March 29, 2008

Sotto Voce

Laurel and I headed to Park Slope without an exact destination in mind. All we knew was that we were hungry and 7th Avenue had many restaurants to choose from. We had only walked a block when we stumbled upon Sotto Voce.

The restaurant looked very upscale, but once we saw they offered a prix fixe lunch menu we had to try it. For just $7.95 the restaurant offered: a choice of soup, salad, or a mozzarella and tomato salad; an entrée; and hot tea or coffee. All of this also came with a complimentary basket of bread prior to the meal. I ordered the fusilli primavera, which was excellent. The garlicky pasta was full of fresh vegetables like summer squash, zucchini and mushrooms. The lunch sized portion was just enough and I had trouble believing the meal cost just $7.95.

The cozy restaurant was full of couples and small groups that appeared to be regulars. Given the value, I can see why they return. -Amy

Sotto Voce was a pleasant surprise. It was cozy, had pleasant service, and all of the amenities of a restaurant we should have been paying more for. The salad was mixed greens with vinaigrette, and I ordered Rigatoni Siciliana: rigatoni pasta with tomatoes, roasted eggplant and mozzarella. It was flavorful and tasty. Only downside: a little oily. All this and hot tea.

It was uncrowded when we went, and we sat by the windows and did some people watching. I'm sure it is more crowded during dinner and brunch and the tables are pretty close together. Speaking of brunch, they have a pretty big menu and unlimited drinks (mimosas/champagne/Bloody Marys), pound cake and coffee/tea for $12.95. I will be trying that.

The lunch special was an especially good deal and definitely satisfying, but the dinner and brunch menu look equally appetizing and pretty reasonable priced. I would recommend Sotto Voce as a reasonably priced (especially at lunch) place to get some pretty tasty Italian food in a cozy setting. -Laurel

225 7th Ave & 4th (Park Slope)

Payment: Cash, Cards

Take Out: yes

Open Late: 12:00 am on weekends

Delivery: yes and catering

Large Group Friendly: they take reservations for groups 6 or larger

Bar/Happy Hour: bar, with brunch: unlimited drinks and an entree for $12.95

Cocoa Bar

Amy and I stumbled upon this fun little place after having lunch in Park Slope. Cocoa Bar is cozy and bigger than appearances-- a couple of tables up front and bar seating lead to extra seating in the back. Several tables were occupied by customers taking advantage of the free WiFi and sipping hot chocolates. We picked what we wanted and sat at the bar to stare at the chocolate treats.

Cocoa Bar offers truffles, chocolates, cakes, pastries, brownies, coffees, teas, hot chocolates and wines. We decided upon a coffee, chai latte, and a few chocolates: banana cream pie, cookies and cream, and mint leaves.

My coffee was good (Sumatra was featured that day) and balanced, Amy's chai latte was "the best ever!" and we enjoyed sampling the chocolates. The banana cream pie was a little too sweet, the cookies and cream was sweet but tasty, and the mint leaves was just to our liking-- dark and subtle. They had colorful patterns on top and would make a fun gift for a chocolate lover.

Prices are about average here and the service was good. It's a fun place to stop and hang out if you're in the neighborhood, especially on a gloomy day and you need need some chocolate. -Laurel

Address: 228 7th Ave b/t 3rd and 4th (Park Slope)

Payment: Cash, Cards?

Take Out: yes

Open Late: 1:00 am on weekends

Delivery: no

Large Group Friendly: medium-sized groups should fit

Bar/Happy Hour: wine (becomes wine and dessert bar at night)

March 17, 2008

Chat 'n' Chew

We found this place on our drunken adventures through Union Square. After eating at the Sunburnt Cow, we wandered through shop after shop buying nothing and salivating over everything, until I had such a headache, we just had to eat somewhere. I saw this place and thought the name was hilarious, so we decided to give it a try.

When we entered, the host and I instantly became best friends. In my drunkness, I am not only able attract gay men, but I also generally have more charisma than necessary. This was quite the case. He was my friend, and he wanted me to add him as a friend on Facebook because we were so tight. In fact, he gave me Tylenol from his bag in the back and called me "Drunky" to the waitress, and told her I was trouble! I, of course, completely forgot his name. Too bad, we were going to be best friends.

