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).

Tater Tots.jpg

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

PDT girls

 

Newest Buonassissi Family Member | Jake the Morkie

Jake The Morkie: Our New Boy

I’ve been able to pull off a few epic surprises for Tara but this Christmas present tested my surprise gift-giving mettle like never before.  Although we hinted around the conversation of the “next step” in our marriage relationship, we hadn’t officially made any decisions in that regard.  However, over the last few months, I’ve seen Tara gravitate towards having a dog (albeit a small one; remember we live in a place with less than 500 square feet).  With me on the road a ton over the last few months, the thought of having a dog had been amplified.  Being a dog-purchasing novice (I’ve actually never purchased one before; my brother had one for a couple of years when I was 16 and I moved out at 18), I had no idea on the process or pricing.  That said, I knew this was the year we were due to bring a dog (a morkie) into our family.

I  researched a few different breeds and then went dog shopping. I found a dog store called citipups, a NYC chain that specializes in small City dogs. After a few visits, I found one I really liked. Call it naiveté or what you will, but I assumed a small dog would be about $100-300. I asked the guy at the counter how much and he said, “17 plus another 35 bucks for registration, etc.”. I thought to myself, “This is amazing! I’m going to get out of here for under $100.” He then asked me if I wanted to leave a deposit. Deposit on $52? Are you kidding? I told him I was ready to pay it all. When the register rang up $1,735.00, I about had a heart attack. What kind of cruel joke was this guy playing?? This was way beyond my budget.

I checked with my NYC buddy, Derek, who was also in the market for a pup. I was hoping he was in the same situation as me as far as pricing goes (NYC isn’t cheap folks). Luckily, he was and he had done his own research and found an online dog store called affordablepup.com that also specializes is small dogs. You can see pictures and read up on a dog and they charge about 1/3 of what citipups was selling them for and that included the shipping! I found an 8 week old Morkie that they called Jacob. Because I waited so late to order and hadn’t officially owned a dog prior, they wanted to make sure I was “compatible” with the dog so they set-up a “Skype” date with the dog and myself. What the? I’ve never done this before so I went back to Google and searched for etiquette and questions to ask on a “puppy date” but that turned up with a whole lot of nothing. I did what I could do – I took a shower, shaved, and dressed up before I got on the video call. It was the weirdest thing I had experienced in my dating life. I logged on and it was just the puppy and me. He’s in a big room by himself and I tried talking with it. It didn’t respond much. After about 2-3 minutes of awkwardness, the person from the store finally showed his face on the screen and said he felt we were a match and all was good. Whew!  I passed.

The dog was coming 4 days before Christmas and I had to figure out how to hide this thing. I called a few boarding places and they wouldn’t take him because he was too young and didn’t have his rabies shot (they don’t get that until the 4th or 5th month). I found an amazing dog hotel in Chelsea. I went in and the dogs get their own 12X12 room, full-size bed, TV with doggy movies, plush sheets and pillows, and even room service, etc. all for $85 a night! Classic NYC!  This dog would be living larger than I was. Alas, they too would not take him due to his age. I scoured the internet and came across rover.com, a private dog sitting service. It is similar to airbnb.com, where you can see reviews and the sitters can review you as well. I put in a few requests and one came back from Claudia saying she would totally help me out. She ended up being amazing.

So I went and picked him up on Monday from Delta Cargo in Terminal A at LaGuardia airport. What a crazy situation that was. Again, I’m cheap so I took city transportation but it doesn’t drop you of at Terminal A. That would have been nice information to know. I literally circled through the entire airport back out to the subway stop and I had to go through it all again, get off at Terminal B and take a shuttle to Terminal A. Upon arrival there, they tell me Cargo is actually about a mile from Terminal A. Come on LaGuardia – get your act together! Some nice lady gave me a ride there as she was in route to the same place. I picked him up and he was shaking. I didn’t know if it was because I was delayed an hour in getting him, if he was hungry (they tell you to feed him every 15 minutes for the first 2 hours), if he was cold or if he was just stressed because of the day’s activities. Because I was out in the boonies, I had to have Uber come pick me up and take me to the sitter’s place. I tried feeding the dog on the way with a syringe they provide by just sticking it in his crate and he didn’t take to it. Then I see puke in the crate. Dang it! Am I killing this dog already? At this point, I’m totally freaking out and can’t wait to get him to the sitter’s house.

Like I said, Claudia was amazing.  She showed me how to use the syringe to force feed him. He was shaking because he was nervous and stressed out. I had to leave him with her but I knew he was in good hands. Claudia sent me pictures and updates every couple of hours. This totally put my mind at ease. By Christmas Eve, he was eating hard food! She kept him until Christmas Day and I picked him up at 7AM. This was a huge win because I have no idea how I would’ve kept him a surprise otherwise.

To surprise Tara the day of, I bought a doggie FSU jersey which ended up being the last present I gave her with no explanation. The dog was just outside our door. Her reaction to the shirt was priceless. Then I had her close her eyes as I brought in Jake. It was love at first sight. We’re so pumped to have him and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out. I made a little video of the surprise journey. Enjoy and Merry Christmas everyone!

Brian Approved: Way2ride

Way2Ride

One thing you probably have heard about New York City is the fast pace.  This definitely applies to transportation and cabs in particular.  If hailing a cab wasn’t tough enought, add to it the fact that you have to hustle to get inside the cab because the driver wants to get out of the bike lane / shoulder, and then once you reach your destination, you have to quickly fumble for your credit card or cash and exit quickly so the next person can get in.  I’m stressed out just writing about this!

Luckily, there is an app to make your life easier, whether you are a tourist or more importantly, a local.  It’s called way2ride.  Believe it or not, it is a free download.

I don’t take cabs often but when I do, I want it to be easy.  The basic idea behind this app is that you create a FREE account which stores your credit card info.  90% of the NYC cabs are enabled with this app where you can enter the cab code (found on the TV monitor inside the cab) and it’s sync’d to pay for you.  You can add an auto gratuity of a few different percentages options or put your own in (or none at all) and store it in your profile.

The app right now allows you to locate available cabs near you via GPS (perfect for snowstorm conditions like today or rain days in the other months).  Eventually, they will be launching the ability to “hail a cab” much like Uber from the app.

Everybody always has their phone handy and once you input the cab code (which you can do once you get in the cab), you can resume texting, checking social media or anything else.  As soon as the cab gets you to your destination, nothing more is required.  You just exit and it e-mails you a receipt.  I finally download this app and tried it the other night and it worked flawlessly.  I can’t believe I waited so long to get this.  I wonder when this will get rolled out to other cities.  Definitely Brian Approved.

The Cronut

IMG_7758 - Copy
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.
IMG_7435

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.
IMG_7444 - Copy

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.
IMG_7755 - Copy

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!!
IMG_7448 - Copy

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!
IMG_7462 - Copy
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!
IMG_7456 - Copy
IMG_7472 - Copy
IMG_7473 - Copy

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!
IMG_7463
IMG_7474

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!!
IMG_7478 - Copy IMG_7479 - Copy

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!
DKA

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!