There once was a thing called “Meatopia”  (If I was a radio DJ I would be punctuating with air horn blasts the spaces between paragraphs, so imagine one sounding off now if you will.)

Don’t believe the hype. DON”T BELIEVE THE HYPE. I’m speaking for the little guy here. If you read a good thing about this farcical festival of food, you read an untruth.

Mista Bee buzzin with a review of the first annual “Meatopia” a so called food festival.

You’ve never seen a bee, a little flying bee, wait in a line of people to get some food before have ya?  But wait I did in several lines, waiting for a meaty morsel patiently, waiting waiting, and then as each food vendor ran out of food, you read that right, (food vendors out of food?) I was told along with all the people in line waiting “sorry we’re out of food.”

As each of the 30 “Meatopia” food vendors ran out, so on it went each line getting longer, and before a taste of food the vendor would inform the line “sorry all out.”

For two and a half hours I waited and was not fed a scrap. The bullshit of it all was the food was pre-paid for, I’d paid 45$ for 6 tastes. I thought innocently “Meatopia…six tastes…hamburger…hotdog..ribs…pulled pork…lamb…maybe some meat i’d never tried like rabbit?Yumms!  I’d bought a ticket online and I showed up hungry and with 3-4 hours left of this so called Meatopia. I expected to eat, heck I’d spent 45$, anybody living in Cleveland can feed their two kids for a week on that much cash. TRUE.

I’d say there was a hell and I was in it if I wasn’t a bumble bee.

Sad and Hungry, if it was Meatopia I’d witnessed the fall of it.

Final notes, I’d like to say damn Meatopia’s creators, kiss my bee hind now and in the next years to come jerks, and I’d also like to thank  Meatopia for ruining my afternoon. lucky I don’t sting ya.

Doan goes to Mikey’s Burger

A couple of weeks ago while trying to enjoy myself in the Lower East Side a friend of mine and I went to get some post drink snacks at Mikey’s Burger, the latest offering from lower Manhattan’s leader of Vietnamication, Michael “Bao” Huynh, the guy behind Baoguette and Bia. A smallish, tiled greasy spoon, Mikey’s Burger just sells burgers, hotdogs, fries and shakes, mixing in elements of Southeast Asia with the classics of American fast food.
My friend Steve and I, after glancing over the menu, decided to go with the The Mikey, which is a burger topped with onions, corned beef, and pickled mustard seed. We perched ourselves on two stools by the fryer and watched as the cooks took out and shaped fresh hamburger patties and cooked them to order on the grill. I also took note that the precooked fries were kept oiled in a tray before they hit the fryer, which, while I dont know much about frying, struck me as a pretty interesting approach as I always assumed blanching was the way to go when making fries. Either way if and when I ever decide to make my own french fries, I might give that approach a try, but then again we didn’t get the fries so I have no idea if they were any good. Anyways, after about 5 minutes, we got our burgers, served in little paper tries. I proceeded to pour some Sriracha on the burger and dig in. The first thing I noticed was that the burger itself was juicy and thick, as they went with the more patted down ball of meat approach as opposed to the patty. But beyond that I didnt really taste the corned beef or the mustard seed. All in all it wasn’t a bad burger, and it really hit the spot at 3AM, however it’s a tad bit pricey ($5.50…I guess it could be worse), but when you’re drunk at 3AM, everything seems like a great idea.

Doan goes to Bark.

These are not my dogs nor is this a picture i took. But these are dogs from Bark.

Today I made a trek through the snow globe that has become the northeast to Bark Hot Dogs, a newish(?) semi-upscale hot dog spot in Park Slope.

The interior is nice, modern, sparse, and sort of fancy what with its wood panelling, plain white brick walls, and long communal bar benches, which I always think is a crucial set up when ever hotdogs and burgers are involved. But enough about the interior, I’m here to talk about the dogs, and they were…ok. I got my usual litmus test dogs, chili cheese and sauerkraut with mustard, and a lemon-lime FoxOn Park soda. After a 5 or so minute wait, my order came out on a nice little metal tray lined with butcher paper. The first thing I noticed was that they went for the “just right” approach with the toppings. As opposed to some hot dog places like say, Happy Dog in Cleveland who overload your dog to the point that you need a knife and fork, Bark put just the right amount so that things were spilling out all over the place while you ate or overpowering the fairly slender dog (oddly enough though, my chili cheese dog sort of ended up leaning to one side of the paper tray it sat in and the chili and melted cheese ended up adhering to the tray so I used a knife and fork anyways). The second thing I noticed was that the dogs were longer than the bun and curled up on the sides. The weiners had a nice snap and fairly mellow hot dog flavor, which I think could be attributed to the use of a pork blend as opposed to the heavier somewhat spicier taste of all beef, which I prefer but I’m not complaining either. The cheese was a melted white cheddar and the chili was a beanless meat sauce (yes!) both of which were decent. The kraut dog was pretty straightforward, nothing really notable to mention, but one thing that did stick out to me about both dogs was the bun. They were toasted really nicely and had a nice chewiness to them, a real quality piece of bread.

All in all the meal was pretty good, leaning more towards decent as opposed to awesome, but something that kept ringing in my ear from the second I paid to my walk home was that 2 hot dogs and a soda came out to about $15. A while back there was a small discussion in the comment section here about people paying way too much money for what’s supposed to an everyday man’s meal, and I honestly leaned towards the “sometimes you’ve just gotta pay a little more for a quality product”. But after eating at Bark, and I am no way saying it’s a total rip off or anything, I couldn’t stop thinking about the David Cross bit about eating at Jean Georges and then while eating you realize “WAIT A MINUTE…THIS ISNT WORTH $______!” I mean, I think Crif Dogs makes a more quality product and they’re at least a dollar cheaper across the board. Five Guys, despite being about $12 for a burger, fries, and a drink, fills you up and gives you enough fries to feed a small family.

