Friday, July 31, 2015

New Brew Friday- Other Half Galaxy

It's New Brew Friday and I really can't think of anything better than a crisp refreshing IPA on this scorching hot day.  Luckily Other Half just released their newest batch of Galaxy cans so I'm all set to face the heat.



This dark orange beer gives off aromas of pine and citrus with a super fresh grassy flavor with just a hint of malt at the end.  This is just one of many fantastic Other Half single hop offerings and they continue to crush the NYC beer scene with clean styles like this.  Cheers to local beer and happy birthday to Mr. T!

Other Half
195 Centre Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wildair

The newest venture from the Contra team opened just a few doors down on Orchard Street; Wildair is the causal sister restaurant with an open kitchen serving up a variety of small plates.



Be prepared for adventure when dining at brunch.  Most of the plates include ingredients like seaweed butter, boudin noir and littleneck clams with lardo.  Probably the only true "breakfast" item on the menu were the wonderful Soft Scrambled Eggs dusted with herbs and a flurry of toasted kale.


The Fried Squid was more of a whole fried platter with slices of lemon and onion fried right along side with the seafood and a squid ink mayo for dipping.



The only dish I really didn't enjoy was the Little Gem Lettuce.  This is one of my favorite types of green but it was overdone by too many sesame seeds and a thick sour lime sauce.



As always the wine list was stellar.  I had a gorgeous sparkling rose and Mr. T enjoyed one of the orange wines by the glass that always taste similar to a gueuze, my favorite style of beer.

Wildair
142 Orchard Street @Rivington
New York, NY 10002

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Breakfast at The Love Cafe

I've always been a big fan of the Love Street Coffee truck so whenever I find myself in Astoria I swing by the brick and mortar shop for a bite to eat.  The cozy space has a takeout window up front for on the go ordering and a big space with outdoor seating in back for lounging the sun. My last visit I ordered a breakfast sandwich and it was incredible.


Two eggs scrambled with a handful of herbs, three strips of crisp bacon, thick melted cheddar cheese and a touch of mayo.  This is the sandwich hangover dreams are made of...I'm pretty sure it could cure any bad morning.

The Love Cafe
32-30 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11106

Monday, July 27, 2015

Restaurant Week- The Leopard at Des Artistes

My first restaurant week meal of summer was an easy choice; a delightful brunch inside the iconic Hotel Des Artists.  The restaurant was absolutely stunning inside with large canvas murals adoring the walls painted by Howard Chandler Christy in the 1920's.  The space has an elegant but comfortable feel of "Old New York" and the scene at brunch was quite lively. 



The meal began with a bread basket filled with thin bread sticks flecked with rosemary, a rustic brown studded with raisins and sunflower seeds and classic white baguette.  



The restaurant week menu had options for both breakfast and lunch so I decided to have a reverse meal beginning with a lunch appetizer- thin sliced Tuna with Pantelleria capers and radish dressed with a light mustard sauce.


Then onto breakfast with "Uova in purgatorio" baked eggs cooked in a spicy cherry tomato sauce with crushed red pepper, basil and toasted county bread.


For dessert a White & Fudge Semifreddo; thick vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two rich chocolate cookies with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.  

Everything about the meal was delightful.  The food was delicious, the service was impeccable and setting could not be more lovely.  My only small complaint would be the chilly AC overhead so taking along a sweater (as most women had) would be a must on next visit.

The Leopard at Des Artistes
1 West 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brunch at Cosme

I can still remember opening week of Cosme.  I was at day three of the Star Chef's Congress and had just seen the world famous Chef Enrique Olvera speak when I decided to race home and check out his dinner that very evening.  Unfortunately Cosme was booked solid and the entire bar was full by the time I arrived. I took it off the go-to list until things calmed down a little but it's still just as crazy today. Reservations for dinner continue to be impossible but not many people know they just started serving brunch. When I stopped in last Sunday I was able to score a table alone and there were still open seats at the bar.



There were so many wonderful sounding things on the menu like Corn Johnny Cakes with pineapple passion fruit and Green Chicken Chilquiles with creme fraiche but it was the Duck Enmoladas that really caught my eye. 


The duck was simply shredded into a glorious mound of rich, tender meat then stuffed inside a soft blue tortilla shell and dressed with layers of spicy/sweet mole and queso.  It was so filling I probably could have stopped after the first shell but so delicious I found myself finishing the entire plate.


In addition to the fabulous food menu was an incredible cocktail list.  I choose the Telenovela made with Kappo Pisco, Suze, St. Germain and anchiote bitters.   It was sour and bright- perfect for pairing with the rich mole sauce.

Service was incredible the entire meal...my only regret was passing up churros for dessert. Something I surely won't miss on my next visit.

