Tag Archives: restaurants

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef

On 1st Avenue between 9th Street and St. Marks Place you’ll find a tiny sandwich place barely big enough to turn around in. It’s fitting, because I wouldn’t recommend leaving anyway.  The place is “This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef” and it’s sole purpose is serving up hot roast beef sandwiches so delicious even the most hardened Philly cheese steak enthusiast would give a tip of their Eagles cap to the chef.  (Yes, they come with cheese wiz.)  Perhaps the msot interesting aspect of the shop is the decor — a seemly endless assortment of bills, written on in Sharpy and taped to the walls and cieling.

The food becomes secondary as you scan the hundreds of bills, each unique and telling some sort of story (Mookie visited NYC 9-26-10 and “Dave P. Runs this sho”).  But then the sandwich is placed on the counter and the full scene starts to take shape – the strangely textured walls, the cramped space, the savory aroma of perfectly cooked roast beef on a hero with aujus and cheeze wiz filling the air.  It truly is a carnivore’s fairy tale.


This Way: roast beef on a roll with aujus and cheez wiz.

That Way: roast beef on Italian bread hero with gravy and fresh mozzarella.

The Other Thing: pastrami on rye with coleslaw and spicy brown mustard.

Something Else: roast beef on Italian bread hero with cheez wiz, fresh mozzarella, gravy, aujus & hand-cut fries.

There is also beef stew and some sides. But really all you need is the roast beef, aujus and cheese wiz. Any way you slice it, if you like roast beef sandwiches, consider This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef to be the Arby’s on steroids. Delicious.


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Kettle of Fish: Doesn’t the Sign Go on the Outside?

The sign used to be outside, at the bar’s old location. And when I say old, I mean it. Kettle of Fish has been around in one iteration or another for 60 years, always in the Village, always a good time. In the 50s the beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (who has a photo of himself in front of the then outside ‘BAR’ sign) and the like would hang out there. Since the beat went on, a host of journalists, musicians and New York personalities have frequented the place.  Students in my writing class have even met there to review work (even though the famous beat poets never hung out at this location) and I give it my drinking stamp of approval, for what it’s worth. Just don’t look for it by the side. Sometimes they draw the shades.

Check out this video from the bar’s website. It pretty much says it all.
View Larger Map

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Lelabar Decorates the Street in NYC’s West Village

At first glance I thought, jeez, why would someone knock over those pots full of corks in the little plot of dirt on the sidewalk. Then I thought, wait, why are the corks there anyway?  With this thought process you’d think I already had a few chiantis at Lelabar, the West Village wine bar responsible for the decoration.  You can find random flower assortments and even some doodads, yes doodads, in plots throughout the village.  But I have to give it to Lelabar for the themed arrangement. Definitely makes it more interesting.

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The West Village’s Best Kept Morning Secret

I’m sitting here in the Path Cafe in NYC’s West Village. If you exit the Christopher Street Path train station and turn right you can’t miss it. It’s so close my seat rumbles every time a train passes underneath. The place has free internet, decent coffee, average-price but tasty soups and paninis.  I just finished a delicious breakfast sandwich with fluffed egg whites, sauteed spinach and melted low-fat Swiss cheese on a 7-grain roll.  The best part — I’m the only one here.

I do a lot of writing. And, when you live in a Smart Car-sized apartment, you need to find good places to clear your head and write.  I’ve tried Starbucks, and I continue to try Starbucks all over the city. But, oh my God are those places busy and noisy and becoming scenes more and more each day.  So far, the Starbucks at 18th and Park is the only one where I’ve churned out more than a paragraph without spazzing.  There’s a Starbucks just three blocks from where I sit now and I bet it’s packed. I’ve tried to write there often before work only to get so frustrated that I leave and end up at work early. Can you think of anything worse?

Why aren’t there more people here? Maybe it’s because the restroom is for customers only.  Bruce, the man behind the counter, is a nice guy.  For the few people that have come in, he knows what they want before they finish, even remembering that one woman eats her bagel with tomato, cream cheese and “hot sauce.”  And the music is good too.  It’s chill.  Bob Marly’s “Stir it Up” is playing as the sun peaks over the roof of a building on Hudson and Christopher. Life is good at the Path Cafe. I just hope it’s good for the owners too.  I’d like this place to stick around for a while.

The Path Cafe – 131 Christopher St. NY, NY

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Pat LaFrieda says “Eat my meat.”

Usually, when one comes across a cut of meat, or even a sign for meat, he thinks, “Meat? I eat that stuff.”  To trim away any possible confusion when faced with a thick, juicy rib eye or a chicken wing, wholesale meat purveyor Pat La Frieda has a sign that is sure to help. Eat the damn thing!



