Monday, November 29, 2010

N&D Pizza

I was out in Sheepshead Bay the other day and pizza was on the brain. I had planned on getting a Roast Beef sandwich from Brennan & Carr but I just didn’t feel like a big meat sandwich any more. I wandered across the street and wound up inside N&D pizzeria instead.

I was surprised to see this run down pizza joint had a serious amount of specialty pies. Chicken & Broccoli, Eggplant and even a Mac and cheese pie that looked like it was straight out of the movie Half Baked.

I wanted something a little lighter so I ordered a Sicilian slice with spinach. I was excited about this slice because it looked extra thin and crispy. Unfortunately once I bite inside the dough was undercooked and gave the whole pizza a much thicker and denser texture. The sauce and cheese tasted extremely fresh and I enjoyed the little burnt edges of the crust. However the spinach tasted like it had been sautéed in a ton of olive oil and it simply tasted like limp greens on the slice.

Although I didn’t love my slice at N&D I would go back if I was in the neighborhood. The sauce and cheese were so tasty that I would give a regular slice another shot there. Unfortunately my body doesn’t turn away meat very much so I assume next time I’ll be across at Brennan & Carr instead, but we’ll see.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Brews and Wings at Blind Tiger

Mr. T and I spent a lazy Saturday relaxing at one of our favorite bars in the city- the Blind Tiger. I love the Tiger- they constantly rotate their taps and always have something on hand that I’ve never even heard of before. This week they had a bunch of drafts from the Kuhnhenn Brewery out of Michigan so we both tried a few.

Oh my goodness this may be my new favorite beer- this is their Crème Brulee Java Stout. My first whiff of this beer was amazing. It smelled exactly like an espresso and Baileys at the end of a fancy meal. Then I tasted it and was blown away. It was like having a wonderful dessert in a glass. Strong espresso and chocolate flavors with a lingering vanilla and caramel end. Although this would be a little too sweet to drink a lot of I enjoyed every last sip in my glass.

After trying out a few more beers Mr. T and I decided to get some food and ordered a plate of their hot wings. Now these wings were no joke. They were actually a decent size and the meat was really moist and tender. However the sauce just didn’t do it for me. I wouldn’t describe it as hot but peppery. Insanely peppery. Mr. T loved them but it was just too much for me. I’m glad he could enjoy them because they were cooked to perfection. So another day well spent at the Blind Tiger. I really love that place.

Kuhnhenn Brewery

Blind Tiger

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Good Beer- Good for Me!

I love new openings. They promise so much but often fail to deliver the goods. Luckily here’s one opening that completely delivered in my book- Good Beer.

This tiny store in the East Village is a beer lovers dream come true. First off it’s stocked to capacity with a wide range of beers from local micro brews to classic Belgian ales. On my first visit I picked up some Cigar City IPA and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. I love the fact that everything is available in single bottles. There’s nothing better than trying out a couple new beers without having to carry home caseloads of beer in order to do so!

In addition to their wide bottle selection they went one step further and installed twelve taps inside as well! This is utterly fantastic for two reasons. One- you can take home growlers and two- you get to try out even more exciting beers!

The first day I went inside I simply couldn’t resist. I saw the $8 flight sign and almost jumped for joy. Of course I’ll try out a flight of new beers!

Oh that’s right- you can drink beer while you shop around the store! So let’s bring that to reason three why this place rocks! Whether it be a flight of brews or a single pint the enjoyment of beer drinking and beer shopping just reached a whole new level.

I have actually been a couple of times now and each visit a tap or two changes. I feel like I could come here every day and not be bored!

Last but not least- the people. The first day I entered I spent a good 20 minutes discussing various beer preferences and styles with the owner. He was incredibly friendly and really made me excited about the current selection. Since that first visit he remembers me and continues to be an energetic and knowledgeable beer man.

Oh and did I tell you this place serves food as well? Hot dogs, brats and some sweets from Roni-Sue are on the menu. Seriously- can this place get any better? Not in my book- Good Beer is an understatement. I think this place is Awesome! What a great place to pick up some Thanksgiving beers!

