Friday, August 27, 2010

Cubano Panini From The...Uh...Oh Yeah! Soho Garden Deli

Every so often I work at my company's downtown location in Soho and often times I have ventured into the Soho Garden Deli, or as my fellow workers call it, The Dirty Deli. For six months now that is what I referred to it, that is until my last visit there when I finally read the name on the awning, how original. far I have been generally pleased with the quality of sandwiches at the place, so the other day I ordered the Cubano Panini Special with high hopes...ok not really 'high' hopes but I just wanted a good meal. I watched closely as the guy behind the counter assembled the Ham, the Roast Pork, the Swiss Cheese and especially the slices of Pickles. Pickles are the most important part of the Cubano...wait, wait, no their not, the Roast Pork is the most important part of the sandwich and the Pickles add the extra necessary flavor that makes a Cubano so special. Oh and I can't forget the Deli Mustard. An overall filling experience that I am sure to have many more times. The glorious Soho Garden Deli is located on W. Broadway between Grand and Canal right across from the Soho Grand Hotel.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rockwell Express: Is It A Burger Place Or Not?

Looks ok doesn't it? Well just ok didn't cut it. The other day walking across 8th street I stumbled upon this place called Rockwells with a logo that resembled a burger...or so I thought...

I mean that's a burger isn't it? Well it looked that way to me and I thought why not give another burger place a try, so I went right in. First off I wasn't sure where to start and there wasn't really anyone to ask either, but that's something that I understand. So when I walked up to the counter all I could see was salad stuff and it was the only thing I could see on the menu. It was a mixed salad ordering station and I thought...'Where are the burgers?' Finally I spotted someone who guided me to the farthest register to my right where I picked up a to-go menu and quickly perused the burger choices. Apparently their specialty was what they called Mixed-In Burgers where you can choose the ingredients which will be mixed in with the burger and then cooked. Interesting I thought. Well not so much. It was ok, I mean it was edible. Also they used a potato bun which apparently is becoming a tradition here in the city, how unfortunate. On the side I got an order of Onion Rings which were also edible. Overall I really can't say I was disappointed since I really didn't have any expectations from the start and I shouldn't have. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. My stomach will go on. If you must know Rockwells is located at 53 East 8th Street.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Redhouse: Chinese Food Fast And It's Really Good

Above is a picture of the Chicken Mei Fun that I had and even though I thought it was going to have different noodles I didn't mind because it was really delicious. Usually when you order from one of those Chinese Fast Food places you sometimes get poorer quality food at cheaper prices, so I tend to shy away from them unless of course I only have five bucks to my name. So the other day I went out wandering trying to think of a place to eat, stomach grumbling, and believed I was going to end up back at Vanessa's Dumplings (my new favorite place). However, I thought, I couldn't possibly blog about Vanessa's yet again, everyone would think I worked there or something, so I had to find an alternative. Right across the street I spotted this place called Redhouse and on the sign it said Asian Cuisine which I really couldn't tell just from looking at it from the outside. Once I got closer it seemed to be just a dressed up fast food place so I immediately became a bit skeptical but I thought why not at least give it a try. In looking over the counter at the kitchen area I could see that it was already a bit different that your average run-of-the-mill joint from just the way it was set up. Then after a look at the menu I could also tell that this place was a step up from the norm. Hmmm what to eat I thought, something to give me a good read on the quality....Dumplings! Maybe a little competition for Vanessa's across the street, eh? The first thing I ordered was the Dumpling Platter with 2 Pork, 2 Shrinp, 2 Chicken and 2 Vegetarian dumplings. Then I spotted the Chicken Mei Fun lower down on the menu thinking it was the dish with really fat noodles (that being Chow Fun), so I ordered it as well. Not too much food I thought. Another tell tale sign of a better quality establishment is the amount of time it takes to prepare the food and how much is already prepared ahead of time. I watched intently as the solo chef plucked all the necessary ingredients for the Mei Fun and threw them into the wok. Then he dropped all the Dumplings into the water for a quick boil just before he gave them a quick fry. The Mei Fun came out first and it looked steaming-hot good fitting perfectly into the plastic to-go container that the guy behind the counter closed up tightly. Then came the crispy looking Dumplings which smelled fantastic and were also really hot, all put quickly into a bag and off I was back to work. Of course the first thing I had to try were the Dumplings and I have to say that Vanessa's are still better. The problem here was that I chose the platter and not just Pork which I would almost certainly normally choose. The Vegetarian and the Chicken just weren't my style and didn't have the flavor I was looking for, especially the Vegetarian which basically had the ingredients of an Egg Roll inside and I don't really like Egg Rolls. The Pork and the Shrimp were extra delicious and I must say that the Dumpling Sauce at Redhouse was a tad tastier (sorry Vanessa). On to the Mei Fun. I quickly realized that the Mei Fun was not what I thought it was going to be with it's ultra skinny noodles, but I was able to ignore my order blunder and eat it anyway. Thankfully I did because it was extrememly delicious and probably the main reason why I will go back and try Redhouse again. This of course is a great example of why you can't just grade a place based on one dish or one experience and need to give yourself at least two options. Another idea I have had recently is actually asking the place what is their specialty, not that it's original or anything, but why not try the dish that they think is their best, it's my new motto. Redhouse is located at 203 East 14th Street just off of 2nd Avenue.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back To Defontes For The Firehouse Special

