Archive for manhattan

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)

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)


Hospital Productions opens Larger Store (Update)

Posted in News, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2008 by criticalreviews

As I reported back in April Jammyland records, the beloved East Village reggae shop has closed it’s physical location, and is now only accessible online.

I thought that this would be the end of Hospital Productions as well…but I was wrong. Hospital Productions once located in the basement of Jammyland will reopen in the much larger main space at 60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) where Jammyland used to preside.

I found this out when we walked by the shop yesterday, and there was a sign in the window saying that Hospital Productions will re-open in July. This was confirmed by the Hospital Productions website:

HOSPITAL STORE LIVES!

Hospital Productions is expanding to the full location at 60 East 3rd St. Renovations are currently underway. We send our salute to all the generous and dedicated supporters that assisted us in this time of transition. Thank you!

Dominick Fernow

We have the beloved noise outlet back, when will Jammyland emerge from the ashes?

You can read my Hospital Productions review here.

I don’t normally post news articles on here, but I thought this was important information that is relevant to several of my posts…I’m not going to make it a regular thing, but if necessary it will happen.

Cheers,

(Photo from Time Out New York)

(Tom)

Teenage Jesus & the Jerks @ the Knitting Factory. Friday June 13th, 2008 (11pm Show).

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on July 5, 2008 by criticalreviews

This reunion show was to commemorate the release of Thurston Moore and Byron Coley’s book No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980. And what a reunion show. Well almost. Two of the three original members, and the third slot being filled in my none-other than Thurston Moore. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks originally formed sometime around 1976 or ’77 and played together until ’79. The line up in the ’70s was Lydia Lunch (guitar/vocals), Bradley Field (drums), and Reck (bass). Reck was later replaced by Gordon Stevenson, and in the reunion Stevenson was replaced by Moore. James Chance was originally in the band, but left shortly after to start the Contortions…but he did not make an appearance at the reunion. My first experience with the Jerks was on the Brian Eno produced No New York comp (my version is a German repress, but still much loved).

The Jerks played two Knitting Factory shows…early and a late…we couldn’t decide what would be the best choice. On one hand the late show is usually rowdier, but then again the band and people who were around in the late ’70s to see the Jerks in their prime are getting older…we decided on the 11pm show. Information opened, and played both their own songs as well as a couple covers (including a Mars cover!). They were good, but all in all I wasn’t so familiar with their music.

The Jerks played second, and played an impressive 25 minute set (this is really long compared to the 10 minute sets they were known for in the ’70s). Lydia Lunch has aged, as everyone does, but was still as surly and aggressive as ever. Talking shit between each song to the crowd, and even her band. They were loud, and offensive…just like you would expect. With the reformation being this intense, it is hard to imagine people seeing this band in 1977. It was all in good fun, or so it seemed, and the crowd would say something back to her, and she would explode again.

The show was really great for people watching. It was obvious that it brought old no wavers out of the woodwork. I’ll admit that I was one of the younger people at the show, but it was funny hearing people asking “Who’s that tall guy on stage,” referring to Thurston Moore. Lydia Lunch might have been pushing the boundries of punk rock as it was know in the ’70s but Teenage Jesus and the Jerks definitely influenced alot of the punk that I was into growing up (even though I didn’t know it at the time).

For some reason it seems like 2008 has been the year for reunion shows. Seeing Cluster a couple weeks ago at No Fun, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Tullycraft, and Polvo this is turning to be a really rad summer for older music…I hope it just continues to get better.

Photo from Sandra Nazz’s Photo Stream (via Flickr)

Speaking of reunion shows and no wave…I’m not really sure why no one is talking about the fact that James Chance and the Contortions are listed on the PS1’s 2008 Warm-Up line up for August 30th…if this is in fact happening I’m very excited.

(Tom)

Scout Niblett @ the Knitting Factory Tap Bar. May 1st, 2008.

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , on June 13, 2008 by criticalreviews

So I am kinda of back to the blog with this post, and I know it is from quite a while ago…but I plan to be in full force beginning again next week. Please excuse some of the old reviews that I am about to post…I think they were totally review worthy so be expecting reviews of a bunch of noise (Foot Village and No Fun fest!) very soon. As well as my new favorite bar…I’ll leave you hanging on that one, but now to Scout.

