Category Archives: New York Restaurants

Summer Means Lobster Rolls

We’ve had the wonkiest weather ever in New York for the past few months, and the warmer temperatures have definitely affected my appetite. Not affected as in like, I lost it (that is reserved only for the most traumatic of traumas, I assure you) but in the way that I’ve been craving summer foods before I’m supposed to. Case in point: the lobster roll. In the interest of full disclosure, I used to work very close to a little spot that sold lobster rolls for $10 and I used to go a sickening amount. Thank God I don’t work at that job anymore… my cholesterol can’t take it anymore.

Anyway, I was craving a lobster roll like I can’t even tell you, so I Googled “Best lobster rolls in NYC” and came up with the list of usuals: Luke’s Lobster, Red Hook Lobster, and one I’d never heard of: Ed’s Lobster Bar. I took a look at their menu… and I was sold. If you don’t like lobster or seafood in general, please don’t go to this place. You’ll simply clog it up for those of us who live for the stuff.

Ed’s Lobster Bar Annex, 25 Clinton Street (btwn Stanton St and E Houston St), New York, NY 10002. Ed McFarland, owner of Ed’s Lobster Bar, is a Staten Island Native who grew up in pizza parlors and later graduated from the French Culinary Institute. He worked all over, in esteemed kitchens throughout the city, until he opened up his own place. Ed’s Lobster Bar (the original) is located on Lafayette between Broome and Spring and offers a more refined menu of full lobster entrees. The Annex, where I dined last weekend, has more of a low-key, relaxed maritime vibe with menu offerings such as lobster meatball sliders, mini lobster thermidor pizzas, and shrimp tacos. During the summer months they have an outdoor patio where you can sit and sip a cold white wine with your seafood. Note: the annex only serves wine and beer.

On the menu:
Prosecco rose
Little Neck Clams
Lobster rolls with chips and housemade pickles

Verdict: Oooooh lobster lobster love of my life. This had to be one of the best, if not THE best lobster roll I have ever had. Three words: butter soaked bun. That’s right. Just in case you were thinking, “Oh no, where’s the butter to dip all the giant chunks of lobster in my lobster roll?” Ed’s has you covered. The bun is literally brushed and semi-soaked in butter. I had to stop myself from licking the plate. I could’ve even done without the fries… maybe substituted it with more lobster? And as a side note, they make their pickles on premises and they are spicy and sweet and I ate so many I burnt my tongue. …I’m not joking. In addition to the amazing food, the staff was super laid back, informed, and efficient. I’ll be back, Ed. I’ll be back.

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The Great Googa Mooga: An Opinion Piece


Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention please. This is an opinion piece. It might offend some of you and you might take it as my bitterness, or my negativity, or my cynicism. But I think it’s my job as a food writer to give you honesty, and this piece is just one little bit of one person’s opinion. I’m giving you that warning in case you don’t want to read on. I’ll have a nice, safe, happy restaurant post later in the week to get you settled back into the rosy Food E. you have come to know and love. Stop laughing, mom.

I found out I’d be attending The Great Googa Mooga Festival on a two day press pass. I looked over the schedule and decided that since the food vendors were the same both days, and I already had plans to eat lobster rolls on Saturday night, I’d skip out on Saturday and attend the festival on Sunday only. I’m glad I did. I read endless Facebook and Twitter posts about how unbelievably crowded it was on Saturday, how long the lines were, and how most vendors ran out of food by 3pm (Eater has a great roundup of angry Tweets here). This boggles my mind, since although admission was free, you had to register for tickets in advance and the event sold out. If the event staff knew how many people would be attending, how is it possible that they didn’t have enough food? The world may never know.

I left my apartment in Astoria at 11am, preparing to arrive at the festival at noon to catch a press conference at 12:15. Cut to me at 12:30, wandering around Prospect Park trying to find the media check-in tent. A few signs scattered around the park pointing people to various check-in points would’ve been a God send, as I overheard more than one person asking uninformed security, “Where do I go if I’m a volunteer?”

