Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not Quite Rosy at the Modern

We had some friends come to visit last week and we ended up in Midtown doing some of the obligatory tourist things. We walked around Tiffany's and stopped by Central Park to enjoy the nice weather.

After a few hours we decided we needed to stop and grab a drink. We were right near the Museum of Modern Art so we decided to stop in at the bar for a cocktail. We figured we could kill two birds with one stone- they could say they were at the museum (kind of!) and we could have a break from walking.

Upon entering the Modern I loved the open and airy decor. There really isn't much as far as decoration is concerned is just very well....modern looking.

We sat down and looked at the cocktail list and the Coming up Roses cocktail caught my eye. The cocktail was described as having Rose Petals, Lime, Rosewater, Bacardi razz and Champagne. Fantastic I thought.

We ordered our drinks and as we talked the bartenders got to work in front of us. They brought out the beers and my friends drink and then began to work on my cocktail.

Here's the thing. As my cocktail was being made the 2 bartenders began to get into quite a discussion about something going on at the restaurant. As they were talking the one bartender took the bottle of Bacardi Razz and literally filled the glass almost to the top with the liquor.

When I tasted my cocktail it was so strong my mouth was on fire. Mr T tried it and summed it up perfectly "It tastes like an old woman's perfume".

I usually would have sent it back but the staff was back again in an intense television discussion and I didn't feel like trying to get their attention again when I should be enjoying time with my out-of-town friends.

So not everything was Rosy at the Modern for me at least....

Return to Resto

So we returned to Resto for dinner with friends on Thursday night. It was a lot more crowded than it was for brunch and we couldn't even get a seat at the bar. The tin ceilings make it quite loud and it was difficult to here everyone once we got seated. Our waiter ended up being the same guy we had at brunch and once again we had excellent service.

They have such a fantastic Belgian beer list it was difficult to choose just one. I decided to have the Corsendonk Brown which was a good choice. It was really malty but surprisingly light for a 7.8% beer.

For my appetizer I got the special Heirloom Tomato and Bacon salad which was the highlight of the meal. It was so fresh and tasty.

Other appetizers were the deviled eggs, sausage special and double cooked pork. The sausage was nothing special but the pork was quite tasty. The deviled eggs on the other hand were the most fattening things I think I've ever eaten. Grease was literally dripping from the toast they were sitting on. I felt like I had just poured a tub of lard down my throat.

Instead of a main course I decided to get two more appetizers. The first was the Lobster Croquette.

These were alright. The green sauce it came with was interesting but nothing special. I honestly would not have remembered this dish if I hadn't take a picture. Nothing bad- just nothing to great either.

The other appetizer I will always remember unfortunately- the lamb ribs.

Here's the thing. a friend had ordered them as their appetizer and loved them. Full of meat and really tasty looking. Mine came and while they looked the same, all three ribs were fat. I mean ONLY fat- no meat in any! I was with Mr. T's work friends so I didn't send it back for fear of embarrassing him.

I'm still unsure what I feel about Resto. It has great potential but the food is very heavy. I think I will be back for beers at the bar and brunch but that's probably about it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Resto Brunch

So I had 2 wonderful friends visit me this weekend and we spent our Saturday night catching up over many great beers at Zum Schnieder and DBA. We woke up on Sunday at 1:00!! I haven't slept that late in ages! We were not feeling too hot to say the least and needed a good brunch to recover.

We didn't want to travel far so I suggested just walking up to Penelope. As we got about a block away, we could already see the line of people waiting outside. We decided to make a detour and headed to Resto.

We walked in and got a great table in the back. The place was full but not packed. We all felt like a little hair of the dog would make us feel better so we got some mimosas.

My friend got a regular one with fresh squeezed orange juice.

The acidity of OJ always bothers my stomach so I got one with pineapple juice. This was one of the best mimosas I've ever had.

For my meal I decided to get the Egg White Frittata.

This was the first fritatta I'd ever eaten. It was good but boring. It just needed something more. Eating a big thing of egg whites isn't too satisfying. If they had put some meat or cheese inside it would have been better.

Mr. T opted for their burger which has gotten some high ratings from the food critics in NYC.

At first glance the burger looked small and uninteresting. What it actually was so though was rich and decadent. The meat is composed of hanger steak, beef cheek and fatback. The result is something so intense in flavor that Mr. T couldn't even come close to finishing the burger.

Our other entree I think was the overall winner- the Croque Madame.

This came with Vermont ham and Gruyere cheese. It was tasty and filling. A perfect brunch item that I would go back for in a minute.

I really liked Resto. We actually are meeting friends there for dinner on Thursday so we'll see how it goes. They have tons of Belgian beers I'm excited to try and the dessert looks amazing!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Le Croque- L'Express

L'Express has been on our restaurant to do list for about 6 years now. When Mr. T first came to the city to look for apartments the broker took him by this place. He enticed him to the neighborhood with the incentive of a 24 hour restaurant at all times. I guess he figured a young couple like us would be hitting up the bar scene right away, needing food at all hours of the night.

Bless you broker, for believing that a junior software developer and a non-for-profit social worker could afford a night out on the town, much less have money for food afterwards!

In fact, the largest expense our first year in the city was on a set of ping pong balls! We would take the train down to Kmart and pick up a couple cheap 12 packs of beer and then come back to our apartment and play beer pong. Our apartment had no furniture, so we would sit on the floor of our living room and bounce the ball back and forth trying to land it in a cup of beer.

This was a great cheap way to pass the weekend until we discovered our superintendent lived below us. It seems he didn't appreciate the tap, tap, tapping sound coming from his ceiling every Friday night and our games soon ended.

Now we are much older and have more money (or maybe just more credit cards?) and L'Express has become a reliable neighborhood joint for us. We didn't feel like going out so we decided to order a Croque Monsieur in.

This sandwich is amazing. Look at all that cheese!!! The bread itself is so fresh I wouldn't be surprised if they made it daily. It's nice they give you a huge salad with the sandwich so you don't feel so bad about eating all that artery clogging cheese.

This croque is one of the best in the city. If they put maybe one more slice of ham inside it would be perfect but other than that this is a great sandwich.

If you're new to the city and broke- splurge the $10 for this sandwich. I'm sure it would taste great after a night of beer pong!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

One Day of Living Large

Since Mr. T's birthday fell on a Tuesday this year so we didn't get a chance to celebrate with his family until the weekend. First of all, Mr. T is pretty lucky as this would officially be his 3rd birthday dinner. My birthday is coming up in Septmeber so you'd better believe I've got 3 places picked out!

Since we were having an early dinner we meet up at Landmarc in the Time Warner center at 4:00. The TWC is famous formany upscale resturants such as Per Se and Masa. Landmarc is one of the newest additions to the mall.

Although most of the tables were filled we easily scored some seats at the bar. Landmarc is basically shaped like a rectangle with one side facing the mall and two sides with large windows that look out onto the streets of Manhattan.

Unfortunately the tall buildings right next door blocked much of the sunlight and I found Landmarc to be a little too dark. I noticed our bartender seemed a little depressed and I wondered if it was because of the lack of sunlight on, what was a gorgeous bright summer day.

That being said, the lack of light was my only small complaint, I really enjoyed everything else about the place. Directly behind the bar was the open kitchen which added a great vibe to the room. It was fun to sit and watch the food being cooked. The burgers they were making were enormous and smelled wonderful! Mr T's mom and I couldn't seem to stop staring at them and probably would have ordered one if we didn't have a huge dinner coming up.

The best part of Landmarc had to be the wine though.

Landmarc has an extensive wine list that includes both half and full bottles of wine at extremely reasonable prices. This is a great place to come with a group of friends and try out some different types of wines without breaking the bank.

