Friday, June 06, 2008

On Vacation

The Mysterious Chinese Woman, a Mysterious Chinese Sister, and myself will be heading to Paris tomorrow, and then on to Rome. I don't think I will be bringing my laptop with me so there may not be any new posts until I return. On the bright side, once I return I should have enough material for a bunch of interesting posts.

I might try to put something up from an internet cafe, and maybe I will be able to upload pictures. We shall see.

Because we will be in Paris tomorrow we decided to get an early start had dinner at Bar Tabac, my favorite neighborhood bistro, to get into the mood. We fly to Madrid where we change planes. I don't know what the restaurants in the airport are like. Some airports, including the one in Minneapolis, have dynamite restaurants. I really liked Madrid when I was there so a nice Spanish breakfast while we are waiting for our connecting flight would be good.

Also not sure what clearing customs is like as you travel through Europe these days. I don't really remember from the last time I was there. We shall see.

Anyway, please excuse the hiatus, I will try to post if I can, but for sure I will start posting again as soon as I get back. I would tell you when that would be but then you wouldn't keep checking and my hit count would go down and I will never appear on David Letterman. We can't have that, now can we?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Where Wolves In London?

Before having lunch at the Heights Cafe, the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I took a little walk down by the East River. To get there we pass under the Brooklyn Bridge where much ado has been made about the new signage that will make it easier to find the secret stairway to the pedestrian walkway. I don't know why, but I was underwhelmed.

No Expense Was Spared

Actually, though, this sign may actually be helpful.

Pointing The Way, Kind Of

In a small park across from the entrance to the pedestrian walkway a neat little sculpture has been place.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman Heading West

Our initial destination was to see the telectroscope that has just been completed. Work on this began long ago when a tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean was started and a series of magnifying lenses and mirrors were installed to let people in the United States and Great Britain observe each other.

Quite The Feat

The United States end is right here in Brooklyn by the Brooklyn Bridge and the one in Great Britain is located by the Tower Bridge across the Thames River in London.

Peering Across The Pond

Hey, It Really Works!!!

Well, it was kind of cool, but no werewolves were to be seen. I think they were all at Lee Ho Fook's eating beef chow mein.

One of the cool things about New York and, in my mind, especially Brooklyn is the diversity and the little surprises. A very nice, and expensive restaurant sits right under the Brooklyn Bridge. The River Cafe, while fairly fancy on the inside, looks for all the world like some riverside cafe somewhere in the rural south or maybe Maine.

The River Cafe

And, adding to the illusion, a bit of beach and a couple of ducks paddling around.

They Kwak With A Brooklyn Accent

For some reason this reminded me of some photo shoot on a beach somewhere in Italy.

Hold That Pose

We were thinking about having a pizza at the famous Grimaldi's but it had gotten too famous for my liking. I just don't fancy standing in line for a pizza and the "velvet rope" really put me off.

Are You On The List?

Now don't get me wrong, I have had the pizza here, and it is very good indeed. I know a place in Manhattan that is just as good, but none better. I think it is better to go in the off-season though. Too many tourists this time of year. And yes, Grimaldi's is, indeed, a tourist attraction. I told you it was famous. Actually, if I was a tourist I would rather go to Grimaldi's than the Statue of Liberty. And the line would be shorter too.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Heights Cafe

After our walk to look at people in London (you will have to wait for my next post to see what that is all about) the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I had worked up a bit of a hunger and I had worked up a bit of a thirst. We decided to stop into the Heights Cafe on Montague Street where I figured I could get a decently built drink.

Heights Cafe

It was a nice a nice sunny day so we figured we would sit outside, just like they do in Europe. We are just so cosmopolitan, but not like that overly sweet, overly hyped, pink drink. Ah, but I am too harsh. You can get a good Cosmopolitan if you have a decent bartender. Sadly, Sex And The City has made them so popular that they are not only over-priced, they are now churned out by the bucket-full by people who don't really know what they are doing. I guess that is okay though, most of them are drunk by people who prefer their margaritas made with a mix.

But, I digress. As usual, I like to at least order my drink at the bar where I can watch it being made and enjoy my first few sips in a familiar setting.

Bar Man At The Bar

I opted for a Tanqueray and Tonic and it was nicely made indeed. By that I meant it was strong enough so that I didn't really need more than one. Well, that didn't mean I wouldn't have more than one, though.

