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Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekly NYC Blog Post - 5.16.2012

Sorry this post took so long to publish.  I finished the entire thing and then it deleted itself so I had to start from scratch.  You better read it lol because I'm so angry that I had to do it over!


One of the stops on the food map when my parents came to visit.  I wanted them to have a NYC brunch experience and Cookshop seemed like just the place.  We were all hungover so Dad and I went straight for the AWESOME bloody marys.  Definitely in the top five in NYC so far.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

For starters, we had the grapefruit brulee with creme fraiche and brown sugar which was refreshing with a perfect balance of sweet and sour.  The grapefruit was so ripe that it almost threw of the balance towards too sweet but turned out to be just perfect.  The brulee twist was also interesting because it made it crunchy yet juicy.  Very good.

The pulled pork croquettes with cheddar polenta and spring onion salsa verde was just okay.  I felt like it was a lot of polenta and very little pork.  Also sort of lacked a defining taste.

The cookshop scramble with caramelized onions, creme fraiche, chives on a buttermilk biscuit with applewood bacon was delicious.  Everything came together to make it crispy yet soft, salty yet sweet, and toasty warm!  Love this!

This was actually what I ordered but I ended up foisting it off on Dad and eating his scramble instead.  The Label Rouge Pheasant Hash with two poached eggs, natural jus, oregano, caramelized onions and potatoes had nothing about "spicy" in the description yet it was REALLY spicy.  I didn't like it AT all.

Overall I'd come back in a heartbeat for the bloody marys but the food was somewhat underwhelming.  The patio seating looked really nice though!


Randomly ended up at this bar because I was looking for a place to watch the hockey game.  It's big, not too crowded and the wait staff is SO nice.  My friends were absolutely obliterated by the time we got there (I met up late) and our waiter was still so nice even when they were yelling and doing weird acrobatic moves...  He also recommended the crispy pork shoulder taco when I got hungry.  I was skeptical because it didn't seem like the type of place you order Mexican food.  Turns out it was one of the best tacos I've ever had.  I'd totally come back to this place.  If they will let us in haha.

Photo Credit: Hop Devil Bar Website

Jewel Bako
A coworker of mine suggested this place awhile ago and I thought it would round out the restaurant offerings for when my parents came to visit.  The place is really small and really cool-looking so I highly recommend getting a reservation!  The sushi was fresh and delicious although not anything super outstanding in terms of rolls.  I'd probably go back if I was in the area and looking for sushi since I feel like good sushi is hard to find.

 Photo Credit:


Back to Gramercy Tavern because it's Mom's favorite place and she wanted Dad to try it out.  I have mixed feelings about this restaurant.  The decor is beautiful and the service is impeccable but I find the food to be a little under-whelming.  As you've probably seen from previous posts I definitely lean more towards weird, inventive dishes which is why I always find myself ordering a lot of appetizers instead of an entree.  For this meal, it was a prix fixe menu so I'm going to hit each dish quickly since there's a lot!

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Smoked Trout with cippollini purée and pickled onions - The fish was super fresh and literally melted in my mouth.  The pickled onions added the perfect amount of bite to the dish.  This one was definitely the winning appetizer.

Open Ravioli of Beef and Carrots - This was my other favorite appetizer mostly because of the inventiveness of the dish.  It was all the components of ravioli just without the closed pasta.  It was maybe a little too soupy and the carrots were a little too soft but overall I thought this was tasty too.

Beef Carpaccio with celery and anchovy aioli - This was my least favorite.  I felt like the beef didn't really taste like anything and was then just covered up with random greens to hide the lack of interest in this dish.  Not a fan.

 Pork Loin and Belly with caramelized onions, baked potato and prune sauce - The pork was chewy, I hate the krispy things and the prune sauce was flat.  Not good.

Duck Breast & Confit with asparagus, rhubarb, pine nuts and ten grains - I liked what the rhubard did for the duck and the meat was well cooked but while it tasted good it wasn't very inspiring.

Roasted Lamb with green garlic, spring onions and ruby crescent potatoes - This dish was absolutely delicious and was by far my favorite entree.  Again something I feel like I've seen on other menus though.  They just really need to find dishes that set them apart.

