Tag Archives: hamburger

Ditch Plains (AKA Romper Room)

20 Sep

We were exploring near the Upper West Side and were in pursuit of a lunch place. I noticed that Ditch Plains was close by, and it had recently been recommended to me. (They also have a location in Greenwich Village)

We entered and realized that we were no longer in Kansas.

More like Romper Room.

I guess word got out that this place was kid friendly, because the strollers in the shot below only show about half of what was packed into their small entry-way.  It wasn’t really a problem as much as it was weird to be the only people in a restaurant without a child (and an iPad playing a cartoon). After looking at the site, it appears that they are not just kid friendly, but also kid healthy with a kid’s menu that follows USDA dietary guidelines.

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The restaurant itself has a wide open feel and a few communal tables.  Surprisingly, it was not very noisy, even with all those kids.

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We started our lunch with some Porkslap Pale Ale. Always a favorite for Mike and me.

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We began with a half dozen roasted oysters (seems we’ve been starting with oysters a lot lately!)  They were with garlic and parsley butter and quite tasty.

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Mike got (shocker) the burger. It was called the Big Marc and had spiked ketchup, housemade pickles, homemade black pepper (huh?), cheddar bun, jalapeño, and cheddar tater tots.  I couldn’t try the burger, but Mike liked it and I was a fan of those cheddar tater tots!

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I got the seared sea scallops with charred corn puree, summer vegetables, and basil walnut pistou.  

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Even though the scallops looked a bit burnt, they were cooked perfectly and really delicious.  The base was really delicious and fresh.

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We were in a indulgent mood, so we got dessert as well.  Sadly, I can’t recall what this one was:

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But I sure know that this was the s’mores!

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There are few things in life that I love more than s’mores.

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And these ooey-gooey ones did not disappoint in the slightest!

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Overall, the food was very good at Ditch Plains and we enjoyed our lunch.  I am curious about other meals there and would certainly go back if in the area.  I was a bit nervous that the kids would be loud and obnoxious, but it wasn’t too bad at all.  If you have a family, this seems like a fantastic place to go.  Kids are well taken care of and accepted and food is very good.  I hate to think I’d have to sacrifice eating out at good restaurants when I have kids, so I appreciate that this place exists for that reason at least.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine

6 Apr

I live in a neighborhood that has a new building opening pretty much every week.  There has been a vacancy in the first floor of the apartment building on 10th Ave between 37th and 38th Streets for a while.  I held out hope that it would be a grocery store (the one real lacking part of this neighborhood… well… besides the bums). But a few weeks ago we noticed that whole bunch of basketball player pictures were put up in the window.  Oh well… another sporting goods store… a huge one taking up an entire city block…

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But no, it actually turned out to be a restaurant.  Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine soft opened a couple weeks ago and then had a red carpet opening last weekend.  Clyde Frazier, of NY Nicks Fame, is certainly a NY icon. Known for being a hall-of-famer, all around fan-favorite, and effusive suit wearer, he teamed up with Ark Restaurant Group to open up what might be the biggest NYC restaurant I’ve ever seen.  It is literally a full city block.  Mike checked out the menu before we left, and found out they have pavlova, which may be my most favoritist thing ever (and sorely lacking in NYC… gotta go to London to get it usually).  I was in.

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The moment you walk in, it is 100% Clyde Frazier.  Huge floor to ceiling columns bare his face (and suits).

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The walls are adorned with some of the great sports photos of his heyday. 

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Even the ceiling is designed in a school of fish motif that, on further investigation, is actually all different images of… what else? funky suits.

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The north end of the restaurant is a bar with many TVs above to watch the games.

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Right above our table was even an ode to his suit design.  With some insane patterns and boots.

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Upon heading to the bathroom, a large looming Clyde looks down upon you.

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And as if we weren’t already on Frazier overload, he showed up in the flesh to take pictures and meet and greet diners.

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In the most amazing tiger print suit with matching boots.  I had to pose for a picture if only to be able to show you, dear readers, just how amazing this suit is.  (Turns out, he’s a really nice guy who spent the whole night talking to each and every table)

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The kitchen is huge and open-format in the main dining room.  There are a few dozen TVs to watch (what else?) games, but I read that they will display artwork when the games aren’t on.

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There are nice, elegant touches to the restaurant that elevate it above the sports bar I thought it would be.  It’s an identity crisis for sure, but one that somehow just makes sense.  It was downright enjoyable to feast your eyes on all the crazy decorations.

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I ordered a Clyde style drink (The “Stumbling & Bumbling”) made with patron silver tequila, patron citronge tequila, fresh strawberries, and basil muddled with sugar.  It was served in a lovely, big glass and they were not bashful with the alcohol.  I was pretty much drunk half-way through.  Fantastic.

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The menu was as eclectic as the man (see full menu in the slideshow at the end).  It featured some standard southern favorites along with Asian inspired dishes and hearty Jewish comfort food.

So we started with the duck liver with duck cracklings and toast.

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This was liver the old fashioned way.  Liver the way grandma made.  

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Mike got… of course… the hamburger. It was Clyde’s signature 10 ounce burger with cheddar, apple smoke bacon, and caramelized onions. It came with homemade chips and a crisp pickle.  I thought this burger was surprisingly excellent. The caramelized onions were top notch and the burger was perfectly cooked and juicy.

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I went with the root vegetable salad, that came with goat cheese vinaigrette.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly was taken by surprise by how damn good this was.  Vegetables cooked to perfection (soft but still full of flavor) in a goat cheese style sauce with pumpkin seeds (I think) and delicate seasonings and oils.  It was refined.  It was delicate. It was delicious. 

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We went on to check out dessert and noticed that one of our favorite local dessert wines was listed, Duck Walk Blueberry Port. Yum!

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And, of course, the pavlova!  It was served with passion fruit soup, Greek yogurt, and fresh fruit.  The meringue was crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside. I didn’t love the inclusion of Greek yogurt (I guess I’m a sucker for classic style… with whipped cream) but I was impressed that the meringue was so delicately and well cooked.  Not the best pavlova I’ve ever had, but it satisfied the need for the time being. And I am quite a harsh judge when it comes to pavlova.

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Overall, I was totally impressed and surprised by this place. I was expecting it to ride on its celebrity fame and just be, well, average.  Even the sheer size of it made me think “this place can’t possibly be good.” But it was.  It was actually damn near great. I look forward to going back to try some of their heartier entrees, and their rotisserie chicken looked especially appealing.  I’m curious how good their steaks are, and I can’t wait to find out.  I’m glad they are right down the street. I have a feeling I will be returning often.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

 

Their menus were all covered in funky patterns to match Clyde’s funky outfits, but their cocktail menu looked like a basketball.  Nice touch.  Below is a gallery that shows the full menu (including drinks and desserts) as it stands as of April 6, 2012.

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Love Lane: Mattituck, LI

5 Jan

After our wonderful adventure exploring the wineries in Long Island, Lori suggested we do dinner at one of her favorites, Love Lane Kitchen.

We didn’t have reservations, so they told us it would be about 30 minutes.

Luckily, right next door was Love Lane Market… and I love me a market. (I think they may be owned by the same people, but I’m not positive)

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They stock their shelves with great ingredients, many of which I am familiar with and some new ones.  It reminded me of a little Eataly.

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But with a bit more personal touch.

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I have this odd love for these types of chairs. I THINK the top is what they use to form horse saddles, but I could be making that up.

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Even their tiled floor was cool.

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I REALLY wanted to try the rotisserie duck, but we wouldn’t be able to eat it before I was off on a trip. Lori and her ABF got on though and said it was great.

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They even had a selection of homemade pastas.

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And homemade mozzarella.

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As well as a wood fire pizza oven in the back.

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This is the type of market that I wish would open up near me in Manhattan.  But it was just perfect in this little Long Island town, on Love Lane.

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As soon as we got out of the market, Love Lane Kitchen was calling our names.  We sat down and immediately dove into some delicious, fluffy rolls.

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We began with a calamari salad.  It’s refreshing to have calamari that isn’t fried and this was delicious, with a dressing that brought out all the great flavors.

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Mike, shockingly, got the cheeseburger.  Since it was devoured before I even remember picking up my fork, I’ll assume he enjoyed it.

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Lori got the skirt steak.  I tried some (without the sauce) and it was juicy and perfectly cooked.  It also had a nice char on it, so the flavor was great.

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Lori’s ABF chose the short ribs.  Oh these were good.  They were so tender and the sauce was a perfect compliment.

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I went with the pork belly with a slow cooked egg.  This was cooked to perfection, with both crunchy bits and the melty soft fats that make pork belly oh so good.

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And boy oh boy do I love eggs. It was on top of a radicchio (I think) which is usually a bit too bitter for me, but with the sweet of the pork and the egg yolk, it was delish!

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As if we weren’t indulgent enough, we split THREE desserts.  We got the cheesecake, the apple pie, and the chocolate pecan pie.  All three were good, but nothing was outstanding.  And I was too full to even look at another bite.

