Tag Archives: happy hour


I finally got a chance to check out Ardyn, the restaurant that former Charlie Palmer Steakhouse chef Ryan Lory opened in the west village.

The space is beautiful, with a rustic, woodland feel to the dining room.

There’s also a beautiful bar with great cocktails and $1 happy hour oysters from 5-7pm (along with drink specials).

We started with a couple of raw fish dishes. Hamachi tartare and fluke crudo.

Both were awesome and pretty, but if I had to choose one to go back to repeatedly, it would be the hamachi.

Chef Ryan is becoming known for his gorgeous plating – very aesthetic. He also became known for his 50/50 burger at Charlie Palmer. It’s 50% smoked bacon and 50% brisket, with some dry-aged wagyu trim and fat in there to take it over the top.

The only down side here was the thickness of the pickled tomato slice. Half the thickness would be perfect, but that acidy pop did do a great job of cutting the buttery fatness of the rich and well-seasoned burger.

Make sure you don’t neglect the fries here with your burger. They’re amazing and possibly some of the best I’ve ever had.

All the sides were nice, in fact, from the shishitos to the carrots to the greens.

The pastas here are also excellent. We tried two: ramp garganelli with morels, and squid ink cavatelli with uni cream.

It was tough to choose a favorite between the two perfectly cooked and plated pastas, so I suggest getting both if you have room.

But the mains really shined.

First, this absolutely stunning duo of duck containing crispy sliced breast and a house made sausage.

The breast was nice but the sausage stole the show – like when Lex Steele stars in a porno flick with some ugly broad that has gross fake tits.

Of course we had to try the 45-day dry-aged Snake River Farms domestic wagyu rib eye.

This thing was incredible. It had a sexy, deep brown maillard crust on the surface and a rare cook beneath. You can still see the flecks of marbling in the flesh! It could have been cooked slightly longer, but the beef was so high quality that you could eat it like this even without the fat fully rendering out. 9/10.

Dessert was equally stunning. This choclate layer cake with pistachio ice cream was really rich and moist, like Paris Hilton in 2003.

This custard was light yet very satisfying.

And this asian style grapefruit/pomelo dessert was just the right kind of acidy and citrusy way to end the meal with a cleansed palate.

I definitely recommend this place. And if you want a seat close to the action, head to the back and pop your ass onto one of the stools that faces into the kitchen. Be warned though – it’s warm back there!

33 W 8th St
New York, NY 10011

Zio Ristorante


I came to Zio to help promote their Meatball Monday special, where you get three meatball sliders for $10.

My favorites are the lamb with ricotta, veal with mozzarella, and chicken with fontina. But you really cant go wrong with the spicy chorizo or even the veggie pesto sliders.

I also tried their lamb ragu pappardelle, which was really nice. The lamb was tender and juicy, and the pasta was perfectly al dente.

I also tried the chicken parm. This was breast meat, and the cheese is home made mozzarella. Nice crisp on this.

Looking forward to going back to trh their veal chop.

17 W 19th St
New York, NY 10011


My wife and I stopped in here on a weekend to try their happy hour menu.

We started with some drinks:

And then moved on to the food. Wings, shishito peppers, and four rolls: Haru wasabi, phoenix, Hell’s Kitchen, and spicy Titanic.

Everything was great, and we will definitely be back here again. The total bill for everything was just over $60. Not bad.

859 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Crave Fishbar

My wife and I stopped into Crave Fishbar for their daily oyster happy hour. From 5pm to 7pm (4pm-6pm on weekends) all oyster varieties are just a buck each. We each tried one of each kind (along with some other snacks and drinks):

As strange as it was, our favorites all contained the word “point” in the name.

The calamari was really nice too. A perfectly dusted and fried batter, and really tender squid inside.

But what really blew me away at this place was their red crab cavatelli. The cavatelli is home made, and is torched/crisped up so that some of the edges are actually crunchy and al dente. Here are the before and after mix shots (beautiful colors):

I highly recommend that dish. It’s pricey, but worth it. If the pasta is all you’re after, they also have another cavatelli pasta dish, without the crab.

Overall, this place is great. We will definitely be back.

428 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

The Happiest Hour

This place has been getting some traction with the foodies, burger lovers and bar-goers of NYC lately. The joint is somewhat set up like a tiki bar or a surf bar, only rather than a wooden shack, it has fancy wallpaper and some skylights. In the back there is a dining area, but the bar is the more fun place to drop your ass for a drink or a quick burger.


