Yummy Ribs = Sticky Hands
Random art decorates the walls of this bar in Williamsburg
Delicious BYOB Italian spot in Williamsburg
Heading to Williamsburg for Guac!
After two weeks in Ireland, I was craving Mexican food. The various cuisines that we did try there (Thai, Moroccan, French) were fantastic, though I didn't manage to have any Guacamole and Tacos during my time on the Emerald Isle.
Christine suggested Zona Rosa (http://zonarosabrooklyn.com/), a fun spot in in Burg. I got there a couple minutes early and ordered a Modelo Especial. I drank a lot of beer in Ireland and it has grown on me. Who says you can't change?
We had to get guacamole. I was really glad we did - great portion size and the chips were hot and perfectly salted.
Christine ordered the Tamarindo, made with mescal and tamarind juice. She said it was great! The smoky flavor of the mescal complimented the sourness of the tamarind.
We got two types of tacos to share. On the top, Tacos de Carnitas made with Braised Berkshire pork Mexico City Style and topped with onions and cilantro. On the bottom, Tacos de Carne Asada con Hongos y Queso. The pork ones were FAR better than the steak ones. I felt the steak ones were too fatty in texture. On top, they came with three salsas of various spice levels. I didn't use any of them though.
This is a great Mexican spot. There is ample outdoor seating upstairs but, given the weather, we opted for air conditioning inside!
The cocktail menu also has nice detail - I love the font.
Christine ordered the Bitter Molly, made with Campari, fresh lemon, Luxardo Maraschino, and Bourbon. It was beautiful and she loved it as well!
I ordered the Berry Smash, made with seasonal berries, lemon and bourbon - YUM!
This is a lovely spot with a great, laid-back vibe. I can now say I enjoyed my time at the Post Office!
A Rainshower Doesn't Get Me Down!
After brunch, Aish and I took the L train to Williamsburg. One of her Stern friends (that also recently graduated) was hosting a get together at Berry Park (http://berryparkbk.com/), a pub with a rooftop bar.
Earlier in the afternoon, it wasn't raining, so we enjoyed the open roof deck. After we had our first drink, it did start pouring, so it was nice that the outside area had a glass ceiling that could be closed.
At the bar, there is an alcoholic slushie machine from Kelvin Natural Slush Co. (http://kelvinslush.com/). It was featuring "Arnold Palmer" which is 1/2 tea and 1/2 citrus slush and vodka.
The drink was amazing - SO TASTY! I'm not a big fan of maraschino cherries, so I gave mine to Aish.
I'd like to come back here for brunch (it is 7 days a week till 4pm).
Xixa is a Williamsburg Gem
Christine and I wanted to meet up for dinner before I head off to Ireland. She RAVED about a spot in Brooklyn and we decided this would be the perfect place for our dinner. Xixa (http://xixany.com/) is located in Williamsburg. The easiest way for me to get there from my apartment is to take the M train to Marcy Avenue. I didn't realize this subway went ABOVE ground - how exciting! When I got off the subway, I took a photo - you can see Peter Luger (the famous steakhouse) in the background!
Xixa has an awesome cocktail list that features many infused tequilas. I asked our awesome server, Allison, for the best way to enjoy the Thai Tea Tequila - she recommended having it on the rocks. Christine got the Apricot Tequila (90% sure...) with the Margarita Cubes - as they melt, they add complex flavors to the Tequila. AWESOME.
The interior of the restaurant is beautiful. I didn't snap a photo of our seating, but the table we sat in was super comfortable - it allows you to relax as you're served dish after dish! I did notice that some of the stool seating looks uncomfortable. I'm not sure I'd want to be in a wrought iron stool - my butt would hurt!
We requested the Chef's Tasting ($45 per person) - typically, you should have 3 or more people to do it, BUT our server was super awesome and let us do it just for 2! Get ready to be blown away by my description of our 13 (!!!) courses!
Our first course was pickled veggies, light, crunchy and served with a tasty sauce. This was a great way to prepare our palates for the richer dishes to come.
Our second course was a wonderfully spiced edamame.I loved it! I think it may have been grilled - it really changed my perception of the veggie from just having them steamed in Asian restaurants.
Our third course was a ceviche course - it was phenomenal! The seafood (shrimp and Hamachi) were super fresh and complimented by the fruits and sauces.
Our fourth course was duck lettuce wraps - I LOVED the duck but wasn't a huge fan of the banana on the side. This is my own issue as I'm not a fan of the flavor (unless it is in Banana Bread, I know. I'm weird).
