Tag Archives: eating out

Butter for Restaurant Week Winter 2013

28 Jan

Even if Executive Chef Alex Guarnaschelli (who just won Next Iron Chef) has nothing to do with Butter at this point in her career (which I am not sure about at all… I’ve heard she doesn’t do much with the restaurant anymore, but it’s hard to tell), you would never know. We have been meaning to go to Butter for years, and just never got around to it. I had heard it was good, but no one raved about it so it never made it high up on my list. But when we were trying to find a few new places to try for Restaurant Week this winter, we decided that in light of Chef Guarnaschelli’s recent win, we would check it out.

It’s right by the Public Theater in the East Village. We were seated downstairs and enjoyed the wood tree trunks and sticks that decorated the room. It had a nice, loungy feel with low couch benches in the bar areas and music playing in the rooms.

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Here was the Restaurant Week menu for dinner on Sunday, January 27th.

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And the regular menu.

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And of course, since it’s butter, here is the butter shot.

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And some more butter porn. (The butter itself was decent, but nothing too special and I could have used with a larger portion to cover off on the bread that was on the table.

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But the pumpernickel and sour dough breads were top notch.

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We decided to start with cocktails, and since they were so good, we continued drinking them throughout the meal (rather than switching to wine, which is our usual MO). I got the Pearadise with pear infused Bacardi rum, fresh pear puree, St. Germain liqueur, muddled limes and mint. It was fantastic. Perfectly sweet without being cloyingly so. Mike got the Mickey Blue Eyes, which was a martini made with Grey Goose Vodka and blue cheese stuffed olives.

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Mike started with the House Made Charcuterie Platter. This came with house-cured bacon, duck breast mortadella, and chicken liver toast with spicy napa cabbage. This was awesome. The mortadella had a great flavor, and the chicken liver was packed with flavor and had these perfect crispy onions on top. But the bacon… ohhh boyyyy the bacon.

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I got the soup of the day, which was a butternut squash soup. I have had butternut squash soup all over the world at this point, and I am a fan simply because I really love butternut squash soup. You don’t need to get fancy with it to be delicious, but that also means that most people serve butternut squash soup that tastes just like everyone else’s version. Sure, some people put in some toasted pumpkin seeds or some basil oil (and I sure do love it when they do) but the soup itself usually just tastes like squash, or squash and apples.

But this… this butternut squash was The Shit. I never knew squash soup could have this much depth of flavor. A bit of brown butter flavor and sweetness (from what I assume was brown sugar but not sure) with a layer of fresh squashy goodness. And the salted popcorn to accompany it was just perfect. I actually asked for more bread so I could lop up every last drop of soup. It was, hands down, the best butternut squash soup I have ever had.

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As we started the entree portion of our meal, the additional side of cider glazed roasted parsnips came out. These had thinly sliced apple chips on top and the cider glaze was superb. It was the perfect compliment to the roasted parsnips and it was great comfort food without being heavy.

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Mike chose the House Made Ricotta Ravioli with roasted oyster mushrooms, chili flakes (which they nicely served on the side so that I could eat it), and pecorino cheese. I thought the sauce and mushrooms went very well with the ricotta in the ravioli, which was fluffy and a tad tart, with great flavor. Though in the end, I never order cheese ravioli because I just find myself hard to impress with any version.

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I ordered the Braised Pork Shoulder with a pretzel crumb crust and buttered rutabega. This was also outstanding. A great pork flavor over a bed of creamy rutabega. The little salty crispness of the pretzel with the cabbage on top was delightful. It was perfectly tender so you could just pull it apart with your fork. Fantastic.

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For dessert, Mike chose the Ginger Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich with vanilla ice cream and spiced pecans. It was very good, with a well flavored ginger cookie and what I think were golden raisins with orange zest. The pecans were spiced with something pepper related that I couldn’t have (but Mike enjoyed) and while the cookie was a bit hard to cut, the dessert was very good.

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My dessert came out and the first thing I noticed was that it was tiny. It’s hard to tell in this shot, but the piece of chocolate cake was about 3 inches tall and wide and less than 1/2 an inch thick. But BOY was this big on flavor.

The chocolate was rich and decadent, the pomegranate seeds adding a little bit of lightness to it, and a shmear of awesome salted caramel. The entire dish was so fantastic, and so packed with flavor, I didn’t miss those additional bites.