Scout Niblett‘s This Fool can Die Now was mine, and KLK‘s, favorite album of last year (of which had the song “Kiss” which was probably the best music video of last year too, see below). Scout played New York a couple times last year, and we caught her at Bowery Ballroom with St. Vincent, and then again at Union Pool. Of all of the shows this one I think was the most interesting, and for several reasons.

The Knitting Factory Tap Bar is a strange venue, and at it’s best it is one of my favorites in the city…at other times it comes off awkward and leaves some people feeling at of place. I had been feeling under the weather, but saved my strength to make it too the show, and Scout rocked harder than she ever has before but the audience made the show feel strange.

The audience at this show wasn’t loud or obnoxious, but exactly the opposite…about a fourth of the people at the show were just sitting in the middle of the floor. They were attentive, and taking pictures, but didn’t seem wholly into the music. We stood of to the side, but still close, and in front of the stage.

Scout played a really loud, and amazing set. I know some people can’t get into her voice, but no one who sees her live can deny that she is a great performer. Her set was a little bit of everything from her catalog, and she even bridged into a partial cover of TLC’s “Scrubs” (whether it was a joke or not it was pretty awesome seeing her play it). Listening to This Fool Can Die Now you sometimes forget how much of a badass she can be on the guitar, and while playing the other night I could envision her being in a really great metal band…her riffs just ringing out with only her voice and drums to back her.

During a break between songs Scout even asked if there were any quetions, and someone ask: “Why is everyone just sitting down? They must have never seen you play before.” Scout responded “Yeah, I know it’s not like this is some hippie show. Why is everyone sitting down? Maybe they are tired or something.”

Needless to say I would have moved up a little closer if the crowd had budged, but no luck. Towards the end of her set, Scout’s drummer left the stage, and she moved over to the drums….and proceeded to belt out “Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death,” and it was totally rad. As a performer, musician, artist, ect easily one of the best right now, and it is sad that critics don’t give her the respect she deserves. I hope she makes it back to New York soon.

Media:

Video of “Kiss” featuring Will Oldham (off of This Food Can Die Now)

Video of Scout’s Black Cab Session playing “Nevada” (also from This Fool can Die Now)

Click here to hear Jens Lekman cover Scout’s “Your Beat Kicks Back Like Death” (wordpress please let me embed imeed.com songs)

(Tom)

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

Welcome To The Johnsons

Posted in alcohol, bars, Tom with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2008 by criticalreviews

123 Rivington St., Lower East Side, NYC

So Welcome to the Johnsons is a dive bar with a 1970’s basement theme, wood panels, pool table, old tv playing old shows, dark, dingy, couches with plastic covers, PBR, and one of those amazing video games that is also a table (which I have unfortunately never gotten to sit at). It definitely has a quirky feel, but at the same time it isn’t pretentious and just about anyone can be found in this place(very eclectic crowd probably drawn by the theme and cheap booze). I hadn’t been in a while , but we started what turned out to be a really late night there on Friday.

Happy Hour is from 3-9pm and well drinks are $2 and PBR $1.50 (some of the cheapest in the city). We got there significantly later than happy hour, and drinks were still reasonable ($2 PBR and $4-6 liquor drinks). The bartenders from my experience are attentive and quick.

So the music is a mix of everything over the bast 30 or 40 years, ranging from totally awesome (Built to Spill, Pixies, Dead Kennedys, and even some classic rock and ’80’s) to questionable (really bad 90’s rock ala Goo Goo Dolls or some shit like that, Rancid, and you name it it gets played). It’s a mixed bag, but suits the bar pretty well.

While this place gets really crowded but our significantly large group was able to carve out a comfortable portion of space. I can’t say that this is the type of place to go by yourself, or on a date, or anything short of getting really drunk (whether you are starting or ending the night)….but it is a good place to get cheap drinks with a bunch of friends. By the time we left (almost 2am, we started pretty late) it was hard to get from the front of the bar to the back. But still not to hard to get a drink. I can’t say it is my favorite bar, but it does serve a purpose…and it tends to be fun if you go with enough friends. And it is also a neat place to take people who are visiting the city from out of town.

welcome to the johnsons front window by AugustHeffner <via flickr>

plastic couches inside by Yorkshire4 <via flickr>

(Tom)