Archive for the restaurant Category

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)

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)

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)

Brunch at Brooklyn Label

Posted in food, klk, restaurant with tags , , , , , on July 10, 2008 by criticalreviews

180 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222

On Friday, July 4th, Tom and I visited Brooklyn Label for the first time. They don’t normally have brunch on Fridays; since it was a holiday, this was a special occasion for both them and us! Prior to visiting, we checked out the menu and reviews on Menupages and Yelp (as we usually do), and the reviews made us slightly hesitant. But then we said, “fuck it,” and went, because we were bound to go at some point anyway. What better time than a weekday off of work?

To say the least, we were pleasantly surprised. Actually, it was amazing. Since we were anticipating a wait, I went around the (long) block onto Manhattan Ave and picked up the Times, which made us more relaxed about the service. For drinks, Tom had an iced Americano, which he loved. Brooklyn Label is one of the only places in New York that serves Stumptown coffee out of Portland (please correct me if I’m wrong!). He has been really into that lately (over iced coffee), and this one was perfection for him. I ordered the Lavender Lemon Fizzy (basically a glorified lemonade with Monin syrup). When a random waitress brought our drinks, she said they were out of lavender syrup, so she substituted rose syrup. It was (I imagine) equally as delicious. Some people may have been annoyed by this substitution without customer verification, but I was cool with it. Like I said, we were trying to be super-relaxed about the service. That definitely worked to our advantage.

I had the Eggs Benedict, but with smoked salmon instead of bacon. Starting from the bottom, there were run-of-the-mill english muffins with deliciously fresh (read: non-fishy) smoked salmon above. The two poached eggs were so, so fluffy and perfect. On top of it all was a super salty (but that’s the way I like it) hollandaise sauce. OMG it was so good! I was worried the whole thing would be too heavy, but it wasn’t. I was able to eat 90% of it, which is surprising for my usually tiny stomach. There were some forgettable, yet decent, hashbrowns alongside. I ate about 1/3 of those, and Tom ate the rest. He had the vegetarian biscuits and gravy, with eggs on top. I had a couple of bites, and it was definitely delicious, but I didn’t focus too much on those since my entree was so fulfilling. The gravy was definitely vegetarian, with the primary flavor being flour, but it was super peppery and with mushrooms. I ain’t complaining, as it’s rare that a breakfast menu features a vegetarian version of this popular item. He said that he wants to order it again, so that’s definitely a good sign.

On the table, Brooklyn Label features their house-made hot sauces, which I definitely plan on making better use of in the future (perhaps on the huevos rancheros, which we didn’t order). One is a green, mild, salsa verde that had a slight spice and an overall delicious flavor. The other was a tongue-searing habanero sauce (and this is coming from a girl who LOVES spicy things. seriously. I love them). There was plentiful Heinz ketchup for the hashbrowns as well.

Overall, we were so, so pleased with the brunch at Brooklyn Label. We were also really glad that we didn’t let the negative reviews dissuade us from checking it out. I would give it five stars! But, that said, other reviewers might be more sensitive to the slow-ish service (I mean, it’s so busy!) and the hipster-ish waitstaff (some people have hipster-phobia, it seems). We loved every bit of it and we can’t wait to go back on a lazy weekend mid-morning with the paper or to bring friends visiting from outside of the neighborhood. Haters recognize!! Brooklyn Label’s brunch is where it’s at.

— klk, back in action!

(photo by American Barista and Coffee School on Flickr)

The Rusty Knot

Posted in alcohol, bars, food, Leah, restaurant with tags , , , , on May 14, 2008 by criticalreviews

I read quite a few reviews about the Rusty Knot before it had even opened its doors to the public. New York Magazine was hyping the classy-dive far at least a month before its opening. The Rusty Knot was hailed by founders of both Freemans and the Spotted Pig. I haven’t been to Freeman’s, but my office threw a x-mas party at the Spotted Pig once, and it was pretty amazing…Jay-z and LeBron James actually stumbled (accidentally) into our private room. Anyway, I like the premise of the Rusty Knot: nautical decor meets cheap booze meets prog rock jukebox meets gourmet bar food. I mean really, who could ask for anything more?

Last Tuesday, a planned meeting of old friends presented the perfect occasion to scope the Rusty Knot. I work in Soho, so I decided to walk over to the (waaay) West Village location. It was a painless trek, because the weather was nice, but I nearly walked straight to 14th Street. The Rusty Knot has a blue awning that simply says, ‘West. Bar and Lounge,’ and all of the shades were drawn. It’s a good thing that I knew the address. I was about a half hour early, so I took a seat in the lacquered wood 70’s style patio furniture and took in my surroundings. I thought that Taavo Somer (notorious taste-maker and co-owner of Freemans) made some wise, yet predictable decorating decisions. There was a smattering of ship’s wheels, a nice fish tank, flourescent beer signage, and many mounted fish. I don’t know if this makes sense, but the bar gave off a New England-old-man-bar in Hawaii kind of vibe.

