sgordon's Profile

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Which restaurant rating?

Actually, now that I think of it I don't read many blogs. Lauhound, yes, and Dave Cook (Eating in Translation) but the latter isn't really reviews, more just finds. I like NY Journal but I don't always find myself agreeing. And The Infatuation I used to like, but something about the writing style gets on my nerves sometimes.

I find critics' reviews a little more informative as unlike the blogs, they'll usually visit a restaurant a few times before writing them up.

about 5 hours ago
sgordon in Manhattan

LES brunch spots- takes reservations, patio a plus

+1 for Rosette. There's a sort-of outdoorish area in back, accessed through the basement, if it isn't being used for a private party

2 days ago
sgordon in Manhattan

Craft beers

Mudville 9 in Tribeca has a good selection.

Also in Tribeca, Terroir has a well-curated list. And the bar bites are solid.

To your North, Blind Tiger Ale House is pretty legendary among quaffers - it can be an absolute madhouse in the evenings, though. Be prepared for more standing than sitting.

Top Hops & Good Beer are great suggestions too. For shops, Malt & Mold on the LES has an interesting selection as well.

2 days ago
sgordon in Manhattan

Which restaurant rating?

Yeah, the number of Yelp reviews by people who openly admit they haven't eaten there is astonishing. You'd think they'd somehow filter those out, but they leave all the filtering to their automated system that's somehow supposed to "sense" these things.

There was a case a few years back where someone gave a new place (Romera) five stars simply because they were nice to her on the phone when she made her reservation. She hadn't actually set foot in the place yet. But Yelp insisted it passed their test, go figure.

Jul 26, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Unheralded Brooklyn Restaurants

There are a number of places that don't get a lot of press but are popular with the locals in their area and do solid business regardless. A few off the top of my head:

Convivium Osteria
Henry's End
Palo Santo
Polonica (though I wouldn't make a special trip, I'd go if I was doing other shopping in Bay Ridge, like my bimonthly trip to Nordic Delicacies)
Speaking of which... Nordic Delicacies (shop, not a resto) - the housemade Nordic pates and sausages are fantastic, especially the Sylteflesk (headcheese) and Spekepolse (sour, fermented sausage)

Tons of Chinese, Mexican, and Latin American places in Sunset Park (just search the boards)

Jul 25, 2014
sgordon in Outer Boroughs

Which restaurant rating?

None of the above? Or a combination of them?

As Pooki said, it's a mixed bag. Zagat is susceptible to neighborhood favoritism, Michelin is VERY Manhattan (and really, Midtown) centric and tends to favor French cuisine, virtually ignoring non-Japanese Asian cuisines for years. The Times, being just one person's opinion, you have to read and experience the restaurants for yourself to see how much you might agree / disagree with Sifton, Wells, Bruni... and because the Times doesn't update / re-review often, many are out of date. Same can be said for Platt (New York Mag) Seitsema & Sutton (Eater) and the rest. A good critic, though, can give you an idea of how you might like a place regardless of their own opinions / biases.

Yelp gives a kind of overview IF you ignore every five- and one-star review, as there are people who give five-star reviews to hot dog carts, and demote restaurants to one-star because they think they're entitled to get their desserts and drinks comped when the kitchen forgot to put the mayo on the side instead of just a new sandwich.

So you look for a general consensus among them all, and you search for restaurants here and on mouthfuls and other sites to see what people have said. And you learn, over time, which critics / bloggers / commenters you find yourself agreeing with more often than not.

Jul 25, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan
1

Per Se salon, Marea or Momo Ko

I would hesitate to call it hype or ENC given that, obviously, a lot of people rather DO like her work. It wasn't like David Chang forced her on everyone - her work was popular enough within the context of Noodle/Ssam that it made financial sense for him to give her her own spin-off.

As to the bad birthday cake, I dunno. Sometimes even normally good kitchens fuck up - like the Mission Chinese popup we were talking about in another thread. That said, I'd never pay $100 for a birthday cake, unless it fed, like, 30+ people, or it had truffles all over it or something.

I mean, I don't care for what I've had at Hakkasan, obviously, but I wouldn't call them "marketing hype" just because they don't float my boat.

Jul 24, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Per Se salon, Marea or Momo Ko

Moreso unusual ingredients than technique, though I think his technique is solid. He's not playing with transglutaminase and hydrocolloids or whatnot, though, no. Not that I know of.

