3 Hot Cocktail and Wine Bars in NYC

It’s about that time again, where I take off my eating pants and put on my drinking hat. Time for a round up of the most delicious cocktails I have had in recent memory!


This is one of the coolest bars I have ever frequented. Hidden inside a divey hot dog shack, you go into an old telephone booth, pick up the receiver, and give your name (reservations are a must – call at 3 pm the day you want to go). Then, the back of the telephone booth will open and you will be led into a small, elegant space where a James Beard nominated cocktail program awaits you. Everything from a bourbon-bacon fat cocktail to a peanut butter and celery concoction to the cocktail in the photo above, with the flavor of candied apples and rum, is complex and unexpected. The price is steep, but the payoff is excellent. As an added bonus, you can get hot dogs and tator tots designed by chefs like David Chang and Daniel Humm – really Haute Junk Food. This is a destination cocktail bar that is sure to impress.

Glass of Fino Sherry, Terroir Tribeca

This wine bar is known not only for its delightful small plates (anything fried is a good bet) and excellent by the glass wine selection, but for its very reasonable happy hour. So reasonable, in fact, that if you get there before 6 pm, your glass of sherry is FREE! This is a wonderful introduction to sherry, a potent fortified wine. This is much less sweet than I expected, with a strongly nutty aroma that was perfect with a wedge of manchego cheese. One small glass of this and you may, as I did, find yourself hooked! And hey, the price is right!

NYC and the Orient at Slightly Oliver

This cocktail bar can’t possibly be on the Upper West Side. Except that…it is. Large, decorated like an eccentric English library, and with a collection of delicious craft cocktails, this place is so swanky that it seems more like the East Village than neighbors with Barney Greengrass. This drink, with Thai Basil infused Gin, Yellow Tomato Water, Reduction of Tangerine and Peppercorn, and Habanero Bitters speaks well to that point. Light, herbal, with a slight kick from the bitters and a note of sweetness from the Tangerine, it is like a subtle bloody mary – the best one I have had in NYC. If you like Bloody Marys, get this. If you don’t, there is a cocktail menu filled with expertly crafted libations, one of which is sure to tickle your fancy.

And if you don’t drink, sorry for this post…and really sorry that you don’t drink.

Slightly Oliver on Urbanspoon

Park Avenue Tavern: It’s a Good Thing

Call me crazy, but Grand Central Station’s surrounding environs aren’t exactly where I go when I want a great meal. Known for office buildings and quick-service delis, this neighborhood is anything but destination-dining worthy. 
Until now. 
Park Avenue Tavern is a new restaurant that is serving some pretty awesome food in a pretty awesome setting. What makes it awesome?
Oh, just this:
The fact hat you have your own private taps at the downstairs tables. Call ahead and you can even get your favorite beer put on tap for you.
Just for you. Now you can support your alcohol habit from the privacy of your own booth! Seriously, I don’t know what it is, but something about cooking your own food/pouring your own beer is thrilling, right? 
As for the food:
 Margherita Flatbread with Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella
This is wisely called a flatbread, because, while it would be a terrible pizza, it is a fantastic flatbread. Slightly pillowy, stretchy crust underneath a thin swath of crispy, mild mozzarella cheese, juicy diced tomatoes and punchy, garlicky pesto. The pesto really brought the pizza to life, making it lighter and brighter after the heaviness of the cheese and the dough. 
 It would be a bad pizza because of the crust, but that is why it is a GOOD flatbread. The bread is really bread here – substantial, with varying textures of pliant and crispy, serving as the main attraction of the dish. I like a thin, coal-fired crust, but for a flatbread, this char-grilled dough was fantastic.
 Crab Cake with Peekeytoe Cragb, Arugula, Pickled Onions and Red Pepper Conserve
This crab cake satisfied all my crab cake necessities.
Soft, not mushy texture? Check
Sweet lump crab with no shells or stringy bits? Check
Mostly crab with only a bit of filler and sauteed vegetables? Check
Moist, gently hinting of seafood but with absolutely no fishiness, its richness was nicely cut by the vinegary pickled onions and the surprisingly spicy conserve. I would absolutely order this crabcake again  -it is as good as any I have had. 
Mussels and Fries
Warning: This dish is NOT for people afraid of garlic or butter. It is garlicky in the fullest sense: pungent, spicy, aromatic, not bitter but totally full bodied. It is also buttery, but then…if you are afraid of that, just find another blog to read. The mussels were all open and free of grit – creamy, mild, but somehow light next to the rich butter and the strong garlic. For some reason, the garlic all works here – perhaps it is the butter’s richness tempering it or the mussels’ gentle seafood note adding another layer to the flavor, but somehow it just works. The firs, fresh cut and crispy, were a bit too salty for my taste, but also incredibly delicious dunked in the mussels broth.
 Park Avenue Tavern is totally destination worthy dining! The prices are very reasonable, the service is excellent, and the food is just delicious. Moreover, you get to support your alcohol habit in the privacy of your own booth. As Martha Stewart might say “that’s a good thing.”