Fudge Brownie Sundae with salted cashew ice cream - The description sounded like I'd love it.  The result not so much.  First of all I hate mascarpone which is what the white balls are.  There was hardly any ice cream and the brownie was dry.  One bite and I pushed this aside.

Selection of Ice Creams with buttermilk, coffee, and butter pecan - this on the other hand was delicious.  Some of the best coffee ice cream I've ever tasted.

Overall I think this place is very nice but a little touristy and a little underwhelming in terms of whimsy.


I've been to Barramundi a couple times but this was my first time on the hidden second floor.  You press an elevator button in the wall and they buzz you up.  You can't be in a group of more than four and sit together so keep that in mind.  The drinks are REALLY expensive.  I don't know.  It was fine but there are other places I'd go back to first.

 Photo Credit: Second Floor Website

I love this place.  I don't know how else to start.  They recently changed their format so that you have to do the tasting menu which was totally fine with me!  The restaurant itself isn't anything crazy but I almost liked that because all the focus is on the food.  The waiter was also very proficient and helpful.

  Photo Credit: WD-50 Website

Red Snapper Amuse Bouche - Great start to the dinner!

 The first real plate was scrambled egg ravioli with charred avocado and kindai kanpachi.  It was incredible.  The egg was flavorful and soft, the fish tasted like it'd just been caught and the charring of the avocado added a whole new dimension to the taste.

Next up was the pickled beef tongue with fried mayo, tomato molasses, onion soil and romaine.  What could be more inventive than fried mayo? tomato molasses?  I don't even know what onion soil means?!?!? The beef tongue was so high in quality I might as well have been eating filet.  The sweetness of the molasses with the fried edge of the mayo made this a well balanced dish.

The Mediterrean bass with artichokes, bamboo rice, halva and chicory was another phenomenal dish.  I highly recommend eating the fish WITH the skin - it adds a whole new dimension of crispiness and savory.  Another winner.

Last dish before dessert was the lamb loin with black garlic romesco, pickled ramp and dried soybeans.  The garlic romesco had a bitterness that when paired with the sweetness of the lamb was amazing.  I'm literally in heaven right now reliving this meal.

Dessert was "French toast" with brown butter ice cream and raisin puree.  They might as well have called this "gourmet churro" because that's what it tasted like. The crust was perfectly toasted with a warm, buttery inside and the ice cream was so fresh and smooth.  A perfect end to a perfect meal.

I think it's pretty obvious from my write-up that I would eat here every day if I could.  This place may have taken ABC Kitchen's incumbency as favorite restaurant in NYC...


I swear I must have walked past this restaurant a dozen times and never known it existed!  The inside is adorable - a totally awesome date spot if you are looking for one with a cute little patio in the back.  It wasn't difficult to walk up for brunch and they had plenty of seating in the garden.  We did the unlimited brunch drinks which I recommend against because the bloody mary was almost unbearable to drink and the mimosas were glorified orange juice but my spinach and goat cheese omelette was heavenly.  I don't know who they gave egg so much taste!  I would definitely come back and try this again - maybe for dinner this time.

Photo Credit: 5 Ninth Website

I went to this restaurant in Meatpacking before I had even moved to NYC and I remember the margaritas being fabulous.  They are still just a fabulous and just as deadly.  The interior of this place is so fun and our waiter was really hot so I was already having a great time upon arrival.

Photo Credit: Dos Caminos Website

The food just made it better!  We started with the roasted plantain empanadas with cotija cheese, black beans and chipotle aioli.  The empanadas were buttery soft and sweet on the inside with just enough aioli to add some kick.  Very rich though so I suggest sharing!

My main dish was the Dos Enchiladas with roasted chicken rolled in corn tortillas, chihuahua cheese, mole poblano and tomatillo verde sauces.  I'm not huge on mole so I requested just tomatillo sauce.  Again delicious and a fairly large sized portion which was nice since this place isn't cheap.

And of course I had a Calle Fresca margarita with cazadores blanco, mango, cucumber and an ancho salt rim to top of a great start to a Saturday night!  I will definitely be back.

