Category Archives: Drinking Out

I had forgotten what summer feels like

Last Saturday, I was on my way to the airport in Chicago when I received a text from a friend asking if I wanted to go to the beach. Is she crazy? I thought. It was raining and I was wearing a sweater; it was decidedly not beach weather. Of course, this friend lives in New York, and, once I landed at JFK a few hours later, I realized that it was a perfectly reasonable invitation. The weather in New York was warm and sunny … it was summer!

I celebrated summer (and Memorial Day weekend) with some friends at The Standard Biergarten on Sunday. As happy as we were to be kicking off summer with outdoor drinks, we were grateful that the Biergarten is covered and therefore kept the hot sun off our backs. (This had the added bonus of preventing my self-tanner from melting all over me any more than it already had. Note to self: Allow self-tanner to dry completely before heading out into the blazing sun.)

The heat only increased as the week has gone on, taking on a headache-inducing quality, which has made it difficult to enjoy the sunshine. (Honestly, it’s hard to enjoy the weather when you suspect it might be out to kill you.) We desperately needed groceries yesterday, and I didn’t want to walk in the heat all the way to Trader Joe’s, so I decided to take the train to Whole Foods. That route minimizes my time out in the direct sun (and also allows me to purchase Sunshine Burgers, my unequivocally favorite veggie burgers!). What I neglected to remember, however, is that waiting on the subway platform feels like standing in front of the gates to Hell. After waiting for what seemed like forever for the Q, there was a “signal problem” and it skipped my stop, necessitating that I get off one stop past mine and wait on another platform for a train headed back in my direction.

It’s only been cooling off a bit at night – the temperature has been dropping to, say, the mid-seventies instead of hovering around ninety. That usually means a cold shower and air conditioning before bed, but last night we had a friend visiting, so it meant frozen margaritas. (Yay!) The boys hadn’t eaten, so we headed out looking for a late dinner and discovered that Habana Outpost had opened again for the season. It’s always kind of a scene, and last night was no exception, but it was delightful to get to sit outside and enjoy a (delicious, but rapidly melting) frozen margarita. If this heat keeps up, I see many more of those in my future.

what do May flowers bring?

April 2011 was a long, dreary month that finally came to a close. It was a beautiful weekend, and I hope that it sets the tone for the next month!

We had been out late Thursday night at the Tribeca Film Festival (which I will get to blogging about soon!), so we took it easy on Friday night. We grabbed a bottle of wine and headed to Angelica Kitchen, one of my all-time favorite places to eat. It’s this vegetarian restaurant in the East Village, and it’s one of those vegetarian restaurants that actually focuses on healthful, delicious food, instead of using faux meat to imitate meat-heavy classics. It’s also BYO, which always makes me happy. We ordered one of each of the evening’s specials: one was a spicy tofu on rice vermicelli in coconut curry sauce with a side of pickled vegetables, and the other was tempeh and walnut patties with horseradish sauce served with potato wedges and slaw. Both were really good, as everything there is.

Saturday was warm and sunny, and so we spent the day meandering around Prospect Park. We popped into the Audubon Center at one point, and some little boys immediately rushed over and offered to let me hold one of the hissing cockroaches. Aside from not really wanting to hold the cockroach, neither had anything – at least that I could see – that identified someone with permission to reach into the glass case and free the cockroaches. I politely went outside to watch the ducks instead.

We met friends for drinks that evening: we started at Big Bar, and then moved on to The Redhead, which I adore. There’s a long list of creative cocktails (although I’m a little wary of their introduction of Kahlua into my favorite Manhattan), and the food is consistently good. We had to order off the late-night menu, so we shared a burger and some smoked trout toast.

Sunday morning started with freshly blueberry muffins. (Well, only the muffins themselves were fresh; the blueberries were frozen.) They won’t win any prizes for being the loveliest muffins made, but they tasted just fine. They were also fairly healthy muffins, having been made with whole-wheat flour and fat-free yogurt.

Sunday morning blueberry muffins!

