Friday, April 29, 2011

I like good customer service but overly eager staff members are too much especially when you are asked too many questions.

So, browsing through the list of new restaurants we wrote down, Alma was the one we chose for tonight.  Alma in Spanish means “SOUL according to the description given on the restaurants’ website.  This Argentine spot is located in the West Village of Manhattan, pretty nice location where a lot of city dwellers roam.  From the outside looking in, it looks really modern and hip.  We walked in and were greeted by a host and another gentleman which seems to be owner/ business affiliated.  After perusing the menu and getting clarification about a few items on the menu, we decided to stay.  

The owner/ business affiliated individual decided to seat us in the sexy section of the restaurant which was located in the front.  It was nice and cozy and shortly thereafter, the waitress walked over asking us would we like to order drinks.   After contemplating the many choices, I ordered off menu and asked for a mojito; settled on the raspberry flavor.  It was okay, wasn’t what I expected and was kind of disappointed.  

It was time to order food, my wife and I decided what we wanted to eat and ordered small plates/ tapas selections.  The food didn’t take long to come and one particular item I ordered had to be returned b/c I am not a fan of steak that is kind of rare.  I had the steak skewers returned so they can be cooked a few minutes longer and after a couple minutes passing by, the steak skewers returned just how I like my steak…well-done.  

Recapping the evening, I felt like this restaurant could be better.  What I mean by that is this:  the owner/ business affiliated individual needs to play the back b/c he kept asking, “How’s the food?”   Another issue that came to mind was the close proximity of other diners next to us.  I don’t have a problem with that but tonight’s seating was a little uncomfortable b/c space was available and they decided to sit a group of 3 right next to our table.  The group that occupied the table was talking loud and about issues I don’t want to hear while I am eating.  Now, I don’t have a problem sitting next to groups but living in NYC for so long, you appreciate the little space that you get dining out.  If they would have moved them down, I would have been cool.  

With all that being said, I give Alma 2.5 stars.  I don't see myself going back anytime soon.

Please Don't Go. Don't Go to Alma 33

Part of a listing of a 100 new restaurants in NYC, Alma 33 sets apart as a Tapas bar/restaurant. Alma is located in the West Village of NYC in the vicinity of many hipster stores and the NYU crowd. Although, this is case, I'm not sure its owner knows who his primary target is for the restaurant. Impressed by the affordable menu and its variety of Tapas dishes, my husband picked this restaurant as our Friday night outing. Never in our lives together has a restaurant cause so much commotion between the two of us. I'm about to tell you the story of how a good idea goes bad.

As I stood in front of the restaurant, I looked at the window and saw the menu, which didn't impressed me. My husband assured me that he saw more dishes online and that he liked what he saw. We walked in and decided to stay after choosing a few dishes with the help of the usher. The usher was a young girl who seemed to be very well-aware of the restaurant menu and the taste of various dishes. She asked us if we were interested in dinner or Tapas and we said the latter. She ushered us to a high table in the back of the first section of the restaurant, which can be seen from outside.

As we sat down, an older gentleman who may have been the manager or owner, told us that he had a better table for us; which was a bit more cozy and romantic at the front of the restaurant. He made it sound so convincing that we decided to move at his request. I did notice that when we sat down our view toward the outside was blocked and no one from the outside could see us.

We ordered drinks, I ordered a recommended drink, the "Alma." The "Alma" was okay, I guess. The waitress described it as similar to a Cosmo, but it seemed too close to a Cosmo to me. We ordered our Tapas and waited a little while. While we waited, two older ladies in their fifties came in and were asked to sit at the bar, as they were waiting for company. That's when we overheard that the section where we were seated was actually for Tapas customers and the back section was actually for dinner customers. The ladies stayed at the bar, but did not want to stay there, there seemed to be some back and forth argument of where they should be sitting, but I guess the ladies won their battle.The ladies were seated next to us, although there were other seats available. It seemed quite cramped as if the manager purposely wanted us to go.

Our food came and we thought it was pretty good. We were confused by some of the menu and ordered cow glands, which actually tasted pretty good. As a matter of fact, they tasted like chicken. We also ordered a platter of different cheeses which came with a pretty good fruit sauce. Lastly, I had one Empanada which was also ok.

After a while, a gentleman who the owner/manager knew came in and sat with the nice ladies. The manager then changed his tune and started being a little nicer to them. I know the gentleman said something about Univision and how other people were also coming by. He asked the ladies why they didn't mention his name when they went in the restaurant. They were seated so close to us that we were privy to their conversation. They even said they liked what we ordered and were just contemplating our plates.

Anyway, after all the big hoopla, I wasn't enjoying the ambiance. I told my husband that I wanted to leave. And after a few minutes we did. The restaurant just reminded me of Apartheid how people were being separated. I'm still not understanding the criteria of seating arrangement at Alma 33. All I can say is that it didn't look good and it didn't seem good. This idea I had in my head was about this was confirmed when I heard the owner tell a story about Liza Minnelli and how the one time he met her, she didn't look very well. Also, if you took a look at the staff there you would also noticed that they seemed a little too perfect. They seemed to be taken right out of a magazine ad and placed in the restaurant. And this may be the unspoken fine and well type of discrimination that some of us are used to at clubs when were ultra young. I didn't think this could happen at a place in the center of a creative corner of NYC. And with said, I give Alma 33 only 2 stars for their food/service.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Make the Most Out of Your Money at Aprovecho

In Spanish the word "aprovecho," means to make the most of out of something and Aprovecho the restaurant certainly does, it makes the most out of your money. It wasn't my first time going to Aprovecho, a cheap and authentic Mexican restaurant located in Manhattan on First Avenue and East 67th St.

