New York Giveth and New York Taketh

13 10 2009

OK, long time no ROM blog. This is due, in part, to the fact that beloved Persimmon restaurant has gone down in flames and it’s got me down. Well, not literal flames but shortly after I posted, it became, I suppose, yet another victim of the economy. And if it’s not hipsters running back to their wealthy suburban parents then I’m not laughing. Oh Persimmon. I swear, sometimes New Yorkers know dick about food. Why is it that every Saturday I see a line like 30 deep at Clinton Street Bakery? THEY’RE JUST PANCAKES PEOPLE!  I walked in there once looking for a croissant when I lived on Clinton Street in back in 2001. ‘Oh, it’s a sit-down restaurant,’ I thought to myself, ‘why do they call it a bakery?’ Needless to say there were no croissants. Savages. Man, people love to come to New York to wait on lines & go to the next “it” place.

Look at the lemmings

Look at the lemmings

My point is not to shit on Clinton Street bakery. I’ve never eaten there. My point is some New Yorkers would wait on line to get punched in the face if they read it was the new hot shit in New York Times Magazine (because come ON, they’ve got their finger on the pulse). And then great places like Persimmon close down because no one goes there. On the same token, if Persimmon had been crawling with douche bags, beating each other down with their Louis Vuitton bags to get in, I would never have given it a chance. *SIGH* you can’t win.

On a happy note, my beloved bakery Panya that closed down bringing me close to tears is RE-OPENING! Oh, happy day. It looks like the they’re taking over the entire space that used to belong to Around the Clock.  Maybe that’s what the cryptic sign on the door said (well, cryptic to me since I can’t read Japanese). I should have called Dan Brown to decode it, it would have eased the pain.  Panya was the perfect neighborhood place. A lot of people knew about it, it had reasonable prices, the service was friendly and you didn’t have to wait in line with a bunch of jackasses. I hope that it doesn’t get overrun upon it’s re-opening. Although in the meantime I’ve been lucky that cafe Zaiya is close and I can get my red bean buns there in the meantime. Truth be told their spicy tuna bun is better than the one at Panya.

But seriously though? You can’t trust the system.


ROM Outing- Agnanti

7 04 2009

A very overdue post about a restaurant we went to a while back as part of a ROM outing. Agnanti was Katie’s pick, a Greek place in Queens she’d heard a bit about. Since foodie New Yorkers who don’t live in Queens usually feel guilty about not going to all those fabulous places in Queens we hear about (because c’mon IT’S QUEENS), it seemed like a good opportunity to pay a visit to our friends across the river.

Be sure to get the Retsina

Be sure to get the Retsina

Agnanti is not exactly easily accessible via subway. After taking the train out there we walked . . . and walked along Ditmars passing Queens gals on the town in various states of (un)dress. During this journey off a main drag and into increasingly residential ground there was talk of taking a shot before dinner. Regrettably we did not make good on this. It might have been nice to enter a little buzzed since, despite our reservation, they seemed a little overwhelmed by our party of 9 . . . that we’d made reservations for. But we’re a close group, I suppose, and were happy to get a (a lot) closer.

A nice thing about this place is that for $27 per person we were able to do a family style dinner that allowed us to get a taste of a lot of different things. It comes with a platter of mixed appetizers and entrees plus a “kilo” of wine for every four guests. When I checked out Citysearch reviews on this place (after our visit) I saw that many people complained about the wine being overpriced. We ordered retsina which is a Greek white wine with a scent of pine. It may sound strange but it’s really quite delicious and goes with the food nicely. I think this is the only way to go. Said kilos were served in bizarre tin steins that would be Viking-esque were they not light and flimsy.  This, however, did not seem to affect the retsina, as we put away enough to confirm this.

The family style menu comes with a mix of hot and cold appetizers and some salads followed by a mixed grill platter. It also suffered from an affliction which, unfortunately, a recent spate of ROM restaurants have manifested: great appetizers, mediocre entrees. The various salads were excellent as was the warm bread it was served with. There was a plentiful number of things to dip bread in and both the hot and cold appetizers represented Queens like Tribe Called Quest in the 90s. There were all sorts of warm and yummy breaded and fried things and, again, the steins of retsina were going down so nicely. Sadly, when the entrees finally made an appearance, they were quite anticlimactic: a variety of meats cooked past the point of dryness. There was pork, chicken and beef. The pork was the best of the three though still notably dry. The chicken was a’ight and the beef came in little burgers, while it was well seasoned, an argument ensued as to whether it was beef or lamb since it was cooked beyond recognition. The desert,- a fruit and cake-y concoction was unremarkable. I kept coming back for more thinking I would like it better. Since it was winter, perhaps it is more tasty when fresh fruit is more seasonable.

If a person were to venture out to Agnanti, I would argue that the visit would not be complete without a couple of whiskeys at Hellgate on the Park, a bar (and, apparently, an Italian restaurant . . . but only on some nights) that I found precious few words about on the web . . . and nothing worth linking to. But it exists! Barely though. On that cold and dark Tuesday in the dead of winter we were  the only ones there. We got to know our bartender Joey quite well! His name is memorable since we too had a Joey among us . . . imagine that! Despite his terrible taste in music (born in the Q borough, raised in LI, he can be forgiven) he was lovely! He let us dominate the place obnoxiously, did shots with us, cut us a deal AND drove us home. Now that’s service. Some among us were reasonably nervous about jumping in the car with a strange bartender we’d just done shots with, but since there was a large man among us, it seemed safe enough and soon we were careening through midtown screaming along to Bon Jovi (well, at least I was).

