Have wanted to try Kin Shop for ages, as I love anything Thai and don't think there are enough upscale Thai joints in downtown Manhattan. When I found out it was just down the block from my new apartment, it was first on my list to try out.
Granted, when we got there, we were probably 4 drinks deep, so we were absolutely starving and ready to try anything. Everyone on foursquare was saying to try the goat, but that was still too aggressive of a recommendation when there were such beautiful options as red curry with duck and crispy oyster salad. We split the two of those, as well as a broccoli with Chinese sausage.
For drinks - huge score with the Aln. It's pretty much all the flavors I like in a martini, a margarita, and a gin & tonic bundled into one - gin, house-made spicy thai pickle brine & pickled kirby cucumbers.
It's hard to say which was better between the duck and the broccoli - which is to say, the broccoli and Chinese sausage was pretty amazing. It's a must-try among sides. The duck came with a sweet dressing and flatbread - we were drunkenly combining all dishes into mini-pitas and loving every bite. Oyster salad was good too, but didn't stand up nearly as well as the other two.
It's not cheap, but if you're in the West Village and looking for some flavor in a more upscale atmosphere than your average Thai joint - look no further than Kin Shop.
My parents were coming up for the weekend to see my new apartment, in a new neighborhood - so I needed something close by and impressive. A colleague recommended Gradisca - and thank god she did.
My mom is a fantastic cook - Italian is her specialty, so I was a little nervous taking the expert to an Italian spot. It HAD to be good. I read the NYTimes write-up, and despite the fact I'd never heard of it before the recommendation, tried it out.
It's on an adorable tree-lined block in the West Village, and has a bit of outdoor seating in the front. We snagged a table in the first room, and our waiter was all over us instantaneously. He was a little pushy, but had a lot of personality, and recommended a delicious and relatively cheap bottle of chardonnay / sav blanc blend. We started with the special - the softshell crab - which I definitely devoured, but was filled with all the crab guts, etc., and fried like calamari. A better option was the scallops over artichoke hearts - some of the best scallops i've ever had. Super simple, and the artichoke hearts were infused with olive oil and garlic. Delicious.
I asked the waitress "what's better, the tortelli or the..." and couldn't get the other option out before he said "tortelli, hands down." It was fabulous - chive, cheese, light sauce with sauteed mushrooms, garlic...amazing little pasta pockets. My brother had the cavatelli, which were in a simple and fantastic tomato sauce with plenty of garlic. The swordfish puttanesca wasn't exactly puttanesca - TONS of onion and ripe tomato - but I loved it. And my dad was losing his mind over the spinach tagliatelle with goose ragu - it was super rich and tasty.
If you want pasta, Gradisca is hands-down the move. Judging by the scallops and swordfish - which I just devoured leftovers of - the seafood as well.
14th street on the west side- relative wasteland, especially on hot summer days. 7-11, some nail spots, a pinkberry...and Jeanne & Gaston. An unimpressive storefront leading to a dark, but nicely polished bar. The gem is out back - a secret French garden, complete with a fountain, foliage and holiday lights.
We had a table for 7 perfectly situated in this area. The service was certainly friendly, but was S-L-O-W. Good thing we were a large enough group and didn't mind, but it literally took 30 minutes to get our first round of drinks, and then 45 minutes after that to bring our order. Crazy!
Anyway, the food was good and they offer a variety of deals from Groupon and ScoutMob that make everything VERY affordable. The focus is on seafood, with a french flair. We tried the salmon, skate, mussels, and short rib. Cheese plate and crab/avocado napoleon for starters. The skate and the crab/avocado were stars of the show.
Come in nice weather, and if you have time to wait out the slow service.
I feel like I'm getting punk'd here with all the great reviews for the Mac & Cheese. !?!? Did everyone else order a different M&C than I did? What I had was no better than ez-Mac, and was covered in some kind of unexpected spice - Cumin, maybe?...Without any of this delicious tomato accoutrements everyone's raving about. And I was so excited for it, too! They must have changed the dish, because what I had tonight for mac was WACK.