Good Beer

Monday, November 22, 2010

NYC Shower Day- Dinner at Keens

After lunch, massages and cocktails us ladies met back up with the men at Ginger Man and then headed over to Keens for the big finale. Unfortunately my pictures from Keens didn’t quite come out. The lightening was pretty dim and I didn’t want to make a big deal of taking pictures while enjoying a special family meal so bear with me.

However I will say this about the dinner- it was excellent. I loved the raw veggies and pickles as a starter. It doesn’t get much more old school than that. The décor was obviously fabulous. We sat in the Lambs Room where I could stare at that big tiger picture sprawling out the whole dinner. And the service was absolutely phenomenal. It was like night and day compared to the service we had earlier at Nougatine. My water was always filled, dishes eased in and out seamlessly and a fresh Manhattan seemed to magically appear only moments after being ordered.

Obviously the main highlight here was the meat. I ordered the prime rib and Mr. T indulged in the Mutton. The Prime Rib was bloody juicy and the mutton…well the mutton was mutton!

Not sure what exactly to say about it. That was one mammoth and flavorful hunk of meat.

The sides were delicious as well. The carrots had a nice ginger spice and the creamed spinach was so creamy I could have eaten that solely as my entrée. I was stuffed at the end but I had to try out one of their desserts! I opted out of the famous sundae and instead got the Crème Brulee. This was actually a perfect end to the meal as the brulee top was insanely delicious but the crème bottom was lighter than most and not overly filling.

I would go back to Keens in a heartbeat. The food, décor and service were everything I could ask for and more. It was a fabulous way to end my celebratory day. Now I just need to stop eating for three more months so I can fit into my wedding dress. Eek!

Keens Steakhouse

Friday, November 19, 2010

NYC Shower Day- MObar

After our lunch at Nougatine we walked across the street to the Mandarin Oriental for the next stop on our celebratory day the spa! I was actually a little nervous about this part. I have always had this phobia of other people touching me so I’ve avoided massages like the plague. However at this point in my life I figured I had to try it out…and you know what I was wonderful!!! For all of you massages lovers out there you know what I mean. I felt stress from years ago was unleashed on that table and I was a relaxed and happy woman at the end.

We relaxed in the spa for a while after and enjoyed the beautiful views of the city. Then we decided it was time for some cocktails and went right out the lobby and into the MoBar where I ordered this lovely pink drink.

The Bella Pesca which was Champagne, Elderflower Liquor, Grapefruit and Lychee juice topped with a splash of Chambord. I really enjoyed this cocktail. It was fun and bubbly up front, sweet going down and slightly tart and sour at the end. Of course for $19 it better be tasty right! I just love MObar. It was a great way to finish up with the ladies before meeting the men for dinner downtown.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NYC Shower Day- Jean George Nougatine

I had the pleasure of spending a fabulous day with my Mother-in-Law to be and her two sisters last week. They all came into the city to take me out for a day of pre-martial celebrations. We started out with some shopping at Bergdorf Goodman near the Plaza. This store has always been my favorite for its Christmas windows but I had never actually been inside! It was quite a spectacular place- too expensive for me but a fun place to walk around.

After some serious shopping we walked over to our first food spot of the day Jean George Nougatine. Located at the front of the Jean George restaurant the space inside was light and airy. We got a seat right near the open kitchen which is always fun to enjoy all the hustle and bustle inside.

To begin I started with the Yuzu Cocktail. Sparkling wine, yuzu juice and a hint of sage; this was basically a Bellini that walked on the sour side of life. There are two options at lunchtime the a la carte or prix fix. Most of the options I wanted were offered on the 3 course prix fix so I went that route and began with the Fried Calamari with Basil Salt and Citrus Chili Dip.

I knew the calamari here was made with egg whites rather than breading. I was surprised how well the texture and flavor of the calamari really stood out with this method. Although the dish was a tad on the greasy side I thought it was very tasty. The basil salt and chili dip really brought this dish to a whole new level. The dip was so light and foamy it was almost like air.

For my entrée I chose the Roasted Red Snapper with Spaghetti Squash and Chili Oil. The description did mention the chili oil but I wasn’t prepared for just how spicy this dish was going to be. The chili oil was dispersed around the bottom of the dish but there were also some peppery spices rubbed into the fish as well. The heat overwhelmed this dish a bit for me. It’s too bad because the snapper was perfectly cooked with a crispy brown top and flaky moist innards.