35 East 21st Street between Park & Broadway
New York, NY 10010

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Happy Hour at Dos Caminos

I love a good happy hour and when it comes with nice salty margarita it's even better.


Dos Camino's happy hour has a little something for every taste; $4 beers, $5 glasses of wine and $8 margaritas in both traditional and their signature Prickly Pear.  Not to mention a fantastic selection of bar bites that really serve more as dinner than just snack.


My favorite is the Chicken Enchilada- a massive corn shell taco covered in mole poblano sauce and queso fresco.  It's saucy, cheesy and loaded with lots of tender chicken. The famous Dos Caminos guacamole is also available during happy hour in a single size portion along with a rich Chorizo Fundido and Pumpkin Seed Fritters.  Happy Hour at Dos Caminos runs from 3:00-6:00 every day so arrive early to take advantage of this great deal.

373 Park Avenue South at 27th Street
New York, NY 10016

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Chicken Shack at Shake Shack

Fried Chicken = always good.  Shake Shack = always good.  Fried Chicken Shake Shack sandwich...how could this possibly be a bad.



The newest item to hit the Shack Shake menu includes a white meat chicken breast with thick sliced pickles, shredded lettuce and buttermilk herb mayo on a butter toasted bun.



The chicken is seasoned with lots of black pepper and served super crisp.  I really liked the crunchy outer coating and the meat was incredibly tender.  However as I sat there eating I started to think about all of the other things I love about Shake Shack.  Those plump tomatoes, melted cheese and that awesome Shack Sauce...maybe even some crispy bacon.  Could I possibly customize my own Chicken Club Shack sandwich?


Stay Tuned...

Shake Shack
Brooklyn Locations only for a limited time

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dominique Ansel's U.P.

Mr. T and I were two of only eight lucky people to score opening night reservations for Dominique Ansel's dessert only tasting menu Unlimited Possibilities (aka U.P.).  The tiny space above Dominique Ansel Kitchen was transformed into a cozy candlelit space with jazz music playing overhead and table that descended from the ceiling for us to dine (check out his table descending video here).



The meal began with an array of fresh veggies, a little something raw to cleanse the palate for the desserts to come.



The eight course tasting menu was designed around the "first" of everything in life.  Dominique explained that he not only wanted to focus on the flavors but also recreate the emotions that went along with each of these experiences.  A week before dining each guest received an email asking to reply with his/her first word and course number one was designed around each response.

First Word- sweet pea, rice milk, gin, carrot cake, yogurt meringue



A soft mummer went round the room as guests began to dig into their dessert; not only was this visually stunning but the flavors were absolutely incredible.  Juniper and sweet pea seemed to leap off the plate studded with candied carrots and squares of quite possibly the world's best carrot cake. Here's a shot of Mr. T's first word both paired with a Yuzu Eucalyptus Sparkler.


First Kiss-  raspberry, roasted peanut water, cream soda pearls, fresh mint


The center was a play on cupids arrow with the bumpy outside edges of the bowl meant to depict the scratchy beard stubble on the face of many young men.  The very last morel inside the bowl was a mound of fresh mint panna cotta that left a slight tingle on my tongue much like a first kiss would. This was whimsically paired with a buttered popcorn Rum & Coke because so many first kisses happen in the dark of movie theaters.

First Time Living on Your Own-  sweet corn, crepes, smoked toffee, lemon zest, anise


This was easily my favorite dish of the night.  I loved the play on bacon and eggs and the brown butter crepes with smoked toffee were one of the best things I've ever tasted. If only my first college meals were like this!  Sangria was paired with this course because we all had to jazz up that cheap college wine with something.

First Heartbreak- bergamot, cocoa nibs, marshmallow, bitter almond, chocolate pain de genes


This dish requires multiple pictures because breakups are never easy.


Diners were instructed to light the love marker on the edge of the petals.


Mr. T's flower took off like wild fire quickly becoming a big mass of charred petals in under a minute.


This was very fitting as Mr. T's motto has always been to "sever all ties" when a relationship ends.  Mine slowly burned and fizzled out about halfway around which was also quite fitting as I have stayed quite friendly in all of my breakups. The rich chocolate shell and toasted marshmallow inside were incredible but the matches really made the dish.


This was paired with a Ceylon peoke Mezcal milk punch that was deliciously strong and spicy.


After the dishes were cleared Dominique brought out a tray of orchids filled with crisp sorbet as a palate cleanser...because we all deserve a flower after a breakup as Dominique said :)


First Job- coffee, malt, nougat, cardamom, praline feulletine


Ugh the first job... defined by immediate stress.


A graph depicting the allowances for Sleep, Taxes, Beer Money and Caffeine; each silo filled with a different flavor like Cardamon melt away or coffee ganache and paired with Chocolate Stout....because beer money is always most important.


First Fine Dining Experience- dark chocolate, black currant, red wine, brown butter, puff pastry, creme fraiche.


