Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Park Avenue Summer RW Lunch

I have always wanted to try Park Avenue (any season all seasons) but it always seemed so pricey. So when I noticed it on the Restaurant Week List this year I jumped on the reservation.

Unfortunately they only offer a lunch so I had to take a half day of work. Luckily Mr. T's office is nearby so he was able to meet me for lunch and still bring home the bacon:)

I walked inside about 20 minutes early and was greeted warmly by the maƮtre d' and receptionist. Since Mr. T wasn't there yet I grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered a beer from their summer beer list.

This is the first "summer" thing I noticed. They had 3 beers, all wheat, listed for summer beer enjoyment.

I thought this was kind of neat- wheat beer is great in the summer because it has that lemony thirst quenching ability- so why not highlight it?

They also had a very nice white wine sangria special which many people were drinking. It came with some blueberries and raspberries floating in the bottom. It looked so nice, even though I hate sangria I thought about ordering one.

Mr. T showed up and although we were 15 minutes early, we were shown to our seats and scored a great table for two right by the bar. This table was nice because we only had one couple to the left so we weren't very cramped.

I looked at the RW menu and have to say the options were so nice it was quite difficult to decide on what to order.

Eventually we decided and the waiter brought us over a basket of warm toasty bread.



This being Park Avenue summer and all- what kind of bread do you think they served us?

Well corn bread of course!! Two different kinds.



The first was almost like a mini loaf that had an excellent crunchy exterior with some red pepper and paprika throughout the middle for flavor- very nice.

I thought the second roll was simply a piece of white bread until Mr. T opened it up and revealed the pieces of corn inside.

Very clever and quite tasty!!

Next up our drinks arrived.

Mr. T was working so he ordered a glass of iced tea. And it was truly the best iced tea he has ever had.

Okay- let's start with the glass of tea itself. It came in a large plastic glass with one of the most beautiful thick slices of lemon I have ever seen. And that huge brown straw? Not a straw- a sugar cane!

Summer in a glass!



Then came the iced tea condiments for making it really good!!!

Out came a little tray with granulated sugar packets, a vile of mint leaves and a vile of sugar water.



Once Mr. T swirled these all together I tasted one of the boldest and brightest iced teas I have ever tasted!

When he had finally finished mixing his tea our first course was ready to come out.

Mr. T ordered the salmon tartar.



Mr. T loved the crusty bread, pesto and huge chunks of fresh salmon. He didn't really care for the olive oil but gave the rest of the dish a huge thumbs up.

I went a little safe with mine I guess...I had heard Park Avenue got best caesar salad in NY mag so I had to try it out.



Well I have to say it was pretty fantastic!! I immediately took off the anchovies (can't eat those salty buggers) and amidst the shaved Parmesan cheese there were pieces of lemon zest that really brightened up the flavor of the crunchy romaine.

It all sat atop a cheesy piece of bread that was so thin and crisp it was almost like a cracker.

This was a seriously good Cesar Salad. Both of our appetizers were also huge! When Mr. T finished his salmon he was already pretty full. I knew we had a lot more food coming so I somehow willed myself to stop eating about halfway through my salad so I could enjoy my entree once it arrived.

And here it is! The sliced Filet Mignon sandwich with horseradish cream and cherry tomatoes.



This sandwich was pretty good. It wasn't the best meat I have ever had but the horseradish cream sauce and caramelized onions underneath gave it a great flavor.

I have to say Mr. T's was the winner of the entrees. He got the Herb Grilled Chicken with cherry tomatoes and zucchini.



Wow- this chicken was packed with herby goodness. The chicken was spiced up on the grill and then covered in pasta and some sort of pesto Parmesan sauce that was creamy and delicious.

The green and yellow zucchini were crisp and brought some great summery colors to the plate.

We were so stuffed from all of the food I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do dessert.

But hey- I always find room for dessert!!

Now if Mr. T was the winner of the entrees, I at least was the winner of the desserts. I got the dark cherry parfait.



The parfait had four parts to it. The bottom was crushed and slightly caramelized cherries, the second layer was chocolate crunchies, the third layer was half whipped cream and half cherry mousse and the top was some kind of cherry chocolate cookie.

It was so good I ate the whole damn thing.

Mr. T got the Strawberry Watermelon Panna Cotta.



While this dish was light and refreshing- it was a little boring. The Panna Cotta was almost too light and the berries, while good, were simply berries.

The watermelon was covered in graham cracker crumbs and was probably the best part of the whole thing. It wasn't bad by any means but probably the most disappointing dish in our other wise fantastic meal.

