Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joseph Leonard

A quick bite tonight. Something low-key. In the neighborhood, within walking distance. Relatively in-expensive. But something new.

I had read about Joseph Leonard in Time Out and was instantly drawn to it, if not only because the owner used to run the front of house at Little Owl...another neighborhood favorite. It being so spot on, this similar in size joint must have a clue.

It's a nice night tonight, so we took a short walk to Joseph Leonard to see if we could just grab a bite at the bar. Lucky for us, two were just leaving tin-topped bar. Otherwise, it would have been at forty-five minute wait-at 7PM no less! The hostess offered to take down our number and give us a call when a table was opening up. There is no bar bar to have a drink it is reserved for dining.

The bitty bar was a perfect perch for two to take it all in. (I actually prefer dining at the bar most of the time). The semi bi-level space is as intimate as it can get. With just a few tables (only one seating a party of four) and at the bar literally rubbing elbows with the person next to you. Still, the decor is antique and laid back. The vibe warm and cool at the same time. The old photos adorning the walls are of Joseph and Leonard, the owner's grandfathers. There is an old ladder that doubles as a host stand and a few old suitcases finish the comfy room. The bartenders are friendly and as excited as you will be about the menu and eager to tell you all about it.

We ordered the beet and goat cheese croquette salad to start/share. I had the roasted chicken with baby carrots, fava beans, and mashed potatoes. The skin crisp and and the inside juicy. They didn't try to re-invent the classic dish, they're just trying to perfect it. And it's pretty close. The turkey breast dish with brussels was very of the season and equally as delicious.

The carrot cake wasn't anything to ever order again in my opinion. I might opt for the warm brownie or the caramel pudding next time. But the wine list was at the perfect length. And although I didn't try one, the cocktails looked well thought out and refreshing.

Sundays are saved for seven to eight different specials (in addition to their regular menu) created from a whole pig.

Go with: a date or one friend.
Tuesdays are BUSY as are Sundays.
Closed Mondays.
Open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Sit: at the bar.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Moroccan Or French?

You know those pretty perfect Sunday afternoons when the weather is delightful, the city is bustling, and you have no real plans but to stroll along and eventually stop for a bite?

Last Sunday was GORGEOUS! What hurricane were we worried about again?? 

We strolled through the West Village and into Soho searching for a cool patio to have a glass of wine before moving on to dinner. (Note: most wine bars are indoors, cozy, and dark.) 

It was early in the evening and we were in no rush. The super summery striped umbrellas with lit lanterns hanging at Cafe Gitane in Nolita caught our eyes immediately. I have been here a number of times in my 5 year tenor in NYC, but not in quite a while. I love this spot. 

We waited outside (there is no room at the small bar/kitchen counter) to be seated for about fifteen minutes and finally settled in at a tiny blue matching table and chairs right in front of the restaurant and under the attractive umbrella. 

After starting with a bottle of a fruity white, we asked a few questions about the menu. 

Our waitress was beautiful in the uniform green frock and also incredibly honest about the menu (which I admire). 

"How is the Herbed Goat Cheese with chili flakes and pomegranate syrup?"

"Not good. There are much better things to choose from on the menu." 

"Well alright then, I will start with the Brie and Apple." A safe bet and one I have enjoyed before.

A nice $6 portion accompanied with delicious foccacia. Light and lovely. 

We also started with the Smoked Trout Salad (black lentils, walnuts, arugula, dried cranberries, avocado, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, shallots, vinaigrette) An amazing combination of a million different flavors. But a big portion. Can be split between two for starters. 

We then decided on the Moroccan Cous Cous with chicken (red peppers, raisins, toasted pine nuts, humus, and eggplant) and the Chicken Satay with a Peanut Sauce, Jasmine Rice and a Carrot Salad. Both delicious and satisfying choices. 

One annoyance: the honking traffic just a few feet away. I don't know if it was something in particular on that night that was holding the traffic up on Mott Street, but the honking was loud and relentless. Maybe a table inside would have been better?

Go with....
A date, a few friends (tiny spot), a visiting friend.

All of the above mentioned. Also try the Chocolate Chaud. The drink is dusted with a paw stamp-like print and comes with a bitty chocolate candy. The Hachi Parmentier (organic ground beef with mashed potatoes and salad) is a hearty treat resembling a shepard's pie.

Out of Pocket....
Very reasonably priced. 

