Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Experience Mimics the Review

Often when you read a review (be it Zagat, Food and Wine, CitySearch etc) the experience doesn't read close to the print. The reviewer has said the food is excellent and yours came out cold, that wait staff was said to be nasty and obnoxious and your personal encounter was nothing but friendly and warm. I think its safe to say that while reviews have their value; they are not the end all be all. I would have to say though that when the review is spot-on, it's an eerie feeling and I would most definitely say that is the case with Zagat's review of Felix on West Broadway. The commentary reads, "A “playground” for the “beautiful”, “international” set, this “loud, lively”, “very SoHo” French bistro delivers “decent” eats in “airy” digs with “two walls of open doors”; “brunch is a highlight”, but the “rowdy patrons and inevitable dancing” always steal the show."

I've been to Felix on two occasions. The first instance was on a late summer afternoon for what could have been brunch but just ended up being wine and turned into a parade of toasting and drinking with foreign new friends. Yes, I would describe the above as pretty accurate. The second occasion was just on Friday night when my friends and I returned for the same such scene and for the open doors on one of our first warm spring nights. I had heard mixed opinions on the food and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was indeed pretty good. Doogs and I split a beet salad to start. There were yellow and red beets over a bed of endive, sprinkled with walnuts and apples and drizzled with a dressing that added a layer of saltiness to the already sweet ingredients. It was quite tasty and exceeded my expectations. A Duh and Wild Ginge split the warm goat cheese salad which they seemed happily smitten with. For entrees, I got the Chicken Fricassee with ratatouille (a peasant dish by French standards) but good in it's simplicity and fall-off-the-bone chicken. Doogs got the seabass over a bed of mushroom risotto (She's currently on an "I Love Risotto" kick), A Duh and Wild Ginge both got the mussels and french fries (maybe more for the french fries than the mussels?) and Sista Ginge (yes, wild Ginge has a sister! with the same Ginge features) got the steak tartar to which she defended as very good (although again maybe ordered more for the love of fries?) Aside from the food, there were the annoying french guys who tried to get us to sit at their table, the table of 20 celebrating the birthday of a woman in her 30's wearing a skirt an 18 year old probably shouldn't be wearing out of the house, a gaggle of tables who liked to sing with the music, old men at the bar with designer glasses and very young arm candy and an eccentric hostess who was just as fun to watch as her guests.

Yes, the review is pretty true blue. And I can say you will probably mimic that experience for sure at Felix on West Broadway with the airy open doors and scenic view (be it people passing by on the street or patrons swapping tables for chit chat inside).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Opinionated About Dining

I recently got this email from my dad. I think he references this guy "Acker" for wine reviews and Acker recommended this book as well. An interesting alternative to Zagat though. I also like how they'll send you a free copy of the 2008 edition if you review restaurants for 2009. Pretty sweet. I've copied the email below:

"If you are tired of the same old Zagat and Michelin restaurant guides, try something new - and something actually compiled from actual diners like us.

Bon vivant Steve Plotnicki has taken the giant step from amateur to professional and has published his first dining guide, The Opinionated About Fine Dining Survey 2008, The 100 Best Restaurants in North America & Europe.

What makes this guide different is that the survey participants are weighted based on their dining experience, resulting in ratings that are more reliable. The 56 page guide covers restaurants in 9 different countries, and each review includes a numerical rating, a short description of the restaurant, quotes from the survey particpants, and two to three dishes which were mentioned by the survey panel.

There is a special section in back of the guide that rates each restaurant's wine list and describes their BYOB policy. The guide is available at independent book stores all over the U.S., at, or online at . And if you participate in the 2009 survey, which is currently ongoing, Steve will send you a free copy of the 2008 guide as soon as you begin rating restaurants - simply go to the home page and follow the links to register for the survey. "

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mermaid (Merman! Merman!)

Sorry I couldn't help using an odd Zoolander reference for the title of this post but please excuse me --the post has nothing to do with Zoolander at all or Mermaids/men for that matter.

If you don't like fish, you probably shouldn't go to an establishment with the word "Mermaid" in the name and that's just the case with The Mermaid Inn. The menu is filled with underwater delights and only one entree from above sea level- the pork chop. So note that before you make your reservation.

I had heard such great things about this small restaurant in the East Village so I was pretty stoked to try it out (they also have a location in the upper west side). L Dawg and I went at 730 on a Tuesday night and found the restaurant half full. On a Saturday I know it's packed. Regardless, when I walked in I was surprised to feel like I was on Long Island at the RiverBay (for LIers, you'll know what I'm talking about but its feels very nautical with maps and compasses abound). They sat us in the back and we could see the dimly lit garden from our table which would be perfect for a warm summer night but a little too chilly for early April.

