Been too busy to write lately, but I wanted to make sure I at least got in a few of the highlights of the last couple weeks before I head out for the weekend. First off, I tried Molyvos, a Greek restaurant near Central Park South. Their wine list was pretty big, but ha, it was in fact all Greek to me. Other than knowing for certain that I can’t stand the taste of retsina, I don’t know diddly about Greek wine, so we left ourselves in the hands of the sommelier. He brought us a bottle of something I can’t remember or pronounce, but it was just ok; neither memorable nor offensive. The one must-try dish at Molyvos is the grilled baby octopus. It had what to my mind is the quintessential Greek flavor profile- lemon juice and olive oil. Awesome. The lamb chops were also very good, but really, you can get good lamb chops anywhere.
Also finally got around to eating at Kampuchea. A very noisy corner restaurant with an ambitious menu, it was the place that David Rosengarten urged me to check out a few months ago. Well, it was certainly good, but unfortunately I think I had raised my expectations too high. Especially given the tempting selection of small dishes, I thought it would blow me away, but I came away merely satisfied and nothing more. A few of the dishes were definitely winners like the butter filet mignon, the lemongrass quail and the seared sweetbreads, but by and large the rest of the food was unremarkable. The “Crispy Pork Belly” was certainly charred but not really crispy and actually a little dry. The crepe of Berkshire pork and chives was rather bland and uninspired. I also tried their lime coconut mojito and just like much of the food there, it was just ok and not quite as good as it looked on the menu.
After Kampuchea we went for drinks at The Back Room, aka The Lower East Side Toy Company, which used to be Lansky Lounge. The gimmicky schtick there is that it’s set up like a Prohibition-era speakeasy. You have to know where it is because there’s no visible entrance from the street, just a narrow walkway guarded by the bouncer who gamely pretends that nothing is going on back there. He asked Jeannie “what do you want? what are you doing here?” She replied “uh… I’m here for the birthday party?”, and the big menacing bouncer dude smiled and said “sure, go ahead on back”. Down the darkened narrow path, under a set of metal stairs is the doorway into the “toy company”. The prohibition guise continues inside as drinks are served in tea cups and beers are served in brown paper bags. Gimmicky, but fun. I was drinking beer though. I think everyone who ordered mixed drinks eventually thought the cup and saucer thing was a bit of a pain in the ass.
Afterwards, a few of us headed over to Congee Village for some late night eats. And boy did we eat. Between five of us we had Chinese sausage fried rice, salted fish fried rice, a whole fried flounder, some veggies, half a chicken, and I’m thinking there were one or two other dishes I can’t remember. Amazingly, the whole thing came to $20 per person, including tip! I left there thinking it was actually a lot more satisfying than Kampuchea too.
Ricky introduced me to the burger joint called Stand. The quality of the beef in their patties was outstanding, and they have fantastic half-sour pickles in their “pot o’ pickles”. Nice delicate little onion rings too, but a little on the greasy side; they probably should have been cooked at a higher temperature. All in all, a decent burger place with a great beer selection, but nothing to go out of your way for.
In the category of repeat visits, I made recent return trips to You-Chun for cold noodles (where the waiter gypped Twoin of $20), Una Pizza Napoletana where the pizza still kicks ass, and Madangsui in Fort Lee where they proved once again that they are in fact the raw meat specialists, bringing us tray after tray of insanely super-marbled beef to throw on the grill. Fantastic.
Not a bad couple weeks of eating, wouldn’t ya say? But this weekend should be even better…