Tag Archives: salad

NYC Restaurant Week- Winter 2012: Barbounia

6 Feb

That Lori (from StuffIAte) and I decided to attend Food52’s Piglet Party to check out the Tournament of Cookbooks.  We didn’t know much about the event, but when we arrived, it seemed as though no one else really knew much about the event… even the organizers.  It said it started at 7, but when we arrived around 7:15, people were still setting up and there was no one really directing the flow.

There were a few stations with food and wine and then a bunch of cookbook authors sitting at a table, waiting to sign, but without any information about which cookbook they wrote.  And while I have a special place in my heart for cookbook authors, I haven’t memorized their faces.  So that was… strange.  There was no place to put coats and no one found a garbage can, so Lori and I wound up sitting at a table surrounded by other people’s garbage.  Someone was nice enough to say “thank you” as she put her garbage down next to us.  With that… we decided to cut our losses and head out to take advantage of Restaurant Week.  A quick search on the iPhone and we had a reservation for 10 minutes later at Barbounia, around the corner.  (What DID we do before smart phones? Really???)

I have been meaning to try Barbounia for quite some time (especially for brunch, which is supposed to be awesome).   But Restaurant Week seemed a great opportunity to check them out.

Here is the RW menu.

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The inside is beautiful.  Great arches with detailed lights.  It looks like it should be a good deal bigger, but it was somehow cozy in a very grand way.

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After ordered, we received a very warm, very fresh piece of bread.  The edges were especially delicious.

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I ordered the Grilled Oysters on half shell with tomato confit, fennel pollen hollandaise and parmesan crumble.  Since it was Restaurant Week, I was expecting 1 or 2 small oysters.  I was very surprised when it was 3 giant oysters. And they were DELICIOUS.  The top was like mild melted cheese that complimented the oysters without taking away from the flavor.  Really enjoyed this.

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Lori got the Roman salad with romaine hearts, artichokes, fennel, celery, shave pecorino cheese and bresola.  She seemed to enjoy it very much.

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For entrees, I got the duck confit.  It came with overnight braised farro, medjool dates, baby carrots, turnip with date syrup and 5 spice sauce (luckily, not one spice included peppers).  This was cooked to perfection, full of flavor, and falling off the bone.  The faro was ehh, but the sweet sauce was so good that when using the faro to sop it up, became mouthwatering.

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Lori got the grilled pork (which doesn’t appear to be on the menu that is posted).  I believe it came with Israeli cous cous, cipolin onions and black trumpet mushrooms. I though her dish was really outstanding.  The pork was a perfect blend of meat and fat so it was succulent, and the sauce it had was delicious.

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For dessert, we both opted for the dark chocolate mousse (also not on the posted menu) which came with a salted caramel sauce.

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The mousse itself had GREAT flavor.  Perfectly bitter sweet with chunks of chocolate.  When you hit the flecks of salt, it took the flavor to a whole different level. Unfortunately, while the flavor was great, the mousse itself was a bit gritty.  Tasted like the chocolate broke.  But it was so good in taste that it hardly mattered.

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Service was very good.  Our waitress was attentive without being overbearing and didn’t treat us like Restaurant Week lepers (an all-to-common theme during RW).

Overall, our meal here was surprisingly delicious.  I was impressed that a meal this good (and this big in portion!) had flown under my Restaurant Week radar.  They deserve accolades for serving food proportionate to their regular menu, and fantastic in ingredients and flavor.  They don’t skimp, and for that, they will earn my loyalty and I will be back.  A great execution of Restaurant Week.  Gave us just enough great food to bring us back for more.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

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Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Tarrytown, NY

15 Aug

We were trying to determine where to go for a getaway weekend.  I knew we might not get out until late afternoon on Friday, and had to be back on Sunday, so we didn’t want to go far.  We thought about the usual contenders: Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, Jersey Shore, Long Island beaches.  But then Mike came up with a fantastic idea… to go to Tarrytown, NY and finally visit Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  We have been wanting to go for years, especially after trying their NYC location which was wonderful.  The only reservation we could get with the 1 week notice was at 9:30pm on Friday night.  So we decided to get a local hotel room and then we would explore the area the following day.

