Archives for October 2012

Craftbar – Many Choices Make for a Delicious Meal

craftbar Restaurant  New York Manhattan Flatiron
Business Travelers: Do you recommend craftbar for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 4.6/5 (4 votes cast)

Many times I look at a restaurant’s menu and wish I were much more hungry or could pack away the food like some other people. Now, I eat well, not so well, and often in good amounts but sometimes you just see a menu with so many things you would like to order but could not possibly eat them all. Craftbar has such a menu which will be bringing me back many times

The craftbar Experience: On Tuesday, July 24, 2012 about 8:45 P.M. fresh from a long meeting, I am walking down Broadway and spied craftbar. I have always enjoyed its nearby sibling restaurant, craft, and and heard good things about craftbar so I decide to give it a try. I walk in sit at the bar order a drink and get a menu.

So many tasty things on the menu it is hard to make a decision. The Spaghetti & Veal Ricotta Meatballs are calling out to me but I select the Salt Cod Croquettes & Piperade and then the Squid Ink Chitarra. Both were delicious. In fact, the businesswomen sitting next to me order the Croquettes because mine looked and were so good.

The bar was about half full with plenty of seats available. I sit on the long side near the front in one of 12 seats on that side with 3 seats on the short end and a service area on the other. The restaurant is full. Sit near the front to see most of the restaurant and out the large windows onto Broadway. Just don’t look across the street at the people working out at the gym, order another appetizer instead!

Business Travelers: The noise level is nice, not too loud not too soft making for an inviting mood. The communal tables look like a good option. The staff is great and very attentive. I recommend craftbar for a good meal with a group of friends, co-workers, clients or colleagues. Several business people were eating at the bar alone and in groups, most of them women, making craftbar a prime choice for women traveling on business. The surrounding Flatiron neighborhood is terrific for strolling. Pick Up some homemade cheese at Beecher’s, walk to bustling Union Square (free wifi!) and get some desert from one of the many food trucks on the Square’s east side. You will feel welcome and comfortable in craftbar and the surrounding neighborhoods.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆ 

craftbar
900 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
212.461.4300

craftbar menu
Zagat Blog craftbar Review

Craftbar on Urbanspoon

LaScala’s – The Italian You Remember Having at Home

LaScala's Restaurant Bar Philadelphia Historic District Market East

Business Travelers: Do you recommend LaScala’s for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 3.3/5 (3 votes cast)

The Italian influence in Philadelphia goes back generations ands runs deep. LaScala’s continues the tradition of cooking and serving from family recipes passed down from parents to children and grandchildren. LaScala’s does it well, keeping it traditional while adding some present day touches making for a very good dining experience.

The LaScala’s Experience: On Friday, June 29, 2012 about 8:10 P.M. I walk into LaScala’s and sit at the bar. The bar is big and juts into the room giving most seats a good view of the restaurant and out onto the sidewalk through the large windows facing both South 7th and Chestnut Streets. About 10 seats on one side and around the corner of the bar the adjacent side has about 8 seats. All seats have great views of the three large screen televisions high on the wall in a row behind the bar.

The televisions usually have sports on and tonight the Phillies are playing which always makes for a good night for me to sit at the bar and have a meal. LaScala’s is in a unique predicament when it comes to showing the Phillies. Their building only has DIRECTV, if I understood the explanation correctly, this is a landlord decision, not LaScala’s. The Phillies are broadcast locally in Philadelphia either on Channel 17 or Comcast SportsNet. DIRECTV does not carry Comcast SportsNet, a competition issue. If the Phillies are on Comcast SportsNet then LaScala’s cannot show the game at the bar.  They do try and stream it over the web but a previous evening I experienced this and it did not make for a comfortable experience.

I have been to LaScala’s several times both eating at the bar and at a table. The service and food have always been very good. Tonight the food was good as usual.  I had the Sausage & Peppers and the Baked Meatballs. Two appetizers, both were delicious with large portions and filling. Unfortunately the bartender was not very service oriented this evening. When I sat down the bartender was nowhere to be found for a while. This MIA behavior continued throughout the evening at the uncrowded, non-busy bar. The bartender made herself a drink and carried it around with her while she worked, even stopping to chat a while with a friend between the taking and the placing my appetizer order. Like I said, I’ve been here before and never experienced this and will go back. I have to assume the service tonight was a fluke.

