I have just returned from a family vacation to Anguilla, and if you think I eat a lot normally, then you do not want to see me on vacation. Despite the fact that I sit on a beach all day, with no movement with exception to me getting up to dip my feet in the ocean or to turn over to get my back tan, I still think it’s completely acceptable to gorge myself to the point of no return, to then return to my lounge chair, possibly more bloated, but definitely more tan.
Just to give myself a little credit here, for no one else’s benefit but my own, I did work out every single day on this trip, which included tennis lessons (in which my mom continued to say “you really did love tennis. You should take lessons at home”) and pilates classes, and yes sometimes both in one day, but they probably did nothing for the 3+ meal a day marathon I was running on this trip.
To give you some background on Anguilla, there are a million trillion restaurants on this small island, and almost all are on the beach, so not only did we go out every single night for a 3 course meal for dinner, but we also left our hotel every single day to go out for lunch to sit at a different beach, and shovel in some food.
“Off we go to another meal!”
“It’s like as soon as we finish lunch, we wonder where we’re going to dinner.”
“Where are you guys going to dinner tonight?”
“Can you believe it? It’s time for another meal.”
These are some of the fabulous quotes my mom continued to say over, and over, and over, AND over again to anyone that would listen to her: our driver Russell, my sister’s campfriend and his family, our new vacation friends from Long Island, our other new vacation friends from Queens, people in our Pilates class, and yes even our waiters at the restaurants (the island is small, so people generally have more than one job, so they would literally watch us stuff ourselves at breakfast in our cover-ups at our hotel, and they would see us dressed up stuffing ourselves again for dinner at a restaurant).
It was like my mom felt the need to defend our actions to everyone in sight.
I personally thought we should just try and not make it so obvious, and just accept that everyone else was doing the same thing. What else was I going to do? Run on the beach? I started to laugh as soon as I typed that.
So, was the food worth it? Hell yeah it was worth it. Anguilla has some of the best restaurants in town, and for your benefit, I am going to give you the rundown on some of the favorite spots in case any of you do decide to make a trip there.
The entire list includes recommendations, but one place pissed me off so badly that I need to begin with a review of the worst restaurant on the island of Anguilla: Jacala.
Jacala is owned by a French man named Jac, and if the name of the restaurant doesn’t give you a hint, he was maybe one of the most pompous narcissistic horrid restaurant owners I have ever encountered.
First off: he takes everyone’s orders for the entire restaurant, so you need to wait for at least 15 minutes just to order drinks, let alone dinner. Can you say control freak?
I watched as his 3 waitresses walked around scared to make the wrong move, or step out of place.
He completely ignored my family, maybe because we were all women, maybe because he could, but he came over to take our order with a smirk on his face knowing he made us wait.
And the food??? He started off by serving us a cold asparagus soup with a soggy tortilla, which tasted exactly like the soggy noodles Chinese restaurants serve you at the beginning of a meal.
And the rest? Stuffy French food with a ton of sauce. The menu is described as “intuitive” cuisine. WTF is intuitive cuisine?
It was the ONLY restaurant that we did not order dessert, and the poor waitress that came over to tell us the specials brought over a huge board with 8 different desserts listed on the chalkboard. She would say one, and then nervously stare at Jac, and then say the next, each time watching the owner move from the bar to the main room. She looked frozen in fear of saying something incorrectly.
The restaurant has a posh reputation, but every single patron besides my family was over the age of 65. Skip this place, and go for a good meal.
This was the least innovative dish, and tasted like something I could get at any run of the mill sushi spot.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce with a side of asparagus and yams.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce? Sounds delicious right? UH NO. It wasn’t even warm when they served it, and it was whatever.
Porkchop in an apricot sauce.
Porkchop with sauce, sauce, sauce sauce, and a rice that tasted like potpourri.
Now on to the good stuff:
[Click the photo above to go to Straw Hat’s website]
Straw Hat (lunch or dinner): Love itttt. We went with another family for dinner, who has a love for food like us, so it was very exciting to have some rum punch and eat with a group.
Order: the tuna flat bread, which comes with truffle aioli. I ordered it twice, once for lunch and once for dinner (as an appetizer relax, like I’d only order that).
Crabcake minus the crab, and plus the lobster. Pretty, pretty good.
Say hello to the tuna flat bread. I love it. I love it. Did I mention I love it?
Spring rolls stuffed with fresh fish. Yep, it wasn’t bad.
The appetizers were definitely the highlight of the meal, so that’s what I’m going to leave you with. Lunch is standard fare, and difficult to complain about.
[Click the photo above to go to E’s Oven’s website]
E’s Oven: This is a local spot, and hands down one of my favorite places we ate for lunch. I ordered the filet of red snapper with a side of vegetables, and so did my mom. My sister ordered the lobster club Panini with a side of fries.
“You can have fries or sal-“
The waitress was super sweet and accomidating, especially when concerning my mom’s tomato allergy.
This restaurant is not on the beach, but it was near our hotel, so we were back on the beach rather quickly.
For the record all the bread on the island was absolutely amazing. Every loaf was served fresh and warm, and this was no exception.
