Tag Archives: gnocchi

Working My Way Through the Albert Hall Tavern Menu- UPDATED 7/4/11

4 Jul

UPDATE:  Chef Bill is no longer steering the stove at Albert Hall Tavern.  It was a big loss!

 

Having a restaurant I like that has good beer and good people around the corner is a JOY.  And I’m not going to lie… FourSquare tells me I have been there 8 times.  That’s pretty impressive for only having been open for a month now! (UPDATE: I am now far past the 20 visits mark, and it has been open since January 2011.  UPDATE TWO: 36 visits as of 7/4/11)

They now have a full menu (slightly different from what is posted on MenuPages, but close) and I have had the luxury of trying many things on it.  So here is a run-down of my hits and misses:

Spinach Artichoke Dip: I really like this dip.  It has great flavor without being too greasy or heavy.   I kind of enjoyed the little sprinkle of crunch that the homemade potato chips added to this the first time we had it (it has since come without).  Had I not tried it that way originally, I probably wouldn’t think anything were missing.

Nom Points: 7 out of 10 (would be 7.5 with the chips)

DSCF3513

Roasted Cauliflower and Stilton Soup: The cauliflower soup alone would be delicious, but the stilton cheese brings it to a whole new level.

Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

DSCF3635

New England Clam Chowder: It looks so unassuming…

DSCF3629

But look at that clam!  This was delicious and there was no skimping on the good stuff.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

DSCF3638

Bibb Lettuce: This comes with braised artichokes, duck prosciutto and lemon vinaigrette with duck cracklings.

DSCF3631

Those cracklings are worth every bite and every penny.   I do wish it had some sort of soft cheese to compliment all that duck.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 ouf of 10

DSCF3633

Pork Belly Tonnato: I LOVE pork belly.  I do wish, however, that our waitress had forewarned us that this was cold.  It turns out that I DO NOT like cold pork belly.  I couldn’t get over the idea that I was eating cold pork.  I wanted this to be melty fat and crispy skin, but it fell flat for me.  Not a fan.

Total Nom Points: 5 out of 10

DSCF3511

As for the entrees…

Macaroni and Cheese: Plain ol’ mac and cheese with lots of cheesy goodness… like your momma makes it.   If you like it classic (which I do) and packed with cheese flavor (which I also do), this is WORTH IT.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

DSCF3652

Gnocchi: This comes with raisins, fennel, and crisp lamb sweetbreads in a smoked leek fondue.  Sweetbreads aren’t for everyone, and I can’t say I’m a fan, but once in a while they are delicious.  In this dish they worked, but I’m not sure if this is what I’d be running back for.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

DSCF3517

Skillet Burger:  I liked this burger.  It came with a Jack Daniels (I think) dipping sauce which was awesome on the fries (which I’m pretty sure are made with duck fat and truffel).  I would have preferred if the bun was a little more delicious, but the meat had nice char and was cooked well.  I always find it hard to judge a burger, but this was above average.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10 (for the burger) and 8.5 out of 10 (for the fries)

DSCF3522

Fish and Chips: I would say that serving fish and chips on brown paper is dangerous because it shows grease, however, this fish was lightly fried and not at all greasy.  I wish the fries were a bit crisper, but I thought this was pretty enjoyable.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

DSCF3528

Branzino: This came with lemon and garlic sauce.  It didn’t mention that it was a whole fish on the menu.  It was tasty, though the sauce was a bit strong for my tastes.  I LOVE Branzino and this was simple and delicious and let those great flavors show.

DSCF3642

But it did come with a head (much to the dismay of my eating companion that evening).

DSCF3643

And then the big problem…. WAY too many bones.  Every single bite left me carefully chewing and reaching into my mouth to take bones out.  I don’t mind a little work, but this was WAY too excessive and left me enjoying my fish a lot less than I should have. (UPDATE: Chef Bill tells me he now serves this with many less bones.  Will have to try the new version soon.)

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10 (this probably would have been a 7 or 7.5 if not for the bone problem)

DSCF3655

Citrus and Thyme Roasted Half Chicken:  This was VERY citrusy, and the blood orange was a lovely touch.  It was quite moist but I wouldn’t say it was outstanding.  I wish the skin were crispier, but the sauce was interesting and delicious.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

DSCF3648

Lamb Shank Special:  Why this isn’t on the regular menu… I do not know.  HANDS DOWN the best entree we had here (though the steak the first time around was REALLY good).  It was so tender, great sauce, hearty portion, and the mashed potatoes were FANTASTIC.   This should be a menu staple.  It’s just too good to risk not being there.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

DSCF3616

Now onto dessert!

Hard Cider and Fig Baked Custard: This was yummy but very mild in flavor.  I don’t know if I’d go back to this, but I’m glad I tried it.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

DSCF3622

Black Walnut Brownie: Classic style brownie.  Crispy on the outside, dense on the inside.  Tasty, especially with strawberries.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

DSCF3623

Cherry Pie: This was everyone’s favorite dessert.  The crust was well flaked, inside well balanced between sweet and tart, and I would go back for more of this in a heartbeat!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

DSCF3626

I had previous blogged about the tuna tartare, mussels, duck & fig rillette, the ribeye steak, and the roasted veggies.  Here is a quick recap so it’s all in one place.

Tuna Tartare:  Delicious but WAY too peppery (and a little heavy on the capers).  Distracted from the delicate flavors of the tuna and quail egg.  A narrow miss of what would have been a great dish. Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Steamed Mussels: AMAZING.  This is the #1 dish to order when you are there.  The black garlic and charred rosemary in the sauce means that if anyone tries to take that bowl away before you get a chance to soak it all up with crusty bread, cut off their hand.  Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

Duck & Fig Rillette: I appreciated how good this was, but I wouldn’t say it’s high on my list of favorites.  The fig and duck were perfect compliments, but the more I eat it, the more I realized I’m just not a rillette/pate kinda gal.  Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Ribeye Steak: The steak itself had great char and was delicious, however, what really made this dish stand out was the 3 sauces you could dip into.  The au poivre sauce was especially delicious. Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Barrel Roasted Winter Vegetables: I’m not sure what magic barrel they used, but it brought out all the great flavors of these veggies. Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

I have also tried the bone marrow, which is really delicious served with beets and deviled beef.  Highly recommended.  Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

So what would my perfect meal be at Albert Hall Tavern from the items I have tried?  Mussels, Cauliflower Soup, Bibb Salad, and the Lamb Shank.

_______________________________________

UPDATE:

I have since tried many more dishes on the menu.  Here are some highlights:

Suckling Pig: This was cooked to perfection.  Crispy skin, fantastic mashed potatoes, and those vegetables were something special!  Highly recommended.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

 DSCF3774

Shepherd’s Pie: This was packed with flavor and the mashed potatoes on the top were very well crisped and flavored.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

DSCF3787

The inside was a treat that was certainly based in tradition but with bumped up flavor.  Delicious! And very filling.

DSCF3792

Scallops:  These came with braised endive celery root puree and tomato citrus vinaigrette.  I LOVED the puree and was very glad to have a semi-healthy side where most people would normally have served buttery potatoes.  The scallops were juicy, flavorful, and seared very well.  I’ve had this dish 2 times since.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

DSCF4175

Bangers and Mash: This is a very new item on the menu and we actually had the first plate served.  (Go us!)  It was sensational.  The caramelized shallots on top and the sauce were fantastic.  And the bangers (English Sausage) were so filled with flavor and so fresh that we couldn’t stop talking about them.  The potatoes were great (and I don’t even like mashed potatoes!)  I would add this to the ideal menu here.  One of my faves!

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

DSCF4256

Potato and Leek Tart: This wound up being much BIGGER than we anticipated.  The flavors were great and the greens on top made it taste fresh.  A very nice vegetarian option.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

DSCF4282

And Chef Bill informed me that he had been making tweaks to the dessert menu.  His tweaks have all put dessert in the right direction.  Everything I have tasted recently has been a huge improvement over the desserts prior (which were fine, but average).  In fact, we enjoyed the new tiramisu so much, that this is all that was left of it… 

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

DSCF4381

(Hopefully I’ll have a new picture to replace that with soon)

Upon discussing desserts, Chef Bill very kindly brought out a brand new dessert for us to try, on the house, that wasn’t on the menu. Passion Fruit Custard.  This was sensational.  The custard itself was great, but both my dinner guest and I RAVED about how the whipped cream was perfect.   Yum!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

DSCF4385

_______________________________________

7/4/11 UPDATE:
Brunch- French Toast with Lemon Marscapone: This was very well cooked and the fresh fruit on the side was a great touch.  I like when my french toast has a bit of crips on the outside and then a fully saturated, but not soggy, inside.  This was exactly that.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

DSCF4369

Brunch- Full English Breakfast:  This was a FULL plate with fried eggs, bacon, blood sausage, grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, and toast.  The grilled tomato was shockingly good, and it’s hard to beat blood sausage.  This is a hearty, good meal.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

FDSCF4366

“David’s” Chicken Liver Mousse: This came with cornichons and country bread and whole grain mustard.  I’m sure this scared a lot of people off, but live mousse topped with salty fat, spread on crunchy bread… yeah, in my opinion it doesn’t get much better than that.  And it doesn’t get much better than this version.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

DSCF4623

Golden Watermelon: This was a pickled, yellow watermelon with goat cheese and bin the summer.  asil oil.  This was so light and refreshing.  Very nice if you want a small bite for summer.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

DSCF4626

Lamb Roast:  This came with a mint basil sauce over asparagus.  It was bursting with flavor and the sauce on top was a perfect compliment for the lamb.  I can’t say it’s what I expected from a “roast” but it was delicious.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

DSCF4628

Scallop Crudo: New to the menu for summer, the scallop crudo with meyer lemon and herbs is refreshing, delicious, and as fresh as can be.  Yum.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

DSCF4631

Hamachi Crudo: One day they were out of scallop crudo, but they had hamachi crudo.  This was even more summary, topped with beautiful, edible flowers and the perfect amount of citrus.  Double Yum!

Total Nom Points: 7 .5 out of 10

DSCF4783

Soft Shell Crab: These very lightly fried softshell crabs are on top of jicama and carrot salad (shredded and mixed with a mild sauce of mustard, ketchup, and vinegar… which tasted MUCH better than it sounded) and wrapped in fresh cucumber.  This mixed so well together, with the bite of the salad (and slight spice) nicely complimenting the rich textures of the soft shell crab and then slightly cooled and refreshed by the cucumber.  Fantastic.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

DSCF4935

Oysters:  I would be remiss if I never mentioned the oysters.  We get these often and they are always fresh with great flavor.  One of my alltime favorite summer bites.

DSCF4787

Roasted Peaches: A new dessert on the menu. these peaches are perfectly roasted with an amarreto sauce and marscapone.  Delicately sweet and the roasting perfectly pulled out the flavor in the peaches.  We really enjoyed this.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

DSCF4788

Advertisements

Casa Nonna

29 Jun

I had no idea what to expect when the retail space on the ground floor of my building finally got a tenant.  They advertised that “Casa Nonna” and “GoBurger” were coming.  Imagine my surprise when I did some Googling and realized that Casa Nonna was part of the BLT Restaurant Group.

0DSCF4757

I have been a fan of the BLTs for some time, and especially love the popovers at BLT Steak.  There has been a lot of press recently about Laurent Tourondel leaving the BLT chain amidst much drama, so it’s getting quite confusing about who is affiliated with what. But nonetheless, Casa Nonna was opening in my building. Score! There is one already in DC, and I hear it compared mostly to Carmine’s.

I was surprised at how big this place is. I couldn’t even get the sprawling rooms in one photo.

DSCF4753

DSCF4758

The actual bar area is smaller than I anticipated (midtown usually fills bars long before it fills eateries).

DSCF4752

There is a private room with a large TV.

1DSCF4823

Some awesome pasta jars.

2DSCF4825

A cheese case (where a waiter cleverly stood behind me and said “CHEESE!” just as I snapped this shot)

3DSCF4827

And some very cool tables.

DSCF4755

But what about the food?

The first time we went, we started with garlic bread.  This was INSANELY good.  (Strangely, this wasn’t served when we came back for dinner… so not sure what went on there)

DSCF4762

We tried a few apps, including these beautiful meatballs (which had chili in the sauce, dammit)

DSCF4761

Saffron Parmesan Risotto Balls (creamy inside, crispy outside, delicious tomato sauce)

DSCF4807

And Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, Truffled Saba, which was awesome.  I loved the truffle sauce and the ricotta spread so nicely.

DSCF4808

For entrees, one order was Tuna and Tuscan Tomato-Bread Salad, Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  When this came out, the person that ordered this immediately said “I made the right choice!”  I look forward to trying this because it looked great.

DSCF4764

Since it was lunchtime the first time we went, there were some paninis and piadinis on the table.

DSCF4765

DSCF4768

The branzino came out and both looked and smelled sensational.  It was head-on but deboned.  Nice.

DSCF4771

One person we were with ordered the tortellini, which was described as Little Hats of Ricotta, Tomato Basil Sauce, Parmesan. In the words of the orderer, “they had me at little hats.”

DSCF4773

There was also a pollo paillard salad, which was Grilled Herb Chicken Paillard, Arugula Salad, with Lemon Dressing.

DSCF4770

My first order was the squash blossom pizza.  I had tasted squash blossoms for the first time at Mozza, Mario Batali’s fantastic restaurant in LA.  The pesto on it was good and I really like the fried egg (though I wished there were a bit more.  The crust was crispy without being a cracker, but I can’t say the flavor was popping.

DSCF4766

These blossoms were tasty, but I’m not sure how much they added to the pizza.  I wanted more out of this, though it was very good.

DSCF4769

As for dinner entrees, we tried the Chicken parm, which was good and cheesy and with brocoli rabe.  It was a large serving and was juicy inside. The rabe was a bit spicy, and there was a bit of disappointment that it wasn’t served with a side of pasta.

DSCF4811

For dinner, I chose to have the gnocchi, which came with Lobster, Chanterelles, Pancetta, and Garlic Greens. It was very tasty. The gnocchi had the right amount of give and flavor, while the lobster, chanterelles, and pancetta really added a great series of flavors to the meal.

DSCF4813

For dessert, we had a trio of sorbetti (their flavor selections are Orange Hibiscus ~ Grapefruit ~ Watermelon ~ Red Grape ~ Cantalope ~ Lime Fresh Mint).  I really liked the red grape.

DSCF4814

And a trio of gelatti (flavors: Amaretto Crunch ~ Pistachio ~ Sweet Cream ~ Olive Oil ~ White Chocolate ~ Chocolate Hazelnut ~ Blackberry ~ Vanilla).  The olive oil was good, but nowhere near Otto good (you need the salt!) and the pistachio was missing some flavor. It was hard to tell the difference between the Amaretto Crunch and the Pistachio, for instance.

DSCF4815

I went with the panna cotta, which came with plums and a darling spiral of sugar.  It was tasty and the right texture, but the panna cotta was a wee bit bland.  I’d say the desserts overall were a bit disappointing.

DSCF4818

It was a nice touch that they served a nice ending of chocolate covered meringues.  They were pretty good.

DSCF4816

Overall, I think my opinion of Casa Nonna is swayed simply because I was expecting a BLT experience.  Compared to the BLTs, it isn’t nearly as refined nor filled with flavor, but it was good.  Bordering on very good.  It does share some resemblance to Carmine’s (though you can’t count on the portions to be gargantuan in the same way) with that big restaurant, Italian feel.