Sunday blueberry muffins

After a relaxing morning at home, we headed out into the sunshine. We picked up some #26 orders (grilled pork on rice vermicelli) from Cong Ly and ate them outside. Then, our way to the 6 train to head uptown, we stumbled across a Dos Equis promotion. They had a food truck with a giant scorpion and were giving away free tacos – but the tacos were made with scorpion, brains, and crickets. You’ll have to wait until Thursday to read more, when I have a piece on Smartly about it! Until then, enjoy this lovely picture in a Dos Equis-branded frame:

After that adventure, we moved on with our day’s objective: acquiring new herb plants from Home Depot. We picked up those and then spend the remainder of the afternoon hanging out in Madison Square Park, where we checked out the new art installation and watched dogs of all shapes and sizes go parading past.

Echo in Madison Square Park

Echo by Jaume Plensa in Madison Square Park

Finally, we decided we couldn’t watch incorrigible tourist children accost small dogs all day, and we popped into Eataly to pick up some ingredients for dinner. We finished off a few more errands, and then headed home for a lazy dinner of Sunday night pasta and tending our new little garden … and then this happened. All in all, it was a pretty eventful weekend.

Did everyone else enjoy their last weekend in April?

rewind, part 3

We left off with the first part of my brother’s NYC trip … and here’s the end of it!

My brother and I spent the entirety of Tuesday in the American Museum of Natural History. If you’ve never been there, I would classify it as a must-do. The museum is a pay-what-you-wish museum, so, while I advocate supporting museums and always paying the full fare, if you are overwhelmed by the size, it seems reasonable to pay a portion one day and come back another day and pay another portion. It’s easy and fun to spend the whole day there, though – and the cafeteria in the basement makes for a perfectly legitimate lunch!


moose fight in the museum!

We concluded Tuesday with a trip to the gym, dinner at The Smith, and a stroll through Times Square.

On Wednesday, we started at Columbus Circle and popped into the Time Warner Center, where Dave got a shirt at J. Crew and I got some fun Illinois notebooks. We then explored Central Park until we realized we were so hungry that we had to split a pretzel. We left the park in search of sandwiches, and then moved on to take in Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the Lego Store, and the NBC Store. (It was in the NBC Store that, after some perserverence, Dave found a Bayside Tigers t-shirt.)

We then paid a visit to the Empire State Building! I had never been up there, and I was blown completely away, so I’m planning on making that a post all of its own. Here’s a sneak peek:


view from the Empire State Building

After the thrilling Empire State Building, we relaxed at the Southwest Patio in Bryant Park. After a couple of drinks, we walked over to Times Square to check out a Halloween store, and we ran into Casanova from Project Runway! Even though Dave had no idea who he was, he got him to pose for a picture with me! Yay! Thanks, Brother!


with Casanova!

We concluded our evening with pizza from Lombardi’s. Aside from later introducing my brother to Teen Mom on the DVR, that was pretty much the end of the visit. He had to leave my apartment just after 10 the next morning to make his flight. I’m so glad he came! I had a great time, and I’m looking forward to visiting him at Thanksgiving!

The rest of the pictures from his visit are on Flickr!

rewind, part 1

I’m back from Chicago, and it’s time to rewind and review all the stuff that’s been happening lately. I had three major events: law school friends visiting, my brother visiting, and a close friend’s wedding. Part 1 of the rewind covers my law school friends’ trip to New York.

In law school, I had a close group of girlfriends. There were eight of us, and we have adopted another friend into our group post-law school. Three of us now live in New York, four still live in Chicago, one lives in Virginia, and one lives in Colorado. Two of the Chicago girls came, and the girls from Virginia and Colorado came with their boyfriends.

Marc and I hosted our friend Liz and her boyfriend Matt, and they arrived Friday morning on the red eye. After they were settled in here in Brooklyn, Ali met us at my apartment and we headed out together for dim sum.


We went to Jing Fong, one of the big dim sum places in Chinatown. It was kind of bizarre to be there early on a weekday and see the massive space so empty, but it definitely had its benefits. We got first pick of all the food that came out, and dishes are half-off during the week. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get any red bean buns, but we remedied that by visiting a Chinese bakery on our way to the train, where we got the most decadent (and delicious) red bean buns I have ever had.

