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)

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)

Jeffrey Lewis and Herman Dune @ Union Pool, June 25th

Posted in Leah, music, shows on July 24, 2008 by criticalreviews

Last March, I spent about a week in Paris. A good friend suggested that we check out Stanley Brinks at Mains d’Oeuvre. This was my introduction to Andre Herman Dune. Stanley Brinks (aka andre herman dune) left the band Herman Dune in 2006. According to cosmozebra , it was because he was ridiculously shy of being in the public eye, and Herman Dune had some scheduled TV appearances. I’ve heard different stories, including that he was against having Herman Dune’s music appear in commercials. I’m not quite sure what to believe. Anyway, seeing Stanley Brinks was amazing, so when I heard that Herman Dune was playing Union Pool, I had to get over there. Once Jeffrey Lewis was added to the line-up, it was easy to enlist Tom and KLK to join. Luckily, we purchased our tickets in advance. I haven’t gone to Union Pool very many times, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a packed house. The spacious back patio was full of people trying to get into the sold out show. It was a little bit unorganized, but we got in the door unscathed.

I admittedly don’t know much about Jeffrey Lewis, except that he has done some collaborating with Kimya Dawson . But, I must say that I truly enjoyed the part of his performance that I witnessed. He was about 2/3 of the way into his set and the room was packed to the brim. Somehow we managed to push our way up to the front just in time to catch ‘The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song,’ which is all about Jeffrey meeting a girl at a bar because he recognized that she is talking about the Leonard Cohen song, Chelsea Hotel#2, in which Cohen gets, ‘blowjobs on unmade beds.’  Another song that I really enjoyed was about the history of communism in China. It spanned Chinese History from the dynastic periods to the cultural revolution and Chairman Mao. Jeffrey turned the pages of a comic book that he had illustrated to go along with his lyrics. It was fun and informative.

Herman Dune followed Jeffrey Lewis. Herman Dune has a tendency to play shows with a collection of friends and locals. Neman Herman Dune (drummer and back-up vocals) and David Herman Dune (singer and guitarist) were joined on stage by Angela Carlucci of the band the Baby Skins and also a trio of brass instrumentalists that I recognized as the backing band for Beirut. I recognized a gang of songs from the album, Not On Top.  Also, HD played quite a few songs of of their newer album, Giant.  Everything sounded great, and the band seemed to be having a lot of fun and getting a great response from the crowd.  It did make me sad that I didn’t hear my favorite Herman Dune song, My Friends Kill My Folks, but I’ll live.

-Leah

p.s. sorry for the delay!

Here’s the inspiration for the Chelsea Hotel song:

Times New Viking @ the Whitney Museum. Wordless Music Series, June 27th, 2008.

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

When I heard that Times New Viking (from Columbus, OH…possibly the best thing to come from Ohio since Guided By Voices) were playing the Wordless Music Series I was a little put off. I was thinking Times New Viking…without words…how is that one going to work, but after a little research I realized what the series was all about. ACME, the opening act, is a string Quartet, and they played a really wonderful discordant post-punk influenced piece composed by Jefferson Friedman. It was actually really great, and alot of thought was put into matching composers with bands. Times New Viking on the other hand was full of words, and I was really happy about that. This is a wonderful free music series, but get there early or it might fill up.

I purchased Rip it Off when it came out, and it has become one of my favorite albums released in 2008 (after I got past the fuzz-i-ness of the initial listens), and I have really fallen in love with this band. I picked up their other two records, Presnet the Paisley Reich and Dig Yourself (both on Siltbreeze), and I have grown to love them all.

The Whitney had everyone sit on the floor during ACME’s preformance, but when Times New Viking picked up their instruments people slowly stood up. There was a woman behind us, who had a video camera that looked somewhat professional, that asked: “Are you really going to stand?” Someone responded “This is a rock band,” so with a huff she moved her camera to the side of the stage. Times New Viking started playing and after a couple of songs they said to the crowd: “We don’t really use monitors…feel free to move closer.” So everyone did, and at this point I’m sure that the camera woman was probably really angry because she had to move and set up her camera again.

