Quick Hits: Good Enough To Eat

Good Enough To Eat
520 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024
Hours: Mon-Thu 8:00 AM – 10:30 PM, Friday 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM, Sat 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM, Sun 9:00 AM – 10:30 PM

The name of the venue doesn’t really inspire confidence, but you know what?  It was damn good enough to eat.

Alright, I won’t go too overboard.  Good Enough To Eat is a perfectly decent place to get brunch if you’re in the Upper West Side. It’s a typical NYC eatery that tries its hardest to make it feel like a farmhouse-style diner that you can escape into from the busy streets.  The food hits that comfort food craving if you’re in the mood for that kind of hearty brunch fare.

Much to my delight, the omelette that I ordered had giant nuggets of bacon, not the usual broken up bits that you’ll often get elsewhere. And the waffle lived up to what my friend told me was their claim to fame–though in my opinion it’s really, really hard to eff up waffles. Though what really stood out to me was the strawberry butter that accompanied the homemade biscuits that came with the entrees.

The one flaw of this place was the service–it was slow as molasses. Sure, it could be that our waitress was having a bad day, but I can’t give Good Enough To Eat a top review because of her lethargy.

Quick Hits: Santa Fe, NM

I traveled to Taos, New Mexico way back in high school and I’ve always been looking for a reason to return. 18 years later, it still hasn’t happened. However, a good friend of mine did journey to New Mexico recently and shared some quick tidbits that he was willing to share for those of you headed to the “land of enchantment”.  He spent his weekend in Santa Fe (but I’m secretly hoping he was actually in Albuquerque chowing down on some Los Pollos Hermanos…).

breakingbad

Here’s a breakdown of his Santa Fe suggestions.

What to do

  • Puye Cliff Dwellings
    • So the best thing I did was go tour the Puye Cliff Dwellings.  It’s 30-40 minutes from Santa Fe and is just awesome. The Mesa Top tour ($20/person) offers a super knowledgeable guide, really cool history, and amazing panoramic views of the area. Be warned, if the guide asks you to hike back down the side with him, it’s more of a climb than a hike. Worth doing though.
image
Puye Cliff Dwellings
  • The Georgia O’Keefe Museum
    • Located downtown, this little is also worth a visit in my opinion. Not a ton of her most famous paintings are there, but there’s some great stuff including some neat photography of her time in the area.
  • Obviously all the art galleries and shops off the main plaza are a must-do. There’s also a good indie bookstore called Collected Works that’s worth checking out.
  • Loretto Chapel
    • A must-see is the Miraculous Staircase at the Loretto Chapel.  Apparently they made it into a movie starring the guy from CSI!  (Editors note: He’s referring to the 1998 TV film “The Staircase” starring Barbara Hershey and William Petersen)
The Miraculous Staircase at Loretto Chapel
The Miraculous Staircase at Loretto Chapel
  • Madrid
    • If you’re flying in and out of ABQ, I suggest driving up or back one of the ways through the turquoise trail. There’s this little town called Madrid that is a reclaimed ghost town that has become a cool art enclave. Almost had a guy there talk me into buying meteorite fragments.

Where to eat

  • For Belgian style beer drinkers, I would recommend Duel Brewing.
Belgian beers at Duel
Belgian beers at Duel
  • Cowgirl Grill
    • Really friendly clientele; some nice strangers bought me beers.  Get the green chili cheeseburger.
  • The Pantry
    • A nice, greasy spoon type place to get a solid breakfast.

Thanks very much Dwain Smith!  More info about Dwain can be found here.

Quick Hits: Omar’s Mediterranean Cuisine

Omar’s Mediterranean Cuisine
154 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30 AM–8 PM, Closed Sunday

New York City has thousands upon thousands of places to eat, so this spot is probably one of a hundred great Mediterranean choices.  That being said, Omar’s is awesome.  Recommended by a local friend of Lebanese descent (he knows good hummus when he eats it), this unassuming little restaurant has amazing Chicken Shawarma, delicious hummus, and a very tasty complimentary piece of baklava for desert (only if you dine in). Be sure to try whatever the white and red sauces are that are on the table (I should have asked…my Lebanese buddy called them “the usual white sauce” and “the spicy sauce”…).  And for the amount of food you get, the price of $11 is actually quite good for New York City.

I’ve also been told that at lunch time, the line can go out the door and that the wait (at worst) is 20 minutes. Probably not worth it if you’re in a hurry, but if you’re not, I’d take the time. So, if you’re around Midtown East or checking out Rockefeller Plaza or Times Square and you’re in the mood for a little Mediterranean fare, take a walk to Omar’s.

