Category Archives: Dining Reviews

Is that Alder is?

“Is that Alder is?” A review of Alder.

By, Wolf

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So, I took Yutzi’s son, Robbie, out for his 50th birthday.  Why it was up to me instead of Yutzi is another story for another time…though I can tell you Aqueduct was involved.

Anyway, much to my dismay, the kid cancelled our reservation at Benihana.  Which is too bad, because I had a slew of new material involving Dr. Wang, the fastest circumcision doctor in the Orient.  Instead, the ingrate re-booked us at some “gastropub” named Alder. First off, what’s a “gastropub?”  That sounds like something I need a helmet for.

Actually, what I needed was to pack a lunch.  You know why this place is called Alder?  Because you’ll look at your plate and ask, “is that all-der is?” I’ve had more generous portions at Prison Camp #4 in North Korea.

Let me finger paint you a picture- we started by ordering the $24 halibut to share, “One of the larger dishes,” our sweet little waitress assured us.   What arrived was a tiny portion of halibut, about the size of two of Robbie’s ladylike fingers, served *in* one of their larger dishes.  Maybe I misheard?  Robbie thought it was “cute.”  Kid, if cute fed the world, we’d all be eating panda cubs and babies’ butts.

Next up was the rye pasta. “It tastes just like pastrami on rye but it’s pasta! It’s fun,” exclaimed our waitress, who I was beginning to think might be stupid. If I wanted pastrami on rye, I’d go to that place in the Lower East Side where the old lady rubbed one out in that movie. But Robbie insisted, and whatever the birthday boy wants, the birthday boy gets- so I farted. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!  The gas passed just as the busboy dropped off what was by far the largest dish on the menu, a fistful of pasta resting on three pieces of shaved pastrami. We slurped and fought over the third piece of meat like animals with forks.  And guess what? It tasted just like pastrami on rye. Except it was smaller and more expensive.  I’m waiting for the restaurant that serves you an empty plate for 50 semolians.  Mark my word, the day is coming!

I contemplated turning the chef in to the The House Committee on Un-American Activities for devising a menu of American food with Communist ingredients, such as ‘pigs in a blanket’ made with Chinese sausage.  Good thing for him the “Bay of Pigs in a Blanket” were delicious, unlike the most insipid dish of the evening: pickled beets. Even the waitress’s enthusiasm waned when we ordered it. There’s nothing much to say about this dish… other than charging $14 for half a beet, a dash of ricotta, and some freeze dried green thing takes balls.   Remember that guy that just free-fell twenty thousand feet out of an airplane recently?  Those sized balls.

We ended our meal with a dessert, the peanut butter cake with black grape sorbet. I can feel my dick going limp just describing it.  The cake was a gussied up version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup surrounded by a satanic circle of grapes and marble-sized scoop of ice-scream. But what did I care? Robbie was happy. He blew out his birthday candle and I farted- hey, it’s a gastropub.

Address:

157 Second Avenue
Between 9th and 10th Streets
New York, NY 10003

212-539-1900

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Aska Silly Question

A review of ASKA

You know, for someone as light in the loafers as my son Robbie, he sure seems to have an iron constitution.  I know this, because it was his fault that I ended up at Aska, the latest “sensation” / stunt-food emporium in the Brooklyn restaurant scene.  Locally sourced, hand-picked, sustainable, forward thinking, yet nostalgic, $65 a person, 7-course Scandinavian, free-range grass-fed neo-Nazi albino chicken, swamp weeds, and fjord discharge served on pottery made by Pine Tree Mary.

We were seated at a table surrounded by bearded men and their equally hirsute women. A waiter appeared and dropped an “amused bush” on our table: dried pig-blood cracker with sea urchin foam.  That sounds like something Thor would scrape off his knee.  Safe to say, this amused Robbie’s bush more than it did any part of me.   In one movement, he golf-clapped his hands and shoved the whole rusty looking thing into his mouth, like the world’s girliest Viking.  Inside, I was already sharpening my battle axe.