I was excited to see they had the Dashwood Sauvignon Blanche from New Zealand on the menu. I love this wine and at $14 for a half bottle it's a bargain! It really worked out to being about $4-$5 a glass! This was $4.00 cheaper than the wine we had the other night at a local pub(Jake's Saloon- don't ever go!) You won't find a better option in the area.

Since we were so happy with prices here you would think we would have stayed for a couple of bottles of wine, right? Well.....

Instead we thought- hey we just saved so much money, we can afford to splurge a little on a drink in the Mandarin Orientals bar next door! So we headed over.

I was excited because I had never been inside the hotel. It was absolutely gorgeous. We took the elevator to the top floor and where the lobby is located. This is the view from the Lobby Lounge.

Wow- It was stunning. Huge windows overlooking the park and Columbus circle. It was really spectacular. Views like these don't come cheap though. The drink menu was a tad more expensive than Landmarc! I decided to order some sort of Peach Martini and Mr. T's dad had a Rob Roy.

Behold our (gasp) $17 cocktails!

Yum! Just looking at the picture makes me want to go back and get one. It was a fantastic cocktail! There was definitely lots of alcohol inside but it didn't taste strong at all. If I was rich I would drink these babies all night! Maybe this is why Lindsay Lohan has so many problems.

I wish I could say this was the most expensive cocktail I have ever had but alas, this is New York and there are more than a few spots that charge this much or more for a cocktail. We went to the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel on Mother's Day and cocktails were $20 a piece! I remember the good old days going to their bar with my parents and getting a beer for $5. How things change...

Anyway back to events at hand. Every table in the Lobby Lounge had a bowl of floating flowers on it that were absolutely beautiful.

They also brought over some black olives for us to much on while we drank that came with some very spicy tortilla chips.

Since I knew I wouldn't be able to afford coming back here for a while I decided to make the most of it and scoped the rest of the place out. Of course this means checking out the bathrooms. They did not disappoint!

This is a picture of just the sinks. Everything inside was marble and so clean the tiles were literally gleaming. I had pictures of the rest of the bathroom but they seemed to have gone missing. If I can find them I will certainly post them here because these really were fantastic bathrooms.

In the end, Mr T's parents ended up picking up the check which was incredibly generous! When I win the lottery or start rolling in the dough for my famous food blogging abilities I'll definitely be returning the favor!

Note to self- buy more lotto tickets.

After our cocktails we walked over for our dinner. Nobu 57 is the newest of the NYC Nobu restaurant's and the most impressive as far as space and decor are concerned. There were barrels of sake piled in the corners and bamboo covering various parts of the wall. Where the other Nobu restaurants go for a minimalistic approach, this place was going for fun and trendy. It definitely hit the mark.

We decided to order a bunch of plates and share everything family style. We started out with Yellowtail sashimi with Jalapeno.

The jalapeno gives just the right kick to the silky smooth taste of the sashimi. People always kind of knock Nobu for focusing too much on their hot dishes and not enough on their sushi and sashimi. After trying this dish I highly disagree because in my opinion it was flawless.

Our second dish was the King Crab tempura "Mazu". This was probably one of my favorite dishes of the night. The crab was cooked with a very light batter and the ponzu sauce was great for dipping the creamy crab into.

We followed up the crab with two orders of rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce. This was the only dish I was a little disappointed in. This used to be what I always ordered at the other Nobu's because of the creamy sauce. Somehow I thought this one fell a little flat and I'm not sure why. The shrimp were bigger than normal and the flavor seemed to be a little lacking It was still a good dish but not the best showing I've ever had.

Then came the dish Nobu is probably the most famous for the Black Cod Miso. If you go to Nobu I highly suggest you try this dish. The fish falls apart as soon as you cut into it and it has a caramelized miso top that is one of the best sweet and savory taste combinations I've ever had.

We finished up dinner by splitting some desserts of which my favorite was the Banana Caramel Soy Toban Yaki. This was bananas that had been caramelized in soy sauce and then topped with roasted candied pecans and Malaga ice cream. I would have gotten a picture but I couldn't put my spoon down long enough to grab a shot. Why do desserts have to be so good!

