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

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The World's Best Chocolate Cake recipe


This is a recipe we modified a recipe from Molly's fantastic blog called Orangette. She calls it the Far-from-Disaster cake. We rechristened our version with a more sanguine name- The World's Best Moist Chocolate Cake! The cake pictured above was made using exactly the proportions on her blog, and as you can see, turned out to be huge! We provide the directions with our variations below. The portions have been halved, and we have a different cream and raspberry topping.

3 oz semisweet chocolate (Nestle semisweet chocolate chips).

3/4 cup hot brewed coffee.

1 and 1/2 cup sugar.

1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Nestle).

1 tsp baking soda.

1/2 tsp baking powder.

1/2 tsp salt.

2 large eggs.

1/4 cup canola oil.

3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk.

1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

We followed her exact recipe apart from beating egg whites separately till they were stiff and then added the yellows and other wet ingredients. The method is the following:

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Melt chocolate in hot coffee. Stir mixture till smooth.

In a big bowl, mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt.

In another bowl, beat egg whites first with electric beater till stiff. Then add the yellows. The slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla and melted chocolate/coffee mixture.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, beating on medium speed. Cake experts will advise you to fold with a big spoon instead of beating.

Pour batter into pre-greased cake tin or baking dish. It takes around an hour to bake. Check after 45 minutes.

Topping recipe: Heat 10 raspberries, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp water till it forms a jam like consistency. Cool. I kept the whipped cream and the raspberry topping separately in the fridge and added both to slices of cake as we ate the cake. This was only to increase the shelf life of the cake. If serving for a party, I would suggest slicing the cake in half and spreading the raspberry topping and whipped cream in the centre.

Agozar: Good food, spotty service


Agozar! insists on including the '!' after its name. Apparently they want patrons to be exclamatory when they take the name. Little do they know that patrons also have to do it to get any kind of service to their table. Admittedly, it is hard to find a place at any decent Manhattan restaurant for a large group of people (15 people that evening). This Cuban place is rated highly for its group dining experience by Citysearch NYC. We had to wait till the staff joined our tables together even though the entire party arrived on time (a feat in itself). There was also no space between the table and the wall, so the people who got in first had no way of getting out till the whole row got up. We had to shuffle the tables around ourselves to provide a way to the stuck and in the process ended up spilling drinks, water and breaking 3 glasses in the process.

We were ordering from a fixed-price party menu ($30) which didn't have the ropa vieja, although it appeared on the a-la-carte menu, the cheaper fixed-price menu ($25- less choice) and the more expensive menu ($35- more choice). We had to ask for chips and salsa after we were sitting around for 15 minutes without service. Finally, after an hour, our waiter was finally ready to take our appetizer and entree orders. The appetizers were excellent, particularly the shrimp in garlic sauce, where the flavorful sauce was unlike what the foodie tasted anywhere. The mojito pitchers were potent and did their job well. The service was lacking again and we spent a lot of time between the appetizers and entrees. The entrees finally came out, almost all of them together. The foodie had the shrimp enchillados and the photographer took the skirt steak. The chicken rice was kind of dry and there was only a hint of chimichuri sauce on the steak. The vegetarian paella was good. We should mention that this is one of the few restaurants that actually gives vegetarians a choice better than cold salads.

A sign of good service is when you hardly notice the service at all. It was certainly not the case at our table at Agozar. We had to ask for silverware and for our glasses to be re-filled with water. The waiter seemed to have a high level of complacence, probably due to the fact that his 20% gratuity would be added to the bill regardless of what he did/ didn't do. The place is friendly, but one expects much better service from a place where you spend $57 per person.

We recommend the food at Agozar but encourage you to look at other places for big groups.

Food: 8/10

Service: 5/10

Ambience: 7/10

Agozar! 324 Bowery, New York City 10012

Allen & Delancey: Exclusive and exquisite


The restaurant gets its name from its location- it is at the intersection of Allen and Delancey streets in Manhattan. And its a good thing that we know that now because this gem is really hard to find. Run by one of Gordon Ramsey's ex-chefs, the quality is exactly what you would expect from a restaurant of this class. We heard of this place by word of mouth. Make reservations at least a month in advance. We went there for our anniversary. One of us had the flu, but the friendly staff was nice enough to give us another reservation in a couple of days at short notice.

Lift the heavy curtains at the entrance and you walk into a swanky candle-lit bar. The restaurant sections are appropriately lit with candles only for the 'romantic' twos tables, and slightly more light for bigger tables. They have a communal table which is becoming increasingly popular in chi-chi places of late. Our table was in a cozy corner between an antique bookcase and a big wine rack (see below).