First let me start with the bar and drinks. The cocktails are a mix of exotic fruit flavors and old-fashioned, stiff, speakeasy drinks. Some of them are even served in tiki mugs, like this frozen slushee of the day, which was called Bad Medicine or Painkiller or something of that sort.


I’m not sure if “The Happiest Hour” even has a happy hour special, but they certainly fucking should with a name like that.


My wife and a friend of ours met there at 7:30, which is usually at the back end of, or just after, the typical happy hour times of NYC, but I didn’t see any signage or menu items listed for specials. The cheapest item to drink that contains alcohol is this 12oz can of Narragansett for $4.


Draft beers are on the small and expensive side, at $8 for what looks like a 10oz glass, maybe 12oz if filled to the absolute top. Fuck that bullshit. I stuck with the cans of Narragansett, because I’m not a wasteful asshole, and I actually happen to enjoy piss beer from time to time.


In any event, if you’re here after dark and are looking for an even greater selection of interesting and expensive cocktails (averaging $16 per drink), then go down into the basement to S&S (Slowly Shirley), which is owned and operated by the same crew, serves up some of the same bar snacks (some of which are slightly more expensive down there, too), but sports a massive cocktail list of some of the most awesome concoctions you will ever come across.



This place is Mad Men/Magic City meets The Brady Bunch in Hawaii. The menu is similarly styled as upstairs, but there’s a lot more to choose from, and some really incredible mixes of things you’d never expect to play nice together, like mezcal and beets, or scotch and cucumber.

Okay so now that all of that bullshit is out of the way, let’s get down to the meat of this review: the food.

I ordered The Happiest Burger, which consisted of two 4oz patties, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, confit onions and special sauce, all between a nice potato bun.


I must say that the hype is well-placed. The burger is excellent, and easily slides into my top ten in the city. I didn’t quite taste the onion or special sauce, but that was only because they were generous with the cheese, which I like. The bun was fantastic – nice and simple, soft and strong. The lettuce gave it a good crunch, and the tomato supplied some juice, but without anything dripping all over the plate or my shirt. It was cooked a little bit too much, as you can see from the cut below, but not unacceptable:


The fries were equally awesome. These were shoestring style, very crisp and nicely seasoned.


That bowl size is the $6 side order, as opposed to the $4 smaller size that you can get with your burger. Since there were three of us, we shared the one bowl instead of each getting our own fries. That freed up our bellies to try a couple of other items.

We tried the buffalo cucumbers, with watermelon, poppy seeds and mint, as well as the smoked fish dip.


The first thing I will say about these items is that they are incredibly overpriced and tiny. These small cups of approximately 3oz of food are $6 and $10 each, respectively, for the cucumber and fish dip. That’s fucking dumb. The cucumber thing was good; spicy and refreshing, though very watery. But the fish dip was a fail. First, there wasn’t much fish in it, and what was there tasted a bit too canned, even with the addition of fresh fennel and celery. For $10 I’d rather just get one of their other burgers, or go buy a cheese grater and take it to my erect cock. Fucking rip off.

My wife got the Grilled Cheese Bikini, which contained both fontina and American cheeses, and came with a side of tomato “soup.” I say “soup” in quotes because it was more like shitty marinara tomato “sauce,” served in the same small cup as the apps/snacks. That was a big bummer, but at least the grilled cheese was tasty as fuck. It was buttery, crunchy and had lots of gooey cheese. Nice execution. One thing I noticed was the flake salt that they used to finish it once it came off the grill. That added an awesome flavor pop and crunch to the bread.


I think that about covers it. So we have an interesting review here: Some really great highs (burger, grilled cheese, cocktails), but some incredibly deep lows (pricing, tomato soup, sides). Oddly enough, the burger is fairly priced at $12, considering it is far and away the best menu item that I tried. I would like to try the fried chicken sandwich next time if I go back. Anyway, now you can go there armed with the knowledge necessary to ensure a pleasant and satisfying dining experience. You’re fucking welcome.

121 W. 10th St.
New York, NY 10011


I was recently invited to a press dinner at Balzem, a little Mediterranean spot near the corner of Mott and Spring in Nolita that opened in the Spring of 2014.


The dining room is rustic, with an airy 12-foot beamed ceiling, old mirrors, iron hanging light fixtures, and lots of reclaimed wood.



