An Opening Night of Drinks, Fun, and "Hair" Combing at Misaki Kawai's Fantastic New Show at The Hole 

SSPNY Heads Over The Hole on Bowery for an Opening Night of Drinks, and a Dynamic New Exhibit at Misaki Kawai's Hair Show!

SSPNY visits the awesome new exhibit at The Hole gallery on Bowery, for one of the best opening-night parties, celebrating with good beverages, and even better art from Misaki Kawai's Hair Show, up through November 2.

Putting aside for a moment whatever the actual art might be, let me just first say that The Hole gallery always throws the best opening-night parties. The space rambles nicely, the beverages are plentiful, the crowd tends toward the stylish without being annoying. And because it's a bit of island there on Bowery, gallery-wise (unlike, for instance, Chelsea, where you might have 30 openings on any given Thursday night) the parties--sorry, the openings--at the Hole never get TOO too packed. My suggestion: get put on the mailing list, and go. And when the art itself is as terrific as it is right now at the Hole, with Misaki Kawai's Hair Show, up through November 2? Everybody's a winner! 

SSPNY falls in love with the "hair"iest pieces at Hair Show including Kawai's dog portraits, with the massive sculpture of Max standing in the back room, which the artist named after a black Scottish terrier she sees on her block. 
Anyway, in addition to being a great party (plus the new Patagonia had ITS opening right across the street at the same time, and they were giving out Roberta's pizzas!), I loved pretty much everything in Misaki Kawai's Hair Show exhibition, and plan on returning soon to see it all again, minus the revelers. Kawai has been pretty visible at art fairs and group shows in the past decade or so, but this is her first solo exhibition in NYC in six years. What's especially nice is that, even though everything in Hair Show is unmistakably "hers", there are several different styles and mediums at play, adding an additional level of dynamism--as well as a retrospective feel--to the proceedings. 
 SSPNY takes a rest at Misaki Kawai's first solo exhibition in NYC in 6 years, introducing her cute furniture into the display, where people can sit and relax in between exploring different works at her exhibit.
The "hair"iest pieces at Hair Show are Kawai's dog portraits, foremost the massive sculpture of Max standing in the back room, which the artist named after a black Scottish terrier she sees regularly on her block. Surrounding Max are a dozen or so wall sculptures of different dogs, some colored in fabulous neon pink and yellow, all accompanied with a oversized comb which you can use to brush their fur. Totally fun. Also great are Kawai's colorful collages and paintings (and collage-paintings); her cute furniture; her wonderfully simple and scribbly drawings. 
SSPNY also checks out dozens of wall sculptures of different dogs, some colored in fabulous neon pink and yellow, all accompanied with an oversized comb which you can use to brush their fur in this interactive exhibit.
Misaki Kawai: Hair Show will be at The Hole through November 2. The Hole is locatyed on Bowery between Houston and Bleecker Streets, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m. More information here. 
SSPNY lastly checks out Kawai's colorful collages, paintings, and collage-paintings with her wonderfully simple and scribbly drawings. Misaki Kawai: Hair Show will be at The Hole through November 2. The Hole is locatyed on Bowery between Houston and Bleecker Streets, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 7pm.

SSPNY Welcomes Wisconsin to the West Village! The Dairy-licious 5oz. Factory Opens on 8th Street. 

SSPNY Welcomes Wisconsin Cheesemongers to the West Village, for Dairy-licious Options Available at 5oz. Factory on 8th Street!

SSPNY hangs out in the West Village, where more and more casual spots are opening up all the time in the West Village offering creative menus riffing off a single item,. Now 5oz. Factory is no exception, opening up on the bustling stretch of 8th Street with rich, delicious Wisconsin cheese melts and frozen custards.