Unfortunately however, the burger I ordered made me feel awful, and I ordered it well done and it was practically bleeding. On top of it all, the whiskey and coke I ordered to alleviate my headache tasted absolutely terrible and I didn't even finish it. Then we got the bill - $7.50 for it! Okay, I know that isn't that much, but it tasted so bad that I was quite annoyed (I was more so annoyed because I had already spent well over $50 and knew I would spend a ton more).

Either way - you should go hang out with the host and completely ditch the food and drinks at this place. And if you do - will you let me know what his name is, please? -Jennifer

I can't remember his name either. But he was the highlight of this place.

The decor was eccentric and the menu was homestyle-- meatloaf, mac 'n cheese, burgers, etc. I had the soup of the day, chicken noodle. I have to say it tasted pretty good and had big pieces of chicken, but they forgot to take out the bay leaf. Plus, I can't say it's all that hard to make chicken noodle soup. Just isn't!

We all three collectively gave it a thumbs down on value. The food was overpriced for what it was, as we could have gotten the same quality at a diner for cheaper. It may be better for brunch, but I don't know that I'll be going back to find out anytime soon.

Try if you like, but it's not overly recommended by these two eaters. -Laurel

Address: 10 E 16th St (between Union Square W and 5th Ave)

Payment: Cash, Cards

Take Out: yes, and catering

Open Late: 11 pm on weekdays, 10 pm on weekends

Delivery: yes, from 7th Ave to 3rd Ave/10th St to 23rd St

Large Group Friendly: they could probably accommodate.

Bar/Happy Hour: bar, yes - ridiculously expensive disgusting drinks.

Cubana Cafe

Cubana Cafe is a place I could hang out at and nosh from time to time. They have a nicely sized menu of Cuban fair, including sandwiches, soups, quesadillas, plates of chicken or beef with rice and beans, salads, and Cuban breakfast all day. They also offer batidos (traditional Cuban drink), Jarritos sodas, sangria, beer and mixed drinks.

The cafe is situated on the bottom level cozied up between a few shops in SoHo. The decor was colorful and the ceiling seemingly low. We waited around for a table for a bit and ordered a carafe of sangria while we waited ($15). It was tasty and the waitress brought us an extra glass since our's was "mostly fruit"- much appreciated. It evened out to over 2 glasses apiece for four people.

I had a pulled pork quesadilla with onions and jack cheese ($7), which equaled two smallish quesadillas and a little chick pea salad for garnish. The pork was tender and juicy and the combo of flavors was yummy. The service was pretty good and the ambiance was a little cramped but fun. The people next to us sure were having fun.. as in 'I hope the bartender cut them off already' fun.

Mark my words, I'll be trying this place again and you are invited to go with me. Especially during happy hour, when they're drinks and quesadillas are four buckeroos! -Laurel

In a word: yummy. So yummy in fact, I went back the next day for more yumminess.

I was starting to feel sick, so drinking was not a good idea - but otherwise this is just what I needed. When I showed up at the cafe a large carafe of sangria was waiting for me, complimented with the french toast with fresh mangoes I ordered equaled Deliciousness. As I sat there devouring a meal that is not meant for dessert, an older gentlemen in a nice suit was leaning over staring at my food. I turned, to which he commented 'is that french toast?' at my reply of 'yes.' came a 'for dinner?' my eyes must have reflected what almost came out of my mouth, which was, in essence, 'and how the hell is that your business?' because he quickly said, 'looks good,' and ran out the door.

The next day I had a more sensible meal there, consisting of chicken quesadillas and more sangria. This place is simply adorable and quite good, and I hear the bartender can make a mean Hottie Tottie. -Jennifer

Address: 110 Thompson St (b/t Prince and Spring)

Website: n/a (

Payment: cash only

Take Out:
yes, and catering

Open Late: 11 pm

Delivery: yes

Large Group Friendly:
huge groups not recommended.. can fit a party of 4-6 if they're not too busy

Bar/Happy Hour: yes and yes- happy hour M-Th 5-7pm, $4 sangria, beer, mojitos, quesadillas and more.

