Tag Archives: Jazz

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.

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Dine Simply – Soju and Sushi: Mono + Mono

5 May

Try to picture ME (a non-meat eater) going to a Korean Fried Chicken joint.  Weird, right.  BUT, I’m always determined to find my way around a menu, so I decided to make Mono + Mono my challenge.  At first glance, you’ll clearly notice the decor has an inexplicably cool appeal, but what I didn’t expect are the simple + amazing Soju Cocktails (think vodka but sweeter) and Sushi Rolls.  Trust me: you’ll be beyond ecstatic that you took my advice by heading to this East Village spot (4th St btwn 1st/2nd Aves).

Full disclosure: the first time I went to Mono + Mono, the service was just wrong.  I talked to the manager who confessed they were short staffed and the normal chef was out that night.  He asked that I give them another try, so months later, I returned.  After all, dark mood lighting, a grand piano doubling as a communal table and a DJ perched a good 1.5 stories above the dining room, spinning awesome jazz standards equals a second chance, as far as I’m concerned.  The AMAZING Soju Cocktail Sampler ($11) didn’t hurt my decision to come back either…

As an overall document, Mono + Mono’s menu can be a bit perplexing.  Grilled Edamame ($5.95) presented inside a hollowed corn husk?  Weird, but also really freaking tasty.  Also odd-yet-wonderful are the Grilled Tofu Sliders ($10.95), perfect for sharing too.  Surprisingly, the Crouching Tiger Shrimp ($14.95), grilled w/white truffle oil, saffron and fennel bulb sauce were a bit small + chewy and didn’t really do it for me.  The best part of the meal, by leaps and bounds, was the sushi rolls.  We went with the Ninja, Spider, and Crunch California Rolls ($11.95-$12.95) which were all SUPERBLY executed.  The rolls each have 11-13 perfectly bite-sized pieces, the flavors are so fresh and they’re made with sushi rice that seems less dense than any roll I’ve ever had.

I may not have had the featured Korean Fried Chicken but I’m sure I’ll go back, and will eventually get the scoop on it.  What my experience with Mono + Mono DID teach me is that if at first a restaurant doesn’t succeed, and the signature dish is something you won’t eat, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an epic fail.  OK, in most cases it does – BUT, in the case of M+M, I learned: judge not [too quickly], lest ye will miss out on some pretty amazing Soju and Sushi.

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