Tag: dining

Ava Lounge

Last night, we went to a great bar/lounge in mid-town for a surprise party. The name of the place was the Ava Lounge. It’s located on the top floor of The Dream Hotel. The “party” took place on the rooftop garden the lounge has. It was a very mild 75 degrees out with a breeze blowing that felt like a Hawaii tradewind. It was a great atmosphere.

The surprise party was for a friend of Jen and Jason’s. His friend’s birthday was Friday and yesterday was his wife’s birthday, but she set up the surprise for him. There were a total of 7 of us there and it was really fun. We spent a few hours hanging out, telling stories, talking and drinking, and the weather couldn’t have been better.

We are definitely going to keep that place in mind in the future as a place to relax for an evening. It’s a little pricey, but it was fun.

Shake Shack, Baby, Shake Shack

We spent the early part of the day today trying to get more of Jen and Jason’s old place cleaned up. We then headed over to their new place on 85th in order to bring a few things over there. It’s really nice. Despite the fact that it’s a 5th floor walkup,it has many advantages. It’s a railroad style apartment, but since it’s on the top floor, they’ve got a lot of light. It’s bigger than their place in Astoria. It also has 4 times as many windows (8 compared to 2 in their old place). I really like it. Plus, it’s in Manhattan, in a convenient part of town, just 4 blocks from the Park.

For lunch, Jen, Jason and I headed to The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park on 23rd and Madison. Jason said they had the best burgers and shakes in the City and he compared them to In’n’Out. The comparision is a good one. While I don’t think the burgers are quite as good as In’N’Out, they are certainly in the same class. The fries were okay, but the chocolates shakes were excellent and I found myself not wanted to get up from our table in the park after eating. There was a cool, light breeze and I could have sat there all day, but we had more errands to run.

I took a bunch of pictures of Jen and Jason’s place empty, which I’ll post when I’m back home. Tomorrow is moving day and so I’m sure I’ll have more pictures of the new place with all of the boxes inside.

On the way back to Astoria, we walked past a place on Broadway and 43rd that had the Brasil/France game on and watched the last minute or two, seeing France knock Brasil out of the World Cup. Go figure!


I had sushi for the first time in my life, finally overcoming the fear that raw fish might somehow make me sick. I went to Annapolis, to a place on Main Street called Joss Cafe and Sushi Bar.

I had a salmon roll and a California roll with crab. Both were very good. I also tried a little portion of a tuna roll. I had sake with my sushi, figuring I had to try that too, and it was terrible. It tasted a bit like wine, and as I found out, it should. Sake is a form of Japanese wine.

At the very least, I now know I like sushi.

A perfect sandwich

I think I may have found the perfect sandwich.

For the last three days, eschewing my normal routine of packing my lunch (I neglected to buy groceries when I got back from L.A.), I have gone down to the Au Bon Pan in the mall below my office building and ordered a “custom” sandwich from their sandwich bar. Here’s what I get:

A whole crioissant
Smoked turkey
Sharp cheddar

I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten a sandwich that I’ve enjoyed as much as I have these last three days. They are delicious. The only problem is that they are pricey: $6.88 and that does not include chips or a drink.

Eric and Ryane’s visit: Day 1

Eric and Ryane spent much of the early part of the day visiting with Eric’s uncle and aunt in Alexandria and this allowed me to get a bunch of errands done. I took the train with them as far as Pentagon City to run some errands, and then headed back to Riverdale where I got a haircut, purchased a scorebook for the Oriole’s game, and did some other errands. We agreed to meet outside Foggy Bottom late in the afternoon and from there, to head over to AJ and Denisse’s.

We met and were at AJ and Denisse’s just after 5 PM. I’d never been to AJ’s place before and so this was a first for all of us. Our plan was to walk into Georgetown for dinner. The weather was incredibly beautiful out, very mild and sunny with a pleasant breeze, and naturally, Georgetown was packed.

The highlight came as we wandered past the key bridge to the place where the famous staircase from “The Exorcist” resides. Eric had been wanted to see that, and once he saw it, it was as though it couldn’t believe it. He was really excited about the whole thing and must have taken two dozen pictures of the stairs and people standing on the stairs. We climbed to the very top and took more pictures, climbed back down to the bottom and Eric seemed almost overcome by the stairs. The only possible thing that might have made the experience better for him would to have been arrive at the stairs on a foggy, misty night. (All picture credits to Eric.)

Once we could tear ourselves away from the staircase, we headed down to the river and scouted out a suitable restuarant at which to eat. We decided on Cabana’s, and arranged for a table outside. Drinks were ordered all around and we sat around drinking them for what seemed like a long time before our dinner was actually served. It was incredibly pleasant, however, because the weather outside was so nice and the company so lively.

After dinner (and a brief stop at an ice cream shop for dessert), we headed back to AJ and Dennise’s for more drinks and a game of Cranium (“Turbo Edition”). I tried OJ and Captain Morgan’s Coconut Rum for the first time and found that I liked it.

