The Best C Grade Restaurants

May 29
theworstroom:

Midtown East, Manhattan. $775.00
“lots of light, high ceilings”

This is my old apartment and besides the admittedly ridiculous bedrooms, is a great space, with high ceilings throughout the rest of the flat, postcard views of the 59th Street Bridge, a kitchen that’s gargantuan by Manhattan standards and a bathroom with a hot tub. It’s also near the 59th/Lex subway stop. While this does sound like a ripoff, you get over the low ceiling in a week. 

theworstroom:

Midtown East, Manhattan. $775.00

“lots of light, high ceilings”

This is my old apartment and besides the admittedly ridiculous bedrooms, is a great space, with high ceilings throughout the rest of the flat, postcard views of the 59th Street Bridge, a kitchen that’s gargantuan by Manhattan standards and a bathroom with a hot tub. It’s also near the 59th/Lex subway stop. While this does sound like a ripoff, you get over the low ceiling in a week. 

May 18

Mini-update, Greenwood Heights

Points deducted by DOH: I’ll say 28. I used the Target knock-off of Pine-Sol to clean my kitchen, which probably smells too woodsy and not enough like a urinal cake to be institutionally fresh.

Went to a great blogging event last night at The Bell House, sponsored by fantasthico blogs Brooklyn Based, The Skint, Brokelyn and [Buggered] in Park Slope.* Someone thought C Grade Restaurants was written by a dude. Well, I guess if the bushy eyebrows and contralto voice fit…

Nope.

*because while good ol’ American potty mouths need to be bleeped, British cussing is cute, quirky and intellectual. It’s like the PBS of swearing!

May 04

Reasons/excuses for the hiatus and a reason/excuse to write

So to my pleasant surprise, people were reading this blog. And liked it. From DUMBO to DC (admittedly just a swath of the New Jersey Turnpike and some crossing the Delaware business, but I digress) I’ve gotten in-person accolades and inquiries as to the status of C-Grade Restaurants. And courtesy Google Analytics, I’ve seen that people who aren’t even my Facebook friends have been clicking in to read my adventurous exploits—thanks Gothamist readers!

Long story short, I had to leave post-haste a C-grade—wait, no, utterly failing and had to be shut down immediately—craphole of a Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill/Wallabout/Whatever is the Most Recent Douchey-Realtor Term for No Man’s Land near the Bedford-Nostrand G stop apartment (Bedford Hill, the newsfolk tell me).

On the bill of fare on that swath of (mumble mumble) Street were bedbugs; mice; a shower that fired off a nuclear blast of hot water anytime anyone within a one-mile radius flushed the toilet; and backyard neighbors who ran some sort of hipster urban farming commune with a chainsaw that got fired up at 6 a.m./5 a.m. Central (Hawaii tape delay?) and was up until 3 a.m., when the participants assembled for their musical act whose sound is reminiscent of The Dirty Projectors-meets-Robin S-meets- some other 90s-one-hit wonder-meets-that singing saw guy who plays at Atlantic Terminal during the evening rush hour. That, on top of a fair bout of depression, didn’t really put this food blog as a top priority.

Not to say it wasn’t on my mind. Let’s journey back some seven months to my maiden post, John’s Coffee and Donut. Back when I was in the nabe, I was quite the regular there—so much in fact, that I had come to be known among the staff as “Laundry Girl.”

The last time I ate there was my last full day of being a resident of the 11205. I got my usual, corned beef hash with eggs done sunny-side up (the eggy goo absorbs better than over easy), complete with rye toast and home fries. I ask for the bill and foist over $6, including tip.

An older gentleman looks over at me, smiles and says, “That’s a pretty great price for a breakfast, there.” I respond, “Yes, and for so much food!” (Bordering on Hemingway-level terseness, I know.)

He begins to talk to me about how the neighborhood, his childhood home, has changed over the past 30 years and how he was excited to have just returned to Brooklyn to kick his a cappella group back into gear. “Oh, what’s the name of your band?”

“No band, just voices.”

“Well, the group then.”

