Category Archives: NYC

Restaurant review: Jack the Horse Tavern

Diniing in BrooklynLast week I was able to have dinner in Brooklyn Heights and a friend who grew up in the neighborhood took me to Jack the Horse Tavern. I was taken with the converted storefront from the moment I stepped inside; exposed brick, comfortable seating and a warm buzz coming from the neighborhood bar come together to create a fantastic vibe.

The menu includes approximately a half dozen salads and starters ranging from $9-$13 and a protein rich menu that is evenly balanced between land and sea options ranging from $16-$26.

Jack the Horse Tavern BrooklynI started my dinner with the Green & Red Baby Lettuce which included Manchego cheese, marinated plums and a Riesling Vinaigrette & Rosemary croutons. The salad was light and refreshing which was exactly what I wanted.

Jack the Horse Tavern BrooklynAfter our first course was cleared, I was served the house duck plate which came highly recommended by our waiter. The meal didn’t disappoint and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who likes duck.  The duck was served on a  bed of farro with dried cherries almonds and leeks. Every fork was laden with farro and duck dipped in the sweet cherry-almond coulis.

Jack the Horse TavernSince my colleagues all indulged in dessert, I opted to join them with another glass of the delicious Italian red we were sharing, Acquagiusta(I’d never heard of it previously but I’ll be asking my local wineshop – Brix – about it) and ordered the cheese plate. I wish I had taken notes when the chef came out to tell us about the five cheeses but I was still thinking about he duck I’d just finished. However, the meal ended equally satisfactory and my dessert became a communal plate that everyone tried and enjoyed.

Jack the Horse Tavern is located at 66 Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights. It is worth venturing out from Manhattan to try.  After dinner stroll along Brooklyn Heights Promenade to ward off the inevitable self-induced food coma.
Jack the Horse Tavern on Urbanspoon

BosGuy visits Brooklyn Heights

New York City, NYCThis afternoon I returned from a quick work trip to New York City.  Despite visiting NYC more times than I can count, I have never really stepped foot off of Manhattan – that is until this trip.  A colleague who now lives in D.C. but was raised in Brooklyn Heights suggested we grab dinner there.

We picked up an express train (can’t remember which) from Grand Central Station and were back above ground walking the tree lined streets of Brooklyn Heights in about 20 minutes. We ended up having a relaxing meal at Jack The Horse Tavern; I’ll write a bit more about that in a future post.  After dinner we strolled down a few streets (even passing Cher and Olympia Dukakis home from the 80’s film, Moonstruck) to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

Lady LibertyThe Brooklyn Heights Promenade was really spectacular; filled with people walking, sitting, talking as well as friends, from all walks of life, making for fantastic people watching. The promenade also has spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and off in the distance you can see this beautiful statue.  If you’ve not visited, I’d recommend checking out Brooklyn Heights.  The air is easier to breathe, the vibe more relaxed and the view is tough to beat.

Restaurant review: El Presidente

Cafe El Presidente opened earlier this year in the Flat Iron District on 24th Street.  The place is spacious and has an open and casual, beach vibe with vintage looking painted signs and a large open kitchen in the back of the restaurant that looks out on to the dining room floor.El Presidente Flat Iron District NYCCafe El Presidente Flat Iron District

El Presidente serves up some delicious cocktails to try alongside their Mexican menu. The two most popular drinks made with fresh juice include the Paloma; a grapefruit and tequila cocktail served with a salted rim.  As well as the Spiked Sandia; a sweeter alternative made with agua fresca – watermelon and tequila. restaurant review el presidente in flat iron districtBoth proved to be so tempting when we initially tried them at the bar we opted to get them by the pitcher for dinner. That may have proven to be a mistake because while the food was delicious the portions of our main plates were smaller than anticipated and we probably should have had more solids to compensate for the amount of tequila we were enjoying.

Cafe El Presidente guacamoleI would highly recommend trying the Guacamole Con Totopos. The guacamole was creamy and offset the very light and salty chips.  The chips and guac also come with a plate of pickled veggies, salsas and lime and radishes. It was delicious and a good portion for a party of four to share.