The best carrots I’ve ever eaten. I have no idea why. Plantains are also on that plate. My mom and sister HATE bananas, and even they liked them!
This to me is America meets the Islands: aka lobster plus club sandwich. This is a lobster club panini.
[Click the photo above to go to Smokey’s website]
Smokey’s (lunch): jerk chicken, ribs, rum, beer, all while you’re sitting on the beach. We went last year and this year, so recommendations vary. Jerk chicken wrap, the lobster roll, fish sandwich, or the ribs are all good choices. Oh, and they also offer a 50/50 plate of onion rings and fries…won’t kill you to try them.
Picante (dinner): LEGIT Mexican food. Tuna tacos, fish tacos, guacamole, even the artichoke dip is to die for. Island food is delicious, but by the end it’s like “if you hand me another piece of snapper or grouper I’m going to smack you with it.” Picante is the perfect change of pace. It’s laid back, always crowded, and they make some strong ass drinks.
And we saw Kelly Osbourne there, so there’s that.
My sister: that girl looks like Kelly Osbourne.
Me: Monica, that is Kelly Osbourne.
My sister: O heehee
My jam: the tuna tacos.
[Click the photo above to go to Barrel Stay’s website]
Barrel Stay (dinner): French with Asian influence. I loved it. Order a salad, fish with Asian noodles, crayfish, or escargot, and you won’t be disappointed. I ordered a sea food soup, which tasted like a deconstructed French onion soup with spicy seafood.
The restaurant is also on the water, and I loveddddd the chef. He came out to tell us the specials, and crouched down so we were all eye level. He was very engaging, and patient with any questions we had. He even helped me find the bathroom. He was a fabulous ying to Jacala’s putrid yang.
Here’s a little sample of what we ate: the goat cheese and asparagus salad
[Click the photo above to go to Veya’s website]
Veya (dinner): “It looks like a tree house!” my mom exclaimed multiple times. There is a live band that plays in the background, and excellent wait staff. To start get the conch fritters to or the layered salad. And for your main? Crayfish. duhhh.
[Click the photo above to go to Scilly Cay’s website]
Scilly Cay Island: The best day we had! You take a 10 minute boat ride to a small island called Scilly Cay, you lay on the beach, have the yummiest and strongest rum punch, and the food! I ordered a combo platter of lobster and crayfish, which comes in a light curry sauce, with a pasta salad and fruit. And the restaurant owner, a character!
Say hello to my little friend: lobster and crayfish combo.
And here’s the view!
[Click the photo above to go to Blanchard’s website]
Blanchards: American owners from Westchester, my people. The corn chowder is made with no cream and filled with flavor. The key lime pie is a great way to end your meal.
And they have a more casual spot next door for lunch. For $3 you can get a lounge chair for the day (can you tell it’s owned by New Yorkers?), it’s the only place on the island that charges for chairs, but it’s also the only place where you can find frozen yogurt, milkshakes along with sandwiches, salads, and burgers.
You can just tell they had Americans in mind when this restaurant was created, but still has the authentic vibe of the island with bright green and blue chairs and tables.
Mayahuel [Click the photo above to go to Mayahuel’s website]
340 East 6th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue), New York, NY 10003
Thirsty Thursday! I had dinner plans at Mayahuel last night. Resies (reservations) were at 9:30 so that meant I could squeeze the gym in, woohoo! KILLED IT, but I have a little cough, so I had to retire after my cough went a little wacky on the bike. Peace gymmy.
Ordered 2 miso soups (30 cals eachhhhh) and some sushi pieces so I wasn’t cray cray before drinks. 9:30, pshh, a snack/dinner was inevitable.
Emailed myself the address to Mayahuel and then I hit the road. The restaurant is a weird black building with some sort of Spanish architecture so I figured that was the place.
I told the taxi driver the address and when he pulled up he said “yeah I think that’s it. It’s a bar.”
I actually really liked him. We talked about the weather…but he was eating the WORST smelling sandwich. Sir, c’mon. Turkey. Go with turkey next time.
Some weird bouncer/skinny man is standing outside and I asked him, “what is the name of this place?”
“Oh ok great”
“Do you have a reservation?”
“I’m not sure. I think so I think it’s under my friend’s name.” I then give his name.
“Oh, ok just let me see your ID” (makes me feel young again)
When I walk in my friend is wearing a leather jacket so thank G-d I last minute vetoed mine otherwise we would have looked like Grease Lightning up in this joint. One leather jacket is fine…two is a statement.
Menu looks like a small book from Colonial times, so I was a little overwhelmed. We decided to just ask the waiter what he recommended. And he was a ridiculous human if I’ve ever seen one. He looked like he was trying too hard to be casual, like ”I’m not really your waiter, but I’ll take your order” sorta deal…shaggy hair, a cartilage piercing (im sorry what? this isn’t in the 90s…where is your hemp necklace?) and he gave crazy descriptions of the drinks…stop playing with your hair and recommend a drink dude.
