mighty manhattan.

It has been two months since I have had the pleasure to call the great city of Manhattan my home. I had left for the left coast in search of new business and prosperity, but down deep I knew that I would never call any other city “home”. New York is not a place, its a state of mind. You can’t come from there, you certainly don’t ever leave. You just are or are not New York.

This little charming film is from 1949. Fresh after the great second world war, and the city is clean, polished and looking dandy. The United Nations building has yet to go up, the Bowery is definitely not a hip place to hang out, and Times Square looks like a provincial mainstreet in comparison to what it looks like today. It’s wonderful to look back at old family films, and New York, you are my family.

I ❤ NY

Rs

Special love to Dave Hanson keeper of the faith, and finder of film treasures like this one.

a perfect meal. the brindle room.

Spoiler alert: I am head over heals with the Brindle Room. Expect a gushy review.

So, this little gem on 10th street in the village is the kinda place (that luckily for me) many people walk past. In a neighborhood crammed with celeb fueled eateries (Momofuku I’m looking at you) the Brindle Room, with its unassuming entrance, warm interior, and chill atmosphere might not even register on most people radar.

Effectively you have then missed one of the better meals of your life.

It was so good, I even made a video about it. I was literally moved so much by this meal that my passion as a filmmaker was called into action. Take a peek, but I recommend putting a drip towel over your keyboard … https://vimeo.com/39804758

Let’s be frank and earnest here for a sec; the Brindle Room is not Boulud. It is not Jean George. We are not at Per Se. Nothing has foam on it, or even a hint of truffle. What we have here is neighborhood haute cuisine at its finest.

Seared Pepper Steak sandwich, house smoked chicken wings, even classic baked oysters that slide down your mouth like the caress of a warmed silk glove of a parisian lover. The menu stretches from the comforting beer battered pork belly to the more elegant venison loin, but don’t be fooled; everything on this menu was created by the chef to be just good tasting and fun eating. It doesn’t try to be anything that it’s not and that is where you realize it is a rare find; a genuinely good place to eat that focuses on food not fame.

It has been extremely hard not to mention the burger for three paragraphs. Extremely hard. Having been to the Brindle Room on multiple occasions you find out that even though they have THE BEST HAMBURGER IN THE WORLD, that the rest of their menu is stellar as well. But, let’s talk about it, because, damn it’s good…

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… their burger is a select mixture of prime meat that incorporates the deckle cut of steak which is the most delicious cut you could put in your mouth. What? Never heard of the deckle, a.k.a. The Rib-Eye Cap? The 2nd filet of Brisket? The Pillow Cut? (I made that last one up… sorry, rule of threes owns me)

Well the deckle is that guy that shows up to your party that makes it the best party that ever was. The guy that, 20 years later at someone wedding you don’t really know but you have a lot of mutual friends so you decide to go because you might see Charlene there and you wonder if she’s got fat, and you see all your high school buds and they were like “remember that party at Tom Higgin’s place when Deckle showed up in the stolen cop car a case of Goldschäger and a Billy Goat?” and you’re like “remember? Do we not all have tattoo’s of the date with “Deckle 4 EVA … bhaaaaa!” on all our arms???”. Yeah it’s like that.

More scientifically, Deckle is the back end of the Rib-Eye steak. Basically a mixture of filet and marbled fat, that, when blended in the right proportion, seared in a seasoned cask iron skillet, and then baked with soft, sweet onions and American cheese, produces a hamburger that you want to slowly rub on your face while confessing your love to it before consuming. Hence the reason they give you cloth dishtowels instead of paper napkins at the Brindle Room. You dont come for a meal; you come to make love to your food, and if done right, cleanup is always a bit messy, but always worth it.

Besides delicious devourables, Brindle keeps a pretty great, albeit small, selection of craft beers and affordable wines to help libate the meal properly. They also have a brunch that might take you out for the day. It really should come with in-house cots. Monday nights is vinyl night, so if you’re looking for some ear candy and mouth treats, that might be your jam.

Full disclosure: I have absolutely no stock in the Brindle Room. At all. This review come straight from the heart, and or perhaps stomach.

Rs

denver. the city that doesn’t nap.

So, hey Denver. I had no idea what you were going to be like. I imagined you crossed with dusty trails, tread by cowboy boots, and every one of your townsfolk stoned out of their mind.

Shit was I wrong. (Like I was wrong bout Amsterdam. Sorry Amsterdam.)