I walked Liz and Matt around the city later that afternoon, after they had a chance to rest from their early flight. We grabbed drinks at both The Stoned Crow (which I love) and 1849 (which I do NOT).

It was Matt’s birthday, and he had wanted to see the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, but, sadly, tickets were sold out. We decided instead to see The Harvard Sailing Team at The Peoples Improv Theater. I wasn’t that impressed, but I might be ruined by Second City’s improv, which I think is really good. Anyway, it’s well-reviewed, so don’t not go see them because I felt kind of meh about the show.

We met up with some of the others and finished off our night with pizza. We met up with everyone for more pizza (and pasta and salad) the next night. We had found it nearly impossible to find a location in New York where we could have the number of people we were expecting without shelling out a lot of cash, so Ali and Kyle graciously hosted us in their apartment. We ordered in the aforementioned Italian food, and we all brought bottles of wine. Eventually, we moved the party to Brooklyn and hung out at Der Schwarze Kölner, where I discovered the soft pretzels with Nutella dip, a dangerously delicious combination.

The occupants (and guests) of our apartment had brunch in Brooklyn on Sunday morning. (Brunch is the best meal of the week, after all.) We tried Cubana Cafe, which we had eaten dinner at before but never brunch. The brunch was a hit, and we discovered that they serve lattes and cappuccinos made with coconut milk.

Liz and Matt left us later that afternoon, and my brother arrived … which I’ll tell you about in the next part of the rewind!

the hunt for happy hour

My girlfriends and I are always on the hunt for a good happy hour location, something that’s surprisingly difficult in a city this size. Our requirements are simple: we want to be able to have a seat, a relatively cheap drink, and the option to have something to eat. We’re not high maintenance girls.

This is a list of a few of the places that we’ve tried so far, noting the deal, location, atmosphere, drinks, and food:

West 3rd Common

  • The Deal: $3 draft beers, $4 well drinks and wine, and $5 cosmos and apple martinis every day from 4:00 to 8:00 pm (“We are proud to offer the best happy hour in the Noho section of Greenwich Village near NYU,” the website proclaims.)
  • Location: West 3rd & Broadway, close enough to public transportation
  • Atmosphere: I love the interior of this place. It has high ceilings, so it always feels a little more spacious than it actually is. It’s always bustling, which, while fun, can sometimes make it hard to get a table.
  • Drinks: The cosmos and apple martinis are (unsurprisingly) a little overly sweet, but they have a decent kick to them.
  • Food: I’ve eaten the pulled pork twice because nothing else interested me, and I’ve found it overly salty both times. However, in preparing this post, I checked out the menu online and there are some new menu items like salads and roasted vegetable tacos.


image source: West 3rd Common’s website

The Dove Parlour

  • The Deal: $6 specialty martinis, carafes of select wine, glasses of sparkling wine, cosmos, and margaritas every day from 4:00 to 8:00 pm (According to the menu, in cold weather this also includes hot spiced mulled red wine.)
  • Location: Thompson between West 4th and Bleecker, close to the ACEBDFM at West 4
  • Atmosphere: It’s in the basement. On the one hand, this is nice because you’re not subjected to the craziness that is that neighborhood, but, on the other hand, it’s kind of dark and dreary.
  • Drinks: We all loved the French Lavendar, a cocktail of lavendar-infused gin, orange liqueur, and grapefruit.
  • Food: We weren’t inspired by the menu of tea sandwiches and cheese, but there are tons of options for food in the immediate vicinity.


image source: The Dove Parlour’s website

Verlaine

  • The Deal: $5 lychee martinis, Asian sangria, Vietnamese bloody marys, mixed cocktails, and house wine, and $3 Yeungling bottles every day from 5:00 to 10:00 pm (An ad on Verlaine’s Yelp page claims it is “NYC’s Most Celebrated Happy Hour.”)
  • Location: Rivington between Ludlow and Essex, just a short hop from the F at Delancey or the JZ at Essex
  • Atmosphere: The inside looks nothing like what I expected from the outside. It’s all high ceilings and mood lighting.
  • Drinks: We only tried the lychee martinis, and they were tasty.
  • Food: The menu is Southeast Asian tapas, which is fun and something different than most happy hour locations. My memory is failing me, but I think we had summer rolls, vegetarian pancakes, and some sort of dumpling.


