Tag Archives: oysters

Sunday at Sea (AKA: The day I started to hate Lena Dunham)

23 Aug

Last weekend was my birthday weekend, however, we had a lot of obligations so there was very little ME time.  And since I am the princess on my birthday, when we saw a fun looking event on Underground Eats, we quickly decided it sounded like a perfect way to celebrate my day.

It was billed as follows:

Enjoy a three-hour cruise during which you’ll feast on jumbo lobster rolls, oysters, and whoopie pies, get a chance to learn the secrets of oyster shucking and help yourself to endless beer and wine.

  • Jumbo Lobster Rolls
  • Ahi & Watermelon Ceviche
  • East & West Coast Oysters
  • Whoopie Pies
  • Open Bar (Beer & Wine)
  • Live Music
  • Oyster Shucking Class
  • Learn to Break Down a Lobster

Sounded like a good value for $60. HA!  That’s a joke. I don’t think I’d let someone pay me to take this boat trip again.  What a shit show.

Though it didn’t start too bad.

We haven’t spent much time in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and we arrived much earlier than intended. Not much to see in the area so we killed about 45 minutes on a bench checking out a new view of the skyline.



Our ship then pulled in



And before we knew it, there was a HUGE line behind us. (They boarded a bit late, and took a lot longer to board than intended, so we wound up leaving nearly 45 minutes later than scheduled)


They were checking bags and giving everyone the pat down to get on the boat.


It was pretty empty when we first got on (which obviously didn’t last).  They had a downstairs dance floor and DJ who spun an odd collection of “beachy” music I had never heard before, but it was decent. Though I’m not sure if I would consider this “live music” as billed.

There were 2 stations downstairs for lobster rolls and whoopie pies, as well as a bar.


And upstairs there were about 20 seats, a dance floor, 2 food stations (oysters and ceviche), and a small bar.


The bar started with a very nice beer offering. I LOVE Sixpoint Sweet Action.  Always tastes like summer and baseball to me. (Perhaps because I tried it first at Citi Field).



Very quickly, the ceviche line opened.  I was SO hungry so I ran up to get it. Sadly, it was coated in peppers. But Mike said it was very interesting since it was combined with watermelon.



I went downstairs a few times, but no food was being served yet (and even though the whoopie pies were out, he wouldn’t let me touch them until the “official time”). I kept checking, and I finally caught it open and the line was already across the boat and spiraling back (it wound up building to a triple snaking line).  I left Mike upstairs since there were only 20 chairs and we scored them early.



And I waited… and I waited… 50 minutes.

50 minutes on line to get lobster rolls.

And then I got up there all excited to finally try one…



And they wouldn’t give me one for Mike.  “1 per person.”

Now I get it.  I get that they don’t want everyone to come down and hog 2 lobster rolls at once.


Then at some point during my 50 minute wait online, how about someone come out and TELL us that? How about tell us that when we get on the boat? Or give people tickets to get lobster rolls?

Or… HELL… put more than 20 freakin seats on a boat that you put at least 200 people on.

I was NOT a happy camper.

I tried to argue with the guy serving, who was from Greenpoint Fish, but he was a total jerk to me. He called me “little girl” and told me to “stop complaining and move along.”  Not cool. Not cool at all.  It’s bad enough to give a customer a bad experience (especially for a place that I believe is trying to open a restaurant soon). I immediately tweeted them an unhappy sentiment, and not only did they not do the customary social media community management best practice of responding… they actually censored/deleted my tweet from their wall. Bravo jerks. Bravo.

I was so angry that I didn’t even get a good picture of the roll, but really there was no reason to. I’m not saying this because they were totally douchey to me, but the lobster roll was just meh.  When the line finally went down a while later, Mike got on line for his (waited another 20 minutes or so) and got to the front to find out that they actually ran out of their lobster roll meat, but they had some fresh cracked lobster meat to put on the bun.  Now this lobster… this lobster was GREAT!  It made it very obvious that they had either used frozen or sub-par lobster in the original roll.

Needless to say, I will never go to Greenpoint Fish.

After this disappointment, at least we had the view to check out.



After watching the world go by for a bit, we went and got ourselves some oysters. These were awesome. Super fresh and the shucker spent all 5 hours on his feet, shucking at incredible speeds. Props shucker man.



And then we went to get some whoopie pies.



Now these were no Cranberry Island Kitchen whoopie pies (the vendor we chose for our wedding), but they were good in their own way. They tasted like fresh devil dogs.  We enjoyed these and actually, this was the only food I could fill up on, so I had a few.  Yum.



And then we made a sweep next to the lady. (A view I never get tired of)





They then had their lobster cracking demonstration. Most of the stuff I’ve already shown, but a genius way to get meat out of the legs… use a rolling pin. Comes right out!  Who knew?


