Not your average sports bar – Review of BottomzUp

BY BETH KAISERMAN

344 Third Avenue
Murray Hill
(646) 918-7220 / bottomzupnyc.com/

 

The 3400 square foot space at 344 3rd Ave. opened Thursday and features a menu of eats from around the nation. You can root for your team while pretending you’re at your favorite tailgate spot from New England to Texas. If you prefer, you can tune out the sports theme and order sushi and oysters, something you don’t see in most sports bars. 

Grilled corn lollipop, shrimp, chicken empanada

Grilled corn lollipop, shrimp, chicken empanada

Tabletop speaker at BottomzUp

Tabletop speaker at BottomzUp

Tempura sushi

Tempura sushi

The bar features a sleek design with 45 flat-screen 60” HDTVs, and guests can listen to their game of choice (or music) on tabletop wireless speakers. This is ideal for serious sports fans like my dad, who listens to football while watching hockey. It’s also nice for people who want a little diddy with their oysters. The apathetic folks deserve a Sunday funday, too.

As time goes on, more regionally inspired features will make their way onto the menu. I may have to check in once their Primantis-style sandwich makes an appearance.

Bottomzup Bar & Grill NYC on Urbanspoon

Updated menu appeals to all at Mumbles – Review of Mumbles

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Mumbles
179 3rd Avenue
Gramercy
212.477.6066/mumblesnyc.com

 

Duck quesadilla @ Mumbles

Duck quesadilla @ Mumbles

Mumbles, a New York City stalwart since 1974 has recently revamped its dated menu with a wider selection of sharing plates including a roasted duck quesadilla ($12), fish tacos ($13) and even an ambitious quinoa risotto with scallops ($13).  The addition of an expanded craft brews list, also a way to get more new feet in the door.

Mumbles early bird special caters to their loyal patrons who have been joining them for dinner since the very beginning – from 5 – 6:30 every night enjoy 10% off your bill. Mumbles also offers a nightly special every weeknight ranging from a Tuesday night burger and pint special for $15 to a Sunday night 3 course pasta special for only $18.

On my most recent visit to Mumbles, a duck quesadilla ($12), shrimp burger ($15 with my can of Bronx Pale Ale on a Tuesday night), and truffled mushroom pappardelle ($17) were what was on the menu.  Each came with a hearty portion, especially the duck quesadillas where pulled duck, caramelized onion, and swiss chard were stuffed in between a gluten free tortilla.  The cilantro sour cream sauce alongside was lacking for the richness of the quesadilla but wasn’t really missed in the end.

 

mumbles3

Shrimp burger w/ fries @ Mumbles

 

Crispy shoestring fries accented the shrimp burger, an interesting take on an otherwise pretty standard staple, the beef burger, which would have been helped, again, by a more rowdy sauce.
It would have also aided in keeping the odd texture of, not just this one, but any shrimp burger out of mind.

 

Truffled mushroom pappardelle @ Mumbles

Truffled mushroom pappardelle @ Mumbles

Stand out, was the truffled mushroom pasta – a rich truffle cream sauce coating the ribbons of pasta topped with sautéed wild mushrooms, surprisingly tasty for a place with an otherwise pub-like feel. 

I applaud Mumbles for trying something new – a way to get the younger set of locals involved.  Mumbles’ new craft beer selections were a good start – but I would have liked to see more of them on tap, rather than bottled and canned.  Next time I’ll also stick with the tried and true – a classic burger and fries or one of their pasta selections wins every time.

