It was rainy. Gross. Miserable outside. The thought of doing anything but putting on your ‘jams’ and pulling the covers over your head was unbearable. However, turning down a good time was unthinkable… criminal, even. It was just not done. It was a Thursday and the boys were participating in their weekly martial arts class. A+K had many names for their training… karate… tae-kwon-do… killing class (the most accurate)… of which it was actually none. But that didn’t stop us from creating a new name every time they spoke of it. The moral of the story… they were busy sweating; however, A+K were in need of a couple of cocktails and some excitement.
It was the grand opening night of Angelo Sosa’s latest restaurant venture, Social Eatz, a collaboration with the Chase Group, who also partnered with Todd English on his latest, The Ember Room. The opening of the Ember Room was actually the location of where A+L had first met Angelo Sosa, having approached him as ‘big fans’ of the chef from his two stints on Bravo’s Top Chef. When he told us of his new eatery, we marked our calendars, curious to taste his elaborate Asian creations, as he often showcases in his Top Chef dishes. However, we were interested to hear that his new space would feature ‘comfort foods’, rather than fine dining. Intriguing. A+K decided to attend without L+M, despite the impending terrible weather.
The day before the event, we obtained the perfect invite to make our girls’ night out complete. Bravo TV’s Chris March Project was filming the digital release party for ‘The Bra Book’ for his new show airing this summer. ‘The Bra Book’ is a girl’s guide to picking the perfect clothing companion by notable style expert and Bravo-lebrity Jene Luciani, who has appeared as a fashion authority on broadcasts such as the Today Show and the Style Network’s How Do I Look?. March (originally of Bravo TV’s Project Runway) had designed Luciani’s dress (constructed solely of bras, including a feathered bra cup hat!) for the big night. And it all fell into place… we were having an all-Bravo Network night!
Originally the plan involved trains, subways and walking… eck! A quickly changed the plan to door-to-door driving, and K concurred. A picked up K and the two headed into the elements. We arrived rather quickly and parked right on the corner! Fantastic, because the wind had picked up and the rain drops were huge! We entered into the excitement of the pink carpet. Jene Luciani had just arrived at Restaurant i at the Charles Hotel bearing her custom, pink, bra-dress creation. There was a plethora of flashing lights and rolling cameras, complete with boom mics, lights, and VIPs. How exciting!
After signing our release for the TV taping, we proceeded directly to the bar to sample the signature drinks designed for the event. The Pink Push Up, the Nuvo Nude and the Bra-tini were among the girly creations inspired by the fun theme. We tried them all! We chatted, people-watched and took in all of the excitement. Thumping music, dancing women in miniskirts and CAMERAS! It was… just like on TV! We had a fantastic time, but unfortunately, our late arrival meant we missed all of the snacks. There had apparently been passed hors d’oeuvres, but all we could find were adorable bra cupcakes. It was now officially time to eat!
On this super yucky day, there was nothing we could have craved more than comfort food! This couldn’t have worked out any better (unless they also supplied a snuggly sweatshirt and some slippers). We headed uptown, also parked on the corner (YES!) and ran to the front door to escape the whirlwind going on outside. Our sanctuary! It was rather late, so we luckily walked in to find two empty bar seats calling our name. We sat down and began chatting with our bartender/waitress who gave us some great recommendations.
There were so many hearty, unique dishes that we had a hard time not requesting them all! We resorted to ordering up three items to share. Scarfing down hot wings, ribs and tacos sounds more like a boy’s night out, than a girl’s… we were just in need of giant beers, yet sadly, there was no liquor license in place on the day of our visit. Boo! However, we still thoroughly enjoyed the ridiculously flavorful fan favorites, sans alcohol.
After our hellos with Angelo and some very innovative desserts (loved the tartness and hints of basil within the Yuzu Puffs!), we entered back into night. Eager for our beds, we decided to take the tunnel to shave ten minutes off of our drive. Emptying our change purses and collecting the nickels from under the mat, we scraped together the $5.50 for the toll, having forgotten the EZ pass at home, only to learn that the toll was actually a dollar more! Darn. When the heck did that happen?! Besides A’s toll ticket for $8.50 (and the insane weather, and the bad hair day occurring as a result), the night’s events couldn’t have fit together any better. Bravisimo!!