I ordered the “hit or miss,” and I swear I originally thought the waiter was saying the “hit or miss” was either a hit or a miss…and I was just like why the eff would I want a drink that’s usually a hit or a miss? It ended up being really good…I had 3. That’s completely reasonable right? They were spicy, which I always give a fab rating for.
“You have a great smile.” GUILTY AS CHARGED.
“Should we order something? You do have a food blog.” (this blog is really working out)
Ordered the fried stuffed plantains. There were 6 (in my head of course: so three for me and three for him. That’s reasonable. G-d forbid I ate four and he ate two. Blasphemy.)
YUM! Tried to eat like a lady, but I might have finished my portion before him.
“I read your blog.”
“You did? Did you think it was funny? Did you laugh out loud? Too girly?” (I am completely secure with my writing style)
“I read the Employees Only one.”
“Oh, because you were in it?”
Yep, let’s talk about how I portrayed you in my blog. I don’t feel weird at all about it. How can I type a story for the blog if all I talk about is the blog? I’m gonna talk about the process of me writing the blog on the blog…that’s boring.
A few drinks in and nature was calling. As I got up to use the restroom I knocked into our table and the people next to us stared at me…they actually stared at us the entire meal, and I really wanted to just be like, “MIND YA BUSINESS” (instead I pretended it wasn’t a big deal that I wasn’t skinny enough to fit between the tables and sauntered to the bano.)
I got back from the bathroom at the perfect time…it was time for dessert. CHURROS…o’lay. Fried dough, cinnamon, in a chocolate and caramel dipping sauce. HOW DISGUSTING? NOT.
The cinnamon was starting to aggravate my cough, and I kept digging into my bag like an 85 year old woman for cough drops.
“Are you sick?”
Nope, just a weirdo who digs for candy between sips of alcohol and bites of food.
Time to leave before my cough causes the restaurant to be quarantined.
“Do you want to walk?”
UH…I wore some sort of a heel, and my hair doesn’t just dry like this, it’s also misting out. Are.you.kidding?
“We’re like 30 blocks away…” (ok 20 whose counting)
“I like to walk.”
“Ok, lets hail a cab”
Mayahuel (fried plantains stuffed with cheese)
I didn’t think I’d love this as much as I did. savory sweet combo, and then I dipped it in the spicy sauce…unreal.
Mayahuel (churros in a chocolate and caramel sauce)
DELICIOUS. Sugary dessert probably doesn’t go amaze with a spicy drink, but I mean you can suck it up.
Mayahuel (“hit or miss” is the one closest to the front, and I forgot the other one…sorry!)
YUMMY. I’ll say it once, I’ll say it twice, spicy drinks are the best!
Caliente Cab [Click the photo above to go to Caliente Cab’s website]
488 3rd Avenue (on the corner of 33rd Street), New York, NY 10016
I planned to go to dinner with two friends at Yuca Bar, for their Loco Tuesday special…half off all tapas wooooohhh. It seemed so easy at first! I had been salivating at pictures of their dishes for days…it was like food porn.
But Friend # 1 is some sort of social worker that works with foster children (vomit..kidding), and she had to cover for someone who is away in Nigeria last minute SO we couldn’t go at 6:30 to make this Loco Tuesday special and all hell broke loose, because rescheduling was just not an option, and we’re girls, so I mean how easy could we possibly be? WE WILL FIGURE THIS OUT!
It was more stressful than going on a date with a boy. Going out with newish girl friends is so hard. You don’t want to be too difficult, you want to make sure everyone’s happy, you don’t want to be too bossy, bc you’re not good enough friends yet to let your(my) freak flag fly.
Typing a text, deleting a text, do I send an emoticon?? IDK!
I spent the last hour of work yelping, googling, gchatting, texting trying to figure this out (whatever). I can’t go any other time this week unless we go on the weekend, and it’s St Patrick’s Day on Saturday so it doesn’t really work etc etc etc.
“How about here?”
“Do they take reservations?”
“I don’t know about the menu.”
“Is it hh??”
“What is hh?”
“Maybe I can get out earlier.”
“I want to cry.”
“I am filled with emotions.” (that was me)
So everyone is scrambling left and right to pick a time. Friend 2 gets out at 5. I get out at 5:30. Who knows when Miss Fostercare gets out (Friend 1 has now been renamed). The Loco Tuesday only goes until 8. Fostercare has to park her car, but it’s hard to park downtown. Lets go more local. A;lfkjaslfjsfl;kj
So I’m frantically trying to find an outdoor space (b/c it was SO nice out), but there aren’t THAT many spots with outdoor seating, good food, and alcoholic beverages.
Ummmmm I’m drawing a blank here.
I know this place called The Cannibal has outdoor seating and beer, but Fostercare is a vegetarian and they specialize in unusual meats…great, think harder!
I call The Cannibal to see if they can work around a vegetarian and they say fine, but turns out Friend # 2 doesn’t really want to eat there.
