Mercat & The Bowery Hotel

A quick recap today on a night out I had with D.E.C. last week. First up was dinner at Mercat, a fairly new tapas joint in Nolita. I have to say first that I LOVED the space. It was much cozier than I pictured, dark wood, exposed brick, open kitchen, wine bottles, steel - a perfect place for a fall/winter dinner outing. We had a bunch of tapas and split them: the tomato bread (heavy on the garlic but juicy from the tomato), patatas bravas (spicy potatoes with an interestingly smokey flavor), crispy pork belly with brussel sprouts and preserved cherries (the brussels were a bit too al dente for me), a tortilla with egg, carmelized onions, potato and chorizo (I'll have that for breakfast any day!), salt cod fritters and red peppers stuffed with short rib (my favorite of the night). I paired it all with a Txocoli which was brilliant as usual. D.E.C. & I both enjoyed all of the food however our only complaint was that EVERYTHING was too salty. I'd definitely go back and try it again in the hopes of getting a different chef who doesn't own stock in Morton's Salt.

After dinner we had drinks at in the lounge at The Bowery Hotel, where we were warmly greeted by our bartendar at the back bar. He gave us a taste of all 5 of the reds and we went with glasses of Cote du Rhone and a Cabernet. The space is pretty decent sized so it wasn't overly crowded, although I didn't much care for the antiquey/mismatched decor. The strange thing is that they place no music - I guess I should say the good thing so that you can have an actual conversation without screaming. Overall, it was a good experience and nowhere near as bad as drinks on the Bowery usually are.

Happy Halloween!


Young Frankenstein

Last night it was off to see the big musical blockbuster of the Fall season Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein. I have to start of this review by saying I'm not a Mel Brooks fan, nor a fan of the movie, so keep that in mind. First off, the star of the show, Roger Bart was out due to back issues. Thank god, I say, since I really don't care for him (he kind of creeps me out). The understudy did a great job in the Dr. Frankenstein role regardless. The biggest commercial name on the marquee is Megan Mullally. Basically she brought her usual Karen Walker to the role of Elizabeth. The real show stealer was Andrea Martin in the role of Frau Blucher, basking in the deadpan humor. There were definitely some fun moments in the show, especially the "Hayride" sequence with Sutton Foster. Many of the special effects were cool and you can tell that they've sunk some money into this production. But all in all the glitz cannot save a script that dragged on way too much for me. As for the music, there were a few catchy tunes, but nothing that would make me visit iTunes to download once the cast recording is released. Even though I didn't love this show, the majority of the audience seemed to, and I predict it may still very well clean up at the 2008 Tony's. It really is what it's supposed to be - one big tourist trap.

Sinead O'Connor

Tuesday night I went to see Sinead O'Connor at the Beacon Theater with the extremely pregnant Suz. I have to start by saying my main reason for going to the show was that I somehow scored 4th row seats. I had seen Sinead a few times years ago, right around the time when she was doing all the crazy stuff like ripping up the picture of the pope, and the shows were always amazing so I figured what the hell.

I'm not so surprised to say that years later she still doesn't dissappoint (and was still being just as bitchy to her stage crew!). Arriving on stage promptly at 9pm wearing a baggy suit and white dress shirt, she dove right in with "The Emperor's New Clothes". AMAZING! Here voice is still in great form, although she doesn't even make an attempt anymore to hit those signature high notes. Much of the material for the show came from her second album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, including "Three Babies", "Black Boys On Mopeds", "I Am Stretched On Your Grave", "Nothing Compares 2 U" and my fav of the night "Last Day Of Our Acquaintance". Sadly, she only dipped into The Lion And The Cobra once for "Never Get Old". I yelled out for her to play "Troy" and she heard me and said something to the effect that it's too painful for her to play it and that she won't play it anymore. Boo! That AND no "Mandinka". Oh well. The rest was pretty cool. Oh, except for stuff from her new album Theology - that was all WAY too biblical for me! Overall though, a really good show!


8th Street Wine Cellar

Saturday night I stopped in at the latest wine bar to hit below 14th Street, 8th Street Wine Cellar. Brought to you by the former bartenders of Union Square Cafe, this is a warm space with friendly hosts and a good selection of wines & nibbles. I started the night with a crisp Orvietto ($8), then moved on to red and had a couple of glasses of the Cabernet ($14). Both were excellent choices. We paired this with 2 types of bruschetta ($3 each) - one was butternut squash with pear chutney and goat cheese (this one was OUT OF THIS WORLD and PERFECT for Fall!) and the other with braised escarole, white beans, raisins and pine nuts. Oh, and we had pigs in a blanket ($6) which are always good for soaking up the booze. Definitely add this place to a stop on your W. Village wine circuit!

