Mercato

352 W 39th StNew York, NY 10018 • (212) 643-2000 • mercatonyc.com

Mercato is located in a very weird area by all accounts, so there’s virtually no reason to go there. And after reading this review, there’s even one less reason than that.

Sure, the décor is cute, but the service is not. In fact, it’s kinda frustrating, because they disappear on you, they don’t listen and they are terrible with the recommendations. Plus, they are arrogant, acting as if they are serving up the second coming. Well, I have news for them, only one out of seven dishes was even just okay, making it the worst hit ratio I’ve seen in New York in a very long time. How Yelper’s gave this four stars is everything wrong with Yelp and why I left to start this blog in the first place.

As for the okay dish, it’s the rigatoni, but only if you blanket the thing with black pepper, crushed red pepper and parmesan. I’d go into more detail and list some of the other dishes not to get, but that would be pretty much all of them. From the stale bread on the table to the bland wine to the olives to the starters and entrees, it was lineup filled with more misses than the Three Blind Mice playing tag. Spare yourself the disappointment unless slimy octopus and airplane quality food are your thing, because Mercato is a resounding one knifer.

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Travola

488 9th Ave. New York, NY 10018(212) 273-1181 • tavolahellskitchen.com

To review this place based on such a limited sampling feels wrong to me. However, I did eat here, and as a result of my highly tuned restaurant-dar, I do feel capable of ascertaining the quality of an establishment from a single dish.

In Travola’s case, it’s very much a run-of-the-mill NYC Italian. Nothing about it rising above noteworthy or sinking beneath crapsville. Decorated rustic style, the long, narrow dining room feels like so many other places in the city that if they blindfolded you before taking you here, you’d never guess where you were unless you looked at the menu or checked your smartphone’s GPS.

Servers are nice enough, but again, not enough to draw attention- perhaps they’re mafia? And as for the food, I went with the whole wheat penne made with mushrooms and asparagus. And as you can probably guess, it was also somewhat unmemorable. As is this review. Sorry. Then again, looking at that pizza in the picture above I’m guessing I just ordered wrong, because damn that looks good. Okay, let’s put an asterisk on the knives below and end this thing “to be continued” style…

2 teeth

The Gumbo Bros.

Columbus Circle New York, NY 10019(347) 719-4579thegumbobros.com

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This is another food-only review courtesy of Madison Eats so definitely don’t take it as a holistic restaurant review, because it’s truthfully only a very narrow sampling. But sometimes you can tell a lot from a first impression, so I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Funny you should mention water, because that’s my first gripe. I find their gumbo way too watery. I much prefer it thick and hearty, loaded with chunks upon chunks of spicy goodies. But to be fair, within their soupy shrimp and okra bowl (pictured, although I assure you it looks nothing like that in person) there was still a decent amount of both floating about. Floating being the key word here. For example that scoop of rice you see above, it dispersed into the watery depths like someone firing gunshots in a crowd.

Also, I found the shrimp itself disappointing on two levels. First because it was shrimp instead of crawfish. WTF?! Isn’t that gumbo 101? And second, the shrimp was a touch under cooked and thus slimy. Luckily the impending stomach ache was averted, perhaps due to the ample use of heat, which was very much too my liking and probably the thing that killed off whatever the under cooked shrimp might’ve been carrying.

So let’s chalk it up to a bullet dodged and I’ll chalk up Gumbo Bros. as a pretty weak showing worthy of a deuce.

2 teeth

Court Street Grocers

600 11th Ave. New York, NY 10036(718) 722-7229 • courtstreetgrocers.com
brooklyns-court-st-grocers-makes-the-best-unique-and-creative-sandwiches

Okay, yet another trycaviar.com joint and yet another happy customer, although this one took a little longer than a feature length film to arrive, so a little upset about that, but the sandwiches were on point.

I went splitsies with a friend on the tuna and the Italian and while tuna sounds amazing, with its pimento aioli and white anchovies, it ultimately tasted like a pretty normal tuna sandwich. Not bad, but nowhere near as special as it sounds on paper.

As for the Italian, well, it’s every Italian cold cut in existence crammed onto hoagie with giardinera on top. How bad could it be? Or rather, how awesome? Very. Can’t say it was an Ultimate, but let’s just say that even though it probably took a month off of my life, there are no regrets.

Oh, and I definitely recommend the spicy Blenheim ginger ale to go with. It’s got some nice kick and takes me back to old school New York delis back when they used to make the ginger ale themselves at the fountain.

3 teeth

 

Larb Ubol

480 9th Ave. New York, NY 10018 • (212) 564-1822 • larbubol.com

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I hate people on Yelp who tank a place, giving it one star for something that is not truly indicative of the place as a whole, so I will fight the urge to do so myself.

First, the decor. There is actually a bit of a cheapness to the way it’s decorated. I know they were going for quaint or charming, but they don’t pull it off. It feels like a college kid decorated it in a colorful, minimalist style, in between bouts of pot smoking.

As far as service goes, it was definitely good, but with one major flaw. They asked how spicy I wanted the Sum Tom on a scale of 1 to 5. Five being the hottest. So, being that I LOVE spicy (E.G. when I get guac made at my table I ask for habaneros instead of jalapenos) I asked for 3. So one would think that this would fall on the med-high end of spicy. Not high. And not “I hate my mouth and want to hurt it.”

Well, let me tell you that 3 is SO spicy I could barely eat it, needing mounds of rice just to get halfway through. Which begs the question, who is eating level 5? Is that like melt your face off Raiders of the Lost Ark style-hot?! Their scale needs a serious re-think because this is literally the first time in my life I’ve ever had a dish too spicy for me to eat. And I’ve had loads of Thai, Indian, Mexican- you name it.

Fortunately the server tried to help as much as she could, offering complimentary rice and Thai Iced tea. And it’s hard for me to fault her for the kitchen’s bizarre scale.

So all that said, what I did taste, in that split second before my mouth melted off was quite good. But if I ever go back I’m asking for a 1 and sriracha on the side.

3 teeth