It seems that every New York publication and “you got to try this” website has come across Pat’s wholesale meats at one time or another. The company has a long standing history in New York City, and I’m sure that they offer nice product. Over 400 of the city’s restaurants seem to think so. And the coolest thing about Pat LaFrieda Wholesale Meats is that it’s located at the corner of Washington St. and Pat LaFrieda Lane. How cool is that?  His own street in New York! How can you not eat his meat?

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Where can a guy get a damn cupcake around here?

Sweet Revenge: The Next Best Thing to Beef Jerky

Sweet Revenge: A Real Man's Cupcake Joint

Let me just say that the sangria was seriously strong, ok?  Like, taking a shot of Jack and doing push ups while watching the training scene in Rocky IV kind of strong.  Oh, who am I kidding?  The sangria was perfectly fine and the cupcakes were on the verge of to die for.  Wait, did I say cupcakes?  Cupcakes and sangria?  Please, don’t take my man card away!  I was only at Sweet Revenge, a West Village cupcake, artisan sandwich, savory cake and wine/beer bar with a few women from my writing class.  I mean, a few dudes I trade motorcycle accident stories with.

Sweet Revenge is a hip place and I really respect the owner, Marlo Scott, who I only later learned was the woman working behind the bar and serving tables.  (Click here for her story)  I’d never experienced anything like this place before — cupcakes paired with wines or beers.  You can order separately, but I was so curious as to how one pairs a peanut butter and chocolate ganashe cupcake with booze that I had to try it.  You should too. So good.

Sweet Revenge: 62 Carmine St. between Bedford and 7th Ave.

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Spaghetti Primavera is a Rock Star?

Can you imagine a time when spaghetti primavera was “the most talked about dish in Manhattan”? Or even discussed outside a conversation between a patron and the waiter taking the order? I certainly can’t. But the New York Times just put out an interesting piece on the dish and it’s heyday in the late 70’s. Apparently the spaghetti primavera at Le Cirque was a bonafide rock star.

Le Cirque’s Spaghetti Primavera
Published: May 17, 2009
Meant to be an expression of spring, the mad jumble of vegetables over pasta was mostly an expression of the death match between French and Italian cuisine. Click here for the full article.
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Still No Energy Kitchen in Flatiron, NYC

On February 27th I reported that the Energy Kitchen is coming to Flatiron. 23rd street to be exact. I promised to keep you updated. Well, it still hasn’t arrived. Everything looks the same as it did and I’m not sure what the inside scoop is.

Click here to read the original post and see a shot of the storefront, unchanged. https://ispynyc.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/energy-kitchen-coming-to-flatiron/

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The Sunburnt Cow Bends Over Backwards

Although it sounds more like a yoga position than commentary on a lively East Village bar, my experience at The Sunburnt Cow (137 Avenue C) this Saturday left me reflecting on the value of customer service in a city where the pool of customers is seemingly bottomless.

Our group was large – 13 for dinner – with a few more meeting up later for drinks in celebration of my girlfriend’s birthday.  The Sunburnt Cow stood out in our choices of a location because of the party space, cheap food and a $20 all you can drink for two hours special.  It’s a funky place with one full wall of exposed brick, a projection screen video playing an assortment of clips behind the bar and of course, red cow-print bar stools and cow-print pillows lining the lounge section. Sealing the deal for us – it was named by New York Magazine in a piece on the Top 5 Bars for Birthdays.

Although our 9:00 reservation had been changed to 9:30 by the bar two days before, everyone in our young and energetic party accepted the time as New York normal. We waited outside and chit chatted for a bit, content that we’d be seated soon. Instead, 9:45 rolled around and the group occupying our table hadn’t even ordered desert. We waited.

Playing the in-control boyfriend role, I went inside to either get a time when we would be seated or to tell the manager that we were leaving to get a few slices across the street. I made sure to hand off my party bag of Crumbs cupcakes to a friend who stayed outside before heading in. You simply can’t argue with someone while holding a bag full of rainbow sprinkle cupcakes.

My quest for answers brought me to Heathe, the owner of The Sunburnt Cow and Bondi Road, a beach-themed bar/eatery at 153 Rivington. He’s had the place for six years and it would quickly become apparent why the Sunburnt Cow has lasted in a time when many bars and independent restaurants have had to close up shop. With a growling stomach I reminded Heathe of our reservation and that I had twelve people outside whose sole purpose for the evening was to eat and drink in his bar.

“You’re all waiting outside?” he asked in a thick Australian accent. (The bar serves a few Australian brews like Cooper’s and Toohey’s.)

I told him about the 45 minute wait, the birthday and a litany of other concerns.

“Well, hell mate,” he said, “bring everyone inside for a round of drinks on me. Whatever you want. That table’s just not budging right now. I’m really sorry.”

I thanked him, still trying not to appear a pushover, but in my mind I was thinking hmm, that was actually pretty nice of him. All things being equal, it was more than frustrating that the group in front of us was carrying on well into our time, but what could the bar do at this point? Make them leave?

