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July 7, 2011

Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown

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For Memorial Day Weekend, Tammi and I took a trip down to Philadelphia. High on my agenda for the weekend was to check out the new beergarden in Fishtown, called Frankford Hall. Check it out after the jump...

Continue reading "Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown" »

December 23, 2010

Vietnam: Bier Garden

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Bier Garden ended up being our central spot while we were in Saigon. After a week or so of pretty much exclusively drinking those sweet, fizzy Asian beers like Tsingtao, Tiger and San Miguel, the option of having an international selection available was really appealing to me.

The more 'exotic' selections available mostly came from Western Europe from Belgian and German wheats along with English and Irish ales. They also had Cooper's, an Aussie beer I've been fond of for some time. Yet, interestingly, I found little relief in these western brews. Despite differences in styles and country of origin, I soon came to find that nearly all of the beers available had similar tasting points. All were lighter in body and sweeter in flavor without much in the way oh hops or sharpness to balance the experience.

The crowd, clearly, was made up entirely of tourists enjoying a pint or three of their home town brew. Sadly there was no such nostalgia for me. Remarkably there weren't any American beers available that I recall.

December 17, 2010

The Stoned Crow Closing its Doors

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Sorry to interrupt the long string of Asia travel posts, but I just heard this and want to spread the word.

I've got bad news for longtime barflies and burger lovers: Greenwich Village bar, The Stoned Crow is closing at the end of the year. If you know the bar, you're already making plans to head over there now. If you don't, here's why you need to go.

For years, The Stoned Crow has been slinging one of the best burgers in town with little of the hype that has made nearly every other good burger in town an ordeal to get a hold of.

In part, the place stayed under the radar by sitting on a quiet block, away from the hustle and hassle of nearby Bleeker and MacDougal Streets. In fact, you've most likely passed it by on the way to Washington Square Park, neighboring Blue Hill or even the Radio Shack on the corner.

Go inside and you'll be rewarded with a laid-back atmosphere, a beer selection that includes some craft beers but doesn't obsess over it and a pretty amazing burger.

Continue reading "The Stoned Crow Closing its Doors" »

November 16, 2010

Lunch at The John Dory Oyster Bar

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Today I strayed from my path of finding Midtown Lunch priced dishes in order to partake in some deliciousness from under the sea at the new John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel.

The meal was a splurge to be sure, but was absolutely worth it. In the name of posting this now rather than waiting to make time to bloviate about each course, I'm going to post the courses after the jump with some brief notes. Enjoy!

Continue reading "Lunch at The John Dory Oyster Bar" »

July 29, 2010

Quick Bite: Cabrito's Border Dog

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Last year, I lamented the fact that I chickened out on trying the bacon-wrapped hot dogs in Los Angeles. The other day, I finally got a chance to try a version of it.

Among the tasty happy hour specials at Cabrito are a selection of 'Border Dogs,' that is, bacon-wrapped hot dogs with yummy toppings including the guac and chicharrones you see here.

The special also includes a Dos Equis, which I'd just as soon skipped in favor of one of the better drink options. Really though, it didn't matte what I washed it down with, it was glorious.

July 28, 2010

Quick Bite: No. 7 Tacos

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Pork shoulder tacos at No. 7, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2010.

July 20, 2010

SF: Rosamunde's Mission Bar

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Rosamunde Sausage Grill, the closet-sized sausage shack next door to Toronado, the best beer bar in San Francisco, has gone into the bar business.

Get a peek inside after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Rosamunde's Mission Bar" »

July 18, 2010

Quick Bite: Irish Breakfast

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While we were in Philly, Tammi, my sister and I watching Germany trounce Argentina at Tir Na Nog, a gigantic Irish Pub in Center City.

This was breakfast:
Eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, Irish bacon, maple sausages, and black and white Pudding - black pudding being blood sausage, in case you missed the euphemism.

May 18, 2010

Self Promotion: City Seen at Habana Outpost

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I'm very excited to announce that Habana Outpost has invited me to put up a show of my photography next month. It will run for the first half of June, with photos up on Tuesday, June 1st through Monday, June, 14th.

The show, which I'm calling "City Seen" will center on my street photography, with some photos that should be familiar to those who have followed the blog for a while including a couple of my all-time favorites.

For updates and further details, rsvp to the City Seen event page on Facebook.

May 9, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party

A new Hot Bird rises from the ashes

If there was much of a theme at all in my last couple weeks of posts it was Brooklyn Bars. Besides the regular Brokelyn 25 series that I've gotten moving again, I've also posted about a few new choice spots to imbibe that have opened up recently. Above is Hot Bird, which I lucked into on its second night open. I basically got the first shots of the space and thus ended up on Brownstoner and Eater. The place looks pretty amazing, so I expect to spend quite a bit of time there this summer.

See what else I've been posting about after the jump...

Continue reading "Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party" »

April 21, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Snoop Dogg and Brooklyn Bowl Love

Snoop Dogg performing at Brooklyn Bowl

Yes, that is Snoop Dogg. Yes, he's wearing a Yankees jersey. And yes, I I got to shoot him performing at Brooklyn Bowl Monday night.

Yes. Snoop Dogg performed at Brooklyn Bowl. And I was there to shoot it. Crazy.

It was a pretty fantastic show, he performed old and new songs, going through all the classics along with some of his newer hits.

It was surreal standing in Brooklyn and hearing the voice of the west doing Hypnotize in tribute to BIG. More surreal was the fact that he was playing a space like Brooklyn Bowl instead of the Garden. The concert space fits 600 people, which can be huge or intimate depending on the show. The venue has become one of my favorites to cover, not just because of the amazing acts they book, but also the food and a choice beer selection. Without turning into a shill for the place, let me just say that I'd be coming here regularly even if I wasn't shooting for Examiner.

I Love Vinyl Party at Brooklyn Bowl

I've been there a lot lately, covering I Love Vinyl's first Brooklyn party and the night before I shot the Air Guitar Regional Championships, which was a whole lot of ridiculous.

Air Guitar World Championships at Brooklyn Bowl

Like I said, ridiculous.

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I didn't spend all my venue love on Brooklyn Bowl. I did find myself at The Bell House a few times this month. Last week, I went to a blogger meet up hosted by Brooklyn Based, FIPS and Brokelyn. That was a lot of fun just for finally being able to put faces to names.

Good Spirits at The Bell House

A week earlier, I was also at Bell House grazing through the snacks and cocktails on hand at Good Spirits, Edible Brooklyn's tribute to food and booze in the better borough. The spicy red sangritas that this lady was pouring as chasers was probably my favorite drinks of the night, which probably goes to show that liquor is wasted on me.

That's all just a bit of what I've been posting about this month. Habana Outpost reopened for the season and I'm starting up the Brokelyn 25 bar survey again this week after a bit of a hiatus. So, stay tuned.

April 2, 2010

Seattle: The Alibi Room

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On my first day in Seattle, I came across the Alibi Room, just downstairs from Pike Market and across the path from the Gum Wall. Despite being in the heart of one of the biggest tourist attractions in town, the bar was subdued, comfortable and pleasant.

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The beer selection was mostly local, as would be expected in this part of the world. I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender, who turned out to be one of the owners. He told me a bit of the history of the place. It had been owned by some actors, including Tom Skerritt for a time before he and his partners bought it.

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They sell small pizzas there, and after smelling it for a couple rounds, I couldn't resist ordering one. I presumed that they were typical bar-sized pizza that make a good fit for one. Instead I got this giant, which I couldn't finish even though I hadn't eaten since landing in town several hours earlier.

Alibi Room. 85 Pike St at Post Alley # 410, Seattle. 206.623.3180

February 3, 2010

Quick Bite: Bad Billy's Mini Tuna Tacos

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When I first started coming to Aspen, the space where Bad Billy's was Cooper Street Ale House, one of the few divey bars in town. It was always a little too fratty for me, but you take what you can get.

When I got here last year, the place looked more or less the same, but the name had changed. I popped in for wings or whatever, but didn't really see any huge difference.

What I discovered is that Bad Billy's elevated the bar food in a pretty wonderful way.

Up top are the mini tuna tacos made with seared sushi-grade tuna sourced from sister restaurant, Kenichi, one of the nicer sushi restaurants in town. Wrapped in blistered, fried corn tortillas, they make an awesome one or two bite snack.

I followed that up with more 'traditional' fish tacos with beer battered fish on flour tortillas.

