Sunday, May 31, 2009

White Asparagus at Zum

So I did finally get to try the White Asparagus at Zum Schenider last weekend.

It came wrapped up in some Ham with some boiled Potatoes.



The dish was pretty good but look at how tiny the stalks were!

I was expecting some of the big guys like we had in Munich.

I guess we can't get those shipped in here.

However all of the other food we had was awesome and Zum Schneider continues to be my favorite place in the city to chill with some big beers and while away the night.

God I love that place!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Grape and Grain

I was so excited to go to Zum Schneider on Sunday to get some big beers and try their white asparagus.

We made plans to meet up with friends right at 3:00 for some eats. I practically ran there in the oppressive muggy heat only to find it completely shuttered and a sign on the door that said they wouldn’t be opening until 6:00.

WTF- I checked the website and everything before coming. Now I was dripping with sweat and starving. We needed something to tide us over. I wasn’t waiting 3 more hours before eating.

So we rerouted over to Grape and Grain and ordered up some of their Brunch specials to share.

The best dish was the Prosciutto, Salami and Sopressata Pizza.



Wow this pizza was packed full of flavor. It had a slightly sweet chunky tomato sauce on top that really went wonderful with all of the salty meats.

The edges of the pizza were golden brown and had a fantastic buttery crunch. Yum!!!

Our next pizza we ordered was the Breakfast Pizza.



This was pizza with Panchetta, asparagus and sunny side up eggs.

This pizza was really good as well but it just didn’t compare to the first. The dough wasn’t as cooked and the runny egg just kind of made everything a little too soggy for my tastes.

To round out our order we got some shrimp and grits.



Now I have never had shrimp and grits before and to be honest- I’m sure not positive what I think about them.

The grits were fantastic- nice and grainy with a ton of melted butter. The shrimp were pretty great as well- nice and large.

But together? I don’t know if that combination does it for me. I think I prefer my grits on their own with a side of bacon possibly.

However it was a good meal that satisfied my appetite for a little while in a cute little space. I’m a fan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Random Saturday Bites

Saturday turned into a beautiful day so Mr. T and I did some wandering around of eating and drinking.

First stop was The Rusty Knot for some beer and their Pretzel Hot Dog.



For some reason I thought the Pretzel would be baked on the Hot Dog more, fully encasing it.

Here the Pretzel was twisted around. It was pretty good but not as good as it sounded at first.

Two thumbs up however for having Busch Beer on tap! That brought me back to my High School days! Lol!

Then we headed over to The White Horse Tavern to watch the Yankee game and drink some more beers.

The White Horse is most famously known for being the place Dylan Thomas drank himself to death.

The White Horse is famous in my book for having solid pub food at rock bottom prices.

The burger was delicious.



It was quite a sizable piece of meat with a nice char on the outside and a toasted bun. It came more well than medium rare but it still had a nice juicy inside and lots of flavor (although I would have preferred that red middle).

The fries are thick cut which I usually don’t like but these were pretty good.

Usually steak fries are too limp but these fires were nice and crispy with just the right amount of salt.

The cost of a burger and fries here- $5.75. Not too shabby!

After a couple beers we stopped for a drink at Greenwich Tree House (great view for people watching), some vino at 8th Street Wine Cellar and then found ourselves at the new Union Square spot Lillie’s.

Lillie’s bills itself as an Irish Victorian bar and has an awesome charm about it.

I loved the architecture, the big windows in front and most importantly the diverse beer list.

I also love me a nice sampler platter!

I ordered one with Chicken Satay, Mozzarella Sticks and Chicken Wings.



At this point all of the beers have clouded my judgment a tad but I have to say it was a really good platter.

They gave us tons of food- at least 7 Mozzarella Sticks! And all of it was tasty.

After Lille’s we headed home, full and tired.

It was so nice being able to just relax and have a lazy Saturday. We really needed it.

Lillie's

White Horse Tavern

The Rusty Knot

Monday, May 25, 2009

Veselka

Mr. T and I finally tried Veselka last week. When I first moved here I heard they had Borscht and I was dying to try it.

Borscht is something my Grandmother used to make every year at Christmas and it was truly one of my favorite dishes of the night.

I've had it before at the Russian Samovar and I really didn't care for their version. I was hoping Veselka would be different and luckily it was.

Look at this beautiful color!



This Borscht was so wonderful! It had such a rich beety texture and flavor that was absolutely delicious.

I was so content slurping away happily with my soup. This is what true comfort food is- eating something that reminds you of home.

I felt like I had just gotten a big hug.

We decided to split some entrees and first up was the burger.



