Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ginger Man

I was done with the sports bar scene last week...I just wanted to sip a great beer and watch basketball without having to high five anyone every five minutes.  Mr. T and I decided to ditch the friends and head to Ginger Man.



We walked inside and there was a spot right in front of the only television and the Sour in Rye from The Bruery on tap.  If you like sour beers this is the one to get right now and enjoying it fresh on tap was the best.



For snacks a hot Parmesan pretzel with beer cheese and pesto... talk about perfect!

The Ginger Man

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tap Room 307

When Tap Room 307 opened in my neighborhood I was incredibly excited.  Here's a bar, one block away from my apartment, that is supposed to serve great beer, delicious food and have lots of TVs for sports watching.   Unfortunately it completely disappointed me.  The service was terrible, the food was bad and although the tap list was good the servers had no clue how to pour a beer properly.  We decided to boycott it for a year and see if they could get their act together... this is what we've found.  They make a pretty delicious flat bread pizza.





Tap Room has a wood burning oven in the back where you can actually sit and watch your pizza being made.  It arrives piping hot with a thin, crispy crust, lots of gooey cheese and fresh basil.  I think their pizzas may actually be the best thing on their menu although the Chicken Wings are another good choice.  


They're absolutely enormous with a great crunchy exterior and a nice spicy sauce.  The price is a little higher than most bars but the portion size is huge.  Stick to one of these food options and you'll be okay.



The tap list has been solid with breweries like Empire, Founders and Harpoon.  The staff still don't seem to know much about the beers but at least they've been pouring them better.  The service itself has gone from atrocious to sub-par... I guess that's a step up.  It will never be the bar I want it to be but it seems to have gotten a bit better.  Now if only they would update their beer list on their website once in a while...


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Treats at Chocolat Moderne

I've always loved Easter.  Growing up it began with an Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard with my two brothers followed by some serious chocolate and jelly beans from our Easter Baskets.  Then it was off to see relatives- first the Polish side of the family for a brunch of white borscht and potato rolls.  We always had a big thing of butter shaped like a lamb on the table that always confused me.  Then it was over to the Irish side of the family for a classic dinner of baked ham and scalloped potatoes.  It was a holiday filled with great food and family- what's not to love!  This will be the first time I'm going back home for Easter since I moved here so I'm bringing some delicious treats to share from Chocolat Moderne.



The first a Milk Chocolate egg filled with luscious butter caramel and sea salt.



The second a White Chocolate egg with a crispy pistachio praline inside and speckled green shell outside.



I always bring home a few of their regular offerings also like the White Chocolate Green Tea and the Milk Chocolate Raspberry...okay these won't actually make the trip since I already ate them...I have self control issues when it comes to chocolate:)



But the Dark Chocolate bar with espresso caramel is hidden away for some lucky person:)

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Brew Friday- It's March Madness Time!

Which means lots of basketball viewing and beer drinking for the next few weekends.  This time of year is always intense and it's hard to drink good beers all day without getting totally snockered   Usually I revert back to BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) for a light choice but they taste like water and I hate supporting the giant corporation InBev.  Luckily one of my favorite breweries has come out with a delicious alternative.



It's the All Day IPA from Founders.  It has big aromas of citrus and lots of pine and grassy notes that I love in an IPA but with only 4.7% abv.  Which means you can drink this beer "All Day".  Enjoy the tournament!

Founders Brewery

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Queens Kickshaw

Ever since the brother and sister-in-law moved back into the city I've been trying to find good vegetarian places for them to enjoy.  Queens Kickshaw was always on my "must try" list and I didn't even realize it was meat free- how perfect!  Let's cut right to the chase...their Kitchen Sink Salad is awesome.



Yep this has everything in it you could ever want...hard boiled egg, olive, pear and the biggest hunk of funky blue cheese I have ever seen in a salad.  I would come for just this alone...


I would skip the basket of knishes next time.  They weren't much better than ones you would find in a grocery store freezer.



Instead go for the fluffy Cheddar and Mozzarella Grilled Cheese which was perfectly buttery and rich.  It comes with a thick tomato soup that could almost pass as pasta sauce but I honesty like my tomato soup like that...much better for dipping.




