Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

SouthWest NY

SouthWest NY Restaurant Racks Up 70 Health Code Violation Points

SouthWest NY
SouthWest NY received the most violations in Battery Park City (Photo:

SouthWest NY, a “contemporary southwestern” restaurant which opened in the World Financial Center in 1999 and enjoys a crowd of power lunchers and happy hour patrons, was slapped with a whopping 70 violation points from Health Department inspectors. The eatery is infested with rodents, roaches and other undesirable critters.

DNA Info reports that SouthWest NY racked up more violation points than any other food establishment in Battery Park City. The restaurant was also cited for its employees slovenly procedures, such as touching food with their bare hands and contaminating raw and prepared food.

Overall, the city is cracking down on restaurants, attempting to grade them on an A through C scale. Any establishment with 28 or more violation points is “awarded” a “C” rating and is subject to monthly follow up inspections until improvement is shown. The restaurants will be forced to shut down if they don’t fix the problems. SouthWest NY obviously ranks in the “C” category but has a chance to appeal once it receives a final rating.

Would you eat at SouthWest NY even if they improved their rating and got rid of their roaches and rodents or has your faith in this foodery eroded?

Lower Manhattan's Best Coffee Shops

National Coffee Day: Battery Park City’s Best Cups of Joe

Lower Manhattan's Best Coffee Shops
Battery Park City's Best Coffee Spots

Did you know today was National Coffee Day? Which is mind boggling to me because I quite frankly can’t live without the stuff, so everyday is national coffee day in my house.

Whether it comes from your house, from a cart or on the go, we’ve got a million different places in Lower Manhattan to enjoy a freshly brewed cup, but we’ve rounded up some of our favorites.

Several places around the city are giving away cups of Joe in celebration, including our neighborhood. Manon’s Cafe is holding special coffee events for the rest of the week at all three of their locations. To find our more, check out the event page.

Although it has long since shuttered,  an honorable mention to Oren’s Daily Roast which used to grace us in the North Cove area. Here are some other fantastic places to celebrate National Coffee Day.

La Colombe @ 319 Church Street (212) 343-1515
This Philadelphia based company set up shop in NYC and has quickly risen to be one of the top coffee shops in the city. If you like to grab and go, this place might not be for you as the art of the cup is in how you make it.

Bean and Bean @ 71 Broadway, New York (212) 422-8083
One of the great advantages of being a coffee lover in NYC is access to Porto Rico beans. However, if you can’t make it to any of the Porto Rico locations, you can quickly grab a cup from Bean and Bean on Broadway. The coffee shop serves Porto Rico beans as well as offering freshly roasted beans for anyone who wants to brew a cup from the comforts of their own coffee machine.

Kaffe 1668 @ 275 Greenwich St (212) 693-3750
A purveyor of some of the best beans available in the country, Kaffe is a great place to sit, chat and meet new friends. If you’re also interested, you can buy a wooden sheep. (Has anyone reading this actually purchased one of those?)

Dean and Deluca @ 100 Broadway (212) 577-2153
If drinking coffee is only as good as the donut it’s sitting next to, then Dean and Deluca is your place. Before you start clamoring, “But … what about Dunking Donuts?!” I’ll quickly explain. Dean and Deluca offers freshly made and seasonal Doughnut Plant donuts. Never had one? It’s worth the trip to Borders to check it out. They sell out everyday so your best bet is to grab the joe and the dough in the morning.

Financier @ Several Downtown Manhattan Locations
They used to brew Illy beans, but have since started serving up their special house blends. Honestly, they taste just like their former Illy brews, but we will trust they are special. Every cup comes accompanied by a bite sized morsel of their signature financier, a madeline type cake.

Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Starbucks, (Yada yada!)
You know where they are, and I know you know where they are — but the coffee is worth mentioning. 🙂

Hooray coffee! 🙂 If we’ve left out any of your favorite spots, let us know in the comments!

