Asian Fusion, Craft Beer and Cocktails, and Skyline Views at Brooklyn’s Kimoto Rooftop

For a change from the boring, played-out bar scene, visit the top the Aloft and Sheraton hotels

Here’s a new rooftop to add to your list: Kimoto Rooftop in Brooklyn. Most Manhattanites spend all day (and sometimes night) working in their borough’s downtown area. So why stay there any longer than you have to when you’re free?

Escape the Manhattan bubble and hop on over to Brooklyn where this rooftop and lounge offers just as cool of a nightlife/after-work scene as any other place in the city.

The views are naturally gorgeous. The vibe is chic, trendy, and modern. The food is way better than your average, overpriced bar bites, and the menu boasts a nice selection of Asian-inspired food, innovative cocktails, and craft beers.

Lesser-seen beers offered included the Yo-Ho Sorry Yuzu Salt Ale, a light, Japan ale brewed with fresh yuzu juice and peel; and the Ginga Ninja, a tropical red IPA ale brewed with six pounds of ginger in each batch. These are two fruitier beers that even myself — a non-beer drinker (for the most part) — would enjoy.

My favorite cocktails were the sweet, refreshing, and effervescent ones. If you’re like me, you’ll be a fan of the No Sleep Till, with Aperol, lychee, sparkling wine, lemon, and mint; the Mekong Mule, with Kaffir lime-infused Absolut, sake, jasmine, mint, lime, and ginger beer; as well as the Lemongrass Vietnamese, with black pepper, Bombay Sapphire East, Mizu Shochu, and raspberry.

Being of half-Asian descent, I’m always a huge fan of the fusions. Kimoto Rooftop’s Asian-inspired menu didn’t disappoint. The appetizer selection is diverse and features items such as the beef Bulgogi tacos, with homemade kimchi slaw, Asian pear, and toasted sesame; Sriracha buffalo, garlic soy, or gochujang barbecue wings; tuna tartare with a yuzu guacamole, pickled jalapeño, and a spicy aïoli; and the crunchy tempura basket, that comes with shrimp, a whole calamari skewer, a potato croquette, tonkatsu, and wasabi mayo.

If you’re a bit hungrier, I recommend the Kobe beef burger (yum!) which is served with a spicy/sweet kimchi slaw, gochujang barbecue, white truffle oil, and sprouts, or the crispy, juicy pork cutlet with tonkatsu, kewpie mayo, and red cabbage slaw.

This menu, by chef Brian Tsao of Manhattan’s Mira Sushi & Izakaya, is flavorful, eclectic, and an excellent merging of traditional American and Asian cuisines. Plus, with the live DJ, bumping music, and easy-to-find location, it’s a great place to start or end the night.

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Events | Thrillist’s Best Day of Your Life 2016

IMG_9553On the longest day of the year, June 18th, Thrillist threw its Best Day of Your Life event in none other than Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Not just a bar crawl or food crawl, but rather an everything crawl, we had only 4 hours to hit up 12 locations and devour a ridiculous amount of food & cocktails. No time was to be wasted, unless we were taking our time to get a little wasted (just kidding!). In other words, our mission was to do it all. Obviously.

Stop 1: Rough Trade — a huge independent music store based in England. Of course, the Williamsburg location is the only one in the U.S., and is home to thousands of vinyl records and CDs, plus listening stations. Here we checked in, took a bunch of pictures, and got our passes!
Stop 2: The Burger Guru — a meat patty heaven. What we ate: short rib sliders and black-and-white milkshakes. I could have easily had three of each.

Stop 3: Shelter — a pizza & empanada restaurant/ Americana-filled lodge, with an emphasis on Argentina/Italian food. What we ate: Empanadas and Josh Cellars wine pairings.

Stop 4: The Gibson Brooklyn — a chill whiskey and craft beer bar featuring over 100 types of whiskey. What we ate: whole roasted pig BBQ and bourbon sweet teas. Yes, they roasted an entire pig before our eyes! We enjoyed the tender BBQ al fresco on their adorable garden backyard.
IMG_9570Stop 5: Rosarito Fish Shack — a Latin influenced seafood and tequila spot with live mariachis and open-air windows. What we ate: white fish ceviche and signature Rosarito margaritas.