*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*

Croxley Ales – The Standard-Setting Wings

It’s no secret that I can eat like a dude. I love bacon wrapped hot dogs, huge steaks and pizzas covered in various meat products. Something else I love: Wings. And I am pretty sure I discovered the holy grail, courtesy of another gal who can match me in the manly eating habits department. 
 Croxley Ales is a straight man’s haven. We are talking multiple televisions playing different sporting events, a huge draft beer selection, room to sit while you get tipsy and full, and enough guys to make you forget that your girlfriend made you watch The Notebook again last night. Pretty much, this place is great. 
 Irish Nachos.
If you haven’t had these, you didn’t spend enough time getting drunk in college. French fries topped with bacon, scallions and melted cheddar cheese. There was nothing totally extraordinary about these – frozen fries, some soggy, not very seasoned. But something about melted cheese globbing onto fried potatoes, sprinkled with salty bits of pork and fresh, zingy scallions gets me every time. I wasn’t even drinking, but I could imagine that these would only get better with alcohol consumption. 
And then…it was onto the wings. 10 cents per wing. And they were GOOD.
 Honey Wings – Sweet, crunchy, honey caramelizing on the outside to a perfect crunch. The meat inside the sugary shell was moist, tender and hot enough to burn my tongue. That’s a good thing. 
 Teriyaki Wings. 
No way did this come out of a bottle. Tangy, salty, sticky, a little sweet, savory with green onion sand sesame seeds. Is anything better than teriyaki with chicken? Didn’t think so.
Hot Wings. 
Vinegary, spicy, a thin crust surrounding those juicy drumsticks and delicate wings. Dipped in some EXCELLENT blue cheese dressing, these set the chicken wing standard. Spicy but not painful, bones loaded with tender but not mushy meat and a dressing on the side that was funky enough to compete with the spicy zing of the wings. 
I usually do a rather poetic wrap up, but really, what can I say here? Cheap, delicious food, not so great for a first date but AWESOME for talking about what happened on that first date with the guys. 
Or, if you are a gal like me…spilling the dirt on what happened to your girls!

Croxley Ales on Urbanspoon

Trophy Summer Tuesdays with Nate Smith

When McKenzie and Sarah wrangled me into Brooklyn for dinner, I had my doubts. I mean, we were schlepping to Williamsburg for dinner at a bar? 
They were touting Trophy Summer Tuesdays, held at Trophy Bar’s outside patio. Every Tuesday evening this summer, chef Nate Smith(formerly of The Spotted Pig) makes a different sandwich, side and pie for $17.
When I got to Trophy, I was immediately impressed. It had the low key, unpretentious vibe I love and a wonderful cocktail list.
When we ventured to the backyard, we were greeted with plenty of seating and a relaxed crowd that was part young people drinking beers and part families letting their kids run around the space while they enjoyed beers.
Lots of beers here. Always a good thing.
Cabbage Salad. Shreds of white cabbage, celery carrots and cucumbers were dressed in a sweet and spicy vinaigrette that had a kick from thinly sliced Serrano chiles. It had a slightly Asian taste from the cilantro and rice wine vinegar.  Fresh, crunchy and zesty, it was the perfect accompaniment to…
Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches. Damn. These sandwiches redefined chicken for me. This chicken was so tender, flavorful and sweet that I could have sworn that it was pork. I tasted soy and sugar in the marinade, but beyond that…I was lost. It was a little tangy, a little spicy and only salty enough to bring out the natural flavor of the meat. And it as dark meat – the much maligned part of that bird. Dark meat is moist, robustly flavored and kicks dry and generally sawdust-y white meat’s ass. Placed on a soft, squishy bun with a hit of Sriracha, a leaf of butter lettuce and a gloriously crisp shard of fried chicken skin, this was everything I want in a sandwich. Satisfying but not heavy, flavorful but not salty and left me with enough room for this:
Peach Pie. Flaky, buttery crust topped with crunchy gains of sugar. Soft peaches, tasting both fresh with summer and slow cooked the way that your Southern Grandma would have cooked them, The juices mingled with warming cinnamon, creating a gelatinous pool of pure peach essence that softened the bottom crust, rendering it soft but not soggy. It only wanted for a scoop of really rich vanilla ice cream. 
And that was all this was missing – the vanilla ice cream. There was booze. There was food. There was the charming and talented Nate Smith (unpictured) making the rounds and chatting with patrons in between assembling totally delicious sandwiches. There was the chance that I would be returning next week to try the new sandwich. 
Hell, that isn’t a chance. That’s a fact. 

