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Dining Out: Where would you go?


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We went to the Sea Monster pop-up, which happens every Saturday outside Aquabest, for grilled lobster tail, pickles and coconut rice. We were the only people seated in the sidewalk dining area, so I was reasonably relaxed. And since that went pretty well, we went over to Scarr's after for a slice. They don't have a sidewalk dining area, so we ate in a shady, un-traffic-ed spot on the curb , which I am not too proud to do.

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I don’t want to leave because I think somewhere else would be “nice”. I want to leave because I think American Death Capitalism is malicious and evil. 

At one restaurant, we picked the fennel flowers from the planter next to us and used them on our fried anchovies. Can't do that indoors!

As you might have noticed, I pretty much think this outdoor dining stuff is mostly a mug's game. We're getting told it's our responsibility as consumers to "support" the decimated restaurant indu

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Went to a place that will go nameless last night.  Nice corner with outdoor seating on both sides.  Tables spaced apart, waitstaff friendly and wearing masks.  Good food menu & a nice selection of wines by the glass, with good pours & prices from $11-15.   Large retactable glass doors open with a good jazz band (Miles Davis/Coltrane type stuff) playing inside for the diners outside.  A Spanish chef who they said worked in some very nice places & who uses good ingredients with tasty results.  So, we’re drinking wine and the waitress takes our food order.  The menu has “small plates”, “large plates” & “sides”.  We decide on a tuna tartare from the small plates & fried eggplant sticks from the sides, then the short ribs w/polenta & a scallops dish from the large category.  After taking our order the waitress says that it’s “sort of a tapas place” and the chef puts out dishes as they’re ready.  Okay, we sort of chuckle, saying “if possible the smalls before the bigs, not together”.  “Can’t promise that” was the response.  Okay.  We’ve survived this before (yeah Lulu & Po, we remember you).  

Well, every one of the 4 dishes were excellent but (& you think you know what’s coming, huh?)....  Nope, not all together.  First comes a single large plate of the short ribs.  Huh?  We shared it and, just as we finished it, out comes the scallops.  Really?  As we finished it, laughing, here come the eggplant sticks and, yep, the tuna tartare last.  As I said, all was really well prepared and tasty, but WTF!!  Although this was exactly where we’d like to spend some time reasonably often, as it was delightful in all other ways, we’ll never go back.  I mean, what can we possibly say to them that they shouldn’t already know?  

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On 9/17/2020 at 8:42 AM, Anthony Bonner said:

SIts here smugly with EU passports for everyone. Realizes will never actually leave...

 

Sneak - Portugal has very low investor visa minimums - like 500k in property.  And a path to citizenship (Which the other programs don't offer in Spain et al., and you want citizenship to access healthcare)

I have seriously started look8n* into this and it seems Portugal also offers 10 years of non taxable retirement income if I read it correctly.

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13 hours ago, Seth Gordon said:

Dining out update for the week:

Wu’s: simple lunch. Wonton soup, spring rolls, steamed spare riblets & taro. Something got lost in translation because the soup we got was -not- NY’s #1 Wonton / Triple Dumpling with Bone Broth, but rather one kind of dumpling (shrimp) in a wan chicken stock that brought to mind the broths of the Connecticut strip-mall Chinese restaurants of my youth  Did they change the broth? No, other tables I could see had the good stuff. It was boring. I don’t know what got misordered for us our why it’s even on the menu. Spring rolls were oil sponges. Not a good lunch.)

Interesting.  I know they have the two broths - one the stuff from wherever, and the bone broth, but I've not yet run into your problem, thankfully. The broth they use for the noodle/wonton Hong Kong style lunch soups tends to be the CT strip-mall stuff for sure.

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On 9/19/2020 at 11:22 PM, Orik said:

 

Do they really call it Jingisukan?

 

They do.

On 9/20/2020 at 8:54 AM, joethefoodie said:

I know they have the two broths - one the stuff from wherever, and the bone broth, but I've not yet run into your problem, thankfully. The broth they use for the noodle/wonton Hong Kong style lunch soups tends to be the CT strip-mall stuff for sure.

