Tag Archives: DINNER

Del Posto: Best Meal of the Year?

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As you could tell from previous posts, our trip to Del Posto was something that both Nicole and I were really looking forward to. Exactly thirty days prior to our anniversary I called at 10:00 on the dot, along with a couple dozen calls between 9:58-9:59, only to hear the pre-recorded message about the hotline being closed. When the call went through to the receptionist, I literally jumped out of my desk in excitement. The phone call was really enjoyable, we discussed that it was our three-year anniversary, and that we recently got engaged and wanted to celebrate at Del Posto. By the end of the call I setup a 7:30 reservation, on a Saturday. From that day forward, we both eagerly awaited what would become one of our favorite meals ever.

I cannot begin to describe to you how many times the both of us checked out the menu on their website. My browser history had more Del Posto links than my teenager-selfs porn history. I would sit at work, spreadsheet on one screen, Bloomberg on another, and Del Posto’s menu on the the third – drooling while thinking of the endless possibilities of what I would eat.

Since it was our anniversary, I decided to change things up and we booked a hotel room at The Maritime Hotel down the block. Even though I live in Nolita, thought it would be nice to have a perfect evening and really treat ourselves. When we woke up that morning, we had a light breakfast followed by lunch at Hu Kitchen in the afternoon. Looking back I would have skipped the lunch, as I wanted to be completely hungry by the time dinner rolled around. We even turned down meeting some coworkers at ZZ’s Clam Bar, they were stoping in before trying Carbone for the first time based off my recommendations (review here). I didn’t want any non-Batali substances in my body prior to tasting the food at Del Posto. Kind of like not eating before taking communion.

When it was time, we walked over to the restaurant. Excitement building between the two of us, both waiting to try what we have been dying to try. With each step the back of my mind was spinning with different antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolci variations. As the door man opened the doors, we were greeted by the maître d and hostesses.

Host: “Hello Mr. Hedge Fun NY, happy third anniversary and congratulations on your engagement! Welcome to Del Posto.”

Nice touch. Who would have expected a phone call thirty days prior which contained casual conversation with the receptionist would be remembered.

We made our way to the table, and our waitress came over to engage in some conversation. She explained the menu, along with wishing us a happy anniversary as well. She was extremely friendly, and we enjoyed her presence.

Next the sommelier came over, at first I thought it was Joe Bastianich due to the similar haircut, however it was not him (was missing the bright green sneakers.) He provided us with a few suggestions, and then left the iPad with us to take a look. The software was amazing on the iPad and made narrowing down our options extremely easy. We would up choosing the Castell’ In Villa Chianti Classico Riserva 2008, which was one of his recommendations to us. After the initial taste I realized how great the bottle was, and was happy we went with his suggestion.

We said cheers, and then something amazing happened. The bread mades it’s way to the table. There were three types, which included an olive-loaf, all of which were made fresh. Accompanying the bread was their butter and lardo. The lardo was mind blowing, and also a duel-edged sword. All I wanted to do was to keep smearing it across the warm bread, but I also didn’t want to fill up too quickly. I had five courses ahead of me, I did not want to sacrifice any room in my stomach.

We started our first course with the Minted Octopus and Lobster all a Cesare, which is a fancy way of saying Cesare Salad. I will start with the salad, since I was a little hesitant to try due to the fact I never eat Cesare Salad since it looks like mayo. Not the case here, the salad was great with huge chunks of lobster. The dressing wasn’t overly creamy and was well balanced with the grilled romaine and onions. The octopus was for lack of a better word, dope. Being Pulpo-Aficionados we pride ourselves on distinguishing the good from the bad, the rubbery from the perfectly cooked. This was one of the best octopus dishes I have had in a long time. I would say, neck-and-neck with Charlie Bird, and better than Toro, Carbone, and Peasant. The tentacles are served over Nduja, Giant Beans & Hearts of Palm. The njuda spread was on the bottom and gave a nice flavor to the pieces of octopus I smeared into it’s red-pasty spread. Despite the amazing flavor and tenderness of the tentacles, the best part of the dish was the size. Firstly the tentacles were not those wimpy skinny tentacles, they had some girth. Also, they must have had at least four pieces on the dish. We enjoyed each bite, how could you not? The outside was charred, the inside was juicy and cooked to perfection. Really a perfect dish.

Next up, our primi course. Going into this course we were extremely excited, especially since we have not had pasta for close to thirty-days. We had been on a diet since we are getting married in a few months, and we figured if we were going to cheat it might as well be with some of the best pasta you can find. This was also a very difficult choice for us to decide on. I have at one point or another said in my head over the past thirty days that I am getting the 100 Layer Lasagna, or Lidia’s Jota, or Orecchiette with Lamb Neck. When we decided to order, we went with neither of the above. We chose The Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab, and the Gnocchi. Once again, two perfect dishes. The Spaghetti and Crab was probably one of my favorite pasta dishes I have ever eaten. The spaghetti was nice and al dente, and mixed into the bowl were jalapeños, scallions, and the sweet meat of the crustacean. The jalapeño definitely provided some heat, in fact I actually had to ask the busgirl for a tissue at one point, but the spice was not overbearing. The crab flavors definitely keep this bowl of pasta well balanced. This is one of their most famous dishes, as I learned after, with many pages discussing the perfect execution of this dish. There is actually a video Del Posto put on YouTube a few years back that shows the process of making this dish, CLICK HERE, and if you don’t have a seizure from the music – you might gain an appreciation for this dish. Definitely do not skip this dish. Next up, gnocchi. One of my favorite types of pastas, and favorite form of potato. As if the idea of gnocchi could get any better, especially to two people on diets who have been pasta deprived. The recipe was handed down by Batali’s Grandmother. The gnocchi was light and fluffy, unlike that heavy junk you get at majority of these so-called ‘Italian’ restaurants. Also, unlike most places who drench the pasta in sauce to compensate for the pastas lack of flavor, also not the situation here. The sauce was light, and tasted like fresh tomato. Nice and basic, and the flavoring from the Thai basil gives the dish the simplicity and freshness one would expect while eating in non-touristy areas of Italy.

Right around this point of the evening, I began to really regret getting lunch at Hu Kitchen earlier. I was beginning to get full, and the constant stuffing of my face with bread and lardo didn’t help. But we had our secondi course coming, and the excitement kept me going.

Once the food came to the table, we acted as if those past courses didn’t happen and kept consuming our entrees. I ordered the Burnt Beef, medium rare of course, which came with seared green onions, parmigiano zeppole, and tomato raisins. Everything about this dish was perfect – so much so my fiance, who is not a meat person found herself voluntarily picking pieces off my plate. I have to say, for a girl who hasn’t had meat in eight-years I have started her on some awesome places – Black Label Burger from Minetta, Steak from Del Posto… Highly recommend this dish, worth the extra money – TRUST ME. Nicole ordered the Baked Halibut, which came with mashed sun chokes, chicory salad, and smoked truffles. Once again, perfect entree. We still talk about this dish and how it was the best piece of halibut, possibly the best pieces of fish we have ever had.

To finish the meal we had some dessert, but really was hard to enjoy since we were so full – but we somehow managed to finish it. We had the Grilled Semolina Cake and Fette Biscottate, also they brought out some additional items for our anniversary – which we finished as well…

PUBLIC: One of the Best Places in Nolita

The other day we were driving around the neighborhood looking for a spot, which is pretty easy in Nolita. While driving up Elizabeth Street we past some of our staple restaurants – Peasant, The Egg Shop, Fonda Nolita (Tacombi), Musket Room… the list goes on. As we passed PUBLIC, we both looked at each other and said how much we missed PUBLIC.

We went to PUBLIC about two years ago when I first moved into the neighborhood – and it is still one of my favorite places to go in New York.

It all started one night when we stopped in to see if there were any open tables last minute, which there weren’t as it was a beautiful spring day and it was busy as per usual. So we went in, asked the host – to which she directed us to The Daily. The Daily was really cool, and I was happy we were able to get a seat and hangout on one of their tufted leather couches, order some small plates and some drinks. This was our first time at The Daily, but definitely not the last.

While hanging out inside the girls couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it was inside PUBLIC – and they were right. Don’t get me wrong, The Daily is really cool in it’s own way, but PUBLIC is a sight to be seen. Exposed brick, subway tiles, industrial lights, vintage mailboxes, cool candles, and a glass garage door that overlooks Elizabeth Street Gardens. If you took a woman here and didn’t get laid after, you are doing it wrong. I mean, the owners/designers received a James Beard Foundation award for  Best Restaurant Design @ PUBLIC. Those things don’t come easy…

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So we all decided we would come back to PUBLIC for dinner. Not feeling like waiting on other people schedules, both Nicole and myself decided screw it – we are going by ourselves.

On that night we walked up the block, and with every step I got more and more excited for this SEVEN-times Michelin Stared dinner. To win anything seven years in a row is impressive, but to win the coveted Michelin Star definitely speaks for the amazing place they manage.

We ordered two specials which included a watermelon salad with feta, and a squid ink pasta dish that was unreal. We also split the octopus, because as you can see by now we are pulpo-addicts. The eight legged creature was served with piquillo pepper purée, warm potato salad, pickled chiles and three herb pistou.

For dinner I was stuck between venison, lamb, and duck. We had recently returned from Spain, and while there I had some excellent venison while dining at El Xalet de Montjuïc, which really put me on a venison kick. Lamb, I had the week before at Il Buco, which was also delicious. Which leaves me to Duck, which the waitress assured me was one of their best dishes. She was right, this was one of the best pieces of duck I have had in a long time. I would even go as far as saying it is up there with Gramercy Tavern, which is a legendary dish to me. I have contemplated on many occasions walking up the block, sitting at the bar and ordering this dish again.

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Now about 2 years later, we actually were thinking about doing our wedding at PUBLIC. Yea, we are that obsessed. The space as I mentioned above is absolutely stunning, and the food amazing. We were both so much in love with the place that I considered cutting out some friends and family from the invite list so we can have the wedding there, but unfortunately I was over-ruled.

Since we are not having the wedding here I may have to convince her that we should join the PUBLIC Wine Mailbox Program. As I discussed earlier, there are some vintage mailboxes through out the space. Along with those, some pretty cool keys that unlock them. For $50/per month their Wine Mailbox Program brings you a bottle of wine every month in your very own PUBLIC bronze mailbox. Each artisanal wine from Australia, New Zealand, and around the globe, is hand-selected by Chef Brad Farmerie. But that is not all, you also receive tasting notes, pairings, and sometimes imported food items, and PUBLIC kitchen creations. And, if you thought this deal couldn’t get better – there is more: you will receive invitations to PUBLIC special events and private tastings. Rumor has it, you also receive some special access to their reservation line…

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Friday 7/24/15: Last Minute Reservations and Recomendations

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Here is a list of some last minute available reservations for tonight, Friday 07/24.