The fifth course was tempura fried Blowfish - it had a bone in it, so we ate around it like a rib. If you haven't had this, you must try it if you see it on a menu. The fish is moist, meaty and flaky - so good.
Our sixth course was chicken wings - I totally forget the preparation. Can you blame me? At this point, it was all a delicious blur and had to keep track of (the menu updates a lot and I couldn't find all descriptions online). This was the least impressive dish. Still tasty, but not a knockout like the others.
At this point, we needed a new beverage. We both got the Bourbon'd Tequila with Old Fashion Cubes. This was so tasty! I will warn you though, if you take your time on the drink (like we did), the last sip is very very aggressive (all the spices in the cube have melted, so the drink is highly seasoned).
Course seven was a cheese fundido with parmesan chips and shisito peppers - what is there not to love about melted cheese?
Course eight was one of the most adventurous. When you order the Chef's Tasting, you can specific your dietary needs (if you are a vegetarian, etc.) and what you don't like (we were open to bone marrow but didn't want organ meat). The flexibility makes it great to have a different experience each time you go (which I plan to do again!) This course was bone marrow with steak tartare. I've never had bone marrow before and it was lovely! If anything, it is very rich and reminds me of butter. The presentation was beautiful. If you are a vegetarian, it would be horrifying. #meat
Course nine was the highly Yelped! about carrots - they were unlike any carrots I've ever had. It was the combination of the cheeses and lime that really stood out. Delicious!
Course ten was pork belly and pork cheeks. So delicious! The pork had great texture and taste. Absolutely lovely.
Course eleven took us out of savory and into sweet! The churros were awesome and the sorbet served with them was spicy! I enjoyed this one, but not as much as the other dessert.
Course twelve was a carrot tres leches cake with cumin (!!!) ice cream. This was incredible. I wish I could have another one right now. SO GOOD.
Course thirteen was a nibble of almond brittle (I believe). The perfection conclusion!
This restaurant is incredible. The value ($45 for 13 courses!) and quality of food (expensive ingredients!) is unmatched by any tasting menu I've done before - especially in New York City where prices can be very high! Also, the timing was perfect - all dishes arrived at an appropriate time and we didn't feel rushed. The temperature on the food was great - it was hot, so it wasn't sitting. This is an excellent restaurant, one of the best I've been to recently, if not in the last several years. You must come here - RUN don't walk.
Hot Drinks on a Cold Night
After our dinner at M Shanghai, Christine, Lisa and I headed to Miller's Tavern (millerstavernbrooklyn) for after dinner drinks. After I read through the menu, I knew I would order a hot drink. When it's freezing outside, it just makes sense.
I started with the Hot Buttered Rum, made with Dark Rum, Clove and Vermont Butter.
This drink was nice and I loved the cup it was served in! I'm sure you can see the butter clustering at the top of the drink. It had a hint of creaminess from the butter but wasn't overpowering. If anything, it could have benefitted from more clove/spices in it to up the flavor profile. It was good but not particularly memorable.
For my second drink, I ordered The Regulator - another hot cocktail! It is made with Applejack, Bourbon, and Ginger.
This drink had more flavor, likely due to the Applejack - an Apple Brandy. I really enjoyed it!
After we had our first two cocktails, we ordered a dessert to split between the three of us. We ordered the Molten Chocolate Cake served with gelato and sea salt. For this evening, the gelato was a caramel flavor. SO TASTY!
We didn't order any food here beyond the dessert, though Lisa's boyfriend joined us and got the burger. It looked yummy! Since the dessert was really tasty, it could be worth coming back here for an entire meal.
The L is a Direct Route to Incredible Shanghainese Noms
This past Friday, I met up with Lisa and Christine (two of my favorite Stern ladies) for dinner in Williamsburg at the ever popular M. Shanghai Bistro & Garden (http://www.newmshanghai.com/). It should be noted that Christine, Michelle, Ilya and I attempted to go here on Chinese New Year and were DENIED. Nothing was going to stop us this time - NOTHING!
When we arrived, we were prompted seated. Naturally, we checked out the cocktail menu first. Is there any other way to start a meal? I ordered a Caipirinha and Christine & Lisa both got a Mojito. The drink was lovely. Lisa and Christine said their cocktails tasted super strong but I didn't feel mine tasted that way. It didn't mean it wasn't strong though!
If you come to this Williamsburg treasure, you absolutely must order the Steamed Juicy Pork Buns (SOUP DUMPLINGS!) - you get 6 for $7.50. Each of us got 2 - I could have easily eaten the entire order but I would like to keep my friendships.