By the time I checked in and got my wristband, I was starving and thirsty. I entered the festival expecting super long lines, but to my surprise, there were none. That’s right. No. Lines. I was right in front of a beer tent so obviously my first purchase was alcoholic. I paid $7 for a Blue Moon – a bit steep, even for New York prices, but compared to the $12 beers at baseball games in the city it wasn’t that heart stopping. Besides, I’m not one of those people who likes to get hammered in the middle of the day just for the sake of getting hammered; I wanted a cold beer to add to the enjoyment of the day, not eight beers so I could throw up in front of hoards of people like one girl did (I’m not kidding… I read about it. Thank God I didn’t have to see it).

A Blue Moon and an iced coffee from Third Rail

In deciding where to eat, I figured I needed a strategy. I ran through the list of food vendors on the Googa Mooga map and immediately ruled out a few – I didn’t want to eat anywhere I’d already been (via food cart, festival vendor, or actual brick and mortar restaurant); I didn’t want to eat somewhere just because the place or the dish was trendy (this ruled out M. Wells’ horse bologna grilled cheese, and Do or Dine’s foie gras donuts… that’s right… I turned down a donut); and I didn’t want to eat anything that seemed boring (this eliminated dishes like pulled pork sandwiches and fried cheesecake balls).

My first food purchase fit all the criteria: a wild boar sloppy joe from Georgia’s East Side BBQ. I’ve definitely never had wild boar in any form, and I had never even heard of Georgia’s. If that sandwich is any indication of what the food at their restaurant is like, I’ll be a regular in two months flat. There wasn’t a single person in line and the meat was piping hot and only $7 for a giant meal (I should note that most dishes at the festival fell in the $7 – $10 range). The sandwich had the spicy, sweet flavor you associate with sloppy joes but with an added crunch from chopped onions and a hearty, slightly gamey flavor from the wild boar (I should also note that this sandwich is not on their regular menu, and that won me over, too: a dish prepared specially for the event). As I sat in a grassy field watching the Air Guitar Champion pretend to be a heavy metal superstar on the stage in front of me, soaking up the sun, sipping my cold beer, noshing on a saucy sandwich… I had to admit that Googa Mooga had already won me over.

Wild Boar Sloppy Joe from Georgia’s

I ate the entire sandwich, loose bits of fallen meat included (don’t worry, I wore a patterned outfit so no one would see the food stains), and ventured on to another area of the park for my next bite. I stumbled across the Coffee Experience sponsored by Lexus (which meant that in true Brooklyn, hippie festival style you could… sit in a luxury car?) and got myself a freshly brewed iced coffee, brought to festival goers from Third Rail coffee in New York.

I took a lap around the food vendors to check out which dishes were being offered, and shortly thereafter got in line at Red Rooster Harlem. I knew of the restaurant as famous chef Marcus Samuelsson’s spot featuring soul food with an Ethiopian twist. The line was comparatively long (I waited for around 10 minutes, a good indication of how sparse the crowd was around 1pm), no doubt owing to the chef’s celebrity status.

Each booth at the festival had only one or two offerings, and Red Rooster Harlem’s signature dish was one of the most notable and generous: Berbere chicken with macaroni and greens and cornbread. You could get the “small” plate (2 pieces of chicken, ½ cup mac and greens, one piece of cornbread) for $7, or the large plate with bigger helpings of each for $11. The small was perfect for me because I’m not a huge eater (again… stop laughing, mom) but the food was so incredibly delicious, I almost forced myself to finish it. The chicken was juicy with a spicy, crispy skin coated in Berbere: an Ethiopian spice blend. The mac and greens were cheesy, a bit crunchy, and perfectly salted. The corn bread? A little Madeleine-shaped corn cake with Indian spices baked in. The dish was the standout of the festival, and it’s on the menu at the restaurant up in Harlem.