Open Table
Mercer Kitchen 7:45 8:00 8:39
Lure 7:30
Peasant 7:00 8:30
Batard 8:30
Gato 8:30
The Musket Room 7:45 8:00 8:15
PUBLIC 7:45 8:00 8:45
The Standard Grill 7:30
The Gander 7:45 8:00 8:15
Aquavit 8:00

RESY
Sant Ambroeus Soho 9:00 FREE
Maison Premiere 7:30 $5x
Bowery Meat Company 9:30 $6x
Navy 7:30 $9x
Empellon Tacueria 8:00 $10x
Frankie 570 7:30 $7x
Toro 8:00 $10x
Hunt & Fish Club 8:30 $7.50x
Bar Bouloud 8:00 FREE

Joe & Misses Doe: Awesomeness in the East Village

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A few months ago I woke up hungover, and didn’t really feel like posting an article. However, it was the morning after the James Beard Awards, so I figured it would be totally irresponsible for a food blogger to not write an article. After I posted it, and put up a tweet, my phone lit up with a tweet from a local chef:

“@JOEDOEchef: So. Where are the new winners?? So sick of the circle jerk those awards are. #politicsoverfood”

After laughing out loud in my cubicle, I realized I totally agree with his view. There are so many small places, or low-key places, or neighborhood spots that do not get the acclaim they deserve by JBA. Thats when I decided I would reach out to Chef Joe Dobias at Joe & MissesDoe and learn more about their place. I use the term ‘their’ because it is actually owned and operated by both Chef Joe and his wife, Jill Dobias, aka Misses Doe.

After bullshitting on Twitter, they invited us in for dinner one night to test out their new summer menu. How can I turn that offer down, especially when they mentioned one of the items on the menu had three of my favorite things – ravioli, ricotta, and marrow butter.

We walked over a few blocks east, over to 1st and 1st, and found their little neighborhood joint. Realizing I was a couple hundred feet away from Dirty French, I told Nicole if we were still hungry after we could stop over there for some of their charbroiled oysters – that was definitely not the case. When we walked in we were greeted by the famous, Misses Doe. Along with her awesome presence, we were greeted with a bar full of small plates. We started with some of their ‘quirky cocktails’ while Misses Doe gave us some background on the place. I had their Spring Old Fashion – bourbon, honey, and grilled lemon (excellent touch). The old fashion was great, and the honey mixed with the bourbon gave it a nice sweetness while the grilled lemon, which was pretty much blacken, gave some acidity. Nicole started with The Livins Easy, which is like a pina colada but without the horribleness of sugary pre-made store-bought mixtures. It was made from rum, coconut cream, caramelized pineapple. She liked it a lot, but definitely felt it was one of those drinks you can start the evening with rather than go all night with.

As we sat with Jill, we learned more about the restaurant and their relationship. The whole time I kept thinking this hot-head chef was going to walk over and question why I liked James Beard winners and highly-publicized spots such as Charlie Bird, PUBLIC, Carbone, Mercer Kitchen … But then he came over to us. The only way I can describe him is a gentle-giant, as Jill is more of the sparkplug I saw via Joes Twitter (in the best way possible – she is awesome). Between the two of them, and their outside the box concept on culinary cuisine they can definitely expect to see me sitting at their bar more often. Now onto the food …

To start we snacked on their assortment of finger-foods. Nicole grabbed a piece of matzah, which I kind of scoffed at. Out of all the food she chose a piece of unleavened bread, but hey she seemed happy as she spread the ‘beer cheese’ over it. Once she bit into it, I felt compelled to try it, and I was shocked how much I enjoyed it. It was matzah, but with a twist kind of like a Wheat Thin flavoring but a sweetness kind of like the bottom of the cereal bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. This matzah was so good I contemplated converting. The beer cheese had bleu, pecorino, cream cheese, cheddar and was dope. Next up, a deviled egg. Something I would never try due to the fact the yolk is whipped with mayonnaise, aka my worst enemy. However, Nicole assured me it was good and I gave it a shot. Pretty delicious, and if I didn’t know it had mayo – I would eat it again.

Next up, the real food. We had the Green Gazpacho with cucumber, almonds, and grapes. This combination of flavors was surprisingly enjoyable and very refreshing. Then we had their Beets & Watermelon Radish, which was one of Nicole’s favorite dishes. I ate around the beets and radish concentrating on the ricotta. Nicole devoured the beets and seemed pretty happy that I left my portion for her. I am going to skip over the next course, Sausage Bread, and leave it for last, since this was one of my favorite things. We then tried their take on Potatoes Bravas, but with a better name ‘Brave Potatoes’. This was no ordinary potato, it was more of a mini latke that was perfectly fried and crispy. This was served over an anchovy dressing and fried herbs. This was great, and do not be afraid of anchovies they are delicious. The first main course was the salmon, which was served with roasted garbanzo beans and a yogurt sauce. Normally I wouldn’t gloat about salmon, but this salmon was cooked to absolute perfection on the restaurants electric stove. The roasted garbanzo beans were crunchy, but soft at the same time. The yogurt sauce was also awesome, even dipped some of the potatoes in it. All together a perfect combination and if I happen to ever crave salmon, I would definitely come back for more.

Now we will discuss my three favorite dishes, and the reason I left with a huge smile on my face (or could have been their waitresses bringing me old fashions on an every-twenty-minute schedule). First up, the Summer Ravioli, as I mentioned above, was with ricotta, marrow butter and summer vegetables. It came out as one large stacked ravioli that was cooked perfectly al dente, with the creamy richness of the marrow butter drizzled over it. I wish they would give me a weekly supply of the raviolis that I can make from the comfort of my own apartment, hungover. This was crack, and once again do not fear the fact that it is made with marrow, because marrow is delicious (see my obsession with the it here). Back to the above mentioned Sausage Bread, which I figured would be bread baked with sausage in it, kind of like a typical focaccia bread. NOPE. This was freshly made amazing soft bread which came with a side (more like mountain) of crumbled up sausage with oils and a tomato vinaigrette. This was truly perfection, and since having this I could not get it out of my mind. Kind of like getting to second-base for the first time, you will never forget it. I cannot stress enough how much I loved this, and writing this is making me want to go back tomorrow (or now). Nicole who rarely eats meat scoffed this and begs me to go back for it daily. Last up, Joe’s famous dish – Hot Dipped Chicken. The way I kind of described this was like getting round-house kicked in the mouth by non other than Chuck Noris (yeah, bold statement). This thing had so much flavor, but with a nice crispy exterior and perfect white juicy interior. Joe takes regular fried chicken, and once again puts his spin and vision into it to make it more than just a boring piece of poultry. All of my friends who say they are in the mood for fried chicken I now send there – and they all tell me a variation of ‘that was one of the best things I have ever eaten.’ I never tried crack before, but I am going to say this is as addicting as crack.

Overall the food was great, environment was great, and best of all – its family owned and you see their love for the place while spending time with them. This place is truly their baby, despite Jill’s dog she treats like a human (check her Instagram), and their pride in their establishment is what makes it even better.

Kellari Taverna: Greek Food in Midtown

The Greek Economy is a disaster, we are waiting for a Grexit – and all I wanted last night was Greek food. It was kind of like both CNBC and Bloomberg TV had subliminal messaging to my brain. Every time I heard Alexis Tsipras, Varoufakis, or default I would just think of hummus, lamb, and more lamb.

After work a few of us headed over to Kellari Taverna on 44th between 5th and 6th. The place is known as a popular spot for business lunches, and I came here once before which I vaguely remember due to Greek wines I could barely attempt to pronounce. I did remember the food being good, so was happy to go back there yesterday.

Below are some items we ordered which were really good and I highly suggest:

Spanakopita: Phylo pies with spinach, leeks and feta. Traditional Greek dish, Kellari Taverna makes probably one of the best I have ever tried.

Kellari Veggie Chips: Crispy eggplant and zucchini chips with tzatziki spread. I personally am not a huge Tzatziki person (nothing personal Greek people) so I dipped my chips on their hummus – which was unreal. There is something about frying vegetables that makes them so much better …

Authentic Saganaki: Graviera cheese flamed with brandy. Once the flame was extinguished with the freshly squeezed lemon, and I fought back every urge of screaming “opa”, I devoured this fried sheep cheese. Not sure if it was the presentation, or the fact that the cheese was really good, but I really liked this appetizer.

Octopodi: Sushi grade charcoal grilled octopus from the Mediterranean. Great pulpo, and a large serving. The whole table enjoyed this.

Black Sea Bass: Wild bass, mild flavor and flaky. Not over-seasoned or drenched in oil, the dish was pretty much as authentic Mediterranean as you could get. It was served as a whole fish, and reminded me of being in Croatia.

***BEST DISH OF THE NIGHT***
Paidakia: Grilled lamb chops with olive oil and oregano roasted potatoes. I always thought Greek people’s obsession of lamb was a stereotype – until I started eating copious amounts of Greek food. This may have been the best lamb I have had in a long time.

Mile End Deli: The Best Jewish Delicatessen

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You hear Jewish Deli, and you immediately think about Katz Deli or Carnegie Deli. There is nothing wrong with that, they are both famous and old school – however, you should introduce yourself to the New School with Mile End Deli. They have two locations, one in Brooklyn (Boerum Hill) and the other in Manhattan (Noho), and depending on where you live, they deliver via Seamless. Another fun fact, Black Seed was created by the people of Mile End – so you know its good.

My first time there we started with the Matzo Ball Soup and their special of the night, Pastrami Soup. Both were really good, I definitely never had anything like the Pastrami Soup – have been calling them up on a weekly basis to see if they have it as a special. If you ever see this on the menu, definitely order this.

Onto the most important part of the night, The Smoked Meat Burger. Prior to ordering this, I was stuck between the Smoked Meat Burger and the Smoked Meat Sandwich. I mean, my head was spinning, and the only difference really was the word ‘burger’ in the name. The waitress, who was great, knew I was torn between the two options and advised I should go with the burger – and I always can come back for the sandwich. Apparently these two are two of the most popular choices, and being that the place is only a few blocks away – I felt comfortable with my decision. The burger is made out 30% smoked meat, red onion, pickle, fried egg, american cheese,  on an onion roll. The burger also comes with mustard-mayo, but since I despise the two I steered clear of this and stuck with Ketchup. Every time I am hungover, I debate stumbling up to Bond Street to eat one of these. My first impression when I saw this was pure shock, it was a thing of beauty. First off, anything that is served on a true onion roll – is pure genius. Second, the smell of smoked meat that comes off this burger should be bottled and sold as air freshener. Lastly, the size of the burger. It was massive, I almost had to cut it in half – but didn’t want to ruin the gooeyness of the fried egg. When I left my jaw hurt from taking bites of it, the struggle is real. Now to the taste, FUCKING DELICIOUS. It was so good, that within three-minutes (has to be some type of record) I had the whole thing down. If you have never had this burger before, I can assure you once you have it – there is no burger in the world that taste remotely similar. As I am writing this I am actually pissed off that I did not order this tonight (fucking blizzard). This may have been one of the top 5 burgers I have ever eaten, definitely the best burger with an egg on it. Another positive, they served Shiner Bock – which as you can tell from my other posts, is one of my favorite beers. This beer is a perfect pairing for the burger.

ONE REGRET: I did not order the poutine, but at least this gives me another reason to back.

