Skip to content

Archive for

Cowgirl Hall of Fame

Somehow this restaurant has become the place where friends go whenever it's
a celebration or parents are in town. And accordingly, it was the
Thanksgiving choice of two individuals I know–one whom I like and the other
who's a different story altogether. This made for some tricky
reservation-making, but all was well in the end.

I was feeling sort of Scrooge-ish, but got into the holiday spirit while
waiting outside. I was sitting on a bench when I heard Van Morrison's
"Dancing in the Moonlight" (at least I think that's what it's called)
blasting from a car to my right. There was this guy in a Celica with New
Jersey plates singing hi s heart out with the window rolled down in the
freezing cold and it warmed the cockles of my heart. Truly.

Cowgirl Hall of Fame is sort of kitschy and serves things like barbecue
and Frito pie, complete with chili piled over a slit open bag of chips.I
thought it was a mildly odd Thanksgiving choice, but I couldn't come up with
anything better so Cowgirl it was. They had holiday menu with entree choices
ranging from turkey, ham, salmon, pot pie and roast beef accompanied with
deviled eggs, biscuits and honey butter, sweet potato soup, a goat cheese
salad, and pie for dessert. I wanted the roast beef, but chose the turkey
just for the stuffing.

Everything hit the spot, but I was most thankful for our harried
waitress accidentally charging us for Pepsis instead of wine.

Cowgirl Hall of Fame * 519 Thompson St., New York, NY

Ye Olde Shoppe

Pillsbury Toaster Bagel Shoppe I've never really gone in for shop being spelled with an extra P and an E, but what I really don't get is how the word shoppe can be used to describe an edible item. Leave it to Pillsbury. These are like toaster pastries, but with a bagel crust. Flavors include plain cream cheese, strawberry and cream cheese, blueberry and cream cheese and cinnamon rasin. This could either be really right or really wrong. I'd actually like to taste them, but no one in my 'hood seems to be stocking them yet. Get on it, Doughboy.


The first time I visited this Brooklyn institution was quite an experience.
I naively chose the smoking section at 1 am on a Friday night and ended up
being seated in thug central. O.k., I don't really know if the room was
filled with actual gangsters or not, but I felt pretty out of place. I was
most impressed with how the waitstaff left your half-smoked butt in the
ashtray when they dumped out the ashes. Classy. Clearly, they had been
reprimanded for tossing out still smokeable cigarettes before.

On my most recent visit at 5:30 on a Sunday it was a different scene
altogether–families galore and no apparent smoking section in sight. This
was o.k. too. The setting isn't as important as stuffing yourself to the

A reuben sandwich and side order of fries was just the ticket. But
Junior's is famous for their cheesecake so I couldn't leave without a slice.
However, I veered from the standards and opted for the black forest
cheesecake, which may not have been the wisest choice. It wasn't bad, but it
wasn't cheesecake. I'd liken the taste to a dense, creamy crunchberry a la
Captain Crunch. I suppose one should stick to the basics when it comes to
diner food. (11/19/00)

Junior's is fun. Though it was more fun when you could smoke in the back
room late at night surrounded by sketched-out characters. It sort of felt
like when you were in high school and would hang out smoking and drinking
coffee at Denny's because there wasn't anything better to do. Maybe the
cheesecake isn't what it used to be, but I'm no old-school Brooklynite, no
nostalgia for me. I just get a kick out of the place and the way it's
changed with the neighborhood. The cocktail menu (I love it when places
actually list choices of drinks) has this retro design, I think they've
re-branded themselves in a slightly knowing kitschy way, though it's by no
means a hip haunt. And there are things like sidecars and brandy Alexander
listed, but you know it's downtown Brooklyn by classics like sex on the
beach, screaming orgasm, and my favorite: thug passion. What the heck is in
a thug passion? I wonder what will happen to Junior's clientele when the new
T.G.I.Friday's opens down the street in the old Gage & Tollner space. Ghetto
mudslides will have to be concocted to keep up. (3/5/04)

I don't recall Junior's having bathroom attendants before. But then,
maybe I never used the facilities in the past. It's a weird bathroom scene
(and hardly the freshest smelling) for sure. Clearly the attendant is more
security guard than social marker. (1/29/05)

Junior's * 386
Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Spanish American Food

Saturday afternoon the urge for a Cuban sandwich struck me and fortunately I knew there was a take out joint just two blocks from James's apartment. I got a little nervous when we placed our order and everyone in line behind us seemed to be getting their food in rapid succession. After the previous evening's torturous wait at Lupa, I started wondering if maybe we had become invisible or repulsive to waitstaff without even realizing it.