Stop 6: Kent Ale House — a craft beer, sports bar-ish place that offered a stage to anyone wanting to live our their rock star dreams. Sadly, I didn’t perform. What we ate: truffle bacon popcorn and Brooklyn Brewery beer.

Stop 7: Heatonist — a trendy hot sauce shop with over 150 rare and unique hot sauces. Drink: custom Bloody Marys!

Stop 8: Falcon Laundry Bar & Restaurant — an indoor/ outdoor restaurant in a former steel fabrication mill featuring gold fish racing! What we ate: beef-and-tomato-jam sandwiches and jalapeño-spiked tequila cocktails.

Stop 9: Crif Dogs — a small, but crackin’, retro hot dog shop! What we ate: signature Crif Dog and tater tots.

Stop 10: The Meatball Shop — a meatball paradise offering hella types of meatballs & sauces. What we ate: meatballs (duh) and red sauce, served over polenta.

Stop 11: Schmackary’s — one of the best cookie places in the world. What: the ultimate custom cookie station. Basically my dream come true. My creation? A funfetti cookie coated with a thick layer of vanilla and marshmallow frosting, doused in sprinkles, and topped with fruity pebbles (for texture of course.).

Stop 12: Output — a super hipster Brooklyn club with a gorgeous rooftop decorated with lights and leafy vines, crowed with cooling looking people. What we ate: fresh sliced fruit and refreshing Sanpellegrino cocktails. This was a fantastic spot overlooking Manhattan to end the crazy day.

IMG_9604Other awesome things that happened included getting matching (fake) tattoos with Nick, having hot, fresh pizza literally bike-driven to my hands, massages, watching a random pro-skateboarder do his thing on an indoor half-pipe, and being serenaded by mariachis. Oh, there was also a terrifying clown roaming around. I could have gone without that one.

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NYC Spotlight | Monarch Rooftop Lounge

Check out this version of a summertime dark and stormy with ginger beer, fresh lime, and rum. {Credit: Monarch Rooftop Lounge}

Monarch Rooftop Lounge has debuted a new, refreshing summer cocktail menu, along with an accompanying selection of bar bites. In addition, it will begin a Saturday brunch service which will be featuring executive chef Daniel Billheimer’s classic egg dishes like a seasonally changing chef’s quiche; bacon-wrapped egg and Cheddar muffin; and huevos rancheros with queso fresco and smoky tomatoes. Sweet morning treats include the berry-stuffed French toast and fruit skewers with a honey-Greek yogurt drizzle and granola. Heartier brunch plates include crab cakes with a roasted red pepper remoulade and parmesan-dill hashbrowns.

For those looking to enjoy rooftop views of New York (which includes a straight shot of the Empire State Building), while basking in the sunshine, mixologist Genese DeBeaux has created a fruity, summer-inspired selection of cocktails. I had the fabulous opportunity to attend Monarch’s launch and experience first hand the trendy, yet welcoming atmosphere, and of course, taste all the cocktails (and some bites!).

My favorites included the Lychee Peachee with vodka, lychee, peach Schnapps, topped with prosecco; the Watermelon Cooler with vodka, apple infusion, watermelon, and coconut water; and Kool as a Cucumber, a fresh gin, St. Germaine mix with muddled kale and cucumber, and fresh lime. The menu is extensive and offers other classic cocktails with refreshing twists such as the Monarch margarita with muddled cucumber and rosemary and the Mexican Sunset, a slightly spicy drink with pineapple and muddled jalapeño and cilantro.

Monarch is also introducing its new seasonal dishes for summer, including truffle drizzled pommes frites; beef sliders with aged Cheddar and “secret sauce;” and Not Your Grandma’s Meatballs, which is a savory combination of veal, pork, beef broiled, and served with San Marzano marinara. Seafood options include lobster rolls on mini brioche and ahi poke with fresh Pacific yellowfin ahi tuna and toasted Macadamia nuts. Also offered is a nice selection of flatbreads.

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NYC Spotlight | Rock & Reilly’s

The All American: “gorilla style,” with two four dry aged patties, special sauce, cheese, pickles, and more.

