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Vinoguy's Profile

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Burgers at RUB?

Heard a rumor that RUB is offering burgers on Monday (and Monday only) -- and that they are supposedly "off the hook" good.

Can anyone on the board confirm / deny this and if they've sampled, offer any commentary about how worthwhile the burger experience is?

Dec 14, 2009
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Nantucket Lunch Help Needed

Am a HUGE fan of Sfoglia...not sure whether they are open for lunch or not but believe they also have a retail store for take out and picnic.

Jun 19, 2009
Vinoguy in Southern New England

La Rioja and Basque Region

Hi there -- if you still haven't left yet, here's some info about Rioja region.

HIGHLY recommend a stop in Logrono for a tapas crawl. Here are some of my notes from last January -- and will actually be in Logrono and BCN next week for work.


Jan 31, 2009
Vinoguy in Spain/Portugal

LES Spot for Dinner Pre-Milk & Honey?

Hi All - my date and I are going to wind up at Milk & Honey tomorrow night for post dinner drinks and was curious if anyone had great dinner recs for something relatively close in the neighborhood (short cab or long walk...).

Was thinking along the lines of Little Giant, Apizz, Bacaro etc. Thanks so much!

May 09, 2008
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Any restaurant rec's near 105th & Broadway?

Big fan of Thai Market as well...I'll second the IMHO of best vegetarian option in the area...nice range of dishes...all reasonably priced. Excellent Pad Thai and salads...

May 09, 2008
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Wine Bar Recs

Magnum - there's a very cool Spanish wine bar right down the street from Peasant called Xicala (literally a block or two away):

Also, Bar Veloce, one of the city's first Italian wine bars, just reopened its original location at 17 Cleveland Place. Great selection of eclectic, indigenous Italian varietals and a chill place to kill an hour or two. About three blocks from Peasant...

If you have a chance to get up to Hell's Kitchen, you should also check out Casellula...imho, one of the best new wine/cheese bars to open up in the city - 52nd bet 9th and 10th.

Feb 19, 2008
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Need your BYOB favorites

If you can score a reservation, Little Owl (and I believe Market Table, their 2nd restaurant) allow you to bring 1 bottle in with no corkage.

Both in West Village - both very good and pretty reasonably priced. Lamb T-bones at Little Owl worth the 90 minute drive from Philly alone...

Little Owl
90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

Feb 13, 2008
Vinoguy in Manhattan

best reasonable place for tapas/spanish for a group of 6 friday?

Re the straight tapas spots, totally agree on the Tia Pol call (was just there a few weeks back and the special slow roasted suckling pig was off the charts good). It definitely is small and crowded but worth the effort.

Boqueria is another good choice already mentioned. They've got an excellent table in the back right corner that would be great for a party of six (not sure whether they take reservations).

Last rec is for a placed called Mercat on Bond Street in Soho. Sent some people here a few weeks back who loved it:

Good luck!

Jan 29, 2008
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Pylos or Ali Baba?

Totally agree on the Pylos call - been there five or six times and always had an excellent experience...

Jan 28, 2008
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Caterers for Funeral/ Columbia Area

I live up in the area and have two thoughts:

For soul food (ribs/chicken/bbq/sides and the like), try Rack & Soul. They do catering and am sure would do a nice job. Ask for Michael, the owner.

For more mainstream platters, crudite, appetizers and such, try Westside Market. They catered a wine event we had and everything was very good quality and abundant in portion size. Wide range of items available:

Hope that helps...

Jan 25, 2008
Vinoguy in Manhattan

La Mancha/Madrid/Ribera del Duero/Logrono Eating Report (Really Long)

Just back from my first ever trip to Spain and before heading over, I scoured this board for some recs. Wanted to pass along some of my finds that may help somone out down the road - particularly since Ribera del Duero and Logrono (understandably) don't get that much love/attention as they're pretty far off the beaten path.