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Home of Manhattan’s Best Banh Mi Sandwich – Review of Sao Mai

BY ELENA MANCINI

203 First Ave.
East Village
(212) 358-8880 / Sao Mai 

East of the East Village bustle and trendiness, this family-run East Village Vietnamese restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese fare and the best Banh Mi Sandwiches on the Manhattan side of the East River.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi

Available in six varieties including pho, sliced pork, grilled chicken and vegetarian, these sandwiches make a quick, nutritious, flavor-packed meal that’s easy on the wallet (priced between $6-$7). The Bahn Mi are prepared on baguettes are consistently fresh and crusty with a soft and chewy middle. Independent of the filling you choose, the kitchen always strikes the right balance between bread and ingredients. Their vegetarian Bahn Mi is among my favorite comfort-food lunches. Prepared on two warm halves of choice baguette, they’re stuffed with toothsome strands of sauteed bok choy, straw mushrooms, seedless cucumbers, shredded carrot and abundant swaths of cilantro, the sandwiches and seasoned with lemongrass,  sriracha mayonnaise, that provides a subtle and reverberating pitch of complex heat. In sum, it’s a light, filling lunch that delivers high-flavor rewards.

Pho’ Sao Mai

Front: Summer Rolls; Far: Spring Rolls

Lest one think Sao Mi is just about Bahn Mi, flavor mavens and fans of traditional Vietnamese fare will find other  sections of its menu will prove well worth exploring. The Pho Sao Mai will not disappoint. A flavorful broth, rich in tender strips of brisket, sprouts, rice noodles and a medley of herbs will consistently hit the spot. Adding appeal to  Sao Mi’s attractions is its steal of a lunch menu, which includes the choice of an appetizer, entree and a soft drink, all for $10. Sweetening things further,  both the Bahn Mi and the Pho are included in this deal!

Ga Gary – Chicken Curry

With a wide variety of vegetarian options on its menu, Sao Mai is also a smart choice for a low-key dinner that guarantees value, quality and flavor. Pity that wait staff has not yet mastered the walk-in dinner crowd on weekends. During these times, the  friendly service  can turn into a source of frustration for those who do not suffer extended waits and uneven food delivery times lightly.

Sao Mai on Urbanspoon

A discerning New Yorker’s grass-fed of choice – a Review of Bareburger

By Erin Palisin

Various Locations in New York City:

33-21 31st Ave (Astoria)
535 Laguardia Pl. (Greenwich Village)
514 3rd Avenue (Murray Hill)
170 7th Ave. (Park Slope, Brooklyn)

http://www.bareburger.com/

Maui Wowie Burger @ Bareburger

Ask 10 New Yorkers where they go for their favorite burger in the city and you will likely receive 10 different responses. However if you ask this New Yorker, you will only get one: Bareburger. Although a traditional, sloppy beef burger on a regular bun sometimes does the trick, the unique concept and combinations offered at Bareburger are what truly sets it apart from other burger joint competitors.

The Bareburger menu truly offers something for everyone. Diners have the option of choosing from 10 different types of patties: beef, turkey, veggie burger, portabella mushroom, lamb, elk, bison, ostrich, grilled chicken or Cajun spiced chicken. If that weren’t enough, you also have the option of using a multi-grain roll, brioche bun, iceberg lettuce wrap or wheat flour wrap, or a gluten-free tapioca rice bun. After viewing these options, diners can move on to what type of unique burger toppings they want to munch on. Custom designed burgers range from traditional Classic Burger with dill pickle relish, grilled onions and ketchup to the Maui Wowie Burger (pictured below) including smoked mozzarella, grilled pineapple, Canadian bacon, fried onions, roasted red peppers and ranch dressing. Since choosing among these options can be overwhelming, the menu also serves as a suggestion guide. Each type of burger combination comes with a suggestion as to what type of patty would work well. The suggestions have not failed me yet!

 

I am lucky enough to have a Bareburger located only two blocks from my apartment. Since I took my first bite of the Avocado California Burger (with the suggested veggie burger patty and a perfectly buttery brioche bun), I made it a personal goal to try every burger on the menu. I am proud to say I have successfully worked half way to this goal. Although no burger has disappointed, do not miss out on trying the Maui Wowie and Lamb Burger or my first and personal favorite, the Avocado California. In my experience, veggie burgers have been hit or miss; in this case it is a complete hit. It certainly helps that all ingredients are certified organic, fresh and perfectly paired together.  The burgers are a smaller portion, so make sure to order the fresh cut fries and battered onion rings combo (with 4 kinds of dipping sauce, including Bareburger’s own sweet, special sauce); a perfect side to share with your dining companion. Finally, don’t forget to save room for a milkshake made, of course, with certified organic ice cream, milk and fruits. Milkshakes are a thick consistency and contain rich, tasteful flavors. Although you also may leave in a certified food coma, it is certainly one that you won’t forget!

