Not So Nuts for Almond

(Photo: Guests embarrassed to be seen eating at this restaurant. Oh the inhumanity!)

One would think that I seek out bad restaurants intentionally as of late... with my current track record. However, I think it's just the nature of the industry: some nights you got it, some nights - well.... you don't.

I hit another not-so-terrific-restaurant-despite-other-raves. Again.


Let me first point out that I use quite a bit. I have racked up enough points early on in the game to be flagged as a VIP.... not that it means much. It only indicates that I'm a big dining out fan and use to make many of those reservations. I just go out a lot. Four to five times a week is not uncommon. In fact, that's simply my lifestyle. The only caveat is that I have a tendency to stick with restaurants where I know I won't be disappointed....

Until recently.

I changed it up a bit and went to three new restaurants this past week. ALL of them: blaaaaaah! How could I be so unlucky? I don't seek out bad food or request the worst possible service...

If anything, I am very courteous to everyone and the only expectation I have is to be served good food for the price I pay. NOT a big deal. In fact, EVERYONE should operate with this maxim when dining out....

So my latest venture to Almond (NYC) was anything but scrumptious or worth writing about. However, I have this blog and I'm supposed to say something.... Momma always said, "If you can't say something nice...." Well.... I can say that the decor was nicely done for the space that they had available. There. I said something nice.

Despite my reservation AND arriving on time - our party of 4 was routed to the bar, since our table "wouldn't be ready for another 10 minutes or so." I smiled, thanked her and ordered up a cocktail... which was FINE! The bartender was friendly (as most of them are, or at least SHOULD be) and he made a very good brown-sugar rimmed pomegranate martini. Oh! Wow! 2 nice things! (Momma, do I get extra credit?!)

Those 10 minutes for the table, came and went. My friend's husband went back to the hostess after we were sitting at the bar for over 30 minutes... WELL past the reservation time.

Kind of a bad ploy to push alcoholic drinks on your guest. But, it's not uncommon in NYC to do that. Many restaurants push customers to the bar to get them liquored up before a meal. But it is really odd that Almond is pushing their drinks and have a baby as their mascot on their advertisements and website. I'm not putting those two things together, but their branding would say otherwise.... Take a look at the baby eating bread on the website and you'll see this repeated in literature in the restaurant. I'm just sayin'.... disturbing. Hello Marketing? May want to change that item too, while you're at it.... Anyway.....

I should have lingered a while longer at the bar... maybe it might have made the food taste better....

We were finally seated and all of us ordered something different - but I really and truly felt like this "Warm Salad of Duck Confit & Frisee poached egg, butternut squash, sherry vinaigrette, ricotta salata" spoke to me. I wish it would have yelled loudly at me NOT TO ORDER it.

Salty, soggy and with an overcooked egg.... a delight, it was not.

The service was friendly, when it was available. We literally sat there for hours. Not that we didn't enjoy the atmosphere and being with our friends. We just would have liked our drinks refreshed and our meal ordered before sitting in the restaurant for hours on end. Even when we were ready for the check, the waitstaff was incognito... still. You'd think they'd want the money and the tips. That's what logic speaks, but here....Maybe not.

Hopefully, the waiter and bus boy were not in the kitchen cooking. But, come to think of it, it may have helped. Or, it could have explained a lot since the people in the kitchen obviously had no clue what they were doing or how good food should be prepared.

My teenage children cook a LOT better than this place. I should have asked them to whip up something with me in the kitchen that night... instead, I just learned that in order to enjoy Almond, one must drink heavily and/or just be nuts.

(-1 star)

Foodie for Thought...

Critical opinions of this blog are just that: opinions. I don't expect everyone or ANYone to agree with everything I write. That would be unrealistic and quite boring, to be honest.

I am genuinely happy that there are people who are paying attention to what I write about in the first place! Woo hoo! Another visitor to my little blogosphere! (Glad to have you stop by!!)

However, please note that I am merely a writer, who is having a great time scribing about some places that I've dined at recently. Most of the time, they are really very good experiences - other times, well, no so much.

All in all, I attempt to give a synopsis that is honest and true - whether it was a good or bad event at that particular dining spot.

