Tag Archives: restaurant

Red Rooster Gets It Right

 A Hamburger in Harlem

photo(15) photo(14) photo(16)What is it about hamburgers? What’s all the fuss? Come back from trying any new restaurant in town and someone will invariably ask: “How are the burgers there?” Every food-centric magazine, web site, and blog does a best hamburger list at least once a year. Like any other carnivore, i like my burgers. And Shake Shack is at the top of the list. But today i decided to try someplace new. A restaurant not particularly known for its burgers: the Red Rooster in Harlem.

I had just finished a very trying visit to St. Luke’s Hospital uptown and needed to treat myself to a burger. i realized i was within walking distance of Harlem and the Red Rooster, so i took a chance. Now, the Red Rooster is more known for its soul food such as catfish, fried chicken, shrimp and grits and the like. I had a hunch the burger was pretty damn good too.

I arrived late in the afternoon when there were plenty of open tables in the streetside patio on Lenox Ave. So i got myself a table and ordered at Dogfish Head draft to quench my thirst and chill my nerves.  Ah! I gave the menu a cursory go-over, but i knew what i wanted: The Triple Double Burger with bacon, jarlsberg, and rooster sauce, medium rare please with fries and an order of pickled vegetables to start.

The carrots, onions, radish, and cauliflower were lightly pickled and came with two zesty dipping sauces. By the time i finished, the burger and fries had arrived, and it seemed a suitable time for another beer. Let me talk about the fries first. They were shoestring style, and everything that a McDonald’s fry aspired to be when and if it ever grew up. They were crisp on the outside, pillowy on the inside and generously covered with sea salt. Great fries! The burger was equal to them. Two delicious patties, perfectly done, criss-crossed with bacon and seasoned with a subtle sauce. Delicious!

Now, my best burger list begins and ends with the Red Rooster Triple Double.

 

A Satisfying Summer Meal

At Sotto Sopra in Amagansett

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Delicious Caesar Salad at Sotto Sopra in Amagansett

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The Salumi plate is a great way to start at Sotto Sopra

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Zuppa di Pesce. Yum!

photo 3 Ice cream Tiramisu I was on my own this weekend and decided to stuff my face at Sotto Sopra this Thursday in lovely Amagansett ! ( I’m such an early bird I went at 5pm. Well I take my teeth out by 8 anyway!) I was greeted by nice hostess, then had gorgeous Jessie as my server. I decided to sit in the garden, which was lovely quiet and would have been romantic if my significant other was here! I ordered a bunch of yummy plates! I started off with some cured meats, which were great, and a Caesar salad (one of my all time favs), then went on to zuppa di pesce. The Caesar was good—a bit light on the dressing, but I liked it. The cured meats plate was a meal in itself. It came with roasted peppers, artichokes,  some mozzarella,  and a bit of salad. Generous portions were served! I like that! My eyes are always bigger than my stomach. Mom used to tell me that too.

I was so full when my zuppa di pesce came, but since that’s my fav fav fav I chowed it all down with gusto ! Little pieces of chorizo, mixed with shrimp, clams, oysters, and different types of fish. Very tasty. Then of course there is always room for dessert. Ok then since dessert is fav part of meal I had to have two: tiramisu,which was creamy and excellent,  then as a chaser caramel Oreo ice cream. Sooo good.

Well there you have it. When your next out in Amagansett check out Sotta Sopra.

—Lauren Ezersky

 Sotto Sopra
231 Main Street
Amagansett, NY 11930

(631) 267-3695

 

 

 

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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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

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

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.