So Friend #2 meets me after work, and we walk to my apartment to turn ourselves into human specimens as opposed to what one looks like when they leave work at the end of the day (at my apt I was like “what do you want to watch? Do you like this show? I can change it…Who am I? Being so accomidating?) And then we walk to the Cannibal to look at the menu, while Fostercare parks. As we know, I will eat just about anything, but I don’t want to pick a place no one likes etc etc. so Friend #2 doesn’t want to go there (I get it. They serve pig’s ear as a dish…I’ve tried it before though…judge away) so we start aimlessly walking around the city.
“How about here?”
“I’m fine with anything.” (my neutral response to every place, because honestly I’ll eat anywhere as long it looks worth the money. Thank G-d I had an iced coffee otherwise my hunger would have overridden any form of social etiquette or sanity).
On the walk to my apt, Friend #2 walked by Caliente Cab and said, “oooh that place looks cute,” and it’s Mexican which goes sort of with the Yuca Bar theme in that they both serve quesadillas, and you can sit outside.
So we decide to go there. Is it amazing fair? No, but there’s outdoor seating, margaritas and guacamole, and I don’t have to take public transportation (yeah, right) or a cab. Fine.
Waiter walks by..
“Can we get an order of guacamole?”
“Mild, medium or spicy?”
Ah, decision to be made.
I like spicy (picante), but it’s rude to order dishes with extra heat if other people can’t eat them, so I wait:
Friend #2: mild to medium
Me: We’ll have medium.
Friend #2: what did you want? (busted for being too agreeable!)
Me: well, I like spicy, but I can still eat medium or mild. Some people just can’t eat that. (should I have lied?)
After 2 margaritas I felt a little better.
AND WHEN I GOT HOME…MY NEW SNEAKERS HAD BEEN DELIVERED WHAT WHAT! Caliente Cab ended up being the best choice for the night (outdoors with alcohol, food was meh) but I still want to go to Loco Tuesday for some legit food 😦
Caliente Cab (tacos al carbon)
For under $10 it’s hard to complain.
Caliente Cab (quesadilla: vegetales frescos)
I didn’t try them, but it looks pretty good. The vegetarian ordered this. It is surprisingly easy to order dishes without any meat at a Mexican restaurant (if you ever go with a vegetarian or a vegetarian yourself).
Caliente Cab (healthy burrito)
Here is my disharoo. It tasted healthy, so you be the judge of that statement. I didn’t feel guilty for eating it, but it needed a little something, maybe more beans.
Caliente Cab (guacamole)
Hard to mess up gauc, but they brought the guac without chips at first…you have two hands…bring the chips.
Caliente Cab (strawberry margarita)
A little syrupy, and the waiter was kind of sucky in that he took forever to bring us a second round, and oh yeah, he brought me the wrong margarita.
I get it was crowded, but no.
Little Italy Pizza
2 E 33rd Street New York, NY 10016
I decided to go to a happy hour the other night with my friends to support another friend’s charity www.lustgarten.org/helpblairrun (help a sister out) at Galway Hooker on 36th between 5th and Madison. I had just gotten a haircut, and it seemed appropriate to show it off. I met my friends there, and I kept texting them to see if they were there as I waited awkwardly at the bar. Turns out they were there the whole time and just weren’t answering their phones…awesome.
I lasted approximately 2 beers in. That allowed for 1 conversation about whether or not my friend will be moving in with her boyfriend, another conversation about my friend’s shoes, and about 5 mentions of how hungry I was to my friends until they got the hint. My other friend was flirting with a new man, and gave us the “leave without me” eyes, which we eventually learned were the “meet me outside” eyes (I couldn’t tell the difference).
Where should we go? It’s 9:00, we’re hungry, but we’re not looking to sit for a long time. All of us whipped out our iphones and pulled up: AroundMe, Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Foodspotting.
“What do you want to eat?”
“I don’t care I’m just hungry.”
“Totally up to you.”
“The app says there are like 10 Asian restaurants nearby”
“I don’t want Asian”
“There is a pizza place too”
“I could do pizza.”
“Lets do pizza.”
Ok, pizza it is. The app said it was on 31st and 5th so like 5 blocks away whatever. One dummy wore heels to the happy hour (sorry I said it, it was dumb) so every 5 seconds I would a hear a little whimper of “how about here?” The answer is no, we are not going to Pret a Manger, and we are NOT going to McDonalds. I didn’t drink THAT much to be ok with that choice.
Then as we are 2 blocks away we walk by “Papaya King” and “Little Italy Pizza” on 33rd and 5th.
“I love Little Italy Pizza!” My friend screams. Place looks like a dump, but I haven’t had great pizza in a while, so let’s do this thing. Why didn’t our dumb Iphone apps advise of this place OR Papaya King? Thank goodness you all have me.
I point to a slice, “what’s that?” I ask.
“I don’t know” the pizza guy responds.
“Great, I’ll have that and a ‘shroom slice.” It was actually a chicken parm slice with ricotta cheese.
We all order and awkwardly pace until our pizza comes out of the oven. I am a two beer queer, so I am not sure if I am giving an accurate review here, but there were no complaints. I finished my slices, and my friends liked theirs.
“Who uses oregano?”
“I brought it to the table” (guilty)
“Oh, I don’t like herbs.”
Miss Heels opted out saying she would eat a Lean Cuisine later.
