Tag Archives: Food

Social Eatz and Southern Hospitality

Angelo Sosa (of Top Chef and, the now closed, Xie Xie fame) opens his new restaurant Social Eatz today.  In celebration he gave out 100 free Korean tacos starting at noon.


Anyone get a taste?

Angelo Sosa’s previous spot Xie Xie, closed at the end of last summer with signs in the window saying it was only closed for renovations.  Months went by, paper went up in the windows and then slowly you could start to see the old Xie Xie decor coming down.  Clearly no reopening to come!

Next door, what was Zanzibar was being refurbished too.  However, it took about five months before a sign was finally posted on both places.  A lot of people in the area were wondering who could afford to have both the huge previous-Zanizbar space and the Xie Xie space closed for that long and not generating income.  Turns out the owner indeed does have deep pockets – its now the new HK location of Southern Hospitality, the Justin Timberlake backed venture:


Social Eatz
232 E. 53rd St.
New York, NY 10022
Tel.: (212) 207-3339
Website: http://socialeatz.com/

Southern Hospitality
945 Ninth Ave. (at W. 45th St.)
New York, NY 10036


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Lalo Cafe

Basking in the mid-morning sun on the Upper West Side, Lalo Cafe is a welcome respite from the brisk 1st of March weather. Last year it snowed twice in April and this year, we just emerged from a snowstorm system that sat over NYC for all of Thursday and Friday. Yesterday and today have been full of the dripping sounds and the puddles growing deeper and browner at the street corners. Yet, outside the wind is still kicking up and it’s the perfect time to head indoors for a pleasant weekday brunch.

Lalo Cafe, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

Arriving at about 11am, the place had a good number of diners filling the back seats – some lingering over coffee, tea or scones – others consulting guide books or language translators and deciding what point to jump off to next. I ordered the filling – and decadent – Belgian breakfast – consisting of a huge, fluffy Belgian waffle, fresh strawberries and whip cream piled high.

Aimee got the raspberry scone with clotted cream and marmalade. It came – oddly – with a julienned cucumber and olives. The marmalade was the definite star for me – it was prepared without the skins left in there so there was no bitter taste at all. The clotted cream was also a nice touch – and equally useful as, when placed first, held the crumbly scone together nicely with the marmalade.

The Belgian Breakfast:

Lalo Cafe, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

The cranberry scone with clotted cream, marmalade and boiled scrambled eggs with herbs.

Lalo Cafe, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

Café Lola
201 West 83rd Street (btwn. Amsterdam & Broadway)
New York, NY 10024
Tel.: (212) 496-6031
Website: http://www.cafelalo.com

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Permanent Brunch


Permanent Brunch (which will now be called “Permanent Brunch & Burger) has now reopened after it recent closure due to tax related issues.  According to New York Magazine’s Grub Street, taxes were owed by the former restaurant Vanel on First.

Permanent Brunch & Burger
95 1 Avenue
New York, NY 10003-2902
Tel.:  212.533.3315
Website:  www.permanentbrunch.com

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Stecchino, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

Stecchino is a new reataurant that opened toward the beginning of November in Hell’s Kitchen (over on 9th Ave. between 52st and 53nd). A second venture by the owners of nearby Chelsea Grill (down 9th Ave. between 47th & 46th), Stecchino presents a solid drink menu – with mixed drinks worthy of a stand alone speakeasy style bar -, a good selection of Italian dishes with a strong showing in the meat section, and good prices considering the type and style of the restaurant.

I ordered the cornish game hen which came with broccoli rabe over a cream sauce. This dish was definitely a star for me. The cream sauce melded sweamlessly with the perfectly cooked hen and the broccoli provided a decent crunch and added tecture. The one point that could be good for them to work on is how the broccoli was prepared. I found mine a tad bitter tasting. Possibly blanching it beforehand would help with the color too.

Stecchino-cioppino, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

A. ordered the Cioppino – a seafood stew in a tomato broth. This is the same as Frutti di Mare (Fruits of the Sea) basically that you would find in a number of tratoria in Italy. The portions of lobster, calamari, clams and mussels were generous and the stew was also not that spicy – which is good. It was also a pretty generous portion.

On the down notes of the place: the waitstaff was definitely over tentative and seemed overly self conscious. Due in part to the crazy graphic layout of the menu – yeah, I get that they want to offer a lot of variety and offer small plates Italian/American bistro themed, but the layout was just hard to decipher – it took us a while to decide what to get. Instead of allowing us time to decide, the waitress was too overeager to come over and see if our order was ready to be taken. It was pretty empty in there that night and the tables next to us were empty so it didn’t seem to be a desire to quickly turn the tables so the next couple of diners could be seated; it seemed to be a more general unease that comes with inexperience. Minor issue though and definitely not a deal breaker.

This place seems like it should be on the way up. Its well located. Offers something that you can’t find elsewhere in Hell’s Kitchen dining/bars. And it offers decent prices. Plus the drinks were amazing! Definitely worth trying – and a good place to meet a or co-worker for drinks or a meal after work. 

