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Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

A Rainy Sunday Project: Alien “Uglydoll”

lpq

Saturday morning we had breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, where I tried the Oatmeal with Stone Fruits and Granola to see if it held a candle to my beloved Harvest Porridge. (It was tasty, but it’s no farro porridge.) After a trip to Hecksher Playground, via the most strange entrance to any public playground ever, we found ourselves at the mecca of all things toys, FAO Schwartz.

We followed an unfortunate employee sporting a giant life-size Uglydoll costume to the cars and trucks department. Apparently Jr was fascinated by the Uglydoll. I reminded him that he has one – it’s “out of rotation” in his closet. When we arrived home he was insistent that we immediately find the little green plushie, who was given a place of honor on his pillow.

Yesterday Mr A and I were informed that the Uglydoll was lonely and needed a friend. Because apparently the stuffed dinosaur, crayfish, dog, manatee, gnome, Totoro and robot plus the three plastic bugs that live on his bed are not enough? Regardless, supplies were gathered. Jr was very specific as to the number of eyes (3) and their location, as well as the number of legs (also 3). Mr Apparently made sketches. I was dispatched to the sewing machine, where an old pair of wool pants was dissected and emerged as the alien’s body.

garblidge

Meet the newest member of the menagerie, Garblidge. He eats bug sandwiches.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Ramen

Every so often the Apparently family hops on the 7 train into Manhattan with only a vague destination in mind. Last night we found ourselves aiming for Madison Square Park, because we thought the line at Shake Shack might not be so onerous at 4:30pm. We were mistaken. Even on a Saturday afternoon, everyone wants an upscale hot dog.

Several happy discoveries were made from this false start:

photo from madisonsquarepark.org

1. Cool yet disconcerting art by Jaume Plensa in Madison Square Park.

2. The recently-opened NYC outpost of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. If ever there were a yuppie cheese shop, this is it. Everything is minimally designed yet handsomely packaged, and you can buy several kinds of frozen mac & cheese starting at $8.75 a box. But oh, the selection of their own and other’s cheeses, and oh, the farmhouse-table dark Cellar restaurant that just begs for a return visit. Those pictures don’t do The Cellar justice – for a below-ground space, it’s lovely.

3. Union Square Park Playground. We’re behind the curve on this one, but this awesome playground is far superior to the generic Luna Park restaurant that preceded it. Apparently Jr loved the real rocks to climb and the secret path through greenery to the slide entrance; his parents loved the very enclosed nature of the whole playground and its slightly hipster attitude: really steep slides, plenty of stuff to climb and weird human-sized metal cattails.

We made our way to Vapiano, a very bizarre Italian cafeteria-style bar and restaurant that is absolutely perfect for people with kids and also probably a good place to meet a large group of friends. Each adult receives a chip card upon entering, and all purchases are scanned to the card; you pay when you leave. Vapiano’s offerings include solid renditions of classic Italian staples: pizza, pastas, panini. The seating areas, full of wood tables with marble insets holding oils and pots of rosemary, has enough ambience for both adults and kids to feel they’re at an actual restaurant, but is casual enough that a fidgety preschooler can take a walk without being given the stink-eye by other patrons. Apparently Jr is generally good at restaurants, and so it’s amusing that Mr A and I like Vapiano for these particular reasons. We also like the food!

What does all this have to do with ramen, you may ask? This post is so much longer than I’d planned – you’ll have to wait until the next post to find out! But muse on this: what would happen if David Chang, Tony Bourdain and McSweeney’s had a love child? It would be a lucky little peach, wouldn’t it?

All’s Wells

M WellsStorkbite Stew nearly had a conniption when she heard that Hugue Dufour, formerly of Au Pied de Cochon, and his wife planned to open a new restaurant in Long Island City. Despite a complete lack of signage, the old dining car has indeed been transformed into a vibrant new diner called M. Wells.

Thanks to the complete ineptitude of my local branch of Bank of America, which does not deserve a link, I had the pleasure of pushing fifty pounds of stroller to LIC yesterday, where only the thought of some newfangled old-style Québécois food saw me through. (Yes, we could have taken the subway, but would you want your toddler loose in the bank while you signed all sorts of papers? I didn’t think so.) So we hiked across the trainyard overpass and squinted curiously at the unadorned dining car. A lovely server came outside and held the door while I carried the stroller up the steps, at which point I knew this was going to be pleasant in a way that the bank was not.