Duo Restaurant – The Best Martini in NYC

I have found the best martini in NYC. It is located in the delicious Murray Hill/Flatiron area, which houses Zero Otto Nove, Pure Food and Wine, and – now – Duo. Duo is owned by 2 Russian sisters whose family has a long history in the restaurant business. 
 The elegant, somewhat over-the-top space is done in purples, metallic and an ornate crystal chandelier. It is perfect decor for a bachelorette dinner. Duo is a New American restaurant that puts the focus on sexy, hip and trendy.
Case in point:
 Light up menus. Not Ipads, just plain old light up menus. Call me a sucker, but…these are kind of awesome. They make you feel like you are cooler and richer than you are. 
 And what’s wrong with that?
 If you like light, fruity drinks, start with the Pink Grapefruit Martini. Stoli, fresh grapefruit juice and mint combine in a tart but sweet drink that tastes more like lemonade than a potent drink. The mint adds an herby edge that keeps this from being too sweet.
 Of course, if you have really good taste, you will get the Double Truffle Martini. Vodka, dry vermouth, truffle juice, blue cheese and truffle stuffed olive. This is a drink for those of you who like the sharp taste of vodka, the clean, taste of vermouth, and the earthy, intoxicating taste of truffles. The truffles balance out the vodka’s astringent qualities, and make the vermouth taste lighter and more citrusy. The olive at the end is one of the best I have ever had. Juicy, briny, salty but not bitter, and stuffed with funky blue cheese and that deep taste of the truffles. This took over Pier 9 as having my favorite martini in New York. 
Pineapple Gazpacho was a fantastic amuse bouche. The pineapple retained its sweetness, but also tasted more tart than usual, picking up on the soup’s jalapeno and mild onion flavors. It was spicy(but not painfully hot), light and vibrant – the kind of thing that gets your appetite going. 
 Peppercorn bread. A bit cottony, with no discernible taste of pepper. Not an auspicious start to the meal, after the excellent drinks and amuse bouche. 
Luckily, the meal picked right back up:
Crispy Calamari Salad-frisée, bell peppers, shaved fennel, mango, yuzu Vinaigrette. 
The calamari was crisp and lightly breaded, with tender, thin cut rings of squid within. It tasted decadent but not at all heavy or greasy, with the lightly dressed salad adding brightness, the mango adding sweetness, and the fennel adding an lightness to the fried seafood. This is a perfect start to any meal. 
Poached Maine Lobster Salad -Avocado, cucumber, red and yellow peppers, jalapeño, champagne mango ‘caviar’
The generous portion of lobster was cooked expertly, until just BARELY done, so it retained it’s supple texture and exceedingly rich, buttery flavor. The smooth avocado echoed these flavors, the jalapeno added zip but not heat, and the mango brought out the brininess of the lobster, while adding a sweet, high note. The cucumbers and  peppers added texture to the mostly soft dish, making it a well conceived an executed one. This was the highlight of the appetizers, for me. 
Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad.
 If it is wrong to love this luxurious version of a plain old Caprese salad, then I don’t want to be right. The tomatoes were so sweet and juicy, the burrata so creamy and tangy and the balsamic so syrupy and sweet that it is impossible not to like this. Go on. I dare you. Try it and TRY not to like it.
Also try not to scratch your best friend with your fork while prohibiting her from getting the last of that slippery, fatty burrata. 
Sorry, Lauren…I’m sure that won’t scar. 
 At this point in the meal, we all got “sippers,” ingenious little cups made expressly for Duo that were filled with mixtures of fresh fruit and Grey Goose Vodka. They were some of the best alcoholic libations I have ever sampled – the pure taste of strawberry, litchi, or half a dozen other fruits, with absolutely NO alcoholic taste.  Though they were delicious, at $18 a pop, they were more of a novelty treat than a full on drink.
 Filet Mignon Carpaccio with Portabello Mushrooms, Artichokes and Arugula. 
Exactly what you want in a carpaccio. Beefy, full-on steak flavor in thin sheets, pounded so thin that they broke on the tines of my fork. Nary a shred of fat nor gristle in sight,just pure, juicy shreds of beef that delivered that unmistakable flavor of STEAK. Marinated portabello mushrooms doubled the umami factor, while artichoke hearts added a sharp flavor and the arugula salad was light and peppery. This was just a perfect carpaccio. The mushrooms truly pumped up the volume of this meal, leaving me more satisfied than if I had just been leaf with the beef and other vegetables. A drizzle of olive oil added fruitiness, and although it was an appetizer, it made a filling entree.
 The Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille was also above par. Uniform dices of squash, tomato, eggplant, onion and other vegetables were served in an elegant timbale that belied the hearty taste of the dish. The vegetables were all caramelized and sweet, and the textures melded so well – soft tomato, toothsome squash, melting eggplant. There were no discernible spices, making all of the flavor thanks to the varied and full flavors of the vegetables. 
Peach Cobbler with Roasted Peaches and Peach Gellee (unpictured). Get this. Just get it. The most buttery, crumbly pastry topping sweet, cinnamon spiked peaches that were yielding but not mushy and sweet not with sugar but with vanilla and their own sweetness. The gellee was like a grown up gummy bear, adding a whimsical touch to the plate, and the roasted peach was tender under a crunchy sheath of caramelized sugar. Like I said…just get it. 
 Hot Chocolate Cake, filled with Molten Chocolate Pudding and served with Toasted Marshmallow Topping and Chocolate Krispies.
Smooth and creamy chocolate, sweet marshmallow fluff, the slight crunch and pleasantly bitter taste of the krispies…There was NOTHING not to love here.

