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Posts posted by phaelon56

  1. I think more appropriate questions would be

    1) What percentage of Manhattan foodies have cars or easy access to one?

    2) If one has to use Zipcar or something of the sort then how much time is involved in getting and returning the car?

    3) Most of the North NJ locations mentioned are no more than 4 to 10 miles from an point in Manhattan by car - bit if there's a fair amount of traffic coming going in the tunnels or on the GWB.... how much extra time gets chewed up in your precious evening hours by going to NJ to eat?

    I don't live in Manhattan but have many friends who do and I did live in North Jersey for a few years so I have some perspective on the issue. Can't speak for others but I work about 50 to 55 hours in the average week. Chewing up an additional hour or two on any given evening in order to explore alternate dining options isn't an option for me except on the occasional weekend.

    I live a one hour drive from Ithaca NY where there are some excellent dining options different from what I find here in Syracuse. But I rarely (i.e. no more than a few times each year) take advantage of that fact. I can easily drive to any restaurant in the Syracuse area in 10 to 15 minutes. I'm looking at a time savings of 90 minutes or more if I dine in this area rather than schlepping down to Ithaca.

    Even taking a train to the outer boroughs is far more time consuming than staying in Manhattan to eat.


    But there is another question that hasn't been asked.... is there a sort of reverse parochialism at play among some Manhattan foodies? Could there be a group of people so insulated from local (i.e. metro NYC) experiences that they assume nothing else (apart from a few other key major cities and foreign countries) could approach the depth and breadth of the dining experience they get in Manhattan?


  2. that NYC Vietnamese restaurants are run by ethnic Chinese?

    It's a comment based on numerous independent assertions I've seen made by a number of people both in past discussions in this forum and elsewhere. And the assertion is that "most" (but certainly not all) of the NYC Chinatown Vietnamese restaurants are run by Chinese operators rather than by Vietnamese. As for the claim that many people make regarding the food in these places as being "less authentic" for that reason - I'm inclined to be skeptical.

    Does your first hand experience contradict the assertions? Just curious.

    oh no...I don't have the foggiest clue. I'd just seen that observation come up here before.

    I've seen it mentioned in a few NYC Viet food user reviews on Yelp and elsewhere. And I've yet to try Viet food in Manhattan that's as good as what I used to get in North Jersey or what I get up here now in Syracuse. But I've only been to four or so such places in NY and that's not a large enough sampling to draw good conclusions from.

  3. that NYC Vietnamese restaurants are run by ethnic Chinese?

    It's a comment based on numerous independent assertions I've seen made by a number of people both in past discussions in this forum and elsewhere. And the assertion is that "most" (but certainly not all) of the NYC Chinatown Vietnamese restaurants are run by Chinese operators rather than by Vietnamese. As for the claim that many people make regarding the food in these places as being "less authentic" for that reason - I'm inclined to be skeptical.

    Does your first hand experience contradict the assertions? Just curious.

  4. I believe phaelon made that assertion.

    hopefully he'll comment.

    I've been a bit busy and am just now getting back to this thread. Which assertion are we referring to? If it's my comment that the best Vietnamese food I've had in the NYC area was in North Jersey it still stands true although it's been a few years (about five or so) since I last had Viet food there. There was a place in Nutley - Little Saigon if I recall correctly - that was excellent (and run by ethnic Vietnamese). It burned and subsequently reopened in a different location but is reputed to still be very good. There's a place in... Fort Lee I think... that opened more recently and also has a great rep. details are buried somewhere int he NJ forum.

    But if I made some other assertion that warrants comment please remind me what it is and I'll respond. Thanks!

  5. If your friend is coming from Manhattan and you dont mind trekking to Park Slope, both al di la and Tempo are open on Mondays and are worth traveling to.  No reservations at al di la (the best food in Brooklyn) but you're going early and, if you get there when they open (just before 6pm), you'll be fine.  If not, Tempo is a fixed price $25pp (without wine of course) and is one of the great bargains in NYC.  They're both within a block of one another on 5th Ave in the Slope.

    Car service will pick you up from any of the above... the restaurants are all known and most have one within blocks that'll show up quickly.

    Follow up report:

    Thanks to all for the advice and suggestion. It took all of ten minutes for me to get from Metrotech to the Union Street station on the M and by chance my friend had arrived just a few minutes prior on the R. We walked the a few short blocks to Tempo arriving at 6 PM and, although I had called earlier in the day for reservations, found that none are needed that early in the day - at least not on Mondays. We were the only people in the restaurant for the first 30 minutes and upon departure at 7:45 PM it was about half full.

    Service was friendly, down to earth and professional. Food was very, very good and a fantastic value.

