A Sarcastic Appetite

Weekend Round-Up for August 15
August 15, 2014, 11:11 am
Filed under: Winetivities | Tags:

Weekend Adventuring

It’s Friday afternoon and you’re thinking one thing: how do I get rid of this hangover what am I going to do this weekend? Not to worry, I’ve got some ideas for you.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have heard about Jeff Koons: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum. It’s the artist’s first true retrospective spanning his entire career, and the last exhibit at the Whitney before the museum decamps to its new building downtown, scheduled to open in the spring of 2015. The exhibit runs until October 19. Afterward, head to JG Melon, Jones Wood Foundry, or Bemelmans (if you’re feeling awfully classy) for a drink and a bite.

Head to the New York Botanical Garden (a 15 minute MetroNorth ride from Harlem-125th Station) to visit their “evocation” of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Maine (I’ll admit to being biased toward the real thing, but I’m still curious). The exhibit closes September 7.

Literary nerds should check out The Morgan Library’s Gatsby to Garp: Modern Masterpieces from the Carter Burden Collection, featuring almost 100 works (first editions, manuscripts, galley proofs and the like) from some of your favorite authors: F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Irving and J.D. Salinger, to name a few. The Ginger Man is right nearby and typically quieter on a weekend afternoon if you’re looking for a post-museum drink.

Oh, you want to be active, you say? Try kayaking on the Hudson (free!) or head to Gowanus to try rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders (plan ahead, as booking day-of classes is not allowed). Plus, this weekend is the last installment of Summer Streets. Now you have no excuse not to leave your  apartment.

If you like wandering and learning, try the Flatiron District’s walking tour offered every Sunday (also free, or you can download a self-guided brochure). If you like walking and eating, here’s a self-guided tour of the LES that incorporates a stop at the Tenement Museum (note: don’t do this on a Saturday, as some spots are closed).  For a self-guided Chinatown tour, start at Stop #5 on this Serious Eats itinerary.

Were you looking to try a new restaurant on Saturday night? As of this writing, OpenTable‘s showing a 7:30 table for 2 at The Eddy; 8pm at Le Jardin Bistro (now in its new location in Alphabet City); 8pm at Dovetail; 6:30 at Bâtard in Tribeca (I know, but it’s so hot right now); 8pm at L’Apicio; 8:30 at Sfoglia (order pasta and stop complaining how far uptown it is); 7:45 and an 8:15 at Costata; and an 8pm table at Louro.

(Some other ideas, clockwise from bottom left: La Piscine at Brasserie Ruhlman, which is muddled strawberries and vodka strained with a sugar rim; run around the Reservoir in Central Park; eat pricey but delicious lobster salad on brioche at the Bar at the Modern; sit at the bar at the aforementioned Eddy in the East Village.)


So, what are you doing this weekend?



10 Brunch Spots in New York
June 29, 2014, 9:11 am
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up, Winetivities


I don’t know if you’re aware, but I love brunch. I love it like I love champagne, or Million Dollar Listing: New York, or beating middle aged men in tennis. (Which is to say, if you don’t actually know me that well, a lot.)

Now, I should qualify this statement: I love brunch at restaurants that take reservations. Ain’t no way in hell you’ll ever find me in a line 50 deep of tourists waiting to stuff their gullets with pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company. And there’s a reason I have yet to try the Cronut. But I am a champion at making reservations, even a month out if need be. (Don’t give me that look. I’m busy!)

And having tried most well-regarded places that serve brunch on this fair island we call home, I’d like to say I am a bit of an expert on that most overpriced but enjoyable weekend meal. To wit: 10 places you should check out, if you haven’t already. And if you run through this list rolling your eyes, thinking “Ugh, Emily, I know all of these places,” well, then, count yourself an expert too. And maybe invite me to your next get-together, since you clearly seem to be awfully trendy.

In no particular order:


1. The Breslin – “Emily, are you serious? Did you just start your list with a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations?” Yes, but hear me out: if you get there at noon or a little before, it’s a cakewalk. Trust me! The lamb burger and the three cheese sandwich are not to be trifled with (see what I did there?). Plus, that dark pub-like interior can’t be beat on a hot summer’s day when you want to curl up on top of the air conditioner.

2. The Elm – Yes, I’m suggesting brunch in Williamsburg with a straight face. Don that straw fedora (of course I have one) and join in the fun. I loved the space, and while the service was laughably slow given the two-thirds empty dining room when we went, the burger was actually really good. And if you want to keep drinking, so many great places over there await: Berry Park, Teddy’s, Maison Premiere, and Hotel Delmano, to name a few.

3. The NoMad – The grandaddy of brunch, if only for the fabled chicken sandwich. The light in the atrium can be a little anemic, but it’s not like you’ll be staring at each other – because you won’t be able to take your eyes off that sandwich. And then follow my lead and slip into the Library bar for a little postprandial cocktail.

