Thursday, November 16, 2017

Double Zero Al Fresco

Double Zero (formerly 00 & co) is relatively pricey pizza resto, there's no getting around that. It's up to you if you decide that a $20 personal pizza is worth it to you; I'm not judging. Under normal circumstances, I'd say it's worth it to me. The pizza is good and the location is killer (for me).


But, something is off. The prices have increased incrementally, but I'm not sure the food has kept up. And the service? Therein lies the problem. A place with a limited menu shouldn't have such a hard time getting the service right.

On my most recent visit there were three of us. We were seated right away, but then it took an inordinate amount of time to acquire an iced tea- even longer to get sweetener. So long, in fact, that we guessed they made hot tea and let it cool to room temperature before adding ice. There are only two non-alcoholic spritzers on the menu and they were out of one. The waitress suspiciously told me there isn't much taste difference between the two even though they're lemon basil and rosemary cucumber.

Our appetizers didn't come out together. We hungrily watched OD eat his sunflower Caesar with baby romaine (not loving the choice), capers, sunflower parmesan (excellent).



He was long finished when our oven roasted fingerling potatoes with spicy marinara finally came out. Luckily VM and I are nice, so we shared.

 

For entrees, VM's brunch cauliflower parm sandwich with spicy marinara and cashew mozzarella was a nice choice. It was way too messy to have been served on the slate slab, but I could have overlooked that had our other two entrees not taken an additional 20 minutes to come out. Because she is the most polite person I know, she waited and ate it cold. In case you were wondering, cold cauli parm is not ideal.

 

89 ate some spinach while we waited because she's not nearly as polite.

 

My dad chose the tomato, basil, cashew mozzarella pie and gobbled it up; that's the best review you'll get from him. You'll notice their signature pile of red pepper flakes is missing from the corner of the pan. I asked for some on the side and the server apologized for the oversight, but never brought any.


I ordered the eggplant bacon, tomato, garlic mozzarella, olives, oregano, arugula pizza. The eggplant bacon was amazing, but there wasn't even a piece per slice, and the pieces were pretty small. Same for the olives (sliced, not whole). I don't expect toppings such as these to be piled on, but for at least one piece of each ingredient  to make it on each of the 6 slices isn't too much to ask.

 

We were interested in dessert, but honestly didn't have the time to wait. As it was, we had to flag down someone for the check after sitting with our empty plates in front us for some time. Don't get me wrong; I hate to be rushed. But surely there is a happy medium?

In case you were wondering, we weren't alone in experiencing this service dilemma. A lady dining next to us ordered a hot tea and gave her credit card at the end of her meal. Twenty minutes later she asked to cancel the tea and just have the check. She was told "it had already been put in." Really? The tea order couldn't be recalled after twenty minutes? Honestly, they should have just left it to cool for the next person who ordered an iced tea.

All of this is to say- I love the idea, I love the location, and who can resist a dog-friendly (outdoor seating only) establishment? Not this girl. I'm hoping that this was just a fluke.



We were very happy to see that Bar Verde, another Matthew Kenney establishment, was coming soon (now open). I'm anxious to try it for a multitude of reasons- not the least of which is to see if the service is any better.


And in the hopes that they too, are pet-friendly.


Monday, October 30, 2017

89 as beta fish, Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade, and more

Even though 89 had a superb, VM-original costume last year, we wound up missing the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade. It was a scheduling issue, but it ultimately wound up being a not-ideal weather day, which assuaged our disappointment a bit. Also, it was good to take a year off from the crowded, sometimes discombobulated event within the dusty (by design) dog park where it all began as a fundraiser to keep the popular dog run open. I was a bit jaded that the winners are almost guaranteed to be those that spent the most money on their costume- generally in the form of an enormous float, with little attention paid to those with heart (i.e. everyone). But, lest I be labeled a spoilsport, I digress.

