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

 

Year In Review: Best/Worst Of 2014

Overall, 2014 was a fantastic year! A year never goes by without a few hiccups but as a whole, this was a great one. We had mentioned last year that blogging would be a priority and it was…however, it ended up being a business priority more so than a personal one.   As you will see below, one of the biggest “wins” in 2014 was putting in a concerted effort into the business! It paid off in spades. When you think of how much time is wasted on social media (and I actually did a self-test to prove it), it became clear that I needed to rid myself of as many “time suckers” as possible. Don’t get me wrong, our blog was never a waste of time but if something had to suffer, this was going to be one of the casualties. Hopefully, 2015 gives me a chance to get back in the personal blogging game as New York City is too good NOT to share.

That said, this is our annual “best/worst blog post” for 2014 (mainly best). Per the usual, this just pertains to the current year, not necessarily, our all-time picks. My picks will be noted by my initials and Tara’s picks will be noted by her initials.

2014

Best Music Album in 2014
BB:Ghost Stories by Coldplay: I love it when an artist or band gives each song on an album its own feel. That’s just what happened on Coldplay’s latest album. Although it definitely had a more melancholy, downtempo electronic feel, this album is one of my favorites of theirs. I had it on repeat a ton and used a few of the tracks at gigs often.

TB:1989by Taylor Swift: I love T. Swift. There, I said it. I think everyone secretly jams out to Taylor Swift. If you don’t, I’m pretty sure you’re lying. Her songs are just so damn catchy. You know it. I know it. And this album is fantastic.

Best Music Single of 2014
BB:Rather Beby Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne: This song was definitely not the most popular (it didn’t make my company’s top 10) but I just loved the indie/ 80s/ pop sound of this song. I worked it into almost all of my event sets. It has a sing-a-long quality to it and is at a great tempo.

TB:Don’t Tell ‘Emby Jeremih feat. YG: Maybe it’s that crazy night in Tennessee I had with my sister, but I love this jam. I was trying to think of other songs that I loved in 2014, but kept coming back to this one. It’s fun to sing to – try it. You know you like it, too.

Best Book I Read in 2014
BB: Defending Jacob by William Landay: I read a ton of great books this year but I think this one inched it out for being my favorite. I love court room storylines and plot twists and this had tons of it. Looking for a book that is tough to put down? This would definitely qualify.

TB: Divergent Series by Veronica Roth: I finally finished the Divergent Series this year. What can I say, I love YA fiction… And I’m in need of some new suggestions, so send them my way!!

Best Travel Destination of 2014
Live Aqua Cancun
BB: “Live Aqua – Cancun” / March AND October 2014
It was another year where Tara and I didn’t get a chance to travel much for pleasure. However, I did travel a ton for work. The spot that was #1 for me was Live Aqua in Cancun, Mexico. I actually did a corporate event there in March. I loved it so much that I HAD to bring Tara there for our annual anniversary trip/vacation. The resort is amazing. Great views, amazing amenities (did I mention the daily cabanas and daily 20 minute foot massages) and just a great place to unwind. I could definitely see myself going back again. Highly recommend this for an adult-only getaway!

Live Aqua Cancun
TB: “Live Aqua – Cancun” / October 2014
Completely agree with Brian – this resort was so great. The beach and pools were amazing. The cabanas were definitely my favorite part. A canopy bed on the beach? Are you kidding me? And add to that a 20 minute foot massage. I was in heaven. The resort itself was also so sweet in acknowledging our anniversary with nightly champagne, chocolate and strawberries. And I’m not talking Andre champagne (no offense, Andre lovers), but this was Moet. Nice touch, Live Aqua. Definitely a great getaway for us!

Best Breakfast Restaurant in 2014
BB: The Breakfast Table” –Destin, FL: I know this may sound like a weird pick considering all the places we have available in New York City but this place just resonated with me. It’s a place by locals for locals. With so much time spent in Destin and seeing so many places open and close often there, it was great seeing this one succeed! The owner, Bridgette, is so welcoming to all her guests. The food is pretty good (some of the best coffee around) and they are constantly tweaking the place to make it better every time I come in.

