Just got up. Having an English muffin which DeLepp correctly describes as "just a vessel for the delivery of butter."
225 Wythe Ave (btw N3rd and Metropolitan)
So I glanced over on Brownstoner today and saw the post that said the Freeman's offshoot Isa (not Ina) was open and serving dinner on Wythe and South 2nd, so I decided to swing by for an early dinner before the hoards of Manhattanite scenester foodies make the place unbearable. Of course the Brownstoner information was WRONG and they're still doing friends and family soft open, so figured I'd keep it consistent and try another Manhattan Burg spinoff......La Esquina (or Cafe de La Esquina at the Wythe Diner as they're calling it).
Okay, so I really wanted to hate this place. It embodies everything that is going horribly wrong with Northside Williamsburg nowadays. For those who don't know, La Esquina is this Mexican restaurant-cum night club in Soho (Kenmare/Lafayette) that was a hotspot circa early-mid 2000s where downtown kids went to do blow and eat overpriced tacos. The food at the taco stand portion of the Soho original has always been solid, but the scene has always been a real turnoff. The Brooklyn location opened this week in the former space of a fairly beloved Williamsburg classic, Relish, which closed earlier this year, certainly not scoring it any points with any long-time Williamsburgers (the few that are left).
So it was pretty crowded when we walked in at 7:30, but the friendly hostess greeted us right away and steered us to a couple of bar seats. The place is an old school diner car - think "Diner" on Broadway, but much more spacious. So far so good. Once seated, a nice bartender/server greeted us immediately and got us some water. Already quite an improvement over the original La Esquina, as she didn't scowl at us and make us feel like losers for not being dressed like we just stepped off a runway in Milan.
What to drink......No beer on tap yet (despite having it on the menu) so we ordered a round of beers (sol, modelo especial can) and some shots of "not too expensive but not shitty tequila." The tequila shots came with a nice sangrita chaser (but were $10 bucks each for a Manhattan sized pour). The waitress made a funny crack about doing shots so early. They also had a small cocktail list with pretty standard stuff you'll find in a Mexican place (micheladas, margaritas and other tequila based libations). Margaritas started at $10, which seems the going rate at other places in the nabe nowadays.
Our water glasses never got less than half empty before being refilled. Already my expectations were more than exceeded.
Food: I had the mole enchiladas, as I always find a Mexican place's mole sauce a good barometer if they know what they're doing. Pretty damn good. Definitely beats the hell out of the ones at "Mole" in the Northside Piers retail space - but definitely not as good as Mesa Coyocan over on Graham. Dining companion had some tacos - good, but not great. I saw lots of people ordering the burger, which looked pretty legit.
As soon as the clock struck 8:30 - the music volume got turned up by 50% and switched from decent indie rock to an odd mix of poppy hip hop and Fleetwood Mac. The bass was vibrating the bar, but I really didn't mind since I was comfortable, full and had a pretty good buzz going.
Crowd was a decent mix of your typical Williamsburg "hipsters", some old dudes in their 60s and the new-to-the-waterfront finance dudes. Everyone seemed to get along well though.
This place is pricey. 2 beers, 2 shots, an entree and a couple of tacos came out to $86 bucks before tip. Left the server a $20 because I expected her to be a total bitch but she was actually the nicest server in Williamsburg I've encountered in months (probably because she wasn't a hipster, more like an aspiring european model/actress type). If you want cheap, good Mexican stay away from here and go to La Superior and be prepared to stand your ass out on lower Berry St for a good 90 minutes.
Overall, a pretty damn good time. I will definitely be back as it seems rather than bringing Soho to Williamsburg, the owners seem to know that Brooklyn demands a more low key experience (yes, even in WB) and have catered to the tastes of the neighborhood.
Granted as I write this at midnight on Friday - it may have turned into a total shitshow over there.
Ratings (out of 5):
Ambiance : 4
Food Quality : 3.5
Overall rating : 3.5
August 12, 2011 9:44 AM - Open Thread
959 Atlantic Ave. (Just east of Grand)
I had a real craving for greasy food on Wednesday evening, and based on advice form people on the LifeinBlkn OT, I decided to give White Castle a try.
Having lived my entire life in the Southeast and California, I had never tried one before, although I was familiar with the chain through various pop culture references.
