Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

Many years ago, when my father worked in the Northern NJ area, he would always take me to the same place if I visited. I knew about the Hamilton Park Ale House before I really knew anything else about Jersey City. Ironically, after being priced out of Brooklyn, my husband and I wound up buying a condo in the Hamilton Park area of downtown Jersey City almost 2 years ago – just blocks away from the Ale House.

The Hamilton Park Ale House has long been a staple of downtown JC. Under the watchful guise of Maggie Vecca, a former waitress turned co-owner, the Ale House thrived and was a local favorite. The food was always top-notch, especially considering the other choices in the area at that time. Executive chef, Krista Trovato, had been a cook at impressive locales such as Gramercy Tavern and the World Trade Center’s Windows of the World before coming to the Ale House.

In recent years, however, since Maggie (also involved with Skinner’s Loft) sold the bar the service and food has gone downhill. One of the biggest issues that had surfaced in my mind…the lack of a good beer selection – they do call themselves an “ale house.” I have read many complaints about the owner that came after Maggie, Jim Leo, and how he ran the bar into the ground. I can attest to the validity of these rumors. The food and service became terrible. Their burger wasn’t even that great. For me, it was the brunch that was the worst. We only had it once. It’s a shame because it’s so nice to walk a few blocks from home in the nice weather and sit outside for brunch. We just haven’t found anything that fits the bill for a good brunch with outdoor seating. (I will write about Beret’s Simple Café in a later post).

After a long phase of papered windows, there is a new name on the window: The Hamilton Inn. There has also been some activity in the way of renovations. I have read some rumors online that the new deal for the Hamilton Inn fell through and that management ran out of capital after the renovation. It has been quite a long time since we noticed the reno being done, but I cannot confirm the validity of these rumors. There’s a short blurb from November 2009 in the Jersey City Independent that states the Hamilton Inn would open in a few weeks, but obviously that didn’t happen. Although, there is another article in JCI that discusses Jessie Dardar – the chef behind JC dessert truck La Petite Temptation – who is “readying to supply desserts for the Hamilton Inn, which is set to open in the former Hamilton Ale House space on Jersey Avenue this April.” So, maybe we’ll get lucky next month and see an open door. I did find the official Hamilton Inn website where there is no new information about their much anticipated and elusive opening. However, if you give your email address they promise to send you “information” about their opening.

For now, we’ll just have to wait it out. If I find out any new information, I’ll write an updated post. In the meantime, check out The White Star bar on Pavonia and Brunswick. They boast a good burger and decent beer selection, better than the Ale House has had in years.

The Hamilton Inn (formerly the Hamilton Park Ale House), 708 Jersey Avenue, Hamilton Park Jersey City.


Read Full Post »

Last summer I tried to jump-start my little blog. I emailed several well-known Brooklyn blogs to see if I could contribute anything. The first response I got was from Robert Guskind with www.gowanuslounge.com. He was more than happy to listen to my ideas and posted the first thing that I pitched to him, including my photos. From that point on, my little blog got a surge in traffic and Robert kept the emails coming. I worked with him on several things last summer and he was always positive and kind in his emails. He boosted my confidence as a new blogger and was a great person to bounce ideas off of. Recently, I received an email from Robert checking in and wondering how Jersey City was. He also told me that he would always welcome my ideas/stories/photos and to keep writing. I responded and told him I often visit Brooklyn and I would keep my eyes open. I didn’t realize that would be the last communication I had with him.

I was deeply saddened to read today that Robert was found dead in his Park Slope apartment on Wednesday, March 4th. I was also very sad to learn that he had been going through a “rough several months” and previous health problems. Here is a link to In Memoriam, posted on Gowanus Lounge, which was beautifully written by Marc Farre.

I needed to pay tribute to such a gift to the blogosphere and to the Brooklyn community. Robert, you will most certainly be missed more than you can imagine. When I think of the neighborhood that I left and will always love, I often think about your witty and colorful posts. My deepest condolences to Robert’s family and friends.

Read Full Post »

The move to NJ is upon us, so the hubby and I took this weekend to do a few of our favorite Brooklyn things. Hanging out in Prospect Park is great during the summer (and all year), but we had never gone pedal boating at the Wollman Rink. So, on Sunday we decided to give it a go.

It was pretty hot, but a gorgeous day. We walked all around the park and eventually found our way to Wollman Rink. There was a line for the boats, but we didn’t want to give up right away, we would wait it out. It was $15/hour and a $10 refundable deposit. We were given our life vests and got on line. The guy said it would only be about 15 minutes, but it turned out to be more like an hour. We were getting pretty antsy and so were the bunch of kids waiting. Finally it was our turn and we couldn’t wait to sit down and relax. After about five minutes of pedaling furiously we were sweating and getting pretty worn out. This is harder than it looks! Then we took a look around at our fellow boaters and realized we didn’t have to pedal that hard, just get into a nice even rhythm. Once we figured that out, it was a blast!

Read Full Post »

I found this article in the latest issue of Time Out New York and thought it was great!! In the dog days of summer, you need to cool off and if you are in the city (and don’t have access to a pool) this is a great way to do it! It’s actually illegal, so if you aren’t feeling like a thug, you can call the FDNY and they’ll hook you up for the day! Here is a portion of the article by Lisa Freedman:

“1. There are two common brands of hydrants throughout the city: Smith and Dresser. Not only are they the easiest to find, they’re the easiest to open. “You can use a regular pipe wrench,”says Jeffrey Ercolino, lieutenant of Engine Company 26. Pick up a pipe wrench at Home Depot (40 W 23rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-929-9571, homedepot.com) and look for a hydrant with either brand name stamped on the top.