The “Turbo” edition of thte Cranium had to have been a misnomer, joke, or both. First off, it took us forever to figure out how to play. There was no dice, nor hourglass. Instead, there was an electronic gizmo that acted as both dice and timer, and not all of our collective intelligence could make us understand how to make the device work properly. Second, the game didn’t actually seem any faster, and in fact the “turbo” portion of the games worked to only confuse us and slow things down. Eventually, I forfitted the game on behalf of AJ and myself (even though we were winning) because I felt the need to take pity on everyone else. The game might otherwise have lasted until dawn.

It was the very early hours of the morning by the time that Eric, Ryane and I got back on the metro to head home. But lots of fun was had by all.

The Rainbow Room

Well, the Rainbow Room Grill was spectacular.

We met Norm and Vicky and TGI Friday’s on 5th between 48th and 49th at about 6:30 PM and spent about and hour and half there, having drinks before we headed up to the Rainbow Room. Once we headed up, we were seated at a table with an excellent view of the city. In fact, we had a wonderful dinner. I had the salmon filet. Jen and Norm had the beef medalions. Vicky had the lamb and Jason had spinach and cheese pasta. I also had some jumbo (huge!) shrimp cocktail for an appetizer. And I discovered a new variant of a mai tai that I loved. Jen, Jason and Norm shared a bottle of wine, and we all had dessert. We were at the restauarant for over three hours and had a wonderful time. (And my apple pie came with a candle in celebration of my birthday.)

Norm and Vicky got my a present: a handheld Garman GPS unit–very useful for geocaching. It was extremely generous of them. They also gave me a ticket to the Mets/Florida game tomorrow at 1 PM, so I am going to meet them at Shea stadium. The first time I’ve been to Shea in twenty years.

This has been a really great evening and I’m really glad that Jen, Jason, Norm and Vicky were able to come.

Rain, rain, go away

I was up at 9 AM after going to bed close to 2 AM last night. Jen and Jason followed shorly and Jen made some excellent muffins for breakfast. Jason had to work today so he left for the office and Jen and I hung around a while watching The Thomas Crowne Affair on TBS. We then decided to head and and check out a used bookstore I’ve been wanting to see.

It drizzled steadily most of the day. We headed downtown and walked through the rain to where the bookstore was–only to find that it was no longer there. We were both hungry (and a little wet) so we headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant to get something to eat. Jen and I both ordered Maragaritas while there, she getting a regular, me getting a Cadallac. When they brought them, Jen’s was somewhat bigger than mine. She made fun of me because my Margarita was more expensive than hers, and was smaller. But as it turned out, Jen’s drink was alcohol-free and mine was not. Looking at the menu showed us that you had to pay extra for the tequilla and other stuff. So Jen didn’t get any of the benefit and it was my turn to laugh.

We decided to head over towards Strand books and catch a movie at the theater there. Jen wanted to see “Friends With Money” and she treated me to the movie as well. It was not very good, I’m afraid. It was another unresolved ending, something that I see as more and more of a trend lately. It was fun to hang out with Jen for the day, however. After the movie, we headed back home to get ready for dinner this evening.

Home late this evening

It’s 9:30 and I just got home. I hung out after work and waited for Todd and Karl to finish up and then we headed over to Champs to have some beers, and eventually ended up eating dinner. Last night, I gave my story “Wake Me When We Get There” to Todd and he read it and had a lot of nice things to say about it. So did his friend Chris. So tonight I gave him “When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer” and he said he’d read it over the weekend.

I made more progress proofing “Graveyard Shift” today–I’m through about 30 pages. I’ve identified where I want to add the new sections (so far) and also what the key plot points of those sections are and how they fit into the overall plot to make it stronger. It is possible that these additions and changes will push the second draft in the neighborhood of 19,000 words, but I have tried to cut where I can, without sacrificing important elements to maintain pacing, so we’ll see. I’m hoping to get more done this weekend.

Got a call from the doctor today to tell me that all of my blood work came back normal. My cholesterol is a little higher than he’d like, but still on the edge of the normal range. Changes I’m making in diet (not so much in the last two days) should help with that too.

I’m pretty beat. I’m planning on getting into bed and reading myself to sleep.

I get to pay my Federal tax bill tomorrow. Lucky me!

Pizza and a movie

That’s what I spend the early part of my evening doing. I am so sick of pizza, I am always telling people how sick of pizza I am, but this evening, what did I do? I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt bad for a delivery man. This man must have been close to 80 years old, no kidding. He seemed barely able to walk from his car to the door. And here he was delivering pizza.

I sat down with my pizza and watched After the Sunset which I’d gotten from NetFlix today. It was about what I expected, nothing great. The blooper reel and Charlie Rose interviews were the best parts of the DVD.

