Tag Archives: brunch

Refined Italian at Villageo

Lauren enjoys dinner on Central Park South

Getting Social

1st Floor Back 1 The Ultimate Pub Experience in Hell’s Kitchen

There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and pubs along Manhattan’s 9th Avenue, But Social, 795 Eighth Avenue, is the pub of all pubs, the platonic ideal of pubs. It has a well stocked bar with plenty of beers on tap, and exactly the kind of food you’re looking for in such a place.

The menu is deep, broad, and inexpensive. The night we were there we went a little crazy, sampling as many of the dishes as possible from the starter, salad, and sandwich sections. The pulled pork slider (with just the right amount of barbecue flavor)  were a big hit with both of us, as was the chicken naan—juicy chunks of chicken wrapped in charred naan bread with sweet chile sauce and avocado. But we were just getting started. We also tried the crispy and refreshing iceberg stack, a fresh twist on the classic wedge salad as well as hummus with pita bread and vegetable crudite. We couldn’t quit without trying something from their extensive burger menu, so we ordered the Big Blue. It’s a hefty hamburger, stacked with onion rings and bacon and covered in blue cheese dressing. Hard to imagine that anyone could stack any more good tasting things on top of a bun. We washed it all down with a strong bloody Mary and a couple bottles of Dogfish Head

Before we left, a trivia game broke out and we joined in and learned how little we know about Pop Culture. Oh well, the food and drinks were good. Service was fast and friendly.

24 Hours in Beantown

A Short Post-Christmas Trip to Boston

Last year, my wife and i spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Boston, visiting family, sampling restaurants, getting some culture at the Gardener Museum, getting some History at Paul Revere’s House.  We stayed at the Boston Park Plaza in one of the biggest hotel rooms i ever saw. This year, i went solo and booked a “petite” room at the same Park Plaza—with some trepidation. I like this hotel though. great location, just a few blocks from the Boston Common, Boylston st, Newbury street. what i don’t like is the $12 surcharge PER DAY for WiFi.photo(1)

But the petite room turned out to be fine and after i dumped my stuff off, Emme and i drove off to pick up Zea at South Station. She was coming in from Maine, where she spent Christmas with her in-laws. Where to eat? that was the question on everyone’s lips. The answer? The Gallows. I had been there once, for brunch and didn’t require any arm-twisting. At the Gallows, we started with their pulled pork stuffed corn muffin to share. Well, i use the term share loosely. Zea pretty much claimed it. Fabulous! then it was on to the main course.

Earlier, we had decided we would “eat light” after the excesses of Christmas. But by now we had worked up an appetite and when confronted with the menu, i knew it was burger time. I opted for the Carpetbagger with fired oysters atop. Zea chose the Maleson Melt with chanterelle, and porcini-morel butter. Emme, though, zeroed in on the poutine. specifically the daily Out of Control poutine, tonight made with bone marrow gravy. Wow!

Friday night, we hit another, small, beer-centric pub of the type that seems to characterize Boston. This time it was The Five Horses Tavern in the South End. Our mantra again was
“Eat Light!,” but that didn’t happen. not after i got a look at the menu.As son as i spotted it i knew i would have the k.f.c.g.h. With Kentucky fired Cornish game hen, jalapeno mashed potatoes and pork belly mac and cheese, it was comfort food times three. And it did not disappoint.

Fried Cornish Game Hen, Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes and Mac & Cheese

Dinner at Five Horses in Boston

Both of these fine establishments had amazing beer menus–bottled and on tap. And Five Horses happily seated our party when only  four of  six were present. When’s the last time something like that happened in New York?

 

 

Sotto Sopra Scores

 Worth a Visit in Amagansett

Sotto Sopra

Sotto Sopra offers fine dining in Amagansett.

The owners of Sotto Sopra (who also own Bobby Van’s) are bold and courageous. Brave and true. They have opened a classy restaurant in a spot where nothing ever lasts that long, even though it’s right on Montauk Highway in the heart of Amagansett. This new incarnation, Sotto Sopra, should change the fortunes of that location. There are a lot of reasons why it should succeed… from the welcoming light and airy space to the thoughtful menu, to the food itself.

We stopped in  for a late Saturday lunch recently and snagged a table in the pleasant and quiet back terrace. Of course, it’s the staff that presents the first, and lasting, impression of a restaurant, and here we were greeted by a cheery and attractive hostess who turned us over to our solicitous waiter. He didn’t miss a beat in delivering a basket of fresh bread and bowl of olive oil. We each ordered a glass of wine for the nifty wine list, Pinot Noir for Lauren and Riesling for me. We were given the choice of ordering from the brunch or lunch menu. We weren’t feeling very brunchy so we opted for lunch.