Business Travelers: I recommend LaScala’s for a good Italian meal with a group of friends, co-workers, clients or colleagues. You can’t beet it’s location in “America’s Most Historic Square Mile.” While visiting LaScala’s allow time to check out Independence National Historical Park especially Washington Square Park, Independence Hall and the attractions along Independence Mall including the The National Museum of American Jewish History and the National Constitution Center. Women traveling on business will feel welcome and comfortable in LaScala’s and the surrounding neighborhood.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★☆☆ 

LaScala’s Italian American Home-Style
615 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-928-0900

LaScala’s Menu
Philadelphia Magazine LaScala’s Review

Lascala's Italian American Home-style on Urbanspoon

Bill’s Bar & Burger – Great Escape from a “Too Fancy” Meatpacking District

Bill's Bar & Burger Meatpacking District Manhattan New York
Business Travelers:  Do you recommend Bill’s Bar & Burger for
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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 2.8/5 (3 votes cast)

Do you remember when the Meatpacking District really was packing meat? You could not walk down the street without getting whacked by a carcass hanging on a hook waiting to get processed. The area has undergone a huge change and now is full of high end stores, restaurants, bars and clubs. Weekends draw a big bridge and tunnel crowd. Bill’s Bar & Burger provides a great respite and welcoming normalcy from all the craziness with a great upscale bar & burger menu and shakes! Plenty of non-burger options on the menu as well. No velvet ropes here. Bill’s also has a location in Rockefeller Center which is substantially larger and  I suspect is a tourist favorite.

The Bill’s Bar & Burger Experience: Thursday, July 20, 2012 about 8:45 P.M I walk in and grab the last seat at the bar.  Sitting in the middle of the long side, about 8 seats, with 4 on the short side near the entrance, I order a drink. The front of Bill’s has the bar and tables with plenty of tables further in the back.  The place was full, lively and fun but not crazy for a Thursday night. Seems like it’s full of New Yorkers from both in and outside the neighborhood. The last bar seat I got was right in front of the large beer taps which were a little crowding but the bartender and other patrons were fun and engaging. Bar faces the wall so try to get one of the four seats on the short side where you can see most of the bar and restaurant and through the large windows out to all the action on the streets. It’s good to be inside sitting and watching the Meatpacking District coming alive on a Thursday night.

I order a Bacon & Cheddar Burger. Yes, another burger. I am getting up early the next day to exercise furiously and eat grilled chicken the rest of the day. The burger, along with a side of Beer Battered Onion Rings, was delicious, I will be going back. The entire bar meal experience was very good and the energetic atmosphere made it even more enjoyable. Two televisions at either end of the bar, one with ESPN and the other with encore showing of the Mets day game. Bill’s Bar & Burger has that look of your neighborhood bar and burger joint which has been around for a long time, quite comfortable.

Business Travelers: If you are looking for a fun, casual downtown night out out with a group of friends, co-workers, clients or colleagues, while checking out the Meatpacking District neighborhood, Bill’s is a great choice. It is especially good if you want to avoid the higher end restaurants in the area but stay in the neighborhood. Allow time to check out New York’s new park in the sky, The High Line, and allow time for some upscale shopping. Women traveling on business will feel welcome and comfortable in the Meatpacking District and the surrounding neighborhood.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★☆☆ 

Bill’s Bar & Burger
22 Ninth Avenue at West 13th Street
New York, NY 10014
212.414.3003

Bills’ Bar & Burger Menu
Urbanspoon Bill’s Bar & Burger Reviews

Bill's Bar & Burger on Urbanspoon

Alma de Cuba – Always a Favorite, Beautiful Food, People & Space

Alma de Cuba Latin Restaurant Philadelphia Center City Rittenhouse Square
Business Travelers:  Do you recommend Alma de Cuba for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 4.5/5 (3 votes cast)

I was meeting  two friends for dinner at Alma de Cuba and really looking forward to it.  Consistently one of the best restaurants in Philly bringing together a wonderful crowd with classic and inventive Latin drinks and food. The restaurant and bar area are usually lively, entertaining and fun. Drinks and appetizers at the bar are the way to go. Alma de Cuba is one of the varied restaurants brought to Philly by Starr Restaurants.

The Alma de Cuba Experience: When I met my friends we planned to have a drink before dinner, but where to go? Why not make it a total Alma de Cuba night, so on Thursday, June 14, 2012 about 6:30 P.M. we walk in, sit at the bar starting our night by ordering drinks and appetizers.

