Friday, November 30, 2012

It's the Weekend!

Time for a delicious drink from my favorite little cocktail den Pravda.

The Gogol is comprised of Horseradish Vodka, Dill and a Pickled Quail Egg.  If your a horseradish lover as I am this drinks for you...


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Guide

The tree has been lit in Rockefeller Center so it's time for my holiday guide to go back up.  I added it to the pages up top so if your planning a trip in to see the tree, please feel free to use this as your handy guide to some good eats.

NYC is a wonderful and magical place to visit around the holiday season. The Rockefeller Center tree is gorgeous, all the hotels are decked out in red and gold, holiday pop-up shops fill the parks- what could be better?

Unfortunately you have to be prepared for what I can only describe as controlled chaos. You will be wrangled like cattle to see the tree, stand in line at a Starbucks for 30 minutes, not for a caffeine fix but to use the single smelly bathroom and you’ll probably be so pooped out from all of your shopping and touring that you’ll see a TGI Friday’s or Olive Garden and think it’s an oasis in the storm. Two hours later (because you’ll have to wait for a table like all of the other tourists who thought the line at McDonald’s and Subway were too long) you’ll wonder why the food and service were so crappy and suddenly your wallet is empty as well.

It’s the holidays in NYC folks and one must be prepared to weather the season. If you’re from the city you should know this and already be prepared but for you out of towners here’s a few holiday food recommendations to make your stay a little more jolly.

Rockefeller Center/ Times Square

Family Meal - Bills Bar and Burger
The location only a block from the tree can’t be beat and the laid back friendly service, reasonable prices and awesome burgers pretty much seal the deal. They have a separate kids menu with tater tots and chicken  fingers as well as vegetarian friendly options like fish taco’s and one of the city’s best veggie burgers. They also have cocktails, wine and an extensive beer list. Believe you’ll need a drink after braving the tree crowds with the family. Oh and they take reservations- Bam!

Bills Burger Bar Review

Cheap Adventurous Meal- Sake Bar Hagi
Hidden down some stairs right outside the madness of Rockefeller Center and Times Square is this cute little Izakaya. Don’t expect a quiet relaxed meal however- it’s loud, noisy and fun. Order some skewers of meat,  yellowtail collar and a couple Sapporo’s and enjoy the experience. It’s good for groups as well but the space is tiny so if you have more than 2 people go right when they open or expect a long wait. However they  will take your phone number and call when a table is available. Walk over to Jimmy’s Corner and have a couple drinks while you wait.

Sake Bar Hagi Review

Upscale Fancy Meal- The Modern
Located inside the Modern Museum of Art this restaurant exudes both the arts and fine dining. Expect flawless French cuisine, an extensive wine and cocktail list and the impeccable service expected of all of Danny Meyers restaurants. Don’t skip the desserts which are just as delicious as they are beautiful.

The Modern Bar Room Review

Classic Steakhouse with a Twist- Quality Meats
Right around the corner from the Plaza Hotel this steakhouse creates the most delicious Steak Tartare I’ve had to date. Not that you need to have tartare, all the classic cuts of meat are there as well with delicious sides and whimsical desserts. The Twist? Although it’s certainly a steakhouse the ambiance is much softer and more refined than the old school guys. Imagine powering through a Porterhouse and still feeling elegant as you’re doing so- that’s Quality Meats for sure.

Quality Meats review

Chocolate Treats- Cause you're Gonna Need Something Sweet

Good- Lindt Chocolate
Lindt Chocolate is sold everywhere now and it’s for good reason. The smooth, creamy truffles are wonderful and at the shop on 5th Avenue you can always find a new flavor and usually score a free sample at the door.

Better- Teuscher Chocolate
Right in Rockefeller Center this little shop explodes with bright colors and little figurines all about Switzerland, but don’t forget about the chocolates. The truffles and pralines have the same creaminess as the  Lindt but with a richer, more authentic flavor.

