Category Archives: Food reviews

Beaker and Flask

Last night we ate at Beaker and Flask, a restaurant so hip there is no door sign. My dad had it on a list of places we should try, and I read the menu online and it sounded amazing.

We booked a table for 6pm since we were coming with a toddler. We arrived and it was mostly empty, except for a large group who had ordered a bunch of cocktails. It is a great place for a drink. They don’t have a bartender, but a “mixologist”. Hmmm. And they use all sorts of obscure liquors and pretentiously don’t explain what they are, but hey, it is their prerogative. I would have loved to try one, but I am not in the market for drinks. I would rather save my breastfeeding alcohol limit for wine.

We got some bar snacks just to try: pigs ear, fried anchovies and olives, and brussel sprouts in a purple yam puree. The pigs ears were amazing.

Then, I got the Oregon Wagyu beef with beans in a creamy horseradish sauce. It was a “small plate”, but I could have eaten just that. Then I got the vegetarian large plate of Delicata squash with braised greens and cioppolinis. It was good, but the beef was amazing. Kiddo liked it too. Hubby got the braised short ribs as a small plate and the trout with shoestring potatoes for a large plate. My parents got the butter lettuce salad, which they thought was better the last time they were there.

For dessert, we tried the chocolate tart with tangy goat cheese crema, the yeasted custard and huckleberry tart, and the panna cotta with beignets. I liked the chocolate the best and Hubby liked his custard tart the best. The beignets were good, and the panna cotta was perfect.

There isn’t much seating. If you have more than 7 people it would be a squeeze. In general, the place seemed like it was going to be super pretentious, but I didn’t feel that way. I think it helped that our waiter was down to earth and funny, without being too friendly or always there.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (I loved my dishes, my parents didn’t love all of theirs)

Atmosphere: 4/5 stars (Dark, hip, loud. Perfect for a romantic meal – or a dinner out with a toddler watching her iPad.)

Service: 5/5 stars (Funny waiter.)

Price: $$$ ($8-15 for small plates, $20-25 for large plates)

(Sorry no photos – my phone was in my jacket pocket, which was checked )

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A compendium of restaurants in NYC

We wanted to remember all the restaurants we tried on this trip, but I don’t see how I can write full reviews for all the places we have eaten in the past 48 hours so I am going to do short blurbs.

 

The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village

Beautiful, tasty food. We tried the deep fried poached eggs and the burger. I wish I could have tried everything on the menu. Loved the décor and low levels of pretension on site. Super hipster place. Lots of leather and high heels in the clientele, lots of film students, lot of foreign languages being bantered around. Nice vibe.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Tasty and well presented, but not the best food ever)

Atmosphere: 4/5 stars (Funky and fun, but stools? Hi, I am old, I need chair backs 🙂

Service: 5/5 stars (Friendly and full of smiles, even though we came in with a toddler and changed our minds 17 times about the high chair versus stool for Kiddo)

Price: $$$ ($60 for 2 breakfasts, a tea, a bloody mary – and tip)

 

ViV Regional Thai Cuisine in Murray Hill

Very shiny and light interiors. Robins egg blue walls, small tables, red enamel sink in the bathroom: a weird mix. Good happy hour drinks deals, no deals on food. The Chaing Mai sausages were amazing. Lots of regional dishes on the menu, wished we could have tried more.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Tasty and unique)

Atmosphere: 3/5 stars (Clean, but got the feeling they were trying too hard.)

Service: 4/5 stars (Friendly but they tried to push more food and drinks a little too much.)

Price: $$ ($30 for 4 beers and two starters – and tip)

 

Woorijip in Koreatown

Buffet with amazing selection of hot and cold dishes, full of vegetarian, fish, meat, noodle, and rice dishes. Our favorites were the spicy kale, bean sprouts, kimchi, and spicy chicken. You probably could eat better Korean food elsewhere, but this was fast, cheap, and we could see what the different items looked like before selecting them – a plus for novice Korean food consumers.

Ratings:

Food: 3/5 stars (Good stuff, but you need to know what to get and what to avoid)

Atmosphere: 2/5 stars (I am glad we didn’t eat in. It was hot and steamed up and crowded.)

Service: n/a – we got take out and left

Price: $ ($6/pound for take away.)

 

The Grey Dog in Chelsea

Homemade American food that is solid, tasty, and free from a lot of artificial crap. I feel like it could have used some extra punch, though, to be charging what they were charging.

Ratings:

Food: 3/5 stars (Solid breakfast, but nothing to write home about)

Atmosphere: 4/5 stars (Country music blaring created a bit of artificial din, but the décor was fun and not standard and the clientele eavesdropping paradise.)

Service: 4/5 stars (Order at the counter and free refills. Hard to go wrong.)

Price: $$ ($40 for two breakfasts and two coffees – and tip)

 

Shanghai Asia Manor in Chinatown

A spacious spot in usually cramped Chinatown, with amazing food. We ate steamed veggie dumplings, which were good, steamed shrimp dumplings, which were great, and steamed buns with condensed milk dipping sauce, which I would eat every day if I knew how to make them, oh my god so delicious! By chance we saw another table ordering the snap pea leaves, and asked what the “plate of green” was, and ordered it. Ah-MAZ-ing! Then we got sesame chicken for the kid, and egg fried rice. Yum, yum, yum!