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On another visit, I popped in with some co-workers and we partook in the $15 pitchers and played some music on the internet-enabled jukebox.

Bad Billy's
508 East Cooper Avenue, Aspen, CO‎
970.925.9225‎

January 29, 2010

Philly: Swift Half

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After checking out the new Northern Liberties Farmers Market, Tammi and I had brunch at Swift Half. When we were there over the summer, we sat out there with drinks over the afternoon and watched life go by on the Piazza.

This time, it was too cold for all that, so we sat inside and split a few items on the menu.


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We had some good stuff, but the most memorable was the b.e.l.t., a blt with a fried egg in it. The bacon was so amazingly smokey, it tasted like it just came off of the grill. We also had an order of short rib sliders topped with a dollop of horseradish.

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Interestingly, the menu also offered some custom cocktails. Tammi tried the Ghost of Mary, a bloody mary made with a lighter tomato water and rimmed with black pepper and salt. I'm not one for cocktails, but it was actually pretty good. Tammi can't stand tomato juice, so enjoyed it a lot more than a traditional one, but still couldn't get through the whole thing before the tomato flavor got to be a little much for her.

Swift Half is owned by the same folks as Good Dog, a long time favorite of mine in Center City. Just like there, the beer selection is great and the vibe is casual. The service was a bit slow, but it was friendly and we had a good time.

Swift Half,
1001 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-1656
215.923.4600


January 28, 2010

Quick Bite: Standard Tap's Summer Soft Shell

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I know it's snowing in New York today and obviously, it's cold here in Aspen, so here's a glimpse back at summer time.

Since I'm posting about our recent weekend in Philadelphia anyway, I thought I'd post this quick shot of the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich I had at Standard Tap when we were in town over the summer. This time around we just had lingering drinks there after walking around Northern Liberties, but it's still one of my favorite places for food or drink in the area.

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Standard Tap
901 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-2301
215.238.0630

January 12, 2010

Philly: The Piazza in Northern Liberties

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Tammi and I are heading down to Philadelphia this weekend, so I'm finally taking the opportunity to post some of the observations and such from our last trip in August.

On our last day, we headed up to Northern Liberties, the arts community I've mentioned more than a few times.

When we first came across the neighborhood, it was a surreal point of mid-gentrification. Empty lots alternated with construction sites and vacant shopping plazas on nearly every block. Cute little boutiques stood surrounded by wilderness. Every visit since then, I've noted the progress of development along the way. This was our first time in town for two years, so a lot of progress had been made.

Most notably was The Piazza, the courtyard at the large Schmidt's apartment complex. Modeled after an Italian Piazza, the big open space serves as something of a community center.

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Shops, cafes and restaurants line the perimeter of the plaza. During the summer at least, they all spilled out with signs, displays and outdoor seating. Weekends see an outdoor market where local artisans sell their wares and a DJ spins soulful house.

I'm going to guess that there will be less of all that this weekend. Even If this coldsnap finally breaks, as forecast, it's doubtful to be quite that warm.

What is going to be there is a Farmers Market Saturday afternoon that I'm looking forward to checking out.

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As a New Yorker, a place so blatantly constructed by developers gives me pause. But the glimpse I've seen of how the area has developed actually seems pretty cool. Of course, the perspective of an an occasional visitor is limited. I'm sure there are tourists that enjoy Times Square too. That said, I'm looking forward to spending more time window-shopping and bar-hopping around the neighborhood.

December 29, 2009

Quick Bite: Irish Bacon Burger at Spike Hill

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Lunch in the deluge Saturday afternoon at Spike Hill. I'd never noticed that Irish Bacon was an option on their burger. I feel like I'm seeing more Irish/English Bacon around on menus these days. That's a good thing.

The funky blur around the edges here is from my spiffy new Lensbaby Composer I got for Christmas from Tammi. I'm hoping not to overuse it, but it's a lot of fun.

December 8, 2009

Hawai'i: Rum Fire

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Duke's and Mai Tai Bar are the two big bar destinations in Waikiki. They are historic and also rather annoying. Duke's is fratty and irritating. Mai Tai bar matches high end cocktails with higher end prices.

At the Sheraton Waikiki, just down the beach from both, you've got Rum Fire. Tammi and I came on it by accident, but found it to be the best place to grab a drink, take in the sights and see the sunset in the whole area.

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I don't even remember how many times we ended up there. This is where we discovered our Japanese bachelors and some great fish tacos, not to mention a wonderful view of the beach, the sunset and Diamondhead.

Here's the funny thing, through my habit of geotagging, I discovered that four years ago, Tammi and I hung out in the same place. Hotel development being what it is, the space was totally different, but when I tagged the bar, I discovered it was the exact same space that we ended up spending most of our last day in Hawaii four years ago as Tammi knit and we relaxed over drinks.

October 10, 2009

LA: Kogi

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I've been putting off my Kogi post (for months!) because there is just so much already written about the phenomenal hype surrounding the truck. You've heard it all before. It's been on the food blogs, the food mags, trend reports on the cutting edge and even on NPR. Yes. Food trucks are awesome. Yes. Many of them use Twitter. Got it. And really, more importantly, yes, Korean and Mexican foods fuse well.

So, here's the short version:
Long line, great food, totally earns the hype.

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I had two tacos, one with spicy pork, the other with short ribs and a pair of sliders. All were topped with shredded kimchi.

In hindsight, given that the beef on the sliders is that same as is in in the taco, I'd have made my second taco chicken or maybe have used it as an excuse to gorge myself on a kogi dog.

Regardless, much like the dinner the other week at Minetta Tavern, I walked away disappointed that the hype for Kogi seems to be entirely earned.

Being so good means that it's actually worth jumping through stupid hoops like standing in line for 45 minutes or having dinner at 5:30pm because you aren't important enough to score a reasonable res. And that annoys me, because really, I'm rarely willing to put up with that crap.

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The good news is that the little secret of the Kogi Truck is that they sell the same menu most nights at Alibi Room in Culver City. I didn't make it there on my last trip, but it's definitely on my short list of places to go next time I'm in Los Angeles.

August 25, 2009

Der Schwarz Kolner Opens!

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Fort Greene's brand new Beer Hall, Der Schwarz Kolner opened a couple weeks ago after much anticipation. Tammi and I ended up getting there 15 minutes after they opened. The menu was still in flux and there was much frantic bouncing around by the staff, but the energy in the room was great.

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As the name implies, they specialize in the cuisine of Koln (or Cologne to you francophiles). What that means in practical matters is that you get plenty of wonderful Kolsch beer. As I've mentioned before, Kölsch is "light and sweet, but with a bite of hops that provides a zen-like balance." And thus a perfect summer beer.

We hung out there for a couple hours, sampling the compact (three item) menu. The bratwurst was juicy and well spiced. The pretzels were tasty, but lacked salt for some reason. The last dish, which had an odd (read: German) name was nothing more complicated than a slab of gouda cheese and a roll. Tammi's rather fond of gouda, so she gobbled that up and loved it.

Before we headed out, we saw an off the menu special coming out of the the kitchen: some tantalizing red kielbasa sausages showed up at the table next to us.

It's a testament to both the draw of a beer hall and the neighborhood that within an hour of our arrival, the place was already crowded. I know I'll be back.

(Many thanks to Eater for linking to my opening day photos)

August 12, 2009

LA: West 4th/Jane

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In the middle of Santa Monica, West 4th/Jane sits in homage to a transplanted New Yorker's memory of Corner Bistro, a couple thousand miles away. I didn't get to go in, so I can't say how well the burger compares.

Apparently they just opened a couple months ago and got a fair amount of blog attention. Based on at least one site, which refers to it as being inspired by "NYC Gastropubs," it sounds nothing like the original.

Hell, the fact that there seem to be more than 5 things on the menu and a hundred beers available should tell you all you need to know.

West 4th/Jane
1432 4th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

August 10, 2009

Lunch: MFC (formerly Bon Chon)

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A month or so ago the Bon Chon Chicken in Koreatown (and I believe the location in Flushing) suddenly changed its name to Mad For Chicken. According to Midtown Lunch, this is a familiar story:

Ah yes- the old open a franchise... steal the recipe... decide you don't want to pay the royalties anymore game. If this whole thing sounds familiar, it's because it is. Shorty's (on 9th Ave. btw. 41+42nd) did the same thing to Tony Luke's. Thankfully for Midtown Lunch'ers one commenter is reporting that the chicken pretty much tastes the same as it always has, but I'm guessing it still takes forever to get your order. Thanks to Lunch'er Paul for passing along this link to the Bon Chon Website.