At least the wait allowed me to check out the menu on the wall. I was intrigued by the soup variations–there was a chicken, yet also an old hen and a beef in addition to a cow. Not to mention the feet soup. We eventually got our Cubanos, and though large, I managed to eat mine in no time while James stashed his away for later.

Luckily, his bird-like appetite benefited me. I'm staying at his place while he's away for the holidays and about two hours ago I was poking around the refrigerator for something tasty (it's too cold to go out and I don't feel like buying groceries anyway) when I spied that half Cubano. I debated over the ethics of eating someone's leftovers, but it wouldn't be any good by the time he got back anyway. My only regret is that there wasn't more left.

Spanish American Food 351 E. 13th, New York, NY



First off, the food was amazing. For the meal alone, I'd give four shovels,
but the service left a little to be desired. I was looking forward to my
meal all week and it just so happened that that week's "Time Out NY"
featured the tartufo as a critic's pick, so I was expecting greatness. I
know this is a popular place and Mario Batali is a TV chef and all, but this
isn't Babbo. I thought Lupa was supposed to be easier to deal with, both
price-wise and pretention-wise.

We'd made reservations for 9:45 on a Friday, which was sort of late, but
it was short notice and I rarely end up eating before 10:00 on weekends
anyway. The place was jam-packed when we got there, the bar area was
overflowing into the front seats (which I thought were for walk-ins) and we
were given no indication as to when we'd be seated. It ended up being over
an hour wait and we were seated in the front room at the same time as people
who'd walked in sans reservations only minutes before. I was always under
the impression that people with reservations were supposed to get to sit in
the "nicer" back dining room while the crowded wooden tables in front were
for people who showed up and wanted to wait. It made me wonder what the
point of a reservation was.

I can't say that the long wait put me in a very good mood and by 11:00
my stomach was starting to eat its own lining. However, we ended up doing
the tasting menu, which consisted of an antipasti with various meats and
salami and citrus-cured sardines with a cracked wheat salad, a pasta, which
I think was called bucatini all'amatriciana, a seafood stew with squid,
mussels, chickpeas and other assorted goodies (the server kept ladling and
ladling more soup into my bowl to the point where it was comedic and then
James just got the remains, which is still peeving him. I don't know if the
guy sized us up and was like, "that girl likes to eat" or what), a main
course of which James had the saltimbocca, which is a veal dish and I
ordered the oxtail since I'd heard amazing things about it, but they ended
up bringing us both veal and tried to make it seem like they couldn't do the
oxtail and normally I'm a pushover who never pipes up, but after that insane
wait, there was no way I was going to let them get out of giving me what I'd
ordered. The finishing touch was the tartufo, a big ball of hazelnut ice
cream with biscotti chunks and a rich chocolate covering and a cherry in the
middle. For the quality and amount of food, the $42 tasting menu was well
worth the price.

The food completely lived up to all the hype I'd heard. Almost
everything had a diverse range of flavors combined into one. Like the Four
S's of S.E. Asian food that always keep me happy: sour, salty, sweet and
spicy. Ingredients like sweet onions, raisins, fennel, cracked pepper and
lemon fusing into a memorable mouthful. And this is coming from the girl
who's never been impressed with Italian food. I'd like to go back, but I
don't know if that'll be any time soon.

Lupa * 170 Thompson St., New York, NY

Daily Chow

* I'm not sure how long Daily Chow has been closed, but it just now
occurred to me to mention it. (10/05)

This was a spur of the moment Friday night choice. New, in the
neighborhood, and I'd heard they had fancy cocktails like ginger kamikazes.
It's one of those Pan-Asian deals with Korean, Thai, and Chinese touches
plus a Mongolian grill to boot. The place had sort of a bar/clubby
atmosphere with emphasis on the drinks, loud funky beats, and a spacey

With that said, the food wasn't bad. They have lots of finger type foods
and I didn't feel like a meal meal so I tried the country combo (as opposed
to the city combo, which was a vegetarian sampler–so city folks aren't
supposed to like meat?) which came with duck wraps, chicken satay, steamed
dumplings, fried calamari, egg rolls and a cucumber, red-onion salad. Very
tasty. I also had a bite of the beef with holy basil, which was surprisingly
hot and spicy for such a mish-mash restaurant.