There's been a slew of casual spots opening in the West Village of late with menus creatively riffing off a single item. Potatopia, for example, on 6th Avenue near Waverly Place, offers spuds in every imaginable guise, with toppings galore. Los Angeles cult-favorite Umami Burger, also on 6th Avenue, has been packing them in since day one, and rightly so: all of the burger varieties here are excellent. Bantam Bagels on Bleecker near 7th Avenue specializes in "mini bagel balls" stuffed with the expected (cream cheese and lox) and the less so (cheddar cheese, bacon, maple syrup). And most recently, on an increasingly bustling stretch of 8th Street, we have the incredibly rich (and quite delicious) Wisconsin cheese melts and frozen custards of 5oz. Factory. 

SSPNY checks out all the massive portions on the menu at 5oz. including this "From WI to NY With LOVE" melt, pictured here with oozing aged white and orange cheddar, with "PBR-soaked" bratwurt on piles of fennel, horseradish sauerkraut, and mustard on a hero roll.  
I had dinner at 5oz. Factory the other night and am still kind of full. In a good a way. I mean, my (massive) sandwich and (massive) bowl of custard were terrific, but MAN they do not skimp on the dairy here. Take my "From WI to NY With LOVE" melt. Actually don't take it: get your own. This is a supremely satisfying sandwich with about six pounds of oozing, aged cheddar cheese (white and orange, both with bite); a fat, juicy "PBR-soaked" bratwurst; piles of fennel and horseradish sauerkraut, a generous spurt of mustard, all crammed into a "trencher" which is like a hero roll. It was everything you could hope for in such a beast, and it's only one of about a dozen equally-appealing options on the 5oz Factory menu. 
SSPNY next orders a massive bowl of custard, offering huge portions of delectably dense and rich Wisconsin-style Frozen Custard that comes in four flavors including chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and espresso, with some seasonal specials on rotation.
But even if you're not in a grilled-cheese sort of mood (which would be weird, but you never know), you should definitely stop into 5oz. Factory for their toppi. Because this stuff is nuts. So dense (unlike ice cream, there's no air to lighten the load), so rich (due to the egg yolks), so intensely flavored (they use all-natural ingredients), the 5oz. Factory's custard instantly makes my list of best frozen treats in town. There are four flavors now available--chocolate, vanilla, caramel, espresso--with "seasonal specials" to be rotated in (expect pumpkin, candy cane, etc), and all four are terrific. You can get toppings, from fresh fruit fruit and nuts to birthday cake crumbles to gummi bears and M&Ms, but this custard packs such a wallop, I'm not sure that's necessary. 
SSPNY even checks out the toppings bar for everything from fresh fruit, to nuts, to birthday cake crumbles and gummi bears!
5oz Factory is located on 8th Street bettwen 5th Avenue and MacDougal Street, and is open on Monday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., on Thursday and Friday from 11:30 to 12:00 midnight, on Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon to 10:00 p.m. For more information and the complete 5oz. Factory menu, please see here.  
5oz. Factory is located on 8th Street between 5th Avenue and MacDougal Street, open Monday through Wednesday, 11:30am to 11pm, on Thursday and Friday from 11:30am to midnight, and Sundays from noon to 10pm.

L'Apicio, a Terrific, Grown-up Italian Place Comes to the Bowery, Courtesy of the Much-loved Dell'anima Crew 

SSPNY Introduces Fine Italian Restaurant L'Apicio to the Bowery in East Village: Another Success to Follow the West Village's Dell'anima

SSPNY introduces Italian Restaurant L'Apicio to the East Village Located on First Street Between Bowery and Second Avenue on the Ground Floor of the Bowery Avalon Condominiums

The East Village is certainly no stranger to solid Italian restaurants, and in general that stretch of Bowery right around Houston Street has plenty of fun, quality places to eat, from Hecho en Dumbo to DBGB to The Wren to Mile End Sandwich to Peels to Pulino's. BUT we could always use one more, right?! Enter L'Apicio, open just a couple of weeks now on First Street between Bowery and Second Avenue (in the ground floor of that huge condo, the Bowery Avalon) thanks to the great Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale of West Village Dell'anima, L'Artusi, and Anfora fame and acclaim. The L'Apicio menu is filled with appealing pastas, polentas, and "piattinos", the servers and staff here are all total pros, the room is dim and pretty, and the food, well... I went on L'Apicio's first Saturday night, sat at the bar, devoured four dishes, loved them all. Really and truly: loved. SSPNY Tries the Charred Octopus on the Small Plates Section of L'Apicio's Menu and Raves About the Perfect Cooking

