eat. shop. love. nyc.

FREE Miniburger Mondays at Idle Hands
May 6, 2011, 10:22 am
Filed under: Drink, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I love a good free food with drink deal. And I love Idle Hands Bar – how can you not love a place whose tagline is Bourbon. Beer. Rock.? So this news makes me giddy:

  • Who: burger, beer, and bourbon lovers all across NYC
  • What: free mini burgers from That Burger Tent
  • Where: Idle Hands on Ave. B at 3rd St.
  • When: Mondays from 7 to 10 pm
  • Why: One of the Idle Hands’ owners also runs Burger Conquest. Need I say more?
  • How: Get a free mini burger w/$5 drink purchase, or buy mini burgers for $2 each


Eat/Drink: Idle Hands Bar (Alphabet City/East Village) 25 Avenue B between 2nd and 3rd, downstairs; New York, New York 10009. (917) 338-7090. Miniburger Mondays from 7-10 pm.


Motorino Brooklyn and mortadella salad

My mom came up from Virginia to visit me a little while back, and she and I spent the weekend together gallivanting about town, going to wine bars at midnight, and even checking out some apartments for sale in Brooklyn. As we were walking up Graham Ave. towards the train station, we happened upon a bustling pizza place, and upon recognizing it as Motorino, I popped in for lunch with mom.

The fire-roasted mortadella salad ($7) is fantastic. The mortadella is cut into thick strips, grilled over a hot fire, and tossed in olive oil with olives, tomatoes, basil, red onions, some bitter greens, and topped with parmesan cheese.

I really like it when these sort of low-brow cured meats (bologna, mortadella, ham) are cut into cubes or thick steak fry-like strips and then grilled or fried. It makes them seem fancier somehow.  Joe Doe did these fantastic fried bologna fries with mustard dip as a small plate during their happy hour over the winter. Not sure if he still does it, but if you should see it on the happy hour menu, make it a point to try it.

I know pizza napoletana is supposed to be personal size, but I find them pretty filling, so I usually share a pizza and an app. I was really excited to try out the Motorino pizza. I’d heard awesome things about it, so I pored over the menu, and finally selected the Pugliese pizza ($16): burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream), broccolini, sausage, fresh chilies, and garlic.

I wasn’t all that impressed. The pizza was fine, but not mind-blowing or even memorable, save for the broccolini, which I’ve never had as a pizza topping. They were stingy on the sausage, and the cheese and broccolini weren’t inherently salty, so the pizza was bland. I liked the crunch of the broccolini, but there could have been more garlic and chili – it wasn’t spicy at all, which is what I hope for when I order a pizza with fresh chili peppers. Also, the center of the pizza got quite soggy as the meal progressed, and by the time we got to the last slice, it was rather unappetizing.

I am willing to admit that perhaps my choice of pizza was unconventional, and perhaps it was not the best example of a blissfully delicious Motorino pizza. But with Keste, Pulino’s, and San Marzano (San Marzano has a great happy hour from 5-7 pm daily, too) so close to where I live and work, I doubt I’ll make the trek back to Brooklyn for their pizza. I am, however, intrigued by the idea of a brunch pizza served with an egg, though the one at Motorino looked mighty soggy as other patrons attempted to eat it. It was only $10, though. Or maybe I’ll just try the brunch pizza at Pulino’s instead. There is an East Village Motorino location now, and one of these days I’ll check out their margherita to set the bar.

Motorino’s Brooklyn (Williamsburg) 319 Graham Avenue | Sunday-Thursday 11AM-12AM, Friday and Saturday 11AM-1AM | 718-599-8899
Motorino East Village (EVill) 349 East 12th Street | Sunday-Thursday 11AM-12AM | Friday and Saturday 11AM-1AM | 212-777-2644

Taste of 7th Street was SO worth it

I finally got the chance to try some of places on 7th St. that have been on my to-eat list for quite some time: Caracas Arepa Bar, Luke’s Lobster, and Porchetta. I was already familiar with Butter Lane’s delicious little cupcakes and Xoom smoothies were new to me. For just $18 each, I bought tickets to the Taste of 7th St. food festival and it was worth every single penny.

We started off on a slushy Saturday afternoon at Porchetta, where they seemed to have the mass service thing down to a science. The line moved quickly and we got our snack size porchetta sandwiches almost immediately. We ate them outside while we waited in line for Luke’s Lobster, and Michele, an Italian native, told us that porchetta (pronounced porKETta), a savory, slow cooked, moist and fatty pork roast, is typical street fare in Italy. According to Wikipedia, the body of the pig is gutted, deboned, arranged carefully with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood. Porchetta is usually heavily seasoned with garlic, rosemary, oregano, fennel, and or other herbs. The porchetta sandwich at Porchetta NYC was pretty oregano heavy and stuffed between crusty Italian bread. I’d take this street food over hot dogs and halal carts any day.

