Cocktail Hour: The Ravens Club Old Fashioned

21 Apr

The Ravens Club has one of the most extensive whiskey selections in Michigan. It also makes its own bitters, which add a personal touch to the time-honored, like the Old Fashioned. This “Original Hand Pulled” version is our Cocktail Hour’s featured drink.

Eagle Rare 10-year bourbon is mixed with house-made bitters and Demerara syrup, hand-drawn and served over a two-inch ice block. We noticed hints of orange, cherry, and spice, probably because the menu also listed each note. Regardless, this is refreshing and sturdy. A new take on an old classic.

Eagle Rare 10-year bourbon is mixed with house-made bitters and Demerara syrup, hand-drawn and served over a two-inch ice block. We noticed hints of orange, cherry, and spice, probably because the menu also listed each note. Regardless, this is refreshing and sturdy. A new take on an old classic.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan

21 Apr

President Obama recently enjoyed a reuben at this deli in Ann Arbor, so you know it is good. But good is an understatement. This joint is like Disney World for foodies. Really, the only thing that is difficult about being inside its hallowed walls is deciding what to order.

We weren't joking about the menu. It hardly fit in one photo. Take your time (you might have to anyway; the lines here are worse than any Meatpacking club we've been to, but well worth it).

We weren’t joking about the menu. It hardly fit in one photo. Take your time (you might have to anyway; the lines here are worse than any Meatpacking club we’ve been to, but well worth it).

Zingerman's offers over ten sandwiches under its "Beef" category, and this one is apparently "Dave's Favorite." The TNT Cowboy Reuben features hand-pulled BBQ brisket, coleslaw, and provolone cheese. Everything miraculously holds together because of the excellent grilled paesano (a gorgeous seeded hoagie) roll.

Zingerman’s offers over ten sandwiches under its “Beef” category, and this one is apparently “Dave’s Favorite.” The TNT Cowboy Reuben features hand-pulled BBQ brisket, coleslaw, and provolone cheese. Everything miraculously holds together because of the excellent grilled paesano (a gorgeous seeded hoagie) roll.

Syd's Design Studio (who comes up with these names??) is a classic choice for breakfast: sausage links, baked eggs, and Vermont cheddar cheese on the ubiquitous toasted sesame bagel.

Syd’s Design Studio (who comes up with these names??) is a classic choice for breakfast: sausage links, baked eggs, and Vermont cheddar cheese on the ubiquitous toasted sesame bagel.

Not feeling any of the extensive house-baked breads Zingerman's has to offer? Try this decadent macaroni and cheese.

Not feeling any of the extensive house-baked breads Zingerman’s has to offer? Try this decadent macaroni and cheese.

Rating: Outstanding. This is a place you fly to Detroit Metropolitan Airport for. Even the free pickle–your choice of garlic-cured or crunchy-cucumber–is a cut above. Perhaps more important, in today’s dark day of murky, misleading food and nutrition labeling, Zingerman’s proudly states the farms where all of its meat, cheese, and produce come from.

Dish Tips: It would be an impossible task to eat your way through the whole menu–which, when laid out on its website–is sixteen pages, but it’s a safe bet that you’ll like anything you order here. A friend of ours recommends the renowned beef, pastrami, and corned beef sandwiches in particular. Well, there are 23 to choose from, so perhaps start there. End with the fabulous house-made gelato (yes, Zingerman’s doubles as a creamery). We like ginger and maple pecan.

Good For: A food orgasm.

Angelo’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan

21 Apr

Angelo’s is more than just an Ann Arbor staple–it’s a piece of history, too. Lines have been forming around Catherine Street since 1953, when Angelo Vangelatos and his wife, Patricia, opened the diner.

Inside, the decor is vintage 1950s diner, with chalkboard specials of the day and waiters who are even happier than you are to be here.

Inside, the decor is vintage 1950s diner, with chalkboard specials of the day and waiters who are even happier than you are to be here.

Angelo's bakes its bread in-house every morning, so a good bet is this delicious raisin french toast, which can be deep-fried and smothered with blueberries and strawberries upon request.

Angelo’s bakes its bread in-house every morning, so a good bet is this delicious raisin french toast, which can be deep-fried and smothered with blueberries and strawberries upon request.

Grade: Recommended. Sit in a booth and watch time stand still while you enjoy the surprisingly diverse menu offerings.

Dish Tips: Anything involving the house-baked bread, particularly the French Toast (we recommend the raisin variety), or the Special Breakfast, which also includes three eggs, bacon, sausage, and ham.

Good For: Breakfast!

Sidetrack in Ypsilanti, Michigan

21 Apr

Sidetrack’s burger has been rated among the “top 20 burgers” in the nation by GQ Magazine, but this old-school bar and grill is more than just a pair of nice-lookin’ buns. Take, for instance, the wonderful selection of beers on draft or by the bottle, or the dangerously addictive fried pickles, which are better than any we’ve had in New York City. If you are looking outside the menu, take one look at the view, which may include several oncoming trains which seem to nearly be coming your way during various points of the meal.