We moved outside and took a peek at the menu. Lot's of good stuff. I had a hard time deciding but I opted for one of their daily specials, a grilled pastrami sandwich. But this wasn't just any old grilled pastrami sandwich. The grilled pastrami was on a nice multi-grain bread with cranberry and tarragon aioli, caramelized onions, grilled tomatoes, arugula, and Swiss cheese. It sounded kind of bizarre, but it intrigued me. I figured I better get it because I might never see it on their menu again.

It was surprisingly good. Everything was well balanced. I guess it was a takeoff on the classic Grilled Reuben. Now that I think about it, I guess this was to a Grilled Reuben like a Cosmopolitan is to a Martini. But a Cosmopolitan made by a really good bartender using fresh ingredients. The sandwich was served with a side of fries that were thin and crispy and quite good.

Bar Man Enjoying His Sandwich

The other item on the menu that intrigued me was a Texas meatloaf sandwich. This featured meatloaf wrapped in bacon which sounds decadently delicious. This is on their regular menu though so I will be making a trip back shortly to try it.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman had a sesame crusted salmon and tuna salad that was served with marinated vegetable sprouts and mesclun greens with a wasabi vinaigrette. It certainly looked good and apparently tasted good too. At least the plate was cleaned.

We also got a nice bread basket with both bread and rolls. They weren't served hot, but the they were tasty nonetheless.

I found the bartender to be pleasant although too busy to talk much. There was just one and he had a lunch crowd to contend with. The service was prompt and courteous and our waitress was very nice. She was the one that suggested I get the grilled pastrami sandwich because, she said, the specials were always good and the Texas Meatloaf was always available.

Now that Amando's is no more I will probably visit here more often than I have in the past. Damn, now I can't get that Texas Meatloaf out of my mind.

Heights Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 02, 2008

Feels Like Home

A good friend of mine who now lives in Florida came back for a visit and, as he almost always does, put together a group to have dinner at Capucine's, my favorite Italian restaurant.

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Now I have written about Capucine's before. In fact it was stop number 514 on my journey through 1000 bars. I used to live just a couple of blocks away and probably ate there once a week back then. Even after I moved to Brooklyn and still worked in Manhattan I would pop in at least a couple of times a month. Now, sadly, my visits are less frequent. But that doesn't stop the owners and staff from treating me like family whenever I show up. Maybe I over tip.

This trip I was spotted while I was still outside and taking a picture.

Watching From The Window

And sure enough, once again I was welcomed like family.

A Warm Welcome

I got here a bit before my dinner companions so I decided to have a drink at the small, but adequate, bar while I waited.

Bar Man, Bombay Martini, and Daryl the Bartender

As it turned out, Daryl and the fellow who greeted me at the door now own Capucine's. The previous owner retired but I am glad to see the same people are involved with the restaurant, although Daryl is new. I chatted with her about all sorts of stuff including Paris and Rome where I am headed later this week. She also makes a great martini.

I told Daryl that I had been going to Capucine's since 1982 when I lived in the neighborhood. I just found out that was when it opened. I guess we kind of grew up together.

The service here is always great, warm and friendly as well as efficient. And they make everyone feel at home, not just me. It really is a nice family restaurant a short walk away, corner of 19th Street and 2nd Avenue, from the more expensive and "fashionable" Gramercy Park establishments, many of which are also very good.

Capucine's is fairly small. The bar only seats about four people and the restaurant is divided into two separate rooms. It is pleasantly decorated with pink walls, and pretty flowers. Just a comfortable place to eat.

The food has always been top quality in the southern style. For appetizers we had the clams casino which the Mysterious Chinese Woman always orders so you know they must be good. My friend from Florida had the beef carpaccio and he just loves it. I often get it too and it is great. Someone else had the stuffed artichoke and I had grilled calamari which was outstanding.

I ordered my favorite which they had for a special as they often do. It was veal stuffed with eggplant, prosciutto, and mozzarella cheese. Just delicious and so tender you can cut it with a fork. The Mysterious Chinese Woman had the deep-fried soft-shelled crabs and although she didn't eat the legs she said they were quite good. She never eats the legs, too crunchy I guess.

I don't remember what everyone else had, but from the way they tucked into their meals they must have enjoyed them. I was too busy having a good time to take notes and now, of course, I regret that.

We all shared tiramisu for dessert and I also had an espresso with a Strega for a nightcap.

Let me simply say that I think everyone should try this restaurant, as long as you don't all go when I want to. It really is a throw-back to the old-style Italian restaurants that you don't see too often anymore.

Capucine's Restaurant on Urbanspoon