Lure Fishbar

September 6, 2017 § Leave a comment

It’d been years since I last visited Lure Fishbar, the yacht-looking, below-street-level seafood restaurant in SoHo right under the Prada store, but after a random visit with Jackie early in the summer, it’s become a favorite yet again. Twice we sat at the sushi bar for an impromptu seafood meal and once we sat in one of the really cushy banquettes for a Father’s Day and belated Mama Quan’s birthday dinner and each time, had a really enjoyable experience.

At the sushi bar in the back of the restaurant, a typical dinner starts with just-out-of-the-fryer salt & vinegar chips and a glass of bubbly

One reason we preferred the sushi bar when it was just the two of us were the complimentary little bites the sushi chefs would send over. Here, a refreshing kanpachi crudo with yuzu and ponzo sauce

More free bites – this one, a much more substantial bite of spicy tuna and avocado over scaldingly hot crispy rice. Certainly not traditional in any sense but damn, it tasted good.

The Dynamite roll of spicy scallop topped with spicy tuna, yellowtail and tobiko and the Shazam roll of yellowtail, salmon, avocado and kewpie topped with tuna. Despite lately favoring more traditional omakase-style dinners with an emphasis on nigiri, I really enjoyed the freshness and wackiness of the rolls at Lure Fishbar. The Dynamite was particularly good given the sweetness of the scallop against the spicy mayo (of which there wasn’t an overwhelming amount) and fresh fish on top. Plus, they’re pretty stunning to look at.

Oyster sampler – Beau Soleils with pineapple relish; Blue Points with caviar and creme fraiche; Kushi with jalapeno ponzu; and Kumamoto with wasabi leaf. I didn’t care for the Blue Points – they were a bit too big for me personally and something about the creme fraiche didn’t sit great with me – but the Beau Soleils and Kushi were dressed beautifully and not too large.

If I see anything with sea urchin on the menu, odds are I’ll try it at least once. Here, sea urchin bucatini with blue crab, garlic, crushed red pepper and breadcrumbs. Nicely executed and appreciated the kick from the red pepper and the generous amount of garlic, neither of which overpowered the substantial amount of buttery uni. Delicious.

For our Father’s Day and Mom’s birthday dinner, we ordered the whole stuffed lobster with seafood stuff, garlic-chili butter and grilled lemon; tempura shrimp with spicy sesame mayo and grilled octopus with chickpea puree, celery and lime-Aleppo pepper dressing. Not a dud in the mix. We especially liked the super tender octopus for its Mediterranean flavors.

For Jackie’s last dinner in NYC this summer, we stopped by the sushi bar again, this time starting with a salad of field greens with pickled peaches, goat cheese, chicory and poppy seed vinaigrette. I don’t usually like fruit in savory foods but the peaches were tart and still firm to give an interesting texture to the dish.

A generous crab cake with fresh corn and tomato salad and lime aioli. Flavors of summer in one dish.

Kenai roll of spicy wild king salmon, cucumber, scallions and fried shallot and the Shazam roll again.

A classic lobster roll with warm chips and coleslaw to round out the summer. Appreciated that it was an overflowing amount of sweet, perfectly cooked lobster that was barely dressed in mayo and garnished with chives.

I think sometimes Lure Fishbar can be a bit of a scene and the prices are certainly pretty steep for it to be a casual haunt, but given my past few visits and the surprisingly high calibre of seafood and service each time, it’s definitely worth the occasional splurge.

Hot Doug’s

October 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

Hot Doug’s – first on the “where to eat” list of so many travel guides, shows, and blogs and a must for the food-obsessed’s first visit to Chicago. We got there relatively early in the day since we’d heard about long wait times but the line was barely out the door when we arrived. Menu choices ran the gamut from the classic Chicago dog to the famed foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse, and fleur de sel, so we ordered a variety (plus the duck fat fries which are only available on Friday and Saturday) and tucked in. Big hits were the Chicago dog (it’s classic for a reason), the Texas smoked link, and the wild rice and Asiago bison sausage, which wasn’t as gamey as I thought it’d be. I actually wasn’t floored by the duck fat fries but they did the job of lending some crispiness to all the meat and starch. In the end, Hot Doug’s is definitely worthy of all the acclaim and fandom, a casual place where Doug himself still mans the counter and takes orders, the staff are super efficient at getting customers their food as quickly as possible despite the long lines, and the food is just frikkin’ delicious. 

Hot Doug’s

Menu

Well said

Smoked Texas hot link with Coca-cola BBQ sauce and habanero-jack sauce

Cheddar Jack-stuffed atomic bomb with ancho-chipotle aioli and cheese-stuffed hot peppers

Wild rice and Asiago bison sausage with chilli aioli and smoked Provolone cheese

Classic with everything

Cognac-infused pheasant sausage with fresh herb mustard, double creme brie cheese, and duck confit

 

Duck fat fries

Spread

 

Hot Doug’s
3324 North California
Chicago, IL 60618
773.279.9550

 

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

 

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