Denver is a modern, clean, and quiet city. Super quiet. Everyone is polite. Everyone nicely dressed. The streets are wide and mostly empty. The architecture is a fabulous mix between modern innovation and manicured heritage. They have an entire shopping district where no cars are allowed to drive. There is just a free tram to bring you up and down the street. Free. Then there are the bikes. You can pick them up, drive along a river, cross town, and drop them off. It’s like someone made a model city, got a bunch of Canadians, and put them in said city to live. And yeah, legalized pot. Not so bad.

 

There is just something overwhelmingly different. Familiar yet very foreign. It’s a city that’s not trying to be something, yet seems to hum with individualism. It also has some very unique facts:

•It is exactly one mile high, in fact, there is a plaque on one of the steps of the Capitol Building that is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. That means that golf balls go 10% further, water boils at 202 degree and you get drunk faster. Win win win.

•In 1858 you would have met no one downtown. No one. Not a person lived here. Thirty years later Colorado was a huge state with 200k people in it. Thank you gold rush.

•Denver has the largest city park system in the nation. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Unless you have allergies, because they have more than 25 formal flower gardens.

•Denver has 7 professional sports teams. (please take the Mets, please)

•Finally, Denver brews more beer than anywhere else. Anywhere. And Coors, is the worlds largest.

Despite all these fabulous records, Denver was pretty… empty. Everywhere I went I thought I was in an Edward Hopper painting. And it wasn’t because I was high as a kite, I swear.

It’s an artistic town. It has the feeling of Santa Fe meets Portland. There are a ton of street murals and street platals (You see, murals are painting on walls, since it derives from the latin word “murum” and platals are painting on streets, since it’s from the latin “platea”. Suck it Merrium. And you too Webster.)

Denver also has more breweries than any other city in the world. They also seemed to have more pawn shops then any other city I’ve ever been to. Coincidence?

One place we checked out was super interesting. It was a repurposed warehouse called “The Source” that they gutted, retrofitted with cool industrial material, and put a bunch of chic restaurants, bars, pop up shops, and of course, a brewery (Crooked Stave) who makes Kombucha Beer (have you ever?). Very smart city planning, and done in a unique way.

I was really taken back by you Denver. You were beautiful to ride around town on red bikes with baskets, eating good food in nearly every part of the city, and throwing back cool, delicious beer nearly on every street corner. I saw more people with tattoos then I ever have before (and I’ve been to a Rancid concert) and everyone we talked to had the calm, polite midwestern demeanor you hate to love. Denver, you stole my heart, and goddamn to you have the coolest train station.

freeman’s social club. the perfect day.

May 23rd. The day we celebrate Dave Hanson Day.

Never heard of Dave Hanson Day? Never heard of Dave Hanson? pshaw. Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Dave Hanson. He’s the guy that drinks you past the breakup, jumps your broken down CJ-7 at 6am, and can sit in silence with you filling the empty spaces with solid companionship.

In short, he is your best friends.

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Sure, your Dave Hanson might be a Mike Johnson, or perhaps an Ellie Moss, of even a Chia Beng Xiao (it’s more popular then you think). No matter what you call your best friends, May 23rd is the day to celebrate them.

This all started because Dave was getting married, and to celebrate the occasion we thought it would be nice to do an extravagant “Gentleman’s Afternoon” out on the town. I had seen an interesting little package, set up by the fantastic UrbanDaddy people, for an all inclusive “manuxuary” afternoon, at the one and only, Freeman’s Social Club.

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The package included a made-to-measure custom suit, a shave and a haircut at their bespoke barber shop, and fancy cigar and whiskey tasting in the back alley, a.k.a. Freeman’s. It’s about as perfect an afternoon could get. So us three – myself, Mr. Dave Hanson, and the impeccable Christopher “Sully” Sullivan, made our way over to the meca of man.

Freeman’s Social Club is the kind of place that the fabric of dreams are made of. Tucked away off Bowery in the LES, this little shop is the birthplace of a sharp new look, the Bethlehem of the hem if you will. A smattering of vintage motorcycles, tattered Americana bric-a-brac, and perfectly patina’d objet d’art line the corners of the store as you pay homage in this cathedral of cloth (last one I swear.). The fabrics are nothing less than the finest you can find in the world; Italian silks, Tunisian linens and Japanese cottons in colors so genuine and subtile that Caravaggio would have used them as his pallet.

Basically there is cool shit everywhere.

Which makes you feel cool. Very cool. Old playboys, tailor’s tools, and even gun casings can be found perfectly thrown around the store, as if you were in your grandfather’s basement, if your grandfather was Hemingway, and this was his hunting lodge that he shared with the Dos Equis guy. Stay fashionable my friends.