There is an art to eating a soup dumpling - you must bite the top off so the interior can cool off. If you are an amateur and go in for a bite, you will be burned - literally. The inside is piping hot, so be patient you hungry fool! Once the soup cools down, slurp it up and then eat the rest of the dumpling. You're welcome.
For our entrees, we split three items. We got the #55 Sliced Beef with Scallion and Onion in Brown Sauce (Awesome!) [note: that is how it is actually listed on the menu] , #37 Shanghai Style Lo-Mein with shrimp, shredded chicken, pork and spinach in a delicious brown sauce and Kung Pao Tofu with Chinese Broccoli (not on the menu, but Lisa knew of this secret amazing dish).
This was a great mix of dishes since each was different/unique. I hate when I get Asian food and everything ends up tasting the same - so boring! It is hard to pick a favorite because they were each so different. I'd recommend ordering the same exact thing!
If you have the courage to leave Manhattan, this is a lovely spot to explore in Williamsburg. It is near many cool bars and other places to visit. Embrace Brooklyn people! It is fun and a great value - also many of my favorite people live there!
Delicious Burgers FAST
Christine was too hungry to wait for our Chinese food (it would likely take 20 minutes which is an ETERNITY if you're hungry) so she wanted to get something to eat while we waited for more food. This is why we're friends, because she is smart like that.
Christine kept saying she wanted Blue Collar. I don't speak Williamsburg fluently, so I wasn't sure what this meant. When we entered a small burger joint, I quickly figured it out. The quality of burgers and fries reminds me of In-N-Out, or at least as close as you're going to get to it on the East Coast.
The food is affordable, quick and tasty. Burgers range from $4.00 to $6.25 depending on if its a single or double or has cheese. Fries are $2.25 (small) or $3.25 (large) - obviously you need to go with the large! Christine got a burger and fries. The food was consumed too quickly for me to get a photo - apologies!
There are also boozy shakes for $7.50 that sounded AMAZING - White Russian, Pumpkin Pie, or Mudslide, among others! This is the perfect food for after you've gone to the bar. Perfectly greasy, fast and delicious!
An Attempt at Dinner Becomes Just a Drink
Since we couldn't eat dinner at M. Shanghai, Christine suggested that we try an alternative place: St. Charles Cellar (http://stcharlescellar.com/). We put our names down (there was a wait...in BROOKLYN, I know!). I guess everyone that wanted to go to M. Shanghai had the same idea as us. We were told we would have to wait about 30-45 minutes for our table located downstairs (hence the restaurant name). Naturally, we went to the bar upstairs, St. Maize (http://www.stmazie.com/), for a cocktail while we waited.
The majority of us went with the Brown Derby, made with Bourbon, Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice and Honey.
The drink was super refreshing and went down easy. We waited until we finished our cocktail and then we PEACED OUT. We were starving at this point and we still wanted Chinese food! Michelle was smart enough to start ordering delivery while we were en-route to her apartment. We proceeded to have a delicious meal at her place. Yay for back-up plans!
I'd definitely come back to St. Maize and St. Charles Cellar. Ideally when I'm not starving. The venue has live music daily - nice touch!
Awesome Happy Hour in Williamsburg!
To celebrate the end of a long week, some of my close friends at Stern (Michelle and Christine and their significant others) wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate Chinese New Year. Last year, I went to a great spot in Williamsburg (M. Shanghai) and we wanted to go back for a meal to celebrate this holiday.
Before our dinner, we joined Michelle's husband Ilya at the Bar Below Rye (http://www.barbelowrye.com/).
There is an awesome happy hour Monday to Saturday from 7pm to 8pm; the deal is Two for One for Beer, Well & Wine. I ordered a Manhattan - even though I am in Brooklyn, it is always in my heart!
While we were sipping on our cocktails, we asked the bartenders about the many different bitters on the bar. He entertained our questions and let us give them a little sniff. I really loved the Grapefruit Bitters.
After we closed the tab out, we headed over to M. Shanghai. We were shocked when we saw the sign below:
While at first we were sad, we quickly realized that the owners of a Chinese restaurant may want this important holiday off to celebrate! I hope the owners and employees had a wonderful night!
I'd recommend checking out Rye if you're in the neighborhood - especially during Happy Hour! We didn't get any food though I did smell the Mac & Cheese someone got - YUM!
Café Mogador For The Win!
After dinner at Baoburg, Christine and I wanted a liquid dessert. She recommended Café Mogador (http://www.cafemogador.com/williamsburg/). I had heard of the location in the East Village and did not know there was one in Williamsburg - a pleasant surprise! The first cocktail I ordered was an Espresso Martini, which just so happens to not be on the online cocktail menu.