The homemade Mac and Cheese has a brown crusty top and gooey cheese center.  This place had basically everything you could want in comfort food...just without the meat.  They also have a pretty nice beer list that constantly changes and strong delicious coffee.  This is a great place for a few pints and snacks if you find yourself in Astoria.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brunch at Penelope

If you happen to walk by Lexington and 30th any given weekend morning, whether it's 70 degrees and sunny or 30 degrees and snowing, you're likely to see a long line of people standing outside sipping on mugs of coffee and chatting.  No they're not waiting to get a glimpse of Justin Bieber...they're waiting for a spot inside the cute little restaurant Penelope for brunch. What's on the menu?  Things like Pumpkin Waffles with Apple Butter and Cinnamon Pecans, Salmon Wrapped Poached Eggs and fluffy Nutella French Toast.  I was in a lunch mood my last visit so I ordered When Veggie Met Sally 



Grilled Veggie Burger gets dressed up with chopped greens, green apple and goat cheese in a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette.  It's a sweet and savory salad that gives me the protein and veggie power I need for a productive day.


Well maybe not too productive...who can say no to a Pomegranate Bellini.  It is the weekend after all :)

Penelope

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time to Start Tippling

It's that time of year again where mixologists rule the city and bars break out their very best for a celebration of cocktails and culture.  It's the annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic and this years lineup looks better than ever!  Here's a quick look at a few events I'm especially excited about:

  • The Campbell Apartment will be celebrating their 100th anniversary featuring turn-of-the 20th century cocktails
  • Chef Eric Ripert from Le Bernardin will be hosting a cocktail pairing dinner
  •  Take a Suburban Tiki Safari throughout the city
  • Tour Chinatown with Bombay Sapphire

And that's just a few...Of course there is always the fabulous Opening Night Gala where the New York Public Library gets turned into the biggest black tie cocktail party in the city.  Last year they went through 30,000 cocktails  12,000 pounds of ice and 5,000 oysters in that one event alone!  Tickets are on sale now and selling out fast so don't miss out.  You can see all the events and get your tickets here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lunch at Morimoto

I took an extra vacation day after our Philly trip to sleep in and get some errands accomplished...but of course I couldn't take a day off without enjoying a fancy solo lunch too:)   I decided to head to Morimoto for their $25 Bento Box lunch.  The choices that day were Sea Bass, Vegetarian, Grilled Wagyu Beef or Braised Black Cod.


I absolutely love getting bento boxes.  It's kind of like getting a personalized tasting menu where I get to try a bit of everything.  Plus each item has its own little compartment which makes my OCD tendencies very happy:)


I chose the Black Cod Miso which was moist and silky with a sweet buttery glaze.  I've had a lot of bad miso cod in my life but this one was executed perfectly.   Tuna, Yellowtail and Fluke comprised the sushi assortment with a delicious Spicy Yellowtail roll, crunchy asparagus tempura and a warm inviting miso soup. 


The meal ended with a refreshing Mango Panna Cotta with fresh berries.


  Ahhhhh...I live for these relaxing little lunches...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Torst

To say that I've been excited about this new beer bar opening would be an understatement.  Mr. T and I had been scouring every media source on a daily basis in the weeks leading up to its opening.  If you haven't heard yet it's helmed by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso from Evil Twin Brewery and Daniel Burns a Momofuku alum.  The two have been collaborating on this project for a while and the space finally opened last week Friday out in Greenpoint.  I practically ran out of work that day to check it out.  What I found was amazing...



They incorporated a "flux capacitor" for the beer lines which serves each brew at its proper temperature and pressure.  On these taps are some of the best beers from Evil Twin Brewery like the delicious Even Better Than Jesus (in three different variations) and some great lambics like the Cantillon Kriek.



Yeah that's right a Cantillon....you would think that was enough excitement but then I took a look at their bottle menu...



There has never been a beer menu that reads like this.  The amount of rare and incredible bottles was straight up amazing.



Like the Cantillon Blaber 2010...