We finished our porchetta sandwiches and made it to the counter of Luke’s Lobster, where we were handed snack size lobster roll of cool, lightly seasoned knuckle and claw lobster meat (no fillers!) stuffed inside a warm, buttered slice of toasted bread. Phenomenal. The lobster was perfectly succulent, and while two of our crew prefer warm lobster, we all thoroughly enjoyed the rolls. It was definitely the highlight of the food crawl! Easily the best lobster roll I’ve ever had: succulent, lobster-y, and unadulterated, just the way I like it.

Continue reading

Gorge yourself at Taste of 7th St. foodfest Feb 27-28 for $18

I’ve been meaning to try some of the most raved-about places on 7th St. in the East Village (Caracas Arepa Bar, Luke’s Lobster, Porchetta, Butter Lane – this one I know well and love, Xoom), but somehow I just haven’t gotten around to getting myself out there. Thanks to the good folks over at Scoop St., I now have the chance to try them all for just $18. Buy advance discounted tickets here through the weekend only.

The scoop features nearly half-off the best signature menu items of 7th Street’s constellation of culinary delight! A mere $18 with this Scoop St. exclusive gets you $35 worth of the following sweets and savories at a discount that’s the chance of a lifetime (with an added bonus of $1 off beers from select bars!)

First, Caracas Arepa Bar’s authentic Venezuelan pocket sandwiches, considered the Latin sloppy Joe, will have you dreaming of the Carribean coast. This scoop gets you one De Pabellón arepa! Tucked inside these golden, soft-pocket corn arepas, is a magical world where you can build a pyramid of deliciousness– starting with a base of black beans, white salty cheese and building up to flavor-infused shredded beef and layered sweet plantains!

Next, get a lobster roll at Luke’s Lobster! With the minimalist mentality of a true Maine lobsterman, only the sweet knuckles and claws lie atop these grilled buns and embellishments strictly include a squirt of mayo and a pinch of celery salt. The sheer simplicity at the lobster shack is its forte, and these irresistible rolls are considered the “Holy Grail of crustacean cuisine.”

Thirdly, devour one of Porchetta’s mouthwatering pork sandwiches, where you will feel like you’ve wandered into the finer food stalls and butcher shops of Rome! With a plethora of different textures, you can opt for the moist, fine grained loin meat or the chewy, fatty type that melts in your mouth.

Fourthly, get two cupcakes at Butter Lane, made with pure ingredients like real vanilla beans, pure cocoa, rich darkchocolate, and fresh fruit that will fill your tummy with yumminess! Butter Lane’s treats prove that the homestyle wholesomeness from your mother’s kitchen can be found in New York’s urban jungle. Sink your teeth into delectable frosting flavor classics like key lime or blueberry or, for the more eclectic tastes, flavors like cream-cheese or grapefruit ginger frosting. Continue reading

Ippudo’s ramen broth is the awesomest
February 18, 2010, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , ,

I get it. Ramen is super. But how much better can one ramen be than another ramen?

A lot. A whole lot.

Ippudo has the best pork ramen broth I’ve had in my life, and for me, it’s the most important part of any noodle soup. Ippudo’s broth is milky in appearance, the texture is rich and full, and the flavor is undeniably pork-y without being overly so. It’s way better than Momofuku (I feel a little blasphemous saying this since I’m a huge David Chang fan) and way way better than Minca (which is still really good). It’s actually better than any ramen I had during my ten days in Japan, though it’s possible that I didn’t eat at any of the well-known ramen places there. The pork buns at Ippudo are pretty darn good, too, though Momofuku wins in this category for me because I prefer a thick slab of fatty pork belly to the pork Hirata buns (whew – I feel a little less guilty now).

The space itself is really cool in a kitschy modern Japanese kind of way. Huge dining room, open kitchen, high ceilings, communal seating. I especially liked the all-white wall with 3D kanji characters above the booths and the rock/stump garden lit with candles on our table. The communal seating actually gave us the opportunity to meet the people dining next to us, and it was a great evening.

I ordered the Shiromaru classic ramen with a poached egg, but found that the richness of the milky broth didn’t need the extra oomph from the onsen tamago (poached egg), and I think I would have preferred the nitamago (seasoned soft-boiled egg).

Next time, I’ll be having the Akamaru Modern, which is like the classic except with a little more spice.

If you’re famished, don’t finish all your broth. For 2 bucks, you can get Kae-dama, which is basically noodle refill, and then you can extend your eating pleasure for another round.

There’s going to be a wait, but it goes more quickly than you’re told, and you can have a drink and a Hirata bun at the bar while you wait. The bartender is super sweet, and it’s a good time all around. Get thine ass to Ippudo.

Go: Ippudo NY (Union Square/East Village) 65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003 (212) 388-0088

Hot alcoholic drinks to keep you warm in the NYC cold

[tweetmeme]UPDATE! For a new list of hot alcoholic drinks, please visit More hot booze to keep you warm posted January 3, 2011.

