Locanda Verde, New York, NY

It’s taken a while to do this particular review. The problem is that when I started this blog with Nate, I planned to NOT review things I didn’t care for. That is, no negative reviews. Having worked in the service industry for many years I know everyone has a rough night here and there and, at any rate, people like different things. However, I’m laying this down as a marker just so that I (and my friends) don’t fall for the hype again.

Upon returning from a truly decadent trip to Spain over my birthday, we wanted to have a fancy dinner out to celebrate the aging that happened while I was gone. After a bit of research, I settled on Locanda. We had a 9pm reservation on a Saturday night in July – obviously the place would be busy. However, I was not prepared for how jarringly loud and mall-esque the place was. Look up the antonym for “intimate” in the thesaurus and there should be a picture of this place. I almost ran back out the door, if not for the exciting things I’d read about the food, I would have.

It was hard to eat anything between screaming across the table at one another over the din of the people seated six inches to each side of us. Of course, the eating came to a halt when I pulled a huge long blonde hair out of my lamb – actually, out of my mouth. I’m not blonde and my date has black curly hair. This came from the kitchen. It was foul. The server seemed to need a lengthy explanation of the situation. I attempted to oblige him as discreetly as possible as I saw no reason for all the other folks sitting on top of us to be grossed out as well. In the end, the only thing comped from my check was the chocolate sundae thing that they give free to anyone who claims birthday. It took forever to get the check, pay and get the heck out of that place and I will certainly never go back and cannot recommend a visit. What a bummer.

Address: Locanda Verde, 377 Greenwich St., New York, NY

Advertisements

Bowery Meat Company, New York, NY

I had read about this place in Bloomberg and checked out their website. We stopped off here at 9pm on a Saturday night. It was no shock that waiting for a table for two would take an hour. We were able to snag two seats at the small bar, which are full menu service, first come, first served.

The bartenders, Steve and Brendan, were great: excellent service, well-made Manhattans (I’m a bit particular about those), sincere menu suggestions, and just plain good fun. Brendan kept us primed with amuse-bouches: house cured salami with a bacon-infused crostini and great little arancini. After a short deliberation (and another cocktail) my buddy and I split the 20 oz. chateaubriand, medium rare.

When the food came, we felt brilliant! The steak had the perfect crisp saltiness, almost crust-like, on the outside and gorgeous red in the center, laid out in six perfect slices with white baby potatoes and brussel sprouts and a side of a magical, piping hot mushroom sauce. The potatoes in particular were a hit for me, with a lite “whang” (as my dear old Papaw would say) of garlic on the outside, rich and buttery inside. The steak itself was just perfect: a great piece of meat, rich, delicious umami flavors, succulent and easy to cut and chew. We almost fought over the last piece. It was that good. They could have charged me double and I would not have complained (at $125, maybe just a little).

From start to finish – the greet stand, the barkeeps, the décor (including the huge canoe hanging over our heads), the cocktails, and most especially the food – it was a fantastic experience and I will go back soon. If you have the time (because it’s worth making an experience of it) and appetite, I strongly suggest you stop in.

Address: Bowery Meat Company, 9 East 1st Str., New York, NY

One Block 2014 Muscat Sec – Cotes Catalanes, France

“Muscat, you say?” (Eyebrow cocked in a full-blown look of suspicion.) “A Brit making wine in the South of France, with a Kiwi no less?”

I’ll fully admit to being suspicious of this one. But it’s an excellent wine. Nathan agreed to the point that we actually saved some for his wife to try later – perhaps that should be its own category: So Good We Restrained Ourselves (SGWRO). I stumbled upon this one at a wine festival in Catalonia in May of 2015. Jonathan (a Brit) and his Kiwi wife Rachel form a stellar partnership at their winery near Perpignan, France. Technically part of Catalonia (the border-spanning cultural region, not the autonomous political region in Spain), Trouillas is in the undervalued (according to Jonathan and Rachel) Roussillon region of France and all the grapes used in Treloar wines are estate-grown.

There’s an interesting back-story to the winery. The couple met while working in finance on Wall Street. After losing some friends in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the couple saved up some cash and said to hell with it. John took a degree in winemaking from Lincoln University in New Zealand, then finished brief residencies at a couple of Kiwi wineries before heading to their own plot in the South of France.

The back-story should give a few hints as to the fruit notes you can expect in their dry Muscat. It’s definitely a summery drinking wine that I would happily substitute any time the occasion called for a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, Rueda-Verdejo, Albariño, or just plain excellent crisp, dry white. I can’t wait for their wines to be available in the US and am truly lamenting the bottle I left behind in Barcelona.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name:  One Block 2014 Muscat Sec 
  • Winery: Domaine Treloar
  • Region: Cotes Catalanes
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: 100% Muscat Petits Grains
  • Price: N/A
  • Where to Buy: N/A

Nirá Nero D’Avola 2012 – Sicily, Italy

img_3401Big vanilla chocolate raspberry cinnamon punch in the mouth. Sound jammy? Nope. Got the tannins to collect it all up nicely at the end of the palate. The mouth punch gives way later to familiar dark tarry notes of rubber, blackberry jam, and slate that Nero is known for. A nice, stubborn wine that gets a foothold on the palate. Believe I picked this one up at Schneider’s on the Hill for around $25.

 

 

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Nirá 2012
  • Winery: Terrelíade
  • Region: Sicily 
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Nero D’Avola
  • Price: $25
  • Where to Buy: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, 300 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

Hafner 2005 Chardonnay – Alexander Valley, California

img_3402I received this estate-bottled wine as a gift. The vineyard is in the family of a work colleague. I’m not a big chardonnay fan, but have to admit this was a nice, balanced wine. The nose has interesting notes of pineapple and vanilla with a faint slate mineral note. A straw color typical of the varietal, the wine was quite balanced in spite of that initial pineapple cake advertisement. I’m not sure how much this goes for by the bottle or where to find it, but I’d say a chardonnay lover should be willing to spring for it at $45 and below.

 

  • Rating: Everyday Whites
  • Name: 2005 Chardonnay
  • Winery: Hafner
  • Region: Alexander Valley, California
  • Country: USA
  • Varietals: Chardonnay
  • Price: N/A
  • Where to Buy: N/A