Peasant: Authentic Farm to Table, But Italian Style

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As you can see from my posts on Bacaro and Apizz, I love all places which spawned from the genius of Frank DeCarlo. Peasant, is possibly my favorite of them all. From the minute I moved into Nolita, I would constantly walk by and try to peep my head into the dinning room – with Exposed Brick and Rustic Fixtures, all surrounding the open kitchen. The place might be the most romantic place in NYC, which I would highly suggest for a first date – if if doesn’t happen, you can only blame yourself.

Peasant, like Bianca, is true Italian cooking – but rather than being just from one region, it is multi-regional menu of traditional Italian Dishes.  While using locally sourced items, along with imported products from Italy, you get the best of both worlds – without compromising quality. Also, with Chef Frank DeCarlo working in the kitchen every night of service, you can expect the food to have his passion every time you go here. Below is the breakdown of our order, all of which was unbelievable – and makes me believe this is one of the best restaurants in New York City.

Drinks:

  • Wine: Want to start off saying their wine list is extremely reasonable – a bunch of wines in all price ranges. We tend to like Montepulciano, so we ordered the Castorani Amorino Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2007. This bottle paired extremely well with all the food we ordered, and for $50/bottle – you cannot go wrong.

Appetizers:

  • Prosciutto e Frutta: which happened to be figs. Great dish, prosciutto was perfect and the ripeness of the figs made dish.
  • Bocconcini: Mozzarella with speck, which is two appetizers containing this amazing cured meat. As you know from other reviews, i.e. Piacere, I am a sucker for all things speck. The balls of mozzarella, wrapped in the crispy speck, drizzled in oil and basil is a no brainer.
  • Cannolicchi: Razor Clams with white wine and breadcrumb. Such a great dish, brought me back to being in Europe. The simpleness and freshness of the dish is exactly what I tasted while eating razor clams in Italy, Spain, and Croatia. As you can see from my articles on Bacaro and Charlie Bird, these mollusk are one of my favorite types, and would go on record saying that these were equally good as Charlie Bird.
  • Polpi in Purgatorio: baby octopus with chili peppers. The octopus was perfectly cooked, and a bit spicy – hence the name. Dish was excellently executed by the kitchen.

Main Courses:

  • Porchetta Arrosto: Suckling Pig with fingerling potatoes. This is the dish I have been dying to try for a while. In my head I was debating if there was anyway this could be better than Jean-Georges’ ABC Kitchen. Then the day came. I asked the waitress how it was prepared – “nine week old baby pig” she replied, and instantly I was excited. At the same time I saw the look on my fiancé’s face as she realized what I heartless bastard I truly am. Once it came out, I was like a little kid waiting to eat the crispy piece of skin laying onto of the dish. The minute you bit into the crackling, salty, crispy skin – you know you made the right decision. Now, only issue with it was the sauce. It was good, however due to my fear of mayo – and all things that look like mayo – it at first kind of freaked me out. However, pork pulled apart, mixed with potatoes in this cream sauce was delicious. The meat is tender, the potatoes are buttery – great dish, and satisfied the craving I have been looking forward to.
  • Razza con Caperi: As you have read from my Apizz review, my fiancé is obsessed with skate – more importantly obsessed with the skate cooked by Frank DeCarlo’s brainchild restaurants.  The dish came with the fish perfectly cooked, finished with lemon, white wine and capers. Great choice if you like flounder, fluke, sole …etc.

Dessert:

  • BREAD PUDDING: Make sure you finish the meal strong, and ORDER THIS DESSERT. Large portion, with white chocolate – this was delicious.

 

Lunch in Midtown: Charlie Palmer Steak

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The other day I was meeting with one of our banks for lunch, and decided to stay close and try Charlie Palmer Steak over on 54th Street. This used to be the old Rothman’s, and is definitely a great choice for lunch if you work in the area.

To start I got the clams casino, which were probably some of the best I have ever had. They were not over done with the toppings, that made you forget that there was a clam underneath it all. It was served with a small sliver of applewood smoked bacon, and some seasoning. They were delicious and I highly recommend this dish, below is a picture I had to grab from their website as I didn’t want to take pictures during lunch.

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For my main, I went with their Dry Aged Red Tag Burger. This was served with bacon, aged cheddar, red onion, and crispy fries. The burger was good, nothing too outrageous. Could definitely see myself making this a weekly snack. Also, the fries were dope – so they may also bring me back.

Next time I am going to come after work and check out their dinner menu, along with their 400+ wine labels. Review coming soon…

Hu Kitchen: Awesome Healthy Food

Last week I went over to Hu Kitchen on 5th and 13th. For weeks people have been telling me how great this place is, and I figured I would give it a shot since I am in my final half of my diet.

When we got there I was really surprised, the place was like a dark trendy Korean Deli. There was a coffee section, juice bar, cold food section, hot food section, prepackaged items…etc. Luckily I went with some people who have been there before, because there was a lot to choose from and they were smart enough to grab seats upstairs before we grabbed our food. People were holding down tables like it was there job. I was just waiting for a fight to breakout between these paleo-addicts.

I decided to start with The Wild Meatloaf, with a two sides. The meatloaf was 100% grass-fed org ground beef, wild elk, Berkshire pork, org egg, onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, housemade BBQ sauce, cayenne pepper. This was one of the best pieces of meatloaf I have ever ate. Nice consistency with a little kick from the cayenne pepper. This will definitely be my goto main dish at Hu. The side dishes I got the Roasted Butternut Squash and Rotisserie Pineapple. Both great sides, highly recommend both. When I went back on Saturday afternoon I actually ordered the same sides again.

Along with the meatloaf, which is a nice portion, I decided in the sake of research to try the bison burger also. The Iron Mike Bison Burger is only a special I believe, and I didn’t see it the next time I went back. If you see this on the menu, grab it. The meat was pretty juicy for bison, and had some great flavors.

This Saturday we went back I grab a healthy lunch before our massive upcoming meal at Del Posto later that night. I went with the Diesel Parker which is the Grandmaster Veg with 100% grass fed HuJoe Beef. The Grandmaster Veg is a grain/dairy free lasagna, made with eggplant, carrot, green cabbage, cashew, house made marinara, garlic and chili flake. This is massive and pretty good, definitely check it out as well.

Hu Kitchen
78 5th Avenue (btwn 13 & 14th)

Souvlaki GR: Great Greek Food in LES

Over the past few years I have walked past Souvlaki GR a couple dozen times and never thought much about it. The other night before heading to a concert at Mercury Lounge we decided to book a table and eat some Greek.

When we walked into the restaurant I was really surprised by the decor. The place looks like you are sitting in an alley way of an Aegean Island. Really cool idea, and I guarantee I could have fool some people if I took a picture from the right angle of us eating at our table.

We started off with two bottles of wine, one Rose and one white. I decided to go with a beer and ordered a Red Donkey, which is Red Ale produced by Santorini Brewing Company. This is a great beer, which was well balanced, and had a bit of bitterness on the backend. Order two more before the meal was done.

There were eight of us, so we decided to order a bunch of appetizers for the table – and every single one of them was amazing. We started with the Mezedes – and ordered three spreads: Hummus, Melitzanosalata (Eggplant), and Tzatziki. This came with a bunch of pita, and all the spreads were great, definitely recommend all three. We then moved to Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) and Tyropita (Cheese Pie). Classic Greek dishes, which were executed perfectly. We also ordered a few salads, Horiatiki (Traditional Greek Salad) and Revidosalata (Chickpea Salad). I personally did not try the salads as I didn’t want to waste any room in my stomach on non-meat items. Apparently the salads were great, and the three girls ordered them as entrees as well and added shrimp and/or chicken. We also order a large order of Lamb Chops for the table. This was my first time ordering anything legal by the kilo, just kidding, and the 2.2 pounds of meat came with about 18 pieces of lamb on the bone. This was charcoal grilled & marinated with greek salt & extra virgin olive oil. After racking up a dish of bones in front of me, I realized this was the best lamb I have had in a long time. The dish was simple and authentic, tasting just like it did while in Croatia. The use of charcoal, salt, and evoo disproves the need for any god damn green mint jelly. For my main I got the Pork Souvlaki Pita, which were delicious. I only ordered one, which although small, was the perfect size considering how much we ordered prior. For $6, which is a great price, you get a choice of chicken or pork with tomato, red onions, fries & tzatziki. Also, we ordered a few platters of Greek Fries that were unreal. They were hand cut fries sprinkled with feta. They were crispy, they were salty, they were awesome.

As mentioned above, everything was awesome. But the items I suggest the most were the Souvlaki Pita, Fries, Lamb, Hummus, and Eggplant Dip. Next time your girlfriend says she wants to goto Greece, take her here…

Buttermilk Falls Inn: Leave Your Office, Grab Your Woman, and Go

Last year for our anniversary I decided to take my fiancé (then girlfriend) away for the night to Buttermilk Falls Inn, up in Milton, NY. Prior to going she had been looking into it for a while, that’s when I had the amazing idea to surprise her with a trip.

We went up early Sunday, spent the day, and came back to dreary NYC the following afternoon. The drive up there was great, it was about 90 minutes north of the city, but once you got up there you felt like you were nowhere near Manhattan. Luckily for us the weather was great, so we got to enjoy the full experience of the property.

When we arrived our room was not yet ready, which I figured since it was so early in the morning, so the people at the front desk gave us the history of the property, along with some suggestions on what to do. Since we were hungry, we decided to go to their restaurant Henry’s on the Farm, which I was excited for considering it was farm to table. Our experience at Henry’s really made us both fall in love with the resort, and we went there for dinner that night. Since we were there early we had their Brunch Menu, which was exactly what we needed. The three dishes (as you know by now we order a lot of food) that stood out the most were the Chef’s Daily Flatbread, Lobster Mac and Cheese, and Pulled Pork sandwich. The daily flatbread was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen, and I admit I didn’t think I would like it all that much. It was a flatbread with Vermont Cheddar, apples, and bacon. I still think this was one of my favorite dishes. Below you will see the picture, this getaway was the first opportunity I had to use my Canon SL1 and it got a lot of use. The Lobster Mac and Cheese was delicious, also pictures below, and had large hearty chunks of lobster. As you could guess, we scraped the skillet clean.

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After leaving Henry’s we went back across the road and checked into our room. We were staying in the ‘Sweet Basil’ room, which has a queen-size bed, marble-topped dresser, exposed original stone chimney, private bath with whirlpool tub, and built-in fireplace. Also this room features a semi-private entrance which goes out into one of their gardens. The ‘Sweet Basil’ room is located in the main house, which was built around 1764.

After getting settled, we decided to walk around the property and explore the grounds. We walked through the gardens, and past the lake/waterfalls, to checkout the working garden, Buttermilk’s own Millstone Farm. This is where the property gets their honey, eggs, herbs, fruits, berries and produce. Near the garden we went over to the animal area, which is home to honey bees, heritage chickens, angora goats, llamas, alpacas, donkeys and peacocks. Safe to say this place really means it when they say Farm to Table.

We also checked out The Barn, which is next to the gardens. This building was beautiful, and can be rented out for private events – from weddings, to family reunions.

