Republic: Think Noodles

Think Noodles: Fresh, Fast and Affordable. Our innovative and stylish noodle emporium seats 150 in a crisp, graphic space. Come enjoy a bowl of noodles!

Republic is a trendy but affordable noodle shop at Union Square. The restaurant is bigger than you'd expect once you get inside, with cafeteria-style communal table-and-bench seating, but it is a cool atmosphere. The pictures on the walls were poster-sized black and white photos of people with noodles in interesting positions (like, noodles for hair).

I ordered the BBQ pork, which our server told me was a cold dish with vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, scallions and cucumbers. The pork was kind of a thin slice of a pork chop sliced into strips. It was pretty good, but the cooler temperature made it a little odd to me. Plus the noodles were really short, I'd say 2-3 inches, which made eating them with the chopsticks a little difficult.

V tried the glass noodles, which came with chicken and cilantro and a ginger dipping sauce. The dish was hot and very flavorful (the bite or two I tried, I liked better than mine). I think that the temperature of a dish can really affect the flavor, and the contrast between V's noodles and mine really evidenced this.

We dined with B & B, who tried the tofu udon, and the pad thai. I didn't try their dishes, but heard good things! We also had a pitcher of the Asian sangria, a unique and well done twist on typical sangria - with white wine, pears and fuji apples. My only complaint was the service: slow and fairly inattentive, though we did get lots of water refills! I see more I'd like to try on the menu, and for a cheap dinner in Union Square, Republic does a good job.


Watawa is a little Japanese restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I've seen it there since I moved in but never had an opportunity drop in for a bite. Late one night after most of the other restaurants on the block had closed, V and I were looking for sushi and Watawa was still open. It was a good choice, and not just for late-night eats.

I've only relatively recently gotten in to sushi, and still I'm pretty much a novice, sticking to tuna rolls and other simple dishes. I did the same here, but the rolls were well prepared and the slight twists the chef added were a nice touch. This sushi was very good, I'd say because the layer of rice was minimal, allowing me to better enjoy the roll's contents. The tuna and avocado roll was very good, and the spicy tuna roll (which wasn't too spicy) had a little addition of crunchy tempura crumbs rolled up inside. The presentation was simple and the service was relatively quick, though we waited a while for our order to be taken and for our drinks to arrive.

A few other comments: the decor was nice and simple. Lots of bottles of while and sake around the restaurant, and an otherwise clean atmosphere. Our waiter was good and easily handled my special request (sure, adding avocado isn't that complex). I'm happy I finally dropped in to Watawa; when I left, I took the delivery menu. I'm sure I'll order (or drop in) again.

Schiller's Liquor Bar

Schiller's Liquor Bar is a low life bar and restaurant at 131 Rivington Street. The menu is inexpensive...The wine list consists of only 3 wines: cheap, decent and good. Cheap is the best.

I've been intending to go to Schiller's since before I even moved to New York, and then my brother recently recommended it. So when I had the chance to suggest a place to take some out of town visitors for dinner, this seemed a perfect fit. The atmosphere is really unique, and a lot different than I expected. For some reason the image I had was dark wood paneling and high-backed booths. I was completely off. The walls are white tile with large warehouse style wire-reinforced windows, almost like an old butcher shop–easy to hose down. If I remember correctly, there were no booths, just tables and chairs. It was fairly bright inside, but the lighting worked well for the atmosphere. It was a pretty small space and very crowded; the bar crowd was just about engulfing our table by the end of dinner. There were a couple of other cool touches adding to the slightly old-timey atmosphere, including the jugs of tap water they bring to your table and the bathrooms, which had a shared sink area with plain old spigots for water. Now back to the food...

We had the calamari as an appetizer, which was nice and "flaky-crispy" and came with two sauces for dipping, one red and the other more of a mustard-mayo combination. I order the tuna special, which was a tuna fillet served with asparagus and roast potatoes. Overall it was good, though I thought the tuna was slightly over cooked. Still it had a nice spice rub and tasted great. I also tried the "Schiller's Steak Frites" which was very good with the Bearnaise sauce. The meat was very flavorful and juicy and the sauce was great, both on the steak and on the frites, which themselves were very good and served in a large portion, almost falling off the plate.