Where exactly....
242 Mott Street between Prince and Houston

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Quickie :)

It's a scorcher, huh? At least we have a bit of a breeze today. Yesterday was BRUTAL!

Make a pit stop at the darling Westville restaurant on West 10th near Bleeker to pick up this $4 refresher. Fresh mint and fresh lemonade blended with ice and topped with a lemon wedge!

Frozen Mint Lemonade

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tartine - West Village

Tartine is a minuscule, all windows space situated on the corner of West 11th and West 4th Streets. The green and white awning and the bitty outdoor tables are quite inviting. The Bring Your Own Bottle policy is ALSO pretty inviting. This French delight is perfect for a fun inexpensive date or catching up with a FEW girlfriends. But intimate is not on the menu. The tables are close together and for those attention deficit diners, there is plenty to eavesdrop in on. The lighthouse themed room can get a bit stuffy in the winter, but in summer.....the outdoor tables are waited patiently for. Neighborhood-ers and the like stand around talking and sipping their wine while they wait for sometimes over an hour before getting a coveted seat at this West Village gem. 

Also a quaint spot to go alone in the AM or for lunch. Bring a book, have a pastry and some tea, and people watch. Loads of celeb spottings if you keep your eyes peeled 

Must Try the....
  • Sauteed Chicken with Lemon and Sage: 0pt for fries over the side salad. Some of the best in the city.
  • Tartine's Croutons: with herbed goat cheese and roasted red peppers.
  • The Mussel's: while I don't enjoy mussels, they are being devoured by other patrons every time I am there. I hear the Curry version is the best. Usually on the "Specials" menu. 
  • BYOB
  • Lunch: Wednesday-Friday 11:30AM-4:00PM
  • Dinner: Monday-Saturday 5:30PM-10:30PM, Sundays 5:30PM-10:00PM
  • Brunch: Saturday-Tuesday 10:30AM-4:ooPM
  • Also open weekdays for pastries, coffee, and tea 9:00AM-10:30AM


I've been a bit discouraged with this whole "blogging" thing. I bounce back and forth on whether I should really start writing about my favorite spots, or kind of let it go. Is it lame?
I mean, who REALLY needs these rec's? Anyone can go to NY mag or CitySearch for ideas on a dinner outing! 


I just bumped into an acquaintance walking down Perry Street. She startled me a bit when she tapped on my shoulder as I turned the corner. She had just moved back to NY and we had a nice conversation, chatting for a bit about life. Then before parting she asked me if I had any restaurant recommendations for her dinner date tonight with an old friend. 

I did, of course. And spat out names for four lovely spots in the area. 

Tartine was on the top of the list though, for a chill "catching up dinner" with a girlfriend. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


It is 8:38AM on Wednesday, July 22nd. I am sitting in bed in my tiny West Village apartment ticking away on my laptop. I think I just started a new blog? I think this is my first post? 

The anxiety is starting to cease, as I have begun. I have thought about this for over a year now. Some people call that lazy. "A thinker, not a doer." But an idea needs direction. This idea finally has direction. It's finally tangible....virtually anyway.

I have NO IDEA what I am doing. But I do know what I want to write about. 

Restaurants. Specifically restaurants in Manhattan. Specifically restaurants in Manhattan below 14th Street. West Village, Greenwich Village, East Village, Soho, Tribeca, LES, Alphabet City, etc. And while many of them need no help, I feel the urge to share with others the experiences I have had and they CAN have, dining out in the aforementioned neighborhoods. 


Well, oddly enough, I can almost always remember what I ordered at any given restaurant I have ever been to. I can describe the atmosphere in detail. Tell you how the hostess greeted us. Remember at which table I dined. And what the drink of choice was. It's weird. I critique. Without really trying or meaning to. It happens. My mind automatically and instantly takes note of my surroundings and my palate when dining out. I think about ways in which the restaurant could improve, how they could encourage more foot traffic, or make money at happy hour. I think about what I would do differently if I ran the restaurant. What the atmosphere would be like in my own (imaginary) restaurant, one day.

Again, it's kind of weird. 

But I believe this information is helpful when trying to choose amongst the millions of options we have here in the city. And I hate to be partial....but frankly, I prefer downtown New York. To dine downtown, to live downtown, to explore downtown. 

So, I have a niche. And to set this blog apart from other restaurant recommending websites or email blasts, I am commenting on the experience after dining there a few times. Not just simply stating the opening, showcasing the menu, or giving a bio on the chef. The reviews will be based on testing