I opted for the Pescado a la Plancha Oaxaca – Fish Tacos – which were made with mahi mahi on the night I was there. El Presidente Flat Iron District Fish TacosThe plate comes with four tacos.  The soft taco shell seemed to absorb too much of the salsa, making them difficult to eat; the taco would tear / rip when we picked them up.  However, they still tasted very fresh and my only real complaint was that I was left wanting more.

I liked the vibe and enjoyed the casual atmosphere and would recommend giving it a try.  Located just around the corner from Eataly at 30 West 24th Street, El Presidente is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cafe El Presidente on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: HK Cafe Restaurant and Lounge

HK Cafe Hells Kitchen NYCThe HK Cafe is located in the heart of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the corner of 9th Avenue and 39th Street.  The long, narrow layout  has modern decor with large windows that look out on to the street.  I sat at the 12-seat bar to the side of the main dining room floor.  The menu is reasonably priced with soups and salads ($8-$12); appetizers ($10-$16); sandwiches ($11-$14); and entrees ($16-$24).

Unfortunately, HK Cafe’s first impressions was as good as it got. After I placed my order a rowdy party of about eight in the dining room started screaming at the top of their lungs; acting as if some pop star had just walked in from the street.  This continued intermittently through the entire evening – some people seated in the dining room left because they were so disruptive so I assume this is what one should expect since the staff did nothing to settle the raucous table.

Hell's Kitchen HK Cafe Fig Salad

HK Cafe Fig Salad $12.00

The experience didn’t get much better after my competent and handsome bartender brought over my fig salad.  Some of the figs were a bit too dry / hard and the cheese promised in the description seemed more of an after thought since it was barely there.

HK Cafe Hell's Kitchen NYC

HK Cafe Burger & Fries $12

For dinner I ordered the HK Burger and Fries.  While the portion was large this too was fairly bland. If I wasn’t developing a nervous twitch from all the shouting in the dining room or if the salad had been better I might not have felt the burger was quite so bad, but by the time it arrived all I wanted to do was leave so my impressions of the flavorless burger may be a bit harsh, but I won’t be going back to give it another try.

HK Cafe at 523 9th Avenue / (212) 947-4208

HK on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Ivy Bar NYC

ivy nyc logoThe Ivy Bar & Grill in Hell’s Kitchen opened about a year ago and based on the steady flow of 20 and 30 somethings who streamed in off of 8th Avenue, it remains a popular place to meet friends for a drink or to grab a bite. The place was absolutely packed when I arrived at 7:30 on a Wednesday evening and it proved difficult to hold a conversation over the roar of voices that seemed to press in around me from all sides. However, I liked the look of this long gastro pub, helpful staff and menu that was reasonably priced.

Ivy NYC entranceThe menu is divided into four categories, with roughly half the options categorized as appetizers ranging in price from $6 – $16; a few salads $10 – $11; sandwiches and burgers $11 – $15; and entrees $14 – $26.  I had initially been drawn to the Udon Noodles plate but one look from my waitress when I inquired about the choice gave me no doubt that I’d be better served if I focused on the sandwiches and burgers section so I opted for the Grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich served with avocado, lettuce, tomato, sriracha mayo and salsa verde for $14.

IVY NYCIf you are planning to spend time in Hell’s Kitchen and want a casual place to grab drinks or have a bite, this seems like a solid option and a place I’m sure I shall return.  Have you been here? Let me know what you think of Ivy Bar in Hell’s Kitchen.

The Ivy is located on Eighth Avenue between 55th and 56th street at 944 8th Avenue and is open from 11:30 AM – 4:30 AM seven days a week. Ivy Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Benoit NY

Benoit NYCOn my most recent trip to NYC I had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner at Benoit NY.  While I’ll admit this Midtown brasserie is charming, and I enjoyed my meal, Jules Bistro in the East Village remains my favorite casual French restaurant in Manhattan.

