Tag Archives: bars

New York – May, 2014

20 Jul

Wow! It has been a long time since I’ve updated this blog and I absolutely blame my absence on being busy, with a hint of laziness. Life has been wonderfully busy as I have recently started a new job…in the food industry! I’m so excited to have finally made my dreams of working in the food industry a reality, that I’ve been completely absorbed with learning all that I can and that means that I’ve had no energy for my hobbies. Hopefully I can find a balance soon.

I had a week between jobs so my sister and I made a last-minute decision to fly to New York for a quick trip. We learned that May is a glorious time to visit the city that never sleeps. The flowers were in full bloom, the weather was warming up but not yet humid, and the city didn’t feel overly busy. Having been to New York a few times, this trip was all about taking it easy, avoiding the touristy stuff, and eating and drinking our way through NYC. Unfortunately, as our trip was last-minute, we didn’t get into some of the restaurants that I had really wanted to visit (at the top of the list was the NoMad restaurant). I also couldn’t afford to do the high-end experience that B and I had on our last trip so, instead, we explored the more affordable side of the New York food scene.

Spring time in New York = lots of flowers!

I was less adventurous this time around when it came to food and we ended up going back to a few places from my last trip with B, so that I could show them to my sister. These included Eataly (always reliable), Shake Shack (meh, won’t be going back again), Blue Bottle coffee, and Magnolia Bakery (we know this place well!)

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Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes (I still love these, regardless if people think they are over-rated).

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Eataly – Buffalo mozzarella with olive oil and sea salt. Classic. Perfect.

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Eataly – Ravioli filled with spring pea, ricotta, pecorino, mint, and finished with butter and asparagus – superb!

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Eataly – Tagliatelle with short rib ragu

I had wanted to visit Momofuku Milk Bar last time I was in NY but could only find the time to get to the UrbanSpace market stall. This time, I made it my mission to visit an actual store. We ended up at the East Village location on East 13th street (I recommend that if you go here to also time it with a visit to Momofuku ssäm bar as they are across the street from each other). I wasn’t as taken with the things that we tried as I’d hoped to be. I found that the crack pie, which is what they are famous for, was a bit of a disappointment. To me, it just tasted a lot like pecan pie, without the pecans. I still absolutely adore their birthday cake truffles though – I ended up with two bags of those to take home.

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Cereal Milk Soft Serve

P1080661The famous Crack Pie

We made the mistake of spending most of our first day getting to, and visiting, Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. Smorgasburg is an outdoor market, right on the water in Brooklyn (great views of Manhattan). With over 75-100 food vendors on offer, it sounds like heaven. Unfortunately, I found it more like my personal hell. There were soooo many people at the market that we couldn’t even see what most of the vendors were selling. The line-ups for the vendors were ridiculously long and, once you’ve managed to get some food, it was difficult to get a spot to eat it. Personally, I won’t be going back even though I love the concept.

Although we didn’t try too many new food places, we did try a lot of bars. My favourite bar of our trip was Employees Only. Hidden down in the West Village, the cocktails and the prohibition bar atmosphere were awesome. We actually popped in for “one drink” but end up staying for three. I could have gotten into a lot of trouble at this bar as every cocktail was tempting to me.

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P1080667Cocktails from Employees Only

Not too far from Employees Only is The Top of the Standard. Here is a tip: save your money and avoid the long line-ups at The Empire State Building or The Top of the Rock and, instead, soak in the impressive city views from the Top of the Standard for the cost of a cocktail. Personally, I found it a bit pretentious but worth suffering through for the views.

We started to do a bar crawl through the East Village but couldn’t get to even half of our wish-list as the East Village has so many excellent drinking spots. The ones we did visit were Amor y Amargo and Mayahuel. Amor y Amargo is probably the smallest bar I’ve ever been in, which creates a very intimate atmosphere. They are all about the bitters here and the cocktails are interesting as a result. Mayahuel has a strong focus on tequila and mezcals and, again, has some very interesting (and dangerously tasty cocktails) on offer.

Due to lack of time, we missed out on going to Crosby Street Bar (in Soho), PDT, Booker & Dax, Death and Company (over an hour wait), Beauty & Essex, and Schiller’s Liquor Bar. I plan on spending two nights the next time I’m in NY, just exploring the bar scene in the East Village.

My perfect New York trip would include some of the high-end places from our last trip (Eleven Madison Park is a must-visit) and I would combine those with some of the bars that we visited. I still have a very long list of places that I’d like to visit when I next return (Buddakan is one of them) so this isn’t it for me and New York.

