Summer RW meals at Nougatine and Colicchio and Sons

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Better late than never, right?

The last week of work, Alice, Komal and I had a lovely dinner at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Nougatine at Columbus Circle. Beautiful interiors, great service, and delicious and surprisingly light food. I really loved the tomato and avocado gazpacho (even though I don’t tend to like cold soups) and the salmon entree I had.

A bottle of Morgon 2010

Corn cucumber shooter

Tomato and avocado gazpacho

Roasted salmon, greens and sweet chili vinaigrette

Roast chicken dish

Summer dessert and poached fruit

The classic Jean-Georges molten chocolate cake

Cindy, Beth, and I also snuck out of the office during one of the last couple days of work to have a long, leisurely lunch at the Tap Room at Colicchio & Sons. Again, a great cold, corn vichyssoise, a wonderful meaty entree, and heavenly beignets to top off the meal. If only work life could always be like this.

Inside the Tap Room

Cold corn vichyssoise

Steak tartare and chips

Panzanella with burrata cheese

Steak with bone marrow butter, greens, and horseradish cream

Chicken with farro and mushrooms

Heavenly beignets

Think that finally might be the last of the summer 2012 posts. Now to get through Winter and Spring 2013!

Nougatine
Trump Hotel Central Park
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
212.299.3900

Colicchio & Sons
85 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
212.400.6699

Murray’s Melts

February 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve always loved Murray’s Cheese Shop in Greenwich Village (such an amazing selection of cheeses, cured meats, and other gourmet items and super-friendly staff), but it took me a whole summer of living literally right down the street to discover their Murray’s Melts. Probably for the best; otherwise I would’ve been there all the time and eventually unable to fit through the door. The owners also just recently opened Murray’s Cheese Bar, which I’ve heard great things about, but this is probably a better idea if you want something quick and on-the-go.

Below is a “Da Bomb” sandwich that’s unfortunately no longer on the menu – short ribs, Murray’s secret cheese blend, caramelized onions, and fresh arugula on Pullman bread – but you really can’t go wrong with any of their melts. The current ‘Shroom Melt (brie, mushrooms, truffle-pesto aioli) and the Mayflower (smoked gouda, turkey, bacon, cranberry chutney, and a “stuffing” aioli) sound especially delicious.

Look at that gooey butteriness… Just this side of too rich for me, the sandwich’s arugula and sweet onions did a good job of complementing all that dairy and meat.

Afterwards, a walk on the beautiful High Line is the best way to work off the cheese bomb you just ate.

 

Murray’s Melts (at the Murray’s Cheese Greenwich Village location)
254 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014
212.243.3289

Branching out at Ssam Bar

January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Photos from Esther and my summer meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar, which is still one of my favorite places to eat in the East Village.

A seasonal cocktail and the Penicillin – scotch, lemon, honey and ginger…all my favorite ingredients in one beverage with a giant ice cube.

The famous steamed pork belly buns with hoisin, cucumber, and scallions. Still so good that I could make a full meal out of these babies.

A new addition to the menu since my last visit – bbq buns with crispy pork belly, coleslaw, and smoked mayo. Maybe it was the novelty of the dish, but I think I actually preferred this version to the original, and Esther and I seriously contemplated ordering more.

A classic – spicy pork sausage and ┬árice cakes. I always tell myself that I won’t order these again, but something about the crispy starch mixed with the crunchy Chinese broccoli and spicy meatiness of the sausage just keeps calling me back.

Silky Santa Barbara uni with some melon ice and a strange but tasty gelee (I vaguely remember a porky, ham flavor) with summer tomatoes.

Beef, two ways, with bulgur, fava beans and soubise. I think this may have been the first time I’d had bulgur actually and it was totally great – nutty flavor and a toothsome texture. The meat, as you can see, was also perfectly cooked. Just goes to show that while it may be easy to fall into the same great dishes again and again, it’s definitely worth your while to try new dishes at places where you’ve eaten many times in the past.