Benoit NYCLocated on 55th Street between 5th and 6th Ave, Benoit has a cozy bar as you enter from the street.  The dining room (as shown above) is colorful with splashes of red, yellow and honey stained wood.  The menu is divided into appetizers and main plate with the first ranging in price from $12-$26 and latter ranging in price from $25-$41.

Warm bread is served upon being seated – I wish this was done everywhere. I’ve never been one to shun carbs and happily helped myself while I waited for my drink to arrive.  I started my meal with a basic mixed green salad and opted to try the restaurant’s “French Classic of the Month”, Boeuf bourginon for $29 for my main plate.

Benoit NYCI barely noticed the salad while I chatted with my colleagues, but the same can’t be said for the boeuf bourginon.  The beef was so tender I think I could have cut the meat with a spoon. This classic French dish was also accompanied by pearl onions, carrots, mushrooms and pomme puree.  There was hardly a trace of any of it when our server cleared our plates.  Sadly as much as I would have enjoyed dessert, I was too full to enjoy anymore, but I left satisfied.

Benoit NYCDinner reservations are recommended for Benoit NY at 646.943.7373.

Benoit on Urbanspoon

Devotion: Excavating Bob Mizer in NYC

Devotion

80 Washington Square East Gallery – New York City

Are you a photography enthusiast? You may want to check out this exhibit in NYC, that runs through February 15, 2014.

DEVOTION is the first major institutional solo presentation of Bob Mizer’s work to be shown anywhere in the world. Bob Mizer, was an American photographer and filmmaker whose work spans five decades starting in the 1950s.  He is widely known as a pioneer in erotic male photography, but much of his other work was put aside by Mizer and went unseen until this exhibit in New York City that runs through February 15, 2014.

More information about Bob Mizer: Bob Mizer Foundation

More information about Devotion: 80 WSE Gallery

Restaurant review: Da Noi Midtown NYC

Provocative image of a young Sophia Lauren dominates Da Noi's entry

Provocative image of a young Sophia Lauren dominates Da Noi’s entry

Da Noi which in Italian means from us has a very cozy and welcoming feel as you walk in from 49th Street. That feeling is further reinforced by the attentive and thoughtful care given to all who enter by the manager.  As I slid into a chair at the bar, I was introduced to the very friendly bartender, Patricia.  She was only too happy to talk to me about the history of Da Noi which has several other locations around New York City and to point out her favorite options on both the dinner and wine menus.

The affordable menu is divided into antipasti ($11-$15), pastas ($19-$23) and meats ($22-$45) and all main plates come with the option of coming as a half plate.  After watching a few orders come to the bar I wisely selected a half portion, that proved to be quite large and more than adequate as a dinner portion. 

Restaurant ReviewUnfortunately, this is where my glowing review and admiration for Da Noi ends.  To accompany what turned out to be a particularly good Malbec, I ordered Da Noi’s Melanzane Afumigate $11.95, which is grilled eggplant with smoked mozzarella and tomato.  What I didn’t realize until the appetizer was served was that it also comes in a pool of oil and balsamic.  The eggplant acts as a sponge and where a drizzle would probably be delicious the amount of oil and balsamic not only overpowered the flavors of the eggplant and cheese in particular but it also made it heavier and less satisfying overall.

Da Noi NYCDespite the mezza mezza review of the eggplant I looked forward to my Spaghetti Bolognese (I ordered a half portion for $11.95). However, I found the sauce too sweet for my liking. Also the proportion of spaghetti to sauce left me wondering if the line cook had dumped a full portion of Bolognese to accompany my half portion of spaghetti.  I suppose I wouldn’t have minded so much if I had enjoyed the sauce but it wasn’t meant to be.

So I’m quite conflicted with this review and wonder if anyone has perhaps had a different experience at Da Noi. The service was flawless and the space couldn’t be more welcoming, but I found the food average verging on disappointing.

