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METS/LaGuardia

Jackson Hole looks very cool - an idealized 1950s dine. The burger, OTOH, is very bad.

Pros - It's big.

Cons - The steam it. They put the burger on a griddle and then place an aluminum dome on top. The burger comes out gray, well done, watery, and almost completely flavorless. Let me clarify that - it comes out tasting like chewy beef flavored water.

It's too bad. The diner itself looks great.

Aug 28, 2015
Bob Martinez in Outer Boroughs

Sammy's Roumanian

Let me introduce a point of comparison. About 12 years ago I worked with a couple of Russian IT guys. They suggested that it would be a lot of fun if a group of us went to Rasputin, one of those Russian night clubs on Coney Island Ave. in Brooklyn. Since we had a pair of native guides we figured we'd give it a try.

The place was really big and the tables were spread around a central stage. The club had an early 1970s feel to it. We were a group of 10 and the waiters descended on us in a pack, immediately plying us with vodka and beer. Our Russian co-workers did all the ordering. Multiple courses of food arrived. Nothing was awful, some of it was decent.

Then the floor show began. Singers, dancers, a chorus line. Russian show girls. It was all enormously kitschy but it was fun. Except for our group the crowd was completely Russian. I looked around the room expecting to see Boris Yeltsin. All the while the vodka still flowed.

At the end of the evening when the check came I was expecting to pay dearly for the experience. Instead I was amazed to find that we got out of there for about $70 a person, half of what I would have paid at Sammy's.

I'm sorry, but Sammy's is outrageously priced for what it is. It's a clip joint playing on people's sense of nostalgia.

Aug 27, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan
1

Sammy's Roumanian

I am not trying to convince the OP that she shouldn't go. Obviously she has her mind made up. I sincerely hope she and her group have a great time.

But there are plenty of dissenting opinions on Sammy's and people reading this thread ought to take them into account.

I went Sammy's once with a group about 20 years ago. Most of the food was bad, the rest was adequate at best. Chewy steak. The comedian was funny for about 2 minutes but it got old real fast. Imagine the late Henny Youngman's act. Then imagine if Henny Youngman wasn't particularly funny. There was a whole lot more groaning than laughing going on.

Nobody had warned us about the prices. Based on the poor food and low rent ambiance of the place we figured we'd get out cheap. We had split some large steaks, had a few sides and drank a couple of shots of vodka. We really didn't eat or drink that much.

It wound up costing us around $120 a piece back when $120 was serious money. We were stunned and sat around recomputing the bill, amazed that they had managed to ratchet up the check by that much. Finally we paid the bill and everyone in the group swore an oath that they'd never return. Since that time I've talked to a number of other people and their experiences were identical.

I get the idea that they're delivering on an old time Jewish experience. That's fine. What's inexcusable is that they're charging outrageous prices for bad food and an unfunny comedian. If the food was better and the price was cut by 50% I'd say that it could be a fun evening. But at those prices my sense of humor really goes away.

Look at it this way - you can take that $160 a person (inflation adjusted) that you'll pay at Sammy's and eat virtually anywhere in the city. Sammy's isn't some funky ethnic bargain joint - it's the Venus Flytrap of restaurants, luring in the unwary with promises of kitschy fun and then stinging them with a punishing bill.

Sammy's Roumanian

I've also almost completely repaid the loan I had to take out to cover the cost of the meal.

Translation - bad food at exorbitant prices.

Aug 26, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan

Sammy's Roumanian

I went over 20 years ago and I'm still digesting that steak.

Aug 26, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan

DHABA--Curry Hill Indian--plea for recommendations..

Ever since your comment on another thread about salt levels I keep it in mind.

Aug 24, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan
1

UES favorite restaurants

Aug 24, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan

DHABA--Curry Hill Indian--plea for recommendations..

Dhaba used to be our go-to choice for Indian. We’d visit every 6 to 8 weeks. Then other good places opened up – Chote Nawab, Malai Marke, and Pippali. You know how that works - the shiny new places distract you from your old favorite. We last visited Dhaba 2 years ago and we were due back. A second motivation was that Hemant Mathur now oversees Dhaba’s kitchen and we wanted to see if there had been any changes for the better.

And speak of the devil, as we approached the restaurant last Saturday night there was Hemant right in front, a big smile on his face, chatting with a happy couple. We took it as a good omen.

I’ve already posted extensively on the ambiance of the restaurant so there’s no need to repeat that. The interior seems unchanged. The menu also seemed similar to the pre-Mathur Dhaba. This was good news since I had previously had some concern a full scale revamp would result in the disappearance of some of our old favorites.

Our quick take? The food is probably 5% to 10% better than it was previously, a nice trick since Dhaba has always performed at a high level.

We ordered –

Chapli Kabob - minced lamb with roasted coriander and green chilies

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5800/2...

Pahadi Murgh Kabab - skewered chicken in red masala

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5826/2...

Lamb Seekh Kabob skewered lamb rolls

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/669/20...

Chicken Kali Mirch - chicken in a creamy peppercorn sauce

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/572/20...