Brrrr. It’s winter. It’s frigid outside. The wind whips through you like an open window. Fancy a hot alcoholic beverage, do you? I’ve rounded up a list of places to go for a warming drink in NYC, and how to make them at home, approximately, in case it’s so cold you can’t bring yourself to step outside. In no particular order:

Hot Obama at Joe Doe (Pictured. EVill/LES: 45 E First St. between 1st and 2nd Aves.)
Served in a glass jar with a handle, your bartender Mike will heat up the apple cider with the milk foamer on the espresso machine, then adds two shots of Rum Clement, one shot of fresh lemon juice (diluted 1 part lemon to 9 parts water), quickly refoams, then grates fresh cinnamon on top of your drink and drops the rest of the stick into your $11 Hot Obama. I don’t get the name. Obama = boozy apple cider? Why is this called a “Hot Obama?” Feel free to take a crack at it in the comments.

Grandad’s Coffee, Hot Buttered Rum, or Freemans Toddy at Freemans (LES: End of Freemans Alley between Bowery and Chrystie.)
Freemans knows there’s nothing like a warm, spiked drink to make the world right again when it’s 15 degrees outside. On the cocktail menu under “Warm and Soothing” are three (!) warm boozy drinks for $12 each. Grandad’s Coffee is coffee spiked with brandy and walnut liqueur and served with a sweet cream float. The Hot Buttered Rum is made with a dark rum, spiced butter, and hot water. Here’s Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for a Hot Buttered Rum cocktail. The Freemans Toddy is made with applejack (Jack Daniels and apple cider or juice), lemon juice, and apices (likely cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg). Continue reading

NYC Oyster Happy Hour Roundup

[tweetmeme]Another reason to love living in NYC – oyster happy hours! Below is a list of restaurants in lower Manhattan (sorry, I rarely make it uptown) where you can find great oyster and/or drink specials during happy hour:

Oyster happy hours I have tried:

  • Jo’s (Nolita/SoHo. 264 Elizabeth St. at Houston. 212.966.9640) My fave oyster happy hour. Dimly lit restaurant with $1 oyster happy hour (and $4 beers on tap, $5 well drinks, $7 select wine) weeknights from 5-8pm, only available in the bar room which has seating at the bar and along the walls (can accommodate groups of 4-6 at the tables). Service is slow if you’re not seated at the bar, so you’ll have to go to the bar to order and to pay. Oysters change daily depending on what the fishmonger brings by – I’ve had Blue Points and Miyagis here. Jo’s isn’t crowded on weeknights, happy hour goes until 8 pm, and the people here are awesome.
  • Lure Fishbar (SoHo. 142 Mercer St. at Prince. 212.431.7676) Stellar happy hour from 5-7pm on weeknights, at bar area only. Arrive early to grab seats as it gets really busy, you may have to throw some elbows to place your order at the bar. $1 oysters and $1 littleneck clams are the best bet; top quality oysters. See happy hour menu here. Shrimp tempura with black sesame seeds is delish. Do not get the lobster croutons. You’ll be sad when you realize there are 4 extremely teeny (MAYbe 1cm squared) cubes. Select beer $5, select wine $6, and select cocktails $7.
  • Essex (LES. 120 Essex Street, entrance on Rivington. 212.533.9616) On Mondays and Thursdays, $1 oysters all night and half price drinks (except for pitchers) from 6-9pm. I think that makes the beers $3, the wine $4, and most cocktails $5-$6. The oysters are decent, but not as good as Lure’s or Jo’s. Still, it’s a great location for grabbing a drink and a snack before doing a Thursday night out in LES, and you really can’t complain when you get to drink an Ommegang brew for $3. Also, this is a huge space, and can accommodate large groups.
  • Bondi Road (LES. 153 Rivington St. between Suffolk and Clinton. 212.253.5311) If quantity is more important to you than quality, and you like shrimp cocktail, then this is the place you will want to be spending your Thursday night. On Thursdays, Bondi Road does all you can eat raw oysters, shrimp, and Oysters Rockefeller (though I have read that sometimes they have oyster shooters instead) for just $9.99. Of course, they will try to convince you to take the $20 all you can drink for 2 hours deal on the side, but you can politely decline and just order as many beverages as you need.
  • Ulysses Folk House (Financial District. 95 Pearl Street between Coenties Aly & Hanover Sq. 212.482.0400‎) This is not really for happy hour, but Ulysses does have an all you can eat Sunday brunch that includes all you can eat oysters on the half shell for $20, along with fruits, breads, cheese and crackers, bagels and lox, sausages, corned beef, roast beef, ham, turkey, potatoes, veggies, salads… and a dessert tray. It also includes a Guinness, a (not very tasty) bloody mary, or a mimosa. It’s best in warm weather when you can eat outside at the picnic tables on the cobblestone street, but don’t expect 5 star food.

Oyster happy hours I have yet to try: Continue reading