Archive for August, 2008

Burrito Deli

Posted in food, restaurant, Tom with tags , , , , , , on August 22, 2008 by criticalreviews
1504 Lexington Ave
At 97th St
Upper East Side, Manhattan
212-369-7399

I have a constant struggle to find good food on the Upper East Side (specifically in the 90’s) because that is where I work everyday. And while there are some good options for meat eaters, as a vegetarian it isn’t so easy. I recently took a chance and tried the Burrito Deli, and while the atmosphere is non-existent the food is quite good and authentic too.

It is quite a large place: with a counter on the right, coolers on the left, and tables in the middle. The coolers are about half full with beverages and the other half is supplies for the restaurant. There are tables, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to eat inside. The place is pretty warm, and while I don’t really mind it’s not quite what you would call clean. This means two things: 1) the food is probably good, and 2) I can never bring my family here. Luckily it is just a short walk to Central Park so it is all good.

Burrito Deli actually can provide any other sandwich your standard deli can make (cold cuts, fried fish, burgers), but they have a pretty extensive Mexican selection. While I’m sure that they can make any item vegetarian (the man that works the register is very nice) I have stuck with the Vegetarian Burrito. Check out the full menu here (prices are off by about 50 cents).

For $6 (and this is cheap for a full meal on the UES) You get an enormous burrito filled with beans, rice, a little cojito cheese, and a bunch of veggies (peppers, onions, carrots, and more). The burrito is wrapped and topped with fresh sour cream (the more liquidy kind that you often find in authentic Mexican restaurants), and more cojito. Meat burritos are more or less the same price. The burrito is served with shredded lettuce and a pico de galo. All together this fills a very large take out container, and I am totally stuffed and satisfied when I am finished.

While it may not be the best Mexican food I have ever had (we have that in Greenpoint: Acapulco and Papacitos), it sure beats El Paso (located on 97th street between Madison and Park). El Paso’s veggie burrito is very American, but at the same time not Californian. Not quite what I was expecting from a place that looks authentic…for real… you eat it with your hands? That isn’t a Mexican burrito. But Burrito Deli on the other hand is a fork and knife experience. It is probably my 4th favorite Mexican spot in the city behind the two previously mentioned Greenpoint eateries, and Puebla.

If you happen to work on the UES I recommend trying the Burrito Deli…I really like it, and I have eaten there three times in the past two weeks…it’s consistent, cheap, and good. More than I can say for most of the places I have tried in this neighborhood.

**It came to my attention in conversation last night that I kinda glossed over the cleanliness of this place…while the food is very good, if you google you will find health code violations…I still like it.

(Tom)

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Permanent Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2008 by criticalreviews
181 Franklin St
(between Green St & Huron St)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-4083

Permanent Records is located in Greenpoint just a couple blocks north of Greenpoint Ave on Franklin Street (a very short walk from the Greenpoint Ave G Station, or a 20-25 minute walk from the Bedford L). In 2007 Permanent relocated from it’s original location on Long Island to Greenpoint. While this is a tragic loss for it’s former location, it was a great addition to Franklin Street.

While some of the record stores in the Bedford area have an air of pretension Permanent Records is friendly and welcoming! Marjorie, the owner of the shop, is typically behind the counter and is extremely friendly. I have been in several times, and have only had enjoyable experiences.

Permanent has more vinyl than CDs, and of course this is a plus for me. The store set up is records down the right side, and CDs down the left. There are a couple stand alone racks in the center of the floor: one for newly arrived used LPs, another for 7″s, and a third for DJ esque type LPs). They have a variety of record players in the windows, and lots of sun light. The store is not huge, but feels spacious, and comfortable.

Selection wise I always find more records than I need to be buying in my hands. I’m not quite sure how it is labeled, but they have one large section of LPs (that lives in the back right side corner of the store) that is comprised of a very eclectic selection of rock, noise, folk, electronic, and country of the modern varieties. Then they have some smaller section of things like reggae, soul, jazz, ect. The selection is really wonderful. They have your typical record bins, (by alphabet), and then they reserve space on the walls to display albums too (as pictured). They have pretty much something for everybody, and I find that you might end up with something you didn’t quite expect to find.

On my most recent visit I purchased Boris’ new effort Smile, the repress of Thurston Moore’s of Psychic Hearts, a used copy of the Grateful Dead’s Blues of Allah, as well as the reason for my visit… my special order of Eat Skull’s new album Sick to Death.

I have to thank Marjorie and Permanent Records for allowing people to do special orders. I had been looking all over to find that Eat Skull record, and had asked several places about ordering it for me…but no one would do it. I just kept hearing “Check back next week.” Marjorie ordered the record for me, and kept in touch with me until it came in stock. The LP I wanted was on back order, but the store followed up with me three times. Once to let me know that it didn’t come in, a second time letting me know the day it would be there, and finally a call to let me know that my record arrived. This is wonderful customer service, and they didn’t even make me put down a deposit (which I happily would have done).

