18 March 2008

Bone Lick, 75 Greenwich Ave (btwn 7th Ave S & Bank St)

The first summer I came to New York, I was invited by Dave and Miranda to join them at Dinosaur BBQ on the west side underneath Riverside Drive bridge.

We had the most amazing experience - a pitcher of beer, delicious shrimp appetizer, brisket was awesome, ribs were great...and of course, west Harlem is such a cool area.

Hoping to replicate this experience with Dave and Logan (who currently lives in that area), I suggested and made plans with both of them to re-visit last Friday night.

Somewhere along the line, DVH and Michio and Brad were invited (not that I'm complaining), and due to Dinosaur being on a two hour wait (!!!), we needed a plan. That plan involved lots of standing on a street corner, smoking (for everyone BUT me), and Blackberrying for a potential dinner spot. Bone Lick seemed to be the best recommendation, within walking distance, and well...Bone Lick? It's kind of weird to say, like who actually has ever admitted to licking a bone? It almost sounds taboo.

I was skeptical, but upon walking in, we were immediately seated with menus. As we peruse, we discussed the pulled pork butt that feeds 10. No price, no description...our waiter finally comes over and, in the middle of our question, he walks away without even saying "excuse me" or "hang on for a minute." He walks away, goes to another table, runs a plate back to the kitchen, takes an order from another table and comes back. We ask AGAIN and he says he doesn't know, and runs into the kitchen to ask.

What the fork? ADD? Doesn't care about our tip on a party of six? He comes back and says it's unavailable, and takes 4 drink orders and runs away as I'm in the middle of asking for a Georgia peach margarita. Runs away.


Needless to say, the service was terrible. Except for the busboy who, when Logan spilled his iced coffee, had a rag on the spill as the drink was tipping over before it hit the table. The timing was incredible, and honestly, I think we might have entered the Matrix at that moment.

Anyways, we started with three appetizers (which usually I'm against, because it spoils your meal and is unnecessary) but frankly, I'm glad we did because the portions for the main course were microscopic. We got the vidalia onion rings, bayou fried oysters and Texas link sausage. I hate onions, so I can't speak for the onion rings, and I don't really like oysters so I can't speak for those either, but the "Texas link sausage" was sliced up Oscar Meyer kielbasa. As in, the same shit I have in my freezer right now, pre-cooked and ready to just heat up and eat. And, the portion wasn't even a whole piece of kielbasa.

What is this, Poland? If I want kielbasa, I'll go to forking Veselka, not a Texas BBQ restaurant.

Oh, wait, I nearly forgot to mention - it took THIRTY FORKING MINUTES for our appetizers to arrive.

We wolfed down the appetizers which were, as mentioned, mediocre at best, and sat around for about another 20 minutes with our dirty dishes in front of us. Our food finally arrived and we had no room to put the new plates - genius, nay brilliant, from a serving perspective.

First let's talk about the sides - each dish came with one. The mac and cheese was decent, but could have been better. The collared greens and ham hocks was quite tasty, and my brown sugared yams were absolutely incredible - reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner at mom's house. (We would mash yams so they were smooth and creamy, and bake them with marshmallows on top. My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner!)

As for the main courses, let's just say the portions of the food looked like they were portions off the kid's menu. No seriously, I ate my brisket in about 4 bites. Dave's pulled pork was about 1/3 fat (which is awesome for me, I love that part) but for the average restaurant-goer who doesn't like to consume heart attack for dinner, I can see how it'd be frustrating. My brisket was also a little fatty, but moist and not overcooked. However, while the meat was moist, it had hardly any flavor - we ran out of BBQ sauce halfway through dinner and our waiter never took the hint to refill it, with both bottles sitting EMPTY on the edge of our table. So much for "slow cooked with cherry, apple and hickory woods." More like "slow cooked in terrible with a dash of I want my money back."

I had to order ANOTHER one of their ridiculously strong margaritas to get over the pain from this meal.