Pita Grill's Battery Park City Taco

Get This Deal: Battery Park City Tacos!

Pita Grill's Battery Park City Taco
Pita Grill's Battery Park City Taco

PIta Grill Restaurant in the Financial District is offering some great lunchtime deals for the community.

Starting this week, they are offering a new student lunch menu where tons of items will be offered for $5 and under.

Battery Park City residents can also ask for a “Battery Park City Taco.”

You heard that correct, our neighborhood is now commemorated in taco deliciousness. There are two versions of the Battery Park City taco, including Chicken ($2) and Steak ($2.25).

Plus, all readers who mention this post or any first time orders at Pita Grill will be offered 10% off their entire meal.

Not too shabby for some affordable eats in the neighborhood.

Check out the menu here.

Best Battery Park City Burgers

Race to My Place: Burger Battle 2010

Best Battery Park City Burgers
Best Battery Park City Burgers

We’ve been holding these food races for a few months now, selecting two unsuspecting restaurants and pitting their chefs and delivery boys against each other, completely at the whim of my stomach.  Slowly but surely, we’ve waded our way through the surprising variety of cuisines offered in what is generally considered a culinary wasteland.

Today, my stomach decided it was ready for something EPIC.  We at were going to take on Lower Manhattan’s burgers, and we weren’t going to take this task lightly.  Instead of the usual two contestant race, we were going to order not three, not four, but five different burgers.

Three of the restaurants we chose are burger joints: PJ Clarke’s, Zaitzeff, and Burger Burger.  We added one of Merchant’s restaurants, Pound and Pence, to see how their burgers stacked up, and threw Kitchenette, a chic diner in Tribeca that has burgers on their menu, into the mix as well.

We tried to make this race as even as possible; we tried to order all our burgers with the same toppings:  Lettuce, Tomato, and American Cheese, but Zaitzeff only has white cheddar, and Pound and Pence had plain cheddar instead of American, so we had to take these small advantages into consideration.  Some restaurants included french fries with their burgers, so we ordered fries from all five restaurants to compare value and taste.  Also, knowing that Kitchenette had a much longer distance to deliver their food, we ordered from them first, and gave them some leniency in delivery time.

Delivery Speed

– At 21 minutes, Pound and Pence was our fastest contender, beating

PJ Clarke’s‘ 22 minutes, even though PJ Clarke’s is literally right around the corner.

Zaitzeff placed third with an honorable 27 minutes.

Kitchenette surprised us all by not coming in last with a 49 minute delivery time, only beating

Burger Burger, at 50 minutes, by a mere minute!

Packaging & Presentation

Burger Burger had the messiest container- we literally had to extract our burger from the mountain of fries and reassemble it- although Kitchenette and Pound & Pence also used a single container for both their burger and fries.  PJ Clarke’s and Zaitzeff, our fancier burger joints, packaged their burgers separately from their fries.  PJ Clarke’s placed their burgers in small cardboard containers (like the ones you use at the Whole Foods salad bar), and delivered their french fries in a separate paper bag.  Although Zaitzeff also used the paper bag approach for their fries, their burgers were wrapped in insulated paper instead of the cute cardboard box.

Although I thought PJ Clarke’s burger box was cute, I also thought that the fries that were haphazardly thrown into a box were actually crispier than the bagged fries.  When I’m eating a soft juicy burger, I like the crunch of a well-fried fry to balance out the textures in my mouth, but maybe I’m just weird like that!

For presentation, I’d have to give the prize to PJ Clarke’s.  For practical packaging, however, Pound & Pence came in first place with a tall plastic container that provided a little heat insulation as well as enough air circulation to prevent the burger and fries from becoming soggy.

Quality & Taste

For this category, some of the qualities I was looking for in the burgers was whether or not the burger came cooked Medium as we ordered, whether the patty was juicy or dry, the quality of the bread and whether or not it complimented the burger patty, and the overall flavor of the burger, bread, and the toppings combined.