This was a lovely drink. I had about one sip of it until I accidently knocked it over with my elbow. It was quite embarrassing because I was not inebriated, I was simply clumsy. The bartender cleaned up my mess and offered to make me a new one but I was a bit traumatized and needed a break.
The next cocktail I ordered was a Mango Martini, made with Vodka, Mango Puree and Fresh Lime Juice. SO TASTY!
When we got the bill, I was pleasantly surprised that the bartender removed the charge for the first cocktail that I spilled and was completely my fault. I thought that was a classy move. I'd love to come back here for a meal.
Baoburg in Williamsburg is a Little Gem!
Last week, I caught up with Christine at a lovely little (this is an understatement!) restaurant in Williamsburg. The spot is called Baoburg (http://baoburgnyc.com/) and it describes itself as "artisanal cuisine" - the dishes certainly lived up to this hype. The restaurant has about 20 seats and many of the seats are counter style. We ended up sitting on two counter seats facing a mirror. This choice made it easy for me to check that I had nothing in my teeth, an unintended benefit.
To start our meal, we ordered a bottle of Ramon Bilbao Albarino, a nice Spanish white that was reasonably priced at $25. Our server presented the wine a bit awkwardly. It wasn't chilled already, so he brought it over in an ice bucket but did not open it. We were sort of confused since the bottle cap was a screw off - do we open our own bottles now? Is that what "artisanal" means? I attempted to take it off and it didn't work, so I asked the server. Naturally, I loosened it for him so it was soooo easy for him to open. Once it was open, it was a nice wine. We were desperate for a drink, so warm was going to have to do for the first pour!
We ordered several plates to share and were very pleased with our choices! We started with the Cheesy Truffle Fries with BACON ($7). The fries were a lovely start while we waited for our entrees to come.
Our first entrée that arrived was the Sparkling Ribs ($12), grilled baby back ribs tossed in a Cola cider sauce with truffle fries potatoes and a pickled garnish. This was absolutely fantastic! I was concerned I'd have to eat the ribs with my hands and this would result in sticky fingers. To my delight, the ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender. The cola marinade was so yummy.
Our next arrival was the Lamb Stew. I didn't take a snap of the menu and the entrée must be new as it is not yet on the Baoburg site. The dish was fantastic and influenced by Asian flavors. It was served with a poached egg on top, it really added to the creaminess of the sauce and overall nom-factor.
The final entrée was the Seared Duck Breast Noodle ($16). This dish was my favorite! Seared duck breast is served on top of fresh, thick ramen noodles, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and poached daikon in a duck consommé. Since this is a broth based dish and awkward to share, I asked our server to have the chef split the entrée into two portions. Instead of splitting it PRIOR to bringing to us, he brought two extra bowls for us to split it. This was a bit awkward but I managed because the dish was THAT delicious.
Overall, this is a solid new spot. I highly recommend checking it out!
After brunch, we headed to a bar near Michelle and Ilya's place: Skinny Dennis (no website; http://www.yelp.com/biz/skinny-dennis-brooklyn). The name alone should be reason enough to visit this spot. Also, you get peanuts (in shell!) and the drinks are strong & cheap - gotta love Brooklyn.
Skinny Dennis is well know for its (locally) famous "Willie's Frozen Coffee" - it is like a Frappuccino with Bourbon - Starbucks is totally doing it wrong.
I love the double paper cup it is served in - such a funky twist on the classic bodega coffee! The vibe of the spot is super casual and comfortable.
It can't really be that shocking it is casual - you can shell your peanuts on the floor. It sounds silly, but it is super fun. Ilya ate through a bunch of peanuts and completely trashed the floor. Evidence below.
Shortly after we arrived, a band (described as "Honky Tonk" by Michelle) started playing live music. It was lovely!
This is a wonderful spot that I look forward returning to! All the cocktails were awesome, cheap and massive! Brooklyn for the win!
Brunch with my Favorite Bunch!
Yesterday, I had a lovely afternoon with two of my favorite couples: Michelle & Ilya and Olivia & Cullen. You may be wondering: why are they so awesome? Quite simply, they don't make me seem like a failure / leper when I am the single gal at the table. I don't feel like a fifth wheel, I feel like the fifth person in an awesome group of people. It is refreshing - why aren't all couples like this?
We decided to check out Brooklyn Star (http://thebrooklynstar.com/). It is a Southern style restaurant with a wonderful brunch in Williamsburg (the North Side). The cocktail list is pretty awesome. I decided to order two completely different selections. I started with the Bourbon Bonbon, made with bourbon, iced espresso and condensed milk. YUM!!! The drink was almost too easy to drink. It was a bit sweet, so I only wanted to have one. Hangovers ruin Sundays...or any day.