Rings and Fries - Bareburger Combo

As explained on their website, Bareburger prides itself in only using organic ingredients for three reasons: It’s better for you, It’s tastier, and It’s better for the planet. Bareburger certainly proves that all three of these values are not only better for the restaurant’s concept, but better for their customers as well. Enjoy!

*Bareburger has been previously reviewed by Holly Hagan in 2009.
Click here to read her review on The Gotham Palate.

 

 

 

The Oldest Bar in New York: Review of The Bridge Café

BY PAUL from BeerClubGuide.com for The Gotham Palate

The Bridge Café
279 Water St
Financial District
212-227-3344 / bridgecafenyc.com/
Serving lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch

In 1974, a chap named Newell Narme erected a wood building at 279 Water Street, on the banks of the East River. Originally a “grocery and wine and porter bottler,” the humble pub has been through several metamorphoses since then. In 1847, when Henry Williams opened a porter house in the building, the space was officially recognized as a drinking establishment, making the building the oldest bar in New York City.

For its first century, 279 Water Street was primarily a grocery and saloon frequented by fishermen, dock workers, prostitutes and their customers; it has also been a pirate bar, a packing store, a Hungarian restaurant and a seafood restaurant.  When Henry Williams opened his bar, the building was essentially a brothel; a census revealed that several prostitutes lived in the building.

In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was erected, forever changing the landscape of 279 Water Street. No longer did the East River flow past the building, and the area became even more disreputable. During Prohibition, the building served as a speakeasy, serving food and cider as a matter of course, but also making bootlegged beer available to its customers.

The current owners purchased the space in 1979, renaming the saloon the Bridge Café. Its proximity to Wall Street has made the Café a regular haunt for financial and political types. In fact, former mayor Ed Koch was known to frequent the Bridge Café throughout his time in office. The Café became known to the rest of the country when it was used as a set during the filming of Gangs of New York.

In 2007, the Bridge Café was the location of an EPIC paranormal investigation. The team didn’t experience any strange activity, but there are still reports of the sound footsteps, the smell of lavender, unexplained shadow movement and the persistent feeling of being watched.

Today, the Café is known for its outstanding selection of wine, scotch and bourbon—a far cry from the rum, applejack, beer and Madeira served when the bar first opened.

Executive Chef Joseph A. Kunst uses seasonal, organic, locally produced proteins, dairy, fruit and vegetables in his American Eclectic cooking. In addition to lamb, steak and buffalo, the menu consists mostly of seafood and shellfish. Start with the Steamed P.E.I. Mussels served with Andouille Sausage, Jalapeno Peppers, Cilantro, Spicy Tomato Broth ($13) and try the Grilled Wild Pacific Salmon with Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette, Avocado, Red Onion & Watercress Salad ($27) for dinner.

Paul also writes on the Beer Maven Blog at BeerClubGuide.com, a site that rates and reviews beer clubs.

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Keeping things pretty much the same – Review of Peter Mcmanus Cafe’

BY CLAIRE McCURDY

Peter McManus Café is actually a bar—a Chelsea bar’s bar.   Iconic.  Owned and operated by four generations of the McManus family.  A place so sure of itself that it has only recently put up a Facebook page, generally relying on word of mouth from the four generations of satisfied customers. . Burnished long deep brown bar, cut glass mirrors behind the bar, bright green banquette tables and a beer and food menu which changes very slowly if at all- we are talking generations here. It is a dark cave of a place which warmly beckons to all.