Chef Maximillian Nazabal brings his west coast roots to the kitchen of the recently opened Rock & Reilly’s Irish Pub located at the Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel. This new outpost of the upscale gastrobar features a menu unique to the New York City location. Its signature Irish Nachos, complete with Irish Cheddar, house-made kettle chips, and peppered bacon, is the only item shared amongst the three Rock & Reilly’s locations (one in Los Angeles and the other in Park City).

Nazabal has come a long way from since his football playing days in college, back when he says his diet mainly consisted of Taco Bell. As a native of Oakland, CA, his first job in the restaurant business was as a dish washer for the iconic San Francisco restaurant, Cha Cha Cha. It was there that he discovered the thrill of working in a restaurant. He describes this as similar to the rush of preparing for a big game.

His love of cooking has taken him from the west coast to the east, and has included longer culinary stints in Chicago and North Carolina. Nazabal, who was mentored by famed “Pit Master” Ed Mitchell, graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas. He describes his cooking style as heavily influenced by his Spanish roots, as well as, a mix of Cuban and French cuisines.

With a large selection of dishes as diverse and detailed-oriented as Rock & Reilly’s, it’s pretty clear that chef Nazabal, along with his four sous chefs, exhibit both talent and commitment to preparing good food. With a rotating seasonal menu, chef Nazabal only uses the best ingredients from within a 50 mile radius of New York City. Moreover, none of the animals are farm raised.FullSizeRender 75
Embodying his philosophy of taking the best flavors of all ingredients to create something awesome, Rock & Reilly’s menu has a big array of savory, indulgent dishes. The menu offers items pastas, fish, steaks, specialty burgers and sandwiches, chilled seafood bites, salads and soups, flatbreads, shared plates, and of course, massive desserts.

Shared plates offer an eclectic variety of dishes that range from more common appetizers like chicken wings with a burnt scallion bbq sauce and dry aged beef burgers; to innovative items such as cheeseburger spring rolls; a cast iron octopus with a saffron & fennel vinaigrette; and an incredible charcuterie board presented with an assortment of meats like rabbit rillette (I had never eaten rabbit before, but enjoyed it), satisfyingly salty copa, and pork pate, alongside a nice selection of pungently tasty cheese.

Fresh sea plates include a citrusy, halibut ceviche and a melt-in-your-mouth scallop crudo with celery leaf and pretty watermelon radish slices. Lighter fare includes several salads, such as the “garbage” salad which comes with salami, shrimp, a mix of veggies, and a white balsamic vinaigrette. For those looking at the sharable flatbreads can select from choices like the buffalo chicken with Point Reyes blue cheese or the Turkish lamb with roasted zucchini and squash.

Carnivores will love the “off the grill” meats which are brilliantly cooked. For example, Nazabal took five years to perfect a Dijon mustard marinade. It paid off; I almost didn’t believe it was skirt steak, it was that flavorful and tender. And if you’re really going all in, order the 28 oz bone-in Tomahawk rib eye.

Pastas such as the pappardelle bolognese is filled with a meaty mix of veal, pork, and pancetta, while the mac and cheese is kicked up a notch with lobster. Heavy hitters on the menu are the big plates; each dish exhibits a unique complexity of ingredients and flavor. On the fish side, Nazabal offers a grilled branzino with a braised escarole and white bean stew; and the buttery, flaked roasted halibut, which comes beautifully plated with roasted beet accents pea shoots and micro greens.

The brick chicken, comes with a garlic confeit and garlic mash is a solid choice for those looking for poultry. Furthermore, the pork chop is highly recommended. With a slightly sweet, apple slaw and a celery root puree, this chop is seasoned to perfection. Nazabal played with how to cook this piece of deliciousness 25 times before settling. Nailed it.

Nazabal, a California native (as am I), knows that In-N-Out does burgers right. Granted, there’s always room for improvement. “Animal style” fans get ready to be blown away by Nazabal’s “gorilla style” mammoth of a juicy burger. This normally comes with two patties; however, those in the know (check out his Instagram) have the chance to beast on a 4×4. Yes, four patties. Special sauce. Pickles. Bacon. Cheese. Grilled onions. Need I continue?

FullSizeRender 76
Front: Turkey burger | Back: Gorilla-style 4×4

If you’re one of the few who has room for dessert after eating a full course meal here, congrats. Desserts are huge, decadent, sweet, and 100 percent worth any regret you may feel after eating it all. Dessert champions need to order the giant vanilla bean-peanut butter ice cream burger. Enclosed in the huge, fresh, glazed beignet-doughnut hybrid is a mountain of vanilla bean ice cream, crunchy peanut butter, peanut brittle, and peanut butter cups.