Pound & Pence was the only burger that didn’t arrive a nice pink Medium color, but somehow, the overcooked patty was still incredibly juicy, soft, and the most flavorful out of the five.  Lizbeth detected some marinade on the meat, and this definitely hoisted this overcooked burger from last to first place.

Burger Burger‘s burger (how weird does that sound?) was liked all around, and designated “the perfect backyard BBQ burger” by one of our taste testers.  The burger was cooked Medium as asked, and was the only burger that had any char flavor!

Zaitzeff won juiciest burger by a mile, and the soft, squisy, sweet Portuguese bun it was served on complimented the meat and the toppings perfectly.  Although Zaitzeff’s patty wasn’t the most flavorful, their fancy white cheddar & grilled onion toppings definitely made up for it.

Surprisingly enough, next to all these other great burgers, PJ Clarke’s only made honorable mention.  I’ve always really enjoyed PJ Clarke’s, and before this race, may have even dared to call it one of my top 3 burgers in NYC.  It’s still a great burger, and we couldn’t find anything wrong with it, but in a direct comparison it just wasn’t as juicy or as flavorful as the other three burgers.

Finally, we have Kitchenette‘s burger.  What can we say?  When we added this to our list of five, we certainly weren’t expecting this restaurant to come out on top.  Kitchenette was our underdog, and unfortunately, this was not a Cinderella story.  The burger was cooked as we asked, but somehow, even though the patty was nice and pink, the texture of the meat was hard and dry.  The bread was also really dry and altogether it was like biting into a cork covered in Styrofoam.  The taste was also really off-putting, and I couldn’t decide if it was the stale bread, the vegetables, or the meat that tasted funny.  I literally took one bite of this, made a funny face, and didn’t touch it again for the rest of the night.


The cheapest and simplest order by far was Burger Burger.  $9.45 flat for a cheeseburger with fries.

Pound & Pence was next in both value and simplicity- their $10.75 burger comes with fries, and adding cheese to the order only costs you another 99 cents.

The next cheapest order was Kitchenette, which came to a total of $13.  However, if you order just a bare-bones burger sans cheese or fries, Kitchenette actually serves the most expensive burger of the bunch, at a ridiculous $11.

With a grand total of $14.8, PJ Clarke’s seems very comfortable at 4th place.   I’m equally surprised about this ranking as its quality and taste ranking.  I very much expected PJ Clarke’s to have the most expensive cheeseburger & fries, but today, that honor goes to…

Zaitzeff, where a sirloin burger with cheese and fries will set you back $16!

All things considered, this would be my final ranking for today’s burger battle:

Pound & Pence

Burger Burger

Tie between Zaitzeff and PJ Clarke’s


Surprised?  Where is your favorite burger in Lower Manhattan?

(Oh… and Check out images of our Burger Battle below!)

Se Jah Meh in the financial district has closed.

R.I.P: Se Ja Meh – A Korean Restaurant Bites the Dust

Se Jah Meh in the financial district has closed.
Se Jah Meh in the financial district has closed.

As exciting as our food news has been this summer, another local restaurant has quietly bit the proverbial dust.

Having endured not one but 3 location changes before and after 9/11, the Korean restaurant Se Ja Meh on Greenwich street has closed down for good.

It’s always sad to see restaurants close, but it’s even sadder to see restaurants with interesting ethnic cuisines close.

Another restaurant on the way towards closing is Pan Latin Cafe on Chambers Street according to several news outlets in our area.

We wish the owners of both establishments well!

Five Guys burger and fries

Five Guys On Fulton Street Open!

Five Guys burger and fries
A Five Guys burger is like artwork to me.

Ever since we first reported the construction of a Five Guys in FiDi, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for its opening. Since last week, the latest expansion of this Virginia-based chain is now open to the public at the corner of Fulton and Nassau. Burgers lovers: Rejoice.