I preface this report by stating I work for a wine importer and was over for business meetings with our Spanish producer. Hence, we had some serious "insider" help with the restaurants they took us too -- in the same way we take our foreign suppliers to some killer NYC places, these guys led us to a great mix of both high end and regional specialty type spots. Needless to say, the one common thread among all 18 meals of our six day trip involved some type of jamon product being served :)

After arriving in Madrid, we drove down to La Mancha to visit one of our properties and after a brief tour, had lunch in a small town called Quintanar de la Orden at a place called "El Almirez" at Calle San Juan 9. Believe it's a relatively new establishment -- very modern design and feel with polished service, a young chef who looked to be in his late 20's/early 30's and overall cool vibe. When we walked in, directly next to the non-smoking sign in the dining room was a table of four businessmen smoking...comical (and although France just banned smoking inside bars and restaurants, Spain appears in no hurry to do so).

Menu was a combination of regional specialties with modern techniques - a shooter of marzipan-esque liquid with a grilled prawn, braised partridge over a soup finely ground chickpeas and grilled merluza (hake) were all very good to outstanding We made it through 5 of 6 courses and collectively waived the white flag at the chef. Worth seeking out if one is travelling in the La Mancha region.

Dinner that night back in Madrid was at El Cenador del Prado near the Plaza Santa Ana - Calle Prado 4. In reading about this place, it sounded like a Madrid mainstay establishment -- what we found was a very whimsical/fun design with excellent service and very good cuisine. Standouts were the jamon/manchego to start, some small balls of fried bechamel sauce (can you think of anything richer than deep fried bechamel sauce?) and an outstanding entree of merluza a la plancha with green sauce.

Day 2 began with a two hour drive to Ribera del Duero, one of Spain's most exciting wine regions to again visit a winery. Amid freezing wind, plummeting temperatures and driving rain (and eventually snow), we trudged around the area and finally settled into the main town in the wine region called Aranda de Duero. And as if on cue to mollify the cold and rain, we were led to a tavern-like restaurant with a large subterranean dining room called "El Lagar de Isilla" (Calle Isilla 18) which specializes in the regional specialty of Lechazo Asado (baby lamb). The smell of garlic soup and roasting lamb from the open brick oven was absolutely divine.

Lechazo Asado is the type of dish that I could imagine Calvin Trillin happliy going on a pilgrimage throughout Central Spain in order to find the best rendition. The meal started out with a garlic and bread soup (and with what I swear although denied by our hosts was braised tripe). Next came simple green salads and finally the specialty of the house -- a platter of slow roasted baby lamb in a simple broth of olive oil, salt and lamb juices. Outrageously good. A platter of desserts appeared and the most interesting of the three served was a strawberry type flan with of all things, pop rocks (the candy that explodes in your mouth) sprinkled on top! Overall it was the absolute perfect meal for a cold winter day...

Dinner back in Madrid that night was at Zalacain (Calle Alvarez de Baena 4). Read up a bit about it before hand and knew we were in for our most formal dining experience of the trip. The artwork and setting of the restaurant are beautiful and service was very formal. Definitely an older, wealthy type clientele with an air of elegance. While all of the appetizers and entrees were very good, the two highlights of the meal to me were the jamon iberico bellota to start (this was the REALLY good stuff - when you eat enough jamon at every meal, you get a feel for the sublime, good, eh or simply bad jamon and this was off the charts good) and the raspberries for dessert. These raspberries were what most ordinary raspberries dream of becoming...huge and plump with gorgeous red color. Served with a touch of cream and light sugar dusting. Wow. Really good...

After a day of walking around Madrid including a stop at the Mercado de la Paz (Calle Ayala 28) in the Retiro neighborhood (WELL worth checking out to see numerous vendors of fish, meat, bread, produce, dried goods and of course jamon -- of which the good stuff cost 186 euros/kg!!!), it was off to Logrono for a visit to our winery in Rioja.

Logrono reminded me a lot of what the city of Napa is to wine country in CA - a base of businesses, restaurants, shops etc -- all centered around the wine industry of Rioja. It's a beautiful town dating back to the 14th century with a gothic cathedral in the middle of the town square and also the location of what proved to be the culinary highlight of the trip - tapas on Calle del Laurel and Calle San Juan (which hold what I subsequently learned may be the best tapas bars in Northern Spain).