I don't ask for a "perfect" experience from any restaurant - but Hakkasan, well, nothing about the meals I had there called me back.

I do like Christina Tosi quite a lot, though, especially when she skews a little more savory (say, the cereal milk ice cream) versus her sugar-bombs (like the crack pie that everyone else loves but I can't take, it's so sweet..)

Admittedly, I'm not a big sweets guy to begin with, though. Maybe that's why Headley's veggie-serts call out to me. I rarely have dessert unless it's something included with a prix fixe, occasionally might split a single dessert at the end of a meal if I feel like a bite of something sweet.

Jul 24, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Per Se salon, Marea or Momo Ko

Did you not have any of Headley's vegetable-based desserts? He's one of the "stretchingest" pastry chefs out there now, I think. The celery sorbet with fig agrodolce is incredible. The eggplant & chocolate and pecorino cake both stood out, too.

I haven't had the desserts recently at wd-50, but I really enjoyed his S'Mores riff last year. Also, early in Livingston's time there was a take on blueberry cheesecake that knocked my socks off. (caveat: that dish might have been a holdover from Stupak)

I didn't have desserts the times I was at Hakkasan, and as I wasn't a huge fan of the place in general, probably not likely to be back there any time soon unless it's at someone else's request...

Jul 24, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Date - Upper East Side

I like Cafe D'Alsace (recommended above) but I wouldn't call it quaint, quiet, low-key. It's quite bustling at dinner, really.

For good Italian up that way at a similar price point to Il Buco, check out Salumeria Rosi Ristorante.

Fishtail is one of David Burke's better places, and they have outdoor seating with a retractable roof if the weather's not playing nice.

Amali is cute, food decent.

There's Cafe Boulud, which might be a bit higher than the price point that you're thinking, but not as fancy as Boulud's flagship - there's no jacket requirement or anything like that, the mood is significantly more casual.

Other thoughts:
David Burke Townhouse
JoJo

Jul 24, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Per Se salon, Marea or Momo Ko

I actually find the reservation system really good - it's totally democratic, simple and straightforward.

If you can get into Ko, Ko for sure.

I'm not the biggest fan of Per Se, but I guess if you're a dessert fan...? That said, many avowed Per Se fans have said that dessert is one of the areas where they kind of suffer. For my money, the best pastry chefs in town right now are Pinkerton (EMP), Headly (Del Posto), and Livingston (wd-50) - unfortunately none of which do dessert tastings.

I like Marea but every time I've been I've found the first two courses (antipasti & primi/pasta) great and everything after a bit underwhelming. Okay, but for the price I've had better. It's been some time, though, so maybe the secondi have gotten more interesting. For four-course high end Italian, I definitely prefer Lincoln of late. (Or Del Posto, I suppose...)

Jul 24, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Is there a Tudor Place place?

I guess you missed Convivio, which took the space after L'Impero but is now also closed.

Jul 23, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Blackthorn Hard Cider (on draft in pubs or in cans in a store) in Manhattan or Brooklyn

I recall seeing it on tap at High Dive in Park Slope.

Jul 23, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Mission Chinese pop-up

Not like a lechon - if I remember right it was braised with hoisan, but don't quote me on that. The skin was removed and made into a big chicharron that was placed on top. There were a few sauces - a spicy mustard (which wasn't very spicy) and a cilantro puree along with the pig liver, a little bowl of brown sugar (didn't need it) and tortillas for stuffing it all into. If you could just order that and the fish without paying the admission for everything else, could be worth it. Not sure if they'd allow that, or if they're only available as supplements. I believe they offer the pork belly to-go, though.

Jul 22, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Mission Chinese pop-up

Yeah, even the salad. Cabbage salad was fine, but the green salad - whoa.

And granted, this was just one night - I don't know who runs the kitchen when Bowien's not around.

Jul 22, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Mission Chinese pop-up

Went last night and was horribly diappointed. I like(d?) Mission Chinese a lot, went several times in Manhattan. Most of our group had been multiple times and were fans as well.

But two things stuck out last night: first, the heat level was dialed WAY down. There was no burn, at best a mild tingle. I remember pleasantly schvitzing over the mapo tofu before, but last night it was pretty tame.

