Brooklyn Taco The Saturday afternoon pop-up housed inside Williamsburg's Donna was a pleasant surprise. Happy hour drinks practically call for a little stomach padding. Guacamole (for god’s sake, never say "guac"--do I even have to tell you not say "marg?") always bores me to death and is overpriced to boot (I’m fine enjoying the two-dollar's worth of raw materials in my own home) but for reasons I don’t understand everyone always wants to order a shitload for the table, so I was a mildly amused that the usual crowd-pleaser was fiery enough to elicit dismay. I'm not even sure where they heat was lurking in the green mash. Same with the tacos; those who went for the vegetarian version got dosed with a blast of chile heat. Maybe the meat-avoiders were being punked? The cabeza was spicy, not brutally so, and I was happy to have a chewy, substantial choice instead of some stewed San Loco/Calexico blahness.
Blossom I probably wouldn’t have chosen a vegan restaurant out of my own volition (though animal-free dishes are a step above raw foods) but others’ birthdays are like that. And the pistachio-and-pepper-dusted tofu was better than the sum of its parts. Probably because of the foundational crepe stuffed with a root vegetable puree and the thick lemon truffle sauce. It was more rich than austere. My camera photo was hideous enough that it decided to leave it out--I hate to give vegan cooking an even worse image.
Qi Bangkok Eatery I’m really not obsessed with Qi even though I do get a kick out of the Williamsburg location (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it at least twice). It turns out that I now work a block from the one on Eighth Avenue so I had to take a peek. I was surprised that they also have a menu by Pichet Ong a.k.a. the “Bangkok Selection” (and that there are still peep shows in Times Square) but it’s not the same as in Williamsburg, no Ovaltine ribs, etc. and only available after 5pm. I just had the lunch combo, steamed chicken dumplings that were kind of boring but not bad and chicken basil chile stirfry that was spicier than expected for not having to ask for extra heat. $7.95 isn’t a horrible price (you could pay $13 for a takeout salad over here) for two dishes in a non-frenzied setting. I'll probably go back and just get a larb and a glass of Riesling (drunk lunch is my new midtown M.O.--don't tell anyone) You don't like chandeliers in lucite boxes and Louis Ghost chairs during your lunch break?
Bonefish Grill Ok, well, I am obsessed with Bonefish Grill. Twice in one quarter is a lot even for me. This is a weirdo location in Paramus that instead of sharing space with a fellow OSI brand like Carrabba’s is attached to a Crowne Plaza next to a mall. So it felt like I was on a vacation. There was no trout for my grilled fish with pan Asian sauce (pretty much soy, ketchup and oyster sauce) so it was scallops and shrimp instead. They did, however, have a new appetizer, white tuna, a.k.a. escolar, a.k.a. shit fish sashimi (that's seared) which I ordered because I’m wild that way. The seasonal sides have progressively gotten more creative. I don’t mean that chickpeas, spinach and turkey sausage is Michelin-worthy, just that it’s trying a little harder than the usual mashed potatoes, rice or steamed vegetables.
Ikea Horse-free, I think, not that I would be bothered by a little horse meat (apparently, the Swedes aren't either). I haven’t eaten in an Ikea cafeteria in years—when did they replace the boiled new potatoes with mashed?