Eleven Madison Park

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Finally, exactly six months later, I’ve managed to post about Eleven Madison Park. This was without a doubt the longest (by the time Cindy and I finished this most expensive date ever, it was 1:30am), most extravagant, most memorable meal of Summer 2012 and going through the photos felt like I was reliving it over and over again. Apparently, a lot of the menu has changed since we visited – Daniel Humm, the chef, and the kitchen have revamped the menu twice, I believe – but I can’t imagine that the attention to detail, the warm service (unlike my initial impression of extreme fine dining restaurants, EMP’s staff was very friendly, un-pretentious, and patient, given our very late conclusion to the meal), and the exquisite food has gotten anything but better. I’m too lazy to go into detail about every dish, so just believe me when I say that every single course actually felt necessary (if that’s the right word) towards the overall progression of the meal and distinct in its own right, whether it was the concentrated flavors of the tomato tea, the nostalgia of the clambake, or the sheer unique-ness of the whey with curds and gnocchi.

Beautiful arrangement in the dining room

Beginning with savory miniature black and white cookies

A bit of New York City to start

And a lemony, gin cocktail

Tomato tea with parmesan lavash and lemon thyme

Mackerel and Scallop – horseradish and mustard; chip with pickled daikon and sesame

Yogurt lollipops with curry

 

Chickpea panisse with yogurt

Trout roe marinated with dashi, cantaloupe, zucchini and watermelon snow

The clambake – one of my favorite courses of the evening

Clam with chorizo, corn and zucchini

Pouring the most velvety clam chowder ever

 

The extra bread course – with goat and cow butters

A gorgeous plate of couscous smoked with tomato, yogurt, and olives

Foie gras marinated with nepitella and blackberry

Our wine for the evening, recommended by the sommelier

Whey with fresh curds, caraway gnocchi, and spring herbs – very different yet still delicious

Lobster poached with zucchini, avocado, and amaranth

Lamb roasted with artichokes, freekah, and lovage – another favorite and eye-opening course of the evening

Chevre meridian with strawberries, pistachio, and garlic

Our server preparing an updated classic tableside

Egg cream – orange, cocoa nib, and seltzer

Cheesecake – goat cheese, chamomile, and raspberry

Chocolate sorbet with lavender, orange and Maldon sea salt – everything I love in a dessert

Cognac, of which we could enjoy as much as we wanted

Additional mini desserts

And the bookend the meal, sweet black and white cookies

An empty dining room, 1:30am

The bar

Entrance

Our menu – July 16, 2012

A gift to take home – literally the best granola I’ve ever had. I’ve already tried making this at home using Humm’s own recipe but it never comes out nearly as good.

There’s been a trend lately for high-end dining chefs to explore rustic, comfort food at a friendlier price point (chalk it up to the recession or whatever you want) but there’s still something to be said about taking the time (and money) to sit down and enjoy a long meal that lets you forget about everything else. It’ll be a while before I get to return to EMP (I’d love to try the duck course that everyone raves about), but I do think that, if you manage to get the hard-won reservation, it’s definitely well worth the splurge. Thank you to Daniel Humm, the EMP kitchen, and the amazing EMP staff for a truly unforgettable meal, and to Cindy for being crazy enough to go with me and spend so much on a single meal.

 

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
212.889.0905

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABC Kitchen

December 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

Horribly late with this post, a birthday dinner in July for Laura and Jackie at ABC Kitchen in Flatiron, a beautifully-designed restaurant inside/adjacent to ABC Carpet and Home. Possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had in my entire life (whole wheat with mushrooms, parmesan, oregano, and a fresh farm egg), a roast carrot and avocado appetizer that made me view “salads” in a whole new light, and some really gorgeous and tasty seafood – fried, steamed, roasted, you name it. This is a great restaurant for special occasions – friendly service that doesn’t hover, gorgeous interiors and wares, excellent, fresh food that doesn’t leave you feeling grossly stuffed.