Berbere chicken, mac and greens, and cornbread from Red Rooster Harlem

At this point, I knew I was done with main dishes and I wanted something sweet. I saw a mention on Twitter of maple cotton candy, and the Adirondack girl in me begged for it. I found the cotton candy stand and forked over 5 bucks for the sweet treat… that’s right, $5. It was by far the most outrageously priced thing I paid for, but I have to admit, I’m glad I got it. It was delicious. And anyone who can make cotton candy feel gourmet is alright in my book. The dish was prepared by Liddabit Sweets.

Maple cotton candy with a pretzel rod from Liddabit Sweets

I had one more dish in me, and from the looks of the crowd, it was a good time to get going. As the clock neared 2:30PM the crowds were noticeably larger and the lines were visibly longer. My jaw dropped when I saw the nearly 100 people in line for Luke’s Lobster Rolls (side note, people: Luke’s Lobster Truck is everywhere and they even have a stand alone restaurant in Manhattan… you could’ve walked there and back in the time you waited in line). I kept seeing people with frosty ice cream covered in fruit and I was practically dying for it. Wooly’s ice was right next to Big Gay Ice Cream – I had to make a decision. I’d always wanted to try Big Gay Ice Cream but figured, they attend a lot of festivals, they have a truck, and a shop; there would be plenty of future opportunities for me to eat there. Wooly’s it was. I’m glad I picked Wooly’s because after 5 minutes of waiting in line, Big Gay Ice Cream announced they were out of… ice cream. That’s right, at 2:30PM, with five hours left to go in the festival, they were out of ice cream. All this on a day that wasn’t nearly as crowded as the day before.

Mango Tango shaved ice from Wooly’s

I got my cup of ice (which I realized was literally a cup of shaved ice with strawberry syrup and chunks of fruit) and happily exited the park as hoards of people were entering. I was lightly sunburned, pleasantly full, and ready for a nap.

Overall, the festival was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but I have to say: if you wanted to really soak up the experience (rubbing elbows with celebrity chefs, dancing at the Big Gay Ice Cream disco party, sitting even remotely close to the big music stage, and catching even a glimpse of Anthony Bourdain) you had to fork over $250 for the VIP Extra Mooga package. I understand that to a lot of people $250 is not a huge expense and for all the extras included it might be worth it. But to me, it added an exclusive element to a festival that felt otherwise very communal. Food lovers filled the park talking about the multitude of offerings, speaking intelligibly about chefs and ingredients, and yet there was a velvet rope cordoning off those chefs and keeping the full experience at arm’s length. We were forced to watch from the other side as the “big names” hung out in some kind of elitist gang while we waited in hour-long lines for just a taste of what those big names’ culinary genius had to offer. I wanted to eat at Red Rooster Harlem but I also hoped that Marcus Samuelsson might be slinging chicken for an hour or so with his staff. I was happy to see a sausage making demonstration at the Just Food tent but how cool and grass roots would it have been to have Anthony Bourdain cranking the meat grinder handle? The well-known chefs were the ones who conceived the event, and yet their company was only available to the big spenders. It was a festival in two tiers: the everyman and the elitist. And to me, that’s just not what food is about.

I’ll probably attend Googa Mooga again next year, but I’ll show up at 11AM and I’ll bring ripe tomatoes to chuck across that velvet rope.

Oh… and Coolio was there, promoting Cookin’ with Coolio and Soul Rolls. I don’t actually know what either of those are.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lauren E. here wishing you a very happy Valentine’s Day! The photo below is from my super romantic pre-Valentine’s Day dinner with The BF on Friday night at Tournesol. We like to celebrate early to avoid the ridiculously overpriced (and often disappointing) pre-fixe meals that plague every restaurant in New York on actual V Day. Need a last minute gift for your sweetheart? I suggest whipping up a quick batch of these (dye the batter pink if it suits you!) or these (with pink frosting!), or if you’re feeling particularly outgoing there is always Engagement Chicken.

