Tag Archives: Cocktails

Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

It was New Year’s Eve and according to the meteorologists, it was the coldest it has ever been on this day. But that didn’t stop us from going out and exploring some bars and restaurants in the East Village. After all, we’d be inside most of the time.

Joke was on us when we walked through the doors of Angel’s Share, a Japanese cocktail bar and the first modern speakeasy in New York, and the waiter told us that their heat was not working. We decided to stay anyway with the hope of warming up from the expert boozy drinks. Heat or not, when you visit Angel’s Share and there is a table available (normally there are long lines), you take it.

It’s been a while since I had been here and so I had forgotten just how good their drinks are. We got two – a savory umami number called Into the Woods featuring wild mushrooms, walnut liqueur, and bourbon. And a surprising play on a piña colada.

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I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

This year was another crazy ride. And while politics and breaking news stories often drifted into my anxious psyche, food still played an important role. And this year was full of surprising dishes that were nourishing, pleasurable, and a much-needed distraction. Here now are the top 10 dishes – the list includes an exciting mix of hearty classics like burgers and lasagna, along with some brilliant vegetable concoctions.

NUMBER 10: SPICY FISH STEW at HAO NOODLE AND TEA BY MADAM ZHU

When a dish comes out of the kitchen glowing red and spiked with peppercorns, I’m expecting some heat. The only thing that hinted at the spice level for this clear green fish soup was the name “spicy” and the two pepper symbols on the menu. This fish stew had a unique floral, numbing spice and was one of the most exciting dishes I’ve tasted at a Chinese restaurant – ever. Price: $25

HAO NOODLE AND TEA BY MADAM ZHU
401 Sixth Avenue (between Waverly Place and Greenwich Avenue)
Greenwich Village
(212) 633-8900
madamzhu.com

NUMBER 9: SURPRISE TRIP at THE UP & UP

I float toward cocktails that are unusual and surprising and the Surprise Trip is certainly that. It’s a gin based tipple with a syrup made from black trumpet mushrooms and a slew of “corns”. Szechuan peppercorn, pink peppercorn, black peppercorn, and unicorn (an herbal plum liqueur). It had a rich earthy flavor from the mushroom with a bracing spice throughout The gin was incredibly smooth as it played with all the other flavors (earthy, sweet, bracing, complex). It doesn’t get more (pleasantly) surprising. Price: $15

THE UP & UP
116 Macdougal Street (between Bleecker Street and Minetta Lane),
Greenwich Village
(212) 260-3000
upandupnyc.com

NUMBER 8: THE EDITH at ORCHARD GROCER

It’s pretty ballsy to hawk a bagel with vegan cream cheese and carrot lox in the Lower East Side. Despite the changing demographics of the neighborhood, the breakfast sandwich is still associated with the historic Jewish immigrants that once lived here. Yet the familiar combination works beautifully even when no seafood or dairy is involved. A soft chewy bagel is the vessel for cream cheese made out of cashew and smoked salmon made out of thinly sliced, cured, and smoked carrots. The masterminds behind this vegan deli would have made bubbe and zayde proud.  Price: $8

ORCHARD GROCER
78 Orchard Street (between Broome and Grand Street)
Lower East Side
(646) 757-9910
orchardgrocer.com

NUMBER 7: MAITAKE MUSHROOMS at FIFTY

Mushrooms don’t need much and Chef Luis Jaramillo from the somewhat under-the-radar modern American restaurant Fifty seems to know that. The meaty earth candy was nestled under some watercress and above a rich aromatic celery root-truffle puree. The only other addition was sweet sliced grapes that acted as a foil to all the earthy richness on the plate. But it was the chef’s deft hand with the mushrooms themselves that left a lasting impression. Each bite was crisp and tender leaving a lasting woodsy buttery flavor on my lips. Price: $16

FIFTY
50 Commerce Street (between Barrow and Bedford Street),
West Village
(212) 524-4104
fiftyrestaurantnyc.com

NUMBER 6: BANANA & WALNUT BREAD at TWO HANDS

This Banana & Walnut Bread was a bit of a sensation when Two Hands first opened and I totally see why. The bread itself was both impossibly moist and nicely crisped around the edges. On its own, it would have been perfect. But they go even further by schmearing a frosted espresso-laced mascarpone, garnishing it with toasted bits of buckwheat, and drizzling honey on top. This went from being perfect to off the charts. Price $8

TWO HANDS RESTAURANT & BAR
251 Church Street (between Leonard and Franklin Street),
Tribeca
twohandsnyc.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

At cocktail bars, I usually request to try something unusual and unlike anything else I’ve tasted before. At the singular Upper East Side cocktail lounge Seamstress, I got just what I asked for and it was so incredibly interesting. This savory cocktail consisted of aged rum, Rabarbaro Sfumato (a bitter amaro with Chinese rhubarb), pickled mango, egg whites and a drop or two of sesame oil. There was a peanut buttery flavor with a sweet vinegary balance from the mango. It had so much going on and I can’t imagine I’ll ever taste something like it again. Price: $15

SEAMSTRESS
339 East 75th Street (between First and Second Avenue)
Upper East Side
(212) 288-8033
seamstressny.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

Much like the Shark Eye at Mother of Pearl and a Bloody Mary (or Red Snapper) at Old King Cole Bar, the Sakagura Martini has become the stuff of NYC cocktail legend and in just a matter of a year. While it is very visual and Instagram-ready (if you can find the right light and angle), the drink is simplicity itself. Except you might not have thought of combining gin, sake, and maraschino liqueur for a smooth subtle martini twist. And garnished with a preserved cherry blossom, you’ll completely forget olives ever existed. Price: $16

BAR GOTO
245 Eldridge Street (between East Houston and Stanton Street),
Lower East Side
(212) 475-4411
bargoto.com

Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

SADLY, MAYAHUEL IS NOW CLOSED.

This blog post is going to be an ode to one of the greatest bars of our generation more than an actual post about a specific dish. Mayahuel has been the country’s premier tequila and mezcal bar since Phil Ward and his partners opened the bar in 2009. It has been the hand’s down highlight of our Craft Cocktail tour since the beginning and has spread the love and knowledge about quality agave based spirits.

But like many of my favorite places to eat and drink in this ever-changing city, Mayahuel is forced to close its doors. Come August 8, they too will fall victim to greedy difficult landlords.

I have not felt as personally hurt by a restaurant closing since Cafe Edison (my breakfast spot of choice in my early New York days) was forced out of Times Squre. But this one really hurts. (more…)


Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

When my wife and son go out of town to visit family like they did recently, my first thought is “What cocktail bar can I check out?” Since I am always at home being a good dad in the evenings when I’m not working, I find it hard to explore the cocktail scene like I used to.

I knew all about The Up & Up and it has been high on my list of spots to visit well before my son was born earlier this year. Just never made it. Now that I had the city to myself, it was time to finally stop in.

The Up & Up is a great bar. First off, it’s intimate but spacious providing a refined setting for trying classic or innovative craft cocktails. It looked as though there wouldn’t be a seat for me on a busy Saturday night, but once we started chatting, the door man and owner decided to let me stand at the service bar. Which was much appreciated since this was my rare night out.

The menu was very exciting and normally I would agonize for hours over what to order (and don’t think I didn’t). But one description kept calling my name. It was just weird enough for me. (more…)


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