Burger Friday: NYC’s Best Mini Burgers

In honor of the national holiday that is National Burger Month, I’m devoting Fridays to the world’s love for the juicy, dripping beast that is The Burger. Today, I’m honoring NYC’s smallest burgers. While some say size matters, these sliders pack enough explosion of flavor, condiments, and lettuce & onion to convince even the most stubborn of burger purists. Take a look:

The Cheeseburger Sliders On Mini Mac N’ Cheese Pancakes from ShopsinsOwner and foul-mouthed chef Ken Shopsin  – known for saying,"there’s a sexual friction that occurs when you put the wrong food in the wrong dish," – arouses the tastebuds, serving three mini cheeseburgers with caramelized onions at his legendary LES spot. The fluffy mac’ n cheese pancakes- burger dish is a one of the top-ordered dishes from Shopsins 900-item menu. 

Lil’ BGRs from STK: This sexy Midtown & Meatpacking steakhouse gives you a lil’ taste of their burger by wagging a two lil’ bites of wagyu beef your way. The Lil’ BRG sliders at STK are stuffed with their special, mystery sauce, pickles, tomatoes, and sandwiched on a sesame seed bun. Upgrade the experience with truffles and foie gras.

Kobe Sliders from Koi SohoThis rainforest-inspired Japanese spot brings an Asian-Italian twist to their little burger dish, topping the kobe beef with melted-aged cheddar, creamy thousand island sauce, and sweet pickles on a brioche bun. Koi serves it with a side of crispy edamame gnocchi.

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Photo: roboppy.net

Koi Soho’s New Menu Item: The Alcoholic Sushi Roll

In the tradition of devouring sushi rolls and downing sake bombs, one lauded Japanese restaurant in NYC is saving you the energy of the two-step motion with their new menu item: Koi Soho’s Captain Crunch Roll. No, this is not flecked with the corn and oat cereal of our youth, but rather a heavy dose of  another alcohol: Captain Morgan – that rum you projectile vomited in the bushes by the quad freshman year. But hey, we’re grown up now, which means we can handle the Captain Morgan in a sauce over a bed of California rolls topped with eel and tempura flakes. First stop: sophistication. Second stop: drunk.

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Industry Insiders: Nick Haque, Sense of Duty

Before opening, Koi, an upscale Japanese-influenced restaurant in Los Angeles, in 2002, Nick Haque took note of the missing ingredients in the culinary scene. “Working in real estate taught me to appreciate the way each of the senses is inspired when you enter a room,” Haque says. “I realized there was an absence of restaurants that appealed to all of the senses.”

With a commitment to consistency and a focus on making each meal a unique experience — through a combination of design, comfort, and quality food — the Koi Group CEO found success in LA, later opening branches in Las Vegas, Bangkok, and New York’s Bryant Park Hotel. “We challenged ourselves to open restaurants in cities where customers have endless options, and where everyone considers themselves a bit of as connoisseur,” he says, highlighting unique touches such as the “Skinny Menu” for image-savvy diners. In the coming months, Haque hopes to bring Koi to Miami, Dubai, and Washington DC, a city he describes as undergoing an incredible cultural renaissance. “Truly breathtaking art will catch you eye, draw you in, tell you a story, and this is what Koi has achieved,” he says.

Where Celebs Go Out: Green Day, Serena Williams, Dr. Oz, Carla Gugino

Billy Joe Armstrong at the Broadway opening of Green Day’s American Idiot: I don’t have any favorites. I like anywhere and everywhere. I went to go see “Everyday Rapture” last night, and then I went to punk-rock karaoke down on the Lower East Side, it was at Arlene’s Grocery. ● Mike Dirnt: Honestly, I like to meet friends for a nice pint at McSorley’s, the oldest pub in New York. ● Tre Cool: I like to go to Gray’s Papaya at 72nd Street and get cheap hot dogs.

