Laura Mvula
Pink Noise

Laura Mvula finally came back after like 6 years with a new album, and it's inexplicably an 80s-inspired, wet-drum dance party, which is better than that flippant description would lead you to imagine, but still nothing I really need in my rotation.

Laura Mvula
The Dreaming Room

A couple years ago, Laura Mvula released this really beautiful album of carefully and lovingly orchestrated art pop, that was mostly too polite and adult to be given much consideration by anyone outside of NPR and the quiet few of us who love adult and polite lovingly orchestrated art pop. So now here's her follow up, and it's mostly a continuation of that vein, but with a notable addition of some electronic 'stuff,' and bigger booming Florence drums here and there. The songs are generally good, but it all has a slight feeling that somebody at the record company wanted to try a little bit harder to score a big hit this time around. Luckily, they didn't try that hard. So it's still a lovely polite adult art pop record. Just not as flawless as the last one.

Laura Mvula
Sing to the Moon

Upon further review, I like this record a whole lot. It's still tough to get really attached to it, but purely as a display of craft and structure and humanity, it's hugely refreshing; a 180 away from all the derivative 80s inspired synth pop that has been consuming music in the last year, yet still completely modern.

Laura Mvula
Sing to the Moon

This sounds like an exact 3-part mix of Amy Winehouse, Janelle Monae, and Julia Holter, and I want so, so badly to love it. It has so much going for it, especially for a major label album. Patience. Restraint. Sophisticated arrangements. But unfortunately, because it sounds like an exact combination of Amy Winehouse, Janelle Monae, and Julia Holter, it is very hard to love. But I like it.

Leo's LatticiniQueens
Italian hoagie

If I posted about Leo's Latticini before, I was wrong. Last time around, whatever sandwich I had struck me as very average. This time I was totally wowed. Truly one of the best sandwiches around.

Two Wheels Manhattan
Pho, chicken wings

Totally decent pho. Some of the best wings I've had in New York.

Joe JuniorManhattan

Joe Junior, aside from having one of the charmingest signs in all of Manhattan, is a constant presence on "Best burger in New York" lists. The place itself is very much just a diner—a somewhat charming one yes, but not quite up to that sign outside. And on my visit, it was swarming with unmasked NYU students out for brunch who were annoyed at not getting served quickly enough. I know that's not the restaurant's fault, but yikes. Although Joe Junior's, shall we say, hands off approach to service definitely didn't help the situation. These guys have clearly been living the diner life for way too long and were did not g a f about it keeping the customer happy. I dunno, good for them really.

The burger: good! Not amazing, certainly not the best in New York. But it was very edible. Which I mean as a compliment. It reminded me of the Jackson Hole Diner burger (another VIP on your average Best Burger list), where it was almost meatloaf in its consistency—soft and even light in a way, almost like it was baked rather than grilled. I'd actually put Joe Junior's ahead of Jackson Hole's, simply because it was a much more reasonable size to actually eat, compared to Jackson's basketball-sized offering.

The other odd thing: Never before has iceberg lettuce worked so perfectly on a burger. Usually the lettuce gets immediately sloppy and wilted, and doesn't make a bit of difference to any burger. But the big ol pile of iceberg on this thing actually kinda bumped it from "good" to "pretty darn good". With that extra fragile texture to the burger, having a nice crunchy cool counterpart on top made the whole thing work.

Hinomaru RamenQueens

If this website wasn't hopelessly broken, I'd use its search function to see if I've written about Hinomaru before. I think I have. But good luck.

I just wanted to check in one more time on this place, because we stopped in last week and I had their tonkotsu ramen with spare ribs. Spare ribs! I don't think I've ever had ribs within Japanese milieu. But dang, it was good. Sweet and balanced and tender as shit.

Hinomaru is pretty great, it's got a Michelin Bib Gourmand and everything. Seems to be probably the best ramen in Astoria. Maybe in Queens as a whole? Mu was pretty great, but RIP RIP as of the pandemic. Either way, if there's a better spot, I'd certainly like to know.