"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" - Virginia Woolf

Sunday, July 10, 2011

M. Wells Diner - If you go to far or wait to long, you'll miss it.

Where do Bar Eaters have brunch?

Not so long ago you wouldn't have said Queens.

Truth is it's not that far at all.

Good Energy

Morning Cocktails

Chef's in Action

Let's eat!

So good!

Satisfied customer

Happy Waitress 

Another satisfied customer

One of the best parts of being a Bar Eater is the people you meet. 

Dessert :-)

Lucky Us

Another great memory spontaneously made on a summer's day.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where have we been?

Brief Encounter

(Bar Eater tries out the 60 second review.)

There's nothing wrong with Keith McNally's latest venture Minetta Tavern Redux. In fact everything was right when I entertained my friend Eric from down east there in June. But, what can I tell you that you haven't already heard?

We had...

The Squid
(Don't miss it.)

The incredibly tasty if ridiculously expensive burger.

The Bartenders
Nice guys and consummate pros.

"Don't take that picture! Somebody famous might be over there."
(Like I care.)

Good night Keith.

Coming up...

The Good the Bad and the So So. The summer report from "out east" 
(Fresno is the real thing!)

Slightly Out of Town 
Napa - Stamford

Way Out of Town
Gils - Dubrovnik & Huth - Vienna

See you soon,

Rick & Patti

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Red Rooster - A Home to Roost

What does it mean to feel at home?

It was a beautiful New York summer night when Patti and I ventured north to Harlem. We had heard quite a bit about this home town joint and its Swedish chef from Somalia. 

Making the rounds

Marcus seems to genuinely enjoy the whole process.

Patti & Marcus

The Bartenders

The friendly one.

The smooth one.

The cool one.

Luis A. Felicies
Making the vibe

Somewhere at the end of the road is a home where we all belong.

When you get there you will know it.

Red Rooster

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fedora - Back in Style

Back in Style

Everything that was old is new again.

   Getting together with old friends last month, we were looking for somewhere hip and down home, at the same time. Steve and Sue are serious foodies and seasoned Bar Eaters, themselves, so we asked them to make the call. Their pick, Fedora; they were already regulars and we'd been talking about going since Patti popped into Jeffery's Grocery for lunch in March.

Cocktail Hour

Partner/manager Brian, the man behind the cocktails at Fedora.

   When we arrived Steve was already well into a Black Squirrel Old Fashion. Patti joined Sue in Songbirds and I went for a 445 North Locust, all very tasty. (Ya, I sampled everybody's.) Settling in, we tortured good natured Brian with a round of guess that Madison restaurant. A Wisconsinite, like many working in what if Gabe Stulman has his way may come to be called "Little Wisco." Reminds me of the Irish Bars I've frequented over the years. When you get to talking to the staff you discover they're all from a particular county in Ireland. Up the street, another bar, a different county.

Architect & Bartender Robert

   By now you have probably heard a bit about this place and the interesting story behind it. So I won't burden you with all the details, just bang the links if you want to know more. Fedora is not a reference to the hat but the owner, Fedora Dorato. The story of her passing the baton is a classic, with a happy ending. It wasn't easy for those who remember the way it was, but it seems Fedora made a wise choice. The Feast shot a series of videos during renovations, that are a nice introduction to Gabe and his crew if you haven't met them.

I'm guessing these are Little Wisco Specials.
Now, don't they look refreshing!

We were curious, but this evening it was wine.

With food like this, you can't go wrong with a good gigondas.

Energy and Informality

   It was a very busy Saturday night, everything was a blur including Gabe, when he swung by to say hello. Relaxed and sincere, he seems a genuinely nice guy, as does everyone who works there. Personal attention, hard work and smarts appear to be the Wisco formula for success. 

Then Came Dinner

Sharing the Carnage

   It was one big order for all of us. Things we had to try, specialties of the house, specials of the evening a truly communal meal. Starting with, chioggia beet salad with ricotta and candied pecans, a favorite of Steve's, (a man who didn't really like beets until he tasted this dish) and scapes in early spring season, very tasty, and crispy pigs head, a favorite of Sue's, also good if a bit on the rich side. (Patti didn't go for the concept). For the main course, (and I do mean main), roasted pork ribs, not the ones usually on the menu, which Steve says are phenomenal, (these were hardy if undistinguished), rock shrimp salad, and brussel sprouts with black bean sauce and bacon, house standards. Actually, hardy and inventive describes all of the fair. It will be interesting to see what Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, (formerly Chef de Cuisine at Martin Picard's - Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal), does for a summer menu. Mehdi and Gabe gave Zagat's an interview that sets out Fedora's basic approach to cuisine.


Chocolate cake like mom used to make. With a milk chaser.

Ok we're full.

Parting Shot

Photo by Frank

    Where does the time go? Seems as though we just sat down. There is nothing better than sharing a good meal with good friends, at the corner of the bar. We look forward to more Bar Eater adventures with Steve and Sue.

Looking Back

   For many Fedora (the bar) was an old friend and it is hard when old friends move on. Those afflicted with nostalgia might do better to think of this smart, new incarnation as, "daughter of Fedora" and look upon her with the delight held for the progeny of a legend.


Everything that was old is new again.

