Cookshop Cooks It Up!

Just back from my going away lunch at Cookshop. Definitely going to add this one to the rec list! Such a great place for summer - so sunny and airy (although no outdoor space if that's what you like).

For starter I had the spinach salad with Maytag blue cheese, toasted peacans and sherry vinagrette. DELISH! Others in my party had the summer soup (a cold cucumber yogurt soup with a chili oil drizzle) and really liked it.

For the main I had the scallops with sugar snap peas and summer squash which was quite nice. Everyone seemed to enjoy theirs - at my table was also a duck salad entree and a shrimp salad with assorted citrus. I also heard that the BLT was great but a bit overwhelming. The bucket of fries at the table sublemented all of the healthy salads perfectly - and they definitely rivaled those at Pastis.

Dessert was a peppermint ice cream sandwich with hot fudge (YUM!). My only complaint was that the waiter kept taking my wine glass away without asking me if I wanted another one. Doesn't he know that that is where they make all of their money?!??!?! I'm sure his boss wouldn't have liked that too much! Overall though the service was good.

Anyway, I now know what the fuss is about and will definitely be back - especially to give the brunch a try!


Return To The Windy City

Just back from a weekend from Chicago. Inspired me to talk about a few of the old places, along with a few of the new, that I like.

First up is T's. T's is a neighborhood bar (and grill) up north in Andersonville and is my favorite place for summer. Their sidewalk patio is one of the best places in the city to waste away the afternoon with some decent bar food and reasonably priced drinks.

New to the Andersonville neighborhood is Marty's. This small bar martini and wine bar has only a few tables and a long bar. The 2 bartenders were very friendly and knowledgeable. PLUS they had blue cheese martini's which are difficult to find here in NY. This place will be very cozy for winter.

Also new to Andersonville is the chain Hamburger Mary's. The food was LOUSY all around. I would avoid this place and go to T's for a burger. Plus they give you your bill in an old dirty high-heel shoe, which almost made me revisit the food I had just eaten. VERY OVERATED!

On Saturday I went downtown to try to have lunch at Frontera Grill which I LOVE. I was CRAVING the catfish tacos. However, when we arrived there at 2:35pm they told us lunch stopped at 2:30pm. Only in Chicago! NY'ers are barely conscious at 2:30pm! Consequently, we ended up at my favorite cajun joint, Heaven On Seven. As usual the food was great and the hurricanes were even better!

The only other place I tried was Moody's Pub. I was told the burgers were the best. Sadly, they weren't, but they weren't bad either. They have a HUGE outdoor patio so it's another good place to go if you want burgers and beer and to sit outside. The inside was EXTREMELY dark and creepy and I would avoid this place if you can't sit outside.


Accomplice NY

I have a guest blogger recommendation today - this one comes from my co-worker Janet and she loved it!

If you're looking for a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon and you have a yen to really discover Lower Manhattan, Chinatown, and Little Italy check out Accomplice New York, an interactive theater experience.

The three hour odyssey begins with a menacing phone call on your cell telling you where to meet. Your next contact is with a shady character who sends you on a mission that winds through the colorful streets of downtown. Actors in disguise are stationed along the way. Part of the fun is figuring out who is, and who ain't.

Included in the $45 ticket are drinks at several stops and a nice little snack with wine at another. It's great for groups, but they will pair singles and couples with others to make a group of four to eight people.

This Ain't No TV Robot

S'Mac is a new little restaurant opening this week in the East Village that will serve only Mac'n'Cheese, but taken to a new level. Some of the highlights include the Cajun (cheddar & Pepper Jack cheeses, andouille sausage, green pepper, onions, celery, garlic and Cajun seasoning), the Brie (brie, roasted figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms & fresh rosemary) and of course, the All-American (a blend of American & cheddar). All dishes can be made with traditional elbow macaroni or whole wheat pasta and with or without breadcrumbs and are served in a skillet. Portion sizes are titled Nosh, Major Much and Mongo and are all reasonably priced. NY summer may not be the best time to indulge in this comfort food, but definitely keep this one in mind for a rainy day!

Moving On Up

For anyone who doesn't know, I got a new job. Hopefully that won't impact Guest Packets TOO much. I will try to continue posting over the next few weeks as I wrap things up here, take a mini-break and begin over there. The good news is that hopefully the new job will provide a LOT more content since this one actually relates more to my epicurean interests! So please bear with me during the transition time . . .


The Night Listener

I read this AM that the movie version of Armisted Maupin's The Night Listener is finally supposed to be coming out on August 18th. Hopefully it will be great since the book was. Armisted's stuff usually translates very easily into film - especially when he writes the screenplay as he did here. The movies stars Toni Collette, Robin Williams, Bobby Cannavale and Sandra Oh. If you've never seen it, DEFINITELY read and/or watch Armisted's series Tales of the City!


