Tag Archives: East Village Manhattan

Forget the Nth Degree, Try 10 Degrees

3 May

As you probably know, I’m more of a “go HERE for this but go THERE for that” type of gal; it’s rare that I come across a place I’ll recommend for a wide variety of social situations… but then there’s 10 Degrees.  This East Village (St Marks btwn 1st Ave/Ave A) cocktail + wine lounge has great food, an extensive drink menu and excellent happy hour/day-drinking-friendly specials that can play to the most casual of friendly hangs to the most swoon-able date nights.

For your next date, grab a stool at the bar or a table along the back corridor for a more private rendezvous.  A glass of Prosecco ($12) will get your bubbly self off to a fab start, play it safe and choose a classic cocktail ($10-14) or experiment with something new – the French 75 ($11) is the perfect blend of citrus, bubbly and gin.  There’s also an extensive wine list (1/2 priced bottles on Mondays) and an interesting selection of beers.  You’ll be feeling saucy in no time.

After you’ve got your refreshments settled, I strongly suggest you consider grabbing a bite.  The mixed plates of meats and olives are perfect to casually share and nibble off of – I personally love the mix and match cheese plate options (3 for $21 or 4 for $26).  If you want to go all out, the Avocado Toast ($7.50) is EXCELLENT; the flavors are so fresh with a splash of lemon juice that dances on your tongue (forgive me while I have my moment).   The Paninis are equally impressive; particularly the Caprese ($9.75), which you may want to skip if you’re on a date but will absolutely have to try if you’re ready to dig in to a seriously fab pressed sandwich.

While date night is always a good time, my favorite time to play at 10 Degrees is with a group of friends for a weekend funday.  The front lounge area has windows that open to the sidewalk, creating the perfect atmosphere to enjoy 2-for-1 cocktails (on the daily) from 12-8pm.  AMAZING deal.  On a recent trip, some friends had the Porc Burgerettes ($9.75) which are adorable sliders made of sake glazed pork belly topped with a fried quail egg and accompanied by a Cabernet Sauvignon jelly.  Sounds almost good enough to make me reconsider eating meat –almost

If you’re looking to throw an all out rager, there’s a back room which can be rented out for larger groups – open bar options and food platters for groups make this a no-brainer party spot.  So next time you’re in the East Village without an agenda and with a desire to get your drank and eats on, use your brain; there’s no degree of separation that should keep you from 10 Degrees.

I Feel Ya, Tequila: Mayahuel

20 Apr

Peruse The Tequila Library

Tequila has been known to make clothes fall off and the likelihood of a rowdy evening increase exponentially… But maybe it’s gotten a bad rap; Tequila deserves to have someone clean up its act and reveal it for the classy drink it is. Here to restore Tequila’s good name (and potentially drag yours through the mud, after a few cocktails), is the East Village’s very own Mayahuel (6th St btwn 1st/2nd Aves).

Being a cocktail dungeon devoted solely to the advancement of Mexico’s favorite imbibement, Mayahuel is a Tequila lover’s paradise. Don’t miss it; the entryway bears no signage, but fear not, you’ll eventually notice the strange cabin-like façade and set foot into a tastefully themed cocktail den. The casual bar area downstairs pales in comparison to the luxurious couches and mosaic tiled tables in the upstairs lounge -you may have to wait a bit, but it’s worth it. Give the doorman your cell, hit up a wine bar in the vicinity and you’ll be back to swig a little bit of Mexico in no time.

The drinks (~$13-14) can be a bit intimidating (the menu should probably include a glossary), but thankfully the staff are all quite helpful when it comes to making a selection. All you have to do is say a few choice adjectives (sweet, savory, spicy) and they’ll tell you your best bet posthaste. My personal fave is the Pilot Punch (oober spicy – made with Blanco Tequila, Jalapeno, Yellow Chartreuse and Lime + a hint of cucumber and mint). Don’t get too attached to any drink though; their menu is constantly changing to bring you new and exciting flavor combos. I should also mention that they have eats ranging from shareable bites like the Palomitas (Popcorn with lime, Cojita cheese, and ancho chili – $5) to the larger Platos Fuertes ($12-21), if you’re really looking to get your south of the border grub on. I prefer to keep it simple with strictly cocktails, but you know how I do.

Next time you’re contemplating something different to spice up your evening’s drinks, think Mayahuel. With Tequila-based cocktails this good, you may find yourself doing a Pee Wee Herman-esque dance – and why shouldn’t you? After all, Mayahuel might be your next Big Adventure. Get crazy and enjoy it responsibly, folks.

Fall In Love with In Vino

5 Apr

When someone asks me where they should take a date for dinner, I’ll do some Q&A to figure out what they’re looking for… BUT despite their answers, one of my suggestions is almost always bound to be In Vino.  This East Village (4th St btwn Ave A/Ave B) dining destination is the perfect spot to get your love connection on – and regardless of the company, you’re going to adore this eating experience.