So, Agnanti, not the worst place you could go and has a bit of charm to it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way. I’ll leave ya with a photo of the Hellgate bridge which, apparently, exists.

Almost 30 years in the dirty city & I'm just finding out about it. Who knew?

Almost 30 years in the dirty city & I'm just finding out about it. Who knew?

Cooking with Dog

26 03 2009
Cook with me!

Cook with me!

This post is coming straight out of computer hell as my computer is chock loaded with trojans and other lovelies. I think someone is breaking into my office at night to download porn. In fact, the word trojan is vaguely porn-y no? In any case . . . I’ve been lapsing in the posting but partly because of the realization that I need to get my digital camera up & running again so I took it to the shop. More fun stuff to come . . .

I’m a big fan of youtube for learning how to do stuff. Ever since I discovered Maangchi, which I mentioned in a previous post, I realized that youtube user generated content is a great way to learn things because you can seek out exactly what you want and find out how to do it. Also, since these videos tend to be amateur, there is little to no editing so you get to view the process from beginning to end. It’s funny because while I’ve never found cooking shows particularly helpful (although I still love ’em . . . BRING BACK JAPANESE IRON CHEF!), youtube cooking videos have changed my whole repertoire. You can watch them as many times as you need to and there’s nothing like running out of the kitchen with sauce all over you hands to replay a step you’re not quite sure about. That is if you can handle flour on your keyboard. If someone had told me I’d be making kimchi 6 months ago, I’d never have believed it but man, I’ve been churning it out! My Korean friends were floored because they weren’t sure ol’ round eye could pull it off, but I have more than one surprise up my sleeve when it comes to da kitchen. Check out Maangchi’s kimchi video here The kakdugi is slammin btw:

In a similar vein and as some of you may know, the East Village has been recently invaded with a slew of ramen restaurants. The real, honest to goodness stuff they eat in Japan. Many of them are delicious, but most of them can get crowded. We’ve decided that the best as far as quality of noodles is Ippudo on 4th avenue. But try getting a seat there man: Asians of all types come from far and wide for this junk. As a result of the crowding the service is bad, the food takes a long time, you’re awkwardly close to strangers and you risk having your orders confused (ours were when we went). So while the goods are good, the dining experience is subpar.  Check them out on Menupages here since their wesbite is fancy & takes a while to load. There has been a bit of explosion in Ramen Setagayas as they’ve opened branches in addition to the OG one on 2nd ave btw. 8th & 9th. There’s one on St. Mark’s and now one on University Place. Guess students like all types of Ramen, not just the ones called “Top.” We were excited about the opening of a ramen place on 14th & 1st ave (I thought it was called Kombu but can’t find anything online about it) nice and close to home. It’s good! However, it reminded us of our fave place Minca on 5th btw. A & B but with out any of it’s charm: the weird art, cute waitresses and yelly Japanese cooks. If you go to Minca get the spicy basic. Man, yumtown. Some people may be wondering why I have  not mentioned Momofuko. This is because I’m a hater. There are just way too many yuppies packed inside and with all the great restaurants in NYC I am always loathe to wait on lines. Waiting on lines is for tourists . . . and suckas.

Having said all of this, I’d like to share with you my latest discovery and inspiration for this post. In cruising youtube in search of underage girls, I mean cooking videos, I thought it’d be interesting to see one on making real-deal ramen. I got a little more than I bargained for in Cooking with Dog

Luckily the dog is not literally involved in the cooking process in any sense of the word, although I worry for him as he’s seated kind of close to the burner. The recipes are excellent, a touch on the complicated side since it’s real deal J-cooking and you’d really need to have access to a good Asian food store (M2M baby, they got it all! Although for this level of J-ness, Sunrise Mart may be in order) but it’s good stuff. And bizarre. I only wonder how they were able to travel back in time to the 70s to shoot those videos.


9 01 2009

And welcome. This is the first post of a blog intended to chronicle the exploits of a little group we call ROM or Restaurant of the Month. Once a month me and 8-10 of my closest friends pick a New York City restaurant to descend like a pack of hungry vultures starved for food and alcohol. We pride ourselves on our discerning palates and a flair for using language for hating and loving accordingly, but always politically incorrectly. As NYC residents, we may have trouble making rent, but we still enjoy the good life.  A different member picks our venue each month and we aim to try a variety of cuisines of differing price ranges. I expect this site will probably be most interesting for those who enjoy exploring NYC restaurants although I intend to throw a couple posts up devoted to cooking  (esp. in a small kitchen) and other musings on food and drink.

So please, visit, look around, enjoy and feel free to comment. In short, WELCOME ABOARD PUTAS!!!

Eatin ur foodz, in da fridge & elsewhere

Eatin ur foodz, in da fridge & elsewhere