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Activity and Cocktails- A+KRestaurant i at The Charles Hotel 893 Broadway (b/t 19th & 20th), Manhattan 646-398-9663 www.JeneLuciani.com www.BravoTV.com
The moment we entered Restaurant i, we walked into a swarm of photographers, TV personalities, crew, friends and fun-loving New Yorkers. We were instantly overwhelmed by the crowd and flashing lights, but it was exceptionally better than the horrific rainstorm whence we came! After we shook off the raindrops, we were immediately asked to sign a release form before we took another step. Of course you can air footage of us on TV! With pleasure!
We witnessed the photoshoot and the excited friends and fans surrounding Jene Luciani, a well-known style expert, and author of The Bra Book. This was a celebration of Jene and her book, as well as an opportunity to get some footage for a new Bravo TV show set to air in Summer 2011, starring designer Chris March (formerly of Project Runway), and featuring Jene.
The restaurant floor was cleared of its tables for the event, and turned into more of a lounge just for the night. As we made our way to the back of the high-vaulted, pink-sparkly venue, underneath a lofted space, to check our coats, we couldn’t help but wonder, ‘Where’s the hotel?’ There didn’t seem to be an entrance to the hotel in sight. We checked our coats and wondered if the counter was supposed to be the hotel’s front desk. Was it under construction?! It turns out, yes. The Charles Hotel was set to open in the winter, but it has yet to open its doors to the public; Restaurant i and iLounge, however, did open in the fall.
Just near the coat check were at least a hundred goody bags for the event’s attendees. We should have jumped at the chance when we arrived, as there were none left by the end of the night! So sad that we missed out on the complimentary treats! We did, however, have the opportunity to mingle, bop our heads to some fun dance music, featuring songs (sung live) by Kat Deluna, and sipped on creative speciality cocktails made just for the event, mixed with a new sparkling liqueur, Nuvo. This interesting elixir is a combination of French vodka, sparkling white wine, and infused with passion fruit nectar. The bartenders at Restaurant i mixed Nuvo with complementary solutions like pineapple juice and club soda… or straight up, on the rocks! We had a taste of each… although, K couldn’t get past the fact that there was a hint of flavor that tasted like Red Bull (ah!). A, on the other hand, thought each of the event’s signature cocktails were tasty! The crowd seemed pleased with the innovative cocktails!
The bar at Restaurant i appeared to be stocked with both requisites and unique additions. Though we didn’t see their regular drink list, we could only imagine that one could find some interesting cocktails on the daily menu. Sadly, we missed some passed hors d’oeuvres, and although there was a table full of sugary bra-topped cupcakes, we decided we needed some substantial food. After some chatting with other ‘pink-carpet’ goers, we knew it was time to head out.
Keep your eyes open for the grand opening of the Charles Hotel…. Soon 2011?
- Nuvo Nude- Nuvo Sparkling Liqueur over Ice
- Bar-Tini- Nuvo Sparkling Liqueur and Pineapple Juice
- Pink Push Up- Nuvo Sparkling Liqueur and Club Soda
A: Super exciting! I can’t lie, I am a fan of cameras and flashing lights. It was very interesting to get the behind the scenes view… how television is madel
K: The venue certainly lent itself to this type of event. As a restaurant in this neighborhood, not sure if it would draw me in. Perhaps if I was in this ‘hood, I’d stop in for happy hour or a creative cocktail… though, if I walked a few blocks in any direction, there are so many other options for tasty drinks and bites.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Pink, sparkly lounge with an unfinished, industrial-feel; perfect for filming TV footage.
- Coordinates- 3: City – 10 minute ride to fun
Dinner- 2+2www.SocialEatz.com Asian Inspired Bar Food, Cocktails, Manhattan
It was the perfect evening for some casual dining at Top Chef Angelo Sosa’s newest restaurant venture, Social Eatz. Formerly the chef of restaurants Xie Xie and Yumcha, Sosa continues his Asian-inspired creations at Social Eatz. It was a privilege to attend the Grand Opening of this new Midtown eatery!
