Tag Archives: upper west side

Ditch Plains (AKA Romper Room)

20 Sep

We were exploring near the Upper West Side and were in pursuit of a lunch place. I noticed that Ditch Plains was close by, and it had recently been recommended to me. (They also have a location in Greenwich Village)

We entered and realized that we were no longer in Kansas.

More like Romper Room.

I guess word got out that this place was kid friendly, because the strollers in the shot below only show about half of what was packed into their small entry-way.  It wasn’t really a problem as much as it was weird to be the only people in a restaurant without a child (and an iPad playing a cartoon). After looking at the site, it appears that they are not just kid friendly, but also kid healthy with a kid’s menu that follows USDA dietary guidelines.


The restaurant itself has a wide open feel and a few communal tables.  Surprisingly, it was not very noisy, even with all those kids.


We started our lunch with some Porkslap Pale Ale. Always a favorite for Mike and me.


We began with a half dozen roasted oysters (seems we’ve been starting with oysters a lot lately!)  They were with garlic and parsley butter and quite tasty.


Mike got (shocker) the burger. It was called the Big Marc and had spiked ketchup, housemade pickles, homemade black pepper (huh?), cheddar bun, jalapeño, and cheddar tater tots.  I couldn’t try the burger, but Mike liked it and I was a fan of those cheddar tater tots!


I got the seared sea scallops with charred corn puree, summer vegetables, and basil walnut pistou.  


Even though the scallops looked a bit burnt, they were cooked perfectly and really delicious.  The base was really delicious and fresh.


We were in a indulgent mood, so we got dessert as well.  Sadly, I can’t recall what this one was:


But I sure know that this was the s’mores!


There are few things in life that I love more than s’mores.


And these ooey-gooey ones did not disappoint in the slightest!


Overall, the food was very good at Ditch Plains and we enjoyed our lunch.  I am curious about other meals there and would certainly go back if in the area.  I was a bit nervous that the kids would be loud and obnoxious, but it wasn’t too bad at all.  If you have a family, this seems like a fantastic place to go.  Kids are well taken care of and accepted and food is very good.  I hate to think I’d have to sacrifice eating out at good restaurants when I have kids, so I appreciate that this place exists for that reason at least.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Telepan for Brunch

9 Aug

Telepan is one of those restaurants that I have always heard good things about, meant to try, and would forget about soon thereafter.  I was browsing through OpenTable.com for a brunch place in the Upper West Side (it’s on 69th Street just east of Columbus Ave), and when Telepan came up with an open reservation, I was delighted to finally be able to cross it off the list.  

We were warmly greeted and shown to our table.  Bread came out fast and it was my favorite type of brunch bread basket: lots of different things to try.



And the jam and butter were especially good!



We did the brunch prix fixe for $32, which included the breads, apps, and entrees.  First out was the apple sausage with poached egg, duck prosciutto & watercress.  It was all well balanced, well dressed, and quite tasty.  



We also tried the house smoked brook trout with potato-chive blini & sweet onion sour cream.  It was the most mentioned dish on FourSquare tips, so why not?  This was one of those moments that FourSquare proved its value to me. I would have never ordered this without the recommendation, and that would have been a shame.  This had great smoky flavors, excellent texture, and a great balance.



For our entrees, Mike, surprise surprise, got the burger. It was one of those burgers that was almost too high to get into an average sized mouth, but Mike overcame this hurdle and somehow ate it.  And it was good.



I got the Lumberjack, which had scrapple (which is kind of like a pork scraps cake), canadian bacon, buttermilk pancake, and sunnyside up eggs.



The combination of flavors and textures made this into a really great dish.  The scrapple was especially delicious and crispy.  A really great brunch dish.




I really enjoyed our meal at Telepan and I’m surprised it took me this long to try it.  I want to go back for dinner in the near future and try some more dishes.  But if you’re looking for brunch on the UWS, Telepan is a great choice!

They also participate in Restaurant Week, and have picnic baskets to take with you into Central Park, and Sunday night Burger Night. In case you needed another excuse to go.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Kefi: Restaurant Week Menu

31 Aug


We were on the Upper West Side and in need of a place for dinner.  I had heard very good things about Kefi, and realized they were still running their Restaurant Week special.  This Restaurant Week menu had a lot of items off the regular menu, and I realized the regular menu was also very well priced.  

Mike started with the Kefi salad.  It had feta cheese and was dressed very well.