For my next drink, I got the Bloody Bull. made with vodka, Bloody Mary mix, beef broth, and pickled string beans. It had a bit of a kick to it - yowzers! I only had one - so intense.
At brunch, I am constantly torn between sweet or savory. Shockingly, I miss the South sometimes - at least the cooking (and Warren!). I got the Shrimp and Grits, made with bacon, leeks and a fried egg.
I really loved this spot. The atmosphere is inviting, the food is lovely and the drinks are tasty. I will come back for dinner sometime!
Birthday Drinks in Brooklyn
This past Friday, there was a Stern birthday celebration at The Commodore (no website, http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-commodore-brooklyn). I've heard that the food there is legendary, so that alone was worth the trip. For a dive bar, the Commodore offered several interesting drink options. I wasn't sure which to order first...the Perfect Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
Where to Start?
I started with a Bulleit Rye Perfect Manhattan. I love love love Bulleit! It really makes wonderful cocktails. I've been dabbling in dark spirits more. I haven't gotten to just drinking bourbon neat, so a little cocktailing never hurt.
Perfect Manhattan - made with Sweet and Dry Vermouth
After I finished this delicious drink, I moved on to the Old Fashioned. I ordered it with Bulleit Rye as well. This cocktail was a bit too weird for me. For the size of the glass, the slice of orange was HUGE and the drink was way too red. It just seemed off - should have gotten another Manhattan since it was "Perfect" after all.
Once we were hydrated, we checked out the menu. I loved the monkey on it - really different!
The place is pretty famous for the fried chicken. Ingrid was smart and ordered that. I ordered a Kale Caesar salad. Complete rookie mistake. I'm trying to eat healthier...yet ordering a salad in a place famous for frying food is just a bad call.
What You Should Order - Fried Chicken
What You Shouldn't Order - Salad...
The birthday boy, Tim, kept ordering rounds of Bandera Shots aka Mexican Flag Shots. The shot is made out of three separate shots: tequila, lime juice and Bloody Mary Mix. Woof. I didn't partake. It looked interesting..
This is definitely a place to check out. It was cold outside and HOT inside. The bar is small and I got overheated pretty quickly. I would recommend wearing layers so you can prevent yourself from sweating your face off.
Radegast Hall and Biergarten
The weather was absolutely fantastic yesterday - perfect date weather. After speaking with someone on OKCupid, we decided to meet up for a daytime beverage at Radegast (http://www.radegasthall.com/), a lovely biergarten in Willamsburg. I failed to snap a picture of my first drink, a lovely Aspall Dry Cider. It tasted incredibly similar to Martinelli's sparkling apple cider but a bit less bubbly. It should be assumed, given this description, that I drank this beverage rather quickly. Next, I ordered my favorite beer. It isn't really fair to call it a beer, it is more like alcoholic raspberry goodness.
Good ol' Lindemans Framboise Lambic always delivers. It was served in a fancy glass, a bit different than I've had before, but I loved it! During the date, we didn't eat any food, but I will add that the sausages, saurerkraut, fries and pretzels are phenomenal. Because I was on a date though, for the sake of all involved, I was a lady and just drank my fancy berry bier with my pinky out.
Brunch with Birdie!
I meet up with some lovely Stern ladies (Lisa and Minden) for a lovely outdoor brunch in Williamsburg at Beco (http://www.becobar.com/). The service at the spot may not be the best, but the food and drinks are spot on! I got the brunch special with a Caipirinha. The spot is Brazilian, so when in Brazil, right? There is plenty of outdoor seating- I even saw a pug! The STAR of the brunch...
BIRDIE! It was such a pleasure to meet Minden's beautiful pooch. I hope to brunch with her again!
Maison Premiere is a Premier Spot!
I wanted to show Amber a bar that has a totally different character than many bars I've been to in the city. My good friend Lisa introduced me to Maison Premiere (http://maisonpremiere.com/) nearly a year ago and I've been a fan ever since! We ordered a zombie cocktail. It was delicious and strong!!! The crushed ice helps dilute the cocktail - it is definitely a sipper. I've gotten absinthe cocktails there before but I'm not a huge fan of absinthe. I think I mainly ordered it because the presentation is beautiful. I'll continue to stick to the zombie.
As a side note, the oyster happy hour is phenomenal (M-F, 4-7pm)! Unlike many spots, all oysters are available for the special. You can get a wide selection for a great value. Be warned though, you want to get there early!!! Seating fills up quickly. Additionally, there is a beautiful garden in the back with more seating.
Your favorite zombie lover,