Tag Archives: Speakeasies

My search for the best hot dog in New York continues….

It’s funny – when I first started this blog, the easiest reviews to write were the negative ones. Not that I enjoyed knocking a restaurant, but the writing came a lot easier thanks to punchlines. Now I find it harder to write the bad reviews and much prefer to focus on how great something is.

So let me start with the great things at dinner table. It’s a very cool reverse speakeasy-style establishment. Instead of sneaking through a restaurant to get to a bar, you go through the bar (in this case The Garret East) to get a to an unmarked door. It looks like it leads to a back alley or maybe an employees only area. Instead, if you flick a switch on the wall, the door slides open to reveal a secret intimate little restaurant.

This is dinnertable. When they opened last year, those in the know heard about the great menu created for the special VIP guests who found their way here. Since then, the chef has changed and the food has shifted to a more Japanese gastropub-style menu. Great – my kind of food.

When I got to dinnertable, I found plenty of availability (this place really is a secret!) and I sat at the bar where the chef served me himself. I ordered the hot dog (since it sounded fascinating with its Japanese-inspiration) and a cooling cucumber trout salad,.

Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed. I won’t harp on the blahness of the $13 cucumber salad, since I’m using this space to review their hot dog.

The hot dog is made special for them at Dickson’s Farmstand in Chelsea Market. The chef has decided to meld the pork sausage with miso and sugarcane juice, grill it, and serve some kewpie mayonnaise and a sweet brown sauce on top, and then a sprinkle of wasabi salt on the side. It sounded intriguing enough although the $17 price tag was jaw-dropping.

Even more jaw dropping was that I couldn’t bring myself to finish the dog. The flavors might have been ok, but I was immediately put off by the gray color and soft texture. The grilled dog showed signs of char marks but the interior of the link was so soft. I found it mealy and fatty and quite unpleasant. I like my hot dogs to snap or at the very least to be a bit firm. This was as soft as the potato bun so there was no textural contrast.

The chef explained that it was from the high fat content of the pork and the miso addition. Ok, but I really didn’t like it. It pained me to take only two bites of a $17 hot dog and to leave the really cool establishment hungry (and poorer).

I imagine other menu items are more successful and that this chef (who seemed nice enough) has other exciting offerings. But the hot dog is not the thing to get here. In fact, I found it rather off-putting. And I don’t find it easy (or fun) to say that.

Does dinnertable have the best hot dog in NY? The fact that I couldn’t take more than a few bites of the pricey specimen speaks volumes. Afriad I have to give it a 5 out of 10 for unpleasant texture and a concept that just did not work for me.

DINNERTABLE
206 Avenue A (between East 12th and East 13th Street),
East Village
dinnertablenyc.com

Category: Hot Dogs

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2016…

Leave it to me to visit one of the best new speakeasies and not even have a cocktail. I studied the menu and watched the bartenders work their magic at Karasu, hidden behind the local restaurant Walter’s, but I didn’t order a drink because I was on my way to give a tour (and I try to stay somewhat sober for those). But I came here to check out the place (which is awesome) and have some dinner.  The food, like the cocktails, are Japanese-inspired. And the softly breaded and incredibly tender fried chicken pieces with dipping sauces almost makes up for the lack of alcohol. Price: $11
KARASU
166 Dekalb Avenue (at Cumberland Street),
Behind Walter’s Restaurant
(347) 223-4811
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
karasubk.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2015…
Flirtibird at ANGEL'S SHARE

Angel’s Share, a Japanese owned and influenced bar, was the first of the modern day speakeasies to open in this city. It’s still going strong more than 25 years later and is still somewhat of a secret. I won’t tell you exactly where it is (although see the address below) but I will tell you to definitely order the Flirtibird. While all the cocktails are great, this concoction of barley shochu and yuzu juice is really something special. It has a tart plum salt rim and a unique garnish of shiso leaf. It has lots of flavors going on, but the most prevalent one is deliciousness.

ANGEL’S SHARE
8 Stuyvesant Street (between East 9th Street and Third Avenue),
Upstairs behind Village Yokocho
(212) 777-5415
East Village

Come back every Wednesday for another funny, informative video documenting my inept food adventures. NY Craft Cocktail Tour explores the craft cocktail culture of New York from local distilleries to specialty spirit shops to amazing cocktail bars and speakeasies. 

We’ve all heard about this revival in speakeasy-type hidden bars. Well, the first to do it here in New York was about 25 years ago and it was so clandestine, that many New Yorkers still don’t know about it. Angel’s Share (which refers to the lost bit of bourbon that evaporates during the aging process) is hidden behind a Japanese izakaya in the East Village and makes some amazingly inventive cocktails.

Angel’s Share


Category: Video

Come back every Wednesday for another funny, informative video documenting my inept food adventures. NY Craft Cocktail Tour explores the craft cocktail culture of New York from local distilleries to specialty spirit shops to amazing cocktail bars and speakeasies. 

One of the most iconic off Broadway theaters is the Public Theatre with their massive theater complex just north of Astor Place. But many theatergoers have no idea that there is a psuedo-hidden restaurant and cocktail lounge inside the complex. It’s open to the public (and Public Theater attendees) and serves fantastic old-style cocktails like vinegar-based shrubs. Learn more about craft cocktails on the new NY Craft Cocktail Tour that I designed.

The Library at The Public


Category: Video

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

ATTABOY, 134 Eldridge Street (between Delancey and Broome Street), Lower East Side

The Black Watch cocktail isn’t listed on Attaboy’s menu because the unmarked cocktail bar doesn’t have a menu or even a regular roster of cocktails. What it does have are skilled bartenders who can whip up something great based on how you’re feeling. Our bartender (Brandon) was amazing. He listened to what kind of cocktails we were in the mood for, mixed up something from his back pocket, and then without an iota of pretention had a conversation with us about the drinks.

When Milk & Honey, the pioneer in throwback speakeasy cocktail bars (you originally needed an unlisted phone number to gain access) moved uptown, Attaboy opened in its place. A year later on New Year’s Eve, I finally got to visit it and I can say it’s just as good and as much as fun as the first time I discovered the narrow little bar hidden behind a mysterious gray door on the outskirts of Chinatown.

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