The Persuasions.”

C you later. 

Nov 04
stuffhipstershate:

 
The “eee”
As we have already explored months back, hipsters hate dancing at concerts. This is a fact that we have only gathered more evidence to support in the ensuing, festival-laden months. It’s basically fucking gospel. But if there’s one thing that hipsters disdain more than dipping down low to the Drums or shaking their hips to Suckers, it when someone else does. And if there’s anything they loathe more than when someone else does, it’s when someone else does with all their heart. 
What does said action entail? Well, take a look at the front row during your next live show (where nary a hipster would deign to stand — “That’s so fucking pandering, man… You gonna lick the bassist’s boot?”) Most likely, you will spot said person, the most dreaded of all concert-goers: the eccentric, enthusiastic exhibitionist. For the sake of space, we will henceforth refer to said entity as the “eee” (which is by no means commentary on a similarly monikered book by novelist Tao Lin).
The eee is the glow-sticking wielding girl who busts out her best ballet moves in the front row of French Horn Rebellion gig at the Studio. He’s the lanky, cape-wearing fellow who contorts his Jack Skellington-like limbs into a complicated interpretive dance during a set by the Depreciation Guild, almost tumbling into the crowd behind him when he stretches one booted foot dramatically into the air and raises his hands in supplication to the Hochheim twins (who he is convinced are some kind of optical trick of his acid-addled brain). In short: the eee is fucking annoying. Still, it is not merely the buffoonery that turns the hipster off — it’s the competition.
You see, while a hipster is not likely to gyrate his heart out to Girls in public, if there’s going to be a David Bowie dance-off at a Halloween bash to “Magic Dance” (“Can you believe that two of us came as Jareth?”), you best believe that your average hipster will step it up. With balls — crystal balls, that is. 
So when a hipster sees the eee dancing his or her soul out with wild abandon, a primal urge arises within his very core: The urge to show this fucker up. To snatch the glow sticks from that chick’s hand and rave with the best of them. To rain dance the acid-addled shaman into oblivion. Sadly, however, he knows that to do so would be degrading the show that he is currently attending — drawing attention away from the worthy musicians pouring their life juices out onto the liquor-tacky stage — so he sulks in silence, glaring at the eee like the embodiment of his wasted, crushed dreams.
Good thing he has a gig with his band (they all have bands), this Saturday, though — he’s totally going to yoink those glow-sticking moves and incorporate more spiritual undertones into his stage show this time around.
(Photo)

stuffhipstershate:

The “eee”

As we have already explored months back, hipsters hate dancing at concerts. This is a fact that we have only gathered more evidence to support in the ensuing, festival-laden months. It’s basically fucking gospel. But if there’s one thing that hipsters disdain more than dipping down low to the Drums or shaking their hips to Suckers, it when someone else does. And if there’s anything they loathe more than when someone else does, it’s when someone else does with all their heart

What does said action entail? Well, take a look at the front row during your next live show (where nary a hipster would deign to stand — “That’s so fucking pandering, man… You gonna lick the bassist’s boot?”) Most likely, you will spot said person, the most dreaded of all concert-goers: the eccentric, enthusiastic exhibitionist. For the sake of space, we will henceforth refer to said entity as the “eee” (which is by no means commentary on a similarly monikered book by novelist Tao Lin).

The eee is the glow-sticking wielding girl who busts out her best ballet moves in the front row of French Horn Rebellion gig at the Studio. He’s the lanky, cape-wearing fellow who contorts his Jack Skellington-like limbs into a complicated interpretive dance during a set by the Depreciation Guild, almost tumbling into the crowd behind him when he stretches one booted foot dramatically into the air and raises his hands in supplication to the Hochheim twins (who he is convinced are some kind of optical trick of his acid-addled brain). In short: the eee is fucking annoying. Still, it is not merely the buffoonery that turns the hipster off — it’s the competition.

You see, while a hipster is not likely to gyrate his heart out to Girls in public, if there’s going to be a David Bowie dance-off at a Halloween bash to “Magic Dance” (“Can you believe that two of us came as Jareth?”), you best believe that your average hipster will step it up. With balls — crystal balls, that is. 