This year, we commandeered VM's services once again- this time for a beta fish costume. The idea was my coworker's when, through a series of unusual events, our office wound up fostering two temporarily abandoned beta fish for a short time and she noticed that 89's tail had the natural movement of a fish fin.

 

I was all about this costume and I immediately taped photos of inspiring beta fish to my office wall so I'd see them every time I looked up. Betas are unique creatures- both unto themselves and also in their relationships with humans. I rarely go into pet stores because the confined animals of all kinds make my heart ache, but betas are some of the worst cases: dishonored in their tiny, solitary bowls and being marketed as little more than decoration. In the midst of the costume execution, this article came out about depressed fish, and the friends not food aspect was not lost on me either. It seemed like a win-win.

VM was dubious from the start, even though we found the perfect fabric to begin construction.



"We'd" gotten off to a late start, so many design decisions had to be made via text. For instance, how many layers of netting best resemble fish scales? Answer: 1.
 
 
Then, VM had a tough time fitting the unforgiving fabric to 89's long, slender (ironically fish-shaped) bod, let alone doing so with 100-ply of delicate fabric in order to obtain the optimal shimmer.


But, per usual, 89 was a trooper throughout.


The construction of the fins brought it's own set of issues because 89's enormous ears blocked the neckline during fittings. This was my solution.


In the end, while VM put her best work into the endeavor, I couldn't help feeling like it wasn't reading BETAFISH. I was definitely to blame for what I saw as the non-ideal finished inference. It was beautifully made and VM had executed exactly what I'd requested; I'd just somehow missed an element along the way and I couldn't figure out the solution that would bridge the gap between my vision and the finished product. My biggest complaint was that it unintentionally had some 80s prom dress vibes, which perhaps says more about 80s fashion than it does about 89 pulling off a betafish costume.

In any event, we all- me, 89, OD, and VM, decided to head to the parade together. We stopped off at The Bean for breakfast... 


...before heading off to the event.


To my surprise, the parade had been delightfully relocated from the dog run to the basketball court. Since it was a sunny and warm day, this not only meant it wouldn't be dusty, but it also wouldn't be stinky (sorry, pooches; it's a fact of life). There was also a ton more room for pooches, humans, and spectators who I heard, much to my innate disappointment, referring to 89 as a princess and, more insultingly, Rainbow Brite. OD claimed to have heard a couple of "fish!" proclamations and friends graciously insisted that they saw a fish right away, but overall it wasn't a slam dunk in my opinion. I'd hoped the fish would be easier than explaining Adele Bloch Bauer, but it just seemed to bring its own set of issues. WAH!


I'd brought 89's stroller with us because I figured she'd get tired and I knew my weak arms couldn't hold her for hours. In my disappointment over what I perceived to be a non-perfect costume, I did a less than ideal job "decorating" the stroller- using only what I considered to be a water-colored sheet.

 

Total fail on my part and I own it. Perhaps if I'd taken the time (there wasn't any) to have transformed the stroller into an underwater-theme, what would have been helpful. But, I hadn't and it wasn't. In my defense, I was also worried that such a theme would dilute her costume, but surely there was an ideal, middle ground solution. Thankfully, 89 immediately showed herself to be having a great time, so that made me slightly less grumpy.


These front fins were particularly fabulous.


In case you're wondering, the dogs are all really well-behaved at this event- even 89!
Some of our faves:


You can see some of the dogs she visited with here.


This was the most organized Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade we've attended. We had a great time and saw some great costumes- full of heart and happiness and the love between humans and pets. Naturally, we didn't win. In fact, as we exited the stage we were once again guided past the large, expensive floats and were told that they would be "sticking around" because they were under "consideration." Sigh. There were so many funny, punny, original, and heartfelt costumes that weren't "considered," but I think that's okay since we had appreciated them and so did countless others.

 

The fact of the matter is that we don't do it to win; we do it to have fun. So, mission accomplished!

 

Who knows? Maybe next year we'll consider a huge float if we find an idea that we fall in love with. But, there's a lot to consider. I learn lessons every year about what 89 likes, what she'll put up with, and what is just not feasible over the course of the event. 