765 9th Ave. (btwn. 51st & 52nd)
New York, NY 10019
Tel.: 212.397.2377

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Charmed by Charm on the Upper West Side

On the Upper West Side in the middle of the block between W. 96th and W. 95th on Amsterdam, there is a cute little thai restaurant called Charmed.  I had been meaning to try it for a while as it was within easy walking distance of A’s old apt.  Last night we decided to go.

The place is fairly small (maybe 25 or so cafe size tables) but we were seated as soon as we walked in the door.   It has a cozy feeling with an exposed brick wall with decorative bowls attached to it behind a wall length padded bench.

What you see below is the shrimp shumai appetizer:

Charm Restaurant-UWS, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

The sauce and the shumai were both very good.  Its a pretty tipical dish to get so no real surprises here.  But def. good stuff.

Next, I order the pad see you (ok, that’s not how its spelled….but still funnier)… The dish arrived in a metal wok and still piping hot from the kitchen.  All the flavors mixed together very nicely and the broccoli was well cooked – not too crunchy and not soggy either.  Plus marks also for the presentation.    

Pad see-ew, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

Aimee got the lemongrass chicken.  Also delicious.  A little too much sauce though she said. 

Chicken and broccoli, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

Overall, a very filling meal.  One pet peave: I wish they had provided us with Metal chopsticks instead of the cheapo wooden snap-off kind. 

Charm Thai
722 Amsterdam Ave. (btwn. 95th & 96th)
NY, NY  10025
Tel.: (212) 866-9800
Website:  www.charmthainyc.com 

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This place is terrible.  Frankly, I think I haven’t been served a worse meal in the past year or more!  Here’s the background story. 

Last night, Aimee & I went to see Catherine Opie give a lecture at the Center on her body of work as it ties into her current retrospective on view at the Guggenheim.  The lecture was great and totally satisfying.  I had never seen Catherine speak before (nor seen her in person) and the room the lecture was held in was the perfect size.  A number of people asked questions after her lecture and she was excited to answer them.  Also, she was both and articulate lecturer (she’s a professor at UCLA) and very approachable.

After the lecture however was a different story.  Our bellies empty from jaunting straight from work to Catherine’s lecture, we were on the hunt for satiating food.  One thought was Two Boots (pizza) which I poo-pooed as I wasn’t exactly feeling like American pizza and as Two Boots was overly casual for what I wanted.  Strolling down the streets near 14th, we eyed Good Restaurant,  A Salt & Battered, Tea & Sympathy, Soy Luck Club and a couple others.  While some of these were tempting, Artepasta seemed the best because of (1) their prices were low and (2) they seemed to offer something that both I and Aimee would like to have.  I saw the caprese pizza with “burrata mozzarella”, basil, extra virgin olive oil and fresh tomato.  Aimee saw the insalata mixta with soppresata (“sopresto”) and “focaccia croutons”.  We entered.

First minor foul note, we were seated in the drafty center section right by the door.  No one else was seated in this section.  And the interior door was propped open in such a way that when a group entered, the draft hit us for a good duration.  Originally we were seated on the end of a long row of empty tables but asked to move over one as we kept getting hit by the waiters as they walked by to the service station right next to our table.  After ordering, we sat there for a good 20 to 30 minutes, the first half of which Aimee spent shivering and eventually put her coat on.  Eventually we had to ask one of the waiters (not ours who was standing idly right by us but not paying attention) to close the interior door.  He complied which was good.

Then, our food arrived.  Now, I had ordered the caprese pizza.  I asked the waiter if it was like the pizza margharita to which he said it was.  I order the pizza in an Italian restaurant.  What arrived was a spongy mess of a “pizza” that layered tomatoes that tasted like they had been frozen, with mounds of generic pre-grated mozzarella cheese (not the fresh Italian bufalo mozzarella).  It was essentially (if not in reality) a frozen microwaved pizza plopped down on my plate!  It was awful!

During the course of the mention (and after we finished…not that our waiters noticed we were finished) our waiter kept sneaking up and spooking Aimee!  Seriously!  He would come up behind her really quickly, wrap the water pitcher around her to her glass and whisper “Is everything ok”.  Ugh.  He even did this (and refilled our water glasses) when we had put our napkins on the table in order to signal we wanted the check.  ergh.  We’re done.  Take our plates away.

At the end of the (long) meal, the (inattentive) waiter brought our change back in such a way that we could only leave him a 21% tip or higher with the change he gave us.  (He left a 1, a 5 and a 10.)  After ultimately flagging down his co-worker (the same co-waiter who closed the interior door for us), we received change for the 5 in order to leave the tip.  Now, I say “flagging down” but that really is a liberal use of the word….  the pack of waiters and the female bartender were all just standing there the whole time in a clump by the waitstation chatting.

81 Greenwich Ave (btwn. Bank St & 7th Ave. South)
New York, NY  10021
Tel.: 212-229-0234
Website: http://www.artepastanyc.com/

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