Serena Williams: Oh, I don’t go out too much. I love Mr. Chow in Miami. ● Donald Trump: Only at Trump properties! Jean Georges. ● Carla Gugino: I’m a big fan of Morandi. I just went there for brunch for the first time. And I love a little Mediterrean place called Taim. ● Camryn Manheim: The truth is I like to go to a casino and play some poker in Los Angeles and Vegas. And I love to go to all the places here after the show. Joe Allen, Angus, Bar Centrale. ● Whoopi Goldberg: I don’t go out, but when I am out in the city, I go and get my hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya. Which one? I like all of them. ● Dr. Oz at HealthCorps “Garden of Good and Evil” gala to fight obesity: I like Candle 79 a lot. It’s my favorite vegetarian restaurant. It’s easy to get to, and I love the way they pull together tastes that are unique. And by the way, they supply my food in the green room, for my show. I order out, and Candle 79 caters it. They have a seitan dish and they look like chimichurri. ● Roger Ross Williams: I hang out a lot at Norwood, which is a private club, on 14th Street. It’s a whole brownstone. There’s a restaurant and a number of bars. I live on the Lower East Side, so I hang out there at a lot of different bars. I love restaurants, so sometimes Spotted Pig, Pastis a lot for lunch. Right now, I’m like editing in the Meat Packing District at an edit house, so I’ve been to the Standard a lot. ● Rocco DiSpirito: I still go to Balthazar and Spotted Pig and places like that. I love going to Balthazar and getting a big plateau of fruits de mer, you know the three-level plateau, with a couple of friends and some good white wine. ● Ben Vereen: Koi restaurant. I like the food, the ambiance, and the people.

Where Celebs Go Out: Marc Jacobs, Amanda Lepore, Adrian Grenier, Emma Snowdon-Jones

At David Barton Gym annual toy drive: ● MARC JACOBS – “In Paris, there’s a small club called Montana, and there’s a restaurant called Thiou. Bars I really don’t hang out in. Oh, there’s this great club that happens once a month in Paris called Club Sandwich. And it’s at the Espace Cardin. And everyone gets super dressed-up, so it’s really, really fun. I try to go whenever I’m in Paris, if it’s going on. And we stay out all night and just dance like crazy. And in New York, my favorite restaurants have always been the same. I love to eat at Pastis. I love the Standard. I love Da Silvano. I eat in the lobby of the Mercer a lot, the hotel. I usually go to Pastis for lunch, and there’s a sandwich that was on the menu, but they don’t make it anymore, but I always insist that they make it for me. And it’s really fattening, so I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s chicken paillard and gruyere cheese and bacon. And it’s so delicious. It’s really good. And it’s my weakness. It’s just like the most perfect sandwich.”

● DAVID BARTON – “Oh, I can’t think where I like to hang out in Seattle except my new gym! There’s a great place that just opened up in New York, up on 51st, called the East Side Social Club. Patrick McMullan is one of the partners there. He’s co-hosting with me tonight. Great place; really cool. It’s very old world, kind of like going to Elaine’s, kind of little cozy; sit at a booth; very cool. Love a little place called Il Bagatto, over on 7th between A & B — little tiny Italian place, East Village, kind of a neighborhood place that I go to. What else? I don’t know restaurants. I’m very casual. I’m so not that into food. I mean, I could eat cardboard — I’m just not into food! I like people. I like atmosphere, but I’m just not that into food.” ● AMANDA LEPORE – “I definitely like Bowery Bar and I like Hiro. Boom Boom Room. Just anywhere where everybody is, I guess! [laughs] Novita, I like, my friend Giuseppe. Any favorite dishes? I try not to eat too much! ● PATRICK MCDONALD – “My favorite restaurant in New York is Indochine. It’s been around for 25 years. Jean-Marc, I adore. I love the bar at the Carlyle. I don’t drink, but I like to go there for tea in the afternoon. And I love Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Gramercy Park. I love Pastis, Odeon, and everywhere. I like the French fries at Pastis.” ● PATRICK MCMULLAN – “I love going to Waverly Inn downtown. Boom Boom Room is fabulous. That’s really a new, great place. SL, on 409 W. 14th Street, down below is nice. Of course, I have the East Side Social Club that I’m involved with, and that’s great for hanging out in, for eating. Favorite dishes anywhere? Oh, I don’t know, just anything that people recommend. I usually go with what people recommend ’cause most people know what’s good — the waiters know, so I think that’s the best thing. Red wine is good to have to drink sometimes. They have a drink called the Eastsider at the East Side Social Club that’s really good; any of their pastas; their ravioli is great there. What else do I like? That new place that’s open, the English place, on 60th in the Pierre — Le Caprice, that’s a nice place. At the Waverly Inn, I like the macaroni and cheese. It was funny because the macaroni and cheese is about two dollars less than a room at the Pod Hotel, which is where the East Side Social Club is! The Monkey Bar is fun. There are so many cool places in New York. I just go where people tell me to go.”