I have been thinking about this sandwich for weeks. A month or so ago, the last time I was at Defontes (3rd Ave at 21st), the guy behind the counter told me to try the Firehouse Special, of course after I had already ordered a different sandwich, which was fabulous by the way. So I promised myself the next time I went to Defontes I was going to give the Special a try and surprisingly it took me longer than I thought to find my way back there. No matter. Today in search of some solid nourishment I finally made it over there to order the sandwich that I have been anticipating for so long. Roasted Pork, Breaded Eggplant, Provolone Cheese and Broccoli Rabe. MMMM! So good. Wow it was really worth the wait. As you can see in the picture the ingredients are uniformly placed for an amazing distribution of flavors all perfectly complimenting the others (say that ten times fast!). The juice from the Roast Pork moistens the sandwich so there is no need for any condiments and there really shouldn't be, it's perfect without. Thankfully I was smart and didn't order Potato Salad or grab a bag of chips, because that would have significantly affected the enjoyment. When a sandwich is really good, I mean really good, it is not necessary to eat anything with it so you can experience it without any distractions. The question is when do I go back to eat it again?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Artie's Delicatessen: A Sandwich Bigger Than My Head!

Look at all that meat! This is what happens when you order a Pastrami and Corned Beef sandwich at a Jewish deli in New York, not to mention it's on delicious Rye bread with Swiss and Cole Slaw. There were a lot of choices on the menu and believe me they all looked really good, but I figured since it was my first time at Artie's (83rd and Broadway) I needed to order a staple(not an actual staple). First came a bowl of Cole Slaw and a bowl of Pickles for me to snack on, I mean what's a meal at a Jewish deli without Cole Slaw and Pickles? Nothing that's what. At first glance the Cole Slaw looked like the run of the mill that you can get pretty much anywhere, but when I tasted it I realized that it was unique. It was fresh and delicious and a great counterpart to the Sour Dills in the next bowl over. Now when they brought over my sandwich I was a bit shocked. I am pretty used to sandwiches with a ton of meat on them but when I say there was a ton of meat on this sandwich I am not kidding, I didn't know if I was going to be able to take a bite! But somehow I managed. The great thing about the sandwich is that the meat was still really warm plus it was extremely tender and I was able to smush it enough to fit it into my mouth. What a sandwich! The meat was fantastic but honestly I still prefer the Pastrami at Katz, I mean who doesn't. Here the slices of meat were much thinner making it a bit more dry, however the addition of the Cole Slaw negates that and creates a great sweet and salty mix that is fantastic. Oh and I can't forget that there was a smidge of deli Mustard on the bread as well adding to the already overwhelming flavor combo. I have to be honest...I couldn't finish the whole thing, plus my last few bites were with a fork because the sandwich fell apart(not a bad thing). To say I was a bit full is an understatement so instead of just hopping on the train feeling like I would explode I decided to walk off the meal...83rd all the way down to 19th, crazy I know but this is New York!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dr. Browns Black Cherry Soda: Best Soda Ever!