    For starters I had Tuscan Farro salad (I'll ask for the roasted beets to be left out next time - I keep trying to like beets and it's just not gonna happen) and she had a very good chopped salad. Generous portions on both.

    Ditto the prortions and quality on the entrees. Papardelle with ragout of wild boar for me and some kind of shrimp and pasta dish for her. $4 upcharge for me and $2 for her on the entrees but there were perhaps only three or four entrees out of ten or so that had an upcharge above the $25 three course fixed price (and the upcharge was well worth it).

    Her dessert was an "okay" apple streusel cake like thing about the size of a generous muffin. A bit dry but topped with a scoop of very good gelato. My sticky warm date and toffee pudding was not as good as sex but it was damn near orgasmic - and as good or better than the one I used to have at Up the Alley in Chelsea before they closed. Given the opportunity I could eat one every day.

    With two "okay" double espressos, all of the above, a humongous side order of "Tuscan fried potatoes" (too large for two people to finish), a large bottle of Lurisia mineral water and a call brand vodka and OJ the total bill was $88 including tax before tip. Can't comment on the wine selection or prices as alcohol is not on my list of ingestibles.

    Excellent low key and casual dining experience with very affordable prices. If you don't mind the trip out to Park Slope or are in Brooklyn for other reasons this is a GREAT choice - and I sincerely appreciate the recommendation.

    By the way - we asked about car service and they offered to just hail us a car and a cab in front. Loads of them go by and within two to three minutes our rides were lined up and waiting. $33 car service to LGA and $30 yellow cab to CPW and 102nd.

  6. Mediterranien and North African? Odd menu...

    Not really. Spain, Provence and Italy are on the northern side of the Mediterranean while Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya (and perhaps a bit of Egypt?) are on the southern shore.

    We had a very cool place here in Syracuse for awhile that had exactly such a menu - mostly Spanish and Moroccan influenced dishes with a small and large plates offering. There were other Mediterranean influences as well and it really worked nicely.

    But alas... this is a conservative food town that's usually ten years behind major metro areas in terms of food trends. The owner was unable to sustain enough customer volume to be profitable and switched over to a Mexican / Latin American / Caribbean themed menu at a more moderate price point (and it has been reasonably successful).

  7. I'll be at Metrotech Brooklyn near Jay Street / Borough Hall A, C, F stop for the day this Monday working with a client and will be free from about 5 PM onwards until I grab a cab to LaGuardia at 7:45 or 8 PM.

    I'm planning to meet a friend from Manhattan for dinner and she'll take the train out to meet me.

    1) Franny's is a short distance away and I'd love to try it so it's high on my list but are there other options near there worth exploring? I'm looking for casual and low key in a moderate to mid price range. I know there are some good middle eastern places on or near Atlantic Ave and am wondering about those.

    2) I usually get car service from the Brooklyn Marriott to LGA when I'm finished with this client on any given day. How tough is it to hail a cab on the street in the evening in other areas of central Brooklyn?

  8. What makes Buffalo Flavoring, "Buffalo Flavoring"?

    Vinegar based Louisiana style hot sauce and a fat component that is typically butter. Obviously people manage to replicate it sort of) in powdered form because there are "Buffalo flavor" chips. But many of the "Buffalo flavor" products have a blue cheese component added as well. If it is a reasonable facsimile of the original it will have both heat and pepper flavor.

  9. I forgot to mention... when it comes to economical for coffee try Porto Rico Imports on Bleeker Street. You probably won't find decent quality coffee cheaper anywhere else. The downside is that they don't have a good espresso blend and all the roasted beans are stored in open barrels (oxygen is not coffee's friend) so you have to figure out what sells fast in order to get the stuff that's really fresh. But the upside is coffee at about $5 to $6 per pound that easily sells for $10 - $12 elsewhere in Manhattan.

  10. there's a neato wine bar and serious coffee shop.

    You got my attention with the coffee shop. There fewer than five coffee shops in all of Manhattan that I consider to be serious in terms of consistency and ongoing pursuit of highest possible quality in espresso drinks (9th Street and cafe grumpy are the two I tend to frequent when in town).

    Can you tell us more about the coffee place down there in the seaport?

  11. IMHO the chicken at the Dino is one of the best items on the menu. I've also had very good success with the fried green tomatoes and the tomato cuke salad is pretty good too.

    If you waver and have pork :wink: I suggest the pulled pork - it's typically very consistent. The ribs... all over the place... sometimes very good by central NY standards and other times (at least for me) not so great.

  12. Interestingly, the woman who runs the farmstand where I bought it agreed with me that honeycrisps are over-rated. She favors Macouns, but allows that they don't keep well at all.