I was led by a local Logrono native who sheparded me through the small, cobblestone, pedestrian alley that make up Calle Laurel & Calle San Juan, on a tapas circuit hopping from bar to bar. They are basically one on top of the other and the deal is, you go from place to place ordering the specialty of the house along with vino blanco or crianza (or beer). The patatas bravas at Juberna were the perfect combination of fried potato, white sauce and hot red sauce. The "moranus" or pork kebob grilled over charcoal with honey was absolutely killer. And the other stops were great too - a blur of grilled calamari, scallops and breadcrumbs in a scallop shell, fried padrone peppers (1 in 10 are SPICY hot, a culinary russian roulette if you will...) were all worthwhile stops. But there was one absolute showstopper.

If you ever make it to Logrono, you must and I mean MUST make a visit to the Bar Soriano (Calle Laurel 2) which serves "Setas" or grilled button mushrooms. The place is the size of a small walk in closet in Manhattan -- there is simply a long wood bar with a metal plancha in the back corner and a few counterman taking money and doling out what may be the best mushrooms on the planet. They are grilled amid a special sauce of what tasted like oil/garlic/butter, skewered with three mushrooms to an order, a tiny grilled shrimp at the top of the skewer and a warm piece of bread at bottom. The result is simply spectacular and what you wind up with after finishing your trio of mushrooms is a piece of warm, garlic/butter/oil soaked piece of bread. The best 1.55 euros I've ever spent on anything ever.

Bar Soriano is what I'll refer to as an "Instant Classic" - kind of like Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS (the Dave Roberts steal), watching Jordan drain a game winning jumper over Craig Ehlo, seeing Shawshank Redemption etc. - basically one of those experiences in life that you won't ever forget.

And not to overanalyze (but I will) -- but in the same way that the brothers who run the Swan Oyster Depot in SF seem to take great pleasure in the fact that they are doling out some of SF's best, freshest seafood and sourdough bread, these mushroom guys had a look on their faces like they knew they were doing something really special and delicious. Apparently, they've been around for about 30 years and I take a small amount of comfort in knowing that when you or I next make it back to Logrono, these guys will still be grilling the mushrooms of dreams.

There were a few other meals consumed during the rest of the trip but the aforementioned were the highlights and well worth checking out. And after a few trips to the gym to sweat out some jamon, I can't wait to get back to Spain as soon as possible!

Jan 16, 2008
Vinoguy in Spain/Portugal

Sea Salt by Orhan Yegen

Fyi...posted a review on Sea Salt (went last night) at:

It was a pretty disappointing meal am sorry to report.

Jul 26, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Mermaid Inn vs Black Pearl vs Sea Salt

Just went to Sea Salt last night and have to say, wanted to like it a lot but they are still "feeling their way".

Room is all tiled (floor to walls) with no carpet or curtains to absord the sound. Makes for very loud noise reverberation, especially when the doors are open onto 2nd Ave and trucks are going by as they were throughout dinner. I'm not opposed to loud or buzzing rooms -- a lot of time the vibe can be great but this was just plain loud.

My date and I had two apps and two entrees along with a $40 bottle of Riesling. No dessert or coffee. Total bill came to $125 + $25 tip (service was good) = $150. Which seemed steep for what we were served both quantity or quality-wise.

Food-wise, scallop appetizer was EXCELLENT, although three per serving at $14 cost seemed expensive. Grilled octopus tasted a few days old (not what you want grilled octopus to taste like).

Entrees we chose were the whole dorade (nicely done and quite fresh) and red snapper fillet which tasted less than fresh as well. Disappointing given the premise that they serve pristine, fresh fish.

Overall, I'd give this place another shot but with some degree of hesitation. My date and I both agreed they won't be running the Mermaid Inn out of business anytime soon.

Jul 26, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Sexy atmosphere w/outdoor seating and killer wine list

Know exactly what you're going for -- tough combining all three but I think a great choice would be Barbuto on Washington St. Went there for a first date a few months back and scored big points on venue.