A peanut butter monster

For classic cookie lovers, Nazabal bakes a chewy, warm, chocolate chunk filled cookie served in a skillet, piled with scoops of ice cream and doused in whipped cream. Don’t like peanuts? Allergic to chocolate? There’s a creamy, smooth, Nilla wafer filled banana pudding that rivals that of Magnolia’s. Lastly, if you want wash down your dessert with dessert (I did) then order the Horchata milkshake. For those who think it’s weird, you’re wrong; this shake is a Cinnamony, buttery, vanilla ice cream blended, thick concoction, that comes with a whipped cream cap and a cherry on top.

Chef Nazabal did a ridiculously excellent job stuffing me with all the greatest hits from the menu. His creativity and dedication to his craft, is made apparent with every bite. That said if you’re on a diet, or trying to “be healthy,” don’t come here unless you have the willpower of a superhero.

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NYC Spotlight | Rock & Reilly’s Gastrobar

This upscale gastrobar and restaurant has now opened up shop on the east coast. {Credit: Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel}

With locations in both Los Angeles and Park City, this upscale gastrobar and restaurant has now opened up shop on the east coastJust in time for sunshine, warm nights, and summer Fridays arrives New York City’s latest rooftop destination, Rock & Reilly’s Irish Pub. Located in the Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel, this beautiful bar and restaurant is massive. As in it’s a 10,000-square-foot venue with an 8,000-square-foot terrace. If you don’t feel like getting hot and sweaty in a club — but still want to be out with your crew, drinking mighty fine cocktails, while chilling on a rooftop taking in views of the Empire State Building — this is your new spot. Oh, and if New York weather takes a turn and decides to almost literally rain on your parade, this spot has a retractable patio roof.

With swanky locations in Los Angeles and Park City, Rock & Reilly’s isn’t your average watering hole. While it prides itself on being an upscale bar and restaurant, this establishment goes beyond that by combining LA style and flair with splash of NYC exclusivity to create a classy gastrobar that is modern, chic, and celebrity-status cool. With industrial, rich design elements that include exposed brick, distressed metal, three handcrafted mahogany bars, and leafy, climbing-vine trellises separating jewel toned booths, this pub gives off a Prohibition-era speakeasy vibe.

Something I particularly found humorous is the selection of Reilly’s quotes that can be found through the bar. Examples include: “You look like I need a drink,” “Recent study showed that the leading cause of drinking was sobriety,” and my personal favorite, ““Blackouts are God’s way of saying ‘don’t worry ‘bout it.’”

Aside from the aesthetics and atmosphere, Rock & Reilly’s friendly — and surprisingly attentive — bartenders make absolutely delicious cocktails. The kind that are dangerously tasty and begging you to order another, even though you’ve already had one too many.

My favorite drink of the pre-opening event was the Rock & Rye Smash, served in a Moscow mule copper mug. This cocktail included Mr. Katz’s Rock & Rye, Domaine de Canton Ginger, shiso, and yuzu. It was super refreshing thanks to the combination of the ginger liqueur and citrusy notes from the yuzu, a popular Japanese fruit, and the hint of shiso, which was a pleasant, herbal surprise. Normally I don’t drink rye, but clearly that wasn’t the case here!

Though I couldn’t try every single one of the signature cocktails — mainly due to my desire to stay at an acceptable level of sobriety — I did enjoy the Ancho Mango, which had Tito’s vodka mixed with a chile liqueur, mango, and a hint of basil, as well as When Doves Cry, a sparkling tequila and grapefruit cocktail that came with a pink peppercorn and Himalayan sea salt rim (much better than my usual, less complicated go-to: tequila and pineapple).

I look forward to conquering the rest of its innovative concoctions such as the Tea Thyme which incorporates vodka, rooibos and chamomile tea, and thyme; the Wake Up Call, a vodka-espresso drink with vanilla and chipotle flavors; the Red Head Redemption, a rum, orange, raspberry, and jalapeño blend; the Rebel Rebel, a tequila-red bull, pineapple cocktail; and the Make It There, a whiskey, vermouth, and bitters drink. If cocktails aren’t your thing, don’t worry. In addition to a large variety of beers and wine, Rock & Reilly’s features an enormous whiskey selection, including Scotch and bourbon lists, and whiskey flights for those who want to try them all.