Da Noi Midtown / 214E 49th Street / (212) 754-5710

Da Noi - Midtown on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Tavola

Tavola is an authentic Neopolitan pizzeria and pasta restaurant in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.  Originally an Italian grocery store the original sign and some of the grocer’s shelves can be seen along the left wall when you first enter this long, rectangular restaurant, but my eye was immediately drawn to the massive wood burning oven at the far end that cooks the pizzas. I ended up chatting with the owner, Nick Accardi, who took over this restaurant about 18-months ago and he proudly told me about the restaurants history and why they are so passionate about the food they make.

Tavola Hell's KitchenI also had the chance to chat with the handsome Italian bartender who spends his days in Brooklyn as a struggling artist.  This neighborhood restaurant is definitely worth crossing town to check out.  Antipasti range from $8-13; pasta and entrees are $16-28; and the individual pizzas range from $10-19 — while the pastas all looked good, I knew I was going to order a pizza.  After chatting with Nick I ordered a glass of Sangiovese and the Calebresa Bona which comes topped with Esposito’s hot sopressata, fresh ricotta, plum tomato and basil.

Tavola Hell's KitchenThe thin crust is substantial enough to cradle the hot cheeses, meats and herbs that melted in my mouth.  The salty toppings had just a bit of heat but nothing that would set your mouth on fire and I used a bowl of olive oil that Nick gave me to dip the crust of the pizza so when I was done there was hardly any evidence that a pizza was once there.

Do you like pizza? Are you in New York? Head over to Hell’s Kitchen, say hello to Nick or the friendly Italian bartender, Francesco and try their pizza.

Tavola’s is located at 488 Ninth Ave in Hell’s Kitchen.

Tavola on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review: Hendriks NYC

Hendriks Murray HillHendriks is in Murray Hill on the corner of 3rd Ave and 37th Street in New York City.  The restaurant opened earlier this summer and can seat 60+ patrons on the dining room floor and another 15+ at the bar.  Large windows and white washed walls and ceilings provide an open and airy feeling to this comfy neighborhood restaurant that is open for brunch, lunch and dinner.

The menu is comprised of classic American fare sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.  One-third of Hendriks’ dinner menu is dedicated to appetizers that range from $6-$12. The menu also includes salads, a few pastas and main plates which mostly range from $15 – $25.  The waitstaff all seemed genuinely friendly and service was both prompt and helpful, answering my questions confidently and making suggestions.   The beer and wine menu is just what one would expect from an upscale neighborhood restaurant in terms of price range and options.

HendriksI couldn’t decide which appetizer to order so I opted to try both (I told myself this is for research purposes).  The Soppresatta for $6 was a steal. It was so delicious I’d come back for this as a snack regularly if I lived closer.  I rolled up each slice of dried salami with the thinly sliced Parmesan cheese, drizzled with honey, and chewy, sweet figs.  Combined it tasted like a slice of heaven and I greedily ate every last bite. The second option, Chick Pea Fritters – also $6 – proved to be satisfying, but I couldn’t stop obsessing over my first plate and really only ate the fritters because they accompanied my ale so nicely.

Hendriks BurgerWhenever I go to a restaurant for the first time, I temper what I want with what I see on a menu.  In this case, I really was craving pasta, but with just 3 plates on their menu and 10 plates focused on fish and meat, I thought it better to follow the menu’s lead. Because I’d already committed to a good Octoberfest brew, I opted for the Black Angus Burger ($16).  The thick burger was served with the aged cheddar still melting on it.  It also came with a heaping glob of smoked onion jam and had pickles and lettuce on the side.  Lest I forget, the thinly cut french fries came out hot and salty and sprinkled with sage and Parmesan cheese.   I wish I could share the smell emanating from my plate, because I’m fairly certain you’d immediately salivate. I know I did.

I’d certainly recommend Hendriks if you’re near Murray Hill in Manhattan.  Let me know if you try Hendriks and tell me what you thought of your meal.