I stopped in for lunch before a couple weeks ago and can verify that on all counts, things are about the same. The chicken was the same, if slightly spicier and the service was just as slow.

I will say this though, the place did seem more crowded that I had ever seen it during lunch. And the waiter actually warned me that the food would take about 45 minutes, which I don't think I've ever seen before - it always takes that long, they just don't usually warn you.

July 29, 2009

DC: Dinner at Marvin

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On our second night in DC the other weekend, Tammi and I met up with friends for dinner at Marvin. As I mentioned in a previous post, Marvin's menu stars the somewhat startling combination of Southern American and Belgian dishes. Though it seems odd at first, I have to say it worked well.

I had the chicken and waffle, above, which was wonderful. The breading had just the right crispy crunch to it and was complemented wonderfully by the sweetness of the syrup. Even the side of sauteed greens with a cream sauce that sat beneath the waffle mixed well, adding a slightly bitter edge to all that sweet and savory.

Tammi went with an order of Moules Frites, which came with a huge pile of mussels. She was so full from that, that she barely touched her fries. If you knew how much she loves fries, you'd understand how good the mussels must have been.

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After dinner we headed upstairs and listened to the DJ spin some tunes while we relaxed for a couple hours. The space filled up over the evening and there was a great vibe. Good times.

February 26, 2009

dba Brooklyn

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As a fan of both original branches of dba, I've been pretty excited about dba Brooklyn since I first heard about it last year. Now that it's open, I have to say, it's all I hoped for and more.

The theme here seems 'the best of both worlds.' The vast, open space is reminiscent of the New Orleans branch, while the garden space in the back is an active attraction of Manhattan bar.

The decor of wood and chalkboards and the ridiculous selection of quality beer and whisk(e)ys of all types is as strongly present as at the others.

As with the Manhattan branch, I find it's a pretty good place to sit down with the laptop and hang out for hours. In fact, that's what Tammi and I spent last Monday doing, reading and pecking at our laptops over beer and bourbon.

My misanthropic impulses are fed by the fact that it's still relatively unknown and on a quiet block off the main strip. I'm sitting here right now writing this post on a Friday night with a reasonably small crowd and room to breathe. That's something I've never known of either other outpost, and I suspect won't last here for long.

Something new to the dba franchise is food. They offer a menu of one item for those who want to snack with their booze. Right now, it's a Muffaletta, a clear nod to it's Crescent City roots:

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Wisely, the sandwich is not nearly the mass of the original. It's also, predictably, not nearly as good. But then nothing is. I only know one place in the world that makes a great Muffaletta and it's 1200 miles from Brooklyn. I'll take what I can get. It's 7 meats and two cheeses on a locally baked roll - sounds like drunk food to me.

February 9, 2009

Aspen: The Wine Spot

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My recent visit to Aspen was remarkable for being my least social excursion out there to date. The co-workers who usually accompany me there did not go this year and my suddenly sensitive stomach left me a little cranky and not in much of a mood for the crowds that end up in town for X Games.

The Wine Spot was my savior. If not for this place and Seth, its proprietor, I'd have found myself sitting in my room alone every night watching netflix instant or whatever crap was on TV.

Situated in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Aspen, a 'residence,' which I think is just fancy-talk for 'time-share,' this place is just off the beaten path. It's right across from Rubey Park, the main bus stop for the whole town, right down the block from the bars, clubs and restaurants in the middle of town. Yet, it's not actually in the middle of anything, so most of the people who actually show up here are those who are staying there.

It was the perfect place to go to escape the crowds. I must have stopped in there 4 or 5 times and there were never more than 10 people in, even on Saturday night when packs of teens and twentysomethings roamed the streets looking for a party.

The first night I came in, Seth greeted me and reintroduced himself, remembering me from last year. It's an interesting thing because I've unintentionally become a regular in a place where people often only come in for a week or two a year. After being reacquainted, he went on to help me find some of the wine on the menu that I'd enjoy.

I also partook in the one food item they serve, a cheese and meat plate:

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Both the food and drink were great, but what kept me coming back was the warmth and familiarity of the hearth, the leather couches and the service.

January 22, 2009

SF: Bar Bambino

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I first checked out Bar Bambino over the summer when I had an afternoon to hang out on my own. I visited again on my lazy Saturday and enjoyed the panini sandwich above. It was made with a house-made Italian sausage, a sweet and spicy pepper relish and provolone cheese. The sausage had an interesting flavor to it that reminded me of Chinese five spice, so cinnamon among other seasonings.

On my first visit, I had more of a chance to sit and linger over more snacks, including a meat plate and the awesome bowl of meatballs below. When I get home, I want to get my meat grinder up and running again and try out my own version of San Francisco's 'Meatball Mondays.'

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I didn't sit inside either visit, but I found the vibe there to be great for wiling away an afternoon over wine and tasty snacks. Bar Bambino is definitely a place I'll return to.


Bar Bambino
2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA
Between Mission and South Van Ness
415.701.VINO (8466)

September 10, 2008

Bars: Hurricane Party at Soda


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Who doesn't love bacon? No one I want to meet, that's for sure (Jon, we've already met, so it doesn't count). The bacon here is part of a chicken BLT Tammi had at Soda. I had an incredible kielbasa sandwich that I ate far too quickly to get around to photographing.

Saturday afternoon, while Hurricane Hanna swept down on New York, dumping a month's rainfall in a couple hours, Tammi and I spent the afternoon hanging out in Prospect Heights.

I had been to Soda once or twice before after years of meaning to go. Both Jon and Mike performed there regularly a couple years ago, but I never made it until recently.

While there, ostensibly looking for Parisian vacation rentals, we ended up running into Ethan and Anna. We sat there for hours hanging out and chatting completely oblivious to the general productivity we all planned out when heading there. It was great.

Meanwhile, outside,
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September 8, 2008

SF: Zeitgeist


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I read mention of Zeitgeist several times on the interweb while I was researching for the trip, but forgot I had been here before until a couple days before I headed out. On a visit a few years back, a friend who lived out there took us there. Being slightly off the beaten path, I never managed to run into it again.

Apparently, it's quite the popular hangout spot, pulling all types of local crowds into its divey environs and its gigantic backyard under the freeway.

On my last night, Guy and I passed through and finally encountered the Tamale Lady, a local legend I read about but never encountered. All was right with the world.

I snapped this shot on my first night, while I wandered the town trying to avoid jetlag by staying up until a decent hour. I was playing with some overexposure, leaving an effect similar to how I was feeling at the time. The photo was also posted on Eater SF while I was out there.

July 21, 2008

Jakewalk

Not that I have any appreciable number of readers, but I try to stick to a few principles in keeping this blog. One of them is that I want to avoid ever trashing the places I write about. I feel like there's plenty of negativity on the internet as it is, there's no reason to add to it.

I also know enough people in the hospitality industry that I understand that off-nights happen. I've put off writing anything at all about my experience at Jakewalk, because I don't want to be one of those irritating netizens who gets their jollies writing tirades tearing down someone else's hard work.

So, I post about my visit in as much of a matter-of-fact manner as possible, hopefully keeping my editorializing to a minimum...

When my party of 4 got to Jakewalk, half the tables were empty. We ended up sitting in the back, across from end of the bar with the waitstaff station and the kitchen. Even so, it took 15 minutes for our order to be taken. After another 15 minutes, one of my friends walked the 5 feet to the bar to ask for our drinks again. During that time our waitress passed by us going to the other tables without checking in on us once or even letting us know that our drinks were coming. One of the proprietors I believe, took over and tried to sooth us, but we were already irritated.

It was another 45 minutes before our food showed up. The guy we had been dealing with spoke to us a few times apologizing for the delay and letting us know that it was nearly ready. It wasn't until we got our food that the waitress came back. Instead of being apologetic that our food took so long to show up or that she never once followed up to see how we were going, she advised us that we should try to enjoy ourselves even though it took a long time.

The most frustrating part was that none of the food actually needed to be cooked, just cut up and dropped on a plate. We had an order of Rillettes and a plate of cookies both of which require no preparation at all. The fondue was the most complicated to prepare because it had bread, apples and sausages that had to be sliced up along with the cheese that had to melt in the bowl. This should not have taken an hour.