“Are we really paying to eat this?” I asked as he chewed. Robbie’s smile quickly faded as he actually tasted the cracker.

“Yes,” said Robbie, spitting the cracker into his napkin, “this is one piece of meat I refuse to swallow.” He grabbed for his wine and gargled. “That was horrible.”  Now, I was amused.

Hungry, we waited for the next course. A sommelier walked over and presented us with a cabbage and beet juice cocktail to pair with our next dish, pig trotter. Cabbage juice? Pig trotter?  I’m pretty sure that was the last Exacta I hit at Aqueduct.   But I’ve learned something valuable: if you want to clear out a room, just let some cabbage and beet juice work its brown magic on ol’ Yutzi’s insides.  Works faster than a fourth scotch.

Anyway, I think you’re sensing the trend here.  Four more dishes followed with unidentified lumps of meat and vegetables.  Some of it was actually tasty, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I ate walrus and some lichen at one point.

But hey, if surviving all 7 courses at Aska gets me into Valhalla with those big blonde broads in the breast plates, it will have all been worth it.

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True Grits

SCRATCH BREAD
by the Actress

Everyone is given to decadence, even, dear reader, someone as refined as moi. You see, I’m currently convalescing (owing to a traumatic manicure where upon the manicurist launched the Tet-offensive on my cuticles) with my niece in, well, it’s quite embarrassing to admit, but, Brooklyn! And not Roebling’s Brooklyn, but the Brooklyn of some deceased, corpulent baritone named Biggie Smalls who was the 90’s Primo Uomo of rap-opera; plus a very popular fellow named Jay-Z , who I believe is the founder of a brand of exercise pants.

Since  my niece has warned against leaving her apartment at the Beyonce Pillow Factory Lofts, lest I be attacked by pitbulls, all food must be delivered…by her, since she refuses to hire my caterer! For the love of god, the idea of a strange man on a bike delivering my food…I’d order Chinese if I wanted that!  It’s bad enough that she uses wire coat hangers to hang my mink and orders in ethnic cuisine, but she insists on serving my meals on flatware by IKEA – which I believe is Swedish for Hitler-ware – instead of my beautiful 19th-Century Wedgwood China! Something about lead paint…in my day we ate lead for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Well this morning I awoke at 7am on my niece’s hideous futon (she doesn’t know this but I just ordered a velvet, clawfoot couch off  something called Craigslist and the nice man on the phone offered to throw in something called “Cleveland steaming” for free).  I was ravished and in the mood for some good-old antebellum-style Southern cooking, with lard and none of that vegan silliness the North seems to insist on. Speaking of vegan food, on the set of “The Cattle Queen of Montana,” Ronald Reagan threatened to report the caterers to the House on Un-American Activities for serving vegetables, and ever since then he’s had my vote in every election.  I don’t see why 2012 should be any different.

My niece assured me this would not be a problem and ran out to fetch my breakfast at Scratch Bread, a breakfast stand at the end of her street.

She returned with a brown paper cup full of grits, hard boiled egg, mayo and one piece of bacon floating in a pool of butter. I sniffed,  scooped, then tipped the deliciousness down my throat. I wiped my mouth with a silk napkin because I’m a lady, rifted discreetly and promptly fell back to sleep.

Scratch Bread, 1069 Bedford Avenue  Brooklyn, NY 11216

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Requiem for an affordable lobster roll

By Yutzi.

Ah Labor Day…it meant so much more when I was still a working stiff.

Instead, your correspondent, Yutzi, found himself on the coast of our beloved New Hampshire enjoying that last meal of summer: the lobster roll.

But you know what really sticks in my claw?  You see what I did there?  Claw?  Marvelous…Anyway, can anyone tell me why you can’t find a goddamn lobster roll for under twenty bucks?  WHY?

Back in Yutzi’s heyday, the lobster roll was considered the poor man’s turkey sandwich. With only three low-rent ingredients- hot dog bun, lobster and mayo- even a flappy-armed lunch lady could slap one together and call it a meal for five clams.

