Tag Archives: steak

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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Peter Luger Steakhouse

15 Jan

Peter Luger is probably the most famous steak house in all of NYC, which is why I find it strange that it’s in Brooklyn. I’ve long wondered if that adds to the allure… “it must be good if people will brave the L train for it!”

I had been to Luger once before and hated to say I was underwhelmed. I mean, it was a very good meal, but I didn’t think it was better than places in NYC and didn’t think it was worth crossing the East River to eat.

But when friends from out-of-town wanted to try it, I was excited to go on a food adventure with them.

I certainly love the inside. It’s beautiful without being fancy.

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Someone suggested we try the bacon. And BOY am I glad they did. This was probably my favorite part of the whole meal. It was thick cut, perfectly cooked, a little charred on the ends. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmmm.

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And they are famous for their tomato and onion salad. This… I do not understand. I mean I like tomatoes and onions just fine… but why is this special? 

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Though they did advise that we pour the Peter Luger Sauce (which is on every table) on it, and I will admit, it made the onions and tomatoes very tasty (and added great, but not overpowering flavor to the steaks, too).

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The steak ordering is incredibly easy from the menu. You tell them if you want steak for two, three, or four and out it comes. It’s a beautiful Porterhouse that they serve nicely carved and dish out to each person at the table.

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And you don’t get more perfectly Medium Rare than this:

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We also ordered the lamb chops so we could try some different things.  These were delicious and I’m glad we had some variation (as much as I love steak!)

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We got a side of creamed spinach, which I thought was really tasty and heavier on the spinach flavor than the cream (which I prefer).

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Mmmm… meat.

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Even though we were all totally stuffed by the end, we just had to try the ice cream sundae (which came with a chocolate cow on top).  This was heavenly.

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As was the pecan pie.  It was super pecany and not overly sweet. And don’t even get me started on that homemade schlag!

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As you leave, everyone gets some chocolate gelt to take home.  A nice little way to be reminded later of the great meal you had.

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I certainly enjoyed my meal this time more than last time, and I think the key was variation. Definitely get the bacon, try some sauce on some tomatoes and onions (why not?) and then order up some amazing steaks with some lamb chops.  Leave a wee bit of room for dessert and you’re perfect.

Do I feel the need to travel to Brooklyn for this on a regular basis? No.  I still think the novelty is good for tourists, but as a local, I’ll stick with Keen’s. (Though my arm could certainly be easily twisted to return to Peter Luger!)

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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Vincent’s at The Whitehall Inn: Camden, Maine

20 Nov

With food being a focus for us when selecting our wedding venue, one of the first venues I wanted to see was The Whitehall Inn. It’s a historic inn in Camden, Maine and a place I have driven by many times but had never visited.  

We toured the facility and, sadly, decided it wasn’t quite right for our wedding (it wasn’t quite big enough and didn’t have a view of the water).  But we sat down at Vincent’s for dinner, the restaurant inside the inn.

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The restaurant itself was quaint and well appointed.  If we were local to the area and weren’t looking for that “Maine view” and/or had about 30-50 less guests, this place would have been magical.  (Here is a slideshow if you want to see more pictures of the inn itself, which is just beautiful).

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There is a very nice courtyard outside where they do wedding ceremonies. Again, really quaint and pretty, but just a bit too small.

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But we were there for the food.  I had spoken to them earlier and the only special request I had was that if we were going to have the wedding there, I wanted to have pavlova.  The chef was very excited to make it, but the rest was up to us to order.

We started with these little chive biscuits. They were perfect.  Warm with a crisp outside and soft inside. 

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We then tried the crab dip with melted cheddar. This was very good with the cheddar just sharp enough to be flavorful without taking away from the great taste of the crab.

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Our waiter offered to take a picture of us, so here is a rare appearance by Mike and I on the blog:

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Mike got the Vincent’s Ribeye which was served with garlic butter, Holland peperonata & fingerling potatoes. It was cooked perfectly and had a nice char on it.

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I went with the Maryland Crab Cakes which is an authentic Baltimore recipe using backfin and jumbo lump crab meat, served with fingerling potatoes and green beans.  It is rare that I get to eat crab cakes, because they are almost always made with peppers (which I am allergic to). These, however, were scrumptious.  

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A great crisp on the outside and just barely held together with the right amount of binding.  Big, delicious pieces of crab.  One of my favorite crab cakes of all time.

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And then… it was time for the pavlova.  This was perfect.  A hard shell and barely soft inside.  Great flavor and perfect with the fruit and the fruit spreads that were around it.

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So good, in fact, that for a moment I considered cutting our guest list to be able to get married here.  But only for a moment.