BLT Fish

Friday I had lunch with the boys at BLT Fish Shack, another outpost in the Laurent Tourondel empire. I have to start off by saying I definitely likely this one WAY more than Brasserie Ruhlman. First off, while we were browsing the menu our server brought us a complementary round loaf of cheesy garlic bread that was heavenly. At that point we knew we were off to a good start. For starters I had a cup of clam chowder (definitely decent, however not completely up to my New England standards) and the "spicy & greasy" fried calamari (perfectly cooked - actually not greasy at all - and the side dipping sauce had a nice kick). For a main I had the lobster cobb salad. I'd have to say it was almost perfectly done - I loved the dressing, there was plenty of lobster and there was even fresh corn it in that had been cut right off the cob. My cohorts both had the fish with lemon hollandaise (one had skate, the other organic salmon) and both were extremely pleased (I dipped a few of the shoestring fries in the sauce and would definitely go back for that sauce alone!). I paired all of this with a great Txakoli (my new favorite Spanish white - similar to a pino grigio but with a wee bit of bubble). Service was on top of it and the decor had a nice New England feel. Definitely a place to keep on the old standby list for when you are in the Flatiron area.


Free Popcorn!

Attention popcorn lovers! Decadent favorite Dale And Thomas are giving away 2 free bags of popcorn for a limited time (you just have to pay the $5.90 shipping) to celebrate their anniversary. I've had their popcorn fresh from their Times Square location and let me tell you it's out of this world! Get in there!


Doxie Day!

Saturday is the annual Dachshund Octoberfest at noon in Washington Square Park. It's when hundreds of doxies converge on the arch and take over the park and rock it out! We know who will be the star of the show for sure!


Happy Zagat Day!

The 2008 NYC Zagat Survey is out today. Get out there, pick one up and get eating people!


The Orchard

Friday I had dinner with a*holes at The Orchard, a restaurant that had been compared to me as the Little Owl / Hearth of the L.E.S. I have to say in some ways this statement is very true. Let's just jump right into the food since I have to say that EVERY bit of it was notable, if not SPECTACULAR! My first course was the yellowfin tuna tartare with crispy tostones, guacamole, whipped red onions creme fraiche ($16) - a very fresh take on an overdone staple with a perfect balance of spice/sweetness/acidity. LOVED! Another notable starter that I tasted was the flatbread topped with braised short ribs, marinated cherry tomatoes, sweet horseradish cream ($13) - sweet & decadent with a little kick. For a main I had the olive oil poached halibut with crispy artichoke hearts and lemon confit ($27). A gorgeous piece of fish and the artichokes with the lemon was fresh and sweet (overall the dish was a bit heavy yet very simple and original). The other notable main was the handkerchief pasta with pulled duck confit, sweet balsamic onions, baby carrots and a creamy port wine sauce ($25). WOW - I don't even eat duck but this was rich and very comforting! All of my meal was paired with a 2005 Kaliedo Malbec that was light with a bit of spice at an extremely reasonable $36/bottle. Service was VERY top notch (although sadly, it was our server's last night there). Now here it comes - my only complaint: the decor. Yikes - WAY too 80's prom function room for me. It had a pink/peach hue in a room lined by mirrors. PLEASE change the decor! When I return (which I definitely will), I will be grabbing a seat at the bar (or one of the few tables out by it) to avoid having to sit in those surroundings. Hmmm . . . maybe some people won't be as offended by it . . . I'll leave that up to you to decide.


El Quinto Pino

Stopped in the other night at the new teensy tapas bar in W. Chelsea called (quite appropriately)El Quinto Pino (it's the off-shoot of Tia Pol, but even smaller). 1/2 of the space is taken up by the bar which has about 15 stools, and the rest is a small counter (big enough to just rest a plate or glass) along the perimeter of the wall that requires standing. Luckily we were there early enough to get seats, but sadly the stools were as hard as a rock (so hard I was still feeling it the effects the next day!). Anyway, as with Tia Pol, you're not there to be comfortable. El Quinto Pino offers about 12 different tapas dishes. We tried a bunch - the best of which was the fried salt cod - light, airy and delicatly fried. The olives were just standard green olives in oil (zzzzzzzzz), the garlic shrimp were nicely done, although the shrimps were TINY and so was the portion (as are all the portions there). Both of the cheeses we tried were both good, but were slivers (one was the special of the night but I liked the one on the menu better personally - it had more of a bite). I tried 2 different wines - one medium bodied red and one a bit fuller (I can't remember the types- they were not standard issue Tempernillo), both were good, especially at $8/glass. I'd say this place is a good stop pre-gallery hopping in Chelsea. I just wouldn't recommend staying too long though since it's a bit hard on the wallet and the bum!

Red Carpet Massacre On Broadway!

In celebration of their upcoming CD "Red Carpet Massacre", Duran Duran are playing 9 shows in early November at the Barrymore Theater. Insanity, I tell you! The band will be previewing the entire new album in its entirety, as well as many of the classic hits (um, guys, PLEASE do not forget about The Chauffeur!) Pre-sale tickets are already on-sale to Citi Card members (and let me tell you, fello Duranies, I already got my front-row-center seats for one of the nights!). The full-on on-sale date is this Saturday at 9am through Telecharge. Get in there people - this is one show of the Fall that is NOT to be missed!