Best- La Maison du Chocolat
Just walking into La Maison you will know at once that it’s a different level of chocolate shop. The well suited staff and trays of perfectly shaped ganaches and pralines almost make me feel like I’ve been transported to a fancy Parisian boutique. The Figaro is one of my favorite but don’t leave without trying out a pastry as well. The Romeo, a Coffee Chocolate Macaron, is the perfect pick me up after a long day of shopping.

La Maison du Chocolat

Teuscher Fifth Avenue

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oh My Pumpkin Pie

If there's ever been a time to swing by Shake Shack now is the time to go.  Take a look...

It's their creamy vanilla frozen custard with a slice of pumpkin pie blended right inside.  It's the Pumpkin Pie, Oh My Fall Concrete and it's only available until December 2nd.  It may not look pretty but this is one of the best Concretes I've ever had from Shake Shack.  In fact it's the most popular Concrete they sell.   So go now before you miss the holiday window!

Shake Shack

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lunch At Junoon

I can't tell you how many times I've walked past this restaurant before finally stopping in.  The space is absolutely stunning with bright canopy's, gorgeous Indian pillows and an open kitchen.  I was seated in the main area and ordered off the 3 course prix fix lunch menu.  To begin the Paneer Pakoras.

This massive plate of Paneer was somewhat disappointing.  The cheese had a lot more breading than I was used to and the sauce was a little too heavy on the mint.  I wish the cheese had more flavor and the sauce a bit less.  For my entree I went a pretty safe route with the Murg Lababdar.

The Chicken Tikka was all dark meat pieces in a thick tomato and cream sauce.  I enjoyed the sweet onion in the mix and used the perfect fluffy Naan to scoop it all up.

The Naan had a nice char on the bottom and the pot of rice was possibly the best I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying in my life.

It was so fluffy and delicate I was astonished at its perfect texture.

For dessert a seasonal Pumpkin Tart made of Butternut Squash, Poached Cranberries, Caramel Nigella Seed Tuile and Apple Cider Sauce rounded out the meal on a delicious end.

For $24 this was a pretty filling and inexpensive meal.  It was so calm and quiet when I was there, it would be a great spot for a business lunch.  I left the restaurant with a full bag of leftovers for dinner later that night.  It wasn't the best Indian I've ever had but it was decent.  I'm not sure I would return again just for the food but maybe a drink in the lovely ambiance.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Brunch at Toloache

We were shopping around for brunch in Midtown West and Mexican was the first thing that popped into my mind of course.  Midtown West isn't exactly a great area for food so when I spotted Toloache on Opentable it seemed like a serviceable choice   We started out with a round of Michelada's and Bloody Mary's.

Then it was on to the best Mexican appetizer ever- chips and guacamole.

There wasn't any fan fare with the guac like you see at some Mexican restaurants.  No table side prep or fancy mortar...just good,avocado, tomato and lime.

The star of the brunch were these Fried Brussels Sprout with Queso Fresco.  They added toasted pumpkin seeds which gave it a nice satisfying crunch and threw in a little sherry vinaigrette for flavor.

The Huevos Rancheros had the standard crisp tortilla with crema and queso....I wasn't the best I've ever had but it was certainly tasty.  I thought Fonda in Alphabet City was better but for bunch in Midtown West it's good option.


Friday, November 23, 2012

It's the Start of the Holidays!

Just a little holiday post wishing everyone well!  I had such a lovely time up at Mr. T's parents house filled with luscious Jacques Torres Chocolates...

And some delicious red wines...

I wish every week could be filled with such good food, wine and family:)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Little Snack at Maialino

After a long day its nice to unwind.  The bar at Maialino looks directly onto Gramercy Park so it's a serene and peaceful escape from the craziness of the city.

Work had been so busy I had missed lunch so I nibbled on a little Pecornio with a thick, sweet honey.

