Best of 2008, the great pumpkin, and more

Posted in Best of... with tags on January 29, 2009 by Tom

Hello Everyone,

I haven’t made a post in a while, and that is for several reasons.  I wanted to finish up my best of 2008 lists, and because I have been working on my new blog the great pumpkin.

The great pumpkin has moved away from doing exclusively  reviews, and is a little bit more free form…news about things going on in New York City (slightly focused on Greenpoint and Williamsburg), pictures,  my day to day life, basically what ever I feel like posting about…and of course reviews too. I hope you enjoy the great pumpkin:

Best Albums of 2008

Best 7″ singles and 12″ eps of 2008

random reviews I have done since the begining of the year.

If you would like to follow the great pumpkin on your google reader click here for the RSS.

I’m toying with the idea of posting links to reviews that I do on the great pumpkin on critical reviews to a have a go to source for all of my reviewing, but I’m not sure…we’ll see what happens.

Cheers,

Tom

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Best of 2008

Posted in Best of..., Leah, movies, music, shows on December 21, 2008 by criticalreviews

You know, 2008 wasn’t as bad as I keep telling people. I got to go back to Asia for the first time in 20 years, started a book club, discovered a love for graphic novels, joined a group of mix-tape enthusiasts, spent time in Paris, and made some new friends along the way. All the while, my top tens were forming in the back of my mind. So, here goes…

ALBUMS:
1. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
2. Dodos – Visiter
3. Beach House – Devotion
4. Marnie Stern -This is it and I am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and That Is That
5. M83 – Saturdays=Youth
6. Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances
7. Hercules and the Love Affair
8. No Age – Nouns
9. The Walkmen – You & Me
10. Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

-Honorable Mentions: Santogold – Santogold, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!, High Places – High Places, Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes,  Times New Viking – Rip It Off

SHOWS:
(5/3) Woods, Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts at Cake Shop 3-Year Anniversary
(5/6) No Age, High Places, Fiasco at Bowery Ballroom
(6/13) Teenage Jesus and the Jerks at Knitting Factory
(7/12) Oneida, High Places, Abe Vigoda, Vivian Girls, Ponytail, Titus Andronicus at The Yard
(7/17) The Dodos secret show at Cake Shop
(7/18-20) Mission of Burma, Fleet Foxes, !!!, Animal Collective, Times New Viking, Dirty Projectors, Health, Dodos, Spiritualized at Pitchfork Music Fest in Chicago
(7/25) Times New Viking for Wordless Music Series at The Whitney
(8/24) Titus Andronicus and Yo La Tengo at McCarren Pool
(9/6) Matmos at The Stone
(10/11) Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise at Knitting Factory
(10/25) Marnie Stern, All the Saints at Bowery Ballroom (CMJ)

-Honarable Mentions: (March ?) Stanley Brinks at Mains d’Oeuvre, (5/1) Scout Kniblett at the Tap Bar @ Knitting Factory (6/6) MIA at McCarren Pool, (6/25) Herman Dune at Union Pool, (8/8) Radiohead, Girl Talk, Grizzly Bear at All Points West Fest, (9/26) Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr., Built to Spill at Terminal 5

MOVIES:
1. Let the Right One In
2. Reprise
3. Paranoid Park
4. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
5. Boy A
6. Cloverfield
7. Savage Grace
8. Pineapple Express
9. Slumdog Millionaire
10. Fear(s) of the Dark

-Honorable Mentions: The Dark Knight – Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Synecdoche, New York – Milk – Doubt

-Leah

Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop

Posted in Best of..., food, restaurant, Tom with tags , , , , , , on November 13, 2008 by criticalreviews

Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop
727 Manhattan Ave
(between Norman and Meserole)
Greenpoint, Brooklyn

This past summer while sitting at home on a depressing day (bad news the day before, good news later that night), we were looking at blogs and exciting things in our new neighborhood. We came across the the NYC Donut Reports‘ post about Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop. Being that Peter Pan was right around the corner the only option was to bury our sorrow in sugar. We walked around the corner, picked up a sampling and headed back to the house. My love affair with Peter Pan was born that day.

I am a really stubborn donut eater now. Peter Pan can’t be beat, and I will never go into a Dunkin Donuts ever again as long as I live in Greenpoint (when ever I want a donut I can always justify that I can wait til I get home to go to Peter Pan). We have tried a large variety of flavors over the past couple of months and so far this shop can’t be beat. My recommendations are the Sour Cream Glazed, the Chocolate Glazed with Coconut, any Jelly Donut, and the Chocolate Frosted French Cruller…but honestly you can’t go wrong. The texture is perfect whether it is a cake donut, a yeast donut, a cruller, jelly, cinnamon bun…it doesn’t matter. This place is top notch.

On top of the wonderful Donuts and Pastries Peter Pan has a wonderful diner feel…the inside gives me a bit of the Twin Peaks vibe (and that is something I can’t get enough of), and the ladies who work there have fabulous outfits (as Pipeline pointed out).

Peter Pan was even kind enough to be handing donut holes to the Marathon Runners the other week. This is fine Bakery and deserves support from everyone in Greenpoint, everyone in NYC, and all you you tourists that come to visit our little part of Brooklyn.

Greenpointers wrote a while back that Peter Pan was losing money due to the Dunkin Donuts down the block(both ways), and Starbucks…but if you care about quality you really should try the BEST DONUTS IN TOWN and that is at PETER PAN’S! NYC Donut Report even sites their Donuts as the Best in NYC (not to discount the wonderful Donut Plant, but those are a totally different beast).

Get over to Greenpoint if you are a pastry lover, and eat some donuts(or cream sticks, or cinnamon buns or what ever sweet you love)…so I don’t eat them all…get there early if you plan to try my favorite Sour Cream Glazed, because those go quick.

Long Live Peter Pan!

Photo of Peter Pan and first Donut photo by One Sweet World (via flickr)

Peter Pan Staff by Pipeline

(Tom)

The Richardson

Posted in alcohol, bars, food, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by criticalreviews

The Richardson

451 Graham Avenue (the corner of Richardson and Graham) Williamsburg, Brooklyn
After last Sunday I was surprised to find myself walking around in Williamsburg again, and possibly headed to one of the same locations. We were on our way to check out Spuytin Duyvil’s No Joke Oktoberfest Celebration, but when we got there is was a little too crowded for our likings…and luckily had a back-up plan. This back-up plan involved heading back north. We walked down Havemeyer from Metropolitan to where it turns into Whithers, and then zig zagged a bit over to Graham Ave. I didn’t realize that there were so many Italian restaurants and delis in the area that is so close to my house…one of which we procured some delicious fresh cavatelli for dinner. The point is we ended up making our way to The Richardson. After the various write ups on Greenpointers (this is the most recent of the bunch), and the reviews on Yelp! (almost all 5 stars) how could we not try it out.

The Richardson is a big place with lots of tables, a huge bar, beautiful wallpaper, and a cozy feel (although it was a little cold with the doors open, it was still a really pleasant vibe). The first thing I noticed was the wallpaper, chandelier, and pumpkins (nice way to set the fall mood). We sat at the bar, and were the only people in the bar for a while but more patrons trickled in slowly. While at the bar klk tried one of their signature cocktails (and a couple fabulous drinks made with Hendricks Gin), while I was in the mood for beer (hence the Oktoberfest as the original plan) ordered a couple Troegs Hopback Ambers, and a Southern Tier IPA. The cocktails were made the old fashioned way, and I was really impressed by the well thought out beer list…this is sometimes a rarity at a cocktail bar (the only other thing I ask for is a stout or porter other than Guinness).

While the bar was pretty quiet we had the wonderful company of the barkeep. He was extremely friendly, and good for conversation…as well as makes excellent cocktails. Sometimes you go to a new hip bar, and kinda get the cold shoulder, but he was genuinely friendly…and this was more or less the icing on the cake. Leah stopped in to meet us for a drink, and had a Manhattan which was also delicious (I can’t pass up trying a whiskey drink when offered a sip).

We ordered some roasted nuts (part of their new menu), but were slightly underwhelmed. This might be because we are more or less experienced nut roasters ourselves. Some of their other food did sound quite tasty.

On top of the wonderful staff, and nice decor the bar keeps a consistent theme. The bartenders all have a loose rocker/greaser theme going on, and the music is all pre-1970 (if not older) rock n’ roll and r & b. A really nice touch that really ties the place together.

This place is perfect for a date or if you have a large group , and they have something to accommodate everyone. I’m adding this place to my regular rotation of drinking spots (and it doesn’t hurt that it is pretty close to my house).

Photos by Marcus in NY (via flickr)

(Tom)

Various Unpleasant Experiences in Williamsburg on a Sunday

Posted in bars, dog related, food, restaurant, Tom with tags , , , , on October 13, 2008 by criticalreviews

Yesterday was a great day, until we decided to take the dog for a walk in Williamsburg. Although very close to Williamsburg, we technically live in Greenpoint (and prefer to walk, live, and hang out in Greenpoint), but we decided to walk over to Roebling Tea Room.

At Roebling Tea Room we were in the market for some loose leaf high quality tea. We didn’t require too much attention, but when we walked in the people behind the counter weren’t friendly and acted like they didn’t have time to answer our questions. I know that waiters/waitresses are very busy, but that doesn’t mean you should turn off potential customers by being gruff. While it was a rocky experience with the waitress, and no loose leaf tea came out of it, the restaurant it’s self was very cute…despite the unpleasant experience with the waitress we will probably go back to give it a try the atmosphere, the tasty looking menu, and the excellent tea list.

