NYC 01/04/09- PART2

The next morning we decided to start our day early and head downtown to Atlas Café a small café that is known for carrying Vegan Treats as well as providing a number of vegan options. First impression of the café is that it is SMALL very very small so if there are more than 4 people going it probably would be best to plan on getting take out because seating is very cramped and limited. However as you enter this small establishment you will notice boards on either side as well as above the counter that feature an array of items and all vegan items are labeled. Neil and I decided on the vegan bagel with “bacon”, lettuce, tomato and tofu cream cheese on an everything bagel. Neil had fresh squeezed orange juice and I had a soy latte. The bagel sandwich was good nothing fancy or great but it was satisfying. The orange juice was really yummy and the latte was okay it had a nice foam and taste however there wasn’t as much espresso as I would have liked. It would have been nice to try some of their lunch dishes because they had a number of vegan chicken wraps such as a Mediterranean one as well as a Moroccan one. This place was cute, inexpensive and convenient.

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Neil and I wandered a bit more in the morning stopping at Earthmatters to check out the shop, here you can get breakfast as well although they have very limited vegan options. We then popped into Cake Shop intending to check out some records however it seems that the café/record shop/bar has eliminated the record shop part of it, however I did notice on our way out that they have vegan cupcakes there. Our big find however was the Economy Candy Bar which Neil just fell in love with. When you walk in it is pretty much floor to ceiling with candy from all over the world, some are packaged and others you can purchase in bulk. Neil and I went on a search for some fun vegan finds and we actually found Chick-O-Stick which is a candy that is vegan that I had read about on a few different message boards but never have been able to find. It is similar in flavor to a Butterfinger minus the chocolate. We picked up a few vegan sweets and headed out to Café 88 for a coffee while we waited for our tour at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

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We also made a quick stop over to Babycakes before our tour (it’s just around the corner) and picked up a number of goodies: 2 cupcake tops (1 lemon and 1 vanilla), a brownie bite, a cinnamon skinny bun and some day old biscuits. Everything was good, I had read mixed reviews about Babycakes and I have to agree with what most of them said- the cupcakes are pretty dry- however the frosting is good and the brownie and skinny bun so yummy and the biscuits were nice and flakey. Overall I am glad we stopped in and picked up some yummy treats! (I know at this point it seems we were going on a sweets overload, I would like to note though we did not enjoy them all at once).

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is a great place for anyone to visit. They have a number of tours that are available to go on; we decided to on the Getting By Tour which detailed the lives of two different immigrant families that lived in two the apartments in the tenement housing where the museum is located. We were able to see where these families lived and learn about the changes that occurred in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s before the housing unit was closed down. The tour also gave an overview of the neighborhood and the focus of this tour was on how immigrants, specifically the two families they featured, got by during their time in the housing and in the neighborhood. It was really interesting and I would love to take another tour to learn more about the housing and immigration during this time. If you aren’t able to take a tour but are in the area you should definitely stop into their museum store it is filled with books and different things that are really interesting, I wanted to buy every book in there.

After our adventure to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum we decided to stop at Moo Shoes which is just next door to it. We went in looked around some but overall felt very unimpressed about what we saw. There were some Natalie Portman, Te Casan, shoes there that I wanted but for $250 they were not in my budget.

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For lunch we decided to have dim sum at Buddha Bodia over on Mott Street in Chinatown. We stepped in and were quickly seated in a cafeteria like dining room that had tons of table squished in next to each other. They have an extensive menu of non-dim sum items however we went for the dim sum which you marked on a sheet of paper which ones you wanted, either small, medium, large or one of the specialties. We ordered the spring rolls, the bbq veggie meat, the veggie meat sticky rice roll and the sui mai. These were all so yummy! The BBQ Veggie Meat was so yummy and had a great texture. The Sticky Rice Roll was not exactly what we expected and our first impression was that it was going to be slimly because it was shiny and slippery looking. It was surprisingly good and not slimy. The Spring Rolls were your standard veggie spring rolls filled with bean sprouts, veggie meat and mushrooms, however although good nothing amazing. I would say the same thing with the sui mai they were very good but nothing incredible. The couple next too us got the fried stuffed eggplant and it look amazing I wish we had tried that. We ended our meal with the most luscious amazing desert ever…”it makes you go I can’t believe this is vegan!”…the vegan cheesecake. This was incredible, and it has the same taste and texture as a traditional cheesecake. This one really makes you wonder if they are telling the truth that it is vegan or not because it is so like the traditional kind.

After this Neil and I wondered around Chinatown some and then headed to the West Village to hit up some record shops. After spending a few more ours wandering around we headed back to our hotel to relax and have a drink at the hotel bar before dinner with a friend of mine and her boyfriend.

Later that evening we headed back to the West Village and went to Generation Records where Neil picked up 6 new records for his birthday. We then made our way to Red Bamboo for Neil’s birthday dinner. The Manhattan location is very small with limited seating. It was also very drafty which made for a chilly dining experience, also chilly was the waitstaff. We started our meal with the BBQ Buffalo Wings and the Rice Paper Rolls; the wings were fine the sauce was missing the spice you would expect from an item called a buffalo wing but overall they were good. The Rice Paper rolls were slimy and pretty much awful there was hardly anything in them and what was in them was too much ginger, it just overwhelmed the roll completely. For dinner I got the Voodoo Sticks which I heard were really good, Neil got the Tofu Club, and our friends both ordered vegetable stirfrys. Going into mine I had expected the rice and veggies to be bland and boring….but the Voodoo Sticks (veggie meat on a stick) I had heard were super tasty….but they weren’t. They were super dried out and boring. They rice although bland was kind of nice. The veggie were fine except for the two giant carrots that were not cooked enough to cut up and eat with my fork and I wasn’t about to pick it up and start chomping down on it. Neil’s sandwich was okay nothing great. The bread however was awful- they used conventional sliced bread which just got soggy and fell apart. The veggie bacon boring, the tofu overcooked and rubbery. The only really good thing on Neil’s plate where the crispy fries. My friend’s black bean ginger stir fry was probably the best tasting thing on the table …..but how can you really mess up stir fry that involves adding some ginger and black bean sauce? I have to say I was really disappointed and would never return to the Manhattan location of Red Bamboo…maybe next time we head to Brooklyn.

We ended our night at this really interesting bar called Madame X “A boudoir-themed bar with miniscule cocktails and a gigantic attitude problem” although poorly reviewed/described by New York Magazine this place was nice on a Sunday night. It was quiet and there were lots of couches to sit on in this dimly lit bar. We had some strong drinks that were decently priced and it was great to people watch and socialize. I am not sure how it is M-Sat but it was nice and quiet on a Sunday night.

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