Courtesy of http://greenwichvillagenydailyphoto.blogspot.com/2009/04/peter-mcmanus-cafe.html

Peter McManus Café has been a fixture in the neighborhood since1936.  And it continues to draw a crowd of neighborhood folks and auslanders alike from a pack of sharp young lawyers to aging/or aged hippies in overalls, to firemen, or contractors on a neighborhood job, to the odd barfly maintaining a seat on a stool with a certain amount of difficulty.  There are a few women, too, especially at night (read: after 6:00) when bright color and glamour and some intense flirtations enter the bar; but during the day, it seems to be province of men. The place even hosts the out of the way casual customers on their way to the Chelsea galleries, or to the trendy thrift shops in the west 20’s.

The bartender today is a guy whose bushy gray beard and moustache cover the bulk of his face, but he is as warm and genial as his many clean shaven predecessors—probably his father and grandfather.  Joking with everybody, he and his remarks bring snorts and bellows of laughter down the bar even to the corner table where I sit.  The bartender even manages to extend a helping hand to the tippling barfly while pulling generous pints of beer.

McManus does serve mixed drinks, but I saw very few tiny little umbrellas or pink monkeys depending from a glass.  The mixed drinks are very much an afterthought to the fine beer menu which is as long as your arm and begins but does not end with Guinness.  I had a wonderful black and tan- Guinness with lager, which if poured correctly spills into an even split of half black Guinness, half warm golden lager and when you drink it, the two flavors mingle on the tongue.

There’s food, but no fancy chic fusion stuff- –  good basic decent burgers which won applause from my dining companion,  (the chiliburgers are legendary), a giant pile of steak-cut fries, , a few salads which are surprisingly varied and tasty for a meat and potatoes kind of place, and my personal fave, the fennel scented knockwurst and sauerkraut. Smothered with mustard, it was a meal so hearty that I was not hungry until some twelve hours later.

To history starved New Yorkers a bar/restaurant which has survived longer than a season is a rarity; four generations, outstanding and virtually unique.  The bar’s history can be read from its walls.   I sat under a large McManus portrait and at my left hand a foldout picture of Company D, 130th Infantry, where if one could just pick him out was doubtless James J. McManus. No date, but clearly World War II.—we know he served in the Philippines and won two Purple Hearts. I also sat directly in front of a TV playing the Food Channel, tear stained contestants slicing and dicing, running on a loop; and a flashing automated red menu announcing the much touted Goose Island Summer beer. Nostalgia, chic collations, trendy seasonal beer:  All one’s needs taken care of.

Before we left, completely sated, we wanted to check one small niggling detail.  Could the banquette have been covered with red plastic last time we were here? Instead of the current green?  We asked our friendly and convivial waitress..  She sternly told us that nothing of the sort had happened or, would ever happen is she had anything to say about it.  “We don’t change anything much around here at Peter McManus. We like things to stay pretty much the same.”

How could we argue?  A steady port in an unsteady changing world. We felt exactly the same way.

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Keeping things pretty much the same – Review of Peter Mcmanus Cafe'

BY CLAIRE McCURDY

Peter McManus Café is actually a bar—a Chelsea bar’s bar.   Iconic.  Owned and operated by four generations of the McManus family.  A place so sure of itself that it has only recently put up a Facebook page, generally relying on word of mouth from the four generations of satisfied customers. . Burnished long deep brown bar, cut glass mirrors behind the bar, bright green banquette tables and a beer and food menu which changes very slowly if at all- we are talking generations here. It is a dark cave of a place which warmly beckons to all.

Courtesy of http://greenwichvillagenydailyphoto.blogspot.com/2009/04/peter-mcmanus-cafe.html

Peter McManus Café has been a fixture in the neighborhood since1936.  And it continues to draw a crowd of neighborhood folks and auslanders alike from a pack of sharp young lawyers to aging/or aged hippies in overalls, to firemen, or contractors on a neighborhood job, to the odd barfly maintaining a seat on a stool with a certain amount of difficulty.  There are a few women, too, especially at night (read: after 6:00) when bright color and glamour and some intense flirtations enter the bar; but during the day, it seems to be province of men. The place even hosts the out of the way casual customers on their way to the Chelsea galleries, or to the trendy thrift shops in the west 20’s.