“What are you anorexic?” my friend screams.
Peer pressure, she got a slice.
“I have to pee”
“You go first and tell me how it is.” (guilty, that was me…selfish)
It wasn’t a nice bathroom, but the pizza hit the spot.
“Hey, you should put this on your blog!”
Little Italy Pizza (buffalo chicken pizza)
This is without ricotta cheese, but something that fattening is hard to be bad: breaded chicken, cheese, sauce…
Little Italy Pizza (Sicilian slice)
I did not personally taste this pizza, but my friend dies for Sicilian slices, and she ate it right up.
Little Italy Pizza (mushroom slice)
The shrooms were a little cold, but I covered it in crushed red pepper so I didn’t notice. I love when pizza is so big it doesn’t fit on the plate (is that just me?).
Josie’s [Click the photo above to go to Josie’s website]
565 Third Ave at 37th Street, New York, NY 10016
I had an emergency friend-tervention this afternoon, which gave me a great excuse to try a new restaurant (“let’s meet in the middle at this place I walk by…”) . Hey Josie. A self proclaimed “health conscious diner,” I’d have to agree with them. I met my friend at the restaurant and our journey began.
The lunch conversation jumped from boys to food, from food to boys.
“Should we drink at lunch?”
“Do you want to drink at lunch?”
“We probably shouldn’t.”
I went for the mango lemonade. I’m usually a water girl for lunch so I was really living on the wild side with this one. My friend got the same, and we immediately agreed that it could use a little, what do you call it? Alcohol. This should be my new mixer.
“I don’t think you guys should talk anymore.”
“Me either. Do you think he’ll text me?”
“You shouldn’t answer if he does. What if he drunk dials you?”
The waiter brought over bread, but instead of butter, they served us some sweet potato number for dipping. I dropped some of it on the table by accident, but I persevered.
“What should we get?”
I should preface that my friend and I used to order appetizers with lunch every day a few summers ago. Hey, we were in college. We were young. We were dumb. We were not in shape. We were drinking and hungry.
So to take it back old school we split a dumpling app (I call them dumps). They were steamed and came with a tomato sauce instead of a sodium filled soy sauce (ever notice how health places dowse everything in tomatoes for “acid” and “flavor?” I’m on to you guys. Cat is out of the bag). They were good, but I was full from the bread and sweet potato dip-a-roo.
Then our turkey burritos arrived (lean beef, whole wheat, beans, IT’S FINE). We both ordered the same thing (reassuring that neither of us could have the better dish, no winner and loser, catch my drift?).
“I went to the gym this morning!”
“You look skinny.”
“Stop it, go on.”
I only ate half (YES!), and it was really good. I think it was also because I ate the bread (boo), and I was so into my conversation. Josie’s ended up being way better than I expected. GirlyFoodie + Josie = BFF.
Josie’s (sweet potato puree)
The new butter.
Josie’s (turkey burrito)
Really delic! Dipped it in some guac, and props to no use of sour cream.
Josie’s (steamed potato and broccoli dumplings)
Solid dumps, they tasted healthy, and mostly of broc.
Josie’s (mango lemonade and bread)
My yummy drink. Add some tequila and you’ve got a real bebida.Ay ay ay ay ay (that’s me speaking Spanish).
Num Pang [Click the photo above to go to Num Pang’s website]
140 East 41st Street (between 3rd and Lexington Ave), New York, NY 10017
21 East 12th Street (between University and 5th Ave), New York, NY 10003
Even though National Sandwich Day is a long way away (November 3…WRITE IT DOWN) it does not mean I still don’t crave a great sandwich. What up Num Pang! My favorite sandwich place in town. I went on Frisky Friday as a carb gift to myself.
I went with my 2 coworkers again as well as a newbie to our lunch crew. The newbie had been to Num Pang before, and I immediately hated him for not allowing me to brag about this sandwich place…”I used to work next door…” Did you? … Did you?? … because now I hate you.
Why couldn’t you let me say my usual monologue when referencing this place, “It’s this great Vietnamese sandwich place. It’s sandwich in Cambodian! I know, isn’t that crazy? It’s really meant for pick-up even though there’s a small area to wait for your sandwich…they give you free water too! All sandwiches come with the same basic ingredients, and there are no substitutions, but it doesn’t matter because it so good!” WHY COULDN’T YOU LET ME SAY THAT!
As we walked I visualized my order at this Vietnamese delight: shrimp, no brisket, should I get the figs? I wonder if I want a side. I want a side.
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by… “How do you nicely tell someone they should go to the gym?” my male coworker asks.
I’m sorry…what are you getting at?? I need to go to the gym? This walk to the sandwich place is not enough? Walk away right now.
I immediately counter, “Well I already go to the gym, so you don’t have to say it to me” (defensive much?).
“I don’t go to the gym, so he must be talking about me,” said my female friend (must be, because it can’t be me). Shes NOT fat, not even a little, but you know how we get….
We immediately start yelling at my friend to do suicides down 41st street, while we pick up the sandwiches. “Run! Don’t stop!”