They have tables outside (and even when inside, the garage style windows are open to the street for fresh air, people watching etc).

Really eclectic, interesting Italian wine list with good range of BTG.

And food is solid -- great apps/pizzas/cheeses/pastas/secondi etc.

Overall decent value and if things go well, you can go for more upscale drinks at The Room or downscale margaritas at Tortilla Flats.

Jul 23, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Sea Salt by Orhan Yegen

I'm going to check it out this Wed and will report back.

Anyone else been since it opened?

Jul 23, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Sfoglia Report (Lunch)

Been trying to get to Sfoglia for a long time now and finally managed to schedule lunch there on Monday with a food writer/author and our company's PR team of 2. Since it seems like dinner reservations are booked out six weeks or so, lunch was a great call - made the reservation about a week in advance and there were a few empty tables.

The quick and dirty from our lunch of four:

Olive oil - outstanding. The olive oil actually comes from one of the wine producers we represent in Sicily and is really amazing, high quality oil. I don't want to shill the name here but I will say it's the best o/o from any of the wineries we represent in the world. Surpised to see it being served and goes to show that they really care about serving the highest quality ingedients from start to finish.

Bread - also outstanding. Tasted as though it had recently come out of the oven with a chewy crust, soft interior and some kosher or sea salt (large crystals) on the exterior. Really, really good.

Panzanella - nice mix of fresh tomatoes, crusty bread chunks, radishes and assorted other items...lightly dressed. Very good.

Fritatta of day - best appetizer. I didn't order it but tasted and had perfect mix of cheese, egg and wild mushrooms. Very light and creamy. Delicious.

We had three pastas -- the hands down winner was gnocchi in pesto. As mentioned in previous posts, these gnocchi are remarkably light and airy. Delicious. Lasagna with mint and vegetables (squash) and goat cheese was above average -- just didn't wow although the mint added a nice summer touch to the dish. Papardelle Bolognese was very good as well although a bit heavy for Monday's oppressive heat.

Wine List - really nice mix of eclectic producers and varietals...some well known names and lesser known names/regions. Well thought out and reasonably priced.

The "find" of the lunch was during coffee/dessert -- since it was about 95 degrees out (and quite hot in the restaurant) we asked if they could make an iced espresso. They offered their Americano-esque drink which was espresso-based but quite strong and served chilled in a tall glass with ice. WOW. The perfect summer end to a meal with some biscotti. Could've had about 6 more it was that good.

On a 1-10, meal was about an 8 and hope to have a chance to go back for dinner soon with a date. The only negative was that for a business lunch, service was a tad on the leisurely side.

Jul 12, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Best wine you've had under $15

At the last "tasting group" we had about four months ago, we sampled S. American wines (Chile/Argentina) and of the 20 people attending, the #1 winner of the evening BY FAR was:

Crios Torrontes (Argentina) - about $15

If you have a chance to try any Torrontes, give it a shot this summer...really nice tropical aromas/flavors with vibrant acidity to match.

(Fyi our wine company doesn't represent the Crios -- it's just one of those brands that is really generating some positive industry buzz and uniformly making excellent wines).

Jul 12, 2007
Vinoguy in Wine

Oriel wines

It's a pretty interesting project - i work for one of the largest wine importers in the US and we met with John (Hunt - the owner) about representing the project but ultimately took a pass.

From a jaded industry perspective, having one brand name for all regions smacks of commercialism to some degree (Albertson's supermarkets tried this approach with a private label brand called Origin a few years back sourcing Rielsing from the Mosel, Chianti from Italy etc).

However, there is a high degree of credibility with the Oriel wines given some of the winemakers associated with the projects. The winemaker from one of the wineries we represent in Spain makes the Oriel Priorat and it's seriously good juice.

Kudos for the vision and innovation!

Jul 12, 2007
Vinoguy in Wine

Post-run breakfast near Central Park

If you feel like ending on South, try Sarabeth's on Central Park South bet 5th and 6th Ave. Great food...excellent breakfasts/coffee although no outdoor seating. Not super pricey either.