2. Use the wrench to unscrew one of the two bolts on the side of the hydrant. Some turn clockwise, while others turn counterclockwise, so you may need to try both directions.

3. To release the water, slowly turn the bolt on the top clockwise. “The further you turn the bolt, the harder the water comes out,” Ercolino warns. “The pressure ranges between 40 and 70 pounds per square inch, which is very powerful.”

4. Splash around wildly but keep an ear peeled for police sirens, and be ready to run like hell.

4b. There is also a legal approach: “Go to your local fire department and ask them to install a free spray cap for the day,” explains Seth Andrews, a spokesperson for the FDNY.”

—Lisa Freedman – Time Out New York – Click here for full article.

Read Full Post »

I can’t take it anymore!!! The construction in Park Slope is really getting out of control. Development for the better and for gentrification is one thing, but there is a very fine line between that and over development. On Carroll Street (my block) between 4th and 5th Avenue, on my half of the block alone (closer to 4th), there are FIVE construction sites. FIVE!! The banging, jack hammering, yelling, pile driving, traffic, double parked cars, etc. starts early and ends late. Sometimes, they even work on Saturdays (yeah!). There is a dust that floats through the air. Sometimes it’s just dust, sometimes it’s little white flakes of something that I’m sure is not good to breathe in.

The north corner of Carroll Street and 4th Avenue boasts a brand new (and extremely ugly) 9 story skinny building. The condos must be super thin and with no windows on one whole side of the building. Why would you intentionally build something filled with railroad apartments? (BTW – totally ruined the view from my roof, blech) “Luxury condos” is what they say about all these new buildings going up. With this real estate market though, I’m not sure who the hell is going to buy these things. Across the street on the south corner of Carroll and 4th is a 12 story building. This lot has been under construction for about a year, maybe a bit longer. Shut down numerous times, they now finally have a steel structure up. It will be a 12 story “luxury condo” building.

Currently, an old parking lot across the street from me and another a few doors down, are both under construction to become…possibly more condos. Uggh. The building next door to me, which went straight through to Garfield, was torn down last year (ruining my backyard in the process and soon after the whole side of the building — pics on Flickr coming soon) and has yet to be anything more than a huge canyon.

The over development on this block (and in Park Slope in general) has gotten out of hand. Soon, the cute buildings that have sat here for over 100 years will be overtaken with ugly hack construction…I mean “luxury condo” buildings. Not to mention, the overpopulation of this already heavily overpopulated neighborhood. Once these buildings are complete, up to 200 or more apartments will be within this half of a block, you do the math. Lots of people. Gone are the days of knowing everyone on your block.

Read Full Post »

Recently, the hubby and I have been trying to buy our first home. It was very simple at first; we got pre-approved for a mortgage and off we went in search of a real estate broker. The long and short of it really is…it’s not that simple. It starts that way, but one must prepare themselves for a lot of heartache along the way.

Our first attempt was on a really nice place in Jersey City Heights. The apartment was 1,000 square feet, had exposed brick, brand new kitchen (!!!) — it had a lot of character. The seller was in a hurry, so we rushed through the contract. We had a home inspection and before you knew it attorney review was over and we had a closing date set! Then the property was appraised for $20k less than the agreed upon price we were paying for it. Our bank said flat out, NO WAY. We tried everything. We begged for another appraiser, even one at our cost and that was a no go. Then we turned to the seller and asked if he would come down on the price. He could not do it. Suddenly, the whole deal fell through and we were back to square one.

We set our sights on Downtown Jersey City, specifically the area around Hamilton Park. We loved it there. It reminded us a lot of Brooklyn (some areas that aren’t overly populated yet). Soon enough we found another place. It was smaller, but based on some research, this hood was a better investment for us. In a whirlwind of showings and signings…we were in contract again! That’s when the problems began. The seller was in a rush, so everything had to be done very quickly. That was OK by us because the building we’re currently living in (in Park Slope) is falling apart, literally. This time we were smart and we had the appraisal done first, before we paid for another home inspection. It appraised $18k higher than what we were paying for it! Hurray! That means we have $18k in equity the day we move in. Wow!! We were psyched! We started planning and packing and since we were a shoe in this time (all the financials and information that was being used was the same as last time) we gave notice at our Brooklyn pad. Everything was great, the inspection went fine and we were just waiting to hear back from the bank… TBC

Read Full Post »

Hot summer days add up to one thing…ice cream! Lately, I’ve been craving the old school ice cream parlor feel. So many of the places around Park Slope try to be fancy and gourmet, all I want is some good old fashioned ice cream with hot fudge and peanut butter sauce.

Uncle Louie G’s has been a Slope favorite since 1998, when they opened their first store on Union Street, right off of 5th Ave. The hubby and I went their to cure an incredible ice cream craving and truth be told, we were disappointed. They have gone downhill. They didn’t have soft ice cream, the toppings were limited, the staff was rude and to top it all off, the ice cream wasn’t that good. Too sugary, like Baskin Robbins. Blech.

Next stop was The Old Brooklyn Parlor [564 Vanderbilt Ave.]. The ice cream was good, but not a lot of flavor choices and not many toppings. Where does one go around here for good old fashioned sundaes?

There is always Tempo Presto, on 5th Ave. between Carroll and Garfield. They serve up homemade gelato and it is pretty good, but not ice cream.

Last night, we happened to stop by Sweet Melissa on Court Street and behold, an old fashioned ice cream parlor, right in the front of her shop! They call it The Cremerie and it was heavenly. There were many intriguing ice cream flavors and oodles of toppings. I even saw big waffle cones! The place was packed. There was a line clear out the door for this creamy goodness. Kudos Melissa, on bringing back the old ice cream parlor, now if you could just bring it to the Park Slope store 🙂

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »