Tag Archives: short ribs

Food Network NYC Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting 2012 Review

13 Oct

For the past 3 years, Mike and I have had a tradition of going to the Grand Tasting event at the Food Network Wine & Food Festival in NYC. I get Early Access passes as a treat for Mike’s birthday and it’s a tradition we very much look forward to each year.

Today, we went to the first day of the Grand Tasting (they do it all again tomorrow).  We went with our plan that worked well in the past, arrive early, collect the goodie bag, and make a beeline right to the back and then move forward. It leaves the back half of the (large) space nearly empty for us to peruse (and nibble) for about the first 30 minutes.  It works out well.  We went up the one side and noticed that at least 3/4 of the booths were various kinds of alcohols (mostly wines, but also liquor, sake, mixers, etc).  We decided to start our trip down the other side, figuring that must be where most of the food was.

Well… it wasn’t.

Same story: barely 1/4 food.  Most of the food there was the packaged goods found in ShopRite. While having this food is typical for this food festival (and kind of cool to see what new packaged goods are out there), this is usually complimented by many restaurants (including some famous ones in New York and Celebrity Chefs).  This time, there were hardly any restaurants. I’m not sure what happened, but it left us kind of disappointed! It’s the first time we left there not feeling like we got our money’s worth. I mean, don’t get me wrong, sampling all that wine was great, but we can do that (for a lot less money) at the Wine Show.  We go to this Grand Tasting specifically to try some of the best restaurants in the city.  These just weren’t there today.

And then we had another disappointment… most of the places ran out of food by 4pm. The event goes until 6, and while we saw many run out of food in the past, it wasn’t every single restaurant and it was more around 5/5:30.  Something just went downhill this year.

Total shame.

Here are the noms we had (any time I remembered, I took a picture of the sign and description of the dish, then that is followed by the dish.

 

Only one real stand out: the short ribs from Monkey Bar.  And while it was VERY good, we were hoping to have some bites that would make us say “Wow! We really need to try that restaurant!”

Not this year.

Bummer.

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

Kutsher’s TriBeCa

30 Dec

I don’t know a single Jewish family from the east coast that hasn’t at least heard of Kutsher’s, a “summer camp” for adults located in the Catskills (think “Dirty Dancing”).  It used to be the place to go, but it has long lost its luster, though not its notoriety.  So when the Kutsher family decided to open up a restaurant in TriBeCa, with the promise to make family-style Jewish food more sophisticated, I was curious (if not excited).  It opened just a few weeks ago, but we made our reservation for the week between Christmas and New Years with one of our favorite couple friends, E and K.

We decided to split the “crispy potato latkes” with “local apple compote” and sour cream.   It was listed on the menu as “For the Table,” so I was quite underwhelmed when 3 very, very tiny latkes came out… for four of us.  Of all the things to skimp on, fried potatoes are a strange choice.  But they were good… not great… but good.  The apple compote tasted quite fresh.

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We also decided to split the Jerusalem artichokes, which came with lemon, garlic, parsley, greens and shaved parmesan.  The parsley was crisped and this whole dish was delicious. I could have eaten every bite myself.

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E & K both ordered the wild mushroom and fresh ricotta kreplach which came with walnut pesto, olive oil schmaltz and fresh black pepper sheep’s milk cheese.  Kreplach is basically the Jewish version of a dumpling.  They both enjoyed it.

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Mike chose the grilled Romanian steak which was a prime skirt steak with caramelized onions and a roasted garlic & wild mushroom knish.  The steak was perfectly steaky.  Could rival a steak house in NY.

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I went with the red wine braised flanken style short ribs. These came with schmaltz mashed potatoes and glazed root vegetables.  Schmaltz is rendered fat, and basically just makes everything taste better.  These melted in my mouth.  Amazing flavor, cooked to perfection, and just overall fantastic.

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For sides, we got the schmaltz fries (these were just okay).

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The pan roasted brussels sprouts with rosemary.  (Delish)

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And the quinoa varnishkas with torn pasta and wild mushrooms.  Usually this would be kasha varnishkas… which is a type of buckwheat with bowtie pasta.  Kasha is something that is pretty bland, but I really enjoy it.  The quinoa actually made it more bland, so we didn’t particularly love this, but it was good.

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Most of the food was far above par. The service, however, was pretty bad.  Our waiter rushed us through the entire meal.  He came back every 2-3 minutes for our order, even when we were clearly looking at the menu.  Our apps were barely cleared when the entrees came.  Then when it came to paying the bill, he must have stopped by at least half a dozen times in less than 10 minutes.  It was downright uncomfortable.  We were in and out in less than an hour… it was a sour spot on an otherwise great meal.

I would probably give it a few months to even things out and this seems to be the place where it helps to know what to order.  Here is my advice:  Artichokes app, steak, short ribs, and brussels sprouts.   And next time I want to have room for dessert!