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Paris on my mind…

1 Mar

Paris…who hasn’t daydreamed of Paris? There are many reasons why this city, the City of Lights, gets under people’s skin. For me, Paris has the perfect blend of beauty, food, art, architecture, and an appreciation of the finer things in life.

I don’t claim to know Paris well. I’ve been there a number of times but only twice recently – so I’m no expert. But thankfully, I don’t need to be, as there are many experts out there sharing info with us. Whilst I was researching our trip, I came across many blogs, articles, and books written about Paris so we ended up with quite an ambitious list of food stops for our limited time in the French capital.

The streets of Paris

If you don’t enjoy spending hours researching and cross-referencing your list, like I do, then you are in luck! Below, I am sharing my list of places that I had hoped to visit on our trip. I can’t vouch for most of them as we simply did not have the time to visit them all but I’ve put a star next to the ones that we actually made it to. As you can see, there are lots left for us to try next time we go. In the meantime, I will continue to daydream about our next trip to Paris…

Restaurants & Bistros:

Verjus – 52 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 – LOVED this place! I highly recommend a visit. Very quaint and romantic and the food was incredible.*

L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon – 5 Rue de Montalembert, 75007 – Whilst our overall experience wasn’t what I had hoped it to be, there was no denying that the food was flawless.*

Le Chateaubriand – 129 Avenue de Parmentier, 75011 – Although the Le Chateaubriand menu was a little adventurous for this dull foodie, it is highly rated on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant List (#18).*

Septime – 80 Rue de Charonne, 75011 – I really wanted to visit as it is ranked 49th on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant List and has a lot of buzz, but we missed out – book in advance!

L’Ami Jean – 27 Rue Malar, 75007 – I like that these guys don’t take themselves too seriously but the food is highly rated. The rice pudding dessert is a speciality.

L’auberge du 15 – 15 Rue de la Sante, 75013 – Disappointed to have not made it to this one. Reviews are extremely positive and the food sounds and looks incredible, albeit pricey.

Le Grand Vefour – 17 Rue de Beaujolas, 75001 – This would only be for a splurge as prices start at about €80! I’ve heard that the lunch special (€98) is better value for money and, with its opulent decor, it would make a perfect location for a romantic dinner. This post should whet your appetite – look at that cheese plate!!

Les Ombres – At the top of the Quai Branly museum – I was more keen to visit for the spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower than the food, which got pretty average reviews.

Le Timbre – 3 Rue Sainte Beuve, 75006. Lots of great reviews about this small bistro. Open for lunch and dinner.

Chez Paul – 13 Rue de Charonne, 75011 – Recommended by resident Paris foodie, David Lebovitz. Popular with locals for its well-made bistro fare.

Bistrot Paul-Bert – 18 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 – Another traditional bistrot. The steak frites and the desserts come highly recommended by David Lebovitz. This review, with pictures, should get you interested.

Cafe Constant: 135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 – No reservations accepted, looks cute and very reasonably priced at €23 for a 3 course dinner.

Wine Bars:

Septime Cave  – 3 Rue Basfroi, 75011 – A wine bar brought to you by the same people that run well-known and popular, Septime (restaurant).

Verjus – 47 Rue Montpensier, 75001 – If you can’t get into Verjus the restaurant, try their bar instead. Apparently the fried chicken is a must-order (not very French, but who cares?! It is fried chicken!!

O Chateau – If you are new to French wines and would like to sample some different varieties, or maybe you’d like to partake in a wine course, perhaps try this place. Their wine bar has over 40 wines by the glass, which allows for a lot of sampling.

Patisseries, Chocolatiers & Boulangeries:

Gerard Mulotmultiple locations – Our hotel was charging €15 pp for breakfast, we said screw that, and walked to Gerard and picked up freshly baked buttery croissants with coffees for about €7 for the two of us. Gerard’s cabinets are lined with food porn (see pic below). I challenge you to walk out with just one thing! You can also pick up some supplies for picnics here (salads, quiches, sandwiches, fresh bread, pastries). Yum! *

Eric Kayser – multiple locations – A popular chain of boulangerie that makes bread worth lining up for. Stock up here for supplies for picnics (breads and pastries). *

Pierre Herme – 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 – If it is macarons that you want, then this is one of the places you should try whilst in Paris. Expect to queue but also expect incredibly interesting flavours, such as white truffle with hazelnut. *

Jean-Paul Hévin – multiple locations – Perhaps pastries and breads don’t float your boat? If you are a chocolate fiend, get your butt to Jean-Paul Hévin. Everything is exquisitely presented like only the French can do.*

Le Grenier a Pain – 38 Rue des Abbesses, 75018 – Gourmet Fury, another passionate foodie, highly recommends Le Grenier as the best croissant in Paris. I didn’t make it out that far but I must admit it looks pretty good. Certainly on my list for next time. 