image source: Verlaine’s website

10 degrees

  • The Deal: 2 for 1 cocktails per person every day until 8:00 pm
  • Location: St. Marks Place between 1st and Avenue A, which means (a) that it’s forever away from public transportation and (b) you have to walk through throngs of college students to get there, leading you to think, my God, I am way too old for this.
  • Atmosphere: The place is laid-back and more grown-up than one would expect given that one must walk past head shops to get there. Also, we loved our waitress.
  • Drinks: We sampled the Newport Apricot Cooler (gin, brandy, apricot liqueur, fresh lime juice, and ginger ale on the rocks) and the French 75 (gin, Cointreau, champagne, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice), and both were delicious. I was worried that since it was a buy one, get one deal that we would have to have both of our drinks at the same time, but, thankfully, that’s not how it works there. Also, you don’t have to have both drinks before the happy hour ends – as long as you have ordered one, you’re grandfathered in for the second.
  • Food: We snacked on the Crostini Santorini, which was crostini baked with feta cheese, diced green olives, oregano and olive oil. We ended up leaving for dinner, and there were plenty of places to choose from in the neighborhood.


image source: 10 Degrees’s website

I’m always accepting more happy hour suggestions!

quick weekend post

We had an action-packed weekend! Here’s the summary:

On Friday, we had dinner at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, Black Iris, a BYO Middle Eastern place. We love going there because we almost never have to wait for a seat, and the food is so good – and reasonably healthful. We then met some friends at Der Schwarze Kölner, a low-key German beer “garden” with these awesomely huge windows.

On Saturday, I managed to snag the last loaf of my favorite cinnamon-raisin swirl bread from Meredith’s Bread at the Greenmarket. I would have been so despondent if they had been out when I got there! I promptly turned some of the bread into wonderfully indulgent French toast. Yum!

We spent our afternoon at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden – more on that later! We had dinner with friends at Stir It Up, another BYO restaurant in Brooklyn, this one of the Caribbean variety. It was our first time at that place, and it was so delicious. (I got a kick out of the menu describing my shrimp as arriving “on a bevy of vegetables.”) We finished up the night at Woodwork, a bar in Prospect Heights.

On Sunday, the weather was overcast and threatening, but we nevertheless headed out to Williamsburg – grabbing some banh mi on the way – to meet some friends for a show at the Williamsburg Waterfront. The rain managed to hold off for a while, but eventually it made the event unenjoyable. We had been huddle under the Vitamin Water tent for a while when we realized we should just move on. We went to a bar, and we played some pool. (Sidenote: I am abysmal at pool.) We wrapped up our weekend at home with plates of pasta and The Hurt Locker, which is an excellent movie if you haven’t seen it.

Do This: Drinks on the Met Roof

On Friday night, I met the girls from the Junior Circle at the Met Roof Garden for drinks, and it was definitely something that I recommend.

There is currently an exhibition called Big Bambú on the Met Roof, which is a jungle-like arrangement of bamboo poles. The exhibit will continue to grow until October – although I should point out that it’s “growing” because the artists are continually adding to it. When I referred to the exhibit as “growing” on Friday night, someone gently pointed out to me that the bamboo used in the exhibit was no longer alive. The museum leads tours along the paths, which take visitors twenty to forty feet above the roof of the museum. Just the thought of being so high in the air gives me shivers, but it’s definitely something that I want to do. I plan on coming back sometime during the summer (and the day) to take one of those tours.


under the Big Bambú

Even though we’re currently embroiled in a disgusting heat wave, the roof wasn’t as steamy as I expected it to be. I think being up high enough to catch a breeze helped on that front. Being on the roof also afforded us amazing views of the city, which were definitely worth the cost of admission (you have to donate to the Met to enter, although you can donate as little as one dollar) and the drinks (the martinis are $11).


awesome view, right?

Make a point to visit the Met Roof this summer, and I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Read More:
Big Bambú by the Starn Brothers at the Met [NYT]
Met Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar [Yelp]