Overall, most of the food was very good. I look forward to going back once they have their sea legs.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Albert Hall Tavern- Lunch

18 Apr

We have been to Albert Hall for dinner (many times), and even had a few brunches, however, lunch was a new adventure.  They just started serving lunch a few weeks ago and their menu is quite good.  They have a lot of my favorites, and they add really good sandwiches.  (I wish they had these as a brunch option too!)  

We had our team lunch at Albert Hall and all decided to try the sandwiches.  They all came with the delicious duck fat truffle fries that we love so much.

This was the grilled chicken sandwich.  It came with braised bacon, roasted red beets and black garlic butter.  The combination was great, though the bread was actually too thick to eat in any polite fashion.   

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The upskirt…

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Next up was the short ribs sandwich with gorgonzola and baby arugula.   While delicious, the bread really overpowered the awesome flavor that I love so much when we get these short ribs as a side to the bone marrow here.

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This sandwich was the skillet ribeye with caramelized shallots and leek fondue.  We all tried each others, and this was declared the unanimous winner.  Chef Bill knows his way around a shallot!

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Overall, lunch at Albert Hall is a great choice.  You can’t go wrong with the options, and I have been back many times (typically ordered the Bibb lettuce salad).  There aren’t many sit down choices in the area, so it’s nice to have a comfortable place to grab a bite in the no man’s land that is 9th Avenue between Penn Station and Port Authority.

Psst… the post summarizing all the dishes from Albert Hall has been updated.  Check it out!

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


Bottega- Napa Valley

10 Feb

Well… we’ve finally made it.  The #1 question I was asked upon my return to the East Coast was “How was Bottega??”  Well… in case you didn’t get it from the Top 10 Noms of 2009, Michael Chiarello’s restaurant did NOT disappoint.

The ambiance was beautiful, though Mike and I were both surprised that the restaurant was in the middle of what we would term a “strip mall” (though much nicer).  I guess land there is so valuable that all of the places have to be on the same space!

We ordered Burrata Creamy mozzarella burrata with roasted butternut squash, caramelized mushroom & shallots, brown butter vinaigrette, balsamic caviar.  Um… HELLO!  I would like to go back in time so I can eat this again.

But then the entrees came.  Mike got the short ribs.  The flavor of these was so incredible that I had a tough time not asking for additional bites!  They were sensational.


I went with Wood Grilled Grass-Fed Lamb Rib Chops fresh figs with tarragon, fennel seeds, white balsamic vinegar, California olive oil, creamy ancient grain  .  OH SO GOOD! 

The hotel (which made the dinner reservation, and that we REALLY liked) had asked me if we were celebrating anything.  I tried to think of a good thing to say and mentioned we were celebrating our 2 year anniversary (it was 2 weeks prior).  I guess they really took it to heart and even told Bottega who did a lovely yet reserved nod to our celebration on our dessert plates (see photos below).

Looking at the menu is conflicting with my memory and the picture.  I THINK I ordered the chocolate and caramel tortino with espresso stracciatella gelato and milk chocolate peanut butter bar.  But now I see bananas in the picture below.  Hmmm.  Either way, it was REALLY good. If I hadn’t just had the tart at lunch from Mustards, it probably would have shined even more.

Mike got the apple and honey panzerotti with apple grappa mash, vanilla bean gelato, and pink peppercorn apple pearls.  Another hit!

Overall, this meal was just so enjoyable from first bite and every bite there after right up until the very sad moment when it ended.  They took such care with every little detail and it showed in every morsel of their food.  If you go to Napa, go to Bottega.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

Homemade Short Ribs

13 Jan

FreshDirect had a sale on short ribs, and since I’ve been loving them so much at restaurants lately (especially at Bottega… teaser), I went with it.  They also had a recipe on the site that sounded especially appealing considering my new fascination with kale.

I even ate the stems!


The short ribs got browned first (this is where I decided it was time to get a cast iron pot… which I did a few days later).

Then it was veggie prep and softening time (including these beautiful, huge portobellos).

Then  the short ribs went back in the pot and I let it cook for a good long time.

The meat then came out and the kale leaves were added to the pot.

The meat was SO tender at this point that the bones literally slid out (and we had to fish for them).

When I added the veggies, it just looked great.

It was a very nice recipe, though next time I think I’ll add more tomatoes.

Our dessert was also a Fresh Direct sale item: Frozen chocolate souffles.

They were… just okay… I wanted more chocolate!

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RECIPE
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Short Ribs with Mushrooms and Winter Greens

From “The Mushroom Lover’s Mushroom Cookbook and Primer” by Amy Farges and Christopher Styler

The flavors in this stew pot are intense, the meat meltingly tender, and the sauce – with its wine-coated mushroom nuggets – irresistibly mouth-filling. The do-ahead factor makes it a best bet for winter entertaining.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

20 small (about 12 ounces) white or pearl onions
1 bunch (about 1 pound) of swiss chard, ruby chard, or kale
8 pieces (2 1/2-inches each) short ribs of beef about 31/2 pounds
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces small button mushrooms
3 medium (about 1 pound) portobellos, trimmed and cleaned, caps cut into 8 wedges each
3 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup canned diced tomatoes or chopped drained canned plum tomatoes

DIRECTIONS

1.            Heat a medium-size saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Trim the root ends from the onions, leaving the core intact. Drop the onions into the boiling water. Bring back to a boil and cook the onions 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Slip the skins off the onions, leaving the onions whole.

2.            Remove any wilted or damaged leaves from the greens. Pull the leaves from the stems. Trim the stems and cut them crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Cut the leaves crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Wash and dry the stems and leaves separately and set aside. (If making the stew in advance, store the leaves in zipper-top bags in the refrigerator box up to 2 days.)

3.            Rub the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and cook, turning as necessary, until they are well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. If the bits that stick to the pot start to burn, reduce the heat to medium. Remove the short ribs.

4.            Add the button mushrooms, portobello wedges, onions, and stems from the greens to the pot. Pour in the stock, wine, and tomatoes. Tuck the ribs into the mixture. Heat the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. About halfway through, add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind the liquid will be further reduced and the seasoning will be intensified. (The short ribs may be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance. Cool completely, then refrigerate until needed. Bring the stew to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes before continuing.)

5.            Remove the short ribs from the pot. Heat the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the leaves from the greens and boil until tender, about 8 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Divide the contents of the pot among 4 shallow serving bowls and top each with 2 short rib pieces.

Excerpted from THE MUSHROOM LOVER’S MUSHROOM COOKBOOK AND PRIMER copyright © 2000 Amy Farges, Christopher Styler.

Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A welcome Times Square Addition: Montenapo

20 Jul

There aren’t a lot of options in Times Square for fine dining, so when a new place opens up with a lot of buzz, we all get a little excited.  Montenapo is a brand new Italian restaurant in the New York Times building (and look! they even have a Twitter).  The restaurant itself is set up very well, with very high windows on the inside wall facing a pretty internal courtyard with trees.  It had the effect of feeling as though you were no where near where you really were… the center of the center of Manhattan.  The details were perfect in the decoration, with a nicely lit bar that looked hip yet not hipster while still looking classic without being stodgy.  We had great, attentive service the entire time.

The menu itself is drool-worthy and I went in with the fear that I wouldn’t know what to choose.  Luckily our wonderful hosts were just as excited about the food and we ordered to the nines. 

We began with a sampler that I cannot even find on the menu.  It was cheeses (aged parm and mozzarella if memory serves) with prosciutto and salami.  There was also a lobster dish and some amazing shrimp.  Everything was fresh and fabulous.

Next we had the “pasta course” where everyone got a perfectly plated sample of two pastas on the menu.  We tried the Pappardelle (ribbon pasta with lamb ragout, fresh thyme, and parmesan cheese) and Agnolotti (ravioli pasta filled with braised veal cheeks, served atop celery root puree and veal stock reduction).  Both were absolutely phenomenal and SO fresh!

We all ordered our own entree.  I went with a special on the Restaurant Week menu: Brasato Di Manzo (slowly cooked boneless short ribs with fava beans and mashed potatoes).  Again, it was sensational.  Fresh and done perfectly.

The woman next to me went with the Dentice which was a red snapper filet baked with cherry tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, black olive tapenade and fresh time in a white wine sauce.  I tried a bite and it was delicious.

There was an order of the boneless spring lamb wrapped in pancetta that I also sampled (much to my delight) but was too far away for picture taking.  The winner of the ordering, however, was the Osso Bucco with saffron risotto.  If I hadn’t had osso bucco the night before, I would have ordered it, but I was happy just to taste it.  It was perfection.  Probably the best I’ve ever had.

We decided on a dessert sampler and were informed that their pastry chef was “the best in town.”  Now I am quite the pastry critic, however, they may not have been lying! There was not a bad dessert on the two plates, and for a sampler they were of AMPLE size. 

On plate one we had something I can’t remember, a baked apple in a pastry (YUMMO!), ricotta cheesecake, and a flourless chocolate souffle.

On plate #2 was creme brule, fresh fruit, one of the best chocolate mousses (mees?) I’ve ever had, and tiramisu (I don’t even like tiramisu and I thought this was outstanding!)

We rolled out of the restaurant and truly struggled to get any work done all afternoon.  This is a very welcome addition to my office area and I highly recommend it! 

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10