Roast carrot and avocado salad, crunchy seeds, sour cream, and citrus

Pretzel dusted calamari, marinara, mustard aioli

Fried soft-shell crab with fried basil leaves and sweet chili vinaigrette

Starters

Maine lobster special of the day

Striped bass with baby spinach, potatoes and jus

A pizza to end all pizzas

ABC Kitchen
35 E. 18th Street
New York, NY 10003
212.475.5829

Craftbar

August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

For my mom’s birthday in June, our whole family gathered in New York City for a dinner at Craftbar, Tom Colicchio’s restaurant known for its shared plates (large and small) concept. The menu changes pretty regularly, so I’m not sure what’s still available and what’s no longer in season, but it was a memorable food-filled meal and made me really appreciate how wonderful it is to have family so close by, making it easy for everyone to come together to celebrate special occasions such as this.

Funny note: two days later, some of us from work went to an AALDEF reception at a nearby lounge called Crimson and without intending to do so, I found myself eating another huge dinner at Craftbar within three days. On the plus side, eating there once before meant I already knew which dishes were standouts and which we could pass up.

Cocktails to start, one of which I remember being called a Flying Unicorn and the other I recall being shockingly citrusy (in a good way)

Pecorino Fonduta – Acacia honey, pepperoncini, pine nuts, and crostini

Everyone loved this dish – melted cheese, sweet and floral honey, and crunchy pine nuts are kind of a no-brainer.

Salt cod croquettes + piperade (a Basque-influenced mixture of peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spices)

These, like the arancini, had the perfect contrast between a crunchy, fried exterior and creaminess within. My mom was a huge fan of the vinegary, spicy peppers underneath and scraped every last bit off the plate.

Pecorino arancini with spicy tomato

Scotch quail eggs with mustard – something I thought I’d love due to their fried state but there actually wasn’t much flavor aside from the mustard

Spring asparagus, crostini, poached farm egg, and cheese

Sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli with spring vegetables – this dish, though delicious sounding, was for some reason incredibly sweet

Duck hearts and dumplings – duck egg, pearl onions, smoked bacon and black garlic

Atlantic halibut with summer squash and some kind of reduction (the menu has since changed)

A veritable pork-apalooza for 2 – roasted chops, pig’s feet roulade, loin, and, of course, chicharron with fingerling potatoes, baby onions, and carrots. Absolutely coma-inducing but totally worth it.

Our spread

Birthday lady

Cheesecake with sour cherry sorbet and pistachio brittle

Sweet pea semifreddo, lemon confit, and an ice cream flavor I don’t remember (honey maybe?)

In the end, Craftbar was a great choice – really friendly and helpful service, a casual and relaxed atmosphere, and excellent food for the most part. I think it’s particularly suited for larger groups, where you can order a bunch of different dishes and try as many things as possible. Another plus is its close proximity to Madison Square Park, where you can then (attempt to) walk off some of your dinner. Or, as my sisters did, get frozen custard from Shake Shack. Girls will be girls.

Craftbar
900 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
212.461.4300

 

WD-50, the new menu

August 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

Finally, a moment to catch my breath. I’m so behind on posting all the restaurants from this glorious NYC summer but thought it’d be nice to start with one of my favorite meals, the new tasting menu at WD-50 by Wylie Dufresne. It was surprisingly easy to get a reservation on relatively short notice and proved to be a good bonding experience with fellow food-obsessed summers and the odd associate.

To start, we began with some sesame crisps and an excellent beer from Brooklyn Brewery/Amacord called AMA Bionda recommended by our kickass server James, who was knowledgeable and great at explaining each of our dishes to us throughout the night without being dull or pretentious. In fact, the restaurant as a whole had a very casual atmosphere that didn’t leave you feeling self-conscious like at some other “fine-dining” establishments.

On to the real food! Our first course: mackerel, nigiri, salsify, seaweed and sesame. Nigiri, but not. The salsify, a root vegetable, was blitzed in a food processor and then mixed with hazelnut oil and other binders so it assumed the familiar texture of sushi rice and was blanketed with a pristine piece of cured fish. Gorgeous, isn’t it? It was a pretty compelling bite and even after 11 more courses, remained Christine’s favorite of the night.

