The Writing Room

1703 2nd Ave. New York, NY 10128(212) 335-0075 • thewritingroomnyc.com

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If you happen to live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, let me apologize in advance, but what the fuck is wrong with you guys?! You’re bringing the rest of the city down. I mean hell, Brooklyn is killing you! The Lower East Side too! Even your Upper West Sibling across the park has their act together (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!) In fact, I’m gonna go ahead and say it. From the 70’s on up, you are the shopping mall food court of New York City cuisine.

Let’s take The Writing Room as a recent an example. From the décor, it’s seemingly not so bad, right? Especially that warm and cozy back room with the fireplace and the old school typewriters (pictured). Makes you feel all Hemingway inside. But the whole right hemisphere of the restaurant is a boisterous, yuppie cesspool, filled with the right-out-of-college crowd, making you cringe at every “OMG!” and “DUDE!” that wafts over your table.

And then there’s the food. Starting with an attempt at parker house rolls that didn’t even best some of the school cafeterias I’ve eaten in, fear was on the march, goose-stepping across my tongue with a reign of tyranny in the form of a blasé cod brandade. I’m shocked that the waiter even recommended it, because the dish is so lacking that I honestly found the air I was breathing had more flavor in it.

Equally unimpressive was the kale salad, with roasted sweet potatoes and granny smith apples served with a cream-based bleu dressing that not only defeated the purpose of a kale salad, but was so bland that it also defeated the purpose of being a cream-based dressing!

The charcuterie board might’ve been only slightly better than the previous zeros, but it was the smoked chicken over a barley risotto with spinach and bacon that finally registered a pulse on the taste-o-meter. Sadly, however, it was too little to late, because by that point, we had already written off The Writing Room, a story that ideally should’ve never been published.

1 tooth

Ariel Sands

34 Shore Road Devonshire P.O. Box 334 Hamilton HM BX, Bermuda • +1 441-236-1010 • arielsands.com

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The hotel is owned in part by the Douglas family. As in Michael Douglas. As in the actor. As in why you’ll see photos of him and Catherine Zeta Jones on the walls around the hotel and all over the website. But don’t let that sway you into thinking this place is a Hollywood gimmick. It’s actually quite charming and dare I say, a bit understated. It’s also very authentic, with it’s colorful, icing-topped bungalows.

But posh it isn’t, so should you choose to stay here, don’t expect anything glorious. Scratch that. Don’t expect anything glorious from the hotel. The restaurant, however serves up a glorious codfish and potato breakfast (pictured). It looks bizarre, no doubt, but somehow it all just works, especially when you mix it all together into a crazy delicious mush complete with spicy tomatoes, avocado and onions.

Unfortunately that was the only meal I had here though, so I can’t speak about much else on the menu. But even so, l will say that it was the best meal I’ve had in Bermuda, both trips combine (which includes a dinner at the widely acclaimed Four Ways), and all meal occasions considered. But don’t just take it from me, take it from the highly aggressive sparrows that will try to steal it right off of your plate should you dare let down your guard between bites.

Oh, the ocean view from the restaurant is mighty impressive as well.

4 teeth

 

Cock & Bull

23 W 45th St. New York, NY 10036(212) 819-1900 • cockandbullnyc.com
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Before I jump right into this review, let’s take a moment to really appreciate the name. I mean really take it in. Cause the way I see it, we’re talking truckloads of confidence (or money… or both) it must’ve taken to name this place what is essentially synonymous with bullshit. A name most people wouldn’t exactly flock to as a draw. But, on the other hand, a brilliant play toward lower expectations, because if you wind up having a shitty meal or terrible service, well what did you expect? It says bullshit right on the door!

Name aside, Bullshit fashions itself quite faithfully after your typical British Pub with its dark wood walls, Guinness on draft, a healthy selection of scotch and rugby on the telly. And contrary to my theory above, the service is pretty attentive and on the ball.

In terms of food, one must first calibrate themselves in reality, after all, it is bar food, and worse still, British food. A culture known for such culinary contributions to the world as shepherd’s pie, pot pie and fish & chips. So, now going in fully calibrated I would like to start with a major shout out to the fish sliders, done “fish & chips style” with batter-fried cod on little buns with slaw and nicely seasoned wedge fries- er, I mean chips on the side. In fact, they were so good I much preferred them over the regular fries which you can also order by the basket or with a burger.

The only misses for me were the deviled eggs. As in the devil himself was missing. No heat. No spice. No seasoning. No bloody anything other than mayonnaise as far as I could tell, making them way too creamy and not all that tasty. Oh and in case you’re wondering what in the hell that dish is in the picture above, that’s bacon wrapped meatloaf ladies and gentleman. Talk about devilish.