This soda always reminds me of a Jewish deli in Hartsdale, NY called Epsteins, where I used to sit for hours as a kid watching the guys behind the counter serve hot dogs with sauerkraut. At least that's all I thought they did. Dr. Browns soda was originally created way back in 1869 by a doctor who used it to treat immigrant children. The original flavor was called Cel-ray, because it was celery flavored and it had sugar and celery seeds in it. Now the reason Dr. Browns became so prevalent in Jewish deli's is because way back when it was the only kosher soda, so obviously that's why to me the two are always associated. Honestly I try not to drink it too much becuase I always want to have Dr. Browns Black Cherry Soda as a special treat, besides I only eat in Jewish deli's every so often...also a treat. There is nothing better than a Pastrami on Rye, Pickles, Cole Slaw and a Dr. Browns. So the next time you are in a shop that offers Dr. Browns do yourself a favor and order one, you will thank me...promise.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Treats Truck Cookbook Coming Soon

My favorite food truck, The Treats Truck, is going pro. What I mean by that is not only are they opening up an actual shop next year but Kim Ima, the mastermind behind the delicious treats, has also sold herself a cookbook that will be picked up by publisher William Morrow. This is very exciting news but nothing compares to eating one of her Oatmeal Jammies! Go get one, you will thank me.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria Shut Down For Non-Payment Of Taxes...Then Re-Opens After They Pay Up

Grimaldi's is back open for business and is not going anywhere, or so they say. Not only do they owe the State of New York $150,000 but they are also being sued for back rent in the amount of $44,000! A sign of the times I guess. This super popular pizzeria is always packed and usually has a long line of people waiting to get in and eat their delicious pizza, so it is extremely curious that this would happen. The owners have said that this was all a dispute and is not going to affect the business, however you gotta wonder why they haven't been paying their rent or their taxes...As long as they keep making pizza that's all that matters to me.

Update 7:12 pm:
Due to the dispute over unpaid rent, Grimaldi's has already lost it's right to stay in their current location past this fall when their lease is up. No matter what happens in court, if the judge finds in their favor, they can no longer re-up and extend their lease. So this means that Grimaldi's will have to close it's doors and move into a new location...that sucks.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chips And Guac At Chipotle: A Delicious Snack

Some of you probably think I have a huge appetite and that my stomach is a bottomless pit capable of eating an entire cow, a whole chicken and one of the three little piggy's...that couldn't be farther from the truth. I am a perfect example of someone whose eyes are clearly bigger than their stomach, in fact I obsess more about eating food in my mind than I do in actually eating it...if that makes any sense. So sometimes I may be thinking large Roast Beef sandwich with all the fixings, when in actuality I might be feeling a Salad with Grilled Chicken. It's boring, I know, but it's reality. The other day sitting at work, my stomach grumbled loud and hard(nobody else heard it but me) right at 12:00 prompting me to scour the web for someplace interesting to eat. Burger joints, sandwich shops, you name it, I checked them all out, but I couldn't hone in on any one in particular and continued to sit at my desk for...jeez, probably another hour. Thoroughly confused and hungry I decided that the problem was that I might not be all that hungry afterall and had to alter my direction. Simple yet tasty. Fast and filling but not crappy. After a quick wander around the block I ended up walking into a place I have frequented numerous times, but usually with alterior motives. Chips and Guacamole from Chipotle and a Large Lemonade/Iced Tea(or Arnold Palmer) to wash it all down. It was the first time, in fact, that I ever walked out of a Chipotle without a Burrito or a Burrito Bowl and I wasn't unhappy about it either! Fresh and always tasty, the Guacamole never disappoints and surprisingly filled me up enough to last me until I got home for dinner...who-hoo. In all honesty I could have eaten two servings of the Chips and Guac but like I said, matter over mind...less is more? I dunno. It was good so I ate it.