The restaurant is not your best choice if you're into decor and atmosphere. You can choose your meal to go or enjoy a meal at the restaurant which is quite small but very festive in color. I know what you're thinking, why do I choose to keep going to Aprovecho when the first three lines of this review seem to point in a negative direction. Well, it's the price, the service, and the Sangrias.  

The prices at Aprovecho are very affordable and right on target for the many wishing to get a good deal on a night out. You can get an appetizer and the main course for around $15 dollars. The food is good, so don't concentrate on the presentation. The presentation leaves much to be desired as there isn't even any type of garnish with the food. 

I love good service and I tip very well when I receive it. Although, there is only one waitress on a Tuesday night at Aprovecho, she's is friendly and very attentive. You can see the same faces when you go back, which makes Aprovecho seem like a home away from home. 

If you're like me and like to have a drink once in a while then you'll really like the drinks at Aprovecho. You can get a half pint of Sangria for only $6 bucks and can drink 2-3 glasses with a friend. They have an assortment of flavors, which you can try if you decide to go back.

Well, I'm giving Aprovecho 3 stars for it's price, service and the Sangrias.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Doug E Fresh

The World's Greatest Entertainer, if you don’t have a clue, let me take you back.  “The Show,” “La Di Da Di,” “Keep Rising,” the list goes on.  Back in the 80’s he came on the scene with a sound like no other and he is one of the early originators of “Beat Boxing.”  Yes, you got it, Doug E Fresh!  By far, one of the best who has consistently done it and is still relevant today; he will teach you how to “Dougie.”  He is the creator of the dance that inspired the “Teach me how to Dougie” song that you hear on the radio today.  The group that composed the song, Cali Swag District, is paying homage to the rap legend.    

The event at Museum of the City of New York was incredible.  Mark Anthony Neal, Professor of Black Popular Culture at Duke University moderated and posed many questions to Doug E Fresh about the following:  his childhood, what the Apollo meant, Harlem and the music scene back in the late 80’s, influences he has on artists of today, and the history behind this thing we call- Hip Hop.  The energy was incredible, the museum auditorium was packed and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. 

 At the end of the night, Doug E Fresh performed and that pretty much capped off the night on a high note.  I give this event 5 stars!  

Friday, April 22, 2011

From the South…I know what it means to have hospitality.

Southern Hospitality, located on the Westside of Manhattan… a really cool place.  In the midst of searching for spots, I totally stumbled upon this in an email I received about weekend outings and dining.  I mentioned it to my wife and she was game to try it, we both didn’t have a clue as to what we were in store for.  

The location was perfect, near transportation, ambience was really nice, and the layout of the restaurant was pretty fresh too.  Total virgins to this spot, we made our way through the menu book and after ordering drinks first (Raspberry Mojito) we were able to make our food selection.  I had pulled chicken with mac/cheese & tater tots as sides.  The food was really good, totally enjoyed the spread and it was just enough to fill me up.  

The waitress was extremely nice, kept checking up on us, the whole nine.  Being from the South, born and raised, I know a thing or two about hospitality and I felt they did a good job based off this first encounter.  Hospitality can be defined in many ways but I felt they pride themselves off the theme of what it means to have that southern flare and I was impressed.  

Maybe it was the waitress, she was phenomenal, really excited about making a good impression since we were newbie’s but at any rate, good first experience.  I enjoyed what I ordered and I walked away feeling satisfied.  I would go back and I give this restaurant 4 stars. 

Southern Hospitality in NYC...That's Right

Today, it was my husband's choice to get back to his roots and try Southern Hospitality. And I mean the restaurant on 45th Street and 9th Avenue in New York City. As we walked to it, we were in awe of the design that probably attracts lots of tourists in the area and New Yorkers looking for something different. Because it looks so different from the boxy buildings we're so used to seeing, it attracted our attention. I just wanted a picture to keep but that didn't happen.

We were greeted and quickly seated as we arrived past 6pm which is when the after-work crowd starts come in. Were were given the choice of two seats. I must say I was amazed by the decor inside with lit words that surrounded the space. Most of the walls were wooden but some were made of concrete which gave it an southern look. I just love the look of what looked to be reclaimed wood surrounding me.

It took about 10 minutes to get a server and have her give us menus. She had that southern charming personality which made the wait seem oh not so bad. We ordered a drink she recommended a Rapsberry Mojito. Personally, we love Mojitos, it was the drink for our wedding. But this one in particular was not so good, I mean as a cocktail, it was good as a beverage. It just didn't have enough alcohol, it appeared much like a kids drink. Perhaps they were trying to save money but I would just save on something else. Please not the drinks.

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for our meal, it came. I don't know if was me as a New Yorker, I'm so used to having quick gratification and since we didn't order appetizers we didn't get the food quickly.

I have nothing but good things to say about the food. I mean it was good. I saved some of mine for home even though I only had a few morsels left. I had the BBQ Pulled Chicken and a side of  Savory Cornbread Stuffing and one of Creamed Spinach. The BBQ Chicken was oh so good and very soft. It had their own BBQ sauce, which had a touch of sweetness, but it wasn't overwhelming. The cornbread was also soft and it seemed to have spices mixed in and when I was finished with a bite I think I tasted a bit of hot sauce. The spinach was my favorite, it was buttery and soft and to tell you the truth I have no idea what else was in it. It may have been brown sugar. Everything was a delight and I really enjoyed it. I have no trouble recommending the restaurant to our readers and giving it 4 stars out 5 rating.

We're back and Ready to Roll

Dear Readers,

We're happy to announce that we're back and we're back for good. We were on a break due to life and other projects. But we're both ready to get back on the horse and start reviewing so that you don't waste your money on things you don't really want.