March 3, 2008

Dumpling House

Obviously we like dumplings. But when you want something comforting for cheap, dumplings really are the way to go. Dumpling House takes cheap eats to a whole other level.

It's a little hard to find if you don't know where to look.. it isn't labeled. The walls are largely bare and undecorated--let's just say you are not paying for ambiance here. But those savings are actually passed on to you. I don't think there is an item on the menu over $3. For example, we got 3 orders of fried pork and chive dumplings (4 in an order), which were $1 each, two small soups and a bottled water, and we paid $6.50 total. We had more than enough food. I don't think I've ever paid that little for that much food in NYC.

And the food was, for the most part, less scary than might be expected. The dumplings were tasty. A little greasy and doughy, but satisfying. And my soup wasn't bad, either. They offer a wide menu and you can even buy their dumplings frozen. The service not especially friendly but definitely efficient. Be aware that there was no plain soy sauce to be found, only a mix with vinegar. So bring your own if that's what you require.

So if you need to eat cheap, fast, and don't require frills, go here and eat your weight for just a few bucks. -Laurel

For someone who loves good food and likes to dine out, I can eat pretty disgustingly. This day, in particular, I had a diner breakfast from Everest Diner, a two cheeseburger lunch from McDonalds (I know - it's disgusting, for real), and the cheapest dumplings I have ever put in my mouth.

Packed with grease, pork, and scallions - these cheap, cheap, cheap little treasures were probably the worst idea I could have done for how much horrid food I had eaten that day. Speaking of which, I have tried my best, since then, to eat as healthily as possible.

Either way - they're definitely worth the buck I paid for them, and probably more. They were filling and quite good, even if they made me a little gassy (did I just admit that?). Wasn't a big fan of the wonton soup...soup part. It tastes like seaweed. Ewww. - Jennifer

ddress: 118 Eldridge St (near Broome St)

n/a (

cash only

Take Out:

Open Late:
not really- 9:30 daily

Delivery: ]

Large Group Friendly:
not overly--they're usually pretty busy

Bar/Happy Hour: no alcohol

The Sunburnt Cow

The Sunburnt Cow, how I love thee. Our beautiful friend Amanda suggested this place, and we went with her - on the fact that everyone that works there was apparently very good looking. Even better, however, was the brunch. $15 for one brunch item, such as eggs, which comes with potatoes and a salad, and unlimited drinks, everything from mimosas to mojitos. Unlimited at least, until Heath cuts you off...

The brunch food was okay (what I can remember of it). Pretty standard, nothing too fancy or out there, but the drinks made up for what might be considered a tad boring of a meal. I simply love this place and look forward to trying out their Fish and Chips place near my work.

Also, just as a note - those waiters and waitresses were pretty hot. And Heath did cut us off. I'm glad for it, even though I was still hungover by 5pm. -Jennifer

(my failed attempt at a picture of heath)

This place really does it the Australian way. Drunk. They offer Aussie-style burgers, which, as I remember eating one in Sydney, were disgusting (BBQ sauce and pickled beets). I, however, tried the omelet, which was pretty tasty and came with mixed greens. If you feel like stumbling around the East Village (or shopping tipsy as we did), it's a great deal.

The staff is largely Australian ex-pats and very friendly. It can get pretty crowded for brunch, and on nice days is known to have a line out the door upon opening, so get there early (don't worry, they don't open until noon). Only real con-- if you are seated anywhere near the bar, the music is LOUD. We had to yell out orders to the waitress, sometimes more than once. So if you're looking to drink most of your brunch, this is the place to go. -Laurel

Address: 137 Avenue C (btwn 8th and 9th)
Payment: cash only
Take Out: yes
Open Late: 4 am on the weekend
Delivery: nope
Large Group Friendly: somewhat. very busy for brunch
Bar/Happy Hour: Drink specials all week long.
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