Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Lunch Dish at Covino

I love Covino so much that I named it as one of my favorite new places of 2016.  I was obsessed with their incredible Hummus, then the fabulous Wagyu Cheeseburger and now its the wonderful Chopped Salad served at lunch.



Let me preface this by saying that I love a good Cobb Salad and this is similar but better; mixed greens topped with fresh sliced avocado, green & red onion with crumbles of blue cheese, then kicked up a notch with thick, crispy Nueske's smoked bacon, a flurry of Parmesan cheese and a sweet and spicy dressing.  I loved the strong smokiness of the bacon and the light spicy vinaigrette was a welcome change from the heavy dressing that all to often weigh down the salad and drown out the other flavors.  Another simple yet fabulous dish from Covina!

Covina
127 East 27th Street
New York, NY 10010

Monday, January 30, 2017

Margot's Pizza

It's kind of ridiculous when I think about how much of my life is spent just hitting the F5 button trying to purchase various event tickets.  There's been all sorts of concerts, numerous beer festivals, way too many restaurant reservations (looking at you Momofuku Ko) and most recently for pizza from Margot Pizza in Brooklyn.

This pop up inside Emily restaurant is hosted just once a month by Slice founder and Serious Eats writer Adam Kuban, the guru of pizza in NYC.  The specialty here is bar pie (my favorite style) served thin and crispy from the wood fired oven.


Each ticket gets one drink and one choice of pie from a small menu of eight different varitites.  We decided to split our pizzas starting with the classic Margot-rita with tomato sauce, romano, cheese, basil and oregano and the Collaboroni with pepperoni, pickled jalapenos and post oven honey.


Both pizzas were ultra thin with slightly burnt edges loaded with cheese. I absolutely loved the crispy crust; they added a fantastic salty, crunch to each bite that was so much more satisfying then the usual puffy dough.  Plus Adam threw on pepperoni that was already crisp, something I wish more pizzerias in this city would start to do.  The jalapenos gave a ton of heat to the pie but the honey softened out the spice with sweetness.  This was some seriously delicious pizza.


Tickets to this monthly pop up go on sale one week in advance and they sell out fast; so fast that all tickets are usually gone within the first 60 seconds so get your F5 button ready for serious refreshing.

Margot's Pizza
919 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Friday, January 27, 2017

New Brew Friday- Angry Chair Imperial Awakening

It's New Brew Friday and today's beer comes from Angry Chair out in Florida, a fantastic brewery that always churns out amazing brews with pretty killer artwork on front.


This Imperial Stout pours a thick jet black with a frothy brown head and strong aromas of coffee beans, mocha and cinnamon.  The flavor follows suite with big bold notes of coffee, chocolate and long lasting finish of red cinnamon candies.  I absolutely love this beer.  It's smooth, roasted goodness and that cinnamon just takes it over the edge.  It also completely fits my somewhat angry mood right now about our country that surely need an Imperial Awakening of some sort itself.  Ugh- politics aside I hope everyone has a great New Brew Friday- Cheers!!!

Angry Chair
6401 North Florida Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33604

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Snow Day at Pasquale Jones

The flurry of snow that blanketed the city MLK weekend was absolutely wonderful!  I couldn't wait to get outside and soak in the magic of my beautiful snowy city and what better place to do that then Pasquale Jones.  This cozy little spot formerly housed Toby's Public House, a bar/restaurant I always found drab and depressing were it not for the fantastic windows over looking the streets of Nolita. 


The space has since been redone and the changes are fantastic. The painted white walls and soft hanging lamps above each table give the space a lively, vibrant feeling while the wood burning ovens and gorgeous glassware add in some rustic, elegant charm.


At lunchtime Pasquale Jones serves a small menu of pizzas, pasta and appetizers including their signature Little Neck Clam Pie topped with a creamy garlic sauce, lemon and a flurry of chopped parsley. 


The Neapolitan style dough was perfect; light and puffy with blistered edges and a slightly charred bottom that was crisp yet pliable enough to fold in half and hold in all those delicious toppings.


I was worried the pizza would be heavy due to the creamy sauce but the thin crust made this so enjoyable I wanted to order another one right away.  I loved the balance of acidity and heat from the lemon and chili oil (served on the side) with the strong notes of garlic.  It was simply delightful.

I really enjoyed our lunch at Pasquale Jones however it's certainly on the pricey side of most pizza joints.  The Clam Pie was $27 on its own but with the special wine carafes at lunchtime and service included we still got out around $50 which to me is reason enough to return.

Pasquale Jones
187 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10012

Monday, January 23, 2017

Yaso Tangbao

Rainy days like today call for some serious lunch time comfort eats; which in Downtown Brooklyn means a bee-line to Yasa Tangbao and their incredible Shanghai Street food.  The specialty of the house are dumplings, handmade and filled with plump crab meat, veggies, pork and broth. But recently they added a new dish, the Chili Oil Wontons that I absolutely dream about.


Tight little purses of pasta stuffed with ground pork and drizzled in a sweet and savory sauce of vinegar, chili oil and garlic. There's no filler or grease here- just spicy, Sichuan style wontons light as air and deeply satisfying.


In addition to dumplings a variety of rice and noodles dishes are served with the famous Shanghai lion-head; a large meatball made from pork and cabbage in a rich, dark brown sauce.  It's the perfect place to warm up on a rainy Monday!

Yaso Tangbao
148 Lawrence Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Hour at Lucky Strike

A full day of shopping always deserves a drink at the end which is why SoHo has some great happy hours.  The always popular Lure of course with it's fruity martini's and crisp calamari, the wonderful Pera SoHo with it's bright, fabulous bar and then there's Lucky Strike, one of the first restaurants from Keith McNally that is my absolute favorite.  This lively little brasserie has just the right amount of glitz and grit with a somewhat worn but comfy decor.



From 4:00-7:00 every day Lucky Strike offers $5 glasses of wine, beer and margaritas along with a small food menu including delicious Moules Marinieres with white wine and garlic, Tomato Bruschetta with Avocado Cream and a big bowl of classic Bistro Fries for just $3.00.


The tiny round tables may be a bit cramped but the soundtracks overhead are always awesome (Jimmy Hendrix and John Coltrane the last visit), the drinks are stiff and the prices can't be beat.  

Lucky Strike
59 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Brighton Beach Evening

I realized the other day that I hadn't been out to Brighton Beach in over two years.  I love exploring the city but somehow this section is just far enough off the grid that I completely forget about it; which is a shame because it's a fascinating spot.  This area also known as Little Odessa, a nod to the Ukrainian city where many of the residents come from, feels light years away from NYC.  Restaurants boast over the top Old World decor (the more gold the better), vodka is the local drink of choice and everything is in Russian.  EVERYTHING.  Just walking into the various stores and restaurants you are greeted with привет instead of hello and many people don't seem to know English at all, or at least they pretend not to.



I began my little journey at the Wise Espresso Bar on Coney Island Avenue.  This cozy, owl themed coffee bar was absolutely hopping with a mix of couples and friends enjoying house specialties like the creamy Caffe Viennese, Blueberry Frappes and a surprisingly large selection of wine and cocktails.
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After my caffeine fix I wandered across Brighton Beach Avenue and stopped into the St. Petersburg Bookstore to stare at the Faberge style eggs and decorative board games, then over to Vintage Food Corporation to load up on cashews, sunflower seeds and spices at ridiculously low prices.


Then finally to the rustic little restaurant Skovorodka for a delicious bowl of plump Peimeini Siberian Dumplings stuffed with beef and served with a side of sour cream.  The service wasn't exactly the best but I do believe my waiter tried to fit as much wine into my glass as humanly possible which was quite amusing to watch.


After that I stumbled to the train with a full happy stomach and quite a nice wine buzz going on. Until next time Brighton Beach!

615 Brighton Beach Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235

3120 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11235

Monday, January 16, 2017

La Pasta at Eataly

It's been so cold and windy lately it's been hard to venture to far from home.  Luckily we have Eataly right nearby for all of those winter food needs.



There is little in life that makes me happier than lush, beautiful ribbons of prosciutto and thick sliced chunks of mozzarella dusted with salt, pepper and olive oil.


Fior di Zucca~ house made ravioli filled with butternut squash and ricotta cheese, tossed in a wonderful brown butter sauce topped with crispy sage and a flurry of grana padano.


And for a little something green the Fusilli with broccoli, pecorino cheese, house made mozzarella, breadcrumbs and chili.  It's got a fantastic crunch from the breadcrumbs and a spicy little kick at the end that's just lovely.

La Pasta at Eataly
200 5th Avenue at 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

TsuruTonTan

The insanely popular Japanese noodle chain TsuruTonTan made its United States debut this past fall by dropping into the old Union Square Cafe space on 16th Street.  I'll admit I was biased from day one...anything that pushed out MY Union Square Cafe was terrible and should be shunned.  However after reading some great reviews and finally accepting the true fact that they did NOT push USC out, the landlord did, I jumped at the chance to check it out when Mr. T suggested we dine there.

 First thing to note- this place always has a line.  Even at 5:45 PM we were quoted an hour and 30 minute wait.  We were about to see what else was available when I noticed two spots at the tiny bar up front.  Udon is only served in the main dining room but the bar is a great place to sip some delicious cocktails while you wait.



We were both starving that night so we may have slightly over ordered.  Here’s a rundown of our appetizers:


Creamy Spicy Shrimp Tempura topped with spicy sesame cream and micro-greens.  The tempura batter was so clean and light with an intense nutty flavor from the sauce.  Mr. T loves absolutely loved these.


Seared Wagyu Beef Sushi- not so pretty to look at but quite tasty.


Beef Sukiyaki Buns slow cooked with cucumbers.  These were delicious; tons of flavor in the tender beef with fried crisps on top to give it that satisfying crunch.


Only the Spicy Tuna Tartare Cones missed the mark.  The crispy cone and avocado puree completely over took the flavor of the tuna and all of the textures just kind of ran together.

For our main entree the Uni Udon with shiso, nori and uni daishi sauce.


This dish was so silky and rich; the fresh uni melting right into the cold noodles with just a bit of stirring while the sesame and shiso enhanced that salty, bottom of the ocean flavor only uni lovers can fully appreciate.

Mr. T and I both loved TsuruTonTan.  The dishes were excellent and the portions were large. We both agreed we could split a hot udon (which were slightly larger) and one appetizer on our next visit and be quite satisfied.  This is an excellent new addition to the Union Square neighborhood and now that USC is back open up the street, everything is as it should be.

21 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lunch at Salvation Burger

Being a huge fan of April Bloomfield's burgers at both The Spotted Pig and The Breslin I was excited to check out her new midtown spot Salvation Burger.   This rustic joint inside the Pod 51 Hotel sells three different types; Veggie made with carrot & tomato chutney, the Salvation Burger with caramelized onion & taleggio and the Classic Cheeseburger pictured here.  


This burger is certainly aesthetically pleasing.  The fluffy sesame studded roll looks gorgeous holding two juicy all beef patties with house made cheese and thick sliced pickles jutting out at the seams.


However as you can see by the mid-section shot this burger is way off on bun to burger ratio.   The hearty flavor of the meat got lost among the outer shell of toppings and stunted any sort of orgasmic burger moment.  Both the Spotted Pig and Breslin burgers have fluffy buns but the patties at both are bigger and bolder in flavor from the funky Gorgonzola cheese at the Pig and the richness of the lamb at the Breslin.  This one sadly just could not stand up to the messy bread and pickle overload.


Perhaps the namesake Salvation Burger would hold up to the bun a bit better than the Classic Cheeseburger however the steep price of  $25 for one burger (no fries included) will probably keep me from coming back to try it. With places like Minetta Tavern and Bar Sardine churning out great burgers at a lower cost its hard to imagine a repeat visit.

Salvation Burger
230 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Union Square Cafe is Back!

Finally one of my all time favorite dining spots has returned.  Danny Meyer's first restaurant and a NYC institution Union Square Cafe is back from the dead after a year hiatus and a four block move into the old City Crab space on Park Avenue South.  It's amazing what they did to the interior of the restaurant- it holds the same layout as City Crab but the large window shades at half mast and dark green decor of the long wooden bar evoke all the memories of the original Cafe.


I was incredibly happy to see the rosemary dusted bar nuts surface as I my drink appeared, another staple from the original days.  And of course their incredible Candele pasta; a gorgeous blend of carrots, pancetta, scallions and creamy Greek yogurt studded with spicy Fresno chilies.


 I could eat this pasta every day and be a very happy lady.  But for now I'll just be happy that this wonderful restaurant has returned :)

Union Square Cafe
101 East 19th Street at Park Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The First Meal of 2017- Le Bernardin

I firmly believe that the first restaurant choice in January can set the stage for the entire year ahead.  So this year I decided to pick somewhere classic, a NYC staple that's big and bold yet stood the test of time with quiet elegance.  A place I've talked about trying for years but never quite had the opportunity.  Well if 2016 taught me anything it's that life is short and can change in an instant; so if there's something you really want to do go out and do it. 


So reservation-less I walked into Le Bernardin Monday afternoon and with a completely full house they somehow found a table for me inside that stunning dining room.


To begin an amuse-bouche of vegetables.  A simple but lovely plate of carrot, cauliflower, mushroom and pea pods dotted by a black truffle sauce.




The bread tray followed with a dazzling selection of eight different varieties including classic baguette, pumpernickel, quinoa, raisin and walnut, mulit-grain, pretzel roll and a soft, springy focaccia studded with olives.


Often I'm disappointed by the butter at fine dining establishments, so many places frugally go for a low fat content or serve it entirely too cold to enjoy.  The Le Bernardin butter however was excellent; lightly salted, thick and creamy served room temperature inside a delicate silver capped dish.


I chose the Seafood Pasta for my first course.  Gorgeous strands of Tagliatelle loaded with scallop, crab and lobster then tossed with a creamy black truffle emulsion and shavings of black truffle on top.  I've heard people order two, even three of these dishes in one sitting and I can certainly see why.  The sauce was so wonderfully rich, the black truffle infusing a deep umami flavor into each softly poached piece of seafood.


Crusted Red Snapper with pickled Persian Cucumbers, green curry goat sauce and yogurt emulsion for the second course.  An amazing crisp golden crust on top that retained all the fish's moisture and balanced the spicy creamy sauce with a hint of cilantro.


For dessert a Banana S'more with a rich chocolate cake in the middle oozing with warm chocolate fudge, caramelized banana slices, smoked meringue and coquito sauce.  This picture does not do this dessert justice- it was incredible.  I'm obsessed with anything containing bananas and chocolate but the addition of delicious coquito sauce just put this over the edge.  To finish an espresso and a spongy Chocolate Raspberry Financier. 


Wow- Le Bernardin met my each and every expectation.  The food was exquisite, the service impeccable; I had forgotten how much I miss the table-side pours of sauce that occur at classic French restaurants.  It was an incredible lunch and the perfect way to kick off 2017.  Here's to lots more wonderful meals ahead!

155 West 51st Street at 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend celebrating!  Mr. T and I went out to Long Island Saturday and spent the night with friends drinking beer and eating St. Louis inspired dishes like toasted ravioli's and Imo's pizza topped with Provel cheese.  It was another fantastic night and wonderful holiday week that reminded me how lucky I am to have such a great group of family and friends.

I only made it to six of the thirteen restaurants on my 2016 wish list last year.  Not great at all but in my defense one of the restaurants never even opened (I'm looking at you Joel Robuchon).  Here's to hoping I make it to a few more this year.  Maybe even all of them which would be a first!

Restaurant Wish List for 2017

Le Bernardin
Pasquale Jones
Gabriel Kreuther
Hail Mary
Circus Bar (Paris)
Matarkjallarinn (Iceland)
Olmstead
Nix
Lilia
Giano
El Quinto Pino
Oiji
Bamboo Garden