Dec ’18 Resto Round-up

While I know in my heart of hearts that December was mostly a “drink champagne and eat Christmas cookies” kind of month, I also made it a priority to revisit a few NYC spots that I had enjoyed the first go-round but hadn’t been back to in years. As a result, my December restaurant round-up is a bit of a revisit report, along with a few new gems sprinkled in. Read on for the good, the bad, and the ugly/delicious of the last month of 2018! And as always, follow my hashtag #caros_eats for real time photos of all of my favorite meals 🙂

Sugarfish – This is officially a re-review of the cult sushi transplant from LA. I went for dinner when this joint first opened and was massively hyped, and had a delicious meal with some of the freshest fish I’d experienced in NYC. Well, I headed back for a weekday lunch this month, fully expecting to be able to walk right in, and that was certainly not the case. This spot is just as busy as when it first opened, and their well-priced tasting options are as delicious, fresh, and affordable as ever. You’re not getting superior innovation here, but man is it tasty.

Momofuku Ssam Bar – AT LAST! That’s how I felt walking into Ssam Bar in the East Village for lunch. This staple of the Momofuku empire has long eluded me, and I figured that it was high time to give it a try. My main mission was to sample the legendary stuffed rotisserie duck ssam, which arrives in an “assemble it yourself” fashion. You combine ginger rice, hoisin, pickled cucumbers, and scallion pancake in lettuce wraps for literal heaven. I could eat this every week.

The Happiest Hour – A West Village/Greenwich Village staple, The Happiest Hour has long been a great spot for a drink, and their burger is excellent too. However, I had never experienced this bar during the day on a weekend, and so headed there at around 3pm on a Saturday for afternoon cocktails with friends. And let me tell you, it was PACKED. I’m talking 10pm on a Friday packed. The drinks were still great and the ambiance still bumping, but my rec to you is to get there early to stake out a spot along the front windows if you’re going with a group. Proceed with caution.

Up Thai – This “upscale” (for the upper east side) Thai restaurant is one that I would file as a hidden gem of the neighborhood. It’s no Uncle Boon’s (let’s be honest, most places don’t measure up), but it’s good, functional, and has a really fun ambiance for date night or dinner with your lady friends.

Banter – I primarily think of this SoHo Aussie cafe as a brunch spot, but I finally made it here for dinner this month. And it was… good. But nothing was special. The shishito peppers needed salt, and the chicken and steak entrees were just ok. I didn’t feel like it was worth my time and money, when I could have made all of these items at home for far less cash and far more flavor. That being said, the people who work there are lovely and the ambiance is great.

Uva – Another upper east spot (where I live, in case you haven’t guessed), this was a re-review that I was really excited to revisit. Unfortunately, all of the food was simply mediocre. I sampled specials and house staples alike (like their pappardelle) and there was nothing wrong with any of the dishes, but none of them were stars. I would rather save up my Italian food cravings and head to Al Di La, L’Artusi, or Via Carota to get my fix.

Bedford & Co – When midtown comes knocking, sometimes you have to answer. Coming up with bars and restaurants in midtown that aren’t completely tragic is one of the more challenging aspects of what I do, but I found a spot that can serve as a place to grab a drink before a show or have a first date, and that is Bedford Bar. It’s small-ish, tucked away on a cross street, and has both a nice bar and a little lounge in the front with comfy chairs and sofas. Don’t hurry there, but if you’re in the hood and need a spot, keep it in mind.

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