The surprisingly roomy bar offers a wide selection of Mediterranean wines (40 different wines!), imported beer, and even some wine cocktails like the Hot Cab Manhattan, the Balzem Fizz, and the Ginger Ride. I tried the Efes beer (Turkish pilsner), which was nice, light and refreshing.




The bar crowd definitely picked up at around 8:30pm, and it was actually getting pretty crowded by time we left at 9:30pm. Also worth mentioning here is the fact they they offer happy hour specials EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK from 5:00pm-7:00pm, where they have $6 Mediterranean wines, $5 beers, $1 oysters and $5 tapas/mezzes. That’s freaking amazing! I’ll definitely be back on weekends, for sure.

Here’s a quick shot of Mehdi (left), wine director and general manager, and Balahan (right), owner and executive chef.


The menu features lots of tapas and mezzes, even some pizza, in addition to a smaller selection of entrees. Here’s the tasting menu we had for the press dinner, along with the wines that were paired with each course:


The table bread was a nice crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, country style loaf, sliced and served with olive oil (with a variety of olives swimming in the dish):


The chicken breast and orzo soup was really tasty. Made from a light tomato broth with Turkish red pepper paste, it packs a great flavor that you can accent with a squeeze of lemon. This dish was based on a family recipe that Balahan’s mother used to make.


That red pepper paste, by the way, is not made from bell peppers, but a different kind – more like a Cubanelle – that’s red instead of green. It’s something that Balahan made as a kid growing up in Turkey, when his family would retreat to the mountains to cool off during the hot months. There, they made red pepper paste, pastries and breads. Sounds like a great way to spend the Summer – sign me the fuck up!

Next were the prosciutto wraps, which was my favorite item of the night. The meat was thin and perfectly cured. It was soft, and not too salty. The burrata cheese was perfection as well. High quality ingredients presented in a very un-fucked-with manner so that they shine.


Basil leaf, balsamic reduction drizzle and some roasted red peppers is all they added. The green you see beneath the wraps are actually flattened pieces of pepper. Very nice, especially when paired with the clean rose we were served.


We jumped out of order here to try the other cold dish; the branzini ceviche. This was really mild, despite being cured in lemon vinegar. This is the first time I’ve seen branzino prepared in a ceviche. I really liked how it wasn’t a soupy bowl of tart citrus, like you get in most joints. It was cleanly presented with some arugula and dill.


Next up was the grilled shrimp dish. These were beautifully presented on a slice of grilled zucchini with parsley and garlic dressing, and accompanied by an arugula salad with tomato and lemon vinaigrette. There was a swipe of chipotle sauce too, so this dish was spicy. The sweet white wine we had with it was the perfect compliment to balance out the spice levels.


The shrimp were cooked just right.


My next favorite dish, after the prosciutto, was this octopus fucker. It was braised for 45-50 minutes in white wine that was spiced with lemon, bay leaf and black pepper. Then blasted on the grill for a nice charred and crispy outer edge, and finished in butter. So soft and light, yet meaty and satisfying.


These zucchini pancakes were fucking great. Part of me wanted a more crisp texture, but when I got down on them a little more I didn’t mind. They’re made with feta, mint, scallions, parsley, dill, eggs and flour, then topped with a yogurt cream sauce. I could actually go vedge (vadge) with food like this. Awesome.


Last of the small plates, and my least favorite of the small plates, was the Italian meatballs dish. The garlic tomato sauce was nice; velvety, smooth, sweet yet tangy and spicy… but the meat was a little dense for my liking, and I wasn’t a big fan of the pine nuts and raisins within. The ball itself was made from good quality veal, worked with thyme and basil. I just have a very picky sense when it comes to meatballs: it’s very difficult to compete with my mom’s. I did really like the sleepy-time red wine that was served with the meatballs (Nero D’Avola, Mortilla 2013).


Now for the entree – lamb skewers with flat bread and some sauces. Yes!


The sauces were mint, parsley, garlic, oil and vinegar (left) and yogurt (right).


The lamb was cooked perfectly. It was light, flavorful and soft. No overly gamey flavors, no chewy sinew, nothing. Nice and simple, but well executed.

We sampled three sides with the entree. First, and by far the best of them, was the truffle mac and cheese. It wasn’t over the top like some “truffled” items are these days. This was a gentle and proper use of the truffle, with perfectly cooked fusilli pasta and quality cheeses.