And a Cantillon Fou Foune...I've been here three times in the last week because I can't help not knowing what they might pull out next.  One of the best parts about this place is where its located.  Greenpoint doesn't get a ton of tourist traffic so unless your into great beer you probably won't venture out here.  That means most of the crowd will be just as excited and into beer as you are when you arrive.  When food service starts in a few months it might just make sense for Mr. T and I to move to Greenpoint :)

Torst

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pliny the Younger at Monk's Cafe

The main reason for our trip to Philadelphia was very simple...beer.  It was the annual release of Pliny the Younger, an Imperial IPA from Russian River that is virtually impossible to get anywhere on the East Coast.  The event was scheduled to kick off at 11:30 am at Monk's Cafe.  We arrived at 10:00 am and there were already over 100 people waiting in line outside.  Luckily Monk's has done this many times before and they had a set up that worked perfect.  A little over two hours later and we were sitting inside each with our glass of Pliny.



It was amazing how many people showed up for just a taste of this beer.  I have to admit it was wonderful...not my favorite Double IPA but a great one for sure.  I actually enjoy the Pliny the Elder a bit better, which they also had on tap, in addition to some other fantastic beers.


And some amazing bottles...




I mean really amazing bottles...



It was fantastic   We stayed for quite a while until hunger hit and we had to leave for a burger at Good Dog Bar then onto Farmer's Cabinet for a tasty plate of cheese and meat and a little bit of live music.



It was a quick but wonderful trip filled with so much great beer it kind of blew my mind.  But now it's back to NYC where a new beer bar may be the best place yet...

Monks Cafe

Pliny The Younger

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Return to Matyson- Philidelphia

Remember that fabulous Beet tasting menu I enjoyed in Philadelphia last year?  I loved Matyson so much it immediately went into my top five places of all time. We had a trip planned to Philadelphia this past Sunday and the first order of business was heading back to the restaurant for another meal.



The tasting menu on Sunday is slightly different than the week day offering.  They still choose one ingredient for the base but instead of five course there is only four and it's $35 instead of $55.  As always, Matyson is BYOB so when we saw pork as the ingredient we decided to create a beer pairing for each course on our own.  To begin BBQ Pig Tails, birch beer glaze and celery root slaw paired with Russian River Damnation.


This is my first experience with pig tails and I have to say it will definitely not be my last....these were amazing!  They were similar in texture to a spare rib with a surprising amount of smoky meat and a sweet glaze on top that had just the right amount of spice.  The creamy slaw underneath was the perfect complement to the dish. Onto our 2nd Course- Bo Ssam with bibb lettuce, kimchi and ssam jang paired with a Crispin Extra Dry Cider.



The Bo Ssam had a sweet glaze similar to the pig tails except the meat was a little more moist and fatty.  Each big hunk I rolled into the lettuce cup practically melted it was so tender.



The addition of some vinegar kimchi and a sip of refreshing cider really cut the fat from the pork.   Onto the 3rd course- Chili Braised Pork Cheek with stewed pepitas, sweet potatoes and watercress paired with a Bells Two Hearted IPA.



I really didn't think it could get any better than the first two dishes but this managed to blow me away as well.  The pork was so tender it was like cutting into butter and the chili sauce left a nice little salty burn on my lips. We were both so full the staff happily suggested waiting a little bit to digest before our 4th and final course Peanut Butter Mousse Cake with chocolate and toasted marshmallow paired with a Russian River Kalamazoo Stout.


OMG this was like eating the best campfire Smore's I've ever had in my life.  Just swap out the graham cracker and add a crunchy chocolate bottom with some rich, creamy peanut butter.  It was like this dessert was crafted just for me..the coffee and chocolate notes from the Kalamazoo Stout were the perfect addition to the end of our fabulous meal.

Matyson continues to excel on every level.  I was worried it wouldn't live up to my expectations from the previous visit but it actually exceeded them.  The ability to create a brand new menu, each and every week based around one ingredient (and do it flawlessly) is incredible.  If I lived in this town I would be hard pressed not to eat here each and every week...and with the $35 price tag and BYOB I could honestly afford to.  Matyson is the whole package.  I can't wait to see what they create on our next visit!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Hopkins Winery

Whenever I think of nearby wineries, my mind goes right to the North Fork of Long Island.  I'm not even sure I knew any wineries existed in Connecticut until my friend Carrie invited me to visit back in February.  Hopkins Winery is located in Warren, CT just a short drive from the city and in the gorgeous Litchfield Hills.  The best thing to do is try out all of the wines in their tasting room...



