leave your inhibitions at the door
Well, besides some heavy winds and minor flooding, we survived Hurricane Irene with minimal damage. I can say “we” now because, by the time I left, my trip was a full two days longer than it needed to be, thus I’m now a New Yorker.
The Spotted Pig
Botha and I checked out this British gastropub in Greenwich Village with a new friend, “Nicole”. She’s an old friend of Botha’s who lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the sexiest Thai man alive. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this place and the menu looked right up my alley – seasonal ingredients, off cuts of meat. I’ve also heard about many celeb sightings there; Nicole had mentioned her last visit included Fran Drescher giving her the stink eye about getting a table before her or something like that. I was hoping to bump into Justin Bieber or someone else in town for the MTV Video Music Awards. No such luck. (Oh, and you wouldn’t think that would be cool? Liar!) It’s a tiny place whose décor makes it look like it’s been around since decades earlier than its 2004 opening.
Here’s what we had –
– Bufalo Stracciatella with Summer Squash & Grilled Chili – This was probably the best thing we had. I first had Stracciatella in St Barth’s and this is the only place I’ve seen it in the US. It’s basically mozzarella, but stringy and gooey.
– Sauteed Squid with Sun Gold Tomatoes and Market Beans
– Crispy Pig’s Ear with Lemon Caper Dressing
– Pork Belly with Summer Succotash & Chanterelles – the belly was pretty standard, nothing like Duchamp’s. The succotash was almost inedibly salty.
– Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort & Shoestrings
– Bloody mary (yes, was hungover) and bottle of Domaine Bastide Blanche (Rose from Bandol)
Overall, it deserves some kudos for being one of NYC’s first gastropubs. But, frankly, I was underwhelmed by it all. Chicago’s Publican, Girl & The Goat, and Duchamp are in the same vein, but are considerably better. Maybe the media that showered all the praise on it were starstruck, having sat next to an Olsen twin.
Fig & Olive
Later that night, Botha and I met up with Panhead and his girlfriend for some cocktails. We wanted to check out The Standard Hotel’s Biergarten – mainly because we heard you can always catch a glimpse of a naked German tourist walking around his/her room with the shades open. It was too crowded, so we ended up at the Fig & Olive’s Meatpacking District location. There are four in NY and one in Hollywood and they all feature Mediterranean dishes served at communal tables and a tasting bar, where we sat. All of us already ate, but the menu looked too good to resist.
– Ceviches & Tartar
– Cheese Assortment – Chevre, Gorgonzola, Robiola, Fontina, Machego, and Pierre Robert
All very good and enjoyed with a 2008 Occultum Labidem, a cab/syrah/Grenache blend from Languedoc, France.
Chinatown Part 1
On Saturday, for the first time ever, the NY subway system was ordered shut down in advance of Hurricane Irene. With my gimpy knee limiting where we could walk to and two nights already spent in Greenwich Village, we decided to go through Soho and hit Chinatown for some cheap eats and knock-off merchandise. It was eerie seeing what’s usually a bustling area become a ghost town. Many of the stores boarded up their windows and the streets were desolate – kinda like downtown Detroit.
Unfortunately, the only place open was this huge buffet. Take a look at the prices for five food items –
I had high hopes that this was one of these places surprise you with authentic, high quality cheap eats. The US equivalent of the kind of foreign street market that Anthony Bourdain revels in. Take a look at what I had –
Honestly, I had not idea what any of this was, besides being absolutely awful. And this doesn’t show the bowl of “soup” that came with it. Panhead claims it’s warmed-up dishwater and he could be right. All I know is that it smelled like a freshly-blown fart. I decided to pay for an additional round to get something edible and made out a little better. I found the best and safest strategy is to get all vegetables and tofu. After all, there’s no way of making pigeon and rat meat look like eggplants and tofu.
One more NY post coming soon