No trip is complete without a quick stop to check out the bathroom.

The bathroom was much like the restaurant. A little over the top as far as decor but nice. The only thing it was missing was the serene music of a babbling brook or ocean waves that the other Nobu's play in theirs. All in all, a fantastic meal!

We decided to head out towards home and began walking east. Along the way we walked by the Peninsula Hotel and decided that the day would not be complete without one more stop of extravagance. So we went inside and took the elevator to the very top of the hotel to the Pentop bar.

After a few moments we were able to snag a table outside on the terrace. They brought us over some honey roasted nut mix which of course I began to devour even though I could hardly walk a moment earlier because I was so full.

We each had a drink and relaxed, taking in the view.

The view here wasn't as nice as the Lobby Lounge (listen to me, acting snobby about places I can't even afford), but the warm summer air felt so nice on top of the roof. It was such a relaxing end to a thoroughly indulgent day.

So Mr T's birthday extravaganza is finally over and it was an outstanding success. You only turn 30 once. Thank goodness or we'd all be in the pour house! What's on the horizon? Back to the basics: grilled cheese, hot dogs and Coors Light.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Fruit Beer Face Off

I love trying out new beers and do so whenever I have the chance. Summer is quickly coming to a close so I'm trying to get in all the new fruit beers out there while I can. At Whole Foods the other day, I saw two I had never seen and decided I would do a beer boxing match.

The Match: Southern Tier Brewing Co. Raspberry Wheat vs. Dogfish Head Festina Peche

In the left corner, weighing in with an alcohol % of 4.5, the Dogfish Head Festina Peche.

The beer poured a cloudy orange color with a small head that quickly disappeared after about a minute. I went to have a whiff of this beer and it surprising had hardly any smell at all. Their was the slight nose of peach but nothing too strong. I had a sip and my mouth instantly puckered. This beer is has a very tart and sour taste to it unlike any fruit beer I have ever tried before.

Next up, in the right corner weighing in idea. Nothing written on the label. Automatic deduction for inadequate beer information- The Southern Tier Raspberry Wheat Ale.

This beer pours a nice light gold color, with the same dissipating head as the former. The smell of raspberries is quite strong but the taste is not overpowering. The raspberry flavor comes through but so does the wheat of the beer itself.

And the winner is.....

Hands down The Southern Tier Raspberry Wheat Beer. The sourness of the Dogfish was so much that I didn't even come close to finishing the beer. I was a little disappointed because I love Dogfish Head's other beers, but this one was just to much for me.

The Southern Tier was also a little bit too fruity but I enjoyed its light body. A nice beer for drinking when it's 90 degrees outside and the AC is broken.

Next match...The battle of the Belgians!!

Schneider Brooklyner Hopfen-Weiss

I was grocery shopping at Whole Foods the other day and decided to swing by their beer section to see if they had anything new and interesting. As I was looking through the beers a man came out and started putting some bottles on the shelf that I had never seen before. As I walked over I noticed the big B on the label and realized it was the new Brooklyn beer I had hear about.

Zum Schnieder had just hosted a party last week in celebration of this new beer. Apparently the Brewmaster of Schneider brewery and Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver have been friends a long time and decided to make a beer together. I love almost all of the Schneider beers and Mr. T and I went to a beer class that was taught by Garrett Oliver and just loved him. So I was extremely excited when I saw the bottles and grabbed one right away.

Work was tough this week so it wasn't until Friday night when I finally got to try it out.

Upon pouring the beer I was a little put off by the color. It poured a murky orange brown and had a huge head on it. The foamy head was nice as it resembled most German beers I've had. The smell of the beer was very strong of bananas and cloves.

