The Bunker Club

24 9th Avenue (@13th Street)

New York, NY 10014

212-837-4700

Last week I went and checked out The Bunker Club, a new underground club in the Meatpacking district.  A good friend and former bartender at The Box is running the door so we went to pay our respects.  And, while we weren’t sure what to expect initially, it’s a pretty sweet spot.  The whole place is sort of speakeasy-ish, a discreet dingy staircase entrance leads down to an exposed brick vaulted dance hall where no sounds are coming in or out.  It is a pretty big space, one long bar when you first come in, with oversized leather tufted furniture, then a checkered dance floor and additional bar towards the back.  The club is definitely geared towards bottle service, but chilled out drinks at the bar include specialty cocktails like the Army & Navy, Moscow Mule, and Diamond Merchant.  Oh yeah, and they only serve one beer: Radeberger.  We were there on the early side, so it wasn’t busy yet, but the crowd was cool, the door seemed strict, and the bartenders were hot.

Brought to us by the same people from The Beatrice, which we all loved so much and miss even more, I think The Bunker Club shows high hopes of becoming our next favorite smoke filled you-know-what-infused late night party spot.

Doors open at 10.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on November 30, 2010 at 7:22 am  Comments (2)  
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Rabbit in the Moon

47 W 8th St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 473-2800

I recently tried Rabbit in the Moon, a fairly new gastropub in the West Village. I was there for drinks a few days before and I wanted to go back because I thought the setup was so cool.  There are two floors, two bars, and every table is unique; tucked away in some corner or cove, kind of how I would imagine the local pub to feel like if one existed in Alice in Wonderland. A cozy, cool feel with just the right amount of creepy old-fashioned British. The drinks were delicious and strong too…

We shared a bunch of appetizers: roasted scallops, salmon belly tartar, and some housemade ricotta gnocchi.  It was all good.  The scallops were the best, perfectly cooked and finished off with caviar. We both agreed that they were some of the best in NYC.

I enjoyed everything at Rabbit in the Moon, the only gripe my friend had was some of the music. Billy Joel, MGMT, I liked it, but those of you who know me understand that my musical tastes are somewhat questionable, I’ll stick to food.  While the food on the menu sounds heavy, it was nice… The portions were appropriate and the ingredients were fresh. I’m definitely planning on going back and/or recommending Rabbit in the Moon to friends!

P.S. While the Internet has given it mixed reviews regarding bouncers, (http://ny.eater.com/tags/rabbit-in-the-moon), my friend and I thought it was awesome.  The food is great, drinks are tasty, and the people inside are pretty… yeah I said it.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 3:49 am  Comments (1)  
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Vandaag

103 2nd Avenue (@ 6th Street)

212-253-0470

A few weeks ago some friends and I checked out Vandaag, the East Village’s newest Dutch café located in the space formerly home to Bounce on 2nd Avenue. The atmosphere at Vandaag is open and clean lined with comfortable booth seating in a friendly environment.  Chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark presents traditional Dutch flare with menu items such as “pickle-pots,” “bitterballen,” and quail.

The drink menu was cool, full of Akvavits, a traditional Scandinavian beverage. (All of you reading The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo may recognize this one.)

As for the food, now this may just be an issue of personal taste or our uncultured palates, but my friends and I were not impressed.  One appetizer we ordered, smoked pickled sausage (sounds great right?) was literally just a couple of cold hotdogs cut in half served in a shot glass.  The artichoke was served cold too, fine, just not what we were expecting.  The entrées were nothing but mediocre as well.  I ordered the pork chops and of the three pieces there were about 2 ½ bites that were not just all fat, it was pretty gross.

The manager was very nice, I think because I told him I was a blogger, we were treated to several amuse bouches from the chef.  These were the best part of the meal and part of the reason I feel bad about not recommending this place to anyone I care about.  For $80 each, the food was disappointing and I left wanting a slice of pizza.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 3:38 am  Comments (1)  

South Houston

South Houston

West Broadway @ Grand Street

212-431-0131

Last week a group of friends and I checked out South Houston, formerly Lusso and a new spot supposedly serving up some great Southern Soul food in Soho.  For days my friends and I were excited about trying “Chicken n’ Waffles,” we even planned our binge at South Houston for the day after The Box’s beach party so that we could properly gorge.  I have to say we were disappointed.  I think we were expecting some huge place with picnic tablecloths full of pitchers of beer.  Instead we got the same same same that’s getting old in New York.  A trendy bar with menu items that nobody hanging out on West Broadway would be caught dead eating.  Actually, South Houston reflects the neighborhood fairly well; Ironic decorations (a picture of bricks mounted on a brick wall, a bathroom completely tiled with those metal “employees much wash hands” signs…) and slow service at best.