Really though, the worst part is that the food and wine were all good, but the overall experience was awful. On principle, I would never go back to a place that treated me so poorly. So, I won't be back either way.

July 15, 2008

Rustik Tavern

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One of the best benefits of bike-riding for me has been the exposure to areas I would otherwise never see. This has inspired me to explore beyond my standard MTA-mandated locales and find places that aren't so convenient to the train travelers among us. Which is how I came across Rustik Tavern.

I had gone to the Home Depot on Nostrand to pick up a few things and planned on riding down to Fort Greene to get some food. After a few blocks of riding with half a ton of stuff on my back, I saw Rustik and decided that closer was going to be the better bet.

I like Rustik. It's very rough and I have to say the food I had the first time was not so great. The waitress later told me that no one from the kitchen showed up that day and the rest of them were improvising. This explained the shriveled, overcooked chicken that came with my waffles.

They opened up last year and are still experimenting on their format. Posters hang advertising comedy shows and jazz performances, on a recent brunch visit a band played Mediterranean music for fewer than a dozen customers.

But going there reminds me of being at Moe's in 1999/2000. The crowd there is communal and fun and the neighborhood, just on the Bed-Stuy side of the Pratt area, reminds me of Fort Greene when I just got out of school. Before the crowds overran places like Habana Outpost and Stonehome, there was no trouble finding place to chill over a beer and meet your neighbors.

I look forward to spending more time at Rustik. At some point I'll need to figure out a convenient way to get there without the benefit of my bicycle one day so I can see what it's like in the evening. I'll be sure to report in when I do.

July 2, 2008

Photo of the Day: Soul Bar


IMG_0117, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2006.

I can't remember if we just stumbled upon Soul Bar or if we saw it in a guidebook. Either way, we had a great time here, sitting for hours listening to American soul music and snacking while Tammi tried the various cocktails and I worked my way through the local Malbecs they stocked.

June 29, 2008

Bars: Spuytin Duyvil


IMG_4629, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Spuytin Duyvil sits in an unlikely storefront, away from the neighborhood's main strips. Behind the hole-in-the-wall façade lays a gourmet soul. Snacks include ever-changing offerings of meats, cheeses and pâtés. The beer selection is impressive, with representatives from Sri Lanka to Switzerland and a rather large delegation of Belgians, which are broken down into Flemish and Wallonian.

It's a small space and looks very much like it was decorated by ... me. There are maps and subway memorabilia everywhere. The furniture looks like it was all picked up from the Salvation Army shop on Bedford. It's all old and interesting and usually comfortable. I'm really a big fan of this place, but I have a few problems with it that have made it hard for me to ever end up there. It's been ages since I've been there.

My biggest issue with Spuytin Duyvil is the hours. They don't open until 4 or 5pm even on the weekends and they tend to fill up by 6 or 7pm. I end up in Williamsburg either in the afternoon or at night, so when I want to hang out there for an afternoon and try out some of the crazy obscure stuff they have, they're closed. When I stop in later, the place is packed.

To be honest, I haven't really tried to get in there since Fette Sau opened, so maybe things have cleared up a bit, but given how long the lines end up for barbecue, it may just end up collecting overflow crowds.

I tell you, success ruins everything.

359 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn
718-963-4140

June 24, 2008

Photo of the Day: Candles and Coasters


IMG_0948, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Blind Tiger Ale House, West Village, NYC. 2008. ::c::

June 23, 2008

Bars: Rudy's


Rudy's, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Free hot dogs and cheap beer! There's nothing else to say. It's in Hell's Kitchen. Go!

Ok, there's a little more to say. Rudy's is this kick-ass little dive that is prolly not the best place for a first date or pre-theater dinner. When I worked in Times Square, I ended up here pretty regularly. It's definitely a good escape from the tourists and crowds, especially now that Bellevue and (I think) Siberia are gone. There's a small backyard that fills up pretty quickly.

June 10, 2008

Souvenirs: Bulldog Glass


IMG_1544, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I got this pint glass for free as a happy hour special at The Bulldog, a great beer bar on Magazine Street in New Orleans. I stopped in there quite few times during my New Orleans trip in 2004.

On the back of the glass is a list of information for tourists visiting. Note the second one listed:

"If the levee breaks, everyone will die. No one seems worried about this problem either."


June 8, 2008

In The Club


IMG_0956, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last weekend Tammi joined me at the Blind Tiger as I completed my 'entry' into their Connoisseur's Club. I'm very proud. No t-shirt was available just yet, but I'm hoping my plaque will be up by my next visit.

May 28, 2008

The Blind Tiger Connoisseur's Club


IMG_8891, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After 3 years, I am finally only 3 beers away from completing my membership in the Blind Tiger's Connoisseur Club. The challenge is to sample 51 different brews. Whoever accomplishes that, gets their name etched into the plaque on the wall and a T-Shirt, which is really all any good bar fly wants at their local.

I started in back in 2005, before the closing of the original Tiger, but was interrupted by the upheaval. It's a tribute to the management that they kept the box full of cards for all the old regulars who don't even get in there as much these days, since it's perpetually packed.

This weekend, I found a nice window of relative calm where I got to sit at the bar by the window and watch Bleeker street go by. I will say this about the new location, it's got more action passing by at any given moment, for good or ill. Of the many passersby, I noticed the horrendous double decker tour buses passing by every 10 minutes.

So it goes...

May 8, 2008

Radegast


IMG_6468, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

mmmm....sausage....mmmm...beer. That's pretty much the best way to sum up Radegast. It's a huge Beer Hall in Williamsburg that opened up a few months ago. I'm told it's similar to the Bohemia Beer Garden out in Astoria, but the number of times I go to Queens for leisure you can count on one hand. I've been meaning ot go forever, but never really motivated myself to go. Now I don't have to. heh.

One bit of advice, the good stuff is in the back room. I wish someone had mentioned that to me the first 3 times I went there. The kitchen menu is wildly mediocre. It all sounds pretty good, but never quite hits the spot, particularly since the whole place is filled with the smoky aroma of grilling meat in the next room.

The grill, on the other hand, offers only goodness. The list is short: Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Weisswurst and Incredibly juicy Pork Chops, along with fries and burgers that I've never bothered with because, really, they have kielbasa and pork chops.

The kielbasa, pictured here, is all that it should be. The guy at the grill keeps it on the fire for a while - longer than you think he should when you're standing there dying to bite into it. But, trust the man. He knows what he's doing. When you finally get the sausage, it has exactly the right amount of crisp char to complement its smoky sweet insides. The casing has just the right amount of resistance to make each bite satisfying.

Radegast's bratwurst is a revelation. I've always found brat's to be a little on the bland side, not nearly worth all the fuss tat people make over them. I mean, it's meat stuffed into a casing, I'l eat it and like it, but it's never appealed to me the way a smoky kielbasa or a spicy italian would. Not so at Radegast. The brat's stand up as an equal in the pantheon of juicy, flavorful sausages.

Even the sauerkraut is amazing. It's unlike any I've ever had. It's softly crunchy and tangy and nothing like the crap I've had on my hot dogs from the papaya stand.

I'd go on and on about the pork chops, but they're pork chops. You know they're good.

As for the reason I kept coming back those first few times, before I knew about the grill, that would be the beer. They have a rather large selection of German, Polish and Austrian beers, many of styles you aren't likely to find in too many places. I'm fond of the schwarzbier, a malty black lager and usually go with one of those. Last time though, I had a nice, light kolsh, which was perfect for a sunny spring afternoon.

As with all great things in New York, the word has spread and it can get stupid crowded there, but persistence pays off in the end.

May 7, 2008

San Diego: Yard House


IMG_3887, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I didn't hear about the Yard House until my last night in San Diego. It's unfortunate, because I didn't have time to linger and sample their huge variety of draft beers they offer. With 100 taps, I'd have needed a few trips just to cover the beers I'd never heard of.

Looking at their website, I discovered that it's actually a pretty large chain with 11 locations in California alone and more in seven other states. That doesn't surprise me given it's "Flashy Generic" decor. The site boasts "Great Food, Classic Rock and The World's Largest Selection of Draft Beer."

Ambiance, it doesn't need, it's got tons of beer.