I guess that might come across as mean, but it made me laugh hysterically (I’m mean). He clearly was not talking about either of us, because he knows better…at least I think he knows better.
My stroll was turning into a cantor as we made our way closer to the midtown lunch spot. I was soon walking alone, because my friends could not keep up. (Are you confused? We’re going to get lunch! Pick it up people!)
I see a guy walking ahead of me..I instinctively know he’s going to NumPang. He has the look of hunger on his face. I must beat him. Unfortunately my friends did not feel the same way, and I had to slow down so they could catch up to me. I watched as he turned to wait on line…I KNEW IT!
I ordered the tiger shrimp with a side of grilled vegetables. Done and done. None of their sandwiches come with cheese (+1), and they all come with veggies. I opted for shrimp. I made a private oath to myself to eat less red meat (ok it’s not so private) in order to feel healthier and feel like I was having a Frisky Friday and not a Fat Friday (well not TOO fat).
My Lent girl friend ordered the catfish (it’s not my favorite, but I love the whole menu an appropriate amount considering there are no substitutions or changes..That’s because they’re masterpieces…) The newbie copied me with the tiger shrimp (ok I liked him a little more after that), and Mr. “how do you tell someone they’re fat” ordered the chicken. I finished mine first of course, but we all loved our meals, and then we had to go back to the office. Wah!
Num Pang (coconut tiger shrimp)
Num Pang (peppercorn catfish)
Num Pang (grilled vegetables)
Arcane [Click the photo above to go to Arcane’s website]
111 Ave C (between 7th and 8th Street), New York, NY 10009
I don’t know why Thursday nights always seem like the best night to plan a dinner (with alcohol), but for some reason they do. Maybe it’s because I like to pretend I’m in college and convince myself my weekend has started (it didn’t. I have work. Surprise! You’re hung-over eating a bacon egg and cheese in your cubicle)
Anywho! I planned dinner with my cuz (that means cousin) to try Arcane, a French/Caribbean themed restaurant (maybe we’ll feel like we’re in St. Barth’s) on Ave C. She lives in Grammercy, and it was a good excuse to stay relatively nearby. The idea of dragging myself to the other side of town just seemed exhausting ($11 cab? What? I’ll just put it on my credit card and act like it never happened). I picked my cousin up on the way (splitting a cab is the best) and off we went!
We walk in, and we are greeted and seated. Drink menus are on the table so decisions have to be made immediately. Unfortunately the restaurant was pitch black with the exception of teensy weensy candles placed on each table, and a few lamps randomly placed throughout the restaurant (I feel like the electricians were like “Let’s just put it here. They can walk their table over to the light to see). I put the candle up to the menu trying to decipher the shapes on the white piece of paper (I felt like an explorer inside a cave trying to read stories from an indigenous people that were long extinct, but not really at all). It was actually pretty annoying.
I ordered a little number called the “Moulin rouge.” French theme I guess. It had some raspberry/lime thing happening I felt drawn to. My cousin on the other hand had a little bit more trouble deciding… to say the least.
“Fig juice? That sounds delicious, but I don’t like orange juice. Do you think I should ask them what they recommend? Will they get mad at me?”
The waitress unfortunately had a thick accent (I want to say French, but really what do I know?), and she was pretty much impossible to understand. My cousin panicked and picked some mango infused drink, and when the waitress walked away she whispers to me, “I really don’t want the mango in it…” Then that was not a good choice!
Time for the nitty gritty, ordering the meal. I had purposely worn tight jeans so I would not go insane at Arcane (judge away for that one).
“do you want to split appetizers?”
“I want the papaya salad.”
“I want the shrimp, avocado, and hearts of palm salad”
(so we’re not really splitting. We’re pretty much ordering what we want, but yeah let’s say we’re splitting)
Main dish: we both end up ordering the tuna “From the Grill.” The waitress looks at my cousin and says something that neither of us can understand (and since it’s so dark it’s not like you can even attempt to read lips). My cousin starts laughing like a hyena and goes, “what?”
It’s still unintelligible.
My cousin is now getting uncomfortable and laughing even more, “I’m so sorry! What?”
It still sounds like Chinese to both of us. Now it’s just awkward to say, “what,” again and her next move is to just blindly guess what the waitress is saying, “how do I want my tuna cooked?”
The waitress nods. Thank G-d! We got it right!
“Rare please!” DONE. Mercury poisoning is not real (yes it is).
We also ordered sides…why not right?? Spinach, and a gratin (“we’ll share them,” we say confidently).
We were both really pleased with our salads. Mine was a little spicy, which I like, and my cousin dug for hearts of palm like a deep sea fisherman. Then the tuna comes, and so do another round of drinks. My cousin opted for my Moulin Rouge, and I ordered it again.
By the time dessert rolled around, I was already tipsy and my cousin was up to drink #3.
“Do you want dessert?” the waitress asks. WE CAN UNDERSTAND THAT.
“Yes! Chocolate cake” (what upp)
As we wait for the cake my cousin motions towards her vodka soda “Here have some of my drink!” She goes to hand me some, and she realizes the drink is empty. Nevermind…
With exception to the minimal lighting, the food was really good, and we were in a tropical setting (I mean we drank like we were) in the beginning of March. Go Arcane!