Yes, there is stiff competition for burgers in the area (and soon Shake Shack), but here are Five Reasons to give Five Guys a try:

5. Free peanuts
You probably won’t have to wait long, but here’s something to pass the time with, regardless

4. Lots of free toppings
I normally choose mayo, grilled onions and jalapenos, but feel free to go with grilled mushrooms, relish, hot sauce, or one of many more options to choose from.

3. It’s fast-food, thus cheap
You might pay more than the average McDonald’s combo meal, but you’re still all-in for less than $10.

2. Delicious fries
Regular or cajun-spiced. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

1. Juicy, great tasting meat
I don’t know the secret, but I like it nonetheless. Any place that defaults to two patties is my kinda place.

So give Five Guys (112 Fulton Street) a try. They don’t deliver to our neighborhood, but do offer call-in/pickup service. Just go take the short walk over to Fulton Street… the extra calories you’ll burn by walking will be more than made up for by eating.

Check out some of the pictures of the new location!

Chicken Tikka Masala Baluchis

Race to My Place: Baluchi’s vs. Taj Tribeca/Indian Express

Chicken Tikka Masala Baluchis
Who's chicken tikka masala won the race?

For each installment of Race to My Place, we pit two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times, and prices against each other to see whose delivery reigns supreme! We will compare delivery speed, packaging and presentation when applicable, quality and taste, and value.  This week, our contestants are Baluchi’s and Taj Tribeca.

Indian food is one of the most flavorful cuisines in the world, and for most people, authentic Indian is just way too spicy.  Therefore, one of the most popular “Indian” dishes is Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish that actually may have originated in the UK.  The dish is made with chunks of chicken that have been marinated in yogurt and baked in a tandoor oven, and then paired with a creamy tomato sauce.

Both restaurants serve their Chicken Tikka Masala with rice, but I decided to order plain Naan on the side as well to dip into the left over sauce.

Delivery Speed:  Taj Tribeca
Both restaurants delivered their meals in under half an hour, but Taj Tribeca beat Baluchi’s by a little over five minutes.

Quality & Taste: Baluchi’s

Baluchi’s Chicken Tikka Masala was really creamy and buttery.  The chicken was soft and moist, but you could tell they actually roasted the chicken beforehand in a tandoori oven- the tandoori flavor was discernible through the sauce.  You could taste the tomato in the sauce as well, and the Naan was soft and pillowy, perfect for soaking up the sauce!

Taj Tribeca’s chicken on the other hand was really dry, but it still managed to be strangely soft and tender.  The sauce was nice and spicy, but it really didn’t taste like tikka masala- there wasn’t much of that buttery tomato flavor.  Instead, it tasted kind of sweet like a Malaysian curry.  The Naan was flat and dry, and wasn’t really the best for dipping into sauce.

Value: Tie
Both Taj Tribeca and Baluchi’s Chicken Tikka Masala cost $13.95.  Although Baluchi’s naan was 45 cents more expensive than Taj Tribeca’s, Baluchi’s  naan was definitely worth the extra price.

Although Taj Tribeca’s delivery speed and price were marginally better, Baluchi’s was definitely the clear winner.  What really gave Baluchi’s the upper hand was their use of a tandoor oven, or at least something similar to one.  The tandoori flavor really shone through in the chicken, and their Naan was puffy as it should be.  Taj Tribeca’s chicken wasn’t roasted or marinated in a tandoori style, and the naan was more like a pita.

blt bar and gril w hotel downtown

NOW OPEN: BLT Bar & Grill at W Hotel Downtown (PHOTOS)

blt bar and gril w hotel downtown
Food scene grows in Battery Park City with the opening of our own BLT

Are you looking for a great dinner option tonight, and have gotten tired of the restaurants around you?
You’re in luck because today marks the opening of the long awaited BLT Bar & Grill at the new W Hotel Downtown on Albany Street.

