leave your inhibitions at the door
Even when I was trapped because of some beyotch named Irene…
I’m writing this now at 10am on Sunday morning, when the hurricane was supposed to be at its worst. As you can see from the picture, it looks like any other rainy morning. The city is supposed to get a huge storm surge, so hopefully we’ll dodge another bullet. I was supposed to fly home today, but switched my flight to yesterday only to have that one canceled. I think I could’ve easily left yesterday, but I’m not going to criticize anyone for being over precautious.
I came here to celebrate Panhead’s (my oldest bro) big birthday. I got here on Wednesday and the plan was to explore some neighborhoods, get some great meals, and celebrate with a big party. Let’s see how we did.
My epic bike wipeout in Chicago has left me a miserable limping wreck. I got to see a bit of Soho, Chinatown, and Greenwich Village, but only a fraction of what I was planning. There was some unexpected fun as I took public transportation from LaGuardia to Panhead’s, who lives at Bleecker and Broadway. And by “fun” I mean the type that can only be had by transferring from the bus to the train, with a full leg brace, with luggage. At night. In Harlem. Let’s just say the place lives up to its reputation.
Ever hear of Hurricane Irene? Even before the hurricane, the party was in jeopardy. A couple days after my bike accident, my brother was reading his iPad in Washington Square when a young punk rides past on his bike, grabs the iPad without stopping and takes off. What is a peace-loving, nerdy professor approaching a certain age supposed to do? Apparently chase after the guy in his flip flops. The punk, who was apparently twice the size of my brother, doesn’t expect to be chased and wipes out. Panhead runs into a fence, gets up and rearranges the guys face and successfully retrieves iPad. Win, right? Brother looks down at his arm, the same one used to punch the punk, and realizes he broke it on the fence. He had surgery on it Wednesday, right before my arrival. So that kinda hosed the bash.
Some good, some bad…
Post-surgery drugged up brother and limping self were starving and needed food immediately. Joined by his son and girlfriend, we decided to hit up this place which is right across the street. I was a little disappointed when the “Bare” didn’t refer to nude waitresses, but because it’s all-organic/natural/local/free-range/grass-fed. This beautiful, loft-like place has an outdoor patio and was rated #2 burger in NYC by Zagat. They offer a terrific selection of styles (classic, bacon cheese, Maui Wowie, Pesto Red Pepper) and buns (brioche, multi-grain, lettuce wrap, gluten-free). What put this over the top was the burger selection – beef, turkey, veggie, portabella, lamb, elk, bison, or ostrich. I opted for the Western Bacon Bareburger (pepperjack, bacon, fried onions, cole slaw, peppercorn steak sauce) on a brioche bun with elk, medium-rare. Perfectly executed and sloppy as all hell. Washed down with Ommegang Brewery’s Rare Vos. One of the best ever.
Pasta Bistro Grill
Chose this place because the space was very traditional, menu looked nice and the hostess nicer. Really should’ve seen the warning signs and kept walking. First, there was hardly anyone there. More importantly, for as traditional as the place looked, the staff was 100% Indian. Huh? No offense, but I was hoping for some a little, I dont know, Italian? Bro’s cobb salad was drenched in dressing and my veal piccata was almost inedible. It was served mixed together with angel hair pasta and broccoli, with small chunks of veal, a random caper, and a clear broth. Awful.
It took a picture of my meal, but I think this captures it better.
Met up with my buddy Botha, who just moved here from Michigan. No food here, but amazing beer. Considered one of the best beer selections in NYC. Had the Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, FL) Guava Grove Saison – crisp, tart, with only a hint of the Guava sweetness. Excellent stuff.
Bleecker Street Pizza
I had planned on hitting up some burritos to see how they fare versus Chicago’s. But the only burrito places around here are Chipotle and Qdoba. It was then I remembered that all of New York’s Mexicans are actually Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. In talking a day earlier with the Dutchman, we thought it would be a good idea to go on a NYC pizza hunt instead. It would’ve been really interesting considering I grew up in Chicago and have heard a lifetime of people bragging about that city’s pizza supremacy. Then again, New Yorkers (and Bostonians) think theirs are the best, so it would’ve been interesting to see who wins. F-U Irene for putting the kibash on that.
After leaving the Blind Tiger, I still had the taste and memory of that crappy pasta in my head. Luckily, we were right outside Bleecker Street Pizza, which was voted by Food Network as best pizza in NYC for 3 years running. I ordered a slice of cheese and it was what I expected – large, thin, gooey, and dripping with grease.
I’ll never know if it’s the best of New York, but it was pretty damn good. I can definitely say that it’s not better than Chicago style. But it’s not worse, either. It’s just different. I guess that’s the beauty of being a hedonist – you don’t have to choose.
More to come…