And really…there wasn’t. Sure, it is a bit on the pricier side, but you are paying for atmosphere and (excellent) service. The food is really much better than it has to be, since the drinks are so good, I would have been satisfied with eating pretzels all night. The lobster salad, filet carpaccio and peach cobbler were all so delicious that I would come back here for those, even without getting a drink.
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*

Duo on Urbanspoon

CO-OP Food and Drink at the Hotel on Rivington

When I was invited to a press dinner at CO-OP Food and Drink in the Hotel on Rivington, I really didn’t know what to expect. This chic hotel has had so many restaurants in the short time that I have lived in NYC, and I have never been to any of them. The only thing I know is that hotel restaurants are not known for their awesome food.
 But, as shown here, I have been wrong on this subject before. So, I went with a relatively open mind. 
 As I maneuvered through the crowded bar area filled with girls wearing 5 inch heels, young men pretending to be older and old men pretending to be younger, I made a mental note of how hip this place was. This is not the place to come with your parents from the midwest. This screams third date, girls night out, spot to pick up chicks…that sort of thing.

It does NOT, in any way, scream hotel restaurant.  
Pink Bazooka – Vodka, Fresh Watermelon Juice, Basil and Frozen Coconut Water.
 This was an interesting and refreshing cocktail with a hidden kick. Premium vodka was smooth and almost tasteless, with none of that astringent burning that comes from lesser vodka. It was all but covered by the sweet, clean watermelon juice and the savory taste of the basil. The coolest part was the coconut water ice cube – I like a weaker cocktail, so I let it melt a bit, and it gave the whole cocktail a buttery, deep taste that made it more multifaceted. If I wanted it stronger, I could have downed it then and there! I am not usually a fan of coconut water, finding it far too sweet, but it tasted less sweet next to the watermelon. This was a strong but tasty cocktail – after just one I was…
Well…you don’t really need to know my tipsy behavior, do you?
Truffle Popcorn
 I am not a popcorn fan, but I needed something to stop me from singing showtunes to people I had just met…
Oops. And now you know what I do when I am drunk.
Anyway, I just grabbed a handful. And I tasted…earthiness. Headiness. Deep, pronounced, meaty flavor. Once again, I don’t care what the experts say, I LOVE truffle oil. When used sparingly, it really imparts a sense of umami to otherwise boring foods. This elevated the popcorn to unknown levels in my heart. 
Kale Caesar Salad with Asian Pear
 A standout salad. The kale, both purple and Tuscan, was cut into thin ribbons that had chew but were not tough, and had a minerally taste that was akin to both romaine and spinach. It was sturdier than romaine, and with a stronger flavor, which stood up to the creamy, cheesy dressing. A lesser green would have wilted, but a green this strong benefit ted from the pungent sauce sauce. The Asian pear brought a light and sweet element to the salad, and I could easily eat a bathtub full of this stuff. 
Hey, it’s kale, people…it’s practically negative calories.
Black Cod, Sweet Miso, Shredded Filo, 
Butter Lettuce
 Mild cod, so tender it was practically velvety, but with crunchy, caramelized edges. The miso was more sweet than salty(though not cloyingly so), providing a flavorful counteraction with the savory fish and crispy lettuce. The filo dough on top was totally unnecessary but not bad. Just didn’t add anything. And, quite frankly, when fish is this fresh and well cooked, you don’t need anything else.
The Coop Roll with Spicy Tuna and Rock Shrimp Tempura
My love for Americanized sushi is well documented, and this belongs up there with the best of them. Tender, mild tuna blended with fresh jalapenos for a citrusy, spicy taste. The rock shrimp were greaseless, crunchy without and tender within, fresh and sweet. Dressed in a sweet, spicy and sticky sauce, they were an utterly unauthentic and utterly delicious addition. Good rice, fresh nori…great roll. The whole here was greater than the sum of its parts.
