Forget snowball fighting; this summer’s all about sno-ball loving – thanks to the new West Village (7th Ave South @ Charles St) hotspot, Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls. The name’s quite a mouthful and it’s only fitting – these icy treats are a mouthful of deliciousness. This Nawlins import is a unique treat that puts its all-too-average italian ice and snow-cone cousins to shame.
The sno-ball is essentially shaved ice packed into a Chinese takeout container and doused with the syrup of your choosing. Imperial’s owner Neesa Peterson made authenticity a priority and succeeded brilliantly – these desserts are served exactly how they’re made down in the Big Easy – and she didn’t stop there. Serving up some very strong chicory infused Toddy Iced Coffee ($3) and New Orleans’ own Zapp’s Potato Chips ($2), Peterson’s scratching the itch of homesick Nawlins natives craving a taste of home.
There are a ton of flavor combos to fill your 8, 12, or 16 oz cup ($4/$5/$7, respectively) but if you’re in the know, you’ll go for the more exotic flavors made famous down south. Orchid Cream Vanilla and Mardi Gras King Cake are 2 of my absolute faves. If you want to get a little crazy, have em drizzle a little condensed milk on top and you’re good to go.
When you’re feeling a sunstroke meltdown may be imminent this summer, head to the West Village and grab a sno-ball – they’re the perfect treat to cool you down and won’t hurt your wallet or waistline. Remember: these sno-balls are for lovers, not fighters!
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.
I’m aware that hearing about a new all-you-can-drink brunch special makes me way too happy. We all have our own cheap thrills, right? Mine just happen to be primarily concerned with cheap, boozy brunches… Throw in outdoor dining on a happening West Village corner (7th Ave South @ Grove St) and Mercadito Grove moves its way right to the top of my list (or way up there).
The Mercadito Group has several restaurants throughout NYC and the US, but Mercadito Grove is by far my favorite member of the family. With a fairly large outdoor seating area and excellent, inventive Mexican dishes on a very diverse menu, it’s my new warm weather go-to brunch spot. The best example of their creative take on south of the border standards is the Guacamole Granada ($9.50) which is interspersed with juicy pomegranate seeds and topped with queso fresco – I didn’t think it was too hot, though it does boast habanero as an ingredient. If you’re looking for a little more heat, ask them for a side of the habanero hot sauce to use throughout the meal.
To fully capitalize on our $25 of all inclusive brunching time, we decided to jump around the drink menu (note: everyone at the table needs to partake in the special – I don’t make the rules…). We tried all the mimosas (strawberry/pineapple/mango) – they’re the traditional OJ + champagne w/ a puree of the chosen fruit on top – strawberry was by far the best. The white sangria (white wine, brandy, pineapple, elderflower) was excellent, and t’was lovely to have beer in the AYCD options. For entrees, the rancheros are where it’s at: an ooey gooey delicious swamp of eggs and beans piled onto crispy tortillas. Spicy habanero sauce really kicked up the intensity of the somewhat bland Tacos de Camarones (shrimp). The Torta de Carne is a rosemary marinated skirt steak sandwich topped with bean purée, napa cabbage, tomato, jalapeño, avocado, oaxaca cheese – interested? Yep, thought so. Throw in the massive plates of black beans and herbed rice served with warm tortillas and you’ve got a feast of epic proportions.
Hungry yet? Actually, we left QUITE full… and you can believe I’ll be heading back – especially since they take brunch reservations! Also, have to mention that they have All You Cat Eat Tacos (10 varieties), ALL night Sunday/Monday, after 10pm Tues/Weds/Thurs and after 11pm Fri/Sat for only $23! So go on, Speedy Gonzales, get your fiesta started. With these great deals, you’ll be shouting “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!”
When I think of Greek food, “chic” generally isn’t a word that comes to mind. In fact, that may be the farthest thing from what pops into my head, on a long list… However, here to make Greek Chic is Veranda, the West Village (7th Ave @ W 10th St) hot spot serving excellent Mediterranean food to the
creatures of the night beautiful people.
We had an 8pm reservation but got there early for happy hour – HH at Veranda is M-F/5-8pm; all cocktails are $6 – sign me up! Being the East Village gal I am, it seemed fitting that I had the bartender whip me up the East Sider: Plymouth Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint, cucumber + club soda. I asked him to go easy on the sweets to lighten it up and he offered to make it with Splenda – score!