At elf party for Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe:

● JENNY MCCARTHY – “In Chicago, I would have to say Gibsons Steakhouse still; in Los Angeles, Katsuya, still love that sushi; I’m addicted to it. And in New York, Koi. I’m very trendy and boring, but, hey, that’s where the good food is, so …” ● PERI GILPIN – “In L.A., we like BLT a lot. We have five-year-old twins, so we’re like in bed by nine o’clock — pretty boring. Corner Bakery for soup.” ● CANDACE CAMERON BURE – “L.A., hands down, our favorite restaurant is Gjelina, which is in Venice. And we love Craft; love Michael’s in Santa Monica. Here, in New York, my favorite restaurant is Lupa, which is a Mario Batali restaurant; love it here. And I don’t go to clubs anymore, nightclubs; I don’t ever! At Gjelina, they have a burrata with prosciutto and, usually, a warm pear or a warm peach. I love that! I really love tapas. I enjoy getting a lot of appetizers, more than just a main dish. We, actually, have had our own wine label, Bure Family Wines, for two years, which is at several restaurants, so matching the food and the wine is a big part for us. We’re big foodies” ● DEAN MCDERMOTT – “There is a great bar, Ye Coach & Horses in L.A., on Sunset. I’m so bad at this stuff! Oh, Katsuya, in the Valley, awesome sushi. It’s our favorite place. We go there like three times a week.” ● KEN BAUMANN – “In New York, my favorite restaurant is Il Cortile. It’s in Little Italy, and it’s run by this guy named Stefano, and it’s incredible, phenomenal food. In Los Angeles, my favorite restaurant’s gotta be Cut, which is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.” ● SHAILENE WOODLEY – “Honestly, I’m not really a club kinda girl. I’d rather go to a local bar with some friends and hang out there. Or just go back to my house and have people come over. I’m more of the congregate-at-my-house kind of chick. I’m 18, so I don’t drink, so I don’t go to bars. There’s a place called the Alamo, which has karaoke and it’s a bar, but we go and karaoke there probably once a week.” ● FRANCIA RAISA – “I’m not a big club person. I really like bars and lounges. In L.A., I like to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings, watching sports and drinking beer with my friends. I really don’t go out that much. I hang out at home and have my own glass of wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, I just tried this restaurant yesterday at Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a new, Italian place — Maialino. It was amazing. And again, I’m very simple, so I like pizza, and John’s Pizza out here is amazing to me, too. And hot wings I like at Planet Hollywood. I’m obsessed with them!”

At Zeno “Hot Spot” launch party @ MTV Studios:

● SKY NELLOR – “I am a huge sushi fanatic, so I just had Katsuya three times in two days in L.A. What is it about Katsuya? It’s the baked-crab hand roll in a soy-paper wrap. It’s just so yummy. I want one now! In New York, I have a fixation with Bagatelle. I just love the fish and the veggies. Nightclubs, nightlife, oh, my God! Apparently, I’m a really good bowler, so I hang out at Lucky Strike everywhere — Miami, L.A., Kansas! We just had a bowling party, and I won, so … Oh, they didn’t let me see my score. I just kept getting strikes to the point where they were, like, ‘Give her more shots! We have to stop this girl!’ And the drunker I got, the better I got. Clubs — if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out to dance. And I’m going to go where the DJ is playing. I don’t care what club it is. I went to a dive in L.A., at a party called Afex, just because some of the best DJs were playing that night. Like, I don’t care about the crowd. I don’t care about the scene. I care about the music. I don’t think the venue has a name. I think it’s called No Space. They just move the party around.” ● SUCHIN PAK – “I have a great place. It’s called Broadway East, and it’s on East Broadway. And I love it because it’s a beautiful space, but also it’s literally across the street from my house. That always helps. And then there’s a really fantastic place called Bacaro. Oh, it’s amazing! It’s downstairs. It’s almost a dungeon-like place. The people that used to do Peasant, the wine bar there, moved to this place. I like to say the Lower East Side on East Broadway is where the grown-up hipsters go. For a true Lower East Sider, it may not be true Lower East Side, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved more south than east, and I keep trickling that way.”