Portrait of Lauren with Pinor Noir

Lauren enjoys a glass of pinor noir at Sotto Sopra

The first (and only) disappointment of the afternoon occurred not long after we were seated. Lauren was bummed  to learn that the lobster roll was sold out.

No matter, we started with a crostini for Lauren and a arugula salad for me. I swear, I had never seen a bigger heap of arugula. With match sticks of fresh apple and a few delicious cherry tomatoes, with truffle dressing on the side, it was a great start.  Lauren enjoyed her steak sandwich with aoli. While I fell in love with my Linguine Mollusco: tender little neck clams in the shell or pasta with a lovely garlic sauce dotted with chiles. I emptied the breadbasket, sopping up the sauce after the clams were gone.

insalata fresca  with arugula, tomatoes, and apples.

The insalata fresca at Sotto Sopra is a magnificent heap of aruglua.

On to desert. We had a crazy layered crepe kinda thing and some knock-your-socks off chocolate mint gelato.

It turned out to be a wonderful, relaxing meal. We’ll be back.

Sotto Sopra

231 Main St.

Amagansett, NY 11930

(631) 267-3695

 

 

 

A Vermont Weekend

Great Fun for a Burlington, Vermont Weekend

We had a great reason to travel to Burlington, Vermont, the weekend before Memorial Day—My daughter Zea was graduating from Med School! Any reason is a good reason to get back to Burlington in the Spring, but this was special. We left NYC after work on Thursday and drove to Ballston Spa to visit my Mom. The next day i managed to get Lauren up early and we set off for Vermont–a trip of just under three hours. We go to Burlington in time to meet her old college friend Sally, who now lives in White River Junction.

Restaurant

Normally the Chef’s Corner in Williston is bustling for brunch

We met Sally for lunch at the Chef’s Corner in Williston. You know, right next to Lenny’s shoes on the Essex Road. (right around the corner from our motel, too, the something or other extended stay suites. Now i had heard plenty about this cafe from my ex-wife, but had never been.

What took me so long? it was totally charming. You get in line and order from the blackboard behind the counter. then have a seat, indoors or out and wait for the server to deliver.I had the tuna salade Nicoise which was delicious. can’t recall what Lauren and Sally had, but both raved about it.

Then we checked into our room. (now i remember, it was Townplace Suites. Nice place. Our room had a queen bed plus sofa bed and a full kitchen with a large fridge. They have an indoor pool – not that we had any time to use it. There’s no cafe but they offer your standard continental breakfast and pass out 20% off coupons for our new favorite—The Chef’s Corner.

outside burlington

Townplace Suites, just outside Burlington, was the best place we could find for UVM grad weekend

After a leisurely and uneventful check-in we headed off to Costco to do some party shopping. Boxes of wine! Sacks of sweet onions. Meat! Chips! Beer! It’s party time!

The next morning i crept out of the room as Lauren slept and walked to Chef’s Corner for breakfast, where i kept it simple: two eggs over easy, the best home fries ever, and bacon. take off the 20% and i feasted for under 10 bux. Then off to Zea’s to make German Potato Salad and lots of frenzied running around to buy last-minute supplies, until it was time for the party at Burlington’s Oakledge Park.

Oakledge Park in Burlington

Susan, Zea, Emme, Warren, and Casey enjoy the perfect weather on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Saw lots of friends and family at the party. Ate burgers, drank beer. What more could you ask for?

But i wasn’t just eating, drinking, and partying, no. that weekend was also dedicated to finally clearing out my storage shed that i had been supported for too many years. It was a slog down memory lane with college notebooks mashed up with wedding pictures and tax returns—all the phase of my adult life mixed up together.

from Man's Life magazine

Look what i found in my storage shed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(to be continued… A Vermont Weekend)

Lauren Lunches at ‘Lunch’

Lauren Loves Lunch aka the Lobster Roll

She also loves lobster rolls, which this place on the Napeague stretch of 27 between Amagansett and Montauk touts as the best around. She loves a whole steamed lobster most of all. But this Saturday, she said she knew she just didn’t’ have the energy to do the whole cracking and extracting thing. That’s how i knew for sure she was sick. And indeed, she’s fighting a wicked cold.

Lauren Lunching at Lunch

Lauren loves the fresh seafood at Lunch on Route 27 in Napeague

So, following the adage of “Feed a cold…” or is it “Starve a cold?” Regardless soup is always good when you’re not feeling well, so she ordered the Manhattan seafood chowder. I managed to steal a spoonful or two from her and i have to say, it was delicious—full of shrimp, clams, and all kinds of stuff. Lauren followed that with a shrimp roll, which disappeared as soon as the plate hit the table. I didn’t get to sample that, but no worries, i was completely satisfied by my tuna steak sandwich, cooked perfectly and served with some of the best fries I’ve had lately. Sick or not, Lauren wasn’t about to skip desert and so she ordered a slice of their famous, homemade raspberry pie. All in all it was a memorable early spring Lunch at Lunch.