So, how do these three humble ingredients now end up being $19.99? Well, I spent the last week investigating and have found the causes of inflation:

1. Using more than three ingredients…stick the the script, you bunch of tutu-wearers.

2. Something called Himalayan pink salt…I think my last escort used that in her bathwater, or was that her name?

3. Acts of oxymoronic, culinary delusion: artisan hot dog bun, organic lobster, gourmet mayonnaise.  For the sake of my sanity, can someone point me to an inorganic lobster?

4. McDonald’s no longer serves the McLobster. Boy, oh boy, were those the best!  If the Hamburgler needed a lobster-lovin’ sidekick, sign me right up!

So there you have it. The beloved lobster roll is no longer affordable to anyone without a beret or a mustache. So, like your white shoes after labor day, say good-bye and order a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before those too fall into the greasy subway-pole hands of beatniks and hipster youth and set you back twenty bucks.  Yeesh.

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7-course apology

Vandaag, The Actress

Dear Reader,

It’s not often that I’m wrong. Truly, I can’t recall the last time, oh, dear, now I remember. The year was 19_ and my husband’s hirsute assistant, Francis, had made it big in Hollywood. He was directing the third installment of his Italian, red-sauce drama, The Grandfather.  Frankly, I failed to see what all the fuss was about.  Really, an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, for what should’ve been called best adapted Montessori classroom role call.  “Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattaglia. Moe Greene. Stracci. Cuneo.”  Heavens, this is one Alfredo away from being a Mama Leone’s menu.

Anyway, Francis was desperately searching for a new actress and since I was already cast in Home Alone,  I suggested his young, pudgy, pre-rhinoplasty daughter. He thought the idea brilliant. Well, no one told me they planned to film with her real nose! Had I known, I would never have suggested her. No wonder it was a flop.

All this to say that I was wrong about my initial review of  Vandaag, which was hardly generous. Prompted by a few, as the Kid says “haters,” I decided to give it another try and found the food delicate, refined, and delicious. Food fit for a lady.. Unlike most unrefined restaurants where the waiter asks the lady what she wants instead of asking the man what the lady will have, Vandaag didn’t even ask, instead, the chef chose for me. 7 courses were brought out by a model turned waiter who described the food as if reciting poetry. I admit my manners were atrocious as I slurped down the oyster course, attacked the blood sausage like a fork wielding savage and  ate every last bite, even the bitterballen.

But, dear reader, I write this review with a heavy heart as Vandaag has shuttered its East Village location for good. But be sure to look out for the sequel, Vandaag part III in Brooklyn.

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The Old Man and the Seafood

THE JOHN DORY OYSTER BAR
By Yutzi

Preamble

This Honkytonk Heaven really makes ya’ feel like hell

Yutzi here! Is this thing on? What? Someone just called me a blogger. That sounds dirty.  Hey, sweetcheeks, you like my picture of  Merle with an oatmeal cookie bomb? I found it on this thing called Goooogle, you heard of it?  Now that I’m a fancy internet scribe, please stop clogging my email arteries with photos of your recently widowed great Aunt.  And to the congressman who sent me a picture of what the Kid terms “his junk,” I’m not a doctor and have no idea what the crust on your vendekemp fishstick is- go see a proctocologist or something, jeez. Who voted that degenerate into office? What’s that, I did? Damn straight democratic ticket!

So, speaking of fishstickes, my son, Robbie, dragged me to some mid-town, yuppie-fish shack for a lunch of oysters and beer. I’m often accused of burying the lead, so here it goes: they do not accept AARP discounts – rat bastards.


They also don’t take a joke.  The first thing I saw when I sat down was a giant spherical fish tank above the front door.   I have expected to see fake snow blowing around in it, but instead it was filled with colorful tropical fish.  Anyway, the waitress came by to take our order and I pointed up and said “I’ll have the blue one.”

