Tag Archives: New York City

The Upper West Side: A Vast Culinary Wasteland

Citrus

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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Blogging Fail

new_york_city_home

In which I apologize for a distinct lack of posting and explain why that is.

  1. Work has been a madhouse.
  2. I went on vacation.
  3. I moved.
  4. I moved.
  5. I moved.

The good news? I moved to New York City. Or maybe that’s a bad thing, considering how many food bloggers are already here and doing a damn better job than me.

Anyway, I hope to be getting this blog back into fighting shape by September, so please stay tuned!

Friend of a Farmer

2friendofafarmer

The one word I would use to describe Friend of a Farmer, a country restaurant in the middle of Manhattan’s Gramercy neighborhood, is “oasis.”

This is not a restaurant one would expect in the New York suburbs, let alone in the city itself. The closest thing I can compare it to – although it’s painful to do so – is Cracker Barrel. There’s the creaky, natural wood floors, the rural decor and homey, comfort food.

But unlike that bastion of roadside diversion, Friend of a Farmer has the advantage of being one little place within the controlled chaos that is New York City. As a stand-alone shop, the place is not trafficking in mass food in a faux setting with questionable service. Our server was extremely friendly (although with a punkish vibe that would be unwelcome in Kansas) and the cozy atmosphere seemed stripped wholesale from a real country house.

And the food was mmm-mmm good! I honestly can’t remember the appetizers, but it’s hard to forget the entrees, especially when three of the four of our party ordered the same thing. This was the Fresh Roasted Turkey (cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, fresh cranberry sauce & giblet gravy), a Thanksgiving meal on a plate. Enjoyed by my wife, my friend and his fiance, the food captured the quintessential family feel, with succulent pieces of turkey and accouterments worthy of any hard-cooking mom (or dad).

I, of course, picked the least country item on the menu: Honey Glazed Shrimp (mixed greens, mandarin oranges, pears, maytag blue cheese & grapes with a sesame ginger mandarin dressing). This was because 1. I had a big, heavy lunch and 2. my stomach was bothering me, probably because of 1. The salad was extremely tasty, with the tang of the various fruit playing off the sweetness of the shrimp and creaminess of the cheese. It was certainly well-balanced, but I could have used a few more shrimp and definitely more pear.

For dessert… PIE! I would have been extremely disappointed if a place like this didn’t offer at least one homemade pie. Luckily, the restaurant has a mini-bakery in its kitchen, offering a bunch of warm, carby goodies.  Both couples went with the delicious apple crumb pie, a la mode. At first they had run out of vanilla ice cream, but managed to find some tucked away in the back. Between the gooeyness of the pie and the lightness of the ice cream, this was the perfect capper to a country meal.

Since Friend of a Farmer is now a friend of mine, I think I’ll return for breakfast… and brunch… and lunch… and more dinner. Care to join me?

$1 Fruit

I bought an apple today. It cost $1.00.

That is way too much to pay for a piece of fruit.

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.

An Italian Town

As if there was any real doubt, New York is an Italian city.

I know it’s known as the great melting pot, and you can find cuisine from all corners of the globe there. But the standard, go-to food of choice has and always will be Italian.

It’s no surprise, then, that my first two NYC restaurant experiences since returning to the area have been at Italian restaurants. One was surprisingly good, the other… not so much.

CIBO

Located on a nondescript block on 2nd Avenue (near 41st), Cibo would like you to think they serve “contemporary American cuisine with Tuscan-inspired influences.” Really, it’s the other way around.

Not that that’s a bad thing. I love Tuscan food and culture, and appreciate when a chef at least attempts to modernize it. And when the food succeeds under the pressure of a party of more than 20 people, it’s all the more impressive.

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