Black and White Seared Diver Scallops with Black Trumpet Mushroom Puree, Asparagus and Purple Kale
These scallops were roughly the size of my fist, but they were amazingly tender. A slightly salty exterior broke through to briny, clean tasting shellfish. The mushroom puree was unappealingly black, but was it was meaty and earthy. It provided an excellent counterpart to the scallops, that were so very of the ocean. The were not overdone or over seasoned. Once again, the chef showed great restraint, letting star products shine for themselves. 
Rivington Steak Frites
Dry Aged New York Strip, Bone Marrow Butter, French Fries.
Let’s get the fries out of the way first – fast food style, covered in salty Parmesan and fried parsley…these were a drunk person’s dream. Not quite substantial enough to stand on their own, but the fried, thin-cut tubers were a great side dish for the meat. 
And what meat it was. 
This was a well cooked piece of beef. Not the most tender steak, but this cut is known more for its flavor than its texture. Robust, irony, with the MOST fabulous, unctuous, deep, umami flavored marrow butter spread over the top in a gossamer-thin sheet. It not only added richness, but made the steak taste more meaty and less fatty.
It was also cooked to perfection.
This was a hell of a press meal. Though the restaurant is extremely new, it was also up to par in nearly every respect. Service was great, the setting was chic and the food was, for the most part WAY more than a hotel restaurant’s food has to be to succeed. 
There were some missteps – a salty fried oyster, an offputting tofu sauce on nigiri sushi and a dried out and underseasoned fried whitefish.  But there were far more hits. The cocktail still blows my mind. In fact, I want one right now. 
And that’s what happens when you put a great restaurant in a hotel. 
That, and…you get tipsy gals singing showtunes.
There are worse fates. 
*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*

Vero Restaurant and Day Drinking in NYC

People of the world, hear me now. The people of NYC LOVE to day drink. The moment that the sun sets, drinking is for the young, the daring, the irresponsible, but while the sun is shining…well, woo hoo. Then, the grandmas of NYC (such as myself) come out in droves for some cheap eats and bottomless drinks. The problem is that many times, the cheap eats don’t come with drinks and the bottomless drinks mean that the eats are PRICEY.
Not so at Vero, where Grace treated my mother, my sister and I to a Gilt City package brunch – a brunch that included a pitcher of sangria PLUS a brunch drink each, for under $100.
The wine bar was small and narrow, but there was a spacious seating section in the back, and the room felt trendy but not judgemental. If Midtown East NYC is anything, it’s non judgemental.
We started off with a pitcher of tropical sangria, with passion fruit and mango puree sweetening the acidity of the wine. It sweetened it so much that the alcohol was barely perceptible. Normally, this would be too sweet for me, but as someone who tends to get too tipsy too fast, this super-sweet libation was perfect. It kept me reaching for my water glass, so I managed to get buzzed but not totally obliterated.
For brunch, I ordered the Brunch Panino withscrambled eggs, fontina cheese, pancetta. It is worth mentioning here that my mom wanted to get the same sandwich without pancetta, and they would not do it. “Positively no substitutions at brunch.” I totally understand not wanting to make a complicated change to a dish, but not wanting to just leave some bacon off a piece of bread? I mean, who the hell wouldn’t do that?
On to the sandwich’s taste: really, quite good. Mild fontina cheese and salty pancetta bits were griddled on a soft ciabatta bun. The eggs were shockingly soft and creamy, and the unpictured hot sauce that I requested was like a thick, homemade version of Cholula. Garlicky, spicy but not too hot, vinegary but not overly so. Really a great hot sauce, and a pretty good sandwich. The potatoes looked mushy and gluey but tasted great. Soft and creamy, with sweet caramelized onions and the sweet tang of tomato paste echoing throughout. Really, this was a very satisfying meal.

