On Our Radar

Thursday, March 5, 2015
Oysters, Cocktails, Burgers
Business/Location: Black Market
Address: 110 Avenue A
City: New York
State: New York
Zip Code: 10009
Phone: 212-614-9798
Website: www.blackmarketny.com/

Posted by:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian
   Black Market
Black Market's front window advertises three food items in big letters – cocktails, oysters and burgers – but right on the glass of their front door they throw in an extra superlative: “best burger in town.” There's no shortage of places in town that claim (sometimes quite dubiously) to be the best at something or other, but Black Market has some legitimate claim to the title. They're not doing anything outside the borders of a traditional burger, just doing it well. Their Pat LaFrieda sourced meat is apparently a custom mix. It's well seasoned and finely cooked (to order, of course), with an excellent bun and side of addicting fries to complete the meal. Sure, there are too many great burgers in this town to give the crown definitively to one spot, but it is damn good, and my favorite in the East Village. Beer is the natural compliment to a burger, but if you're feeling a little fancy, they mix a fine cocktail as well.

Friday, February 27, 2015
Everybody's Sushi For The Weekend
Business/Location: Sushi Kanpai
Address: 900 8th Ave
City: Seattle
State: WA
Zip Code: 98104
Phone: 206-588-2769
Website: www.sushikanpai.com

Posted by:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter
   Sushi Kanpai
What's better than an awesome happy hour? How about a happy hour that lasts all weekend and features what is practically a dinner-sized menu at low prices? Order more traditional sushi rolls or YOLO with the Heart Attack (basically a Japanese jalapeno popper). Don't miss the tempura or the gyoza. The catch is a one-drink per person minimum, which means you can't share that Saki unless you get a beer back. It's a convenient spitting distance from Town Hall, so you get your buzz on and fill your belly before catching a reading by that author you heard on NPR. Of course, you can always order from their regular menu, where the food gets fancy but the prices stay reasonable. Kanpai!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Sweder Than a Cinnamon Bun
Business/Location: Scandinavian Kitchen
Address: 61 Great Titchfield St
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: W1W 7PP
Phone: 020 7580 7161
Website: www.scandikitchen.co.uk

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   Scandinavian Kitchen
If you're a lover of the Swedish cinnamon bun or have graduated to the cardamom bun, then the semla (or semlor in the plural) will blow your mind. A cardamom bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream, the semla was traditionally served on Shrove Tuesday. Back in the day, it was a humble bread bun served in hot milk but at some point, like everyone else, the Swedes got fed up with this ascetic regime and the semla as we now know it was born. This pimping of the tradition proved too delicious and semlor became available every Tuesday until Easter. Then they started popping up soon after Christmas--not unlike the Cadbury's cream egg. Let's be honest, Mardi Gras is pretty much the stretch from Christmas through to Easter: after that the days start to get longer and we become aware of our less-than-svelte figures. I can't think of a better place to exercise winter eating than The Scandinavian Kitchen. With its open sandwiches, buns and cakes, and the stash of imported goodies at the back of the café (they have Smash! from Norway! Only the best salty-sweet chocolate hit EVER!), I'll happily take a 'tretar' (translates literally as 'threefill' or third cup) of Monmouth coffee.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Vittles in Belltown
Business/Location: Vittles Neighborhood Bistro & Bar
Address: 2330 2nd Ave
City: Seattle
State: WA
Zip Code: 98121
Phone: 206-448-3348
Website: vittlesseattle.com

Posted by:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter
   Vittles Neighborhood Bistro & Bar
This up-and-coming bistro in Belltown is poised for stardom. The soft brown décor makes it ideal for dates and parents alike. The classed-up comfort food and thoughtfully crafted cocktails have something for everyone. For me, the star attraction is the generously portioned Crispy Green Beans with Broccoli, tempura breaded with a truffle aioli drizzle for dipping. Make a meal out of one or two apps or share the love. Also notable: Crab and Corn Beignets and the House Poutine, which uses a cheesy sauce in lieu of traditional toppings. For even heartier fare, venture into the surf and turf laden entrees. The service is just how I like it--attentively laid-back. Things get even cheaper at happy hour.

Friday, February 6, 2015
Je Voudrais un Hot Lunch
Business/Location: Villandry
Address: 170 Great Portland St
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: W1W 5QB
Phone: 020 7631 3131
Website: www.villandry.com

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
From the outside, Villandry is one of those places that could be intimidating. It’s on Great Portland Street where side roads are filled with Maseratis and Jaguars and it is also a Parisian-style grand café. So you would be forgiven for thinking that the service may be a little haughty and perhaps that the prices would leave you out of pocket. In fact, the takeaway counter is pretty reasonable and with this cold weather, for a few more pounds than your usual Pret-Itsu-EAT lunch, you can get something hot and tasty that feels homemade. The soup is hearty and healthy (I had cauliflower and fennel) and you can choose from hot dish of the day for £6.50 (beef and Guinness stew anyone?) or the daily carvery in a baguette or ciabatta for £6.95. Salad is available too from £4.95 and looks vibrant and fresh. Did I mention the juices, smoothies, pizza, and wraps? As for service, the staff were friendly and quick to serve. What really caught my eye though were the patisserie-style offerings and I couldn't resist a large homemade jammy dodger--buttery biscuit sandwiched together with serious raspberriness. That alone put a big smile on my face for the rest of the day. Jammy dodger indeed.