Our next stop was one of my favorite bars in Williamsburg, Spuyten Duyvil. I had a great evening here on Friday (the beer selection is always wonderful), but Sunday was a very different story. I was, what I thought, very courteous and left the dog outside while I went in to ask the bartender if they allow dogs in their back patio? I got a really snotty over reaction for answer: “Dogs are not allowed out back, inside, out front, or anywhere near the bar.” I didn’t think my question was ridiculous…for gods sake…dogs are allowed in so many beer bars in Williamsburg and Greenpoint that they should be happy I asked before I brought the dog inside. Does anyone know if Spuyten Duyvil has a “NO DOGS ALLOWED” sign posted outside? Whatever. I know the dog isn’t allowed now, and I’m not going to stop going to this bar, but I was surprised by the really unfriendly answer I received.

So after these two bad experiences where do we head next? The Diamond. You know the Diamond will make everything better.

On our way to the Diamond… we walked down N. 14th. This is the street that the Gutter is on (a notoriously dog friendly place). But beware if you are walking down North 14th street… There were several people hanging out inside and outside of a motor cycle repair show with the garage doors wide open. As we were walking down the street one of the guys even made eye contact and smiled. We thought all was cool. When we get in front of their shop their very large, very mobile, collarless three-legged dog attacked our very friendly dog. The owner of this mean dog had a very hard time getting control of him, and stopping it from biting our dog. This was the worst experience of the day. For one dogs aren’t supposed to be off the leash in general, unless they are in a park, and this is for all dogs. Mean dogs should never be off the leash. The street is a public place, and if you have mean dog it is your responsibility to control it. We let them know they were wrong, and they knew it too…but wouldn’t even apologize or look us in the eyes.

Finally, after three shitty experience we made it to the Diamond. A couple beers and a cheese plate in my favorite bar can make almost anything better. Thank you Diamond bar.

(Tom)

Greenpoint Coffee House

Posted in food, restaurant, Tom with tags , , , , on September 26, 2008 by criticalreviews
195 Franklin St
(between Freeman St & Green St)
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

Greenpoint Coffee House is located where you would expect, in Greenpoint, not too far of a walk from the Greenpoint Ave G Train stop. It actually took us a while to make it to this spot, because while it has a vintage look the clientèle appeared to be pretty hip. I’m not afraid or intimidated of hip people by any means (maybe I’m hip who knows), but I don’t want to sacrifice service or quality for hipness. This is not the case a Greenpoint Coffee. Their wait staff is great! Really friendly and welcoming!

We have gone the past two Saturday morning, and been able to get a table immediately (even though it has been busy). The inside is a has cute decor, like I said with a vintage feel. There are some chairs up against the wall where the door is, small tables in the middle, booths on one side, and a long bar on the other.

We have only really tried two dishes: I have been obsessed with the Veggie Burger. It’s homemade, and served with your cheese of choice (if you want it to be…I have gotten it with the Goat Cheese once, and Blue cheese the other time), and avocado mayo…just wonderful. KLK has gotten the Eggs Acme…which is perfectly poached eggs on English muffins, with smoked salmon from Greenpoint’s own Acme Smoked Fish! Some of the best smoked fish I have ever tasted…and I don’t even like smoked fish other than sushi. Their breakfast potatos are delicious as well (and I usually find this type of thing bland).

They also have a nice tea list, and reasonably priced coffee drinks…highly recommended. Mimosas and Brooklyn beer on tap too (three different varieties) if you are in the mood If it’s nice, sit outside and enjoy beautiful Franklin Street. I can’t wait to eat there tomorrow (almost as excited about it as I am for Built to Spill tonight!), but I think we will dine inside (too bad it’s raining all weekend).

GCH by bitchcakesny (via flickr)

Veggie Burger at GCH by Roboppy (via flickr)

(Tom)

Todd P NYC

Posted in music, shows, Tom, website with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by criticalreviews

I emailed Todd P NYC about the Mount Eerie show at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah this past Friday because there was some banter about advanced tickets between Phil (Mount Eerie) and the crowd at the Bowery Ballroom show the night before. And I got this response:

if you’re really worried, print this thread and bring it to the door.
we’ll make sure you and your date get in even if it’s tight.

I hear alot of people talk trash about Todd P, but I thought this was super nice. I enjoy going to his shows, and I’m just using this as a way to say thank you!

Although we got in without a problem the show did sell out really fast. Mount Eerie was amazing, as always.

(Tom)