But what really bowled me over was the Thai banana split. The
description said something along the lines of ice cream with lychee, longan,
jackfruit and bananas with chocolate sauce. Whoa, while fruit is my least
favorite food group (I know it's always lumped together with vegetables,
which are perfectly fine in my book), I did appreciate their use of exotic
Asian fruits in their cocktails and desserts. The mysterious part was
deciphering what the three scoops of ice cream were. One was clearly
coconut, the other was green tea (at least I think so because it was green),
but the middle scoop was sort of chunky and chalky and bad and good at the
same time. Very confusing, but sometimes I like a restaurant to leave me

Daily Chow * 2 E. Second St., New York, NY


Closed: so much for the late '90s Belgian trend

I don't have much to say about Belgo except that their website is nutty
in a way that only Europeans can pull off. When I was in London last
Thanksgiving, we were trying to find a place to eat and peeked in Belgo. It
sort of scared me and I ended up going to Chinatown as I often do in most
cities. I didn't even realize New York had a Belgo until I went to that
meaty Riodizio a while ago and noticed it next door (clearly, I don't walk
on Lafayette much). With its stylely, modular design, freaky guy on the
menu, and tunnel-like entrance, my curiosity was peaked.

I popped in for lunch after a job interview and figured I should have
mussels since that's what those Belgians are known for. There were all sorts
of varieties, including one with coconut milk and lemon grass, but I decided
against it since I prefer Asian-tinged food from Asian restaurants. I opted
for the lunch special, which at $14.95 wasn't much of a special, but you get
a kilo of mussels, frites, a house salad with arugula (I think, though
endive makes more sense), hard-boiled egg and tomato, and a glass of Stella
Artois, which was a hefty amount of food. They have a large menu devoted to
beers, but I've never been much of connoisseur. Mussels reign supreme, but
there are plenty of other entrees. Belgo is Belgo and it's worth checking
out at least once. (11/9/00)


Belgo * 415
Lafayette St., New York, NY


It may sound blasphemous, but if there were one cuisine I'd have to give up
for life it'd probably be Italian food. I know, I know, everyone
likes Italian food, right? There's nothing wrong with it; it's just never on
the top of my list when the subject of eating out comes up. And yes, I
realize that not all Italian cooking is based on the meatballs and spaghetti
covered in red sauce formula, but I'm still not a convert.

I'd heard mixed stuff about the place, but thought I'd see for myself.
If the length of the wait to be seated were an indication as to the quality,
then Frank would be a four star restaurant. The thing is, it's just a small
place. They don't take reservations and at 8 pm on a Thursday, I ended up
waiting for about an hour. (They do offer to call you when your table's
ready in case you want to take off, but being the last person on earth
without a cell phone, this didn't do me much good.) Fortunately, I wasn't
fazed by the wait. I was in a good mood since I thought I was just meeting a
boyfriend for a run-of-the-mill dinner and instead he showed up with
flowers, elevating the event to a "date."

On to the meal…I'm not even close to being a wine expert so I ordered
some $10 glass of red wine that I don't even remember the name of. Whatever
it was, my beverage suited the appetizer of mussels in a spicy, garlicky
tomato broth and roasted garlic bread. For the main course I tried the
ravioli of the day, which was porcini and potato. Now that I think about it,
the dish had all the makings of a pierogi, albeit in a cream sauce rather
than dipped in sour cream. Maybe the ravioli was successful in my eyes since
it was moving in a Polish direction rather than being quintessentially
Italian. The meal was wrapped up with tiramisu, which was pretty

Everything tasted how you thought it would from looking at it. Nothing
was bad, but nothing was spectacular either. I just crave a little more
oomph to my food than Frank delivered. I won't write off an entire cuisine,
of course. I'm still on the lookout for that Italian meal that makes me sit
up and take notice.

Frank* 88 Second Ave.,
New York, NY