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Gluten-Free Gluttony
Business/Location: Beyond Bread
Address: 2 Charlotte Pl
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: W1T 1SB
Phone: 020 7636 7055
Website: www.beyondbread.co.uk

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   Beyond Bread
The number of places in London that offer gluten-free options is inversely proportional to the number of people who suffer from gluten intolerance. When I say gluten-free options, I mean real options, like exactly the same things that people who eat wheat eat, but made with rice flour or spelt or any of the other myriad options. That kind of thing. Luckily, Beyond Bread seems to be addressing the matter by providing breads and pastries made from alternative grains. The various baguettes and baps have delicious fillings such as pulled pork, wasabi tuna, and roasted vegetables making it quite hard to decide on what to have. So I went for the salmon and asparagus quiche. Getting gluten-free pastry right is no easy feat but this one had a good crumb and thankfully, no soggy bottom. A good bit of salt and pepper wouldn't have gone amiss in the topping though. This place only opened about four weeks ago and there are a few teething problems: the pay point is beyond the food display creating a bottle neck with customers trying to get to the seating beyond, and although the service was definitely friendly, it was a bit scattered. To be fair, this was probably because they were busy but they better get used to it until more gluten-free places open.

Thursday, January 22, 2015
Choice Eats: March 13
Business/Location: Village Voice's Choice Eats
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code:
Website: choiceeats.villagevoice.com/

Posted by:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Laura June Kirsch
   Village Voice's Choice Eats
Each year we mark the seasons in New York by distinct events like the tree going up at Rock Center (Christmas), the first show at Celebrate Brooklyn (summer), and watching the runners take over the city streets for the NYC Marathon (fall). So how do we proclaim the end of winter? With the Village Voice's annual noshing and drinking extravaganza Choice Eats, of course! This is a very different kind of marathon, but a marathon just the same. Just when you think you can't take another day of cold weather, Choice Eats arrives in time to warm your soul, and more importantly, your belly. Featuring over 50 of the city's top restaurants dishing out unlimited tastes of their favorite dishes, you won't need to eat for a week after you're done. Plus, there's tons of booze to sip on when you need to take a break from the grub. This year the event takes at Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street. Even better, the event is scheduled on Friday evening, so you can feast all you want without having to drag yourself to work the next day. Brilliant. Get your tix right now, because they always sell out.

Monday, January 5, 2015
Little Brown Bear, I Love Thee
Business/Location: Brown Bear Coffee & Home
Address: 41 Cross St
City: London
State: England
Zip Code: N1 2BB
Phone: 020 7354 4006
Website: www.brownbearcoffee.com

Posted by:  Claire Storrow
Photo:  Claire Storrow
   Brown Bear Coffee & Home
Twas the Saturday before Christmas and Islington was aflurry with shoppers when all my friend and I wanted was a decent coffee. An amble down Cross Street delivered. Brown Bear Coffee and Home is slightly hidden being set back from the pavement but make your way in for Coleman coffee beans, smoothies, juices, and sandwiches. We sat at the bar in the shop window people-watching as a wedding party sallied on by but there's a cosy basement lounge too. My buddy had a deliciously flaky almond croissant and Americano while I opted for the Flat White. The Brown Bear of the name is in fact a wee dog called Charlie who co-owns the café with Daniel Pearson, and the bowl of water and paper bag of doggie treats at the door was a sign of this canine's touch. But here's the thing--as much as I adored the place for its quietness, this place needs more customers. I'm really hoping it's busy during the week with commuters, mums, and freelancers but I've yet to check it out. Because unpretentious, warm cafes like this are hard to find. My wish for 2015? More support for local businesses. And keep it coming!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Holiday Train Show At NYBG
Business/Location: New York Botanical Garden
Address: 200th St & Kazimiroff Blvd
City: Bronx
Zip Code: 10458
Phone: 718-817-8700
Website: www.nybg.org

Posted by:  Scott Sendrow
Photo:  Scott Sendrow
   New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show is one of the highlights of Christmas in New York. I mean, yes, there is that gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center and, sure, the Christmas windows all around Midtown are a sight to behold, but there's nothing like taking in the collection of 150 New York City landmarks entirely constructed from plant material (!) in the Haupt Conservatory. And then there are the model trains. It would be demeaning to call this special tradition "outsider art," but the near-obsessive attention to detail evokes that spirit. When Christmas is almost entirely commercialized in a city where commercialism reigns supreme, NYBG's heartfelt and homespun Train Show is a welcome change of pace. The show's 23rd annual installment features an artists' studio that unveils the magic behind the process in which leaves, twigs, bark, berries, seeds, pine cones, nuts and even pistachio shells are transformed into the Rockefellers' Kykuit estate. The Train Show opened November 15 and runs through January 19, 2015. "Bar Car Nights" -- select Friday and Saturday evenings in December and January where adults enjoy a complimentary cocktail while perusing the exhibition -- would make a great date activity before an Arthur Avenue dinner (just a 15-minute walk from NYBG).

Monday, December 8, 2014
Free Air
Business/Location: Echelon Cycles
Address: 51 Eighth Avenue
City: New York
State: NY
Zip Code: 10014
Phone: 212-206-7656

Posted by:  Krikor Daglian
Photo:  Krikor Daglian
   Echelon Cycles
In a city where you're constantly being accosted by ways to spend money, it's the little courtesies that make a big difference in keeping your sanity: water bowls outside restaurants for people's pets; buy-backs in a bar; and when you find the tire on your bike getting a little flat, the compressed air hose protruding from many a bike shop front ready to fill your tires back up and get you on your way. It may be hard for anyone who doesn't live here to understand, but in NY, getting air for free means a lot.