Quick Hits: Do NOT take Air China

My love of travel didn’t come out of no where.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have parents who have taken me around the world and see the benefit of exposing their children to the vast diversity of cultures on our planet.  So with that, our guest post today comes from none other than Mom!  It’s a little lengthy, she’s big on narrative, but worth a read to avoid having to go through the horrible experience she just went through.  Here she is:

“I have always enjoyed travel.  The last few decades had seen me in many countries around the world and since my retirement, the frequency of my travel has increased.  I just recently returned from a trip to Bangkok, flying from JFK, with a lengthy layover in Beijing on Air China.  The flights to and from Thailand were so terrible that I need to share the experience with you.”

“As any seasoned traveler would know, one usually chooses an airline based on price and service.  The Thailand trip was actually a vacation package deal including all airfares, international as well as domestic.  The price was very reasonable because they booked us on Air China, which offered the lowest airfares.”  

“Both the outbound trip and return trip each took approximately 15 hours in the air.  Two meals were served between JFK and Beijing.  The flight attendants could not speak English well (I think they probably understood English much better than they spoke it) so with the first meal served, I could only grasp the concept of either duck or beef for choice of entrée–I chose duck.  The duck tasted like the back end of the fowl; it was absolutely offensive.  The accompanying rice was cold and dry.  I ended up eating just a dinner roll with a pad of butter.  The second meal came maybe 8 hours later.  Again, I could barely understand the choice of beef or chicken.  Still reeling by the duck experience, I chose the beef and onion stir-fry.  I had one bite and stopped.  The beef and onion had a slimy texture, the type of slimy food would get just before turning rancid, usually after a day or so without refrigeration.  I was nauseous for the rest of the flight.”

surely 

“Also, for the entire 15-hour flight, beverages were served only twice when the two meals were served.  There were no beverage carts going up and down the aisles for the passengers at any other times during the other 14 hours.  Fortunately, I had an aisle seat, so I was able to make frequent trips to the galley to beg for water.  And when I did ask, the cabin crew had the audacity to give me attitude for asking!  For water!  Food and service on the return flight was no better; I chose not to eat and I was so hungry and dehydrated when I got off the plane.”

“Now, let’s get to the bathrooms on the plane.  With over 200 passengers sharing 6 bathrooms in the economy section for 15 hours, it goes without saying that maintenance of these bathrooms is pretty critical.  I’m not sure of the airline’s policy, but I was not impressed by the condition of the bathrooms on either flight.  There was a clogged toilet in one bathroom and I stepped into a giant puddle of some liquid which I’m assuming was urine in another.  Needless to say those shoes didn’t come home with me.” 

“And that’s not all.  At the Beijing Airport, I chatted with a family waiting for the same flight back to JFK (Two parents, an elderly grandmother, and a 10-year old son). Air China had scattered them all over the plane, not keeping this party of four together.  The father asked the ticket agent at counter for, perhaps, just two seats together so that one parent could be with the young son.  The counter agent couldn’t accommodate such a humble request of finding any two seats together on a Boeing 777.  She told them to ask the agent at the gate for the seat changes.  When they spoke to the agent at the gate, they were told that they should have had the counter agent to change seats, not at the gate. Ultimately, the family was able to switch seats with other passengers so that the child would not have to travel alone without parental supervision.  It was the passengers who resolved the problem.  The airline was no help at all.”

smh

“This brings up the most important issue to anyone traveling and my final note–the airline’s willingness and ability to help during an emergency situation.  Air China could not deal with a simple problem like seat changes for a family booked as one party.  I doubt the company will assume responsibility for major issues like damaged luggage, lost children, or injury.  On an international flight between Beijing and New York with passengers from different countries, the inability to speak fluent English by the flight attendants worries me greatly.  If an emergency arises at 35,000 feet, I doubt the ability of the Air China crew to help me.  I would not be able to understand their emergency instructions.  Knowing the words duck or beef will not help at all.  Personally, I will avoid flying Air China in the future.”

cabin

Quick Hits: The best Caesar salad is in London

London.  It’s the city that boasts Big Ben, royalty, pubs galore…and evidently the best Caesar salad?  Returning from her honeymoon just a few days ago, I asked my friend the usual travel question, “What was your best meal?”  You don’t expect a lot of things from English food–maybe perhaps a great fish and chips, bangers and mash, or Indian food.  But I was quite shocked when she said an out of this world Caesar salad.  Here she is:

“Jet lag set in, which required a bit of a nap, and by the time we awoke most restaurants in the neighborhood had already closed, as it was a Sunday. We decided to pop down to the hotel restaurant for a bite to eat, and once settled in to the dimly lit, cozy lounge with its plush velvet chairs, serendipitously happened upon what was undoubtedly the world’s most exquisitely delicious Chicken Caesar Salad. Classic in its elements, though deconstructed enough to make it interesting at a glance, the salty, creamy, freshness of this salad made it one that I would plan another trip to London for. It was so mind melting, that my husband is planning on writing to Bon Appétit to beg that they publish the recipe so that we and the rest of its readership can feast privately on this edible masterpiece in the privacy of our own homes forevermore.”