...then take choose your favorite one upstairs to their Hay Loft wine bar.  The space has such a homey, rustic feel with incredibly friendly service and some delicious food.



We had a cheese and chocolate platter that was excellent.  All of the cheese were from nearby farms and the chocolate was made by the winery.  When the local musicians began playing some tunes I couldn't help but forget about all the stress in life and just relax...this is a perfect spot for a little escape from the city.

Hopkins Vineyard

Thursday, March 7, 2013

County NYC

County opened quietly a few weeks ago on the hopping restaurant block of 20th street between Park and Broadway.  From the outside it looks like a cozy little wine bar...inside it has the same warm feel with low lighting and wooden walls reminiscent of a country barn. The small plate menu is meant to be seasonal and market driven.



We decided to share a variety of plates, beginning with the Braised Pork Belly Brulee with sauteed butternut squash, crispy pancetta and toasted pepitas.



I was a little confused when the dish arrived.  It wasn't at all like the Pork Belly Brulee I had imagined, more like a gigantic Chinese Spare Rib both in taste and texture.  The same was the case with the Country Rack by Land.


I was picturing big pieces of bone in fried chicken instead of battered chicken strips...both of the dishes were actually quite delicious the descriptions just didn't seem to fit the plate.  The same could be said for the Black and White Wagyu Sliders with avocada salasa, texas onion jam and full sours.  



I absolutely loved the pickles but I wasn't really sure why the burgers were called "Black and White".  They were cooked well enough and came with some excellent curly fries but nothing about the dish fit the fancy description.

Overall I think the food at County was good, it just needs to work on its identity a bit.  If I'm getting "county fair" kind of food I would like a county fair kind of menu to go along with it.  I am rooting for this little restaurant, it's nice to have a more affordable and casual place among the other guys on the block like Veritas and Barbounia.

County

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Manzanilla

Manzanilla is one in a handful of new restaurants that just opened in our neighborhood.  This sprawling Spanish Brasserie from Dani Garcia is a bit hidden off Park Avenue South with big windows up front by the bar and an elegant back room for dining.  So far I've only tried appetizers like the Kale Salad with valdeon blue cheese, poached quail eggs, puffed wheat, almonds and black olive dressing.



When I read the description of this salad I knew it would be a winner.  The funky blue cheese, salty almonds and silky egg were a perfect match for the briny black olive dressing.  If only the portion were a little bit larger for the $14 price tag.



The Pork Belly Brioche were also tasty.  The buns had a great buttery texture perfect for holding in all the moist, fatty pork.  


The service still has a few kinks to work out...there always seems to be a little confusion as to who's doing what at the bar and last time my pour of wine was so minuscule even Mr. T made a comment.  But hopefully these are just opening jitters.

Manzanilla

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beer Week Finale at Birreria

NYC beer week came to a conclusion Sunday with a finale at Birreria.  They had a special line up of bottled beer to celebrate and two gravity casks.




I've had the Dogfish Head 75 Minute multiple times before but never on cask.  It was so much lighter than in the bottle but still with that wonderful hoppy nose and sweet maple flavor.




I paired my delicious beer with their crunchy Kale Salad made with grapefruit, pomegranate seeds and anchovy dressing.



It was a beautiful day on the roof and a great way to end the fabulous week of beer in NYC.

NYC Beer Week

Birreria

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yes I'm Totally Hooked on Hillstone...Again

I know, I know...I just can't help it.  I'm just really enjoying everything, old and new, on their menu right now.  Last visit I had the Kale Salad with  Jalapeno Yellowtail Sashmi.


The sashimi looked almost identical to the jalapeno yellowtail from Nobu and tasted just as fresh.  I absolutely loved the crunchy kale salad on the side with a creamy peanut dressing.  This is a prefect meal for you low carb eaters out there (just ask for no soy sauce).


Mr. T indulged in our old favorite the Knife and Fork Ribs.  These were so incredibly juicy and tender with that addictive BBQ sauce and thin crispy fries.  We decided to go all out and get the signature Spinach and Artichoke dip as well.


There is no Spinach and Artichoke Dip that even compares to this one.  They make it so creamy and rich...I think I drooled a little thinking about it just now.  Is there anyway NOT to be hooked on this place?  

Hillstone