Angelo Sosa’s New Restaurant: Social Eatz

14 Mar

Social Eatz opened up this past Thursday and, being the Top Chef Sluts that we are, we were there on Saturday to try it out. As long time lovers of Xie Xie, Sosa’s previous NYC establishment that specialized in Asian style gourmet sandwiches, we were excited to try this new place. We were bummed when Xie Xie closed, especially because it was so close to our apartment and because I was in love with their 1000-year-old ice cream sandwich.

The interior was very orange and black. It was a nice, modern setup with almost as much bar seating as table seating. Unfortunately, they did not yet have their liquor license when we were there. I’m curious what type of interesting cocktails will be available.

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We were given a chef appetizer… however, it was about 3 mouthfuls for 5 people. Kinda silly when we’re talking about marinated raw veggies. I couldn’t have them due to the peppers (this was an ongoing problem) but consensus was that it just wasn’t anything special… as we expect at least a little special from Sosa.

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Appetizers proved difficult for me, as all of them had peppers in them and there was no way around it. This was especially upsetting since everyone said the apps were the best part of the meal.

First up was the crispy spring rolls. It had chunks of shrimp and ground chicken with diced jicama, shredded cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, and cilantro. It had a duck sauce made from calamansi, which was described as “a citrusy Filipino fruit with a sweet and sour essence.”

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Everyone agreed that they were great. Excellent crispy outside, good portion, and flavorful.

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Mike said that the ribs were delicious, fell right off the bone, and it was a hearty 3-piece portion. They also had a “nice kick” to it, which meant I couldn’t eat them. Boooo.

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One person ordered the chili kissed tilapia. It was light, white fish brushed with thai chili, sauteed and garnished with fresh green tomato salsa and avocado. She enjoyed it and said that it did, indeed, taste “chili kissed.”

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Mike chose the bibimbop burger which was ground beef topped with a slow cooked egg, shredded carrots and cucumber, and lettuce. Calling this “bibimbop” made me think of a few traditional items that were missing, especially the rice and the mixed vegetables (especially the zucchini).

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Mike very much enjoyed the burger. He said it was a little soggy, but the flavors all worked very well together and tasted very asian.

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And what could be wrong with an egg on a burger?

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I ordered the bulgogi burger. Now I LOVE bulgogi. There is something amazing about the sweet marinade that gets put on the tender grilled beef at traditional Korean restaurants. Perhaps it’s because I have been eating bulgogi for years, both homemade (thank you Esther!) and in restaurants, but I really didn’t find anything bulgogi about this. I had to order mine without kimchi, and I wonder if Sosa was relying on the spice to inspire the flavor. I was disappointed.

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They called the cucumber topping “cucumber kimchi,” and while they said it didn’t have peppers, I’m pretty sure it did and I had to strip it off mine to maintain feeling in my mouth. And the bun? It tasted like a grocery store, soggy, bland bun. Man I was upset. I was really expecting more.

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And the fries? Everyone enjoyed them, but then we found the secret… red pepper spice on top. I had to send mine back for a regular batch which were bland. Very bland. McDonald’s bland… and not crispy enough. Man what a bummer.

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After the incredible success of the ice cream sandwich, we had to try dessert. We sampled both things on the menu.  First up was the yuzu cream puffs. They were described as “pillowy puffs filled with a sweet, creamy yuzu curd made from the tart japanese citrus fruit of the same name.” When I hear cream puffs, I think more pastry than zeppoli, but I was kind of glad that these had a granulated sugar coating rather than the overly sweet craziness of cream puffs. The yuzu was definitely a bit tart, but I enjoyed it. Just not as much as I wanted to.

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We also sampled the chocolate toffee brownie, which I had heard good things about. It was described as a “double-rich chocolate brownie warmed and glazed with a sweet toffee topping.” It was DEFINITELY rich, and definitely chocolatey… but when I think toffee, I think crunchy toffee. A few sprinkles of the crunchy type would have made this awesome, but alone it was just a good, warm brownie with a caramel sauce. It also came with cereal milk, which I always think is better in concept that in execution, but it wasn’t bad.

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The service was pretty rough.  I will give them a pass because they’re BRAND new, however, the same guy tried to deliver the wrong food three times.  And one time was when dessert was still on the table… rough.

I’m also a bit confused on the name.  Why Social Eatz?  What about this place is social?  I was thinking maybe they were going social media and would have some ipad menus or some interactions online, but so far, I see nothing remotely social about it.  Not even really in the way it is set up (tables are slightly common… but not really).  Hmmm.

