Friday, January 30, 2009

Island Burgers & Shakes

Today’s installment is about Island Burgers & Shakes at 766 9th Ave (Btwn 51st & 52nd St) in Hell’s Kitchen. This is a casual joint with an insane amount of burger choices, 63 varieties of burgers & chicken. The unusual aspect of the place is they don’t serve fries, as the rumor goes the owner didn’t have enough money or space for a fryer.

Lunch started as I tried to cram into my mouth the Riviera, a burger cooked medium, with mushrooms, sautéed onions & peppers on a ciabatta roll, and a side of salt & vinegar chips. The burger was cooked well but a little bland, I probably should have ordered it blackened, which just means flavored with ‘Island’ spices. What makes this place different are all the topping varieties. These burgers are very messy and this leads to the drawback of the burger. My cohort, Robb, ordered a Bourbon burger, blackened with jack cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and some sort of cajun mayonnaise on sourdough bread. His burger broke the golden rule, a burger should not be eaten with a fork & knife, but the sourdough bread fell apart into a pile of gooey mess. So avoid the sourdough bread, these burgers can’t handle it.

In the end, an up to snuff burger, but when the place is more about the toppings than the burger, I’m not sure the place is deserving of the top burger in New York as some have it listed. The search continues… Go4Kb.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The World Financial Center

Today, I went to work at my usual place, The World Financial Center. The World Financial Center is a complex of buildings across West Street from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson River. This complex is home to offices of major corporations including Merrill Lynch and American Express as well as Dow Jones and its Wall Street Journal division among others. Designed by César Pelli, the complex was built between 1985 and 1988 on landfill used to build Battery Park City. The fill material came from dirt excavated during the building of the World Trade Center, as well as garbage, dirt and debris. Needless to say, the complex has been much quieter recently but the variety of restaurants and shops still draws a crowd. Time was short today since I had to rush to school after work, so I'll have to come back to the dining options of WFC another time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Olive Garden

Now, many will think it unusual to write about or even bother to eat at Olive Garden when in NY, but the thing is that there are two things Kevin will not do. 1. Go to Times Square (unless the outta towner is a first timer) and 2. Eat at the Olive Garden. Well Kevin is in DC, so I did both today while in midtown for a meeting. It was my first time at this location and everything was good. I had the Seafood Alfredo, same thing I've ordered for 15 years.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Neil's Coffee Shop

Today was my first day back to school for the Spring semester. Hunter College on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is where I will complete my undergrad in Political Science within the next year. Originally known as the Normal College, Hunter was founded in 1870 by Irish immigrant and social reformer Thomas Hunter as a teacher-training school for young women. Now, Hunter is a coeducational liberal arts and sciences college that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 100 fields. The college began to enroll men in the 60's but is still 68% female with no apparent explanation. In 2008, Hunter was #8 on the list of the top 10 public best value colleges for 2009 by The Princeton Review.

Hunter is an amazing college due to the diversity of the student body and faculty. Just as the Upper East Side is diverse with many wonderful and surprisingly affordable restaurants although I rarely have time to stop by many of them. Most nights at school, I will snack out of the vending machines or just eat something I've brought from home. On occasion, I will stop in a diner on 70th and Lex where they don't really welcome students, but will tolerate you if you eat fast and pay with cash. That is where I went tonight. The place is called Neil's Coffee Shop. Quick, easy, decent food served with a little attitude. I had a Gyro sandwich but couldn't take a picture cuz they are on to me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wine & Roses

Wine & Roses is a modern, but still sexy wine bar that attracts oenophiles as well as amateurs. They’ve got an extensive selection from around the world, and New Zealand pinot noirs are not placed too far from New York State Rieslings. The experts here can pour you 40 wines by the glass and there are over 150 wines by the bottle. This is where you can find the cast of Celebrity Autobiography after the show.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grey's Papaya

Gray's Papaya is a hot dog restaurant with four locations on the West Side of Manhattan, open 24 hours a day year-round. Somewhere between a street vendor and a fast food restaurant, Gray's Papaya is famous for its very inexpensive, high-quality hot dogs. The "papaya" in the name refers to the fruit drinks sold at the establishment, which include orange, grape, piña colada, coconut champagne (non-alcoholic), and banana daiquiri (non-alcoholic) in addition to papaya. As of October 2008, the "Recession Special", (2 hot dogs and a drink) is $3.50 and a single hot dog is $1.25, with tax included. The original Gray's Papaya was started as a spin-off/clone of Papaya King in 1973. Kevin had a dog and so did this guy from Ugly Betty.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Celebrity Autobiography

Monday night we will see Celebrity Autobiography, a show in which celebrities read other celebrity's autobiographies. CA can be seen every Monday night at the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side at 7:30 pm.

Scheduled to appear January 26, 2009.
Matthew Broderick, Jackie Hoffman, Kristen Johnston, Eugene Pack, Dayle Reyfel, Sherri Shepherd, Michael Urie

Update: This show was hilarious and is only playing through April 27.
Now you can get all the laughs for half the price. This offer is available for all your family and friends. SAVE 50% on orchestra seats for all February performances of Celebrity Autobiography. Orchestra Seats Only $22.50 (Reg. $45) with Code NYT09.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Let's Eat Downtown!

I love New York City and feel fortunate to be able to say I live in Lower Manhattan. There are an endless supply of restaurants to explore in my area and I want to try them all. New York City was established by the Dutch in 1625 (hence the city's original name, New Amsterdam) in LM and it is still the best place in the city to search for the past. Lower Manhattan constitutes everything south of Chambers Street for most people, but the exact definition is widely debated. It includes Battery Park, the point of departure for the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Staten Island. The South Street Seaport, a touristy area but still a reminder of times when shipping was the lifeblood of the city, is a bit north on the East Side and south of the Brooklyn Bridge, which stands proudly as the ultimate achievement of New York's 19th-century industrial age.

The rest of the area is considered the Financial District, but may be more famous now as Ground Zero. Until September 11, 2001, the Financial District was anchored by the World Trade Center, with the World Financial Center complex and Battery Park City to the west, and Wall Street running crosstown a little south and to the east. Construction has begun on the new complex, but it will take years to complete. They say it will be finished in 2011. The future Downtown skyline will look like this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's For Dinner?

Without a doubt, New York is the best restaurant town in the country, and one of the finest in the world. Other cities might have particular specialties, but no other culinary capital spans the globe as successfully as the Big Apple.

Wherever you're from, particularly if you hail from the reasonably-priced American heartland, New York's restaurants will seem expensive. Yet good value abounds, especially if you're willing to try ethnic cuisine (including types you may not have had before), and venture beyond tourist zones into such neighborhoods as Chinatown, Harlem, Upper Manhattan, the East Village, the upper Upper West Side, and the boroughs. I'm going to included inexpensive restaurants in every neighborhood, including some of the city's best-kept secrets, so you'll know where to get good value for your money no matter where you are in Manhattan.

In addition to gastronomy, this blog will include those few and far in between activities of my life that may not revolve around food.