And these were the fresh lobsters that wound up going into the good lobster roll. I love how the light is shining on them, as if from heaven. (mmmm heavenly lobsters)



About halfway through the cruise, the good beer ran out. No more Sixpoint Brews. Just Bud and Bud Light.  I’d rather just drink water.  BLEH.

And then everything went to hell. The bathrooms stopped flushing.

To make matters much worse, the boat was basically entirely Brooklyn hipsters.  Total hipsters.  I couldn’t believe the amount of fun mustaches and rolled up pants with boat shoes I saw.  But the style aside, these millenials were jerks.  It was like a bad episode of Girls. They smoked on the small boat, in the middle of everyone eating, and refused to move.  (NO ESCAPE!)  They cut in line and then kept blocking the path to get anywhere on the boat (including the broken bathrooms). They danced into me while I was waiting in various lines, many times, and no apologies.  They were obnoxiously drunk and dropped food all over and threw their cigarette butts into the water.  And they just had no courtesy for anyone around them.  It was as if they were the only one on the boat.  I really hate the self-involved, entitled attitude.

And afterwards everyone got on their vintage bicycles and peddled home.

I blame Lena Dunham.

Restaurant Week Summer 2013: Todd English Food Hall at The Plaza

3 Aug


We have been meaning to stop by the Todd English Food Hall at The Plaza (hotel) for a while. Restaurant Week seemed as good a time as any!



There are lots of stations in the Food Hall (flatbread pizza, asian, dumplings, cheese, tacos, etc).



We were seated at the raw bar but were encouraged to explore and order from wherever we wanted.


I do really love watching people cook and prepare food. And now that Mike and I tried our own hands at shucking oysters ourselves, I have even more respect for this artform.


Their regular menu is extensive with items in every section, however, the Restaurant Week menus is very small.  To get a real sampling of the restaurant to make people want to return, it would have been nice if they offered selections from all of their stations.  While most restaurants serve a menu about this size for Restaurant Week, I think Todd English Food Hall would have really benefited from an ilili style restaurant week where you get to select one from each section.  It would have brought the “Food Hall” concept more to life for someone getting their first taste.


For this reason, we ordered one Restaurant Week meal and 2 additional appetizers.  First, the regular menu appetizers:

Lobster Hush-Puppies.



These were described as savory lobster & polenta dumplings with truffle aioli.


They had chunks of lobster inside and that truffle aioli was sensational.  I wish they were a wee bit crispier, but the flavors were all there.  Great dish. Our favorite of the night.



Our other regular menu order was Grilled Artichokes with king crab and lemon-caper vinaigrette. This actually came out AFTER the other entrees but trying to condense non-Restaurant Week together.  Also, it was weird it came out later, but more on the service in a moment.

This dish was so close to awesome.  The crab stuffing was insanely good and the croutons added a great flavor and crunch to the whole dish.



The disappointing part was actually the artichoke itself.  The flavor of it was just okay (not very artichoke-y) and the outer leaves were too woody.  We both took a first scoop and wound up having to very politely spit out most of our food because we just couldn’t chew through the tough outer leavers. I wound up scraping a few, but that was a messy endeavor.  As a self-proclaimed artichoke connoisseur, I know a thing or two about preparation.  And these were a miss.  They either needed to use a jerusalem artichoke that you can eat the outer leaves on, serve it more upright so you can scrape the leaves, or just serve the hearts. Honestly, this would have been great had they used just the soft leaves and hearts and put that on top of the crab stuffing.



As for the Restaurant Week menu, we started with the Asada Skirt Steak Tacos. This was brown sugar balsamic glazed with cilantro cream, hoisin BBQ sauce, fried onion, and napa slaw.


The highlights of this dish were the flavorful soft tacos (I think they were flour, but I’m never sure since I don’t eat them very often) and the crispy fried onions on top.  The sauce as pretty good and the steak was decent, but it would have been sensational with some char or some more steak flavor.  It fell a bit short in the meat flavor department.


For the second course, we chose the ricotta gnocchi saltimbocca with asparagus, duck confit, capers, and brown butter.  When it was served to us, I immediately was turned off by the plating.  It looked like someone spilled sauce all over the plate and then put everything on top.  Sure enough, the dish was also a bit muddy and confused.  The flavors really just kind of became bland together and nothing really stood out here.  The gnocchi was well prepared and I liked the ricotta taste, but they just didn’t sing.  The asparagus was a bit over cooked and bland and the duck confit just didn’t have pop.  The only real flavor of note was the capers. Muddy is the only way I can describe this dish. Not bad, but not noteworthy either.


For dessert, we had the Restaurant Week cobbler.


I liked the fresh berries in conjunction with the cooked berries (I recognized blueberries and apples or pears).  The topping was just okay. A decent sweet to end the evening, but nothing special.


And now to explain the service. It was… weird. We would finish dishes and sit in front of dirty plates for a while, then each new dish was brought out and the waiters fumbled and looked uncomfortable while we pushed our own dirty dishes to the side so they could put the fresh dish down.  Then they would clear the other dish.  This happened every single time.

It also seemed a bit strange that the artichoke (on the appetizer menu) was served after the entree, but that wasn’t too big an issue.  One minor thing that drove me a bit nuts, however, was that the cobbler was served with big forks. Check out the fork to bowl ratio in this photo:


It left me staring down at that bowl of melty berry and ice cream goodness with no way of retrieving it.  This dish needed a spoon.

Most of the mistakes were pretty inconsequential, but it made for a bit of an odd meal.  Also, the Restaurant Week dishes were just okay and we enjoyed the other 2 dishes more. So I cannot say I would recommend their RW menu. With the flaws, this restaurant really seemed to lakc executional consistency.  That artichoke dish could have been one of the best, but the woody, inedible artichoke leaves just killed it.

As the meal ended, we reflected on the few Todd English places we have tried (Olives for Restaurant Week, CaVa, and Ember Room). They have all been pretty good, but very little linking them. I feel like Todd English does a good job of stamping his name on places of quality with a nice design aesthetic, but I can’t say I really *like* Todd English restaurants or even know the Todd English point-of-view.

Then again, reading that paragraph back over makes me feel like I’m watching too much Next Food Network Star recently.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10 (would have been a 7/7.5 or even higher had the flaws been fewer)

nomscale- 06.5


Honeymoon: Eureka, CA – Carter House Inn

29 Jul

Our drive from Bend, OR to Eureka, CA was one of the longest on the road.  We drove through some beautiful country, however, including Crater Lake (where we saw a lot of wildlife and the absolutely stunning view before it got totally covered by fog), the Red Woods (Stout Grove is amazing and I hugged a whole lot of big trees), stopped at some wineries, and saw an entire herd of elk walk through an RV park!

We had decided to stay in Eureka because it’s the only major city on the map between Crater Lake and Northern California Wine Country/Mendocino (the next step).  We heard Eureka wasn’t much to look at, but I heard that there is a great B&B in town that is a collection of old Victorian houses near the beach, Carter House Inn.

Well… “not much to look at” translated to a city filled with very dirty, very obviously drugged out homeless people wandering the streets.  I think we came at the wrong time on the wrong day, but there was an abandoned building across from the inn where we saw a whole lot of people wander into right around sunset.  It was… concerning… but we tried to put on our NYC brave faces and just kept to the inn (which was absolutely lovely on the inside).

I don’t know if we missed the good part of the town, or if we came at a strange wrong time, or if it really is just that awful. But it was pretty awful.  I actually felt bad for the town. It looks like something that was beautiful at one point, but it just fell into a bad state.  If someone with a bit of money invested in it, I’m sure those old Victorians and the beach would be wonderful.  But that just isn’t the position that Eureka is in these days.

The only highly rated restaurant in Eureka was actually in the inn itself, and after hours on the road, we were perfectly happy to eat at their Restaurant 301.


We had some decent local wine as we perused the menu. I was pretty surprised to see the prices, which seemed awfully high for this beat up town.


And then out came an amuse, which was a puff pastry with mushrooms and caviar.


Not bad.


They had lovely salt on the table, including a nicely flavored pink salt.


There were local oysters on the menu, and when we asked, we were told there were 5 left. So we ordered all of them. Unfortunately, there were 2 of us, and we are both very equitable people so we wound up with 1 left on the table and a stand-off. Our waiter advised we rock-paper-scissor for them and that seemed as equitable as anything, so I threw paper and Mike through rocks and I happily downed the final oyster.


Mike chose the Porcini Fettuccine with Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper, Little River Farms Arugula, Rosemary Cream & Leek.  I couldn’t try it due to the peppers, but Mike said it was just okay.


I went with the Crispy Duck Leg Confit (!) which came with Sweet Potato Ginger Gratin, Braised Napa Cabbage & Natural Jus. This was pretty good. The sweet potato and ginger gratin was actually the highlight.  It had really great flavor.  The confit wasn’t bad.  Decent flavor, but the skin was lacking in crispiness. Which is sad since they actually called it “crispy” in the description.


We were given little truffles at the end which were pretty good.


I don’t know… this meal was just okay.  It seemed like they had some really great ideas but were lacking a wee bit in the execution.  It was certainly overpriced for how good it tasted, though if they could fix the execution and make it as good as it could be, it could have worked. Sadly, it just didn’t this time around.

And the breakfast the next morning was okay.  Nothing overly special and certainly not the “foodie destination” we had read it was.  Not even good enough for me to take a picture of.  So my best advice… find somewhere else, anywhere else to stop besides Eureka, CA.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10