I haven’t tried the food — yet— but I did manage to catch a bite of one of the biggest desserts I’ve seen in awhile from a sly young lady, Lauren, who managed to have this behemoth vanilla bean-peanut butter ice cream burger delivered to her table. If you’re having trouble envisioning what that is, let me help you. It’s an ice cream sandwich that’s fit for a giant, or more realistically, 3-4 of your friends. Enclosed in a huge, fresh, glazed doughnut is a treasure trove of vanilla bean ice cream, crunchy peanut butter, peanut brittle, and peanut butter cups, luring you to dig in fast, before it melts!

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NYC Spotlight | Green Gallow and The Heath at The McKittrick Hotel

I’ve written about The McKittrick Hotel several times before (here too,) but I love this place so much that it deserves another post. Not to mention each experience here has been different and awesome, and now that it’s summertime, the rooftop bar Green Gallow is open! Being the amazing host that I am, I took both my parents and sister here on their separate visits. Notice I said “took” not “treated.” Lolz.

Green Gallow is one of my favorite roof top bars because it’s gorgeous! It’s like a chic, adorable garden oasis filled with potted plants, lush foliage and dainty flowers all around. The weathered wooden tables and potters make for nice touches too. Not to mention there are cool old railroads leading up to the bar, underneath a beautiful canopy of green. And when you walk off to the side, you can see some fantastic views of the city! Only downside- the drinks are offensively pricey. Despite that, I got the Foggy Night- tequila shaken with local dark honey, fresh lemon and sriracha and some slices of cucumber for refreshment… the perfect drink choice for me!

A beautiful, lush, canopied railway path to the bar
A beautiful, lush, canopied railway path to the bar

Greengallow3After we took in some sunshine and cocktails, we made our way downstairs to the coolest dinner venue I’ve been to, The Heath. Stepping downstairs into The Heath is like time traveling into another era- it’s like you’re back in the 1930’s at a smokey speakeasy! There’s a large bar off to one side, lots of seating, very charismatic and decked out hosts and hostesses and a live jazz band that performs throughout the night. The jazz and vocals are on point and makes the dining experience more like an entertaining dinner show! The entire setting and ambiance is so unique and unlike any other I’ve had. Oh, and there’s fancy couple straight out of The Great Gatsby strolling around the dining room, dancing around and schmoozing with diners.
The Heath 1The Heath 2The night I came with my sister, we started with the amazing cheese board- a tasty variety of artisanal cheeses, beer jam, fermented honey and spiced nuts and the most amazing type of saltine cracker. I LOVE CHEESES! We both got the pre-fixe menu. My starter was the delicious mini pork pies- savory, spicy sausage bites wrapped in puff pasty. My main was the juicy roast chicken with lemon mash potatoes. My sister got the custardy asparagus and rice pie, which was creamy, almost sweet, and went nicely with the buttery, flakey puff pastry crust. The dessert was insane!!! We both chose: the decadent nutella ice box pie! Creamy, rich goodness.

[Artisanal Cheese Platter & Mini Pork Pies]
[The Roast Chicken with Lemon Mash Potatoes and Grilled Lettuce Leaves]
[Asparagus & Rice Pie]
[Nutella Ice Box Pie]
Heath2The night with my parents I order the best thing on the menu, I’d say: the bone in lamb breast with roast baby carrots, dates, walnuts, watermelon radishes and dandelion greens. The veggie assortment was both beautiful and so fresh. And the meat was super tender. It had just the right amount of fattiness and that savory good lamb flavor that I crave when I want red meat! The lamb went amazingly well with the sweetness of the dates and crunch of the walnuts. It was such a pretty dish! I never heard of watermelon radishes, but they’re just gorgeous. For dessert? The fantastic apple bread pudding with fuji apple ice cream with a black pepper caramel drizzle. It was so buttery- the bread just soaked up all the caramel goodness.

[The Bone in Lamb Breast]
Apple Bread Pudding with Black Pepper Caramel Drizzle
[Apple Bread Pudding with Black Pepper Caramel Drizzle]