Eargasm: It’s My Party and I’ll Dance if I Want to…

23 Jun

To celebrate my birthday this year, I’m planning on throwing a serious dance party; it’s the perfect way to see the previous 365 days out in style.  All I’ll need is my dear friends and some great tunes (OK, and some Grey Goose La Poire on the rocks if you have it, bartender.)   It’s been a truly amazing year and now that you’ve done your due diligence by being here reading, friendo, I’ll supply the tunes (still waiting on my drink – get on it!)

Miami HorrorHolidays – Who doesn’t feel like their birthday is a little bit of a calendared holiday in the nation of YOU?  So go ahead, throw your special day on the schedule of anyone who will grant you calendar access knows and loves you – it’s time to make merry.  Enter famous catch phrase… You do YOU!

Avril LavigneWhat the Hell – I get a one day pass, so this one’s going on the faves list.  Guiltiest pleasure?  You betcha.  Hating on the song choice?  See what I care!  It’s my birthday, and I say what the hell.  So listen, or you’ll get nothing and like it.

Swedish House MafiaOne (Your Name) – A throw back to one of my better vacation dance parties of all time; this track needed to make the list.  You can fist pump, do the awkward snap dance or just clap it up, as long as you’re rocking the steeze…  FASTER!

Capital CitiesSafe and Sound – Since hearing this track about a week ago, I’ve craved nothing else in my eardrums.  It’s the ultimate silly dance ditty to let loose to.  Besides, by this point in the evening, no one’s remembering what sort of crazy moves you put out there, so it’s fair game for an air-trumpet free-for-all.

AfrojackTake Over Control – One last track before I release the reigns and let someone else take over control of the playlist…  Clearly, I’m the best dancer out there and cannot even believe my mad skills.  It’s my birthday so be kind and go with it people, or at the very least don’t make me feel like a hungover owl tomorrow.

Thanks for celebrating with me.  Cheers to us, celebrating every day in style!



For Brunch, Park Here: Garage Restaurant

21 Jun

When my dad asked to make our Father’s Day plans in NYC, a bunch of ideas came to mind; I mean, my folks love a great time and will always partake in a lil cocktailing… I’ve had the sneaking suspicion they were a little sore I’ve never invited them to a boozy brunch.  So I knew we had to do something a bit upscale that would also satisfy the wild child streak in those crazy kids.   Throw in the fact that we’re a music loving family and the boozy Jazz Brunch at Garage Restaurant in the West Village (7th Ave South @ Grove St) was the way to go; this crowd pleasing filling-station is a spot you won’t want to just drive through.

Alternate Side(walk) Parking: Upon arrival, make some moves and decide whether it’s indoor or outdoor seating.  You can opt to eat on the sun-drenched sidewalk where the service might be a little slow but the people watching and Vitamin D absorption happen fast.  Conversely, play it cool inside the Garage and get close to the live music action, which is better for larger parties as well.  Since we were just a party of 4 and it was a gorgeous little Sunday, we did the hang thang underneath an umbrella outside where we could catch just a little bit of the music AND some rays.

Gourmet Garage:   We started with 4 MASSIVE shrimp from the raw bar ($3.95 each) then moved on to the $16.95 Prix Fixe Brunch, which includes a drink and was lovely.  The Surf & Turf Benedict (+$5) was a big table hit and the Fresh Lobster, Applewood Smoked Bacon & Avocado Sandwich (+$5) made my dad’s day mouth-wateringly memorable.  I was sold at “add $6 for an hour of AYCD brunch cocktails,” but then the Brunch Potatoes happened.  They come with most dishes or a la carte ($3) and are a must-try – think a baked potato, doused with garlicky herbs and then smashed with the skin on… seriously FAB.  Also worth mentioning is the dinner, where the appetizers are affordable and perfect for a meal that’s on the lighter side.  The Green Apple and Bleu Cheese Salad ($14.25) was great and ideal if you’re not looking to splurge on one of their pricier entrees (no one likes to leave the garage with a wallet hit-and-run).

Garage Sale: Score some serious discounts on dining by booking a reservation through Savored – pay just $10 for your rez and you’ll get HUGE 30% savings off the total bill during dinner most nights…  as if you needed another reason to get there.  So put some distance on the old pedometer, drive walk on by and park yourself at Garage for an evening of pleasant jazz and tasty eats.