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As the meal ended, I told Mike how I wanted to lick my plate for every single dish I had. (That is one of the highest compliments I can give a place!) The execution was flawless and I didn’t feel like we lost anything by ordering off the Restaurant Week menu. Portions weren’t huge, but I walked away totally satiated.

Overall, this was a standout meal not just for Restaurant Week, but overall. I was truly impressed and look forward to returning again in the near future. I can’t believe it took us that long to go!

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

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Aureole

19 Jul

I ate at Aureole once for a work function, but since I was presenting and keeping clients happy, the food was not on my mind. I had been meaning to go back every since and finally made it there with a fellow foodie friend. It is very centrally located in a place where you just don’t expect great restaurants: 42nd Street right off of Times Square.  

I’m pretty sure we went with the $89 prix fixe. They have a pre-Broadway prix fixe that seems like a steal for 3 courses at $55 (5-6pm).

We started with an amuse bouche that I cannot recall the exact details on.

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My choice to start was the chestnut papparedelle with slow roasted veal breast, wild mushrooms, and pecorino.  This tasted like the earth and I absolutely loved it.  I have a special place in my heart for chestnut, and I kind of wished there were pieces (only because I’m selfish), but it was a very good dish.

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We also tried the wagyu beef carpaccio with shiitake, scallions, taro root, ponzo, and lavash.  This was perfectly complimentary in flavors, with the nice richness of the meat cut but the sweetness of the ponzo and with added depth from the shiitake.  Very nice.

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We also tried the branzino (my favorite fish) with fennel, dandelion, red onion, cashew, and citrus.  It was all sorts of perfection.  Cooked incredibly well and balances of flavors that were just fabulous.

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And we tried the prime ribyeye steak with roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts, horseradish, and natural beef jus. It was cooked just right and the horseradish was faint enough that I hardly noticed it.

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A palate cleanser soon arrived and it was a nice little burst of fruit to get us ready for dessert.

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The desserts came out and they were pieces of artwork. Sadly, I didn’t write them down, so I can only guess.

This was something chocolate (I’m going to guess a lava cake) with delicious strands of pulled sugar on top. I remember this being rich but balanced.

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I know I ordered something with meringue (another one of my favorite things).  I remember really enjoying the flavors of this, but missing the firm crisp of the type of meringue I enjoy so much.

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And then out came petit fours.  Each was delicious in their own right, but I remember thinking extra fondly of the macaron and the watermelon thing. 

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I was really impressed by our meal at Aureole, not only because it was just that good, but also because it’s somewhat unassuming. It’s not a place I’ve heard talked about much, yet it’s right in the heart of the theatre district (a place I live near, work near, and play near often).  If you are looking for a pre-theatre meal, I think that $55 prix fixe is a great deal!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune

11 May

I really love books written by chefs about their adventures in food. Anthony Bourdain was my first and made me fall in love with reading about the inner workings of restaurants and chefery.  I read somewhere that HIS favorite food book was Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton and I quickly made the purchase on my Nook (ps- I love that thing… never thought I’d want anything besides a real book, but I have read more in the 6 months I’ve had it than the entire last 3 years combined).

I absolutely loved the book, and was especially excited to read the section about her starting a restaurant in NYC.  A restaurant I had been meaning to go to for quite some time: Prune.

We were going to go for Valentine’s Day, but then I was called out to LA for a work meeting, so we had to cancel that reservation. A few weeks later, on an idle weekend with nothing to do, we made our way down to the East Village and put our names on the list for brunch.  They don’t take reservations for brunch, and I was expecting a long wait. We decided we would stroll the neighborhood for a bit, but when they told us it would be just 45 minutes, we made it a quick stroll.  We came back 20 minutes later and were seated less than 10 minutes after that.  Lovely!

What I first noticed was that Prune is SMALL.  Even smaller than what I imagined from what she described in the book.

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We started our brunch with cocktails.  While Prune is known for their Bloody Mary’s, I don’t drink vodka (long story) and I’m allergic to peppers… So that pretty much eliminates me from the Bloody pool.  I went with some refreshing, citrusy cocktail that I can’t remember a thing about, other than that I really enjoyed it.

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Mike, on the other hand, was all over trying one of these famous Bloodys.  The menu of Bloody Mary’s is quite big and quite original (scroll down to the bottom here to see).  Mike chose the Chicago Matchbox, with homemade lemon vodka, pickled brussels sprouts, baby white turnips, caperberries, green beans, and radishes.

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 It was beautiful, and he was a big fan. He never really drinks Bloody Mary’s, but after this one, he has been trying more and more.

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For noms, Mike got the steak and eggs, which was a 7 oz. prime newport steak, grilled with parsley shallot butter and 2 eggs (he went sunny-side up) witha toasted english muffin and potatoes rosti.  This was SO good. The steak alone could rival any of the best steak restaurants in the city. Everything was cooked perfectly.

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I chose the dutch style pancake.  It was one individual pancake cooked in the oven, with pears, served with canadian bacon and potatoes rosti.  This thing was DELICIOUS.  The pancake was super fluffy with a bit of crisp on the outside.  It was sweet, but not too sweet, and had great flavor with the batter and the pear.  I thoroughly enjoyed this… probably more than any other pancake I’ve ever had.

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We walked away from Prune incredibly impressed.  The atmosphere was great, the drinks were great, and the food was great.  I love brunch, but find a lot of times it’s all the same. Here, it was brunch anew.  I cannot wait to go back and try more!  

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Eataly’s Birreria: Oktoberfest and Birthdayfest

23 Feb

It’s Eataly Week!

In the last few months, we went to Eataly twice, for two different occasions.

The first was Oktoberfest, which we got exclusive tickets for from Gilt City.  The package included a meet and greet with Joe Bastianich, a tour of the  brewing facilities with brewmaster Brooks Carretta, a brief lesson on brewing, a reception with communal antipasti and beer, a seated family-style Oktoberfest supper with Italian Alpine fare and beer pairings, and a six-pack of beer for each guest to take home.

The brewery at Eataly is a small room where they put together some very different microbrews.  The brewmaster, Brooks, was very informative not only about the brewing process, but also about what makes the Eataly microbrews unique and talked about what new batches were coming up.

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We tried a few beers, and very much enjoyed them.  The Thyme beer was especially delicious.

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Then Joe Bastianich came in and welcomed us to Eataly/Birreria and basically told us to have a good time.

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We sat back down and started chowing down on some great Oktoberfest items.  We especially enjoyed the whole roasted maitake mushrooms, pecorino, sardo creme, and roasted brussels sprouts. Awesome.

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Then a few weeks later… we were back.  My sister has recently expanded her food horizons.  She was the kid that ate chicken nuggets and Kraft macaroni and cheese growing up.  The idea of a mushroom, sausage, or basically anything with unique flavor was repulsive to her.  So when I found out that she was opening up her food spectrum, I was quick to suggest Birreria as a great place to try some new things.

We started with the charcuterie and… gasp… Stacey ate meats.  CURED meats!  I was shocked.

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We ordered the maitake mushrooms again, because they were so good the last time.

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And we got the fried shiitake mushrooms with sage. I LOVE these mushrooms. They are incredibly delicious.

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We also ordered the the pork shoulder which is made with beer and apricot. It was tender and just plain delicious.

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We ended with the bisteca con salsa verde, which was a skirt steak with salsify, green onion, and salsa verde.  It had great char on it, which a touch of salt that just made it stand out.

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I love Eataly. And I really love Birreria.  I haven’t had a bad bite there, and everyone that has been there with me has really enjoyed it. Plus… it’s the first place I saw my picky little sister eat a mushroom.  A true game changer.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Maialino

29 Dec

I have been hearing about Maialino for a long time now, and I feel like the last blogger on earth to have stopped by.  During Christmas time, I make it a point to look for reservations that I ordinarily couldn’t get at any other time of year. While tourists flood the city in the week leading up to Christmas, Christmas eve and Christmas day usually leave the city blissfully empty.  I’m not great at planning 28 days out (the point at which Maialino reservations open up) but I am quite good at looking on OpenTable.com for the following day. To my surprise, Maialino was had a reservation open for a 1:30pm brunch (linner?) on Christmas Eve.

The restaurant is rustic and relatively casual.  It’s decorated in a way that makes you feel instantly at home, and the service adds to the warm welcome.