For dessert we tried the sorbet and a caramelized banana split. The sorbets, mango, raspberry and coconut were each boldly flavorful. The banana split was very good and the ice cream on top was just perfectly melting, the way I like it. To top off the meal we had a few bottles of the best wine (see above) and it was very good. I'll keep Schiller's on my list and definitely bring others back with me.


1849 is your home away from home. Friendly atmosphere, superb food, and a staff who care. We also grind our own burgers, which taste great and are considered to be the best burgers in town! So come in to 1849 today where our philosophy is to be the best at everything!

1849 barI came across 1849 while looking for a quick bite to eat in the village before heading to a concert at a nearby club. The happy hour specials were enticing–5¢ beers with the purchase of an appetizer–as was the atmosphere: red velvet sofas and chairs with trophy bison and deer mounted on the brick walls, with music playing pretty loudly. It was kind of western saloon meets sports bar. And who can turn down 5¢ beers?!

We ordered chips and guacamole as one appetizer, which were fine though the guac serving was rather small. I've been craving BBQ since I came to NYC–It's tough to get good BBQ in the city (though I've got a few places in mind to try out), and I can't grill myself–so for my meal I ordered the appetizer portion of ribs. They were good and messy as ribs should be, though a little dry. The portion was just right really, I didn't need a full order by any means. As the burgers come recommended, V ordered one, and I tried a bite or two. It was good, but nothing to write home about (ironic, no?).

1849 has a great atmosphere and reasonable prices, but be careful: though our beers were each a nickel, the check had a 20% service charge for table service (even for just the two of us)! Next time I'll go back just for a drink.

The Westside Brewing Co.

I liked The Westside Brewing Co. on the upper west side, and I really enjoyed the neighborhood too, being that I'd basically never explored it before. The restaurant was crowded, and really centered on its wide variety of beers (I had one of my Belgian favorites, Kwak!). I had black bean soup and the chicken satay, both appetizers. The satay was very peanutty, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Overall the restaurant had a cool atmosphere, was packed for a Thursday evening and the service was above par. Beers were reasonably priced for their wide variety, and as a bonus each was served in its appropriate glass! If I'm back in the neighborhood, Id try it again.

Tenth Avenue Cookshop

Cookshop presents the ideal combination of great American food, prepared by Chef Marc Meyer, warm hospitality and meaningful design to west Chelsea. At the heart and soul of Cookshop lies the owners’ commitment to bringing an honest seasonal dining option to New York City coupled with an exceptional beverage program.

I was invited along to a birthday dinner at the Tenth Avenue Cookshop in Chelsea on a rainy Sunday night, and boy was I lucky. It was an amazing meal from start to finish, punctuated with a collection of even better wines than ran the course from champagne to white, red, and sweet. Wow. Thanks.

That assortment of wines means there were a lot of foods to pair it with. We started off with a few "snacks" and sides as they were called on the menu. There was a sweetbread 'nugget' that was tasty, though I had to go home and look up sweetbread. The kitchen did a nice job of preparing it. It wasn't too greasy or chewy, it was simply a unique meat nugget. I also had to look up Hominy, which was served in a basket, fried, in little bean-sized pieces, and tasted a lot like pine nuts. We also had a side of fries with a spicy mayo which were very good. The hefty portion was served in a medium-large bowl; the fries were shorter than what you'd typically expect. Spices gave them a darker color, but they weren't coated in something like curly fries from a fast-food chain. The deviled egg was also very good.

After this we had starters...both V and I ordered the soup, which was perfect for a rainy night. It had some kind of grain or barley element that gave it an interesting texture, and mushrooms. Unfortunately I can't remember all the ingredients, but suffice it to say it was home style and hearty, but not too filling, because we had our main course to come.

I had some of the best sea scallops I've ever tasted as a main course, served with mashed potatoes. I feel like scallops are usually something that is pretty consistent from place to place, because they aren't cooked to order, but somehow these were better than most any I've had before. The outside of each scallop was crispy while the inside was tender and had no graininess whatsoever. V's order was the pork chop with 'drunken beans' which I almost had to look up too (fortunately our server explained that they are black beans cooked in ale). The chop was thick but tender. The beans were served hot, and a little spicy. I liked the beans better than the mashed potatoes.

