Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cocktails at the Gorbals

After a lovely brunch at The Reynard we made our way over to The Gorbals and directly to the rooftop bar.  The sprawling patio space houses an array of picnic tables, benches and cabanas perfect for just about any size party.


We started with a round of cocktails; classic Negroni Prima and twisted tiki style Pineapple Darby made with rum, pineapple, lime and almond milk...
  

...then moved onto their signature Jet Pilot Slushies filled with rum, cachaca, grapefruit cinnamon and mint.  


The slushies were incredibly refreshing for the hot humid day we were having but something about the mix of ingredients tasted a bit odd.  I'd stick with the shaken cocktails like the cucumber, coconut Poolside Swing instead.


Oh to see those bright blue skies again...


The Gorbals
98 North 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Brunch at The Reynard

I was pretty nervous on the walk from the train to the Whyte Hotel.  I had been dying to try the Reynard for brunch but I knew that an obnoxious hipster hotel scene first thing in the morning had the potential to throw Mr. T into a furious mood.  As we walked up to the door I heard him mumble"well this looks like my worst nightmare".  I was prepping for the brunch to go downhill from there but actually the worst never actually came.




The dining room was surprisingly open and airy.  Big rays of sunlight shone through the windows on a gently chattering crowd of people.   The wait staff were all bright and cheerful and that food menu was absolutely amazing. Poached Eggs with asparagus, yogurt and corn...



...Black Forest Ham and Gruyere cheese on a Pullman Roll with mixed greens...



...and a seriously delicious Summer Burger topped with lettuce, onion, garlic aioli and a thick heirloom tomato.  My only small complaint would be the under-cooked fries but I didn't even get around to eating them since the burger was so big and wonderful.



Extra bonus points Hill Farmstead Edward on tap!  Not an angry Mr. T in sight at this brunch outing :)

The Reynard
80 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Monday, September 28, 2015

SriPraPhai

New Yorkers are constantly debating the "best" of everything in the city.  The best bagel, slice joint, cold brew coffee and soup dumpling are constant topics of conversation.  So when I found myself out in Woodside for a full week of work I just had to check out one of the highly debated "best" Thai restaurants in the city SriPraPhai.



This place is apparently packed on the weekends but my visits during weekday lunch were downright relaxing.  In fact on a sleepy Monday afternoon stop the restaurant was relatively empty.


To begin delicious Shrimp and Chicken dumplings wrapped in a paper thin dough...


Thai Salad with hard boiled egg, tofu and a spicy peanut dressing.  The tofu in this salad was so hard I probably could have chipped a tooth.  I have absolutely NO idea why I ordered this instead of the Papaya Salad...bad call on my part.



For main course Drunken Noodles with Chicken.  I went medium spicy and it had just the right balance of basil and peppers.  I ordered this dish on two separate occasions; once the noodles were a pile of mush and the second time they were perfect.  


Overall I found SriPraPhai to be like many Thai places in the city...incredibly delicious at times but wildly inconsistent depending on who's working. Where SriPraPhai does take the lead is in atmosphere.  Their outdoor garden was a wonderful respite for catching some late summer rays.



And for just $15 including a Thai Iced Tea their lunch special was an absolute steal.

SriPriPhai
64-13 39th Avenue
Woodside, NY 11377

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Brew Friday- Grimm Afterimage

We're going local once again for today's New Brew Friday with another amazing beer. We've talked about Other Half, Captain Lawrence, Third Rail and Finback...but what about Grimm.  These guys are absolutely crushing it on the beer scene right now and they just had their very first can release.



Afterimage is a Double IPA brewed with Mosaic, El Dorado, Simcoe, Falconer's Flight and Columbus hops.  It pours a hazy dark orange with a small fluffy head that bursts with aromas of sweet melon, passionfruit and honey.  The flavor follows suit with more passionfruit, melon, peach, sweet nectarine and a touch of pine. This is a seriously juicy beer and an excellent first can for Grimm (check out that sweet label).  Cheers to the weekend!

Grimm Artisanal Ales

PO Box 150472
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fuku

It's funny how each season a new food fad takes over the city.  Of course there was the cupcake, the Cronut, everything made with ramps, then everything made with kale...and now we've entered the Fried Chicken sandwich explosion.  I believe it started with Danny Meyers creation at Shake Shack but now Delaney BBQ, Mighty Quinn and the always amazing David Chang have all jumped on board with their own version.



Fuku, located inside the former Ko space in the East Village, isn't much more than a counter with a small menu of food and drink and one communal area for dining.  I showed up for a late lunch Friday afternoon, hoping to avoid the crowds, but found a line outside the door. Luckily their service was surprisingly efficient and I was able to place my order within about 15 minutes.

Here's the sandwich breakdown- chicken thigh marinated in habanero puree, then coated with buttermilk and dredged through a blend of spices.  Then it's into the fryer and placed on a potato roll with pickles and a swipe of butter. 