Second - and this was the real downer - the salt level was simply out of contol, and got worse as the meal went on, to the point where a couple dishes were inedible. The kung pao pastrami and bacon & rice cakes we left untouched after a few bites. Everything across the board was oversalted, though - a simple green salad brought out as a palate refresher I couldn't eat more than two bites of.

I know many found Mission to be salty in general - a valid criticism, they definitely leaned that way, and everyone's palates are different. But this was simply bananas. In fact, all of us at the table have heavier-than-average salt hands in the kitchen to begin with - so for all of -us- to find it inedible meant something was seriously wrong.

The only dishes that were really enjoyable were the two specials, which you can order as supplements - the pork belly (+$35) sliced and served with tortillas, chicharron and a pork-liver sauce was a hit, and the fried whole fish (+$40) was solid - yeah, the crispy skin suffered the over-salting the rest of the meal did, but if you ate it with the flesh it balanced out somewhat and the sauce was very good. The braised taro and noodles it came with were really tasty too. They described them as "hand-pulled" though they looked more like knife-peel in size and texture.

Anyway, I wonder if without Bowien overseeing the kitchen every night things are falling apart. Because if this had been the first meal I'd had at MC back in the day I'd have never been back. Would like to give them another chance, but I'll wait until I've heard from someone else things have gotten better - (way) less salt, more heat.

Service was great, though - no dis on the waitstaff.

Jul 22, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

I know this is vague, but looking for dim, cozy, music bar/restaurant

Price point? Cuisine preferences? The above kind of describes about 3,000 restaurants.

Jul 21, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan
1

30th Shindig

Since it doesn't say "Mexican" in the title I wouldn't worry about it. People will figure out by reading it you're not limiting yourself to Mexican options. I think most 'Hounders tend to read the whole thread before responding, so as not to be redundant with what others have said already.

Jul 21, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

30th Birthday Ideas

For Mexican, check with:

Casa Mezcal
Dos Caminos
Agave

They all do group dining and might be within budget range - as to prices, of course no one lists packages on their websites because they probably want to try and upsell you on the phone. At a lower end, if none of those work, is El Maguey y la Tuna - cheaper than the above, homestyle Mexican, might have some good unlimited beer / margarita pitcher options.

If the crowd is willing to go to Brooklyn, and pizza (but really, really good pizza) is something you'd consider, you might want to check out the group dining at Roberta's in Bushwick. It might come v-e-r-y close to the edge of your budget, but they do have unlimited beer options.

I don't know if they do big groups, but Pig & Khao on the LES could be fun. I know they have a $15 unlimited PBR deal, which is about as cheap for unlimited drinks as you'll find. They also have a backyard if the weather's nice, but I suppose there's no way to predict that this far in advance.

What about brunch? That would open up the options significantly, and brunches often come with unlimited mimosas or bloody marys built into the deal.

Jul 21, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

30th Birthday Ideas

Is $50/pp to include drinks, tax, and tip? With tax and tip $50 = about $38 starting price. If drinks are separate, that can cut into that budget quite a bit,

Jul 21, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Best contemporary Mexican for Sat. night dinner for 4?

Close to your hotel would be Toloache. I like them, they're pretty straightforward, not the -most- adventurous but I've never had a bad meal there.

The two Empellons are fun - Cocina has the more interesting menu of the two, IMHO.

I was not a fan of Hecho en Dumbo personally, the couple times I've been, but many 'Hounders do like it, so maybe I'm just missing something.

I actually like two of the Rosa Mexicano locations - the original one on First Ave and the one near Union Square. The cocktails are a little sweet (they add agave syrup to everything, which is never necessary) but otherwise, a decent midrange un-fussy traditional place. I know they're a chain now, and 'Hounders should be anti-chain - but hey, they started here, so I think of them more as "local kids done good" than a chain.

The other option is to go out to Sunset Park for a taco crawl... but maybe that would be -too- adventurous, geographically...

Jul 17, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Bouley Lunch Tasting Menu Review: Best Fine Dining Deal in NYC

Last time I had lunch there (it's been awhile, admittedly) I was in a plain black sweater and jeans, and either Timberlands or all-black Chucks on my feet. (I can state this with assurance because, with the exceptions of wedding and funerals, that is exactly what I've worn for the last decade or so...)