Take the generously portioned Charred Octopus, from the small plates/starters section of the L'Apicio menu: from my first tender, briney bite I knew I was in good hands here, the cephalopod perfectly cooked, the plump fregola nicely seasoned, the pepperoni pieces adding some bite, the whole plate singing with salt and lemon. This is well-conceived food, prepared with skill and and care by a kitchen that know what it's doing. And my first L'Apicio pasta was even better: chewy Mezzalune pasta pockets stuffed with a sweet cauliflower puree, topped with pinenuts and crunchy, supercharged capers. One of the best dishes I've had this year.

 SSPNY Raves About the Perfectly Cooked Mezzalune Pasta Pockets Stuffed With Sweet Cauliflower, An Absolute Must to Order at East Village's Italian Eatery L'Apicio

And the hits just kept coming at L'Apicio! Every restaurant in town puts a Brussels Sprouts side on the menu this time of year (see also: butternut squash and/or pumpkin) but L'Apicio really does it right, peeling the sprouts down to their individual leaves, frying them up until they're caramelized and as crispy as chips, adding nice-sized strips of chewy speck, then--and this is where this dish REALLY gets elevated above the crowd--infusing it all with mustard. Delicious and hopelessly addictive. Finally, my second L'Apicio pasta was almost as amazing as my first, a pile of thick Agnolotti filled with sweetbreads and mascarpone, dressed with an intense reduction of some sort, the entire thing hearty and satisfying. Equally perfect for a date as well as a crew of fun-loving friends--the prices, while not crazy-low, are doable, and they have a great cocktail program--L'Apicio is a winner.

 SSPNY Orders a Side of the Season Brussel Sprouts on the Addictive Menu, and Offers a Great Date Spot in East Village Along with a Great Cocktail Program

L'Apicio is located on First Street between Bowery and Second Avenue and is open for dinner every day from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and until 12:00 midnight on Thursday through Saturday. Brunch coming soon. You can find more info and the complete L'Apicio menu here.

Double-decker delights on West 8th Street: crafty arts and craft beer! 

SSPNY Fun on West 8th Street: Exploring the Textile Arts Center and Growler Station

SSPNY on West 8th Street in front of entrance for Sticky's Fingers Joint, Neta sushi, the Textile Arts Center and the Growler Station near Washington Square Park

It's a block that seems to have everything going for it, that stretch of 8th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, what with Washington Square Park right there, and all those NYU kids spilling from their dorms, and all that money living in those beautiful old apartments all around the area. And yet, somehow, instead of a friendly, trendy, nightlife/neighborhood zone, for more years than I can count it seemed like vacant storefronts and tired eateries and chains were the dominant "theme" of the strip. Fortunately, all of that seems to be changing, with the addition of such first-rate (albeit very different) restaurants like the quick-bite chicken finger spot Sticky's Finger Joint, the high-end sushi temple Neta, and this terrific double-decker storefront of coolness and fun, the Textile Arts Center up top, and the Growler Station below.

SSPNY inside the Textile Arts Center in West Village offering craft classes in block printing, sewing, looming and more...

The Textile Arts Center has been at this West Village location for more than a year now (their Gowanus flagship opened about a year and a half earlier than that), and if you're interested at all in using your hands and your mind to create something from scratch, this is a great place to check out. All of the crafts and classes at the Textile Arts Center are fiber-based (read: made from yarn or cloth or some variation thereof), and the comfortable, wonderfully sun-lit room is filled with state-of-the-art looms, dyers, and sewing equipment. There may be more classes at the Gowanus Textile Arts Center (it's just bigger), but this West Village spot does have plenty of appealing offerings, including Japanese Shibori with Indigo, Block Printing, Introduction to Hand Embroidery and, as part of their Youth After School program, Sewing and Fashion. There are also open studio times available for members. Lots more info on the West Village Textile Arts Center here.