The wine list (or bible, if you will) can be a bit intimidating so if you find yourself lost, just ask your server for a recco.  The Cannonau “Nero Sardo” ($32) is a versatile red I’ve gone back to again and again – a very reliable bottle.  The Insalate di Endivia ($10) is a light option with bold flavors (mmm gorgonzola) and I’ve also had the Mussels which may have been a special (not on the online menu) but were definitely a good sized portion and great for sharing.  One item I may not EVER share?  The Ravioli Tartufati ai Porcini ($17); savory sachets of pasta deliciousness with a creamy truffle sauce.  Best Ravioli I’ve ever had, hands down.  Go get your own!  Just to note, the pumpkin ravioli which appears from time to time on the specials menu is good, but I prefer a thinner consistency; they were more like dumplings (but still very tasty).

Though you lose the dark grotto-esque ambience that nighttime lends, weekend brunch at In Vino is still a hip scene with great eats.  We started with customized mini-pitchers of sangria – I had the red and got a sparkling Prosecco topper (do it!).  The brunch entrees were decadent – the Pane Tostato  Mandorla ($10) French toast stuffed with strawberry + marscapone and THEN crusted with sliced almonds was completely over the top – I only got ½ way through but each bite was heaven.  We also had the Uovo Benedetto ($11) – warm Poached Eggs on Rosemary Focaccia Toast w/ Grilled Prosciutto Cotto and Basil Hollandaise.  Wowza.

If you’re a deal lover, book a rez through Savored to get 30% off your dinner bill Mon-Weds nights or Saturday till 3pm for brunch.  Go with friends or bring the object of your heart’s desire and get a heart-on for these amazing Italian eats.

Show Me Your (Unlimited) Mussels: Flea Market Café

24 Mar

My seafood kick has by now turned into a full on Sheen-style bender; but hey, at least my vice of choice is Mussels.  Here to enable my mollusk-fiending ways is Flea Market Café where Tuesday nights will get you unlimited Mussels, frites and a glass of wine or beer for only $19.95 (#WINNING).  With 4 excellent varieties of mussels to satisfy your cravings, this may be one of the hottest deals in the East Village (Avenue A btwn St Marks/9th St).

The French kitschy knick knacks adorning the walls should put you in casual mode for your mussel “moment”… please tell me you weren’t thinking of bringing that new hottie you’re dating.  Down boy, this is a comfort-zone date night.  Sure, you may be checking out that table of hipster good-lookins across the way, but keep your eye on the mollusk menu and FOCUS.  To be fair, they do have other French fare like the Pistachio Crusted Salmon (which was excellent) – but we all know why you’re really here…

Whether you start light with the moules Marinière (served in a garlicky white wine sauce w/ shallots) or go all out with the moules au Roquerfort & Brie (a double teaming of creamy cheese goodness), you’re going to be in for a messy yet delightful evening.  The moules a la Dijonaise are a nice in between if you want something flavorful without it being too heavy.  Don’t forget the remaining variety – the moules Provencales (my faves) were served up in a spicy tomato sauce that was very different from the rest of the pack.  No matter the “flavour” you opt for, SUGGESTION: take advantage of that warm crusty bread basket – when I dip, you dip, we dip.  If we’re being honest, you’re going to try them all anyway, so admit surrender and quit playing, fool.

Some things to note… by 9pm, “the Market” is packed and there’s a good chance they may run out of the mussels, so try to get there sometime before 8:30pm to ensure your all-you-can-eat evening.  The first bowl is the biggest portion, so don’t be deterred from ordering a second smaller bowl (or a third – just sayin’).  Also, they only take Amex and cash so be prepared. Speaking of preparation, it’s gonna be a long night so go with an empty stomach and get ready to put in some work – all you can eat is a serious business, and this place has some seriously great mussels.  Bon appétit!

New-ish New American Restaurant, My New FAVE: Brindle Room

17 Mar

I feel like a bit of a slacker – I try hard to do my due diligence in resto research… so HOW (up till this point) I’ve missed one of the BEST restaurant openings of the past year (March 2010), is beyond me.  Taking into account the space/atmosphere, value and overall deliciousness of Brindle Room – I’m confident in recommending this new-ish East Village (10th btwn 1st Ave/Ave A) gem serving up New American Cuisine.

Walking in, I first noticed the dark wood paneling and dim lighting paired with junior bar-stool seating; the whole place has an air of modern rustic refinement.  The restaurant itself is a deep, narrow room; there’s nothing cramped about the space arrangement, but I’d probably cap my dining party at 4; this really isn’t a spot for groups.  The waitresses – we had 2 frequenting the table – impressed us with their knowledge of the menu offerings.  They set us up with cardboard mounted menus, which are an expanded version of the website menu, and then quickly grabbed us 2 craft brews – the Genesee ($4) and a Smuttynose IPA ($7).