Winos and Music Lovers Rejoice: City Winery

17 Jun

Let me go ahead and clarify right off the bat; no, this title is in no way a reference to Amy Winehouse fans.  What I am looking to share with you is the 411 on the most low-key, relaxing music venue I’ve ever experienced in NYC: SoHo’s City Winery (Varick @ Vandam).  This place is hands down my ideal spot to grab a drink, a light bite (or delicious dinner) and relax into an evening of musical delight + witty stage banter with stripped down performances from some of the most celebrated artists in the biz.

Element 1: Drinks – City Winery’s got this on lock down.  With their own winery in house, they knock out awesome bottles and even have membership for vino-philes to come in and make their own private-label wines.  If you’re not fiending some fermented grape action – they’ve got an extensive full bar plus lots of import and domestic brews for sale.

Element 2: Eats – If you’ve got a smaller menu that’s built to be paired with delicious, small-batch wines, chances are you’ve made sure your offerings are pretty damn tasty.  I’ve consistently had solid food ranging from their crispy flatbread pizzas, to the awesomely shareable hummus plate.  Recently tried the Roasted Beet Salad ($10) which to my surprise (and eventual delight) was deconstructed and plated in a linear fashion.  The sliders ($14) were also a crowd pleaser, though as a friend pointed out, eating in the dark is not the ideal so maybe show up a bit early to eat before the lights dim and the music begins.

Element 3: Music – The massive multi-tiered dining room is a welcoming space where you can partake in delicious eats and drinks while listening to world-class musicians. Their bread and butter artists are singer songwriters who bring chillaxable tunes to the table (literally).  What’s unique about the space is how intimate it actually is – the evening will usually end up 70/30 music/stand up comedy routine, respectively.

Next time you’re looking for that rare evening when you’re at least feeling like a mature grown up, go to City Winery for an awesome hang.  Whether you’re seeing a favorite band or just checking in for a bite on the fly, it’s a great spot to make any simple evening a sophisticated affair.  And let’s be honest, sometimes giving the debauchery a rest is just necessary. You stay classy, New York.

Jack of all Trades, Master of Fun: Essex

8 Jun

When someone says brunch, I think Essex.  The brunch behemoth has long since established its domination in the world of cocktails and dreams eggs, stealing the hearts of brunch-o-philes everywhere.  What’s surprising is that their dinner offerings, as well as the specials every weeknight, are good enough to give their brunch a run for its money.  Is there anything Essex can’t do?!  I think it’s only fair that this LES spot (Essex @ Rivington) gets the full write up on ALL of its dining splendors.

We all know I heart brunch hard, so let’s get this out of the way… $22.95 gets you 3 cocktails including bloodies, mimosas and screw drivers – they’re VERY lenient on the 3 and will often refill you mid-drink (whoops, we lost count…) The space is huge with 2 well-lit balconies in addition to the main seating area and the crowd is very sceney (read: good looking people).  The dishes are all awesomely eclectic featuring south of the border faves fused with traditional Jewish cuisine (Mexican Matzoh Brie?! I’m in!), tons of vegetarian (+vegan) friendly options, as well as many other well-executed breakfast classics.  Some FYIs: brunch is cash only and they take reservations, which is just fabulous.

Now moving on to dinner… Essex is still a hot scene at night and with ½ off all cocktails Sunday-Thursday from 6-9pm, there’s no guesswork as to why that might be (the The Green Zinger ($11) w/Green Tea Vodka, Pimm’s, Mint + Lime is AWESOME and the Jalapeno Margaritas ($10) are spicy heaven).  Oh and did I mention $1 Oysters all night as well?  Right, well there you go.  Other menu items that give me a heart-on include the Warm Goat Cheese Salad ($8) w/roasted beets, walnuts & arugula and the Seared Diver Scallops ($11), served over croutons, watermelon, roasted peaches & basil.  Oh.Em.Gee. As far as entrees go, I could always eat the Manchego Mac-n-Cheese ($13) but what I should be eating is the DELISH Wasabi Crusted Atlantic Salmon ($19).

