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


Restaurant Review: Rosa Mexicano (USQ – 18th/between 5th and Broadway)

It could be that this post is being written because I just finished a Jamba Juice for dinner and I’m still STARVING (can you tell the wife is out-of-town?) or it could that be I want to hook you up with a quality restaurant to check out.  So how did I find this spot?

Insert another friend of mine, Sebastian (Seb) Buffa.

He happens to be the Union Square (USQ) campus pastor for Liberty.  He’s an Aussie who, despite what the picture looks like, is a smiling, pretty hilarious, down to earth dude (follow him on twitter..his tweets are pretty good).  So when he asked if I’d been to Rosa Mexicano and I told him I hadn’t, he put his hand on my shoulder, stopping me dead in my tracks, and said, “Mate, we must go and you have to order the guacamole.  It will change your life.”

Pretty bold statement.  Being from California where Mexican food is as good as it gets (short of having it in Mexico), I thought that he was just mis-informed.  All I kept thinking was that this guy had no clue what TRUE quality Mexican food is.

Then the lunch appointment occurred where Seb suggested we go there.  It’s a fairly visible restaurant from the street.  The flag makes it pretty obvious when you’ve arrived.

What makes this restaurant really stand out against most others is the spaciousness inside.  NY establishments like to squeeze as many people in as they possibly can (whether it’s over the listed Fire Marshall capacity limit or not).  Not here…plenty of room.  In the middle of the room, there’s some cool decor.  They have a wall divider between two rooms that has some type of diver figures attached to sections of it with water running down those sections and a ton of multi colored LED lights changing the feel and look of it every few minutes.

As soon as we sat down, the guacamole was ordered.  The server rolls a cart to your table and it is made to order (you pick the level of spice hotness).  It’s served in an old school clay-looking pot.  They include 2 other small types of salsa…a mild verde one and a hot red oaxacan salsa as well as flour tortillas so you can eat it more like a taco.  I’m not going lie…coming from Cali where they serve guacamole like this in mass quantities, $14 seemed a bit much for this appetizer. But the size of the bowl along with house-made accoutrements and table service made it feel like you weren’t totally getting taken advantage of.

On to the entree..I went with the Carne Asada tacos (skillet style).  I wasn’t too sure what “skillet style” meant but when it came to the table, I got it.

The meat is served in a miniature skillet with melted chihuahua cheese at its base.  The flavor of the meat was unbelievably good!  All the other taco items are served in separate small dishes.  You build the taco of your liking.  Along with the meat and cheese, you can mix up each taco with choices of vegetables, salsas, house rice, refried beans, red bean-chorizo chili, creamy corn esquites, and fresh tortillas. With some of the leftover guacamole, oaxacan salsa, and salsa verde, the different taco combinations you can go with are endless. Price tag on this bad boy was…$23.50.

They had some pretty good-looking desserts but I did not indulge.  It was lunch, after all.  I left feeling completely content.  I must give it up to Seb.  He came through with a good spot.  Come to find out, this restaurant has expanded to a few different states.  Definitely put it on your list of upscale mexican places to check out!

Restaurant Review! – The Spotted Pig

Our first (of many!) restaurant reviews.  This particular place was recommended to us by some locals when we came out in August but we just didn’t have a chance to check it out until now.  It’s located at 314 W. 11th Street…which is a good 15 minute walk from our pad.

One of the few negatives is they DON’T take reservations.  Lucky for us, we got there around 6:30PM and were seated right away.  As we were finishing dinner, however, the place was packed and there was a line out the door (and this was on a Wednesday night!).

The place is relatively tiny on the first floor.  They also have an upstairs (which we didn’t get a chance to view).  As with most NY restaurants, “table for 2” means you get sat relatively quick but you’ll be at a small table, literally 12 inches away from the tables next to you.  So you’ve got to talk loud and inevitably you’ll hear a little of everyone else’s conversation.

The beer selection is decent.  I had a Pale Ale (closest thing they had to a wheat beer) and I can’t remember what type of beer Tara had but it was way better than mine (of course).

(This is Tara – It was a lager brewed in Brooklyn called Six Point.  Very tasty.  A little sweet smelling but then a hoppy taste – delicious!  Gotta try the local flavor, you know?)

The menu is one page and reprinted daily with the chef choices for that day.  My best description of the food style would be “high end bar food” with an obvious “pig” bent and British flair.  Some of the food names will require your waitress to interpret.

The appetizers are pretty cheap and not bad at all.  Tara and I shared:

The Marinated Olives 

The seeded olives are served in olive oil.  If you like olives, this a great dish.

Devils on Horseback

Bacon Wrapped Prunes with a Pear

Holy cow were these good.  They give you 5 bacon wrapped prunes with pear in the middle smothered with some type of glaze sauce!  It sounded a bit weird at first (who chooses prunes for an app unless you’re over 65 years of age?) but you know my motto — everything tastes good wrapped in bacon!

They had a bunch of other apps like devilled eggs and the crispy pig’s ear.  We didn’t venture to try anything else but we definitely will if we come again.

For the entrée, I went with what all the reviews I’d seen recommend and that was the Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort cheese and shoestring fries.  I’m not a fan of Bleu Cheese so I went sans Roquefort.  (This is Tara, again: I think it would’ve been 8,000 times better with the Roquefort, just saying.)  The bun starts it off right.  It’s lighty toasted with some type of buttery delight sauce.  There are NO condiments, tomato or lettuce necessary.  The price for this bad boy is steep ($17) but wow is it good!  It’s a bit salty so make sure you have a drink nearby.  Mine was prepared medium rare and it was to die for.  You’d think the fries would be just an “extra” thrown in there to compliment the burger.  Guess again….these competed with the burger for top honors.  The fries couldn’t have been cut any thinner which makes it feel as if you’re barely eating but I was definitely clearing the plate.  They were tossed with thinly sliced garlic and whole rosemary leaves for some extra flavor!

Look at that big, beefy beauty!

Tara got one of the daily specials: the white bean soup.  It wasn’t a broth and bean soup, but more of a creamy, pureed bean soup.  She said it had a slight spicy kick but she loved it.  If you know Tara, you know she loves her beans.  (Tara, again: I DO love beans!)

We weren’t going to have dessert but they had a few options that piqued our interest.  We went with the Popcorn flavored ice cream topped with caramel corn  sounded interesting.  I don’t know if I was expecting more but the ice cream was bland with really no flavor.  Luckily, the caramel corn made it worth ordering.

Overall, I give it 3 out of 4 stars.  The final bill was a bit much for the quantity of food and amount of options you’re given so I don’t foresee coming back for dinner.  I might, however, come back for the apps.  There were plenty to choose from and the price was just right.  So if you’re looking for a cool, trendy bar with some better than average beer selections and upscale appetizers, this would be the place.