Closing out the meal we tried the Baked Alaska (which I had to look up) and the chocolate cake. Both were very good and served as a great way to end our meal. The atmosphere in the restaurant was very nice, it has a simple decor, with mostly white walls, and fun chalk boards with a diagram of a pig mounted in one corner. There was a huge rotisserie and stone oven right next to our table which made it a little hot, but seeing into that part of the kitchen was cool. Overall it was an amazing meal, and as I said above, I was lucky to be there. Thanks again!

Fatty's Cafe (2)

Back in February when I first tried Fatty's Cafe, I said I'd be back. And so it goes. The second time around, I was still amazed that this little place that's "totally off the beaten path" was so crowded and so pleasing, in so many ways. Because I've been there before, I won't go into the atmosphere etc, just the food and service.

The Saturday night crowd meant we had to wait a few minutes at the bar for a table, but we were seated quickly, we barely had a chance to have a glass of wine. The restaurant is so small that I believe in the first 10 minutes we were there we interacted with every member of the staff. And they were all very friendly.

After a positive experience with the grilled cheese last time we asked what today's special was. Our waiter didn't know, but did his best to try to convince us to order it as a mystery appetizer. We were tempted but ended up going with the black bean bowl again. For the main course I was tempted by the hangar steak (see Central Kitchen), but we went with the previously tempting burrito, and the "charity burger," $2 of which goes to charity (I forgot to ask to what charity it goes, but I still feel good about my choice).

The burrito, "A big fat tortilla stuffed with rice, beans, peppers, onions, cheese and steak" was good but nothing special. (I think I just wasn't in the mood for Mexican; good thing it was V's order.) It had some strong flavors and the meat was tasty. My bites seemed to have a lot more rice than anything else.

The burger is served with avocado, tomato, sprouts, garlic aioli, anejo rum ketchup and blue cheese. I went without the bun and just ate the burger with knife and fork. The combination of flavors was amazing. It is quite a list, but I really enjoyed tasting it all in every bite. The flavors and textures made for a dinner that was definitely not just about the burger, but about how it all came together. On the side were sweet potato fries. They were crispy, salty and sweet, making for a great contrast to the softer and more savory burger.

Once again, a dinner that puts Fatty's as one of my favorite spots. The food was cheap but good, the service was friendly, the atmosphere is great, and as a bonus, it is within walking distance of my apartment. You can't ask for much more.

Central Kitchen

A tempting picture of Tuna Steak Frites in Time Out New York brought us to dinner at Central Kitchen. I called ahead to make a reservation and it wasn't too hard to get a good time even at the last minute, though when we arrived it did seem fairly crowded. We were seated in the main dining room which has the open kitchen so you can see some of your meal being prepared. Of course, I was seated with my back to the kitchen, oh well. Maybe I'm becoming more aware of the atmosphere I dine in because like Zoe, Central Kitchen had a nice smell, or perhaps it was the open kitchen that just let more aromas out into the dining area.

The menu was carefully put together, just a short list of unique offerings. We skipped appetizers and ordered the tuna and the hangar steak, which is one of my favorite cuts. I was also tempted by the spareribs, and the scallops (which came with a creamy, aromatic sauce). Both dishes were different than we expected, but both were very good.

The weird thing about the tuna dish was its temperature. We knew we would be getting rare meat, but when I have tuna like this I expect it to be hot off the grill or cool from the sushi bar. This was more warm. I'm not saying it was bad, it was just that the temperature surprised me. The other surprise was the frites, they weren't like any other fries I've ever tried. I would call them shoe-lace fries (not to be confused with shoe string fries). They were long and flat, thus the shoe-lace description (shoe string fries are shorter), extremely crunchy, and not greasy at all. It was definitely a unique preparation. When you can go to just about any restaurant and get french fries of some kind, this was a nice variation.

Hangar steak comes from the cow's shoulder area and is generally very flavorful but a little tough. It is my favorite steak of all time, at least on the menu at Ray's the Steaks, a small restaurant right outside Washington, D.C. in Arlington, Va. (I generally just groan with pleasure with every bite there, while trying not to embarrass myself too much.)

