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just my opinion dbgb, porsena, peels, 5 points, etc

j
jrnlmkr Mar 27, 2011 07:46 AM

i've now lived in new york for nearly four months and my eating adventures continue. all in all it was not a very good eating week for my bf and i.

my boyfriend was craving a hamburger and after going to market table where we were told the kitchen was closed and minetta tavern, where the door was locked, we ended up at dbgb, where we sat at the nearly empty bar and ordered two burgers and some brussel sprouts.

if you've read any of my reviews before, you know i'm not a big fan of dbgb. i want to love the place, but each of the three times i've visited, it has let me down in one way or another. here's how our meal went down:

there was a couple, seemingly vineyard owners from california, seated at the end of the bar. they were quite demanding of the bartender and he must have thought he was going to be rewarded handsomely because i'm pretty sure he licked them when no one was looking.

i ordered the burger and asked if i could have greens instead of fries. my bf ordered the top of the line burger and added some brussel sprouts for good measure. when the runner placed the food at the end of the bar, the bartender looked at it, grabbed one of the burgers and took it back to the kitchen. the other burger, mine, was left on the end of the bar, for at least five minutes, maybe more, until he returned. Turns out he'd noticed my bf's burger was made without cheese and had run back to the kitchen to get some melted on top. great. except anyone who has worked in the restaurant biz knows, at a high end restaurant, if you return one thing to the kitchen, you return the whole table's food, so guests don't have to sit and watch their meal grow cold.

My burger was served at room temperature, with fries, not a salad and it was full of gristle. ick. and kind of hard to believe that such a our sausage is homemade kind of place would serve sub par meat. meanwhile, the folks at the end of the bar were enjoying mini tasting glasses of nearly every beer on tap courtesy of the bartender who was handily ignoring us.

i'd like to think we live in an egalitarian world where waiters and bartenders treat everyone the same but, alas, that is not the case. i do, however, enjoy watching the face of the person who has ignored us hard during our visit when he looks at the check presenter and sees my boyfriend has tipped 30%, his standard. I love watching the "oops" creep across his face as he realizes he goofed, underestimated us, and bet on the wrong horse.

last night, we went to porsena where i've been dying to go for a bit now. at 7:45 on a saturday i called to see if we could pop in and the hostess graciously invited us to get there quick as a table had just opened up.

we were seated immediately which was great since we'd told her we'd be there in fifteen but in reality it had taken us closer to thirty.

for me, the room was a bit spare and cold, though i loved the cork covered tables and the potted rosemary was a lovely touch. I felt like i was sitting in a really long tube with a really interesting piece of art way down at the far end that i could sorta kinda see, but not quite. on the long wall, there was an odd collection of random framed things hung with seemingly no thought given to spacing or proportion or style, as if right before opening night someone said, "hey that wall looks kinda empty, grab a hammer and some nails and see if you can find a couple of posters at the thrift store down the street."

turns out, the table next to us was VIP, so most of our meal was spent looking at the ass of the chef, who stood talking to them for what seemed like forever. as we waited for our food, we heard her offer to cook up something special for them, offer to handpick the piece of meat they were to be served and describe every item on the menu in minute detail. nice because lots of sexy italian was flying back and forth and i love that, not nice because our waiter was so busy taking care of them, we were nearly forgotten.

i won't go into too much boring detail, but everything really. needed. salt. (mr vip next door asked for a shaker and added his own.) the pasta was cooked well, but the ragu was dry and under sauced. on the positive side, the lasagna had a really nice herbal quality. i can't speak to the desserts because by the time a menu was brought to us, my boyfriend declined mouthing to me, "i can't wait another 45 minutes. let's get out of here."

this week, we also went to five points, a sister restaurant to cookshop, one of our favorites.

i absolutely loved the ceiling height flowers and spent most of the night trying to figure out how i could replicate the effect in my apartment on my budget of negative five dollars.

we were surrounded by three sets of regulars at the bar and like our above described dinner at porsena, we really felt, well, not special. between being ignored by the bartender, we ate a nice salad with dates, some overly chewy octopus, and a pizza with greens, i think spinach, that i'd go back for. often. which might surprise you after i describe the things that happened during our visit. the spinach pizza was really that good.

at one point, trying to get a pickle out of the pickle jar, the bartender stuck his whole ungloved hand in the plastic tub, fished around, grabbed a pickle, then put the lid back on. gross.

but even grosser considering a a few moments before he'd sliced a piece of burger off the guest to our left's plate. she had complained it wasn't as good as usual and pushed it away half eaten when he hacked off a hunk and popped it into his mouth with his fingers.

reminder to self. do not eat pickles at five points.