Before leaving I stopped in the restroom and was greeted by such a wonderful scent of fresh flowers and a spankingly clean restroom, I just had to take a picture.



After all- these things are important! I have sworn off certain places where the ladies rooms were too dirty.

So overall- this was the best restaurant week meal to date. The food was excellent, the portions were more than ample (we both brought home leftovers, which we never do), the service was friendly and efficient and the place itself was just beautiful.

I loved how they really seemed to pay attention to making sure the summer theme was in almost every dish and I will definitely be back to see what they cook up in Autumn, Winter and Spring.

The total cost of our meal with 2 glasses of wine, a Hitachino White Ale and the Iced Tea was $84.00. This is one place that is doing Restaurant Week right.

Park Avenue Summer

Monday, July 28, 2008

Alexander Keith's Beer

So while we were waiting for our plane back to NYC we stopped at the bar for a drink to kill some time.

I was looking at the beers on tap when this one caught my eye. Alexander Keith.

I had never heard of it before so I decided to try one out.



It had a golden red color with a decent head. When I took a sip I was kind of shocked. It honestly had hardly any taste to it at all. I mean no taste! No good flavor, no hoppiness, just an incredibly bland and boring beer.

I looked it up and apparently it's made by Labatt's which make sense why I haven't seen it in NYC. I have to say I don't really care for most Labatt beers so it wasn't surprising I didn't like this one either.

It's too bad really because I really liked the shape of the beer glass it was served in.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prosit!

Our first night in Buffalo my parents picked us up at the airport and we meet up with my family for dinner at a place called Prosit in Williamsville. I had never been here before but my father insisted I would love it. Why?

The Beer! Prosit is basically a small (very small) Polish/German restaurant that serves lots of different Polish and German beers. Being Polish this was quite a treat! They even had a nice little beer garden in the back with a couple big wooden tables perfect for relaxing after a long day of traveling.  When we arrived, the biggest table in the back was actually being occupied by the owners sister and her daughter celebrating a birthday. Once they noticed how large our group was they immediately offered us their table in lieu of the smaller one which was extremely nice. The rest of my family arrived and we ordered up a couple rounds of beer.



I decided to go with the Okocim beer which is a polish style pilsner that is light and crisp. Perfect for a hot humid day. They were nice enough to bring out a bunch of bread while we drank including a dark caraway rye and a raisin pannetone that came with some sweet creamy butter and slices of Parmesan cheese. We had a couple of rounds and were having so much fun we decided to stay there and have dinner as well! They started off by giving us some tossed salads.



The salads were made with fresh greens and came with your choice of two salad dressings the creamy tomato bacon or creamy gorgonzola. I couldn't decide so I asked for both on the side and I have to say they were both really good. That's the tomato bacon in the picture. For our main Mr. T ordered the Sampler Platter.



The platter came with a huge cheese pierogi, potato pancake and a polish sausage, along with some sour cream and red cabbagea and veggies. Unfortunately the Polish sausage didn't have a very good flavor to it. It just tasted a little grainy and weird. Luckily the potato pancake and pierogi were good so he just enjoyed them.  It also came with a side of sauteed apples which is another staple dish I remember enjoying at Polish dinners growing up. For my main dish I give you Ta Da! The Mr. Pisinski sandwich!



Only a place is Buffalo would have a sandwich named this!! And it was quite tasty! It was thick slices of ham covered in a melty cheese with mustard on grilled rye bread.  The serving was huge so I ended splitting it with my friend, the Pitted Prune, who had joined my family about halfway through dinner.

We ordered some desserts to share and all of them were amazing!!! Especially some kind of peanut butter torte/pudding that was out of this world!!!

Prosit has a nice old world charm about it. If you notice, all of the plates and glasses were antique and the inside of the place reminded me of my grandmothers house, in a good way! The service was very comfortable and the owner came over a couple times to make sure everything was alright. Prosit is a place that literally seems untouched by time. I hope it stays that way.

Prosit Restaurant

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Strange Sodas

So we just got back from a fantastic voyage to my hometown in Western New York. We ate a bunch of good food and even made it up to Canada for the day which I will report on later. Unfortunaely we are so exhauted from our trip I only hve time for a small post on something Buafflo has a lot of- strange sodas.

Anyone who hs lived in the Western NY area will probably agree that the best drink growing up was Loganberry.

Loganberry is an awesome grape flavored drink that is everywhere in the city! I mean almost every single restaruat has it no matter what. When I first went away to college I couldn't believe people hadn't heard of it before! Well we found another soda that is pretty crazy as well.



Here is the Saranac Shirley temple soda. This was a great find since Mr. T actually spent a whole weekend once drinking Shirely Temples with vodka!! We had to try it out as soon as we saw it at the store.



It had a great pour to it with a classic frothy head that looked absolutly thirst quenchaliscious on the steamy hot day we were having.

Look at the glass! They even threw in a cherry!



Unfortunatly the soda looks a lot better than it tastes. Overall it was just WAY too sweet. I think between the two of us we could only get down about half.

The funny part was that we looked at the sugar content on back and I think it was 36 grams. Then we looked at the Root Beer's sugar and it was 38!! How's that for surprising! I'm glad I don't drink soda on a regular basis. I'd rather get those sugar grams in the form of candy bars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Off we Go!!!

So I am off to Buffalo for a while to see my family!! I haven't been there since Christmas time and I cannot wait to get back and see everyone.

I won't be posting while I'm gone but you can be sure I will be eating tons of great Western NY food like chicken wings, beef on weck and hopefully I'll fit in a fish fry on Friday.

While I'm gone I leave you with this lovely picture of some yummy artisanal cheeses with two kinds of confiture I had the other day with a friend at Paradou.



Hopefully when I get back I will have more time to report on the meal and the lovely garden in the back but....until then Enjoy!!!

Paradou

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Hour at Butai

I was walking around my neighborhood the other day and noticed that both Japonais and Butai have happy hour specials that seem like a pretty good deal. I was craving some sushi so I stopped in to Butai to check out their deal.

I walked in around 6:30 and was the only person besides two men having beer at the front. I grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered a glass of their Pinot Grigio and asked about the specials.

They had the usual rolls; tuna, salmon and California on special, but they also had some kushiyaki. I decided I had to do a little of each.

To start I ordered a spicy tuna roll.



This was a pretty good roll. The rice was a bit too sticky for me on the outside but tuna had a great flavor and the size was perfect.

A minute later my skewers came out. I ordered the pork belly, asparagus with bacon and cherry tomatoes.



The pork belly skewer was awesome!!! It was a juicy crispy bit of belly that sat a top some ponzu dipping sauce. Really tasty!!

The bacon wrapped asparagus was pretty good as well except that the bacon was a little more fatty than I usually like. Luckily I had ordered the cherry tomatoes. After all of this pork fat I felt like I needed a little something healthy!

The tomatoes had a great char to the outside and were a refreshing contrast to all of the meat.

There was so much food I honestly couldn't finish it all and for the glass of wine and these dishes the bill came to $16. Quite a bargain actually!!

I also just really liked the vibe of the place. Of course it was empty but the servers all seemed very nice, the music was good and the whole decor was kind of relaxed trendy (if that makes any sense).

Hopefully it was just empty because it was a Monday. I'm going to walk by later on in the week and see how the place looks then. But a good happy hour spot if you're in the area. They also have $3 beers and $5 cocktails. Not to shabby!

Butai

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ciao Bella

I happened to run into the Park avenue Summer festival yesterday as I was heading out to do some errands. There are a MILLION street fairs in the city during the summer and most of them are filled with the same old boring stuff. Crepes, mozzareppas, gyros, pashiminas and bed sheets.

Well the Park avenue one had all that stuff too but it actually has some other cool stuff that make it one of the best street fairs going. They had tons of dresses, jewelry and best of all tons of free food samples.

The one that had the biggest line was the Ciao Bella truck. Now it was pretty early in the day for ice cream but it was free so I had to get some!

They were offering about 6 different flavors including which was a tough decision but I decided to go with the Pistachio.



First of all, the sample was pretty big!! It was like ordering a regular small bowl at an ice cream place. The ice cream was dark white and had whole pistachios sticking out everywhere.

The verdict? The flavor of the ice cream itself was fantastic. It had a natural nutty flavor and the ice cream was rich and creamy. The unfortunate part for me was the whole pistahios. There were honestly too many! Every time I had a bite I would get 3 or 4 pistachios. The nuts messed up the consistency of the ice cream for me. So much that I didn't even finish my sample!

I appreciate the fact that the flavor is all natural but when I want ice cream, I don't want to be chewing it. So overall I guess I wouldn't buy this in the store. I stick with my Ben & Jerry's for now.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Beer and Chinese Food

Last Sunday we spent most of the day holed up in a bar with friends and watching the championship game of the Euro Cup. It was a pretty exciting game and we all had more than just a few beers.