You'll see that I focus on Manhattan and have been, admittedly, waaaay too often to the East Village to sample the culinary delights that seem to exude from this section of the city. That's probably why I don't write more - because I'm frequenting a lot of the restaurants in that area....

But enough! I have made it a point to sample new places more frequently so that I can stay current with my blogging. It's not easy to always write about going out to dinner when I do so 4 to 5 times a week, but I'll try to do better!

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that in spite of some of the recent, negative opinions about my writing, I still have the freedom to continue to describe my own thoughts and criticisms.... that is what BLOGGING is all about. Frank Bruni wrote about his foodie experiences all of the time and got paid for it! Lucky guy! Me? No, no payment here - but just a way of sharing Gotham's grub scene with anyone who cares to read. -I welcome your thoughts and your OWN opinions, too.... and I will respond - even to those of you who think you're being clever about your quips and being asocial by remaining anonymous.... NO PROBLEM!

I also have no problem voicing my evaluations of various locales.... nor do I have any issue with people saying that I'm wrong about my assessment.... We all have our own prerogatives.

My main point of having this blog is to have a sharing space --because I love to write almost as much as I enjoy food!

If you have any suggestions for me to visit on my restaurant race around the city, let me know. (It's not a race, I just said that because it is alliteration....!) I need to find some unexplored gems! Do you know where I can find any in Manhattan? Let me know - and follow me on Twitter: @NYCfoodieblog

Save Your Sacred Money and Avoid This Vegan Disaster!

I am a big fan of eating healthy, so when my good friend suggested that we go to Sacred Chow, I was all for it!

My friend, Rebecca, is not only a vegetarian, but she also has a strict kosher diet. A place like Sacred Chow is perfect for her -and she's been on many occasions.

However, the night I went with her, it was anything BUT a good night at this locale.

To start off, when we entered the establishment, we were seated at THE smallest table in the restaurant -in spite of other openings - AND a request for a better space, we were denied. We sat close to the door -and it wasn't a warm breeze coming in, either.

The coldness of the waitress superseded any of the environmental conditions outdoors, however. She continued to be miserable. We had to wait for water, napkins and any culinary basics. By the time we ordered, we had already been seated at the minuscule mini-shoebox for a table for well over 20 minutes.

The waitress was annoyed that I asked questions about some of the dishes and didn't even look at my friend, Rebecca while she ordered her typical fare. Again, Rebecca had been there before and LIKED going to Sacred Chow.

Until THIS evening.

We received our dishes ice cold and with NO seasoning what-so-EVER.

I've had vegan food - and it can be scrumptious. I don't even KNOW what this place attempted to call food - but edible, it was not.

Another friend of mine recently commented that "Sacred Chow is not fit for human consumption..." and I ignored her warning - thinking she was there on an "off" night. (Every restaurant has 'em!) But no.... no, she was spot-on. This was a terrible meal. Terrible space. HORRIFIC service.

I would NOT recommend Sacred Chow to ANYONE in the NY area - or to tourists looking for a vegan experience. I wouldn't even want your DOG to have any of the leftovers there - they might have gastrointestinal distress that is way beyond comprehension.

Bad meal. Bad bad bad. Sacred Chow is not worth the sacrifice. There's not a star in the universe that would twinkle for this nightmare.

Save yourself for real, good, vegan cuisine. Try Peacefood Cafe - I'll write about this gem in an coming blog soon....!

So Many Places, So Little Time... and Money

In NYC, the money spent on food can be outrageous. I'm not talking about just a little expensive... I'm talking about meals that cost almost as much as someone's rent on their apartment in south Jersey.

I indulge in a more expensive meal once in awhile (Momofuku Ko....) -but I'm also a little conservative, too.

You have to be in this economy, right? I mean, I can only sell so many of my personal belongings on eBay to keep eating at Restaurant Daniel.... but I'll be damned if you find me at Micky D's anytime soon...

Food and wine hold great reverence in my life. I respect food and love it when a chef does it right. I actually get angry when a simple dish is slaughtered and I'm paying WAY too much for mediocrity.

But it's just so satisfying when I get a burst of flavor that is easy on the wallet.

I think this is why I am a fan of places in the East Village or the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There's something about Caracas Arepa Bar and Mercadito Cantina. You can eat VERY well and have fresh ingredients -but not have to take out a second mortgage to pay the check.