4. ABC Kitchen – If the NoMad is the granddaddy of brunch, then ABC Kitchen is its Auntie Mame (sshh, poetic license, just let me run with it). Great light, great space, and purposefully mismatched plates. It’s expensive, yes, and don’t you dare try to walk in without having a reservation three weeks in advance, but once you’re seated and the sparkling rosé is flowing, it’s hard not to have a good time. Plus the salted caramel sundae is baller.

5. Jean-Georges – For the high rollers among you, especially since they just jacked the price of two courses to $48, with each additional plate now costing $24. You’re not likely to get out for less than $200 for two, unless you get chintzy with the wine and forbid dessert. However, if you want to go spend a leisurely afternoon in a really beautiful room, you’ll be rewarded with a really excellent meal – and excellent service, to boot.

6. Narcissa – It’s a gorgeous room with a gorgeous back patio and a box of doughnuts on the menu to boot. (The doughnut holes aren’t great but the rest are pretty delicious.) It’s a really nice way to spend an summer afternoon. Order the avocado toast with poached eggs…and get a side of bacon. It’s nearly impossible to get in for dinner, but very manageable to get in for brunch. Go.

7. Lafayette – Are you noticing a theme here? I am a sucker for a beautiful room and a slightly French-leaning menu. So sue me. Call up Lafayette and sweet talk them into giving you a table in the window (or rope enough friends in so you’ll be guaranteed one of the large booths). It’s the kind of place where you just want them to keep the rosé coming and then maybe Monday won’t actually happen. The pastries are excellent, as they should be, as are the pâté maison and the burger (I am nothing if not gluttonous).

8.  The East Pole – I love its downtown sister restaurant, The Fat Radish, but hate that they are cash only during brunch. Thankfully, The East Pole takes plastic all the time and so now I can gorge myself on those spiced pear bellinis and smoked salmon crostini.

9. Jeffrey’s Grocery – I’m slipping another no reservations joint in here and hoping you won’t notice after all my griping. I love the menu here, not to mention the space: huge windows make for an airy, light-filled room. The croissant sandwich will cure any hangover. The only downside? The open kitchen means you will smell like Jeffrey’s Grocery long after you leave. (Sometimes it’s worth it.)

10. Hundred Acres – get a pitcher of the Sparkling Acres and thank me later. Look, it’s a pretty standard brunch menu, but that’s what does the job for me; I tend not to order the weird stuff because I had too much champagne last night and need to reevaluate my life choices. So I go for the soft scrambled eggs and hope for the best – you should too.


10 Great Date Spots in New York
June 19, 2014, 8:00 am
Filed under: Dating, Winetivities | Tags:


Aperol spritz at Smith & Mills


Aperol Spritz at Smith & Mills

While this is technically a food blog, you clearly only care about my dating stories. (I’ve got the web stats to prove it.) So how about a little mash-up: 10 places in New York to take your date for a drink. Some of these places are popular and therefore packed during prime time, but that’s just all the more reason to go during off hours. Who says you can’t meet at 3pm on a Sunday?

1. The Library at the NoMad: yes, yes, I know the team just opened the NoMad Bar, but this two-story airy space can’t be beat for a little tête-à-tête. It’s often crowded, so go at an off time; my favorite thing is to go for a leisurely brunch at the NoMad and then slip in for an afternoon tipple. Plus, if you’re somehow still hungry, their snacks menu is killer.

2.The Bar at the Modern: I didn’t love being quizzed, but I did love that my date picked this spot. Bold move. Try to get there on the early side; while it’s busy, the crowd is often twosomes who are moving to a table for dinner, so turnover definitely happens.

3. Mayahuel: Its dark wood interior can be romantic, if the date is going well, or can keep your date’s face half hidden in moody darkness if it’s not. The cocktail menu is well done, with some surprising twists. This is the place to get into mezcal; don’t be shy.

4. Ten Bells: I keep going on and on about this place because if you’re an oenophile, it can’t be beat. The wine list leans French and goes well off the beaten path, so now’s the time to order that weird wine from the Jura. The food menu leaves a little to be desired; stick to oysters. So romantic!

5. The Ship: No, not the Frying Pan; it’s an actual bar called The Ship that is so brand-spanking new I haven’t even been yet. Its owners have quite a cocktail pedigree, having been involved in Milk & Honey and Little Branch to name a few, plus it’s downstairs behind an unmarked door on Lafayette Street, so you’ll look like an in-the-know New Yorker as you whisk your date into the subterranean space.

6. Guthrie Inn: For all you Upper East Siders! (…Crickets.) Ok, ok, it’s tiny – about 5 stools tiny – and when there’s only one bartender, it can feel a little like the Andy Samberg bartender skit on Portlandia (go, watch). They don’t serve food, so go next door to Earl’s and get a Calabro Mozzarella to go.