Wow. Just wow.

Veselka is a highly underrated burger. The meat was perfectly charbroiled with a nice salty crunch on the edges and an incredibly moist inside.

The burger to bun ratio was probably the best I've ever had with the squishy bun hitting all of the burger with just enough bread to soak up all the juice.

We also got an order of the Pierogies.



I was too stuffed at this point to have more than just a bite but they were definitely delicious as well.

Veselka scored on all accounts.

This is the type of place to take your loved ones and relax.

There's no frills, no bells and whistles, just fantastic food and friendly service and that's what it's all about.

Veselka

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Babbo

Saturday night was the main event of the weekend. The dinner to celebrate the impending nuptials of my friend.

It had only taken me four hours of constantly hitting the redial button over and over again, 30 days in advance to score a reservation at Babbo.

We had been here once before on Father’s Day for Mr. T’s dad and I just fell in love with the food. I was hoping tonight would be no different.

We got there right at 7:45 and were lead to a table in the elegant upstairs which I had requested.

We started with a round of Prosecco to celebrate and then we moved on to a nice bottle of red.

(You'll notice the pictures get a little more blurry as the night goes on...the wine seems to have slightly affected my picture taking ability.)

We all wanted to try as much food as possible so we just decided to share everything. We picked 2 appetizers, 2 pastas and an entrée for two.

After licking the plates clean from the complimentary chickpea bruschetta, we got our first appetizer the Grilled Octopus with Borlotti Marinati” and Spicy Limoncello Vinagrette.



This was my favorite thing last time I was here and it was still as good as ever.

The tentacles were plump and juicy with a fantastic char on the edges that give the whole dish a nice rustic taste. Almost like some one just took it off the fire outside.

Our other appetizer was a wonderfully refreshing and light Baby Arugala salad with Parmigiano and Aceto Manodori.



For our pastas we started our with the Sweet Potato Lune with Sage and Amaretti.



OMG this dish was amazing!! The Lune was slightly sweet with a wonderful buttery sauce and topped with some crushed amaretti cookie and sage that really put a spin on the dish I would never have imagined.

If that didn’t completely blow me away the next pasta dish certainly did.

This is the Goat Cheese Tortellini with Dried Orange and Wild Fennel Pollen.



I had been a little hesitant about this dish because I really don’t like fennel or orange too much, however one bite and I was sold.

The pasta was incredibly light and smooth and the strong flavor of the Goat Cheese went perfectly with the tart orange and fennel in a way that was truly a work of art.

I was so happy at the end of this course I could care less about the entrée the Grilled Ribeye for Two.



Holy cow! This was my entrée last time and it was just as good again. Huge chunks of the most flavorful meat you can ever imagine with a side of delicious ramps. Yum!!!

We were so full we couldn’t even think about finishing all of the meat and had to take some home for later.

We did have room to split one dessert however the assortment of gelato and sorbet.



I’ll be honest- we left most of the sorbet but absolutely devoured the gelato. It was so good!

We ended our meal stuffed, happy and quite drunk to be honest. The red wine was really flowing during our dinner and I think we all may have stumbled out of the restaurant a little (after my friend talked to some woman about the plants in the middle of the room for 10 minutes).

We got a nice picture of us outside and hopped in a cab home- bachelorette weekend a success!!!

Babbo continues to excel in food, wine and service in every way. Now if only it didn’t take me so long to get a reservation…

Babbo

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kellari's Parea Greek Bistro

My friends were in town last weekend for a special bachelorette weekend. After hitting up the Yankee game Friday night we awoke Saturday morning in need of a solid brunch.

I wanted to try something new so we headed over to Kellari Parea, a Greek Bistro near my apartment.

We got there right at noon and were the first ones there. Not even the jazz band had set up yet.

We sat up front near the nice big windows that let the sunlight stream though.



Each breakfast came with a drink so we got a Mimosa, Bloody Mary and glass of Champagne.



I was psyched. I was loving the atmosphere, the drinks, everything. This place had the potential to be awesome I thought.

And it could have been! If it wasn’t for a few big problems. But I’ll get to that.

After we ordered they brought out some bread and a little plate filled with olives, radishes and hummus.



The hummus was pretty good but a little bit too garlicky for a morning start.

Then our entrees arrived.

My friend and I both ordered the American breakfast, which was a platter of eggs, bacon and greek fries.



OMG the eggs were so good! I’m not sure what they did to them but they were some of the best eggs I have ever had. Light, fluffy and buttery mounds of goodness!

And the fries! Don’t get me started! They had just the right amount of crispiness and were shaken with a perfect blend of spices.