Then a huge rainstorm came again right at the end which forced us to order another round so we wouldn't get wet! By the time that round was finished we were "feeling no pain" as my mom would say and decided to make a trip down to Congee Village for some much needed food.

We walked into the restaurant and found it relatively empty. Not too many people want Chinese food at 5:30 on a Sunday I guess! Even though there were only 3 of us, they sat us down at a huge table and we ordered up some Mai Tai's and ton of food.

First order out was our Pan Fried Dumplings.



These came out with a nice crispy outside and steamy greasy insides of pork. They were good but just an average sort of dumpling.

Next was a HUGE order of chicken fried rice.



I am not usually a rice fan but this was really good! There were big chunks of scrambled egg, peas, oinions and carrots. It all combined for a great toasty flavor.

Our next dish was the house special chicken.



This is basically a chicken that was roasted in some sort of soy garlic sauce. I thought this was really good. The skin was a little bit more soggy than crispy but the flavor was spot on.

We also got a half order of the 5 Spice Duck.



The duck was a little disappointing. Certain pieces in the middle were moist but the end pieces were dried out.

Also, for a name of 5 Spice it was pretty weak in flavor. I guess I was expecting a little bit more kick and more of that rich smokey taste I've had from duck in other Chinese places. It was just lacking overall.

Then out came our Blue Crab dish. Look at this monster!!!



We ordered it with the garlic butter sauce and man was it messy!!! This is not something you order on a date that's for sure! It's also kind of difficult to eat after drinking beers all day and I was covered in sauce by the end but it was super tasty.

We finished up with a side order of sauteed Chinese Greens. This was a nice refreshing side dish to offset all the fatty meat we were having and once again HUGE in size.



Overall we had a really fun dining experience! We ordered a couple of Mai Tai's and the bartender kept coming out himself to deliver them to us, making them stronger and stronger each time. I think we left a little more happy then we came in!!

I could see this being a really fun place for a big group dinner that's pretty easy on the wallet. They finished the meal by giving us some orange slices and we were off. Another successful Sunday in the city.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Please Help me Figure Out This Pastry

I happened to be in the Sheepshead Bay area the other day for work so I headed over to the Fruit and Vegetable Market on Avenue Z.

This is my favorite place to buy fruit in the city because they have such a huge selection of hard to find stuff and the quality and freshness of their fruit is really hard to beat.

Not to mention they have a ton of Russian candy in bulk so I always come in and try a couple different ones each visit!

So after picking up some beautiful ripe plums and a couple pieces of candy I decided to go across the street to the newly reopened Gourmet Food Market. They closed for renovations over a year ago and I was happy to see their place looked pretty goo. They had much more space than before and it seemed a little nicer.

I did a quick walk around and started to head out the door when something in the bakery case caught my eye.

Peering through the glass, I see this giant pastry that looks like a cross between a macaroon and a bombolone!!

I go in for a closer look, and see a sign in front that says it's called a Margarita. A Margarita?? That' really odd.

I ask two different store clerks if they can tell me more about this ginormous pastry but no one seems to know what it's about.

Well now I'm really intrigued so I buy one and head back to work to open it up.



I feel a little silly cracking into such a giant sweet before lunchtime but no one seems to notice or care. The outside top is dusted with powdered sugar and the ring outside seems to be covered in some sort of crushed nuts.



As I crack it open I realize the top and bottom "macaroon" parts are actually just made of a light meringue.

Inside things are a little bit crazier though! There were multiple nooks of nougat here and pockets of cream there, but no uniform layers. I wasn't sure where to begin and how to go about eating it.



The one layer tasted somewhat like an almond paste while the other tasted a little bit like hazelnuts and honey. The whole thing was texturally awesome as the meringue outside crisped and melted into the creamy sweet paste inside and crunchy chopped nuts on the edges.

For $1.99 this gargantuan pastry was a steal and so different than anything I have had before! I probably would have eaten the whole thing right there, but about halfway through my stomach begin to churn a little from eating so much sugar.

I still had a ton of work to do so I decided I should be responsible and curb my dessert eating until the end of the day.

I tried to look up some research on where this pastry originated and exactly what it's made of but I had no luck finding anything. Possibly they had the name down wrong? I would love to know more about it.

I am planning to go back in a couple of weeks so I'll stop by again but if anyone has any ideas, or has eaten this mammoth treat before, I'd love to know more about it. My stomach will thank you immensely!!