Sunday, July 27, 2008

We have moved this blog!


We have recently made the move to Wordpress from Blogger for this blog.

Please visit for the new blog.

The move was basically prompted by the following:

1. Both the Foodie and the Photographer are proud owners of the iPhone 3G. The iPhone has a neat Wordpress app that lets us control and edit our posts right from our phones.

2. Wordpress has better blog themes.

3. Wordpress has better blog management features than Blogger.

4. Wordpress composing is much better behaved on Macs than Blogger.

5. Apparently Blogger is the #1 source of malware on the web!

So head on over and bookmark now!

The Foodie and The Photographer

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Florencia 13: SoCal Mexican

florencia 13
We went to Florencia 13 to meet one of Foodie's old high school friend who was in town. Reviews on the web were very split with people either loving it or hating it and some people commenting about the rude service. We were able to get a reservation for our group of 7 a few hours before dinnertime which is rare for us. One reason why we were able to was probably because the tight turnaround time that the folks at Florencia 13 have for their tables. It almost borders on rudeness! Our reservation for 7:30 and since everyone from our party wasn't there by 7:40, the hostess told us that our reservation would be cancelled if they don't show up in 5 mins. Everyone did turn up, about 15 minutes later, and we were given a big table at the back after a couple of minutes more.

The ambience is a little too dimly lit- one of those places where you have to strain to see the menu. Food was above average but not excellent. The foodie ordered chilli relenos which tasted alright, however, was doused in too much curry. She likes her chile relenos to be crisp. The photographer had the Santa Catalina fish tacos. The portions were good, but the fish was mediocre. Not close to the freshness that a Santa Catalina native would expect. The sangria was good. Also notable in their drinks menu was a Dos Equis and lemon combo in a salt-rimmed glass. It made for a very nice and cheap (not very creative, though) cocktail.

We cannot say anything about the dessert. That's because our waitress came by as our meal was finishing and told us she had another party coming in in 10 minutes and she needed the table. Oh well!

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Ambience: 7/10

Florencia 13, 185 Sullivan St., New York, NY 10012

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fig & Olive: Chic UES Brunch

Long time no review? Our readers (yes, both of you) needn't worry as we are still eating out, just not getting enough time to pen something interesting for this blog. Hope to clear the backlog this weekend so wish us luck. Btw does anyone else want to see the Pope in NYC tomorrow or is the photographer just weird? Anyway, here goes...

This review should have come sooner as this is fast becoming our favourite place for brunch with its convenient upper east location and super food. We have also never waited for more than half an hour for a table which stands out in stark contrast to 2-3 hour waits at the neighbouring Alice's Tea Cup. Fig & Olive has a very chic decor with the bar lined up bottles of olive oil and a variety of gourmet freshly baked goodies. The cane chairs and the communal table (which seems like an idea picked up from Le Pain Quotidien) give it a very chic feel.

The food is very nicely presented and tastes as good. The poached and the scrambled eggs come atop a crisply baked bun along with salad drizzled with olive oil. Since the foodie can't resist anything doused in truffle oil, her favourite is the poached eggs with asparagus and truffle oil. This dish also comes with yummy grilled peppers. One of Foodie's friend also recommends the vegetable quiche. We have never gone there for dinner - a trip which is due to taste some their olive oils with bread.

The service is average. They have once mixed up our order and once told us " we don't keep ketchup" in a tone that smacked of upper east side snobbery. However, usually they are efficient, quick, not overtly friendly but get the job done. One of the foodie's friends commented that crew cut and well-shaven seems to be a part of the uniform for all the waiters!! For brunch our bill is $20 per person including gratuity.

Food: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Ambience: 8/10

Fig & Olive: Bet 62 and 63rd on Lexington

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tonic: Really bad medicine

The only reason the logo is worth putting up on this post is so that you know to avoid it when you see this logo near Times Square. The photographer has consistently had the worst experience in any bar/club in NYC at Tonic Times Square.

