It’s 10 P.M. — Do You Know Where Your $1 Blue Point Oysters Are? (aka the “City Crab Weekend Happy Hour Win” Post)

Half-priced appetizers, $1 Blue Point oysters, $3 beers.

If a better Friday or Saturday night deal exists in downtown Manhattan, bring it. For now, City Crab‘s late-night happy hour, which is available at the stately restaurant bar between 10p and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, is the golden ticket. (City Crab also runs its happy hour from 4p-7p daily.)

When four of us stopped in on a recent Friday night, we started with a round of Coronas and a dozen Blue Points. Squeeze, sauce, slurp, repeat — these oysters, meaty and lightly briny, are some of the best specimens I’ve had yet, although it should be noted that oysters are still new to me.

(After many years of “trying” oysters — e.g. swallowing the slippery thing as fast as possible and hoping I wouldn’t feel it too much or taste too much — lately, I’m slurping them down with the best. This epic night of all-you-can-eat oysters at Bondi Road in LES was the turning point.)

Onto the hot foods — and mas cerveza s’il vous plait.

First impression: These portions are not for the faint of appetite. The crab, spinach and artichoke dip ($6.50/hh) comes out bubbling in a metal cauldron, a basket of thick pita chips ($6.50/hh); both the dip, and the basket of Southern fried popcorn shrimp ($6/hh), went on and on — even among four of us. The lightest option, a pound of steamed PEI mussels ($6/hh), comes in a beautiful tomato broth laced with garlic and fresh herbs.

For next time, I have my eye on the lobster mac n’ cheese and crab cake bites and … of course, more oysters. (The chef at the raw bar said he shucks 1,000+ oysters a night!)

City Crab, 235 Park Ave. S., near 19th Street, 212-529-3800.

The Fourth of July Weekend Wrap-Up Post

Oh, Fourth of July. Every year you are the ultimate excuse for the ultimate indulgence of all food things American: barbecue, burgers, hot dogs, beer, backyards (or, in New York’s case, roofs and patios), and every year I take you up on your offer. 

photo-3This year I started extra early (unintentionally) on Thursday night, when I shared an order of dry-rubbed chicken wings and a bacon cheeseburger at Daddy-O in the West Village, along with a pair of one of the best cocktails I’ve had in a really long time:

It’s called the Eastside, and is gin muddled with cucumber, mint and lime juice, shaken and served frothy cold in a martini glass. Really, the ultimate summer refreshment. Just look at all the floating fresh bits! The picture doesn’t quite tell the story, but they were layered, suspended, in the drink at different levels and looked really cool. 

The next day, we celebrated the official federal holiday in style with happy hour at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. There’s one close to my Upper East Side neighborhood, but there are also about a half-dozen other locations around the city. Brilliant happy hour: Between 4p-7p, domestic draft pints (Bud and Bud Light) are $2 and all appetizers are half-price at the bar. 

photo-1We tried the frickles, deep-fried pickles served with a creamy horseradish sauce; the peel-and-eat shrimp, which are doused in Old Bay seasoning and come with lemon wedges and a zesty, homemade cocktail sauce; and a basket of rib tips, the brilliant discovery of the day.

What are rib tips? As far as I could discern, rib tips are the knobs and ends of the rib rack which are usually chopped off to give a slab of ribs that uniform cut. The result are knobs of bone, fat and meat that have been as slow and as long as the rest of the rack, and that are heavy with meaty bits. Each rib tip takes a little bit of inspection and the willingness to get down and dirty, but it’s worth it: The meat is supremely succulent and tender.

photo-2At happy hour, a basket of these bits goes for $4 — a really good deal. Brother Jimmy’s has a Monday night special of all-you-can-eat rib tips, wings and all-you-can-drink domestic beer (2 hours max) for $15.95 that is a great deal, except that I probably wouldn’t be able to finish too many more than the $4 happy hour basket. Oh, but they’re so good. A basket has plenty enough rib tips to sample all of Brother Jimmy’s sauces, which arrive in a rack with any barbecue order. The sauces are lighter and more vinegar-y, as is the way with South Carolina-style barbecue. 

On the Fourth of July I found myself in the unusual position of fresh stovetop-grilled hot dog in hand — just as the now-famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island was about to begin. 

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photo(4)It’s odd to say that I ate my one dog in the time it took these professional eater-bingers to consume 50-plus, but I’m confident I enjoyed it more. No bun dipping in water necessary.

Elsewhere at the party: Pizza, a plate of brownies, plenty of beers and plenty of friends. It was a good holiday.

Dinner: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

photo-57This wasn’t what I intended to eat for dinner tonight, but isn’t that just what happens sometimes when you find yourself with good company at some post-work social event at Arctica Bar that involves $4 pints? 

I might take just a quick moment to ruminate on the craft of nachos. At the time of this photo, we’d eaten a good half of them, only to reveal a pile of chips. I hate that. Because chips alone are not nachos. Don’t get me wrong. I love chips. Just don’t try to trick me into thinking they’re all nachos when they’re not. 

Anyhow, good nachos don’t necessarily  need to be huge. What’s key is that the toppings are proportional to the volume of chips, so you can have a different sort of savory bite every time, and not wind up with a pile of chips and nowhere to go (not quite the same as being all dressed up with nowhere to go, but not so different). 

There’s more to nachos, but I’ll save that for another post … it’s inevitable there will be another nachos post. 

COST: $8 nachos, $4 pints
PREP TIME: A lovely few hours

Bonus: Location of Twitter Wine Photo Revealed

Vaguely gratitious Twitter cross-promotion: 

photo-111I tweeted earlier that “A big day deserves a big glass of wine in this glorious afternoon sun!” along with this photo of a gorgeous tempranillo with the sunlight streaming through it

Here’s the answer key: Had southern-facing, afternoon sun exposure in the bottom of the East Village/top of LES. Really respectable beers and good wine for $4 and $5 a glass during happy hour. 

Answer: Simon Sips. Never been here before today, but I’ll be back. 

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Simon Sips also requited the need I had for “real food” earlier today: I had a chorizo, dry Italian cheese (forget exact name, ending in -rigornio), roasted green peppers and spinach sandwich.

The wine, the food, the sunshine, my New York magazine: It all did me good. Although, I think honestly, the sitting in the sun part was the best. I’ve missed that. 

COST: $17
PREP TIME: As long as I could stay basking … I tried.