So I’ve told you about brunch and I’ve mentioned dinner, but next word association game: I say “Wednesday,” you think “LOBSTER.”  Every Wednesday night Essex is offering up 1¼ lb Maine Lobsters served alongside potatoes and corn on the cob for only $18.  I had never taken on a whole lobster so luckily I had a bold friend there to show me the ropes.  While I’ve decided I’m more of a claws and tails gal, at this pricing, I’ll be going back again and again.

Next time you’re stuck on where to eat, chances are Essex will go over real well with your fellow diners.  That is, unless they don’t like excellent food, great deals on cocktails and, oh yeah, lobster for under 20 bones.  They do excellent private events (with premium open bar!) as well – to book your very own secret society dinner, email PreferredDiners@gmail.com. This one’s a no brainer, kids.  Get over to Essex, stat.

The Master Summer List

3 Jun

Once summer comes, all bets on your usual favorite spots are off; the restos and watering holes that are warm-weather friendly become the hottest commodity there is.  However, rather than completely disregard some of the spots I’ve recommended to you all, I’ve decided to let you know which ones to hit as we continue towards the imminent summer solstice.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (and Dinner Begins!):

Matilda – (E. Ville: E 11th St btwn Aves B/C) – Whether you opt for sidewalk seating or perch in the windowsill, you’ll get the outdoor experience along with a healthy serving of bold Tusc-Mex flavors.  Go Tuesday night for Ladies night!

Mercadito Grove – (W. Ville: 7th Ave South @ Grove St) – The mix of location, upscale Mexican and a diverse list of tacos makes this place a fan favorite.  The corner location provides prime sidewalk real estate for people watching.

Philip Marie – (W. Ville: Hudson St @ W 11th St) – Though the outdoor tables are few, I think braving the wait is always worth it.  Especially when you take the unlimited bloodies + mimosas into consideration!

Poco – (E. Ville: Ave B @ 3rd St) – Since it tends to be particularly loud inside this resto, the seats outside are a best bet.  With a kickass brunch and different nightly specials like $15 bottles of wine, all you can eat mussels, and unlimited sangria, any time’s a good time to head over to Poco.

A Good Backyard is Hard to Find:

Ninth Ward – (E. Ville: 2nd Ave btwn 11th/12th Sts) – While the front sidewalk space is always a great option, the large backyard is a much better space to hang with your crew.  Grab one of their many interesting cocktail options (or a beer) and hang Nawlins style.

Pure Food & Wine – (Gramercy: Irving Pl btwn 17th/18th) – What could be better than eating a delicious and healthy vegan meal?  Eating it in a beautiful, large backyard patio, of course!  You’ll be surrounded by nature while feasting on nature’s bounty; it just works.

Sunburnt Cow – (E. Ville: Ave C btwn 8th/9th Sts) – An excellent brunch deal and attractive staff/patrons are two things that can only get better with a retractable “sun roof”.  You’ll appreciate the nice breeze too; you may need some cooling down.

Fair Game:

Hester Street Fair – (LES: Hester St @ Essex) – Forget stinky halal meat and generic kettle corn stands; this street fair is the real deal.  Open every Saturday through the end of October, this gourmet fest rotates in some of the best and most celebrated foodie faves of NYC.  Bring a blanket and pop a squat on the lawn with a Luke’s Lobster Roll or Shaved Ice Shop creation for a fabulous outdoor (and out of the box) day.

And finally, for the days when you want a sunny space, without being directly IN the sun:

Flea Market Café – Their front paneled doors open to the street, transforming the space into an open air café.  The Tuesday night all you can eat moules frites special is out of this world – get there.

Macondo – If you’re lucky enough to grab a stool at the front of this place, you can bask in the sunlight while sipping your drink of choice (I recommend you go for brunch and grab a vanilla bean mimosa)!

Consider yourself schooled in my recommended spots you should hit up this summer.  Need some fashion tips to make sure your summer style is lookin so flossy?  Check out Poor Little It Girl; she’ll see to it you’re well-dressed for all your outdoor drinking + dining endeavors.  Now break out the wayfarers and tank tops (no, not you boys) and get yourselves outside!

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