Gerard Mulot – Loved this place!

Coffee

Telescope – 5 Rue Villedo, 75001 – We really liked this place. Cute, small, tucked away on a side street – definitely worth the trek for the fabulous coffee.*

La Cafeotheque – 52 Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 75004

Coutume Café – 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007

Telescope coffee – worth hunting down

Cheese & Markets:

Rue Mouffetard Market – an open air market in the 5th arrondissement.

Fromagerie Sanders: 4 Rue Lobineau, 75006(inside Marche Saint Germain)

If you are too intimidated to go to an actual cheese store, try to find a small supermarket (we stumbled upon them every now and then) and raid their cheese fridges. These aren’t the same pitiful cheese selections that you’ll find in your North American supermarket. We walked out with huge wedges of cheese, and bottles of wine and Champagne for a fraction of what it would cost in the restaurants (and back home).

Great sources of information:

www.parisbymouth.com

www.lostincheeseland.com

www.godiloveparis.blogspot.ca – This blog and the author’s book “Paris, My Sweet” are must-reads for those travellers with a sweet tooth.

www.davidlebovitz.com/paris/ – David is a wealth of knowledge on the Paris food scene and he shares it all on his blog. I found this post of his particularly helpful at building anticipation for the trip.

www.smokysweet.com/roaming/paris/ – Vancouver-based foodie who has some great suggestions for Paris foodie experiences.

Article by Mark Bittman of the New York Times

Pourhouse

17 Nov

162 Water Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 1B2

T: 604 568 7022
www.pourhousevancouver.com

Brief Description: A new-comer to the Vancouver bar scene, Pourhouse packs a punch with comfort food and strong, well-mixed drinks served up with a generous portion of charming ambience.

With its old town charm, Gastown is easily my favourite area of the city to go drinking. With the kind of character – and characters – that Gastown is renowned for it is inevitable that the bars in the area would also be dripping in personality rather than being just more faceless, cookie-cutter bars. Six Acres, Irish Heather and Alibi Room are among my favourites. And now the new kid on the block, Pourhouse, is quickly on its way to joining that list. My first impressions of Pourhouse were: too expensive and slightly pretentious. Perhaps it was the white-linen table cloths or the overly fancy hostess that gave me this impression but after a few visits I now know that this is not the case.

A quaint spot with exposed brick, wooden beams and soft-lighting, the feel of Pourhouse is that of hospitality and charisma. A lot of care has been taken to give the bar a turn-of-the-century feel and so all of the furniture has either been made or found by the owners, including the imposing wood bar. Even without a physical barrier, the bar somehow feels separated from the dining room, giving both areas an element of privacy. By perching yourself at the bar you can easily chat with the friendly and very knowledgeable bar-staff whilst eyeing up the rest of the clientele. I’ve yet to sit in the dining room but I’d say that if the service is like the bar service then it too would be effortless and casual.

The dining area, complete with white linen table cloths, feels upscale which really is at odds with the menu which focuses on modern-comfort food. You will find sandwiches, such as beef brisket or crispy cheese, as well as warming foods such as pork and beans, beef shortribs, pasta and a few varieties of fish dishes. From experience, I can tell you that the pappardelle (with chicken, artichokes and cherry tomato fondue) was delicious and great for a cold, miserable evening.

Dagwood sandwich

B just loves his sandwiches and has tried the Sloppy Joe and the Dagwood and enjoyed both. The Dagwood is a simple medley of meats packed high between thick slices of white bread. Although there are a few token salad veggies hidden in there somewhere, this sandwich is bound to make any man happy. Sandwiches can be accompanied by fries which are deliciously salty but because they are so good they are prone to being stolen by opportunistic girlfriends. Guys, you’ve been warned.

Crispy Cheese Sandwich

I thoroughly enjoyed the crispy cheese sandwich which was served with a bowl of house roasted tomato soup. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I do the one at Burgoo (oh, stop it – I am drooling) but it still hit the spot on a Saturday afternoon with a cold beer.

Neon Squid

The neon squid, at only $10, was beautifully cooked and very well presented. It tasted meatier somehow than regular squid and was tender, rather than chewy. Worth trying if you find yourself at Pourhouse.

Final Thoughts: With better-than-average pub food and an extensive drink selection, I can only foresee Pourhouse gaining popularity. I, for one, will be making it a regular stop.

Pourhouse on Urbanspoon