NY Times Article: Recalling The Junk Food Creators In America, Pretty Interesting

Please click on the link above to read a very interesting article from yesterday's Sunday Times regarding the origins of some of America's most well known junk foods and the people who discovered them. Yes junk food is our dirty little secret in this country, especially these days with the movement towards healthier foods, but it's awfully interesting how significant some of the creations actually were and still are.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

7 Year Old's Lemonade Stand Shut Down By Health Inspector

Ok this didn't happen in NYC but I just had to mention it because it was too funny...or is it tragic? Apparently a health inspector in Oregon was a little overzealous in doing his job when he shut down a little girls lemonade stand threatening a $500 fine. Come on, is he serious? In fact he was completely serious. In Oregon you must have a permit to have a lemonade stand....what?!? A permit that costs a whopping $120 bucks! Wow, talk about overblown government. The county's top elected official, Chairman Jeff Cogen, was quick to apologize directly to the little girl and her family. He said..."A lemonade stand is a classic American kid thing to do and I don't want to be in the business of shutting that down." He also said that he felt that the inspectors are supposed to use their best professional judgement and that they needed to use their limited resources for other areas. You think? Stupid.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Some Food News For 8/6/10: Yup Another Shake Shack Opened

Yet another Shake Shack has opened up in the city this week, this time it's the Upper East Side at 154 E 86th Street. Now the love can be spread all over town, enjoy!
People's Pops are now selling their delicious pops at The Highline walkway through August 20th, so you will be able to see the sights all while sucking on a pop! Enjoy!
Truck it on Sunday 8/8 to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market as they play host to the Gourmet Food Truck Bazaar from 11am to 4pm. The market is located at West 39th Street at 10th Ave and I suggest getting there early because there are gonna be a lot of truck fans out there sampling the goods.

Also in Truck news: (the trucks are taking over)
Mexicue is a new truck that has opened up in the city with it's combination of Mexican and Barbeque. Check out Twitter for it's locations.

Kelvin Natural Sluch Co. has also opened a new truck for, what else, natural slushes! Please check out their website,, to find out exactly where they will be.

Hot Bird is also a new truck that has just opened up from Brooklyn chef Alan Harding, but you are gonna have to go to 825 Atlantic Ave to give it a try.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This Little Piggy Ate Roast Beef: That's Actually The Name Of The Place

