Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: Village Pisco

Village Pisco
45 W 8th St
New York, NY 10011


This is a very simple place in the space previously taken by Desire on West 8th St.  They have a full bar and a semi-full menu but it's best to think of Village Pisco as doing exactly two things, both of which they do extremely well.

The first is Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken.  This is a simple chicken preparation, and the only way to screw it up is to have a bad spice rub or to overcook the chicken.  It's surprising how often one of those two things happen, but the execution here is perfect.  Spicy, moist chicken was the result both of the times we've been there.   It comes with a small salad and a side -- the rice and beans were exceptional, the yuca fries were meh -- they needed more seasoning.

The other thing they do extremely well is pisco sours.  They make it with lime juice, in the traditional Peruvian method.  That gives the drink a freshness that sour mix cannot provide.

At the time of this review, the place had only been open a week.  Over time, I suspect the other dishes will improve to match the rotisserie chicken and the sours, but they're not there now.  A chicken sandwich was short on flavor and a pisco colada had a lot of the vegetal taste a pisco can sometimes get.  The owner quizzed us on every aspect of the meal and seemed genuinely interested in meeting customers' expectations.

Service is enthusiastic, but inexperienced.  Language can also be an issue here.   But overall, this was a very good chicken and pisco sour at a very, very competitive price.  I'd certainly pick their chicken over the strips of chicken from the Sticky Fingers up the block.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: La Mela Ristorante

La Mela Ristorante
167 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

Meh. But a fun meh.

Imagine that Saturday Night Live made a parody of Italian restaurants like they did of that Cheeboorger place.  Now imagine someone made a parody of *that*.  That's La Mela.  Pictures of celebrities, red and white plastic tablecloths, a guy who only knows three chords singing Sinatra, the whole bit.  They even have a specialty feature for bachelorette parties involving a salami and light bulbs.

Unfortunately, most of the food was terrible.  The salad was the star of the show.  A basic iceberg lettuce with tomatoes; they pick a nice oil and vinegar though, so it's good.  My tortellini came out a bag and was topped with sauce from a jar. The bolognaise was better but not by much. The wine was plonk.

You'll laugh a lot, though, and it's cheap by Little Italy standards.  You're probably not in little Italy for the food anyways.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Bistro Bistro

Bistro Bistro
1727 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 328-1640


A lot of people reviewing this place really dislike it and I just don't get the hate.  No, it's not Le Circque.  It's not *supposed* to be Le Cirque. Bistro -- cheap, simple, unpretentious.  Bistro Bistro is huge compared to a stereotypical bistro but otherwise it fits the bill.  We went on a Friday night and ate at the bar.  They have a decent selection of fairly-priced wines by the glass and the bartender was helpful in selecting the ones we wanted.

Dinner was simple French food - A peppercorn steak and a chicken Francaise.  Both were tasty and well prepared.  The steak was cooked to the exact right temperature and was a nice cut.  The accompanying fries were hot, crispy, very French style.  The chicken was non-traditional, not having been fried (they disclosed this on the menu).  That said, the sauce was tasty and the dish was healthier as a bonus.  OK, less unhealthy.  It's still a brandy cream sauce.  It came with a better-than-average buttered carrots and broccoli.

At the price point, we thought Bistro Bistro offered a great value.  The steak wasn't prime, the chicken wasn't a Cornish game hen, but everything was well-prepared, tasty and reasonably on time.  We'd definitely recommend this place to people who want a good meal at a great price.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Friend of a Farmer

Friend of a Farmer
77 Irving Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-2188


We're in New York City and there's no getting around that.  There's no such thing as rustic here.  So if you want to have a rustic-feeling restaurant, the best you can hope for is authentic faux-rustic.  Friend of a Farmer in fact carries that off.  It's a fun, rustic-feeling space complete with folk music.  Overall, a very fun space enhanced by the piles of fresh fruits and veggies lying around.

The food was also good.  We went for a late brunch on a Saturday and everything was of the highest quality.  We had the apple pancakes (highly recommended!) and a nicely-stuffed omelet which was cooked perfectly.  To go with that we had some mulled apple cider which could perhaps have been more mulled but was nonetheless just the thing for a cold NYC afternoon.

Service was efficient and friendly.

This place is probably too friendly to attract the attention of the serious snooty foodies -- Michelin will never give this place a star.  But it's a great neighborhood place and if you've been shopping at the Union Square Farmer's Market you can't do much better than to stop by this place on your way home to see what a good restaurant can do with all those nice fresh ingredients.