Arcane (Moulin Rouge cocktail)
Arcane (mango infused cocktail)
It was great! The oil on the side had garlic and peppers mixed in (YUM). Thank G-d I had those tight pants on otherwise I would have had trouble resisting the urge to eat all of it!
Arcane (papaya salad)
So good! I took a picture of the other salad, but the picture didn’t do it enough justice.
Crispy goodness with a little bacon. I ain’t mad.
Arcane (chocolate cake)
I started eating, and then realized I should probably take a picture, so a little corner is missing.
Look how gigantic it is! I also ate 1/4 of it before I took this picture!
Employees Only [Click the photo above to go to Employees Only’s website]
510 Hudson Street (between 10th and Christopher Street), New York, NY 10014
I was meeting a friend at 9pm for drinks in the West Village at Employees Only. I had never been there before, and it was raining so I was immediately fearful that I’d be 20 mins late because 1. I couldn’t get a cab and 2. What if I got lost??
Fear not I was able to grab a cab from a girl getting dropped off at my building, and the restaurant was SUPER easy to find. I also hate awkwardly waiting for people (I hate a lot of things), so I was happy my friend was already there casually waiting in the front by the bar.
Checked coat and we sat (and then we ate). Unforgivable reference…if you haven’t seen it…it’s funny…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dJu1Jj7VTw
First things first. Lets get a drink, it’s 9pm for G-d’s sakes. They had a section called Fancy Drinks which immediately tickled my fancy (I’m sorry I’m not sorry). I like drinks with a little kick, so I asked the waitress what she recommended she said the “Lazy Lover” so I just went with that. The drink was super good, and I gobbled it right up. I ended up ordering three of them, so I was a wittle drunk. Woops.
Then the question of the night came, “are you hungry? We should order stuff.” WHHHHAT. I JUST HAD SALMON TERIYAKI WITH BROWN RICE BEFORE THIS. Oy ok if you insist! So me being the wild eater, I wanted to try the bone marrow (I can’t believe he ok’d this. Most people would have been like, “lets get chicken fingers.”). It wasn’t the best, but I was also full so it’s hard to judge food when you’re not hungry. Feel me? They usually serve bone marrow IN the bone, but this was in a puffy pastry (Employees Only thinking outside the box)
At around drink #2, the next question of the night came, “should we get another dish?” OK!
We went for the cheese plate. NOT the best cheese plate in town. This cheese platter came with tortilla like bread (I like crostinis, but what are you gonna do?). I also like when they give you fruity jellies (do you know what im talking about at all?) on the side, but this restaurant only gave a side of nuts to mix with the cheeses. This obviously didn’t stop me from eating. Alcohol and cheese/carbs were in front of me…I was a goner.
I paired our cheese plate with random conversation one thinks of when they’re a few drinks in:
“Would you ever be a stand-up comedian?”
“Want to see twenty pictures of my dog on my phone? She’s SO cute.”
“Sure” (you’re going to show me anyway).
My Lazy Lover drink had made me super giddy and enthusiastic, and I gave my friend a kiss on the cheek AND a hug good-bye as if I’d never see them again (alcohol does that!). I would totes go to Employees Only again. It was a cute bar with great drinks, but I think I’d eat before again too.
Employees Only (menu)
It does not say Employees Only on the outside of the restaurant. It just has this symbol (ok fine it’s an “E” and an “O”), and the address number.
Employees Only (Fancy Drink Menu)
I just love that it says Fancy Drinks, so I got fancy with editing the picture (please keep reading my blog after reading that joke). The menu was not blue. I’m fancy huh? (I’M SO SORRY. PLEASE KEEP READING MY BLOG.)
Employees Only (bone marrow poppers)
You have to admit they look good for something called bone marrow poppers. The waitress said they were meant to be eaten in one bite, but I felt like I had an oversized sushi roll in my mouth when I did that.
Employees Only (cheese platter).
See what I mean with the tortilla like bread? And the random nuts? I nibbled on the cheese like a little mouse.
Sip Sak [Click the photo above to go to Sip Sak’s website]
928 2nd Ave (between 49th & 50th St), New York 10022
Finding a good lunch spot is hard. It is so difficult to strike the perfect balance between undereating and stuffing yourself to the point of no return.
Undereating means feeling like a savaged beast by 3pm clawing at paperwork and pens at your desk, while overeating can lead you to wanting to take a nap under your desk. Not to mention you don’t want to have wasted all your calories before dinner. I bring you Sip Sak!
Sip Sak is technically a Turkish restaurant, but I like to say Mediterranean, because it sounds way less intimidating. I have been there a bunch of times, and it is always a great alternative to my usual salad.
Their appetizers are delic’. The bread comes toasted (I try to avoid the carbs during the work week, but sometimes I give in), and their hummus is SOOOO good. It tastes authentic and it’s also on the creamier side (i hate when you get hummus that is stiff like a pate). Their spinach appetizer is my favorite (it’s cold by the way)! I don’t even think it tastes like spinach (it tastes like crack. No it doesn’t. It does. No, but it’s good) It comes with a dollup of yogurt on the top too (I will sometimes just get this and a soup and call it a day).