So when a hipster sees the eee dancing his or her soul out with wild abandon, a primal urge arises within his very core: The urge to show this fucker up. To snatch the glow sticks from that chick’s hand and rave with the best of them. To rain dance the acid-addled shaman into oblivion. Sadly, however, he knows that to do so would be degrading the show that he is currently attending — drawing attention away from the worthy musicians pouring their life juices out onto the liquor-tacky stage — so he sulks in silence, glaring at the eee like the embodiment of his wasted, crushed dreams.

Good thing he has a gig with his band (they all have bands), this Saturday, though — he’s totally going to yoink those glow-sticking moves and incorporate more spiritual undertones into his stage show this time around.

(Photo)

Nov 03

Lao Bei Fang Dumpling & Hand-Drawn Noodle House, Elmhurst

DOH Violation Points as of 6/23/2010: 47

Like Marco Polo did some seven centuries ago (but Marco Rubio likely will never bother doing), I got the spark to explore the known unknowns. For Marco Polo, that was going east to hobnob with Kublai Khan and whatnot. For me, as ridiculous as this may sound (conjuring this infamous Vanity Fair article on Williamsburg), it was going to Elmhurst, Queens.

Unlike the well-connected upstart who wrote that piece, however, I flit between Williamsburg and the Upper East Side with ease, having lived on the edges of either village.  What’s more, I’ve even been to Elmhurst before and wasn’t scared away, unlike our fair voyageuse to Williamsburg. But I digress.

To be fair, the thing that first pulled me to the neighborhood was one of NYC’s two Sally Beauty Supply locations. But what pulled me back to this charming nabe on Queens Blvd, besides budget-priced salon-quality cosmetology products, was the host of cheap and tantalizing restos. Needing to make a Sally’s run for spray-on highlights for my sorority girl Halloween costume, I made a day of it and stumbled across noodle mecca Lao Bei Fang Dumpling and Hand-Pulled Noodle House. 

The day I first went, I forgot my digital camera, so I doubled back, snapped a pic of its locked-up exterior and headed to its A-grade sister location around the corner at 86-08 Whitney Avenue. But back to the point: furthering my tenuous-at-best Marco Polo metaphor, I walked into the heavenly sight of noodle dough being beaten, stretched and sliced into carbo-loaded perfection.

For the tidy sum of $4.25, such riches can be yours, topped with pork wontons. Dig around in your purse past the lint-covered cough drops for some more change and for $4.95, try the chain’s signature dish, beef hand-drawn noodle soup. At the A-grade location, pork and chive dumplings come four for a $1.25, good enough for a nosh on an unemployment insurance budget. The C-grade spot likewise has bargain treasures. Try some of the selections on the “staple” section of the menu: three beef or pork toast pancakes for $1.25, bean paste buns for 50 cents apiece; or splash out for a 75-cent vegetable bun.

Feeling a bit more peckish? Or want a cute date food not involving cheese fondue?* For $15.99 per person (plus a $2 service fee), go for the hot pot. Steam away in your own tureen various preps of tofu and egg along with udon, rice, ho fun or green bean noodles. A cold appetizer, pancake, bun, noodles and soda are included. Finally, something to do with me winter nights.

C you later.

*Cheese fondue is never a cute date food. Especially when at least one member of the party is lactose intolerant.

Oct 28

Wasabi, Greenpoint

DOH Violation Points (as of 6/23/2010): 52

When Greenpoint’s dining options come to mind, the cuisines one would expect in the nabe are those of the locals:

Polish food.

Mexican.

Hipster.

At first glance, Japanese restaurant Wasabi appears to fit neatly into none of those categories. Yet with its rock-bottom priced lunches, even the most destitute of the flannel-clad can step inside for a roll or two. Speaking from experience with my Polish fam, pierogies can get tiresome after a point; and as for the Greenpoint Mexican community, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to eat that day in and day out, yet I guess as with most other things (Kids in the Hall clips and the Apple II series emulator certainly not falling under that umbrella), one can OD.

