Category Archives: New York Restaurants

Red Rooster Harlem

I feel this post doesn’t need a giant intro. Simply put, this was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Let’s dive in.

Red Rooster Harlem 310 Lenox Ave, Harlem, NY. Red Rooster Harlem is the brain child of Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson on 125th Street and Lenox Avenue in the heart of Harlem. The restaurant features an upscale, but still low-key, experience with a menu filled with Ethiopian-influenced soul food.

Bunny Chow: lamb stew with ricotta and fried egg

On the menu:
Disclaimer: I did NOT eat all of this myself. But I did taste every single plate…
Earl of Harlem cocktail (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Early Gray tea, spiced coriander syrup)
Crab cakes
Jerk bacon and egg
Corn bread with honey butter and tomato jam
Collard greens
Bunny chow (lamb stew on a roll topped with fried egg and ricotta)
Berbere roast chicken (Ethiopian spiced chicken with rainbow chard, asparagus, and peanut slaw)
Catfish and grits
Fried Yard Bird (fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, and bread & butter pickles)
Sweet potato donuts
Lemon bread pudding
Kahlua truffles

Jerk Bacon and Egg

Verdict: Did I not already mention this was one of the best meals of my entire life? This is going to be one of my less informative restaurant reviews because how many times can I use the words “AMAZING” and “DELICIOUS” and “PERFECTION”? The spices blended, the sweet wasn’t too sweet and the spicy wasn’t too spicy, the crunch was crunchy enough, the portion sizes were enough but not too much, and the staff was attentive and friendly but never annoying. The restaurant itself is comfortable and our table was loud and jovial and no one seemed to mind. By the time we left the restaurant I had that warm, sleepy, happy feeling you only get after a truly incredible meal. I can’t say enough good things about Red Rooster Harlem and insist you try it for yourself. It’s on the pricier side, but it won’t break the bank, either. And for a special night out, I can’t think of anything better.

Earl of Harlem

Photos: c/o of Meagan Drillinger

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A Taste of Jamaica

Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably been watching the Olympics, or have at least heard about them on the news. There are only a handful of events I can sit through and enjoy (equestrian? yawwwwwwn) but I get seriously rowdy during track and field. How thrilling is it to watch the fastest men alive tear across a track and then not even breathe hard afterward? It inspires me to get my butt up off the couch…. and over to the kitchen for another slice of cake.

Guys, I’m not really an athlete, ok?

In watching Usain Bolt dominate every other competitor in the arena, I had a craving for Jamaican food. And only in New York can you think to yourself suddenly, “Man, I’d like some Jamaican food” and then walk 15 minutes to get some.

Well… you can probably do that in Jamaica, too. But… you get my drift.

Brown Stew Chicken with beans and rice and coleslaw

Jerk Pan 48th St. and Park Avenue, New York, NY. Jerk Pan is a food truck located in midtown Manhattan, just outside the JP Morgan-Chase building. It’s kind of amazing to see a run down old truck with five Jamaican men inside, slinging hot street food while 20 corporate yuppies stand in a line waiting for lunch to be served. But isn’t that New York? I think it is.

On the menu:
Brown Stew Chicken with rice and beans and coleslaw

Verdict: Hellooooo lunchtime! Did it take me 20 minutes in 90 degree heat to walk here? Yes. Was it entirely worth it? Yes. I only ate 1/4 of the food on a bench near where the truck is parked because it was pretty messy and I only had one measly napkin. But when I got back to my office? I really wanted to have it again for lunch the next day so I restrained myself as best I could but wow, wow, wow this was delicious. The coleslaw (which is basically just cabbage with corn, green beans, and carrots mixed in) is served hot. Have you ever had hot coleslaw? Well, try it. It is absolutely perfect. Tangy and crunchy, and not too shabby paired with the fall-off-the-bone chicken (covered in sweet and tangy brown sauce) and the chewy and mild rice and beans. The best part? The whole thing only cost me $8. That’s the price of a sad salad from Cosi for all you mathematicians out there. I also sampled the jerk chicken (I was afraid to order it myself in case it was super spicy) which was also tender and flavorful with a kick of spice and worth getting the next time. What I REALLY wanted to order was the jerk goat but the friend I lunched with quickly replied, “Goat… from a truck… in New York?” Good point.