7. Burke and Wills: The Upper West Side is not exactly teeming with great date spots, but I like this one for its usually not too crowded bar area and killer lamb merguez sliders. The narrow “booths” are made for two, and the Australian bartenders are knowledgeable and congenial.

8. Smith & Mills: Technically also “unmarked,” though it will be hard to miss the carriage house with one outdoor table and people spilling out with attractive looking drinks. I had to tell them what was in an Aperol spritz (this should be your drink of the summer), but hey – now they know. Great vibe, great menu, and great space.

9. Jimmy’s No. 43: Remember the great 7th Street Crawl? (Anyone game for the redux?) We spent the better part of the afternoon here that day and for good reason: their tap selection is excellent, and the barman kept sending over small plates “because Jimmy doesn’t like anyone drinking on an empty stomach.” (Little did Jimmy know we had already been to Luke’s Lobster.) While it’s often crowded, it’s usually possible to snag a table, and the vibe is typically a little raucous and a lot of fun.

10. Rum House: You’ve agreed to meet near Times Square (why!) and now you need a spot that isn’t TGI Fridays. Go to the Rum House, in the Edison Hotel, and you will never want to leave. They have actual live music – when I was last there it was a quartet involving a trombone and a cello, and it was awesome – and the cocktails are great since it’s the same people behind Ward III in Tribeca.

Museums + Wine

IMG_1773 One of my favorite things to do is to check out a new museum exhibit….followed by wine somewhere great. It’s a win-win; I feel like I am actually taking advantage of living in New York, and then when I’m traumatized by the hordes of people also taking advantage of being in New York, I can retreat to a nearby bar over a glass of something delicious. (I also call these excursions “winetivities”…don’t tell my mother.)

So here’s what you need to see…and where you need to get a drink afterwards. Let me know how it goes.

What to see: Chagall: Love, War & Exile at the Jewish Museum (92nd and Madison)

Where to drink: Demarchelier (86th and Madison)

The Jewish Museum’s impressive exhibit explores Chagall’s wartime work, when he was living in Paris and later New York, from 1930-1948. His paintings during this time are haunting, with Biblical symbols (the Crucifixion was of utmost interest to Chagall, and often a symbol for the persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust) as well as other symbols of Russian folklore. When his wife Bella died suddenly in 1944, his paintings took on a more intimate sense of loss. Picasso is said to have remarked, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”

If you go on Saturdays, be prepared to be overwhelmed; the museum is free, and the exhibit will be packed. Read this introduction ahead of time. The Jewish Museum is closed on Wednesdays. Tickets are $15 if you don’t go on Saturdays, or you can Pay-What-You-Wish on Thursdays from 5-8pm.

When you’ve had enough, skip down Fifth Avenue to 86th Street, and pop over to Demarchelier for a glass of rosé champagne and some bar bites, including pâté and olives ($5 each).
What to see: Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul and “Lose not heart”: J. D. Salinger’s Letters to an Aspiring Writer at The Morgan Library (36th and Madison)
Where to drink: The Library at the NoMad (28th and Broadway)

Almost 100 items of Poe’s writing – from poetry to literary criticism – are on display until January 4, 2014, including Annabel Lee in Poe’s own hand. Also on display are works from other writers, from Dickens to T.S. Eliot, emphasizing Poe’s broad influence. Admission is $18.

The Morgan also has on exhibit nine letters J.D. Salinger wrote to a young Toronto woman, Marjorie Sheard, which are incredibly revealing of the late reclusive author. Salinger was just 22 when he responded to Marjorie’s request for advice, and The Catcher in the Rye existed only as a short story, “Slight Rebellion off Madison” in The New Yorker.

Once you’ve had your fill – and stopped in to check out Treasures from the Vault in Morgan’s 1906 library – take a stroll over to the NoMad Hotel, on 28th and Broadway. Yes, it’s a bit of a walk, and yes, it’s worth it. Weekend afternoons are a little quieter in this airy two story room replete with actual books (I checked). And the drinks are legendary, though lately I have been partial to the Jäger Zweigelt rosé, made in the Wachau valley in Austria.
What to see: The Tenement Museum (Orchard and Delancey)

Where to drink: Ten Bells (247 Broome Street, between Ludlow and Orchard)

The Tenement Museum, a National Historic Site, is one of the more underrated museums in the city. It requires a bit more planning; the best way to see the museum is through one of the many tours offered, and you’ll need a day or two’s notice as they tend to sell out. (Note most are not air-conditioned, so in August skip the tour and head straight to Ten Bells.) Tickets are $22.

When you’re ready for a drink, walk through the large, unmarked door at 247 Broome and you’ll find yourself a little oasis in Ten Bells. I’ve written about this place before and I think its wine list alone is worth the trek. It’s quiet in the afternoons, but definitely gets packed at night, so be forewarned. The boys at Immaculate Infatuation were not overwhelmed with it as a dinner destination, so just keep it in your back pocket for a late afternoon tipple.