Let me veer off on a tangent to confess that I am a complete and total lightweight where alcohol is concerned, and the previous evening I had consumed an entire Corona (the horror!) followed by a 4-hour car ride marked by winding twists and turns. I also had not drunk enough water. So I’d awoken vaguely hung over and still slightly carsick, and the menu at M. Wells spoke deeply to me: in which form would I take my grease? Egg-Sausage sandwich? Bacon, Egg and Potato Hash? Oh no, gentle readers, like the wise Superfast Reader, whose visit we apparently had followed by mere minutes, I chose wisely and shared with Apparently Jr the Crab, Egg and Potato Hash, the subdescription of which promised “Corn Chowder & Hollandaise.” And this is what appeared:

M WellsIsn’t it lovely? Don’t you just want to paint it, or photograph it? I did. And then we ate all of it, along with a hefty slice of Blueberry-Banana Bread and a tall glass of lemonade, which I thought needed sugar but Apparently Jr deemed “not too sour.”

M WellsConsider this not a review but rather an impression, because obviously one cannot judge a restaurant solely on the basis of one trip and three items, but suffice it to say that everything was delicious, the Elvis on the stereo perfectly matched the old-style dining car and the service was a perfect blend of friendly/attentive and hands-off. They were not at all concerned about stashing my stroller in a corner, and although we happened to be the only party at our communal table, I would have found it entirely pleasant to share. The clientele was a diverse mix of hipsters, blue-collar workers and a dad with his son, twirling on the stools at the counter.

I fully intend to bring Mr. Apparently to M. Wells for a next visit, and I look forward to seeing what items they’ll add to the menu when they start serving dinner.

Tips from a Compulsive Plate Stacker

This CHOW article will make me think twice before trying to help…but only in nicer restaurants! I don’t think the servers at my local (and delicious) Korean noodle shop are whisking off my napkins to the linen basket. (In fact, they wheel a bus tub through the place, so my pile of plates is actually saving someone some time in this case.)

Does My Waiter Hate Me? : What you can do to make his job easier – CHOW.

Pho!

Thai Son

image from http://jackson-heights.net/

I have lived in Sunnyside for six of the past eight years, and it’s no secret that this neighborhood offers an amazing array of worldly cuisines, from Indian-inspired Chinese to Japanese-Nepalese and several varieties of South American. What I have always lamented, however, is the complete lack of Vietnamese food. We have multiple Korean joints, numerous places for both decent and cut-rate sushi, and at least half a dozen Chinese takeout storefronts, but no Vietnamese restaurant.

In an attempt to discover more of the world in our own backyard, I opened my trusty copy of Sietsma’s The Food Lover’s Guide to the Best Ethnic Eating in New York City and opted for a Malaysian restaurant just steps from the 7 train at 74th Street. Because this book is somewhat outdated, I looked up this establishment online to make sure it was still in business. The reviews were good and we set off. As you can probably guess, despite my cursory research, Malaysia Rasa Sayang is now a generic-looking Thai restaurant. But not to fear – the very same block offered a Korean BBQ, a Korean-Chinese restaurant, and a pan-Asian place advertising ramen, the mere thought of which had set off my desire for some sort of Asian meal in the first place. We sat down at Prince Hof, but between the blaring music, the tv screens at each booth playing videos, and the lackluster menu, we quickly rose and left.

Then we saw the sign: Thai Son. Don’t be fooled by the name – it’s one of the few Vietnamese-run Vietnamese restaurants in New York, and affiliated with the Thai Son on Baxter Street in Chinatown, where I’ve been several times (although not as frequently as the inimitable Nha Trang Centre, just around the corner). Without any question or even a glance at the menu, we went inside, and it was like visiting an old friend – easy, simple, familiar. In writing this post I’ve come across several lukewarm reviews, but everything we tried was delicious. The calamari was lightly fried in a flavorful batter, the cha gio stuffed with fresh pork, and Mr Apparently’s pan-fried noodles spot on. Vaguely pursuing the desire for ramen, I skipped my standard order of grilled pork over vermicelli for a bowl of chicken pho and asked for egg noodles instead of rice noodles. The bowl of soup was arguably the best pho I’ve had in New York. Perhaps I should have been eating chicken all this time (although that’s a topic for another post), or perhaps Thai Son just makes a fine bowl of noodles; regardless, it’s a quick subway ride away and we’ll be going back.

A New Post about The New Post

In my neighborhood, a great little diner called The New Post sits on a corner just across from the subway entrance. It should suffice to say that my son pretty much grew in utero on bacon, egg and cheese (on a croissant, no less) sandwiches from this fine establishment. While it’s a classic New York breakfast joint, The New Post also proudly proclaims itself to serve Mexican food, and the tacos are a fine weekday substitute for the local taco truck, which doesn’t show up until 8pm.

So it was truly disappointing what arrived when B ordered a plate of nachos yesterday. I understand that nachos aren’t the most authentic of Mexican fare, but the plate of hard tortilla chips covered with canned refried beans, chunks of tomato and pepper, and hiding a pile of grilled chicken was topped with just-barely-melted orange American cheese. It was almost as if they were saying, “You can order this, but we don’t have to be happy about making it.”

thanks to Let’s Meet up in Queens for the photo