Once I gave it a try I realized that it tasted just like it smelled. Bananas, cloves and pepper were very evident. It was interesting because it tasted like a wheat beer and an IPA in one. I'm not sure if I liked it or not. It was a little too hoppy for me. I think it would be better if it mellowed out a bit. I'm thinking about buying one and aging it a little to see if that smooths the taste out. It has an alcohol content of 8.2 and you really taste how strong the beer is. Overall I was pretty disappointed. I guess I'll just stick the my regular wheat beers for the rest of the summer.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tebaya Wings

I was craving some wings tonight because well... when am I not craving wings. I wasn't feeling like a regular Buffalo style wing so we decided to go for some Japanese.

Tebaya is a tiny little place in the Flatiron district that specializes in Japanese finger food. They have a couple great items on their menu but are known most for their Teba Chicken Wings. They use the same recipe for these wings as the ones they sell at their store in Japan.

As you can see from the picture, these aren't your average wings. They are fried twice in soy oil which removes almost all of the fat from the wing itself but keeps the juiciness of the chicken inside.

Once the wings are fried they cover them in a Teba sauce which is basically a garlic sauce topped with toasted sesame seeds and black peppers. The final result is a wing with extra snappy skin, juicy meat and no visible chunks of fat.

The best part about this place is the man who runs it. He is probably the friendliest guy to order from on the phone and our food always comes in less than 20 minutes. This is a great fast and cheap option if your in the area.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

RUB- Righteous Urban Barbeque

To celebrate the actual day of Mr. T's birth we meet up with some friends for dinner at RUB. RUB is a BBQ joint that specializes in Kansas City style cue. One of our friends is from Kansas and swears these ribs are the real deal.

RUB smokes their meat for hours on the grill and the wondeful smell fills the restaurant and spills out into the street. I secretly think they blow the smoke out onto the sidewalk so it consumes meat obsessed people like me.

I've passed by before, and immediately visions of myself ordering every kind of meat imaginable: ribs, brisket, ends, chicken enter my head. Baked beans spilling onto my shirt, fingers covered in greasy, spicy, glorious goodness. And then,

It's over. The smell has passed and I am in a sort of stupor as to what had just occured.

But luckily, tonight I was not just passing by. I was going to eat. And I was going to eat a lot of meat!

I was so excited to get my grub on as soon as we were inside I felt a little crazy because I knew how good it was going to be. My mouth was watering as soon as we stepped inside. It was then I noticed the Burnt Ends were on the chalkboard. I was so happy!! We've been here twice and they were out both times. I was finally going to get to try the ends!!

The waitress came over to take our drink order and I got a Shiner Bock beer.

There was a big to do when RUB got this beer at their restaurant. Apparently it's the only place in NY State that carries it. No one is even too sure how they get it shipped into the state. The BBQ Baron isn't telling his source either. So since I believe in trying just about anything once- I got one.

It ended up being quite good. It poured a dark amber color but surprisingly didn't have much of a smell to it. It was a nice easy drinking bock though. I could see myself picking up a six pack if they ever start selling them in NY.

So then the waitress came to take our order and a horrible thing happened.

Waitress "Hey guys just so you know we just ran out of the burnt ends dinner."

Nooo!! I seriously felt my stomach let out a large mean growl of protest. Once again we had just missed the burnt ends.

Sometimes life is just so unfair.

So we decided instead to get the St. Louis rib platter of both short and long end beef ribs.

The ribs were awesome! The short ribs were a little leaner and the long were a little more greasy. Both had the same hickory rub smoked into their skin. These are seriously great ribs.
Other people got some brisket sandwiches and stuff. One looked really good that came with fried green tomatoes and bacon. Yum!!! I am going to try that next time I come.

We were really full so decided to skip the deep fried oreos for dessert and just head to the bar next door for an after dinner beer!

With tip for 5 people we ended up paying about $35 a person which is pretty good considering we each had at least 2 beers and there was plenty of food left over what with all the sides and such.

I love RUB. But I also love Blue Smoke, Hill Country and Houston's. I am planning to try and eat at all of them in one week to do a more side by side comparison but for now lets just say any 'que is good 'que.