We decided to head back to The Main House to change into shorts when we came across Afternoon Tea. This was an awesome surprise and we decided to hangout and enjoy the outdoor seating. This is served daily and includes homemade baked goods such as coffee cake, cookies, cheese danish, babka, scones and a house favoite, carrot cake.

Once we left Afternoon Tea we purchased a bottle of Sancerre from the front desk and hung out on the Adirondack chairs on the Reception Patio. This area overlooks the Hudson River, and is a great spot to just hang out and relax. If you walk around the area you will see some of the other guesthouses, along with a trail that will lead to the other waterfalls.

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For dinner we ended up back at Henry’s which as I mentioned earlier, we are pretty obsessed with. Dinner was phenomenal and service was once again on point.

In the morning, we had breakfast which was held in the same room and outdoor patio as Afternoon Tea. The country breakfast includes farm fresh eggs, local cheeses and produce accompanied by a buffet of fresh fruit and homemade artisinal baked goods. Favorites include buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh Millstone peaches, or the “power plate”, consisting of quinoa, avacado and farm fresh vegetables, topped with a Millstone egg. To drink they serve juices, local herbal teas and coffee. All of the items we had were delicious, and was a great way to start the day.

During the trip and even today, my only regret was not scheduling a spa appointment prior to my arrival. I figured since we would be there on a Sunday-Monday, we would have no issue getting appointments. I was wrong, and still am upset about it. The Spa area is beautiful and includes their glass enclosed indoor Endless Pool. From the pool area there are great views of the Hudson River and Buttermilk’s meadows and gardens. The pool is also equipped with Endless Pool Fastlane technology, allowing you to swim against a current. Also in the pool area they feature a Dry Cedar Sauna and Steam Room, which is a great way to relax. Next time I go back I will ensure we setup spa appointments prior to our stay, and get to enjoy a nice massage with all the other great aspects of Buttermilk Falls Inn.

Booking.com

Club A Steakhouse: Fantasy Football Dinner

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The other week we held our annual office fantasy football dinner, where the bottom half of the pool picks up the tab. We have a weekly pick em league, with over 30 guys, so it’s safe to say you want to be on the top of the table. The bill per loser can really rack up, especially when some people go for the jugular, i.e. Porterhouse for 2 for 1, or bottles of Opus One. For me, win or lose, I do it for the networking and face time.

The past few years the dinner has been held at Smith & Wollensky, but this year my boss decided to change it up. He has his assistant look into private rooms at Del Frisco’s, Quality Meats, Maloney & Porcelli, Keens… I think even at one point the idea of STK Midtown was thrown around. However, due to the dinner being scheduled around some pretty important people and the size of the group, none of the above were able to accommodate us. That’s when we came across Club A Steakhouse, which was close to the office and has a private dinning room on the second floor that we would be able to fit the group.

Earlier that morning, in true sore winner fashion, my boss sent out an email to all the winners/losers advising on how to maximize tonight’s eating potential by not filling up for breakfast and/or lunch. I definitely took note, and ordered a light lunch from Certe around 11:00, so I would be starving.

We all walked down 58th Street and saw the trees outside Club A wrapped in lights, which made me realize I passed this place the other day going back to my apartment from Home Depot. We walked in, and quickly realized this place loves the color red. There was red ceilings, red walls, red seat cushions… Also, they had a ton of velvet. They had enough velvet to make velour suits for the whole borough of Staten Island. With the decor of red, gold, and velvet, I felt like I was in Tony “Scarface” Montana’s Miami Mansion – I was waiting to see a globe with the words ‘The World is Mine’ on it. So we walked up the stairs into the ‘Living Room’ section – which could seat up to 45 people. As you could have guessed, more red and velvet, and a fireplace which was nice.

The feast was about to begin and I was starving. I ordered a Chimay as we waiting to order. Haven’t had a good Trappist beer in a while, and wanted to see what the good old Belgian monks have been brewing. As soon as the waiter took our order we saw the first rush of appetizers come to the table, thick cut bacon and seafood towers. The bacon was unbelievable, cut about 1/4 of an inch thick, and was getting some great reviews from the table. It was tender, juicy, and had a nice charred outside. From every angle I was able to see people cutting the bacon and stuffing it into their mouths. The steak sauce they provided went well with the smokiness of the meat. Since going to to Club A, I have been contemplating stoping their for lunch just to get some swine – and at $5/slice it’s extremely tempting. Onto the seafood towers, which were massive. I honestly do not remember how many of these we ordered but all that remained was crushed ice and the discarded inedible carcasses of the shellfish. The platters included U7 Shrimp (which means 7 shrimp per pound so they were huge), Lobster, King Crab Meat, and Colossal Crab Meat. Seafood was all extremely fresh and before I knew it I was ducking out of the way of pieces of shells flying from fellow employees cracking open massive lobster claws.

Once the shared appetizers were cleared from the table, we received our personal appetizers. I went with the Tuna Tartare since the waiter talked it up so much, and it didn’t disappoint. The portion was massive, which was worrying me as I had a huge steak coming soon. Then I realized I am a bottomless pit, and ate the heaping mountain of raw tuna. We had a nice pause so we can all digest, and continue drinking before the main courses came. I drank another Chimay, followed by some Red Wine since the waiters kept refilling my glass – I mean, why not, I did come in the top 15 of the pool, and I was not chipping in for the bill.

Prior to the main courses, a slew of waiters came into the private room like something out of a movie. They were dropping down on the table the family style sides, which included 5 Cheese Truffle Mac, Onion Rings, Creamed Spinach, Jumbo Asparagus, Mash Potatoes, Garlic Herb Fries, and Hash Browns. Then came out the meat, I ordered Prime Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak for 3, to split with someone. The steak was good, however was a little over cooked – more towards medium, which was a little disappointing. This is something I could expect at a regular restaurant – but not somewhere with ‘Steakhouse’ in the name. I didn’t let this ruin the experience as the steak was still pretty good. I would say I ate my fair share of the Porterhouse, would even go as far to say I ate around 65% of it. The sides were all great, the best were definitely the hash browns and onion rings – definitely recommend ordering them.

After dinner we finished with some dessert and a Lagavulin 16, was going to order the Laphroaig 10, but as mentioned earlier I wasn’t paying…

Barraca: Tapas That Was Okay…

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The other night we went to dinner with my fiancé’s friends – and were supposed to goto Rubirosa, but they couldn’t accommodate us. We choose to get some tapas, and coming down from my high of Saturday Nights Toro Trip, I was excited to crush some small plates. They chose Barraca, which is owned by the Quimeria Group – also own Macondo and Rayuela. So I did what any normal food obsessed person would do, and checked around a few websites to see how the food. Saw a bunch of 4s out of 5, and a 21 on Zagat.  So I was looking forward to giving it a shot, and embarrass Nicole while I eat like a beast in front of her friends.

Once we got on to Greenwich, I knew exactly what place it was. Feel like I passed a couple hundred times, usually going to and from the Meatpacking District. Place has some nice curb appeal, decorated nicely with some plants in the windows. Once you walk in, you see the bar area which was pretty busy – large glass containers filled with their multiple types of sangria concoctions. While in the bar area we were smelling the dishes as they were coming out of the kitchen – in my head I took mental note of what items I should order.

Once we sat, the waiter gave us both their regular menu and Restaurant Week menu. Knowing we would like to do multiple dishes, we decided to go with the regular menu. The girls ordered a pitcher of sangria, and the guys ordered Mahou because Barraca ran out of Estrella. This was actually a nice change, I haven’t had Mahou since my Madrid trip two years ago and always choose Estrella when I see it.

We then began the ordering, and I tried to mask my excitement when everyone ask me to order a few things. We held onto the menus to order again after the first round of items came. The excitement started to drift away once I tasted the food, it wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t great. It was, ‘okay’ at best. Thinking it was just me, I asked Nicole and she described it as ‘just okay’ as well. The best part I would say was the Idiazabal cheese – which says a lot considering I am not a big cheese person.

Below is some of the items we ordered:

The Good

  • Charcuterie Board: We chose Jamon Serrano, Manchego, and Idiazabal. Everything was good, with the smokiness of the Idiazabal making it really standout as my favorite.
  • Suquet: grilled monkfish, clams, mussels, artichokes, shrimp, almond ‘picada’. This was good, went pretty fast since there was five of us. The fish was good, and enjoyed the broth.

The Okay

  • Patatas Bravas: Crispy home fries spicy tomato sauce, and aioli. Pretty good, definitely not as great as the Patatas Bravas at Toro.
  • Croquetas De Jamon: Croquettes with Seranno ham. Its pretty much impossible to mess up a croquette, its potato and fried. Was good, definitely nothing special.
  • Datiles con Bacon: dates wrapped in bacon with blue cheese.
  • Carne a La Brasa: Skirt Steak, salsa verde, fingerling potatoes, roasted shallot, and crispy kale. Was cooked nice and red on the inside, wish I would have ordered this solely for myself.

The Disappointing

  • Calamar a la Plancha: Grilled squid, and possibly one of the worst octopus dishes I have ever had. The presentation looked great, long tentacles with peppers. One bite into it, kind of wish I didn’t. Coming from the Octopus Plancha the other night at Toro, Barraca’s version was extremely disappointing. The seasoning was totally off, some pieces with Mediterranean spices but kind of just tasted like someone threw Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on it.
  • Canelon de Pato: tube pasta filled with duck, duck liver, orange, and manchego cheese. This was pretty bad as well, kind of felt like these were pre-stuffed and sat in a fridge for a while until some unlucky prick ordered it. I would stay away if you end up going to Barraca.

Toro NYC: Tapas, Octopus, Paella, and Churros

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I knew from the beginning, it would be extremely hard to beat last years Valentines Day dinner at Carbone. But, I had a good feeling Toro might be able to do it – or at least get close. Toro definitely impressed me, and I already want to go back.

Last summer we went to Boston for a music festival called Boston Calling. This was held on Memorial Day weekend and included bands such as Bastille, The Neighbourhood, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jack Johnson and Brand New. Before going I spoke to some friends for recommendations – everyone came back mentioning Toro. While eating brunch the next morning at The Beehive (Great Place to check out) the bartender also said “Do not leave Boston until you goto Toro.” So we decided to call up, book a reservation and were told that is not possible. So we decided, let’s go for brunch. While there, we ordered up a storm. We started with the olives, foie gras, patatas bravas, escalivada catalana, and finished the apps up with an order of jamon serrano. We then moved to some egg dishes (since it was around 11:00) and moved to the creme de la creme, duck prosciutto and an order of Asada de Huesos aka Bone Marrow with Oxtail. As you can see from my reviews on Minetta Tavern and Charlie Bird, I hold the marrow from Toro in high regard.

When we got back to Manhattan we all said we need to make it a point to goto Toro over in Chelsea. With everyone’s busy schedules, it seemed difficult to get everyone together to book a reservation. So, I said fuck it – Nicole and I are going for Valentine’s Day. Since the day I made the reservation, I kept thinking about the absurd amount of dishes I would be ordering. Removing the romantic aspects of the day and replacing them with a gluttonous sloppy feast. As we were running around doing errands in the neighborhood, I made us stop at Alidoro to get a sandwich early – and avoid ruining my appetite.