...And yes it describes me as well because I am a little piggy who ate roast beef. A thank you has to go out to New York Magazine for mentioning this place in their best sandwiches in the city article otherwise I may  never have known it even existed. So earlier today when I was sitting here bored trying to think of what to eat I was thankful that I had saved the article for reference (actually this place was only mentioned on the website where they had the expanded list), and off I went to 149 1st Ave between 9th and 10th to give it a try. I had read the menu before leaving and decided to order a That Way (yes it's a sandwich name), with it's Roast Beef, Mozzarella and Au Jus on a hero...I couldn't wait. Probably a longer walk than I should have taken on a hotter than expected day, I made it all the way over there in just under 15 minutes and could have easily missed the place because it is so damn small. But that's what makes places like this so cool. I walked in and could immediately smell the Roast Beef cooking in the back, at least I thought it was cooking. Taped all over the walls were dollar bills (and a couple of five dollar bills as well) with different peoples names written on them, I didn't bother to ask but it looked really cool, added to the ambience. There was total of about five people in the place and that seemed to be about all it could handle. "That Way to go please." I said acting like I was a regular or something. The guy at the counter barked out the order and turned to ask if I wanted a pickle, he said they make them themselves. A pickle with a strange! Of course I took the pickle. In a matter of moments he handed over my bag and off I went back to work to taste, I mean devour the extra heavy sandwich that I had ordered. When it comes to a sandwich heavy is always a good thing because that usually means there is a lot of meat. By the time I had gotten back to work, other than me being completely drenched with sweat (well worth it btw), the bottom of my bag had almost ripped open due to the Au Jus seeping a bit...a good sign I thought (lucky Au Jus) and quickly made my way to the employee eating area. Thankfully alone I peeled back the aluminum foil to find my dripping wet (ok that sounds a little funky) sandwich with the Mozzarella melted out the sides yelling Eat Me! So I did. Much like someone saying they had an out-of-body experience of the supernatural, I had an equally amazing in-the-body experience while eating this sandwich. It was so good with just the right amount of Meat (a ton), Cheese and Au Jus, especially the Au Jus because it didn't over-saturate the roll, very important to me. I'll admit that I only got three quarters of the way thru before I had to skip the rest of the bread so I could finish off the remaining Roast Beef, I just couldn't leave it. The roll was excellent as well and held up rather exceptionally throughout. I highly recommend you all to visit this wonderful little whole in the wall if you ever find yourself in the area, your tummy will be very happy.

Shrimp, Chicken And Vegetable Tempura At Haru

Look, I don't eat sushi and I probably never will, so when I go to a Japanese place there are only so many choices for me to eat, Tempura being one of them. With that in mind I usually expect that it will be very good especially at the prices Haru is charging. This chain establishment has numerous locations (7 in NYC, 1 Boston, 1 Philadelphia) and offers up a stylish experience. I started my meal off with an order of Edamame, essential when dining Japanese and I just plain love it. After that came my House Salad with it's extra delicious dressing which I polished off rather quickly in a stunning display of my chopstick prowess. The Tempura arrived on an oversized plate and was set in front of me with a small dish of sauce for dipping. At first glance it appeared that it would not be enough to fill me up (it ended up being plenty) because there is only so much Tempura that one can consume. There was also a small bowl of white rice that I had to contend with, but that was a welcome addition. The Tempura was crunchy and delicious, especially the pieces of Sweet Potato, and the Tempura sauce wasn't too salty which can happen sometimes. Overall I was satisfied with the meal and it did actually fill me up. I have a tendency to over eat at a Japanese/Sushi Restaurant becuase like I said there are only so many things that I like, but at Haru, I am happy to say, nothing extra was ordered. Thank goodness because I don't think I could have afforded it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Parisi Bakery: Three Meat Bread To Die For

It might not look like much in the picture but this wonderful loaf of bread just might be the best bread I have ever eaten. That is really saying a lot since I am a bread enthusiast and generally believe the secret to a great sandwich is the bread. But what if all the sandwich needs IS the bread? Quite and oxymoron if you ask me. At Parisi Bakery at 198 Mott Street they have created a loaf of bread that needs no accompaniment, no lettuce and tomato, no oil and vinegar, no mayo. Everything you need is already baked right in: Prosciutto, Pepperoni and Salami. Prior to my first experience with this unbelievable bread I had always lived by the thought that the greatest bread came from only one bakery in the Bronx, Terranova's on E187th in the heart of Arthur Avenue. However over the last few years I have discovered numerous places that make a fine piece of bread but Parisi's Three Meat Bread is far and away the best...yes that is saying a lot but I like doing that. Honestly this isn't a loaf for a sandwich, it is meant to be eaten solo perhaps with some fresh cut slices of Pecorino and a glass of Red Wine...oooh and some Olives! Ok I just made myself really hungry and will have to head over to Parisi's soon for a snack. One thing to remember if heading over to the bakery for a sample...get there early in the day because by 2pm they are usually sold out of the Three Meat. They also make some tasty sandwiches and have Homemade Fresh Mozzarella too.