    She is so right. I bought my last bag of Macouns for the year last weekend (third weekend in October) and they were already past peak. I'll get through the bag only because I eat so darn many of them. But the Macoun season is about three weeks and the ones you buy at the end of that time period don't keep well for more than two weeks.

  13. Anyone dined recently around Saranac Lake? I'll be there on business travel Sunday afternoon through Monday night and am hoping to eat 2 decent dinners while in town (hopefully within a 20 miles radius). Recommendations, please?

    I haven't been up that way in years. Just glanced at the Chamber of Commerce Adirondack Dining Guide to Saranac Lake and it doesn't look like you'll have too many options within that 20 mile radius.

    -Not looking for expensive options unless it's REALLY worth it (expensive to me = more than $25 per entree)

    It's not likely to exceed that price range IF you find the kind of place you're looking for.

    -Don't care if the environment is a dive bar or upscale, but don't enjoy food unless there's a non-smoking section

    Good news. In New York State the entire restaurant - including the bar area - will be non-smoking. It's been the law for a few years now.

  14. Mina, the chef who had a devoted following follow her to Angon, left a year ago.  I haven't been back since.

    Mina has reappeared in Flushing at the edge of Jackson Heights with Spicy Mina. Her food is terrific as always and I doubt that there's better Bengali food anywhere in the NYC Metro area.

    Follow-ups to a related question would inevitably have to move to the New Jersey forum but have any of you on this thread tried some of the options in and around Edison NJ? There's a very large Indian population out there not to mention that the discretionary income levels are likely to be higher than in Flushing or Jackson heights. It stands to reasons that there might be some higher end Indian restaurants out there.

  15. Another worthwhile source to explore for some unusual serving ware to use for smaller servings is any supplier offering sake related serving vessels. One of my coffee business contacts recently added some very unusual and cool ceramic cups for espresso and machiatto and has been using sake ware for that purpose.

  16. Peruvian in Rutherford? Where is it? I'll be back down that way within a month or so and will try it. I have yet to meet a Peruvian restaurant I didn't like - the marinated chicken in all that I've been to is typically excellent and the sides perhaps uninspiring but usually consistent.

  17. Is a Neapolitan type crust with added crunch and body really so low class??

    Not for many of us. I love the NYC coal burning oven pizza's like Grimaldi's, Arturo's, Totonno's etc. but I don't live there and can't get pizza like that at any shop in my town. But I do have two shops in town that make a respectable Neopolitan American style (with a recipe that came up here from Staten Island in the mid 1950's).

    Have you tried adding a bit (e.g. 20%) of extra fine golden durum type flour? I think it's sometimes sold as XXX fine semolina but any good Italian market can point you to the right product. I use it to add a bit more texture and flavor to my dough. The result is not as soft as the classic Neopolitan style but it works well in my home oven with a pizza stone.

  18. I had dessert at Cafe Cafe this Saturday night. I moved back to Syracuse NY from Rutherford about four years ago this month and it's one of a number of places - including Spring Grill and Enginar - that have popped up since I left.

    We had dinner at Seabra's Marisqueria on Madison Street in Ironbound and it wasn't quite as satisfying as it has been for me in the past.

    The pureed seafood soup (sopa del mar) was outstanding as usual. My date's grilled red snapper (whole fish with scored skin on and lemon butter) was nicely done and a bargain at $16.95. I think there was a lag between my placing the order and the waiter dropping the dupe because at around the time we expected the entrees he returned to inform me that the roast suckling pig was sold out. Bummer.... I've always wanted to try it and had just never made it in there on a night when they had it as a special.

    My alternate choice - goat stewed with red wine and herbs - was tasty but lacking the complexity of curried goat or the other Caribbean style of goat I've had previously. A bigger issue was teeny tiny drain flies or fruit flies that appeared around our table and had to be swatted away during the meal but kept reappearing. Any restaurant can have these pop up and with this extremely warm late season weather it wasn't a shock to see them but it was aggravating for both of us.

    On to Cafe Cafe. We stuck our heads in the door at Cafe Eros but it was jammed with a young crowd and some techno/disco type music was blaring loudly - not the environment for the after dinner conversation we wanted to share.

    Spotting Cafe Cafe (our car was parked only a few doors away) we decided to give them a go for dessert. It was empty at 9:45 Pm although one solo diner came in after we arrived. We opted just for dessert thus I am unable to comment on any of the other food.

