The Upper West Side scares me. It always weirded me out how Seinfeld
made it seem like the UWS (ew, look at me making gross acronyms) was the NYC
norm, when that's so not true. I only know one person (and I don't mean out
of friend friends, I mean acquaintances, coworkers, friends of
friends, etc.) who lives up there. Amusingly, that one person would probably
love Gabriela's, as she will only eat things like Italian or Mexican (pretty
much a middle-American palate circa 1976) and likes blender drinks.
Gabriela's was fine. The portions were huge, the drinks were strong, the
tortillas even seemed homemade. We just needed someplace to eat near James's
parking lot that was open past 10:30pm. No easy feat, and Gabriela's fit the
bill. If I ever find myself on the UWS after 10:30 I might consider a return
visit. Maybe. (7/19/03)
Maybe the UWS tired of mediocre Mexican–Gabriela's is a goner. (2005)
Gabriela's * 685 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY
After hearing how Heinz’s sky blue and chocolate flavored Funky Fries were being discontinued, I was upset to say the least. For one, I was never able to even find them here in NYC, and two, I feared the public had had enough with the abnormally colored food. Not true, thankfully. Naturally Fresh renewed my faith in the grotesque by creating ranch dressing (which is kind of just freaky on its own) in bright orange and purple. I don’t know what “natural” has to do with garish colored dressing, but I’ll allow them a little misrepresentation.
The most direct route from James's to my place involves a straight, but
treacherous shot down Bowery to the Manhattan Bridge. It's a total obstacle
course, but at least mini traffic jams allow me to take note of new
restaurants like Big Eat. The name alone sold me. Big Eats would've been ho
hum, but Big Eat…now that's got flair. I vowed to check it out the
very next day, and for once, I actually did what I said I was going to.
It was a big, flashy, two-level, Hong Kong-style (not that I've ever
been to HK, but it's the look that I imagine they're going for) affair. We
were the only non-Asians in the place (which could be good or bad, who's to
say) which proved to be a tiny problem when it became apparent that the
waiter couldn't really understand or read English (though he seemed able to
speak it). Not a big deal, after I figured out that pointing to the Chinese
(Sorry, I don't know my Cantonese from Mandarin, though I will start a
Mandarin class next month) characters worked like a charm.
We ordered crazy east-west things like crab wrapped in Canadian bacon
(it was fake crab and regular bacon) and honey-garlic chicken. There was
also a scallop in XO sauce dish in there somewhere. The overall impression
was that Big Eat was akin to Sweet and Tart in mood, though in menu less dim
sum-y. I'd go back.
Big Eat * 97 Bowery, New York, NY