From watching 'Hells Kitchen' we figured that Gordon Ramsey is unusually picky when it comes to how scallops are made ("these scollops are overdone you f**** b*stard you. Get out, get out!"). So we had to order the scallops as the appetizer. And they were really perfectly done. In fact, our standards for good scallops has increased many orders in magnitude. The foodie had the trout and the photographer had the lamb. Both dishes were impeccably made and of just the right portions. The accompaniments on the plate complemented the fish/meat perfectly. The textures were pleasing and the tastes made us go wow. Of course we wished we could actually describe what the sides were. Verjus, Herb Werts, Trompettes? Each of them was amazing, but made us want to run out after dinner and get a chi-chi food dictionary. Dessert was a chocolate crunch terrine, and probably the only 'normal' and familiar dish in the entire night. We don't usually take photos of the dish after we finish, but in this case, we took it to illustrate that we would have licked the plates had it not been a sophisticated place. Service was courteous and the waiter was patient enough to explain every dish to us. He only flinched when the foodie likened the "truffled fingerlings" to classy french fries.

Highly recommended for fine dining on special occassions. Around $67 per person including wine and their speciality pomegranate martini.

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Ambience: 9.5/10

Allen & Delancey, 115 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

Monday, February 18, 2008

Turkish Kitchen: Great all-you-can-eat brunch


In a city of great Sunday brunches, Turkish Kitchen stands out as an epic. The all you can eat buffet food is high-quality and does not cut corners on taste or variety like the food in most other restaurants. The staff is polite and service is good. If you don't have Saturday night dinner, then the $27 Sunday brunch is well-worth the price. If you put your mind to it, it will be the only meal you will need that day. 



The variety of their selections- from greek and turkish salads, phyllos, to the meat patties, chicken and fish (they even have scrambled eggs) is delectable. Make sure to keep some room for dessert. The place is great for big groups. We celebrated a couple's birthday and they were accommodating enough to let us get our own cake. Although eating the cake after a smorgasbord of fine Mediterranean cuisine requires extra special effort. The ambience is sophisticated yet extremely comfortable. They have 3 brunch times on Sunday. We have gone at 1pm and sat there till 3:30pm. It is almost impossible to find a spot without reservations, so make sure you have reserved at least a week before your turkish gastronomical challenge.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Ambience: 8/10


Turkish Kitchen

386, 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Phone: 212-679-1810

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Graffiti: A lovable contemporary Indian-American place


(Image from

You will not be able to spot Graffiti unless you are actively looking out for it. This is a great place to cozy up with your special someone or even meet their mom (as one couple did when we were eating there). Seating is cozy to the point of being cramped. Tables of two are often right up next to each other so you have to be nice to the stranger next to you and watch your conversation. The décor may be described as very contemporary-chic (lots of antiques and abstract art, and a pretty huge chandelier). The lighting is so dim that reading their menu will take some ingenious handling of the candle on your table. The food is excellent. We had the most memorable paneer appetizer ever (green mango paneer). The foodie got the crab noodle roll and the photographer got the sesame beef sandwich. The portions are skimpy, especially for the price, so if you are really hungry, you might have to go get pizza afterward. The owner clearly has great taste in décor and food. We would highly recommend if you aren’t famished, and with an advisory to watch your elbows.

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Ambience: 8/10

Graffiti, 224 E 10th Street, NYC 10003

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Indian Chinese food: The notable

Tangra Masala: The big-daddy of Indian-Chinese food

Mostly when we go to Queens, it is for cheap groceries and barely commentable greasy all-you-can-eat Indian buffet. Tangra Masala on Grand Avenue, Queens is worth the subway ride, including the transfer to the local train that you need to get there. If you like spicy Indian-style chinese food, you will want to make that trip everyday.

The décor is pretty low-key and drab. The place is small and cramped and the waitress can barely speak English. The superior quality of the food and very low prices more than makes up for it. We highly recommend the chilli chicken (in both the dry and gravy versions), as do numerous other faithfuls that go there. They have opened another branch closer to Manhattan (on the 7 line) which is bigger and has somewhat more than a paltry décor. Recommended only if you like it hot!

Food: 9/10

Service: 4/10

Ambience: 4/10

Chinese Mirch: Good, but be prepared to wait and wait and wait

We have never managed to get a table at Chinese Mirch without at least a 30 minute wait. To their credit, the place is extremely popular and has good reason to be. The food is excellent and they can accommodate fairly large groups. We highly recommend the crispy fried okra as an appetizer. The menu is certainly not spicy to leave you gasping for air and seems to have reached an appropriate balance to maintain its distinctive Indian style but for a western palate. Recommended, especially if you have friends who have never tried Indian Chinese food before.