They are also open until 9pm! Which means I still have time to make it to the store before they close after I’m done having happy hour (it is one of my favorite activities to record shop after a beer or two)! Permanent Records does instore performances too. To find out what is about upcoming events stop into the store, or email: marjorie@permanentrecords.info and ask to be added to the mailing list.

It may be that Greenpoint just has wonderful specialty shops…besides my consistently good experiences at Permanent, I was also recently surprised by the kindness of the young lady that was working at Dalaga (we didn’t catch her name, but she mentioned she was a new employee). KLK and I were in the store on Sunday, and she was just so genuinely nice that she really made us want to frequent their shop.

While I had never visited a lot of these shops before moving to Greenpoint, overall I am just pleasantly surprised with the shops in my new neighborhood. I am happy to live here and be supporting them. Permanent Records (and Dalaga) are both doing good things. They both have made some return customers out of us. I love the Franklin Street shopping district, and I can’t wait to explore it more.

If you are a record collector, or just in the mood for some new tunes stop by Permanent. If you can decide on something I’m sure that they are full of recommendations. One last thing I forgot….Permanent is typically a couple bucks cheaper on new LPs than Earwax and Soundfix!

Photos:

Greenpoint Store by JT (via Picasa)

Inside Greenpoint Store by Michael Kirby (via Time Out NY)

Old Store on Long Island by Seamus McGuire (via flickr)

More music news in Greenpoint this week…if you are a fan of punk rock or folk music… Defiance, Ohio is playing Club Europa this Thursday August 21st. If you don’t have anything going on, or are looking for something to do, I highly recommend going (I plan on being there)…it is not so often that you get to see a mostly acoustic punk band play. Good times.

(Tom)

Charlie McAlister is in NYC this week!

Posted in music, News, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by criticalreviews

One of Charleston, South Carolina’s musical heros will be in NYC this week! Charlie McAlister will be playing at the Stone, in the East Village, this Friday, August 8th! He is doing two performances at 8pm and 10pm.

If you are not familiar with Charlie you can read my review of his album Mississippi Luau here!

Artist and musician, Kevin Earl Taylor, also originally from Charleston, will be in the City to play with Charlie at these performances.

This should be a treat for all in attendance, and I high recommend checking it out (I know I will be there!).

This show, along with all shows at the Stone in August, are curated by Trevor Dunn and Shelly Burgon.

Cheers,

(Tom)

Photo by Wolfie Whitman (via flickr)

Buying Beer in the ‘burg and the ‘point

Posted in alcohol, beer, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2008 by criticalreviews

Since I moved to Greenpoint I have struggled to find that decent priced case of beer. I tend to buy American craft beers, and I found myself in the land of $10-$12 sixpacks.

I sold beer for Whole Foods for quite a long time, and while I was there I always tried to have a good sixpack for $7.99 or cheaper ($6.99 was my ideal price point)…I did good stuff too like Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, and Victory. But Lately it has been hard to find good deals on good beer. This is my guide to finding the deals on good beer in in Williamsburg and Greenpoint…if you have any favorite spots that I missed please let me know!

Buying a Case:

The $10-$12 sixpack was no shock, being that I had hung out in the neighborhood quite a bit before I moved here, but it was hard coming from upper Manhattan where I could go to my local beverage warehouse and pick up a case of Magic Hat or Brooklyn for around $28 (and some weird loop hole that let the Magic Hat 12 packs go for $11.99… I like Magic Hat when it’s cheap).

I started my quest for a decent priced case at Beverage World (408 Meeker Ave), and was honestly disappointed. They had your Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Oskar Blues, and Smuttynose, but the six packs of most of these things were as expensive or more expensive than bodegas. When I asked for a price on a case the only one the guy knew off hand was Brooklyn. He said that the others would be between $40-$50 a case (in other words I could get these just as cheap, or cheaper, at a bodega). Brooklyn came to about $35 (tax and deposit included). Which wasn’t bad?…I saved $5 off bodega prices, but still not great. They did let me mix my six packs though (1 brown, 2 IPA, and a pilsner). Although not the deal I was hoping for. These guys get extra credit for being friendly.

