Seoul Galbi Korean BBQ: opening in Paramus


Update: it's open.

It seems like forever ago that the Korean restaurant on Paramus Road, in Paramus, closed. I forget the name, but it was largely unexceptional, and a bit of a dump.

It didn't take too long for work to begin on the empty building, and that work has been going on for quite some time. Over a year I'd say. They gutted the place, and I'm guessing invested in everything from a new roof to a new kitchen. All along yielding no hint as to what type of restaurant might be moving in.

I kind of thought it would be an upscale Greek fish restaurant, what with that kind of money being poured into the structure (not to mention the liquor license). I thought wrong.

Indeed there's now a new sign on the building announcing Seoul Galbi Korean BBQ. Korean wouldn't necessarily be my first choice for this space, but it's certainly a good thing overall. Anything but an Italian-American restaurant, quite frankly, would be fine with me. Another bullet dodged.

While the idea of a Korean restaurant with a liquor license doesn't really excite me (I know of few Korean restaurants with interesting beer lists or cocktail programs), I did see a bunch of new grill hoods being placed over each of the tables. So they've got that going for them. 

I'm looking forward to taking my first slab of short rib and throwing it on the flame, with an OB Lager I assume.

Restaurant comers and goers in Ridgewood: NJ


The near constant turnover of restaurants continues in Ridgewood, NJ.

Long-time staple and all-around mediocre restaurant La Piazza disappeared a few months ago. I got a bit excited when I saw a sign announcing a new place called "29 Chestnut," until I looked closer and read "Italian Trattoria." What we don't need is yet another "Italian" restaurant in New Jersey (I'm relatively confident that it will be "Italian-American" and will not specialize in the cooking of any part of Italy).


Diwani moved out of its digs on E. Ridgewood Ave and headed up to Mahwah a few months back. That space is extremely awkward, with a small front room, some sort of dead space, and then a larger dining room tucked in the back. Let's hope Pardis Persian Grill can make a go of it.


Back on Chestnut Street, it looks like some sort of health food place went kaputt, and something with the potential of being much more interesting is moving in. Tori Ramen Chicken is coming soon.

Will they only serve chicken ramen? What about pork? I like pork. It looks like a pretty big space, so maybe they'll have room for chicken and pork ramen. Either way, this one is something to look forward to.

Ridgewood Fisheries, the small Japanese market, has closed. J Mart, another Japanese market, remains open.

Bella Notte Italian Bistro, which was La Bottega before that, closed a few months ago. The space remains empty.


Kilwins, some sort of chain, has a nice little spot right across from Van Neste Square. Haven't been in there, but I'm guessing they have chocolates, caramel apples, fudge, and ice cream.

As I noted earlier, another highly anticipated restaurant, Fish, is making progress on their remodel of the old bank building. I've got high hopes for this place, and I hope it doesn't screw it all up.

A reader notes that Italia di Gusto is open on E. Ridgewood ave. The website is here.

So that's that.

I worked up quite an appetite walking those 4 blocks, and headed over to the always-excellent Sakura Bana for some sushi. 



Ridgewood Jazz Fest: photos from 2014

IMG_4786 IMG_4162

The Ridgewood Jazz Fest is simply the best of all of the Ridgewood festivals. While most (all?) of the other events rely on roaming vendors to provide food, with their mediocre funnel cakes and sausage sandwiches, the folks at the Ridgewood Guild have pulled in local restaurants for this Jazz Fest. Add a beer/wine garden and a few top-notch bands, and you've got one helluva day in the 'wood. The only thing that would make it better is if local businesses were open on Sunday to enjoy the boost.

This year's Jazz Fest was similar to last year's inaugural. The biggest difference was an enterance fee this year (5 bucks I think). Unfortunately, this kept some people from coming. But the event was well-attended on this gorgeous late summer day, and the 5 bucks didn't seem to be bothering most people. It was quite a glorious afternoon all around.


I didn't have much time to check out the various restaurants' booths this year, but I did have some of that great fried chicken from Raymond's. When I tried to convince the owner, who was manning the booth, that they should offer fried chicken at the restaurant more often than just Wednesdays, my suggestion was met with an unforgiving blank stare. The response of "I'll take that under advisement" pretty much solidified my loss in this battle. Hey, people, I tried, OK?

While I didn't eat much, I did manage to have a few beers from the truck. This year's selection was a bit better that last year's. Coors or Bud or whatever it was still dominated the day, but there was also Blue Moon and something from Cricket Hill Brewing, IIRC. Unfortunately, the Cricket Hill stuff seemed to have a relatively high ABV, and didn't make for a long afternoon of drinking in the sun. But I managed.

In the middle of drinking beer and talking with various friends who smartly came to the fest, I took about 1000 pictures. I overshoot. That's what I do. And then it takes me a month to get through and process all of those images. But I do this, for you.

Here are a few of the photos that I didn't have to shitcan. First up, some food.

IMG_4005John from mobile vendor Flirting with Fire, working with A Mano. I have talked with John a bunch of times online through a pizzamaking forum. I introduced myself but he didn't seem to know who the hell I was. Eh, I prefer it that way. Give John a call if you're looking for a pizza party. The guy can make a pie.

IMG_4005Le Bon Choix.

IMG_4005The drinkers were forced to stand behind a fence. As usual. I prefer this that way as well.

IMG_4005Rob, manager of Park West Tavern.

IMG_4005Excellent fried chicken from Raymond's


And now the music. First up, Luba Mason. The initial photos aren't very good as I didn't have my camera set very well. After the jump...

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Latham House BBQ Team: Red, White and Que KCBS 2014: Cresskill, NJ

I had the opportunity to spend some time at the 2014 Red, White and Que KCBS event in Cresskill, NJ, this past weekend.

dbroc, from the Latham House BBQ team, invited me down, and of course I brought my camera. I didn't expect to shoot any video (rather, I was going to take photos), but when I got home I had quite a bit of video on the card.  Here are some highlights from the Latham House team's day.




What restaurants do wrong, all the time: a list, to help owners and managers


Over the course of my adult life, I've spent an inordinate amount of time at restaurants.  A couple of times it has even been enjoyable. But it feels like I've seen more places run horribly than run well. Owners, managers and servers have been making the same mistakes for so long it's clear they are not paying attention to what people complain about at all.

Because I'm a helpful sort, I've taken it upon myself to compile a list, with peace and love of course, of things that servers, managers, and owners of restaurants are doing wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. I should note that to my mind, service issues are management issues, and management issues are owner issues. The buck stops with the guy who is taking the financial risk. And too often that person doesn't care or know any better. To that end, this entire list could be directed toward owners. But, I've broken down into the functional areas for ease of review.

Owners and managers, maybe this list will help you. Or not. I do know that putting this together sure made me feel better.

Readers may disagree with some or all of these issues. As always, if you do, keep it to yourself, because I don't care what you think.

And here...we...go...

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t:e was down: for a few days

My blogging platform, Typepad, which is generally wonderful, was under a DDoS attack for the past few days. This means that some douche(s) clogged the pipes to the extent that it brought Typepad and all of its customers to a halt. They, these douches, generally then ask for a ransom to stop their immoral and illegal(?) activities. If not illegal, then certainly dick-ish.

This is a thing that horrible people do, and by definition I don't like it. Frankly I'd like to meet these douches in person and ask them what their major malfunction is, before I elbow them in the throat. But that's likely not possible.

Typepad has been working hard to restore services and stabilize the whole mess.

I'll take this moment to note that if I were sincere insincere I'd say that I'm glad you're back to visit.

Either way, rest assured, I'll be talking about myself more in the upcoming days, perhaps even making up for lost time. Or not.

In general, be kind. I think that's a good idea overall. 

While you're processing all of that, process this, by the great Blitzen Trapper.