One thing I do need to say, however, is that the service was impeccable.  I think this had a lot to do with the fact that there were WAY too many waiters on staff for the nearly empty large space, so they had the time to quickly replace every fork and clear every dish.  But it was nice to see such friendly wait staff.

I look forward to seeing how this place develops.  It has definite potential, but I’m not sure if it has reached it yet.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Florida Noms: Chardonnay (Palm Beach Gardens)

6 Jun

 

 

Our Florida trip was going to end with taking in a pre-season Mets game in Port Saint Lucie.  As we drove up in torrential down-pouring rain, I had a feeling the game wasn’t going to happen.  Sure enough, just as we were passing the Palm Beach area, the game was cancelled.  Since we were flying out of the West Palm Beach area airport, we decided to kill some time at the movies and the mall.  What else are you supposed to do in a Florida beach town in the pouring rain?  After a lovely indoor day, we had about 3 hours before our flight and found ourselves in search of a nice place to have dinner.  A few cross-checks via Yelp and OpenTable sent us to Cafe Chardonnay in Palm Beach Gardens.

Here is a peak at the menu:

DSCF4319

DSCF4320

DSCF4321

 

This place was having a bit of an identiy crisis.  It was called a cafe, had a cheesy graphic logo that looked like it was made in MS Paint, was decorated sort of high end French and sort of street cafe, and had an elegant sounding menu.

DSCF4322

 

We started with Warm Almond Crusted Goat Cheese to share.  It came with figs and a raisin bread.

DSCF4323

 

And it was fantastic.  The goat cheese was perfect, the figs were a great sweet compliment, and I liked that they crisped up the raisin bread so everything spread well on it.

DSCF4325

 

Mike had a wedge salad.  The blue cheese was chunky and very good.

DSCF4327

 

Then he had the Prawn “Scampi” over fresh linguine.

DSCF4329

 

 

 

We both agreed that it was just okay.

DSCF4335

I made a combination of specials (to avoid peppers) with the Sea Bass over the side dishes that were originally to come with the crab crusted flounder.

DSCF4331

 

Braised artichokes, mushrooms, gnocchi…  all the makings of a great dish.  But it just wasn’t.  It was okay, but also lacking.  (Is there a lack of flavor problem in Florida?)

DSCF4333

 

I was kind of surprised that the entrees were just bland, but dessert looked promising.

DSCF4336

 

We chose the pecan pie.

DSCF4338

AND the cheesecake (hush… it was “vacation”)

DSCF4339

 

Both were totally “ehh.”

DSCF4341

I think the best description for this place was “ehh.”  Everything was just “ehh.”  Which basically described most of our “high-end” Florida dining experiences on this trip… “EHHH”

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

 

 

Jonathan Waxman’s Barbuto

4 Apr

While Mike and I watched Top Chef Masters last year, we really had a fondness for Jonathan Waxman.  We were thrilled to learn that he had a restaurant in the West Village which was quite reasonably priced.  Barbuto is located on Washington Street at West 12th Street and has big garage doors that must be awesome in nice weather.

DSCF2900

There is also a nice open kitchen.

DSCF2939

I also appreciated the logo, which had an adorable cartoon dog, and was on all the plates.

DSCF2920

The menu changes often and tailors to what is freshest.  As I looked through, there were far too many things that looked far too good.  We then saw a note in the bottom left corner that said that a tasting menu was available for $65 per person.  As far as tasting menus go, that seemed like a steal.  When we inquired about it, we were informed that the tasting menu includes 2-3 dishes from each section… and then the waiter went on to tell us that it was a LOT for two people and he wanted to make sure we were aware that we would probably be overwhelmed with the food quantity.  Seeing as though we hadn’t eaten that day, and it’s hard to resist TOO MUCH food, we went for it.

DSCF2901

There was also an extensive wine menu and our waiter guided us in a direction that I’m still not sure how to pronounce, but it was FANTASTIC.

DSCF2914

Our first course was the salumi, which had prosciutto coppa, cacciatorini and rosemary focaccia.  Very fresh. Very delicious.

DSCF2909

Next up, we were delivered the bruschetta which came with butternut squash and marinated gorgonzola.  MMMM this was good.  Great combination of flavors.

DSCF2911

Our final antipasti was the cavolini crudi, which was shaved brussels sprouts with pecorino, lemon, and breadcrumbs.  While this was DELICIOUS (and the vinaigrette impeccable), we both agreed that we enjoy our brussels sprouts roasted rather than shaved.

DSCF2912

Our first pasta was lumaconi alla cavolfiori.  Lumaconi is “snail shell” pasta that looks like opened shells.  It had a GREAT texture and ours came with roasted cauliflower and cream sauce (they, thankfully, remembered to hold the chilis!)  I’m always concerned that when a dish loses peppers that it will lose its substance.  But this was great even without the spice.

DSCF2916

Our second pasta was the gnocchi con zucca which came with roasted fall squash and sage.  The squash here was SO. GOOD.  And I really liked the gnocchi.  It was slightly browned and had a great texture, with awesome pecorino cheese and a delicious sauce.

DSCF2918

Our first main course was pollo al forno which was a roasted chicken with salsa verde.  We heard good things about this chicken, and it was VERY GOOD.

DSCF2924

Ok… not Zuni good… but still very good.  Though I think I’m always a wee bit let down when I get chicken on a tasting menu, since I don’t think chicken is ever really special enough (and I make a damn good roast chicken myself, thanks to the Zuni recipe).

DSCF2925

Our second entree was coda di rospo, which was seared monkfish with bacon and savoy cabbage.  I LOVE monkfish, and this was one of the best I had ever had.  It was seared and cooked perfectly and the slight sauce on it was awesome.  And it all went so well with the delicious cabbage. 

DSCF2933

We also received sides, and I was very happy to see that we got the roasted brussels sprouts and colatura (anchovy sauce!)  The salty anchovies with the brussels sprouts was very good.

DSCF2926

Our last side was crispy potatoes with pecorino and rosemary.  It looked like these were hit with a hammer and then roasted to perfect crispness. 

DSCF2928

Our dessert was a hazelnut torte of some kind with chocolate sauce. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember thinking that it was very good, but not GREAT.  I kind of wanted just a little more texture in this.  But I enjoyed it.

DSCF2935

Overall, as far as tasting menus, especially at a celebrity chef restaurant, I thought this was incredibly affordable and did an amazing job of showcasing the REAL menu by picking selections from the actual menu.  While I do love the specialness of getting a tasting menu to try out some things that you can’t get a la carte, there is something comforting about knowing that the menu is good enough to be its own tasting menu.  Nothing was earth shatteringly delicious or original, but it was all cooked and flavored perfectly. 

I can’t wait to go back.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Gigino Wagner Park

21 Jan

My great aunt is one of the most fabulous people you could ever meet.  She is well over 90, has an impressive shoe collection, could out-bake anyone I’ve ever met, and tells stories in a way that makes you feel like you lived them.  She is loved by every single person that meets her.  And then she got even cooler… she joined a dance class.  I was honored and overjoyed to see her perform with her troupe in Battery Park City with the family one weekday night.  After the show and our long Jewish goodbye, we tromped through a torrential rain storm down the block to the first restaurant we saw: Gigino Wagner Park (20 Battery Park… pretty much at the bottom tip of Manhattan).

It’s in a beautiful space on the water with a view of the Statue of Liberty, however, you’ll have to take my word for it since the rain was so dreadful that a picture was impossible.

We all ordered some delicious sounding Italian food, including gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce (their usual sauce was pepper ridden).

DSCF2787

The gnocchi was pretty good… but I’ve definitely had better.