Central Kitchen had tough competition. Their offering was another unique preparation. In this case the sauce served with the steak, "a port wine reduction" really wowed me. The dish wasn't the same as Ray's, and that was fine with me. The sauce was intensely flavorful and reminded me of something else I've had before, I couldn't figure out what that was, but I liked it. The steak was flavorful and not too tough. It was sliced across the grain of the meat, which (as I've learned from Good Eats) can actually make the meat more tender. The dish was also served with asparagus and roasted garlic. The garlic was a whole bulb, roasted till each clove was brown and sweet. It still had a sharp taste but was very nice on its own, or eaten with a bite of steak. I would say that I can't really compare this hangar steak to Ray's because the preparations were so different, one very simple (Ray's serves meat on a plate) and one very sophisticated.

Central Kitchen put forth a very unique and delicious meal. I liked the surprises we encountered along the way, and wasn't too surprised by the bill, which wasn't too outrageous!


The focus of Zoë is our open kitchen with its wood burning oven, grill and rotisserie.

Zoe RestaurantWhen I walked into Zoë, the first thing I noticed was the smell. The aroma was sort of like fresh bread, kind of sweet and yeasty, it contented me to stay for a while. The menu looked a little pricey but their bar offerings were reasonable, so that's where I sat. I later discovered that they have a chef's counter where the culinary team will personally explain what they're preparing and provide tips from the chef! (I don't care if it is technically for kids, I'm going back to eat there.)

From the bar menu I ordered a mushroom pizza, made with a variety of seasonal mushrooms, pesto, bacon and goat cheese. When it came out of the oven it was topped with a good portion of arugula. This whole combination had a wonderful aroma and a great combination of flavors and textures. It was really unlike any other pizza I've ever had. There were several types of mushrooms, which I probably couldn't identify but which were quite tasty and really not that mushroomy. The pesto added a nice garlic flavor and the goat cheese was flavorful but not too chalky which it sometimes can be.

As I enjoyed my dinner I took a look around the restaurant. It seems pretty big for its location, with the open kitchen at the back. The ceiling looked like it was red velvet or some other fabric, and there were interesting "fourteen-foot terra cotta columns" throughout the space. The crowd varied from families to business travelers with several groups of friends meeting up for a glass of wine. The bartender definitely knew what he was talking about when it came to wines. The servers too seemed very knowledgeable and friendly. Sitting at the bar I overheard some of their conversation and I could tell they cared about the customers and treating them well.

Though it was a shade on the expensive side ($25 for my pizza and a beer), I was definitely satisfied and am excited to come back and try more from the Zoë menu and chef's counter.

SoHo Cafe & Grill

SoHo Cafe & Grill isn't even in SoHo. It is a little restaurant near my Astoria apartment. Situated below "The Rock" fitness center, from what I can tell, it caters to that health-centered crowd with fresh juices and other health-food. Ironically it was the waffle-fries on the take-out menu that enticed me to try it out. I've eaten there s a few times now and am still not sure how I feel about the whole experience.

The first time we were there we tried wraps including the California Shrimp Wrap with avocado, mesculin greens and sundried tomato; and the Sicilian Wrap with grilled chicken, mozzarella, peppers, and lettuce. Both wraps were slightly off in one way or another. The shrimp was little baby shrimp that wasn't particularly appealing, while there was so much chicken in the other wrap we had to take at least half of it out just to eat it, though the mozzarella was very fresh and added a lot to the wrap. Really our favorite item was the black bean salad served on the side.

On a second visit I had a delicious and filling Cobb salad. It had plenty of shredded chicken, a good coating of dressing, large chunks of avocado and a good portion of bacon. It was probably more than I needed to eat, but at least seemed healthy! I saw but didn't try the tuna melt, which looked more like it came from my toaster oven at home than from a restaurant's kitchen - it was on thin sliced plain bread and had what appeared to be process American cheese melted on top. It was served alone on the plate - a little garnish would have gone a long way toward changing my first impression of the dish.

One other complaint about SoHo Cafe is the clatter of the juice machine. On our first visit we were seated right next to it and the noise was understandable but annoying. On our second visit, we were seated almost as far from the machine as we could get and it was still noisy and irritating to talk over while enjoying our meal. I guess I'll occasionally drop in for something at this conveniently located and affordable cafe, but I don't plan on dining-in much more.