The bartender today is a guy whose bushy gray beard and moustache cover the bulk of his face, but he is as warm and genial as his many clean shaven predecessors—probably his father and grandfather.  Joking with everybody, he and his remarks bring snorts and bellows of laughter down the bar even to the corner table where I sit.  The bartender even manages to extend a helping hand to the tippling barfly while pulling generous pints of beer.

McManus does serve mixed drinks, but I saw very few tiny little umbrellas or pink monkeys depending from a glass.  The mixed drinks are very much an afterthought to the fine beer menu which is as long as your arm and begins but does not end with Guinness.  I had a wonderful black and tan- Guinness with lager, which if poured correctly spills into an even split of half black Guinness, half warm golden lager and when you drink it, the two flavors mingle on the tongue.

There’s food, but no fancy chic fusion stuff- –  good basic decent burgers which won applause from my dining companion,  (the chiliburgers are legendary), a giant pile of steak-cut fries, , a few salads which are surprisingly varied and tasty for a meat and potatoes kind of place, and my personal fave, the fennel scented knockwurst and sauerkraut. Smothered with mustard, it was a meal so hearty that I was not hungry until some twelve hours later.

To history starved New Yorkers a bar/restaurant which has survived longer than a season is a rarity; four generations, outstanding and virtually unique.  The bar’s history can be read from its walls.   I sat under a large McManus portrait and at my left hand a foldout picture of Company D, 130th Infantry, where if one could just pick him out was doubtless James J. McManus. No date, but clearly World War II.—we know he served in the Philippines and won two Purple Hearts. I also sat directly in front of a TV playing the Food Channel, tear stained contestants slicing and dicing, running on a loop; and a flashing automated red menu announcing the much touted Goose Island Summer beer. Nostalgia, chic collations, trendy seasonal beer:  All one’s needs taken care of.

Before we left, completely sated, we wanted to check one small niggling detail.  Could the banquette have been covered with red plastic last time we were here? Instead of the current green?  We asked our friendly and convivial waitress..  She sternly told us that nothing of the sort had happened or, would ever happen is she had anything to say about it.  “We don’t change anything much around here at Peter McManus. We like things to stay pretty much the same.”

How could we argue?  A steady port in an unsteady changing world. We felt exactly the same way.

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A Tribute to Bukowski: Review of Post Office

BY MICHELLE WAHLERS

Post Office
188 Havemeyer Street

Williamsburg
718-963-2574 / postofficebk.com/
Photo by Michelle Wahlers

The calendar boasts it is spring, but I would argue otherwise.  I decided to use the chilly weather as an excuse to try Post Office, a whiskey bar located under the Williamsburg Bridge. I met friends and got a table in the middle of the dimly lit, narrow bar. The bartender was willing to help an amateur (me) with the very extensive whiskey, Bourbon and rye list. I decided on the Buffalo Trace on the rocks, and my boyfriend got the Kentucky Vintage, neat. The Buffalo Trace was smooth and had “butterscotchy” tones. The Kentucky Vintage knocked me off my feet and put some hair on my chest with it’s musky, smoky flavor. I preferred the former. The other two guests with us both got Manhattans which were mahogany colored and garnished with a single cherry.


The Post Office’s decor is lovely, vintage and very personal. Above us hung a chandelier, each bulb burning soft. On the tables were candles, which had the habit of blowing out when we moved in to talk to each other. The music playing was a complete throwback, think Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin. The wallpaper was the Eagle Insignia, but I like to think that the true mascot for the place is Charles Bukowksi, whose portrait was hanging above the bar. As a fan girl, I was thrilled.

The menu was scarce, but we all knew what we were getting into. The place is a bar first and this becomes blatantly obvious when you realize the kitchen is about the size of a broom closet and that you can see right into it. I always marvel at kitchens that are so exposed to the public, confidence must run deep. We ordered oysters, deviled eggs, the pickle plate, a grilled cheese with bacon, the pulled pork sandwich and the last filet mignon. (Essentially the entire menu.) As soon as our waiter told me there was only one left I made it a point to reserve it. The food did not arrive promptly, but the service was always assuring us of its whereabouts and re-filling drinks. This is not a place to go for a quick bite, but it never presents itself as such. It promotes leisure and contemplation.