TB: Root & Bone – New York, NY: Our first time to Root & Bone was for brunch and totally blew our mind! We tried practically everything, including cocktails, and our bill was low by NYC standards. Peach Caprese salad, killer bloody Marys, and delicious mini waffles. But that fried chicken, though. Out of this world good.   Brined in sweet tea for 24 hours then spritzed with lemon juice and sprinkled with fresh dill. It just doesn’t get better.
Root & Bone NYC

Best Lunch Restaurant in 2014
BB/TB:Sweetgreen’” – New York, NY: A buddy of Brian’s suggested this place when he found out we lived so close to it. Upon first glance you may think this is another “Chop’t” type places. You would be wrong. This place can make a salad unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It is so filling and made with such fresh ingredients that it puts all the other salad places to shame. This is almost a monthly staple for us on the weekends.

Best Dinner Restaurant in 2014
BB: “Root & Bone” –New York, NY: Weird introduction to this spot – I actually was given this restaurant name by Lori Saczynski, a friend of mine from Florida. Who would’ve thought a Floridian would find my top dinner spot in NYC? The head chef is actually from the Florida panhandle and came to New York via Miami. Tara and I actually went there for brunch first and that in itself was good. But then we came back for dinner 2 times within the first couple weeks and it was hands down my favorite. Not only was it affordable, but the friend chicken was to die for! I had to force myself not to go because my waistline would have seriously expanded.

TB:Beauty & Essex” – New York, NY: B&E wins again this year! I didn’t want to pick a restaurant that I had chosen previously, but I think I went here 3 times this year. In a city with literally thousands of fantastic restaurants, that’s a pretty decent attendance record. I cannot get enough of those grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings!!

Best TV Show in 2014
BB:The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” – NBC: Late Night With Jimmy Fallon had been my #1 show the last two years. I realize I’m not going to get any of the credit, but obviously NBC saw what I was seeing and made Jimmy the new host of the Tonight Show. So that has now taken over as my #1 show. I think he does such a great job interviewing folks and his comedy bits immediately start trending within hours of the show.

TB: “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” – NBC: I’m going to agree with Brian on this one. We loved Jimmy way back when and I love to see him doing so well with the Tonight Show!

Best Movie in 2014
BB: Beyond The Brick: A Lego Documentary – This was another year where I didn’t get a chance to get out to the movies much. One movie that made a huge impression on me was Beyond The Brick. Two of our really good friends, Ashley and Tony, got Tara and I tickets to the premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Tony was actually one of the producers of the movie. I was so proud of him for being a part of this project and the movie was quite good!

TB:Gone Girl: I read the book and by the end I was so frustrated with the story; great book, really weird, disappointing ending. The movie stayed true to the book; however, the roles were so perfectly cast that I couldn’t get enough of the main characters and didn’t mind the ending so much. Ben Affleck is just smug enough that you hate him, but just boy-next-door enough to love him.   And Rosamund Pike played creepy so beautifully that between the two of them, the ending made more sense – if that makes sense. Great book. Great movie.

Best Blog in 2014
BB: Carey Nieuwhof Blog: While I haven’t worked at a church in a few years, I loved the content of this blog and picked up a ton of leadership nuggets that I was able to apply to my own small business. Carey is based in Canada but has a fantastic writing style. If you are leading in any capacity, this is a great blog to keep in your favorites.

TB: Cup of Jo: This is an oldie, but a goodie. I still come back to this blog after first reading it years ago. So much good info on New York living and just life, in general.