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Though the pumpkin cheesecake did just keep on calling out to me… “just one more bite!”

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Love Lane Kitchen was a perfect end to a perfect day.  Great, home style food cooked with love and attention.  Everything was scrumptious and I would love to go back to try more.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

For Lori’s take on our meal at Love Lane Kitchen, visit her blog here.

RARE (Fashion District)

10 Nov

I had heard great things about Rare for some time, and had a few cocktails in their bar on the east side, but I had never sat down for a meal.   We went with a big group of people one night, so there was an assortment of food ordered.

We started with the french fry tasting basket which includes cottage fries, hand cut, and sweet potato fries. All were well cooked but nothing special.

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I thought that the assortment of sauces/ketchups/mustards was clever. (I just love sampling)

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We also tried the parmesan truffle fries.  There is never anything bad about parmesan truffle fries, but I did want a bit more truffle.

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We also tried th elollipop wings, which everyone liked. (I can’t weigh in because they had peppers)

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We also tried the frickles (fried pickles) which were again good, but not great.

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The greek salad was unlike any greek salad I had ever seen before! It was topped with full lamb chops and smelled delicious.

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The steak also smelled great and came with a lovely slab of butter. (Why are the things that are SO good SO bad for us?)

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I heard the burger was great, but I wanted to sample… so I got the Burger Trio, which is the chef’s selection of mini burgers.  I believe I had a bacon cheddar burger, a short rib burger and something else.  It was good, but I can’t say it was memorable.  I wish I had tried the real burger to get a real sense of it.

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Here is why I had burger envy…

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They all looked great and everyone who ordered the burger was very pleased with their decision.

Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Rare but I didn’t feel like I had enough to really judge the meal by.  Everything I ate was just so-so, but I don’t think I ordered well.

I will have to go back to give an official Nom rating.

Pier 9

23 Sep

 

Pier 9 opened up on 53rd and 9th Ave earlier this year.  It took over the space that used to be Agua Dolce and seemed to become this new place overnight.  

Inside is very “under the sea” with dividers made of old sails, a watery color palette, and some plants that looked almost tropical.  It was almost a little TOO designed.  But it looked very nice.

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They put most of their menu onto a mirror, however, it seems as though must had changed since they finished this according to the menu we were given.

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We started with the lobster mac and cheese.  It was labeled as “non-traditional” and good thing, it certainly was anything but traditional!  It was like big, individual tubes of pasta stuffed with lobster and cheese and topped with lobster.

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It was delicious.

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Perfectly creamy and a really beautiful presentation.

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We also received biscuits, which Mike very much enjoyed.  

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They had peppers, so they brought me some surprisingly delicious toast instead.

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Mike got the burger.  Yup… even in a seafood restaurant, Mike judges by their burger.  He enjoyed it, but said it wasn’t anything super duper good.

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I got the scallops over celery root puree, eggplant, capers, raisins, and pine nuts.  It was a wonderful mouthful of textures with great flavor.  I was really impressed with this dish.  And the scallops were perfectly cooked and great on flavor.

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For dessert, we chose the s’mores donut. It was a homemade donut with marshmallow and s’mores ice cream.  I’m not a huge donut fan, but I LOVE s’mores.  Problem is… what I love most about s’mores is the combination of crunch, sticky, sweet, chocolate, melty goodness.  In this dessert, the donut reigned the plate and I thought it was good, but not my kind of dessert.  

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I was not expecting to like this place.  It had all the makings of a place that was so overstyled that they would let the actual food take a back seat. But this was food first.  And it was creative and delicious.  Well done.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

 

 

 

The Breslin

19 Sep

I had been hearing buzz about The Breslin for quite some time, so when we were in the neighborhood and Mike suggested we see if they had any open seats, I was completely game.

They have an open kitchen in the back, and I was particularly amused by their decorations, which included “stuffed heads” that looked like stuffed animals and, as you can see in the picture below, pig toys hanging from meat hooks.

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Everywhere you looked there was something clever and cute.  (Look closely below to see the cute stuffed animal zebra “mounted head”)

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Mike and I started with the Terrine Board, which had guinea hen with morels, pork pate, headcheese, rabbit & prune, and liverwurst, and was served with pickles, piccalilli, and mustard. (Or at least I THINK that’s what it was).  Whatever it was… it was GOOD.


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Even the bread they served it with was perfectly crunchy.

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We then tried the scrumpets with mint vinegar.  I cannot for the life of me remember if these were pork or lamb, but it didn’t much matter.  After much Googling, there does not appear to be a definition of scrumpets really out there.  So let me define it simply by describing what these were…

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Slow cooked, melt in your mouth, juicy meat encased in a breaded, crunchy, fried (but not greasy), case that tasted a bit like heaven when you bit in.  There you go.  Scrumpet: A taste of heaven

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We also had to try the burger, since everyone kept talking about how awesome it was.  It was a lamb burger with feta (we got the cumin mayo on the side).

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It needed no cumin mayo.  It was perfectly cooked, perfectly juicy, perfectly charred, and perfectly delicious.

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The dessert menu was called “Evening Puddings” and was a great selection of delicious sounding desserts.

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We chose the dark chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream and brown butter bourbon sauce.  YUM YUM YUM. I want to go back and try more of these (ok… and the breakfast menu… and more off the dinner menu)

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This was a fantastic meal.  It’s one of those places that I’m kind of glad isn’t next door, or else I would be a lot fatter.  Everything was cooked to perfection with great ingredients and clever pairings.  Absolutely delicious.  And if you go, get the Scrumpets!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

 

 

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)

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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

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New England Clam Chowder: It looks so unassuming…

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

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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.

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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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(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

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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Bar’rique: An awesome new addition to the West Village

21 Mar

I was with friends in the West Village and texted a coworker, Sam, who lives in the neighborhood for a recommendation on where to have dinner.  He said we should definitely try Bar’rique (on Bleecker between 6th and 7th Aves, right next to Murray’s Cheese Shop).  I checked the menu and reviews on my phone and all looked good, so off we went.

It definitely has a wine bar feel, with high tables and focus on the bar.

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They also have a small, open kitchen and we had the fortune of sitting right outside.

 

We started with some delicious, but over-priced crostini.  I got the ricotta with honey and almonds.  It was about 3 bites, and cost $4.  It was good, but I’m not sure if it was $4 for 3 bites good.

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The rest of the table also tried the truffled white beans with beets and the prosciutto with cheese, peppers and capers.

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Mike thoroughly enjoyed the prosciutto one.

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For entrees, Mike got the burger.  I was surprised to see that the pickled vegetables on top included jalapenos.  I took a piece of burger from the bottom and it was very flavorful.  Nice char.

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Mike also said the burger was fantastic, juicy, and the pickled vegetables were a great compliment.  We all enjoyed the fries.  Perfectly crispy.

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Our friend, Eden, got the Mizuna salad, which is a Japanese lettuce with cinnamon roasted pears, parmesan, candied hazelnuts, and hazelnut vinaigrette.  He really enjoyed it, and I meant to try it by completely forgot.  That combination of salad ingredients is right up my alley.

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I chose the braised short ribs. They came with honey glazed turnip and Anson Mills white grits.  I am usually not a grits fan, but whatever the Anson Mills brand is, it’s fantastic.  The turnips were just perfect and holy cow… the short ribs were holyfuckinawesomelydelicious.  They had such a great flavor, on such a great sauce, over great grits.  I was totally blown away by this dish.  An easy 9 on the Nom Scale.

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Our waitress, Sarah, was incredibly attentive and sweet.  She also informed us that this place just opened in January.

Overall, everyone walked away from this meal saying what a gem this place is.  All our food was outstanding, and even the wine we had was great.  While the crostini was over-priced for the serving size, I found the rest of the menu reasonable for the caliber of food and portions.  Not cheap by any means, but completely worth every penny.  They focus on sustainable farming and wineries and have a seasonal menu that changes with the best ingredients.  It is very obvious that there is extra care in the way this food is prepared, and I highly suggest trying this place before the rest of the world finds out.  It won’t be empty on a Saturday night for long!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10


Rachel’s Restaurant

11 Feb

There is NO shortage of Italian restaurants in NYC, especially in Hell’s Kitchen.  But I have become a fan of Rachel’s (on 9th Ave between 43rd and 44th Streets).   They bill themselves as comfort and “American Bistro” food, however, it is definitely based in Italian roots. 

On the order was the Trenette Scampi, which was black pasta with sauteed shrimp, asparagus, & tomatoes in a garlic & oil sauce.  It was a great garlicky sauce.

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Next up was the burger, which came with with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato & swiss cheese.

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Someone got the Seared Tuna with asparagus, avocado salad with roasted pepper coulis.  I was told it was tasty.

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I got the special, which was ravioli in an orange cream sauce.  It tasted like a creamsicle!  I really enjoyed this dish and wanted to lap up the sauce.

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Overall, Rachel’s is hearty, classic food done well.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 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