Sidetrack was built adjacent to the historic railroad tracks in Depot Town. Inside, it is energetic bar meets cozy ski lounge.

Sidetrack was built adjacent to the historic railroad tracks in Depot Town. Inside, it is energetic bar meets cozy ski lounge.

Can't decide which of the 24 beers on tap to order? Sample a flight of four, including these seasonal and small batch brews.

Can’t decide which of the 24 beers on tap to order? Sample a flight of four, including these seasonal and small batch brews.

This is the customer burger contest winner: "The Tom Halvorson BBQ Slaw Burger" on a slightly sweet and chewy pretzel bun. The medium-rare beef is topped with BBQ pork, two slices of cheddar, and fresh cole slaw. Unfortunately, the taste of the beef was lost amid all the toppings. The real star of the plate might be the garlicky sweet potato fries--and the accompanying house-made horseradish. Ask for extra.

This is the customer burger contest winner: “The Tom Halvorson BBQ Slaw Burger” on a slightly sweet and chewy pretzel bun. The medium-rare beef is topped with BBQ pork, two slices of cheddar, and fresh cole slaw. Unfortunately, the taste of the beef was lost amid all the toppings. The real star of the plate might be the garlicky sweet potato fries–and the accompanying house-made horseradish. Ask for extra.

Greasy and delicious, these beer-battered pickles are another house specialty. Perfect for sharing, and a nice pairing with the beer.

Greasy and delicious, these beer-battered pickles are another house specialty. Perfect for sharing, and a nice pairing with the beer.

Grade: Recommended. While the burger we sampled wasn’t among the handful of ones we’d need to eat before we died, it was solid and atypical, particularly with the requested pretzel bun. Even better, however, is the old-school, home-town ambiance and the fantastic beer list and drink specials.

Dish Tips: The original handcrafted cheeseburger, beer battered pickles, sweet potato fries (add the garlic and horseradish, and you’re in for a real treat).

Good For: Groups! A beer and a burger or simply a casual dinner. In warmer weather, diners can take in the unusual view on the patio.

Cocktail Hour: Pok Pok’s Hot Toddy

13 Apr

It’s finally spring, but that doesn’t mean you should forego Pok Pok’s Hot Toddy, which is smooth and comforting in any weather. Dangerously addictive, this medicinal libation can also be found at the Whiskey Soda Lounge next door.

Korean yuzu is the star here; you'll want to spoon the pieces out once the bourbon is all gone.

Korean yuzu is the star here; you’ll want to spoon the pieces out once the bourbon is all gone.

Pasta Night at Red Gravy

2 Apr

Every Monday and Tuesday, Red Gravy hosts Pasta Night, where those glorious hand-pulled noodles are $15 a pop and happy hour drink specials go on till the doors close. We couldn’t decide what to eat, so we ordered everything on the menu.

Orecchiette, laced with spicy lamb sausage and broccoli rabe, and garnished with a welcome heap of ricotta salata, is the one pasta on Red Gravy's menu that never goes out of season. And for good reason.

Orecchiette, laced with spicy lamb sausage and broccoli rabe, and garnished with a welcome heap of ricotta salata, is the one pasta on Red Gravy’s menu that never goes out of season. And for good reason.

Maccheroncini isn't just fun to say, it's also delicious to eat. Asparagus, leeks, and pecorino are balanced with house-cured pancetta and egg.

Maccheroncini isn’t just fun to say, it’s also delicious to eat. Asparagus, leeks, and pecorino are balanced with house-cured pancetta and egg.

The campanelle is by far the most surprising pasta on Red Gravy's current menu. Breadcrumbs and meyer lemon elevate the dish far beyond the conventional clam pasta.

The campanelle is by far the most surprising pasta on Red Gravy’s current menu. Breadcrumbs and meyer lemon elevate the dish far beyond the conventional clam pasta.

Taleggio ravioli is loaded with hearty pancetta and balanced with crushed walnuts and pear. Tip the bowl back and slurp; you'll be forgiven.

Taleggio ravioli is loaded with hearty pancetta and balanced with crushed walnuts and pear. Tip the bowl back and slurp; you’ll be forgiven.

Conchiglie is for green-lovers. And while verde is my favorite color, the charred broccoli pesto might be a bit too one-note for me. Still, the noodle--a cross between a chickpea and an olive--is a rarity.

Conchiglie is for green-lovers. And while verde is my favorite color, the charred broccoli pesto might be a bit too one-note for me. Still, the noodle–a cross between a chickpea and an olive–is a rarity.

