Tag Archives: scallops

Sublime: Gladstone, NJ

25 Sep

I have a tendency to be a bit of a New York City snob (maybe elitist is a better word?).  I’ve had amazing food in many places, but I don’t think any place can come close to rivaling NYC as a food city.  And I especially don’t think of my home state of Jersey as being a food mecca.  So when my mom told me about this “AMAZING” place called Sublime in Gladstone, NJ… I was skeptical.

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But the menu sounded quite promising in its descriptions (since the menu is seasonal and changed all the time, I included our menus below).

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And it was designed with a nice aesthetic and we were greeted by an incredibly friendly hostess. Our service the entire meal was actually fantastic.

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And has a brand new porch area that looked lovely to sit at. (It was a bit too cold for that when we ate there)

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I started with a craft beer flight (they were already speaking my language!)

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It was a really nice trip through very different beers and we had fun passing them all around for everyone to try.

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Then we began eating.  They began with the tuna sliders which were mini spicy tuna burgers on brioche bun with sliced tomato, cucumber, and sriracha mayo.  Everyone besides my sister and I (who are both allergic to peppers) enjoyed these.

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We also had a wedge salad which was topped with applewood smoked bacon, radish and hard boiled egg. Yum.

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I began with the crab and avocado salad which came with jumbo lump blue crab eat with avocado, red onion, cilantro and lemon/thyme vinaigrette.  This was so fresh and so full of flavor. I just loved it. And what a beautiful presentation.

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First entree up was the NY Strip which was a grilled 16 oz. strip over truffled fingerling potatoes and topped with an herbed garlic port wine reduction.  This was cooked perfectly and had all these great rich flavors and textures.  Really enjoyable.

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Someone tried the Macadamia Crusted cod which was a red miso marinated Chatham cod crusted in macadamia nuts served over mango sticky rice and sake braised baby bok choy.  SO. GOOD.

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We also had the sea scallops, which were pan seared diver sea scallops over truffled smashed potatoes with sweet creamed corn and fried leeks.  The crisp on the fried leaks was a great foil for the tender scallops.  Each bite was better than the last.

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One person got the seafood yaki udon, which had sautéed shrimp and scallops with seasonal vegetables and udon noodles in a sweet garlic oyster sauce. Very tasty.

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And I got the short ribs.  These were boneless Rioja braised short ribs with oven roasted vegetables and Yukon gold smashed potatoes.  I’m pretty sure I moaned when I ate these.  Everything short ribs should be.  Tender, packed with flavor, in a slightly sweet and rich sauce.  Sensational.

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Sheesh! This took me by surprise. I was sitting here having a really fantastic meal… and in NJ.  (Though the prices could certainly rival NY!)

Always trust the mama.

She then informed us that the desserts were really phenomenal and not to be missed. Well fine mom, twist my arm.

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We started with the banana rangoons, which were deep fried wontons filled with banana and toasted hazelnuts served with dark chocolate sauce.  Awesome.

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Then we had the milk chocolate praline pudding, which was housemade and topped with fresh whipped cream.  Great flavor, but it could have used a little more texture in my opinion.  Some sort of crisp. But we’d be splitting hairs to make this meal any better.

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And then… it came.

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The single most impressive apple crisp I have ever had… in my life.

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It is listed on the menu as “For 2” but this thing could easily serve about 6 people.  It came with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce that just dripped right down the side of the dish.  It was an apple crisp for the records. Usually toppings on apple crisps don’t stay crispy.  They just get kind of mushy and I assumed that was the way it always had to be.  Au contraire my apple crisp loving self!  This was so good that I actually told the waiter that I wanted to send word back to the pastry chef that this was incredible and I was impressed. He came back to tell me that the chef mentioned that he bakes it at a low temperature for a very long time to get the crisp.  Good. To. Know.

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I still can’t believe how wildly good this meal was.  I’m not sure if it was the sheer surprise of it, or if the food was just that sensational.  My mom has always been quite a good judge of food, so I should have trusted her more.  I just couldn’t believe a restaurant like this would exist in a little town in the middle of the Jerz.  All the food was outrageously good, but that apple crisp gets its own 0.5 Nom Point boost.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

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

Todd English’s Ça Va

6 Sep

Ça Va opened right by my neighborhood, and I heard nothing about it.  It looked a bit like a night club on 44th between 8th and 9th.  I was surprised to read that it was from Todd English when I walked by.  I guess Todd English just doesn’t carry the celebrity chef status that gets most a lot of press? Or maybe I just missed it.

Either way, when we were looking for some late night fare after leaving a Broadway show, we decided to pop in and try it.  It has a very modern feel and a very nice aesthetic.

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We started with what I think was a special with pork belly and eggs. I cannot remember exactly what it was, but I remember enjoying it.  (UPDATE: Kim remembered!  “It was a play on bacon egg and cheese: Bacon Egg And Cheese berkshire pork belly, quail egg , gruyère foam, 14.00. Thank goodness for search engines that still list old menus!”  Mmmm pork belly and quail egg.