In the end, we accomplished together a great more than I could have alone (I can't sew and I am always amazed the tricks VM has up her sleeve). But, most importantly, just look at how resplendent 89's tail looked! Mission accomplished indeed.

 

PS: I shamelessly plugged 89 at the event.

 

The fun didn't end there. Thankfully, once we escaped the throngs of people attending the parade (it goes on for hours; we didn't stay for the whole event), we were mere blocks from Confectionery! . So, we all essentially trick-or-treated; cookies and shortbread for the humans, Sweet Maresa's cookies for 89. Here she is showing off those fins again.


Some street art showcasing 89's daily nemeses.


And then we scored outdoor seating at Double Zero for lunch.


This turned out to be a lucky break, because soon after the outdoor dining area was full- of pooches!



89 was super pooped.

 

But she did manage to perk up when the food started arriving.


Vegans...always with the salad...


One final rendezvous with a spider before departing.


THEN we went to MooShoes! Well, 89 went to MooShoes while I went to Orchard Grocer.


 First I shared my pumpkin/vanilla soft serve with this dog.


THEN I shared it with this dog.

 

And then we headed home. 89 slept the whole ride.


She woke up when we got home so she could eat all of her trick-or-treats from Confectionery and MooShoes.


The next day we went to the Red Bank Farmer's Market for some Cinnamon Snail!


This is 89's "feed me" face.


This is our obligatory don't-be-ridiculous-it's-an-outdoor-farmer's-market photo.


 As such, we finally completed our pumpkin/gourd collection at home.


 

So, now we're just waiting for tomorrow, actual Halloween, to complete the festive season. Hope you get a lot of trick-or-treaters!

PS I heard that some towns do Halloween on the Friday before Halloween. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL? Do we have to over-schedule everything? Halloween is Halloween, which means it's October 31, regardless of what day that is. That is some BS, that's what it is.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Positivitea Reboot

Positivitea was closed for renovation for a while, but they're back and the food is better than ever.

 

The rebooted interior, however, is- and I hate to say it, a little less inviting than it had been previously. The seating is newer, more modern: slicker overall. But, gone are the large scale menus on the walls and the bright colored ceiling. Now, even on a sunny day, the interior seems a little dark- particularly in the kitchen area, which is not especially inviting for a fast casual dining establishment- specifically if you wander in out of curiosity rather than destination.

Thankfully, we already know the food is delicious and lovingly prepared- not to mention award-winning. There were minor changes to the menu too, though- gone were the pretzels buns, which were replaced by equally delicious sesame and oat-studded buns. The fryer wasn't working on the day we visited, so we were unable to try the cauli buffalo wings that sounded fantastic.


Blue Sky seems to be the requisite soda at establishments of a certain tenor; from Red Bank's Down to Earth, to Lula's Sweet Apothecary. Eep! I hope that's not an omen.


We shared a Bean, Jr., because- obviously.  The black bean patty is the perfect base for the gooey trifecta of cheese, miso mayo, and special sauce. With the addition of grilled onions and pickles, you have a hearty and decadent burger.

For our less traditional choice, we also shared the the Mexicali. This burger boasts the same patty, but swaps cucumber for the pickles and adds creamy, ripe avocado.


And if you think I didn't bring home the VEGAN toothpicks to stick in my own bun, you'd be wrong.

But, we'd really come for the vegan softserve. I'm pretty positivitea this is Chicago Soy Dairy vanilla; the topping options aren't listed anywhere, so you have to ask.

VM got hers with chocolate sauce (kind of between syrup and fudge), walnuts, and marshmallows.


Mine had chocolate sauce and vanilla & chocolate cookie pieces.


The menu isn't all burgers and ice cream; there are salads, bowls, smoothies, sides, etc. IMO, all they're missing is a little pizzazz so that the atmosphere matches the menu.


Definitely go out of your way for a Positivitea experience; you won't regret it.