At charity:ball for charity:water:

● ADRIAN GRENIER – “Brooklyn. Fort Greene. Habana Outpost — it’s run mostly on solar power, and it’s a sustainable business.” MARK BIRNBAUM “Well, if I do say so myself, Abe & Arthur’s on 14th Street; SL, the new club underneath it. I still love Tenjune. And I like hanging out at home other than that. What about places other than your own? So I shouldn’t say the Chandelier Room, in Hoboken? I really like going to Bar and Books in the West Village — that’s our spot. You know where else I like to go? Miami — the new W South Beach is unbelievable, by far the best hotel down there. The design is incredible; the pool area is very nice; they have good restaurants there — there’s a Mr. Chow’s and the other one is good; the rooms are really nice; it’s very well done; it’s just very fresh, the entire thing; and the artwork is incredible. You don’t feel like you’re in South Beach — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but it’s really, really, really, well done.” ● NICOLE TRUNFIO – “I just found this really cool jazz club in Paris where they still dance to old, rock-and-roll music in partners. It’s a location undisclosed. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s in the Saint-Michel — it’s just off it. You can jump into a taxi, ‘cause we went to a jazz bar called the Library, but that was closed. So we asked the taxi driver, and he took us to this place. So, I’m sure lots of local French taxi-drivers would know the place.” ● LAUREN BUSH – “Oh, gosh, I’m like so uncool! It’s such an obvious question, it’s so hard … I’m a vegetarian, so I love Blossom restaurant. They have a good, quinoa-tofu dish. It’s like gingery. It’s really good. ● EMMA SNOWDON-JONES – “I love Le Bilboquet because it’s consistent, and mainly wherever your friends are it makes the place. It’s on 63rd, between Park and Madison. I’ve gone there since I was in boarding school. I’d come into the city on the weekends, and I’d go there. I think anyone that’s been in New York as long as I have knows it. That’s a really, bloody long time, sadly. As good as my Botox is, it’s too long!” ● KRISTIN CHENOWETH – “I am an old-fashioned girl, and I still love Joe Allen’s. I go there all the time. And right next-door above, is a place called Bar Centrale, and I go there, too. I was just there last night for three hours. I like the manicotti at Joe Allen’s. It’s excellent!” ● JULIAN LENNON – “Probably the Jane bar and the Rose Bar in New York.”

At launch of S.T. Dupont in-store boutique @ Davidoff on Madison Avenue:

● RON WHITE – “I love the bars in Glasgow, Scotland. You could go sit in a bar by yourself and in five minutes, you’d be talkin’ to 10 people because they’re so curious about anybody that walks in that’s not normally in there. They just want to go talk to ’em and find out what they’re about. They’re just as friendly as they can be. I was there for the British Open, or the Open Championship, as it’s called. And if you go to a bar in New York City, you can sit there for the rest of your life and not meet another person because they’re not really gonna come up to you and go, ‘Hey, what’s up? What are you doing in town?’ That just doesn’t happen here.”

New York: Top 10 Places to Break Up Before Valentine’s Day

imageBreakin’ up may be hard to do in the best of circumstances, but calling it quits before Valentine’s Day is in a league of discomfort all its own. Avoiding an awkward situation is key, but as matchmaker extraordinaire Amy Laurent points out — “breaking up via email, text message or even over the phone shows cowardice and immaturity.” With that in mind, here’s a list of spots that make breaking up right before Valentine’s Day just a wee bit easier (or at least more survivable).

