Friday, January 20, 2012

Mark and Lynn's unfortunate John Dory story....

Lynn, about to be disappointed,,,

Lynn and I had willed ourselves to be optimistic about the John Dory Oyster Bar since we figured that after our iffy experience at the Breslin at the Ace Hotel we were due for a good experience.  How wrong we were...

We entered the space which was striking, sat at the bar at which point the female bartender promptly handed us menus.  We were then ignored for the next 10 minutes at which point we fled into the NY night too tired and whupped to joust with the bartender or manager.  Needless to say we will not be going back...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mark and Lynn are sad to see the once great Ace Hotel lose its cool...

Lynn and I had eaten at the Breslin in the Ace Hotel about a year and a half ago; it was a very pleasurable experience for us as the decor was amazing, the food unusual and the staff very friendly and accomadating. We had visited Manhattan over the weekend and were to be in the general vicinity of the Ace Hotel so we thought it might be good to stop there for a drink/something to eat late in the afternoon.

When we arrived, the hotel lobby was quite busy with the couches/library tables and the floor area in general packed with (I cringe to use this overused term) "hipsters."  Many were hunched over their I-Pads and/or laptops without any evidence of their being customers (no drinks/no food) of the establishment.  There was a bar in the back of the hotel lobby where we had hoped to land, but, alas it was full.  We then made our way to the Breslin which was full, but not packed.  We managed to find a perch at the bar.  It was about 4:30 and we were waiting to go to the Ace's John Dorry Oyster Bar which adjoins the hotel.  Problem was the John Dorry didn't open until 5 and we were quite hungry.

We started by ordering drinks; the young male bartender with his skinny arms, skinny jeans, tatoos and artful bed head was attentive but acted odd on the whole.  For instance, I ordered a simple Manhattan and thought they might have Old Grand dad bourbon.  He said they did, and waited a beat, and said they had just ran out.  Lynn ordered a glass of wine and asked if there were any bar snacks, the bartender said they had just put the snacks away (not sure what that meant as there were plenty of bar patrons and they were still drinking).  In any event, we ordered our drinks and the young bartender mixed a nice drink (with bourbon soaked cherries) that helped us relax for the moment.

About 15 minutes later the bartender mentioned that there were some bar snacks available.  At that point, we had written off eating until at least 5 so we were glad to have anything at that moment as 5 o'clock still seemed cruelly far into the future.  We were then presented with a bag of 6 almonds and a bag of chips that cost us $15.00.  Now, I have never paid for bar snacks and since they weren't on the menu imagine our surprise that we had to pay not just a little, but a lot.  In retrospect, we should have just begged off, but we were too hungry to let a few dollars thwart us and not in the mood to take the bartender to task about not warning us that the Breslin is the only place in the universe to charge for bar snacks.

In our tired and annoyed state our feeling was that the Ace Hotel had evolved from a kind of charming place pioneering interesting food and design into a den of phony poseurs whose casual attitude disguised a general loathing for their clientelle (well parodied in the Portlandia sketch about the "Deuce Hotel").   Unfortunately, this feeling persisted for us days after...

Sunday in Manhattan...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mark and Dave love sexy, family friendly Salem Beer Works...

My son in law, Dave and I went to Salem a couple of different times during my and Lynn's recent visit to the Boston area.  We had the opportunity to go to the Salem Beer Works which figures prominently in the community with a striking and impressive facade.  Inside, we found an out mix of genres (for lack of a better way to put it) with elements of both a sports bar (large screen television, bar food on the menu) along with the sleek, architectural quality  that one might find in an urbane restaraunt in a hotel like the "W."  The result of this is that it is a nice hybrid of a place where you can be comfortable watching the Pats as well as a place where you can take your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend on a sexy date.

The day Dave and I went (with Jackson and Sloane in tow) he sampled some of the SBW's signature brews and ended up taking home a six pack of the Salem American Pale Ale.  The food was better than expected as well; I chose a nice calamari with a caper mayo.  Dave has All-American tastes and he enjoyed his hamburger and sweet potato fries.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Todd English's Figs is great but about the music....

Our experience at Todd English's Figs in Charlestown, Massachusetts was one of the most schizophenic we have had of late.  First off, it was slightly more casual than we thought it might be and the menu more relaxed than we might have thought (beer and wine for instance but no cocktails).  Pizza is the star here and my daughter Kristina got a great pie with proscutto, fig and goat cheese.  It was huge, but with a thin crust and an interesting smoky flavor due to the figs.  My son in law had pasta bolognase which, to everyone's surprise, was the favorite of the many dishes we sampled that night.  I had a nice calamari with lemon aoli which was good but not really memorable.

Now for the schizophrenic part; the wait staff was wonderful with a graceful manner in close quarters; however,  the music that was playing the night we were there was the most common type of top 40 music and it was blasting!  It was enough to ruin our whole experience as it was both too loud and seemed particularly ill-suited to the atmosphere otherwise.  If the music was just ok  it would have been a completely pleasant experience, as it was it was merely ok.  We will likely give it another go, but in the meantime I hope that they re-think the music...

67 Main Street
Charlestowne, MA
P: 617-242-2229

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mark and Lynn think Lucky's Lounge has the best Manhattan in Boston...

My daughter and son in law took Lynn and I to a great place near South Boston on our recent trip there called Lucky's Lounge.  Lucky's sports a self concious but sincere and genuine speakeasy/rat pack vibe with it's non descript entrance (no signage) black and whites of Old Blue Eyes, Sammy, Dino, etc. on the wall.  There are two sides to the bar, one resembling more of a well lit diner (calling to mind the Nighthawks painting by Edward Hopper), the other side was more of a traditional bar/lounge with minimal lighting, cocktail waitresses and the like. I had a full bodied Manhattan, while Lynn had a vodka martini.  The feel there was great and our waitress was charming and resembled a youthful Madonna with her platinum blonde hair and charming gap in her front teeth.  We hope to return to try some of the brunch, lunch, dinner offerings and maybe experience another great Manhattan in Boston.

My son in law Dave seemed to enjoy the subtleties of a fine bourbon at Lucky's
Lucky's Lounge
355 Congress St. 
Boston MA.02110

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mark and Lynn take a sip of Redbreast Irish Whiskey

We happened to run into our good friend and Painter's bartender Kevin Moot who recommended Redbreast Irish Whiskey which he has apparently discovered in his explorations of the nightlife of Gotham.  We love Powers, Jameson's and Paddy's and had visited some distilleries when we visited Ireland in '09 but this seems to be another level of Irish Whiskey as it is produced through the "pure pot still method" which basically means that the spirit is produced purely from a pot still and is not blended with other whiskeys or neutral grain spirits.  It is also the only Irish Whiskey with an age designation (most typically 12 year blends which we got).

In any event, it had a more sophisticated  feel than some of our old faves and seemed, for some reason, closer to a scotch than a typical Irish Whiskey (the flavors seemed more pronounced and intense than the leisurely Paddy's, Jameson's and so on).  Seemingly, a great sipping whiskey to be enjoyed on special occasions and on occasions when one want to impress...

M& L

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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