We sit at the corner of the bar where we can see the entire first floor of the restaurant and the people coming in the door. The bar area is usually packed tight but we were able to find three seats with several more available. Alma has limited outdoor seating and does not open up to the street.  It is a beautiful day outside so people have probably opted for places with outside bars and street seating for happy hour. The bar has 10 seats on the long side with 4 on one short side and 2 seats next to a service area on the other. The bar has good room to accommodate a nice sized crowd sitting and standing which it does often. The entire downstairs is a lounge with the bar in front and dining room upstairs.  Dinner can also be had at the lounge tables.

We got there at a good time, happy hour with $6 Mojitos and full size appetizers, also for only $6. The bartender was great guiding us along in our selections. My friends and I are ready to take full advantage of the happy hour specials. We order Mojitos along with Chorizo Sliders, Tuna Tartare Tacos, Marlin Tacos and Pork Belly Skewers. Yes, a lot of food to start off dinner but it was all delicious and washed down with Mojitos. It was a terrific evening with fun friends, a great bartender and extremely good food and drinks. No worries, we made sure we left room for eating a very satisfying dinner in the dining room upstairs later that evening.

Business Travelers: When in Philadelphia I strongly encourage you to head to Alma de Cuba whether to sit at the bar, in the lounge or upstairs in the dining room. The bar normally hosts many business people and the night we were there was no exception. The food is Latin and excellent. Take a look at the menu, everyone will find something they enjoy. Located in the very upscale Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia, Alma de Cuba is mightily recommended for an evening alone or with a group of friends, co-workers, clients and colleagues. One of our group was a woman traveling on business and she recommends Alma de Cuba and feels very comfortable in the surrounding neighborhood.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆ 

Alma de Cuba
1623 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Alma de Cuba Menu Dinner Lounge
Zagat Alma de Cuba Reviews

Alma de Cuba on Urbanspoon

The Bowery Diner – An Upscale Diner in a Newly Luxurious Neighborhood: The Bowery – CLOSED

Bowery Diner Manhattan New York

Business Travelers:  Do you recommend The Bowery Diner for
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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 3.2/5 (7 votes cast)

Switching things up a bit I decide to have a big Saturday morning brunch at a place I’ve heard lots about and have been wanting to try, The Bowery Diner. I’ve missed a lot of changes in The Bowery during my time in Philly and was anxious to see for myself. Usually I will review a dinner, this time it’s breakfast, and you will see a few lunch meals coming soon. Besides, I had a nasty summer cold which was screaming for a steaming hot cup of tea.

The Bowery Diner is on Bowery, not “Bowery Street”, “Bowery Avenue” or “The Bowery”, just Bowery. The neighborhood is called Bowery or The Bowery and has a history of both prosperity and seediness.

The Bowery Diner Experience: On Saturday morning, July 14, 2012, I awoke with a nasty head cold. Wanting to get out and get something to sooth my suffering (boo hoo) I decide it was the perfect opportunity to expand my bar meal reviews and I walk into the Bowery Diner about 10:15 A.M., I was not to be disappointed.

It’s a very nice morning and when I walk in Frank Sinatra is playing, cool. The tables and booths are almost entirely full while most of the counter seats are open. The counter faces the wall and has about 4 seats on the short end and 11 on the long end. One television at the end showing CNN. Very cool highchair child seat, clamps on to the end of the booth table. A sign says their sidewalk seating permits are coming soon. I sit towards the front facing the wall.  From here I can see some of the front tables and out through the floor to ceiling windows and watch all the passerby on Bowery. New York is waking up.

Since this is BarTaste, I’ll count the counter as a bar especially since I am facing a wall of liquor from my counter seat. I seriously consider a neat glass of scotch or whiskey to sooth my suffering throat and head. I decide against it and order several hot steaming cups of tea which were perfect. The guy at the bar was extremely nice and attentive as I dallied before ordering food while enjoying the hot tea, did I say hot? Yes, hot, hot, perfect for a summer cold.

The music turned to Blues and I am feeling much better so I order Florentine Benedict and extra crispy bacon. The food is wonderful. Creamy fresh spinach on the benedict and a mound of bacon cut thick and cooked just the way I like it. Yes, two dishes with meat, I need comfort with this cold.

