Meb Byrne

Archive for the ‘east village’ Category

Mango Cinnamon Margarita

In alphabet city, drink, east village, om nom nom, spanish, tapas on July 1, 2010 at 9:00 am

What It’s Good For: Kicking off a great afternoon or an even better night.

Where To Get It: Poco, 33 Avenue B at 3rd Street.

At first encounter, this thick, sunshine-spiked drink smiles up at you from its squat glass. One sip through your straw is pure tropical sweetness, when ka-POW! It kicks your taste buds into gear with its rush of cinnamon-infused tequila. Still, the alcohol is stealthy enough (and the mango delicious enough) that downing three or four of these is frighteningly easy. Hands down, the mango cinnamon margarita is the best specialty cocktail on Poco’s inventive menu. It’s so good, you’ll want one for lunch the next day.

One crucial caveat: You do not want this drink unless it’s been mixed by Brett (who works Friday nights and Saturday brunch). The other bartenders simply do not mix as well as he does.

Bacon Peanut Brittle

In american, east village, nyc, om nom nom, recommended, Southern on June 24, 2010 at 7:00 am

What it’s good for: To kick off your meal of shrimp and spicy Andouille sausage piled high over creamy grits; seared brussel sprouts; complementary warm oatmeal cookies; and some of the best fried chicken in town.

Where to get it: The Redhead, 349 East 13th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.

In this bastion of Southern comfort food, you’ll want to start out your meal with only one dish. The bacon peanut brittle isn’t brittle per se, but individual nuts lacquered in bacon fat and dark, delicious snips of bacon. Keep your eyes peeled for the few nuts that clump in twos and threes in their sugary coating; they’re the mouth equivalent of the toy in the Cracker Jack box. Savory and sweet with a satisfying lip-smacking crunch, the small dish is large enough to bring the extras home. Believe me, you’re going to want those leftovers in the morning.

Butter

In east village, nyc, restaurant, trendy on September 9, 2009 at 8:12 am

Butter, the chic Lower East Side nighttime destination, has been the setting of various scenes and episodes in the catty TV drama, Gossip Girl. This is fitting.

The focus of Butter, tucked away on Lafayette, just south of Astor Place, is not the food nor the atmosphere, however charming either may be. It’s the people, and more specifically, it’s you showing off to all the other people. Eyes discretely follow every individual entering the restaurant, observing and critiquing who they’re with and what they’re wearing. I was seated next to a group of eight young runway models, each easily seven feet tall in heels.

The food at Butter is enjoyable, presented nicely in white dishes made of clean lines and curves. Buttery biscuits refresh the bread basket with a slight spicy zing, and are served with a soft, lemon-shaped butter pat. The crudite plate features a velvety pate on crunchy toast, but fail to impress overall. The shrimp appetizer features both steamed and fried shrimp, playing nicely together, and the duck entree pairs well with its bed of lentils. The pork entree is a stand-out: delicious, juicy on the inside and crispy on the out, though its bed of nondescript greens is not to its benefit. Side dishes of crispy-yet-soft collard greens and white beans topped with an intriguing mixture of sweet and savory spices are both hits. Dessert’s beignets (glorified jelly donuts) are soft, golden and deliciously messy with creme anglais. The chocolate cake, however, is bitter beyond liking and no longer warm, with icing that stubbornly sticks to itself instead of oozing.

The service is horrifying. Our table was forgotten. Our waitress informed us that the chef was taking a long time because she was very particular and wanted things to be just so. (I find this to be more self-importance than attentiveness to the wants of a customer.) A manager came to our table, not to apologize or to check on us, but to ask our table to be moved out of the way to make room for another guest in a large party to our left. In Applebee’s, this might be acceptable behavior; in Butter, the standard should be set higher (since the prices clearly have been.)

Ultimately, Butter acts just as a Gossip Girl character would: it is beautiful, tempting, fickle and self-important, willing to both give and take at its whim. The food and the atmosphere are dangled as carrots, but if you do not make the cut for any fickle reason, they are suddenly whisked away, and you feel like a spectacle for the beautiful people to laugh at or ignore. Such characteristics are better suited to late-night TV tween series, not to cuisine.