Category Archives: New York


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Filed under Brooklyn, New York, New York City, Side Dish, Transit

Custard Line Arrives!

For those of you wondering when the “B” Line – as its called at Shake Shack’s original Madison Square Garden location – would be arriving to the new Theater District location, it looks like the line is now here!  The Custard Line is generally much (much) quicker than the regular burgers, hot dogs and fries ordering line.  At Shake Shack’s newest location it looks like its going to be called the “C Line”.  Now we just have to wait to see if/when the Theater District location adds a “Shack Cam”.
Shake Shack – Theater District
691 8th Avenue (at W. 44th St.)
New York, NY  10036
Tel.: (646) 435-0135

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Letter Grades for NYC Restaurants – Saute Wednesday

As the Grey Lady (a.k.a., The New York Times) deftly points out, “by the end of (today), several restaurant windows in New York are quite likely to display . . .  a brilliantly colored placard bearding a letter grade.”  Grades for restaurants in NYC are about to be posted.  However, the vast majority of grades – particularly those with Bs and Cs – are not likely to be posted until the end of August.  So what exactly does all this mean?  How are these letter grades different from the infraction points the Department of Health used to post on their website?

First of all the main difference seems to be in visibility.  On the front page of the NYT, there is an article about corruption in the Russian police forces and how endemic it is.  One senior official, in response to a series of claims by Alex Dymovsky against corruption in the forces, responds that “the system is . . .  very transparent.”  The same is the goal with the new letter grade system – transparency.  Previously, restaurant ratings could only be found on the health department’s website.  Where exactly?  Well… here: Now, how many of you have honestly gone there to check a restaurant’s rating?  Right, very few.

Now, with the postings as visible as the Zagat’s/TONY/New York Magazine etc. reviews typically posted boastfully in the restaurant windows, the average person strolling down the street trying to find a good place to eat can know the cleanliness reputation.

How are these letter grades different from the previous system?  Well, according to the Times article, “the department (of health) removed many inspection categories from the scoring process”.  In other words, things like administrative errors – failure to post choking signs, failure to post “employees must wash hands”, etc. – are not factored into the grades.  Additionally, if a restaurant appeals a letter grade they received, their sign would read “grade pending”.  It is unclear how long the appeal process would be.

In terms of a one-to-one match up of the old inspection scores to the new letter grades, note the following.  An inspection score of 0-13 is an A, 14-27 points is a B, and 28 or more points is a C.  There are no grades given below a C.  These grade cards must then be posted in an area easily visible to passersby.  Each card is embossed with the department of health’s seal and has a unique serial number.

So what will be the outcome of this change to a grading system?  Right now the effect is unclear.  Restaurants receiving a grade lower than an A will automatically be reinspected before their grade is posted.  This may mean that those restaurants clean up their act in the meantime.  However, what does it mean for the restaurants that were inspected and received an A in the first round?  What if they slack off and let a crazy band of rodents infiltrate their kitchens after the grade is posted?  Will they then be demoted to a B or C?  As the inspections are to be conducted randomly only once per year, its hard to say.  The best bet may still be to read diner reviews of your intended restaurant online first before venturing out.

Waiter –  what’s this fly doing in my soup?
Well, it looks like he’s doing the backstroke.

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Filed under Brooklyn, Brunch, Food, Gothamist, Hell's Kitchen, New York, New York City, Queens, Restaurants, Uncategorized

Todd English’s CaVa moves into InterContinental Hotel in Midtown West

So Shake Shack just officially opened up in the InterContinental Hotel’s building this past Monday – ever wonder what is going in on the W. 44th st. side entrance?  Well its Todd English’s Ca Va.  Construction workers were putting up the restaurant awning this morning.  Most of the dining furniture and bar space seems to be in place. 

More details including a press release on the topic from English can be found here:

Plus, back in June they were apparently working hard on getting the place staffed:

Ca Va
302 W. 44th (@ 8th Ave.)
New York, NY  10036
Tel.:  (no tel. yet)
Website:  no website yet

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Xie Xie – lobster roll

This past Sunday, the New York Post highlighted Xie Xie’s asian lobster roll as one of the best in the city – a compliment that did not escape the notice of Xie Xie staff.  After orderingthe lobster roll this past July 5th, the attendant asked if I had read about the roll in the NYPost – I responded no but that I had ordered the roll before and enjoyed it.  Just for the sake of comparison, here is the roll I ordered on the 5th:

Xie Xie – lobster roll, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

And now – here is the one I ordered back in August 2009 just after they opened:
Xie Xie project-lobster roll

The other thing is Xie Xie seems to be getting skimpier on their lobster roll portion size. Here’s a shot of the roll from ’09 with the meat given in a container: 

Xie Xie project-lobster roll

Then here is the container given with the roll now:


Notice how they are now using more cut up chunks of lobster as opposed to outting in whole intact clawmeat sections.  Also, they seem to be putting in less of the asian mayo (good choice) and (unfortunately) some shrimp too.  Can’t recall finding shrimp mixed in with the earlier lobster roll.

All in all – still a delicious lobster roll.  Be prepared if you order it to go that the meat will come separate from the bun.

N.B. – Angelo Sosa from Xie Xie is currently on this season’s Top Chef.

Xie Xie Project
645A 9th Ave. 9@ W. 45th St.)
New York, NY 10036
Tel.:  (212) 265-2975

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Shake Shack – Midtown

That’s right kids – Shake Shack is now moving to Midtown West to the corner of W. 44th and 8th Ave right across from the A/C train entrance. In the same building – a new (god-awful hideous) construction – also appears to be prepping a separate space on the W. 44th St. side for a different restaurant.

Once this Shake Shack location opens, FCB will be able to skip over there for lunch or after work hours daily or on the weekends as it is so close to both work and home. Juicy Shakeburger with cheese, lettuce and onion and a side of cheese fries here we come. However, while this is all very exciting, FCB is definitely a bit taken aback by Shake Shack’s choice of location. The first venture was in an environmentally minded structure in the environs of Madison Square Park. The walk up is a sand/gravel path, ivy grows on the roof and eager squirrels gather at the feet of diners to grab up any dropped treats. Here, the construction company had the prior buildings torn down and in there place have slowly built this metal, glass and faux stone wall monstrosity. The architecture looks like it belongs more in the 1970s than 2010 – not to mention the carbon impact of all those constructions workers and materials being transported to the job site daily and all the electricity used to put up the building. For a Danny Meyer venture that is part of an expanding NY group, is it really responsible for them to move here? Is a de facto policy of ignoring your own carbon impact really the direction we want the restaurant industry to be moving?

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Filed under Food, Hell's Kitchen, New York, New York City, Restaurants, Transit

Empanada Mama now open 24/7

Midtown West hotspot Empanada Mama announced that they will now be open 24/7. As there are few late night eating options on 9th Ave Midtown West (aside from Galaxy Diner, Westway Diner and the Bangkok House), this a good tactic for Mama. More from Grub Street:–20100525

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