SSPNY looks at state-of-the-art looms inside West Village's Textile Arts Center offering an open studio and Youth After School programs

Below the Textile Arts Center is the Growler Station where they offer a filling station to bring home your choice of over 20 well-curated craft beers on tap.

And after a hard day working the loom upstairs, grab a growler of craft brew to bring home, right below at the Growler Station. For anyone and everyone who likes beer, this place is awesome. At any given time they have 20 or more well-curated craft brews on tap, available to take home in growlers of varying sizes, depending upon your own personal adult-beverage consumption needs. If growlers aren't your thing (though they should be: they're fun, they're resusable, they give you that freshly-tapped taste without having to throw a kegger every night in your living room), there are also lots of rare and excellent bottled beer selections, as well as plenty of snacks and such. And get on the Growler Station email list so you can be invited to brewery parties, where free beer flows like... things that flow freely. More Growler Station facts, including the latest Growler beer menu, here.

SSPNY's Growler Station also offers a rare and excellent bottled beer selection and host free brewery parties on 8th Street.

And, PS, re: 8th Street getting great? That long-empty green-trimmed storefront next door to Textile Arts and Growler Station, right on the corner? That'll be a Stumptown Roasters cafe come early next year!

Next to the Textile Arts Center and Growler Station and going up early next year is Stumptown Roasters cafe on the corner of 8th Street and MacDougal Street

The iconic Public Theater gets "revitalized", and opens a new Andrew Carmellini restaurant, The Libary 

SSPNY Review: Iconic Public Theater on Lafayette Street Opens its Doors to Andrew Carmellini Restaurant: The Library in East Village

SSPNY reviews newly renovated landmark Public Theater on Lafayette also opens doors to The Library, a new Andrew Carmelli restaurant on it's 2nd floor

There were several pieces of reasonably exciting news last week from the landmark Public Theater over on Lafayette. You know The Public: founded by the legendary Joseph Papp some 58 years ago, the theater-loving institution offers New Yorkers a unique and excellently curated mix of the classical (particularly Shakespeare and, most famously, its beloved summertime NYC ritual, Shakespeare in the Park) with the contemporary (like next spring's David Byrne and Fatboy Slim Ismelda Marcos musical/performance piece, Here Lies Love, which I happened to see a few years ago on at Carnegie Hall, and definitely recommend). Anyway, the news...

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's $40 million renovations paved way for sleek new snack and booze bar

The Public reopened its doors last week--and threw a big, fun block party to boot!--to show off the $40 million "revitalization" of the building itself, which includes a completely redone lobby with elegant, embedded typography serving as signage; a vibrantly contrasting box office with an explosive collage of past Public Theater posters (both of the above, by the way, courtesy of the hall-of-fame designer Paula Scher and her crack team at Pentagram); and a sleek new snack- and booze-bar in the center. Most cool about the lobby, though is Ben Rubin's "Shakespeare Machine", which functions both as a chandelier in the grand, open space and as a huge, ever-changing sculptural piece, with nearly a million of the Bard's words shuffled through the artist's complex algorithms (I actually don't know if it's complex, but it sounds like it must be) and then emblazoned in light for a moment or two onto each of the Machine's blades, according to which words came before. Better than a million monkeys typing any day!