The three grilled dishes were superb. Juicy and fully spiced. Our impression was that the spicing was a touch more complex than previously. My GF’s curry was also excellent. (For some reason I forgot to taste it on Saturday, a mistake I’ll fix when we have our leftovers.

)

(A warning – if you’re especially sensitive to salt you might want to order carefully. We found the salt level on the high level of acceptability.)

Dhaba deserves to go back in our rotation. We look forward to exploring the menu and trying some new additions.

Aug 24, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan

72 hours in NYC. What (cheapeats) NOT to miss?

"I'd post a NEW thread with your dates, budget, and specifications."

Right. This one is 8 years old.

Aug 24, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan

Last minute help, please!

Sri doesn't take debit cards either. There some ATMs within a one block walk.

Aug 20, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan
1

Last minute help, please!

The OP also should be aware that Sri only takes cash.

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan
1

Last minute help, please!

"As for getting lost, without telling tales out of school, I believe that even Bob Martinez, who grew up in the Bronx and has lived in Brooklyn longer than most people reading this post have been alive, has gotten on outer-borough subways going in the wrong direction."

Yes, I did. In my defense, it was after 3 martinis and a beer. It was a mini adventure. :-)

My advice to the OP is to take to subway to Brooklyn and a cab back. Your smartphone can help you navigate when you're walking.

Last minute help, please!

You're going to have a great trip.

BTW, as far as returning from Brooklyn late at night the issue isn't safety, there's the possibility of getting lost. This is especially troublesome since the trains run less frequently late at night.

Luckily places in Brooklyn have the numbers of car service companies who will pick you up right at the restaurant and drive you right to your hotel.

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan
1

Our perception of "authenticity"

For some people, especially on Chowhound, authenticity is the be all and end all. My point is that it's only one factor.

And I'll bet you don't like rubbery meatballs either.

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in General Topics

Last minute help, please!

Why not go to the River Cafe for drinks and then walk up the hill to Queen for a good Italian meal? It's only about a 10 minute walk.

http://www.queenrestaurant.com/

It's not trendy but it's reliably good.

River Cafe requires men to wear jackets. There is a less formal lounge are attached to the restaurant which doesn't but the ambiance is much less special.

http://therivercafe.com/dress-code/

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan
1

Our perception of "authenticity"

The problem is when people use "authentic" as a litmus test - if it's not authentic, it's not good. And if it's authentic, it must be good.

Authenticity can be a useful concept. For example, if you find that you like a version of Sichuan pork belly that is recognized as authentic then it would be likely that you'd like other authentic versions served at other restaurants.

But what if something is authentically bad? Earlier in this thread I brought up Thai meatballs as an example. Because the beef is ground more finely than Italian meatballs they turn rubbery. But they're authentic. If a Thai restaurant were make meatballs using a coarser grind the meatballs would then be inauthentic but better.

I've had Georgian food 3 times at restaurants widely considered to be authentic and found that to my taste most of it is stodgy and under seasoned. The authenticity of those dishes didn't make them good.

That's why authenticity is just one factor in deciding whether you like a dish.

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in General Topics
1

Our perception of "authenticity"

"On what basis do you say that?"

Indian Chinese cuisine is a prime example.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_...

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in General Topics

Our perception of "authenticity"

"Like many of you, I'm more interested in delicious than authentic."

Me too.

Now often the authentic versions of dishes are superior to ones that have been tweaked but not always. Thai meatballs come to mind. The authentic ones are ground much more finely than Italian meatballs. The result is that the authentic meatballs are quite rubbery. They taste fine but the rubbery quality isn't a good thing.

Another point is that food evolves as traditional recipes are adapted by people from other countries and cultures and sometimes the results are terrific. Indian Chinese is a prime example of something great that was created by merging two cuisines.

For some people "authentic" is a synonym for "good" but it's a more complicated issue than that.

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in General Topics
1

Why Yelp Sucks!

This issue comes up from time to time. I agree with you.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1008...

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1008...

Sottocasa - Neapolitan Pizza in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

A correction - the rosse pies are available throughout the week.

Aug 19, 2015
Bob Martinez in Outer Boroughs

Sottocasa - Neapolitan Pizza in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

We have been woefully late in visiting this place. It’s terrific.

It opened up in 2011 and, in our defense, we were getting our pizza fix at the spectacular Freddy’s in Long Branch, New Jersey. (And yes, it’s worth a 50 mile drive. It’s that good.) But there is wonderful pizza to be had in Brooklyn and Sottocasa is a fine example.

The décor is bare bones. Servicable. I thought that bench seat was going to be a literal pain in the ass but I got over it. As in most Brooklyn restaurants at 7:00PM on a Friday night, children are included with the price of a meal. Luckily, they were all well behaved during our visit.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/761/20...

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/688/20...

We started with the meat and cheese platter which was just wonderful. Three different cheeses, three different meats, a giant disk of foccacia, and some arugula as camouflage. It was reminiscent of the salumi platter at Otto but the foccacia was the trump card.