I chose the grilled octopus with bean salad.  Now this… this was a show stopper.  I like octopus just fine, but it’s never something I LOVE.  This octopus?  I wanted to take it out to dinner, buy it wine, and beg it to come home with me at night.  It was perfectly grilled, with a bit of char, and not a hint of chewiness.  If this is what octopus always tasted like, I would probably eat it exclusivity.



For our entrees, Mike got braised lamb shank with orzo.  The lamb shank was tender with full flavor and an awesome sauce.  I usually would have been very jealous of this entree, but mine was even better.




I got the shrimp, orzo, feta, tomato, and spinach.  It was all baked into a delicious bowl of amazingness.  It reminded me a bit about very adult mac & cheese made Mediterranean style. It was sensational.  I was stuffed half way through but wanted to finish every last bite and lick the plate.





For dessert, Mike got ice cream. One was toasted sesame and the other was maple walnut.  Both tasted homemade.  Delicious!  




I chose the chocolate mousse and halva with sesame ice cream. I love halva and as thrilled to have it in the dessert.  The mousse was delicious and rich, but I had eaten so much of the previous food that I really didn’t have room for it.  



Overall, Kefi was a surprise and a delight.  I cannot believe people are flocking here in herds. Especially after I learned that it was opened by Michael Psilakis and Donatella Arpaia.  With heritage like that, and food this good, Kefi should be packed every day. But it wasn’t. So go there. Now.  Before the secret is out!

And bring me back some of that octopus.  

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10




The Sunburnt Calf

8 Aug

One of the first brunch places that made me fall in love with brunch was The Sunburnt Cow in the LES.  It was always a trek, however, to get to Avenue C.  So I was thrilled when they opened up a new place, called The Sunburnt Calf, on the UWS (79th between Broadway and Amsterdam).  Like The Cow, The Calf offers Endless Brunch, which is a selection of most brunch meals on the menu plus endless Moomosa’s, Moo Mary’s, Foster’s, Screwdrivers, and Greyhounds for $18. My mom, also being  a fan of The Cow, joined me for my first sampling of the Calf.


The day we arrived it was HOT!  And the AC was not working.  We kept our menus to use as fans.

Mom got Eggs Benedict.


I decided to try the omelette of the day, which was a Greek Omelette.


It had feta and tomatoes and was supposed to have shrimp.  Sadly, they went a little skimpy on the fillings (and since it was $5 more, it seems pretty sad).


Overall, it’s hard to beat endless brunch drinks at all.  This was a bit disappointing, however. Nothing was outstanding and the lack of filling in my omelette was a pretty poor performance.  The heat didn’t help at all.  I’ll give them another try, but this time was just… barely above average.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Amsterdam Street – Schatzie’s

12 Jul


Street Fairs in NYC used to be something I looked forward to most when the weather turned nice.  Unfortunately, lately most fairs are the same vendors selling the same $10 sunglasses and 6MM thread count sheets with the same BBQ corn and empanada eateries.  The Amsterdam Street Festival this year was not really an exception, though I was very pleased with our food choice.



Schatzie’s, a deli on Amsterdam between 86th and 87th Streets, was selling “Famous Dirty Brisket Sandwiches.” 



I can’t remember exactly how much it was, but I remember thinking it was INSANELY expensive.  But… it was also insanely good.  Delicious, meat pieces that fell apart in your mouth without being mushy, covered in a delicious sauce on white bread.  YUM!



The Popover Cafe

27 Dec

The Popover Cafe is on 86th Street and Amsterdam Ave.  My sister recommended  it to me since I am such a huge popover fan.


The inside was quaint and a great setting.  The menu mentioned that the owner decided to cook her favorite foods and that people just kept coming back for more.  It definitely all had that “homemade” feel, from decor to food.


 They had some hot winter drinks on the menu, which quickly made me think that more restaurants should do this.  I got the warm cider punch.


And Mike got a hot chocolate. 


 We started with the mini popovers.


They were a perfect 4 bite portion. 


 And we got them with apple butter (along with regular butter and strawberry butter).  The minis were okay, but part of what makes popovers so great is all the delicious fluffy center.


 Mike got the eggs benedict that came on an open popover. 


 I got the Kobe Beef Corned Beef Hash.  It was a delicious blend of beef and potatoes, topped with a scrambled egg.  It was delicious!


 And the popover was just perfect.   AND HUGE!


Flakey (but not overly eggy) on the inside.


I absolutely loved my meal.  It was just wonderful comfort food and sent over the edge by delicious popovers. 

I highly recommend the journey to the Upper West Side, especially if you love popovers.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10