With the opening of Brazilia Café , grab-and-go dining just got classy.
Brazilia Café aims to be a unique beast, a combination café, juice bar, and to-go food spot where everything is made impeccably with seasonal ingredients and top-notch java. While this kind of spot is common for businessmen lunches, it’s usually typified by burnt coffee and old, boring, overpriced food. Brazilia will turn that on its head, with its emphasis on excellence in each of its many arenas.
East & West, the newest dining addition to hit Yotel New York, is a blend of concepts that is not as overt as it is implicit, and not as gaudy as it is complimentary.
Located on the fourth floor of Yotel, an array of tastes and textures can be found on the deceptively explorative menu created by Executive Chef Bradley Day.
There are both shareable appetizers and large entrees which can be mixed and matched with ease. East & West offers cross-continental combinations, such as Swine Candy (spiced & candied smithfield bacon, $6) along with Bánh mì & Sweet Potato Fries (8-hour pork belly, spicy napa salad, pickled carrots, pâté & miso mayo, $15). The swine candy, both sharp and flavorful, was served over fried leeks in a stemless wine glass. The generous slabs of bacon were too stiff to be cut with a knife, so we turned to breaking them into manageable halves using my hands. We may have taken the "candy" part too literally, but, hey, one can never be disappointed when bacon lives up to its name.
The idea of an upscale, food and cocktail-oriented sports bar seems like a contradiction of terms, yet the Ainsworth Park makes it feel obvious. With an eclectic mix of top 40, dance, and retro music piping through the room, flatscreens lining the wall behind the bar, and a menu of elevated pub food, the Ainsworth feels like nowhere else: the stylish gastropub cross-pollinated with the after-work hangout bar. The careful balancing act is also applied to the décor, which has made overtures to sophistication in its chandeliers dotting the room, hipster trendiness with its exposed brick walls, and sports bar cheesiness with decorative pillars lined with fake grass.
Have you ever heard of a NYC restaurant that doesn’t have a website or even a way to preview the menu beforehand?
Enter Chalk Point Kitchen, a new Soho restaurant from Executive Chef Joe Isidori and restaurateur Matt Levine. Isidori, from the late Carroll Gardens spot, Arthur on Smith, has described the new restaurant's menu as having a strong focus on “organic vegetables, seafood, and local produce.” Too bad that is the only information you’ll get about the menu--that is, unless you check it out in person. And as Beyonce learned with the massive success of her surprise album last December, people love a well-kept secret.
For one weekend only, Alex Mitow, the mastermind behind Los Perros Locos, brings you the All-American Diner: !A Pop Up!. Offering affordable, lively dinner parties this four day extravaganza promises to take one of NYC’s most unassuming venues, the now defunct Noah’s Ark, and turn it into an “over-the-top underground performance art, music, and culinary space.” Take part in a Debaucherous DISCO Diner Dinner, featuring Andrew Andrew and the Azucar DJs, or enjoy a Pan-Latin Night hosted by Dominican Hipsters, the Dip-Sters crew, and an S&M Sunday Gravy; whichever night you chose will be alive with food and fun.
Au Za’atar is a unique French Lebanese restaurant on the corner of Avenue A and 13th Street in the East Village. The fusion of these two countries’ delicious cuisines was enough to peak our interest, and their extensive menu really sealed the deal. A true family-run restaurant on a busy East Village street, we opted for outdoor seating to enjoy people watching and the great weather, but the inside was divine too. Covered in wood, with romantic lighting and a sizable bar, in the colder months we would certainly enjoy dining indoors. We would also recommend this spot for large parties, as there is space to push tables together, and this would truly be the best way to experience all the appetizers on Au Za’atars menu.
Piano music plays softly in the background. The room is dimly lit, accenting the floor to ceiling windows that overlook the dusk Manhattan skyline. Mulling about are the musings of people from all walks of life, sneaking bites of cheese in between swirling ruby colored droplets in crystal goblets. Chic women with high cheekbones and no makeup offer to walk you through the fruit of their vineyard’s labor, while men with questionable dental hygiene smile and courteously offer a taste to ‘le mademoiselle’. Classy, polished, and utterly European, the event organized by Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux, a fledgling new union uniting both Left and Right Bank winemakers, put forth a wonderful evening glorifying the hearty elegance of French wines.
“Why did you choose to include this on your menu?”
“...because I like it!”
This simple conversation with Alessandro Bandini, wine director at Da Marcella Taverna (142 W. Houston Street), encompasses the intimate style and atmosphere of this restaurant more than any lengthy description could. By dining at this establishment, one is able to step away from the constant rush of New York City to find him- or herself transported to a comfortable, relaxed setting where the goal is to offer a quality meal to be savored and enjoyed. Removing the aspect of fine or, dare we say, pretentious dining, there are no egos to be found. Here, all guests become family.
Replacing the legendary celeb hangout Elaine’s, The Writing Room has had a lot to prove in its short life. It’s a testament to how stellar the new restaurant is, from its intimate décor to its hearty modern American menu, that it has already won a following from Elaine’s old fan club.
Now the Writing Room will double their goodwill as they double their happy hour.
For Spring, the Writing Room is opening its doors at 4pm, and will offer a 20% off happy hour from 4-6pm and after 10pm from Monday to Saturday. From 4-5pm there will be a limited menu, but for all other hours the full menu has 20% knocked off.
In an increasingly alienated, gentrified city, real community events are becoming harder to come by. This past Wednesday, though, we came upon that rare beast: a real community event that managed to be both fun and authentic.
Taste of Fifth brought together 40 restaurants from Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue at the iconic Grand Prospect Hall. A gigantic gold-gilted, ornately decorated hall housed a totally sold-out crowd, and as soon as you walked through the doors you recognized the familiar, communal air of the event. A jazz band from local school MS51 played on a raised stage, and Brooklynites young and old milled around and chatted amiably.
If you’ve looked outside recently, you already know that spring has sprung (fingers crossed, no jinxes), and with the blooms on the trees and the warming weather, a number of food festivals celebrating the best of NYC are also fast approaching.
One of the most exciting among them is Queens Taste, the Queens Economic Development Corporation/Queens Tourism Council’s annual foodie blowout. Queens, the largest of the five boroughs, is also one of the most diverse, and Queens Taste exists to highlight what that diversity lends to the Queens culinary scene. In honor of the event’s 11th anniversary and the globe-spanning nature of Queens’ many communities, this year’s theme is the World’s Fair. That means World Fair memorabilia, decorations, and guest veterans of the 1964 World Fair, which took place in Q-Town itself.