Tag Archives: lunch

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.

Half-way Around the World in 14 Days

An Epic Trip to New Zealand

Two weeks of hiking, dining, drinking, exploring below the equator

Auckland, New Zealand

Downtown Auckland from the Bay

It was a dream trip 25 years in the making. It has been that long since my sister, Marianne, moved to Auckland, New Zealand  And for 25 years i kept promising i would visit. But you know how it is. But in February i finally bit the bullet and hopped a looooong flight to Kiwi land on Hawaiian Air. I got a very good price with an overnight stop over in Honolulu. Perfect! that meant i could spend a night with my oldest friend, Joe Ferraro and his wife Nadine. Joe picked me up at the airport around 5:00 and brought me back to their bungalow-style home in Manoa. After a shower and a change into the appropriate shorts and flowered shirt we had a beer on the patio and headed out for dinner on the beach. i have to say, the minute my feet touched ground in Hawaii i could feel the tension seeping out of my body. And it continued into New Zealand. Even the prospect of a nine  hour flight hard on the heels ao a 11 1/2 hour flight and an hour and half delay in taking off from Honolulu due to an equipment problem, couldn’t raise my temperature.

Touchdown in Kiwiland

I arrived in New Zealand late Tuesday night. Marianne was there to meet with at the airport.And i really didn’t feel that bad after the 20 hour trip. Here’s the key: I laid out an extra 75 bucks each leg for exit row/bulkhead seating. well worth it? no knees jammed into the seat back in front of me. no getting pissed off at the person in front of me. There was no person in front of me!

Day 1: Exploring downtown Auckland

Wednesday i got my first look at Auckland. I threw on a t-shirt and a pair a shorts and set out. Yes, it is hilly! My sister’s house is in the Eden Terrace neighborhood of Auckland, just a 20 minutes walk from downtown. I just kind of nosed around downtown. You know how when you go to Boston and you’re walking around and suddenly you wonder, Hey where are all the people? well, it’s not like that in Auckland. not in downtown Auckland anyway. Lots of people walking around. I stopped at the Crown on Custom St. for a pint. It’s a brewpub where i enjoyed a pilsner. Though i thought the $12 price for a pint was a bit steep. But stop to figure it out. The exchange makes that $12 $10.20 American. Also, note that there is no tipping in New Zealand, so knock another 2 bucks off of that and you have an $8 pint. that seems about right. Later Marianne and i went out for dinner at, YUZU,  a Japanese place in Mt. Eden. the miso orange roughy was fantastic.

Day 2: Discovering the Auckland Domain

I took a commuter train to Grafton and walked a few steps to the Domain. Wow! What a place. i entered it from behind a small grandstand that sat at the edge of a depression or bowl. it wasn’t until later that i learned it was one of the many volcano craters dotting the city. Athletes were running, stretching, playing cricket. (Well, maybe calling the cricketeers athletes is a bit of a stretch.) i was there to visit the winter garden but had to hunt a bit to find it in the vastness of the Domain.

The Wintergarden in the Auckland Domain

The Wintergarden

The winter garden is a smallish conservatory with a beautiful annual house, and a tropical room with a lovely courtyard. I found the lovely Wintergarden Cafe outside the courtyard and enjoyed a delicious lunch of a warm salad and a Steingarden beer.

More to come…

For the Love of Ivy

Yum yum gimme some…..more Ivy restaurant! What a feast I just had. Lobster tacos layered shrimp and avocado sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon and onion covered in cheese. Generous appetizer portions with fair prices. It’s mostly bar food but a bit more upscale than most. My friend had a pomegranate drink and was feeling no pain. I highly recommend this restaurant on 56 and 8th if you are ever in the hood!

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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 – Part II

More About a Great Vermont Weekend in Burlington

Sunday was the day for the main event, commencement at the University of Vermont. Of course it was an oppressively hot day. Of course, Ira Allen chapel in un-air-conditioned, and was packed with graduates and celebrants. Didn’t matter though. The big day had finally arrived. Was so proud of my daughter Zea who put in all the hard work. Thrilled that she got to March with her fiancee Nick. It was a great ceremony.

Commencement at UVM

Ira Allen Chapel at the University of Vermont was packed for Med School Graduation

The rest of the day was anticlimactic, though we were glad we had taken an extra day off so we didn’t have to rush off like everyone else.

On Monday, after working on cleaning out my storage shed some more, we stole Zea away from moving truck loading duty for a last lunch in Burlington. Because Penny Cluse was closing just as we arrived, we decided to try Leunig‘s. It’s a Vermont class and a Church St. mainstay. Good choice.

Bistro on Church St.

Leunig’s is a Burlington classic.

We snagged an outdoor table and relaxed as the friendly staff made us feel at home. When she arrived, Zea ordered duck tacos. i chose the duck confit and Lauren the salad Nicoise. Each was fantastic. Delightful lunch on a beautiful spring day. Burlington at its best!

It was such a nice day, Lauren and I decided to take the ferry on our way back to New York. To our surprise, the Burlington – Port Kent ferry wasn’t running yet. But with some creative driving were we able to catch the Charlotte ferry.

Ferry to New York State

A lovely view of the Adirondacks from teh Charlotte Ferry

University of Vermont Commencement

All in all it was a great weekend in Burlington, VT.

Proud Dad and Doctor Daughter

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

Starting the Season with Lobster in East Hampton

Lunching on Lobster with Lauren at Bostwicks in East Hampton

Granted they were just opening for the season, but our waiter obviously didn’t know Lauren Ezersky. He mistakenly place some of our order in front of me. Lauren set that straight pretty quickly. One pound lobster—Lauren. Half dozen little neck claims—Lauren. Corn on the cob—Lauren. Cole slaw—Lauren. Clam chowder (New England style) and Peroni—Warren. (Ok, two Peronis) And don’t forget the extra sauce for Lauren! That’s how we roll at Bostwick’s in the Spring in East Hampton.

Lauren in the Hamptons

Look out Lobsters when Lauren hits Bostwicks!

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.