Business Travelers: With all of the new housing, retail and hotel development in The Bowery a local place for any meal is essential. The Bowery Diner is your place. With a menu a full step above a typical diner and a full bar. The Bowery Diner is a very good place for an evening alone or with a group of friends, co-workers, clients and colleagues. The Bowery Diner is open 24/7 and I hear it gets a crowd later into the evening and when all the bars and clubs let out. Happy Hour is 5 to 7 P.M. with 50% off booze and Oysters! Oysters at Happy Hour, what could be happier? Go for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner and make sure you allow time to explore The Bowery neighborhood. Women traveling on business will feel welcome and comfortable in The Bowery Diner and the surrounding neighborhood.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆

The Bowery Diner
241 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
212-388-0052

The Bowery Diner Menu
New York Daily News The Bowery Diner Review

Bowery Diner on Urbanspoon

Villa di Roma – South Philly Italian at Its Best. Make Sure You Take Home Some Gravy

Villa di Roma Italian Restaurant South Philly
Business Travelers:  Do you recommend Villa di Roma for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 3.9/5 (4 votes cast)

Yes, its Gravy in South Philly not sauce. Villa di Roma Restaurant is located in the South Philly Italian Market and has been a “go to” spot for years. Terrific at the bar and in the dining rooms anytime especially before or after a Phillies, Eagles, Flyers or Sixers game. Villa is not to be missed for a truly South Philadelphia Italian experience.

The Villa di Roma Experience: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 about 7:45 P.M. I arrive with great anticipation for a delicious meal. I sit at the bar, order a drink, get a menu and settle in to watch the Phillies. This is about as old school classic Italian as it gets with a picture of Rocky over the bar. I order Clams Casino and Veal Parmigiana, although I almost ordered Sausage remembering how tasty it is, to complete my experience. Food was wonderful as always.

Bar was empty when I came in but no worries, the other patrons and staff provide a great show. The dining room was hopping. The bar is long and faces the wall with about 14 seats and two televisions, visible from most seats with the Phillies on. Music is low and from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s setting a great mood. During the evening, a parade of locals, tourists and business people came through the door and their antics, some stereotypically South Philly, provided great entertainment. The old mechanical cash register is very cool. Two women come into the bar after dinner and order Limoncellos, very South Philly, very Danny DiVito, very It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

A hint: Having a party?  Get the Villa di Roma Gravy (red sauce) and serve it to your guests over your favorite food and you will be a star. I served it over some meatballs at a New Years Day Party and my guests raved. I won’t tell where I got the frozen meatballs, sorry TJ.

Business Travelers: This is the perfect place for an evening alone or with a group of friends, coworkers, clients and colleagues. Go grab those empty bar seats and have a good time.  Music and noise are at terrific levels for conversation. I highly recommend Villa for an evening while traveling for business and getting a real taste of Italian South Philly. Make sure you stroll the Italian Market while there and stop by Anthony’s Italian Coffee House & Chocolate House for a treat. Great place to people watch, with a mix of locals, business people and tourists all having a great time. If you decide to sit at a table, request the dining room to the left, it was hopping the night I was there. A great place for Women traveling on business, you will feel welcome and comfortable in Villa di Roma and the surrounding neighborhood.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★☆ 

Villa di Roma Restaurant
932 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
215-592-1295

Villa di Roma Restaurant Menu
Craig LaBan Villa di Roma Review

Villa di Roma on Urbanspoon

The Spotted Pig – The Best Food & Fun in New York and the West Village

The Spotted Pig West Village Manhattan New York

Business Travelers:  Do you recommend The Spotted Pig for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 4.6/5 (4 votes cast)

The Spotted Pig is a celebrated and extremely popular gastropub in New York’s West Village.  Host to many well-known people and boldface names it can be a challenge to get into on many evenings. New York in the summer makes places like this just a bit easier to handle so on a slow summer Monday night I head to The Spotted Pig. Even though the crowds descend here often, the terrific staff makes the no reservation policy easy to deal with by pointing out some alternative seating at the bar and other places and cheerfully taking your name and number to call you when your table opens while you stroll the beautiful local Greenwich Village streets.

The Spotted Pig Experience: On Monday, July 9, 2012 about 7:30 P.M. I snag the last bar seat downstairs at the corner of the bar, order a drink and take a look at the menu and specials. I was lucky to get this seat but this is the first full summer weekday in the after the 4th of July holiday weekend. Less people in the city makes grabbing a seat easier. Not easy making a food selection from the creative but comfortably familiar menu. The Spotted Pig is well known for their Deviled Eggs which I order. Some of us at the bar discuss how we think they “cheated” when making the eggs, using more than one yolk per egg to create the heaping, overflowing and yummy filling in the Deviled Eggs. The crowd at the bar was fun and engaging, really making the entire experience terrific. The Spotted Pig is also a destination known for their burger and shoestring fries which I order. They were great and did not disappoint. The guy next to me had the Sea Bass which looked very good and he raved about it.