Just kidding… don’t make that.

Beignets (like donuts) with yogurt, blueberries, strawberry sauce, and crispy honey sugar on top

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City Grit

I’ve found lately that I haven’t really been eating out at many fantastic restaurants. I’m not sure if it’s the cold weather or the lack of funds, but I don’t really have a ton to tell you about by way of must-visit-spots. Until… last night.

CityGrit Presents Jim ‘N Nick’s: City Grit is a “culinary salon”, part supper club part experimental pop-up restaurant. Chef Sarah Simmons and Jeremie Kittredge, the brains behind the brilliance, wanted to provide a unique culinary experience for discerning New York diners by hosting weekly dinners at an old school in Nolita, occasionally catered by chefs and cookbook authors from all over the country. The menu and wine list are always changing, and for a reasonable ticket price, anyone can attend. It’s haute cuisine with a Southern flair, served to the masses with a warm and welcoming hug-from-your-mama vibe about it. Who could ask for anything more?

Barbequed shoulders and roast loin with stone ground grits, braised greens, cracklins, and smoked onion and tomato relish

From Jim ‘N Nick’s, and preparing the meal for the Thursday, January 19th dinner was Chef Drew Robinson. Chef Robinson opened the evening by addresses the 82-person dining room with a quick speech about the importance of pig (you don’t have to tell me, Chef) and the Southern mentality behind preparing it. One of the things that struck me most about this dining experience is the intense passion and love of food that the people involved put into their meals. You may as well be at your grandmother’s kitchen table for all the love that goes into these dishes.

Company salad

On the menu:
Hickory roasted pork belly with tomato chutney aioli
Homemade Berkshire ham and sausage with pickled okra, pimento cheese, and Saltines
Company salad: romaine with pickled vegetables, parmesan cheese, and homemade buttermilk dressing
Barbequed shoulders and roast loin with stone ground grits, braised greens, cracklins, and smoked onion and tomato relish
Bourbon pecan pie
Corn bread mini-muffins

Hickory roasted pork belly with tomato chutney aioli

Verdict: Do I really even have to say it? This meal was incredible. I was literally spreading pimento cheese on pickled okra, coating my corn muffins in pecan pie filling, closing my eyes to savor the deliciously sweet and tender pork… this is BBQ done right, my friends. It’s not haughty or pretentious, just freaking delicious.

PS… can someone please buy me a camera? Kthxbye.

Bourbon pecan pie

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The Germans sure can cook

Okay, so maybe you disagree with that statement. I don’t really care. If you work in midtown, go to the Schnitzel ‘N Things storefront on 3rd Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets. I ordered the pork schnitzel platter with Austrian potato salad and sauerkraut with cranberry compote on the side for only $11! Fantastic. And for your sweet tooth… they serve cookies and brownies from The Treats Truck at checkout! As if you need extra calories on top of your fried meat. Just go. You’ll thank me.

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Throwback to a More Glamorous Time


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m never really one to be on top of the newest and most exciting places. I view this blog as more of a way to bring you along on my journey of discovering “new to me” places and hopefully inspiring you to go or stay away from some of the thousands of restaurants in New York. So when the BF told me he had heard about a new bar located in Kaufman Astoria Studios (the film studio where Sesame Street and The Cosby Show film/filmed at), I figured he had stumbled upon an old article. Turns out the place has only been opened for 2 months. So… ahem… you heard it here first.

The Astor Room 34-12 36th St, Astoria, Queens. You enter the restaurant down a marble staircase, surrounding by gold-framed mirrors and peacock wallpaper. Enter to the left and a piano greets you, followed by a dark mahogany bar and a feeling that you’ve stepped back in time. The bar just reopened but in its hey day in the 1930s, it was frequented by silent movie stars that were filming at Kaufman Astoria Studios. The menu is a throwback, too, with dishes like Dover sole, lobster thermidor, and short rib stroganoff.