2 Notable Music Releases

Next Tuesday, the new Keane CD is out, titled Under The Iron Sea. The first single, Is It Any Wonder?, rocks! For those of you LUCKY enough to have scored a ticket to their show that sold out in 1 minute - they play next Friday at Bowery Ballroom. If you didn't get a ticket, stalk Ticketweb and maybe they'll come through for you last minute as they have for me many times!

The following Tuesday, the Pet Shop Boys will finally release their new CD Fundamental/Fundamentalism in the U.S. A tour is rumoured to follow.


London Hotel Deal

Now that the details of the end-of-summer London trip have been revealed, I can mention the the hotel I've chosen, The Zetter. Located in an old warehouse in Clerkenwell, the Zetter focuses on design and the essentials - a great bed, superb shower and top-notch in-room entertainment, without a giant pricetag. They have a summer special going on their website for a 3 night weekend stay (they days have to be Fri, Sat & Sun) - check out the European Weekend Saves package. The standard rate for a guest room is 119 GBP + VAT, which the other deal beats significantly. After researching London hotels EXTENSIVELY, I think this place is the way to go - the most bang for the buck if you don't mind staying in the East End (which is the hot place to be nowadays anyway). Full review to follow in September upon my return.


Savory New York

Check out Savory New York to help you with your dining decisions. It pulls all of the information you need together, with links to the restaurant's site, reviews, links to the Citysearch and MenuPages entry, etc. It's one-stop shopping PLUS they have videos of many of the restaurants! I'm adding the link to the left here for quick reference.


Scissors Update

The Scissor Sisters have finally finished up their follow up to their self-titled debut . The sophmore record called "Ta-dah" releases on September 18th, and will be preceded by the single "I Don't Feel Like Dancin" on September 4. The record will feature a guest appearance from Elton John.

Some Girl(s)

Saturday night I went to see my idol Fran Drescher in the new Neil Labute play Some Girl(s) at the Lortel. Needless to say she didn't disappoint. Dramatic, sexy (bordering on dirty) and with no NY accent, Fran embraced the part and showed that she has the versatility to be a stage actress. The play itself was ok, VERY Neil Labute. It's the story of a guy who is engaged and decides to go visit his ex-girlfriends and try to "set things right" with each of them. Over the course we see how horrendous this man really is. Eric McCormack was pretty good as the lead, although after knowing him as Will for so many years it was hard to view him as a smarmy straight alpha-male. Judy Reyes was just GORGEOUS and STOLE the show! Oh, and Maura Tierney was good as well. If you are a fan of LaBute or any of the actors, check this out one - it's a very intimate production which makes it worth committing to the hour-and- a-half!


Ditch Plains

Dinner Friday night was with Kimmi K. and the Lady Spence at Ditch Plains, the new seafood shack from the owners of Landmarc, located in the former Bar D'O/Yumcha space at the corner of Bedford & Downing. This one I'll recommend, even though I was disappointed yet again in the fried clams (although they weren't as bad as the ones at Sascha). Note to NY chefs: please use real whole clams and not clam strips when trying to recreate this New England favorite! First up was one of the specials, a warm shrimp dip, for the table. DELISH! We should've ordered 3! For mains we had the soft shell crab special (2 large lightly friend crabs - not the best I've had but definitely decent), the lobster roll (competitive to that at Mary's/Pearl, etc.) and a side of mac n' cheese (YUM!). There is a great selection of reasonably priced wines (we tried the Syrah recommended by the bartendar which was a PERFECT compliment to the meal!). The room is small and and the bar is lively (they were playing great 80's music). They don't take reservations and the bar gets pretty crowded so this is a place you'll want to hit early or for brunch (which by the way is served all day and night).


The Retail Rumour Mill

One of my favorite U.K chains, Top Shop / Top Man is reportedly hunting for a space for it's U.S. flagship store in SoHo.

Also, Nordstrom is working with Jeffrey Kalinsky from Jeffrey in MePa and Atlanta to finally bring their store to Manhattan. I just want to hear that amazing lady who calmy (though with inflections) announces random people's name's over the tinklings of the piano!

Monday Night Clambakes

At least Manhattanites can PRETEND they are at the beach. Every Monday night from 5p-10p HQ in SoHo offers their weekly Clam Bake. The three-course feast includes choice of New England clam chowder or mixed green salad; the clam bake which consists of 1
1/2 pound of steamed lobster served with Ipswich clams, mussels, chorizo, corn on the cob, new potatoes and drawn butter; and for dessert, either fresh key lime pie with crème chantilly or homemade Valrhona chocolate pudding with caramelized bananas. A bargain @ $37.50 per

Five @ Fives

Looking for an upscale happy hour deal in Midtown? Head over to the Bar At Fives in the Peninsula Hotel. Every evening from 5p-7p, the bar offers 5 different glasses of wine for $5 each, with a weekly changing selection of new discoveries and hard to find gems. Live piano music accompanies your buzz. After the specials end, head upstairs to continue the drinking while taking in the views at the pricier Pen-Top Bar & Terrace.