This is my favorite clip of Usain Bolt and it has nothing to do with running:

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Rosemary’s: A Restaurant Review

Small plates to start

My birthday dinner was the cause of much discussion. My parents were in town, so the place had to be vegetarian-friendly (it’s no fun eating out with a vegetarian who is forced to order the side salad at every meal), have a celebratory atmosphere, and not be so over-the-top expensive that I’d be apologizing for suggesting it for years to come. I took to NYMag.com for suggestions and found a really cool spot that had just opened: Rosemary’s. It’s rustic Italian food (always veg-friendly), they source a lot of their produce from their rooftop garden (enviro-friendly), and it JUST opened in a trendy neighborhood (savvy-food-writing-birthday-girl-friendly). Win. Win.

Rosemary’s 18 Greenwich Avenue (near West 10th St), New York, NY. Rosemary’s is located in the West Village, on a corner, and in the summer months all the windows and doors are open to give a truly open-air feel. The menu is divided into 10 sections and all wine is served by the bottle for $40 or by the glass for $10* (the menu is wine and beer only). It should be noted that Rosemary’s does NOT currently take reservations, so if you show up around dinner time you should be prepared to wait at least an hour for a table. My party put our names down and then went next door for a cocktail while we waited two hours for our table. It definitely did not mar our evening in the slightest, but we knew what we were in for ahead of time.

On the menu:
Small vegetable plates: cabbages, pecorino, chilies, and almonds; beets, dandelion, and hazelnuts; zucchini crudo
Small seafood plate: octopus with basil
Focacce: caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil)
Entree: pork tenderloin with mustard and fennel
Dessert: olive oil cake with fresh cream and blueberries

Verdict: Delicious! Was this the best meal I’ve ever had in New York? No. My mom ordered a mint pasta that was overwhelmingly flavored, the lamb my dad ordered was a bit flavorless, and then there’s that epic wait for a table. But this meal was just what I wanted for my birthday. The small plates were incredibly delicious: spicy, crunchy, brightly flavored, and gone in seconds. The pork tenderloin was juicy and tender and the cake was perfectly “dry” as only olive oil cake can be. Rosemary’s is still working out the kinks as far as service goes (we had a plethora of waitstaff taking care of us and the host was visibly frazzled at the crowds of people waiting to get in), and I was curious as to why they have a rooftop garden but no tables up there. But for all the little bits to work out (and I’m sure they will) Rosemary’s is definitely a spot to hit in the summer while the weather is fine.

*I love, love, love that all the wines are the same price. I don’t know wine very well and always want to ask for recommendations at restaurants, but I’m very aware that waitstaff will most often recommend a more expensive glass. The across-the-board pricing allowed me to give the sommelier my preferences and then have him give me an honest suggestion back. Well done, Rosemary’s. Also, sorry for the terrible photo. I didn’t want to be that annoying girl at the table taking brightly-lit-flash photos of every dish.

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My New York Food Diary

I spend a lot of time trying to convince people that I don’t really have the appalling eating habits I appear to from my blog posts. People read this blog and say, “HOW do you eat like that?! Wheeeere do you put it?!” And I laugh and say, “Oooh, I just don’t eat that MUCH! I eat small portions. I’m not a total slob.” But you know what? I’m a total slob. I love junk food. And not McDonald’s, but junk food in general. Butter and sugar and chocolate and oil and carbs and starches and marbled meat and donuts and everything that makes people go, “Mmmmm” with pleasure when they ingest it. So as I read the New York Food Diary column on NYMag.com this week, I thought, I’m gonna do it and I’m gonna prove everybody wrong!

All I did was prove y’all right. So I’m just gonna ride this wave until my pants stop fitting. Read at your own discretion…

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Little Town NYC


It’s not often that you’ll find a negative restaurant review on Food E. Most of the time if I go to a restaurant and it’s mediocre or downright terrible, I take it to Yelp. I like to keep this a positive place and one where you can come to scroll and find all amazing things.