Best Gig in 2014
Josh Segarra/Brace Rice Wedding – Carillon Beach, FL (10/17/14):  What an awesome event this was! Josh and Brace actually live in NYC and just happened to be getting married in the Panhandle. What are the odds? Anyway, we met for drinks to talk through their event and to make sure we were a match and I could instantly tell they had amazing energy. The night of the event, the crowd was dancing during cocktail hour (always a good sign). It just continued throughout the rest of the evening and was a non-stop party!
Carillon Beach Wedding

Runner Up: Joseph Stein/Brittney Bowman Wedding – Fort Walton Beach, FL (10/18/14): What are the chances that my top two events would be one day a part? Well, that’s just what happened. Brittney and I have known each other casually for a few years. She’s always been into music and it helps that she’s a great dancer! Their venue was super intimate but it made the dancing that much better. It didn’t take long before our dance floor was packed and everyone was partying away!   It was such a fun reception and Joseph couldn’t have been a nice guy! Brittney looked stunning as usual and I felt blessed to be a part of their day! Thanks for having me!
Wedding DJ

Best Experience in 2014
BB: New York City Half Marathon – Why I decided to do this, I really don’t know. I always need fitness challenges to keep myself in shape so maybe that’s why I put my name in the half marathon lottery. I got picked and had an “uh oh” moment. The winter was unbearably cold and long which made training outside extremely difficult.   Luckily, our building has a gym so I spent many a day inside training on the treadmill. I never felt totally prepared so when the alarm went off the morning of the event, a brief thought entered my mind that I shouldn’t do it. But I’m too cheap (it was $150 to run it) so I went out and ran it in the bitter cold. I’m so glad I did. This was by far the best course I’ve ever ran. It’s hard to even describe. Running through Times Square was incredible. The crowd support was the best I’ve ever seen at a race. I loved it so much that I decided to run it again in 2015 – this time for charity, so I could be assured a spot.
NYC Half Marathon

TB: New York City – Gosh, I seriously have so many this year! I mean, how do you top Christmas windows in NYC? Oh, with a ticket to an intimate Justin Timberlake concert! Or a helicopter ride around the city! Or cruising the Hudson up to Cold Spring, NY. Or a new Christmas puppy! Any of those could easily be my best experience. I loved Brian celebrating my birthday in a way only he can – complete with a helicopter tour around our city, which was beautiful, a little scary, and altogether surreal. Ending the birthday celebration with a concert for the record books. My 15 year-old (see also: 32 year-old) dream come true. The best Justin Timberlake show I think I’ve ever witnessed. Then my year was capped off with my little morkie, Jake – the sweetest Christmas surprise ever. It’s been a seriously good year!
New York City

Toughest Experience in 2014
BB/TB: Finding our place spiritually: If you know me (Brian) at all, you know how much I love being involved in the local church. My work/travel schedule made it virtually impossible to be involved on a Sunday outside of an online experience. While that certainly helped fill some gaps, it definitely was not a long-term solution. Towards the Fall season, Tara and I hit the re-set button. We are “lifers” when it comes to church life. The signs were becoming clear, however, that a change needed to happen so after conferring with some wise counsel and talking with our pastor, we decided to leave our current church home and look for a place with a spiritual DNA a little more similar to ours where we could be involved in a capacity outside of just a Sunday morning. We still are in the midst of figuring out what God wants for us in that regard so your prayers are definitely welcome.

Biggest Accomplishment of 2014
BB: Business Changes: This was the year where I felt like I hit my stride with my business. I put a ton of effort into growing the mobile DJ Company. A lot of things contributed to this but high up on the list was a DJ Owner’s workshop I attended in Raleigh, NC. It wasn’t cheap but I knew this was a much needed step if I really wanted to take the business to a new level. This led to a ton of changes and upgrades in strategy that I was able to implement immediately. The end result was that we had the best year since the company started. A plethora of reviews, high revenue numbers, amazing new staff and new opportunities came to fruition and as we kick into 2015, phase 2 is about to start! So pumped!

TB: Work Accomplishments: I became a manager of sorts when my company offered to bring on an assistant for me this year.   It was nice to see them acknowledge the work I was handling and saying “let’s make this easier for you”. I found a great gal fresh out of Notre Dame (football season was fun! 🙂 ) and she has been a phenomenal help to me. Also, going through bonus/raise season again this year was a huge win for me. I constantly prayed “make my number their number so I don’t even have to negotiate.” And that’s exactly what happened! Again, being acknowledged for the good work you are doing, whether through hiring extra help, or monetarily, makes such a difference in the appreciation of your position.

