Restaurant Review: Please Don’t Tell (PDT)

Okay so despite the title, this is a bar review, straight up. I did happen to eat there, but this is a bar first, restaurant second. Actually, they’re not even a restaurant at all – they get their food from the restaurant next door, but more on that later.

I can’t even remember when I first heard of Please Don’t Tell, but it has been on my radar for years (probably since we moved here), and I’m just now getting around to checking it off my list! What intrigued me was that it’s a speakeasy that is located INSIDE a hot dog restaurant. I cannot make this up. The fact that there is a restaurant solely for hot dogs is a dream in itself, but add a secret bar and I’m down.

Crif Dogs

So you walk into Crif Dogs (113 St Marks Place) and step inside the telephone booth that’s tucked behind the wall on the left. You pick up the phone, tell them how many people are in your party and when they’re ready for you, they open the door and you are suddenly in a bar that’s inside a hot dog joint. (Try to call ahead for a rezzi or get there right when they open or else you will stand in a line out the door and around the corner – you’ve been warned).

If you have a smaller party (2-3 people), sit at the bar to experience the crafting of these cocktails. The mixologists are masters and use so many different techniques – they’re definitely not just slinging bottles. I’ve gotten something different every time I’ve gone and sampled all of my friends drinks (the best part!).

PDT Cocktails

Now, not only do they have the most bomb cocktail concoctions, they also let you place an order for gourmet hot dogs and sides from Crif Dogs. These dogs are gooooooood. I recommend the 2Pok Dog (deep-fried dog with Pok Pok wing glaze, crispy garlic, roasted chile mayo, pickled daikon & carrot, lettuce, cucumber, cilantro. The banh mi of hot dogs). Delish!

2pok dog

And please, promise me you won’t forget the tater tots (with cheese and jalapenos).

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I wouldn’t make it an every night thing, but it’s a fun experience and a great place to take visitors!

PDT girls

 

The Cronut

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I’m sure you’ve heard of the Cronut (half croissant / half doughnut) by now. They were first made here in NYC by Chef Dominque Ansel.  The process takes 3 days to make and they only produce 300 a day so by 10AM, they are sold out.  They have a different flavor every month. I had read about the Cronut craze in the middle of April in one of the daily NYC e-mails I get.  I wanted to check it out but I knew even with Tara’s love for breakfast, there was no way I was getting her up at 5:30AM to stand in line with me on a weekend.

So I waited for her birthday to grab us one as a surprise.  Boy was it worth it.  Here’s the lowdown.

Dominique Ansel Bakery is located in Soho.
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The line for Cronuts starts as early as 5:30AM.  That was a little too early for me so I got up and was in line by 6:00AM with 25 people ahead of me.  It turned out to be the perfect timing because by 6:30, the line was 150 people strong and starting to curve around the block.IMG_7446 - Copy

The bakery staff started coming out of the bakery around 7AM and continued every 15 minutes or so to make sure the line was against the park to make room for other pedestrians who were on their way to work and passing by on the sidewalk.
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By 7:30, one staff member came out and served fresh hot samples of one their other pastries to everybody in line.  I can’t remember exactly what the sample was, but it was SO good!  Tasted fresh and was a good preview of what was to come.
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At 8AM, the line started moving inside at a pretty good pace and the head chef, Dominique, greeted everyone at the door!  Talk about customer service!!
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By the time I got in the door, I noticed they had two lines.  One was the cronut line (where you could order other things as well) or there was a separate, much shorter line for ordering anything other than cronuts and you didn’t have to get in the big line that started around the block for that one!

I passed by the display window and saw some other amazing looking pastries…they all looked SOOO good!
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Confession time: I’m a sucker for almost any “fruit” type of food.  I ALSO ended up ordering the Blueberry Blackberry Pavlova.  What is it you ask?  Let me tell you.  It’s described as light-as-air blueberry meringues filled with ripe blackberries and smooth lemon vanilla cream (Gluten Free might I add).

But then, as I turned a corner, I saw Chef Dominique applying a blow torch type utensil to what appeared to be a marshmallow.  Come to find out, it’s one of his newest creations (after the cronut and just a seasonal summer treat), the FROZEN S’MORE!  Are you kidding me?!?!? What is that??!?!  It’s vanilla custard ice cream that’s wrapped with crispy chocolate wafer chips inside a marshmallow that has been blow torched around the sides and then put on top of an apple wood smoked branch!  So yes, that was ALSO ordered!
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By the time I got to the front, the cronuts were pre-boxed and ready for pick-up.  I even liked the quality bags they put your selections in (looked more like a high-end gift bag).  That said, the cronuts aren’t exactly cheap (what isn’t it NYC) at $5/ea so I ended up spending about $30 in breakfast treats along with an OJ and coffee.  Geez!
Side note: Apparently, on the black market (Craigslist), cronuts are going for as much as $40/ea!
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As you might expect, the cronut was DELICIOUS!  Definitely try and eat them right away.  If you wait too long, the freshness goes away. The flavor for the month  of July was blackberry.  It had a blackberry glaze with bits of pulverized berries mixed in and rolled with a mix of course sugar and lime zest.  They inject it with blackberry swirled vanilla cream!!
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I ended up taking the Blueberry Blackberry Pavolova home and saved it in the refrigerator for another day.  It tasted great when we finally devoured it a few days later.

Their lunch items looked phenomenal and the other pastries were so good that I’d definitely head back there again and pass on the cronut line (since I’ve already been there / done that) and try something else.  You can eat inside (though it’s a bit crowded) or they have a garden in the back that is more spacious.

Fast forward to a few weeks later and I had one of our FL DJs in town and he wanted to try the cronut.  I made him wait in line at 5:30AM and I joined him at 7AM to enjoy August’s new flavor…the Coconut Cronut (pictured at the top of this post).  On this visit, I didn’t order the Frozen S’more (my buddy did, however) but I did order and take home a box of 3 of the DKAs (Dominique’s Kouign Amann). It looks like a carmelized croissant shaped like a muffin.  They’re not cheap either at $5.25 each but they are soo good!  It’s got a good balance of the sweetness of the sugar and the creaminess of the butter. If you don’t want to wait in the cronut line, this is another EXCELLENT option!
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So I guess the question begs to be asked…is the cronut really worth the wait?  I think so (at least once)!  The people watching is fun (there are definitely some funny characters), you meet new friends and the experience makes the food that much more worth it!   That said, don’t settle for JUST the cronut.  The other options are just as good!  Highly recommend this spot!

A meal idea from 1912…

I’ve been going to Orlando on almost a weekly basis to assist my youngest brother Michael (aka Vince) with his business on the marketing & operations front.  That has also allowed me the chance to see and support my middle brother Mark as he continues his ongoing recovery from his near fatal car accident last year.  It’s been great to not only help them both but also to see them as often as I have….that hasn’t happened since I was in high school.  Before this, I was lucky to see them 1 or 2 times a year.

Michael runs a medical practice with 4 locations (Orlando,  Kissimmee, Sanford and Fort Myers) and an operations location in the Daytona area.  Because the locations are so spread out, they both have 2 residencies that they mutually share with 1 other roommate (who also happens to be Michael’s business partner).  One of the places is a sky rise condo in downtown Orlando.  It’s fully furnished and has a killer view and they are there about 20% of the time.

The other is a 4 bedroom house in Port Orange (near Daytona).  The house’s owner’s son (who goes to Embry Riddle) lives there as well.

With 4 bachelors living there at the house, it’s an interesting environment when I go visit.  There’s a lot of open space, the typical bachelor pool table, recreational guns, flat screen TVs, surround sound in almost every room, a screened in porch for BBQ’ing, and a killer outdoor pool.  The fridge is pretty much stocked with liquids 24/7 and not much else.  Not one of them is really into cooking so there’s a lot of eating out.

My brother Mark chillin' otuside on the patio with the pool behind it.

The fridge....with the liquid essentials.

One of the "recreational" guns...it's a 6.8 spc. The scope alone is $4K. This thing is pretty ridiculous and could definitely do some damage.

Keeping the places clean is tough to make happen with as many long hours as they all work.  Enter in the house maid, Angel. She comes in 2X a week to clean, handle the laundry and do the grocery shopping.  She is really nice and does a good job.  With 4 extremely smart entrepreneurial type guys there, a lot of ideas get thrown out there and talked about but only the good ideas come to fruition which leads me to this particular blog posting.

As a gag gift, someone gave the owner’s son a book on the “Meals of the Titanic”.

The fellas got in their head one day the idea of paying the maid to cook out of the book until they had sampled every meal.  She quoted an extra $40 a day for 3 meals (actually 3 sepeate meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – with 4 plates worth at each meal time so a total of 12 meals a day; which breaks down to a little over $3 a meal) plus the meal supplies.  They decided to try it and are now on week 3.  The maid makes out the menu schedule on a weekly basis and posts it on the fridge on Sundays so they know what they’re having each week.

Tara didn’t believe me when I told her about it…that is until she came out to visit me 2 weeks ago.  She woke up to a beautiful aroma (we slept in late) and it was the maid getting ready to prepare lunch.  This particular meal was a “first class cabin” rated meal.   I can’t remember the exact name but it was steak with an interesting (but very tasty) flavoring/spices on top, veggies and some type of mashed potatoes.  It was absolutely amazing!  And this was just a LUNCH!

The finished product (sorry I had already eaten some of it before I took this pic).

I’m still awaiting the verdict on the “top 3” meals.  They’ve been keeping a rating card so as soon as they finish all the meals, I’ll keep you posted on the results.  I’m thinking this one has to be in the top 10.

This was too good of a story not to share.  The things the mind can come up with boggles me 😉  Meanwhile, I’m back to eating my PB&J as I finish typing this blog post 🙁