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I then had the “CARPACCIO DE BETTERAVES” which was golden and red beet carpaccio with pistachio-goat cheese panisse and white balsamic vinaigrette.  This was inspired.  The beets were sliced super thin (just like carpaccio) and made into a wrap around the salad.  Not only did it look beautiful and original, it tasted absolutely fantastic.  Everything blended so well with acid and sweet and savory.  So great.  I was super impressed.

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We also tried the “HUÎTRES FINIES COMME DES ESCARGOTS” or crispy oysters ‘escargot style’ in herb garlic butter.  I was really impressed with how delicious these were. Everything I love about oysters combined with the buttery garlic deliciousness of escargot.  Really fantastic.

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I was really impressed by Ça Va.  When you walk into a Times Square restaurant, you really don’t expect much besides overblown prices and average food.  This was especially the expectation since this place looked a little too cool for school (yes… I just said that).  But just like Olives, this Todd English establishment surprised and impressed.  I would go back for that beet salad alone (and for $12, it didn’t feel that inflated in price compared to other places nearby).

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

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

August

10 Apr

It was one of those nights where we had a birthday party late in the night and didn’t really have plans for dinner before.  We figured we would take a cab to the birthday location and stumble upon a restaurant nearby.  When we were about 5 blocks out, I realized we were passing August, a restaurant that had been recommended to me.  So we asked the cabby to stop and we jumped out.  15 minutes later, we were seated.

We started with the hamachi tartare that had asian pear in it.

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It had a great contrast between the mild sweet and fresh taste of the pear and the hamachi.

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We also got the jerusalem artichoke soup with brown butter and sunchoke chips.  I have to assume that sunchoke chips are really hard to come by or seriously expensive, because each time I get them I notice that they could easily double or triple the amount and there would still be too few.  I LOVE sunchoke chips, and these added a great crunch to the soup, which in and of itself was great.

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I went with the roasted lamb over root vegetables.  This was seasoned incredibly well and everything just tasted like a bit plate of comfort.

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Mike chose the scallops with celeriac remoulade, frisee, bacon lardons.

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It was very tasty, perfectly cooked, and well balanced.

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For dessert we tried the cinnamon apple crumble with salted caramel gelato. I was hoping for more crisp, but the flavors were really great. And it was warm and cozy.

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August is comfort food at its best and most elegant.  Flavors that were perfect for the cold winter night and yet refined.  I really enjoyed our dining experience here and I look forward to going back.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Catch: Top Chef’s Hung Huynh’s new NYC Restaurant

7 Nov

As you all know very well (or should by now), Mike and I are total Top Chef sluts.  So when we were in search of a dinner location, we decided to try Top Chef’s Hung Huynh’s (Season 3 winner) new restaurant in Meatpacking.  Catch is a 3 floor restaurant, with the top floor dedicated to rooftop drinking.  It is owned by Mark Birnbaum (some of you will see this as funny as I do) and Eugene Remm and is the third restaurant in the EMM Group (the other 2 are Abe & Arthur’s and Lexington Brass) but I know them better as the owners of Tenjune (and many other night clubs).

The address is 21 Ninth Ave, but the entrance is actually around the corner on 13th street next to some construction and only identified by a C with an anchor above the door.  You feel lucky to have found it, then you get into a completely unidentified elevator bank where you look around for a sign.  You try to keep up appearances (after all, you are in the Meatpacking district), but deep down inside you can’t help but wonder why it’s so trendy to not tell people where to get into your business.  Lucky for us, someone else came in and immediately hit Floor 2… which opens up to a very modern, very Meatpacking space.

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I absolutely loved the weird fish in a suit on the menu cover.  Hipster? Sure! But it gave me a chuckle.  I immediately read the request for no flash photography, so apologies in advance for these dark iPhone photos!

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We started with oysters (I have been on a kick lately) and they were very good.  Not Imperial No. 9 good, but good.

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We then had The Catch Roll, which is crab, salmon, and miso honey… with just a touch of awesome.   The sweetness of the miso honey was absolutely perfect on the roll.

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There was nothing not to like about this. The textures, the flavors… it all came together perfectly.  I wanted to lick the miso honey off the plate but I refrained…

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Next up we tried the Macaroni and Lobster Cream.  You know everything about macaroni and cheese that is good in the world? This was all of that with lobster and a slight crunch on top.  It was heaven.

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We also tried the White Flatbread with clams, parmesan, and garlic.  This was good, but not great. If this was all I ate here, I would be disappointed.  It just wasn’t clammy enough.  The crust was nice and crispy, the garlic and cheese were good, but I was expecting more clam.

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For our entree, we split the Scallop & Cauliflower which came with pistacchio and tamarind brown butter.  This was one of the most unique scallops dishes I have ever had.  I love scallops, so I eat them a lot, but they get pretty basic.  They taste so good just simply seared, that they really don’t NEED anything else.  This was a very happy addition, however, as it added to the flavor without overpowering it.  Awesomely delicious.

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The dessert menu looked so scrumptious that we just had to try SOMETHING.

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So we opted for the peanut butter cup souffle.

When it came, the souffle was hot and domed (perfectly cooked) and then picked up what I think was ice cream off the plate and dropped it into the center.