You may have read my post from my dinner at the Standard Grill months ago when I had some of the best lamb chops of my life.  Brunch here was just as good!  The Bloody Mary makes the top five list and the homemade fettuccine with ragu all bolognese was some of the freshest pasta I've had.  It could've used a little more sauce though..This place continues to amaze me!
 Photo Credit: Standard Grill Website


I'd been to LAVO in Vegas and LAVO Brunch here in NYC so I thought I'd seen everything.  Turns out not so much.  We ended up here late late night and it was packed but not annoyingly so.  We also got in without a problem but I think that may have been because our crew had some regulars.  Not sure what to say besides you'd best be in a dancing mood when you get here.  It was tons of fun.

 Photo Credit: LAVO Website


Weather Up
Originally I was annoyed to make the trek down here to meet my roommate and her friends but the place was very cute and the drinks were delicious.  They even have special ice cubes?  I taste-tested everyone else's drinks so I'm not sure how much they cost.  The atmosphere was a little austere for me but I would probably come back if I was in the area again.

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After eating at Candle Cafe (which I review farther down) I thought I would never want to eat at a vegetarian restaurant again, but PFW is one of my friend's favorite restaurants and she convinced me to go.  So glad I gave vegetarian a second chance - this place was delicious and the patio is so romantic and beautiful I could've spent all day sitting there.

Photo Credit:

For dinner I went with the pear ravioli with smoked long pepper mousse with preserved lemon, truffle honey, almonds and shaved perigord.  The sweetness of the pears and honey was just perfectly balanced by the tartness of the lemon.  I only wish the portion had been bigger because I gobbled it down quick.  Also the ravioli had such an air of freshness that was delightful.

My friend ordered the cauliflower cous cous with cumin scented persimmon dolmas with pistachio, almond, dried fruits, mint and Moroccan tomato jus.  I don't even know what all that means I just know that she finally moved her plate in front of me because I kept sticking my fork in it.  All those flavors were a lovely assault on my mouth.   YUM.

Dessert was just as incredible especially the ginger cheesecake which was sweet, soft and perfectly paired with the toffee.

The dark chocolate semi freddo with chocolate cake, passion fruit gelee, coconut cream and passion fruit sorbet was also good but not as amazing as the other dishes.

Overall love this place and hope they update the menu with new stuff soon so that I can go back and sit on the patio!


So as I sort of referenced above, this was my first time trying out a vegetarian-only restaurant.  I decided to go 50/50 on playing it safe versus being adventurous.  My adventurous dish was the citrus-herb marinated seitan skewers with chimichurri sauce.  It tasted just like meat which I thought was CRAZY!  However, you could still tell it wasn't real meat due to the texture but only barely.  Overall I was kind of impressed although I still wouldn't say I liked it that much.

My safety dish was the grilled kale salad with haricots verts, beluga lentils, red onions, turnips, avocado, sunflower seeds, spelt berries and chive vinaigrette which was honestly kind of soggy and dull.  The menu description sounded delicious but the end result was not.  I lost interest after a couple bites.

My dining partner ordered the southern plate with barbequed seitan, macaroni & cheese, chili, coleslaw, and cornbread and I tried the BBQ seitan and it was TERRIBLE.  So gross.

Overall I'm glad I put myself out there and tried vegetarian but I thought the place was really expensive for what you got and clearly I'm a meat eater.  On a final note they have amazing lemonade though!

We randomly ended up here on our trek to lay out in Central Park on the weekend and I have to say I love the Aussie feel of this place.  I also loved the Bloody Mary (top five) and the jalapeno cheddar tater tots.  They are really filling and you get a ton of them though so I recommend sharing.  This would be a great birthday brunch place.

Photo Credit: Blog


I continue to try to get into Red Farm and the wait is always SO long.  Lucky for all the restaurants nearby they get the spill off!  We ended up at Cowgirl which is one of the most fun looking restaurants I've seen.  In fact at first I thought it was a vintage knick-knack shop!
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For dinner I ordered the Chicken Fried Chicken which is apparently their specialty.  It had a similar consistency in terms of the breading to fish n' chips which was good but different.  If you are going to eat here I recommend throwing the calorie-counter out the window since they sauce up everything.  I thought the meal was good but not a place I'd need to go back to.