For dessert I had to go for the signature Jean George Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Molten Chocolate Cakes are hardly anything special these days- they grace almost every menu in the city. However I really enjoyed Jean George’s version. The top crust had some extra sugar that gave it almost a caramelized texture and the ice cream came with some crunchy chocolate nibs underneath. Ice cream cake anyone? Yum!

The best dish of the afternoon I didn’t get a picture of but needs mention- the Foie Gras Crème Brulee. It wasn’t offered on the prix fix menu so I passed it by but never again would I make that decision. I got to try a bite and it was absolutely decadent. The brulee had been caramelized on top and came with a thick fig jam on the side that complemented the rich fatty dish perfectly.

Now although we had a wonderful meal I have to say the service could use some improvement. We had to wait an extremely long time to place our order and my cocktail sat up on the bar for about 15 minutes before I reminded my waiter and he finally grabbed it. However they did give us a complimentary dessert at the end which was nice, so maybe that helped make up for the delays. Overall it was a pleasurable lunch and I still saved some room for that nights dinner at Keens as the celebrations continue!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sigmound Pretzel Cookie

Just looking at the picture of this marvelous cookie makes me drool a little bit. This is a Wanko cookie from Sigmund’s Pretzel Shop down in Alphabet city.

Wanko you say? I’d go wanko for a gigantic peanut butter cookie stuffed with big chocolate chips and rounds of salty pretzel slices. I felt like I was eating an awesome cookie version of the Hershey’s Take Five bar. The cookie had been made hours before but the dough was still super soft and the chocolate chips retained a melty characteristic. This was a great cookie. My only suggestion would be more pretzel bits!!! The combination of peanut butter, salt and chocolate was amazing. Make sure we get that in each and every bite!

Sigmund Pretzelshop

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brunch at Dylan Prime

Mr. T and I used to love Dylan Prime. It was the first steakhouse we went to in the city and I have fond memories of their cheesy fondue and luscious meat dipping sauces. So when I saw Urban Daddy offering $20 certificates for a full brunch, cocktail and dessert included, I jumped on it.

Mr. T and I arrived on Sunday right around 1:00 pm. Brunch at Dylan prime is served in their bar/lounge area, which was perfect for me because I wanted to watch some football. Our waiter was familiar with the Urban Daddy deal so he took our certificates right away and set us up with some Bloody Mary’s.

Our choices for first course were Lobster Bisque or Mixed Green salad.

I was feeling a little unhealthy from the my beer and meat fest Saturday night so I got the salad. The greens were simple, dressed in a Dijon dressing with teardrop tomoatoes. It was very tasty.

Mt. T got the lobster bisque which was finished off with a brandy crème on top. Damn me for thinking healthy. This soup was wonderful and just what I could have gone for on the first really cold autumn day.

For our main course we got steak and eggs with a choice of Skirt Steak or Hanger Steak. I can never remember which one I enjoy more so I went for the Hanger Steak. My meat was cooked perfectly just as asked but I didn’t love the meat per se. It was a little on the fatty side and had a chewy texture in spots. Mr. T ordered the Skirt Steak and I ended up liking his cut of meat better. Although it doesn’t look as pretty as mine the steak had a better flavor and texture overall.

For dessert we were each given a Molten Chocolate Cake with whipped cream. I was a little sad to see only whipped cream on the side. Usually molten cakes come with some sort of ice cream on the side. I really missed having a cold creamy side to mix the warm chocolate center with.

Overall the brunch was a good deal and the food was tasty. They have this special at the restaurant as well but for $20 you don’t get the dessert unless you have the Urban Daddy coupon.

Dylan Prime

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pub Food at Puck Fair

Mr. T and were out shopping in SOHO the other day when the cold winds started to get to me and hunger pains set in. When the weather starts to turn like this I immediately want a cozy Irish pub to settle into and relax. Puck Fair was just a block away so we walked over and got a seat at the bar.

I felt like my bones needed some immediate warming up so I started off with a bowl Seafood Chowder. The first thing I noticed was the consistency. The broth was much thinner than most chowders and the soup was packed full with potatoes and clams. Being that I enjoy the creamy broth of chowder the most I was disappointed. There was to much stuff going on and not enough flavor. In fact all it tasted like to me was bacon and pepper. Kind of disappointing.