At least the company was good.

Bone Lick gets 1/5 forks, because the margaritas were delicious.

05 March 2008

Novecento Bistro, 343 W Broadway (between Grand St. and Broom St.)

After what has been culminating to a stressful 2+ weeks at work, I narrowed my selection of where to go to eat to about 10 (!) of my restaurant cards, most being Italian or French. Upon many vetoes from Dave, we went for an Argentinian (or so we thought)(dun dun DUN!!) establishment called Novecento.

Usually when I choose locations to dine, I'll pull up the menu on menupages - and if there is something unique on the menu that piques my interest, the restaurant will go into the "possibilities" pile.

In this case, it was the following dishes: fresh grouper over spicy black beans, mango salsa, pico de gallo & avocado AND sesame crusted pan seared tuna, shitake, bok choy, peppers, ginger soy glaze. (I haven't been feeling too hot in the past bit, so fish sounded appealing as a healthy, smaller dish alternative.)

As I rolled up to Novecento Bistro, 40 minutes late, it became apparant that maybe I had not chosen so wisely.

Décor & Ambiance: Confused, wanna-be European and dark with candle lights. (But wait, I thought it was supposed to be Argentinean?) White table clothes with paper overtop and cloth napkins. Loud trance-y / house music. Italian hangings on the wall. Name of restaurant employs French word, "bistro." This could definitely have potential in the summer with the great vibes spilling out onto West Broadway when they open the giant windows in front. All in all, not bad - but what are they going for? South America? Italian? French? Antarctican? NYC? It feels swank and upscale but...pick a theme and run with it. Congruency, people.

Service: Hostess was fine, and the waitress was friendly and pretty - however after she offered us some Pellegrino and we declined, the quality of service went down drastically. (We were the ones confused, because we ordered wine (thanks for introducing me to the delicious Malbec varieties, Dad!), appetizer, main courses!)

Das Essen: Confused again. (If you can't tell, this is the theme of the night.) First of all, I didn't even see those fish dishes that brought me to Novecento on the menu. Secondly, look at the menu. All of the dishes are thinly disguised mostly typical Italian food with Spanish names. Let's look at the appetizers, for example - quesadilla (Mexican), empanada (variety of Spanish speaking countries), mussels steamed in white wine and garlic (called Mejillones on the menu, which is a city in Peru, noting that this is normally a dish seen in Belgian and French restaurants), beef carpaccio (Venitian) and caprese salad (Italian)? Sounds like someone's going through an identity crisis. Pastas were paired with typical red and vodka sauces. Salads were typical, and the main entrees included steak, burgers, and a variety of toppings.

And the dessert menu? Don't even get me started. I found no uniqueness, no craziness, no creativeness on there. Unless you think créme brulée is unique, but hell we used to serve that at Nova (and that's saying something).

Regardless, Dave and I were hungry and sitting down, we frankly didn't care (and as I said before, I wanted Italian so I was okay with it). I got a glass of the Malbec red (quite tasty), and we ordered the beef carpaccio, spaghetti capri (fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, plum tomato sauce and fresh basil) and the ensalada nocecento (grilled skirt steak, french fries, baby mixed greens, avocado, dijon vinaigrette).

The carpaccio was very tasty, but how could you not like filet mignon, arugula, Parmesan cheese and avacado? My pasta was great too - how can anything with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella be bad? However what really took the cake was Dave's salad. It was steak with greens and avocado and dressing, on top of FRIES (or in this case frites? Papas fritas?). What?!

What was incredible is how the fries soaked up all the juices from everything in the salad. The only thing that might have made it better is cucumber. But either way, wow. Who would have ever thought of putting fries at the bottom of a salad? It's almost as ridiculous as the concept of a taco salad (taco in a bag anyone?), the Big and Cheesy, or carrot cake. Except it's actually good.

Anyways, Novecento gets 2 4/7 spoons out of 5. Spoons?
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