So where did the problems begin? Well here is my friend’s dish the New Yorker.

Hmm..let’s see a big scoop of cream cheese, some beautifully presented salmon and what else…something is missing.



Where’s the bagel? The most integral part of the dish?

We figured it had to be coming so we all just kind of sat there waiting to dig into our meals for about 5 minutes.

Finally our waiter noticed something was wrong and came running up and explained that the kitchen was out of bagels. And would she like some pita bread instead?

Okay now I have a couple issues with this.

First- whenever a main component of a dish is missing the customer should be informed before so they would have an opportunity to change their order if needed. That didn’t happen.

Second- while pita bread was a nice offer they apparently didn’t have any of that made either! When she said she would like some our waiter came back almost 20 minutes later with a basket. By that time we had almost completely finished our meals and had no use for it.

Third- come on people this is NYC! There are bagels to be had on every corner! Why not just run to the corner deli and grab a couple? No one was in the restaurant, the matre’d had been just walking around aimlessly the entire time we were there. WTF?

So service became quite an issue.

Our waiter also never offered us another drink. We had waited so long for our entrees to begin with we had finished our cocktails. The waiter never once came to see if we wanted another one which is silly because we would drank another round which we would have paid for.

Apparently the waiter was banking on the cash from our water I came to find out.

When we sat down he had asked if we wanted still or sparkling. I answered by saying still without really thinking about it but there it was on the bill- $6 for a bottle of water.

What a rip-off. I thought those hoodwinking water bottle days were over.

So I was really disappointed in Kellari. The food and atmosphere were so wonderful! But those service issues really made it frustrating.

It makes me wonder how they would do if they actually had a full house for brunch?

Kellari's Parea

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Some Quick Updates

Just some things I've been doing lately that I cant write a whole long post about.

Inoteca Liquori- love the space. Food was awesome as well. The octopus, prosciutto and affordable bottles of wine will keep me going back. The service could be a little tighter but it is about 10 times better overall than Bar Milano.

Bespoke Chocolates- This is quickly becoming one of my favorite chocolate stores in the city. The French Milk Chocolate Bon Bon and Pretzel Carmel Delight are to die for. Plus the woman who owns it is super friendly and truly seems to love what she is doing. I really hope this place makes it.

Wildwood BBQ- got the cheeseburger here and can't understand all the fuss about it. It was okay but nothing special in my book. However they continue to have a great selection of beer and nice open windows in front so that makes it a nice place to stop and grab a drink.

Gramercy Tavern- went last weekend with Mr. T's wonderful Aunt & Uncle and it continues to wow. The Duck Confit and Sweetbreads were fabulous and the service was absolutely stellar. How can anything ever beat this as my favorite place in the city? Spectacular!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yankee Eats

Before we left for Europe we went to the second home Yankee game of the year.

I got there early to check out the new stadium and specifically the food.

My first stop was Lobel's for some meat.



Look at him cutting up those huge pieces of meat!

They make every sandwich to order and then pour a nice au jus right on the top.



Nice!!! Here's a picture of the $16.00 sandwich. Bite already taken out of course.



The sandwich was huge and very fresh but for $16.00 I wasn't blown away.

The meat was very tasty but it was almost a little too rare.

Mr. T and I both had trouble even biting into the thing because the meat was so chewy.

We decided to supplement our sandwich with some fries and a cheeseburger from Johnny Rockets.



The fries were surprisingly crispy and fresh as well! Much better than the old Yankee stadium fries.

The burger was pretty good as well. It had a lots of toppings so I couldn't really taste the flavor of the meat but after a couple of beers this is a tasty option.

And what about the beer!!!

I went down to this stand and picked up some old fashioned goodness.



I was hoping they would give me the can to keep my beer cold but they made me take a glass :(

Look at the sign- calorie counts for beers!!



Whoa!! Stay away from the peanuts apparently!

So it was a great day overall. The place is absolutely magnificent and we saw the first win in the new stadium. Yay!!

My only quibble- they took the big beer bar away across the street!!

That place rocked! Now there's another stupid loud sports bar that you can hardly hear yourself think inside.

Oh well- I guess I can't have it all.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Return to Markt

Markt used to be one of my favorite places to dine in the city when it was still on 14th street.

I loved the wonderful corner space and the sleek long bar where it always felt busy and exciting. Not to mention the food!

Markt moved closer to us a few years ago on a busy, somewhat noisy area on 6th avenue.

We had only been there once since they moved and sat inside.

Yesterday we happened to be at Best Buy right nearby so we deiced to try out our old favorite again.