Jul 17, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Bouley Lunch Tasting Menu Review: Best Fine Dining Deal in NYC

Huh, used to be they only had the jacket requirement at dinner, while lunch was more casual - no sneakers or t-shirts, but not so formal. Wonder when that switch happened.

Jul 17, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Which 4 breakfasts in Lower East Side would you choose?

It might only be Sundays, but don't quote me on that. And Prune -has- refused us, offering us "Virgin Marys" instead - that's how I first found out. (Note to self: bring flask of tequila and go early next time)

Jul 17, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Which 4 breakfasts in Lower East Side would you choose?

Just note that if you go to Prune before noon (or is it 11:00?) you can't get their famous Bloody Marys. Made that mistake once.

Jul 16, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Chelsea dinner tonight, entrees in the $20's

Montmarte isn't a bad choice. You might also want to look over the menus at:

Salinas
Txikito (tapas, so the bill can add up)
Cookshop

A wee bit out of the boundries of Chelsea, but an easy walk if the weather's nice:

Colicchio & Sons Tap Room
Junoon
Louro
Recette
Craftbar

Jul 16, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Which 4 breakfasts in Lower East Side would you choose?

Remedy Diner is horrendous. It's generic, flavorless glop you could find at any (bad) diner anywhere in America. I've eaten in many a diner in my life - I have a great affection for classic diner food - and they were by far one of the worst. The "hollandaise" (if I can even call it that) on the Benedict had the flavor and consistency of flour paste.

Alias, sadly, no longer exists. Nor does 'inoteca.

I agree with kathryn: Clinton St. and Shopsin's are good calls, but definitely do those on the weekdays. You might want to peruse the menu for Shopsin's in advance, online, since there are something like 800 options and counting on it.

Prune's brunch is a neighborhood standby, but it's only on weekends and the lines are loooooooong.

Russ & Daughters is as classic as it gets, though living in the neighborhood I'm more prone to just going to the shop and getting my bagel & lox to go than eating them at the sit-down restaurant, where they're significantly more expensive. That said, there are a few things at the restaurant you can't get at the shop (like chocolate babka french toast!) - so it depends what you want to order, really.

A couple other places to maybe check out the menus:

Public - in Nolita, maybe a ten minute walk from THOR. Very creative brunch on the weekends. Busy, but it's a big room and there's dining at the bar, so even if there is a wait it's usually not a long one. (Actually, I don't think I've ever had a wait now that I think of it...)

I'm also fond of Joe & Misses Doe (f/k/a "JoeDoe") down the block from Prune - were you try Prune on Saturday and find the line too long, they're a great option. Their Corned Duck Hash (served with poached duck eggs, when they have them) is fantastic, one of the best hashes in town.

Jul 16, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Salinas in Chelsea?

The two chefs from Txikito actually met each other working for Luis Bollo, the chef/owner of Salinas, at his old place Meigas, so there's kind of a family connection there.

I like Salinas quite a lot, though it's been a little while since I've been, and I've noticed the menu has changed significantly since the last time I dined there. The suckling pig isn't on there anymore, which is surprising as that was one of his signature dishes since the Meigas days. Maybe he got tired of it.

In general, I find his fideos better than his paellas, if you're choosing between carbs (the fideos negros with sepia and beet powder is a notably good dish) and that he's particularly good with seafood, where the Txikito gang I find shine more with land critters.

Mike Colameco did a good episode with him a couple years ago - it's on youtube (link below) - the first dish is the aforementioned fideos negros:

http://youtu.be/8J-3SRtoY30

Jul 14, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Celebrity chef - whose got the best restaurant?

$100 before tax, tip, and alcohol would be fine at nearly every restaurant in the city except the tippity-top-top most expensive options. If my math is correct (it is) it would exclude approximately one half of one tenth of one percent of the full-service restaurants in NYC. Even among just the expensive fancy places, most - unless you were only going to suggest Brooklyn Fare, Per Se, EMP, Daniel, JG, etc, - have a starting point under $100.

$100 AFTER tax, tip, and booze, that's a whole other matter...

Jul 14, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan

Celebrity chef - whose got the best restaurant?

I wouldn't call it a "vanity" piece - he didn't self-produce it, after all. That'd be like calling "A Brief History of Time" a Stephen Hawking vanity piece.

Also, I found he spent most of the running time talking about how great other people were and being kind of self-deprecating (which he's always been) about his own skills.

Jul 14, 2014
sgordon in Manhattan