection, and an ironic? photo of Tim Tebow looking like Jesus. The setup is great too. In back you’ve got leather booths and tables around a few TVs that are comfortable enough for lingering all night. Up front is your stool seating for a quick drink. And in warmer months the corner location offers up a lot of open windows and even a tiny outdoor space that lets you sort of drink outside. The only knock on this place is you have to order food at the bar and hope they remember to bring it to you. But if it seems like it’s taking a while, just politely ask and you’ll probably find it sitting behind the bar.

Since this is Williamsburg, the serving of mediocre food is banned. While RSC is no fancy gastropub, they’ve got spruced up bar classics like nachos, sliders and quesadillas. Everything I’ve had is in the upper end of a category that to be fair has a pretty low upper end. But if you’re gonna slowly kill yourself with beer and bar food, you might as well really enjoy it, right?

Below are my top picks. Unfortunately drinking and watching the game while eating has led to some missed photo opportunities.

roebling sporting club, best bar food nyc, sports bar williamsburgRSC Nachos 2.5/4 starsThese could make a strong case for the city’s best nachos. Covered in cilantro, tinga chicken and fresh versions of all the expected toppers. Most impressively the chips have the heft to support your cheesy, chicken and jalapeno stacked bite without fear of breakage.

RSC Hot Wings 2.5/4 stars Meaty, crispy and covered in a very tasty buffalo sauce they’re pretty much your ideal of the standard buffalo wing.

Mozzarella Sticks (2/4 stars) This might be the lightest fry I’ve had on a mozz stick, but it’s still crispy and adds enough to the cheese. Another classic done very well.

roebling sporting club, best bar food nyc, sports bar williamsburgKobe Beef Slider (1.5/4 stars) I often find sliders to have too high a bread:meat ratio, and these suffer a little from that. But the kobe is tasty and the addition of slightly spice pimento cheese means it’s still a winner.

Roebling Sporting Club
225 N 8th Street (@ Roebling St.)
Brooklyn, NY
Roebling Sporting Club on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

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May 19

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.

Why Come Here? Fresh seafood in a casual setting

While North Brooklyn has no shortage of high quality meat markets, it can be quite lacking when it comes to the treasures of the sea. Enter Greenpoint Fish & Lobster (“GFC”). They offer a nice selection of fresh, high quality and sustainable seafood near McCarren Park. And for those not inclined to prepare it themselves, they’ve got a kitchen serving up some very tasty offerings.

GFC looks like your standard seafood market, with a bunch of fresh fish on ice upfront and the obligatory white brick walls. The back offers a small amount of casual dining at both a counter and a few small tables. I don’t think any could take more than 2 people, so don’t plan on having your birthday party here. The offerings range from a rotating selection of raw oysters to fish tacos and lobster rolls to full on seafood entrees. The ones I’ve tried are below:

Greenpoint Fish Lobster Seafood MarketSeabass in Mango Salsa (Market Fish Plate) 2.5/4 stars The market plate changes daily depending on the catch of the day and should be your go-to order. The meaty seabass in a tangy salsa I had could hold its own at any seafood restaurant in the city. The curry spiced potatoes were a nice compliment.

 

Greenpoint Fish Lobster Seafood MarketKelp Noodle Pad Thai (2/4 stars) I enjoyed the refreshing use of kelp noodles in the pad thai. It adds a slight crunch over the traditional noodles while sacrificing surprisingly little flavor. Bonus for healthy types: it’s raw, vegan and gluten-free.

 

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster, seafood market, brooklyn, nycFish Tacos (2/4 stars) Meaty white fish with a nice crispy fry and tangy spicy mayo. Definitely one of the better fish tacos in town.

 

Greenpoint Fish Lobster Seafood MarketHamachi Crudo (1.5/4 stars) Generally I’m in the camp that when you’ve got some slices of really good fresh fish it’s best to let them stand on their own. However, hamachi can be a little bland and the simple dressing of olive oil and sea salt wasn’t quite enough to overcome that.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFish Collar (1/4 stars) As you can see, the “collar” is in fact the area around the tail. It’s sort of the “dark meat” of the fish with a distinctive texture and taste. I think I’ll be sticking to the normal parts.

Right Amount for 2? 1 app & 2 entrees or 3 apps & 1 entree

 

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.
114 Nassau Avenue (Leonard & Eckford Sts.)
Brooklyn, NY
Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. on Urbanspoon

Posted in greenpoint, Seafood | Leave a comment
May 15

Javelina

Why Come Here? NYC’s best queso dip, riffs on Tex Mex specialties

Javelina dining room

Dining Room (credit: Javelina)

While New York’s Mexican scene has been on the rise in recent years with strong additions in the authentic and Cal-Mex categories, “Mexican” cuisine’s third jewel in the crown has languished behind. I am speaking of course of Tex-Mex. It’s clear that the city yearns for queso dip, fajitas and all the other creamy, cheesey, beefy stylings of the Lone Star State’s proudest food group (maybe tied with deep-fried anything). To see this you need look no further than the popularity of newcomer Javelina. I recently shared a lunch here with Chelsea-Rae, whose always entertaining food blog is required reading. The place was jam packed that weekday afternoon and apparently has been since opening two months back.

Javelina’s interior is a blend of both Tex Mex and NYC restaurant elements (as is the food.) The bright aqua green chairs and booths matched with Soutwestern tile work and cactii definitely harken to a warmer dessert climate. But then you’ve got your exposed brick and piping, open kitchen and the fact this place would be considered a closet in Texas to remind you you’re only a few blocks from Union Square.

The offerings draw from all over the state but the biggest draw are the queso dips. This is basically cheese melted to a semi-liquid state and covered with chilis, cilantro, pico de gallo and  the “option” to add your choice of meat. From there the menu gets into all your Tex-Mex favorites from fajitas to enchiladas to red chili and some regional specialties as well.  Prices are pretty fair with most of their quite filling entrees going for less than a Jackson note. I came at lunch so I avoided the booze, but they appear to be doing a nice selection of tequila & mezcal cocktails. Here’s what we tried:

 

Javelina, Tex-Mex, Gramercy, NYCYellow Queso Dip w/ Chorizo (3/4 stars) There is an option to add meat to your dip. There is also an option to add electricity to your apartment. Sometimes options are silly. We added the spicy crumbled chorizo and were very pleased. As for the dip itself, it’s creamy, cheesy and slightly spicy from the serranos. I would call this the best rendition I’ve had in NYC and possibly ever, even if (or maybe because) they shun the traditional Velveeta. Plus its easily big enough for four.

 

Javelina, Tex Mex, Gramercy, NYCChile Relleno 2.5/4 stars One of my favorite chile rellenos, it’s stuffed with beef and covered with cheese and tomatillo salsa which is all good. But the thing that puts this one over the top is the nutty-sweet sprinkling of toasted pecans and raisins.

 

San Antonio style, Javelina, Tex Mex, Gramercy, NYCPuffy Taco (1.5/4 stars) This sounded cool but was ultimately undone by its own puffiness as the shell overpowered what was inside. Which was a shame because the spicy pork shoulder was quite tasty on its own.

Right Amount for 2? Queso Dip (good luck finishing it) plus 2 entrees

Javelina
119 East 18th Street (Park Ave S & Irving Pl)
New York, NY
Javelina on Urbanspoon

Posted in Gramercy, Mexican | Leave a comment