Soho House

29 9th Ave. New York, NY 10014 (212) 627-3647 sohohouseny.com

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Although I’m not a member, I’ve been to the New York Soho House several times now (as well as Chicago) and while it is MUCH bigger and more modern than the Norwood, I find the attempts I read online to distinguish them from one another to be a fools errand, because if you ask me, I find them to be VERY similar in terms of vibe. Both are styled in a way that pays homage to a simpler time (pictured), while somehow contrasting that with a modern sense of urgency to be as cool and connected as possible.

This is not to say that I am above the scene, au contraire. In fact, I kinda love it. And if one must join a club of such upward standing, at least it is FAR cooler than some of those stuffier, crustier joints in midtown. Not to mention shockingly affordable, I have to say.

Service has always been very good every time I go, from the bartenders to the wait staff, and although the hosts can be a bit self-important, for the most part even they have been tolerable.

As for the food, I have dined her almost every way imaginable from a simple dinner for four at the restaurant to a huge private dinner with tables the size of aircraft carriers to a cocktail event with passed hors’d’oeuvres. And while all encounters have netted out somewhere between good and decent, I will give you a few of the highlights to keep an eye out for should you happen to find yourself rubbing elbows with the muckety mucks.

Of all the nibbles I’ve partaken over the course of my visits, these are the three worth standing by the kitchen for- First and foremost being the spicy crab cakes, which pack some nice kick for such little suckers. The sliders are also pretty money, and always perfectly cooked, seemingly a challenge for most sliders, being so small, they tend to come out overdone at virtually 90% of the places that serve them. So mad props to Soho on this one. But perhaps the best thing of all was a lentil salad served in a bib lettuce wrap. I know it sounds hard to believe amidst the company of lobster, short ribs and sliders, but I stand by my word. Taste and believe.

A few notches down from those would be the flank steak and fries, the charred broccoli, the short ribs with horseradish cream (mainly because they were a touch dry- flavor was good though), the crostinis, the lobster roll and the Swedish meatballs. And truth be told, the only flat out miss for me is the arancini. The risotto is just way too dry.

So with three winners, one loser and a gaggle of belly fillers, I think it’s safe to net the house out at a strong three. Never stayed in the hotel though, so don’t yell at me if I’m missing the best or worst part of the place. I’m just a the food guy, remember?

3 teeth

 

 

 

 

 

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Brasserie

100 E 53rd St. New York, NY 10022 •  (212) 751-4840

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Unfortunately you can’t eat décor, but if you could, this place would be delicious… and it would get a much higher rating. I mean just look at that picture, I don’t just want to eat there, I want to move in! That said, the food isn’t bad, it’s just more of an after thought comparatively. Instead, I recommend Casa Lever just down the street, offering an equally impressive ultra modern dining experience, but with better food and friendlier service.

As for the grub at Brasserie, I have eaten here for all three meal occasions and they are consistently sub-wow. More on par with solid hotel cuisine and that’s sort of how the menu reads, loaded with those hotel staples you know and love, like bagels and lox, eggs benny, a burger, crab cakes, etc… All very French dishes as you might expect from the name “Brasserie.” KIDDING! And this is exactly my point. They try to be too many things to too many people, like a hotel. But a hotel does it out of necessity. Plus, what’s especially bizarre about this menu decision is that they are located in midtown, amidst droves of hotel restaurants, so why in the hell they would serve up a bunch of me too’s is beyond me. Sure, Brasserie also has tons of truly French options as well, from steak frites to onion soup, to a croque madame, but none of them are outstanding either. All as middle of the road as the double line itself.

3 teeth

The Stanton Social

99 Stanton St. New York, NY 10002 • (212) 995-0099thestantonsocial.com

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Stanton Social is indeed a scene, so if scenes aren’t your scene, beware. Also beware of the fact that they will likely make you wait over 30 minutes for your table when you have a reservation. Fortunately they have some pretty good cocktails at the bar upstairs. Unfortunately, the upstairs doubles as a second dining room and becomes horribly crowded and unpleasant with all of the overspill from delayed reservations. Oh, and speaking of unpleasant, the hostess up there is ironically very “anti-social” sporting quite the tude on her. Doesn’t seem to understand the restaurant business is a service industry.

Fortunately, once we got to our table the meal was good. Not great mind you. But a very solid showing indeed. My recommendations being the french onion soup dumplings (pictured), which makes me only about the billionth person to praise them, the perogies (also not a shocker, considering droves before me have already blessed them), and last but not least, the Kobe sliders with truffle cheese fondue. Crazy good, and I believe a road less traveled, so check ’em out.

Also noteworthy was the Foie Gras, but not to the degree of the dishes above.

Things to skip IMO; the crab cakes, the bruschetta and the meatballs. Trust me, your mouth deserves better.

Prices are reasonable by NYC standards. The anemic number of bathrooms however, isn’t so reasonable.

3 teeth

 

Iron Horse

20 Wheeler Ave. Pleasantville, NY10570 • (914) 741-0717ironhorsepleasantville.com

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It would appear that for a nice lunch on a Monday in Westchester, the options are quite thin. 40% of the places are closed because it’s a Monday. Another 40% are closed because they don’t open for lunch. And another 10% full into the chain/fast/not-so “nice” bucket. So with our pickings being slim, we went to one of the only places that was open, Iron Horse. Fortunately I had been wanting to try it for a while, so things worked out swimmingly.

That said, upon entering the restaurant it quickly became apparent why our options were so meek, we were the only table in the joint. From the time we entered to the time we left not a single other patron so much as set foot inside for consideration. So, for financial reasons alone, I can understand why most restaurants choose to forego the lunch offering.

Suffice it to say, however, that the service was excellent, we were treated like we were the only customers there…because, well, we were. And while the dining room is a touch dated, that’s also kind of its charm.

As for food, we shared the burrata caprese starter which was very good. Served with a heaping dollop of creamy goodness placed over a bed of peppery greens, drizzled with a balsamic, basil dressing and flanked with a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes. Very strong start and a well chosen recommendation by our server.

Her other two recos weren’t quite as stellar, unfortunately. The crab cakes were good, made with a ton of crab and very little filler, which I like, but I missed the heat. Nothing came from the remoulade and nothing in the cake itself.

And the burger, apart from being over-cooked, was much better sounding on paper. The caramelized onions are really the only things that break through, netting it out to be a very average burger experience. The fries, however proved very strong.

Then, finally for dessert, which we initially tried to pass up because we were stuffed , we were served a medley of cookies with the check. Chocolate, ginger, shortbread and almond. All were good, mainly because they were free cookies, but the latter two were my favs.

As for the knife count I’m afraid this is a rare one where I’m going to have to agree with the Yelping consensus… Three knives. But a very solid three.

3 teeth

Kona Island Sushi Bar

Polynesian Dr. Bay Lake, FL 32836

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This is everything you fear when you think about Disney hotel restaurants. A cheap touristy vibe surrounds you from the walls to the people to the plates. Almost as if the Hawaiian Punch dude from long ago got sick and died, but just before passing away, he vomited up this place.

Sure, there are a few things that were good, like the pot stickers and the duck entrée. But apart from those, everything else fell somewhere between mediocre and pretty darn bad.

From blah to worse were the Chinese noodles, the crab cakes, the pork and the apple crumble. The dessert was even a recommendation by our server, but was so bad we literally only had three bites between three people.

On the plus side, the signature cocktail comes with a glowing cube inside that is programmable to different colors. I highly recommend for the kids. We got two and they were in heaven playing at the table as if they were light sabers.

1 tooth