As you can see this sandwich is HUGE.  The chicken overlaps the bun from every angle and the first few bites are kind of a mess.  However once you get past that it's pretty awesome; the spices are on point, the outside stayed crisp and I could seriously slather that ssam sauce on everything.

However since it's chicken thigh there's both dark and white meat with strange pockets of fat in between.  This made a few bites incredibly off putting for a texture freak like me.



I ended up getting a free order of Potato Wedges because my order took so long which was nice.  Plump and crunchy with tons of spicy salt on top; these are a potato wedge fan's dream.

Fuku just expanded to midtown at 56th and 5th with a larger menu including Sichuan Pork Flatbread and Mission Chinese Fuku Fingers.   

Fuku
163 1st Avenue between 10th & 11th Street
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bespoke Kitchen

The newest restaurant from Chef Franco Barrio of Picholine and Casa Mono is Bespoke Kitchen; a fresh modern space in the West Village focusing on locally sourced cuisine that invites the diner to participate in the menu creation along with the Chef.  Guests select from a list of market fresh vegetables, meat and fish and then Chef prepares the meal based upon individual preferences from a list of four questions.  Everything from cocktails to dessert can be made to order. 



On our visit the bartender whipped up a gorgeous vodka cocktail made with fresh cantaloupe, lime and ginger & a sultry whiskey drink called Tender is the Night with Hudson Baby Bourbon and Fernet Branca. 



For those who enjoy a more traditional approach there is also a regular menu with appetizers like Scallop and Fluke Ceviche with Heirloom tomatoes in a stunning Leche de Tigre sauce with chili and orange peel;


Pan-Fried Bacon Dumplings with house cured bacon, gala apple and sake aioli;


...and a fabulous Grilled Octopus with gooseberries and squid ink vinaigrette served atop black truffle potatoes.   

Each dish was delightfully surprising from the floral sake ailoi in the dumplings to the citrus forward Leche de Tigre sauce that I'm still thinking about today.   This is the perfect place for both sharing some small plates with friends or a romantic date night.  Bespoke boasts an open kitchen in the back for watching the chef in action and a gorgeous bar up front perfect for warming up with a bourbon cocktail or two on these chilly September nights.

615 1/2 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

Monday, September 21, 2015

Eataly- Le Verdure

I love every restaurant inside Eataly but veggie-centric Le Verdure is my favorite.  Everything is focused on fresh seasonal ingredients which means the menu is constantly changing. Our last visit they created an amazing Panko Crusted Eggplant with fresh basil, tomato and stracciatella.


The eggplant was sliced just thick enough so it stayed firm and crisp down to the very last bite.  The aromatics from the basil and creamy stracciatella cheese then elevated this simple dish into heavenly food status.   This was easily the best fried eggplant I've ever had and one of my favorite dishes this year.


Their potato Gnocchi didn't quite reach that level of transcendence.  The Black Summer Truffles were missing that robust, earthy flavor I've come to love.  It was still a delightful dish but one I'll save for winter when it's paired with heartier accouterments.

Le Verdure
200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Friday, September 18, 2015

New Brew Friday- Big Ditch Brewing

I'm closing out the Buffalo recap with Big Ditch; a fantastic new brewery and restaurant that just opened downtown.  These guys aren't exactly new to the brewery scene. I tried a bunch of their brews at a Gene McCarthy's beer dinner years ago. I wasn't blown away by anything then but obviously they've done some serious tinkering because the overall quality and flavor of their beers have improved tremendously.



Their flagship brew was the Hayburner, so named for the work horses used to construct the nearby Erie Canal.  It's a crisp, refreshing IPA with soft, citrus notes perfect for just about any occasion. For a bolder brew the Hayburner with Citra was an excellent choice with big juicy flavors of mandarin orange and melon with just a slightly bitter finish. 



The food menu at Big Ditch incorporates all the Buffalo staples like crisp chicken wings dressed with spicy Hayburner IPA sauce...


...handcut fries served with a choice of dipping sauces like malt vinegar aioli...


...and a massive platter of Macaroni and Cheese studded with caramelized onion and smoked bacon that could easily feed a family of four.  Cheers to next time Buffalo!

Big Ditch Brewing
55 East Huron Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Buffalo- Liberty Hound

Saturday afternoon Mr. T and I headed to the waterfront for lunch at Liberty Hound.  The weather was overcast and gray but that didn't seem to deter anyone from flocking to the outdoor tables.  We decided to grab a seat at the bar and wait it out with their signature drink and an order of Crab Cakes.


The Lady Liberty wasn't that great...too much fruit crushed the refreshing mint flavor of the Mojito.


The Crab Cakes on the other hand were quite delicious with big hunks of Blue Crab inside a crisp outer shell with lemon remoulade sauce.


Once our outdoor table was called we ordered our mains; grilled Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Srirachi aioli and mango salsa...