Well… consider this a break in tradition.

Last night The BF headlined a show at Caroline’s on Broadway and a friend and I thought we’d get some drinks and snacks pre-show. Finding a bar in midtown is not always easy, so I took to the interwebz for recommendations. I found that Little Town NYC which opened their first shop in Union Square, had opened a sister store in midtown. Being from Rochester, people are always trying to tell me where I can find garbage plates in the city, and Little Town is a name that’s come up more than once. The restaurant features all New-York-State-based foods: Buffalo wings, Rochester garbage plates, Long Island oysters, Binghamton spiedies, etc. I was incredibly excited.

Upon first entering the restaurant, I realized there was no air conditioning. Let me tell you a little something about New York City in the summer: it’s freaking hot. In addition to the steamy temperatures, we walk everywhere. And I was wearing heels. 10 minute walk + 86 degrees + 4 inch heels = 1 sweaty mess. Little Town’s three pathetic fans were barely spinning and the air conditioning must’ve been set to 80 degrees. But I had told my friend this is where we were meeting, and meet there we would.

I looked up at the huge chalkboard over the bar touting all the $5 happy hour beers on tap. I asked the waitress how sweet the sour cherry cider was. “Oh, we’re out of that.” “Okay,” I said, “How about the Checkered Cab?” “Oh… we’re actually out of that, too. The board hasn’t been updated, I guess.” I wiped sweat from my forehead and asked for something, anything, cold and light. My dining partner asked for a vodka cocktail that was also on happy hour special at 2 for 1. The beer arrived semi-cold and the cocktail arrived semi-cocked. “This is all cranberry juice,” my friend said with a grimace. She downed the tiny thing in three gulps. “I guess we know why they’re 2 for 1.”

I took a look at the food menu, searching first for the garbage plate. I didn’t really think I’d order it (let’s face it, fellow Rochesterians, we know those plates are their best when you’re 3 drinks in and hunched over that red tray in the brightly lit “dining room” of a dingy Hots at 2:30 in the morning) but I wanted to know what it was all about. First things first, it costs $18. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS. If you’re not familiar with a garbage plate and you’re too lazy to click that link above, a garbage plate is mac salad, home fries, 2 burgers, onions, hot sauce, and ketchup and mustard. Not a single ingredient in there costs upwards of $.50, and even with markups the plates in Rochester only cost around $8. The Little Town menu says “Feeds 2.”

DUH.

We ordered pretzel crusted chicken fingers and fried oysters. My friend said she was concerned the chicken would be breaded in pretzel dough and I laughed at her. “No, I’m sure it’s coated in hard pretzel crumbs.” Oh… you’re sure, Lauren? You’re SURE. HOW CAN YOU BE SO SUUUURE?

I was wrong. Soft pretzel breading with some kind of bizarro hard pretzel chunks mixed in. The fried oysters, served over “coleslaw”, were on the half shell. The oysters alone were pretty tasty, if not faintly tasting of heavy grease. I just wish those oysters hadn’t been nestled into giant dollops of mayonnaise mixed with wilted cabbage.

During our meal I saw a garbage plate go by on its way to another table. I guess Little Town’s way of giving you your $18’s worth is to use “fancy” pasta instead of plain old elbow macaroni because the mac salad portion of the dish looked like an entree at an Italian restaurant.

Here’s a tangent: street food is street food for a reason. It is cheap and popular because it is simple and accessible. Hometown favorites like garbage plates are not meant to be gussied up and served over fancy pasta on a china plate in a dimly lit bistro. I guess for a lot of people the novelty of a dish is worth eating out and forking over $18 for, but I am not one of those people.

Overall, I would not recommend Little Town NYC based on lackluster service (we had to flag down our waitress for drinks, waited awhile to get said drinks, and flag her down again for the check), uncomfortable dining room, unavailable menu items, overpriced and underwhelming food, and stripping one of my favorite dishes of its charm.

…too harsh? Now you know why I don’t write more negative reviews.