Yard House
1023 4th Ave. , San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 233-YARD |

April 29, 2008

Mexico City: Pata Negra


IMG_3408, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

We inadvertently took advantage of the great exchange rate at Pata Negra in Condesa. Even though it was listed as a tapas bar, very few of the dishes we got turned out to be particularly small.

When I ordered 4 empanadas, 2 sandwiches and a lamb skewer we saw our neighbor eating, the bartender warned us that we may want to tone it down a bit. But, given the prices, I couldn't imagine that each dish wasn't going to be gone in 3 bites. Everything was considerably bigger than that.

Having had a number of empanadas in Buenos Aires the year before, I expected a small turnover, smaller than a Jamaican Beef Patty. Instead we got what looked much more like a slice of Sicilian Pizza, a thick square covered with pastry and filled with spinach, salmon or other such things. They were huge, if not all great. We tasted a little of everything to make sure we took advantage of the variety we ended up with.

The winner of the meal has to be the sandwiches, especially the one pictured above, stuffed with juicy red chorizo slices. yummy.

In the end, I think we paid $40US, including a few sangrias that Tammi had and several local beers. All with enough food to feed 4 or 5 people.

February 4, 2008

Photo of the Day: Bourbon


IMG_5223, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Cheers.

Spike Hill, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2008.
::c::

February 1, 2008

Aspen: Montagna's Hot Rocks


IMG_1458, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This was probably the most interesting dish I had in Aspen. I had it in the front room bar at Montagna, the restaurants at The Little Nell Hotel, the menu included many small plates for the "Aprés Ski" period. (For the record, "Aprés Ski" is one of the most pretentious terms ever, but is pretty much accepted as a part of the Aspen daily schedule.)

The shrimp and chorizo skewers were served with a heated river stone on a bed of banana leaves, cinnamon sticks and star anise. The shrimp was par-cooked and could be placed on the rock as long as you want in order to achieve the perfect amount of char.

Continue reading "Aspen: Montagna's Hot Rocks" »

December 19, 2007

Photo of the Day: Holiday Lights


IMG_2089.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Spike Hill, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.
::c::

November 24, 2007

Mexico City Bar Snacks


IMG00092.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I have no idea what this is. They served it as a bar snack at El Mitote in Condesa. Tastes sort of like seaweed, but I suppose it could bugs...

Turns out it's Perejil, which is just dried parsley. Clearly I should be concerned, as I was a little disappointed when I found out it wasn't bugs.

November 15, 2007

Photo of the Day: Emphasis


IMG_6681, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

November 8, 2007

Photo of the Day: Take the Shot


IMG_5024, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Superfine, DUMBO, Brooklyn. 2007.
::c::

October 25, 2007

Nasville: Rippy's


IMG_8950, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Rippy's Smokin' Bar + Grill sprawls. The ground floor space takes up two extended store front, each with it's own bar, one with an eating space, the other with pool tables. Upstairs is third bar and a patio, which I'm sure would be a lot more pleasant on a warmer day.

The service isn't so great, think 40 minutes and still no food. But then a million people - myself included - just dropped in a block away for a conference that they hadn't expected, so they were totally slammed. It happens.

The important thing is the food.

And by that criterion, it's a total disappointment.

A list of offenses after the jump...

Continue reading "Nasville: Rippy's" »

October 22, 2007

Bars: The Red Lion


IMG_7575, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I go to The Red Lion for one thing: the perfect spot on Bleeker to people watch with beer. When the weather is warm, I love to sit out on Bleeker and watch the world go by. It's my perch, where I've taken some of my most interesting shots.

I've been going there for a few years now and I haven't even had a sip of beer inside. I haven't seen any of the musical performances they have there I haven't watch any English Premier League soccer that seems to always be on.

The food is ok, but you don't really go to a place like The Red Lion for the food.

According to Wikipedia, the name Red Lion is one of the most common for pubs throughout the UK. Consequently, it's a stop for many of the
Brits, Aussies and Irishmen looking for a bit of the familiar. I've sat there many times overhearing accented ladies bragging about the bargains they got with our play money while shopping in SoHo.

As with most pubs of this sort, the selection is predictable, Boddington's, Newcastle, Bass, Guinness and so on. Thankfully, they do offer a few good beers from this side of the world. My drink here is the Blue Point Toasted Lager, a nutty, medium-bodied beer or occasionally a Brooklyn Lager.


::c::

October 15, 2007

The Castro Grilled Cheese Sandwich


IMG_8352, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This sandwich was the special this afternoon at Spike Hill. When the bartender told me that the sandwich was filled with tomatoes, onions and pickles, I hesitated. It seemed a little weird, but it was well worth the risk.

The tomato is always welcome in a grilled cheese as far as I'm concerned. It's a given, really. The onions are a little unusual, but caramelized, adding sweetness and moisture to the gooey cheese, it fit in perfectly. What really concerned me was the pickles. I grew up with a distaste for them and got over them in the last couple years. It turns out I couldn't have been more off-base. The tang of vinegar cut through the other flavors exceptionally well.

I just hope they don't mess with the mix like they did with the Hot Wings. The last time I ordered them, there were none of the little tasty touches that made me rave about them. They were generic and not nearly as interesting.

October 8, 2007

Bars: The Stoned Crow


IMG_6256, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Stoned Crow is a narrow, low-ceilinged dive hidden on an otherwise anonymous block just off Sixth Avenue in The Village. I've been going there for years and I still only know the street as "Not the block where Babbo is, the other one."

Personally, I think it stays cool through sheer anonymity, but not in a pretentious, 'in the know' sort of way. There's nothing smug about The Stoned Crow, it's just a laidback spot with a few well priced good beers and great burgers. The crowd here is one of the better ones in the area. It's rarely packed and it has none of the belligerent college kids of Macdougal or the overdressed grad students at The Dove or the tourists everywhere else. It's just a relaxed after-work hangout spot for people who don't wear ties work.

The place has tons of personality, between the movie and music posters that cover every inch of the walls to the old redhead who owns the place. She holds court over the pool table in the back every night.

Lately they've gotten a fair amount of attention for their burgers, after they managed to get a cook from Corner Bistro. I took Tammi there a couple weeks ago and now it's one of her favorite places for burgers. Just like CB, the bacon is key here. It's smoky and crispy and wonderful. It stands out among the juicy beef and thick layer of cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


The Stoned Crow
85 Washington Place
New York, NY

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July 10, 2007

Bars: The Half Pint

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Tammi and I discovered The Half Pint while walking through the Village a few weeks ago. We were both a little surprised to see this huge open bar in this space after it had been boarded up for renovations for the better part of the last year. Clearly Harry's Burritos wasn't coming back - no big loss.

I stopped in to check it out a couple times since then. It's a great space and pretty laid back in the after-work hour. Not sure what it's like on the weekend, when the crazy crowds of Bleeker and Macdougal are flooding the area.

Like The Red Lion, the staff seems to be recruited from the UK and Ireland. One waitress I met had only been in the country for 5 days. They're still working out some of the bugs, when I was there last, the cask pump wasn't working yet and some of the beer wasn't in stock.

And then there's the beer. With a name like Half Pint, you expect a strong focus on beer.
The thing about Half Pint's selection is that they have a bunch of good beer that I can get in a bunch of other places.

They have 23 taps and dozens of bottles of really good stuff, but a lot of them - coopers, blue point, brooklyn, fullers's, sam smith's, and so on. Not excessively British, they've got a wide selection, but nothing particularly obscure.

I think they do plan on rotating their menu, so this might change, but it's odd to go to a beer bar without a few beers that you haven't heard of before or at least don't see around much. The one beer they had that I hadn't heard of was Blue Tongue. I'm not sure it's history, but it was a so-so light bodied beer that certainly wasn't a great find.

Ultimately, it's going to be the vibe here that will make or break this place. So far I do enjoy the large space, covered in dark wood and filled with light coming in from the gigantic windows that line the walls. The servers are friendly and the menu seems good. I'll be following up regularly to see how it develops.
::c::

May 25, 2007

Bars: Dove Parlor


IMG_4378, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I sort of inherited The Dove. Frank, the owner of Black Star, along with Jen and Henrietta, two of my favorite bartenders there, opened this place up after Black Star closed. I think I may be the only former Black Star patron who goes with any regularity though. Dove is anything but a recreation of Black Star.

As the name suggests, Dove is a parlor more than a bar. It goes old fashioned with its antique looking decor and the doilies sitting under every glass. They recently started serving tea sandwiches and cheese plates.