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We started with the Carciofini Fritti, which is fried artichokes with an anchovy bread sauce.  Artichokes are one of my favorite foods in the entire world, and these did not disappoint.  The anchovy sauce added a delicious salty flavor to it without overpowering the artichoke flavor.

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Full disclosure… it was at this point that our waiter took me entirely by surprise and asked me if I was a food blogger. Flustered, I blurted out that I was. I always feel bad when a restaurant knows that I’m going to be writing about them… some don’t like it and just get annoyed that I’m there… and others go out of their way to make it better since they know I’ll be writing. Maialino took the latter approach… which wound up being quite fortuitous because we tried things that we would not have otherwise.  They did send it over “on the house,” which was very, very nice of them.

Starting with what we ordered, we chose the Contadino, which had 3 of my favorite things: poached eggs, brussels sprouts, and squash (buttercup squash to be exact).

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I love brussels sprouts and can’t believe I spent so much of my life without eating them. I always prefer them halved and browned, but the leaves of the sprouts in this dish still tasted very full and had great flavor.  I don’t know how much the squash added to it in terms of flavor, but it made for a great sauce when mixed with the eggs.

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Which, by the way, were perfectly poached. Mmm mmm mmm.

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We also ordered the namesake, the Maialino pasta (Malfatti al Maialino).  I was a bit confused because the description said it was suckling pig ragu and arugula, and we saw no arugula.  UPDATE: I found out that the pasta we received was actually the Bombolotti all’Amatriciana. This was right above the Mailalino pasta on the menu, and I may have pointed since my Italian pronunciations leave something to be desired.

BUT, I have to say, the guanciale in this pasta were otherworldly.  We will have to go back and try the Malfatti al Maialino soon!

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With these 2 dishes, they nicely sent over a sample of the thick cut black pepper bacon.  This was a moment where I silently said my thanks to the food gods.  This was tender, full of flavor, and tasted exactly like heaven should taste.

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Damn was I glad we got to try this. It was our favorite part of the savory meal (and the rest of the meal was great).

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The chef, Nick Anderer, came out to greet us and make sure we were enjoying everything.  He was very kind and seemed genuinely happy to be talking with us.  We complimented him on the amazing meal and when he asked if we had room for dessert, we couldn’t say no.

He picked out some for us to try, and it’s a good thing he did, because I would probably have not ordered these items and they wound up being absolutely awesome.

We started with a duo of gelati, with salted caramel on top and stracciatella di mandorl (which was, if I remember correctly, an almond ice cream with a coffee swirl through it).  It was served with a chocolate biscotti. Both were sensational.  Strong, delicious flavors melded into a perfectly creamy cup.

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We also tried the brioche caramellato, which was a toffee glazed brioche that tasted a lot like a cinnamon roll in all the right ways.  I LOVE toffee, and this did not disappoint.

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The final item that came out was something I would NEVER have ordered (and looking back, they weren’t on the menu to order!): Zeppoles.  They came with an apple cider reduction sauce.

WOW. I wanted to drink (or bathe in) that sauce.  I wound up eating a good amount of it by the spoonful and drizzled it on both the ice cream and the brioche. It was THAT GOOD.

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And the zepoles? These were NOT your NJ Carnival Zepoles. These were airy, light, perfectly cooked warmed donuts that could rival the beignets at Cafe du Monde (one of my favorite places) any day.

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I also ordered a capuccino, which was just beautiful (and delicious).

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I was impressed. It is rare that a place lives up to the hype, but Maialino was definitely one of the best. I would love to go back for every other meal they have a menu for just to be able to try new things each time.  The service was impeccable (even before they learned my dirty secret) and we didn’t have a bad bite.  We did, however, need a pusher to roll us out when we were done.

Word to the wise: Get the bacon… and the desserts. All of them.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Rolf’s

27 Dec

When I got in the cab to go to the client lunch, I had no idea what I was in for.  Our clients requested an outing to Rolf’s. I had never been, and couldn’t figure out why it was ringing a bell. And then I arrived, and realized that THIS is the type of place that people talk about… because it looks like this…

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Floor to ceiling, front door to kitchen… it was a Christmas wonderland.  You can’t help but get into the spirit here.

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So what is Rolf’s? It’s a classically German restaurant, with menu items that I associate with my (Austrian) Grandma and Great Grandma.

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We started with a sausage sampler, that came with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.  All were very good and started the meal out nicely.

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One person ordered the Choucroute Alsacienne which came with a smoked pork chop, bratwurst, weisswurst, shaped potatotes and sauerkraut. I was lucky enough to try the pork chop part, which I thought was delicious but definitely tasted more like smoked ham than the pork chop that was expected.

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Other diners ordered the roast boneless loin of pork. It came with red cabbage and mashed potatoes. They said the sauce on the pork was scrumptious, but there was a bit too much red cabbage for any one person to consume.

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Another ordered the Jaeger Schnitzel, which was wiener schnitzel in Paprika Mushroom Sauce, Vegetable & Spätzle.

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I went classic and got the wiener schnitzel which came with spatzel and green beans.

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At this point I assume many of you are asking what schnitzel is… well… it’s very thinly pounded meal (usually veal if it’s “wiener”) that is breaded and lightly fried.  It’s buttery and light when done right, and this was most certainly done right.  It tasted a lot like what I remember Grandma making and I ate every delicious bite.

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Overall, Rolf’s is a spectacle with very good food… HOWEVER… it’s unbelievably expensive.  At any other German restaurant, my plate would cost about $15.  Here it was DOUBLE.  Even for NY, that’s pricey!  So if you are looking for a cheap venue, this is not it. But if you want to be awestruck by the decorations, eat German food the way it was meant to be, and without much regard to prices… Rolf’s is top notch.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Imperial No. Nine

3 Oct

I had heard very good things about Imperial No. Nine, in the Mondrian Soho (9 Crosby Street between Grand St. and Howard St.)  It received immediate notoriety because it is the latest restaurant to open under Sam Talbot, the season 2, third place finisher on Top Chef.  (And as any long time reader knows, we are Top Chef whores).  I have been meaning to go since I first read about it opening in March, but somehow life just got in the way.

I arrived and was a bit blinded by some crazy Mercedes photo shoot that was happening for Fashion Week right outside. I managed to walk by the place 3 times.  If you go here… look for the vine covered, trellised entry!

The inside is hard to describe, but I can say one thing… it looks “rich.”  New money rich.  But not in a tacky way.

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I will apologize in advance, as these pictures were taken in much too dark lighting.  It was super trendy with its minimal lighting, but I always selfishly prefer it brighter (simply for camera purposes).  I never want to use my flash if I can help it.

Imperial No. Nine is mostly small plates. Luckily, I was dining with some supremo sharers.

We started with some items from the raw bar. 2 types of oysters (East and West Coast), clams, and shrimp.  All were very good but these may have been the best oysters I have ever had.  Fresh, plump, filled with flavor.  So good.

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These came with multiple dipping sauces. Frankly, I didn’t try any because I didn’t know what had peppers… but more importantly, why mask any bit of that amazing flavor with sauce? Really now.

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We also tried a Chilled Pea Leaf salad with blond red wine vinaigrette.  It was tasty, but I’m really not sure what made this salad $12s worth of special.  It reminded me of the delicious yet common salad that is thrown on the side of eggs benedict at nice brunch restaurants.

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We then tried the cauliflower fritters.  These were so good that we wound up ordering a second batch.  They were just perfect in texture and flavor.  A MUST try if you go.

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We then tried the crisp Berkshire Pork Belly with pickled cherries and green lentils.  This was delicious, but surprisingly overshadowed by the rest of the meal.  I think it had a bit too much heaviness to it and not enough crispness to really shine through.  But that is being very nit-picky.   I think the rest of what we ordered was just that much better.

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We also tried the scallops, which was easily the favorite dish of many at the table.  They were seared over summer corn, heirloom tomatoes, and romano beans.  I remember no tomatoes, but I remember loving it.  The scallops were cooked perfectly and the corn and sauce it came on was just sensationally delicious.

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We also tried the duckfat roasted peanut potatoes with shallot confit, cured lemon, and sea salt.  These were pretty good but could have used a bit more flavor.

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We heard that the cous cous was good so we decided to try that.  It came with crab, asparagus, roasted mushrooms and a slow cooked egg.  It all blended together very well and had great, interesting texture and flavor throughout.  Usually I prefer my crab more highlighted, but I couldn’t argue with this flavor combination.  Spot on.

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We ordered the heirloom blue corn grits with shrimp and a slow poached egg.  It also came with NY State Maple Jus and Aged Cheddar.  Holy cow!  I usually absolutely hate shrimp and grits.  The grits are always all wrong to me.  But this… this was a masterpiece.  I could not believe how much I enjoyed this dish.

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We also heard great things about the King Crab a la Pancha, which came with sweet and sour butter and crispy garlic.  I have no idea what sweet and sour butter is, but I can tell you that this had a very Asian flavor.  I really enjoyed it, but some of my other diners found that the sauce overpowered the crab flavor.

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And what is a meal without red meat?  I was really happy we ordered the steak, which was listed as Beef Culotte a la Plancha with greens, dashi, and white soy.  (This was my second run in with “a la plancha” during this blog post so I decided to figure out what it means… grilled on a metal plate…. interesting).  I THINK this was topped with very finely sliced, crispy onions, but at this point in the meal (and let’s face it… the wine), I cannot be 100% clear on anything.  All I can tell you is that this was absolutely fantastic.  Probably one of the best pieces of meat I have ever tried.  Filled with flavor, perfectly sauced and complimented with those crispy things.  Delicious.

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I’m still not sure how we managed to fit it, but we had to try dessert while we were there!

First up was the Banana Bread Pudding with maple bourbon sauce, honeycomb semi fredo, and nutella.  I liked this dish, but the flavors didn’t really stand out for me.

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We also tried the caramel corn, which was salted caramel ice cream with sweet popcorn powder. I could not get enough of this.  Perfectly sweet, salty, crunchy, and cold.  Awesome.

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We also tried the seasonal stone fruit with almond crunch polenta cake, and corn ricotta sorbet.  I would describe this more as delicious fresh peaches and plums with croutons, sweet corn, and a corn sorbet.  If someone told me they were serving me a dessert with croutons and corn, I would have looked at them funny. But this somehow worked.  It was delicious and very seasonal, though I’m not sure I would go out of my way to order it again. I

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Last but not least, we tried the German Chocolate Whoopie Pie.  This came with spicy milk chocolate, young coconut sorbet, and passion fruit.  This was very good, except the deconstruction made it a bit hard to really get the flavors of German Chocolate Cake (which is what I think they were going for).  It came together well, but I think part of me was expecting that gooey coconut thing that German Chocolate Cake does so well.

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Every one of us that walked out of this meal could not stop talking about how good it was.  Weeks later, Mike and I are still reminiscing about it.  Fantastic flavor combinations I have not seen before coupled with great cooking and fresh ingredients really makes this place stand out.  I highly recommend it for a nice meal.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Birreria- Eataly

2 Sep

I kind of love Eataly.  Well, I love the concept of Eataly.  An entire building (it takes up a full city block) dedicated to good food. And at the helm is Mario Batali.  What’s not to love?

Well… the fact that everyone else loves it, too, is definitely an issue.  Almost every time I have been there, the wait for their restaurants is about 2 hours. And Birreria, the beer garden that opened recently on the roof, was known for that going over 3 hours of wait time.

Which is why when my coworker told me that he had a reservation there to bring our clients, I was skeptical.  But, low and behind, I made it to Birreria.

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Our group arrived about 45 minutes late for the reservation, and while the staff couldn’t make any promises, we were sitting within 15 minutes. Impressive since the wait for non-reservations was over 2 hour at the time.  We had drinks at the bar while we waited, which was outfitted with some fun casks behind the (very busy) bartenders.

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We started off with a board of salumi, which featured speck, sopresatta, mortadella, cacciatorrini, and coppa.  It was all very good, but it seems I now have a new expectation on salumi after the meat we had at Blue Hill just the week before.

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We also got a cheese plate with ricotta fresca, robiola bosina, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino romano, asiago fresco, taleggio, and gorgonzola dolce.  They were all good, but I really liked the gorgonzola.  It was a great, full flavor.

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They served the cheese with fresh honey, which was awesome and paired well with every cheese.

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We wound up splitting everything with the group, and while we were worried that we didn’t order enough, we wound up leaving entirely satisfied.

There was a special that day of a kale salad with citrus pieces.  This was awesome.  Perfectly balanced with bitter, sweet, and the citrus. Really fresh and delicious.

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They also had an heirloom salad special that day.  Beautiful AND delicious.

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There is a section of the menu for mushrooms, and they all sounded great.  We got the shiitake fritti con salvia which was fried shiitake mushrooms with sage.  This was my favorite dish of the night, amongst some very strong contenders.  They looked like they would be heavy and greasy, but they were light and the shiitake mushroom flavor was fantastic.

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We also ordered the bratwurst.  This was a close second on the list of favorites that night.  Awesome flavor and simply cooked.

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This normally would have won my heart, since it was pork shoulder with beer and apricot. And it was as good as it sounded, but it was just that the mushrooms and brats were that much better.  This was perfectly tender with great sauce and great flavor.  Yum.

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I have to say, I was impressed.  Every bite was great.  The homemade beer (I had thyme beer!) was delicious and even the bottled selection was fun and tasty.  It’s always nice to be on a roof in NYC, and this place did not disappoint. I want to go back and order more dishes, especially more mushrooms.  Worth the wait, but I would suggest that you plan early and make a reservation.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Beacon

26 Jan

Mike and I had an itch for brunch, so we made a reservation at Beacon on West 56th Street between 5th and 6th Aves.  I had heard great things about their burger.

The space was beautiful.  Very open with nice decorations without being overdone.

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Lots of vertical lines in a lofty space.  And I really dug the lamp shade chandeliers.

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We were starving by the time we arrived and were thrilled to see that brunch came with a basket of breads and muffins.  Unfortunately, it took a LOOOOONG time for our items to arrive (the table next to us had similar service problems, even though the place was nearly empty).  Luckily they were worth waiting for.

Mike, of course, got the burger.

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It was perfectly good and perfectly scrumptious.

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I went with the steak and eggs, which was a filet mignon and “shirred” eggs.  I still have no idea what shirred means, but it seemed to mean fried.

The steak was in a delicious red wine sauce that I wanted to lick off the plate.  Very tasty.  The steak itself was nothing special.

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For all the buzz I heard about this place, I was expecting more.  But it was satisfying and delicious, even if the service was lackluster throughout.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10


HK

14 Dec

 HK is a restaurant and bar (and lounge? and rooftop bar?) on 9th Ave at 39th Street.  It looks very modern inside and has garage door windows that open in the nice weather.  They have expanded it, and perhaps they are just trying to be too many things.  They do somethings VERY right… and some things VERY wrong.

Our evening here started before heading to see a Broadway show.  We showed up at about 6, figuring that we would have no problem getting in and out in an hour and a half to catch the 8pm show.  The restaurant was almost empty, and our chatty waiter informed us about MANY things, including that he was having a bad day and that it was his iPod playing.  Congrats dude.

We started with an app of tuna tartar that came with herbs, apple, and quail egg.  It was absolutely FANTASTIC.  I would go back in a heartbeat for this (though it doesn’t appear to be a permanent staple on the menu).

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It was all downhill from here.  Our entrees took about an hour to come out. 

Mike order the lamb chop special.  It was… fine… but nothing special. 

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 And rather small for the price (it came to $30 when we got the bill).

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 But small was not even realized yet.  I ordered the duck with cinnamon pears and carrots.  Sounded great.

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But there were 3 thumb sized portions of the duck, which was bland, and a whole plate filled with pear (which were delicious and all… but you don’t order duck for just over 3 bites).   And as I ate it, in this VERY dark restaurant, I realized there was an orange burried under the pile with the rind still on… and a cinnamon stick.  Top Chef echoed in my head: “You don’t put unedible garnish on the plate.”  And to make that worse, in a dark restaurant, the taste of orange rind can really ruin a so-so dish.

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And on top of that, we barely got out in time for our show.  Two couples that sat down next to us about 20 minutes after we sat down were still awaiting their entree when we paid the bill.  They informed their waiter, who was chatting up the (overly cute and gay) men at the table next to them, that they had to catch a show.  The waiter’s response: “Everyone here is trying to catch a show, sweetheart.”  Uacceptable.

Go for the drinks and tuna tartare.  Skip the entrees.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10