Lunch

Lunch aka The Lobster Roll on the Napeague Stretch

The Day the Dogs Tied the Knot

Bravo Was There When the Dogs Tied the Knot

Chef Roble didn’t quite know what to make of Lauren when she came to her to request catering for the wedding of Carmen and Harpo. Why? They’re dogs! Chihuahuas to be exact. But he was game and he and his sister put together quite a blowout in the Hamptons. The bride and groom were resplendent in outfits designed and created by famous designer Gemma Kahng.

There were plenty of doggie guests and the canines ate better than the humans. They enjoyed duck meatballs and steak and eggs among other treats, while we had salad and fish. i do admit nipping a couple of he meatballs. they were excellent.

It was a fun day and was broadcast in January as part of the Chef Roble show on Bravo. I can’t believe they left out the only little bit of conflict, when a dog peed on my jacket and i had a little sparring session with its owner.

Lots of excitement when the dogs tied the knot.

 

 

Chelsea’s Fabulous Regional Thai

 Chelsea’s Regional Thai Might Be the Best Restaurant Deal in NYC

Lauren Ezersky

That's moi with Regional Thai Pad Thai

My husband says there are entirely too many Thai restaurants in New York City. But he’s always happy to take me to Regional Thai on 22nd Street in Chelsea. Why? Two reasons. One: He’s cheap. Two: Their Happy Hour. Three: the $4.00 wine. And not only wine. Their happy hour dinner special is one of the best in the City, bar none. OK listen up: here’s what you get. A choice of two entrees: pad thai or fried rice, either with shrimp, chicken, beef or tofu, and a choice of two appetizers: beggar’s purse, veg dumpling, spring roll, firecracker, maybe something else that i don’t remember—all for $7.95! I loooove the beggar’s purse, stuffed with all kinds of good stuff like shrimp, chicken and herbs They say eating a beggar’s purse brings good luck. Better to be lucky than good, right? I always have a delish veg spring roll too. Then its on to the Pad Thai that comes served in a big heap on the plate. Always get it with shrimp. Never disappointed. And that’s what i get. Every time. I don’t understand why, but they’ve got some funky Mexican sh*t on the menu too. And Margarita specials with top of the line booze like Patron and Cuervo, but i’m not a big boozer. I leave that to my hubby.

Oh wait… almost forgot. the service is great. everyone is so friendly. and the decor? well Warren says it’s ’80s Lower East Side, but i think the bright colors, fake elephant head (i hope it’s fake!) and the bird cages are all fab. Specials run from 5 – 7, monday to friday. That suits me fine. I like to eat early so i can have my teeth out and my nightgown on by 9:00.

That’s why i say that Chelsea’s Regional Thai is a great deal.

 

 

Happy Hour at the Palm

The Palm Happy Hour Makes Us Happy

The Palm is an ancient steakhouse, always included on the list of best in New York. There’s also an outpost in East Hampton. We never go there for dinner. We know that Lauren would not be able to resist their famous three pound lobster, and that would decimate out dining-out budget for about six months.

Like any good steakhouse, the Palm is not inexpensive. Unless… you take advantage of

Welcome to the Palm

their Bar Bites Happy Hour. Unfortunately, I’m not often here in the Hamptons during those delightful hours of 5 – 7 Mon – Fri. I’m more of a Friday night jitney east, Sunday afternoon Long Island Railroad west kind of guy. But taking a long weekend for our anniversary provided the prefect opportunity to take part.

The bar at the Palm, East Hampton, is all dark wainscot and time-worn tables. The bar is murky and moody with old wooden booths. The kind of place you want to hide out on a hot summer afternoon. A on those afternoon—from 5 to 7 on weekdays—you can partake of their bar bites, normally ranging from $10 to $13 for just $5.50! That includes steak burger sliders, lobster roll sliders, crab cakes, charcuterie plates and more. Shrimp cocktail is $3.95 and oysters are $1.90 each.

shrimp cocktail

super giant shrimp at the bar

We started with a half dozen oysters and a half dozen shrimp. When the shrimp arrived, they were beyond jumbo, fresh and crisp. Best we’d had in ages. The oysters, too, were fresh and briny. An order each of (3) burgers and (3)lobster roll sliders was all we needed. Well, we did spring for a carrot cake too, not that we needed it. Oh, and a couple of glasses of a crisp California chardonnay. It was a great meal of appetizers.The bar was empty when we arrived at 5:00. By the time we left it was packed with others taking advantage of one of the best dining deals in the Hamptons. We’ll be back for the Palm’s Happy Hour.

The End of Brunch

The End of Brunch: What Defines This Strange Weekend Meal?

