Two More Days to Get to These Holiday Pop-Ups -- Which Is Worth It?

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All photos by Billy Lyons
Gingerbread BLVD at Madison Square Park
"Text if you want to vote for Peppermint Place," the sign says. That would be the gingerbread house that looks like all the rest except it's got a peppermint swirl for a roof. You could also vote for the Cinnamon Shack or Cocoa Cottage, though the creative differences in houses that make up Gingerbread BLVD are so minimal, you'd swear you've landed in a cookie version of a retirement village in Boca Raton.

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Poland Spring Bottled Water Is the City's Top Beverage, Proving New Yorkers Really Do Hate Themselves

Poland Spring

Earlier this month, Poland Spring -- a company that filters free, decently clean water, and then packages it and sells it for a profit -- launched a "cheers" campaign highlighting its status as New York's number one beverage brand. The company did so in support of the NYC Marathon, which is a fine enough gesture. But come on, New York, bottled water?

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The Worst Service We've Had in NYC Restaurants This Year

From The Absent-Minded Waiter
In Zachary Feldman's review of El Vez, he pointed to numerous issues with service that had a major impact on his meal. But this Battery Park City cantina isn't the only restaurant in New York suffering from hospitality problems. Fork in the Roaders eat out nearly nightly, and we see a lot of bad behavior. Here are the most egregious examples of bad service we've seen so far this year.

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Why Single-Item Restaurants Are Taking Over -- And Why That Should Stop

Courtesy The Nugget Spot via Facebook
The Nugget Spot is one of a few fast specialized eateries that popped up in 2013
Once upon a time, chefs dreamed of opening award winning restaurants. They'd endure years of meticulous training, failures too embarrassing to recount, hours spent holed up inside a windowless room, and years slaving away under culinary stalwarts. The reward was the same for each of them: an opportunity to make a mark in the world of fine dining.

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The 13 Most Overcooked Food Trends of 2013

Except the cronut. We love the cronut. (Photo: Tejal Rao)
Here are thirteen food trends that have become ubiquitous and shed the sheen of novelty -- now they're just dull and sometimes annoying, in spite of an exciting debut.

(To keep things interesting, we've included a few food trends we hope continue into 2014 and beyond. See if you can identify which trends or innovations were welcome additions in 2013.)

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A New Yorker's Response to TripAdvisor's Best Pizza Survey: Seriously?

Di Fara Pizza
The line outside Di Fara's, one the many iconic pizzerias that call New York City home
On August 7, TripAdvisor proclaimed New York City the fourth best city in the United States for pizza. That means that based on a survey of its members, the greatest city in the world lost supremacy of one of its iconic images to a beach town, a strip in the desert, and, worst of all, Boston.

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In Defense of the Bitchy Hostess: Feral Cat Scratches Back

via Flickr/Katie Hunt
Hi there, remember me? I'm Feral Hostess Cat, one of Laura Shunk's 10 worst people in NYC restaurants. I work the door at Chez Bowery, that new pseudo-casual, nose-to-tail, artisanal downtown comfort food joint everyone's just dying to try.

Before you write me off as a cold, callous bitch from hell, you should know that in real life, I'm super nice and I generally like people (I'm hired based on these qualities and a few other ... assets), and it's my entire job to preserve order at the door. I get a bad name when people fail to understand and follow a simple rules of engagement for eating out.

So let's clarify a few things.

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The Runners-Up to the 10 Worst People in NYC Restaurants

Andrew Roberts
"Through blogging, social media, and the rise of foodism, we've created a monster of a restaurant industry here in New York City," I write in today's Village Voice. "Unfortunately, that same momentum has spawned an equally scary rise in unsavory characters."

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Why I Love to Eat and Drink in Murray Hill ... At Least Occasionally

The Cannibal
The Cannibal is filled with charcuterie and beer, not frat boys
If you've lived in New York for longer than five seconds, you've likely listened to someone (maybe even multiple someones) expounding upon the reasons to stay away from Murray Hill. That person probably offered the argument that the east Manhattan enclave lacks everything but frat boys and is a symbol of all that is unflattering about the New York bar scene.There's little in the way of attractions or artistic endeavors, unless you count overhearing people talk nonsense on cell phones as entertainment.

So I'm just going to throw this out there and let you think about it for awhile: Murray Hill isn't a bad place to hang your hat--ball cap or fedora--and there's reason for it to hold a special place in your heart, even if you have no love for the yuppie brotherhood. With its ridiculous selection of restaurants, ease of access, and overwhelming feeling of safety--the only risk posed here is being peer-pressured to chug a Bud--the hate bestowed on Murray Hill isn't justified. Here's why:

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In Organic We Trust, Here's the Trailer

Slated for theatrical release January 22, In Organic We Trust is the latest film to take stock of the the current state of the organic movement, which has been co-opted by big food manufacturers, and its original principals diluted by Federal Government regulation. Take a peek at this trailer, via producer and director Kip Pastor.