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If I were staying in the Camden area, I would stay at the Whitehall Inn in a heartbeat.  The inn is so charming and beautiful, in a great town, and the food was really great. I’m pretty sure most stays there come with breakfast, and if our dinner was any indication, that would be a real treat!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

My favorite steakhouse of all time: Keens

1 Nov

I am a lucky lady. I have been to many of the best steakhouses in NYC.  And yet, my heart belongs to Keens.

I wrote about them quickly at the very beginning of this blog, but I somehow managed to not dedicate an entire post to my favorite steakhouse. I must rectify that immediately.

Keens is located on 36th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues and has been in that location since 1885.

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The most memorable part of Keens, besides the food, is the pipe collection that adorns the walls and nearly every inch of the ceiling. (You can see them in the picture below, if you look hard enough, lined up all along the ceiling)

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The pipes are specifically churchwarden pipes, which were too fragile to carry around, so people would join the Pipe Club and leave their pipe at Keens to enjoy their next time around.

It’s also has a historical footnote in women’s history: 

“In 1905 Lillie Langtry, actress and paramour of King Edward of England, took Keens to court for having denied her access to its gentlemen-only premises. She won her case, swept into Keens in her feathered boa and proceeded to order one of our famous mutton chops.” (Source

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Keens is famous for their mutton, which I had never had before I went to Keens.

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And right behind the bar is Miss Keens. She both seems to be looking over the place and luring you in. 

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While the main dining room is fantastic (especially for a business meal), their Pub Menu is very reasonably priced for a steakhouse and has some absolutely fantastic dishes.

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My alltime favorite is the Prime Rib Hash. This is one of those meals that I can have again and again. It’s like a giant potato latke with pieces of prime rib in it, topped with a fried egg.  The whole thing just combines so perfectly.  Magic in your mouth.

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And the creamed spinach is always spot on. Not too dry and not too wet.  Just perfect.

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We also had the pub-sized mutton chop.  It’s a huge serving, even though it’s called “pub-sized” and even though Mike and I split all this, we couldn’t finish everything. Not even close.

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And on every table is some housemade mint jelly.  I don’t love mint jelly, but something about this one is quite good, especially with that mutton.

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I absolutely love Keens and recommend it to just about everyone who asks for either a great steak house or a great meal near midtown. Everyone that has gone has agreed… Keens never disappoints.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

 

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

SD26: “Secret” Chef’s Table – Gilt City Deal

3 May

SD26 was a restaurant on the list for a while.  So when Gilt City featured a Five Course Chef’s Table Dinner at SD26 for $84, we bought it. (If you want to sign up, why not use my Gilt City Referral Sign Up Link so I can get a referral bonus?).  

It included:

  • Five-course tasting menu
  • One appetizer, pasta, fish, meat and dessert 
  • $10 Enomatic wine card for a future visit 
  • Meet-and-greet with Chef Matteo Bergamini and co-owners Tony May and Marisa May

It wasn’t valid on holidays, Saturdays, nor Sundays, so it was quite hard to find a day to go since we work far too much.  I got the reminder that the vouchers were expiring soon (I have missed 2 or 3 things I’ve purchased due to expiry dates… dammit!)  so we made a reservation to go one Thursday night.

We were immediately greeted by a warm receiving line of chefs and waiters and sat, literally, right in the kitchen.  I LOVE sitting in the kitchen. To me, there are few cooler things than watching how a kitchen works from the inside. It’s fascinating to see how the kitchen staff can operate so like a well-oiled machine, each making part of an order and somehow delivering each piece of each meal perfectly at the same time.

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There are 2 tables in the kitchen, and we were all alone for most of our meal, but a couple joined us later with the same voucher in hand.  

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The chef came over and introduced himself, then asked if there were any allergies (so I told him about my allergy to peppers and the unfortunate side effects) and if we didn’t like anything specific.  I told him that we eat everything (besides peppers) including the weirder things like organ meat.  His eyes lit up and he immediately said “Sweet breads!” and went into the kitchen.

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We were given an iPad that was dedicated to a wine list app. You could search by region, varietal, pairing, etc. When you would tap on wines, you could read more about them, or about their region, etc. It was an awesome app and we spent a good 20 minutes just flipping through it.  We eventually decided on a far too expensive Patz & Hall Chardonnay.  I have a problem that when something was paid a long time ago, it feels like it was free.  So I convinced myself that we could buy an expensive bottle of wine since we weren’t paying for the dinner.  I like my dream world… shut up.

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We started with some focaccia, which was just a little too good.