SSPNY reviews The box office of the newly renovated Public Theater on Lafayette Street is filled with an explosive collage of past Public Theater posters

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's new restaurant The Library by Andrew Carmellini offers Chicken-Fried Chicken Wings as one of their starters in East Village

Even better than all of that, however, for me, because it involves dinner: Andrew Carmellini's (he of Soho's The Dutch, and Tribeca's Locanda Verde) second-floor restaurant, The Library. Locanda Chef Michael Oliver will be running the kitchen day-to-day, the Public Theater's Library menu hangs heavily in comfort-food territory (usually with a twist), and though I was a bit surprised by the dark, old-New-York design of the place (especially after the energy of the lobby), I enjoyed my meal on the Library's opening night. My Mini Maine Crab Roll (basically a crab-salad slider, which you should get as your "snack" rather than the tempting-sounding but disappointing Pizza Popcorn), for example, was bright and lively, with a nice combo of textures of flavors.

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's new restaurant The Library by Andrew Carmellini has starters such as the Chicken-Fried Chicken Wings, perfectly cooked in East Village

For my starter I went with Chicken-Fried Chicken Wings, which were perfectly cooked (crispy outside, juicy within) and heavily salted and seasoned, just the way I like them. The garlicky buttermilk dressing made for a nice dip, too, though shouldn't bars and restaurants serve their wing sauce in more of a trough type-deal, rather than small-mouthed ramekins, into which you can't really fit your bird? Just asking. Finally, for my Library menu main I wolfed the snappy Orecchiette, with roasted cauliflower and broccoli, a dusting of pecorino, and a handful of uncredited but welcome golden raisins. Even taking opening-night jitters into consideration--that staff was exceptionally kind and friendly, I must say--The Library at the Public seems like a definite winner, and nice addition to the neighborhood.

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's new restaurant The Library by Andrew Carmellini has a dish for everyone, including the snappy Orechiette with roasted califlower and broccoli, which helps to make it a definite restaurant winner in East Village

The Public Theater is located on Lafayette Street, just south of Astor Place; the Library is open daily from 5:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. In addition to food, The Library also has an ambitious cocktail program, and the dimly-lit, loungey room seems eminently suited for an after-show drink or three. For lots more information about everything, click here.

NYC rental apartment living: A love story 

SSPNY Presents: A love story about rental apartment living in NYC

With Manhattan apartment sale prices hitting record highs this year (overall, third quarter sales are up almost 10% since last year; the median price for a Manhattan apartment, if you include both condos and co-ops, is now at $868,000, with the average reaching more than $1.3 million), does going the rental route suddenly make more sense than ever?SSPNY Presents: A love story about rental apartment living in NYC at Stone Street Properties at The Cooper at Cornelia Street

Especially with mortgages still tricky to obtain, and co-op boards acting ever more picky and ruthless in their scouring of your financial data? Well, I certainly think so... but, full disclosure, I have ALWAYS rented here in New York City, in two boroughs, several different neighborhoods, more than several different apartments, and across more years and life-changes than I'm willing to admit here on the internet.

SSPNY rental apartment living: A love story about renting in NYC at Stone Street Properties at The Charlotte at Christopher Street

SSPNY rental apartment living: A love story about renting in NYC at Stone Street Properties at The Charlotte at 102 Christopher Street in West Village

So why is someone who loves this city so much (me) so reluctant to "settle down" by buying a place? The glib answer: freedom. I love having the option, every year or two (depending on the length of my lease) of moving someplace new, whether a few blocks away, or into a completely different part of town. Constant change is one of the core, defining characteristics of New York City (that, and commerce), since, really, the days when the Dutch ran things and the place was, like, twenty blocks big, and that continues to be true right up to today. And all signs point to, if anything, even more accelerated growth in the years to come, with blocks, and whole neighborhoods, changing their look and feel in ways that are often hard to predict, and which you may or may not like. I loved living on the Upper West Side when I did, ditto the East Village, and Park Slope in Brooklyn fit nicely for awhile, and who knows where I'll wind up next. But I'm glad I haven't had to to go through the lengthy, expensive buying/selling process every time I've wanted to go somewhere new. Moving's hard enough work as it is, thank you very much.

