June 27, 2008

Shake Shack

Amy was here visiting Memorial Day weekend, and on said holiday her bus out of NY wasn't to leave until 5. We were trying to decide what to do for a few hours and three thoughts popped into my head: A burger sounds really good. The weather's so nice today. I've never been to Shake Shack.

And it was settled. We knew it being a holiday weekend and the weather being so glorious that the wait could be pretty long. But we weren't rushed, and were happy just to be outside.

...And the line was super long. We waited over an hour.

But I have to say, in this situation at least, it was worth it. But more about that in a moment. The menu features exactly what you'd expect: burgers of a few varieties, hot dogs, fries, frozen custard, milkshakes, floats, etc. The prices are fitting I think--considering the ingredients that go into it. I ordered a cheese burger with lettuce and onions (you can add your own condiments), a black and white shake, and cheese fries for the two of us to share. Not exactly "figure friendly" (or health friendly, for that matter), but it's what they do best, and for me it was a rare treat. When in Rome, right?

The burger was beautiful and delicious. It's a nice flavorful mix of meat and was cooked perfectly with a slightly crusty grilled outside and a juicy inside. The cheese was melty and the lettuce was crisp (not that shredded crap), and the onions were diced and conveniently placed on the side for custom dispersement. The fries themselves were crispy but not overly memorable, but the cheese sauce was super tasty--melty and smooth and obviously made of real, flavorful cheese. The shake was of course delicious as well, both creamy and rich.

Amy I and I were both very happy with our purchases and stuffed to the gills, but I will admit it wouldn't be worth the wait all of the time. Depends on just how long the wait really is, and how bad you want it. But man is it tasty. [Note: If you're nearby, they have a live webcam pointed at the line, so you can check and see what the wait is like. They also have a second line for sodas, floats, frozen custard and wine/beer that's for fast pick-ups.] -Laurel

Address: Madison Square Park (Madison Ave and 23rd St)

Website: http://www.shakeshacknyc.com/

Payment: Cash

Take Out: yes

Delivery: no

Open Late: 11pm

Large Group Friendly: As long as you don't mind sitting on the grass. Smaller groups can snag an actual table if you're lucky.

Bar/Happy Hour: yes--they have beer and wine

June 23, 2008

El Pollo (with Guest Reviewer Amy)

I must confess that I love black beans. After seeing that all of the dishes on the menu at El Pollo were accompanied by rice and black beans, I couldn’t say no to this cute little place in Park Slope.

While browsing the menu Laurel pointed out the fried plantains, which I had never had before. We decided to order them as an appetizer and they arrived piping hot. They were delicious but not too sweet. It reminded me of something you might order at the State Fair and the three of us didn’t even get the chance to finish them before our food arrived at the table.

I ordered the chicken stew which was more than enough for one person. The chicken was very tender and arrived in a seasoned red sauce that contained potatoes and carrots. It was especially good paired with the rice and beans and I soon found myself feeling very full.

Aside from the food, I also loved the fact that the restaurant kept crayons at the tables for customers to doodle on paper sheets draped over the tablecloths. The three of us entertained not only ourselves but also the waitress while waiting.

The service at El Pollo was excellent and I definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves Peruvian food or is looking to try something new. –Amy

While in search of some dinner in Park Slope, we nearly passed El Pollo by. Luckily we spotted it, and as soon as I read Peruvian food I was sold.

I’ve liked all Peruvian food I’ve ever tried in New York (which, granted, isn't that much), and El Pollo is no exception. The menu consists of roasted chicken, stews, black beans and rice, plantains, and vegetables. David and I split a half roasted chicken (like a rotisserie chicken) with black beans and rice, and split an order of fried sweet plantains with Amy.

The plantains came piping hot and were very tasty, but then fried plantains are a favorite of mine. They were a little oily, but I pretty much burned my mouth stuffing them in, so that obviously didn’t stop me. The chicken was moist and tender, with great flavor from the spice rub. And the black beans and rice were also and could make a meal on their own.

The prices here are very fair ($9 for half a chicken with rice and beans, $3 for a plate of “maduros,” or sweet plantains).. a bargain, even. The half chicken was plenty of food for two people, especially with the plantains, which were plentiful. The service was fast and friendly, and the crayons were a major bonus. Who doesn’t love to doodle? Stop in and grab some delicious chicken and scribble to your heart's content. -Laurel

Address: 291 5th Ave, between 1st and 2nd St (Park Slope)

Website: http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-pollo-brooklyn

Payment: Cash, Credit Cards

Take Out: yes

Delivery: yes, free with $10 minimum

Open Late: ?

Large Group Friendly: when they aren't busy

Bar/Happy Hour: no

June 4, 2008

Fiddlesticks Pub

We went to Fiddlesticks one night after work largely seeking their happy hour. There aren't many places, especially outside of the LES, that stretch their happy hours until 8. So we decided to try it out.