Next: lobster roe, charred lemon, green grape, coriander-brown butter. Roe usually brings to mind fish eggs, but here, I believe it was pounded, spread into sheets, steamed, and cut into strands of “pasta.” Initially, it seems a bit gimmicky, but the sea flavors of the roe do come through and pair very well with the rich lobster, sweet grape, biting lemon and slightly nutty brown butter.

Course #3: pho gras, a luxurious play on the Vietnamese comfort food. Off center lay a generous slice of foie gras, accompanied by rice noodles and the usual pho accompaniments – hoisin, sriracha, lime juice. As the server poured the broth, the foie gras slowly slid into the bowl and the air was filled with star anise, cinnamon, and other traditional Asian spices. It strongly reminded me of the smells emanating from my mom’s kitchen when she makes her Chinese five spice pork belly. The deep fried bit of beef tendon, a fun take on the traditional chicharron, was a nice contrast with the silky liver and slippery noodles. This dish and the following were probably my favorite savory dishes due to their comfort level yet refinement.

Next up, amaro yolk, chicken confit, peas n’ carrots, another creative and mind-blowing take on comfort food. There were a lot of comments at the table about its striking similarity to chicken pot pie and I definitely had to agree. I still dream about this yolk sometimes, which stayed perfectly intact (no whites) until you eagerly busted it open with your fork and it had a thicker, richer texture than your typical duck egg yolk. The chicken confit was packed with flavor and very tender, but honestly, you could not get my mind off that yolk. Even the ingenious take on “peas,” which were carrots covered in dehydrated pea powder would not distract me.

Veal brisket, za’atar, plum, and mustard. The veal was very thinly sliced and came with scallions, plums, and interesting mustard wafers, which melted on the tongue after the first crunchy bite. The za’atar, a mix of Middle Eastern herbs and spices, went nicely with the rest of the dish and didn’t overpower the almost delicate brisket.

The next dish, though still delicious, was probably one of my least favorites, most likely due to the kaffir-yogurt (which Bert likened to bathroom sanitizer, in a good way). It certainly took a while to get used to and I think it was almost on the verge of drowning out the flavor of the sweet peekytoe crab and delicate rice puffs.

Another dish – sole, black licorice pil pil, fried green tomato, and fennel – that threw me off but was nonetheless very well executed. The fish was cooked absolutely perfectly and I loved the crunch of the somewhat random little fried green tomato. The two pil pil sauces (originating from the Basque region of Spain), a classic and then a black licorice take, balanced against the anise-y flavor of the pickled fennel and fennel fronds. I was pretty skeptical about this dish before trying it because of the licorice element, but with each additional bite, it started to grow on me.

Lamb sweet breads, nasturtium-buttermilk, zucchini, pistachio. I’d just had some amazing “buffalo” sweet breads at Recette about a week before, so the bar was high for these babies and Dufresne did not disappoint. I still have no idea how the dish was put together and what exactly a nasturtium is (flower maybe?), but everything melded beautifully, with the creaminess of the sweet breads contrasted against the crunch of the pistachio brittle.

Root beer ribs, rye spaetzle, and apricot. Overwhelmed with deliciousness yet? Well, here’s the last savory dish, a no-holds-barred heritage pork rib that’s been bound into a cylinder, smoked, and then drizzled with that root beer infused pork jus. This is meat at the highest level. The rye spaetzle served as a very earthy foundation and the sweetness of the dried apricot only served to bring out further the smokiness of the pork. Heaven.

Whew. Time for a pre-dessert palate cleanser – jasmine, cucumber, honeydew, chartreuse. Pastry chef Malcolm Livingstone’s first creation left us feeling ultimately refreshed, composed of chartreuse foam, a frozen film of cucumber, an almost bacon-y tasting cashew crumble, and then, after cracking the cucumber ice, more jasmine cream, honeydew and chartreuse, and cucumber ice cream. Wow.