After a while, we sat down and perused the menu – to start we split the Mezze Platter (eggplant, hummus, olive tapenade) and Eggplant Chips. They were both amazing, especially with the huge basket of fresh and baked pita chips that are served with them. Then we had the Falafel which were painfully good (but heavily fried) – and speaking of fried, the Beet Salad was great too but the goat cheese in it was fried, too much. Either way, I’d highly recommend following suit and doing it tapas style so you can try it all.
Once the manager got wind that I blog on “the interweb” (it’s not so discreet when you’re taking pictures of everything you’re eating…), he insisted we stay for dessert and have a hookah. We had the mixed fruit tobacco and got to see the full vibe of the evening unfold; by 11pm, the place was bumping! Veranda is definitely a late night spot worth checking out, even if it’s on the earlier side of trendy – some of us come out in the daytime and need our beauty sleep!
I Recommend Sweet Revenge
Cupcakes, Wine, Happy Hour… these are a few of my favorite things – so you just KNOW that putting them all together is going to get my attention. Bringing all these things and more to the table, Sweet Revenge in the West Village (62 Carmine @ Bedford) delivers on all accounts. The cupcakery is the brain child of Marlo Scott who, after being laid off from her corporate job in 2007, decided to damn the man and
save the empire bake some damn good cupcakes.
The small-ish space utilizes every square inch to fit the hungry cupcake craving masses in comfortably but I still think it’s best to hit SR up during off-peak hours. Not only will you have more room, but you can hit up the happy hour which is 4-8pm Monday-Friday and will get ya $5 beers or the very excellent deal of a glass of wine + a cupcake for only $10.
Jamaican Me Hungry
The menu is pretty diverse for a cupcake joint – they serve sandwiches, salads and some breakfast foods. What really caught my eye though (besides the cupcakes – duh!) were the savory cakes. I had the Jamaican Curry cake and while I enjoyed it, it was not at all what I expected. The muffin- esque cake was more like a moist cornbread with veggies baked into it – the coconut curry dipping sauce on the side was especially great.
Sweet Revenge Namesake Cupcake
For the happy hour special, I opted for the namesake cupcake – the Sweet Revenge. Peanut Butter cake, Ganache filling, and Peanut Butter Fudge frosting. Oh Em Gee! But I must say you should definitely split with a friend because all that sweet gets a little intense. Better yet, share 2 cupcakes to switch up the flavors between bites! However you decide to get your sweet on, def look no further than Sweet Revenge.
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!
***UPDATED 2/5: For a classy, delicious restaurant like Philip Marie, the place is so good that people are going to go, deal or no deal. So what amazes me is that every weekend this West Village resto still opens their doors to the hungry (and hung-over) masses for an all you can drink (AYCD) brunch that’s $24.95.
A few things to note… there’s usually a mob of people outside – but don’t let that scare you off, they seem to have a quick turn over time so you won’t wait too long. It was so nice out that we ate outside and had no wait at all! As for the drink specials, they say Saturdays are AYCD Mimosas and Sundays are AYCD Bloody Marys but I saw them coming around to tables with pitchers of both, so I’m thinking there are exceptions to the rule. Also, do not underestimate the Mimosas – Jessica (my brunch date du jour) and I were skeptics because the mimosas were looking a little too orange for my taste, so I thought – ahh, weak drinks – that’s gotta be the catch, right? WRONG! I’m 97% sure they’re lacing those babies with champagne AND vodka. They are STRONG and I’m a weekend brunch warrior – don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Fill me up, Scottie!
I had the veggie lover’s omelet which was fluffy and covered with cheesy cheddar goodness on top. They really know how to fill a plate – there was toast, the parmesan-dusted potatoes on the side were great, as well as the black bean salsa, plus I appreciated that they gave some fruit too. Jessica had the 1/2 pound steak burger with a stack of huge waffle fries which looked just awesome. She added cheese to her burger and said it was delish to the Nth degree. It was all really solid food (full menu here) which can sometimes get sacrificed with a great brunch deal. Booyah.
If you try brunch and are looking for more Philip Marie face time, go for dinner! The food is really great (I have dreams about the Grilled Beet Napoleon) and still affordable, especially if you go in armed with a Restaurant.com coupon (purchase here – as always, don’t buy it till there’s an 80% off sale, which there almost always is).
Philip Marie in the West Village (Hudson @ W 11th St) – go for brunch, go for dinner – just GO!