For entrees we split two dishes the classic Fish and Chips and a Grilled Shrimp Cesar Salad. The Fish and Chips came out with about six big pieces on the plate and an enormous mound of fries. The dish was pretty good. The fries were crispy but the fish had a slightly strange sour flavor to me that tasted a little off.

The Cesar Salad was a pretty large dish as well. The greens were slightly overdressed but the grilled shrimp were plump and tender as ever.

As far as pub fare goes Puck Fair is good but average. Nothing will blow you away here nor will it cause you distress. The real reason to come here is for the beer list and attitude. They are constantly rotating their drafts and everyone inside is always friendly and jovial. This is a great place for ducking out to during holiday shopping season for a little rest and relaxation.

Puck Fair Bar

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lunch at Almond

Almond is one of those restaurants I seem to always forget about. It’s only one block away from my apartment yet I’ve only eaten there once. After having one of their sandwiches from the Madison Square market it was back on my radar. I stopped in the other day to check out lunch.

Almond has an a la carte menu and a special prix fix lunch. For $20 you get an appetizer, entrée and a glass of wine. This seemed like a pretty good deal so I went that route. I should have taken a closer look at the wine that was offered. It ended up being a White Merlot. Let’s just say I won’t be buying a bottle of that anytime soon!

My meal began with a Field Greens Salad with Goat Cheese and Dijon vinaigrette. This was a pretty ample portion for a first course! I really enjoyed the vinaigrette on the salad but the goat cheese was a downer. It was quite dry and almost stuck to the roof of my mouth. I ended up leaving it to the side and just eating the greens.

For my entrée I had the Crispy Skate Wing with cauliflower, macerated raisins and fried capers. When this dish arrived I was a little bit baffled. There was so much happening on the plate I literally had to dig around to find the skate (this picture is after I finally found it). Once I did find the fish I was disappointed. The edges were lean and crispy but the middle was a soggy mess. I loved the cauliflower, raisin and caper accompaniment but half of the dish was doused in a very strong lemon dressing.

There was so much of it that a small pool had formed in the middle of my plate. Once I finished the untouched veggies I had to stop eating. The lemon flavor was simply too overpowering. So unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy my lunch at Almond this time which is too bad because I loved the environment. It was my first time sitting inside and the whole atmosphere was very lively. They had great music playing and the warm breeze from outside wafted in through the front door. I’m hoping it was just an off day. I can’t imagine anyone liking a dish so heavily sauced and I really want this to be a go to place in the neighborhood.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

We Have a Winner!!!

It's official!! After a random drawing from our contest voters for a beautiful Fruit Basket from Manhattan Fruitier- big congrats go out to kathyarnold. Let's hope no one eating her soup is lactose intolerant!

Thanks to everyone who participated and let's hear it for our runners today!! Go NYC Marathon!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chicken Sandwich from Pies and Thighs

What can I say about this glorious little sandwich? I was apprehensive at first. I thought it was simply going to be fried chicken on a bun- simple.

However when I watched it being made I saw them slather on some red sauce I became concerned. It looked and smelled exactly like Frank’s Red Hot sauce! Luckily looks can be deceiving because the sauce was excellent. It was slightly spicy like Franks but more sweet and light. I was also amazed how moist the chicken was inside. Somehow the buttermilk batter retained all those juices and this was possibly the best chicken sandwich I have ever had! Seriously! I’m so sad I got it the last day of the Madison Square market. I would have been there every day if I had known before. Luckily the original is out in Williamsburg and I am definitely making the trip out there. Pie’s and thighs here I come.

Pies and Thighs

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ocean Grill

I had the day off last week and spent the morning getting some much needed sleep and cleaning the apartment. Once I felt somewhat accomplished I decided to head out and wander the city. I started out in Midtown East, trekked across into the park, stopped by the TWC for a few minutes and finally ended up walking into the Upper West Side for some lunch. It was a beautiful day- nature was giving us one more warm one so I wanted to spend it outdoors. I did a quick map check of what was nearby and saw Ocean Grill. It had outdoor seating, prix fix lunch and was the sister restaurant to Blue Water Grill- perfect!