...and an order of Fish and Chips loaded with a big piece of Cod so lightly breaded there was only the faintest hint of grease.  


Bonus Points- the sun came out revealing a gorgeous blue sky for that seemed to go for miles.

Liberty Hound
1 Navel Park Cove
Buffalo, NY 14202

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Buffalo- Drinks at Ballyhoo

The long weekend trip continued with more cocktails after brunch down in the Cobblestone District at shabby chic Balleyhoo.



I absolutely LOVE this bar!  It's divey but sleek with a touch of serious rockstar and their cocktails are off the hook.  Mr. T stuck with his classic Negroni order but I went off into jam land with the made to order Jam Session.



It's super simple; pick your spirit, pick your jam and they create the rest!  My friend Adam was creating all sorts of amazing concoctions...bourbon with Victoria plum, white rum and grapefruit...


...and my absolute favorite vodka with Morello cherry.



There's really nothing I love more than a fabulous pink drink :)

Ballyhoo
211 South Park Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14204

Monday, September 14, 2015

Buffalo- Brunch at Toutant

My last trip to Western NY felt like a food and drink extravaganza.  There are so many new places in the city...for example Southern restaurant Toutant.  Head Chef James Robert brings hearty fare from Louisiana like a classic basket of Beignets; incredibly light pillows of fried dough dusted with powdered sugar...



...Biscuits and Gravy with two fried eggs drizzled in a sausage sauce that evoked memories of Thanksgiving supper...



...and a crisp buttermilk Fried Chicken; light on the grease and perfectly seasoned with a side of collard greens.



The Southern specialties continued with the cocktails including a classic New Orleans Hurricane...



...and some tasty originals like the Delta Princess with Peach Vodka, Lillet and Watermelon Gastrique...



...and the smoky Street Sense with Pisco, Mezcal, cucumber and egg whites.



Fantastic cocktails, great Southern food; I can't wait to hit this up again on my next visit! And speaking about Buffalo...how about those Bills yesterday!!!

Toutant
437 Ellicott Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Brew Friday- Pappy Even More Jesus

Today's New Brew Friday is another masterpiece from Evil Twin Brewing the Even More Jesus aged in Pappy Van Winkle Barrels.



This Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout pours jet black with just a wisp of foam on top that quickly dissipates.  The aroma is super boozy with tons of bourbon and a bit of smoke. I was expecting to be bowled over by the booze but the flavor was incredibly smooth...lots of chocolate, bourbon and vanilla with a rich fudgy mouthfeel that left the lingering taste of dark cherries on the end.  This is a big luscious beer to definitely seek out.  It's available almost exclusively at Jeppe's bar Torst so head there soon before it all sells out. Cheers!

Evil Twin Brewing

Torst
615 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Happiest Of Hours at The Lafayette

In search of another good happy hour spot we stumbled across The Lafayette; Andrew Carmellini's French bakery and bistro located on the corner of Great Jones and Lafayette.



On weekdays from 4:00- 6:30 they offer a variety of wines and cocktails like the classic French 75 of gin, lemon and cremant & this delicious Ricky Rose made with rose wine, gin, creme yvette and creme de fraise.


There's also a menu of small bites including Eggs Lafayette with smoked trout, thin salty Pommes Frites and a wonderful Beef Tartare Tartine with Tabasco aioli, celery and espelette.  For just $5 a bite and $8 a drink this may just be the best bar deal going in NOHO.

The Lafayette
380 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 1003

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vermont- Shelburne Farms

The end of summer was filled lots of great trips with family and friends; one being a fabulous long weekend in Vermont.  We hit all the usual spots...Prohibition Pig, Hen of the Wood, Cabot Cheese & Hill Farmstead, along with some new stops at Lost Nation Brewing, the Farmhouse Tap Room and a beautiful Sunday supper at Shelburne Farms.


This enormous Inn was nestled among the rolling green hills of a working farm that produces all kinds of dairy, fruits, vegetables and meat. Unfortunately we didn't have time to take a tour of the grounds but we got a taste of their incredible farming techniques with a meal on the Inn patio.


The Sunday Supper was a delicious 4 course prixe fixe that began with a mix of greens from their Market Garden dressed with tomato basil, pickled red onions, and candied hazelnuts.


There was a choice of four different entrees that evening including a crisp Misty Knoll Fried Chicken with homemade coleslaw and maple honey...  


... and an enormous chunk of Shelburne Farms Beef drizzled in a thick red wine au jus.


Then we nibbled on some cheese from their dairy, that night a soft, tangy three year Cheddar with crostini.


And to finish a sour Lemon Meringue Tart with macerated blueberries and berry coulis. 


We watched the sun set over Lake Champlain while sipping on Mojitos with muddled blueberries and fresh mint.  It was the perfect way to cap off a glorious Vermont weekend.

1611 Harbor Road
Shelburne, VT 05482