My rating: ♥♥♥/ 5
When you and your husband only get to have date night once every 2-3 weeks, the pressure is on to make it the best night ever! I mean, when you’re paying the babysitter $20/ hr, it’d better be worth it! Am I right, or am I right? Well, RR and I had our bi-weekly date night on Friday, and, I must say, it didn’t quite live up to my (RR was cool with it) expectations.
RR had a prior engagement in the city (in Manhattan), so he had suggested we pick a place in the Lower East Side. In Manhattan? Whut? We normally NEVER go out in Manhattan, but LES is for sure one of the cooler neighborhoods in Manhattan, and it’s close to Williamsburg, where we live. So, I thought why not!
While on a previous date night, we had gone the fancy route at Leuca in the William Vale, on this night, I thought we’d go the bar-hopping fun route. And by bar-hopping, I mean, dinner in one place and then one more drink at another place. I know – we’re wild.
I’m so out of the loop though and thus had no idea where to go. Of course, I turned to Yelp and somehow landed on Suffolk Arms. According to the website, it’s a “cocktail pub,” and I think that sums it up perfectly. It has an extensive cocktail list and a short menu of mostly greasy bar food.
Since being pregnant, having Pookie and then breast-feeding for 13 months, I basically have lost interest in cocktails, so I got (woah Nelly!) a glass of prosecco, but RR went with a cocktail. He chose “Ready Fire Aim,” and they were not kidding about the “Fire” part. At first, it tasted delicious, but then after a couple sips, he decided he couldn’t drink it. I thought he was just being a wuss, so I said I’d drink it, but then after a couple sips, my lips were burning and actually really hurting, so we had to admit to the server that we couldn’t handle it. If you love spicy drinks, go for it because it tasted so good, but maybe ask the bartender to chill out on the hot sauce.
The food menu consists of burgers and the like, but also a few New York-themed items, which we enjoyed. I’m not a fan of matzo ball soup, but RR loves it so we got a bowl of that. Unfortunately, it was beyond bland, and even RR didn’t like it. We also got tater tots and the chopped cheese, which were both amazing. But, what is a chopped cheese, you might ask.
The chopped cheese is an iconic sandwich of Harlem and the Bronx that you could historically only find in bodegas (that’s an NYC convenience/ food store). It’s made of ground beef, onions and bell peppers that are grilled with melted cheese and dressed on a hero roll. The fact that RR and I had it in a restaurant in the LES probably has at least something to do with the recent “discovery” of the sandwich by white foodies. For example, you can see Anthony Bourdain chowing down on one in an episode of “Parts Unknown” and Sarah offering her thoughts on the sandwich in an INSIDER food video. But if you really want to understand the chopped cheese, watch writer and YouTuber Jeffrey Almonte’s hilarious video in which he slams INSIDER food for having “Columbus Syndrome” and claiming to “discover” this sandwich that “nobody knows about.” You could also check out First We Feast’s excellent documentary about it.
While I do feel bad that we have now (unwittingly) supported the “Columbusing” of the chopped cheese, we did find out that the chef at Suffolk Arms features the chopped cheese on the menu because he actually hails from the Bronx. He even stays true to the sandwich by not inflating the price. You can get it there for $5, and it tastes quite delicious.
So, Suffolk Arms lost a heart because of the horrible matzo ball soup and another one because of the atmosphere. We had expected warm and cozy pub, and instead got loud, bad music-playing, bright light-shining, cold-air-coming-through-the-taped-up-windows, whatever bar. This would work for guys night out perhaps, but not for date night.
For afterwards, I had made a reservation at “speakeasy” Garfunkel’s for a drink, but after 10 minutes of waiting while the bouncer spoke into his headset, we felt so damn old and annoyed that we said never mind and went home.
Hopefully next date night doesn’t suck ass as much as this one did. Or perhaps I need to lower my expectations and stop hyping date night so much? I’ll work on that, but we will for sure stay in Brooklyn from now on. What were we thinking?!