Anyway, moving on from this grave disappointment - The eggplant parm was decent. Extra-small for $21 and vegetable-based, but fine, I guess. Came in a tasty tomato sauce, and was fried, so can't argue with a crispy fried veggie. Risotto that came with the chicken was fine, but very salty! So a failing grade for food, I'd say.
It also took for-ev-er. Like, at least 45 minutes between when the failing mac was brought out and the entrees. It was not even remotely crowded - what the deal!?
To the bright spots: Beautiful garden in the back. Quiet, private, romantic, candle-lit...everything you'd want for a first date to share a bottle of wine or a few cocktails, and it's PRIME location in the WV. Cornelia Street cannot fail.
Service was polite, the hostess was incredibly cheery, and they checked in on us frequently enough. Come for a drink to enjoy the outdoor, romantic seating - just skip the cuisine!
I'd heard a lot about The Cardinal - under the radar, of course - I haven't read a ton of formal reviews, but I somehow knew it was going to be a hit. Maybe because my roommate and I were walking by and she pointed it out, saying she'd heard great things..but I'm just going to let my intuition take credit.
As most bbq joints will, it left me totally disabled, on a Saturday night no less! - rolling on the couch watching a terrible movie and falling asleep for various intervals of said movie. However, I think it might've been worth it. I'll just make sure it's a weeknight next time.
We sat by the window, which is the best seat in the house - it's like a little breakfast bar with street-watching capability. The appetizer was my absolute favorite part - the blue crab hush puppies. It's little balls of cornbread, stuffed with blue crab and some crunchy veggies, with a tartar sauce / hot sauce dipping blend. Awesome. I really found it hard to get past this dish, and would love to break a diet with this every single time I'm falling off the wagon. A must-order.
Then, the rest was pretty typical. We split the bbq platter, so your usual suspects - brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. There was a strange looking sausage in there I absolutely refused to touch, as I don't trust anything that's wrapped in meat casing. They serve the whole thing with 3 different types of bbq sauce - one tomato based, one mustard based, one vinegar based - and you all know how I appreciate dips. I wanted to like the mustard-based one best - but to my dismay, the tomato-based one was far superior! I dipped the pulled pork in it and it was fantastic. I let my friend do the work on the rest of the entree, but tried the ribs as well - super intense.
I'm not going to say it's *as good as* Mighty Quinn's, but it's close - and it's a little bit more formal of a setting. Good for a big group of friends (downstairs), clients (if you're looking for a casual, southern theme), or a date if you tell them about what you're bringing them into beforehand.
I shall leave you with this close-up of Mac & Cheese.
Is that not the most gorgeous asparagus you've ever seen in your life!?
Exceeds expectations x10. Probably my favorite Chinese I've had in NYC thus far.
Checked out Yunnan Kitchen extremely early on a Sunday night after a burst of day drinking, so we were starving and ready to go all out. We were seated right away, and our waiter had a ton of great recommendations and was lightning fast. He totally rocked it from a service perspective - we let him know we were wimps with spicy food, and he customized his suggestions accordingly. Interior is polished, clean, upscale.
Everything is "small plates," but this is the first trendy NYC spot I've found that's priced appropriately with portions. They're $9-$12, and they're actually not all that tiny - 3 are enough for 2 people if you'd like to eat light, and draft wine is priced in glasses or carafes.
We started with a white wine carafe (obviously) and the fried potato balls with Yunnan spices and soy vinegar. They're simply prepared, but the Yunnan spices make it really interesting, and they're good to smash and combine with the Egg Fried Rice with Chinese Chives. This isn't too oily or thick, and the chives are tremendously flavorful. It's a must-order, as it pairs well with everything on the menu and is a pretty huge portion. For veggies, we went with the asparagus, which was a special that night, and was absolutely amazing. Pine nuts, miso, garlic and simmered herbs over sliced asparagus stalks. We probably could have stopped here, but our waiter said the lamb meatballs were the best thing on the menu, so we went for it. Delish, with a kick but not too spicy. AND the waiter threw in a free Chrysanthemum Salad, which was a little bitter but had a tart dressing that totally worked with it and was perfect with the meatballs. We were absolutely rolling out the door when we finished. Can't wait to go again.