Official dessert #1 was the dish of yuzu milk ice, hazelnut, rhubarb, and basil. Basil puree, strawberry and citrus reduction, hazelnut crumble, and on top, the lightest, fluffiest-looking yuzu ice cream ever. Which slowly worked our way up to…

The most outrageous, most ridiculously indulgent approach to s’mores that I’ve ever seen. Vaguely remember a lot of “wtf’s” and “omg’s” happening at the table as these were set down in front of us. I may have also blacked out briefly after the first bite. Two sauces – one, an acidic black currant sauce and the other, a chili hot cocoa – and generous shmears of torched meringue around the edge of the plate. In the center, the graham cracker and meringue ice cream, whipped and airy on the inside and torched and crisped on the outside so it really resembled and tasted like a toasted marshmallow, but on steroids.

Finally, the perfect end to a helluva meal – a single bite of gjetost, a Scandinavian whey cheese, surrounded by a thin shell of white chocolate and coated with tart raspberry. At this point, I would’ve been happy to just pass the eff out with my stomach full of, in my mind, the world’s most delicious food, but through Bert’s name-dropping, we managed to also finagle a tour of the kitchen.

The shot of chefs plating at the pass is probably my favorite from the entire evening (though the one directly above is a close second, thanks to Christine for the photo!). The kitchen was still manically plating dishes during our tour, so we had to make sure we kept out of the way, but it was stunning to see the inner workings of a top restaurant kitchen. In the end, we all had a truly amazing, memorable time and could not thank the chefs at WD-50 and especially our awesome server, James, enough! If WD-50 is on your list (and it better be), make your reservations ASAP! There’s also a menu called “From the Vault” which offers 5 courses for $75 (the 12 course tasting was $155), comprised of classic WD-50 dishes.

WD-50
50 Clinton Street
New York, NY
212.477.2900

Brunch at Dell’ Anima

June 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

A couple weekends ago, I met up with two family friends at Dell’ Anima, a jewel box of an Italian restaurant in the West Village. The place was tiny but we managed to beat the brunch rush and took our time catching up and enjoying some refined, yet down to earth breakfast favorites with an Italian twist.

Below we have the pappardelle integrale – with oyster mushrooms, scallions, and pecorino romano – and the uova in purgatorio – baked eggs with pancetta, shallots, rosemary and tomato, which both earned raves.

And because I can never resist any version of shrimp and grits, I ordered the gamberi alla amatricciana, shrimp and polenta with pancetta, spicy tomato sauce, and poached eggs. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, well seasoned and tender, and the polenta was flavorful and creamy. The two poached eggs and heavy sprinkling of cheese were the ideal oozy, golden finish and when mixed with the spicy tomato, shrimp sauce, and polenta, created the perfect combination of savoriness, cheese, acid and sweetness.

So if you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate brunch place that takes a well-executed Italian approach, Dell’ Anima does a fine job.

 

Dell’ Anima
38 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
212.366.6633

Northeast Kingdom

June 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Shots from brunch at Northeast Kingdom in Bushwick, Brooklyn from a while back. My creamy and comforting shrimp and grits (shrimp, two poached eggs, fiery tomato sauce that wasn’t that fiery, Anson Mill grits and scallions)…

Shrimp and grits

…and W’s hearty-looking buttermilk biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs

Biscuits and gravy

Northeast Kingdom
18 Wyckoff Avenue
New York, NY
718.386.3864

Food blitz

May 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

Crap, has it been more than a month since the last post? As usual, finals chaos is to blame. That and moving to NYC for the summer (YAY!) Here are (some) bites I’ve had since April. Looking forward to a super delicious summer.

Scones benedict at Alice’s Tea Cup

More blueberry crisp

Nibbles on a Friday night

Roasted Old Bay fingerling potatoes

Lunch plate with southern roasted pecans (i.e. crack)

Afternoon tea with homemade irish scones, raspberry jam, clotted cream

Cocoa pecan brownies

Champagne mangos

Yukgaejang + brown rice

KFC to celebrate the end of exams

First margarita of the summer at Mercadito

Korean dinner spread in K-town

Benedict Jane at Jane Restaurant (just round the corner from my apartment!)

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the West category at Notes on Food.