Though not a fine dining establishment, one can find refined comfort foods on the menu. Tacos, burgers, wings, and ribs with different flavor combinations line the menu, making patrons’ mouths water, and the decision very difficult! Fortunately, we sat at the long, bright orange bar to enjoy our meal and our knowledgeable server offered up her suggestions. Per her recommendations, we narrowed our choices down to the Hot Wings, Smoked Ribs, and Korean Beef Tacos. Yum! Although Social Eatz did not have their liquor license on opening night, we ordered some club sodas with lime to complement our meal! Yes, it’s true, A+K can still have the best time sans alcohol (Shhh… don’t tell that to the boys!).
The Hot Wings were massive! We agreed we’ve never seen such large, juicy, meaty wings. They were so filling! Definitely share the plate! The wings were fresh, flavorful, and perfectly crispy. Simultaneously, we received 3 succulent smoked pork ribs, presented tastefully on the dish, nearly falling off the bone. Slow cooked for hours, they literally melted in our mouths and left behind flavors of pineapple and tamarind on our palates. Our tacos arrived last and might have been the star of the show (we wanted seconds before we even took a bite). Marinated skirt steak was shredded among fresh Asian veggies and flavors, like spicy beansprout kimchee, laid atop a handmade softshell corn tortilla. Though we certainly could have ordered another round of tacos, we wanted to save room for dessert!
The ingredients of the desserts were equally as fresh as in our dinner selections. The Yuzu Cream Puffs were so unique… the basil sugar added a little spiciness to the bursts of sweetness from the citrusy yuzu curd. The Toffee Brownie was pretty incredible. The brownie was super rich and moist, and perfectly accompanied by a sweet toffee topping. Though the rice milk shot is provided with the purpose of washing it all down, we couldn’t help but plunge our spoonfuls of warm brownie into it before taking a bite. Genius idea!
After engaging in some good conversation with the bartender and finishing off our meal, we had the opportunity to meet the man behind the food! Chef Sosa was more than personable, and in his soft-spoken demeanor, he graciously thanked us for dropping in. We assured him we’d be back for more, and looked forward to sampling the creative Asian-inspired cocktails on the way.
The greatest surprise?! At the end of the meal we learned for all of those dining on opening night…all the food was complimentary! Wow! Yet another reason to love this great new place. Keep your eyes on the Tweets from @SocialEatz, as there are plenty of great deals each week, sure to entice you to stop in. See you there!
What we ate…
- Hot Wings- Crispy wings glazed in a sauce of tamarind, garlic, shallots, palm sugar and togarashi, a Japanese spice blend of red chili, roasted orange peel and black sesame
- Smoked Ribs- Asian soul food, St. Louis pork ribs marinated in mesquite-smoked tamarind, slow cooked to perfection, with pineapple BBQ sauce laced with gouchujang, an aged korean pepper sauce
- Korean Beef Tacos- Vintage skirt steak marinated in a sweet and savory sauce of cane sugar and gouchujang, served in warmed corn tortillas with spicy bean sprout kimchee
- Yuzu Cream Puffs with Basil Sugar- Pillowy puffs filled with a sweet, creamy yuzu curd made from the tart Japanese citrus fruit of the same name, coated in a sugar coating infused with basil
- Toffee Brownie with Rice Milk Shot- Double rich chocolate brownies warmed and glazed with a sweet toffee topping, accompanied by a refreshing taste of rice milk
A: L and I are huge Top Chef fans! We watch it every week and have always thought that Angelo Sosa was a top notch competitor. His unique creations have always made our mouths-water and I finally got a chance to taste his dishes… and they were worth the wait! Bravo!
K: Yum! The short ribs were amazing. All of the food was super fresh, creative, and tasty. I’ll definitely be back for seconds after a day spent shopping on the UES.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Modern, Asian-inspired food bar
- Food/Drinks- 3.75: Pleasantly stellar!
- Tip Worthy- 4: Double the tax and then some
- Coordinates-3: City – 10 minute ride to fun
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green light!