Dove is also one of the more 'grown-up' bars near Washington Square Park, catering to the (slightly) more mature professional school crowd. These are the folks who have gotten past the frat party conditions of Macdougal, but still cram into a room a little more than they should. So watch out when stopping by on a Friday night. You might get flashbacks from your rush hour commute.

The drink menu focuses more on mixed drinks and wine much more than most other places in the area that I know. Tammi discovered the Sea Breeze here as she began migrating away from fru-fru cocktails. The wine selection is small, but has some good stuff. The beer selection is not extensive, it doesn't stock anything rare or obscure, but it has a very good basic set. When I'm there, I fall back on an old favorite, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Dove Parlor
228 Thompson St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 254-1435

May 17, 2007

Spike Hill's Hot Wings


IMG_8653.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I spent the afternoon at Spike hill on my day off the other day.

One of their daily specials was Hot Wings, which I can rarely pass up. These burnt the hell out of my mouth, but were so good. Instead of the standard 'Frank's' style hot sauce, they used a Vietnamese chili sauce, speckled with red pepper flakes. It was sweet and hot and left my mouth nearly numb. I'm hoping that they have these there again.

(Update: Over a year later, I still haven't seen these offered again. I think I'll have to try making this myself next time I make hot wings.)

May 15, 2007

Bars: Spike Hill

Spike Hill

I'm a big fan of Spike Hill. It's got a great versatility to it. Regardless of your mood, Spike Hill is almost always the right place. A couple weeks ago, I ended up going there two days in a row. Once in the evening when I went out drinking with Eric, then the next day with Tammi after brunch, we spent a couple hours lounging in the back.

In case you missed it, here's what I wrote for the williamsburg beer tour in the brooklyn record:

Spike Hill is not your typical beer bar. There are 12 taps and nearly 50 bottles, serving up beer of all styles and nationalities — yet it has none of the geekery you might expect. There's no need to impress anyone with your vast beer knowledge here. You can sit in the front window and watch Bedford Avenue pass by, chat with fellow patrons at the long dark wood bar, and/or pack into the deep booths in the back with friends or a laptop. The menu takes unassuming dishes like grilled cheese and makes them interesting as well as comforting by changing up the breads and cheeses.

Spike Hill is probably one of my favorite bars around. I'm finding myself there more and more lately.
::c::

Spike Hill
184 Bedford Avenue at North 7th Street
718.218.9737

May 14, 2007

Chicago Notes


IMG_2357, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Kevin, a former co-worker, is heading out to Chicago soon and asked for some recommendations. Follow the Jump for the extended version of my picks.

Continue reading "Chicago Notes" »

May 2, 2007

Bars: The Ginger Man

I can't stand The Ginger Man. It's always packed with the worst sorts corporate tools. The service is awful, largely because even the waitresses can't get from one end of the room to another without bumping into 100 people. But I keep going back there.

Here's the thing, It's not a bad place. The space is beautiful, it's got 20 foot ceilings, huge windows which light up the place and a beautiful dark wood bar that goes on for days. There are comfortable couches and lazy boys in the backroom lounge. The little food I've had there has been pretty good. I'm fond of the giant pretzel served warm with a honey mustard dip.

Most importantly, it's got a ridiculous beer selection. It's got 66 draughts, 2 hand drawn casks and 130 bottled beers.

That's why I keep going back. That and the fact that I work 2 blocks away. It's location is also key to the crowd it attracts: It's stationed right between Penn Station and Grand Central, which makes it perfect staggering distance for all the suburbanites who need to catch their trains home.

The crowd is absolutely awful.

One day, I hope to figure out when the perfect time is to go to Ginger Man when it's empty and I can enjoy the selection and a snack while actually being able to hear my companions. One day...

The Ginger Man
11 East 36th Street
btwn Fifth Ave. and Madison Ave.
New York City
212.532.3740

April 29, 2007

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon, the first in a series

After wandering through Williamsburg for a bit, we (I) decided to sit and chill at Spike Hill even though I was here last night with Eric. Tammi's drinking wine and reading the paper, I'm clacking away at the laptop and drinking beer.

I had a rather large bottle of the Hitachino Red Rice accidentally. It's not any sort of red you'd expect to have. There's a sweetness to it that reminds me most of the robutussin I took when I was a kid. That's not to say it's bad, just that the flavor takes some getting used to.

Next up is Moorehouse's Black Cat, "A refreshing black ale brewed with the finest English malt and hops." The color is black right through. You can barely see through it. The malts are much more prominent than the hops, with a flavor like a Newcastle, but stronger.

What could improve an afternoon like this? Oysters. Apparently Spike Hill has a raw bar now. Word. Or not. The Oysters were remarkably bland. Even a bunch of toppings couldn't help these oysters out. sad sad...

April 28, 2007

The Bar List

Behind the Bar

There are hundreds if not thousands of bars in New York. Now, I do go to a lot of bars, but I've barely scratched the surface. I have, however, gone to enough that I sometimes lose track of spots that I enjoyed.

Every now and again, people ask for bar recommendations or I have to come up with a place for, say, my 30th birthday party - which I still haven't done. It would be incredibly useful to have a receptacle for my impressions of the bars I've been to.

Following mikeoliver.org's mission statement of 'holding on to things Mike Oliver will forget...' I've decided to use the blog for just such a thing.

So, begins a new feature. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on bars and boozing.
Expect a few quotes from my brooklyn record posts too. These won't all be reviews as much as (semi-)organized notes.

I'll break down the categories for your searching enjoyment. For all bars click here.

Let me know what I missed in the comments.


::c::

April 19, 2007

Hartford: Bin 228

Bin 228 is an Italian inspired wine bar in Hartford. Last week I had dinner with Eli, a friend from college. I liked it enough to go back last night, when I returned to CT. I had heard about it a while back, but didn't know how extensive the food selection was, so I never bothered to go. I'm glad I finally made it.

The menu is made up of small plate antipasti and panini with a few larger dishes. Last week we had some panini and charcuterie along with some bruschetta. The flavors were all familiar. Prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and basil, spicy meats with hot peppers and cheese and so on. They even had a bruschetta made with parmesan, asparagus and truffle oil, reminiscent of the truffled egg toast at 'ino and 'inoteca back home. It wasn't nearly the transcendental experience, but then few things are.

That's sort of how I felt about the whole menu. It was all very good, but then it's not hard to put meat and/or cheese on bread. This week I went for something more complicated. One of the specials was Wild Boar on parpardelle. I had just been ogling some game meats online, so I couldn't turn it down. The server described it as almost like a beef stroganoff in composition. The meat was braised and served in shreds and chunks on the pasta. The sauce tasted of sweet gaminess. In the end, it was much heavier than what I had planned on eating, but it was well worth it.

Last week we drank a Tuscan Merlot we were recommended by the waiter. I ordered some more of that to start off. I don't know much about Merlot and I've never seen Sideways, so I have no preconceptions about it as a wine. I've never really gotten a hang of Italian wines. I've had good ones, but I can never really track which ones they are. I just need to pay more attention. I usually just ask for a rec. One day I'll just have to go to Italy myself and learn first hand. In any case, the wine was everything I wanted. It was a little more tannic than most wine I have, but it balanced out very well.

I think this place is going to have to move up on my list of places to grab lunch while waiting for the train from now on. The portions are very well suited to a snack as well as dinner.

Bin 228
228 Pearl Street
Hartford, Connecticut

April 11, 2007

Stonehome's Spring Wine Tasting Dinner

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Seasonal temperatures are (finally) in the forecast, which may mean that Spring is finally here. To celebrate, Stonehome Wine Bar in Fort Greene is hosting a wine tasting dinner on Wednesday, April 18th. The four-course feast will run you $70 but is a relative bargain when you consider what you get: Built around a set of primarily french wines, the menu includes wild salmon, lamb chops and Maine crab ravioli. Each item is paired with a particular wine from Burgundy, Bourdeax or the Loire Valley. Bring it on!

If you can't make it next week, another tasting dinner with a different menu is scheduled for early May, or come by another night and sample in-house chef John Gibson's new spring repertoire. The new menu replaces heavier winter faves like venison and brisket with skate wings, hanger steaks and lamb shanks. Rezzies are required for the tasting dinner but walk-ins are welcomed any other time.

Stonehome Wine Bar is located at 87 Lafayette Avenue, 718-624-9443.