We walked there, but there appears to be amble spaces in their parking lot. The inside of the restaurant was somewhat dingy, but not overly nasty. It was clearly designed to “high crime area” standards, with a small window for ordering and pickup instead of a counter, and a bathroom that required employees to buzz you into.
Being my first time, I decided to stick to the hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and onion rings, although the “Chicken Rings” looked like they could be interesting. The total for 4 hamburgers, 2 cheeseburgers, 1 order of onion rings, and 1 medium fountain drink (which I would call large) was $8.80, including tax.
The drinks are self-serve, which means unlimited free refills while you are there. There is a large stash of ketchup and mayo packets for customers, although it looked like a ketchup packet had leaked at one time, leaving the rest slightly sticky. The tables were clean, and we had the choice between standard tables, booths, or high table.
It took the food around 5 minutes to arrive, largely because they cooked us a fresh order of onion rings. The onion rings were standard fast food quality, made of shaped tiny pieces of onion and not whole rings.
The tiny burgers were quite interesting. They were very moist, both from the onions they are cooked on as well as from fat. The bottom bun was quite soggy on all of the burgers, although sometimes the sogginess pattern was uneven. The burgers went down quite easy, seeming so “slide” down my throat. The onions gave them a good flavor not usually found in low end fast food burgers.
Overall, the burgers seem to find an odd combination of deliciousness and utter disgustingness.
Ratings (out of 5):
Facilities and Ambiance : 2
Food Quality : 1 and 4
Overall rating : 3
August 12, 2011 8:02 AM - Open Thread
Here are some shots I took on Wednesday evening.
August 12, 2011 7:00 AM - Open Thread
August 11, 2011 7:18 AM - Open Thread
Good day blog readers and participants. My name is N. Ter Vivos (the attorneys in the house will understand the play on words!) and I will be writing a column/article on legal issues called "Briefly Speaking." I have already selected several topics about which I will write, but I also want to hear from you. What types of legal issues would you like to see covered? Remember, although I am an attorney, I can provide information about legal issues and topics but cannot and will not give specific legal advice. Please let me know what interests you, what you've always wanted to know about, etc. I make no promises, but will do my level best to cover topics within the realm of my knowledge and experience. I thank you in advance for your contributions, ideas and readership.
Check out the outdoor spaces, stained glass and the ceilings in the 1930s spanish style casa in LA.
August 10, 2011 9:22 AM - Open Thread
It's about that time again...CobbleHiller and InsertSnappyNameHere will host another raucous CobbleSnaps Event on August 25, 2011. Mark your calendars and get ready to party. Details regarding time and location will follow soon! Tell your ma! Tell your pa! Tell everybody to BE THERE!
August 10, 2011 6:59 AM - Open Thread
It has been one week since the full implementation of the Atlantic Yards driven changes around the intersection of 4th, Atlantic, and Flatbush, and here's my perspective as a resident of block impacted and a frequent pedestrian through the area.
The heart of the changes was the shutting down of northbound 4th along the tiny block between Atlantic and Flatbush. That space was large enough to hold around 3 cars or one large truck in each lane without blocking the crosswalk or traffic lanes at Atlantic. Cars and trucks routinely blocked the intersection here, creating an unsafe situation for pedestrians had have to weave around cars to cross, or go into the Atlantic traffic lanes to get around trucks. This was especially a problem for people crossing with carts after shopping at Atlantic Terminal or Atlantic Center. The intersection routinely being backed up also led to cascading issues at Atlantic/Flatbush, and large amounts of honking through the area.
Since the changes, the crossing of 4th along the north side of Atlantic is obviously easier and safer. I have also noticed a huge decrease in honking along Atlantic. There has been an increase in traffic along Atlantic between 4th and 3rd, especially truck traffic. In my unscientific observations, the reduced honking has more than made up for the increased truck noise.
Traffic lights and walk signals were also changed because of the new traffic pattern. The largest change was adding an additional cycle for Northbound 4th to have a protected left turn onto Atlantic. This has led to increased wait time for pedestrians crossing Atlantic, which impacts people trying to go form the north side of Atlantic to the subway entrance at 4th and Pacific. I have noticed the additional wait time, but it has not been too annoying.
Overall, I would call the changes a success. A major safety issue and annoyance was taken away and replaced with more minor annoyances.