“We are pleased to partner with the W and become a presence in Lower Manhattan,” says Jimmy Haber, owner of the BLT Restaurant Group, “The BLT Bar & Grill concept was tailor-made for the neighborhood, offering a variety of dining options under one roof for friends, businesses and locals.”

The BLT enterprise has been testing our downtown palates with their GO Burger trucks at the South Street Seaport for a while, you can consider that they’ve done their homework on our neighborhood. With the rumored openings of Shake Shack and Blue Smoke in our neighborhood, Battery Park City is set to be a veritable foodie fiefdom.

According to the press release the restaurant bills itselve as “a modern tavern — offering modern American bar food with a wide selection of cocktails, beer and wine” with Executive Chefs Christophe Bellanca and David Craine at the helm of the cuiisine. The restaurant seats 23 at the bar, and has two levels of seating, including a private dining room and an outside patio area.

As BLT is billing itself as “affordable fare for everyday dining, ” that may be considered fighting words for our beloved Gatehouse, which has been the only other restaurant offering everyday pub-ish fare on Albany Street for years.

In terms of the menu, include the following selections:

Brioche French Toast with cinnamon-caramelized apples
“Downtown” Burrito, cheddar scrambled eggs, peppers and onion tomato salsa.

Eggplant & Taleggio Panini with caper aioli
Cuban Sandwich pressed with pork belly and speck.

Spiced Rotisserie Chicken with cabernet honey and chicken jus
Fish & Chips with zesty tartar sauce
Filet Mignon, Bone-In Ribeye and NY Strip steaks.

There are daily specials being offered and to find out more check out their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bar menus here.

The restaurant is open daily serving breakfast from 6:30AM -10:30AM, lunch from 11:30AM – 2:30PM and dinner from 5:30PM – 10PM. The bar is open from 11AM-1AM, which includes its own special bar menu.  Lucky condominium residents and guests of the W Hotel can count on BLT to provide them sustenance at their beck and call for “in residence dining”, including offering food options at Living Room Bar and Terrace location within the hotel.

Petite Abeille West Broadway

Petite Abeille on West Broadway

Petite Abeille West Broadway
Mussels on the menu at Petite Abeille West Broadway

Petite Abeille is a quaint Belgian restaurant most known for its Mussels and Belgian Waffles.  With four Manhattan locations, no one can deny that this restaurant has outlived New York’s Belgian food buzz, and their Tribeca location certainly does them justice.

If you choose to dine here, do yourself a favor and try a new beer- your waiter will definitely be able to find something you’ll enjoy out of their 50 different Belgian beers.  All four of the beers our waiter recommended- from the strong and heavy Scaldis ($8.50) to the sweet and fruity Lindemans Framboise ($9.50)- were delightful and a great way to start the meal.  They also had the added benefit of enhancing our appetite which we were extremely grateful for later on in the evening!

The appetizer portion of the Moules Marinieres ($9.50) were more than enough for two people to share.  I could definitely see why their Wednesday night all you can eat specials are so popular; the mussels were fresh and not the least bit grainy, and the white wine broth was divine.  Petite Abeille also provides diners with deliciously crusty, chewy, and sour bread that’s perfect for dipping into the broth.

Belgian Waffles from Petite Abeille
Belgian Waffles from Petite Abeille

For my main course, I got the Vol Au Vent, Frites ($18.50), which was basically a deconstructed pot pie with pommes frites on the side, definitely not a meal for the calorie cautious!  The pommes frites were kind of overkill, especially since they were soggy and undercooked.  The chicken, on the other hand, was slightly dry and overcooked, but the sinfully creamy gravy provided a great textural balance.  The deconstructed nature of the Vol Au Vent insured that the puff pastry stay puffy, and the bacon and mushrooms were a perfect addition to this indulgent meal.  If the chicken weren’t so dry, this would definitely rank in my top 5 chicken pot pies.