Food: 8/10

Service: 6/10

Ambience: 7/10

I-Chin: I pass

Run by the same people as Chinese Mirch, this place near Murray Hill seems to have forgotten to add spices, or sauces for that matter, to its dishes. The food was quite bland and we had to add soy sauce to get any kind of flavor. If you do see yourself in I-Chin, get the Okra chips for the appetizer. Everything else on the menu is equally disappointing, especially after a visit to its mothership.

Food: 5/10

Service: 6/10

Ambience: 7/10

Follow Me Café: an undiscovered gem on the UES

Tucked away in a building on 62nd and Lex (on 62nd st) is a small, cozy and excellent place. The food is cheap, waitresses are efficient and the clientele looks very, very good. This has become one of our favorite hangout spots in the city. We have been to the Follow Me Café more than a dozen times and will keep going there for an unpretentious, warm experience. The food selection is great for any time of day- omlettes, sandwiches, savory and sweet crepes, wines and beverage selections. The portions are for the health conscious- a side of generous salad accompanying most sandwiches and omlettes (very European- and unlike a lettuce leaf and tomato ‘salad’ of most places in the city). The stuffing of the omlettes compliments the cheese in it very well (we have had all of them and recommend the Mediterranean omlette). The skirt steak sandwich has a delicate Chmicuri-style sauce that will satisfy the ardent carnivore. Their lemonade and iced-tea is served in cute jar-mugs. The only complaint (if you can call it that) we have is that the tables near the door are exposed to the elements, so we would suggest that you sit at the inner tables. Its great for big or small groups and is ideal for people-watching for both guys and girls. Although you may have to wait for a table sometimes, it is never longer than 5-10 minutes. A must go to place. Since most of our trips there are spontaneous, the photographer is usually without his camera. We will correct it on our next trip there.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Ambience: 9/10

 Follow Me Café, 62nd St and Lexington, NYC


Febuary 2, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Barking Dog: Good for big groups


The Barking Dog was recommended to us by a friend who stays across the street from it. It is unlike your regular diner. It is rather cozy with a hip ambience and a good song selection of the top 20 hits. Beyond that, there is much scope of improvement in the food and the service. Our waiter looked like he was dragged out of bed and took our order rather reluctantly. He was, however, quick to get our food. They were accomodating to our group of five and we saw many other big groups, especially in bigger, round tables in the far corners. The foodie got the poached eggs with bacon, sausage and biscuit. The egg was still swimming in water and the biscuit was cold and tasteless (maybe she is spoiled by Alice's tea cups scones!). The others ordered omeletes which were rather nice, so you should stick to them as they are relatively hard to screw up (although you would be surprised about that too if you go to Brio). 
Our bill was $16 per person which is not bad considering the diner food and above average ambience. We recommend if you are part of a big group and omlettes are all you care about. Alternatives to the Barking Dog include Vinyl. Annie's was a great UES spot for brunch but unfortunately they are all boarded up now.

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Ambience: 7/10

Barking Dog: 1678, 3rd avenue

January 27, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tavern On The Green: Checked off the list

Zagat had warned us to go for the view not the food, so we kind of knew what we were risking. However, it was Restaurant Week in New York- 2 weeks (twice a year) where the usually unthinkably expensive New York City restaurants have a special 3-course restaurant week menu. This cold friday evening, we decided to try out Tavern on the Green in the western side of Central Park and 67th street. We waited for our table in the fancy bar which looked much like a palace set from one of those historical movies. The decor was plush with velvet seats, huge chandeliers, glass, mirrors and thick carpeting (bordering on stuffy, depending on what you are used to). I guess we partly paid for the decor with our $20 cocktail (gratuity and tax included). The dinner was nothing to write home about and was quite disappointing for a place of this much fame (or hype? probably hype). So as not to make lowly patrons squirm in their plaid dining chairs, the wines in double digit dollar amounts were printed in bold in their wine menu. The waitress (they want to refer to themselves as 'captains' for some reason) could not recommend a single sweet red wine from the entire list. The lobster bisque (appetizer) had too much salt but was creamy, the organic chicken entree was average and the chocolate cake tasted like it was bought from the neighborhood diner in a jiffy. The photographer's salmon entree was exactly like the salmon he eats in his university cafeteria every Tuesday for $5.95. Service was similarly dismal - we had to return water with ice twice after having told our server that everyone of us will take water without ice. What is with restaurants and ice in the water anyway? The time they took in getting us the water without ice made us wonder if they are actually waiting for the ice to melt.