    My date had a piece of chocolate cake that was simple but exceptionally good - not the high end Sysco or Bindi frozen and thawed stuff which is served at the majority of mid range places these days. This had a terrific balance of chocolate, sweetness and moisture with a very good frosting that was not overly sweet. if it wasn't made on premises then I'll wager that it came from an independent who bakes from scratch.

    I had an apple filled crepe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In between the two crepes was a thin layer of seasoned apple puree that seemed dense - almost like the texture of Nutella. The vanilla ice cream was relatively ordinary. But what I really really liked were the abundant flakes of caramelized sugar that were strewn about the top. They were almost like really thin chips of creme brulee topping but perhaps just a trifle more burnt (yet without tasting scorched). The crunch of the flakes was great contrast with the texture of the crepe and the filling. And the snap of the burnt sugar added a whole layer of flavor complexity that I hadn't expected and haven't previously experienced in a dessert crepe

    On the basis of our moderately priced desserts ($6 and $7.50 respectively) I'm inclined to try this place for dinner when I'm in Rutherford again. I've heard the many raves about La Isla but when I'm in the area I rarely feel like schlepping over through traffic to Hoboken for dinner.

    By the way - any reports on the new Mexican place on Park Ave next to Daruma? (across from Krauser's market)

  19. I've never participated. But when I moved to the NYC area in 1999, staying for four years just outside Manhattan, I did buy a Zagat's guide the first two years I was there. It was in the pre-eGullet era (to the best of my knowledge there also weren't any other worthwhile discussion forums at that time that could serve as resources for research on where to eat).

    For me, at the time, it was a tool for locating places to try out that were in specific price ranges - typically moderate ones for me - and also in parts of Manhattan that I was going to be in when there for specific events (which was a very regular occurrence).

    The guide was helpful in pointing me towards likely suspects but I think I found as many gems just by wandering around doing menu shopping in windows and trusting my instincts.

    And I agree that it's a bit farcical that some places display the Zagat's Rated plaque (for which they paid a hefty premium) yet there's not copy of any favorable reviews visible. They could have been panned by Zagat's yet the plaque is somehow supposed to lend some cachet to the place (and it probably works on some people).

    I'm reminded of the little Chinese place on Rte 17 South in Lyndhurst NJ that I used to drive by on my way to the grocery store. They had a nearly poster sized photocopy of a NY Times review with a 1 * rating posted proudly in their window. When I finally happened to pass by on foot and was close enough to read the fine print I discovered that the review was from nearly 20 years ago!

  20. I'm very biased in favor of Vietnamese food but even if I weren't... I'd venture to guess that any of the Vietnamese restaurants in the Capital District will be far superior to P.F. Changs not to mention better than nearly all of the Chines restaurants in town.

    I haven't visited there yet but My Linh on Delaware Ave has an impressive menu. Judging by the web site and the menu I think they're trying to offer some upscale appeal with some pricier and more complex entrees than the typical Vietnamese place offers. But they also have tried and true favorites like Pho and Goi Ga (chicken salad) at reasonable prices that parallel what I pay at neighborhood formica table style Vietnamese places in Syracuse or elsewhere.

  21. Admittedly, it was a Sunday, but for a place all the bloggers have been saying would be impossible to get into, I think the reality may have more to do with the PR people than reality. 

    It's located in an Ian Schrager hotel - that's the simple explanation for the marketing buzz. Say what you may (or won't) about his hotels or the choices he makes about which restaurants to place in his properties but the man is a genius at creating marketing buzz.

  22. I hardly know what to say about this except that when your children's arms or wrists are just too darn tired from playing X-Box, Gameboy and text messaging all day there is now a way they can toast marshmallows perfectly without breaking a sweat or exerting any real energy. That is... apart from buying and installing the two AA batteries - which are not included (but you'd already guessed that - hadn't you?).

    Spinmallow™ is the newest camping and backyard sensation.

    •The most exciting way to toast marshmallows over a campfire or barbeque

    It's available here at MarksySparkyToys. And apparently 92 rpms is the perfect rotational speed for toasting marshmallows. I wonder how many years of research went into that?

  23. I like Brasilia Grill on Ferry Street in Newark, NJ as well, although getting to the Ironbound from NY can be a bit of a pain. Nice family atmosphere, though, and ridiculously cheap compared to the high-end NYC places.

    Brazilia Grill has moved from its second floor Ferry Street location to a ground floor location around the corner to 99 Monroe Street just off Ferry. Food is still terrific and it's a much larger space. They have a lower price meat only option that dispenses with the salad bar and also have a higher price option whereby they only bring the top cuts to the table and dispense with the rotation through chicken, sausage ribs etc.

    Last time I was at Brazilia - less than two years ago - it was about half the price of Plataforma (or possibly even a bit less than that).

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