The past couple of months, I have been to a plethora of locations in NYC, but have not been able to actively share my culinary delights due to a hectic schedule in my personal life. I will make a better attempt at sharing here on this blog - as long as I know someone's listening!

Follow me on Twitter - look for NYCFoodieGirl or follow this LINK.

I hope we can learn about some of the best places to enjoy in this great city -and which places we should avoid all together. If you've been to a place not worth the dollar for the service and food you've been given - let me know. We'll out them right here.

If you've had an amazing foodie experience, share that too!

All in all, this is our space to make sure we stay away from the roach coaches and get some fine eats for all those hard-earned greenbacks.

Resto: Under Certain Conditions

I've eaten at Resto before, but thought I'd try it again and see if they could top my last visit. I also wanted to be able to review this place for my new blog and not go on what I remember from a few months ago.

In this case, I should have just kept the fond memory and moved on to another locale to blog about...

Honestly, I must have went on the loudest night EVER in this place. The acoustics were so bad, I couldn't hear the hostess or the waiter say anything -and I'm not a lip-reader, so it was a challenge to communicate about the menu. -Not to mention, I kind of would have liked to converse with my boyfriend over the course of the evening, but... no. It was just ridiculous.

The set up of this restaurant isn't entirely terrible (but close!), and it's certainly not put together for comfort - at ALL. The chairs are made of aluminum - cheap looking and just as uncomfortable. The tables are way too small and my favorite part of the evening (get ready for sarcasm): the condensation from the overhead air conditioner that drips on you, your table, into your glass and onto your food! Yeah baby!

Tip for anyone considering a visit to Resto: DO NOT SIT under the air conditioning unit that lines the restaurant on the entire left hand side as you go in... unless you want to have your umbrella and rain coat handy. (The wait staff is HAPPY to wipe down the unit for you, but if you stay for over 30 minutes, you're probably going to get dripped on anyway! AVOID. I've warned you. Dine at your own risk.)

We asked to be moved since we just unknowingly sat down to the drip-zone. Crazy us thinking that it was a little strange that it was raining indoors, in the corner of the room. At first they were HESITANT to move us! Are you kidding me? If you don't move us, I'll go right out the door!

So in a few minutes and with a confused look on my face (why am I staying here, getting dripped on, WAITING for these yazoos to decide if I can move or not?!), we ended up in the center of the restaurant -which is anything less than ideal with other diners and the wait staff continuously buzzing around you while you attempt to eat your meal without getting your fork in your eye. To top that off, the guy sitting directly behind me was a little on the rotund side - I had to carefully squeeze into my chair and try not to bump up against Sasquatch.

What a fun evening so far! I can't hear, I look like I came in from a rain storm and now I'm sitting with my ribcage up against a table that is fit for gerbils. Oh yes - and I'm sitting on a chair that is about as comfortable as a bed of nails. Sheer joy.

When our waiter finally arrived - I swore it was John Mayer's doppelganger!! Not that it made a difference, it just made my so-far-crappy-night-at-Resto a bit interesting.

To my surprise, once my boyfriend placed an order (because I couldn't even hear the waiter) the food arrived and was actually quite good.

First, the appetizers. A little salty on the deviled egg - but so tasty in spite of a little extra sodium. Crispy, crunchy and with the egg to refine the flavor. Oh! But for a real good foodie moment, try the Bibb salad. The crispy pigs' ears, dandelion leaves and soft egg make this a mouthwatering delight.

When dinner arrived, I was more than ready. It wasn't served very timely, so don't go to this place too hungry (or thinking you'll be comfortable either).... I had the veal which was spot-on in terms of taste and presentation. I also inhaled some mussels that evening, moules frites with green curry, lemongrass, coconut milk and kaffir lime. Those could NOT have been served better -and I've had my share of mussels in the city. These were so delicious and the combinations of spices made the dish simply perfect.

The crowd started to get larger and louder as we finished our plates - staying for dessert just wasn't possible. My ears, butt and ribcage were really worn out by the time it was time for something sweet.