We started with the Cauliflower Spread ($6), rich with garlic + oil, and served with a side of crispy toast that was baked with parmesan and paprika in each cheesy bite.  Both items were amazing and together were a great spread/dip pairing.  Next up: a Baked Oyster ($3 each) – my very first Oyster, lightly baked and topped with creamed leeks + bread crumbs.  Such a stellar first experience; I want more! NOW!  I was also THRILLED to find Moules Frites ($14) on the menu – t’was a large portion of pretty big mussels in a spicy tomato and garlic broth with just a touch of dairy.  I’ve been on an absurd mussels bender of late and these were the BEST I’ve encountered yet.  My dinner date had the Steak Burger ($12) w/melty American and caramelized onions – he said it was an impressive burger, but wished he asked for it a little less done (he ordered it medium).  Both our meals came with massive portions of well-salted steak cut fries that I could’ve should’ve done without, but were great nonetheless.

Surprisingly, I got wind of this place when it showed up on NY Mag’s Best Donuts list – I’ll have to return for breakfast (it’s a separately branded menu called Wonder City Coffee & Donuts at Brindle) … Hopefully the service remains on point; I must say, one of my favorite things about the resto is how sincere everyone was when asking how we enjoyed everything.   I was happy to report to them, and now to you all, that it was all wonderful.  Really, if you’re looking for a great new-ish spot to try that’s easy on the wallet with foodie-approved eats – Brindle Room is the place to go.  The deal just keeps getting sweeter; book your reservation through Savored for 30% off your total dinner bill Mon-Thurs!

The Big Easy in The Big Apple: Ninth Ward

11 Mar

Though Mardi Gras is over, with Fat Tuesday come and gone, there’s always a place where you can go to feel like you’re visiting The Big Easy.  The Ninth Ward, a sexy East Village (2nd Ave btwn 11/12th Sts) cocktailery, welcomes the cajun-craving masses with its dungeon-esque front facade.  It’s the perfect place to warm up by the fireplace with one of their drinks (their warm ginger berry cider  is AWE-some) and I cannot wait to swing by in the warmer weather to visit their spacious backyard.

The biggest surprise of the night was the food – the Hidalgo Grilled Shrimp skewers were nothing short of excellent; the peppery citrus sauce makes the dish (each order has 3 shrimp – order a few, for sure).  The biggest testament to their food came from a New Orleans expat who said that the gumbo was phenomenal, even by Nawlins standards.  So yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and stamp my approval on it.  I also opted to get an order of beignets, which were powdered with sugar and tasty, but a little too dense to be a true beignet.

The Ninth Ward is perfect for drinks (and a bite too) with a date or a group of friends – the booths in the back are perfect for 6-8 peeps.  The spot pays homage to New Orleans with the refinement to assure you that shirts are required (sorry guys) and that you won’t be forced to endure cheesy purple/yellow/green color schemes and Mardi Gras beads.

You MUST Try: Northern Spy

12 Nov

Don’t let the name fool you – there’s nothing sneaky about the Northern Spy Food Company’s amazing selection of farm-fresh, seasonal menu items.   This spot is my fave new resto in the East Village (12th St btwn Ave A/B) and I’m not alone – the scene was hopping with everyone from hipsters to suits to B/C list celebs – but all this was pulled off without being sceney or in the least bit pretentious.  You could’ve been in Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa (although I’m sure the food there couldn’t hold a candle to Northern Spy).

While we waited (it was about 20 mins or so), I had a glass of red and Ben had a beer to pass the time – I loved the selection of local beers for only $5.  The menu offers a lot of variety as well – there were SO many things calling out to us that Ben and I opted to order several smaller dishes that were all veggie friendly so I could partake (but don’t worry there were plenty of meaty selections too).  Keeping in mind that their menu changes daily but many similar items are always offered, here’s what our tasting tour included:

"Who YOU callin FLAT?!"

Flat Bread w/ caramelized shallots – warm, fluffy bread that’s smothered in delicate shallots and oil…  Oh.Em.Gee. Only $4?!  I’ll take another order to go… Kale Salad – the slightly bitter greens are perfectly suited to the cheddar cheese on the top, and I must mention those crunchy almonds!  It’s really quite a big portion of delish – we almost didn’t finish it.  Almost…  Gnocchi – sweet potato pillows of buttery goodness – it’s the perfect portion for sharing several items.  I think I may have had more than my fair share though… whoops… Wild Rice Salad – this fab collab of rice, feta, mint and lemon sounds simple, but is SO different from anything I’ve ever had.   Not sure why, but it vaguely reminded me of a blueberry muffin in a savory rice salad – this was a very GOOD thing.  Ben is nodding with me on this one…  Runner Beans w/clothbound cheddar – These beans were gynormous and the sharp, gooey cheddar coating each and every one of these gentle giants filled my mouth with complete and total ecstasy.

 

"What big BEANS you have!"

…Soooo yeah, I’m kind of serious when it comes to my food…  But let’s get down to biz with a bottom line: the total bill was $42, no joking.  Sure, there are def ways to go a little bigger, but for me, getting to taste a little bit of everything was the way to go.  Now GO!!!!

But wait a tick – one last suggestion… Looking for drinks before or after?  Shoolbred’s on 2nd Ave & 12th St (just 2 blocks over) is the essential cold weather bar.  Grab a draft beer (they’re 2-for-1 everyday from 4-8pm – BOOYAH) and park yourself by the fireplace.  Finish said beer and repeat.

Over and out.  Toodles!

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