Of all the food we ordered, I have to say the deviled eggs were my favorite. That doesn’t even seem fair when steak is in the equation, but like I said this place is a bar that happens to serve food, not the other way around. Also I have an affinity to deviled eggs and these were made damn near perfectly.  The pickle plate was a fun way to begin the meal, with pickled peaches, beets, mushrooms, blackberries and peppers. (Trust me, somehow this all works together.) The filet mignon was rare but a bit too tough, but the bed of mashed potatoes it was lying on was delicious, swimming in bacon gravy. The grilled cheese was cooked perfectly; the bacon to cheese ration was 50:50 (which to me, is perfect!). The pulled pork sandwich was packed with freshly made coleslaw and thinly shredded pork on a dark toasted bun.

When our plates were cleared and we were warm and full, the place seemed to be gaining real momentum.  A small line formed (no doubt waiting for our table), and we started heading out, although I could have stayed for much longer. The mood was kind and calm, but with a healthy appreciation for the devious, as the portrait above the bar would suggest.

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Where the salty sea air is only a bite away – Review of Walter Foods

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Walter Foods
253 Grand St.
Williamsburg
(718) 387-8783 / walterfoods.com

There once was a  man selling lobster rolls through his door slot in Greenpoint. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it over to Dr. Claw’s place before the city shut down his operation in August.

Walter Foods

Lobster roll at Walter Foods

I finally got my paws on my very first lobster roll in a completely different way — a $24 lunch at Walter Foods in Williamsburg. In a nautical-themed setting, I enjoyed an indulgent seafood sandwich on a wintry Wednesday afternoon.

Servers clad in white shirts and bow ties serve up oysters, steak and other American fare at a place that feels very un-Williamsburg. Walter Foods is decorated like an old-school parlor, but it’s still laid-back enough to stand its ground in Williamsburg. The place also features classic cocktails crafted carefully behind a beautiful bar.

Since they specialize in seafood, I figured it was the perfect time to seize the day and indulge in a lobster roll — an obvious stepping stone in any seafood lover’s life.

The presentation was mouth-watering; I already felt closer to the sea just at the sight of it. But it took a few bites to adjust to this new experience. The Old Bay seasoning was a bit much for me; I’d rather taste the lobster more than the seasoning — especially if I’m shelling out $24 for it. The deliciously crunchy pickle served on the side definitely complemented the sandwich well. The just-salty-enough fries were like a classed-up version of McDonald’s. Though I liked them, there were way more than enough.

It was a nice breath of fresh air (or, salty sea air) having a savory summery sandwich on a cold February day. But I think I’ll be more impressed enjoying one by a beach somewhere this summer. A road trip to New England may need to happen, but in the meantime I’d like to sink my teeth into some chops next time I’m at Walter Foods. The place certainly seems promising.

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Clucking its way into hungry hearts: Review of Pies-n-Thighs

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Pies-n-Thighs
166 S. 4
th St. at Driggs Ave.
Southside Williamsburg
347-529-6090/
piesnthighs.com

As my knife sank in, I could hear the juice flowing inside. The meat was perfectly tender, moist and flavorful, and the coating had the ideal crispy, slightly salty bite. Yes, this is the fried chicken from Pies-n-Thighs, which opened its new 60-seat location this week in Williamsburg.

Fried Chicken and Creamy Mac and Cheese - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

Fried Chicken and Creamy Mac and Cheese - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

I paid $11.98 for a plate piled with three huge hunks of juicy fried chicken and a heap of creamy mac and cheese with a shot of hot sauce on top. Hard-earned dollars were well-spent on this truly amazing  Southern-style fare (so Southern that the operation was shut down in January 2008 for having a pork smoker that’s illegal in New York.)

This chicken is crispy fried heaven. [Read more...]