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Hubby said it was the best Chinese he has ever tasted, but that might have been because we were starving and starting to go rabid.)

Atmosphere: 3/5 stars (Clean and spacious for Chinatown, but not the least bit fancy.)

Service: 3/5 stars (Nice server, until she started trying to cajole responses from Kiddo. Leave my kid alone please, thanks!)

Price: $ ($40 for 3 appetizers (dim sum) and two mains – and tip)

 

Natureworks in Murray Hill

A self billed “healthy” café, with a menu full of sandwiches and salads and “protein plates”. We each got a vegetarian salad with falafel, feta, olives and tahini dressing.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Healthy and tasty and didn’t taste “healthy”.)

Atmosphere: 4/5 stars (I technically didn´t go; I am going off Hubby´s description.)

Service: n/a – takeout

Price: $$ ($24 for two large salads)

A day out in Southern Manhattan

Yesterday was a busy day out on the town, only made possible by the fact that Kiddo is extremely flexible and patient. Sometimes I try to remember how amazing it is to have such a flexible kid, especially since this trip probably wouldn’t have been possible if she had a more challenging personality.

The three Latin American coffees we tasted at Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea. Hubby liked the San Luis the best, I prefer in general something darker than all three 🙂

We started the day away at around 6am (5:30 for me). At 7:45 I decided our small hotel room was too little for an active toddler, and besides I was hungry, so we packed a day bag and headed towards Café Grumpy in Chelsea, where we got their tasting platter of Latin American coffees. Whoa, how hip! Kiddo played with crayons and bottle caps and the bussing tray, and when she started getting antsy, we quickly left. We didn’t want to upset the hipster vibe, and the Sunday crowds were starting to pick up.

Next we walked to The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village for brunch. We came early to wait in line, and oh my, what a line! It was hipster heaven over there, but worth the wait. Kiddo fell asleep in the Ergo just as we sat down so we had an uninterrupted brunch. Two deep fried poached eggs over chorizo stew for me and a burger and shoestring fries for Hubby.

Then it was off to Soho. Hubby wanted to look at Uniqlo down jackets since he didn’t bring anything for the Portland leg of our trip. We had a lovely walk over there, putzed around got slightly lost, got Kiddo a piece of white pizza and sat next to someone famous whose name we couldn’t remember, and failed to catch a cab so walked all the way back to Midtown.

Then we met up with an old friend from Geneva for a beer at ViV Regional Thai Cuisine in Murray Hill and had an amazing Chaing Mai Sausage as an appetizer. The friend had to run so we went to get some take out at Woorijip in Koreatown. We didn’t know what we would like so we got a selection, which was way too much, but it was really fun. Our favorites were the spicy kale, the bean sprouts, the glass noodles, the kimchi and the spicy chicken. We crashed about 15 minutes after we ate. It was an amazing end to a great day.

The gluttony of our indecisiveness….mmmmm!

Gramercy Tavern with a toddler

We have been waiting to eat at Gramercy Tavern since 2009. Last night we got our chance.

We knew we could go there without a reservation, which was a winning point for the day we arrived, since we didn’t know what shape we would be in. (The restaurant side is essentially reservations only, while the tavern side is available to walk ins only.) Since they open at 5:30pm, we hoped to arrive on the dot, snag a table, have Kiddo fall asleep in the Ergo, and have a nice meal.

It almost worked out like that.

We walked to the restaurant and got there around 5:40pm. Kiddo was overtired already, alternating on our walk there between wanting to walk, wanting to be carried, and wanting to nurse in about 2 minute intervals. She also wanted her pants to be fixed (she likes them a certain way) about every 30 seconds. So the walk was a bit slower than we anticipated (shocker!).

It was packed. We tried anyway, and just our luck, they had a table for us right away. We each had a starter – mushroom salad with grilled calamari and turnips for me and a swordfish confit salad with cranberry beans for Hubby – and a main – both of us had the crispy duck leg with lentils, collards, and spring onions. It was good food, packaged together with a lively atmosphere, great service, and prices that make us Norway residents giddy: “THIS dish for only 80 kroner, at a nice restaurant!?” We splurged on a bottle of NY pinot noir that was light and tasty. They had a 5 course tasting menu for $48 dollars that we were itching to try, but it was a good thing we didn’t because Kiddo didn’t have it in her to be out so long.

Added points that it was loud enough and not too fancy so Kiddo could watch Mickey Mouse on the iPad during the first course and I could stand and eat my crispy duck that Hubby cut up for me while rocking Kiddo to sleep in the Ergo.

Ratings:

Food: 4/5 stars (Tasty, but not the best food ever)

Atmosphere: 5/5 stars (Lively and hip while people not treating us with a cold shoulder for being there with a toddler. Also we got to witness a first date going on behind us at the bar – always fun with a little bit of voyeurism!)

Service: 5/5 stars (Friendly and helpful without being cloying)

Price: $$$ ($150 for two appetizers, two mains and a bottle of red wine – and tip)