More in my hood (100's on West Side) I can wholeheartedly recommend Cafe du Soleil (104th/105th and Bway on west side of street). Outrageously good coffee/omlettes, outdoor seating. A good step or two above the diner thing...

Jul 02, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Luger's - 6/25/07 (Shortage of Prime Beef) [moved from Manhattan board]

Had dinner at Luger's with high school friends in from out of town (LA/Boston). Making the pilgrimage with best friends = priceless.

One interesting observations before meal report:

Read about the scarcity of prime beef recently and heard Luger's was limiting reservations. What I overheard while waiting at bar on Mon was interesting -- for tables that have an actual reservation, they will serve the entire menu. For those walk ins who don't have a ressie, they WON'T serve the porterhouse -- they were offering some other cut of steak. Interesting...

The meal was solid as always:

Bacon: excellent (well crisped and excellent flavor)
Shrimp cocktail: better than usual...fresh and enormous
Steak: Outrageously good. The steak for 2 medium rare was perfect; the medium came a little overcooked (thankfully I was in the MR camp...).
Potatoes and Spinach: Check.
Didn't go french fries this time, but IMHO, the most underrated side dish they offer -- crazy good.
Clos du Val Cab - fine, nothing special
Desserts: Strudel and Key Lime, mit schlag (of course).

When the four of us go, we always play a game entitled, "You go in talking about the steak and leave talking about the ______".

This go round, we all left talking about the strudel. It was seriously killer.

Oh - and at 6pm, the place was PACKED. On a Monday night...

Jun 27, 2007
Vinoguy in Outer Boroughs

Regional, UWS on 99th St.

Major props on the veal ragu (believe pasta served with it is garganelli). all pretty reasonably priced pastas $12-14 or so. they usually have a special wine by-the-glass pour as well...usually a step above what's being poured by the glass on the regular list. Worth asking...

Do report back!

Jun 27, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

pls suggest a place - like employees only, but on the east side

Flatiron Lounge -- 21st and Bway/6th. Not exactly east side but getting closer...

Jun 27, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

first date, anyone?

Second on Little Owl. Really like Boqueria for tapas (though can be loud when restaurant is crowded). For LES, try Little Giant. All three choices will do everything but guarantee date #2...

Jun 27, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Post Matinee Private Wine Room for 10-12 people

My aunt is taking 10-12 people out for a post Saturday matinee lunch/early dinner. They're looking for a private room, preferably in the midtown area with $ not really being a huge deal breaker.

Does Picholine still have their private wine room? Any other thoughts along those lines of a private wine room/library type environment?


Jun 22, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Italian restaurants in the east village

Supper all the way. Panzanella (bread salad) and the best tiramisu in the city.

Jun 22, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Bologna and Verona

Happy to pass it's from my friend who studied in Bologna for a year during her MA in Int'l Affairs from SAIS. Shoot me an email to and I'll send it over...

Jun 09, 2007
Vinoguy in Italy

Bologna and Verona

Hi Lisa -- I posted some recs from Bologna under a posting (along with Venice/Amsterdam) about a week or two ago. Worth checking out the gelato places in addition to the restaurant I was at: Osteria dei Poeti. Great spot for dinner...

I have some other spots that were recommended to me from a friend who lived in Bologna along with places to visit. They're in an email that I can forward to you if it's of interest.


Jun 08, 2007
Vinoguy in Italy

New Wine Bar at Time Warner (NYC)?

Sounds very interesting -- I assume this has no relation to Landmarc (killer 1/2 bottle program...).

Jun 05, 2007
Vinoguy in Wine

Favorite seafood restaurants?

Second the Aquagrill rec -- have never had a bad experience there.

May 30, 2007
Vinoguy in Manhattan

Report from Bologna, Venice and Amsterdam (Longish)

Hi Linda -- the hotel is called Locanda Matir and is located away from the touristy end of things but close enough to the Grand Canal in Dorsoduro. It's not super luxurious and there are only six rooms total but it's very clean/well run and the owner is an Argentinean woman who was particularly friendly. I'd recommend the website is:

May 30, 2007
Vinoguy in Italy