- clay williams

Stonehome's Autumn Wine Picks [Brooklyn Record]

March 22, 2007

SF: Cafe Niebaum-Coppola


IMG_0650, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Peter, the bartender in the rose colored glasses has been there nearly every time I've stopped in over the last 5 years. He's pictured above, barely, as the blur between the waiter and his reflection.


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March 16, 2007

(Re-)Opening Night at Blind Tiger

Blind tiger Re-opening



Last night Eric and I headed down to the new Blind Tiger right after work. They opened up at 4pm, by 5:30, when I got there, it was jammed with people. I could barely get in the door. The place was full of familiar faces. It was a celebration.

The new space seemed nice, but I could barely see anything past the crowd. I'll have to go back again soon to get a better look.
::c::

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March 7, 2007

A new day for The Blind Tiger


IMG_5170, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Just the other day I was mourning the passing of Blind Tiger Ale House, but now I hear that I may have been premature.

Eric, the blurry subject of the photo in my previous Blind tiger post, sent me this via IM. Apparently the State Liquor Authority finally issued a license for BT.

No word yet on the new opening day. I'm sure I'll be there! ::c::

Continue reading "A new day for The Blind Tiger" »

March 5, 2007

Bon Chon Chicken

All this talk of wings inspired me to finally check out some of the Korean fried chicken that I've been hearing about recently. I first read about it when The New York Times wrote about it. After writing the last post, I had a craving for more chicken wings, so I IM'ed Eric, who was down, obviously.

It's just around the corner from the main strip of Koreatown, 32nd Street between 5th and Broadway. I knew it was on the second floor, so I was expecting a non-descript side door to get in. It was definitely non-descript - and totally sketchy. There was a hand-written sign next to the elevator that said, "Elevator was broken, use stairs. Bon Chon Chicken." I walked down the hall to the dark stairway with a broken first step and wondered exactly where the hell I was going. The second floor landing was unlit, all that was there was a single, unmarked door. I had no idea if this was the right place and sort of wondered what sort of hole it was going to be.

Continue reading "Bon Chon Chicken" »

Food: Hot Wings

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I mentioned in passing recently that I've been on a serious Buffalo Wings kick lately. It's still there. I've probably had hot wings from maybe 10 different places in the last month, not counting the set I made myself last weekend for a friend's party.

Last night I found a topic on Chowhound on the Top 5 Chicken Wings
. Here was what I came up with:

Atomic Wings
at
Down the Hatch
were some of the first Buffalo Wings I had as a kid. In high school we'd have to order them to go because we weren't allowed to stay in the bar. They're a little scrawny, but still tasty. And with 6 levels of spice, you'll get them just as hot as you want.

I used to love the plump, saucy wings at Uno's, but they changed the recipe a couple years ago and it's just not the same.

A week or so ago I had some good wings in Brooklyn at Solomon's Porch in Bed-Stuy. I posted about it a week or so ago. Per my earlier post,

"They were crisply fried and topped with a spicy, vinegary hot sauce. It left my mouth tingly and happy. My only complaint was that it only included 6 wings instead of the customary 10."

I love the Honey Hot wings at Croxley's on Ave B. The sweetness of the honey adds a great balance to the spice. I love it. And now I want some...

::c::

Continue reading "Food: Hot Wings" »

February 19, 2007

Philadelphia: Society Hill Hotel Bar

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Perhaps it's my inherently anti-social nature, but there's something I really appreciate about an empty bar. I mean, there's booze, but not people to get in the way. I love it. So the bar downstairs at the Society Hill Hotel in Old City appeals to me greatly. Don't get the wrong idea, I had no idea there was a hotel here until someone walked in with luggage and asked the waitress about her room. The hotel has a different entrance and there are no horny businessmen trying to hook up with conventioneers. It's a cool old looking saloon with huge windows that light up the place in the afternoon and display the Old City nightlife after hours.

We're here waiting for our dinner reservation and hanging out while Tammi knits and I scribble nonsense on the laptop. They're playing Kind of Blue and all is right with the world.

::c::

[Technorati Tags: Bars, Booze, Beer, Philadelphia, OldCity, UltraClay, saloons, SocietyHill.]

February 18, 2007

Philadelphia: Standard Tap

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We made it out to Northern Liberties in early afternoon and got brunch at Standard Tap. In fact we're still here, Tammi's knitting, I'm writing and drinking beer. Really I like the vibe here, the food was a bit of a miss this time.

Both things I ate were a bit over-fried. The fried oysters had too much breading and the chicken in the fried chicken sandwich was a little dry. The rest of the sandwich was like a really good BLT, so I may actually order one of those after first lunch settles.

Standard Tap is in this big old building with many rooms over 3 floors. The sun pours in from the windows and lights up the place. Wood dominates the space as soon as you walk in, from the bar up front to the wainscotting and wooden benches running along the walls in the back room on the ground floor.

We got in a little after 1pm and it was busy. We found a seat in the back and settled in. The only menus at Standard Tap are posted on the walls. As we were looking, three items were being wiped off the board.

(continued after the jump)

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February 17, 2007

Philadelphia: Good Dog

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I was wandering around the center city/Rittenhouse Square area looking for a place to have a few rounds while Tammi hung out in the room watching tv.

I was heading for Monk's Cafe, a Belgian bar that's supposed to have a huge selection of obscure imports. When I got there it was prohibitively crowded, so I took off. I stumbled across Good Dog on 15th.

It wasn't empty, but I found a spot at the bar, which is all I needed. The music on was totally random, much of it hitting my obscure hip-hop niche. They played some old Grand Puba, A Tribe Called Quest and "can I get wit'cha" an early BIG appearance from back in the day.

The beer selection had some good stuff from dogfishhead, Troeg, Victory, and Stoudt's representing the local breweries.

I tried to avoid getting food, since I was going to dinner in a bit, but the sizzling mac n cheese looked amazing when served to the folks next to me. I had a snack of truffled cheese steak empanadas. The filling was not as cheesy as I'd have preferred, but I have yet to taste an empanada I didn't like.

Good Dog Bar
224 South 15th Street
Center City, Philadelphia
215.985.9600

::c::

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February 14, 2007

A Couple Rounds at Spuyten Duyvil

Last night I had a few rounds at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg with some folks. It was great as usual. They've got such a great list of crazy obscure beer that you'll never find anywhere else. I always end up drinking well there. These two in particular stick out:

The Old Prize Ale on hand-drawn was really interesting. If that's not a resounding endorsement, it's because I still don't know if I liked it. The beer was remarkable in texture and flavor. It had this crazy sweetness to it that wasn't altogether pleasant. It had none of the bubbles one would expect from either a fizzy or a creamy beer, there was little or no effervescence at all. The color was dark molasses brown and the texture was thick, but not syrupy. It reminded me more of jagermeister than any beer I've ever had.

The other that stood out was the Kulmbacher Eisbock. One of my drinking companions ordered it and offered a taste. It had an powerful maltiness that immediately reminded me of Milo, a powdered chocolate mix from the West Indies that I grew up drinking. I ordered one for myself right away. Once you get past that intense malt flavor, there's a very richness to match.

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January 28, 2007

Zane's Tavern

Zane's Tavern is the closest thing to down to earth I've found in the Aspen area. I came here last year when I spent a lot more time in snowmass.

Zane's is divey in the best way. It's not hipstery, self-conscious divey or chichi $50 pink trucker hat divey. It's neighborhood bar divey. The bartender knows the regulars - and there are regulars, because the patrons aren't just vacationing visitors - the folks who come here are as likely to be wearing name tags as snow gear.

I'm hardly the slummer who glorifies the 'simple' blue collar life as so much more 'authentic.' I think that's condescending bullshit. Given the other options in the Aspen area though, it's the most refreshing beer you're likely to have.

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January 7, 2007

SF: Rogue Public House

This post is backdated to back when I was in San Francisco in early January.

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When I found out that Rogue had a pub, I knew I had to go check it out.

The pub is in a corner of North Beach a few blocks away from the bigger tourist attractions of Beat bookshops and Italian restaurants. The space is pretty big, with a smaller second room used for game nights and parties. The vibe was very laidback, I didn't run into any hardcore beer geeks eager to sneer at anyone's beer choice. Despite being owned by an out of town brewery, the place had a decided neighborhood feel. In fact, while I was there, I ran into a former co-worker who had just moved to San Francisco. He and his roommate had been getting settled in and decided to go to the local for a round or two.

