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February 08, 2005


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No mention of Grocery, probably Smith St.'s most famous restaurant now that they're in Zagat's Top Ten. Have you been there?

Isaac Butler

I have, indeed, been to Grocery, and while I find the food good, the experience is nothing particularly notable-- the food is quality, but I can't remember what I ate there, or much about the place.

Smith street is better when it comes to mid priced and cheaper fair as far as I can tell, but I have not yet eaten at our other flagship fancy place Restaurant Saul, owned by the same people who own Boerum Hill Food Co.

The other great place in my neighborhood is a pricey Mexican food place called Alma, which is best for dining in the summer, with a pitcher of something, watching the sun set over the water.


(i presume too much, it seems. but sometimes i can't help myself.)

i counter with:
1. the time out guide is substantially more useful than so many of the others out there (which continue to proliferate at an alarming rate -- and the michelin guide? puh-leeeeez). i find it particularly good for the trendiest, of-the-moment places, which sucks when, a year later, you realize that half those places have either disappeared or taken a dive in quality. they have really good coverage though, and their bar listing is invaluable.

i highly, highly recommend that you and everyone else get the latest edition of robert sietsema's "food lover's guide to the best ethnic eating in new york city." it is, hands-down, the ultimate for eating your way through the five boroughs and is an especially excellent way for outer-borough virgins to explore unknown territory. unfortunately, i feel that chowhound's days of usefulness have passed. the signal-to-noise ratio is just absurdly low at this point. (egullet and mouthfuls are just more variations on the same old boring them -- even though the latter is supposedly where all the self-appointed "real 'hounders" have set up camp. that is definitely debatable.) sietsema knows his shit, and he has not steered me wrong yet.

2. sripraphai is the place! after you eat here, you'll find that there's little reason to eat thai anywhere else in the city. 64-11 39th ave, woodside, queens. i hate you, nytimes, for reviewing them and creating 1.5-hour waits on the weekend!

3. st. mark's is a good starting point (and crif dogs i love!). just around the corner, at 3rd ave & stuyvesant/9th, there's otafuku for osakan street food: takoyaki and okonomiyaki. a short walk through the LES (stop for gelato at il laboratorio on orchard) will take you to grand & essex, where you can get a bialy (is this junk food? are any of these junk food?) i call them "snacks".) at kossar's (that you eat with your herring in mustard & dill sauce, which, hopefully, you had the foresight to pick up at russ & daughters at houston & ludlow). afterwards, dessert at the doughnut plant. then we've got burgers at burger joint in le parker meridien hotel in midtown. those mini egg cakes from the cart at mott and canal, carrot cake from baked in red hook, marshmallows from city bakery, and -- hey, if you're throwing in burgers, i think i can add pulled pork sandwiches at blue smoke, the pastrami at katz's (no, not 2nd ave and never, not EVER carnegie or whatever the hell else.), ramen at momofuku.

4. prune and the tasting room both top my list of high(er) end new york dining establishments. most recently, i liked jewel bako and loved 5 ninth. the modern at MoMA fuckin' rocks, and i would give my left nut to eat at per se. and hey, what's the deal with the crack about "spending enormous amounts of money on food they don't cook?" sushi is by far the best reason to be insolvent in new york. sushi seki, yasuda, kuruma -- once your tongue and that perfect, perfect slice of o-toro have crossed paths, there is no looking back.

5. you know i'm as big a fan of the 'hood as you are, isaac. and the many food and drink options is one of the best aspects of living in the area. grocery-shmocery. that's all i have to say about that. saul's not bad. i've had one terrible meal at chestnut. though the nytimes has again kicked locals in the ass by writing about crave, this place all the way down henry in carroll gardens. it's been a year since i've eaten there (the primary reason being that i no longer live in the country), but there is soul in their food. you can taste it. and debbie and marco are just fucking cool. fernando's focacceria is also way over there, bordering red hook, and it has amazing old world ambience. get the spleen sandwich. my favorite new york burger can actually be found at the heights cafe, at hicks and montague, and it has everything to do with the bun quality, the bun-to-patty ratio, and the fries. and we have chip shop now!

god, i miss new york.

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