It was definitely a bad waiter situation. I was pointing to and saying “Number 5, triple dumpling with bone broth “ and he kept asking “noodles or no noodles?” - To which we were, “huh? Uh... no?” So I guess that’s what we got. Not recommended.

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2 hours ago, Seth Gordon said:

Obviously I know they do in Japan, but that's just because of phonetic issues, everyone there knows it means Genghis Khan and also that gi is always hard while ji is soft. It's like if a japanese kissaten would open here and sell Coronbia Couhii, or those silly folks who write Hirekatsu because that's how Fillet Katsu is spelled in katakana, as if the average reader in English could pronounce the Hi or the Re or tell that it's not a katsu for hire.

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3 hours ago, mitchells said:

You may be underestimating how bad CT strip mall Chinese food is. 

We did find a good place in Fairfield CT called Shu. Food like several of the better places in Flushing at twice the price. 

Well, speaking specifically of the strip mall Chinese when I was a wee 'un. It may be worse now, but I'd probably still have a nostalgic attachment to some of it.

In the area I grew up (Southeast CT) the game has actually been raised in recent years due to the influx of Chinese immigrants after the casinos opened. Visiting my folks now, there are some really good options. (None in strip malls that I know of, though we had surprisingly good strip mall Vietnamese last I visited.)

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2 hours ago, Orik said:

Obviously I know they do in Japan, but that's just because of phonetic issues, everyone there knows it means Genghis Khan and also that gi is always hard while ji is soft. It's like if a japanese kissaten would open here and sell Coronbia Couhii, or those silly folks who write Hirekatsu because that's how Fillet Katsu is spelled in katakana, as if the average reader in English could pronounce the Hi or the Re or tell that it's not a katsu for hire.

 

Dunno. I guess like anime it's just stuck.

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Any insights into Ko reservations.  I am consistently seeing lots of availability same day, but nothing further out. Are people booking and canceling at the last minute, or are they really only taking same day reservations?

 

 

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Pete Wells:

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Outdoor dining and takeout have kept many New York City restaurants alive, but they have had a leveling effect. Kitchens, most of them understaffed, have had to ditch complicated ideas in favor of simple ones. Restaurants that tried to fine-tune each nuance of the dining experience — lighting, music, pacing, seating arrangements — have had to surrender to the street. How much nuance can you inject into dinner when all your customers are wearing shorts, drinking out of plastic cups and watching the local dogs relieve themselves on the block association’s begonias?

It was polite of him not to mention the rats.

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Here's a rundown of my outdoor dining so far:

 

Claro

All seating is in their backyard (which even has a cover should it start to rain lightly).  It's very pleasant.

They didn't serve a lot of heavy main dishes in the best of times.  So while the menu has been cut in terms of breadth, what's there isn't much different from the range of things they used to serve, if you know what I mean.  I detected no real difference in execution, either.

I continue to love their cocktails.  The frozen Tepache one is just a treat.

 

Ernesto's

Montgomery off East Broadway, where their seating is, is very quiet.  So you don't get that I'm-eating-in-the-middle-of-a-crowded-sidewalk (or even worse, on-a-busy-street) feeling.

The menu was only dumbed down a tiny little bit.  And execution was most, although not all, of the way to where it was when they were operating full bore.  So I'd recommend it.

Amazingly, no visible rats.

 

Frenchette

The menu is certainly dumbed down.  Although the part of that dumbing down that involves serving fries with every main dish is something I heartily endorse.

This is the kind of place that is hurt most by the constraints of Quarantine cooking.  The whole point of Frenchette was how amazingly well everything was cooked by their oversized and highly qualified kitchen staff (I mean the size of the staff, not the size of individual staff members).  That just isn't there now.  So the food is very good bistro, instead of bistro cooked to an amazing level of technical perfection.  Yet, you're still paying Frenchette prices for it.

A cotillion of rats danced around the tables during dinner.