Vol Au Vent from Petite Abeille
Vol Au Vent from Petite Abeille

After that heavy dish, I definitely felt the need to unbutton my pants and call it a night, but I couldn’t leave without trying the Belgian Waffles.  This was an instance in which the masses were correct: The Gaufre Chantilly ($7.00), or the waffle with whipped cream and strawberry sauce, was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t even like waffles!  Actually, I don’t particularly like waffles, whipped cream, or strawberry sauce, but together these three elements create perfection!

Even if you’re not into mussels, please, take my advice and drop in for dessert, or try one of their tamer options like a burger or steak frites.  You won’t be disappointed!

Race to my Place: Fish N' Chips

Race to My Place: Lilly O’Brien’s vs. Biddy Early’s Fish and Chips

Race to my Place: Fish N' Chips
Lilly O'Briens vs. Biddy Early's: Who was faster?

For each installment of the Race to My Place, we will be pitting two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times, and prices against each other and see whose delivery reigns supreme!  We will compare delivery speed, packaging & presentation, quality & taste, and value.  For this Irish pub race, our contestants were Lilly O’Brien’s and Biddy Early’s.

One thing we are lucky to have in downtown Manhattan is a decent amount of Irish pubs.  You probably frequent these places for the Irish charm, a mug of Guinness, but today, we are sampling some pub grub: Fish and Chips!  And because the fish and chips alone wasn’t enough to satisfy the delivery minimum, we also ordered some bread and butter pudding, a quintessential Irish/UK dessert.

Delivery Speed: Biddy Early’s
Biddy Early’s only took 27 minutes to deliver, while Lilly O’Brien’s took 40 minutes.  The two restaurants are basically right next to each other, so that shouldn’t make a difference in delivery time.  Biddy Early’s won this category fair and square.

Packaging & Presentation: Tie
Both restaurants served their food in the same plastic bags and tin containers with cardboard tops.  They both included tartar sauce and lemon wedges.  Biddy Early’s Fish and Chips was presented better, but Lilly O’Brien’s bread pudding looked more legit, so this category is a tie!

Quality & Taste: Biddy Early’s
I was surprised at the outcome of this comparison.  I’ve been to both pubs before, and compared to Lilly O’Brien’s, Biddy Early’s is a bit of a dive; I expected their food to pale in comparison.  When I opened the containers of food and saw their dinky bread & butter pudding, which didn’t look like any bread pudding I’d ever seen, I didn’t have very high expectations.  Their fish and chips, however, were expertly battered and fried and arrived still crispy!  The fish was soft and flaky, and didn’t taste fishy at all.  Their bread & butter pudding tasted a lot better than it looked, although it tasted more like really awesome french toast than bread pudding.

Lilly O’Brien’s offers a malt whiskey bread & butter pudding, which is much denser and bread pudding-like than Biddy Early’s.  You can definitely detect the malt whiskey, although the flavor isn’t over powering.  Unfortunately, their fish and chips did not live up to my expectations.  The batter came out oddly flat and was extremely greasy and soggy.  The fish was just as fresh and flaky as Biddy Early’s but the bad batter completely ruined the experience for me.

Value: Biddy Early’s
Here’s the price breakdown:

Biddy Early’s
Dublin Style Fish & Chips:  $9.95
Bread & Butter Pudding: $3.25

Lilly O’Brien’s
Beer Battered Fish & Chips: $10.95
Malt Whiskey Bread & Butter Pudding: $6.95

Both restaurants gave the same amount of fish & chips, and Lilly O’Brien’s was not worth an extra dollar.  Although Lilly O’Brien’s did give a substantially larger serving of bread pudding, I’m not sure it was double the amount of Biddy Early’s.

Winner: Biddy Early’s

Overall, Lilly O’Brien’s cost $4.7 more than Biddy Early’s, and that’s before tax and tip.  I understand why you would pay that extra price if you were eating on the premises, because Lilly O’Brien’s is a classier establishment.  However, if you’re just ordering in, the faster delivery, better tasting food, and better value make Biddy Early’s the clear winner!