Big Apple Life

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A collection of posts on Life in the Big Apple along with interviews with foodie friends

A Little Attitude at Cafe Cluny, West Village, NYC

Cafe Cluny is a pricey corner spot in the West Village where, upon arrival, you're met with the classic NYC attitude alluded to in various sitcoms. Unpleasant. Once we were finally seated at a table to our liking, our server was wonderful and attentive. We started with their namesake cocktail, The Cluny. Think a lemon drop, served up (AKA no ice) made with Ketel One Citron, lemon and ginger. Nice ($15). Our salad contained fresh figs, lemony-dressed arugula and burrata all drizzled with a port reduction ($19).  I would recommend. I had the pan-seared halibut that had been so overcooked and dried out that the manager had the kitchen re-do [...]

By |2019-10-18T11:42:26-04:00December 5th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Lunch at Studio at the Freeland Hotel, Gramercy, NYC

I had forgotten that I had calendar issues after upgrading to Mohave. Thank goodness my friend texted that she was running late to meet me at 12:30 at Studio on Lexington. It was 12:20. No ballet for me today. I did a quick change, put on some make-up and power walked there. I found Studio a welcoming workspace and restaurant on the second floor of the Freeland Hotel. (That is the same hotel houses Simon and The Whale, a pricey restaurant I was less than impressed with.) We shared a bowl of tomato soup with a hint of basil ($8) topped with sauteed onions, split the shaved lamb on focaccia [...]

By |2019-10-15T15:51:16-04:00December 3rd, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Queensyard Kitchen, Hudson Yards

After walking up the Vessel yet again with an out of town friend, we stopped at Queensyard for a bite to eat. We chose it, as it's one of the few restaurants at Hudson Yards with windows. We opted to dine in the Queensyard Kitchen area around the bar with a more reasonably priced menu than the dining room a few feet away with tables next to the window. Having just arrived back from France, I was still on a Lillet Blanc ($11) kick so I ordered that. After it arrived warm in a sherry glass, I got up to speak to the bartender as our server was so non-attentive. [...]

By |2019-11-25T11:07:10-05:00November 19th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Peruvian-Japanese Food at Llama San, West Village, NYC

With all the publicity, it wasn't easy securing a table at Llama San, the new modern 60-seat Japanese/Peruvian restaurant in West Village from the people behind Llama Inn. We did so and enjoyed dining outside at the sidewalk seating, enclosed by plants. I started a Flaming Creatures, their version of an old-fashioned, ($17) made with Japanese whiskey, cacao, chancaca  (a Peruvian sweetener), miso and smoke. The menu is small containing various size plates to share. Some of our party ordered the scallop ceviche with cherimoya and avocado chunks ($22) sprinkled with sesame; I ask for the duck, which came as four slives of aged duck breast over rice and banana [...]

By |2019-10-02T09:00:12-04:00November 15th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Brunch at City Vineyard & Wine Garden at Pier 26, NYC

On one of those spectacular weather fall days, a small group of friends and I were seated outside on the patio at City Vineyard & Wine Garden.  It was like follow the leader as the first person of the group to order decided on a burger, and four of the five of us decided to follow suit. It was that kind of day. For a starter, we all shared the kale and arugula ($13) salad in an apple-cider vinaigrette with sliced fresh strawberries and a honey crisp apple. I can recommend. Their Vineyard burger comes topped with Cheddar, a fresh slice tomato, caramelized shallots and an aioli,  accompanied by Belgian fries [...]

By |2019-09-30T10:27:39-04:00November 9th, 2019|Big Apple Life|2 Comments

Lunch at Sarabeth’s After an Ex-Expat Gilded Age NY Historical Tour

Sarabeth's is a wonderful restaurant for breakfast and brunch. Sadly I can't say as much for lunch, at least for what we experienced at her Upper East Side location. Out ex-expat group stopped in after a Gilden Age tour given by Kevin Draper, Chief Experience Officer for New York Historical Tours. His tour began at The Plaza and ended at the Cooper Hewitt Museum on 91st, stopping along the way to learn those businessmen whose fortunes were made in the American Industrial revolution. As for lunch, the service was as good as always, the food — other than the breakfast items including omelets, frittatas and avocado/burrata toast that some ordered— [...]

By |2019-09-26T15:24:01-04:00November 7th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Skip Gina Mexicana, Upper East Side + An Evening at Streicker

We'd walked past Gina Mexicana several times while looking for a place to grab a bite after going to a program at The Streicker Center. We never got in as they were full. This time we made a res. The best part about dining at Gina Mexicana is their friendly staff, outdoor patio behind the restaurant and fresh chips with spicy salsa. Sadly, I have nothing positive to say after that. The flavorless margarita ($15) needed fresh lime, same for the guacamole that had been made with underripe avocados. We tried to doctor it with salt and lime to make it even be palatable. The trio of tacos Classico was [...]