I don't know if I'll go back to Resto just based on its overall set up of space. It is also a bit far for me to try take out - but maybe a quick business lunch would be worth a try - just not while we have warm weather and a need for air conditioning.

It will be interesting to see if Resto makes it in this economy and with its customer unfriendly space. It is really sad to see a good meal to be overshadowed by a poor set up. Resto could be the best-o -but not in its current... ahem... condition.

How Daniel Changed My Life

I really don't need to tell anyone about incredible cuisine at the famed Restaurant Daniel - because it's already been done. And it's been done in style -as it should be.

What I could tell you about is Daniel's wrath.... you know, what it leaves one of its customers once you've dined there.

I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry and Elaine have to take a flight back to NYC, and there's only two tickets available: one coach, one first class. Jerry takes the latter because, of course, once you've had first class, you can't go back.

That's Daniel in a nutshell. You just can't eat substandard anymore...

Once you've been waited on with such attention to detail and service - you don't want to go anywhere else. And, when you do, you begin to compare -or better yet, contrast. That's right, foodies, you know what I'm talking about.... you become your own critic. Your palate gets sensitive and your expectations are so grand, that you are shocked if there is no Maitre D' or wine director at a fast food joint. You're officially a food snob.

Or even if you've dined at rival Per Se - you'll compare the portions you get there to what you get at Daniel for the same price. Granted, those who frequent either of these locales on a regular basis are not paying much attention to their pennies in their wallet - but maybe with the economy, they should.

My date didn't seem to mind spending over a William McKinley that night - but wow... the after effects of dining just last week still hasn't worn off. I realized, more than anything, that after Daniel and being treated to such a high level of ooh-la-la, I can never break up with my boyfriend either. Yes, it's that good. Stupid good. Zut alors! I'm so screwed....

Alive and Kicking at Convivio

So I hit a few restaurants the last couple of days - and I like to keep myself as anonymous as possible -because I think if they know you're coming in to review the place, you're not getting the regular service. That's why I wait a couple of days before posting my review. Just gives it that level of anonymity. Either that, or maybe I have some other things preoccupying my daytime life. Or perhaps it's a combo deal.

I still love food.

I enjoy NYC dining so much, too. It's like an addiction now. It's so insatiable. And once you get a taste of some of these places, it's hard NOT to become a regular!

Anyway, let's see.... Convivio. This place was not the easiest to get to, but who cares if the food is great, right?

I was treated very appropriately when I entered. Smiles, a friendly greeting and a helpful attitude was really appreciated. I sat down in the lounge/bar area for maybe 90 seconds before the host came to seat me and my date to the table.

My initial impression of the restaurant was quite favorable. I wasn't crazy about the decor, but realized that those types of things are very subjective anyway.

So as I was checking out the decorum, I noticed that it seemed to get kind of cramped in the space. I followed the host blindly and an older gentleman at a table tried to make room for me to get by him.... This was nice of him, but when his chair landed on my foot, it was anything but a kind way to be introduced to a new restaurant.

I kept from loudly screaming, because all of this man's weight on my big toe was very painful. There was a muffled yelp that emitted from my mouth and then I held my breath for a few moments as the heat of pain surged through my body. I survived the minor injury, but even as I type this blog post, the bruising is still visible and there's a slight tinge when walking in certain footwear.

That being said: Convivio is TOO CROWDED. Too many tables in the space they have available.

But the Maitre D' was quick to respond. He offered ice - but even better, he offered a high-end sparking wine, complements of the house and acknowledged that it wasn't a good way to not only start an evening, but to introduce himself.

Talk about friendly and prompt service!

I just smiled to keep from crying at that point - but I think the Italian version of Champagne was a good move on behalf of the restaurant... "A" for effort!

Convivio offered a prix fixe that evening that was really easy to select from their ample menu. I chose some olives as a starter (sfizi), the quaglia (quail) as an appetizer, Mezzaluna al tonno as my "primi" (first dish) and the sauteed lobster tail as my "secondi" (second dish). By far, the mezzaluna al tonno (tuna-tomato filled pasta) was my favorite of all of these delicious creations. It was so incredibly flavorful and not overcooked - too many restaurants don't have a clue about pasta - but Convivio was spot on with this dish. I also enjoyed the olives -ripe and anything but soggy. The lobster was also quite good, but I tried my date's meal, as well -and we ended up switching! He had the housemade duck sausage. It was served with some lentils -that really made this a mouth-watering savory surprise.