We ordered up a couple of Leffe’s (a blond for me..I still haven’t been able to look at a Leffe Brun since my illness in Brussels) and grabbed a table outside.



We weren’t starving so we decided to forgo any appetizers and just went for some mains.

I ordered the Rai au beurre noire et capers.



In other words some steamed skatefish with lemon, capers and brown butter.

Wow there was a LOT of butter in this dish. The fish was incredibly moist and had a nice flavor from the lemon and capers but the butter was a tad much.

Don’t get me wrong- it was very tasty but I was kind of going for something a little healthier.

The haricot verts came bundled up in a cute little package and were cooked just enough to be tender but still maintain a little crunch.

Mr T went for the Moules a la Blanche- Mussels steamed in Hoegaarden.



Yum! These were great. The mussels were nice and juicy with a gentle flavor of the beer permeating the dish.

It came with a side of frites that were simply fantastic!



I forget how much I love a good pomme frite. These had just the right amount of crispiness and came with some fantastic mayo on the side for dipping.

Our total bill came to just around $55.00 which isn’t half bad for a tasty meal with drinks.

The outside tables were a little tight and noisy but it was alright.

For some reason we never received any bread and it took quite a while to receive our bill but those are minor quibbles.

Markt is still serving up some fantastic food and drink just as it was on 14th street years ago.

Markt Restaurant

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Donovan's of Bayside

I happened to be in Bayside for work the other day so I called up my friend Lynch (who lives in bayside) to see if he wanted to meet up for drink.

We had both just gotten back from vacation and were having a hard time getting back into the swing of things.

A little beer always helps that!

We started out sitting outside of Press 195 and then decided to move over to Donovan’s once it started to get chilly and had a seat at the bar.

I have always wanted to try a Donovan’s burger since I heard they were fantastic.

However I had just had an enormous lunch and didn’t think I could do it justice.

So instead we decided to get an order of their mini burgers to share.

Look how cute they came out with the little olive on top!



MMM…These mini burgers were good!

The patty itself was thicker than most mini burgers, and although it was cooked a little bit more than my liking, the meat still retained a ton of juice and had a nice overall flavor.

Each one came dressed with ketchup on the bottom and a perfectly sized pickle on the top.

I love it when the pickle fits the burger to perfection. Each bite deserves some.

Overall I thought the burgers were awesome!

Most mini burgers come out looking like some hockey pucks and taste like crap.

Donovan’s definitely delivered.

I want to go back and try their regular burger to get a real taste of what they have to offer.

Bayside has some cute little bars and restaurants. If only I could get Mr. T out of Manhattan once in a we could have a whole new world open to us.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Munich

I’m going to go through Munich pretty quick.  To be honest it was probably my favorite place on the vacation but I’ve been home a couple of days now and recounting every detail is making me tired and a little depressed. We got into Munich right around 7:00 and checked into our hotel without a hitch.

Dinner was at the Weinhaus Schneider. They offered us English menus and we set to ordering up two huge plates of grub.  First they started us with a huge salad for the table and some bread. Then came our entrees- Mine was the Bacon wrapped Pork with Noodles (spatzle actually).



My dish was only so so. I was expecting more flavor from the pork. I had read that the pork here was the best and this really didn’t have much taste except for the heavy gravy. Mr. T’s dish was much better the Sauerbraten.



He had big chunks of beef in a tasty brown sauce with some kind of weird potato balls on the side that had a kind of weird rubbery texture. The highlight of our meal however was suggested to us by the waiter- The asparagus.



White asparagus is much more prevalent in Germany than green asparagus and we happened to be right smack dab in the middle of its season. These stalks were so good! They had a milder flavor than green asparagus and a light refreshing flavor. They came with a side of Hollandaise sauce for dipping. I usually turn down Hollandaise sauce but it was really tasty with the asparagus.

So we had a nice meal at Weihaus Schneider but it wasn’t what I was expecting. First of all, the pork was only okay and second everyone was drinking wine. Isn’t that weird? This is supposed to be the land of beer. To make a long story short, we went to the wrong place. The place I had in mind was called Weissebrau Haus not Weinhaus Schneider . Oops!! Turns out the place we were at was a wine and fondue bar! Weissebrau Haus was on the next block!
Oh well- at least it made sense now and we vowed to try Weissebrau Haus tomorrow night.
I woke up the next morning and had this lovely breakfast from our hotel that came free each morning!



Yay!! Free mimosas!!! I’m a happy girl! Then we decided to trek out to the Franziskaner Brewery located a little outside the main city of Munich. Once there we ordered up some excellent beers and a plate of sausage and potato salad.