Then onto an order of Roasted Squash with a raw squash vinaigrette...simple, clean, delicious flavors.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Don Antonio By Sarta

Wow this review is a long time coming!  Please forgive the lateness but this happened almost a month ago.  We were lucky enough to get tickets for Louie C. K. and after the early show ended we were immediately en route to Dona Antonio.  I will start by saying the best pizza in my opinion was the specialty Montanara Starita.

This had it all- light, crispy dough, smokey buffalo mozzarella and a great sauce.  If this was the only pizza we ordered I would have loved the place...but we ordered a lot more.  Let's start with our Rustica Salad.

This was nice with Prosciutto Di Parm, artichoke and olives on top of a bed of field greens.  I loved the briny olives and tangy lemon vinaigrette.

The Montanarine were forgettable...the puffed dough seemed to be lacking any salt and just tasted bland.

A slightly better Antipasti was the Arancini with a light crunch on the outside and creamy innards.  The next two pizzas is where things took a serious turn for me.  The Pizza Del Papas sounded fantastic with butternut squash, roasted peppers, zucchini and smoked buffalo mozzarella.

But like the Montanarine it just didn't have much flavor.  Ditto for the Pistacchio e Salsiccia with pistachio pesto, sausage, mozzarella and pecorino romano.

Again the ingredients sounded wonderful but the pizza was incredibly bland.  Not only that but the dough was really starting to bother me.  It had a strange texture that reminded me of eating a poorly cooked Pizza Hut pie.  I haven't had Pizza Hut in years but that is the only thing that came to mind when I tasted the slightly buttery stale crust.

The only other pizza that was somewhat decent was Rachetta.  I enjoyed the fresh ricotta on top and the crust didn't have the same weird texture as the other two but I still didn't think it was that great.  So overall I really wasn't impressed with Don Antoino.  There is so much good pizza in this city it's hard to settle for something that's not top quality and Don Antonio just didn't have it.  

Don Antonio Pizza

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lunch at Ilili

There's nothing better than spending a relaxing afternoon over food and Ilili is a perfect place for unwinding. The gorgeous room and soothing Mediterranean music make me feel like I've been transported to some exotic far off land.  The food is quite wonderful as well.  The last visit we started with the Manti- lamb dumplings with yogurt foam, tomato and pine nuts.

I was expecting bigger dumplings but I loved how tiny and dense these were. The combination of spicy lamb and cooling yogurt was an excellent play on flavor and texture.  It was honestly quite a sexy little dish.

The Black Iron Shrimp arrived in a little skillet covered in garlic, jalapeno and a sizzling butter sauce.

The Phoenician Fries came out nice and crisp covered with Sumac, Parsley and an addictive spicy Garlic Whip.  Mr. T and I both agreed these fries were fantastic.  Ilili can transport me any day...  


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Tipsy Parson Brunch

Sunday before the storm Mr. T's sister was heading back to Florida so we all met up for a brunch.  This was actually my pre-hurricane preparation meal so I went all out starting with a hearty bowl of mac and cheese.

I'm happy I split this starter because it was so rich and creamy I probably would have ate the whole thing myself and been unable to move.  The cavatelli noodles were perfect for keeping in all the sweet grafton cheese goodness and the breadcrumbs up top gave a nice crunch.

My entree the Migas was like a southern Huevos Rancheros.  The soft scrambled eggs were okay but I would probably order their Farm Stand dish with Brussels Sprout next time.

Mr. T went with some traditional southern brunch fare Fried Chicken and Waffles while I rounded out my meal with a nice peachy Bellini.

After lunch we went shopping for hurricane rations and Mr. T's sister got one of the last flights out of Laguardia.  Time to buckle down for the storm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More Delicious Fall Flavors at Doughnut Plant

I love Doughnut Plant.  There's nothing better than walking into the bakery and smelling that yeasty warm aroma of rising dough. 

I planned on stopping in for a Creme Brulee but then I saw the Pumpkin Dough Seed and had no choice but to order both.