We arrived for our reservation, and once we walked in through the maze of wind-blocking tunnels, I was amazed by the size and decor of the restaurant. There we definitely a nice amount of aspects from their Boston location, such as exposed brick, distressed wood, and open ceilings showing the HVAC system. But, they definitely threw a New York/Meat Packing vibe into the mix, which was beautiful. We spoke with the hostess, which didn’t catch her name, but she was extremely nice and she walked us over to our table. Once we sat down, and looking around, I heard the great soundtrack – some songs of Nas’ Illmatic, some Tribe Called Quest – once again, similar to Charlie Bird, it was awesome to hear some hip-hop with amazing food.

The waiter came over, and we ordered our drinks. Nicole mentioned she was looking for something similar to a Pinot Noir, and he recommended two different ones. Initially she ordered the Bodegas Ponce ‘Pino’ Bobal, which she really enjoyed. After she wet with the Cvne Real, which was a little more Old World and earthy – another winner. I went with the Estrella (couple of Estrella) followed by a Smuttynose ‘Brown Dog Ale’ with dessert.

After the first round of drinks came, we placed our order. I gave the waiter a disclaimer to stop me if ordered to much – but then disregarded it and decided to surpass his ‘rule of thumb’ of 6 plates per two people. Here is our order:

  • Pan Con Tomate: Toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil and sea salt. This dish was so basic, but the pureness of it brought me back to Barcelona. I highly recommend this as a great way to start, and won’t fill you up to much for the other items on the menu.
  • Tuna Tartare: The most amazing thing about this is the way it is listed on the menu “tuna tartare with stuff that we really like“. I mean, come on – how can you not order that? The tuna is served in a anchovies tin – and was delicious. I wanted to order the Tuna Belly initially, and might go with that next time, but the tartare was good.
  • Jamon de Pato: which is aged duck prosciutto, which was great. Nice mix of fat/meat, and was really nice. Tasted even better when I threw it on my Pan con Tomate ***Make that happen***.
  • ColesBrussels sprouts with olive oil and maldon salt. Probably some of the best brussels I had in a long time.
  • Costilla de Carne: Braised beef rib with pigeon peas, farro, and persimmons. This was one of those dishes you will be scraping the dish with your fork, picking up every last molecule of the items. The ribs were nicely cooked, and went extremely well with the farro and peas. I would suggest this if you want some red-meat, but don’t want to fill up on ordering the Chuleta de Buey – which is the 40 Day Dry Aged Rib-eye. **Order this dish**
  • PulpoGalician octopus with potatoes and charred onions. This was one of the best pieces of octopus I have ever tasted. Additionally, I would like to see the size of the octopus this tentacle was cut off – as I immediately yelled in my head, in Liam Neeson’s voice, “Unleash the Kraken!” If I were to take the time to straighten out the tentacle and measure it, I would say it would be 12 inches, thats what she said. Instead, we began to cut this into chunks and devour the Galician Greatness. At first taste I got a bit of a sweet tangy taste, but once I bit threw the charred outside and into the tender inside, I picked up a smokey taste – possible paprika. The potatoes were delicious, kind of looked like mini caramelized scallops and went nicely with the onions and tentacle. Hard to compare with the pulpo from Charlie Bird Noodle Pudding, Rubirosa, or Peasant – since those are more Italian style. This octopus is extremely unique, and I would definitely say this is some premium pulpo,  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS DISH ****
  • Paella Langostino: Lobster and black summer truffle paella. This was the final item of our order, and since we ordered a lot, and I had full intentions of ordering dessert, I decided to go with the half order. This was a great choice, the pan that comes out is a great size for two people who just ate a ton of tapas. The paella was moist, and full of flavor. I highly recommend ordering the half size, which at $45 isn’t too bad considering it is a large portion with lobster and black truffle.
  • Dessert: The semifreddo was good, however the CHURROS WERE AMAZING. These were by far the best churros I have ever had – better than Barcelona, Madrid, and anywhere in Manhattan. They had the perfect blend of cinnamon-sugar, kind of like taking the bottom of the cereal bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It came with a chocolate dipping sauce, which is not even needed. Trust me, Order these Churros.

Charlie Bird: Even Better The Second Time Around

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This past Friday night, I had an 8:30 reservation at Charlie Bird. As you know from my previous article on The Bird – than you know I am a little obsessed with the place. I chose to go here for a small family dinner, both my sister, her boyfriend, and my cousin never ate here – and they were all probably sick of me asking them “Have you gone to Charlie Bird yet?” So I reached out to the team, and they booked me the reservation – and since that day I have been salivating, patiently waiting to eat their delicious food.

Friday morning came around, while at work I ordered lunch at 11:00 and ate a turkey burger on a whole wheat wrap from Certe. I wanted my stomach to be empty for the reservation, nine-and-a-half hours later. I literally sat at my desk punching keyboard keys, with a jovial smile of a kid on Christmas Morning. Now is it normal to get so excited for a restaurant you have been to twice, to most people probably NO, but for me 100%.

We got to the restaurant at 8:20, with my party already at the bar, and the host escorted us to our table. From the minute I walked in I re-remembered one of best  non-food features of Charlie Bird – the soundtrack. Where else can you enjoy fine-dining while listening to Black Street’s No Diggity. Another great feature, the staff. Everyone who works there seems to be extremely happy, and love their job. This definitely carries over to how they handle their guests. From the hosts, to the waiters, to the coat check – excellent service.

Now to the food. To start the meal, and to give these Charlie Bird virgins the true experience – I ordered the Octopus Saltimbocca, Farro Salad, and Razor Clams. We also ordered the Burrata Toast, Lamb Belly, and Bone Marrow. The Octopus was possibly even better than the two previous times I had it. The pieces of tentacles were large, cooked perfectly with a nice char on the outside skin. The prosciutto crispy, and sprinkled along the dish in flakes. Once the octopus was all gone I literally scraped the plate and go every last ceci bean and ounce of sauce like a teenager having the munchies for the first time. The Farro Salad, was great since it had some of the aspects I had while at Charlie Bird over the summer – but with a nice fall/winter twist, roasted pumpkin. To think I went 28 years of my life without eating farro, to eating it for the first time at Charlie Bird – and then craving it ever since – crazy. The razor clams, also were a bit different due to the season. They had fennel and pickeled chili, and were delicious. On to the rest of the appetizers, which were my first time trying. The bone marrow was delicious, and equally as good as Minetta Tavern and Toro, maybe better. The bone marrow was done with anchovies and lemon, but the true highlight was the rich butteriness of the marrow. I think, and still am pretty sure, that I was the only one who ate it – and I devoured every last bit of fatty goodness out of the cavity of the bone. Should also note, the bread they give to spread onto was amazing as well. Next up, the Burrata Toast. I personally am sick and tired of Burrata. Every restaurant has it listed on their specials board every week – and act like they are doing something different from every other place. It’s generally, all the same. However, this Burrata was out if this world. From the first bite it took me back to eating it at one of the stands in the Plaza de San Miguel in Madrid. The cheese was fresh and creamy, with some earthiness from the chanterelles mixed perfectly. Last, my certainly not least, the Lamb Belly, which was done with parsnips and salsa verde. The meat had a nice balance of fat/flavor, if it was a little larger, I would order this as a main course. I have to say, in all the places I have been over the past few months – this might have been the best ordering I have done in a long time. Every dish was amazing, the only issue I was left with was trying to figure out my favorite.

On to the main courses. Out of the five of us two people got the pork shoulder, one bass, one chicken, and I went with the rib eye. We will start with the pork, which got rave reviews from the table, which was done with salsa verde and heirloom beans. My sisters boyfriend, who just spent a few hours on a plane, finished the entire plate with in 3 minutes. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to try this, but I will take his word for it that it was a great dish. The black bass, with broccoli raab, spiced carrots, and citrus au jus was great. The fish was cooked great, with a buttery light taste. The chicken, as you have probably read on every website, is amazing. I could definitely say, with complete confidence, this is the best chicken in all of Manhattan and the five boroughs. I always say it’s a sin to order chicken at a restaurant considering most of them taste the same, or are dried out. Believe the hype, the chicken at Charlie Bird is absolutely amazing. Additionally I would also say the portion was definitely bigger than the fish and pork, so if hungry and between the three – go with the chicken.

For my main course, I was torn between the pork and steak. Going last in the ordering rotation, and seeing that two of the five ordered the pork, I felt the rib eye was definitely the better decision. I could always try their pork (or so I thought) and the server Kalen told me the steak is absolutely delicious, so the Ribeye was the winner. Once the dish came out, I couldn’t believe I ever thought about not getting it. The ribeye, which of course I ordered medium-rare, came out with a chunk of anchovy-butter on top and duck fat potatoes on the bottom. I will say if you are like me, and are not big on anchovies, do not shy away from this dish. Additionally, if you wanted I am sure you could probably get it on the side – but it was so good. The heat from the steak melted he butter, and the saltiness of the anchovy coated the steak. The nicely charred exterior and pinkish-red inside, was so delicious it made steaks I have had recently seem subpar. I really, and truly, am holding this as my new standard for how all steak should be. You could goto Sparks, Ruth Chris, Del Frisco’s, Delmonico’s … and they are all cooked the same, delicious, but the same. Try something different, get with the new age of culinary greatness, and save the old fashion steakhouse for when you fifties – referring to a night out in Manhattan as ‘Date Night’…

Charlie Bird
5 King Street
New York, NY 10012
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Balthazar: Most Disappointing Dinner in Months

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For the past few years I would walk by Balthazar on almost a daily basis. When I didn’t walk by it, I could see the red awnings on the corner of Crosby and Spring as I was running to/from the 6 Train. The place is always bustling, usually with people hanging outside by the entrance waiting for tables. Even when you are not in Soho, it is have to avoid the Balthazar, with their trucks driving around NYC. So last night I made two reservations, one at Saxon + Parole and one at Balthazar. Both have been places I wanted to try for a while, and after eating I regretted my decision.

The Good:

I will start with the waitress’s (Pepper) knowledge of the drink menu. For my first beer, she suggested their Balthazar Ale, which was pretty good. She mentioned it was similar to a Bass – and she was dead on. Always like to try restaurant/bar’s proprietary beers. Not really into the Pale Ale style, but I enjoyed it – however $11.00 for their own beer is a little on the high side. In terms of local Soho Restaurant Beers think Toby’s Public House’s Toby’s Cheap Ale is the better move, and half the price. For the wine, my fiancé asked for something similar to Cab Sav, and the waitress suggested Haut-Medoc, which she really enjoyed.

The fries were really good – which makes sense since this is owned by the same group that owns Minetta Tavern.

The Okay:

For one of our appetizers we chose the Kabocha Squash Risotto, which was served with duck ham, heirloom apples, mascarpone cheese, and pumpkin seed gremolata. This has nice chunks of duck, and all the ingredients went together nicely. The second appetizer we ordered was Chestnut and Ricotta Agnolotti with caramelized fennel, country ham, candied orange zest, and brown butter. This dish was okay, kind of like thinner rectangular raviolis but the orange zest was a little too stronger and overpowered the rest of the flavors. One thing I found strange was that the dishes came out almost within minutes of ordering – which leads me to believe these are pre-made and then just heated up, which if so WHY THE HELL ARE YOU CHARGING $21.00/20.00 per APPETIZER?