Tonic hosts an 'Indian' DJ and upstairs gets converted into an Indian dance party every Saturday. That was the reason why we first checked it out. Lets start at the experience at the door. The door policy, and cover are completely arbitrary. The doorman refused entry to a friend of ours on the reason that his ID was 'hand written' and therefore not valid. What was this ID you ask? It was an Indian passport. The ultimate identification document for any individual, one that contained a number of visas- including a US visa, one that is recognized by the strictest immigration standards, was not enough for a doorman of a B-grade club! You see the Republic of India isn't as 'advanced' as the US of A yet. There are passport offices where the passports are still hand-written, and then signed and sealed by the authorities. It meets all the security and authenticating standards of every country in the world, except for the enlightened Tonic doorman. In any other setting, a refusal to acknowledge a country's passport is treated as a national affront and may spark an international incident. It is also worthwhile to note that fake IDs, apparently so rampant amongst US youth, are almost always printed. Was it because the passport belonged to an elite wall-street investment bank employee who happened to be Indian (and clearly above 21)? The doorman would neither listen to reason, nor willing to take us (the lucky folk with printed IDs) to the manager to sort out this issue. Therefore to get into Tonic, you first have to convince a guy who is either hugely ignorant, or hugely racist.

The club upstairs is even more pitiful. It is a cramped, long hallway type area with a bar dominating one side. The acoustics are terrible with speakers crackling and hissing with every bhangra beat. The photographer had a prolonged feeling of Tinnitus after leaving this place. The drinks are watery and the ambiance is an afterthought. The crowd is best described as B-grade. There is no cover for women till 12am, so unsightly ladies who cannot get into any club (but apparently have printed IDs) cover every available square footage of Tonic. The men are no better. 'Indian men have BO' is not a racist stereotype- rather an apt description of the men at Tonic. In my opinion, the average Indian music is not worth the ordeal at Tonic. People looking for similar music, but a much better ambiance should look at Kemia Bar or Mehanata or Earth or SOBs.

Drinks: 4/10
Ambiance: 3/10
Service: are you kidding?

Tonic. 727 Seventh Ave., New York, NY .

Friday, March 21, 2008

Inoteca: Creative Italian Wine Bar


We have been trying to get into Inoteca with a sizeable group for a while but they are usually all booked out for Saturdays (even when the foodie has called as early as Monday to get a table). Last Saturday we finally decided to turn up and wait it out. The hostess gave us a 2 hour wait (this is at 7:30pm!) for a table for five. Given our previous unsuccessful attempts, we were not to be deterred. They have a nice area near the bar to wait and sip wine, and that's what we did for a little over an hour, although between the wine, company and a great ambience, the wait didn't seem that long. Inoteca is a small place for its big reputation and cult-like following. The menu is all in Italian and not typical of any other Italian place we have gone too. Our waitress sensed that we were newbies there and was nice enough to patiently translate almost all of it. 


Inoteca specializes in small plates and you have go there once to figure out how to order (as our waitress said, it is like kissing, gets better everytime!). We ordered Bruschette for our starter. We got 5 pieces all with different toppings and all were delectable. We especially recommend the ricotta fresca w/pomodoro and the noci toppings. The foodie ate the soppressata panini for the main course and it was the best panini she has ever tasted (and she doesn't usually like meat). The photographer took the truffled egg toast with bottarga which is a speciality of this place and we have mentioned before when we reviewed its sister restaurant Ino. We also got to taste polpi (octopus) and the day's special cod from our friends plates, but liked the panini and the egg toast the most. Ordering for dessert involved another class in Italian - the best one was a shot of expresso poured over vanilla gelato which according to our waitress is the most popular dessert in Italy. Brava! 