So yeah…

whoa

Unfortunately, she was too busy eating her salad to take a picture, but I trust her culinary taste-buds like they were my own.  Where in London does one find such a delicious dish?

“We stayed at The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell which was amazing and the bar/restaurant is called Club Zetter Wine Room & Kitchen.   Right behind the hotel is The Zetter Townhouse, which is a much smaller sister hotel built into a Victorian townhouse, and hosts a super quirky cocktail bar, also pretty bomb. I had an absinthe cocktail there and sat in the chair with the yellow pillow :)”

The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge, Clerkenwell
The Zetter Townhouse Cocktail Lounge, Clerkenwell

Thanks Jenny Eggert Bourque for the Quick Hit!  And remember, if anyone has any quick recommendations or stay-away-froms, feel free to send them to Here and There Travel!

Quick Hits: Be wary of Get Your Guide; Use Reykjavik Excursions

Be wary of Get Your Guide if you’re planning to travel to Iceland.

When you travel, you always need to expect the unexpected.  Even if everything is planned perfectly, things can change on a dime.  Sometimes the changes are good, but sadly in this following example the changes are bad.

It’s a pretty simple thing–If a tour company confirms a booking for a tour, that means you have a spot reserved right?  Apparently not with Get Your Guide.  I’ll let my friend’s experience speak for itself:

“We had a tour booked to go to the Blue Lagoon, around a fishing village and some of the country well in advance of our trip.  And then, 5 days before our tour, they told us that time was booked and asked if we could go an hour earlier, and we said yes, not really a big deal.  Then they told us 2 days before we were supposed to go, that they didn’t have any slots.  WHY did we wait this whole time, if you never had any spots to open to begin with??  So then, by the time they told us all the slots had been taken, the individual Blue Lagoon tickets themselves were sold out.”

I always want to give people, and even companies sometimes, the benefit of a doubt.  But if I’m going to pay money to fly all the way to Iceland, booked one of the key sights well in advance, and then 2 days beforehand they cancel — that’s totally unacceptable.   You tell’em Joe.

malarky

To end on a happy note though, my friend ended up booking a different tour with Reykjavik Excursions that took them to another one of the less-touristy hot springs which they thoroughly enjoyed, despite not seeing the main attraction they wanted to see most, and said their guide was amazing.  Here she is again:

“We took a 9 hour tour around the Golden Circle, waterfalls, and geysers.  The small hot springs they took us to ended up being a really cool experience.  They actually cook their own bread under the sand along the beach, where one of the hot springs bakes it.  They bake it for 24 hours, and when we got there, they had finished a loaf, and so we got to try it!”

All’s well that ends well I guess! And a special thanks to Laura Remis for the heads up!

Quick Hits: Bad Saint

Bad Saint
3226 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
Hours: Sun, M, W, Th 5:30-10; F & Sat 5:30-11; Closed Tuesdays

I’m going to take a quick pause from Denver stuff to let you in on a well-known D.C. secret at this point.  Bad Saint is excellent.  I’ve passed by it numerous times on my way to soccer and have been meaning to try it out for a while.  Tonight, I finally made it.

They don’t take reservations and the restaurant seats only about 15 people, so expect to wait (1.5 hours for 2 seats tonight), but there are plenty of places to grab a drink in the area and they’ll call you when your seats are ready.

The atmosphere was what you’d expect from a hipster, Filipino restaurant.  I really felt like it belonged in Brooklyn, NY more than D.C.  That being said, there was nothing pretentious about it and it felt pretty homey.  You could feel the love from the staff for the food that they serve there.  Our waitress talked about the changing menu being like an art where the flavors will always be complimentary regardless of the fact that the options are different every night (depending on what’s in season, what they have, etc.).  And to be honest, you do feel the care that’s put into the dishes.

It’s weird to review this place because the food I had probably won’t be on the menu when you go.  Regardless, if some variation of what I had is available, I’d highly recommend it.  I had the Tocino, which consisted of slow-cooked pork, fried egg, and garlic rice (and fresh greens which wasn’t noted on the menu).  It’s a pretty incredible feat to be able to create different, well-liked dishes enough to constantly get rave reviews.  I loved my first experience; the true test of this place will be if I feel the same way with the new dishes I try the next time I go back.