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And two large breadsticks, which were buttery and delicious.

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And then more bread… this time a fluffy brioche.  

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We watched them assemble perfect dishes of asparagus with roasted pepper and fish.

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And a giant fish cooked in a salt crush.

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Our first course came out: Veal sweet breads with mustard sauce and coffee. He may have also said parsnip, but I’m not postitive on that. These were perfectly cooked and filled with flavor.  The coffee was a great balance and even though I’m not a huge fan of mustard, this all went perfectly together and the flavor wasn’t dominated by mustard.

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Next, the chef came and presented us with homemade spaghetti with mussels and garlic… and chili. To which Mike and I said in chorus “Chili???”  He ate his while they remade mine.

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Which was the same but without chili.  This was okay.  I was hoping for more flavor (perhaps the chili rounded it out well), but it was nice overall.

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Our next course is something that SD26 is known for, and now we know why.  Raviolo (which I thought meant a big ravioli, but turns out it technically is just the singular form of ravioli) with ricotta and spinach and soft egg inside in a brown butter truffle sauce. Brown butter. Truffle sauce.  Nom Nom Nom.

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When you cut it open, the yolk spilled into the sauce and made for quite the scrumptious flavor. (Mike and I tried to make something like this once, but it was no where near this good.  Not to self: Brown Butter. Truffle sauce.)

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Our next dish was a variation on the asparagus/roasted peppers and fish dish we saw being made earlier, only with spinach instead of roasted peppers.  This was Striped Sea bass, asparagus, spinach, and spinach chlorophyl mayo.  (Chlorophyl? Fascinating!)

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It was tasty and the fish was well cooked. The mayo was really fantastic with great flavor.

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Our next course was a beef dish with porcini mushrooms and arugula. The mushrooms on this dish were so rich and flavorful.  I really enjoyed the combination of flavors.

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We had finished our (too expensive) bottle of wine by this point, so 2 glasses of chardonnay come on the house (Perhaps because of the allergy mix-up? Perhaps because I was taking pictures so they suspected I might be writing about them? Perhaps because we spent too much money on a bottle of wine already? Who knows! And who cares! It was good wine.)

I really enjoyed the view from our table, including the pastry area to the other side where they had their petit fours all ready and waiting to go for each table.

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The seemed to have a big party because they assembled huge sets of plates with identical dishes and desserts a few times. I enjoyed watching the setup of each of the pastry plates, and the pastry chef was very exact.

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When these chocolate cakes came out, the smell blew me over.  Holy chocolate batman!

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Our desserts came up next, starting with a pineapple banana shot with strawberries. Fresh and delicious. Great segue from dinner into dessert.

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Up next was some coconut whipped cream with cocoa on top.  My guys missed the mark on the cocoa a little bit, and the pastry chef gave him a quick glance that packed a punch.

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His next time on Mike’s was much better.

This was another really nice segue. Nicely flavored, small, and light.

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And then the chocolate cakes came out.

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The were topped with a nicely stamped SD26 chocolate piece.

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And oozed perfectly when cut into.  This was a great lava cake, definitely more on the bittersweet side, and rich as rich can be.

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We also had a 2nd dessert, which I completely missed the name of.  The pastry chef was fantastic (and, according to our waiter, recently fresh from Italy) but I just could not understand her accent (I’m a bad American… I know).  It was flake pastry with strawberries and some delicious cream. I think it had some caramel in it. Whatever it was… it was good.  We also ordered some moscato and it went great with this.

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Just when we thought we probably shouldn’t have another bite or another drink, they brought out 2 more glasses of moscato on the house and some petit fours.

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This was a hard, fudgy candy with white and bittersweet chocolate.

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And this was a lemon cookie of some sort.  Very, very good.

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This was such a fun adventure, eating in the kitchen and having the chef cook for us right there. It seems this is a secret of SD26, but you can reserve these tables in advanced (either for 2 or 4).  It’s an impressive date night and just plain foodie fun.  It definitely made me want to go back, soon, and try out their main dining room.

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

Eataly’s Birreria: Oktoberfest and Birthdayfest

23 Feb

It’s Eataly Week!

In the last few months, we went to Eataly twice, for two different occasions.

The first was Oktoberfest, which we got exclusive tickets for from Gilt City.  The package included a meet and greet with Joe Bastianich, a tour of the  brewing facilities with brewmaster Brooks Carretta, a brief lesson on brewing, a reception with communal antipasti and beer, a seated family-style Oktoberfest supper with Italian Alpine fare and beer pairings, and a six-pack of beer for each guest to take home.