My next stab at getting a case was at Big Blue Beer Distribution (223 Greenpoint Avenue). The selection at Big Blue was a little larger than Beverage World. They had price stickers for sixpacks and cases next to almost every beer (which was helpful). Most cases were around $30.99-$32.99 (plus tax and deposit)…Brooklyn might have been $28.99 (again plus tax and deposit). Their six packs were in general about 50 cents to a $1.50 cheaper than your grocery store or bodega (but at the bodega the tax and deposit is included so it pretty much evens out). This might be a good stop for some single bottles, but then again there are better places in the neighborhood for that too. At Big Blue there was no customer service at all, and I fear that the beer might be kept in questionable conditions…it was as hot or hotter than it was outside in the room where they kept the beer (definitely not ideal).

Unless you need it delivered the savings, around $4 to $7 depending on the case (compared to bodega prices), from Big Blue and Beverage World are just too minimal to justify the trip.

Ok now who can be my reasonably priced beer savior? You guessed it…The Brooklyn Brewery! While I’ve known about their Friday Happpy Hour and weekend tours for quite a while, the brewery also sells cases! Although only open three days a week the Brooklyn Brewery is the most direct, and best priced location to buy a case of good beer in the area! While all of the cases are slightly different prices they always have a case on sale for $15! Right now the sale is the Brooklyn Weisse. I’m not such a fan of wheat beers so I didn’t get one, but I did buy a case of Brooklyn East India Pale Ale for $26 (which is a great deal considering this monster is at 6.9% abv! It’s super fresh too, good thru February 2009). These prices at the brewery include tax and deposit, so it is $26 flat. Definitely the best deal in the area. Thank you Steve Hindy and Garrett Oliver! I really love having the brewery so close to me, but I do hope that Hindy and Oliver can find a larger space…I’m with Greenpointers on this one…if you move Come to Greenpoint! The Brewery is currently located at 79 N 11th St (between Berry and Wythe). Cutting out the middle man is a good thing. Read my review of the Happy Hour here!

Sixpacks and Singles:

Spuyten Duyvil Grocery
218 Bedford Ave Brooklyn 11211 (btwn N 4rd and N 5th in the Mini Mall)

While the Spuyten Duyvil Grocery does not have the largest selection, but they definitely have the most obscure and highest quality selection in town. They cater to the beer geek very well, specializing in single bottles. I can’t say that I shop in this store all that often, but when ever I do I am always happy…this is my go to for Jolly Pumpkin, Regenboog, and De Dolle. While I do admit they are a little on the pricey side, I can guarantee that the beer has been properly taken care of and is of the highest quality. And if you want to talk beer the clerk is always up for it. I picked up a bottle of La Roja this week! Oh and they also have fancy pickles, mustards, spreads, glassware, shirts, and snacks too.

Forest Natural
120 Norman Ave. (between Leonard and Eckford)

Forest Natural really isn’t a “beer destination”, but it is close to my house. For a place that doesn’t carry a ton of beer they always have an obscure selection…six packs vary from about $9-$11, and you can mix and match (I have never had one come to more than $10.50…and my six pack of Avery IPA was only $9…great deal!). They always have a couple flavors of Weyerbacher, Avery (and these two are enough to make me happy), Goose Island, and Lake Front. It is pretty much my go to spot…whether I need some beer, or yummy kettle chips, a bagel, or a sandwich (oh the sandwiches are sooo good). I know that the beer can be about a dollar more expensive than the bodegas, but the guys that work there are really nice and I think it is important to support these people…this run a nice shop. And they deliver (even Beer) if you have an order over $10 (which is pretty easy to do).

**Revisited several times over the past couple months, and Forest Natural’s selection has gone down hill. While they still have great sandwiches…when I stop on for Beer I usually end up not buying beer, and head over to the Natural Garden to pick some up.

Tops on the Waterfront
89 N 6th St (between Berry & Wythe)

Tops on the Waterfront used to be my go to spot before I moved to the neighborhood. They used to have a great selection, as good as any Whole Foods Market, and comparable prices…but as of recently the selection has gone down hill and the prices have gone up. It sounds ridiculous, but I used to get excited to go beer shopping at this place…now I only go when I need groceries, when I am not going all the way to Whole Foods, and the beer is just an after thought (where it used to be the other way around). I wish I knew what happened…they still have a decent selection but not as good as it used to be. You can find some Troegs though…and they seem to be under represented in the neighborhood.

I know that these are just six places in two large neighborhoods that I chose to highlight. To sum it up…if you need a case, and you like Brooklyn, your decision is made…head straight to the Brewery. The beverage warehouses aren’t worth the time unless you live with within a block of them. The couple stores that I highlighted are the best that I have found, but if you know a place that isn’t totally ridiculously priced (or has a ridiculously good selection) let me know…I’ll check it out!

Photo Credits:

Brooklyn Cases by Jon Cronin (via flickr)

Brooklyn Brewery by Wally G (via flickr)

Spuyten Duyvil Grocery by Roboppy (via flickr)

Forest Natural by Neighborhood Threat

(Tom)