There are two bars, upstairs and downstairs. The downstairs bar is small facing the wall but juts into the room so you feel part of the crowd. It has about 7 seats on the long side with one short side having 3 seats with the other side having 2 seats and the service area. I sit in the corner near the door  enabling a view of much of the restaurant. The upstairs bar runs along a wall and is irregularly shaped with a couple of slight angles and about the same number of seats as the first floor bar. People are unbelievable friendly, as is the staff.

Business Travelers:  I mentioned several times about the crowds and possible waits but don’t be discouraged. It’s worth waiting a bit and the staff will happily work with you to keep you updated on timing. This is such a friendly and fun place with a terrific staff that I highly recommend it for an evening out for a taste of New York while traveling for Business. Great place to people watch, with a mix of locals, business people and tourists all having a great time. Excellent for all types of business activities with friends, coworkers, clients and colleagues. It is not a quiet place. Of course the West Village neighborhood is a great walking area with beautiful residential blocks and shopping. Allow time for a nice stroll and stop at Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake, yes they are standing in a long line there for cupcakes. A perfect place for Women traveling on business, you  will feel welcome and comfortable in The Spotted Pig and the surrounding neighborhood.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★★★ 

The Spotted Pig
314 West 11th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393

The Spotted Pig Menu
The New Yorker Spotted Pig Review

The Spotted Pig on Urbanspoon

Royal Tavern – I Wish the Phillies were as Hot as the Longhots on my Angus Burger

 

Royal Tavern Philadelphia South Philly Bella Vista Review Meal Eaten at Restaurant Bar
Business Travelers:  Do you recommend Royal Tavern for

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Co-workers, Colleagues or Customers?
Conducting Business; having a Business meeting?
Dining alone?
Women Business Travelers dining alone?
Friendly staff, patrons and good service?
Enjoyable food?
Meeting other Business Travelers?
Rating: 3.1/5 (2 votes cast)

With my move back to New York City a short month away I was trying to visit a few old favorites before I left and watch as many Phillies games as possible on friendly stations. Royal Tavern is a terrific neighborhood stop with consistently delicious food and often updated list of specials in addition to their regular menu. The meatloaf is terrific, wide beer selection and Vegan friendly.

The Royal Tavern Experience: On Tuesday, June 5, 2012 about 8:30 P.M. I arrive to eat at the bar and to watch the Phillies game. The Tavern is full as usual, mostly with locals, but I see one remaining seat at the bar and quickly grab it. I am seated about 2/3 down the bar on the long side. The bar faces the wall with about 12 seats on the long side and 3 on the short. The remaining side is a service area. The short side and other seats by the window will give you a long view down the bar and of the entire restaurant. Two televisions on the ends are usually tuned to sports, with the Phillies on tonight. Even though there was only one seat available at the bar when I arrived, the turnover during dinner had several seats open up then get taken during the evening so with a little patience you will probably get a seat at the bar. Very chatty, fun patrons and staff made for interesting conversation and a fun night.

The specials look appealing tonight, almost got the Australian Lamb Burger special but knowing that Royal Tavern is often credited with having one of the best burgers in Philly, it’s Angus Burger, I order one which came with bacon, caramelized onions, smoked gouda, pickled longhots and chile mayonnaise.  It was delicious and the log hots give it just the right amount of zing. The fries were great as well, very crispy and crunchy, just how I like them.

Business Travelers: Royal Tavern is in the Bella Vista neighborhood of South Philly, a mostly residential area which has some very nice blocks for easy strolling. Tavern is a good place to hang out with coworkers, clients and colleagues looking for upscale, very good bar fare and to get a feel for a good, fun Philly neighborhood hangout. It’s an aggressive walk from Center City Hotels so I suggest dressing down a bit and taking a cab. Woman business travelers would enjoy an evening here in a group. Other patrons are great at engaging in conversation and making you feel welcome.

BarTaste Rating  ★★★☆☆ 

Royal Tavern
937 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147
215-384-6694

Royal Tavern Menu
Royal Tavern Zagat Review

Royal Tavern on Urbanspoon