The brewery at Eataly is a small room where they put together some very different microbrews.  The brewmaster, Brooks, was very informative not only about the brewing process, but also about what makes the Eataly microbrews unique and talked about what new batches were coming up.

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We tried a few beers, and very much enjoyed them.  The Thyme beer was especially delicious.

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Then Joe Bastianich came in and welcomed us to Eataly/Birreria and basically told us to have a good time.

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We sat back down and started chowing down on some great Oktoberfest items.  We especially enjoyed the whole roasted maitake mushrooms, pecorino, sardo creme, and roasted brussels sprouts. Awesome.

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Then a few weeks later… we were back.  My sister has recently expanded her food horizons.  She was the kid that ate chicken nuggets and Kraft macaroni and cheese growing up.  The idea of a mushroom, sausage, or basically anything with unique flavor was repulsive to her.  So when I found out that she was opening up her food spectrum, I was quick to suggest Birreria as a great place to try some new things.

We started with the charcuterie and… gasp… Stacey ate meats.  CURED meats!  I was shocked.

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We ordered the maitake mushrooms again, because they were so good the last time.

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And we got the fried shiitake mushrooms with sage. I LOVE these mushrooms. They are incredibly delicious.

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We also ordered the the pork shoulder which is made with beer and apricot. It was tender and just plain delicious.

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We ended with the bisteca con salsa verde, which was a skirt steak with salsify, green onion, and salsa verde.  It had great char on it, which a touch of salt that just made it stand out.

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I love Eataly. And I really love Birreria.  I haven’t had a bad bite there, and everyone that has been there with me has really enjoyed it. Plus… it’s the first place I saw my picky little sister eat a mushroom.  A true game changer.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

NYC Restaurant Week- Winter 2012: Ruth’s Chris

6 Feb

I try to write about Restaurant Week each season.  This year I was away for the first week, but, thankfully, Winter 2012 Restaurant Week actually lasts 3 weeks.  So you have one week left.  Make your reservation! (Though it usually does get extended…)

This RW I decided that it would be a good idea to bring Mike to a steak house that I enjoyed very much, but not necessarily enough to want to bring him there for full price.  In my mind, I would much rather get the same meal somewhere else since I’ve already tried Ruth’s Chris and put it very firmly in the center of the NYC Steakhouse pile.  That’s not to say it’s not good, on the contrary… the buttered steak is something everyone should enjoy once in their life.  But there is some stiff competition out there (cough cough Keen’s cough cough).

Mike and I decided to take advantage of our reservation, and order one meal off the Restaurant Week menu and one a la carte from the specials section on the menu.

The Restaurant Week menu is here.

We started with the Steakhouse salad with vinaigrette dressing. This was a very good, very fresh salad with great croutons.

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Then we got the 8 ounce petite filet and paid the supplement to add grilled shrimp.  The shrimp were very tasty and totally worth the up-charge (nothing worse than paying extra for shoddy shrimp!). The steak itself was good.  It was charred well and full of flavor.  But it wasn’t exactly super special.  It was just good and well cooked.

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This Restaurant Week menu also comes with a side.  We chose creamed spinach.  This was decent. I prefer the one from The Palm by far.

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As for the a la carte special, you can choose a starter, steak, and get a dessert for about$50 (a veritable steal by NYC Steakhouse standard).

We started with the spinach and pear salad.  This is my kind of salad.  Sweet and filled with fruit. I know some people don’t like fruit in their green salad, but I’m a HUGE fan. And this didn’t disappoint.

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The Cowboy Ribeye is usually their best steak, but we didn’t need such a huge piece of meat, so we got the regular Ribeye.  This was very good, but surprisingly not as good as I remembered. It definitely had a leg up on the filete, but I remember the Ribeye having a lot more char (I’m such a char sucker). It was still quite delicious, however.

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They had a brown sugar and walnut butternut squash side on the menu and I opted to get this instead of the sweet potato casserole that I got in the past and loved.  this was good, but I missed that sweet potato casserole (which… let’s be honest… was really dessert).

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The dessert with both menus was their signature chocolate cheesecake. I LOVED this, but Mike, who is a cheesecake aficionado, likes his cheesecake pure and original. Can’t please everyone!

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Overall, this was a good Restaurant Week experience.  The special menu is actually quite a deal on its own, but spending $35 for a steak dinner is really never a bad thing.  I can’t say I LOVE this place… but it’s a good staple.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Love Lane: Mattituck, LI

5 Jan

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

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

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

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

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But with a bit more personal touch.

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

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Even their tiled floor was cool.

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

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They even had a selection of homemade pastas.

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And homemade mozzarella.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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