So there you have it, my all over the place review of Bark Hot Dogs. Pretty good, definitely worth a stop in if you’re in the area, and possibly worth a second visit (they serve breakfast on weekend mornings, as well as burgers and fries which I didn’t try), but nothing really mindblowing.

Mini DC Trip & NY Spot

My first post. I’m long overdue. You guys have no idea how many cooking/restaurant adventures haven’t made it to this point. Like Ms. Neola I have pictures and unwritten posts galore. Today I’m going with this mini-DC/NewYork trip I went on while my girlfriend was off in Ghana. First I went on a  quick little road trip to our nation’s capital with my good friend Ben (fellow arteest and a co-founder of our semi-fictional high school establishment known as the Fat Boy Club). We only had about two days, and spent much of it walking around the monuments. Then my friend Chris and I went on a trip to NY to visit Thu and Danny B and provide marginal assistance with a Food Party set. Food were had. Good food.

Washington DC.

The White House.

My boss’s daughter lives in DC, so I went with two suggestions of his. The first was Ben’s Chili Bowl. The second was Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
After a little research, I learned that Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC institution, surviving riots, economic blight and gentrification. Visited by presidents, Bill Cosby, and many other celebrities, Ben’s still has much of the same furniture from the 60′s.

So there is definitely a cool vibe as soon as you walk in. Its crowded, the music is going from 70′s funk to Bob Marley to Motown and the smell makes your stomach implode with hungry juice. There’s a long line that at times will start to poke out of the door, and even though tables are being snatched up as soon as they are vacated, there is a homeless guy dozing off taking up a whole booth by himself, no one kicking him out. This, I guess, is reminiscent of a time from the mid 70′s to mid 80′s when that area was so bad they had one employee and people really just came to hang out. There’s a really interesting history, read more here. Now that whole area is lined with trendy bars and restaurants, and Ben’s is the lone survivor, making it a very hip place for the youths to frequent. Scanning the place you can see homeless (looking) guy, arty girl, churchy black dude, fancy lady, college kid etc. all there for some good food.

benspread benfeast bensdog
Between the two of us we ordered chili dogs, regular dogs, chili cheese fries, and milkshakes. I love how they split the hot dog and put toppings in there.

Their chili is more of a meaty sauce. Dark with a hint of smoke, it has just the right amount of spice and only a trace amount of beans (I have a tenuous relationship with beans). They put it on everything. Their hot dogs were great and the milkshake was thick and tasty. The shake actually reminded me of one I must have had as a kid because I was having a milkshake flashback (tastes like nostalgia).

vinmow benmow1imfull
I enjoy food. I’m earnest with it. Ben is goofy. I’m very full.


Five Guys Burgers and Fries

This is actually a chain that exists along most of the East Coast. At that time (months ago), there were no Five Guys in my area, and I am always intrigued by food I can’t get in New England. I also happen to be a burger addict/connoisseur.

So here’s the thing I took away from this one. It’s pretty simple and obvious. With burgers, the only things you need to almost guarantee success are fresh ingredients. After that, you can’t really fudge it up unless you are incompetent or hate the person you’re cooking for. So, although I can say that the bacon cheeseburger was absolutely excellent, I came away understanding that any of us can create a burger this good with the proper things to work with, most specifically fresh beef. This is how one attains that flavor most of us associate with a good burger. I highly recommend Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Another cardinal rule: When there’s only one thing on the menu, you know it has to be good.

They have a great system and if it weren’t for the line you¹d get your food in less than 10 minutes.

fiveguysburger fries
A messy appearance that belies a purity of taste. A burger is two patties. You have to get a small for one patty. My type of place. Their fries are fried in 100% peanut oil and come seasoned and regular. Get the seasoned – delicious perfection.

I’ve got to give them some style points. Their whole vibe seems centered around a theme of simplicity. Simple red and white décor, simple menu. The menu is burgers, hot dogs, fries, milkshakes, and soda. Cheese and bacon extra, toppings free. They’ve got all the free peanuts you can eat while waiting for your food, and that’s it. Makes life just seem easy.

benmow2 vinmows
Mowing. Not like a lawn. Rhymes with plowing, so like a field, I guess. Note the sweat on my brow. This is serious.

A NY Spot
The studio in Manhattan. I put that depression in the milk crate.

In NY we helped (or would like to believe we helped) on some preparation for the Cave Duck episode. Then on our way back to Greenpoint we stopped at a Middle Eastern place right by the train station. I’m sorry, I honestly can’t remember the name of the place, as I was blinded by hunger, but most of you New Yorkers may already have a vague idea of where I’m talking about. This place was great. Most people were getting falafel pitas. I got lamb. And was it ever good. There was red cabbage and that delightful yogurty mayonnaise, but the most special thing was the pickles. I can honestly say I’ve never had pickles quite like that before. They were perfect with the grilled flavor of the meat. Next time I’m in NY I absolutely must revisit.

Here’s a photo of some more mowing. Chris, Thu, and I. Aerial shot by Danny B.

What a delicious taste combination! Chris’ plate looks great. I can’t remember what he had, but I want to go back in time and steal the pickles off his plate every time I see this. And yes, I am aware of the size discrepancy in these photos.

As far as prices go, I really don’t remember that either, but since I’m poor you can rest assured it was all reasonable.

Until next time! -Vinnie