By |2019-09-22T09:31:48-04:00November 3rd, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Tallgrass Burger on First, East Village, NYC

Returned to the city midday after experiencing lots of mediocre food on a trip, putting me in the mood for a burger and fries. I needed something both satisfying and satiating. Off I went on a hunt for a burger place near me that I hadn't been to, finding positive writings about the grass-fed beef served at the no-frills Tallgrass Burger. I met a friend at this fast-casual (more takeout than eat-in) place on First Avenue and 13th. Food is served in red plastic, paper-lined, baskets. The condiment choice is abundant not only with the regular mayo, mustard and ketchup but also squeeze bottles of various hot sauce. We shared [...]

By |2019-09-01T11:55:37-04:00November 1st, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Sagaponack Bar & Grill, Gramercy-Flatiron, NYC

A friend in my building suggested I try Sagaponack Bar & Grill, a neighborhood place with a changing seasonal menu. I recently did, arriving during their happy hour, from 4 to 7 pm, seven days a week. If you like spicy drinks, I recommend their Sagarita made from jalpeño tequila, mango puree and triple sec, only $9 during happy hour. HH wine is only $5 plus they offer a variety of mostly fried food options. We sampled the shrimp dumplings ($9 for 5) that were panfried in a batter. Interesting. Each of their large taco platters contains two fried oyster ones, batter-fried fries and greens in a light vinaigrette ($24). [...]

By |2019-09-01T09:07:12-04:00October 31st, 2019|Big Apple Life|2 Comments

A Korean Brunch at Hwaban, Gramercy-Flatiron, NYC

If you follow my posts, you'll notice that I've been on an amazingly tasty Korean kick recommending some fabulous places to dine, including O:N° and Atoboy.  Continuing with that trend,  I met some friends at Hwaban, serving modern style Korean cuisine, for an unusual and attractively presented brunch. My friends each ordered  — and enjoyed — the grapefruit soju cocktail ($12) We started with housemade morning rolls that came in a steamer basket on a tray with three small dishes. One with black sesame butter, sweet red bean and berry jam ($15).  Really tasty, yet wishing the butter was softer not coming straight from the fridge, Each dish arrived attractively presented [...]

By |2019-08-30T10:56:41-04:00October 29th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Creative Mexican at Alta Calidad, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn + Pierre Cardin

By New York City standards, Alta Calidad in Prospect Heights is a short walk from the Brooklyn Museum. We had visited the exhibition Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion that's there until January 5, 2020. It is the first NYC retrospective in forty years to focus on the legendary couturier. Chef Akhtar Nawab is serving creative Mexican fare in a welcoming neighborhood spot with reasonable prices.  His cooking was acknowledged by Michelin, awarding it NYC 2018 Bib Gourmand. We started with a Margie ($12) made perfectly with fresh ingredients.  I recommend the cocktail as I do their guac that comes with four large tostadas (crisp tortillas) sprinkles with ground red pepper and [...]

By |2019-08-31T13:02:33-04:00October 27th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Craft Cocktails In the Basement in Chinatown, NYC

To enter this fun speakeasy, you open a bright red Coca-Cola vending machine door then head down the steps to a dark bar replete with electronic games, craft cocktails and small plates. Mixologist Dennis Condon runs Basements amazing bar program. Two of the tasty cocktails that we sampled as their guests included the “Kung Fu Kicks,” a blend of mezcal, Aperol, siracha bitters, Thai chili and pineapple juice — made more smokey with fumes from burnt wood chips. I learned that as I removed the top of the unusual vessel and smoke wafted from the drink. My dining companion tried the "5 Spiced Life" made with Gran Centenario Plata, jalapeño, [...]

By |2019-08-31T12:17:09-04:00October 15th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Another Great Korean Meal, This Time at Hanjan, Gramercy-Flatiron, NYC

Our first stop was for a drink at the now-defunct Tracks Bar and Grill at Penn station. It was a perfect meeting place as our old (time not age) friend arrived in town from Newark airport. It was a short walk from there to Hanjan, a sister Korean restaurant to chef-owner Hooni Kim’s Danji, a well-liked Midtown West spot. Hanjan uses organic and local produce, meat raised without antibiotics and wild-caught, not endangered fish. They even list the farms on the menu. We started with snacks typical of Korean street markets. That included the crunchy tofu and veggie-filled fried dumplings (5 for $14) and some fried chicken. Unable to choose [...]

