Month: January, 2008

No sushi on Sundays

Sunday, January 13th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Sports

We had narrowed down our choices for sushi dinner tonight to a handful of places that were new to both of us. Ushi Wakamaru on Houston Street seemed promising, but after reading that the place was newly reopened after renovations that coincided with being closed down by the Department of Health in September, well… we reconsidered. (Though in retrospect, perhaps we should have reasoned: when is a restaurant more meticulously clean than after getting shuttered?)

Inase on the Upper East Side does not open on Sundays, nor does midtown’s Sushi Yasuda, which left us with Shimizu in Hell’s Kitchen. Except not quite, as we discovered upon our arrival on 51st Street: that restaurant is closed on Sundays as well.

Clearly, we were not meant to dine on sushi tonight. Down the block at the House of Brews we reassessed our options, and briefly caught part of what would be the Giants’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17, that would send the team to the frozen tundra of Green Bay for next Sunday’s NFC title game. (Thanks, “Jessica”!)

We ended up at Uncle Nick’s Greek Cuisine a block away, on Ninth Avenue.

Uncle Nick’s

I’ve read gripes that “Astoria is better,” but all in all, Uncle Nick’s is a solid choice for simple Greek fare, a casual and more reasonably priced alternative to the other mid-to-upscale Greek restaurants in the neighborhood (Estiatorio Milos, Molyvos).

My favorite part of the meal — aside from the company, of course — was the “Four Combo Dip” platter: scoops of tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic dip), scordalia (potato and garlic dip), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip) and tarama (a fluffy, tangy fish roe dip), served with wedges of warm, grilled pita. I’d come back just for this.

4 Combo Dips

Cretan Keftedakia (fried Cretan spiced meatballs):

Cretan Keftedakia

Pastitsio (oven-baked macaroni, spiced chopped sirloin, and whipped potatoes, layered with Béchamel sauce) — like a Greek lasagna, or Shepherd’s pie.


And one of tonight’s specials: the Shrimp Santorini (large, white shrimp, smothered with fresh tomatoes garlic and feta). After seeing the waiter bring out my dish, a man at the adjacent table ordered the same.

Shrimp Santorini

Back at home after dinner, we took advantage of my free month of HBO, catching the umpteenth cable broadcast of The Devil Wears Prada, a film which until that night I’d not seen in its entirety. Fabulous outfits, and all around great fun.

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On the move

Saturday, January 12th, 2008 | All Things, Friends

This Saturday launched the first of five weekends of 7 construction, during which the line will not be running east past Woodside, Queens. In addition, weekend Manhattan-bound service will be skipping 52nd, 46th, 40th, and 33rd Streets through February 11, and all weekday trains will run local until February 29, 2008. The service announcements explaining all these changes were almost comically lengthy.

Despite the inevitable confusion, getting out to Main Street this morning wasn’t terrible: the free LIRR service from Penn Station ended up actually shaving time off my commute to Queens. My short and sweet stop in Sunnyside, however, entailed a bit more effort; the three-quarter mile walk west from the railroad station at 61st Street, though, did bring me past a few sights I never see when I’m riding the 7 rails overhead.

Like this brightly-colored mural beneath the otherwise rather forbidding subway tracks, commissioned by Woodside on the Move, a non-profit community development organization, founded in 1978.

Woodside on the Move

Later that evening, we gathered at The Oak Cellar on the Upper West Side for TB’s birthday soirée. The cozy bricked wine cellar, with its masonry arches and cobblestone floors, is tucked away randomly beneath the gloriously fratty Jake’s Dilemma on Amsterdam. (Beer pong!) Also random: in a room teeming with lawyers, meeting a bartender-cum-writer-cum-lawyer, working the party door.

Then it was on to iBop Karaoke for the third birthday party of the past 24 hours. Judging by the number of empty bottles littering the party room table, we had hit MC’s bash at its peak — or perhaps just past — but there was still plenty of fun to be had. Already in the song queue: The Beatles, George Michael and Chamillionaire, and as required of all karaoke gatherings, some old school Michael Jackson. HYB was disappointed that his favorite Prince tune “Cream” was not among the selections, so we settled instead for the falsetto-heavy “Kiss” — classic, though in retrospect, not the easiest in the catalog to belt out.

MC who, past experience has shown, knows how to rock out with the best of them, led us all in a screaming a capella encore of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin‘,” accompanied by music leaking through from the room next door. And as a follow-up: Stone Temple Pilots’ “Plush,” about which she aptly noted: if you don’t know this song, you’d better ask yourself what you were doing in the 1990s. 15(!) years later, the lyrics are still as perplexing as ever.

Where ya going to tomorrow?
Where ya going with that mask I found?
And I feel, and I feel
When the dogs begin to smell her
Will she smell alone?

There’s nothing more than this.

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Love is the Message

Friday, January 11th, 2008 | All Things, Drinks, Friends

At the cool LITM in Jersey City tonight for MLF’s birthday celebration. This Newark Avenue hot spot was named for an album by Philadelphia funk rock band MFSB, and has been a fixture of downtown’s “Restaurant Row” since it was opened by the JC-native sibling team of Jerome and Jelynne Jardiniano in October 2003.

For the occasion, LW had reserved the back space of this bar-lounge-gallery, on whose walls she had mounted an exhibition of about 20 of her beautiful photographs, all featuring the woman of honor.

LITM Gallery

Over the course of the evening, we each were given the opportunity to title the piece of our choice. Originators of the best titles, as judged by the artist, may see a new photo in their future. Fingers crossed!

Always good times celebrating with MLF, and reconnecting with old friends.

In addition to the occasional private party, LITM features Sunday night film screenings, live music performances, and rotating art exhibitions. (On display tonight: paintings by local self-taught artist Ken Bastard.) And perhaps most importantly, to accompany all those potent potables: good tunes.

Just wait ‘til tomorrow
I guess that’s what they all say
Just before they fall apart

— New Order, Regret

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