I sat at the bar on a quiet Sunday afternoon, while everyone else watched the game, I delved into the tome that listed all the Rogue Ales available. They have 44 taps, pouring mostly Rogue ales, but also nearly a dozen guest brews. I stuck with the Rogues myself, but I appreciated the option.

The beer I tasted after the jump...

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October 13, 2006

Keep On Shucking

Tomorrow evening, Saturday, October 14, Brazen Head looks east to the shores of Long Island with a good old-fashioned clam shuck. There will be Little Neck Clams and Blue Point Oysters for your slurping pleasure and two varieties of savory clam chowder. Here's a tip: try them both. Set aside your soup convictions for a night — both are great. After trying them, you may find yourself questioning your belief in One True Chowder...

Wash all that briny goodness down with any of the four beers from the Bluepoint Brewery, including their Toasted Lager and the Oatmeal Stout. One of the beers will be offered as a cask ale, hand drawn through one of Brazen Head's two beer engines. — clay williams

Brooklyn Clam Shuck: Saturday, October 14th – 5pm to 10pm.
Brazen Head: 228 Atlantic Avenue between Court Street and Boerum Place

October 4, 2006

Stonehome's Autumn Wine Picks

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Down the bar

No more standing in line to sit in a 'garden' smaller than your kitchen with 3 dozen of your closest neighbors. It's time to go in. Stonehome Winebar in Fort Greene has exactly the right vibe to recover from the bustle of summer festivities. Stonehome is relaxed but not sleepy, the perfect place for a laidback night out with friends or a romantic evening for two.

Proprietors Bill Stenehjem and Rose Hermann have lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. They opened Stonehome in 2003 and found a local following right away. Neighbors meet at the long curvy cherry wood bar and discuss the day, local issues and, of course, the wine. The staff knows regulars by name and wine preference. When new bottles come in, they’ll let you know which are up your alley...

Earlier this year Bill and Rose hired John Gibson to head up the kitchen. The menu was transformed. Stonehome offers new specials daily, using seasonal ingredients in some pretty exciting ways. This time of year, John is using walnuts, maple syrup, beets and acorn squash. The menu is full of comforting fall savories like Braised Beef Short Ribs and Glazed Pork.

Rose and Bill are matching these dishes with some new wine offerings by the glass. Here are a few of their favorite new additions:

Chateaunnuef du Pape '03, Domaine Des Senechaux — "Rich, supple, with notes of baked plums."

Coteaux du Languedoc, '00, Chateau Peuch-Haut, Saint Drezery — "Savory and spicy, with notes of black cherry and sandlewood."

Ribera del Duero, Spain, Guelbenzu, Evor '03 — "Ripe lingering flavors of black cherry, raspberry, chocolate and licorice."

Rioja, Spain, Marquez De Vargas Reserva, '00 — "Lush, smoky, rich dark fruits, blackberries with brown sugar."

Stonehome Wine Bar is located at 87 Lafayette Avenue at So. Portland. Open everyday from 5pm.

— photo and story by clay williams

July 19, 2006

The Better Borough Beer Guide, Volume 2: Atlantic Avenue

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Brazen Beer

In the wake of the Smith Street explosion, nearby Atlantic Avenue has developed a nightlife of its own. But where Smith Street transformed, leaving behind many of the old neighbors for a new young crowd, the scene on Atlantic is classic Brooklyn. Each bar provides warm, welcoming service to all who enter. Even better, for the purposes of our guide, they all serve beer that you may not find anywhere else.

The Brazen Head is a beer destination. Besides having a regularly changing selection of 15 top notch beers on tap, it is one of a select few bars in New York that offer cask ales. It has two beer engines that serve out beer the old-fashioned way. Three times a year, The Brazen Head hosts its Cask Ale Festival, drawing ales from far and wide. The next festival is slated for November. Don't miss it. Check out the chalkboards on the wall to find out about events like dart contests, nightly specials, as well as upcoming festivals. The regular crowd includes bartenders from neighboring bars and locals stopping in for a pint and a chat with friends. (228 Atlantic Avenue, between Court St. & Boerum Pl.)

Read on for Pete's Waterfront Ale House, Floyd, and Chip Shop...

Waterfront Ale House, a bar and grill, is a neighborhood institution. "Pete's," as regulars call it, was among the first beer bars in Brooklyn and still serves one of the finest selections of craft beers in town. Weekly jazz and blues performances bring friends and neighbors to take in good music and good company. The food is traditional pub food, often with an exotic twist like the Kobe Beef Burger with homemade wasabi catsup or the Venison Chili. Waterfront is a family saloon, so don't be surprised to find a row of strollers parked up front on any given evening. (155 Atlantic Avenue, between Henry St. & Clinton St.)

Floyd NY immediately drew attention when it opened in 2004, due largely to its indoor bocce court. Besides teaching people to bowl again, Floyd NY provides a comfortable wide-open space to relax. One bartender describes the space as "Rustic; raw but stylish." He attributes a lot of the appeal to the size of the space, formerly two storefronts. Despite all its space, the bar is often full. Usually bustling, the crowds vary from night to night. The 8 tap beers are good, if common selections. What really earns Floyd NY a place on this list is its selection of bad beer. Obscurity runs both ways, and in this case, you'd be hard pressed to find another bar that serves Stroh's, Schmidt, Schlitz, Miller High Life, Piel's and Colt 45. Dubbed the crapucopia, it is served chilled in a bucket of ice in the cans they came in. (131 Atlantic Ave., between Henry & Clinton Streets)

Next door to Floyd NY is Chip Shop. The Park Slope fish 'n' chips restaurant opened this branch early last year. This deep fried slice of British culture would not be complete without a respectable selection of British beer. In addition to serving some of the best beer the United Kingdom has to offer, Chip Shop rounds out its 16 taps with a some of the best beer found right here in the US. Every week two new beers are tapped, keeping the rotation constantly fresh. (129 Atlantic Ave., between Clinton & Henry)

— clay williams
[Photo by ultraclay!]

July 11, 2006

Wiliamsburg: Brooklyn's Beer Capital

(Originally Posted at The Brooklyn Record):
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The Better Borough Beer Guide, Volume 1

It's no surprise that Brooklyn's former brewing center is now home to some of the best beer drinking in town. For a proper beer tour, start out on a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon at the Brooklyn Brewery for its Friday night happy hour or Saturday tours.

Mugs Ale House is the place to go when you want to geek out with other beer connoisseurs. The Malted Barley Appreciation Society meets here monthly. The crowd is older than at many of the other bars in the area, and there is a strong contingent of regulars who may seem aloof to a first-time visitor, but they warm up pretty quickly to beer talk. The food is standard pub grub — no better, no worse. (125 Bedford Ave.; L to Bedford Ave.)

Spike Hill, Spuytin Duvil, and Barcade after the jump...

Spike Hill is not your typical beer bar. There are 12 taps and nearly 50 bottles, serving up beer of all styles and nationalities — yet it has none of the geekery you might expect. There's no need to impress anyone with your vast beer knowledge here. You can sit in the front window and watch Bedford Avenue pass by, chat with fellow patrons at the long dark wood bar, and/or pack into the deep booths in the back with friends or a laptop. The menu takes unassuming dishes like grilled cheese and makes them interesting as well as comforting by changing up the breads and cheeses. (184 Bedford Avenue, L to Bedford Ave.)

Spuytin Duyvil sits in an unlikely storefront, away from the neighborhood's main strips. Behind the hole-in-the-wall façade lays a gourmet soul. Snacks include ever-changing offerings of meats, cheeses and pâtés. The beer selection is impressive, with representatives from Sri Lanka to Switzerland and a rather large delegation of Belgians, which are broken down into Flemish and Wallonian. (359 Metropolitan Avenue, L to Metropolitan, G to Lorimer St.)

Barcade has everything adulthood should have: great beer and video games. Knock back one of the two dozen beers on tap while playing Frogger or Zaxxon or Moon Patrol or any of the other '80s video games. A pool table is in the back for those seeking a more traditional bar game. Gothamist recently ran an interview with Paul Kermizian, filmmaker and owner of Barcade. (388 Union Ave. L to Metropolitan, G to Lorimer St.)

—clay williams
Stay tuned for more installments of the Better Borough Beer Guide from Clay, our in-house beer expert.
[Photo by ultraclay!]


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