Without hesitation, the bartender gave us whatever we wanted to drink. The cold booze was helping to smooth things over, but the party in front of us still showed no signs of leaving. They hadn’t even gotten the bill.  Every now and then, Heathe would come by in a rush, apologizing and expressing his hopes for the table to open up. “Soon, friends. Soon!” he’d say. Ten more minutes went by and he came by with a suggestion.

“How about some calamari and appetizers at the bar on me?”

As our drinks dried out the scramble for food began. Four bowls of calamari and three sundae glasses loaded with what they call the Classic Aussie Shrimp Cocktail lined the bar. The calamari was good, crispy, what I’d expect. The shrimp cocktail was more like a shrimp slaw than a cocktail, with a hint of lime juice to cut through the mayo. I’m guessing that’s the “Aussie” style.

The table didn’t open up until 10:30. When it did, Heathe or a welcoming waitress was by every few minutes or so to make sure that we had everything we needed. Sometimes we didn’t – an order taking longer than hoped for, a missing drink – but overall the servers were trying their best amidst a bar packed to the doors and a kitchen staff who should have been washing dishes at this point in the night instead of plating them.

We were offered the table for the remainder of the night and even though we decided to meet up with other friends at another bar, we could have just as easily stayed and drank for the rest of the night for $20. As my girlfriend and I were walking out Heathe stopped us to share a birthday shot of blended fruit juice and vodka. It was a nice way to cap off the visit and a nice touch by a guy who, frankly, couldn’t have done more to help us have a great time.

Would I go back? Yeah. We did later that night for more drinks. I’d hesitate to go again with such a large party for dinner unless we could secure an earlier reservation. Ten o’clock is simply too late to eat at a place where the bar is the main attraction. But maybe it was just a tough night and maybe it would have been different had we been able to reserve the spacious, full-service back room.  After all, it was a fun atmosphere and everything is VERY reasonably priced. If you’re a day drinker, The Sunburnt Cow offers a popular brunch menu, where $18 gets you everything, including all-you-can-drink Moo Mosas, Moo Marys and Fosters.

Overall, in a city where smugness is chic, it is beyond refreshing to find people like Heathe and his staff bending over backwards to see to it that their patrons are satisfied. Their unflinching optimism, inclusivity and Aussie hospitality help to make a bad situation bearable and a good night great.

Check it out for yourself at 137 Avenue C, New York City. For info on The Sunburnt Cow or Bondi Road, go to http://www.thesunburntcow.com.

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Left Over St. Patty’s Day Stuff

I just thought this was hilarious. Found on Christopher Street but, it’s terrible of me, I forget the name of the place. Anyone help me out?

Those Irish Peruvians!

Those Irish Peruvians!

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A Pie, a pint, a slice & a shot: Pizza Pub opens on 3rd

All hail the Pizza Pub!  Finally, a new pizza place has opened in Manhattan that sells BOTH pizza and booze. Best of all, it’s cheap. My walk past it on this morning’s commute brought back memories of my Saturday night. A little past one in the morning, after a few pints at the Village Pour House I walked up third, and found myself at the Pizza Pub. I just got two slices of their Margarita pizza. It was a beautiful moment.

In times like these a new place with cheap prices on pizza, $3 pints and a nice, clean atmosphere is a very welcomed addition to the neighborhood.  And the pizza is good! We’ll see if the idea sticks though. Many times the pizza is segmented from the booze. You booze, then you binge. Everything together might prove too much of a good thing, all at the same time. Pure overload. I’ll keep you posted.

The Pizza Pub on 3rd Ave.

The Pizza Pub on 3rd Ave.

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Energy Kitchen Coming to Flatiron

A chain of healthy eating eateries called Energy Kitchen is coming to Flatiron at 18 W. 23rd Street. It’s between 5th and 6th.  They don’t sell caffeine infused turkey sandwiches or xenadrine cocktails, but everything on the menu is under 500 calories and never fried.

According to their website, Energy Kitchen offers a variety of foods that you may find elsewhere, only here they are in extra healthy form. Take the Energy Burger for example. This generally greasy, globby goodness can now be made using much leaner bison meat, three egg whites, low-fat mozzarella, lettuce, tomato on a whole wheat kaiser roll. It comes in at 494 calories, just under the eatery’s limit of 500.

Energy Kitchen Coming To Flatiron

Energy Kitchen Coming To Flatiron

I’m not sure when exactly it will be open but I’ll keep you updated.
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Defonte’s of Brooklyn Coming to Gramercy (2.9.09)

Oh what joy to begin my walk to work only to see a sign on the corner building that Defonte’s Italian Deli, the one that’s been in Brooklyn for over 80 years, is coming to Gramercy.  I won’t even have to cross the street to enjoy their “Sinatra Special” steak pizzaiola.  More details on the move and the place are here, on The Strong Buzz: http://thestrongbuzz.com/buzz/details.php?item_id=668

Defonte's at 21st and 3rd

Defonte's at 21st and 3rd

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