I REALLY wanted to like this place. So much so that I just kept trying to find positives as I wrote this review, but what it came down to was just that it was disappointing. Nothing was special enough, flavorful enough, or interesting enough to be what I would think of as Sosa. Xie Xie had novelty about it, but it was also just fantastically delicious. If this wasn’t Sosa’s place, I don’t think I would have thought about it a second time. It just tasted like an average burger place with a different concept that wasn’t well executed. I got to see a bit “behind the curtain” since I had to have mine without the spice. It made me realize that spice was so relied upon, that the rest of the dish was just average. When I go to a place like this, I expect them to execute on a delicious dish, whether or not it is spicy.

Bummer Angelo. Total bummer.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

6 Responses to “Angelo Sosa’s New Restaurant: Social Eatz”

  1. wk March 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    really? on a menu that includes spice in nearly every dish, you avoided anything with spice and THEN complain about the food not being to your liking? next time hopefully the restaurant will be designed particularly with you and your bizarre eating habits in mind so that you have a fair shot at experiencing the food as it’s supposed to taste.

    what are you, 5 years old? maybe you would have been better off with some microwave mac n’ cheese and some cut up hot dogs.

    • NYC Nom Nom March 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

      Name calling? And I’m the 5-year-old?

      First, if something as simple as peppers can’t be removed without losing all the flavor, the food just isn’t that great. Food should stand up on its own, spicy or not. I have been allergic to peppers my entire life and have had many flavorful dishes in the past that don’t include microwave mac & cheese and cut up hotdogs. Not to mention I wish not eating peppers was simply a “bizarre eating habit” and not an allergy.

      Second, I wasn’t the only one that was disappointed. Not one person at the table thought the food was outstanding, even with the peppers included in their meals.

      I’m sorry if I hit a nerve with you, however, I share my opinions whether or not you agree. Not everyone will feel the same way about food.

  2. JoeR March 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    I found this link via an Eater article. I have to agree with wk, but not in a nasty way. Chef’s create food to taste and be presented in a certain way. You cannot write a valid review while tasting modified dishes.

    I had takeout (lunch) from here this afternoon for the first time. While I was waiting to pick up my order, Angelo was delivering plates to some of the tables himself. He was describing the food and asking diners for feedback. That struck me as a proprietor who cares about his customers and final product.

    Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I think that your review was biased.

    Social Eatz is not Xie Xie, and your opening paragraph sums it up. You were bummed when Xie Xie closed and my guess is that your were probably hoping that the new place was much like the former.

    This is not my place to comment on the food, so I won’t.

    -Joe

    • NYC Nom Nom March 18, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      Hey Joe,

      You are completely correct. I am biased because of Xie Xie, and that is exactly why I started with that comment. Also, I think all reviews are biased. I had full disclosure that I modified the dish and based my opinion on that.

      I never claimed to be the definitive voice of all that is good or bad at Social Eatz, however, my personal experience was disappointing. And that’s what I wrote. I was there with 5 others who were equally unimpressed, but I wrote this from my perspective.

      It really sucks to have to navigate menus when you have an allergy like mine. I don’t expect food to be as intended without the peppers, if that is the way the chef constructed it, but I do expect it to have a unique and “better” quality about it when I’m going to a “Top Chef” location.

      I definitely think Sosa cares, a lot, and someday I hope to be back to try the menu anew when the bumps are ironed out.

      Thanks for providing some honest feedback that isn’t mean spirited. I appreciate your honesty.

      ~Sara

    • Sha March 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      Joe put it best. I was going to write something similar to what he wrote but I now don’t need to.

      One thing that Joe pointed out that I absolutely agree with is Angelo’s passion for his product AND his customers. When I went to Xie Xie with a friend before it closed, Angelo cooked our food AND served us. Mind you, this was before Top Chef season when he became a well-known chef.
      Thinking about Joe’s comment more, I also realize that there’s a reason why Angelo’s main restaurants have been intimate places with few seats; it allows him to interact with his customers directly.

      Oh, and when I went to get one of his free sandwiches, he gave me a firm handshake, took a picture with me, AND gave me a fist bump. If THAT doesn’t show passion for his fans, I don’t know what does!

      Anywho, I look forward to reading more reviews, and I’m glad you understand what Joe (and I) think.

      – SS

  3. Kay April 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Agree with Joe and Sha. Sounds like a vegetarian person upset that the BBQ joint they went to didn’t serve them food to their liking.

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