Great for a date, and upscale enough for clients. Share everything, drink lots of wine - guaranteed good evening.
TINY FORK IS NOT YET ON YELP.
You heard it here first people...Wasabi Peanut has your reviews before Yelp does.
Anyway, moving on...
Tiny Fork has the best name of all time, but besides this, they have delicious seafood and tasty cocktails. It's massive and airy for a downtown restaurant - 2 large rooms, very high ceilings, lots of light. High bar tables in one room, low seated ones in the dining room. A variety of oysters, and the waitress is knowledgeable about where they're from and what qualities each variety has.
My friend tried the shrimp roll - BIG pieces of shrimp, similar to Luke's, and bangin' fries. I had fries and a whole bunch of Oysters, all of which were...oysters. It's hard to review oysters because they're kind of the same regardless of where you go. But I enjoyed them! I also had an awesome pimms cup cocktail, super light and refreshing. I'd absolutely go back - a great place to take a date, as the food is light and there's a good variety of drinks.
It's not crowded yet, but I bet it will be in a few weeks.
Came to Hasaki at the strong recommendation of a friend, who is also somewhat of a sushi aficionado.
I've actually walked by here many times and always seen it packed, so I was psyched when my friend and I were able to get 2 seats at the bar to share some sushi.
The shrimp shumai was unique - a lot softer, a lot less dumpling style than what I've had at other places around the city. I'm into it. Then, we split spicy tuna & yellowtail scallion rolls (spicy tuna was super creamy), 3 pieces of toro (ballin'), salmon, eel, and more yellowtail. It was all super light and fresh, came out quickly...thumbs up!
Will come back to try the udon.
This place is real freakin' crazy. First, it's massive, and the host will lead you through like 100 rooms before sticking you in a teeny corner table in a room that only contains your table and 1 other, that a family is eating a giant bucket of snails at.
House Special Chicken is all the rage, so I got a half order, and ... it's definitely legit? It's a half of chicken, bones, everything, with SO MUCH GARLIC, I was goin' nuts. The thing is..it's hard to find parts of the chicken that are actually edible. A lot of sinew, bones, skin...in a giant pile..in a salty brother. SO MUCH SALT. and I love salt. So when you got a good bite, it was good, but you really had to work for it and dig through a lot of scary stuff.
My friend got the pork lo mein, which was pretty standard/good - massive portion, lots of bamboo shoots and spring onions.
Service was really slow too.
**Photo taken from Yelp, not mine!**
This place had been on my to-do list for ages, and I'm glad I finally got the chance to check it out - was a wee bit tipsy when I went, so I regret that, as the food was FANTASTIC and I wish I'd been more sober to enjoy it!
Sounds like everyone else went for brunch, but a friend and I checked it out on a Wednesday evening. It was totally full, but they squeezed us into a small two-top next to a large party. I hate bumping elbows with other diners, but alas, it's the West Village. And not JUST the West Village - West 4th, one of my favorite streets in Manhattan.
I wanted. ALL THE SIDES. If I'd been with a bigger party I would've gotten all of them, but we went for the gorgonzola fries. They were surprising, as they weren't infused with gorgonzola crumbles as anticipated, but a sharp cheese DIP. We also had the pistachio crusted goat cheese salad - crunchy and creamy, and the lemon crusted Chilean sea bass. They were bigger portions than I thought they'd be - it looks like the type of place where everything is served on dainty saucers, but not so! Sea bass had an avocado puree (game over) and some other type of potato side that was ultra delicious.
Definitely a good spot to catch up with friends. A little crowded for a date - get a table outside if you do.