It's a really big bar, especially by New York standards, with lots of seating, an area in the back that can be reserved and has a pool table, and outdoor seating in the front. Happy hour is only valid at the bar, so that's where we sat ourselves. Now, it just so happens we had cupcakes with us, as I had a cupcake bake-off at work that day. This ended up working to our advantage.

We each got a couple of drinks during happy hour ($4 beer and well drinks) and then ordered some food. They have a bar menu with small, cheaper offerings and bar-style appetizers. The menu covers standard pub fair (burgers, salads, fish and chips). I ordered some nachos ($11) which were huge--blue corn chips with lots of cheese, chili, salsa, jalapeƱos, guacamole and sour cream. They were also pretty tasty, and a fairly good value.

The best part was the bar aspect. The bar tenders were very friendly and reasonably attentive, and gave each of us a free drink or two after happy hour ended. Plus, one of them really liked my cupcake!

Overall, I think we'll be back here sometime after work to unwind, although we hear its nuts on the weekends. Plus, this place gets major points for everyone there being willing to try my cupcakes, and liking them! If only the cupcake bake-off had been judged by these guys... -Laurel

Okay, so this might have been a fluke, but Laurel and I decided that we should always carry around cupcakes. 1) it makes us friends, 2) it gives us FREE drinks and 3) it causes really hot bartenders to talk to us. We originally went to Fiddlesticks to scope it out for my birthday (which is in two weeks for all of those that love me) but we quickly fell in love with the workers, the food, and our fellow drinkers (who also gave us free drinks - holla!)

Irish pubs are my absolute favorite places to hang out. I don't know if it's because I love whiskey, dark lighting, and I've got freckles and red hair, or because I love the Irish in general (minus Notre Dame football. Sorry - just saying). No matter the reason, this place is definitely huge and is a great place to go eat after work. I didn't really try the nachos, but they were overloaded to the max (a good thing). Otherwise, the fish and chips were delicious and I remember loving the fries for sure.

One bad thing about this place though - I hear on the weekends it's far too crowded and the music gets even worse (the DJ didn't have "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough"!!), so it might be safe to avoid on Fridays or Saturdays. In fact, even the bartender said it gets totally crazy. But if you're down for a weekday, I definitely want to go back, just as long as we don't get lost on the way home. Is it just me, or is Greenwich Village a tad confusing? - Jennifer

Address: 56 Greenwich Avenue (at Perry Street)

Website: http://www.fiddlestickspub.com/

Payment: Cash, Credit Cards

Take Out: no

Delivery: no

Open Late: til 4am

Large Group Friendly: totally

Bar/Happy Hour: Happy Hour is until 8pm on weekdays


One good thing about working where Chinatown meets Little Italy is that I'm close to SoHo, the LES, downtown, etc. The bad part is that the majority of the eats around here are cheap Chinese or expensive Italian. Let's just say it gets a little boring.

However, there are fantastic restaurants a little closer to SoHo, and we're lucky that some of them will deliver to us, like Lombardi's. The restaurant is famous for its excellent pizza, but also its long lines. I'm fortunate to be able to order from it where I work, so I never have to worry about waiting. However, Laurel and I decided to brave the lines and see how long it would take on a weekday after work. There wasn't a ton of people there, so we got in fairly quickly. The pizza is a little expensive for...pizza, but it's tasty and worth it. We got the sweet sausage pizza, and it was pretty good, but my favorite would definitely have to be the meatball pizza. It's absolutely yummy. The meatballs are soft and not overcooked with just the right amount of spices. '
And just so you know, the restaurant is a lot bigger than it looks - there is a downstairs. - Jennifer

I really, really love pizza. That is one thing that I really, really love about New York--so much good pizza everywhere. Lombardi's makes a lot of claims.. first this, best that.. it's all over their website and all over their storefront. The long lines bring big expectations!

On a weekday night the wait isn't quite so bad. Jennifer and I waited for about half an hour before we were seated. We paid about $25 for our large pizza (as she said, a little steep in pizza dollars), but I will say it was a good pie. The crust was crispy and very tasty, and the toppings were well-balanced. I was definitely satisfied after devouring a couple of slices. It is pretty similar to Grimaldi's, which has similarly super long lines and which I will have to review at a later time.

The service is decent and the ambiance is...well...okay. The food is definitely the best part, and might be worth it if you go for lunch or a weeknight when you have some time. It'd be even cooler if you are fortunate enough to live or work in the delivery area like my counterpart. - Laurel

Address: 32 Spring Street (at Mulberry)

Payment: Cash

Take Out: Yes

Open Late: Sun-Thurs til 11pm, Fri-Sat til 12am

Delivery: Yes

Large Group Friendly: Yes, but it's busy

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes
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