This is my second installment on CHOW NOTES. I thought people would get bored with the first one so I cut it short at 8 restaurants/opinions. I wanted to give my final thoughts on several more then you wont hear from me for awhile, until I have something worthwhile again to say.
Lets finish the Chelsea/West Village local:
1)CAFE BRUXELLES(118 Greenwich@13th Street) I used to go past this place all the time. I am talking 15 years and never stopped in. Boy was I missing something! Not to many things are better than a bowl of their mussels and a big bottle of the Chemay beer. The fries are good but not on par with MARYS FISH CAMP- but the mussels are terrific. It is never crowded during the day, probably not at night either.Trust me, sit at the bar and get the mussels and get a slight Chemay buzz going.
2)WICHCRAFT(49 east 19th Street) If you like anchovies like I do and always get pissed that they dont put them in most Caesar salads and most steak tartars, go here and get the anchovie sandwich. It is definitley an acquired taste, but if these little fishes are your thing you owe it to yourself to experience this awesome sandwich.
3) CHOCOLATE BAR(eighth off of 4th Street) If you really like dark chocolate and most all the chocolate you have is too sweet, go in here and get their dark chocolate. Something like 95% cucoa(or whatever they call it). I have never been able to find it so pure as I can there. Again an acquired taste. Also they have this dark chocolate bar with candied fruit and nuts that is to die for. I cant resist this. Every time I pass the store I stop in.
Lets go to the Upper West Side where I actually live:
4) ALICES TEA CUP (102 West 73rd Street) This is a strange place. It seems like it is never open. Not early in the morning and not at night, after work at least. But they have the best scones I have ever had. They are always just baked fresh. Their other items are almost as good. The raspberry mint sorbet is a classic. This is a great place to take the little school girls. Though I would not be an expert in this regard, nor should I be.
5) CAFÉ LA FORTUNA (71st off of Columbus) What has happened to this place! It used to have such charm. It used to have that fat guy guarding the cash register. It used to have old-world character. Now someone had the very bad sense to change it into every other dessert place on the UWS. So sterile, so sad. Probably the M.B.A. son of the fat guy. Still you can sit outside, still have that coffee ice and espresso thing and have a good time, but I still wake up at night wondering what they did to that place..
6)FAIRWAY CAFÉ(75th and Broadway-2nd floor) This is a pretty good place. The food is simple and tastes like it should. Mitch London is a no-nonsense type who really knows his food. I love the irreverent signs . Not that expensive, and good solid fare. The problem with it is that the seating is not the most comfortable and the waitstaff is some of the most brutal to ever drop a glass of wine. I think the Indian/ Pakistanian populace that is not driving a cab is working up there. And that is not a good thing.
7) CESCA( 75th off of Amsterdam) Oh did the UWS need a place like this! When it first opened you could not get a seat. Now you can just drop into the bar area and have a meal. The menu is limited at the bar but is enough to satisfy me and the mrs. Some highlights. The polenta, the veal meatball soup( a must to get), the tuna and olive pasta dish, the roasted chicken- very simply done but with that charcoal oven taste from their special oven. For dessert, the pistachio ice cream sandwich thing.These are on the bar menu so if you just want to pop in they are available.
8) BARNEY GREENGRASS ( 86th and Amsterdam) Maybe my favorite place in all the city. You cannot create a place like this if you tried. I have lived on the UWS for 21 years and for the first 10 I thought this place was never open and was a weird clandestine Jewish type place that I was not privy to because I didnt know the code or something. Moe, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago, was an icon. The card tricks, the painted fingernails (clear gloss), the jokes. A legend. How about the people that go in there? I only see those types in there or in the diamond district. How about the waiter in the front room on Sundays . up against the glass single file, how many O.J.s raise your hands?, counter guy what will it be?.This is the fastest and funniest waiter in the city . Would say the best but he would get fired at any classy joint for sure, and that is sad. And I am not even mentioning the food! I dont know of anything there that is not good. Of course it is a smoked fish/appetizing place so if that is not your thing I feel sorry for you. Gary (Moes son) is always there, therefore the quality is always impeccable. The key to some of their stuff (nova egg onions, chopped liver) is the cooked onions which they must soak for a week to get them to taste like that. The potato pancakes are to die for. I think only available on weekends and only from 11- 3?. There always seems like a long line on weekends but it is not that bad really. Since the place is small it looks worse. If you want the counter ( my favorite) or asatellite table ( dont ask) you are sat right away. This place has LIFE. It has CHARISMA.
A final note.Some people are trashing DA SILVANO. My original Chow Thoughts stated my love for the place. Let me clarify some things. Yes, if you are a regular you will get better treatment at DS. Is that so shocking? Calvin Klein and Barry Diller get great treatment because they go in there A LOT. I consider myself a regular there and I am not the least bit famous. I get treated pretty damn good. If you want to be a regular at only one place I highly recommend DS. Why? 1) The food is terrific 2) You will get better service 3) It is a really fun place and you will have a great great time if they know you and you know them (i.e. Silvano, Allesandro,etc.) You are saying if I become a regular at ANY place it is like that. Yes, except for point 3. DS has the same thing that Christopher Walken , Gary Oldman, and Chrissie Hynde have- it has CHARISMA. A truly rare thing.DO NOT go if you are a stick-in-the-mud.
That is it. Wont be doing these notes anytime soon because I gotta start eating at other places to give my thoughts- and that takes time. Also I think I have too much time on my hands to be writing such long, in-depth notes. Hope you enjoyed even though you may disagree.