Blackstone Pizza Oven video: taleggio, fior di latte, sharp provolone, thyme, scallion

Scallion in this case, not chives. Regardless of what the video says.

Chives, preferably, if you have them.

Chinese chives are even more betterer.

Scallions when neither are available.

The Blackstone oven can cook a pizza in under 2 minutes. A relatively inexpensive and simple alternative to a wood-burning oven, for those who are looking for quick cook times.

Nerdy stuff:

  • Caputo 00 flour
  • 62% hydration
  • 3% sourdough starter
  • 3% salt
  • 1 day room temp bulk rise and then 1 day in fridge because it was too excited
  • 4 hours bulk at room temp and balled for 6 hours
  • "Spazz" by the Elastik Band


Valentine's Day: Thoughts on restaurant dining

Like most self-absorbed smug schmucks who consider themselves experienced eaters and restaurant-goers, I tend to turn up my nose at the excitement around Valentine's Day dining. The idea of feeling obligated to go to a restaurant on a specific night, along with all of those amateurs who clearly don't eat out very often, isn't very appealing. Add prix fixe menus, set seatings, and the pressures to have a “special” evening, and all I see is a stress-inducing night, one which keeps me safely behind my computer screen, hurling stones at those barbarians who decide to venture out and visit a restaurant.

Oh, and on top of that, it's always been my understanding that this night absolutely sucks for staff, and the restaurant basically phones it in, not trying to please one bit.  But is that really the case?

I figured some insight from people actually in the industry that I tend to blather on about might be helpful if I'm going to continue with this baseless theory. So, I asked a few owners and chefs what they think about Valentine's day dining. How they approach it at their restaurant. If they hate it like I assume they do. And I received some interesting feedback.

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The 17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time: Time

Dry aged burger salBurger at home with beef from Westwood Prime Meats in Westwood, NJ. With dry-aged bits.

Time magazine (that's still a thing, Time magazine?) released this list (click) of 17 of the most influential burgers of all time. White Castle is number one, for those who aren't going to read the list.

It's hard to argue with lists like these. Everyone has their opinion, and this isn't science. But to my mind, the omission of a dry-aged burger is a huge oversight.

While most of the country outside of fancy urban areas may never have had a dry-aged burger, New Yorkers have been chowing on them for quite some time.  Peter Luger's burger surely was the most popular (only?) dry-aged burger for a looooooong time. And it's quite a bargain, and quite a good burger. 

More recently, Minetta Tavern put, what up until that point was just another meat purveyor, on the map. Their Black Label Burger, made with meat from Pat La Frieda, made quite a splash when it was introduced. Hell, that burger helped to put Minetta itself on the map.

Dry-aged burgers are here to stay and popping up everywhere, no doubt due in no small part to Minetta's fine burger--and good ol' fashioned marketing. Maybe in a few years a list like this will mention Minetta. In the meantime, try one at home!

Let me indulge in a perhaps slightly more off-topic than on-topic tommy:rant, and wrap this up.

<tommy:rant>Suddenly, any shitty diner that happens to use La Frieda as a purveyor is proudly advertising that fact on their menu. As if the source of their meat is making their food taste better. Sure, La Frieda has and sells fantastic stuff. And they also sell regular stuff. Like the stuff that diners buy.

But ya know what? People are buying into the idea. They are actually going to diners and professing their love for these clearly unexceptional specimens, puffing out their chests when challenged and saying "but it's La Frieda meat." Yeah, OK.</tommy:rant>



Velveeta shortage: alternatives to Velveeta

By now you've heard that Kraft is claiming that there could be a Velveeta shortage in the coming weeks. The timing couldn't be more perfect to put the brakes on your processed food-studded Super Bowl party.

So what is the uncaring and heedless host to do in light of the shortage of this staple? Well, I'll just tell ya.

To help you ensure that your party is the effortless and barbarous event that you had hoped, I am offering some assistance. We'll get through this, together.

Here it is. Just what you need, and just in time:  alternatives to Americas's favorite Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product:

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