A play on one of the oldest fine dining dishes today the classic Beef Wellington; a dish I've never enjoyed until this very pastry.  This was paired with a glass of "East India Solera Reserva" sherry.

First Dance- strawberries, mascarpone, elderflower


The first dance didn't quite work out for me as my sugar base wasn't set so I twirled my strawberry skirt by hand while I sipped a glass of "Cuvee St. Anne" champagne.

The Next First-  cherry, sake lees, lychee


To end the meal a perfect cherry paired with sake made from spent rice.  To reuse what was good in the past and put it to even better use in the future.  

There were some more little surprises along the way but I'll leave those out for the next diners to enjoy.  The meal was incredible. There was so much thought and energy that went into each dish and Dominique's genuine excitement for his creations was amazing.  There was some nervous opening jitters for sure, drinks were sometimes taken before being finished and silverware wasn't always synced up but the team handled it beautifully.  I have no doubt this will be running like a well oiled machine in no time and I can't wait for my next visit.

U.P. is only open for service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for eight guests.  The menu is currently $75 a person with optional drink pairings at $35. Reservations for September go live tomorrow at noon on the U.P. website.

137 7th Avenue South @Charles Street
New York, NY 10014

Friday, July 17, 2015

An Evening of Delight at Contra

Mr. T and I kicked off our 4th of July weekend with dinner at Contra; one of the newest hot spots serving a prix-fixe only tasting menu.  Immediately upon seeing the space and cuisine I thought of Manfred's & Vin; the cozy restaurant we fell in love with during our visit to Copenhagen last year. The idea is much the same- small courses, built around three or so ingredients, that change daily.  As with Manfred's & Vin I was completely blown away by the incredible food combinations and creativity by the chefs.   



Gem lettuce, milkweed, almond- this crunchy stalk reminded me a Cesar Salad with a salty, nutty tang that was addictive.


Bread & Butter- this was a $3 addition to the regular prix fixe and possibly the best $3 I've ever spent.  That luscious creamy butter and warm sourdough bread...YUM


Summer squash, burrata, sorrel- just a bright, vibrant summer dish.


Crab, english peas, potato- this combination surprised both Mr. T and I.  We're not exactly fans of english peas but they completely worked here taking the edge off the rich crab and blending beautifully with the crisp potatoes.


Fluke with seaweed and basil- WOW.  I can't even explain why this was so delicious but it had me completely rethinking the idea of fluke as just another fish and really elevated it to the next level.


Duck Breast with cabbage and currants- the duck was perfectly cooked with a bright pink belly and a crisp layer of skin and fat on top.


Dessert #1- Cherries, Sour Cream & Tapioca


Dessert- #2 Peaches, Corn, Granita

I usually lean towards chocolate of some sort for my dessert but both of these were so light and refreshing I found myself feeling satisfied and delighted in such a different way than at the end of most long meals.


One of the biggest surprises was the affordable and eclectic wine list.  There were so many bottles I had never even heard of before and the staff were incredible giving recommendations.  This was one of the best meals I've had this year and at just $65 for the tasting I'm just counting the days until I can return.  

138 Orchard Street @Rivington
New York, NY 10002

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Burger & Lobster in Madison Square Park

One of the greatest perks of summer in NYC are the fabulous free concerts going on in the parks. The biggest shows are always in Central Park of course but my neighborhood green spot has some fantastic shows also and some delicious food that caters each event- the Oval Concert series at Madison Square Park.


Burger & Lobster is the main food scene this year with a variety of Lobster Rolls including the classic with light Japanese mayo and a BLT with bacon, lettuce and garlic confit tomato.


Both come in a buttery toasted roll with a slice of lemon and chives on top.  Plus they sell wine and beer from local breweries like Sixpoint and Brooklyn Brewery so all that's needed on your end is a blanket (no chairs allowed).


It's a great way to sit back, relax and enjoy the best of summer.


39 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Boilermaker

I'm pretty sure this is my new favorite bar in the city.  Where else can you get delicious drinks like this amazing Mai Thai made with lots of crushed ice and fresh mint leaves for only $9.00 a pop during happy hour and $11.00 all other times?



That place is Boilermaker a retro style bar located at the nexus of the universe (1st & 1st for those not into Seinfeld).  



They have tons of incredible cocktails from the classic Tom Collins to refreshing Pimm's Cup and Mr. T's favorite Negroni. 


Not to mention a pretty delicious burger topped with fig aoili and some solid french fries and onion rings.


The only thing I would skip would be the wings which come with far too much breading for my liking.


Boilermaker also has a couple of cocktails on tap like the crazy Cracker Jack a buttered popcorn infused spiced rum and coke.  Where else can you get something like that!

13 1st Avenue @1st Street
New York, NY 10003