I didn't think I'd have room for dessert, but it was all a part of the 'prix fixe' - so I tried the gelato and sorbet; I asked the house to determine the choice of flavors for me. Chocolate, berry and marscapone were served - a portion for two people. I had to share and we both agreed that Convivio would be on our "must go again" list of restaurants in Midtown East.

I'd recommend Convivio to anyone looking for a fine dining experience and to not wear open-toed shoes until they figure out the table dynamics! The food is spectacular and quite affordable for the amount. Order the prix fixe to sample the menu at an unbeatable price for NYC.

Small Space, Big Taste in the EV

Although I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (in a shoe box of an apartment), one of my favorite foodie haunts is located in the East Village. The EV just has it goin' on...

Of course, I will try my best to be more diverse in my dining experiences for future postings, but for right now, I must tell you about last night's dinner... I'm still salivating, just thinking about it. And that's a good thing.

This best-loved EV place of mine is Caracas Arepa Bar at 93 1/2 E 7th Street. That's right, it's address is 93.5... and that's surely due to its tiny space.

But the big food that is served -and I mean in terms of flavor, not portions- is truly phenomenal. Space and location are not even considered in this critique -because I mean it: it doesn't MATTER. Caracas can get away with this tiny hole-in-the-wall locale due to its superior approach to food and their level of cleanliness. I'm telling you, don't pay attention to space or time and you'll have an even greater experience. (Unless you're a plus size diner, then, you may want to consider take out.... it's just squeezy with very little elbowroom for even those with skinny butts.)

Arepas are kind of a Venezuelan take on a pita -but made with cornmeal, grilled on each side and stuffed with many different types of fillings. The menu consists of arepas filled with shredded beef, black beans, chorizo, chicken and fried plantains -to avocado, tomato and cheese. There's many options to choose from and almost always has a special on its menu most nights for something a little edgy.

The yellow, tangy sauce is what really gives these little pockets most of its piquancy. There's some spice and a unique union of seasonings that complement the arepas -no matter which one you select on the menu.

Oh! And you'll want to select at least 2!

I'd also recommend the sugar cane drink that is called a Papelon con limon - OMFG! This really off-sets the spiciness of the arepas and simply works well with all of the different experiences your mouth will be privy to! Whatever you do, don't forget to end your meal with their Venezuelan-version of flan, Quesillo. Order this to GO if you have to - it has an aphrodisiac quality to it... I'll just leave the rest to your imaginations and continue.....

Caracas is very affordable (which is a big draw for anyone wanting to dine out, but not spend a lot) but you might have to wait to be seated if you didn't plan on taking out. We were a party of four on a Thursday night and we waited an hour and 15 minutes to get a table. I was ready to start gnawing on my own arm, but there's plenty of little bars to grab a drink while you wait - so not too bad. But honestly - for four people that had appetizers, 8 arepas and drinks - we were less than $80 - ENTIRE BILL. (Don't forget! I'm talking about New York CITY here, people! Manhattan! Where can you get a WHOLE quality meal for that for 4 people in a RESTAURANT -not a chain, deli, crappy diner or a street vendor?)

And as I mentioned and stressed before, its a really small space -so don't even THINK about bringing a stroller inside or taking along grandma in her walker! Get the take out! Just don't be stupid about it.... No one wants a whiny baby in their face or be unkind to those who need extra space when they go out to dinner.... so just order ahead in their 'to go' shop right next door. Its easy ---and I do it all of the time when I don't have an hour to wait for evening chow.

Either way, Caracas give you fresh, affordable and terrific tasting food, the decor is quaint and the wait is well worth it!

Vosges Haut Chocolat - Very Cool & Stylish

I blame my boyfriend for turning me on to these exotic truffles from Vosges. From the moment I opened the dark purple box (plus points for the color scheme!) and found a mixture of interesting chocolate yumminess, my attitude toward anything containing cacao has dramatically changed.

