June 22, 2010

No. 7

(Photos by Davis Cox)

In the past, I’ve always been fond of dive bars. But lately, as I don’t want to meet a dude who’s crashing on his pal’s couch and smoking a ton of weed in lieu of say, working and I’m going more for an employed guy who wears clothes without holes in them and has well-kempt hair, I am also going for a bar that doesn’t smell and looks nice. I guess as my taste changes in men, so does my taste in bars.

No. 7 in Fort Greene is the perfect place to go for a nice hybrid of non-divey, non-yuppie vibe, complete with laid back dining and drinking. The dimly lit dining spot is, dare I say, handsome, with a long bar leading into a few large bar tables and some quieter tables in the back. They have a small menu, that changes with the seasons, but always includes their famous fried broccoli (broccoli deep-fried, stuffed with cheese and served with slices of grapefruit and onions) – a crowd favorite among my friends. They always give bread, amazing pickles (everyone who hates pickles loves these), and white bean dip (creamy, tastes a bit like cheese). They rotate out different types of sandwiches on their bar menu and larger meals and appetizers on their table menu, always including some sort of tofu concoction, as well as some asian fusion and heartier options, like their chicken fried steak sandwich (below - it’s the BOMB, but unfortunately was taken off the menu for a while. I’m praying steadily for its return).

Their drink menu rotates as well, and my favorite one was taken off last I checked (was my lucky number - 21), but yet again, praying for its return. They have a nice wine selection, and the bartenders are knowledgeable. However, I ignored their suggestions and picked the bottle I liked the most and fell in love with a wine that cost $11 a glass (I discovered later an entire bottle is only $12 from Astor Wine & Spirits, but it doesn’t stop me from getting it on occasion anyway).

Now – the service. I absolutely love all of the wait staff in the back, they’re always helpful and nice. But as a warning, if you want to sit down, get there early. If you want to drink only…get there early. They are always quite busy.

BTW, you might remember my writing partner mentioning No. 7 in her TONY interview (that’s right, Laurel, I’m bringing it up) back in February. This is the perfect place to take her on a date, just don’t do it on a Friday or Saturday night because it’s so crowded it’s almost hard to breathe (also because she’s probably hanging out with me!). - Jennifer

Since the theme of this post seems to be dating, then yes. Take me here on a date. If you don't, I might be here anyway, having a cocktail and eating bread and cheese. YOUR LOSS.

If you didn't know No. 7 was there, you would likely pass it by. It sits behind a subway entrance, and the facade is painted black and dimly lit. The front has a small sitting area with couches in the window, and the bar lining the left wall and proper seating beyond. It feels dignified, but inviting and relaxed at the same time. The crowd ranges in age (but no kids/strollers during my experiences, which is a plus in my book), with an overall neighborhood-y feel.

The menu is small, but big enough for options, and changes slightly with the season. Be sure to order a cocktail, and ask for a bar menu. You can order from it anytime without being at the bar, but they don't provide the menu unless you request it. It has roughly half a dozen more options, all smaller plates but very affordable. My favorite items are the plate of free bread, dip and fresh pickles, and the fried broccoli. The fries (below) are also good, and a hefty portion to share.

Jennifer covered it pretty well (it can get crowded), so I'll leave it at that. Try it out! And take us with you! -Laurel

Address: 7 Greene Avenue at Fulton Street (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

Website: No7Restaurant.com

Payment: Cash, Credit

Delivery: No

Open Late:
'Til 2am

Large Group Friendly:
Not gigantic, but can accommodate large groups

Bar/Happy Hour:
Full Bar, Wonderful cocktails

June 19, 2010

Fairway Cafe

I know what you're asking yourself. What the hell are they doing all the way up at 75th street? It's true, we're both Brooklynites now, and I rarely venture above Rock Center, where I'm (un)fortunate enough to work. But on this lovely day, we were participating in The Race for the Cure in Central Park at the ungodly weekend hour of 8AM. We burned off some calories during the 5K, and decided we should get them immediately back by eating at Fairway for brunch.

The Fairway Cafe is located above the Upper West Side's Fairway Market, and serves breakfast and lunch. There is also a proper restaurant up there, offering semi-fancy dinners, which we did not venture into. The space is fairly large, with one side lined with sunny windows. It's very much has the feel of the melding of a cafe and a diner, and the service is.. meh. But I've had much worse.

The brunch menu includes exactly what you'd expect from a breakfast/brunch menu (pancakes, eggs, meat, waffles, sandwiches, coffee, tea, etc), and we did we what we always do with such a menu- we split. We ordered a special that included a waffle, eggs and bacon, and each got a coffee. The prices are as you'd expect: more than I like to spend on things like eggs, but that's partially because I'm from middle of nowhere America where food is just cheaper (often times boring, but cheaper).

The food was good, nothing incredible and a little bland, but good. It's much like what your Mom would make you if she had time to make you a big breakfast. Except for my Mom, because her omlettes are aaaaaawesome. The coffee was especially good, which, like everything else, is sourced from the market downstairs.

I would like to return sometime, I hear their sundaes are yummy, and--if you're a lobster roll person--I hear theirs is a bargain. -Laurel

My old coworker, Roland, raved about this place all the time. He lives in the UWS, so understandably it is convenient for him. However, as Laurel mentioned above, it’s not so convenient for us.

Nonetheless on that fateful day after I walked and Laurel ran (I’m the much lazier of the two of us), we decided to go to Fairway Café and grab a bite of brunch. If you’ve never been to Fairway Market, you’re missing out on the awesome market, and you should make a point to go there on a less crowded time (a Monday around say, 2pm would probably work). They have virtually everything you can think of, and not too expensive either, with lotsa deals. If you don’t want to go to the UWS, don’t fret. There’s one in Red Hook that has an awesome view of the Statue of Liberty, although a not-so-great café to go with it.