SSPNY rental living: A love story about Stone Street Properties apartments in NYC at  at The Seville at 11 Cornelia Street in the West Village

There's another aspect to the freedom thing too. In a rental apartment, if there's a problem with the plumbing, or the fixtures, or the lawn (yes, rentals sometimes do have outdoor space), or the roof, or any other part of my home's infrastructure, I don't have to worry about it, and find some contractor, and lay out a bunch of money to have it fixed. That's what the my trusty super's for! And no matter how much I may love (or, sometimes, just like) whatever apartment I'm in, my REAL home will always be New York City itself, in all of it's crazy, beautiful, diverse, enegizing glory. NYC's excellent public transportation--not to mention that this is such a great walking town--means that as long you live near a subway station, pretty much everywhere else you'd want to go is readily accessible. For example, all three of Stone Street's West Village properties, in addition to being located in one of the prettiest, most exciting neighborhoods in the city, are all within easy walking distance of the A, C, B, D, E, F, M, 1, 2, 3, L, R, N, Q, 4, 5, and 6 trains. Which, obviously, can take you to a lot of different places.

Cafe Blossom Brings Tasty Vegan (Really!) and a Chill Vibe to Carmine Street 

SSPNY West Village Restaurant Review: Cafe Blossom.  Organic Vegan Cuisine on Carmine and Bleecker

I'm not vegetarian, or vegan, or anything-ian. More of a foodivore, really, in that I'll eat anything once and, usually, many, many more times, too.Cafe Blossom Exterior on Carmine St. SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals


BUT. THAT SAID. Plenty of my pals are of the vegan persuasion, and I love them for it, and while they always assure me rather painfully "oh don't worry I'll find SOMETHING on the menu" whenever I come up with a plan, better not to tempt their inner martyrdom, yes? Same goes for my gluten-free friends. Enter the newish Cafe Blossom, the latest outpost of owner Ronen Seri's burgeoning (blossoming?) vegan empire, open since the spring in prime Carmine territory, and serving some seriously full-flavored food.

Cafe Blossom Tofu Dish SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals</h2>

I stopped into Cafe Blossom the other night, looking for an early dinner before seeing something at the nearby IFC Center, and was (mostly) totally won over by the big, balanced flavors here. This is some confident, creative cooking at Cafe Blossom West Village, that doesn't rely on mounds of garlic or burying everything under scallions and chives to get your attention, as I've experienced at other such vegan-y spots. The starters / bar snacks were the real stars of the night, which is a good thing, because with its open frontage and friendly atmosphere, Cafe Blossom would definitely work well as a low-key, drink-and-a-bite sort of place. The Chickpea Fritters, for example: dolloped with sweet, "housemade whisky" barbecue sauce and sitting in schmear of spicy mayo, a nice crispy/soft texture, small but satisfying, with enough depth to keep things interesting.

 Seitan and Mushroom Slider Cafe Blossom SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals</h2>

Also good was my Seitan and Mushroom Slider, which, again, impressed with its reliance on drawing out the flavors of its ingredients--caramelized onions, pesto mayo, housemade tomato sauce, and mozzarella were also involved--instead of dumping on something heavy and calling it a day. Slightly less successful was my Miso Mustard Risotto, tricked out with sautéed mushrooms, scallions, white cheese, and (too much?) cashew cream, and a bit one-note, but I can imagine appreciating it more once winter's chill sets in. And because there are two more of these Blossoms in town--the original Blossom in Chelsea, on Ninth Avenue near 21st, and the Upper West Side's Cafe Blossom, on Columbus near 83rd--I now know I can placate my veggie buddies while still enjoying myself in those neighborhoods as well.

Miso Mustard Risotto, Cafe Blossom SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals<

The West Village Cafe Blossom is located on Carmine Street between Bleecker and Bedford, and is open every day from 12:00 noon until 3:30 for lunch, and then again from 5:00 until 11:00 at night for dinner. Lots more info, plus the full Cafe Blossom menu, here.


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