10. Rick’s Cabaret & Steakhouse (Garment District) – Soothe the blow by offering to buy your ex a lap dance. 9. Bagatelle (Meatpacking District) – So loud no one will notice your yelling match. 8. Go see He’s Just Not That Into You – Blame it on the eye-opening film.

7. Shang (Soho) – Should your ex go bizerk, this LES spot is located in the Thompson LES, which extends from Orchard Street to Allen Street (meaning it has two exits) — so you can excuse yourself and peace out discreetly. 6. Koi (Midtown West) – Break up over cocktails, then head across the street and try your hand at picking up a model at the Bryant Park Fashion Week tents. 5. Dylan’s Candy Bar (Upper East Side) – Even amidst a nauseating amount of heart-shaped candy, nothing helps beat the blues quite like chocolate. 4. China 1 (East Village) – Cheap and tasty — so it’s all good even if your ex storms out, sticking you with the bill. 3. Kefi (Upper West Side) – Those worried about chickening-out can take shots from the city’s only ouzo machine, which cranks-out refreshing liquid courage, before the deed is done. 2. Supper Club – Pass your ex along via the sociable folks at Supper Club who are hosting a dinner where they’re asking each attending member to bring a single whom they deem a potential fit for someone else in attendance. 1. Greenhouse (Soho) – Do the deed, then “accidentally” get lost in the crowd.

Industry Insiders: Chelsea Petterson, Ecco Friendly

Over on our Mixology site in the Pros section, we asked the hottest bartenders in New York and Los Angeles to whip up a specialty cocktail while describing their perfect New Year’s Eve. Check out Chelsea Petterson of LA’s Ecco as she concocts a Sambazon Acai Capiroska. Expert bartender, NBA dancer — is there anything she can’t do? Maybe keep away from those soccer players.

What do you do? What do you drink? I provide enjoyment and entertainment for people when they come out to our bar to have a good time. I am also a dancer for the NBA. I drink Grey Goose and soda, or Grey Goose La Poire and soda.

Name three restaurants/bars/clubs you frequent when you’re not working. I like XIV. It’s a restaurant that serves tapas. I love the atmosphere, and the food is great. I always like Koi, the sushi restaurant. I like Kiss Lounge because I have friends that work there, and it’s a fun place to go.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? Wine and boys.

What is the worst cocktail you’ve ever had to make? Anything that has cream in it is just the worst thing possible that someone can order because it gets all curdly. The worse drink would be a Scooby Snack or Negroni’s. Negroni’s are disgusting. And there was one guy who ordered tequila and Tabasco.

What’s the worst pickup line you’ve ever heard while tending bar? Ever witness any amazing hookups? I actually have a really funny one instead. Our outfits at Ecco show our bras, so some guy actually said to me the other night, “Your bra really brings out your eyes.” I thought that was hilarious.

What celebrity, dead or alive, would you like to share a drink with at your bar? David Beckham

What’s your ideal barhopping night in LA? Would start of with a very nice dinner followed by drinks with all my girlfriends. It doesn’t really matter where I go as long as it’s with people who I love spending time with.

What are you doing tonight? I have a date with a soccer player

Using 3 out of 5 of the following ingredients make me a dream cocktail: grenadine, pepper, tequila, avocado, lemongrass. I would just make some tacos with the avocados and pepper and have shots of tequila. I love shots with food.

Los Angeles Openings: Fox Theatre, Sweet Love Hangover

It can safely be assumed that nearly every building along Hollywood Boulevard has been turned into some kind of hot, celebrity-populated nightlife spot — and yet, here’s another! Muse Lifestyle Group (of Ivar, Nacional, etc.) has taken over the historic Fox Theatre, and is offering party monsters 13,000 square feet of rollicking room, amid extravagant interiors by design bigshots I©RAVE (Koi, Pangaea). There will also be an adorably named on-site restaurant, Sweet Love Hangover, with nouveau diner eats and a retro ’60s vibe. As Hollywood hangovers go, here they’ll be more inspired by Cuervo than by Cupid.