On the menu:
Crispy fried calamari over roasted tomato paste with green pepper shavings
Spaghetti carbonara
Double cut coca-cola porkchop
Smoked seven layer chocolate cake


Verdict: It’s aces! It’s keen! It’s swell! (I had to Google “1930’s slang”… in the interest of full disclosure, you know). This place is awesome. The food was SO well done; the pork chop was juicy but crisp and sweet, the spaghetti smooth and buttery, and the seven layer cake sprinkled with gold. Yes, gold. Edible gold. Old world luxury and glamour at its finest, gals and pals. I also have to give props to the amazing staff. I read many reviews of The Astor Room that criticized the service, but I could not have been more impressed. Our wine glasses were never empty, an empty plate never sat on the table for more than two minutes, and on our way out the maitre’d asked if we needed umbrellas to battle the rain. We were never smothered, always taken care of. Loooove love love this place.

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Oh, hello there. Remember me?

Hi friends. Lauren E. here. How many of you are actually reading this after my very long hiatus? I’m gonna guess 3. Hello mom, dad, and… okay, maybe 2.

In any case, I’m back! I made myself a manageable schedule to keep on posting amidst the busy day job schedule I’ve recently inherited. I love my new job but suddenly this blog felt like a chore. “Ugh, I guess I’ll post tonight…” But then I was eating at all these amazing places and missing great recipes in my life and I thought, “Okay, time to get back in it.” A good friend told me if it’s my passion, I can’t just give it up.

So I’m not. I’m not giving it up! And to welcome you back, I bring you a week of Astoria (it’ll be Wednesday to Wednesday… so sue me). Have you been to this neighborhood? It’s the one I live in. It’s the one I love. It’s affordable, it’s safe, and the restaurant scene here is blowing up. Visit us, why don’t cha?

Pachanga Patterson 33-17 31st Ave, Astoria, Queens. The idea behind this restaurant is simple and brilliant. I usually try to reserve my opinion for the “Verdict” section of my restaurant reviews but I just can’t contain myself. I LOVE THIS RESTAURANT and I love the idea that inspired it. In the restaurant world, “family meal” is the meal that the kitchen staff eats after all the patrons have gone home. The meal, built on the remnants of the night at the restaurant and enhanced by the cooks’ expertise, comes out without agenda. Pachanga Patterson’s owners claim that because the restaurants they’ve worked in have had mostly Mexican staff members, no matter the cuisine of the restaurant, all the “family meals” come out with a decidedly Mexican influence. It is these menu items that make up the menu of Pachanga Patterson. Each dish has a Mexican flair, and is made with local ingredients and by expert hands. Small plates, even smaller prices, a cozy tucked-away atmosphere, and a warm staff that takes care of you like you’re part of the family, too.

Braised pork shoulder tacos with crispy pork skin and pickled red onion

On the menu:
Guacamole and house fried tortillas
Chipotle braised short rib tacos with roasted tomatoes and scallions
Berkshire pork shoulder tacos with crispy pork skins and pickled red onion
Panna cotta with pumpkin seed brittle

Verdict: Duh. I love this place. Not only is it literally downstairs from the BF’s apartment, but it is some of the most delicious, well-thought-out, comforting food I’ve had in Astoria. Hands down. The pork shoulder was so tender and perfectly complimented by the crispy bits of skin and juicy, fat slices of pickled onion. The guacamole was DIVINE and the chips fresh. The panna cotta pushed the whole meal over the top, and had me running for the kitchen to make my own pumpkin seed brittle. The restaurant is slowly adding more meals to its hours (recently lunch, soon-to-come weekend brunch… thank God!) and come summer, they have a lovely patio out back, perfect for drinking pitcher after pitcher of sangria and pretending like you’re in Mexico. Ah bliss.

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