Come drinks, the Guinness was good, poured like it should (look, I’m a poet), nice and smooth. And while the bourbon selection is a little light, the Bulleit Rye is always a crowd pleaser, so box checked on hooch.

In general a solid choice for a drink and a bite with friends before hoping on a train at Grand Central and slipping into a food coma.

3 teeth

The Fish Church

Rosenlundsgatan, Gothenburg 411 25, Sweden • 031-13 82 34
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I love places like this. Off the beaten path. Odd. Little nooks that never seem to make on anyone’s top ten list. These are the gems that shine every bit as bright as the likes of Michelin stars IMFO (In My Ferocious Opinion).

This is why I loved Gabriel’s in the Fish Church so much. Located upstairs in an old church turned fish market right by the water. The décor is more bar than restaurant, but somehow that only seemed to add to its charm. And being that it’s located in a fish market, only added to its fish cred.

So, on to things edible. First up were the shrimp baskets, and while they were obviously fresh, I found them to be miniscule, making the work to meat ratio very unfavorable. Served with heads on them, which only added to the laborious task of shelling what ended up looking like a normal shrimp left in the dryer way too long. Fortunately it was served with a delicious, smoky tartar sauce. Unfortunately there was no cocktail option, so my spicy side had to sit this one out.

The half crabs were also quite the challenge to eat, having to jab a fork in them so hard I felt like Gemma from Sons of Anarchy using a poultry fork to – Spoiler Alert for Season 6 Finale!

And while the oysters were much easier than the other two, they were also not as flavorful as I would’ve liked. Granted I would’ve liked some friggin’ spicy cocktail sauce, but apparently that’s not how Goteborg rolls.

So after all of these misses you’re probably wondering what in the hell I liked about this place? Well, the cod entrée was spectacular! Served with potatoes, vegetables, egg and a white wine sauce. The phenomenally fresh fish blended into the bowl of ingredients like Girl Talk mixing up tracks on All Day.

Another nice surprise was the local pilsner. Quite smooth and much better than the local ale. Trust me.

Sadly, the church closed on a down note with their odd attempt at a deconstructed chocolate cake which tasted more like it was scooped out of a construction site. And what’s especially unforgiveable about this is that they only had one dessert on the menu. I’m sorry, but if you’re only going to put one option on a menu than the least you can do is nail it!

But oh the cod. I will never forget the cod. And the location. Okay and the beer. Our server was very nice as well, but so was everyone in Sweden. I think it’s like a federal law or something. Granted he did forget our fish soup, which I hear is quite something. Oh well, maybe next time.

3 teeth

The Musket Room

265 Elizabeth St. New York, NY 10012(212) 219-0764 musketroom.com

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On our way to dinner at Pearl & Ash, we stumbled upon this seemingly new place and made a mental note for the future. We were immediately impressed by the décor as well as the menu. But looks can be deceiving, right?

Wrong! Well, sometimes right, but in this case wrong. Musket Room lives up to its looks and might even exceed them. Although that’s quite a statement, because every detail in this place is thoughtfully considered. The water glasses are sleek and unusually beautiful. As is the silverware and the table they all rest on. The exposed brick and natural, old world elements almost make you feel as if you have stepped back into time, that or into a contemporary Nordic haunt, for a bite to eat.

The service was also excellent. Solid recommendations, attentive, knowledgeable and best of all, friendly. Not a snooty bone in the place. Even though they have every right to be, because this isn’t a casual nibble. This is fine dining in every sense of the word. From the chef’s tastings to the platings to the choreographed delivery of courses.

But let’s get to the food since that’s all you really care about. To start with, the bread is marvelous. Fresh baked rolls with a hard, buttery, golden brown exterior and soft fluffy insides that spring to life with their REAL homemade, green salted butter. Such a rare treat in the States to have real butter. Most everything else outside of France tastes like nothing.

For appetizers the salmon with mandarin oranges was very good, but the real gem was the waiter’s recommendation, the cold-smoked scallops. Brought to the table under a metal dome, it is revealed in a magical puff of frost. A beautiful crescent of scallops, pickled cucumbers, black garlic, sea beans and pear. Such a wonderful mix of flavors between the smokiness of the scallops and the refreshing sweetness of the pear and cukes. Best thing of the night.

For entrees, here was the only misstep. Both were just okay. The cod being the weaker of the two. A touch bland and not particularly memorable.

The steak entrée, on the other hand, while good, was nothing compared to the apps the preceded it. Nowhere near as inventive and the “cheese pie” just didn’t translate from ear to mouth very well.

But redemption soon followed with two winners for dessert. The chocolate torte was rich and dreamy and while I could go on more about it, I actually thought it was quite handily upstaged by the strawberry and Camembert mousse with pineapple sorbet, rhubarb and granola. Friggin’ yum!

So, welcome Musket Room. You’ve done New Zealand proud. Not to mention Soho.

4 teeth