One of the mains we ordered the Skate, which was pretty large. My fiancé enjoyed it, came with raisins and pine nuts, which can make anything good.

The Disappointing: 

The Duck Confit! I read so many great things about this online, the waitress said it was great … and I  was really disappointed. The meat, which came over potatoes and mushrooms, was extremely dried out. The skin has no real crisp to it, the only flavor I got from it was burnt dry meat. What made it even worse was I was – I was really looking forward to eating good duck. Over the past few months I have had duck at Dirty French, Gramercy Tavern, PUBLIC, Tao Downtown, Hakkasan – all of which were delicious. After reading all the great things people had to say online, and then trying it – I can only guess maybe it was an off day?

The Bread! One of the other things I was really looking forward to was the famous Balthazar Bread. Their bread is highly regarded as some of the best in the city, so why not get excited. The bread came, my eyes light up, and the taste fell flat. It was nothing special at all. In comparison to somewhere like Il Buco, Peasant …etc Balthazar’s bread was subpar.

The Bill

So for the two glasses of wine, two beers, two appetizers, side of fries, two main courses, and one of their deserts – we are talking $201.00 before tip. I would have much rather spent this elsewhere, and I do not recommend Balthazar to anyone. Don’t buy into the hype, there are dozens of better restaurants in the neighborhood – skip Balthazar.

Roberta’s: This is Probably Going to Be Controversial

Roberta's Restaurant Bushwick

So a few months back, I went over to Bushwick and decided to see what all the Roberta’s hype was about. My cousin, happens to work there, so we figured we would go while she was working and we had her boyfriend meet us there (who now works there also). First of all one of the best things about this place, the Action Bronson playlist. Second, it is extremely hard to tell who works there and who doesn’t. Everyone kind of just floats on by – occasionally asking if you would like something – other times you feel like an idiot because you are trying to get someone’s attention who doesn’t really work there … So after walking in, we sifted through the bar to find the right guy with a beard, mustache, and flannel shirt – and we all sat down to order a bunch of stuff.

First we ordered a bunch of appetizers:

  • Meat/Cheese Board: Good, until someone referred to one of the cheeses as tasting like a ‘foot model’s foot’  – stayed away from that one.
  • Carrots w/ Grilled Mussel and Lime: I have never seen seafood come second to a vegetable, and this truly was some of the best fucking carrots I have ever consumed. I think I was actually against ordering this at the time, considering it was a vegetable, but felt like a dick when I realized how great it was.
  • Duck Prosciutto: I mean, two of my favorite things in one, so you know I had to order it. Great shavings and perfect mix of meat/fat drizzled with some oil and served with warm bread.  Highly suggest this to anyone heading over to Roberta’s. Also, if you are with someone who refuses to try duck – make up some story ‘that it is not really duck, they just call it that because …’.
  • Orecchiette: Pig tail ragu with ‘njuda (spicey pork sausage) with ear shaped pasta. Great to order as an appetizer, before the pizza.

There were a few other dishes that my cousin brought out, all of which were outstanding. Now with this, you are probably thinking the next course, Pizza, would top all of the below. But it didn’t, for me the pizza did not come close to Rubirosa, also would have preferred the white-pie from BEST Pizza. For starters, the crust was okay – not crispy enough and more towards the undercooked soggy feel. Could have been just that night, and next time I would request the pie more well done. Second, some of the toppings are a little out there. I get it, its Brooklyn, and everything that is cool – is also artsy, and a bit avant-grade. But sometimes, you just want something simple – thats what Pizza is, simple food. It is fine to dress it up, but to an extent – adding parsnips, brussel sprouts, kale, carrots … is overkill.

Below is the Pizza we ordered, which were definitely better than average, but to me the appetizers/pasta were definitely the best part of the meal. Some of the pies below are not currently available due to them being seasonal – but they seem to be pretty popular with the Roberta’s Cult. Also, the pies are small – so feel free to order a few so you can try multiple, and see if maybe I am wrong.

  • Margherita: their most basic pie, which was my favorite of the pies.
  • Nightman: Interesting, topped with Vermont cheese, eggplant and tomato.
  • Maiz Maiz: Pizza topped with maize, definitely more towards the out-there end of the spectrum.

I am definitely going to go back to Roberta’s soon and try more of their pies – and I will keep everyone updated.

Siggy’s Good Food: Sometimes You Need to Eat Healthy

You can’t always eat Mac n’ Cheese from Mercer Kitchen, Pizza from Rubirosa, Bagel from Black Seed, and pretty much everything else I eat on a weekly basis. Yes I would love to shove a bite-size sandwich from PARM into my face or a burger from Minetta, but I will inevitably end up fat, broke, and single. Lets face it, unless you are the Fat Jewish or Zach Galifianakis – no body likes a fat person.

So I found the perfect compromise to eating healthy, and stuff that taste great. Up the block on Elizabeth Street, between Houston and Bleecker, is Siggy’s Good Food. For my Brooklyn people, don’t feel left out – there is one in Brooklyn Heights as well. They use organic and locally sourced ingredients to pump out some great food. I generally order the Herbs Beef Stew (description below) or their Beef Ragu Pasta Bowl (also below). They also have burgers, which are presumably healthy – however I feel they use a little too much of the herbs. Despite the seasoning on their burgers, my only complaint would be that they do not have online ordering, which leads to the ancient practice of calling up and ordering.

Below are a few of their items which I have had, and I highly recommend. Check them out, and let me know what you think.

  • Herbs Beef Stew: NY Farm Beef, Lean, Tender & Juicy. Slow Cooked in Mediterranean Herbs & Seasonings in Red Wine Sauce Served with Spinach & Quinoa Grain (Gluten Free)
  • Beef Ragu Pasta Bowl: Tender braised beef in herbs wine & tomato sauce with choice of pasta
  • Organic, Grass Fed Flank Steak Sandwich: with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, green herbs vegan mayo on ciabatta hero.
  • Parsley Hummus Plate: hummus with parsley & garlic topped with paprika & extra virgin olive oil. served with crunchy ciabatta bread.

Minetta Tavern: Best Burger in the World

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So for years I have heard of the infamous Black Label Burger @ Minetta Tavern, usually in the top-five of any Best Burger list. So looking to try not only their coveted, but some other items without paying the hefty price tag – I did what anyone on the Buy Side employee  should do, mention it to one of their brokers, and they will take you. So we scheduled a lunch, invited my boss to gain some brownie points, and the two of us – and the big whigs from [BIG BANK] and headed down to Greenwich Village from our perches on Park Avenue. It was a 2:00 Reservation, and once we sat down I waited for my bosses drink order before I placed mine (always a good idea). The bank asked what we would like to start with, and with complete carte blanche we ordered up a storm. My favorite of the appetizers, Roasted Bone Marrow – until this day, the only time I have had marrow that came close to comparing was TORO Boston. Roasted to a golden perfection, with a butter texture that smeared across the toasted bread they provided. I personally would like to thank the cow that donated it’s shin bones so we could scrape the gelatinous goodness out of. Between the four of us, along with the other appetizers we ordered, we devoured 4 orders of the Roasted Bone Marrow. Now to the main event, The Black Label Burger, which as everyone knows is absolutely amazing. My first bite, I was at a loss for words. Lets start with the meat – comes from one of the finest poureyor of meats, Mr. Pat La Frieda. Prime grade meat, blend of Short Rib, Skirt, Brisket and Dry-Aged Ribeye – which is dry aged and then finished with clarified butter. The only way to show this meat the respect it deserves is to order it up Medium-Rare, anything more would be a mortal sin. The second proponent which should not be overlooked is the caramelized onions. Some say this is done in truffle oil, others the tears of orphans, whatever is in them is nothing short of culinary genius. So take the meat, then add a healthy helping of these onions – which is then place on one of the best buns I have ever consumed. One thing I do not think gets enough praise – the fries. I am a sucker for skinny fries thats are perfectly salted – especially when they are given in massive quantities.

You would think after all that I would have a sense of accomplishment to which I could then move on. Wrong, a few weeks later I took my fiancé to Minetta. We had a 6:00 Sunday Reservation, and she was a little hesitant – which probably could have been due to the fact that she hasn’t had red meat in close to a decade. We happened to be out one day, and she mentioned how much she used to love burgers and loves the smell, so if I was going to reintroduce her – I had to do it the right way.

So she ordered their Pinot Noir, which was from Oregon, and great. I ordered an Arrogant Bastard, and we began the food ordering. We went with two of their specials, and although I would have loved to have her try the marrow – I was happy enough she was ordering the Black Label Burger and trying meat. The Verdict: She liked it a lot, she ate a half – which left me eating 1 1/2  Black Label Burgers, which quickly became one of the best eating days of my life.

Minetta_Tavern_Burger_Conquest_George_Motz_051813_5719

Bianca: Northern Italy, Without Passing Bleecker St

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When I first moved into Nolita, people told me about a small place named Bianca. Being young and arrogant, I refused to go due to their no reservation policy. Well I was an idiot, because since I went the first time – I went two more times.

This is the food that people think about when they say they want to try Italian Food in Italy – not the shit they actually eat when they visit Rome. I have long said, cuisine that hails from Emilia-Romagna is the best. I mean this section of Italy is blessed with Parma (Yes, where prosciutto comes from) and Modena (Balsamic Vinegar), just to name a few. There is actually an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain and Michael White drive around in Ferraris (also from this region) and eat at small places – find it on Netflix.

So back on track, Bianca. When you get to Bianca you will put your name down with the person at the door, and they will most likely tell you to goto the bar next door – which I think has no name on it, and is only in business due to Bianca’s popularity. The bar has an ATM, which you may need since Bianca is cash only. Have a drink, and wait for the person from next door to grab you for your table. When you walk into Bianca, you will notice it kind of feels like you are sitting in your grandmother’s kitchen – don’t worry, she is not there waiting to hit you with a wooden spoon.

Above I mentioned the place is cash only, but I didn’t mention how reasonably priced the menu is. The last time we went, the four of us were supposed to goto Rubirosa but they were packed, and I suggested Bianca. For $200.00 total, we had 5 Appetizers, 4 Main Courses, 3 Desserts, and oh yea 2 Bottles of Nero d’Avola.

Below are some of the highlight dishes I remember from trips there – it’s actually a surprise I remember much due to the amount of wine consumed – but the food is that awesome. It is authentic Italian, which sometimes is rare to come by…

Appetizers:

  •  Gnocco Fritto: Fried piggy dough Rectangles with Imported Cold Cuts or Stracchino Cheese
  • Saute di Cone: Mussels Sauteed with White Wine and Garlic
  • Carciofi Fritti: Fried Baby Artichokes with Crispy Parsley ***DEFINITELY ORDER

Mains:

  • Ravioli di Ricotta con Burro e Salvia: Butter and Sage
  • Lasagna: Bechamel and Meat Sauce
  • Brodetto di Pesce: Adriatic Fish and Shellfish Stew
  • Starccetti di Manzo: Pan-Seared Thin Slice of Filet Mignon with Rosemary ***DEFINITELY ORDER

Bianca
5 Bleecker Street (Between Elizabeth and Bowery)
http://biancanyc.com/home.html

 

 

Apizz: Great Italian Food in the Lower East Side

As mentioned in my article on Mercer Kitchen, I hate going to the same places and I hate ordering the same thing twice. But like I have always said, Apizz is definitely an exception to those feelings. Apizz (pronounced ah-beets) is located over on Eldridge, and one of the places I always recommend when people are looking for good Italian food around the Lower East Side. Everyone assumes they will goto dinner, and then go out after – but trust me , you will be stuffed.

