Monday, May 28, 2012

Scotty's Diner

336 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY  10016
212.986.1520
www.scottysNYC.com
Scotty's Diner on Urbanspoon

The best way I could think of wrapping up my fun-soaked, food-laden, alcohol-thumping, hookah-smoking weekend was to kick my stomach in the you-know-where's and have a nice, greasy, diner breakfast before I left to go back to DC.  And when I say diner, I mean one of the old-fashioned ones that haven't been gussied up or made to look like an old nostalgic diner.  Scotty's Diner is such a place.  It's the kind of hole in the wall you'd never find unless you worked in Murray Hill (like me) but once you find it, it quickly becomes a go-to for reliable diner food.


I used to know the history of Scotty's but not so much anymore.  I know it's run by two brothers (or they look an awful lot alike) and its been around forever.  I guess that's all I really need to know.  It was 9 AM on Memorial Day but the place was bustling.  It's pretty narrow (so not much space) but the whole front dining area was full so we were led to the back.  Their menu is pretty extensive from gyros to steaks and when I'm not ordering breakfast, I absolutely love their French Dip.  But today, breakfast is what we craved and breakfast is what we got.  We ordered a good sampling of breakfast staples: a Western Omelet, Three Eggs Over Easy with Sausage and Corned Beef Hash with two Over Easy Eggs.  Of course, each dish came with home fries and toast.

While waiting for our food, it was a good time to reflect on the weekend.  Like always, it was such a refreshingly fun time to be back in NYC.  There are a few places that we went into that didn't quite warrant a review but are worth mentioning.  I already covered the Frying Pan and Casa La Femme which were both quality detours.  Unfortunately no Num Pang or Baohaus which makes me sad and unable to figure out what exactly I was thinking.  But, on Saturday night we had a chance to try out a couple of David Chang's joints and a totally random bar BECAUSE we wanted to try out David Chang's take on a speakeasy.  Then on Sunday, we went to a completely random Gelato place in Chelsea which turned out be the perfect way to end Sunday Funday.

For Saturday, we went out to the New Jersey wilderness to enjoy a cook out with a few close friends who have families now and live in the suburbs.  They put on some burgers, some skirt steak and a pork loin on the grill and it came out deliciously grilled.  The drinks were good, the conversation was a blast (though playing Taboo! was a bit of a stretch) and what's Memorial Day weekend without a cook out; but I only had the weekend so I was itching to get back to the City.

Since we had been eating all day, we decided to forgo dinner and just have a few drinks.  We chose to try out Booker and Dax which is part of David Chang's family of restaurants.  It's right around the corner from Momofuku Ssam Bar and across the street from a Momofuku Milk Bar.  It's pretty small (~50 people) so when we first got there we were told it was a 30-40 minute wait for a party of five.  We decided to stroll down the street to grab a quick drink somewhere else.  Decibel was packed (Sad Panda!).  Van Daag was closed (WTF? It just opened!) and by the time we walked that far, it was time for our table? Right?

No.  When we inquired again, we were told that it would be another 30-40 minutes.  The hostess was apologetic and I understand places like that get busy but the one thing that gets under my skin is don't use a bullshit excuse like, "I apologize for the wait but people are ordering more drinks than I anticipated".  Whaaaat?  It's a cocktail bar and people are ordering tons of drinks?  Just say, "the place is entirely too small and so the wait will be entirely too long" and then I'll be happy.  We went looking for another drink and ended up at the Blue Owl which was some lounge/bar that you walk down a few steps to get to.  Here's how I much I remember about it, I had to ask a friend what the Blue Owl when I was looking over charges on my card for the weekend.  Oh and there was a weird assemblage of women all over the place. This may have been the long lost harem from Casa La Femme.

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon


Our best decision may have been to try out the Momofuku Milk Bar.  We tried both their truffles (mint cookies and cream) and soft serve ice cream (both flavors:  blueberry miso and cereal milk).  While I liked the truffles with just a hint of mint, they were a bit cloying and chewy.  The blueberry miso was refreshingly tart and great for such a hot night.  However, the cereal milk soft serve ice cream with corn flakes on top.  It was cool, creamy and the added crunch made it that much better.

Booker & Dax on Urbanspoon

When we finally got into Booker and Dax, we initially got sat at a seat facing the mixologist but two of us had to stand.  Fortunately, we got moved right away to a table for five.  We ordered some food including two pork belly buns just like the ones you get at Momofuku Noodle Bar which were, as always, tasty and filling. We also ordered a couple of ham platters which came out in these huge plates covered with ham.  I found the presentation kind of weird and while the ham was good each platter only came with a couple pieces of bread and some mustard.  The drinks were good but all I really remember was that they served their gin and juice in a champagne flute (more importantly, I ordered it and they served me a gin and juice in a champagne flute).  The other thing I remember is doing an impression of a man who's elbow joints don't work and knocking over a drink.  I would say that there's nothing particularly unique about Booker and Dax and I'm not even sure if I'd visit again if I could walk right in.   But, if I had to wait over an hour just to get in again, I'd probably just patiently line up at Decibel.

Love Gelato on Urbanspoon


On Sunday, after the Frying Pan, there was a collective craving for gelato.  After walking around for while, we landed at Love Gelato in the West Village.  We got a good sample size of choices off their menu board from the German Chocolate cake to some strawberry gelato.  I ordered a banana, pear and I think mango milkshake.  We came in near closing time so the servers were a bit perturbed but the gelato was fresh, clean and the fruit flavors really shined through.  I really enjoyed my milkshake but what I think I enjoyed the most was the stroll through the West Village with friends.  We all got a chance to talk to each other exchanging  walking buddies seamlessly talking about landmarks, silly stuff, work and NYC in general.  It was the perfect bookend to the weekend and topping it off with gelato made it that much sweeter.

Breakfast came out pretty quickly and steaming hot.  It also disappeared pretty quickly with just a few refills of coffee.  I know that it's just diner food and pretty basic fare for breakfast but there is nothing like a greasy, well-made breakfast.  I loved how my hash soaked up the egg yolk after I broke my eggs over top of them.  The small cut potatoes in the hash were mushy and while I also had home fries, they were both different enough to give me a nice duet of potatoes.  I usually butter up one piece of toast to eat along with most of the meal, making sure I put a good amount of egg to eat it together and then let the overflow drip down into the rest of the plate.  I put jam on my last piece of toast so that I could end on a sweet note.  You could probably find a similar meal in diners everywhere but you probably won't find it better than Scotty's.

After breakfast, I got packed up and headed back down to DC.  Someone once told me that New York City is in my soul and I never understood what that meant but I think this weekend may have shown me.  I don't know if it's because I've lived in DC before so I already had a set idea of what it's like but it's definitely not NYC.  The nooks and crannies of New York City really get into your skin so much that it's hard to get them out.  This weekend showed me that NYC is less about going to the latest hot spot but more about randomly discovering parts of the city that makes it unique and adventurous.  It was the walking around and enjoying each other's company while the city opened up to you that was the best part of the weekend.  It was the discovery of some random place (regardless of how weird) that you'd never visit again but were glad you went once.  It's the people and the idea that there's something always going on.  That vibe doesn't exist in DC or anywhere else for that matter.  So now I get it, once NYC gets it's teeth into you, she's very hard to shake.  But the next question should be, why would you want to?

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