Maysville

So called for the place where bourbon was born, Maysville serves up a wide variety of whiskeys and “smoked & charred food and raw & chilled seafood,” as their website notes.

maysville crispy grits

crispy grits

It was Friday night. The bar was overflowing with people loudly talking, even shouting, at one another. I told MDP I didn’t think we’d get a table, that we’d have to go to Rare or Hill Country instead. But we went in anyway and asked how long the wait was. “I can seat you now,” said the hostess, to my surprise. And she put us at a small table just steps away from Maysville’s trendy bar.

We went to Maysville because New York magazine (which is officially on my shit list after that retro housewife article) recommended their grits. In general, I trust New York‘s restaurant/food recommendations because they’re usually spot on. Also, adding to Maysville’s appeal, it’s located just a block away from where I work, which made it unusually convenient for me.

maysville chicken

chicken

The hostess placed a thick binder filled with drinks on our table, in addition to our two double-sided menus. I shouted to MDP,  “Which whiskey are you going to get?” He didn’t know. But I don’t blame him. The sprawling list featured traditional mashbill bourbons, wheated bourbons, rye whiskeys and more. I selected the Four Roses bourbon, since I hadn’t tried it. When I first sipped the exactly 2 oz glass of alcohol, I noted its plain flavor–nothing like Maker’s 46, my favorite, which Maysville indicates as a wheated bourbon.

For an appetizer, we had to order the crispy grits, which are presented as cubes topped with country ham and bourbon aioli. To be honest, the grits hardly tasted like anything. The ham was pretty good, and reminded me of prosciutto–not sure what “country” the ham comes from. But I wasn’t totally impressed.

Because hardly anything on Maysville’s dinner menu sounded edible to me, I opted for the very plain, very hard to mess up chicken, which came with mushrooms, garlic and baby lettuces. The chicken was outstanding. It was tender and flavorful, and the skin was crisp and delicious. I couldn’t tell which kind of mushrooms they used; they were like oyster mushrooms, but brown and ridged. I highly enjoyed my dinner.

maysville bread pudding

bread pudding

MDP ordered the braised lamb and potato dumplings. His serving wasn’t exactly hearty, and he finished his meal quite quickly given the little they offered him. I tried the gravy that was at the bottom of his dish and it was quite delectable: meaty yet light. Our waitress informed us that we had tried the newest dishes to the menu (which makes sense since neither dish is on their online menu–I had wondered about that).

For dessert, we opted for the bread pudding with candied pecan ice cream and this fantastic, thick caramel sauce at the bottom of the bowl. The bread pudding is the dessert to get at Maysville. Don’t be tempted by the chocolate ice cream or plate of cheeses. No. Even if you think you don’t like bread pudding, I assure you, you’ll like this bread pudding. It’s phenomenal and was clearly the best thing we ate at Maysville.

So Maysville is pretty good, but definitely pricey. They’re a tad cheap with the bourbon, but the food is decent and the atmosphere is lively, if you like that kind of thing.

Maysville

17 W. 26th Street, between 6th Avenue and Broadway

Flatiron, New York

Take the N/R to 28th Street. Walk south two blocks and right onto 26th Street.

Mario’s

Hidden from the main thoroughfare, Mario’s sits on a quiet corner just south of Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside. Its simple blue awning belies the sophistication of the cuisine found within.

mario's mozzarella and roasted red peppers

mozzarella and roasted red peppers

My Dining Partner (MDP) and I decided to try Mario’s about a week ago, when we were on a brief run to donate school supplies to the local library. We realized Mario’s was one of the few restaurants we hadn’t tried in our neighborhood. Italian food is sparsely found in Sunnyside, so Mario’s was a must-try.

When we arrived, it looked like there weren’t many people inside, but, as we ate, more diners strolled in. We sat by the window at a small table for two and the waitress quickly came over to take our drink order (a half carafe of red sangria). Another waitress brought us some bread and our appetizer, which was a delicious plate of mozzarella and roasted red peppers. The mozzarella and peppers were drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

For our entrees, I ordered a special chicken dish with melted mozzarella and roasted asparagus with a sherry sauce, while MDP got a tortellini dish with mushrooms, peas and a cream sauce. My chicken was flavorful and perfectly cooked. The asparagus was crisp and the sherry sauce was slightly sweet. MDP’s tortellini were large rings filled with ricotta cheese, and the sauce was creamy and decadent.

So satisfied with our entrees, we opted for dessert, a warm brownie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Chocolatey and dense, the brownie delighted our taste buds.

If you’re in the neighborhood, try Mario’s. Dazie’s, the other prominent Italian restaurant in Sunnyside, is pricier and satisfactory, but Mario’s definitely has a special edge.