The first time I went to Apizz, it was a few weekends after my fiancé and her cousins went for the first time. They all came back raving about it and telling me how much I would love it. So, I decided to book a reservation. Let me start by saying, any restaurant that brings out ricotta and sauce with their bread (Peasant and Bacaro, as well) automatically gains a spot in my favorite restaurants. So we started with a few appetizers, Apizz Rocket Pizza and Insalata di Polpo. The pizza which is about maybe 12″ long and 6″ wide, came topped with arugula, prosciutto, parmigiano, and fresh mozzarella. All the ingredients complimented each other nicely, with them definitely not skimping on the beautiful meat from Parma. The polpo was good, not my favorite surprisingly – could have just been an off day though.  Then for the mains my fiancé was torn between the Lobster Risotto and the Skate, which I could tell up until the entrees came she still was debating which was the better choice. She chose the Skate, which she had a few weeks prior when she went with the girls and couldn’t stop talking about it. The skate was filleted, with white wine, breadcrumbs, and potatoes. The fish really soaked up the lemon flavor along with the other seasonings, with the capers being a nice added touch. I have to admit, she was completely correct about how delicious this fish was – and I am not a flounder, fluke, sole ..etc kind of person. Now the waiter, who could tell she was between both dishes has the kitchen whip up a small order of the Lobster Risotto so we could try it. When I say small, it was not small – it was enough in size to be featured at another restaurant with a $40.00 price tag. The dish was amazing, creamy and possibly the best risotto I have had in ages. I still cannot believe the waiter did that for us, I really made the experience even better then it already was.

Now, my main course – which was the best gnocchi dish of 2014, the Short Rib Gnocchi. The plate of pasta is massive, so much pasta and meat it could fill up Chris Christie prior to his Lap-Band operation (also, check out the video of him celebrating Dallas’ win the other night). The sauce is so different, it only compares to sauce I had in Croatia – which they refer to as ‘dirty sauce’ due to its spreads of beef and cinnamon. The ragu is filled with the ribs, and boasts a dark red almost brown color. Each bit you taste the hints of honey used while they braise their short ribs. To describe how much I love this, and to put it into terms you would understand, I have been to Apizz three times – I ordered this as my main course ALL THREE TIMES. I can guarantee you, other than Spaghetteria Toni in Dubrovnik, you will not taste a sauce like this.

Now, as I mentioned above – I have been there three times before, below is a few dishes I think you should checkout and order.

Appetizers:

  • Pera con Prosciutto: Pears, Prosciutto, Walnuts, Shaved Parmigiano-Romano, and Balsamic Glaze.
  • Gambero: Lemon/Garlic Shrimp with chorizo and breadcrumbs
  • Quatro Formaggi: White Pie, amazing blend of the four cheeses.
  • L.E.S Special: Flatbread pizza with chorizo, onions, and fresh mozzarella – GET THIS FLATBREAD.

Main Courses:

  • Razza: Skate, mentioned above
  • Short Rib Gnocchi: Also mentioned above, don’t be an idiot – ORDER THIS.
  • Ravioli Con Zucca: Open faced ravioli, ricotta, mascarpone, caramelized butternut squash, with browned butter and sage – DELICIOUS.

Also, Apizz was created by Frank Decarlo – one of the partners of Peasant and Bacaro. So with the above, and the amazingness of the other two restaurants, you should feel 100% comfortable with the fact that you will have a great dinner leaving completely satisfied and stuffed.

Lunch in Midtown: Dig Inn Seasonal Market

Definitely good to switch it up here and there when ordering food to your desk, working through lunch, and watch the time slowly go by. So on Seamless I order a few different things from Dig Inn, which according to their site are ‘locally sourced, and reasonably price’. Here is what you should order from them, which is possible via Seamless.

  • BRAISED BEEF: Comes with two sides, and pretty much shreds apart like pulled pork. The dish is pretty healthy, and I usually order it with SICILIAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER W/ CHICKPEAS and BROCCOLI W/ ROASTED GARLIC & ALMONDS.
  • SPICY MEATBALLS: Lucky for me, its not that spicy so I am able to order this regularly – also comes with sides, try it with FALL COUSCOUS W/ LOCAL BUTTERNUT SQUASH

With ten locations throughout NYC, including both Midtown and Downtown, you should be within their delivery range – so check them out on Seamless and place your  order.

Mercer Kitchen: Second Time Around, Same Delicious Food w/ Subpar Service

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Going to start off by saying I hate going to the same restaraunt  (with the exception of Grey Dog, Rubirosa, Parm… Etc) and I especially hate people who order the same thing twice (with the exception of  the Short Rib Gnocchi at Apizz). That being said, I returned to Mercer Kitchen for the second time, ordered The Mercer Burger again, and added more blockage to my arteries by stuffing my face with their fries and Mac and Cheese – again. With a combination of that, plus a Stone Brewing Company Levitation Ale, it was a pretty nice way to start off my Sunday.

To move away from the feeling of Groundhog Day, we decided to go with the Peekytoe Crab Fritters and the Warm Salad of Squash. The crab was an awesome way to change it up, perfectly fried up and full of taste. The crab balls come with a side of aioli which just looked like a bowl of mayo – and due to a childhood phobia or mayo – I did not fuck with it. The fritters were good enough as is, would order again. The Squash Salad came with a few clumps of squash (kind of more like mashed-potato style) with Pecorino Romano shavings and some strips of prosciutto, then finished with balsamic vinegar. At first wasn’t crazy about the idea or ordering this because it had the word ‘salad’ in the name – but that feeling went away once I started scooping it up like ice cream.

So sounds like an awesome meal so far, different/out of the normal appetizers, juicy burger… But it wasn’t, the meal was kind of ruined by the staff – whom only were attentive when I received the bill and was about to leave a tip… Frustrating.

To begin, we arrived one time for our 2:00 pm reservation – and the host said the table will be ready shortly. After hanging out at the bar, they tried to seat us at the communal tables – which bothers me. Communal tables should only be for walk-ins, sitting with 3 inches of space on each side of your elbows isn’t the best way to eat trying to enjoy while some girl with a Nassau County accent who just moved into Murray Hill speaks about how she is ‘over kale‘. Than we were seated – and the waiter didn’t come over for approximately 20 minutes – which I could understand due to the place being busy. Once we ordered the drinks, we didn’t see him or our drinks for another 20 minutes. When we finally ordered, we ate our appetizers and finished up our drinks. Waiter never came back to the table to ask if we would like another round of drinks (didn’t see him until the check came). You would think with alcohol having such a high profit margin, which would in turn increase the bill, and in so facto his tip, he would ask – but that didn’t happen. We asked the runners for a drink menu, which never came. Then the Mac and Cheese, one of my favorite items on the menu comes out – Ice Cold. Add in waiting another 20 for the check to come, it definitely put a few negative thoughts in my head.

Would I go back again, probably not – not because of the service but because I have been there twice already. Would I recommend, definitely. The food is delicious, it has a great atmosphere, and it is in Soho – win/win scenario. My experience with the service may have been an one-off, and I would like to say the last time I went for dinner, it was perfect. So go, check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

 

Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince Street (Corner of Mercer)
New York, NY 10013
www.themercerkitchen.com

Charlie Bird: The Obsession Continues

Charlie Bird

Back about a year ago, the Whythe Hotel hosted one of the best days of my life – Prosciutto di Parma Palooza. At this amazing event, different chefs from all over NY had to make a dish that evolves around everyone’s favorite pork product. To name a few, Danny Bowien w/ Mission Chinese (at the time), Sara Jenkins  of Porchetta/Porsena, and the people of Charlie Bird. Although all dishes were great (second favorite, was Porchetta) my vote for Charlie Bird helped them grab the trophy for the best dish. What did they make? Octopus Saltimbocca w/ Prosciutto  and Ceci Beans.

Now, for months after I have been meaning to go and eat in their actual restaurant. However, that became increasingly difficult. In November 2013, EATER named Charlie Bird the presitigious Restaurant of the Year – beating out Carbone, Estela, The Elm, and Betony. Chances of getting a reservation at a decent time was like trying to get into NYU with a GMAT score of 400 – unless you know someone. So, I went for lunch – and I ordered up a storm:

To Start

  • Farro Salad w/ Mint and Pastaschio  *****
  • Razor Clams w/ Fennel *****
  • Octopus Saltimbocca ***** (you probably saw that coming)

Main Course

  • Veal Pastrami Salad ***** (I had no idea you could do that with Veal – DOPE)
  • Grilled Long Island Squid ****

Sides

  • Carmelized Cauliflower *****
  • French Fries w/ Rosemary *****

So that was the food, which was one of the best meals I ate all year. Now, the music – best soundtrack I have heard in a long time. There is a nice mix between Nas, The Beastie Boys, and Run DMC. The staff is completely down to earth, especially considering they are one of the best restaraunts in NYC. I think everyone should check out Charlie Bird, and if you don’t like it – you don’t know food.

If only I had a connection to get reservations whenever I wanted …

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From the Good People at Major Food Groups, Dirty French (Spoiler: F***ing Awesome)

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With the exception of ZZ’s Clam Bar, Dirty French was the only Major Food Groups establishment I did not stuff my face at. That all changed a few weeks back when my girlfriend turned another year older. Going into it, read some negative reviews on Eater and other foodie websites – which bothered me, but we didn’t let that jade our opinions. We had a Friday night reservation at 8:30 (Thanks Katie) which was the 2014 equivalent of Patrick Bateman getting a table @ Dorsia, so I owe my friends at Parm big time. Thought it would be hard for us to top our Valentines Day date @ Carbone – this is equally great, possibly better. Do yourself a favor – call up their reservations hotline and make a reservation.