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I was a bit worried about this, since really a souffle is good because of the texture, but this actually cooled it down so we could eat it and didn’t detract from the flavor.  I will say, however, that it is a souffle.  A peanut butter souffle.  I was hoping for a bit more chocolate in it.  It was still good.  But only if you like souffles (I like them… but I don’t LOVE them).

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What I did love, however, was the peanut butter popsicles (tasted like fantastic peanut butter gelato dipped in a hardened chocolate shell) and the little square chocolate cups filled with ground peanuts and what I think was peanut butter, sugar, and maybe some honey.  Scrum-diddly-umptuous.

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Overall, the food here was spectacular.  Very unique flavor combinations and artfully put together.

The one drawback, however, was our waiter.  He was everything that people hate about the Meatpacking district.  He was snooty, inattentive, and downright douchey.  He looked down his nose at us (I think because I was taking pictures) and made 0 effort to deliver even the most basic service.  For instance, he came to take orders from the tables around us on 3 separate occasions, all of whom sat after we did, each time barely spending a moment to put a “1 second” finger up towards us as he didn’t even make eye contact.  It took a good 30 minutes before he took our order, we somehow never got bread (pretty sure everyone else did), and when he came to finally take it, he made us feel as though we were entirely inconveniencing him.  It was a shame he was so bad since everything else was so good.

But the food was absolutely worth it.  It became obvious why Hung won Top Chef… his food tastes as good as it looks.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

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

 

 

 

Artichokes and Truffles Sauce: Gilt Taste

1 Aug

 

 

I have been shopping with Gilt for a while.  They have some great (and some not so great) deals on fashion and home goods.  They used to be a bit too pricey all the time, however, they have lowered prices and now have designers making (sometimes less quality) goods right for them.  You need to be smart in what you buy and do your research to make sure you’re really getting a good deal, but I have found some EXCELLENT items.

I was excited when they announced a new division: Gilt Taste.  It’s goal was to focus on foodie type items.  It reminds me of an upscale food market.  I love browsing through it, but I can’t say that many things have caught my eye to say “I need to buy this now!”  Impulse shopping for food items is not something I do in the same way that I do for, say, shoes.  (I will definitely be shopping there for my next dinner party, however!) But right in the beginning, one thing caught my eye.  I didn’t say anything, so imagine my surprise when Mike said he had a surprise for me and placed in my hand, this…

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Artichokes and Truffles sauce!  Two of my very favorite things, in one can.

We decided to make a scampi type dish with is with fresh pasta, scallops, and shrimp.

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It was delicious!   I was hoping for a bit more pop of truffle flavor, but it was delicious and such an easy way to make a gourmet style  meal.

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YUM!

If you want to sign up for Gilt Taste, check out this link.  I’m currently eyeing a cured meats sampler and a gourmet sea salt!

 

 

Florida Noms: 32 East (Delray Beach)

3 Jun

On our free evening in Florida, Mike and I decided to check out Delray Beach.  Now THIS was more like what I was expecting from Boca.  It was a beautiful walking downtown that ended in the ocean.  A combination of fantastic looking restaurants, touristy shops, high-end boutiques, and LOTS of people.  It was alive and kicking even on a Sunday night.

We checked out a few restaurants, and 32 East tickled our fancy with some really interesting sounding dishes.  It also had a nice look to it.

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We couldn’t help but try the antelope skewers.  I mean, how often do you get to try antelope?

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They were gamey and good in all the right ways.  And it came over some baked fruit which was delicious.

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Then we checked out the crispy truffle (fried) raviolis, which sounded quite good but were a little… bland.  Lacking in truffle flavor.  Bummer.

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Mike got the sword fish was good… but not great.

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I got the scallops which were also good… but not great.

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They heavily sauced the plates but the sauces were overall just lacking in flavor.

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This place had all the necessary pieces to be GREAT.  It had a great sounding menu, creative dishes, excellent aesthetic, and great placement in the town.

But it just wasn’t great.  It was just okay.  I’m not sure what went wrong.  Under-seasoned? Product that just wasn’t as fresh as it could have been?  I’m just not sure… but it was a let down.  Don’t get me wrong… it wasn’t bad at all. In fact it was quite good… it just didn’t live up to the expectation that the ambiance and menu led to.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Top Recipes of 2010

31 Dec

Before going into the Top Nom Restaurants of 2010, I wanted to share with you my favorite recipes that I discovered and came up with in 2010 (click on the links for the recipes):

Best Brunch Recipe: Crustless Ham & Egg Tarts

Best After Work Dinner: Chicken Stuffed with Grapes, Hazelnuts, and Parmesan Cheese

Best Weight Watchers Recipe: Weight Watchers – Chicken Tagine with Apricots

Best Seafood: Scallops Lime & Vine

Best Odd Protein: Ostrich Steak

Best Chicken Recipe: Zuni Chicken & Bread Salad

Best Side: Corn Fritters

Best Desserts (You know I couldn’t pick just ONE):

Homemade Crunchie Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Meringue Minis

Banana Faux Ice Cream

This year has taught me, above else, that the best cooking comes from reckless abandon.  Throw caution to the wind and spices in your pot.

Happy Nomming!