Tag Archives: NYC

Riverpark for Restaurant Week Winter 2013

20 Jan

We have been to many restaurants for NYC Restaurant Week at this point, and we’ve found some great choices and some poor choices, which makes it hard to find new places worth sampling each year.  But this year, we decided that Restaurant Week (through Februrary 8, 2013 so far this winter) was a great opportunity to try one of Tom Colicchio‘s newest choices, Riverpark

I really like how many Colicchio restaurants handle Restaurant Week. Rather than serve a “wedding food” (beef, pork, or fish) version of their menu, they serve their regular menu and the items that require a higher price to produce include an incremental charge, noted on the menu (base price is $38).  Here was the menu on January 20, 2013:

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For the Restaurant Week price of $38, we were able to choose an item from the left side plus an item from the main section, with a dessert.  You could substitute pasta (a larger portion for entree) for either course.

The building was a bit hard to find.  It is located near the East River on 29th Street and the FDR, in a complex called the Alexandria Center.  Our taxi wasn’t sure where to find it, so he dropped us off on the corner of 30th Street and the FDR access road and we walked down what looked like an industrial part of the city near the back of the hospital.  We took a chance and walked up some stairs and found it there at the top,  inside the building.

The decorations are very modern, with clean, perpendicular lines, much like Colicchio and Sons.

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The lights above our table were kind of cool and modern, but also a bit seizure inducing after a few drinks.

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We started our night with cocktails. Mike got the “Colonel Mustard” with mustard infused white rum, thyme honey, lime, and candied bacon. It was fantastic.  Heavy on the thyme and a perfect balance of flavors.

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I tried the “Spiced & Spiked” though without the “spiced” since that was homemade hot sauce (which would have peppers, which I’m allergic to).  It had hot apple cider, Goslings Rum, and clove.  Even without the hot sauce, this was very delicious and well balanced. I wanted something hot on this very cold night, and this hit the spot.

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We added a half-dozen oysters to our Restaurant Week selection, with 3 East Coast (Barnstable) and 3 West Coast (Shigokus). They were both divine, but the west coast Shigokus were especially fantastic.

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We then decided to try a bottle of wine. There was a section dedicated to Orange Wines which were described as “interesting and funky.”  We have a love for Russian River Valley wines (especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) so when we saw one on the menu under the Orange variety, we decided why not try something interesting and funky.  We really enjoyed this wine. It was easily drinkable, dry without being puckering, and went well with food and stood up on its own.  A very enjoyable wine.

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I then tried the Kabocha Custard & Crab Fondue with crispy black trumpet mushrooms and spiced pumpkin seeds (which I went without in my dish due to my allergy).  This was sensational. A touch of sweet, delicious squash, fresh crab, and a slight crispy from the mushrooms.  A great balance.  This is the second custard from a Colicchio restaurant that really impressed.

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Mike tried the Testa Tortellini with pears, walnuts, sage, mustard seed, and spiced consomme.  Sadly, I couldn’t try it due to my allergy, but Mike said it was a great balance of flavors. The waiter said he should try everything in one bite and he would realize why the pear, tortellini and consomme was put together and sure enough, the layers of flavors were fantastic with the rich broth and the fresh pear.  Everything together was delicious.

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For our entrees, Mike chose the 20 oz. bone-in dry aged sirloin, which came with a $20 supplement charge. It was with cipollini onions, charred shisito peppers (which they put on the side so I could try it), and tempura hen of the woods mushrooms.  The char on this was fan.freakin.tastic.  And the tempura-ed mushrooms were really fantastic on this. An all around awesome cut of meat. If you order this when it is not Restaurant Week, the steak alone is $50.  So for the $38 base price of Restaurant Week and the $20 supplement fee, the value of the app and the dessert came to a mere $8.  Not too shabby.

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These were the peppers that were put on the side, which Mike said added a nice depth of flavor without being too spicy.

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I chose the Berkshire Pork Chop with Brussels sprout apple hash and parsnip puree.  This was absolutely incredible.  A slight sweetness from the apples complimented by the slight bitterness of the sprouts. And the pork itself was a perfect foil to both.  Incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I picked up that bone with my fingers to get off any last morsel.  Totally worth it.

 

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Then we had our choice of desserts (a tough choice indeed) and we also chose to order dessert wine (Domaine des Schistes, a muscat).

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I chose the Chocolate Souffle Cake with coffee ice cream and chocolate crumble. This was a lovely dessert with warm souffle cake, with a nice balance of bittersweet and sweet with the chocolate and a great compliment with the coffee ice cream.

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But Mike chose the Beer Sundae with Guinness Cake, oatmeal stout ice cream, butterscotch, chocolate pretzel, and candied walnuts.  While my chocolate souffle was very good, this was just damn special.  It was unique flavors with a perfect balance of salty and sweet. It was a fantastic, inspired dessert.  Really, really fantastic.

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Our food throughout the meal with simply spectacular.  We paid a number of up-charges, but I am very certain that we would have enjoyed our meals just as much had we stuck with the Restaurant Week prices and not paid for any of the supplements or additional drinks/supplements.  But half the fun of Restaurant Week is being able to save money so you CAN pay for those lovely extras.

This is how you do Restaurant Week. Offer your regular menu so no one feels that they are missing out and just give people a chance to really enjoy your restaurant with a nice introduction.

Well played Riverpark.  You have made the list of “where to eat for Restaurant Week.”

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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A Restaurant Is Born: The Paperwork is In!

12 Dec

It has been an unbelievably long road to open The Keys. (For a full recap of the story so far, you can start from the first post of “A Restaurant is Born”) The original open date was aimed for Summer 2012, and here we are at the end of the year, without a place to enjoy Chef Bill’s awesome food.

The owners were really the hold up here.  Paperwork just would not move along since there were so many cooks in the kitchen (pun intended) on the owner’s side.  They went through 3 different lawyers, and each new lawyer wanted his own new deal.  Once word came that they could move forward, it still took a full 5 weeks to get the contract together.  They had to figure out the exact terms to keep the owners on as partners (at 25%) so they still were invested in the restaurant to everyone’s satisfaction. Finally, the contract was signed this past week! It required 6 owners and partners to sign, from all over the world.

The design firm that was going to invest is no longer going to be used, because 10% is a big chunk to give away.  There is a new architect involved now named Shay who works for Perkins Eastman. He is busy getting measurements and putting the plans together so they can start construction the moment the lease is signed.  They hope this will be just a week or two away so they can be in there by mid-December. This will allow the Concession (you can read more about what a Concession from this previous post) to extend to March, giving the restaurant time to get on its feet.

There is a $150K budget for the full build out and equipment. The brick oven is a key piece of the restaurant, but repairing it will cost about $8K, so it has got to be worth it! Bill is busy figuring out some awesome dishes that can come out of it, including suckling pig, plank seafood, and, of course, the homemade bread.  (Bill is posting about some ideas on The Keys’ Facebook page. Go on over and become a fan!) Bill is also excited about putting in smokers, so he can make his own bacon and the bar can make smoked ice for cocktails.   The outside patio will get a new fortified roof so he can have an herb and chili garden on top.  He also plans to put a macro grower in the kitchen so he can grow some super sized greens.  The in-season menu is back in play.  Shay is already taking measurements and making sketches and I’ll be posting more about this in the next few weeks when things start getting really exciting and we see how the physical restaurant changes.

Bill is ambitious and hopes to have a Friends & Family opening by the last week of January.  He will start with dinner, then add lunch a month later, and brunch when the weather warms up.  There will be Jazz music downstairs, which will start up right at opening, and Bill plans to have some house instruments so that Jazz musicians will look at The Keys as a place to just stop by and jam from 11-4am.  There will also be a DJ on the weekends with molecular bottle service downstairs.  This is not going to be a club scene, however, and more for people who will be excited that the cocktails include homemade bitters.

I am excited to say that it is finally time to announce where the restaurant will be!  The Keys will be bringing great food and music to Mulberry Street, between Prince and Spring Streets, in the space currently occupied by the Australian restaurant, 8 Mile Creek.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks as the construction starts and the menu takes form!

Smush: “The NY Deli of Desserts”

29 Oct

Just across the street from Bryant Park, there seems to be a collection of dessert shops opening up.  A chocolate store opened up a few months ago, and then a few signs popped up for various dessert places, including what looks like it will be a patisserie and, of course, Smush.  Smush bills itself as “The NY Deli of Desserts” and is decked out in neon signs and fun art.

They have signature sandwiches to choose from.

Or you can make your own by choosing a cookie, spread, toppings, and ice cream.

They have a display of their cookies to choose from.

We showed up right at closing time, and while they were all but closed, they offered to stay open to make our Smushes. They only had 2 flavors left: pumpkin and french toast.  I signed right up for the pumpkin while Mike went for the french toast.

They even make their own ice cream here, which was individually wrapped and ready to be smushed.

Our Smush man made our sandwiches.

I went with nutella, pretzels, and vanilla ice cream on my smush.

Mike went with bananas and vanilla ice cream on his french toast cookie.

And the verdict?

SOOOOO good!

The cookies were perfectly done, soft enough to be enjoyable yet hard enough to be a perfect conduit for everything in between.  The ice cream was equally perfect for immediate eating.  And the pretzels I added to mine were a great salty crunch.  I love being able to choose all the ingredients and flavors to suit my mood. And the fact that it tasted great and was the perfect texture all the way through left me recommending Smush to just about everyone in the area.

And when I picked up the paper underneath after finishing my Smush, I noticed a little smart touch. A wet nap at the very bottom.

Overall, Smush was much better than expectation and we really enjoyed it.  A perfect snack for after dinner, before or after a Broadway show, or basically anytime you have a hankering for something sweet in midtown.

I would really like one right now, actually!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

A Restaurant is Born: Movin’ Again!

28 Aug

So… what is happening with The Keys?  (If you have no idea what that even means, I am currently documenting the opening of The Keys Restaurant in NYC by Chef Bill Seleno.  Please see Part 1Part 2, and Part 3, and Part 4 to learn more about the concept and menu.)

Everything was humming along back in June. A few delays had caused a few investors to back out, but a few others had come along. Bill got a big “yes!” from Crown Consulting and Design, the firm that is going to contribute by taking care of the build out.  Bill didn’t know how much their contribution would be and was hoping he wouldn’t have to trim his 1920’s concept back too much.  He was thrilled when they agreed to cover all build out expenses, without cutting any corners, for 10% interest in the restaurant.  

But the hold up is still the owner.  Turns out, the owner had to resolve a lot of financial issues before he could sell the space.  He dragged his feet for so long that Bill asked his broker to look for another space.  He happened to know someone who just came into a space, so they went to check it out. Bill told me that the space didn’t have some of the perks of the 1st place (which had 3 floors, a downstairs club area, and an outdoor space) but it did have an impressive kitchen.  But the space is really beaten up and has been vacant for weeks.  They also only have a liquor license until midnight.  Bill was set to negotiate for this space, and was hoping to receive a copy of the lease and the details about the space 2 weeks ago.  But, in what seems to be a trend, feet were dragged.  

Enter fate.

Bill met up with an old friend from his Gustovino’s days, Heather. Turns out, Heather had been trying to open  up her own restaurant for quite some time, but luck was not on her side. When Bill told her about his vision, she jumped on board.  She walked through both spaces with Bill, and said that the 1st place was really the winner. Heather really wants to get things done quickly, and signed on as a partner. She brings to the table her craft behind the bar and she is excited to use some of Bill’s chemistry vision in the drinks.  Turns out the delays brought about an opportunity for a fortuitous partnership.

As for the menu, Chef Bill may have to modify the menu to run his seasonal, local menu and will be utilizing the brick oven even more to maximize the resources he has at his disposal.  He plans to bake all the breads in house, including a table bread of sour dough dinner rolls with pearls of olive oil, gorgonzola cremificato, and olives.  He’s exploring adding a selection of meats and pizzas as well.

So how is Chef Bill staying afloat with all these delays? He has been all over the country catering various friend’s weddings and their kid’s Bar Mitzvahs. He will be working for a Kosher catering company throughout September. Heather will be his right-hand woman to take meetings and act on Bill’s behalf while Bill is out of town.  

The opening is now probably more likely to happen in February.  I’m amazed to see how much a restaurant opening can be delayed. Everything was on target for a July opening back when we started this project, and now he’s looking at nearly 9 months after that, and that’s only if the space can be secured in the very near future!

Thankfully, the owner of the 1st spot is currently being a bit more forthcoming, so Bill hopes he can secure the last of the information next week.

And then it’s full steam ahead!

Bacon Bash 2012: You know you want to go, and NYCNomNom has your Discount Code!

1 Jun

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I really have a love for pretty much anything and everything swine. And there is a special place in my heart for bacon. So imagine my glee when I found out that The 1st Annual Bacon Bash is upon us! It will be taking place on Saturday, June 23rd in 2 slots: 12-2:30pm and 3:30-6pm. For all the details, check out their site.  

Want to go?  Well, dear readers, if you use the code “nomnom” at checkout, you will get 20% off your tickets! (on the final screen, you can add the coupon in the top right)

See ya there!

Nom Nom Bacon Nom Nom!

Anita Lo’s Annisa for Valentine’s Day

26 Apr

We had been wanting to try Anissa for a long time. We had watched Anita Lo on television (Top Chef Masters most notably) and she was one of the chefs that made my mouth water every time she presented a dish.  We went to Rickshaw Dumpling Bar (her more casual restaurant in NYC) and her dessert soup dumplings were unreal.  But her fine dining restaurant, Anissa, was really where I wanted to go.  Unfortunately, there was a fire at Anissa a few years ago and it closed down.  So when it reopened, it hit the “someday” list.  Valentine’s Day weekend 2012 was finally that “someday.”

My first impression was that this place was VERY small.  It was intimate without being on top of each other.  I’m pretty sure the restaurant seats less than 20 people at a time.

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It’s the little things about a restaurant for me, and these perfect butter ribbons were just delightful.

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We decided to go with the 7-course chef tasting with the wine pairings.

Our meal started with an amuse bouche of egg salad with cured salmon tartlet.  It was a nice bite and the shell was a perfect crisp.

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Course one was ceviche of fluke, black lime, and green daikon. It was paired with a Sauvignon Blanc: St. Bris Burgundy, France – 2010.

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This tasted perfectly fresh and citrusy. It has a small salty element. Totally delish.

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Course 2 was a Hudson valley duck foie gras with soup dumpling and balsamic. This was paired with Riesling Kabinett -Gunderloch, Rheinhessen, Germany – 2010.  This wine was PERFECT with this dish.

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I was nervous about my peppers allergy, but they defined this as “Sechuan” but I wound up being fine. Very slightly tingly, but worth it. This had great, deep, rich flavor.

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The flavors were so good, in fact, that I tipped my bowl into my spoon while no one was looking… just to get every last drop I could.

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Course 3 was a Miso Black Cod with crispy tofu and bonito broth (I think that’s what she said?)  This was paired with Wakatake Junmai Sake from Shizuoka, Japan.

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There was roe in the broth, which was a nice surprise.  The cod was awesome, and potentially the best I have ever had. I’m not a huge fan of tofu, but even that was great.  I have no idea what the green things in it were (see photo below) but they added great texture.  The tofu itself wasn’t at all crispy, but it was delicious.  Almost polenta-like in texture.

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Our next course came out, and while I wrote it down, it appears I forgot to take a picture of it (Whoops!)  It was grilled arctic char, dill, char mousse, cabbage leaf, and lemon something.  It was paired with Bourgogne Blanc, Domaine Amiot- Servelle from Burgundy, France 2008. This had multiple elements on the plate, so you could choose how much of each you wanted in each bite, or all of it.  Everyone went great together, especially the mix and match of the lemon and dill flavors.  The wine also went perfectly with it.  Awesome.

Course 5 was grilled wagyu, green garlic, chives, escargot, mushrooms with granache. It came with Bandol- Domaine Le Galantin- Provence, France, 2008.  Below the meat there was a piece of brioche that sucked up juices/sauce and made for such a flavorful bite.

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Our next course was a cheese course. It came with some great, nutty bread.

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And I dove in so fast to the cheese that, again, I forgot to take a picture. But I snagged one at the very end.  I took some very short-hand notes: “Chèvre de Argental: sheep, raw cow from Austria, raw cow from Vermont, goat cheese from France, cremesco from Italy, a blue from New York. It was paired with Churchhills White Port- Portugal.  White port is sooooo good with cheese.

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Course 7 was a coupling of 2 desserts, both of which came with Muscat de Beaumes-de Venise, Rhone, France 2009.

The first dessert was a pecan beignet with butter rum sorbet. The sorbet good but icy. The entire dessert was very messy, but tasted awesome.

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The second dessert was a poppy seed cake with Meyer lemon.

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It reminded me in flavor of lemon meringue.

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At the end, we were served Petit Fours: coconut popsicles, candied ginger, and piece of chocolate.

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The popsicles were especially fun and deliciously filled with coconut flavor.

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The whole meal was exceptionally well paced with very good service. Every dish was solid. I can’t say there was one that stood out as an awesome dish that topped all other awesome dishes, but the meal as a whole was incredibly good and memorable as a whole.  It certainly did not dissapoint. One of the tops of all time.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10