DSCF2788

I had the same sauce (due to the same problem) over pappardelle.  Again… good… but not great.

DSCF2789

The rest of the family ordered items like the mushroom risotto…

DSCF2790

And the pasta primavera.

DSCF2791

Honestly, everything was just average.  The space could have lent itself to being a gem in Manhattan, but it wasn’t really anything special.  The pastas were all priced between $15 to $20, which seemed pretty over priced for food I’ve had at any run of the mill Italian restaurant for half the price.  I’m curious what their brunch is like, but I wouldn’t return for dinner.

Total Nom Points: 5 out of 10


Cookshop

10 Dec

As mentioned in my previous post, after the Dewar’s tasting, we needed food, desperately.  So we went across the street  to Colicchio and Sons.

DSCF2279

They told us to grab seats at the bar and people should be getting up any minute.  We hovered for about 5 minutes before feeling like we were just being plain rude… so I pulled out the iPhone and did some OpenTable-ing for the neighborhood.

DSCF2280

When I saw Cookshop (on 10th Ave and 20th Street) had a reservation open for 4 just 20 minutes later, we were out of there.  (Though we all vowed to return)

DSCF2281

We took the 5 minute walk and were seated immediately.

DSCF2282

This place just felt good inside.  Like someone put in a enough effort to make it feel special without making it feel overdone or uninviting.  Unfortunately, it was horribly dark.  Forget taking pictures… we could hardly read the menus!   (Apologies in advance for the overly dark pictures).

DSCF2283

Even though we had just sipped our way through the scotch tasting, we ordered some more drinks to keep the buzz going. We all had a good laugh when we realized that the locations that we had just learned about at the tasting were listed right on our menu.

DSCF2309

We went for mixers, however…

DSCF2288DSCF2289DSCF2290

We started with pizza.  Description sounded good…

DSCF2296

Upskirt was decent…. but it was just okay.

DSCF2299

The highlight was the gnocchi.   It was a special that night and included veal meatballs and brussels sprouts.    It was so perfectly pillowy.  We all mentioned how much we enjoyed this dish.

DSCF2291

Lori ordered what sounded a like a humble dish of eggplant parm.  But when it came out, not only was the portion HUGE, but it was delicious.

DSCF2302

Kevin ordered the “Lamb Three Ways.”  It was good… but not fantastic.

DSCF2304

Mike chose the porchetta, and he was nice enough to share some crispy cracklin’s with the table.  And we were all thankful for that!  It was delicious.

DSCF2306

I got the duck with lentils and squash.  I enjoyed the squash very much, and the duck was pretty good (though I wish the skin was a little crispier).

DSCF2307

We were absolutely game for dessert.

DSCF2308

Lori chose the Chocolate-Raspberry Sundae.  I am not a big sundae person at a restaurant, simply because I always prefer baked goods unless I’m going to an ice cream store specifically.  Lori seemed to agree and said this was just okay.  Nothing special.

DSCF2318

Mike and I both chose the Saigon Cinnamon-Pistachio pudding with a chocolate cookie, salted whipped cream & candied sicilian pistachios.  It sounded PERFECT.  But I found it lacking in flavor… I could hardly taste the pistachio.  Lori LOVED it, however, which is pretty funny since she did NOT like the Milk Bar ice cream with a similar flavor profile and I LOVED it.

DSCF2312

Overall, I thought Cookshop was delicious.   I think this is the kind of place I would prefer for brunch, however, dinner was very good.  I highly recommend the gnocchi!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

For Lori’s full review, check it out here!

Lincoln Ristorante

3 Nov

When browsing for a great place to take Mike for his birthday, I was debating between an old NYC classic or something completely new.  And by completely new, I mean opened less than 2 weeks prior.  I decided to take the risk.

I had heard about Lincoln Ristorante across the foodie blogosphere as it was being opened by Jonathan Benno, the former Per Se chef.

DSCF2574

It is located in an absolutely beautiful location at Lincoln Center in a fully glass walled space with sloping wood ceilings.

DSCF2559

I loved the space.

DSCF2560

The entire kitchen is visible behind a glass wall as you walk into the dining room.

DSCF2590

You can even take a peak around the glass wall (making it more of a decoration and less like a fish bowl).

DSCF2594

It even looks out on the beautiful new Julliard School.

DSCF2561

I was even impressed with the candles which were plain on the outside but revealed a very pretty tree and bird design on the inside.  I want these!

DSCF2562

The bread that came out was 2 different variations of a flat bread that was crispy (and just so so) and some yummy, buttery breadsticks.

DSCF2567

The menu changes regularly, so I’ll give you a glance of the menu for the night we were there.

DSCF2570

I was sad that there wasn’t a tasting menu, but the a la carte options sounded great anyway.

DSCF2571

And we were very torn on what to order.

DSCF2572

But in the end, Mike decided he wanted to try the beef (which I had read explained as “if we are going to put steak on the menu, it had better be the best steak we can find.”)

DSCF2573

We were first served with a chick pea cake with a puree that I recall being delicious, but not delicious enough to commit to memory exactly what it was.

DSCF2575

We started with the foie gras, sweet bread, and rabbit terrine.  It was good, but honestly, this was my least favorite part of the meal. I expected it to be a bit more flavorful.  It tasted earthy, but lacking in depth.

DSCF2578

And then the steak came… it was presented to us beautifully until it was whisked away to be carved.

DSCF2580

And it came back perfectly plated for each of us.  It was probably the softest steak I have ever eaten.  You could probably have cut most of it with a butter knife.  And it had delicious char.  The cipollini onions were so sweet and so delicious.  A perfect pair for the meat.  The greens (which may have been spinach) were forgettable and obviously there just for color.  The marrow, however, was insanely delicious and  buttery.  Mike went so far as to describe it as “the creamiest cream you could ever cream.”  I promised him I would quote him on that and wrote it down.

DSCF2581

We ordered a side of gnocchi and it was the best gnocchi I have ever had.  It was pillowy and buttery and cheesy and everything you could want.

DSCF2582

The dessert menu came and and we opted to also do after-dinner drinks.

DSCF2585

I chose the amaretto, and it was the best damn amaretto I have ever had.  Commit this brand to memory if you like Amaretto:  Luxardo.  As someone who only usually drinks DiSaronno (which is good, don’t get me wrong), this was eye opening.  I will find this again and drink it forever.

DSCF2595

Here is where things get fuzzy.  I have no idea why I took a picture of a fork on a glass of water.  Perhaps I liked the vantage point with the glasses behind?  One can only wonder now.

DSCF2596

The birthday boy ordered the trio of gelati: milk chocolate, caramel, and fior di latte.  They were nice enough to light a candle, write a birthday message, and not sing.  Perfect.

DSCF2598

I chose the Monte Bianco.  The chestnut sorbetto just sounded too good to pass up.  When it came, it looked like a Tartufo.

DSCF2599

And it had a pretty center.  The chestnut was good, but I wanted more chestnut flavor.  I enjoyed it thoroughly, however, and eagerly cleaned my plate and wished I could pick it up and lick it.

DSCF2603

We received a final plate of mini cookies.  I was especially pleased as they served 2 of everything, so as to avoid any uncomfortable “who gets which cookie” scenarios.

DSCF2605

Overall, Lincoln was a fantastic choice and I’m so glad we went.  The food was fantastic and the atmosphere and appearance of the restaurant was some of the best I’ve ever seen.  The service was impeccable and I was especially impressed that they asked about food allergies when I made the reservation and paid close attention to it throughout the meal.  I was impressed with how reasonable the prices were, especially from the chef who came from Per Se (the still-out-of-reach restaurant in NY that I’m dying to try but cannot rationalize spending the $ for).  I highly recommend it for special occasions.  It was definitely in the top 10, if not top 5.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10