First, the chocolate combinations at Vosges is beyond your regular fare of champagne truffles and common selections of dark, white or milk varieties. Not to say that they do not have them, but it much better than the standard garden varieties found in most chocolatier's stores. Vosges is not simple -by a long shot. You can get your truffles sprinkled with Indian curry or find a small petal of lavender on top.

The combination of flavors is astounding as they are complex.

In fact, yesterday, I visited the Manhattan location on Madison Avenue -because I just needed a fix after a bad restaurant visit the night before. Nothing like getting out of a mood by adding a bit of the choco to one's diet....

I initially meandered my there to get myself a nice, cold iced chocolate drink - the Azteca. Talk about muy muy bueno!! The hint of chili spices with vanilla and cinnamon really make this elixir something very special indeed. I chose to sit and sip from a tall glass in the shop -to people watch and just enjoy my favorite cold chocolate drink in the city. Plus, I was surrounded by chocolates, stark white furniture and fixtures that were a beautiful contrast to the deep purple color of the walls. It's just a fun place to stop in, grab some chocolate and take in the scene.

While there, I also had to pick up a box of 'naga' truffles. Sweet Indian curry, coconut and deep milk chocolate make this a true concoction of serendipity.

The young gentleman behind the counter was very friendly and offered me a sample from one of their newer truffles -that was called 'Balsamico'. From their "Collezione Italiana," this dark chocolate truffle boasts a 12-year aged balsamic vinegar candy goodness, sprinkled with Sicilian hazelnuts. But before you make the face of "ugh" and swear it off - let's not forget the recent studies regarding vinegar and weight loss! Seriously -chocolate with its antioxidants now combined with fat-reducing vinegar. O-M-G! Heaven in a truffle?

Ok, I made that face too. Before I sampled it. It was quite good and worth another bite. Or two. Or three. But wait. It was only a truffle. Guess it's time to buy a box.

Of course, I walked all the way home, rather than take the subway or bus back to my place. Nothing like indulging and then bulging! No, not this time... I'll be back again soon. That little box of truffles doesn't stay too long in an opened box. Nor do I share well. I keep my calories to myself. Literally and figuratively -but it's sooooo worth it!

Aldea is Not "Ideal"

Now honestly - I entered this restaurant with a few expectations, but nothing too high. I just didn't know how low I would have to go in order to get a whole lot of nothing...

At first glance, Aldea's design and overall set up of its limited space wasn't optimal. The bar is cramped and too far forward. I waited to be seated by somewhat inexperienced hostess that wasn't sure which table was ready or where she was really supposed to be taking me. If I was smart, I should have taken the cue and RAN. But no....

So while aimlessly following the unknown, I started to look at the ambience -or lack thereof. I couldn't help but notice the obvious fake plants and bad choice of wall color (gray-tones). One could be overwhelmed with blah. It's like they wanted modern and a Japanese flair -but it just missed its mark. Big time. So far, not so good.

The booth I was seated at was comfortable enough, but there was another obvious design flaw; when looking above my head, I saw an unsightly gap between wall and ceiling, apparently this was for lighting that did not work.

Oh well. Maybe the food will be better. I was hopeful.

Not so fast there, Quick Draw McGraw!

The very first item to be offered at the table was bread. Should be simple. Notice the word, 'should'. Aldea seems to think that rubbery is a good texture for its bread. Yes, like 'rubbah' - and forget the 'butt-ah' because in lieu of butter, a dish of olive oil was offered. Sans cracked pepper or sea salt. Olive oil, plain, with rubbery bread. Fail.

Then came out the appetizers. Maybe something direct from the kitchen would make up for poor design, confused staff members and bread not even good enough for pigeons at Union Square.

That's right, you guessed it. Fail again.

The Knoll Crest Farm egg was too complicated and WAY too salty. The Pickled Ramp Bulbs and Tah Soi was supposed to be served with crispy pig ears, apple and cumin yogurt. Ummm... not quite. Too much apple and the pig ears were soggy and anything BUT crispy. I'm not sure what the chef wanted the dish to taste like, but hopefully he wasn't TRYING to put crap on the menu. That's just what it ended up being.

The 'Jardin' salad was so-so -and thusfar, the only thing that was worth a second tasting. Nothing like mediocre salad being the only edible dish, right?