In fact, we all cleaned our plates (I wanted to get a bite of my mom’s French Toast, but it was GONE by the time I turned around…she was just lucky it was Mother’s Day…).

The service was fine, the food was fine, the drinks were fine…but if we hadn’t had the deal, it would not have been fine. If you get a deal including free or cheap drinks, then hey, this is the SPOT. For so much booze – we didn’t even GET to our additional drinks beyond the sangria – and well prepared standards, the price can’t be beat! But if you have to pay more than we did for the same amount of food and drink…then the food CAN. I have had better food AND better drinks elsewhere, just not for a better price. 
But…if you get a deal like this…it’s a heck of a great way to day drink in NYC!
Vero on Urbanspoon

Rockography Cafe’s Truly Rockin’ Food and Drinks

Remember when you were 13 and thought that the Hard Rock Cafe was like the coolest thing ever? Then you went there at 17 and realized, even at that tender age, how incredibly STUPID it was? (sorry Hard Rock…) 
Imagine if the Hard Rock Cafe was as cool as you thought it was.
Hello, Rockography. This is a diner-cafe-junk food hybrid restaurant that is casual, cool and ear-blaringly loud.

 Really, this is a place that will leave your voice hoarse, your knowledge of classic rock much improved, and your desire for fatty, sugary, incredibly delicious food and drink utterly sated.

All the menus come in record albums, but instead of being gimmicky, it seems tongue-in-cheek and fun. 
Dirty Chips – Kettle chips with homemade velveeta cheese, blue cheese, bacon, tomatoes and scallions. This was the only so-so dish of the bunch. Everything SHOULD have worked-crispy chips, creamy velveeta, pungent blue cheese, salty bacon, fresh tomatoes and scallions…but the dish was served room temperature. This really needed to be hot to make the cheese melty and liquidy instead of clumpy and stiff. Don’t worry, we still ate it…but that is only because we had some of THESE…
The Comfortably Numb– Bulldog Gin, St. Germaine, Myer Lemon, Fresh Sour. This was a fantastic drink – light, citrusy, more fresh than sweet and with the unmistakable smooth yet assertive taste of top shelf liquor. One of these made me happy, but two of these made me REALLY happy.  
For those of you who are just too manly to enjoy the frou-frou martini-glassed drinks, enjoy a beer in a bag with a shot on the side. 

Popcorn replaces bread, and it is fresh popped, lightly buttered, and salted just enough to keep you craving more. Oh, and they will refill it. It was at this point that I ordered my THIRD Comfortably Numb, which got me…comfortably numb.
Oh yeah baby…here it is: The F.U. Burger: 16oz burger specialty mixed iceberg lettuce, fried tomato, onion rings, maple bacon, pickles, fried egg, velveeta sauce, sesame seed bun, with tator tots.

This really isn’t one of those burgers that extols the virtues of it’s juicy, grassfed beef, it’s locally cured bacon or its homemade brioche bun. This is a thin, charbroiled patty, cooked till just barely pink and thin enough to blend with sweet and salty bacon, gooey egg, sharp cheese, tart pickles, pungent onion rings, and just enough fresh veggies to keep you from going into cardiac arrest on the SPOT. It is big, it is indulgent, it is well cooked, and it is the PERFECT drinking food. The tator tots on the side were crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.

Fried PB&J. Even better than the sandwich at the Breslin. Defying all sense of logic, this sandwich seemed somehow LIGHT, with the merest smear of creamy nut butter going along with sweet raspberry jam and the savory doughnut-like bread. Served with an ice cold pint of milk and some kettle chips, this is the lunch your inner elementary-schooler always DREAMED of.
Extremely ill taken photo of a DELICIOUS mini corn dog-crunchy on the outside, meaty on the inside.
That’s what she said.
Brownie sundae. Warm brownie, cool ice cream, vanilla and chocolate colliding in one delicious bite. Please get this to ensure a delicious food coma that night.
And really…you will DEFINITELY have a food coma! Rockography is a heavy, indulgent, delicious, VERY fairly priced meal. Ask for Barry to ensure you get a sweet, funny and enthusiastic server who is so cool you will want to invite him to sit right down and enjoy that F.U. burger with you.
Or maybe not…cause this food is so great, you will NOT want to share.
*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*
Rockography on Urbanspoon

Barzinho, Quinto Quarto and Hats Off to Fedora

Sometimes you don’t want a full meal at a restaurant. You just want a quick drink, a little snack and a good time. I had a couple experiences like that last week, at 2 restaurants I had never heard of.
Do you know how hard it is to get someone to serve you a drink before 4 p.m. on a weekday?! It is like we live in a Puritanical society or something!
Or like some people don’t drink…
Whatever that means.
Anyway, my party and I happened upon Barzinho, a tiny Brazilian restaurant that is open all day and has a 4-7 p.m. happy hour offering 2-for-1 caipirinhas.

Within a few moments of sitting down in the small but cheerful space, we were each handed a sugary, limey drink that was reminiscent of a sweeter gin gimlet. It is made with cachaca, which is a Brazilian liquor that is similar to rum.  The first sip was nothing less than BRACING – as in, I thought i would have to ask for a glass of wine, because this was just too strong.
But something sort of remarkable happened between the first and second sips. By the time I returned to my drink, the flavor of the booze had mingled with the citrus and the sugar to create a bright, smooth drink. The melting of the ice tempered the alcohol’s bite, and by the end of the glass, I was SO ready for another one!

We ordered some Pao de Queijo to share – Brazilian cheese bread. These are tiny, soft puffs of airy bread surrounding stretchy and gooey mozzarella-type cheese. Literally nothing was wrong with these, although they would have been delicious if they were served with some sort of dip…

like the dip served with the delicious Yucca Fries. Yucca is a starchy plant and these fries were awesome. Some people might think they were too mushy, but I rather enjoyed the soft, bland interior next to the crisp exterior. Dipped in the zesty, but not incendiary, jalapeno-cilantro sauce, it was perfect for sopping up the alcohol. Barzinho is an inexpensive, sweet and delicious bar serving very serviceable snacks.

A few nights later, I visited totally fabulous Fedora.
*Where, by the way, I had the most wonderful applejack and apple cider based drink called Louisa May’s Favorite Table – it was a tart, light, sweet ode to the apple. Totally drinkable with that smooth, deep taste of applejack. And when the management very apologetically asked my party to move from the bar so that patrons could order dinner there, they were gracious enough to buy us a round of drinks. That level of class is rarely seen, especially by trendy establishments, and I will ABSOLUTELY return. I just SO appreciate a management that appreciates the diner. One gratis drink bought them a lifetime loyal customer. And next time, I’m getting those shoestring fries!*

When we tried to get into ‘ino to try the famous truffled egg toast, the wait was over an hour, so we walked across the street to a small Italian trattoria called Quinto Quarto. The small, rustic restaurant was positively booming at 10 p.m., and service was quick and friendly. Though the bread was sub-par and the pasta was merely serviceable, there were some totally outstanding soups.

I ordered the Pappa al Pomodoro. It was this thick, spicy, tart tomato soup that lacked that sickly sweetness that so much canned soup has. This was clearly homemade, thick enough to coat my spoon, and redolent of bright tomatoes, hearty bread and salty Pecorino Romano cheese. Truly excellent.
Passata Di Cipolle-thick breaded and grated onion soup with Pecorino Romano cheese and rosemary. 

This came to the table looking and smelling like French Onion Soup. And then we dug in…

Can you see how thick that is? That isn’t a soup, that is a dip! It is actually thick enough to stand a spoon in upright, and equally as delicious. It was a tad too salty, but the bread played with that nutty cheese and those sweet, caramelized onions so well. It was MUCH more hearty than a standard onion soup, and, I felt, much more delicious. We all love dipping our bread into soup – here it was already done for you. There was so much bread that it actually soaked in all the moisture, and this was more a bread pudding than a soup. So delicious that I can’t wait to try it at home!
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