 

Olmsted

You are seated either on the street in front of the restaurant, which you don't want, or in the backyard, which you do.  The backyard is famously nice, and so it remains.

Recognizing that they can't do what they usually do with only a limited kitchen staff, they've conceived of a new menu concept for the Quarantine:  tarted up summer camp-style dishes (now that it's Fall, I hope they're not going to switch over to college dining hall-style dishes).  Some of it's good.  I thought their star dish -- the Tonkatsu pork ribs -- was too salty, though.

This is one of the many places that have made solo dining during Quarantine difficult.  Portions are clearly meant for sharing.  Which makes it hard to order a dinner for one that both has enough different dishes to make a meal (and all I mean by that is an appetizer, a main, and a side, since the mains come unaccompanied), and yet still is not way too much to eat.  It's not the worst I've seen in this regard, though (see Oxalis below).

Also, if you're a solo diner, you will probably get seated in the backyard not at a table, but on a bench with a nearby shelf on which you can put your food when you're not eating it.  So you will essentially be eating off your lap.  I find it hard to pay restaurant prices for that.

 

Oxalis

You sit in a big yard that had previously been unused (maybe it was a parking lot).  It's pleasant enough.

They've also redone their menu concept.  The food unsurprisingly hews more to the fancy casual food they used to serve at their bar than the fancy fancy food they served in their prix fixe tasting-menu-only dining room.  But the food has been changed to feature more things that aren't cooked.  And the portions are so completely share-oriented that you can't possibly, as far as I can tell, assemble a sensible dinner for one.  This is especially frustrating cuz the food was actually kind of good.

Also, the beverage program.  They have narrowed their by-the-glass wine list to the point where you can't really use it.  So even as a solo you're kind of forced to order a bottle.  (Yeah, I know:  a First World problem if ever there was one.)

Even worse, this is the place that served only canned cocktails, while giving no indication of such on the menu.  Fuck 'em for that.

 

Haenyeo

This Modern Korean gem has limited its menu.  But as the waiter noted, "it's limited to our greatest hits -- so that's both bad and good."  As for the food they were serving, I couldn't see any difference between now and before.  The menu only lacks surprises is all.

 

Bar Goto Niban

It was very frustrating to have a branch of Bar Goto open right down the street from my apartment and then almost immediately close for Quarantine.  I'm thrilled they're reopened.

The snacks at Bar Goto (it's a slightly different menu in Brooklyn than on the LES) are so good that you don't mind having to order them along with your drinks.  And the Japanese-inflected cocktails are, as we all know, beyond fabulous.  (As far as I can tell, Kenta is almost always in the house and at the stick.)

 

Cozy Royale

This is the new "Appalachian" restaurant started by some Meat Hook guys in Williamsburg.

It's not fair to judge their food by what they can make for outdoors with a reduced staff.  I'll quickly note that the highly touted pepperoni rolls were greasier than I'd have wanted -- but really, what was I expecting?  The pickled bologna, which I was actively excited about, had gone missing from the menu already by the first day of their second week.  But the pork steak, in a sour corn and mustard sauce, was very good.  As was a special of red peas and greens.

The big news, though, is that they have this "sticky" sausage dish that is absolutely addictive.  The sausage somehow develops this crispy savory crust.  The kind of thing you look back on with pleasure and longing the next day.

The (COMP DISCLOSURE) comped corn pudding dessert was outrageously good.  As it had better be.

Reasonably good cocktail and by-the-glass programs.

I clutched up when my peripheral vision detected a large four-legged animal on the sidewalk.  But it turned out to be a neighborhood cat on patrol.  As far as I could tell, it was doing an excellent job.

 

La Vara

Out of all the places I've eaten in Quarantine, La Vara comes closest to delivering what it normally did.  The menu is as extensive as always; the dishes don't seem in any way simplified; execution is aces -- and, best of all, the menu still changes virtually daily.

Only one or two rats.

This is the one restaurant I've eaten in during this period (Bar Goto Niban is a bar) that I'm most eager to return to.

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