The food wasn’t terrible, just not calorie worthy.  We shared nachos, mac n’ cheese, pulled pork sandwich, crab cakes, and chicken n’ waffles.  I just think Southern soul food is one of those things that should be immune from “the New York twist.”


The drinks/beer list was the best part about South Houston.  With several unique beers on draft and a selection of beer can sizes, this part doesn’t come up short.  The cocktails are creative and served in a fun way as well.

South Houston is a good, not too crowded drinking hole for Soho, but only if you’re already in Soho.  The group I was with was awesome, so it was inevitable that we ended up having a great time… However, I think we felt shorted on the food… blame it on overexcitement and Box Beach Party starvation.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on July 20, 2010 at 3:16 am  Comments (1)  
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6th Street Kitchen

507 East 6th Street (Between A and B) 212-477-4649

Earlier this week my girlfriend Jamie and I tried for the first time 6th Street Kitchen, which opened in March, replacing its Pan-Asian predecessor, O.G. Owned by Chris Genoversa, Kitchen is an open, airy, and semi-elegant for the East Village. The fare is multi-cultural, small plated comfort food ranging from baba ghannouj to homemade meatballs.

Jamie and I shared the daily special of heirloom tomatoes served with avocado sorbet, meatballs, chorizo sliders, and glazed carrots. Avocado sorbet: you know, I think this is one of those things that sounds weird but since it sounds weird it’s New York and it’s probably fabulous… We were wrong, it was just weird. But the tomatoes themselves were ok, kind of tiny for $12 though.  The chorizo sliders and fries were our favorite.  They are fairly spicy and an interesting twist on a traditional menu item. The cooked carrots were a bit unnecessarily glazed if you ask me and the meatballs were fine.

Our server, Brad was really great and we did like the atmosphere at Kitchen. It looks really cute from the outside and the open-air kitchen is always a nice touch. In total, our bill was around $80 for dinner and a glass of wine each, fairly reasonable.

Overall I give the food a C+. There are so many other great places in the neighborhood, I’m not sure I will be running back to Kitchen any time soon.   As you can see by my brevity, in my untrained opinion, Kitchen is just not much to write home about. However, all may not be lost… they do have gravy and biscuits for $13 on their brunch menu…

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Balaboosta

214 Mulberry Street (Between Spring and Prince)

Last night my girlfriend and I really wanted to try something new.  Even after some heavy name-dropping at Kenmare, we were still going to have to wait 45 minutes, so we decided to walk around the corner to another new Nolita spot I have read a few good things about.  I’m glad we did; Balaboosta, on Mulberry between Spring and Broome was amazing.

When we went in, the Maitre de, Matthew, was warm, friendly, and we only had to wait a few minutes at the bar for a lovely table.  From the minute we got there the atmosphere was lovely like this; an open-air kitchen giving the small dining area a family feel and bookcases full of Greek stories, Mediterranean cookbooks, and kitschy trinkets adding to the effect.

Next comes the food, we had the daily ceviche (arctic char), seared scallops, fried cauliflower, and skirt steak with sweet potatoes.  The ceviche was delicious with little slices of grapefruit and cilantro, scallops perfect over an interesting Greek yogurt, and the steak melted in your mouth.  Basically, everything was amazing, cooked perfectly, light but filling.  The only thing I wouldn’t order again was the cauliflower.

Balaboosta has been open since March 2010, and made with mostly organic ingredients, the fare is “healthy” by NYC standards.  Come to find out, the word balaboosta actually means “perfect housewife” in Yiddish, a name chosen by its Israeli chef/owner Einat Admony, of Taim falafel.  Feminism aside, I have to agree, Balaboosta is pretty perfect, I will support this little lady anytime.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Diablo Royale Este

167 Avenue A (@ 11th Street)

Last week a couple of my friends and I checked out Diablo Royale Este, the East Village’s newest Mexican saloon and a newer version of its West Village counterpart, Diablo Royale.  After reading some not-so-positive Internet chatter, I have to disagree; we loved it.  There wasn’t a table available when we arrived, but there was room at the bar.  A few very enthusiastic barmen sold us on their “famous” Ricky’s, a blend of frozen margarita and Dos XX beer, a pretty dangerous/awesome combo if you ask me.  By the time we got our drinks a table was ready.

Some of the things we ordered: guacamole, queso fundido, tuna tacos, steak tacos, more drinks.  All good, however, and even though I’m bias to begin with, the most amazing thing was the corn, sweet and fresh base covered in cheesy brilliance.  The tuna taco was my second favorite.

The service at Diablo Royale Este was decent.  We didn’t see much of our waitress, but it seemed like there were about 10 bus boys assigned to each table, all very eager little men.

We really liked the décor at DRE as well, lots of Mexican candles, red accents, and two sets of stairs leading nowhere.  My two girlfriends I was with are basically housewives and they couldn’t get over “What a creative way to make extra storage!” –seriously? pfff haha.

