Friday, August 29, 2014


Much has been written about the historic 185 year-old Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven.  Movies have been filmed there and Mae West performed at what was an abutting theatre.  Renovations paired with what were three partners, is now one owner, Loy Gordon. 

It was the evening of August 28 that Ernie Leibovitz was celebrating his 67th birthday.  Ernie is not just one ordinary guy living in Woodhaven.  His “more than hobby” was about music.  He listened, played the guitar and sang.  Neir’s has been noted for being a place to “do your own thing”.   Karaoke, poetry and musician nights where one could bring their guitar and sing.  That is what Ernie does best and has been known to bring many customers to drink and dine.

Neir’s has two areas, one being the bar and the back which houses the restaurant and stage.  Loy knew that Ernie would be coming there to celebrate but was off that day. Luke Palmer had become the General Manager, Steven, the lead chef had the night off as well and it was Thursday’s special of their Prime Rib Dinner of which a few groups of tables arrived early.

I joined Ernie and his family for the event.  His wife Deveka invited members of her family as well. Her nephew and his family came in from Vermont or New Hampshire…far.  Added to this were Ernie’s friends.  It was clear that many of us were there for the prime rib dinner.

Some of us even got there at about 7:15, prior to the invite time in order to be able to enjoy that special dinner so boasted about.  We ordered a drink, we placed our order and we waited.   Our abutting table began ordering appetizers.  Since the dinner seemed to be large enough, we didn’t. 

Eventually, the salad was served.  The guy who was cooking informed us that they were out of Russian Dressing.  I told him to simply mix ketchup and mayonnaise…add relish and you have Thousand Islands.    It was at least an hour that went by when we find out that they are out of the prime rib and had to cook up another one. 

Luke, being the GM, should have offered a substitute at that point instead of having us wait for another 45 minutes.  When placing the orders we were asked how we wanted it cooked.   I asked for medium-well.  I like it pink in the middle.  It is now about 9:30 p.m.  Out comes the meat.   Mine, was not only well done but dry.  Nobody got the temperature ordered.  I certainly was unable to eat mine as well as any of the other prime order folks. It was served with heavens know what mixed vegetables that were overcooked and disguised with juice to cover it up. 

As others sought appetizers such as fried calamari, fried mozzarella sticks and French fries, I tasted them.  Deveka’s nephew, sitting across from me, said that he wasn’t going to eat his fries, having ordered some sliders after finding out about the “no more prime”.   It gets bad when I eat French fries that are not hand cut.   Mozzarella sticks and calamari were an obvious pre frozen app. 

Luke kept blaming the chef and saying that he was going to have him let go and that it would be his last night. Frankly, I don't know if he has the power to fire him.  That didn’t do anything for me or anyone else this evening.   Luke talked about his background that included being a graduate of the CIA.   One woman, a neighbor of Ernie needed to have something to eat.  Luke asked if she would like a piece of salmon.  It was now about 10 and a bit late to eat for some people.  First she was told that it would take “a few minutes”. We waited.  We waited.  Luke said that it would take “eleven minutes”.    We waited. Then came the excuse that it was frozen and first had to be “whatevered”.   Oh how he boasted of his cooking when he said that he prepared it.  

At least Deveka brought the birthday cake which was served before the horrible prime rib.  Family kids were there and they surely wanted to have cake. 

Thinking that I would be eating, I ordered a few drinks.  I don’t usually drink and wound up with a headache (which I don’t normally get) due to not eating.  

It was a night of excuses and agreements that were not kept.   When you have a long time customer and knowing that it is not only the person’s birthday, but bringing at least a dozen others to join in, you can’t let the party go home so totally dissatisfied and more so, having Ernie so disappointed.  Deveka brought his guitar but Ernie was in no mood to sing. 

The owner of an establishment hires a General Manager for the purpose of running a smooth operation.  It is obvious that Luke was inept at doing the job.   

Note to our waitress….you did the best you could! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Al Hirschfeld, a caricaturist, was best known for his black and white portraits of celebrities, especially when it came to the Broadway theatre.   He became even more well-known for placing his daughter, Nina, in his art.  A number followed his signature designating how many times her name appeared, except in a few instances or only one time if no number.  It became a game of finding her name as people awaited the arts section of the New York Times each week or sought his books. 

Nino Selimaj, owner of Nino’s restaurants in Manhattan has a mural in his first location at 1354 First Avenue.  This mural is of celebrities with Nino in it several times and this is more like a “where’s Waldo”.  

I recently went to a tasting as they announced not just some new items on their regular menu, but weekday “happy hours” specials in the bar area served from 4 to 7 p.m., starting with some interesting $8 drinks.  

I had a Mojito and loved it. 

Others are: Spritz Aperol, Spritz Campari, Americano, Negroni, Malbec Novecento, Pinot Grigio Santa Marina and your choice of beer.

As for the food, I sampled most of the small plate items.  Nino’s Homemade Meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, roasted tomato sauce and grated parmigiano reggiano.  Bruchetta with tomato sauce and mozzarella. An assortment of olives and cheese. Rigatoni and Vodka in a pink sauce with parm cheese.  Penne with braised veal, roasted peppers, scallions and olive oil (asked to eliminate the garlic).   

I was also interested to try one of the chef’s signature dishes.  Nino suggested the Veal Scallopini with prociutto and melted Fontana , leeks, mushrooms, fingerling potatoes and lemon sage. 

My taste buds were almost at the end of their party as I was a bit curious about the desserts that were made on the premises.  I tend to pass on a ricotta cheese cake as I find them to be less dry and smooth than a cream cheese cake.  However, this was perfect.  Bravo to them.
Check it all out on

Friday, August 22, 2014


Went to USTA Open for a few events.  First was the Open Draw picking who will play who in first round as well as an interview with Serena Williams and more that was being broadcast on online tv.

That's Bethanie Mattek-Sands who will be giving the play by play on whatever channel this is.

 Serena was given top seed. 

Prior to going inside I got a few shots of Serena and who might have been Venus.  Not sure as fans were screaming, "I love you, Serena" the whole time.

Second part of the day was devoted to learning about what new foods are going to be available at the game.

Second seed Simona Halep joined the food scene and chefs to find out about what to expect.