Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Back to Alder

I've missed my regular rotation at Alder (hadn't been in 2 months), but we were back last night for a quick bite and a drink or two before my wife headed off to see a show with a friend of ours.  So 4 of the 5 plates we shared were new to me.

The new-to-me fall/winter cocktails are very nice. "Dock Ellis" (we all remember him, right?) showcases applejack, while the "Burnt Reynolds" is a bit of a riff on the 1794, with rye, smoked vermouth and Campari. Tasty, those.

And the new plates?  Really, really good.  I think the French Onion Soup Rings have been on the menu for a while, but I hadn't had them before, and they were well worth the wait; the gravy and perfect frying technique elevates these rings way above standard "pub" food.  Same can be said about the JalapeƱo Poppers, though I'd guess the uni cream cheese stuffing and trout roe also add to the equation.

Shrimps on Shrimps was a nice, light break from those two items; sweet Maine shrimp green papaya salad, with a good jolt of heat, served on top of a shrimp cracker, beats the pants off the stuff served at your local Thai joint. Or even a good Thai joint.

I was a bit worried about Scotch Quail Eggs, because I'm not a big Scotch egg fan.  But I shouldn't have been, as these are perfectly bite-sized, and maybe that's the problem with Scotch chicken eggs - they're practically a meal, whereas these just make you want to have another. 

PIABs are still alive and well, and still good.  

We didn't get around to the duck breast or hangar steak or new foie iteration, and it was mentioned to me that a bunch of new menu items are in the works, so I plan on getting Alder back in my regular rotation soon.  And I know it's a busy week, but they were slammed last night at 7; there wasn't a seat to be had, and we were lucky enough to ensconce ourselves opposite the bar, standing room only.

COMP DISCLOSURE:  A dish from the kitchen, and some drinks.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Shoulder Fix

Having a little shoulder surgery to repair my biceps today.

Back soon...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Donostia - Barcelona on Avenue B

Though it may not be 100% ready for prime time, according to Eater Donostia is: Status: Certified Open.

By sheer coincidence (seriously), we happened to find ourselves sitting at the bar just after 6 PM tonight.  And though there may have been technical glitches in getting the food out of the tiny kitchen, the concept, the warmth of service and the tastes on the plate mean we'll be giving this place a bunch of visits in the near future.

Modeled after the great Quimet y Quimet in Barcelona, most everything that is served food-wise starts out in a can or a jar (which are for sale) or is preserved in one way, shape or form. It's presented, perhaps on a slice of bread (montadito) or on a pick (banderilla). There are bocadillos; there are tortillas; there is ham; there is cheese...the menu is long and deep - we barely made a dent.  What we ate, we mostly liked (though the hand-sliced ham needs a sharper knife and...a better hand) and I would prefer some stuff more room-temperature-y as opposed to fridge cold, but that's probably a DOH thing.

There's a quite nice sherry list. Delicious cocktails made with sherry.  A nice vermouth list. Cocktails made with vermouth. Cocktails made with vermouth and sherry.  There are sidras (ok, ciders) including a super tart, crisp one on draught - from Michigan, no less.  A number of beers.  I didn't read deeply into the wine list, though it also had plenty of choices. You won't run out of things to drink or eat here, that's for sure.

The room, directly across Avenue B from Thompkins Square Park, is long and narrow, and by narrow I mean it's about as wide as the 4th floor walk-up railroad flat apartment Sig Eater and I shared for years, but they've made good use of the space. There are tiny two-tops along one wall opposite the bar, and as you walk towards the back, there's a little semi-private alcove with a dining table that holds 6 (or 8, if they're all models).  And a few more tables in the back, opposite the kitchen.

Give it a week or two, then give it a try - they're even open for breakfast at 7:30 in the AM - and evidently have a local guy from the neighborhood as their barista.  I have a weakness for this type of food and a weakness for sherry and vermouth, too. Donostia  Kafetegia y Merkatua fits the bill and is a nice addition to Alphabet City's dining and drinking options.

Donostia - 155 Avenue B (9th & 10th)