Overall this is a really great time to visit the Whitney. It was amazing being able to take in the Buckminster Fuller exhibit, and then just walk down stairs, and see Times New Viking. Times New Viking are even better live than they are on recording. While playing songs mostly off of Rip It Off they did hit several songs off of the previous albums too. They were loud, fun, and more or less got everyone moving. When you see a band smaller band play a museum, let alone the Whitney, it instantly brings to mind John Water’s movie Pecker, there is just something about an relatively new and smaller artist showcased in such wonderful setting.

Adam Elliott (drums/vocals) and Beth Murphy(keyboard/vocals) talked between songs quite a bit, and give off an overall friendly vibe, and made a setting that could feel awkward fun. You could tell that the band was really excited to play the Whitney by the fact that Elliott kept referencing it, and the inspiration that they were drawing from the painting hanging above them.

Times New Viking’s guitarist, Jared Phillips, broke just about everything imaginable…from shorting out the power supply on his amp (which probably shouldn’t happen at the Whitney)/ almost breaking it (or so it appeared), breaking strings on his first guitar, and the output jack on the second. During all of the technical difficulties one of the girls in the front was trying to get the band to pose for a photo shoot (the band seemed to be ignoring the requests, and were were thinking WTF?). It just seemed inappropriate for the setting. I later found out from the girl next to me that the person taking photos knew the band, but she agreed that it was still totally inappropriate

After the second guitar mishap happened, almost an hour into the show, Phillips picked up some drum sticks and finished out the song adding to the percussion. This was pretty much the end of Times New Vikings set…my only complaint was that “Faces on Fire” wasn’t played…but I learned my lesson. If I want a song played I at least need to try and request it (thanks Abe Vigoda)…next time. I got the impression that they would have played a little longer if it wasn’t for the guitar problems…but there will always be another tiem.

I had so much fun, and this show was definitely one of my favorites of 2008 so far, and I am kinda sad that I missed them this weekend at Pitchfork (my trip was sadly canceled), and at Siren Fest (I don’t think I can do another one of those no matter how good the line up is). Another sad thing is that I might not get to see this band play a venue as small as the Whitney again…I really feel that Times New Viking might come across the strongest when there is no stage between them and the crowd. We will see if I get to experience that again (I hope so).

Media:

“(My Head)” and “R.I.P. Allegory” free download from Matador

Live video and audio on WFMU!

More TNV at their myspace!

All photos from RustMonster (via Flickr)

(Tom)


Tullycraft @ Cake Shop. Saturday June 14, 2008. Free Afternoon Show!

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , on July 16, 2008 by criticalreviews

Because we bought Teenage Jesus & the Jerks tickets we unfortunately missed out on the twee legends at Pianos, but luckily Tullycraft played a second (free) show at Cake Shop the next afternoon. This was my first time seeing a show in the coffee shop/record store space of Cake Shop.

We got to the show about an hour before Tullycraft was set to preform. The record store was closed up, and packed away tightly so that there was room for the band, and the bar was closed. This was a little bit of a bummer, because I always want to record shop, and I really wanted an afternoon beer…but we grab some iced coffee and tea and grabbed a table right by the little stage. We were actually there before the band was, and got to watch a little twee reunion as Tullycrafts’ friends all showed up to the Cake Shop.

The show was set to start at 2pm, but the space didn’t get really crowded until about 1:55…We were really lucky that we got to the space so early because instead of being behind a huge crowd we just stood on our chairs and had a great view of the band.

Tullycraft played from their entire catalog, and was really fun and full of energy (as you would expect). A funny story was told of how one of the guys fell into one of those metal grates on the sidewalk that leads into a stores basement the night before, and although the stage was cramped they made room for him to take a seat…and a funny musical interlude while strings were being changed. This is just one of those bands that gives a super positive vibe. It was a blast, and I’m really glad these twee popsters made it to the east coast again after such a long time. The one thing that didn’t happen was “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend is too Stupid to know about” was not played (but I understand…there are some songs that bands just need to move on from). One odd thing was that their bass only had two stings, but I guess this is just their style. The show was super fun, and Tullycraft played for almost an hour (pretty sweet for a free show).

Every time I go to Cake Shop for a show I wonder why I don’t hang out there more often.

All in all it is just what I needed after getting into that Los Campesinos album.

Listen to Tullycraft:

“Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend’s Too Stupid To Know About” off of Old Traditions, New Standards

“The Punks are writing Love Songs” off of Every Scene Needs a Center

all media from www.tullycraftnation.com

(Tom)