What’s more is the staff is as cool as their domain, going above and beyond the norm of service only helps you on your cool assent. Handing them the UrbanDaddy certificate was all it took for them to basically take care of everything, which is exactly how you’d want it to be. They showed us around, made us comfortable, and did so without being phony, but more like a friend that invited you to swing by their shop… you know, the one that sells 3,000.00 suits. Good friend to have.

We met our master tailor who we called Papito. A thick Cuban accent and a swagger that only comes with doing a trade for decades, Papito was our salty Virgil we followed through this elite world of fashion. We dove right in looking at swatches, deciding on the best color scheme and coolest cut that would make Dave look almost as good as his beautiful bride to be. For the next hour we discussed stitching, linings, vents and button placement, and I channeled my Italian father who taught me everything I know about how to look good in a suit. The two cornerstones of a good suit repeated in my mind: look for “the line” in the cut, and secondly, a jacket’s length should come down to the bottom of your balls. Or it might be thumbs, really it’s the same.

Having exhausted the possibilities and Dave feeling successfully dapper, they ushered us next door to the back alley bar where we would have a bit of the brown elixir and cigars. We delighted ourself on the rye, and took some memorable, albeit 80’s boy-band-esque pictures in the alley as we waited for the grooming portion of the afternoon.

(we decided our band would be named “Monsignors of Love ft. DJ Scratchatory Rape”)

Freeman’s Barber Shop is a place that occupies the space between new and old, classic and modern, cool and pedestrian. It’s simple inside; clean unfinished wood beams and frosted white lights give it the appearance that the Amish built this barbershop. The selection of hipster beards in the joint only added to the Mennonite mis-en-cine, but one thing is overtly clear; they are very serious about making you look perfect. Not good, perfect.

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Everything about the experience was done with the skill of a master craftsman, but with the panache of Williamsburg bartender, sorry, mixologist. Our master barber assessed Dave’s nappy beard and plainly shaved head. “Do you wash your beard every day?” he asked Dave. “Yes.” Dave said, somewhat defensive. “Don’t.” said our piloculturalist, “Let the natural oils of your face keep your beard safe. The natural reds in your hair will come out, it will be healthier, and look more vibrant. virile.” Dave never had thought of his beard as virile, but immediately liked the idea, as if his beard could fight a bull, or maybe rebuild a carburetor. “Also, I see you probably use a #2 on your head here. I’m gonna go down to a #1 on the sides here, and fade it in the back. You won’t notice much today, but in 2 weeks, you’re gonna see the difference.” None of us can wait to see what the hell is going to happen in 2 weeks.

The shave was excellent. Our barber was a master, having grown up in a barber shop himself. These weren’t kids with jobs, these were artists with residencies. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to my old-school barber on 46th and 9th ave in Hell’s Kitchen. Henry is 78 years old and has been using the same blade since Truman was in office. The difference here is that Freeman’s has the same love and nonchalant execution, but done in a way that is much more, well, cool. I mean, they have a fully stocked bar. Henry is usually drunk, but he doesn’t share. These dudes do.

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Cleaned up, suit being sent to the tailor, and having applied and ample dose of social lubricant, the day was a success, as three great friends celebrated the history they have made, and the adventures yet to be had. Such a luxurious afternoon worked up a sizable hunger, so we rolled literally across the street to Loreley, a proper German beer garden. Sitting out back, gently crafting the perfect ratio of sausage to kraut to mustard morsel, we tried to create the perfect bite. We experimented over and over, wiping the blackboard clean each time with a large swig of cold, delicious beer, until we were fully satisfied with the results. Expect them to be published in next month’s Sausagerific Review. (Why, dear God, does that not exist?)

Afterwards we stumbled northward through the city, stopping for a look at all the oddities a great calamity like New York can offer. We enjoyed another quick Instagram fix along Houston, and eventually made it up to Porsena where we ran into owner Sara Jenkins who I’ve had the pleasure to film at her other fab joint Porchetta. Well wouldn’t you know it … it was “Rosay” (That’s Rosé and the month of May mixed together, I figured the explanation was needed) so we indulged; three gents drinking rosé, eating strawberry risotto, and sampling some of Sara’s personal olive oil from her fattoria in Italy. Dandy doesn’t even begin to cover it.

And so, this year’s Dave Hanson Day was a success. There was great food, fun, and drink, and most of all, great company of two great friends, which is really what Dave Hanson Day is all about. #unicornamulet

freemans-3141* The author, Roberto Serrini, was in no way paid to write this review or has any affiliation with any business written in this article. What was written is just the opinion of his. That being said the day was awesome, and if you get the chance, I suggest going to enjoy any of these dope places.

** all photographs were taken with a lowsy iPhone and retouched afterwards.

*** Roberto Serrini loves a well placed semi-colon.