The UWS Fairway Café is much better than the one in Red Hook. The décor simple, but nice – a large open space with mirrors lining the walls and ceilings. As Laurel said, they have a lot of options for brunch and dinner. They are famous for their steak, although it's pricey (which makes sense and yet is kind of weird - it's above a grocery store, after all). The food wasn’t lackluster, but it wasn’t the best meal in the whole world. The waffles were tasty and the eggs cooked how we wanted, but honestly how can you screw that up? The coffee was delicious, but didn’t come in the promised French press that was on the menu.

When we walked in we were barked at by the owner to sit down wherever we pleased then barked at again because we apparently sat in the wrong spot (although it was where we pleased). The server was distracted, not in a my-cell-phone-is-more-important-than-you way, but more so he just seemed stressed.

The best part of the trip was an adorable dude who had just finished playing tennis. Out of everything, I remember this the most (men before food? I'm such a terrible food blogger). If you were playing tennis on the day of the Race for the Cure and ate at Fairway Cafe, meet me back there after this year's race on Sept. 12. I'll be drenched in sweat - I'm actually running this year...

Eat here, fall in love, and buy some fresh coffee from the market below. -Jennifer

Address: 2127 Broadway between 74th and 75th St.

Website: FairwayMarket.com, Yelp

Payment: Cash, Cards

Delivery: No

Open Late: Til 1am

Large Group Friendly: Yep

Bar/Happy Hour: Beer and Wine Only

June 16, 2010

Sweet Revenge

I have an unspoken (until now) goal to eat practically every dessert in New York, and this most definitely includes cupcakes. I love cake, and cupcakes are tiny cakes! Tiny cakes for my big mouth!

So when I heard about Sweet Revenge ages ago, I knew I'd have to give it a try. I wasn't that excited, though, until I heard about their happy hour: a cupcake and a glass of wine for $10. I've gone a couple of times since then, and although it's not my favorite cupcake or drinking spot in the city, there's something to be said for a successful combo of the two.

Their cupcakes come in several flavors, of which I have tried the "pure" (vanilla/vanilla), the "dirty" (chocolate/chocolate), and the "very strawberry" (special of the day). The vanilla has a great real vanilla bean flavor, and wasn't sickeningly sweet as this flavor can often be. The chocolate similarly had a great chocolate flavor, nice and deep but not overwhelming. The strawberry wasn't as flavorful as it could have been, but the batter and icing both had fresh strawberries, which was a nice touch. For all of these varieties, the cake is dense and rustic, but a little dry and very crumbly. The icings are thick and not too sweet, but thick.

Overall, they're good, but not mind-blowing. Sweet Revenge scores points for quality ingredients and flavor, loses a few for price (the cupcakes on their own are pricey) and texture. The wine and beer options are nice, and during happy hour you get a glass of white, red or sangria with your cupcake (all decent wines). It's an intimate space, I'd recommend it for a date or after-work meet up with a friend. It's a pretty great way to wind down at the end of the day. -Laurel

When Laurel first proposed going to Sweet Revenge before dinner with some friends, I was instantly down. I’m a big monetary supporter of the Dessert Before Dinner fad sweeping the nation.*

Sweet Revenge is a cute place, with a few tables, some bar seats and a large selection of booze. It’s not huge, and generally has a steady flow of people so snagging a seat is sometimes difficult at certain times, but we’ve never had a problem. The owner was there the first time we went, and she was pretty awesome, walking us through the different cupcakes and talking about the wine & beer pairings.

Since my favorite ingredient probably in the whole world is chocolate, I of course got their “dirty” cupcake. I ate it in about three seconds, but I can say – it’s delicious. However, as a warning, to most people it would probably be too much chocolate. I also tried the “pure” cupcake. As Laurel said, it’s the perfect amount of natural vanilla bean flavor. They’re most famous for their namesake cupcake, which has peanut butter cake, peanut butter ganache, and…fudge. It’s awesome, if you love peanut butter. Like a cake form of a Reese’s peanut butter cup, only I think you’d like it a lot more. Because I know you and your tendencies, obviously.

As for the booze and cupcake pairings, Sweet Revenge has it down to a fine art. I’m not an avid wine or beer drinker, but I’d say it’s because I’m not the best at pairing such drinks with food, and instead usually just wash everything down with my signature whiskey and ginger. Last time I got the Very Strawberry with their Lunetta prosecco, and it was absolutely perfect. Or you could go for the Dirty cupcake and Kopparberg Pear Cider (love that cider like whoa). Highly recommended if you have a sweet tooth. If you’re not into sweets, they do have a few savory options to pair with beer, including croque monsieur and a chorizo and manchego cheese...cake.

Sweet Revenge is the perfect place to go for after dinner drinks (or like I said, for DBD) or as Laurel said, on a date. Actually, scratch the date - it’d be best to take a friend there after a nasty break up. It’ll get them out of the house, and they’ll get to munch on sweets and drink a lot of booze. Hell, there will probably even be a cute guy or girl there who can be their rebound. Best post break up remedy ever, if you ask me (how's that for sweet revenge?). - Jennifer

*There is no DBD, although I think we should start one.

Address: 62 Carmine Street at Bedford Street

Payment: cash or cards

Delivery: Nope

Open Late: Mon-Thurs at 11pm; Fri-Sat til 12:30am; Sun til 9pm

Large Group Friendly: Nope

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes! Cheaper beers/wine, and a cupcake and a glass of wine for $10
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