Monday, November 08, 2010

Recent Eats

The Cellar Bar at the Andaz Hotel

This spot is tucked away beneath The Shop restaurant at the Andaz 5th Avenue hotel across from the New York Public Library. When you enter through the restaurant, you'll feel lost, but you walk to the back and down a set of stairs. Listen for the noise and head to the unmarked wooden door. When you open it up, you'll find yourself in a wide-open bar with communal tables and booths along the back wall. The place is dark with an open kitchen that looks almost like a performance space. It feels like a cool space, but the service is friendly and the bar isn't as pretentious as it may seem upon your initial meeting.

Mexican Firing Squad:  Herradura Blanco tequila, lime pomegranate molasses, angostura bitters
Perry Grove: Martin Miller's Westbourne strength gin, lemon, Belle de Brillet pear liqueur, Peychaud's bitters

Potato Torta. This had a slightly off taste, maybe from some kind of blue cheese.

Roasted Shoulder, Black Kale, Raisins And Orange Peel. The meat was overcooked and dried out.

Go for the cocktails. You'll feel like you're walking in to someplace you shouldn't be, but once you find your way in, you'll make yourself comfortable. The waitress explained that the cocktails are pre-Prohibition era and Prohibition era. They're worth trying. The overpriced food, not so much. The waitress came over to ask how our drinks were a couple of times, but tellingly, never asked us how our food was.



I'd previously been to the 47th Street branch. This time I tried out the newer 55th Street branch, which replaced another Japanese restaurant.

Salted cucumbers, miso soup and pickles.

Chicken Katsu Don: Free range chicken katsu and egg on rice.
The egg blanketing the chicken softens the katsu coating, but it manages to still be palatable, not too soggy. This is a bowl of comfort.

Pork and beef minced meat curry with onions over rice. The curry has a nice stewed quality to it and tastes more homemade than the dark, heavier curry at Go Go Curry.



This is the best Thai food I've ever had and leagues better than anything in Manhattan. So many places rely on the heavy flavor of garlic to season their dishes. At Sripraphai, the flavors of chili or basil or peppers are used to bold effect instead.

 B.B.Q. beef with chili mint and lemon juice.

Drunken noodles with pork, vegetables, chili and basil leaves.

 Sauteed pork with Thai eggplant.

Yellow curry with chicken and bamboo shoots.

We ordered everything medium hot and that was plenty, enough to leave a slow burn in your mouth without eradicating your taste buds. It's rare to find any Thai place in Manhattan with this level of spice; quality like this is nonexistent there. It's worth the 7 train ride out to Woodside and enduring whatever wait you may find. It's crowded and your mouth will water as you wait for one of the coveted tables, but you won't be disappointed.

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