to my right, the conversation turned to weddings and the guests and the bartender loudly discussed the difference between people's behavior at christian and jewish weddings. "at christian weddings," the guest said, "when the ceremony is over people are lined up six deep at the bar," then added, "at jewish weddings they are six deep at the food table. ha. ha. ha." while a bar guest can talk about anything he wants, i was kind of offended to hear the bartender join in.

during the time we were seated at the bar, perhaps an hour, or an hour and a half, every single dish brought out from the kitchen was presented to us. seriously, even in the middle of our dessert, the runner came out with some sort of appetizer and asked if we'd ordered it. once. ok. twice. amusing. but come on guys, you are professional restauranteurs, it isn't that hard to put a seat number on the tickets going to the kitchen. and if you can't handle that, give the food to the bartender who will place it in front of the proper guest.

oh, but that spinach pizza.

ok, now that i've gotten that off my chest, i did have two really nice meals this week. the first was at hung ry which although i'd heard such great things about the place, absolutely went above and beyond my expectations.

i arrived nearly 45 minutes before my bf and sat at the counter with a glass of wine which was generously topped off by the bartender and which, by the way, got me quite tipsy. as i waited, chefs and waiters both conversed with me, answering questions about the food, offering to get me a snack. it wasn't intrusive, but i certainly wasn't ignored and given my experiences earlier in the week, i really really appreciated that.

when my bf arrived, we ordered a fish appetizer, i think mackerel. as we were eating, the noodle puller started to do his thing and i leaned over to my boyfriend and whispered in his ear, "i bet that guy gets laid a lot." seriously, who knew noodle pulling was so sexy?

the wine haze makes it difficult to remember exactly what kind of noodles i ate, but i'm thinking oxtail with baby carrots and macadamia nuts, though i seem to remember the menu listing brazil nuts. either way, the broth was nice, the noodles nice, the meat nice and the nuts, yes, a nice touch.
a small scoop of ice cream for dessert was a perfect foil to the salt and we left completely happy.

my other nice meal of the week was at craft bar, fast becoming a fav.

the bartender remembered what kind of bourbon i'd had in my manhattan the previous week and checked to see if i wanted to stick with that or try some rye instead. the drink was delicious, as usual, but i do wish their pour was a bit more generous.

when i was a kid in detroit, we used to have lunch often at a place called the st clair yacht club where they had the best bread sticks in the world. i'd make a meal of them with salty butter and a salad coated in sweet poppyseed dressing.

the breadsticks at craft bar are so so so much better and we all know it is hard to top a childhood memory. they are salty and buttery and crunchy with the perfect crumb and, though you have to ask for butter, when they bring it the pat comes with a generous crumble of sea salt. those breadsticks make me so happy, i actually think about wrapping some in a napkin and sneaking them into my purse.

for me, a meal of those sticks, and an open faced sammie of melted fontina cheese on toasted bread with pan fried mushrooms that are so greasy good they might as well be deep fried and a scoop of apple celery sorbet can make the sun shine on even the shittiest day.

today, i'm going to barbuto. i'll let you know how that goes.

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Craftbar
900 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

DBGB
299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

Porsena
21 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

Hung Ry
55 Bond St, New York, NY 10012

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    sam1 Mar 27, 2011 09:21 PM

    i feel like you are visiting all of the wrong restaurants. general consensus says that dgbg isnt any good...same with porsena. five points is pretty mediocre...as is the food at cookshop after finally coming to terms with this fact. i like cookshop's vibe once in awhile but the food is very mediocre.

    hung ry is enjoyable but i havent been compelled to return. with warmer weather on the horizon, i doubt ill be there until the fall.

    judging by the location, you may be living near bowery and 4th street...here are some recommendations in your immediate area:

    -wasan...BYOB...excellent cooked japanese. the uni lover, the beef on a salt bar...nearly everything i have had has been enjoyable. dinner for two was $75 and we ate everything.

    -vandaag...only for lunch or brunch or for a drink. i did not like my dinner here but its a great looking spot and the brunch is nice and serene. get the bitterballen (sp?)

    -prune...a straight classic for a reason. weekday lunch is a gem if you can get over there. id skip the weekends though.

    -i much prefer eating at noho star than five points btw...similar american comfort food. better service and crowd.

    as for peels, i didnt read your review but i go there frequently...and im not sure why. the food isnt very good. i just like the space i guess. they do make a good cup of stumptown coffee. if you keep it simple, it shouldnt disappoint.

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    Cookshop
    156 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

    Noho Star
    330 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

    Prune
    54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

    Vandaag
    103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Peels
    325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

    Wasan
    108 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003

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