Restaurant Review: Next Door, Upper West Side Manhattan

The gentrification of Upper West Side Manhattan resulted in trendy store fronts, a canine obsession with pet stores on almost every corner and million dollar apartments with views you would kill your 2nd born for.  Cute trendy restaurants and diners snuggled closely together with its trendy patrons walking back and forth between them trying to make a decision as to which one to grace with their presence.  I spent my New Year weekend in this Fort Washington area of NYC, so of course I had to try one of these “to die for store front restaurants”.  We chose the trendy Next Door restaurant located at 813 W. 187 Street between Fort Washington and Pinehurst.  Next Door was a trendy, Upper West Side Manhattan MESS.  I don’t even know where to begin because I’m still in somewhat shock as to why they served the food they served to us.  I ordered pancakes and a omelette with spinach, onions, turkey bacon and cheese.  My friend ordered a Belgian waffle cooked LIGHTLY.  As the food approaches, my plate is in the front, so far so good.  Then here comes this dark chocolate-brown Belgian waffle.  It’s CLEARLY overcooked because it’s as dark as a dark chocolate snickers bar.  As I pour the syrup on my pretty brown pancakes, I move each one around so that the syrup can get to all of them.  As I get to the bottom, there’s a pancake that’s as black as the Ace of Spades in a deck of cards.  BLACK. Not a little dark brown but literally burned BLACK.  Zoom in to my omelette.  I cut it open with  my fork, the cheese is still rock hard as if it just came out of a refrigerator, spinach is still cold and turkey bacon is barely cooked.  As I cut some more, egg is oozing everywhere.

My friend goes to the bathroom and returns to tell me that the cooking staff is preparing chicken on a cutting board that’s sitting on top of a garbage can.  Who does that?  What cook literally sees food that has been burned black and says “they won’t notice.”?  What waiter looks at the blackened food that’s not supposed to be blackened and says “let me bring this to my customer”?  WHO DOES THAT?!?

Later that day we walk to a diner next door to Next Door called, Vicky’s Diner.  As we’re eating our bland food, I look over and there’s a LONG bone straight strand of hair hanging off the food.  The waiter comes over and looks at me and says “where did that come from?”  Mind you, I’m rocking a buzz cut so I have NO hair plus the hair CLEARLY came from someone not of African descent and last time I checked, that’s not me.

As you can tell, I will NEVER go to Next Door again  nor will I ever recommend it to anyone.  It was an epic fail on so many levels.  I hope you didn’t get your panties in a bunch because I said “Upper West Side Manhattan”.   Remember, all that glitter is not gold.

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Fusion Grill: Innovative Chinese on Capitol Hill

I spent a very long weekend in my 2nd favorite city, D.C.  My love for the city has doubled since this trip but let’s talk about one of my pastime favorites:  EATING.

The 8th Street area of Capitol Hill is eclectic to say the least.  If you love busy intown hot spots, then this is the place for you.  Filled with mostly specialty restaurants (you will not find any of the big chain restaurants), you can get any food fix you like in this area.  I got my fix of Chinese  at a very cute spot called Fusion Grill.  Located at 515 8th St S.E., Washington, D.C., Fusion Grill boasts about the fusion of innovation and tradition by serving grilled and traditional Chinese cuisine and some non-Chinese cuisine.  My guest and I went for Sunday breakfast, which traditionally isn’t a meal that’s served in a Chinese restaurant, but to my surprise it was PERFECT.  Our meal consisted of coconut brioche french toast served with ginger maple syrup, two scrambled Amish eggs, shrimp tempura and jumbo lump crabcake.  It was just enough to start a Sunday.  The place was clean, cozy and eclectic.  Service was only ok because we had a new waitress so I’ll chop that up as her having new employee jitters.  But the staff as a whole were friendly and knowledgable.  Every plate that came out looked and smelled delicious especially the organic scrambled tofu that included roasted tomatoes, curry, caramelized onion, pea shoots and sweet potato wedges.  Don’t let tofu scare you away.  Can’t wait to try it out.  If you’re ever in the D.C. area you must check this restaurant out.  Great date spot as well.

http://FusionGrillDC.com

Merengue Restaurant Boston, MA

Although I’ve moved away from home and do not miss Boston at all (except for the friends and family) one thing that I absolutely love about that city is the diversity.  With diversity comes all kinds of good eats!