Little Town NYC, 366 W. 46th St (between 8th Ave and 9th Ave), New York, NY.

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Indonesian Food Bazaar

A vegetarian patty from the food bazaar in 2010

I have BIG news! Two years ago I went to an incredible Indonesian Food Bazaar in Astoria and ate myself silly off of some of the most delectable Indonesian food ever made, for a handful of singles. The mosque that hosts this bazaar is not really all that great about promoting the food bazaar so for two years I forgot to check back to their website to find out where the next one was. Well, today, by stroke of luck and maybe the phases of the moon, I remembered. Lo and behold… it is this Sunday.

So if you need something to do this Sunday June 17th from 10AM – 4PM head over to Masjid Al-Hikmah at 31st Avenue and 48th Street in Astoria, Queens for an endless treasure trove of delicious eats. And don’t forget that it’s Father’s Day, so if your dad is an adventurous eater, this might be the perfect gift.

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Hot Dog Crawl

Have you ever been like, “Man, I could really go for a hot dog” but you have this weird hang up about all the weird bacteria that might be floating in the street carts? I know. I’ve been there. I feel your pain.

What you might not know is that there are tons options in New York City for “gourmet” hot dogs – and by “gourmet” I mean prepared in a real kitchen and served with top notch ingredients. Below are three of the stand out options, all within walking distance of the others. So… you know, should you choose to do a “hot dog crawl,” you could hit all 3 in one shot. But let me warn you, 3 hot dogs in one sitting is a lot. Some might call it too much. Not that I would know from personal experience… I’m just saying.

Jersey’s Finest at Crif Dogs

Crif Dogs, 113 Saint Marks Place (Between 1st Ave and Ave A), New York, NY. Crif Dogs is a tiny, hole in the wall place that you might walk right by were it not for the GIANT hot dog hanging outside the door. Take a walk down the steps and into hipster heaven: if there was any doubt, a note on the register tells you that they accept tips in the form of Tim and Eric quotes. I knew this was my kind of place. I ordered a PBR and a dog called Jersey’s Finest: taylor ham wrapped house dog smothered in mustard, onions & a secret chili sauce*. This was PERFECTION and my favorite hot dog of the three restaurants. It was a total guilty pleasure and probably had a bajillion calories, but who cares? A hot dog wrapped in ham topped with more meat? Ok!

Sidney at AsiaDog

AsiaDog, 66 Kenmare Street (Between Mulberry St and Mott St), New York, NY. I tasted an AsiaDog when they had a small stall at Madison Square Eats, a gathering of specialty food stalls in Madison Square Park. The line was epic, but I waited 45 minutes because first of all, I wanted that dog and second of all, everyone kept raving about how amazing they were. I purchased a Sidney: a beef hot dog with Thai mango relish (cilantro, red onion, and cucumber) and crushed peanuts, and a sparkling limeade. If a hot dog can be refreshing, this one was. The topping was super fresh and crunchy, and the peanuts added an entirely different element that I wasn’t expecting. I love, love, love foods with drastically different textures and this hot dog was one of the best textured dishes I’ve ever had. Well done meals from high end retailers… in hot dog form? I’m telling you kids, it can be done.

Terimayo at JapaDog

JapaDog, 30 Saint Marks Place (Between 2nd Ave and 3rd Ave), New York, NY. This was the last stop on my hot dog tour and I have to believe it had something to do with the fact that it was my least favorite. I ordered the Terimayo: a beef frank with teriyaki sauce, mayo, and seaweed. I scraped off all the seaweed because it reminded me too much of sushi (raw fish and hot dogs just don’t mix, you know?) and then it was pretty good, but nothing crazy or special. The hot dog did not have that crispy skin that I love and the bun was mediocre.

Overall, my hot dog crawl left me feeling full and like I didn’t want to see another hot dog for quite some time. So while I may not recommend hitting all three of these spots at once, I definitely recommend one (or two…) for a cheapo meal any hour of the day.

*For some reason, this item has disappeared from Crif Dogs’ online menu but you can custom build it if you want. I highly recommend that you do.

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