And are the three interconnected? Letsa see.

One stifling afternoon this past August, an underemployed, overeducated aesthete with a penchant for vintage clothing and the Factory Records back catalog had a hankering for some Polish home cookin’ (and free air-conditioning in a bid for respite from my 1907 Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy border area heat trap). One G train schlep later, the searing McCarren Park sunshine illuminated the home-cooked sign hanging in Lozymnianka’s window:

Closed for vacation until August 26 (the exact date I don’t remember).

Double take.

Double back a few doors over to Wasabi to 638 Manhattan Ave.

Air-conditioning? Check.

TVs inexplicably tuned to financial news? Yup, just like Lozymanianka.

And cheapie lunch? Absolutely.

Over the lunch hour, Wasabi (actually part of a mini-chain) serves up bento boxes for as low as $6.95 (chicken yaki-tori) and up to $10.95 (for una-ju, broiled eel over rice). Most of the bento boxes are $7.25, including my choice,  the chicken tori-katsu, which compared favorably to that which I remembered from my days living as an expat, ordering in lunch from Wagamama. In addition to the main dish of choice, the bentos come with salad, rice and gyoza. Ah, pierogies à la japonaise.

Come nightfall, Wasabi features your usual host of rolls and sushi, in addition to local nods, the Brooklyn Roll  (with shrimp tempura, fresh crab meat, avocado, eel, fresh mango), the Ridgewood roll (shrimp tempura, eel, mango, cucumber) and the Nassau roll (shrimp tempura, yamagobo, mixed green salad, grilled pineapple topped with lobster salad served with shrimp paste sauce). That sounds decidedly more Hawaiian inspired than anything that could come to pass at a Williamsburg/Greenpoint G train stop, much less in a county on Long Island, however. Perhaps it’s in honor of the capital of the Bahamas?

In any event, I’m eagerly awaiting a roll named in honor of the nabe. Because in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, that’s how we roll. 11222 maki, here we come. And to answer my earlier quandary, burritos, a Mexican dish, are indeed rolled up. So there.

C you later. 

Oct 07
stuffhipstershate:

iPod Earbuds
When we come upon the average hipster in his or natural habitat — sitting on a park bench contemplating his shiftless life, ruminating about Rumi on a train car, skulking over a cup on half-cold coffee, trying to compose the perfect blase comment to throw up on his lady love’s Facebook wall — it is very likely, nay certain, that said hipster will be adorned with a rather impressive set of headphones. Said headphones will be brightly colored, and engulf his gauged ears (a remnent from his foolish pre-teenage years) like the comforting arms of a rather hefty housewife — one who smells faintly of freshly baked bread.
Yes, safe within the warm embrace of his Electric Animal Skullcandy ‘phones, the hipster floats — carried away by the dulcet tones of Total Slacker as they monotonously drone about “creepos” — wondering, probably rightly so — whether said lyrics apply to him as well. (He has been hitting up that chick’s FB wall like a stalker on a sugar high lately.)What you will never see, gentle reader, anywhere near the inquisitive ears of that Facebooking fiend is a set of in-ear, cheap-ass earbuds (You know, the kind that come with your iPod). No. Death.  first. The hipster will likely give you a litany of excuses as to why he has chosen not to mingle wax with buds in order to blast the latest Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti jam into his craven cranium, blathering on about sound quality and how he would totally snag some of those Ultrasone Edition 10’s if only he had the capital (or was down with selling his body for sound).
Still, despite his protestations, there is one simple, crystal-cut reason why he abstains from Apple’s audio offering: So every fucking person in the room will know he’s listening to jams, and every fucking person in the room will assume — given the quality of the goods — that those jams are good… even if he’s actually listening to that one Justin Timberlake jam on loop.

stuffhipstershate:

iPod Earbuds

When we come upon the average hipster in his or natural habitat — sitting on a park bench contemplating his shiftless life, ruminating about Rumi on a train car, skulking over a cup on half-cold coffee, trying to compose the perfect blase comment to throw up on his lady love’s Facebook wall — it is very likely, nay certain, that said hipster will be adorned with a rather impressive set of headphones. Said headphones will be brightly colored, and engulf his gauged ears (a remnent from his foolish pre-teenage years) like the comforting arms of a rather hefty housewife — one who smells faintly of freshly baked bread.