By |2019-10-03T15:25:48-04:00October 11th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Cheap Eats at Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery, Lower East Side, NYC

It's easy to walk right past Zaragoza, the teensy Mexican Deli and Grocery on Avenue A near 14th. Do go inside for an authentic meal that won't break the bank and grab one of the two tables in the back. At the counter is a smiling Pompeyo Martinez happy to show you his daily offerings. He serves classics like tacos, tamales, flautas and burritos filled with whatever he made that day. We opted for the flavorful roast pork taco ($3.50) double-wrapped in fresh tortillas that needed nothing additional but the squeeze of fresh lime to heighten the flavor of the tender pork first marinated for two days then simmered with [...]

By |2019-08-17T08:51:35-04:00October 5th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Brunch at CoCo J’adore, Chelsea, NYC

Late summer, I visited Coco J'adore as their guest for brunch one sunny Sunday and sat by the window overlooking the public space off the cobblestone street. I sipped the horseradish-infused bloody Mary while nibbling from the French morning basket filled with Eli's tasty breads and goodies. That included small pain beurre, croissants, pain au chocolat and mini apple turnovers. My dining partner's nicely dressed salad Niçoise ($28) was made incongruously with canned tuna yet sous vide eggs. Don't miss their crispy shoestring fries ($7). Also available with "truffles" ($12). Perfectly cooked. I ordered the eggs Benedict with the hollandaise on the side. The poached eggs sat on top of [...]

By |2019-10-02T16:42:47-04:00October 3rd, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

How Does Ed’s Lobster Roll Compare to Others?, SoHo, NYC

I hadn't been to Ed's Lobster Bar but had been to Pearl's Oyster Bar from where the restaurant spawned. You see, Ed's Lobster Bar is related to the other downtown seafood shacks. First, there was Pearl's where Ed McFarland cooked for many years. Then there was a falling out. Rebecca Charles kept Pearl's, her partner Mary Redding opened Mary's Fish Camp and Ed, Ed's Lobster Bar. About a decade ago, there was a lawsuit against Ed's for plagiarizing the Pearl restaurant concept and for stealing the recipes for his restaurant in Soho. It was settled out of court. Decided to try Ed's lobster roll for comparison, and so met a [...]

By |2019-09-24T09:04:45-04:00September 25th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Try the Green Curry at Kati Thai Cuisine, NYC

Walking home after a PR event at Pouring Ribbons, we were looking for something to eat as the food at the event was not satiating. We walked past Kati Thai Cuisine on 14th Street self-described as food that's "prepared daily with fresh ingredients." With that and the "A" restaurant grade by the door - decided to stop in for a bite. What I would recommend is their flavorful Green Curry ($13) that we ordered with more veggies not with meat for fish. I'd go back for that as the sauce was complex, the veggies oh so fresh. We also ordered Pad Thai with chicken. Sadly the chicken had that horrid [...]

By |2019-09-30T11:23:01-04:00September 23rd, 2019|Big Apple Life, NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Empanada Mama, Theatre District, NYC + The Cher Show

Head to Empanada Mama in Hell's Kitchen for reasonably priced Columbian fare. We did so before heading to the fun, memory-sparking The Cher Show a few blocks away with memorial hits like “I’ve Got You, Babe,” “The Beat Goes On,” and “Bang, Bang.” (The show closed on August 18.) For a complete theatrical review, click here. We started with Empanada Mama's housemade super-fresh guac with crispy plantain chips ($11.50) and chopped jalapeños for those who wanted it spicy large pitcher ($44) of Sangria. I ordered my favorite huevos rancheros. For the second time recently, this dish came with crisp — not soft, tortillas like I'm used to — along with [...]

By |2019-09-22T09:23:56-04:00September 21st, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Restaurant Week at Il Mulino, SoHo

The restaurant menu at Il Mulino in Soho was only $26 with a choice of appetizer or dessert plus an entree. What a bargain at this upscale white-tablecloth attentive-service restaurant. Between the three of us, we tried each of the appetizers. One had the beefsteak tomato slice with Buffalo mozzarella, another the arugula salad with shaved artichokes and slices of Parmigiana Reggiano and I enjoyed the delicate eggplant slices with mozzarella and tomato sauce. For our entree, we each chose the perfectly cooked wild salmon with garlicky broccoli rabe. I'd go back in a heartbeat.     Il Mulino SoHo 331 West Broadway New York, NY, 10013 (212) 226-0020  

By |2019-09-29T10:16:27-04:00September 19th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Almayass After the Launch of a WeWork Event Space

I was invited to attend the launch party for The Space, a new event area at WeWork in Flatiron.  They offered an open bar, music a tad too loud for my ears and hors d'oeuvres from Five Senses Catering, including the beet hummus crostini in the photo. We headed across the street to Almayass for a light snack after realizing the event space was inappropriate for my needs. My dining companion had not been before, so I let her choose what we'd eat. We shared the hummus topped with minced beef and sauteed Spanish pine nuts ($16) and the shwarma of certified Angus beef ($21.50) flavored with sumac, parsley and [...]

By |2019-08-09T11:31:30-04:00September 17th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments