After a long ass day of rain yesterday, we’re getting a wee bit of much-needed sunshine today. I’ll take it! And it’s going to get up into the 50’s as well. Good stuff. Unfortunately, weather.com has us in the 30’s and 40’s for at least the next ten days. Ick! Shitty weather calls for fantastic food and there is almost nothing better right now than the Patty Melt at Parish Hall in Williamsburg. Everything at Parish Hall is really good to excellent, but the Patty Melt is positively transporting. For starters, the meat in this gooey slab of hell yes! is a combination of grass-fed beef and lamb bacon, oh, glorious lamb bacon.To go with this duo of ground carne are perfectly caramelized onions and delicious melted Landaff cheese which is produced in the foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. All of this gets hugged and skillet-grilled between two traditional slices of Rye bread. On the side is Parish Hall’s version of Thousand Island dressing for dipping and your choice salad or fries. I’ve had many a patty melt in my day, but this one kicks the living crap out of all of them. The addition of the lamb bacon to the ground beef gives this incarnation of the classic an amazingly tender and satisfying bite while the silky and mild Landaff cheese allows its smoky hue to come perfectly through on the finish. It’s just so damn mouth-wateringly A++, especially if enjoyed with a glass of Pinot Noir. The best part is that you don’t have to wait for weekend brunch to devour one of these delectable delights. Parish Hall is open at 11am weekdays, 10am on weekends and, and, annnnnnd…they take reservations. The Patty Melt is on Parish Hall’s lunch, brunch and dinner menus. It’s just that good. Go get one. Now, please.
When and where I grew up, we had Spring Break. One of them. Between New Year’s and the end of the school year. Our kids now have Winter Break, Spring Break, and about a million days off in between before they get to summer sometime at the end of June. And because my wife and I were raised with that one break, we always find ourselves the week before winter break with a huge gaping hole in our calendar and no plan in place. But, alas, not this year! We planned months in advance this time around (and we were very self congratulatory about the whole thing. Yes, this year we were to be good parents). Seeing as Lesa and I were relatively fresh off a solo, sans kids jaunt to Mexico we were definitely up for more of the warm, but at a place where the kids could lose their minds and have a blast. Preferably a place with a kid’s club or sitting service so Mommy and Daddy could hit the proverbial town on a night or three. We surfed and chatted and looked a little more before we dimwittedly booked a “fun-filled” family vacation to Atlantis.I want to be clear from the start that there is nothing wrong with the people who actually work at Atlantis. They could not have been more helpful and kind in every respect, but the place is just too bloody huge. And that is, unfortunately, Atlantis’ greatest downfall. We were impressed on the first day (65° and blowing 25 knots) by how easy it was to get a snack and a drink at the poolside food huts. No line. Everyone knows your name and your drink of choice. Amazing. Switch that six to an eight in the temperature and you have some serious beach and pool weather. You also have a shit show backstage with lines a half-hour long to get a fruity rum something and a donkey dick-sized chili dog that’ll set you back almost as much as a couple of appetizers at Per Se. Now, call me crazy, but if you’re gullible enough to pay the kind of money that Atlantis charges at any of its six hotels, shouldn’t you at least be spared the indignity of spending an indecent fraction of your day waiting in some interminable line simply because the weather is cooperating? And God help you if you haven’t booked your Mesa Grill reservation at least a month in advance because mealtimes around this place become a survival-of-the-fittest type exercise complete with running (yes, running) and sheer anxiety. And once you’ve secured your lowly spot at the bar (and your heart rate has returned to normal) don’t for a second be fooled into thinking you’ll be rewarded with a tasty morsel or two. Unfortunately Atlantis’ second greatest downfall is that the food is one step above completely inedible.Now, maybe I’m bitter because the weather didn’t turn out to be the best and Lulu brought with her the remnants of a nasty cold and cough that kept us imprisoned in the suite a time or two. But, if you go ahead and splurge for the ocean view suite, it should at least be tolerable to go on the balcony and read while your little one takes a nap and battles a fever. That ocean view suite we booked? Yeah, you see the ocean, but you mostly see, through the bars of your balcony, the tower of the neighboring hotel with its four thousand balconies. Call me nuts, but staring at all those things with all those people behind them is in no way, shape or form relaxing.But there are upshots to the debacle that was winter break this year. Ten year-olds don’t particularly give a hoot about waiting in lines, freezing their pellets off or eating really crappy food. They do, however, love to run around in a new and different environment tailor made just for them with water slides, a cool aquarium with sharks and a bunch of other kids who are just as bananas. And our 10 year old is no different. The kid had a blast and that certainly softens the blow for us grumpy grownups. And in spite of the #epicfail we consider this vacay to be, we did, at the very least, learn to always plan in advance. We know we cannot control the rain or the wind, but we can control how large or small our future destination will be and ours will be little. Tiny and intimate. And this one is for certain. The three-year-old who, will be four, will not be sick. She will not be sick. God, please, she will not be sick.
Our pal and Brooklyn filmmaker Kimberly Wetherell is one of those people that unfairly has like a half a dozen things she is able to do at the professional level. One of her many talents is baking, and we totally jump at any opportunity to score any of her mouthwatering cookies, cakes, or sticky buns.
I don’t know why, but The Cardinal and I have been like two opposing magnets since it opened a while back on East 4th Street near Avenue B. Every time we planned to go, something else got in the way and a down-home southern meal at this simple and warm charmer got thwarted. Well, we finally connected late last week.Lesa and I headed there early with one of the kids and bellied up to the window seat that looks out over the neighborhood’s minions coming home from a long day’s work. It’s a great seat if you can get it. To start we tried the Pimento Cheese on crispy toast and Blue Crab Hush Puppies. They were both insanely good and plentiful. Between the three of us, we were basically full when we got done with those, not knowing what was in store. Just as we were all mentally cramming our downed food into the corners of our bellies, the massive main courses arrived with the oh-shit-we-over-ordered sides. The 10-year-old had a damn good lookin’ cheeseburger with hand-cut fries and bubbly mac and cheese in front of him. Lesa had a smoked-last-night pulled pork sandwich with a pile of creamy slaw on top and a bowl of swiney greens on the side. Both served perfectly…on a Martin’s Potato Roll. Delectable!I just about got cow shock when my plate arrived. The Strip Steak was perfectly cooked medium rare with a fabulously crunchy and tasty dark crust on the outside. I’m guessing it was about 24 ounces. I ordered the mashed potatoes and corn and tomato succotash for my sides and both were just as they should be at a joint like this one…straight up, simple and wonderful. We rolled out of the Cardinal after about an hour of stuffing ourselves figuring we over-ordered by about $75. Oh well, it was worth it. Next time we’ll skip lunch before we go.
Yep, that’s not a typo. This weekend instead of music, we’re going to talk about food. Specifically, about an easy and delicious roast recipe that even a work-week harried and slightly hungover dad can slap together on late Saturday afternoon for dinner. The keys are ingredients – get the freshest you can find for the marinade, and be sure to get a really terrific hunk of meat. At my favorite butcher the best rib roasts are not exactly cheap at like $19/lb, but they look like something Fred Flintstone would eat and feed an army.
Standing Rib Roast with Fig-Port Glaze
Trust me – it practically makes itself. Just marinade for a few hours, and you’ll need about two and a half hours to cook the sucker. Recipe info is on the link above. Make sure to pick up a bottle of something to drink as you cook because cooking is thirsty work. Mangia.
Before kids, before meaningful responsibilities and certainly before this forum of ours moved from infancy to toddlerdom, there was a cozy and rustic tavern tucked away in a nook at the crossroads of Little Italy and the Lower East Side. Many long afternoons were spent at the perfectly worn zinc bar with great friends and loves nibbling on Devils on Horseback and Smoked Trout, sipping on French 75’s. Sadly, that tavern was too long forgotten by this writer and unfairly so.Freemans at the end of Freeman Alley just off Rivington is back on the radar and it’s as great as it has ever been. No matter how many times you’ve been, Freemans always feels like a find…like you really have to know the underground byways and secret handshakes of this town. When you enter the blue door at the end of the graffiti adorned lane, you are greeted with what they describe as this “rugged clandestine Colonial American tavern” with walls loaded with peeling paint and vintage taxidermy. The menu follows the same mantra, “simple, rustic and inspired by early American traditions.”For brunch, the Piedmontese Cheeseburger is amazing and the Smoked Trout is second only to the ones I smoke at home…but, I digress. The Roast Pork Sandwich is one that also must be tried with its blanket of thinly sliced pickled zucchini and garlic mayonnaise piled between two slices of grilled peasant bread. Dinner brings other fantastic goodies. To start, go for the House Made Country Paté, the Hot Artichoke Dip or Steamed PEI Mussels. For the main, their Whole Grilled Brook Trout is always a winner as is whatever their Daily Market Fish happens to be. Or for something a little meatier, go for the Grilled Pork Loin or Colorado Lamb Stew.Whichever your culinary poison, wash it all down with one of their classic cocktails or traditional old-world wines. If you’ve never been to Freemans, go now. If it’s been a while, let this serve as your reminder. If you go all the time, call me an idiot and have a nice day.
Behind an unassuming glass storefront on Atlantic Avenue just off the corner of Henry is one fine eating and drinking establishment that we hope continues being so roundly superb for years to come. I was first introduced to Colonie for brunch by friends who live in the neighborhood. The staff is so unbelievably friendly even when you show up on a crowded morning with a couple of strollers. The room is so incredibly warm and inviting with casual furnishings, a healthy dose reclaimed wood and a wall of green fauna welcoming you to the back room with chef’s bar surrounding the bustling kitchen. On the several occasions I have been, each meal has been perfect. Start off with their basket of baked goods. Their shrimp and grits are to die for, the duck hash rocks and they make a seriously fine cheeseburger. Jesse and Courtney have been for dinner and Lesa and I finally followed suit last week. We started off with a dozen of Thomas Keller’s favorite oysters…Island Creeks from Massachusetts. Plump, briny, perfect. We washed them down with a couple of Cool Hand Cukes which makes for one super sweet earth and sea combination. Moving on, we had their freakishly good grilled octopus, Pate de Campagne and Ricotta Gnudi which are little balls of aged ricotta lightly boiled and served with ever-so-gently warmed sweet 100 tomatos…killer…like Colonie’s take on the caprese salad. By the time we got around to thinking about the main course, we were so full that we opted for a cheese and salame plate. My only regret is that we didn’t leave enough room for the pork chop which is brined for three hours and then lovingly pan seared and basted for what looked like a perfect crust over what I hear is the most tender inside you’ll find anywhere. I was weeping as I watched the chef cook and servers deliver each one to their lucky patrons. I’m ordering it for an appetizer next time I go.
I have no idea what made us order sticky buns at Roberta’s. I don’t particularly like them. They’re usually cheaply and overly sugared on the outside and dry on the inside. Not at Roberta’s! The sticky bun here is one of the best things you will ever put in your mouth.I’m not sure, but I think they’re cooked in Roberta’s wood fired oven like all of their other bread, but this bun has the most amazing swirl of cinnamon coated into the perfectly soft and chewy brioche roll coated with a tear-inducing caramel and maple goo sprinkled with a few key granules of sea salt. Whether you go for brunch, lunch or dinner, get one or four. They’ll rock your world.
I moved to Alphabet City about a decade ago and there was one of the crappiest Chinese take-out joints this city has ever seen right across the street from me on Avenue C. Finally, that place closed and construction began. A few months later, a crappy Italian restaurant opened. Like, I’ll-pay-for-the-damn-food-just-get-me-out-of-here crappy. I always felt terrible for the owners who would assemble all of their friends at the front of the restaurant just behind the newly installed glassed-panelled garage door to try to attract unsuspecting patrons into the otherwise empty room. PEOPLE! You cannot open a crappy Italian restaurant in the East Village and expect success. WAY too much great competition. But then something wonderful happened. The Italian place closed and a couple of supremely talented restauranteurs took over the lease and began to transform the space into what is now Edi & the Wolf.
Edi and his good buddy Wolf have created one of the best rooms in the city in which to enjoy a meal with an aim to “recreate tradition with a feast of rustic Austrian cuisine and a carefully curated European wine list” and they manage to do just that. Today, the aforementioned garage door feels as if it has been there for a hundred years with a happy mess of herbs and vines invite you to venture through a barn wood shack that leads into this amazingly warm and creative display of cozy genius. Your attention is drawn to many curiosities scattered throughout and the much written about thick coiled rope above the bar. I have no idea why it is there, but it doesn’t rally matter because it looks amazing hanging there from the wide-planked ceiling with candle wax dripping down its side. It’s a warm addition to just the sort of room that makes you want to curl up on one of their banquets and enjoy an amazing meal with a big bottle of red wine.
And speaking of food, the friendly folks at Edi & the Wolf nail it every time. Small plates like the Hamachi, Pork Belly, and Liptaurer & Herb Gervais are served perfectly arranged on black slabs of slate. If you’re into sharing or being so full that you’ll have to be rolled out of the place, the Spätzle is a must. It is one of the finest examples of culinary comfort love I have experienced in my few short years on this earth. And if that’s not enough, the main courses are incredible. I usually get the Pork Weiner Schnitzel which is perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with refreshingly prepared potato salad with cucumber and lingonberry jam. On my last trip, however, I stepped outside the box and went for the Shell Steak. Oh, my! Divinity! Perfect char on the outside and uniformly pink in the middle, every bite was a short trip to heaven. Served up with parsley root, mustard greens, wild mushrooms and nugget potatoes, I was in no mood for my meal to end even when my attention was required by the three-year-old whose IPad’s juice had just run dry. So if you haven’t already, go to Edi & the Wolf on Avenue C between 6th and 7th Streets. It’ll be well worth the trip.
Yesterday afternoon I was searching for someplace great to go with Lesa for dinner. Combing through the pages of Eater, I decided to have a look at their 20 of NYC’s Most Underrated Restaurants page and our old friend Degustation popped off the screen and into our plans for the night. Billed as a Franco-Spanish tapas bar by its owners Jack and Grace Lamb, Degustation is still going strong on East 5th Street between Second Avenue and Cooper Square after six years. Though you can order small plates like the amazing Fried Egg with Pork Belly or Seared Foie Gras, we have always opted for the chef’s tasting menu. We went for the $75 a head 10 course version and it rocked our world just as it did the last time we were there five years ago.
- Seared Pork Belly as delivered.
- The after was oddly just as beautiful.