Too bad I was really hungry. I stayed around to wait for my main course of Arroz De Pato. This final dish was a huge fail-o-rama. It didn't help that when it was served, the waiter didn't even know how to present it. He mentioned that it was "Uh... duck. Confit? With... uh... sauce." Perfect. Even HE is confused what should be on my plate. (sigh)

Truth be told, Aldea -which has only been open for a couple of months, has a new name, "Al-dee-ah Dia-rrhea." I can say for certain that I will not visit this establishment again -nor would I recommend anyone to attempt to visit without a good dose of Immodium afterwards.

Back to Business as Usual - What Else?

Glad that I made a point to go to Momofuku Ssam Bar last night -in spite of the recent Hep A scare.

The food there is always fresh and incredibly well prepared. Guess what? It was even fresher than usual. Ssam wasted NO time getting their employees tested, vaccinated and well cared for -not to mention what they did to scrub the restaurant down to the cleanliest level its ever seen. Everything consumable was thrown out - and new was ordered.

David Chang and his employees went above and beyond to make Ssam one of the greatest eateries in the East Village. Don't let people tell you otherwise - this place was packed with people on Tuesday night and I'm proud I was there to enjoy my spicy sausage and rice cakes with some red wine, recommended by their wine director. Life is just tooooooo good. Enjoy it!

Momofuku - Not Tonight, Dear.....Or?

I'll admit... I'm a regular patron at the Momofuku restaurants... Noodle and Ssäm Bar are my two favorites and I've eaten more pork buns than I'll ever admit here.

But has recently reported an outbreak of Hepatitis A over at Momofuku Ssäm Bar!

So glad that I went to the Noodle Bar this past weekend and NOT Ssam. But all is not lost....

Here is the most recent press release from David Chang:

"New York City - June 9, 2009 —Momofuku Ssäm Bar has confirmed that a newly hired employee tested positive for the hepatitis A virus. In response, we immediately notified the New York City Department of Health, and began preemptively testing and vaccinating our staff.

Pending testing results and further analysis, The New York City Department of Health has not required or requested that we close the restaurant or notify our customers. Though there is a low risk of outbreak, all staff members have been vaccinated as a precautionary measure.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspected the restaurant yesterday and noted 0 violation points. We will be open for dinner service tonight.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will make a press release available this afternoon."

There you have it, Kids. No big deal. Go get some spicy rice cakes with sausage tonight... just don't get a tattoo while you're eating at the counter - because that is a different strain of Hepatitis all together.

A New Critical Blog About Good Food in the Big Apple

After a recent move to the Big Apple, I found myself in some amazing restaurants, hole-in-the-walls and hidden locations around this sprawling metropolis that had my friends and family telling me to make a blog about it.

I didn't start out as a food critic -or even someone that knew a lot about food. I like some food and not others. Simple, really.

So here I am.

I will write this blog not for only those who visit the greatest city in the world, nor will I write for tourists only. I'm writing for me and for you. If you like good food and strive to find something fan-freaking-fantastic worth blogging about yourself, then stop in here to see what's new on my list of 'must visits' or just plain 'stay aways'... there's plenty of both of those here in 'Gotham' and I hope to deal with a lot less of the latter.

There's a lot of exploration to be done here in New York City. So many restaurants come and go -and then there are the mainstays. But if I could offer ONE small tidbit of advice for ANYONE visiting NYC - stay away from dining at the chains in Times Square! What's the POINT?!

If I go to Paris, I don't want McDonald's... So if you're in NYC, stay away from TGIFriday's and Red Lobster. Unless you enjoy the next day's worth of diarrhea and overdosing on Mylanta. Just not worth it. Trust me.

Just keep in mind that I am very critical of where I eat. Restaurants need to be clean (obviously), the food should be fresh, flavorful and worth its price. Locations need not to be in an elitist neighborhood - in fact, I like the out-of-the-way place that makes you think, "WTH were they thinking?"

I'm also going to remain anonymous as possible - because the last thing I want is a free meal in order to be swayed by the restaurant's general manager that they are the best thing in the city. If it's the best, I'll let you know - but no one needs to know who it really is behind this laptop telling her readers what she really thinks or is criticizing. I want to be critical and palatable. Let's see how this goes....!

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