The reviews that I read described the drinks at Rusty Knot as being utterly affordable. I guess that if you take target demographic into account, beers were aptly priced. I paid $6 for a red stripe. I think that cans of Tecate were $5 and you could supposedly order a shot of Busch for 99 cents, although I don’t really see the point in that. I did find myself wishing that the beer selection was better, however appropriate it was. Mixed tropical drinks, like Mai Tais and Zombies were varied from $7 to $12, and served in Trader Vic’s style ceramic glasses. I’m not the biggest fan of fruity concoctions, so I steered clear. But, people seemed to be enjoying their beverages.

Once my friends arrived, and also ordered Red Stripes, we decided to sample a couple of things on the menu. The chef at the Rusty Knot is a co-owner and chef at the legendary Momofuku restaurants, Joaquin Baca. I ordered a pretzel dog, which is basically what it sounds like. For $4, you get a hot dog, that is baked into a salted pretzel, and served with a horseradish-y mustard.

I wish that I could say that I enjoyed the pretzel dog, but I didn’t have the opportuntity. Two bites in, and my hot dog slid out of the pretzel and onto the floor. My pal Ravi suggested set screws to keep unwieldy dogs in place. Nobody else at the bar seemed to have any problems. Joleen, a strict vegetarian, ordered the beer balls. We expected fried, gooey, cheesy goodness, but instead received 4 or 5 little baked rolls with some sort of preserve (possibly apricot). They were tasty, but we expected something a little more savory. Finally, Nancy ordered the much-hyped chicken liver and bacon sandwich. Most reviews that I have read focus on this sandwich as the crowning glory of Rusty Knot’s kitchen. It was quite delicious, although chicken liver and bacon together makes for one salty sammie.

I would definitely recommend a visit to the Rusty Knot, based on my experience, although I don’t believe that it lived up to its hype. The service was great, but the crowd was not my flavor – nor were the food or drinks.

-Leah

Flickr photo props to:

A Continuous Lean
Sarah Payton

Lenora’s Way (formerly known as Wells Ales and Lagers)

Posted in alcohol, bars, restaurant, Tom with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2008 by criticalreviews
303 Bedford Ave. (between South 1st and 2nd Streets)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

So I started going Wells Ales and Lagers sometime last fall, and it has quickly become my favorite bar (I’ve been there twice in the past week, and that says a lot about it considering how far uptown I live). I was talking to a bartender on a recent visit and found out that one of the original owners was bought out, and that is why it is now called Lenora’s Way (the person who got bought out took the name Wells with him). There really hasn’t been any changes since the name has changed: same bartenders, atmosphere, and great beers (I still call it Wells, I just can’t used to saying the new name, and they still have the Wells sign). This has become our stand by in Williamsburg, and even though it is a little south we always hit it up before going to a show (a short walk to Musichall of Williamsburg, and a really short walk to Death By Audio or Glasslands).

This bar has a really new feel. A long wooden bar runs down the left side of the establishment and a couple tables down the right side (it is a very narrow space). There is one booth in the very front, and they have a largish garden area for when the weather is nice. Behind the taps there is some really nice tiling, and the lighting is dim and pleasant. Musically it is really diverse, but the thing that really attracted me to the place was that the first time I was in they had on some really chill roots and dub reggae. Other than reggae frequent musical selections are jazz, 90’s indie rock, and just once…Slayer.

Drink wise they have about 10 beers on tap (roughly 5 American Craft beers at about $5 per pint, and 5 Belgian or European ranging from $6-$9). One big plus is that one of the American’s is usually one of the higher alcohol Lagunitas beers (Lumpy Gravy from the Zappa series, and Maximus IPA recently). They also have over 100 bottles of beer, many extremely reasonably priced for what they are (most between $4-$6), and a carefully chosen wine list. Unless you exclusively drink hard liquor Wells will have something for you, and if you can’t decide the bartender can help you. Service has always been excellent

They have a small food menu of paninis and appetizers, all of which are a bit on the gourmet side. I have only tried the vegetable panini and the hummus…and they were both wonderful.

I highly recommend this bar…great atmosphere (never too loud, always good for conversation), music, and bar staff…unlike a several of the other bars I have reviewed I have visited this place many times, and have yet to have a bad experience…I hope it stays that way.

Oh and I almost forgot…if you are still thirsty on your way out they sell any of their bottles to go! So no need to stop on the way home to get more beer.

Photo taken by Uptick.

(Tom)