This was the Italian equivalent of the everlasting gobstopper. Between the two of us we managed to finish it off but it took awhile. We probably shouldn’t have eaten the foccacia but it was hard to resist taking bites and using it as a platform for the meats and cheeses. It was terrific but filling. At $16 this is a great deal.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5654/2...

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5625/2...

On to the pizzas. These are “personal” 4 slice pies – the type that one person could eat if they were reasonably hungry. We ordered two, not counting on the effect of the meat and cheese platter which really cut into our appetites. On our next visit we’ll just order a single pizza.

Diavola - tomatoes, mozzarella, hot soppressata, olives, basil

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/606/20...

I’ve had diavola pizzas before but this was among the best. The ingredients were very good but the crust was excellent. A balance of crispy and bready with a nice amount of chewiness.

Salsiccia - tomatoes, mozzarella, hot Italian sausage, basil

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/781/20...

That same great crust with crumbled spicy sausage and some bonus mushrooms. Again, an excellent pizza with a great crust.

These are by the book Neapolitan style pies, and Sottocasa has what amounts to a mission statement on their website –
--------------------------------------------------
“Sottocasa is Pizza
State of the art, flavorful, authentic Neapolitan Pizza. Which means a century old technique and the freshest ingredients, with an eye always open toward the environment. We source the best flour and tomatoes from Italy, and most of our fresh cheeses are from the US, so they travel less and they are always as fresh as possible. And we cook everything in a 2 tons, 1000F wood fired oven, built and shipped from Naples… check our flying oven!

Our Product
We do Neapolitan Pizza for the simple reason that we think is the best of all the different kinds of pizza that came after that. We liked something better, we would do that. The main parts of our pizza are: dough, tomatoes, mozzarella and oil. Our dough is only made of Italian 00 flour, fresh yeast, salt and water. And time. In fact, before becoming your pizza, the dough sits, in different stages, for at least 48 hours, but usually it is never used before 60. This process grants a very light, digestible and flavorful dough.

We use only Italian Organic Tomatoes for our sauce, freshly crashed and with just a little salt added. We love to taste tomatoes in a tomato sauce. Fior di Latte Mozzarella from Wisconsin is our choice for the cheese. A beautiful white, clean and fresh cheese that we break by hand everyday to insure the right texture. And we gently sprinkle our pizza with a unique, delicious Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Sicily, labeled directly for Sottocasa. And you can be sure that all the other ingredients that will make your pizza a unique experience are carefully sourced to meet our standards!”
--------------------------------------------------
As a rule, I don’t like mission statements. They tend to focus on process and authenticity, but all too often the results are only good, not great. Sottocasa is an exception. This is excellent pizza.

One of the criticisms of authentic Neapolitan pies is that the crust sometimes is soggy in the center. Sure enough, on Yelp and on this thread I read a handful of posts with that same critique. That wasn’t the case with the two pies we had last Friday. The edges were crispy and at the center the crust turned a touch more bready. But soggy? Not one bit.

Service was attentive and the place was jumping. The place was packed by 8:00PM. Go early or be prepared to wait.

We really liked this place. It’s going on our regular rotation.

http://sottocasanyc.com/brooklyn/

ETA - One bit of weirdness. The menu says that the rosse pies are only available on weekends. (They've got a a long selection of bianche pies.) If I walked in on a Wednesday night I would find this annoying. That information is NOT on their website.

Aug 18, 2015
Bob Martinez in Outer Boroughs

Does one RSVP to a Save the Date?

Great point.

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

Right. She's not just taking down NY restaurants - she's taking down *all* restaurants.

Think of her as a serial killer critic.

Aug 17, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

I fear you'll be waiting a really long time for those supporting details.

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

"As another American who lived in the UK I understand where Roland is coming from. Considering they are residents of the 'greatest city in the world', New Yorkers are a fairly thin skinned lot."

Oh, us NYers aren't all that different than Londoners.

Tanya Gold takes the same chainsaw approach to all restaurants. Here's a link to her review of Gymkhana, a Michelin starred Indian restaurant in London.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/life/food-...

She manages to mention Auschwitz, apartheid, and the genocide of native Americans. They don't come up often in restaurant reviews. Worth a read.

There are plenty of on line comments after the article written by Londoners and they run 8 -2 against her. Gold has managed to unite people in two countries who view her as a hyperventilating hack.

A Brit Hates NYC Fine Dining

"I decided to live in NYC for a month recently, and it was the most depressing month I have lived in a long time, mostly due to the food."

Ah. That explains the disturbance in the Force that I sensed.

upscale Asian

Never mind.

Aug 08, 2015
Bob Martinez in Manhattan

Brooklyn Bavarian Biergarten

Really, stay away. This place is not for you. Big trees, shade, 24 beers.

The horror. The horror.

Coke, soda, pop,.....????

+ 1000.

Aug 07, 2015
Bob Martinez in Not About Food

Coke, soda, pop,.....????

Born in the Bronx. That's what we call it too.

Aug 07, 2015
Bob Martinez in Not About Food