Monday, April 11, 2011

Restaurant Review: Ditch Plains

So I'm obsessed with the new restaurant craze that is sweeping the Upper West Side--"sea shack cuisine". Basically the kind of food you would get on the side of the road in the real Northeast, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, etc. The kind of food that evokes memories of walking the beach as a child collecting shells. I'm a huge fan of this craze--I love Ed's Chowder House, Luke's Lobster, the Mermaid Inn. And, over the weekend, I tried Ditch Plains on 82nd near Columbus.

Now I've been to Ditch Plains' bar before when meeting friends. They have a fabulous atmosphere--bright walls and light colored wood and, that rare thing in New York restaurants, space. Tables arent crushed next to each other, you dont have to pull out the table for someone to fit against the wall. This place is huge. And their bar is amazing. I've tried tons of drinks there, and every single one is delicious.

While waiting at the bar for the rest of our party (there was 7 of us in total) I got the chance to try a couple of drinks I'd never had before. As always, they were spectacular. As my brother said, my first drink, the peach margarita, was "dangerous": exactly as it sounds, it was a margarita with peach liquor in it to give it a sweet flavor. As for "dangerous", this drink was not light--even with the peach in it, the taste was definitely of tequila. I also tried the guava guava, a mix of vodka, citrus and guava juice. Also delicious, also very high in alcohol...exactly how I like it.

Because there was a huge group of us, we decided to start off with appetizers. The crab dip, not pictured, was absolutely amazing...delicious cheesy crabby goodness. It's served with bagel chips, which is a nice change from the norm.

Nachos with BBQ Chicken
We also had the nacho platter, seen here (half eaten, I couldnt stop the greedy masses from grabbing some as I was trying to take a picture).  We added bbq pulled chicken to the already delicious nachos that come piled high with guacamole. Delicious.

Oyster platter
For our last appetizer, we ordered some Rapphanock River oysters (from Virginia) for a refreshing, and significantly lighter option. The lightness was a good thing, as our entrees were quite unusual, albeit quite delicious.

Lobster Roll

Now, the real test of a restaurant that serves "sea shack cuisine" is, in my opinion at least, the lobster roll. And the Ditch Plains lobster roll was...good. Not great. By far not the best option here. It had thick chunks of lobster, served on a potato hot dog roll, but the mayo and seasoning mix was...bland. To put it in perspective, I normally eat an entire lobster roll in about 4 minutes and then wonder what we're having for dessert. Now, yes, we did have appetizers, but I did not even finish half of my lobster roll. I think I just got bored halfway through.

Ditch Plains Chili
Same went for the chili. It was good, don't get me wrong. It just wasnt...great. Actually, it tasted a bit like sloppy joe mix rather than the Italian, spicy meaty mixture I prefer. And it was served with tortillas that look like theyre straight out of the box. Again, nothing wrong with the chili just nothing particularly right either.

Sloppy ditch dogs

Now these monstrosities on the other hand? These were heaven. Yes, this is exactly what it looks like. On the left...a sloppy dog, a hot dog on a toasted bun covered in sloppy joe mix. And on the right, the ditch dog, a hotdog absolutely smothered in delicious, velvety mac 'n' cheese. These two brilliant inventions combine to create a "sloppy ditch dog" platter. Oh yeah. Nothing bland about these babies. They were heavy and artery-clogging and absolutely delicious. Now the two gentlemen at the table who ordered these much preferred the sloppy dog, stating that it was like having a chili dog on crack. I however, far preferred the mac 'n' cheese, the ditch dog. Then again, I only had a couple of bites of each. After finishing, my dad said he would have to go run on the treadmill for about 5 hours to burn off all the calories. My mom, however, was dialing his doctor to get his arteries and cholesterol checked out. I guess it didnt help that we ordered fried candy bars for dessert.

All in all, Ditch Plains is a fabulous place to go if you want to splurge on some calories and some hefty drinks. I warn you, do not go if you are on a diet, trying to go on a diet, or are in the least bit worried about clogged arteries or a bad heart. Although I'm sure they already have the paramedics on stand-by. I would if I was serving platters of sloppy ditch dogs.

Find Ditch Plains online at, in the Upper West Side at 100 W 82nd St near Columbus, in the West Village at 29 Bedford St near Downing and, during the summer months, a Ditch Plains Drop-In opens at Brooklyn Bridge Park.