After that bombed, Robbie and I decided on oysters.  Now, back in my day, oysters were used as bait.  Now they’re used to bait money out of yuppies’ wallets.  $3 a pop for an excuse to eat cocktail sauce.  But I do love me an oyster, so I cashed in my war bonds and bought myself  a dozen.  After I slurped those sandy suckers down my gullet, I ordered the grilled octopus with aioli and parker house bread rolls  ($4.50 charging for bread, jeez, I thought we won the war) to mop up the octo-juice, which I washed down with a Sixpoint Pilsner from a local brewery in Red Hook (I’m sensing a nautical theme here).

The bill was pricey for lunch, especially on my fixed income. Did I mention they charge for bread rolls? When I asked the waitress for the veteran’s discount she just stared at me blankly, then laughed as if it were a joke. Hey, toots, my friends died for your freedom so you could overcharge pensioners for fancy bread rolls and bait.

 

The John Dory Oyster Bar, 1196 Broadway, New York, NY

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Beauty and the Beef

BEAUTY & ESSEX
by WOLF

I’d picked the Actress up at LaGuardia – she had just returned from her bi-annual exhaustion retreat  – and she said there’s a place she simply insisted on trying.

We arrive in the Lower East Side to a big sign reading “Beauty & Essex” in bright bulb lettering that looks like it was previously on the set of “The Price Is Right.”  So, already, I’m thinking “classy joint!”

With my date by my side we stride in and see… a wall of guitars?  I look around and notice a bunch of jewelry in the window.  How on earth did we end up at a pawn shop?  I think Yutzi previously sold a sword at this place.

The lady behind the counter quickly sensed my confusion and asked if we have reservations, and pointed us to a back door.

We walk in, and man is this place swank.  Luxurious chandeliers, spiral staircases, lovely…what are those couches called… banquets?  Ah, that doesn’t sound right.

Anyway, whatever they’re called, they’re filled to the brim with dames in short skirts and high heels, surrounded by strapping men in fine blazers.  I can already feel my wallet crying in agony.

Before getting sat, I take a gander at the drink menu…14 dollars for a cocktail!  I order up an “Old Dirty Bramble”, whatever that means, as the Actress goes downstairs to powder her schnoz.  The bartender was friendly, and makes a mean drink.  Mulled smoked blackberries?  I’m loving life.

We get sat, right as my date returned from the can with a glass of pink champagne, which she said was handed to her by a bathroom attendant.   I ran downstairs to see if they were doling out bourbon in the little boy’s room, but nothing doing.

Anyway, this was also a bit of foreshadowing, because I’m pretty sure most of the food came from the toilet too.

Godammit! Wrong photo…

First let’s talk about my appetizer.  I had no idea Hormel made carpaccio.  This flavorless batch of commodity meat was enhanced with what I think was crunched up Funyuns and leafy greens from a Chia pet, and served up to a sucker like me for $15.

Then came the Thai-influenced lobster pot pie, which was served in a crock pot that looked like a poodle’s dog bowl.  I dig in and the whole top crust comes off like it was a manhole cover.  Now, I admit they were generous with the chunks of the good stuff, but for 25 smackaroos, I want to see a lobster doing a goddamn backstroke in here.  Instead I’m trawling through bisque like the Gorton’s Fisherman for any meaty morsel I can find, even though its so heavily infused with lemongrass, you’d think the recipe called for Pledge.  Cheapskates didn’t even put crust at the bottom of the pie, just the giant confessional wafer at the top.  Meanwhile, the Actress made about 7 trips to the bathroom.

Walking out I finally ask The Actress how we ended up at this ridiculous place.  She said it was recommended to her by the stewardess on her flight.  She said it was “trendy” and that Kim Kardashan likes to go here.  Is that that broad with the big ass?  Ay yi yi, I’d let her pound my carpaccio.

Anyway, the lesson here, folks: don’t take advice on restaurants from a person who passes out bags of peanuts for a living.

Beauty & Essex, 146 Essex St., New York, NY

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Aces Low

ACE HOTEL AND SWIM CLUB- PALM SPRINGS

By THE ACTRESS

Recently I made a pilgrimage to the Ace Hotel properties in Palm Springs, Portland, and New York City. This is the first in my series of reviews.

Once Hollywood’s playground for the rich and fabulous, Palm Springs has devolved into a playground for screaming Northern European brats, B-listers from Los Angeles and men in gold lame shorts.   Why was I not warned?  Instead of promised glamor, gaiety, tropical inspired cocktails, I found myself at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, surrounded by tattooed, bearded hoi polloi with their pregnant women precariously close to labor, screaming children and dogs, all sullying the pool with their toxic lotions and urine. And, as if it couldn’t possibly get any worse, I had to constantly fight off packs of rabid homosexuals for my poolside chair. It was like being at the wrap party for Caligula.

Don’t get me started on the food, which was not fit for the dogs ringing the pool, served by waiters – judging by the plethora of tacky tattoos from elbow to knuckle – most likely infected with Hep-C.  King’s Highway Restaurant fare is best consumed drunk, or, frankly not at all.  The slop they called a mezze platter was the color, consistency and flavor of the foul effluence from one of the poolside brat’s soiled diapers. The spirits were stale and bottom shelf.

After a disappointing meal, I made my way to my “hotel suite.” Sweet Jesus! Was this room designed by Ahab?  I half expected to find Alan Hale Jr. fornicating with a mermaid on my bed.  The walls were covered with sailor sheets, used bathrobes and a bindlestiff’s staff.  The bed took up  99% of the room’s real estate and was so low to the ground that I practically needed a shovel to get under the covers. Don’t they know that after a certain age one’s knees begin to weaken? I ended up sleeping upright in the shower.

Stiff and sore, I treated myself to a massage in the poolside yurt, only to find out as a large woman lead me up a flight of stairs in the opposite direction, that the yurt was closed due to some “fabulous model shoot.” Really! So I plopped down on the pool deck as camera flashes went off.  Not one to sell my image for free, I asked an emaciated teenager for a release and payment…after all I’m in the union.  Rolling his eyes and mumbling “whatever,” he pointed to a large sign that read some nonsense to the effect of  “by being here you agree to release your image for any use in all media, in perpetuity on earth the universe and multi-verse.”

Disgusted I threw the sign in the pool, climbed into my Cadillac and drove to the nearest casino in Palm Desert where they happily pay for my image and the drinks are free.

701 East Palm Canyon Drive  Palm Springs, CA 92264

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Ain’t Nothin’ But a Paulie Gee’s Thang

PAULIE GEE’S
by YUTZI

Okay, first off, what in creation does that title mean?  Who edits this shit, e.e. cummings?

Anyway, my son Robbie and I have this little game.  We can never agree where to go to dinner – he finds my selections “de-class-ay”, whatever the crap that is, and I leave his places as hungry as I came, because I’ve been eating goddamn bird food all night.

So, we play a game where I pick the cuisine, and he picks the restaurant or vice versa.  It was my turn, so I said “pizza.  I want a goddamn proper pizza pie.”  So he picked Paulie Gee’s.

I did some research first…Paulie Gee, apparently, he used to be a…what, goddamnit…claims adjuster or something.  Anyway, he chucks it all aside and buys a pizza oven.  And as soon as I walked in, I could see why: so he could surround himself with a hot waitstaff!  My god, I felt like I was back in my room, spanking it to an issue of Cosmo.

Our waitress, a sweet little Oriental number, came by and we ordered wine.  Forget the wine, sweetie, want to be the next Mrs. Yutzi?  Ninth time’s the charm, you know.  But Robbie rolled his eyes and ordered some red…with bubbles!  I don’t get that boy sometimes.

I looked around, nothing but good-lookin’ dames carrying food, just the way Yutzi likes ’em.  “Hey, Robbie check out the talent in this joint” I said, but he was busy sniffing around the menu, finally squealing like a little girl with a box of shaved kittens.  I thought maybe bubbles from the wine shot in his nose.  “Dad, I’m getting the Grapeful Dead!”

I asked if that meant grape tomatoes, but he said no, there’s actual GRAPES on the goddamn pizza!  What’s this poncey hippy bullshit?  They gonna splash it with patchuli afterward?  I told him if he ordered that kind of flowery crap, he might as well deduct the price from his inheritance.  I just about smacked the black off of him.

Then I looked at the menu and saw the “Hellboy,” some pie with honey on it.  In fact, almost everything in this place had some kind of goofy name and, I don’t know, pimentos.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  The waitress came back, and I just got a plain pie, and Robbie got “the Mootz” with sausage.   Sausage, now there’s something a REAL man puts in his mouth.  That’s my boy.

I must admit, the bubbling red wine went down pretty nice, and the environs…well, they were a little woodsy and modern, whatever happened to red tablecloths?  The waitresses more than made up for it, though.  Ay, chihuahua.

Oh, and Paulie came over and said hello!  Nice guy.  I asked him to turn down the music, but he misheard me and started showing me ticket stubs on his phone from all these rock concerts he used to go to in the ‘60s.  So I told him about the time Ann Murray played on the cruise ship, back when I was tending bar, but he didn’t seem too impressed. Yeesh.

Anyway, I’ve tugged on your coat long enough about this place…but I do have good news… the pizza is delicious!  Nice burnt crust you can tug at, bubbling cheese, hearty chunks of sausage…this is the kind of place you can take a dame to.  Or Robbie.

Wolf insisted I pick him up a pie if I liked the place.  Oh, waitress, one Grapeful Dead to go…and gimme your number while you’re at it.

Paulie Gee’s, 60 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, NY

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A pig and a lady walk into a bar…

Momofuku Ssam Bar

By THE ACTRESS

I have no idea what came over me, but I recently invited my next door neighbor Maria Castelli out for tea.  I guess I just felt sorry for her – the lonely, lump of a woman – and I honestly thought she’d decline, as our date would interrupt her steady diet of game shows.  Seemed safe, but alas, she accepted.  What if a casting director saw the two of us together?  What would he think of me?  Sheer lunacy.  Then again, being with her can only make me look better, I suppose.

Anyway…what a trial!  I’d insisted on hiring a taxi, which is really the only sanitary way to get around in this filth pit of a city.  But, Maria – surprisingly stingy for such a cheery person – made some remark about “wasting taxpayer money,” and the next thing I know, I’ve been duped into boarding the subway.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details of that episode, even as they continue to haunt me.

I had planned on getting tea at the museum, but thanks to our subterranean misadventure, we soon found ourselves surrounded by the unwashed in the East Village.  Exhausted, we stopped at the first even remotely reputable-looking place we could find with an empty seat, which lead us to momofuku ssäm bar.  We were sat at a long, sleek bar, as the restaurant crackled with lively conversation over plates of whole roasted pig..  Alas, the menu was replete with dishes featuring suckling pig and duck, more fit for an Asian lumberjack than a couple of ladies like ourselves.  Or at least a lady like me, as Maria is built like a log cabin.

But yes, she ordered duck soup and a duck bun.  “Nothing like eating in the barnyard at 1pm!” I sighed,  as Maria just slurped  and   burped her way through her meal, blithely, without a care in the world.  I thought the poor sow was going to bloat and explode and have her blood used to make some sort of stock.  I admit I did try some of her duck soup, which looked unappetizing with bits of duck and bright green vegetables bobbing up and down in a brackish, brown liquid, yet I was surprised by its refined and delicate  flavors.  But, I simply couldn’t try any more…my agent insists I need to watch my figure if I’m going to win the Oscar over Ava Gardner, that whore.

My advice for momofuku ssäm bar: go with a fatty and catch a spoonful of their run-off, or else the Oscar goes to…someone else.

Momofuku Ssam Bar / 207 2nd avenue, new york, ny 10003 corner of 13th street and 2nd avenue

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