Hendriks  –  557 Third Avenue & 37th Street  –  (212) 686-8080

  Hendriks on Urbanspoon

Mildred Fierce in New York City

Ryan LandryRyan Landry and his Gold Dust Orphans have packed their bags and bid Provincetown and Boston a fond adieu for the time being while they shack up with Varla Jean Merman for a four week run at Theatre 80 St. Marks.

If you find yourself in NYC and would like to watch a hilarious melodrama starring one of my all-time favorite drag queens, Varla Jean Merman, then make note of this adult-themed parody.  Mildred Fierce opens this Saturday on October 5th and runs through October 27th on Saturdays and Sundays only. Ticket prices are $25 for general seating or $35 for VIP.

Order Your Tickets Here

9-11 remains a sad day

911September 11th remains a somber day. More than a decade later, I’m still transported to my Back Bay apartment when I first watched a commercial airliner fly into the second World Trade Center building in New York City.  I wasn’t able to process what I saw on TV that morning.  And in the days that followed I’d continue to struggle, realizing my good friend had been on the plane I had watched crash into the World Trade Center.

As I spent the next week with Sergio and our mutual friends Becky & Lisa, cleaning out his apartment to send his belongings back to his elderly parents who lived in the north of England, and to friends both near and far –  I kept replaying in my mind both the scene from TV of the crash as well as our last time together just a few days earlier.

Time hasn’t quite erased that image of the plane’s collision – nothing ever will – but it doesn’t dominate my thoughts the way it once did. However, each year at this time I inevitably think of my friend – thankful that I’d had the chance to be his friend and sad to think how our friendship was cut short.

Things that make BosGuy go hmm…

hmm...Driving to LaGuardia airport last week, I noticed this sign. My initial thought was “Hmm… I don’t think New York City knows what the word beautification means.”

Things that make BosGuy go hmm…

NYC in the summah

Weekend in NYCI’m in New York City this evening for a day of meetings that start tomorrow. I love visiting NYC in the middle of the week during the summer.

The city that never sleeps seems to slow down a bit in the summer months, provided you stay away from the tourist traps.  I won’t have much free time on this trip but hope to get over to Hell’s Kitchen tonight for a bite to eat.  Anyone want to suggest where I should go? I was thinking of checking out Boxers on 9th Ave.

Restaurant Review SD26 in NYC

SD26NYC-dining-roomSD26 at Madison Square Park serves contemporary Italian cuisine in a large, chic restaurant that features a small patio overlooking Madison Square Park, a long wine bar and lounge, as well as a large open dining area. Zagat gave SD26 a rating of 25 for its food and described the space as “glam modernist dining”. Hmm, what the heck does that mean?

While I was dining at SD26 service was flawless. The staff worked together, answering a steady stream of questions about the Italian wines (of which there are very many to choose from on their iPad menu) to suggestions for nearly every course imaginable for our party of seven.

To get to our table we walked by the open formaggeria. Without hesitation we ordered a large plate of Italian meats and cheeses. At $39 each, I appreciated this would be a work dinner picked up by my firm, but I have to admit it was unbelievably delicious. In fact we devoured it so quickly I have no photos :-(

My next plate, an arugula and endive salad  dressed with a light lemon dressing for $12, was very refreshing and made for a nice contrast from the Italian meats and cheeses I had over indulged.  I opted for the pasta special $26 for my main course; a homemade buccatini pasta with an All’Amatriciana sauce, which was delicious and filling but I wish had a bit more kick. SD26 Salad and DinnerWhile the service and food was delicious, the large dining room is best enjoyed if you can get a table along the wall or better yet in the back corner where we were seated.  You gain a better view of the space and are less disrupted by passing staff and patrons.  Menu prices for most pasta dishes range in the mid-20s and seafood and meat plates ranging from $32-49.  While there are excellent restaurants in NYC at all price ranges for every cuisine imaginable, I would recommend this for enthusiasts of modern Italian cuisine without reservation.

SD26 is located at 19 E 26th Street in NYC  (212) 265-5959 – Reservations are highly recommended.
SD26 on Urbanspoon