Below is the play-by-play of what we ordered – and I highly recommend getting it all (with the exception of broccoli gratin – was okay but nothing special). You will see the asterisks next to each item, they are my shitty rating system due to not being computer literate – 5 Stars (* * * * *) is the highest mark something can get. Keep in mind there was two of us, and she is tiny …

To Start

  • Half Dozen Grilled Island Creek Oysters * * * * *  (Probably one of the best things I have ever ate)
  • Jamon Special w/ bread and Jam * * * *
  • Tuna Tartare w/ Birdseye Chili and Crepe * * * * *

Main Course

  • En Papillote: Black Basss w/ Clams and Pistou * * * * *
  • Duck al Orange * * * * *

Sides

  • Bacon (Thick Cut) * * * *
  • Pommes Frites * * * *
  • Brocoli Gratin  * *

Dessert

  • Beignets * * * *
  • Gateau * * *

Dirty French
180 Ludlow Street (Ludlow Hotel)
New York, NY

 

Website: www.dirtyfrench.com
Yelp: Yelp Dirty French
Zagat: Zagat Dirty French
OpenTable: Make Reservation

The Smith: Best Option for NYE

Let’s face it, New Years Eve might be one of the worst holiday’s to go out. It is almost as big of an amateur hour as Thanksgiving Eve. For these two horrible events, you can usually come across an ‘Open Bar’ which becomes so pack, within the 4 hour time-frame, you have possibly 3 drinks. A few years back, me and a few friends decided to say screw the bar/club scene and lets goto The Smith. For $135/per person you get Full Open Bar (10:00pm-1:00am) along with food – choice of one appetizer, one main, and one dessert. For additional you can order some oysters, sides, other options. My suggestion, pickup their Mac and Cheese and Pretzel for the table. I personally would suggest the East Village location since the crowd is generally better, and I hate passing 14th Street for non-work activities.

The Smith: East Village

55 East 3rd Street (Between 10th and 11th)

 

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Bacaro: Think Peasant in an Italian Dungeon

imageWe went to Peasant a few weeks back, after wanting to go for a long time, and we really loved it. We knew we would, I have been tracking the menu changes for the past year – but more on that in my post for Peasant. Before I got engaged I looked into renting out the bottom floor of il Buco and Peasant – and stumbled across Bacaro. People always ask me, how is it living in Chinatown – which I don’t not consider Nolita being Chinatown – especially after walking to Division Street and Canal. This is real Chinatown, but tucked in there is one of my new favorites, which being related to Peasant I should have guessed this would have been the verdict.

First thoughts, from looking at the pictures I thought the downstairs was only for private parties or large groups. Didn’t realize it was pretty much the majority of the restaurant – and after walking past the building with no sign – we made our way down. The basement cellar was really nice, and made you feel like you were back in the Catacombs in Italy. The name, Bacaro, comes from the Venetian spubs which serve small dishes – think Italian Tapas. This place definitely got it right.

I have been wanting to go here as well for a while, but due to the limited menu on their website I would always cancel the reservation since we would be going with people who aren’t as open to trying new foods. This time it was just me and the fiancé (yea that happened) and we were ready to order some food with no people complaining. We started with the Razor Clams (Amazing – breadcrumbs and peppers), Artichoke Special (cheese with a great broth, dip some bread in it) and the Fried Oysters. The first two were amazing, really fresh and done correctly. The Fries Oysters, weren’t my favorite. Instead of being fried and crispy – they were more similar to a fried Oreo or Zeppoli. With all the batter, makes it hard to really taste the oyster. Wasn’t bad, just not my favorite.

Main courses, we split the Pasta in Duck Ragu, and the Garlic Shrimp over Polenta. Both dishes were fucking delicious. I will start with the Duck Ragu, didn’t realize until just now the pasta was whole wheat. It was so good, I would have bet my bonus it was regular pasta. Served up al dente with a chunky red sauce with nice pieces of duck swimming in the bowl. Complete bowl was scraped clean, any remaining bread was used to soak up whatever sauce was left. Next the garlic shrimp, which was amazing as well. Came with six shrimp, cooked perfectly with great seasoning. The polenta was a perfect side dish, was creamy and easy to scoop up the shrimp, sauce, and polenta in each bite. Think at one point I might have licked the plate. We held one menu in case we wanted to order some more, and I definitely could have ordered one more item because everything was great. Decided to go with flour less chocolate cake, surprise – it was great as well.

Bacaro has a nice wine list, saw many names which I saw from Peasant. We went with a carafe of Pinot Nero and I had three Menabrea Ambers (my favorite beer since I came back from Italy a few years back). So for the three appetizers, two mains, drinks, cake and double espresso – total bill 127.38! Great value for such amazing food.

I highly suggest this place and put it on my recommend list. Definitely an awesome first date spot – great atmosphere, great food, great drinks menu – and if you don’t like the girl, you at least have a great meal for relatively cheap.

The Rubirosa Chronicles: Clam Pie

Back a few years ago, I landed from Madrid Airport, dropped off my luggage and went straight to Rubirosa. This was the first and only time I had their ‘Razor Clam Pie’ which I than talked about to every single person I knew once the topic of pizza came up. This than turned into me calling on a daily basis to check to see if they had the specialty pie. In August, I threw a tweet up stating I would trade my first child if Rubirosa brought back the Clam Pie – on 10/30 my prayers were answered when they tweeted me back ‘Ask and you shall receive. Clam Pizza is back …”

We tried to go that following Sunday, but the place was packed and the wait was  closed to two hours. So we tried again the following Thursday thanks to some help (Thanks J.) and we sat down with two other couples who heard for years how they will some day have the best pizza of their life, the clam pie @ Rubirosa. We started with my usual order of starters:

Appetizers:

  • Bracciole * * * * *
  • Octopus * * * * *
  • Rubirosa Antipasto * * * * *
  • Fried Calamari * * * *

From their we moved on to the main event – Clam Pie, along with the Classic Tie Dye Pie. So it wasnt the same as the one I had back a few years ago, this was a straight up clam pie in garlic and white wine sauce – and it was dope. If this moved from a special to a daily pie, I would actually even be there more than I already am, The only thing I can compare it to is Lee’s Tavern in Staten Island (Google It) – which up until this point was the best white clam pie I ever ate. When it was all said and done, Rubirosa – as i expected, was the undesputed champion.

If you have never been to Rubirosa, do yourself a favor order the appetizers i mentioned above and if they do not have the Clam Pie order yourself a Tie-Dye and a Vodka pie. TRUST ME.

RUBIROSA Ristorante
235 Mulberry Street (Btw Spring and Prince)
New York NY 10013

 

Website:  www.rubirosanyc.com
Yelp: Yelp Rubirosa
Zagat: Zagat Rubirosa
Open Table: Make Reservation

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The Eggshop: Sometimes You Just Need Some Eggs

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When i first moved into Nolita, the one thing I realized is there was no where to buy a old school bacon, egg and cheese – which is frustrating. Then a few months back, THE EGG SHOP opened! Before it was this my new home, it was Piex which pretty much gave me the worst stomach pains – I almost didn’t make it the 73 steps back to my apartment to avoid ruining a pair of pants. Now thats gone …

So back to The Egg Shop, it was started by two self-proclaimed ‘Egg-Heads’ and it is awesome. I have been there three times (once I went in to take-out due to being hungover) and the other two times sitting down like a decent human-being. I haven’t had one thing I didn’t like yet, and I have not one complaint. The photo above is from the first time we went, which as you can see for the two of us – we ordered a lot. Below are the items I had, and that I recommend. Next time you are looking for a great breakfast sandwich – check them out.

Some of What I Ate, and What You Should Eat:

EGGSHOP B.E.C: BROKE YOLK, SHELBURNE CHEDDAR, BLACKFOREST BACON, TOMATO JAM, FRESH PICKLED JALAPENO, PANINI ROLL

THE BEAST: PULLED PORK CARNITAS, SUNNY UP, FRESH CILANTRO, PICKLED ONION, CHIPOTLE BOURBON KETCHUP, FRENCH HERO

PEPPER BOY: SOFT SCRAMBLE, GRUYERE, BELL PEPPER,MAPLE CURED PEPPER BACON, CARAMELIZED ONION AIOLI, (IN A BELL PEPPER OR ON A PANINI ROLL)

STEAK AND EGG : GRASS FED TENDERLOIN, SUNNY UP, CHIMI-CHILI, FARM GREENS, FRENCH HERO

EL CAMINO :POACHED EGG, AVOCADO, PULLED PORK CARNITAS, TOMATO, FRIED TORTILLA, CILANTRO

FRENCH TOAST: RONNY BROOK CHOCOLATE CREAM, FRESH BERRIES, MAPLE SYRUP

Also, while you are there – order some sides:

FRIED CHICKEN
HASHBROWNS
BUTTERMILK BISCUIT WITH HONEY BUTTER
BACON
Instagram: @EggShopNYC
151 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012

Went Twice in one Week: Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina

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Known also as Rana NYC, we came across this venue to throw a private party in the near future. The first time we went, we sat down and had a full dinner (details and ratings below). The second time we went we brought both my family, and the girlfriends family (first meeting of the families) for brunch. Not sure if we mentally convinced ourselves we liked the food so much because we were excited to throw a party there – we used all thirteen of them as judges on the food and atmosphere the second time around. Final Survey – everyone thought the food was great, and they really liked the atmosphere. There is a pretty large list of things we ate, and our rating (best score 5 stars, i.e. * * * * *). Also wanted to mention, they make the pasta daily – and have huge selection of raviolis…

Dinner (First Time, just the two of us)

  • Rock Shrimp Bruschetta * * * *
  • Crostini Trio * * * (Best thing was the truffle honey)
  • Buratta * * * *

 Main Course

  • Eggplant Ravioli * * * *
  • Chili Pork Sausage Ravioli * * *
  • Squid Ink Pasta * * * *

Dessert

  • Chocolate Ravioli * * * * *
  • Tiramisu * * * *

 Brunch (w/ the family)

  • Crispy Cauliflower * * * *
  • Charcuterie Board * * * *
  • Ravioli Carbonara * * *
  • Cappelletti al Proscuitto * * * *
  • Scrambled Egg w/ Proscuitto * * * *
  • Rana Benedict * * *
  • Pandoro French Toast * * * * * (Best I ever Had)
  • Steak and Eggs * * * * *

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina
75 9th Avenue (Chelsea Market – 9th & 16th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
Website: www.RanaNYC.com
Zagat: Zagat Rana NYC
Yelp: Yelp Rana NYC
Open Table: Make Reservation Here

Carbone – On Valentines Day, My Reservation Game is on Point.

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One of My Favorite Restaurant in Manhattan. Any negative review you see on here is due to people complaining about the money – but trust me it is worth every penny. 

Purposely didn’t eat all day to prepare for the below dinner, so here is a step by step guide to what to order.

Before You Order Complimentary:

  • Prosciutto (5/5)
  • Cauliflower (4/5)

Appetizer:

  • Octopus Pizzaiolo (5/5): By far the best Octopus I have ever ate.
  • Meatballs (5/5): Better than my grandmother’s

Pasta:

  • Spicy Rigatoni (5/5): Usually never would order something like penne vodka at a restaurant but the waiter recommended it and it was incredible.

Sides:

  • Squash Agrodolce (5/5): Extremely hard to describe, but it is served with mascarpone and ridiculous.

Main Course:

  • Ribeye Diana (5/5): Cooked medium-rare smothered in rosemary out of the charcoal grill.
  • Zuppa di Pesce (5/5): Once again, best I ever ate and unlike any other zuppa di pesce I have ever tasted. If you like clams, muscles, and calamari – you need to order it.

Wine:
Sommelier recommended a great bottle of ‘Comptche Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County CA’ went great with the meal and was worth every dollar.

Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes
Website: http://carbonenewyork.com
Yelp: Carbone on Yelp
Open Table: Make Reservation Here

181 Thompson St.
New York, NY 10012