In conclusion, 2014 was a year where we delved deeper into becoming NYC Locals. We absolutely love living here and though there is no timetable of how long we intend to stay, we find ourselves continually thanking God for the opportunity to be here and look forward to what happens in 2015!
Brian and Tara 2014

Summer Film Series: Roosevelt Island

Hi guys!  Last night, I did the coolest thing.

My friend Leslee told me about The Skint mailing list about a year ago, which sends out a twice weekly email of all the free and cheap things going on around New York City.  Our weekend edition of the email mentioned that night’s free movies and locaions.

Last night, they were screening Disney/Pixar’s Brave at Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island.  Roosevelt Island is a little sliver of land between Manhattan and Queens and I, not having much need to go there, had never ventured around this part of town.  But, throw in food, a bottle of wine, and a movie and I’m down for just about anything.

So, Leslee and I pick up our favorite go-to salad from this Greek deli in our ‘hood.  (It’s called Mama Gyro’s and it’s nothing to write home about.  If you’re here for three days, I wouldn’t waste one of my meals on this place, but if you live here and want a fresh salad with some greek chicken on top, by all means, this is the jam!)  Anywho, we pick up our salads, pack up a (couple) bottle(s) of wine and some blankets and head out to Roosevelt Island.  Once you get there, Southpoint Park is a quick 10 minute walk from the subway station.  This was quite a different scene from the HBO summer film series, where it was every man for themselves, mad dash to get a spot.  We were able to get a great seat in the middle of the lawn and spread out without any stress at all.

The beauty of Roosevelt Island is the view!  Sprawling behind the screen was that gorgeous NYC skyline that I love so much!

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I mean.

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I can’t.

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Isn’t she beautiful?!

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Pixar always does great movies and Brave was excellent!

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The best part, though, was the ride home.  Now, we took the subway to Roosevelt Island because, as far as I knew, that was the best way to get there.  Well, imagine my shock as we’re walking to the park and see these sky-train-gondola things flying through the air.

Photos of Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram, New York City
This photo of Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram is courtesy of TripAdvisor

My mind was blown.  I had to ride this thing!  I mean, for a reasonable fare, let’s not get crazy.  I wasn’t paying any more than my $2.25 subway fare…  My jaw hit the floor again when we realized that that is exactly what it cost!  You’re telling me that I rode the hot, stuffy, stinky subway when I could’ve rode this thing?!  This was probably the coolest thing ever!  If you haven’t done this yet, it’s definitely worth the trek out to Roosevelt Island, just to get some stunning views of NYC!  (These are iPhone photos, guys, don’t get too excited!)

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We had such a fun night doing something new in this great city!

Union Square Greenmarket

I haven’t done a post on the Union Square Greenmarket yet, have I?  How have I let you go on this long without filling you in on possibly the most glorious thing about Union Square?  For shame.

As you can imagine, Spring in New York is awesome.

What’s even more awesome is the Greenmarket.  In the Spring.  In New York.  Something about all of the vendors, the people, the colors and smells coming from the tents lining the park.  What do they sell?  What DON’T they sell?  Flowers, fresh fruit, and organic vegetables.  Goat cheese and milk, apples (cider, pies, and whole).  Lavender plants, wheatgrass smoothies, paintings, and dream catchers.

The Greenmarket.  It’s a magical place.

Strawberry wine (seventeeeeen – I know you were singing it!)

When you walk past this tent, the smell is heavenly!

Fresh jams and jellies, all boxed up and cute for you to take home!  And you better believe there was every flavor imaginable up for sale.  Curried peanut jelly?  You betcha!  Cucumber Rhubarb Jam?  Sure.  These little old ladies were serious about their jams.  They had one of the busiest tents!

The Greenmarket operates on the North and West sides of Union Square Park, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8am to 6pm.  I can’t wait to walk through with my sister!  Did I mention Megan is coming in for a visit in a little over 24 hours?!!!!!!  Can you tell I’m excited?!!  I will try to document every second so that I can share all of our new finds!