Alcohol is a Key Ingredient of Brunch

I am happy to report that the Age of Brunch is over. Just about anyway. Oh, all the folks blithely enjoying their weekend mimosas and eggs Benedict think that brunch will always be in fashion. After all, it has been more than 100 years since Punch magazine declared in 1896, “to be fashionable now, we must brunch.”

 

And brunch we do. From sunup to sundown every weekend, in New York and cities across America, people are going out to brunch. They’re engaging in it, and enjoying it. But can someone please tell me exactly what the heck brunch is?

The simple answer, according to the OED, is that brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch. The dictionary informs us that the word itself was coined by a Mr. Guy Beringer in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895.

But neither Mr. Beringer nor the OED really explains what makes brunch brunch, as distinct from breakfast or lunch. Is it the food? It’s not the food. Eggs, for example, a brunch staple, are also breakfast food. They are prepared for brunch exactly the same way as for breakfast. Brunch favorites—burgers and salads—are also served at lunch and dinner. If brunch were a true combination of breakfast and lunch it would combine the dishes as well, e.g. eggs with hamburgers. That indeed is a dish I’ve enjoyed, a regional Rhode Island specialty hamburger patty with a fried egg on top. But I ate those on my half-hour lunch break in Portsmouth. That clearly was not brunch because I was on deadline. I had a schedule, I had somewhere to be after I ate, unlike folks enjoying brunch, which is a meal that in theory can stretch to infinity—or at least Monday morning. Is it the time? Yes, it’s the time, to a certain extent. Brunch is characterized by a sense of leisure.

And yes, it has to be on the weekend. Saturday or Sunday with a long day and lazy evening stretching out in front of you.

For me, as a boy growing up on a farm, those long lazy days were non-existent. Even on weekends, there was always work to get back to. So you can understand my bafflement about brunch.

I’m quite sure my Dad, a lifelong farmer, never ate brunch. He probably never spoke the word “brunch.” That’s not to say he wouldn’t like brunch. He would appreciate any excuse to eat. On the farm, my father routinely ate a second breakfast around 10 a.m. As I recall, it was pretty much the same as the first breakfast (or as he called it “breffist”—peanut butter on white bread, folded, dunked in his coffee. These days, you probably won’t find peanut butter on the brunch menu, unless it’s tucked into a crepe or incorporated into some brunch dessert

Does the eater define brunch? To a degree.

Do Real Men Eat Brunch?

My father was a real man, a regular guy. I believe that a regular guy couldn’t care less about brunch. If he’s at brunch, nine times out of ten he’s there because his girlfriend suggested it. However, he does like the idea of having permission to start drinking in the morning. If that requires ordering a hamburger and calling it brunch, so be it. Girls like brunch. Guys will do what girls like. Straight guys do anyway. And gay guys just plain like brunch.

So just because I am a brunch idiot why do I posit that brunch has reached the apex of its ascendency?

Go to the epicenter of the brunch world, the restaurant Pastis in the Meat Packing District of New York. If brunch wasn’t invented there, it should have been.  And you will suppose, from the long lines and the high prices, that brunch has never been more popular. Folks will wait hours to paying seventeen bucks for a couple of eggs—the very same eggs that are eleven dollars during the week. That’s a six dollar surcharge for the privilege of calling them brunch. You’ll find l’oeufs on the brunch menu at Pastis, as well as their salades and garnitures. But you won’t find the French word for brunch. Why? There is no French word for brunch. The French do not need a magic word to justify spending all day in a café eating and drinking.

Unrest in the Land of Brunch

But look around at the outer reaches of Brunchville and there are signs of unrest. There’s something brewing besides coffee—and that something is trouble. First there was Permanent Brunch, a restaurant in the Lower East Side that promised brunch all day, every day. It seemed like a sure thing. It shuttered soon after opening. Why? Once you experience brunch on a Tuesday at 6 p.m. you realize it’s not so special anymore. It’s not hard to figure out that anything permanent cannot be special. (See marriage.)

But a worse sign of the coming brunch apocalypse is offered by Meat Hook butcher shop in Williamsburg. It’s fitting that the home of the hipster is also home to the first ironic brunch. At the Meat Hook, they’ve set up a single table in front of the counter, where for $50 a head guests get to enjoy a “tasting menu” that might include a slice of leftover pizza with Miller High Life, saltines with chocolate and coffee, schnapps and beef jerky followed by lentil soup.

Well, it does meet the main criteria of brunch: alcohol. Plenty of it. But seems to me that once brunch becomes ironic its days are numbered.

So if you’ll excuse me, it’s the weekend, and I’m going out for a late morning meal. I’m in the vanguard of the next fashionable thing. Eggs over easy, home fries and bacon. And a big mug of coffee. I’m calling it breffist.

And for me, that will be the end of brunch.