Yes, safe within the warm embrace of his Electric Animal Skullcandy ‘phones, the hipster floats — carried away by the dulcet tones of Total Slacker as they monotonously drone about “creepos” — wondering, probably rightly so — whether said lyrics apply to him as well. (He has been hitting up that chick’s FB wall like a stalker on a sugar high lately.)

What you will never see, gentle reader, anywhere near the inquisitive ears of that Facebooking fiend is a set of in-ear, cheap-ass earbuds (You know, the kind that come with your iPod). No. Death.  first. The hipster will likely give you a litany of excuses as to why he has chosen not to mingle wax with buds in order to blast the latest Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti jam into his craven cranium, blathering on about sound quality and how he would totally snag some of those Ultrasone Edition 10’s if only he had the capital (or was down with selling his body for sound).

Still, despite his protestations, there is one simple, crystal-cut reason why he abstains from Apple’s audio offering: So every fucking person in the room will know he’s listening to jams, and every fucking person in the room will assume — given the quality of the goods — that those jams are good… even if he’s actually listening to that one Justin Timberlake jam on loop.

Oct 07
timeoutnewyork:

laughingsquid:

Scouting NY Tours Tom Otterness’ Brooklyn Studio

Love this guy
Oct 03

The Diner, Meatpacking District


The Diner, Meatpacking District

DOH Violation Points: 43

Within equal stumbling distance of the High Line and the transit mecca that is the 14th Street A/C/E/L station (get to Harlem, JFK *and* Williamsburg—from one station!) is The Diner, the purposefully blasé name of the late-night go-to for lower Manhattan’s untz-untz crowd.

Slurp too many Flirtinis during that dj set at Kiss ‘n Fly? Air-kiss too many cheeks at Pastis? At that last Ivy Plus Society mixer held at the Cabana at the Maritime Hotel, Gansevoort or whatever is the newest Slightly Douchey Quasi-Eurotrash establishment, did you ever have the following conversation? For our purposes, pretend you’re the chick in this scenario:

MALE PENN FINANCE GRAD WHO READ THE GAME: Hey, you have a gap between your teeth.

                                FEMALE YOU: Excuse me?

                                GAMER: You should try Invisalign.

                                YOU: [give him a *look*]

                                GAMER: Do you wear contacts?

                                YOU: Um, no, why?

                                GAMER: You blink a lot.

YOU: [moving conversation along] So, I went to the University of Chicago. Where did you go? [Full personal disclosure: when a U of C alum oozes social grace in comparison, it doesn’t bode well.]

GAMER: Wharton [note that he doesn’t say “Penn”]. You need to lose a few. [shoves latest iPhone purchased a block away at Apple store in my direction]. Give me your number.

YOU: Of course, you studly former Bear of the Stearns persuasion, my insecure self is ready to throw myself onto you for a magical evening at your Murray Hill high-rise that was originally condo but went rental after those securities you backed with mortgages morphed into nothing more than steaming, glistening piles of macroeconomy-sucking debt. [at his mobile device throw cocktail made with the open bar’s sponsored brand of vodka and scoop up college bud milking the last of the free well drinks]

My friends, this is when you head to The Diner to recoup the evening’s losses and attempt to come out in the nightlife black. Open 24 hours for your alcohol-absorbing, relationship-buffering and all-around satiety-inducing needs, the menu encapsulates page upon page of comfort cuisine.

My usual choice is the spaghetti and meatballs. Beyond being its usual carb- and protein-laden fiesta guaranteed to send me into a food coma the second my head hits the pillow after that E train ride home, the dish is steadfast in its simple execution. A sprig of parsley does give it that extra The Diner touch; that is, if the onsite DJ didn’t already do so.

Yes, that’s right. Where most diner-type establishments stop with coffee-fueled wait staff invective as entertainment, The Diner goes that extra step and continues the Meatpacking District ambience with some deck-hitting action. Only hear that Justice remix of “Electric Feel” by MGMT thrice that evening? Dun worry, it’ll be cued up faster than you can say “pump it up!”

That is, if they were playing MARRS. Which would be awesome.

Should your Meatpacking District compadres be done with drinking before you, not to worry, The Diner has a full bar so you can top off those pancakes with a Manhattan.

Just be sure you can manage to head downstairs to The Diner’s biff (no, really; you have to head down a flight of stairs) before you take the L back to Brooklyn and never deign to admit to your neighbors that you spent the evening in the MPD. 

C you later. 

Sep 29

C Grade Resto Édition Inaugurale: John’s Coffee and Donut, Clinton Hill

DOH Violation Points: 44

Guttache: No

Guttache level index: Tea Pepto Kaopectate Cipro N/A

ETA: the DOH hasn’t issued a grade yet. But it did score in the C range (more than 28 points).

This first post goes out to my neighborhood love here in the 11205, John’s Coffee and Donut. What better way to kick off this Tumblr account than with a write-up of a place located on Myrtle Avenue?

I’m talking about syllabic r, of course. Must. Use. Linguistics BA.

Over the past decade, the street has gone from “Murder Avenue” of hip-hop lore to hipster/breederized BID (business investment district, for those of you not privy to local government terminology). Yet all the while, little John’s Coffee and Donut has remained resolute, with its no-nonsense red sign with yellow block lettering. What, with the red signs of Liberty Pizza and the Associated grocery store across the street, the strip is already color coordinated sans help of extra taxes per store square foot. It’s almost as if it always were some Disneyified version of Brooklyn.

Well, almost.

In terms of menu selection, John’s Coffee and Donut lives up to its name; although I can’t vouch for whether or not it once had someone named John as proprietor. I can deduct, however, that the place is in your standard Greek diner vein: in addition to strong coffee, donuts that shame their chain counterparts and your usual hangover-removing French toast et al, it has an array of gyros, salads and American entrees such as hot turkey and gravy. You know, the kind of stuff you see old people gumming at all-you-can-eat restaurants. Not that I’ve ever seen anyone order items from the latter two categories whilst dining at John’s Coffee and Donut, so I can’t give an authentic nod as to whether their Salisbury steak or whatever-the-hey-John’s-calls-it exceeds my Old Country Buffetstandards.  

Out of the 10 or so times I’ve visited, I could break down my selections as to 5 times with corned beef hash and eggs; 4 with French toast and bacon or sausage; and once I ordered a bacon cheeseburger deluxe, meaning with fries and the other usual accoutrements. None of those meals caused abdominal distress, and none cost more than 7 bucks. The bacon burger is the big ticket item; the hash and eggs is four and change.

I’m usually an over-easy fan, although with hash I tend to go the sunny side up route—the yolk soaks better into the meat mush that way. I recall my sunny side white once being slightly undercooked, although I suffered no ill effects. I guess you could call it “playing Egg Nog Roulette.”

In terms of ambience, like its sign, the interior abides by John’s Coffee and Donut’s apparent mantra of “what you see is what you get.” There are a few booths reserved for parties of two or more; plus some budget pressed-wood tables in the back, occasionally permissible to single diners. But to take in the sheer joy of John’s C and D, head up to the lunch counter. Revel in the banter of the Clinton Hill coterie as you see your bacon frying some three feet away. The Metromix review of the place calls it “clausterphobic” [sic]. It also still mentions Vesper Bar as a top neighborhood pick, despite it being smashed in a June 2009 building collapse.

Sorry, I’m mad at Metromix for spamming my Twitter account with Built to Spill pix. This being said, I agree with its “up to par” cleanliness designation for John’s.

Unless you’re coming with a large group (or are like, super famished), bring enough cash. They only take credit cards for orders of $10 or more. And at John’s Coffee and Donut, that’s a whole lotta food.

C you later.