Big Apple Life

/Big Apple Life

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

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

A Mexican Treat at de Mole, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Daniel Flores greeted us as we entered the cozy Mexican restaurant on the corner of Hope and Roebling in Williamsburg. We were to be his guests that evening at this family-run restaurant. We began with their expertly crafted cocktails. I sampled the mezcal old fashion ($13) made with Montelobos mezcal, Hornitos Reposado, bitters and a charred orange peel strip served  over one large ice cube; my dining partner had the less alcohol forward Blood and Popocatepetl ($15), made with Wahaka Espadin mezcal, blood orange, sweet vermouth and Luxardo maraschino cherries. We selected a few items, Daniel had the chef choose the rest. Knowing we'd be sampling a lot, we asked [...]

By |2019-08-18T16:44:06-04:00September 7th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Brunch at Grand Banks, Pier 25, Hudson River Park, NYC

One gorgeous sunny perfect day for dining on a boat, I did so. We had brunch at Grand Banks, the floating restaurant at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park from Executive Chef Kerry Heffernan. If you haven't been, his menu is built around sustainable, wild-caught seafood and seasonal produce. Check the weather before you go as you'll be dining aboard the historic wooden schooner, Sherman Zwicker, to celebrate my friend's birthday. Because it's a wooden ship, no candle's allowed for birthday wishes! We started with cocktails (what else!). I had the spicy bloody Mary ($16.50) while my friend had the sweeter Tropicalia, vodka spiked watermelon, rhubarb and citrus juices ($16.50). [...]

By |2019-08-18T17:43:45-04:00September 3rd, 2019|Big Apple Life|1 Comment

A Fun Visit to The Spaniard, West Village, NYC

The Spaniard, a West Village bar, serves great food and strong drinks, offering over 100 types of whiskey. I thoroughly enjoyed dining at this fun place, sister bar to Wilfie & Nell. Their New York Old Fashioned ($16) is made with American brandy, bourbon, bitters, a slice of orange and delicious Amarena Toschi Italian black cherry. (So delicious my dining partner suggested buying some to serve over vanilla ice cream! Yes, that good.)  I had my first drink their way over crushed ice. I suggest ordering it instead with one large cube as I did the second time. Do not miss the charbroiled Watch Hill, Rhode Island oysters ($18) seasoned [...]

By |2019-09-01T09:13:09-04:00August 31st, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Fraunces Tavern’s 300th Anniversary + Museum

When on an x-x-pat tour earlier this year with Kevin Draper one of the owners of the New York Historical Tours company, I learned about the Fraunces Tavern, which is a trademark of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York and is celebrating its 300th anniversary. The original building on Pearl Street was built in 1719 with this Colonial American Tavern operating since 1762, We booked lunch and planned a to visit the museum afterward. Although there are eight dining spaces, we were seated in an oak-paneled room with quaint furnishings and high eighteenth-century windows.  The menu is simple, with some old-world favorite including a chicken [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:15:41-04:00August 27th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

A Return to Harlem’s Red Rooster

On our way to a walking tour of Harlem, we stopped at Red Rooster for lunch. To start, we tried to order a bottle of bubbly rosè. I say tried as there was a mix up with the servers electronic ordering system. More than half an hour later the waitress found, opened and poured the bubbly into our glasses. Sadly after all that waiting, the rosè was at room temperature. We switched to a Sancerre ($75) that finally arrived after our food, not giving us enough time to be able to enjoy and finish the bottle before running off to our tour. Foodwise, we shared the shrimp with grits ($23) [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:17:44-04:00August 25th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|1 Comment

Atoboy, A Korean Restaurant in NoMad, NYC

It's been a long time since I was blown away by a flavor combination of a dish. The combination of ingredients at Atoboy, a Korean restaurant in NoMad, did so almost from start to finish. Yes, that good. Junghyun Park, Atoboy’s chef, is the former Chef de Cuisine of Jungsik, a two Michelin starred NYC Korean restaurant. His wife Ellia Park, is the manager. This is an adventurous restaurant, serving unusual Korean-inspired shareable dishes. Atoboy has only a wine and beer license, so cocktails are made with Soju, a clear, colorless distilled Korean beverage. I was thoroughly surprised — and pleased — by their slightly spicy Jalapeño Rosso, with ginger [...]

By |2019-08-19T12:05:56-04:00August 17th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Royal Siam Anago Sushi, Chelsea, NYC

After a board meeting, a few of us walked down to Eighth Avenue to get a bite to eat and to yak. They all wanted sushi. Not eating raw fish (which is what happens when you have degrees in Food Science), I instead ordered a Thai noodle dish ($12). It was not the typical bland Pad Thai, but a spicy noodle version called Pad Kee Mao. I asked for my flat noodles, sauteed basil leaves, scallions and chili with chicken. I'd go for that nicely flavored — but not very photogenic — dish again. The others said the salmon donburi rice bowl ($22), Naruto rainbow of cucumber wrapped avocado with [...]

By |2019-08-19T12:05:04-04:00August 7th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Looking for a Happy Hour? Try Le Colonial, Midtown, NYC

A friend was heading to theatre on 59th street and so suggested meeting for a drink during Happy Hour at Le Colonial on East 57th. The bar area is upstairs at this upscale (dark wood and red velvet chair) restaurant. During happy hour (5 to 8 pm) the classic cocktails, beer and wine are half price. Cocktails and wine are about $8, beer $5. I sampled their ”paper tiger” crafted cocktail served up, martini style, made with chili-infused vodka, cardamom syrup and lime. Quite good. When I go back, I will request a tad less sweetness. Only the drinks are half-price during happy hour. That said, when I return I'll [...]

By |2019-08-15T13:11:15-04:00August 5th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Fish & Chips at Salt & Battery, West Village

Mention fish & chips in the big apple and Salt & Battery is often mentioned in the same sentence as some of the city’s best.  I had to try it. I walked over to Greenwich Avenue to find a small storefront next to Tea & Sympathy, an English restaurant by the same owners.  Salt & Battery, designed mostly for takeout, does have some counter space and stools if you want to eat in as I did. There's also a wooden bench outside the window, to eat weather permitting. You have a choice of cod, haddock, sole or whiting offered in two sizes,   regular (4-ounce portion $6.95 - $7.95) and large [...]

By |2019-08-06T08:58:06-04:00August 3rd, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Bocca in Flatiron, A Return

When I walked in, I realized that Bocca on 19th in the Flatiron District had been renovated. It's now more upscale and hip than it had been when I first visited. K, who began working only a couple of months before the renovation, welcomed us to our table and kept checking back to see whether we needed anything. We hadn't seen each other in years and didn't stop talking for over 3 hours. The restaurant was fine with that. We shared a nicely dressed (AKA not drowning) gem lettuce with market veggie salad ($11) and the rich pappardelle with braised lamb shank sprinkled with pecorino Romano ($20). A perfect amount [...]

By |2019-08-06T08:59:28-04:00August 1st, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Brunch at Bowery Road in the Hyatt Near Union Square

Looking for a spot for brunch really close to Union Square, we ended up at Bowery Road in the Hyatt Hotel on 4th Avenue. I had been to that location before for jazz brunches when it was The Fourth. This was not like that restaurant had been. We started with their "Just a Real Good Bloody Mary," which was fine, nothing out of the ordinary. My friend had the Greenmarket Frittata ($16) described as made with spring peas, zucchini, tomato and fontina cheese. We laughed as my dining partner found one pea in her eggs and only a tomato garnish. My Huevos Rancheros ($16) was no better. The first time [...]

By |2019-05-30T11:43:02-04:00July 30th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments