Hair We Are: Groupon-tacular

I’m not the type of gal who pampers herself with frequent spa treatments. In fact, I’ve only had three mani-pedis in my lifetime and have never had my eyebrows done. (How could a city-dwelling twenty-something avoid such rites of passage? Easily. I don’t wear make up either.) When Groupon informed me that there was a deal at a salon in my ‘hood, I viewed it as an opportunity for me to grow up a bit and become a real New York lady. (Sarcastic overtones.)

The deal included a mani-pedi, facial, eyebrow threading, and a five-minute massage (which I skipped) for $20. The salon is called Hair We Are (clever!), located one block from the 46th Street-Bliss subway stop in Sunnyside. It’s small and unassuming, squeezed between an out-of-place chic restaurant and a UPS store.

We started with the manicure, which felt out of order. Shouldn’t I get the pedicure first? I wondered. (Then again, what do I know.) My nail lady seemed distracted. She kept looking away, her eyes darting toward the door every few seconds. What could possibly be so interesting over there? Are my nails not enough for her? I selected a light pink for my nails, to which she said, “It’s light, no?” (Yes, yes it is.)

Onto the pedicure. Again, distraction. She sped through filing and sanding my toenails and squirted a green, textured liquid onto my feet, rubbed hard. It felt good, I guess, and my toes looked great.

Next, we moved onto the eyebrow threading and facial portion of the spa extravaganza. I sat in a chair leaned way back; I was suspended in air. The eyebrow lady came at me with thick white thread and went to town on my ‘brows. I have no idea what she was doing, but it was quick and mildly painful, and I ended up with nicely shaped eyebrows.

I wasn’t crazy about the facial. She put some cream on my face and let the steam wash over me for about ten minutes. Then, she rubbed that off and showed me all of my blackheads. She applied a mask, which hardened on my face for another ten minutes, and washed that off. I was done–thank goodness–and feeling less than refreshed. It wasn’t her fault. I just don’t like facials.

When all was said and done, I appreciated the services provided by Hair We Are. ¬†I might return for eyebrow threading ($5 – what a steal!)–I recommend this to any neighbor of mine.

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The Counter: Make Your Own Burger

I had been curious about The Counter since I first saw it in Times Square. It’s taken the place of a certain Juan Valdez coffee establishment, I believe. The idea of getting a decent burger in Times Square struck me–is this truly possible? Void of decent food, this neighborhood is in dire need of anything more edible than Pop Tarts sushi.

Counter order form

The Counter order form

When we sat down at The Counter, the waiter handed us a clipboard with stacks of order forms on it. Pencils were on the table. Expectations were high. We had to design our own hamburger, rather than relying on some burger chef to stir up a list of ingredients for us. (There are ready-made burgers, such as “The Counter Burger,” if that’s your thing.) I selected 1/3 lb. burger with avocado, red onion, lettuce, and horseradish mayo. My dining partner ordered a burger with a multi-grain bun, which looked good, and dreamed of including pineapple on his list. (“It would be good without cheese or anything else on it,” he said. I’m not convinced.)

We started with some fries and onion strings.

The Counter fries and onion stringsServed with ranch dressing (“America’s favorite dressing”) and barbecue sauce (it had a kick to it), they were acceptable on a whole. Individually, the match stick fries won our taste test. The onion strings were light and delicate, which was nice, but they didn’t pack the desired cringe-worthy onion flavor with each bite.

Onto our burgers…

The Counter make your own burgerThe meat was tender and juicy and cooked to perfection. My dining partner’s burger was overdone, he said, but he ate it all so it couldn’t have been that bad. I loved my toppings, which were fresh and ample. After all the burgers I’ve eaten, I should know a thing or two about compiling a delicious sandwich. I was impressed by my own skills. I liked that the horseradish mayo (more mayo than horseradish) came on the side; it doubled as a dipping sauce.

The Counter is a great pre-theater destination. We went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert last night. Both the burger and show hit the spot.

Carlo’s Bakery: an experience

Carlo's bakery

Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken

I had plenty of time to take this photo. I could have waited until people weren’t standing in front of the bakery. But wait, people are always standing in front of Carlo’s Bakery, posing for photographs or peering through the large glass windows. Carlo’s is best known by TLC viewers as the Cake Boss bakery, which is why people from all over the tri-state area spent their Saturday morning standing in line for confections.

We waited an hour to get in and then had to stand around about ten minutes for our order to be taken. We started our wait in front of Carlo’s, but were then ¬†ushered by a police officer to a faraway corner. Apparently, the Carlo’s line disrupts the peace of Washington Street.

Carlo's cakes

Beautifully decorated cakes, their signature

People were buying cakes, loads of goodies, and even Carlo’s apparel. It was nuts! People were nuts.

Carlo's Mary

Mary, Buddy's sister

Here’s Mary, one of Buddy’s sisters. Her acrid personality grates on the nerves of most Cake Boss viewers, I’m sure. We also saw Mauro, who is as big as he seems on television. After we left, we peeked down the alley where their delivery car is parked and saw Buddy loading a cake. He was pretty adorable in his bakery outfit.

Carlo's lobster tail and cannoli

Lobster tail and cannoli

We bought cookies, cannolis, lobster tails, and a cupcake. The cookies were bleh; I commented that Hungarian Pastry Shop has much better fare. I enjoyed the cannoli. The shell was crisp and slightly sweetened by confectioner’s sugar. Its filling was creamy and not-too-sweet, dotted by mini chocolate chips. The lobster tails had filling slightly sweeter than the cannoli. Eating one was like biting into a giant cream-filled croissant.

Carlo's cupcake

Carlo's cupcake

My favorite treat was the cupcake. Its yellow cake was denser than that of Magnolia and its ilk.The frosting was rich and fudgy and there was just enough.

Overall, I think the trip was worth it. We got to see Buddy and the treats aren’t bad. I’m not sure I’d wait another hour to get into a bakery. This isn’t the Shake Shack, after all.