Stone Barns is very easy to get to. The train is very quick and you can get a cab right there.  We got a ZipCar and arrived less than an hour after we left our apartment.

Blue Hill is literally on the farm.  The chef finds what is freshest from the farm that day and makes a menu out of it.  You never quite know what is going to come out, but you can be sure it’s good.

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We arrived about 10 minutes early and were told we would be seated soon.  So we made ourselves comfortable at the bar, which had these lovely, comfy chairs and couches.

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Their cocktail list was very unique, but both Mike and I were enamored with the “Up in Smoke” which had whiskey, mescal, and smoked peaches, lime, and thai basil.  It was definitely unique. Not sure I would get it again but I’m glad we tried it.

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We had nearly finished our cocktails when the Maitre’D came over.  I assumed it was time to go but he informed us that they were a bit behind schedule and asked if we would like to begin our amuse bouche in the bar area while we waited. We happily agreed.

First up were lightly fried fresh beans (green and wax).  They were delicious and the fry just added a hint of crisp.  I also liked that they served it on slate.

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Next up was a few fresh veggies from the garden (arranged on skewers sticking out of a block).  We had fennel, butter lettuce, a radish, and a gooseberry.  Everything was tasty, but the gooseberry was sensational.

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Next up came a pancetta fried squash blossom.  I find that many times squash blossoms retain too much grease from frying, but these were tender and cooked just right.  I can’t say I tasted the pancetta too much, but the entire thing was tasty all together.

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Next was something I remembered trying, and loving, at Blue Hill NYC.  These were tiny tomato “burgers.”  These were perfectly sweet with perfectly ripe tomatoes.  Even better than I remembered.

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Next up came some sliced meats.  The one on the left was bresaola (air cured beef) and on the right was prosciutto.  Both were quite tasty.

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At this point, we were so pleasantly enjoying our experience that we hadn’t even realized that we were nearly 45 minutes past our reservation when we finally sat in the main dining room.

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The did an amazing job with an old barn, keeping it modern and industrial, while clean and looking like it belonged on a farm.

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I opened up the menu and was pleased to see that of the multiple artwork available on menus, I received the artichoke. (I LOVE artichokes).  The menu gives a choice of 5, 8, or 12 courses.   The 5 and 8 have the same amount of food, but the 8 had more variety.  The 12 is called the “Farmer’s Feast” and it sounded quite epic.   Too epic for being after 10pm.  (Sidenote: This place is a “Special Occasion” restaurant.  It is expensive even as far as NYC Tastings go.  Be prepared.  But it is 100% worth it.)  We chose the 8 course and, to add to the opulence, I also got the wine pairing.  (Note as dishes get increasingly blurry below… both in images and in recollection of what we ate).

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I then realized that the beautiful flower sitting on our table was ALSO an artichoke.  Gorgeous.

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And then the food started coming out… Look familiar?  It was so delicious and light the previous time that we didn’t mind a second helping.

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Next came a melon shooter.  It was melony, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to drink it again.

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And then more beans…

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When the meat came out again I debated saying something, but this was NEW meat so I just had to try it.  I believe the left was bresaola again but on the right was bologna.  Now I don’t like bologna.  But this is what bologna was supposed to be.  Made me think that I cannot even imagine how they can call deli bologna “bologna” if THIS is what it was supposed to taste like all along.

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Next, out came a salad.  It had fresh and seasonal vegetables with (YAY!) gooseberries.  It also had some marscapone and a foam that I cannot recall anymore.  They also topped it with edible flowers.  It really just looked like freshness in a bowl.

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The next item was a piece of brioche (that also had some swiss chard that didn’t photograph well).

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And this was paired with homemade ricotta that they strained in front of us.    It was creamy and rich and I kind of wanted to bathe in it.

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We were then served poached lobsters with corn and shallots.  It was in a broth that tasted like everything that is wonderful about lobster and corn.

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At this point we really wanted bread to lap up the broth from the lobster dish, and without a moment to spare, out came the bread with homemade butter and two specialty salts.

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They were flavored with tomato and spinach.  And they were wonderful.

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Next was an egg dish.  It was a poached egg over julienned squash noodled.  I took a small bite and realized that the dark red specks were, in fact, peppers(which, thanks to my allergy are my mortal enemy).  Mike really enjoyed the dish while I waited for a replacement.

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At first I was a bit upset to be missing the egg course, because there are few things I love as much as a fresh and well cooked egg.  I was also surprised that the pretty impeccable service had made this mistake.  But then… my replacement came out.  It was a lightly fried poached egg (say what?) in a pea broth.  Let me just say, this was so freakin’ amazing that I was GLAD they made the mistake.  How on earth they fried a poached egg will remain a mystery to me, but it was sensational.  The pea broth was a perfect foil for the egg and everything came together with perfect flavor and texture.

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Our next course required special preparation, where a special type of egg yoke was grated onto our dish.

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This was a homemade ostrich egg pasta dish (with the shaved egg thing over it) and a sauce that I cannot for the life of me remember but I do remember thinking it was absolutely delicious.   (Note: this is when I realized that the wine pairings, which were supposed to be “small pours,” were no where close to small and were starting to impact my ability to photograph and recall what we ate… not that I enjoyed it any less, however).

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Our next course was the meat course, which had sliced flank steak and beef tongue. I usually am not a huge fan of tongue.  Sliced deli tongue is fine, but give me a slice of pastrami any day instead.  This tongue, however, was one of the best morsels of food I have ever had.  It was rich and melted in my mouth, with intense meat flavor.

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Up next were desserts.  This was fresh blueberries, marscapone, and sorbet. It was fresh and delicious and all the right balances of sweet and tart.

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Our last bite was a caramel sauced, fresh milk ice cream, chocolate mousse with chocolate ganache and fresh berries.  It was decadent with nothing too sweet, nothing too rich, nothing too bitter.  It was perfect.  A blend of everything that is right with dessert.

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At this point I was a bit thankful that it was over… I was so stuffed (and so damn drunk) that I was concerned that Mike would have to carry me out (or roll me).  At this point we were served a mint smoothie, some fresh fruit, and some chocolate cookies.  I took a nibble and sip of each, and each was delicious… but just far. too. full.

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Overall, this was one of those meals for the history books.  It was easily in the Top 10.  From start to finish, everything was delicious.  There were some mistakes in service (the seating, the double amuse bouche, the peppers) but the overall service was so fantastic with great attention to detail, that none of that mattered.  The wines during the pairing were each very good, but nothing that stood out and it was honestly just too much.  I wouldn’t recommend going for that part, but everything else is a must.  Each bite was fresh, delicious, and elevated what food should be.  It was unbelievably expensive, but worth every penny.  It is one of those once in a lifetime food experiences that everyone should have the opportunity to have just once.   Some people dream about vacations to Bali, some about luxury cars, some about owning race horses… me? I dream about food experiences like this one.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

Restaurant Week Summer 2011: Black Duck

23 Jul

Our 2nd stop for NYC Summer 2011 Restaurant Week was Black Duck.  Their Restaurant Week selection was anything from their soup and salad section (which included gazpacho, a Bibb lettuce salad, and an arugula salad), pan roasted chicken, fish of the day (which was pistachio crusted fluke, or spring penne pasta for entrée, and dessert was listed as summer strawberry cake.

Mike chose the Bibb Lettuce salad that came with citrus pieces. The dressing on it was very citrusy and fresh.  Nice summer salad.photo 1

I went with the arugula salad which came with dried figs, onions, roasted pistachios, and shaved pecorino in a champagne-dijon vinaigrette.  I was concerned about the “dijon” part since I’m not a mustard fan, but the entire thing was delicious.

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While not on the Restaurant Week menu, we chose to get the sliders app. It said it came with mustard, and Mike was kind enough to ask if it was on the side.  We were assured it was… but when it came… no mustard to be found.  Weird.  But the sliders were grilled and well salted, and tasted like they came right off a backyard grill (which isn’t necessarily what I want at a restaurant, but it was still good).

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Mike’s main course was the spring penne pasta that came with spring peas, yellow cherry tomatoes, regiano, and basil pesto.  I LOVED the peas and the basil pesto.  I wouldn’t say the pasta was anything special, but everything on it was really good.

