Category Archives: Roundups

The Upper West Side: OK, It’s Not All Bad

big nick inside

Even though I’m thinking of moving all my restaurant reviews to Yelp, I figure I at least owe you this post. And by “you” I mean both my readers (are you still here?) and my neighborhood.

Ready? Let’s do this.

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The Upper West Side: A Vast Culinary Wasteland


It really saddens me to say this, but my new neighborhood is a vast culinary wasteland.

Sure, I haven’t eaten out nearly as much as I used to. The economy and the fabled NYC cost of living increase has certainly taken their toll. However, the wife and I have tried several eateries in the past month and a half, and we were not impressed.

To wit:

Citrus (photo above)

This restaurant is only a few block from my apartment and boasts “Latin fare with Asian flair.” It’s a fun motto, which is matched by the almost clubby atmosphere of the interior. It’s a modern place, very glossy looking, with the patronage to match.

Unfortunately, the food’s not very good.

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Random Meal Roundup


As you may have noticed, my posting frequency has taken a nosedive over the past few months. I won’t go into all the excuses, but I think this once-a-weekend schedule is probably going to be sticking around for a while.

Since I’m now doing a lot of quick hits on Twitter, I’m going to try to give you longer, more in-depth reads for the main site. That’s why I’m smushing together three separate meals into one amazing article (amazingness not guaranteed).

Let’s get started…

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Food Cart Craziness

Everywhere I look, someone’s writing about food carts.

Details magazine just put up a compilation of the best in the nation. Then there’s one of my new favorite sites, Midtown Lunch, who do a semi-scientific survey of the meat-over-rice carts around the area of Bryant Park. It’s a piece they like to call Street-Meat-Palooza.

Even the UPenn crowd is getting more sophisticated about their carts. The new Penn Food Trucks site carefully rates, organizes and maps the various mobile eateries around campus.

So, why the increased focus on food carts? Maybe it’s the economy, or maybe it’s just the personalities.

But one thing’s for certain: those people you buy all this luscious food from aren’t just vendors. They’re members of the human race.

If you still have the energy, check out the only cart I wrote up in Philly.

Jersey so far

It’s now been more than a month since I moved from Motown Philly to Bergen County, New Jersey – land of well-manicured lawns, gigantic strip malls, and alcohol-less Sundays.

The suburban lifestyle is quite a turnaround from our previous urban environment. We can’t walk to restaurants, convenience stores, movies or just about anything. And with only one car, let’s just say I’ll be cooking more often.

However, my wife and I have found some time to go out and eat together so far, and we’ve gravitated to Ridgewood: an affluent town center a few miles south of us teeming with restaurants, boutiques and other rich-folk amusements. In general, the food has been good, though nowhere near amazing.

Other than the Country Pancake House, here are our other conquests:


Probably the best of our Ridgewood meals thus far, this BYOB (they actually exist outside of Philly!) is a quaint, casual food factory with all the warmth and attention of mom’s kitchen. It’s described as a Mediterranean place but leans heavily toward Greek and Turkish, with lots of spinach, stews and fish specials.

We shared a sampler appetizer with grape leaves that were among the best I’ve ever tasted. For entrees, we both ordered fish specials, although I can’t quite remember the details. They were both white fish and both were perfectly tender and delicious. We barely found room for dessert, but the baklava looked too amazing to pass up. It was.

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I’m back

I was all ready to write this post a week ago, but then my wife graduated vet school, my computer went bust, and projects piled up at work. My sincerest apologies for the two week absence of your Man Eat Food fix.

Anyway, I have a huuuuuuuuuuge back list of stuff I need to get to, including a whopping FIVE restaurant reviews and assorted other goodies.

For now, I’m going to run down a few neat things from the Florida Keys. They are not all food related, but they’re fun. Or, they were fun to me when I was down there.

Bahia Honda Beach

The Keys are not known for their beaches, but this one, where I took a picture of the “broken” bridge, is known as one of the best. In fact, it was recognized as the “Best Beach in America” at some point in the 90s. The water was a steady 80 degrees and always that perfect aquamarine color.

Crane Point Museum and Nature Center

It was scorching when we walked around this nature preserve, which included a small museum and bird sanctuary. The hut at right was built by the land’s original occupant who used to collect natural sea sponges and sell them at the market in Key West. I’m not sure how he survived the summers without air conditioning.

Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

Probably one of the coolest places we visited. It’s literally a butterfly “factory” housed in a small greenhouse. Thanks to the abundance of the colorful butterflies, birds, and fish, it feels like you’ve just entered Narnia, or some other enchanted land.

Hemingway House

Most people come here for the literary history, but we were all about the cats. An inbred deformity cause them have more toes than usual (as you can see by the slumbering cat at right). These “polydactyls” are quite funny looking, but completely harmless. There are dozens of them running free over the property and even a graveyard for former feline tenants.

Sunset Celebration

There are fire eaters, human statues, and all manner of other performers leading up to the spectacular sunset on Key West. This family of English contortionists were probably the most crowd pleasing of the acts.

And I’ll leave you with the most ridiculous sight from our vacation: overfed tarpon gathering at the docks like pigeons around stale bread.

Fat fish: only in America.

Food News Roundup

1. Irvine Robbins, co-founder of Baskin-Robbins ice cream, died at the age of 90.

We used to have a Baskin-Robbins in my neighborhood when I was a kid, and I would always get World Class Chocolate. I have no idea if that’s still part of the “31 flavors” at the current stores (now owned and operated by the Dunkin’ Donuts conglomerate), but going to that B-R for the first time will forever be one of my warmest ice cream memories.

2. Melograno, still the number 1 restaurant on my Philly Top 10, has lost its lease and will move this summer.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Food and Drinq blog:

Melograno, one of the best-received of the recent crop of mom-and-pop BYOs, has lost its lease after five years.

July 28 will be its last day at 22d and Spruce Streets, says Rosemarie Tran, who owns Melograno with her husband, Gianluca Demontis.

They’re relocating to 2010 Sansom St. — same name and concept — and hope to be up and running in September, taking advantage of their usual August vacation.

Although its current neighborhood is much nicer, I can’t complain since they’re moving around the corner from me. As long as the quality stays high, I’ll be there on a regular basis.

3. Who added the extra “r” in shebert?

If you just pronounced that last word like “sherbert,” join the crowd. Thankfully, we have Anu Garg of MSN’s new On Words column to show us the folly of our ways.

The word is from Arabic, but it took a scenic route to English. It stopped by Persian and Turkish before reaching the shores of the English language. In Arabic šarbat is a drink. (By the way, the word syrup is a cousin of this word.)

Don’t worry, his daughter got it wrong too.