A Vietnamese sandwich shop, Xe May is creating some special Banh Mi. Even in such a small space, the kitchen is cooking up big flavors – grilled pork, curried lamb, as well as lemongrass chicken, grilled meatball and beefsteak tacos. Some tasted their Super "Cub" Classic with an assortment of meats on a baguette, but I have been back three times for their vegetarian sandwich, The Mean Green. With soy glazed portobello, spiced tofu, and a cauliflower spread, it has hit the spot for me each time. A meal at Xe May tastes fresh and healthy with some added Vietnamese spice to kick your pallet into gear.
Yen IS Madame Vo, but as she and her husband, Jimmy told me, the name is to honor the other women in both of their lives. "We have even incorporated our mother's recipes into our menu." Their mothers were born in South Vietnam, but Yen's parents were refugees, and she was born in Thailand before coming to the States when she was a baby. Yen grew up in Mississippi, while Jimmy was born here in the city. The two were introduced by mutual friends in New York.While Yen was involved in the fashion world, Jimmy always worked in the food industry. Combining their knowledge of retail and hospitality, the two decided to try their hand at opening their first restaurant. As they shared, "We wanted to offer something that we were use to eating our entire lives." Surrounded by family at almost every meal growing up, Yen and Jimmy described a warm, loving environment with amazing food. "We grew up with aunts, grandmothers and other family members always gathered together and we had a feast." One day the two decided that it was time for them to share their knowledge, passion, and recipes. "We had all the resources surrounding us."After opening at the beginning of 2017, Yen admitted that it "all seems like a dream." We could never find the Vietnam comfort food that we had both loved as children, and now we are able to offer this to our customers."Noticing that almost every table was filled on a weekday afternoon towards the end of March, Yen told me that they are already finding that they have repeat customers. "When it's cold or rainy, they come back for their comfort food - our version of chicken soup."
What a find...down a flight of stairs from street level on 8th Street, Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor is the "antithesis of a sports bar." Artisan and craft beer are brought together in a friendly environment that certainly had us feeling like we were right at home. The Parlor is also named for the Arts and Crafts movement, “a cultural revolt against the ideals of industrialization.”When we visited, we spoke to Robert, one of the two owners, with whom we thoroughly enjoyed chatting. Robert is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on dining out and traveling with special diets (he co-authored the series Let’s Eat Out!), and he also has a background in acting and producing on Broadway. He told us that the other owner, Don, has an impressive resume working with the FBI and counterterrorism efforts both in New York and around the world - which left us wondering what brought this dynamic duo together as friends and eventually co-owners. Robert informed us it was a love of American Craft Beer and the visual and performing arts...and that they actually met enjoying a pint of beer in Manhattan.Just as intriguing as its owners, the interior of Arts and Crafts is beautifully designed; the sophisticated wallpaper is custom made by Bradbury and Bradbury, and the soft green and beige pattern was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite, supposedly. The constantly changing art is displayed along the wall opposite the bar, and an exposed brick wall and fireplace give the parlor a true “extension of your living room” feel. Described by Robert, as the “Bugatti of beer systems,” the twenty plus beers the Parlor keeps on tap rotate monthly and are kept by this state of the art system at a refreshing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Robert also astounded us with how small the carbon footprint of the Parlor is — he told us they are very conscious of keeping things compostable and earth-friendly. In addition to their rotating display of art from both established and up-and-coming artists, the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor also hosts a monthly lecture series on the subjects of art as well as culinary topics. We could not get enough of how interesting this place is — both the concept of art and beer coming together and the two fascinating minds behind it.
Warhammer is the retail branch of an online British company that has been providing its unique gaming service for thirty years. The 8th Street location is New York's hotspot for miniature table-top war gaming. Eager workers will walk customers through every step - how to assemble the models, paint the pieces, and how to play the game itself. It takes a certain kind of patience and skill set to contract one's army and may appeal to a customer who enjoys strategy games such as chess. While it is recommended that kids begin learning the game at age twelve, we met a half a dozen men from ages eighteen to fifty who were sitting around the large table, chatting and toiling away on their magnificently detailed pieces.
Over many months, we had the pleasure of observing the construction of Amelie through each stage of its creation. To experience the ambience of this spectacular bar and restaurant alone is worth the visit...but then there is also the impressive wine list and a full French menu. The award-winning team behind Amelie in San Francisco opened their east coast wine bar in early 2012 and all we can say is tres delicieux.
Coffee tends to be a grab-and-go phenomenon here in Manhattan – the coffee break does not generally get its due respect. Here to change that completely, Stumptown’s 8th Street location elevates the coffee shop experience to a level unseen by most caffeine-addicted New Yorkers. I only know this because Jared, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, is one of them. The double-height ceilings, large windows, and carved wood façade of the corner store actually used to house the historic 8th Street Books. The interior of the building has been meticulously and beautifully renovated to include an enormous wooden bar, coffered ceiling, warm herringbone floors, exposed brick walls and numerous small clusters of tables, chairs and benches. The store is divided between the intimate café area and a brew bar - a coffee exposition/educational space where baristas can engage customers in learning about different methods of making coffee and the various types of coffee beans. The brew bar has at least five different types of machines and manual brewers running at the same time with a lovely, knowledgable staff orchestrating all of it. Stumptown endeavors to build a community out of our many, rushed coffee drinkers, creating a perfect setting for relaxing and reading, or for someone to simply become better educated about coffee.