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I chose the pistachio crusted New England Fluke over baby bok choy and mushrooms with ponzu. This was VERY tasty, though I’m not sure if I really recognized the pistachio coating as pistachio.  It added a nice crisp, but I was hoping it would be a bit more pisachio-y.

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My camera battery had actually died just before this meal started, so all these pictures were taken with my iPhone.  It was fine at first, but as it got darker, I had to start using the flash and most pictures just weren’t as nice as with the real camera.  One thing the iPhone can capture, however, that my camera cannot is cool candle lighting.  It made my wine look pretty awesome.

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For dessert, the waitress came out and started listing off a whole bunch of options. I was surprised since the only one listed was the strawberry cake. I asked her if they were included in the RW menu, and she said not usually but they would make an exception.  Also, she noted that the strawberry cake was actually a strawberry cheesecake.  Mike’s middle name could be cheesecake, so he went in that direction.  It was a bit strange though… it was more like a biscuit cake with a small layer of cheese (marscapone maybe) in between two layers and topped with strawberries.  It was just okay.

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I decided to order the “chocolate caramel mousse.” I was a bit surprised when a slice came out (I was expecting just mousse) and I’m still not sure where the caramel was (there wasn’t even any drizzled on top. Hmmmmm)  It was good but quite rich and kind of disappointing when I really wanted some caramel.

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Overall, our meal was very good and we really enjoyed everything.  I wouldn’t say I LOVED it, but I would certainly go back.  There were some awesome sounding dishes on the entrée list that I would definitely want to try!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Cupping Room Cafe- SoHo

19 Jul

I was downtown for a client meeting and in search of a place to grab a quick lunch.  We stumbled upon the Cupping Room Cafe on West Broadway between Broome and Grand in SoHo.  It was very cute inside.

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With whimsical art and great, oversize florals.

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We sat down with the menu and I absolutely could not decide between eggs benedict and a waffle. So I asked if they could do eggs benny ON a waffle (rather than an english muffin).  The waitress said the kitchen was WAY overwhelmed but she could get me a waffle, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce on the side… with a side of bacon.  SOLD!

The problem was we waited for our meal to come out… then we waited… then we waited some more.  (We were there over 2 and a half hours during LUNCH by the end of everything).

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And it was as good as I was hoping for!  They even burnt the bacon for me (I like it EXTRA crispy)DSCF4838

My coworker got a beautiful (and LARGE) salad…

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…And gazpacho.  She liked both very much!

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Overall, The Cupping Room Cafe was pretty good.  Food was all tasty and well prepared, but it took FOR-EV-ER to come out.  It seems like more of a brunch place, and I would go back, but I’m in no rush.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Strip House

4 May

Every time I have had a NYC steakhouse discussion (which happens very often actually), Strip House comes up in the top of most lists.  I had not been, so when I was treating a colleague to dinner, I was excited when he chose Strip House.  

Strip House is on 12th Street just east of 5th Ave.  There are also locations in Las Vegas, Key West, Naples (Florida), Houston, and, impressively, Livingston, NJ (In the hood where I grew up… What What!)  

I failed to get a picture of the interior, but I can pretty much summarize in 2 words: Red + Leather.  I also seem to remember burlesque-esque photos on the walls and a room filled with men, pretty much exclusively.  Oh this was definitely a boys club.

You could smell the business transactions happening in the room.

It’s not quite my vibe (I prefer the “old style” New York feel of Keens with the old pipes hanging on the ceilings), but it was lovely to look at.

We started with the Strip House Roasted Bacon which came with baby arugula and russian dressing.  The bacon was good and bacony, though I preferred the one at BLT Steak. (And is it just me, or is it somewhat strange to have this with a salad? I mean it makes sense… who doesn’t like bacon on their salad? And it’s a nice balance to have greens with the fatty bacon… but it still seemed strange to me.)

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Next up we had a rib eye…

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And a New York Strip.

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We both preferred the Strip, and the roasted garlic on the side really made it.

The char was very good, though not the best, and I found myself wanting just a little more flavor from the meat (and using more of the roasted garlic to compensate).

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For sides we ordered the Crisp Duck Fat Potatoes.  I was very excited for this, but I found it VERY disappointing. It was a dome of bland potatoes with a slightly crisped outside.  I had to really try to taste the duck fat.  Bummer.

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The other side we had was truffled creamed spinach. THIS was sensational.  My favorite part of the meal.

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For dessert, we had to try their famous 24-layer chocolate cake.  It was good, and very rich, but it fell short simply because I’m not a big cake person.  Cake to me is boring when I can have a creamy mousse or a crispy brulee.  Perhaps it’s a texture thing.  But as far as cake goes, this was certainly a good one!

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Overall, I would say Strip House is good, but not great.  It’s definitely a top steakhouse in NYC, but across the board, I’ve had better steak experiences at places like Keens, Uncle Jacks, and BLT Steak.  If given the choice, I would pick any of those over Strip House.  Not to say I wouldn’t go back.  It just wasn’t as good as the buzz.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10


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


Nanoosh

30 Nov

Nanoosh is a “Mediterranean Hummus Bar” with 3 locations in NYC (just below Union Square, near Lincoln Square, and in Murray Hill).  I frequented the one by Union Square before changing jobs, and didn’t realize until long after that I never blogged about it, even after going there at least 2 times per week.

Their pita is nothing special (bland and a bit dry) but it looks like puffed balloons.

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On this day, my friend tried the sweet potato and mushroom soup.  It was, unfortunately, spicy, so I was out. But she enjoyed.

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She followed that up with the quinoa salad (with Organic quinoa, red peppers, red onions, organic walnuts, dried
cranberries, & organic raisins).  She also enjoyed.

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I went with the salad I tried the first time I went there and has never let me down.  It’s SOOOOO good.  It’s the Nanoosh Garden salad (that comes with Organic romaine, organic cherry tomatoes, organic carrots, corn, heart of palm, dry roasted edamame with citrus dressing or citrus and Mediterranean spices dressing) but I order it with the walnut and grapefruit dressing (oil free).  The dry roasted edamame and the dressing just kick this salad into a whole new level of salad.  I can’t get enough of it!

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I hear people aren’t too fond of the hummus due to it’s thickness, however, this salad is perfect for me. And for that… I give it…

Total Noms: 7 out of 10

 


Market Cafe

26 Jun

Right around the corner is a brightly lit place called Market Cafe (9th Ave between 37th and 38th) that looks slightly out of place below the Port Authority area.  Hopefully, for those of us in the neighborhood, places like this will continue to pop up and take over some of the abandoned and not-so-desirable store fronts in the neighborhood.  Don’t get me wrong, I love authentic, old New York, however, this area is still a bit more run down and loaded with the homeless population to be counted as a “desirable neighborhood” to live in.  I have never exactly been one to flock to the hot neighborhoods, however, and much prefer these “up and commers.” 

Anyway… Market has been a place we have been meaning to try since moving in, but it took us about 6 months to get there with dad and Maggie.  I started with sangria… which wasn’t great, but thirst quenching at least.

Maggie went with the salad… which I cannot remember.

Mike went with… shocker… the burger.  He was a good boy and got veggies instead of fries. Bravo Mike!  He liked it.

Dad chose the grilled shrimp with stewed lentils and and parsley oil.  The shrimp were delicious.  Mmmm char.

I chose the (“crisped”) roast garlic chicken with creamed potatoes, spinach, and roast garlic sauce.  It was nice and juicy, but I expected it to be crispier since it did say it was crispy in the description.  The garlic sauce was perfectly sweet.  Quite enjoyable.

Overall, Market is a nice part of the neighborhood and while not outstanding, it seems like an easy, reliable place to grab a meal.  Entrees are a little on the pricey side for a place that is a bit off the grid, but it matches the effort that the place is trying to make by being modern in the neighborhood.  All entrees were less than $20, but even the burger was $14.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Pacific Blues- Napa Valley

15 Feb

This trip was literally our last stop before starting our “eat healthy and go back to the gym” kick.  And we really did it to the max with all our epic eating (especially in Napa).  By the end of the last day, we just wanted a salad before heaing to the airport.  We were recommended to go to Pacific Blues which is in the same complex as Bottega.  It was very casual.

I went with the Cobb salad and it was just what I wanted.

Mike went with the Taco Salad and seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

Tough to judge a place on salads, even if they hit the spot.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10