Dish Tips: Pasta Night is every Monday and Tuesday, but Red Gravy changes their menu often. Head over before the campanelle and maccheroncini are out the door. The orecchiette, fortunately, is a mainstay at 151 Atlantic Avenue.

A Burger A Week: Anella’s Burger

29 Mar

There’s only one kind of burger at Greenpoint’s Anella, and it’s phenomenal. Spare to the point of elegance, this is all about the meat (a mix of short rib and brisket!). The only thing you need to add to this baby is the bacon jam (why wouldn’t you?), which might be the best two dollars you spend all day. Did we mention the patty is a mix of short rib and brisket?

As you can see, Anella is not shy with its cheddar. The house pickles and a few crisp leaves of verdant lettuce are welcome accompaniments for the fluffy, well-toasted brioche bun.

As you can see, Anella is not shy with its cheddar. The house pickles and a few crisp leaves of verdant lettuce are welcome accompaniments for the fluffy, well-toasted brioche bun.

Rating: 9.5. This burger gives fellow Brooklynite, Diner, some serious competition. The fries–the best we’ve had outside of Five Leaves–certainly don’t hurt. Neither does the aforementioned bacon jam, or the garlicky, whipped gribiche (if ketchup isn’t your thing) that arrives with them.

Cocktail Hour: Locanda Vini e Olii’s Sicilian Old Fashioned

29 Mar

Hidden inside “Lewis Drug Store” is a prescription for pure bliss: the Sicilian Old Fashioned from Locanda Vini e Olii.

Amaro Lucano elevates the typical Old Fashioned into something extraordinary. Old Overholt Rye, Muddled Orange, Peychaud's Bitters, and some brown sugar do the rest.

Amaro Lucano elevates the typical Old Fashioned into something extraordinary. Old Overholt Rye, Muddled Orange, Peychaud’s Bitters, and some brown sugar do the rest.

Brother’s Pizzeria in Elm Park, Staten Island

29 Mar

One of the perks of teaching in Staten Island is the pizza, and Brother’s Pizzeria on Port Richmond Avenue is our favorite parlor in town. One of the reasons why is its old-school charm. Another is the ability to get positively pie-happy by mixing and matching slices as diverse as a gooey, thick Sicilian with a thin and crispy Grandma. If that isn’t reason enough to eschew the no-slices offering at nearby Denino’s (a legend in its own right), there’s also the tattooed, back-slapping brothers behind the counter who might even tell you a joke while your pizza bakes in the oven.

Brother's is known for its pillowy Sicilian squares, and for good reason.

Brother’s is known for its pillowy Sicilian squares, and for good reason.

We suggest ordering spinach with your slice of white. Dollops of ricotta and a healthy sprinkling of garlic round out this excellent pizza.

We suggest ordering spinach with your slice of white. Dollops of ricotta and a healthy sprinkling of garlic round out this excellent pizza.

We've previously featured Brother's pink vodka slice on The Best Thing I Ate Last Week, but the glorious Grandma, pictured here, is no slouch: thin and crispy, with a smattering of fresh basil.

We’ve previously featured Brother’s pink vodka slice on The Best Thing I Ate Last Week, but the glorious Grandma, pictured here, is no slouch: thin and crispy, with a smattering of fresh basil.

If you're looking for cheese, look no further than the pan pie. This is the closest to deep-dish you can find without making the trip to Chicago.

If you’re looking for cheese, look no further than the pan pie. This is the closest to deep-dish you can find without making the trip to Chicago.

Thin but flexible enough to fold is the classic margherita, which is layered with fresh mozzarella and some more of that fresh basil.

Thin but flexible enough to fold is the classic margherita, which is layered with fresh mozzarella and some more of that fresh basil.

Brother's is old-school and so is its cheese pie. The sauce, which is slightly-sweet, is the real star here.

Brother’s is old-school and so is its cheese pie. The sauce, which is slightly-sweet, is the real star here.

Grade: Highly recommended, especially if you are with a group and want some variety. Nearby rival Denino’s only offers pizza by the pie.
Dish Tips: You can’t come here and not order a pink vodka slice, but stay for the others, particularly the Grandma and the Sicilian. If you’re hankering for the sandwich, the Chicken Parmigiana is out of this world.
Good For: A casual lunch or dinner. Brother’s is no-frills, but it is also cash-only. Bring those bills.

Cocktail Hour: Yerba Buena Perry’s Cholula

5 Feb

We’ve reviewed Yerba Buena Perry; we’ve also showcased its extraordinary dishes multiple times on our The Best Thing I Ate Last Week, but this West Village hangout has got some lethal cocktails, too. This week we feature the Cholula.

Mezcal is combined with combier, cucumber, agave, green pepper, and lime for a kick of smoky and sweet.

Mezcal is combined with combier, cucumber, agave, green pepper, and lime for a kick of smoky and sweet.

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