I was seated right away at a nice sidewalk table overlooking the park and decided upon the prix-fix lunch menu. I put my menu down and waited. I don’t hang out in the UWS much and I was struck by how quiet it was. Maybe a little too quiet for my tastes. After about 10 minutes at my eerie quiet table I began to get annoyed. No one had brought me water, a waiter behind me had bumped into me while serving and barely said a word and the only reason I knew anything about the specials was from the host.

Finally my waitress showed up and I was able to place my order. It would be another 10 minutes for my drink to arrive but in the meantime a runner brought out my first course.

Steamed PEI Mussels with chorizo, cilantro and a chipotle broth. I was planning to ask for this dish without the cilantro but I had been waiting so long to order I forgot. Luckily the cilantro was pretty subdued and the chorizo flavor came through more, although no where near as strong as I would have expected. The broth was actually pretty bland. I hear chipotle sauce and think spice. This had almost no spice at all. Unfortunately I also found some grit in two of my mussels along the way. That can happen for sure but it really turns me off when it does.

Onto the main course the Grilled Skirt Steak with sautéed spinach and fresh mozzarella. As I was being seated the host raved about this special. Apparently the chef had just gotten this cheese in and absolutely fell in love with it. Upon tasting I have to agree- the cheese really was excellent. It was a bit firmer than most mozzarella but incredibly rich and creamy.

Unfortunately the cheese just didn’t go with the dish. I tried it with the steak and the two actually seemed to detract from each other. The steak was a little on the stringier side and the smooth mozzarella made that stringiness even more apparent. The steak was also cooked strangely. Half of it was a perfect medium rare and the other half was cooked through to a medium well. Maybe the grill was off that day? Who knows but about halfway through I really started to hate the dish. It just got really greasy. As the food started to cool, the grease from the steak mixed with the grease from the cheese and the whole dish started to look like some sort of heart attack on a plate. I could almost feel my arteries clogging up and decided I’d had enough.

Luckily I had ordered the three course prix fix lunch and dessert was included in my meal. It was lucky because this was the only dish I enjoyed that day. It was billed as a White Chocolate & Raspberry Brulee. To be honest the only raspberry flavor was the berries on top and I didn’t really taste too much white chocolate in the rest.

However the top was perfectly crackly and the custard was velvety smooth so I enjoyed it immensely. The pink shortbread cookie was a really nice gesture as well for breast cancer awareness month.

So overall this lunch was not a success in my book. The food was subpar and my service was absolutely atrocious. I saw my waitress maybe twice the entire meal and each time it was followed by long periods of waiting. I had wanted an espresso with my dessert but I was afraid I might be there all day if I ordered one! I settled for a gross Dunkin Donuts one on the next block and called it a day.

Ocean Grill

Monday, November 1, 2010

“Fall Back” Fruit Giveaway!!!

It’s my favorite time of year and to celebrate the last week of waking up in the dark before the clocks turn back we’ve decided to do a contest. NYC Tastes has teamed up with Manhattan Fruitier to give away one of their beautiful and delicious Cortland Hamper baskets.

Manhattan Fruitier is actually right near my apartment and their popular baskets contain everything from fresh cut flowers, chocolates and nuts to exotic fruits platters. You can check out some more of their Fruit Baskets.

For this contest we’re going to keep it simple. Autumn is my favorite time of year for many reasons. I love the gorgeous orange and red leaves, the feeling of crisp cool air in my lungs and snuggling into a cozy sweatshirt.

But hey- this blog is about food! And autumn is also my favorite time for food! So I want to hear about your favorite autumn dishes- whether it be store/ restaurant bought or homemade. I will always remember my Mom picking up perfectly ripe apples and cider doughnuts from the Orchard and making her famous homemade Apple Crisp. My new favorite in the city for this season is Bespoke’s Pumpkin Bourbon Chocolate. We liked them so much we ordered a whole box to bring with us to Florida last year!

So that’s it. Simply write your favorite autumn food in the comments section and we’ll randomly choose the winner for this gorgeous basket. We’ll pick the winner officially on Sunday. It's “Fall Back” day and the NYC Marathon! What a great day to awake with sunshine on your face and some delicious goodies! Good Luck!

Manhattan Fruitier