We decided on the mussels and the seared tuna for appetizer. The mussels were skillet roasted rather than steamed which made for a tasty and different texture--when dipped into the drawn butter it almost made me feel like I was going through the motions of eating lobster. The seared tuna was also great. Perfectly seared meaning super rare with the ends barely cooked. The tuna was served with an egg, caper, and lemon mixture which looked kind of weird but tasted pretty good.

For entree, both LDawg and I got the Mahi Mahi, which was grilled with baby vegetables in an orange-chevril emulsion. This was good but I think I was pretty tipsy from the Vinho Verde at this piont. The Mahi Mahi was nothing exceptional but you can tell the fish was fresh and well prepared and I appreciated the leeks (which I love!). The wine we chose (the Vinho Verde) was surprisingly really good and tasted similar to an Alsacen Riesling. I think I was drinking pretty fast (maybe I was thirsty?).

And as usual whenever L Dawg and I get together, we can't stop talking. Our conversation is an endless flow of stories, laughing and venting and I think our server was scared to interrupt. We sat happily with our menus for 30 minutes before our waitress had an opportune time to ask us if we were ready when we weren't going to blow her off. All in all, we had a really fun and good meal and the chocolate puddings in the little espresso cups at the finish is a nice and delicious touch. Just remember if you and you're party are not willing to ALL endeavor under the sea, you might want to hit up another small restaurant on 2nd ave that can reel you to land.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring is in the Air!

"It's supposed to be 71 degrees today!" I think it's safe to say everyone is excited about this and the reminder that Spring is coming!! Spring for me always means more frolicking, more activity, and more general fun. This is probably the beginning of Wild Ginger's fav time as well as it turns from Spring into summer so I have to credit her for this link to NYC's al fresco restaurants, bars, and lounges. Click here.A couple notables to add- Dos Caminos Soho and 50th street, Central Park (great for a lil wine and cheese picnic!), Loreley in LES for th back garden, Bar Piti with great people watching and possible celeb spotting, and Friend of a Farmer (if you can snag a seat for brunch!).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shrimp Pizza Finds his Kosher Slice

Many of you might remember the Shrimp Pizza incident. Notoriously, this guy has been labeled as merely "Shrimp Pizza" when referring to the short period of time I dated him. But the story in all its hilarity has lived on for the last year...during instances of "It could be worse..there's always "Shrimp Pizza." or "Remember when you dated an Ortho-guy?" and other varieties. As much as this story has had a pulse, I haven't spoken to the dude since probably last February...and in the 'olden days' when you put a halt to verbal communication that was the end of it. But nowadays with the internet somehow they are always able to creep back into your life via aim, facebook or the likes. In this particular case he didn't slide his way back into my life but rather I gained insight into his--which I think makes him particularly more orthodox/odd, and once again re-establishes my good judgment to order the shrimp.

While using the friend finder on facebook, a utility that pulls in your friend's email addresses via your own email account and finds your friends on facebook, "Shrimp Pizza" was evidently found. I glanced over his name until I saw the image attached which was literally him and a bride underneath the hoopah. I gasped. Whoa. Then I did what any normal curious red blooded person would do and stalked his facebook for more info. Turns out that just a little over a year, Shrimp Pizza had met his nice Jewish girl, courted her and got married. She's a really attractive one too but must not eat shell fish. It seems Shrimp Pizza has finally found his kosher slice.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thinking Ahead

I know it’s hard to think about multiple uses for the same product but it’s definitely helpful when you’re buying fresh produce. It’s especially hard in New York where people have little time between work and play and buying groceries is almost as expensive as ordering in. Often I like to think about vegetables in terms of their uses. If I get mushrooms, I might plan a chicken marsala and know I have the rest of the mushrooms for a vegetable sauté or a shroom-lete. If I find ripe mangos, I might eat some as a regular fruit and create a mango salsa with the rest.

In my last post I wrote about the chicken parm meet eggplant rollatini I most recently created. While I was prepping the casserole dish with the ricotta mixture, I realized I had more than what I needed so I took the left over and put it in a dish for later. This morning, I remembered this little bowl of ricotta mixed with tomatoes capers and garlic and added it to a mundane shroom-lete. The outcome was great. A breakfast you might get from a restaurant parallel with the consistency of a goat cheese omelet (although I hate goat cheese- and I know everybody and their mom loves it!).

Anyways it pays to think ahead whether it be chicken or cheese or even a condiment like honey mustard! Mutli-purposes for a product means less trips to the grocer!