I went home recently and finally went to a restaurant that has been 5 blocks away from me my entire life that I always walked by.  Merengue Restaurant located at 156-160 Blue Hill Avenue, brings Dominican Republic cuisine to the heart of Roxbury.  With dishes like Langosta al Gusto* (Lobster in Garlic, Vinaigrette, Creole or Coconut Sauce) and Combinacion de Mariscos al Gusto* (Seafood Combination with Lobster, Shrimps, Calamari, Octopus & Mussels) you will enjoy something on the menu.  When you walk in all your senses are greeted with something Dominican.  The aroma, the sounds and the authentic Dominican decor gives the feeling that you are on their island enjoying their food.

Unfortunately, my first experience wasn’t great.  We waited 35 minutes for salmon, salad and rice and beans.  The waiter did not come over one time to apologize for the delay or just give us an update on our food.  When the food finally arrived my salmon was as hard as an over cooked piece of steak and my beans were cold.  I was completely thrown off by this because I’ve heard nothing but great reviews.  Will I go back?  I’m thinking about it because everyone’s food looked and smelled really good.  Luckily I’m in the mood of giving second chances.

If you’re ever in Boston go check them out.  I think they just had an off day.

http://www.merenguerestaurant.com

EVOS: Really is “Feel Good Fast Food”

EVOS Prado – 5590 Roswell Road, Suite 140, Atlanta, GA 30308

When thinking about fast food most people think of fatty burgers and fries topped off with an even fattier milkshake.  When thinking about healthy, organic or even vegetarian/vegan foods, people’s mind tend to think bran and bland.  Well Evos gives you the best of the fast food world without the hormones and dirty brown grease. 

At Evos you can get a Freerange Steakburger, a vegan soy burger, and airbaked fries and chicken strips.  They also have wraps and fresh salad made with organic greens.   The airbaked fries are light, clean and crisp and the “EVOS Ketchup Karma” station which features Original Americana, Garlic Gravity, Cayenne Firewalker and Mesquite Magic promise to satisfy anyone’s palate.  My little cocoa chickadee proclaimed their chicken strips the best she had ever tasted.

The staff is patient and helpful in selecting the delicious eats.  So great food, great service and did I mention free wi-fi, how much does all of this cost.  With a kids eat free special our Veggie Garden Grill, Kids Airbaked Chicken Strips, 2 small drinks and large Airfries came to less than $10.00, which I could easily spend more when visiting the arches or his royal highness.

 

With the promise that there will be no guilt associated with the consumption of any of the menus’ earthly delights who can resist.  Visit www.evos.com for menu and locations. 

***Atlanta mid and downtowners will be happy to know that another location is soon opening at Viewpoint (855 Peachtree St.), and a little birdie told me this location may also serve adult libations.***

The Blackwood Pizza Bar

Tired of the regular pizza shop?

The Blackwood Pizza Bar located at 3560 Camp Creek Parkway, East Point, GA 30344, is a pizzeria touched with a little soul.  Along with the regular tables you see in restaurants, they also have sofas and other big comfy chairs for you to fall into as you listen to a live band.  Staff has been friendly, which is always a plus.  Topping the soul, the customer focused staff and decor is the food.  The pizza is GREAT and moderately priced!

Cocoa Chicks will definitely be there again!

Sidenote to the owner:  You should really get your website finished.  Your online presence should be just as fresh and intriguing as your real life presence ;).  Keep up the good work!