Got a couple of birthday cards today: one from Mom and Dad; another from Tawnya. Thirty-four years old on Monday!

The Rainbow Room

Reservations have been made and the date has been set: April 8, 2006 8:30 PM at the Rainbow Room Grill on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center.

I almost always celebrate my birthday pretty low key, but recently, I got the idea to live a little this year. So I invited some good friends who live in the general area, as well as Jen, Jason (and Doug, if he can make it) to an elegant dinner at the Rainbow Room Grill. I’ve always wanted to eat at one of these elegant, old-style New York restaurants and The Rainbow Room is that kind of place. Gentlemen require dinner jackets; no jeans or t-shirts. Ladies, of course, can dress as they like. The food looks outstanding. It should be lots of fun and I’m looking forward to it.

Top of the Rock

Today was an event-filled day in The Big Apple.

It started out with breakfast at Lite-Bites, where I demonstrated to Jen and Jason that I am, in fact, eating more than I used to by cleaning my plate of omelettes, potatoes, toast and fruit. Afterward, we headed into the city to visit the Museum of the City of New York to which none of us had ever been before.

They had some very interesting exhibits, in particular, one called “The Mythic City”, a series of photographs of New York City, taken by Samuel H. Gottscho between 1925-1940. There was also an exhibit on Mayor Ed Koch which was interesting. All-in-all, we spent about two hours at the museum.

Naturally, we worked ourselves up a thirst, and a bit of an appetite too, so we headed down to the south end of the park, and into Mickey Mantle’s. We ordered wings and chips and had some beer (I tried Amstel Light, but still prefer Corona). I also had a frozen Maragarita while there. Jason and I hung out there for quite a while, but Jen had to leave in order to meet her friend and business partner for a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Buttercream Card Company. We decided to meet for dinner at 8:30 PM at The Spotted Pig–one of the best restaurants in the city, and one of the few places we’d eaten once before.

Jason and I had some time to kill, so I suggested visiting the Top of the Rock–the observations deck at the top of Rockerfeller Center, which have just recently reopened to the public. I’d never been up there before, and neither had Jason, so we braved the cold and headed over there. There were virtually no lines, and after paying the fee, we headed up 67 floors to a spectacularly clear view of the city at night. You can actually to all the way up to the 70th floor, which is the roof of the building (the top of the rock) and the views were quite amazing. We looked into Queens, trying to locate where Jen and Jason lived, and then called Jen to tell her that we could “see” here from all the way up there.

By the time we’d finished our arial tour of the nighttime city, we decided we were ready for another drink and headed south on Fifth avenue to T.G.I. Friday’s where we sat at the bar and Jason nursed a beer while I nursed a Maragarita the size of small fishbowl.

We then headed down to the Spotted Pig to put in our names (they don’t take reseravations) and wait for Jen. When we got there, the place was bursting at the seams. It’s a small place to begin with, but you could hardly move inside. The wait was 90 minutes, which wasn’t too bad for NY, but even the bar upstairs was packed solid, so when Jen arrived, we consulted and decided that since it was already abotu 9 PM, we might divert to another restauarant in the area. We chose Markt, a Belgian food place with medicore food and service. I did try a beer that I liked there, and the dark chocolate mousse for dessert was excellent, it was not the Spotted Pig.

By the time we left the restaurant, it was about 11 PM and so we caught a taxi back home. The first thing our taxi driver (who was talking on the phone) did, was to start to turn down a one-way street. Still, somehow, we managed to get home in one piece.

We’re all exhausted, but it was a fun day. I head home tomorrow.

No pushups tonight–I am too wiped out.

A cold day in NYC

It was cold today. Just getting home from all kinds of activities today, the temperature outside (just before 10 PM) was 0 degrees (a little warmer if you don’t count the wind chill). But we braved the weather anyway in order to have a fun day.

First was brunch at Petite Abeille, a tiny place on Hudson street with a very good waffle. It was the first time I’d had a waffle in a very, very long time, and the fruit (banana, strawberries and other stuff) made it very good.

The last two times I came to NYC, we missed the park, but this time, we headed up to 72nd St. and then walked across the park and down to 5th and 59th. It was cold. We headed back to Jen and Jason’s where we sat around for about two hours playing Uno (final score, for the record: Jenn: 624, Jamie: 330, Jason: 147. Jason lost 7 hands in a row before winning his first hand. It was fun.)

We then headed over to the local movie theater to see Steven Martin in The Pink Panther. It had it’s moments, but it was nothing to write home about.

Finally, we headed downtown to Mars 2112 for dinner. It was an amusing experience. You take a “Star Tours”-like spaceship ride to Mars, and have dinner when you arrive there. Fun ambiance but the food leaves something to be desired. I tried the Martian Margarita, which is made with blue caracao, and it tasted exactly like a blue Otter Pop.

All-in-all, a fun day, but I think we are all glad to be back indoor, where it’s warm.