Tavern 29

47 East 29th St. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 685-4422tavern29.com

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This place is three stories of bad. And while it has a nice rooftop bar wedged between two mid-rises (pictured), you can almost feel the impending doom looming over you, because there is virtually no plausible reason why this place should remain in business come 2016, save the house pilsner, which is actually pretty decent. Beyond that it is crapapalooza in terms of food. We’re talking so shockingly bad that I am shocked to see that it raked in four stars on Yelp (higher than Dirty French!). I take that back. I would’ve been shocked had I not already realized that Yelp reviews are absolutely worthless.

And speaking of worthless, don’t waste the energy in your jaw muscles to chew on this stuff. I’ve honestly had better in school cafeterias. From the salsa & chips to the ziti to the dry chicken, to the beef with onions and mushrooms to the veggie spring rolls to the crostinis to an atrocious shrimp cocktail, Tavern 29 managed to string together more misses than a blind man trying to thread a needle with his feet.

But as mother tried to raise me, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, so I will try to counter-balance all of my vitriol with a compliment (even if it’s of the backhanded variety), their dinner rolls are actually pretty decent, but I believe they are pre-packaged, tasting like a dead-ringer for King’s Hawaiian.

And dead is the operative word here folks. As in what this place should be to anyone with a self-respecting digestive system.

1 tooth

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Marta

29 E 29th St. New York, NY 10016(212) 689-1900martamanhattan.com

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So, while Danny Meyer is busy reconstructing Madison Square Park to accommodate a bigger and badder Shake Shack, apparently he decided to take up thin crust pizza as a hobby in lieu of burgers.

Located in the Martha Washington Hotel lobby, hence the origin of the name, the restaurant feels a little homeless, not being its own thing. Granted it takes up about 95% of the lobby, so perhaps it’s the lobby that’s truly homeless? All of that aside, they do a nice job with décor. Open and contemporary with a sizeable amount of seating. But don’t let that fool you. You practically have to sell a kidney to get a table for dinner. Fortunately for my internal organs, lunch reservations come much easier.

A quick bite, however, it most certainly is not. The service runs at an escargot pace, so if you’re doing a business lunch, I recommend blocking a good two hours, because two Diet Cokes took over 30 minutes to hit our table. Lucky for me I went with a glass of Brunello, which only took about a third of that.

The pies also take quite a while, nearly 45 minutes, but I’m happy to report that most of them were worth the wait. Especially the Testa made with pig face and celery. It’s so inventive and just as scrumptious. A close second was the carbonara. Just as the name implies, it’s topped with bacon and egg and fontina. And it’s damn fine.

The least impressive of the three was also the least inventive, the funghi, made with hen of the woods mushrooms. It’s certainly good if you have your heart set on shrooms, but compared to the likes of the funghi at Oenotri in Napa, this tastes like something you can get in the freezer section at Whole Foods. And I mean that with all due respect.

Now, assuming you’ve cleared your calendar and venture on towards dessert, here’s what you should know- it’s nowhere near as great as other reviewers claim. The affagato was easily the better of the two, but be warned, it’s very untraditional, made with honey and kumquats as opposed to espresso. The ice cream is incredible, however, and truly makes the dish shine. On the other hand, the chocolate and pistachio ice cream sandwich with mascarpone ice cream was significantly less radiant. About as basic as it gets, tasting like something you could get at TGI Fridays… back in the 80’s.

All in all Marta is certainly good for lunch, I cannot tell a lie. But definitely don’t sell off any vital organs to get in. There are droves of better pies all over the city.

3 teeth

Turkish Kitchen

386 3rd Ave. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 679-1810turkishkitchen.com

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If you have read any of my other reviews you probably guessed by now that I have some sort of link to Turkey considering how many Turkish restaurants I have reviewed. And you would be right. I go to Turkey at least once a year for a few weeks and I absolutely love the food. But unfortunately there are too many great dishes for one restaurant to hold on their menu so I kind of have to run the circuit to truly get my fix on all of my favorites. And Turkish kitchen is the only place in the city that I found to have my absolute top favorite dish, midye dolma (stuffed mussels). A dish born out of fishing towns like Izmir and the beautiful coves of the Turkish Riviera. But TK is more than a one trick pony. They do a lot of things well, particularly their whole fish served bones, head and all- which is the way they serve it in Turkey, so be prepared to clean it should you choose to order it. Décor is nice and service is always friendly. And while they are the only ones to carry my favorite dish, if you find yourself lovin’ some Turkish like me, check out some of my other recos, because Turkish Kitchen is just the tip of the buzdagi (iceberg).

3 teeth

The Cannibal

113 E 29th St. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 686-5480
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Cool vibe. Amazing beer selection. And solid meat-lovers’ fare, as the name might imply.

Per the votes of fellow Yelpers, we followed in their footsteps for better and for worse. The better was definitely the lamb tartar. My favorite of the meal.

Next would be the hot dogs. Quite respectable, with a nice twist on toppings.

Third would be the Thai sausage. Unfortunately a little too repetitive to the dogs in flavor, so I would recommend an either/or scenario.

And now for the worse… The cubano (AKA Pig’s Head sammy) was just “eh.” It was woefully lacking in mustard, which threw the whole thing off balance. It just pales in comparison to the likes of Rocket Pig or West Branch. Or even Sophie’s. Wouldn’t even crack my top 100 cubanos.

But all in all, a solid showing. Just not the 4 or 5 stars people are throwing down. So I’m giving it three, knives that is. Just like its sibling Resto.

3 teeth

Resto

111 E 29th St. New York, NY 10016(212) 685-5585 • restonyc.com
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What a nice find. Met a friend here for lunch and I have to say, it gave a strong showing.

Right out of the gate the decor is charming and cool at the same time, with great touches like the inventive “drink menu.”

For an appetizer, we split the deviled eggs, which were heavenly. Sorry, couldn’t resist. But seriously, best I’ve ever had. Granted they are a twist on the classic, but so incredibly creamy it was like eating a pillow of delicious.

For an entree, I had the special rib eye sandwich, which was also very good. But not quite at the level of the eggs, and not quite as good as other steak sandwiches such as BLT Steak’s or even Mangia’s Shortrib Scicciata.

The brussel sprout side was also good, but compared to Illili they are just okay.

And the biggest miss for me was the salted caramel sundae for dessert. Just eh.

The kitchen is also a bit slow. And by “a bit” I mean very. We were one of only a handful of tables and yet it took 90 minutes for our meal, and that was only because we ordered the dessert and the check while still finishing our entrees, otherwise it would’ve been easily two hours for lunch. What is this, Mad Men?

But net, net… I like. And if I did half knives I’d probably go 3.5. And I’d also probably go back in a second, if someone asked me (hint to friend).

3 teeth