After having been to Seven for drinks before a concert at MSG, I tried for the first time, dinner there tonight before the Eric Clapton show (which was excellent, btw), also at the Garden.

To start, I had the pear salad and thought it to be pretty good. Could have used a little more gorgonzola, but that's just me. Otherwise a good dish with hefty proportions of greens.

My wife had the clear vegetable soup to start. She thought it pretty and tasty but was served scorchingly hot. Again, portion size was good+.
For entrees, I had the steak sandwich with fries (instead of chips) and my wife had the lobster salad - which she said was very good and as AKR had mentioned, was well proportioned with a good amount of lobster. My steak sandwich was perfectly cooked (medium rare), the bread it was served on had a nice crunch to it and the dijon mustard I requested was delivered immediately.

For dessert we shared the special: a mediocre banana chocolate bread pudding. I had a cup of also mediocre earl grey tea.

The service here was suprisingly excellent. The bread service (a choice of 4 different kinds, pleasantly displayed in a basket), our waitress and the bussers were all incredibly pleasant and helpful...I was surprised.

I was able to get a reservation for 2 people, upstairs at 6:15 with a simple phone call at around noon. But they are likely required as the place was packed halfway through our meal.

I've been here for drinks and "tapas" or bar snacks pre-MSG concert before, but this was the first time I'd eaten a real meal here...but it won't be my last. This is a sure thing for a pre-Garden dining.

Oh, I only ordered a ginger ale (not feeling so hot) and my wife just had water. So two apps, two entrees (well, one was a $15 app), one dessert, tea and a ginger ale came to $70. Not bad at all.

The First Ever Food Candy Meet Up is Tomorrow at 6:30

Here's the skinny:

What: Food Candy Meet Up
When: 6:30pm - Friday, Sept. 29, 2006
Where: NoLita House
Why: To meet up with like-minded individuals (food freaks) over drinks

See you then and there.



August - Brunch review

Well, a few weeks ago I had a terrific dinner at August.

Brunch there today will go down as one of the ruder displays of service I've yet to witness in NYC.

We got to August at 11:05, five minutes after they opened. I opened the door and saw the same waiter I had last time (he a bit on the strange side, but nice enough to us last time). I asked if they were seating yet. He groaned, looked at his watch, and looking in a direction other than mine, he said "I guess so". Um. Okay.

We get seated in the back room, which, because of the nice weather, had one of the roof segments open. Great.

My father-in-law, goes to the bathroom to find it clogged. Problem would be fixed later. Sink is on the fritz as well (gets all over both he and my mother-in-law). Whatever, okay.

Our waiter takes a drink order...and he was possibly the rudest person I've dealt with in the last 6 months. No patience, didn't get our order right and upon bringing the coffee/tea...spilled much of the tea on the table neglecting to clean it up. He wouldn't return to the table. Which is either good or bad depending on how you want to look at it.

A new guy, equally "sketchy" in looks and behavior can't seem to wait for us to give us our orders (impatient)...which of course results in him having to come back to the table a few seconds later to find out that yes, my father-in-law wanted his eggs over easy. Ugh.

After some time, the food comes out. And truth be told, my dish (Alsatian eggs) was excellent. The pain perdu with strawberry rhubarb compote was okay - nothing to cheer for. The steak and eggs looked very good but the biggest disaster was the German Pancake my mother-in-law ordered. She detected, being a cook herself, a faint but ever present baking powder taste. As she continued to eat...the flavor of baking powder increased. That was it for that. She spent the rest of the day bowled over the toilet.

I can't believe the uneveness of this place. After my first visit I walked away convinced that August was a winner. Now I don't know if I can recommend it to others.

The service from the moment we arrived until we left (no thank you, no hello, no good morning, no anything) was negative and unwelcoming.

Be warned.


The Burger Contest

Since none of my friends are getting their acts together, I've decided to do a comparison of the burgers of New York by myself. Here is a listing of the burgers I plan to include in this fun, ongoing contest. This blog will act as a checkoff list and will stay toward the top of the page. Reviews of the burgers will be linked from this entry though final and preliminary rankings as well as dates sampled will be included here too.

Blue Smoke
burger joint at le Parker Meridien
Burger Joint
Burgers and Cupcakes
Corner Bistro
JG Melon
Peter Luger
Shake Shack
Waterfront Ale House


Momofuku Ssam Bar

I decided to try something different tonight with hopes of getting out of my immediate neighborhood but walkable and limited to a "cheaper" budget. Ssam seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
So two stops on the 6 train and a few blocks of walking later, I see my dining destination.My first impression was that this was designed or modelled after Rickshaw Dumpling Bar. And if that's was a good idea. Both are or will be gold mines.

Simple but pleasant, differing "wood" strips layed horizontally cover the walls. Faux or composite stone tiles finish the floor and a not-really mahogany bar stretches nearly the entire length of the space with recessed lighting above. There are also a few tables and chairs.Much like Rickshaw, a metal vat provides water for guests and can be found on the service table with utensils, plastic cups, napkins and dedicated holes for garbage and recycleables.

Like Rickshaw, you order in the back from a very limited but entirely satisfying menu for vegetarians and meat lovers alike. And like Chipotle and Rickshaw, the "cooks" assemble your meal right in front of you.

I ordered the first thing on the menu:Flour pancake, rice, onions, hoisin with berkshire pork. This also came with bacon black beans, kewpie slaw and red kimichi puree. I also ordered one steamed bun with Berkshire Pork and one with organic chicken (pickled cucumbers, onions, hoisin) but backed off when I saw the size of the ssam.

Photos courtesy of Kathryn
It was fantastic. All of the ingredients worked well together - the standout being the pork. Wow. Not only was the pork remarkably flavorful but the texture was great. Some parts smooth and shredded, some parts crispy. Fantastic. The essence of Berkshire pork was really defined. I was skeptical, but was surprised at how well it came through. Reminded me, albeit slightly, to the berkshire pork they raise and serve at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

The other part was the kimchi. This was sweet, as opposed to spicy, which I think will allow a greater following - you can add extra Srirachas (chili) hot sauce at your discretion.

Lastly, the flour pancake was the perfect texture, taste and had just the right amount of "give" when biting into it.Overall, this is a fantastic sandwich and one I look forward to having many more times. If I can ever get past it on the menu, I'm sure I'll try everything else except for the vegetarian options, which simply don't look appetizing to me. This dish, with a Dr. Pepper (which went very well with the dish) came to $11 and change.