The glazed cake doughnut was filled with a thick pumpkin custard and covered in candied pumpkin seeds.  Thank goodness I have no will power because this dough seed was incredible.  It just might be my favorite doughnut yet.  Plus I gave the Creme Brulee to Mr. T so we both ended up winners:)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dinner at Colicchio and Sons

We went out with Mr. T's entire family a few weeks back to celebrate his sister's birthday at Colicchio & Sons. The large open space was ideal for big groups and all seven of us fit comfortably around a round table perfect for conversation.   To begin two amuse bouche- Parsnip Soup and a Liverwurst Gruyere Gougere

The soup reminded me of the parsnip soup we had on my birthday at Daniel with that same creamy texture and warm bitter flavor. The gougere was surprisingly fantastic as well.  It tasted like a decadent french onion soup dumpling.  Onto appetizers Roasted Octopus with Caramelized Endive, Citrus and Chorizo Vinaigrette.

The octopus had been slow roasted resulting in a tender yet hearty dish that was amazing.  Although I enjoy a tad more char, this was the best octopus dish I've had since Babbo.  

Mr. T ordered the Sweetbreads which were also nice and tender but neither of us liked the large pool of squid ink underneath.  However we both loved his entree the Roasted Duck with Pancetta-Wrapped Fig and Bitter Greens. 

Seriously look at this glorious piece of poultry!  Words can't describe how wonderful this was...the salty sweet pancetta-wrapped fig accompaniment took this dish over the top.  It was incredible.

My Fluke with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Leeks and Burgundy Truffle may not look as fabulous as the duck but it was right up there in flavor.  I mean really, Burgundy Truffle...what's not to love about that.

For dessert Mr. T ordered the seasonal Pumpkin Pie that came with a crunchy pumpkin seed brittle on top (which I ended up devouring ) while I went classic with a Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart.

The dinner ended with a pot of Stumptown Coffee, a selection of petit fours and a pumpkin muffin for each person to bring home for breakfast. Colicchio & Sons was absolutely perfect for the family celebration.

Colicchio and Sons

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bice Restaurant

When Mr. T worked in Midtown, his favorite place to grab an extended lunch was the Italian restaurant Bice.   I was never a part of those lunches, so when I saw they were celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a special four course meal of signature dishes I jumped on a reservation.  We were greeted warmly when we arrived and given a cozy table in the back.  To begin an Antipasti- Chilled Maine Lobster on a bed of mixed greens.

I loved the tangy shallot vinaigrette on the fresh veggies and greens.  The lobster was a tad overcooked but it was still a pleasant start to the meal.

A bread basket filled with fluffy focaccia and garlic rolls arrived right before my favorite course of the night Veal and Parma Ham Ravioli.

These big pillowy squares were intense.  I've never had a ravioli so chock full of meat and the rosemary black truffle sauce was rich and satisfying.   

Osso Buco was Mr. T's favorite dish of the night.  The braised veal shank was fall off the bone tender with a fragrant saffron risotto and herb gremolata.

To finish a lightly whipped Tiramisu with strong notes of coffee and a creamy anglaise sauce on top.  For only $25 with wine pairings this was easily the most delicious and affordable meal I have ever had in the city. I'm so happy I finally got to check out Mr. T's favorite spot.  Happy Anniversary Bice!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Friday!

Wow- it has been a long and crazy week.  I can't wait to relax on the couch and sip on some frothy delicious Stouts.

What will you be enjoying this weekend...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Little Bite at The Breslin

Usually when I walk into The Breslin there's one thing on my mind...Thrice Cooked Chips!  But I was actually having a different food craving the other day for a big delicious Cesar Salad.

The Breslin Cesar is covered in a flurry of fresh herbs and pecorino, slivers of salty anchovy and crunchy homemade croutons.  As far as Cesar Salad's go I thought this was excellent.  Instead of romaine drowned in dressing the herbs were center stage and gave it a clean, natural taste.

A smokey gin and rosemary infused cocktail and my meal was complete:)