Same goes for the presence of truffle in the potato gratin side – not too aggressive. I liked this dish too – it just needed a little pinch of salt as you went down into the deeper layers of potato.


The last, and least liked of the sides (and probably our least favorite overall) was the wheat and veggie rice. It had good texture, but the flavors were a little flat, it was a bit dry, and it just didn’t seem to go well with our entree.


And just when you thought you tried too much food, along comes dessert. All ye fat men rejoice, for there is chocolate ahead in thy future:

Chocolate layer cake (this ended up being my favorite of the three despite my usual hatred of chocolate cake). The cake itself was a slight bit dry, but the hint of salt really made it work in terms of flavor.


Chocolate mousse cake. Nice texture, creamy and flavorful.


And finally, tiramisu. You could taste the rum in this bad boy, but it wasn’t overpowering. It was moist and flavorful. The others liked this dessert the best (I was outnumbered).


That about wraps it up for Balzem. Highlights of the meal were definitely the prosciutto wraps, the octopus and the ceviche. Those would be absolute must-try items, especially if they’re only $5 a pop at happy hour. That shit’s a no-brainer. The ambiance is also killer here. Really nice inside. And when you go (you will), you should chat with Balahan and Mehdi. Both guys are really awesome, friendly, and hands-on. In fact, the service in this joint is top notch and classy. It makes a great date spot, a great pre-game spot for food and drinks, and it has that amazing happy hour. I will definitely be back as a paying customer. Most likely I will head down for happy hour, but the brunch menu looks enticing, as well as the lunch deals ($12 for soup/sandwich or soup/salad).

202 Mott St.
New York, NY 10012



Sapporo is a small ramen joint I found on 49th Street nearby my office. I went one day after work for a quick slurp. It was not to my standards, but passable nonetheless if you are in a bind and need a fix. I had the Sapporo Special:


On the plus side, they had a decent happy hour, which I took advantage of:



On a quick lunch visit with my wife, I tried the curry ramen. It was extremely salty, and I thought maybe the broth was made by just watering down their curry sauce from the rice dishes. The other components like noodles and toppings were all pretty good, though I wasn’t blown away by the two slices of chicken.


My wife had the winning dish, which was a cold noodle version of the tan tan men ramen. The noodles had what could best be described as a nori-infused fish sauce on them. Very tasty, and this was a big dish for $15.


152 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019

Bill’s Bar & Burger

I gotta say, the burger at this place impressed me. I ordered a classic American cheeseburger, double patty, with bacon and jalapeños. Shit was awesome. I wasn’t a huge fan of the lettuce so much (dark green, wavy leaf bullshit) and I think the bun could have used a little mayo to shield the bottom layer from burger juice, but man — this place was great. FRESH sliced jalapeños, LOTS of cheese, and a well-seasoned hunk of meat. Almost perfect.

The fries were not up to par with the burger. I recently learned that they changed from wedge to regular fries, but they tasted nice with the cheese on them regardless. Onion rings were excellent.

Bonus: $3 “cold ass beers” on tap during happy hour, but ONLY AT THE BAR. We were literally 2 feet away, on a tiny high-top table that was right next to the bar, and they were going to try to charge us $8 for a beer at the seat instead of $3 at the bar that I could reach with my hand if I stretched. So we happily moved to the bar when a spot opened up for us. Stupid ass policy regarding the cold ass beers, if you ask me, but whatever. Guacamole app was decent but not worth talking much about here on a burger review.

So here’s the beef – enjoy:




I came back one night after a  burger at another joint, and I put down a nice Chicago dog. I have to say – the Chicago dog is much better than the New York dog, but the New York pizza is much better than the Chicago pizza. And that’s that.


I don’t know what it is… sport peppers, relish (which I normally hate), yellow mustard (which I normally hate), onions, tomato, poppy seed bun… it’s like Zeus busted his nut on a bon and we all have the please of eating it and becoming demo-gods for a small moment of time. Perfection.

I also got to try this fucking delicious beer, which comes in at a whopping 11.1% ABV. Fuck yeah. Blithering idiot. I know a lot of those…



Third visit: single burger with jalapeños and an order of cheese fries to go with, plus an app of the fried pickles and peppers, which were awesome.






Fourth visit – more of the same. Great consistent product.



BBB beer

BBB burger 1

BBB burger 2

BBB sides

16 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019