There’s also an outdoor patio where groups of 10 or more can dine on spit-roasted suckling pig and a huge downstairs area with additional larger tables and a second bar.

I will definitely go back to DRE, it’s in an awesome location, great food, and affordable. For 3 of us, the bill was around $135, 3 drinks each.

PS- Does queso fundido mean “fun cheese”? Probably not, but I’m going to pretend it does for obvious reasons.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on May 15, 2010 at 11:18 pm  Comments (3)  
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La Lucha

147 Avenue A (between 9th and 10th Streets)

212-260-0235

I read about La Lucha a few months back on Urban Daddy and have been procrastinating its trial because of their lack of a liquor license.   I finally tried it last week before work with a co-worker.  Inspired by Lucha Libre, Mexican style arena fighting, and the Mexican culture of street tacos, La Lucha is a hole in the wall on Avenue A that instantly transports you to Mexico City.

The décor is festive and centered on Mexican fighting; complete with a silent reel of 1960’s Lucha movies projected on one of the walls.  Even the bathroom at La Lucha is plastered with old Lucha Libre articles.  Service is just fine, with only a few tables and one waitress; I think Mexico’s laid-back culture of grazing slowly is fairly represented at La Lucha.

The menu itself is kind of a piece of art as well, but if what you’re looking for is a burrito, take a walk down the street to Benny’s, because La Lucha has a strict “no-burritos” policy.

The food at La Lucha was all authentic and satisfying.  We started with the corn, which was just ok.  All of the cheese and spices were great, but what you could actually taste of the corn was mediocre at best.  Next we ordered a bunch of different tacos, all small portions, all very good.  My favorite was the “Rayo de Jalisco,” literally a huge piece of fried cheese wrapped around your choice of meat.  Cheese… Fried?  Yes Please.

Overall, I would go back to La Lucha for a quick taco before work, or after a stressful day of lounging around Tompkins Square Park.  The lack of a liquor license keeps the bill pretty low, the food is decent but not uncomfortably filling, and the themed décor is fun to look at.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Bar Bossa

232 Elizabeth Street Near Prince St.

212-625-2340

Saturday night my girlfriend and I were looking for a bite to eat before work; we were hoping to try Torrisi Italian Specialties after reading about it in NY Mag. It was a long shot; no surprise, there was a two hour wait.

So, in search for some new material for you and my (ehh-hem) 99 other readers, we tried something new and a little less crowded around the block on Elizabeth… Bar Bossa.  The atmosphere was really quaint and we sat down right away on a Saturday night- great.  Now we know why there was no wait.

We started by deciding to skip a main entrée and just share a bunch of small things:  seared tuna salad, baked cod and garlic dip, fresh calabreza sausage & onions, and spicy lemon shrimp.  All sounds amazing right? Not really.  The only stomachable thing was the sausage, and even that tasted more of the Oscar Mayer variety.  Everything just kind of tasted like cat food and slimy shrimp.  And isn’t it true that appetizers are always the best part of the menu? Not here my friend.

Oh yeah, and the caprioska tasted like it deserves a tax increase.

In all fairness, Bar Bossa is very cute, and on a hot shopping day in soho, this breezy joint is definitely an appropriate place to sit back for a minute over a nice glass of ice water.  And if you’re feeling grimy- go wash your hands- that was my favorite part of the night.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Permanent Brunch and Burger

CLOSED: REOPENED AS “STEAK SHOP”

95 1st Avenue (Between 5th and 6th)
(212) 533-3315

This restaurant is named Permanent Brunch… do I even have to write anything else?  My girlfriend just found this place.  We ate there yesterday for breakfast, then again today, and I’m pretty sure I had a dream about it last night.  Apparently open for just over 6 months now, this place is the answer for all of us who work in nightclubs and never wake up in time to meet the breakfast deadline, those of us who require eggs and a Bloody Mary at 4PM on days other than Saturday and Sunday.  And PB’s version of the Bloody Mary comes with wasabi- nice.

This place was great too because there wasn’t a wait on Sunday afternoon and within 5 minutes the waitress had all of our drinks out.  (I think brunches in the city are so annoying, you already feel like crap, you always have to wait for a table, and the service is slow at best…)

The menu at Permanent Brunch is pretty sweet too: fried chicken and waffles, sweet potato pancakes, and wait for it…. A bacon bar.

There are also a few healthy things too; today I had the granola with fruit.  Yesterday we shared pancakes and a BLT; both were really good and not too heavy.  It is a small place but the open windows and high booth seating make it cute and airy.

Permanent Bruch is good, it’s close to my house and it’s cheap.  This blog post is annoyingly positive but what can I say- after a week of working doubles stumbling upon a place called Permanent Brunch yesterday rocked my world.  Go there, but not too often, I don’t want to have to start waiting.

BY: LAUREN BROWN

Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 8:17 pm  Comments (1)