I actually ordered spinach again as my main too, but this time it came hot and with mushrooms (relax, Popeye). Mushrooms and spinach are a super filling option if you don’t want meat (I do not observe Lent but some peeps do. I am one of the chosen people, but it is also a vegetarian option too. I am just trying to stay current).
My sister got lamb kebabs that I was pretty jealous of. They were perfectly spiced and had great texture. It also came with rice and cabbage. I am a weird sucker for a good cabbage salad (I really don’t know), and I reached my fork across the table and scooped it off her plate, eventually screaming “JUST PUT IT ON MY PLATE ALREADY”
My mom went for a traditional greek salad with grilled chicken. SipSak just added some fava beans. She has been here before, and if she likes a place…we go back.
There are seriously a ton of options. I drag everyone in my office to this restaurant. I think they’ve had enough of me.
Sip Sak (interior)
It’s just too cute.
Sip Sak (lamb with rice and side salad)
There are no words. I know some people are not lamb lovers, but this is legit. You can see my cabbage salad peeking over the lamb’s left shoulder (was that weird?).
Sip Sak (greek salad with grilled chicken)
They gave a ridiculous amount of grilled chicken, and my mom was definitely full.
Sip Sak (spinach with mushrooms topped with peppers and tomatoes)
You know how I feel about their spinach. No need to beat a dead horse.
Sip Sak (toasted bread)
I could fill up on this alone, but I held myself back and let my mom and sister take some too (they’re so selfish sometimes).
Shake Shack [Click the photo above to go to Shake Shack’s website]
Madison Square Park:Southeast corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Ave and East 23rd St
Whenever I take a gym class in Flatiron I always have to stroll by Madison Square Park on my way. As I walk by the small piece of green I always see a line snaked around the corner for Shake Shack. In Manhattan there are only 2 reasons for a line, one: those people are tourists and idiots, and two: it’s actually worth the wait.
Being that I am walking to a gym class I always decide it would be counterproductive to stop for a cheeseburger and fries, but in the back of my mind I always think, “I will eat there at some point.”
Well! That day has come!
I was planning a Thursday night dinner with my friend, and her only rule was it had to be under $20. “Are we drinking?” I immediately ask (alcohol would make it a lot harder to keep the meal under $20). We are not (bummer, it’s Thursday), “Lets save ourselves for the weekend.” Suddenly I had an epiphany. We shall go to Shake Shack. It’s on.
The plan was we would meet at Shake Shack, and then bring the food back to my apartment to eat and “watch” the Knicks Game (what up LINsanity). I had told everyone and their mother (I’m going to Shake Shake. Spread it!) I was going so I had received a few suggestion.
Get the milkshake!
Get the burger!
OK OK! TWIST MY ARM!
I threw on my Thanksgiving pants (you know where that’s from!), and off I went.
As we’re waiting on line I peruse the prices. “It’s so cheap for a burger.”
“That’s because they’re so small,” my friend replies.
Small! Small! Panic immediately starts to build inside my stomach. What if I am not full? What if I am still hungry? (looking back it would not have been the worst thing) I change my mind. I shall get the double cheese burger, and a vanilla shake. I went to the gym in the morning for this exact reason!
My friend ordered a double burger, and we split fries. As we waited for our food (they give you buzzers so you know when your food is ready, which immediately led to phantom vibrations. did it go off? are you sure??) we chitchatted.
“Do you think it’s a big deal we’re missing part of the Knick’s game?”
“Nah, the 4th quarter is all that matters.”
“Oh, ok good.”
“They should just give each team 100 points and then put 2 minutes on the clock”
We invented a new game, while waiting for our burgers. PERFECT! LamLam? Carmello? Lin? How do you feel about this new sport??
Finally, the buzzers go off! (ok it was 3 minutes) I have to say, it was worth the hype. The burger was almost buttery, the fries were seasoned, and the milkshake was delightful (I’m lactose intolerant so I took a big risk with that). We packed it up and left to watch the Knicks game (they lost to the Miami Heat, and I screamed GET A REBOUND 10x to myself in my apartment).
“Hey,” I said as we were getting up, “this would be a cute date spot. It’s casual, and it’s cute being in the park at night, and you can even get a beer.”
“Yea, sure” my friend replies, and pops one last fry in her mouth.
Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)
Tell me that isn’t a little romantic with the lights!
Shake Shack (double cheeseburger)
Ch-ch-ch-check it out! Cray-zay! I ate the WHOLE thing. I did, and I only felt a little guilty when I checked myself out in the mirror this morning. Maybe get a regular burger if you’re on a date…
Shake Shack (vanilla shake)
I got fancy with it!! I like the classic diner shake, either vanilla or black & white. This does NOT taste like a diner milkshake, but it was really yummy (my milkshake brings all the boys to yard…Sorry I’m not sorry!)
Shake Shack (double cheeseburger, vanilla milkshake)
Here is my delicious meal! It ain’t fancy, but who cares!