Both sausages were good but the one on the left was excellent!!! Once I cut inside a little bit of cheese oozed out and it was basically the best Cheddarwurst I've ever had in my life! After a couple of brews we decided to head back into the city for dinner and finally made it to the Weissebrau Haus. Unfortunately we came at the same time as about 50 other people and we barely got the last seat in the house way upstairs. We ordered up some Aventinus from the keg and man was it spectacular. It had a much smoother and softer flavor than the bottled Aventinus in the states and hardly any smell at all. I could have had about four of five of these. We decided to split our dishes and the first was their salad platter. This is the best salad platter I have ever had!!! Look at all the stuff!



Potato salad, coleslaw, ham, beets, cheese strips, chicken strips, pickled cucumbers, pickled carrots, tomatoes, endive and then a big pile of tossed salad in the middle.  This had everything I wanted in a salad and then some. I would order this kind of salad every day if we had it in America.  Our other dish was the one I had hear so much about- the Pork Breasts. Hmm…this pork looks a little different than the pork from the night before huh!



Actually it kind of looks like the pork from Momofuku! The pork was awesome- so much meat- so much flavor- yum!!  It came with a side of sauerkraut and potato pancakes. Mr. T doesn’t eat sauerkraut usually but he scarfed this up in a minute. The potato pancakes might also be the best we’ve ever had with a crispy crunchy edge and moist thick middle. MMM…I’m so sad I can’t be eating this dish right now!! Here’s some of the beers that makes this place famous.



So we finished up there and ended our night as we had the night before at the Hofbruas Haus. Our last day in Munich we awoke to the most beautiful weather. We truly wanted to just go and enjoy the day. So we went and walked through the enormous Englischer Garten.
After finding ourselves outnumbered by more naked German men than I’ve ever seen we decided to head the one of the many beer gardens in the park.  This is the Chinesischer Turm. This place is freakin huge!!!



Up in the tower was a big band churning out fun German tunes while everyone below just relaxed and drank big beers and ate some food.  Speaking of food we got an order of Spare Ribs and an order of the Currywurst. The Currywurst wasn't very good. I hate Curry so I just ate the end without it and the sausage really had no flavor.



The fries were poorly cooked and the dish just tasted like crap honestly. The Spare Ribs I absolutely hated.



There was some sort of curry sauce on top that was super spicy and just not very good tasting. I don’t know what we were expecting. This is park food after all! However nothing could dampen my spirits and I truly enjoyed sitting in that garden and drinking my beer more than anything else on this trip. I was finally able to completely relax and it was wonderful.

 That night we headed back to the Hofbrau Haus for one more time. We had met a fun couple there the night before and figured maybe we would have the same luck that night. We grabbed a table outside and ordered up a Crackling Pork Knuckle and some Spatzle.  The Pork Knuckle was excellent. Crispy outside skin, salty juicy meat inside.



My only wish was that there was more meat! Mr. T and I could have eaten another one easily. It came with a side of cabbage salad and two potato dumplings.  Again I had the best version of a dish I have ever had- the Spatzle.



Honestly it was macaroni and cheese..really, really, good macaroni and cheese. It came with melted Emmental cheese and some delicious roasted onions. It was gut busting delicious!  After dinner we moved inside and had some more beers with some extremely drunk German men and the wonderful couple from the night before. It was the start of Maifest and we decided to try out the Hofbrau Haus Maibock. In hind sight ordering a liter of beer the waiter told us was 12% alcohol at about 11:00 the night before we leave might not have been the next idea ever. The beer was very tasty but we woke up the next morning and Mr. T was draaaging. Luckily we got to the airport and even got a chance to stop for one more beer before we hit the road at the airport brewery. That’s right… the Munich airport has it’s own brewery called Airhaus and it’s huge as well! Here is the outside space.



We actually sat inside and when I went to order a beer my skills at the German menu were apparently a little off because this is what I got instead.


Yep. That’s a shot of some really strong and nasty smelling liquor. Now having a beer at 11:00 am after a night of drinking is one thing. Tossing back a shot is another! I pushed the shot aside and reordered and ended up getting a Radler which is German Beer and Lemonade.



I discovered this mix the day before in the park and loved it. Here was no different. It was incredibly fresh and really revitalizing. A good morning beer! Lol!

So we jumped on our plane and made it safely back to NYC with little trouble and safely into our small apartment. It was such a wonderful vacation that I am so happy to have experienced. I loved each and every thing we did and hope to return to all of these great countries in the near future. What to do now Mr. T? What’s that? Ippudo it is!!!