In summary, we would suggest you visit Tavern on the Green only if you have fantasized about it since childhood and can afford to be laden in fur and adept at air-kissing. You can apparently take a horse-drawn carriage to the place. You will probably need that memory to tide over the horrible food and service.

Food: 5/10
Service: 4/10
Ambience: 9/10

Tavern On The Green: Central Park at 67th Street

January 25, 2007

Hangawi: They call it the vegetarian shrine

We went to this place for a friend's birthday in a big group and had a great time. This Korean vegetarian place was surprisingly picked by a more carnivorous friend. Relaxing ambience with low seating, candles, earthen colours and endless cups of sake made for perfect setting to catch up with friends. Appetizers were a delight and I would particularly recommend the Emperor rolls. These thin pancakes wrapped in picked vegetables served with a special ginger chutney were delicious. Tofu Stone Bowl Rice was recommended to us by everyone who had been here before so that is what I ended up ordering. However, I found it a little dry, it may be a good order with some sauce (spicy chilli mushrooms anyone?). Photographer's Mongolian hot pot was hot spicy and flavourful, perfect for the cold winter evening and my top pick among the entrees order on our table. Our bill was $45 per person, including the mandatory 20% gratuity.

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

Hangawi: 12 East 32nd Street, NYC

January 22, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Subtle Tea: Between Lunch and Dinner

We went there to pass time before a dinner reservation for which we were an hour too early (I know!) and left glad to discover this gem of a place. The decor was chic with one wall lined with colourful teapots and mugs and long communal table lined with magazines. It seemed like a place I could sit for hours with a book and cup of one of the 100 teas (you can smell the tea before you order!). The crowd was diverse with members of a knitting club on one side of the table and some college kids scattered on the cushions by the side. Foodie claimed that her hot chocolate was the best she has had ever and the Photographer's cold chaser tea did what it promised, helped to relieve his cold. The pumpkin walnut scone was low on sugar and a perfect accompaniment to our hot drinks. Our total cheque was the three items was $6.

Drink: 9/10
Service: NA
Ambience: 7/10

Subtle tea: 121 Madison avenue
January 22, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sarabeth's: Underwhelming

We wanted to go for brunch at Sarabeth's for a while. We finally got enough people for a reservation (they only take reservations for 6 or more) at this chi-chi 'highly recommended' Central Park South eatery. Our experience could be best described as underwhelming. 
There was no creativity in the menu as one would expect from a place voted in the past as the best brunch place in town. The food was average but the service totally put us off. Our waitress took so long getting the milk that our coffees were cold. On asking for a wine recommendation, she replied "I don't know. I've never had these wines". The wine we ordered was not in stock and the one that was finally given to us was like sugar syrup and couldn't be finished. Maybe the lacklustre service was because they add 18% gratuity to the bill for a party of 6 or more? For our second round of coffees, one of us had to get up to request the waitress to get the milk! We were very disappointed with both the food and service, so we won't be going back. Brunch entree's listed between $10-15. 
Food: 7/10 
Service: 4/10
Ambience:   7/10

Sarabeth's- Central Park South, between 5th and 6th Ave, NYC
Jan 12, 08
Image: From Sarabeth's website

Ino: No Eggs Benedict- in a good way

We braved 20 deg F (that's -10 deg C) to try this quaint brunch place in West Village. A wine bar by night, this friendly place attracted the Foodie's attention for NOT having Eggs Benedict in its brunch menu- something that no other brunch place worth its pancakes would do. This place is famous for its Truffled Egg Toast and we see why. A kind of poached egg served on a crusty focaccia type base with steamed asparagus and a delicate flavor of truffle oil. Foodie says truffle oil elevates common dishes to a-la-gourmet. The seating is cramped, yet cozy. The tables have to be slid with precision so as to let the lady sit while not knocking off the Photographer's panino. Very reasonably priced at $12 which includes coffee/tea/fresh OJ with your brunch entree.  

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

Ino- 21 Bedford Street, NYC
Jan 20, 08

Description of the authors

The Foodie: Loves to eat and loves to cook. Loves to travel the world and has what might be described as a somewhat adventurous palate. Bad food is a crime and doesn't believe in giving places with bad food (or bad service) another shot. She has an MBA and is an investment banker by day. Very strong family history of creativity, art and good taste.

The Photographer: Doesn't really care about food that much. But 'goes places with The Foodie' would be a horrible blog title. Just started dabbling in photography. Holds advanced degrees in Chemistry and Biology. Mixologist. Looks for unconventional ways of doing stuff. Obsesses about photography equipment, hence the name.

Together they are out to categorize the world!

Tasting, tasting 1,2,3...

Oh! so you are funny eh?