We want to make a special mention of the service. Waiters were all very friendly and our waitress very patiently translated our menu for us and recommended dishes. She also recommended excellent wine when we told her our broad criteria (sweet, red, not too strong - tells you how much we know our wines!). We highly recommend you have wine (given its a wine bar first and foremost), and make that wine a Salice (sah-lee-chay). At $27 a bottle, it is also easy on your pocket for the quality. 

Our total bill including gratuity (plus 2 bottles of wine) was a reasonable $37 per person. We can see why our friends who have been to Inoteca swear by it. We would definitely go there again. 

Food: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Ambience: 8/10 

'inoteca: 98 Rivington Street (at Ludlow)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

L'asso: Great group dining on a budget

The foodie's childhood friend was visiting from Singapore and we decided to take her for something NYC does best - Pizza! After much research, reading reviews and unsuccessfully calling several places to get a reservation for 10, we finally found place at L'asso. Some reviews even called it the best pizza in the city.

The first thing you notice when you enter is the huge brick oven behind the bar in the center of the restaurant. Since our table wasn't ready, we waited at the bar with a glass of wine. I don't know if it was the service or the company that evening, but conversation flowed uninterrupted and I don't remember when we moved from the bar to our table. I just remember the wine kept flowing, accompanied by some warm bread and olive oil to start and delicious pizzas that kept coming. Our waiter looked like a hippie from the 60's and said 'cheers' after every sentence.


We ordered three 29" pizzas for our party of 10 which were sufficient. You can split the 29" pizza in two toppings so we got to taste 5 toppings that evening including the only 2 meat choices on the menu. In the foodie's opinion, the best pizza of the night was the pizza mela with gorgonzola, apple and truffle oil. A very unusual and delicious combination for a topping. 

It might be presumptuous of us to call this as the best pizza in NYC (not having tasted Grimaldi's or Lombardi's yet), but they definitely know their pies. They also claim to have the only 'legal' Neopolitan pizza in the city. All the pizzas we ordered had thin crisp crust with carefully chosen combination of cheese and other toppings. We are definitely going there again! $18 per person including wine. The dim lighting and cozy ambience makes this place versatile for a filling romantic dinner as well as a big group. The price is and the service perfect. Highly recommended.

Food: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Ambience: 8/10

L'asso 41 Kenmare Street, NYC

9th Street Market: Another LES gem

We went to a place called Ninth Street Market in the Lower East Side on an impulse sunday brunch outing (great winter weather you see). This place hardly has any markings but was still easy to spot because of the large group of people waiting outside. We wrote our names down on the pad hanging outside and walked around exploring the quaint shops in the hip east village neighborhood. The wait of 50 minutes was longer than expected, but the food was definitely worth it. A scruffy, bearded guy came out at regular intervals to announce the names of the next table. When we went in, we realized that he was the (quite friendly) waiter for all tables.

The foodie's breakfast toastada came with a crisp base, topped with onion, beans, cheese and two poached eggs. The home fries were spicy and crisp. The photographer's special omelette of the day was fluffy and stuffed with chorizo. It came with a side of fresh-from-the-oven bread with the best strawberry jam ever (most of which the foodie polished off). The orange juice was fresh and the service was attentive, our bottomless coffee cup was re-filled constantly.


The place is cozy and has a fireplace for an added measure of coziness. However you immediately see the reason for the long wait - it is tiny! It probably can't seat more than 20 people. The photos above cover about 98% of the floor area of the restaurant. Fresh flowers, pictures of Indian Gods (including scenes from the Mahabharata!) on the walls, and a generally run-down decor give it a very exotic neighbourhood cafe vibe. The music selection is hip remixes of old-school 80's hits. Our total bill including gratuity was $15 per person and included unlimited coffee/tea, juice and an entree.

We recommend the ninth street market brunch only if you don't mind waiting for at least 45 mins. Avoid going in big groups.

Food: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Ambience: 7/10

9th Street Market, 337 East 9th St. (between 1st and 2nd aves), New York, NY 10003