Fedora Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Veritas et Venustas

 Veritas et Venustas

    No doubt the Romans were reflecting on the effects, not the aspects of wine, when they said, "In Vino Veritas." There is however, a nobler truth to be found in great wine and cuisine. A truth both exquisite and genuine. To dine at the recently reborn Veritas, is to taste that truth.

    Joining Patti and I on this excursion is friend and blog wine advisor, Jackie. If anyone knows how to leverage the magic of Vetitas it would be Jackie. We cherish her company whenever she joins us and take unabashed advantage of her knowledge at times like these.

Aaron Zebrook watching over the front of the house.

   Aaron greeted us at the door as if we were expected guests, diplomatically arranging three seats at the bar. While Veritas has become more casual it has not lost its underlying haut service. 

First the Wine

Movia, Veliko Bianco, 2006

"we need to have enough love in our lives to transmit the passion"

Ales Kristancic

   A  fellow Bar Eater, Jackie appreciates wine excursions on roads less traveled. To start, she chose the Movia, Veliko Bianco, a blend of Ribolla, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Movia is Ales Kristancic's family's vineyard on the Italian border of Slovinia. Ales is something of a wine rock star with a dynamic personality and an adventurous approach to organic wine making. The Veliko Bianco, was an exquisitely complex, experience; we loved it.

The Space

Extending the possibilities for Bar Eating. 

    Meticulously designed yet casual, Veritas has a warm, welcoming feel. We love the extended bar and the possibilities it opens up for Bar Eating with friends. Credit for the elegantly balanced tones and textures of this room goes to Creme Design of Brooklyn. They have a lot of great work in their portfolio.    

Bartender Jon

   Confined to a more restrained roll than the average bartender, Jon was still a lot of fun. His affable nature made bar conversation a pleasure. A genuinely clever guy, Jon did his undergrad at culinary school and holds a masters in finance, though I suspect the ladies were more impressed with his other attributes. We enjoyed our time at the bar, but were so enthused with the wine that we never got around to trying any of Jon's cocktails.

On to Dinner

 First the Salmon and Tuna Crudo with Citrus, Pomegranate

   The right beginning, a refreshing palate awakener for the meal ahead. Jackie liked it so much she went with it for dinner. I didn't taste the special crab salad appetizer she and Patti shared, but there was a lot of "mmm-ing" going on next to me, while I had my crudo.

Seared Scallops Roasted Cèpes, Sunchoke Puré, Foie Gras

   That's my plate above; rich and delicious, I knew I had to have it, when I saw the guy next to us enjoying his, well before I'd glimpsed the menu. Patti had the Roasted Chicken with Potato Leek Cake, which she found hearty yet elegant.  If you'd like a better look at the food than I can provide with my little camera in dim light, there's a video with Chef Sam Hazen and Pastry Chef Emily Wallendjacks' descriptions at Vetitas Michelin Video

More Wine

Chateau Musar 2002
 Keeping with, organic wines from unexpected places theme of the evening, Jackie chose Chateau Musar 2002, a blend by Gaston Masar, of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carigan. Chateau Musar  is in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. It hasn't been easy making wine in Lebanon over the years. Which may explain Musar motto "Labor vincit omnia." Patriarch,  Serge Musar's philosophy, "wine must be true, it must be alive and it must linger long enough to infuse into memory." That it did beautifully. 

Orr Reches Sommelier

    We didn't get to meet Rubén Sanz Ramiro, Veritas' head sommelier, but we were ably taken care of by Orr. Being from Israel, he was eager to engage Jackie in some some banter on middle eastern wines.

The depth and breadth of Veritas' wine list is phenomenal.

  No discussion of Veritas would be complete without a little about      
Park Smith. A legend of the wine world, he is one of the greatest collectors alive today and one of the original owners of Veritas.

   Collectors, why do they do it? It must have something to do with possession of perfection. Yet, with wine the cake conundrum applies; to experience it is to consume it. And for we humans, to share that experience makes it all the more rewarding. Perhaps that's why Park opened Veritas to begin with. I've never met the man, but I suspect he would agree with Keats about truth and beauty.


Chef Sam Hazen pours Orange-Vanilla Cream
over Cranberry Bread Pudding with Candied Pecans.

   Sam was very generous with praise of his staff. He wouldn't let us leave without trying some of Emily Wallendjacks' desserts. Bread pudding is a favorite of mine and Emily's is divine. She was preaching to the choir, Patti & Jackie, with her Chocolate Hazelnut Bar.

Bread Pudding happens to be my handle.

The Chef

The girls loved Sam.

   With good reason, Sam Hazen is a very charming man and a very talented one. Great chefs are artists and artisans at the same time, designing and making. Best known for his tenure at Tao New York and then the Las Vegas version, Sam's career is one of depth and breadth. It is obvious that he is at the height of his powers. It is equally obvious that he genuinely cares about what he does. We didn't interview Sam we simply enjoyed his company. (Also, a Bar Eater shout out to Chef de Cuisine, Alexander Williamson, who began his career at Nick & Toni's where Patti and I met.)

   The reviews are in, of this elegant new version of the once venerable Veritas; her three stars restored, the work of artists and artisans at the top of their games.


You will not find what is true in life, if you have not experienced its beauty.

Veritas on Urbanspoon