The Dutch and Little Park

June 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

Two mid-day meals at two different Andrew Carmellini joints:

First, weekend brunch with Julia at the Dutch in Soho on a beautiful sunny day. To start, a selection of the raw bar, including Glidden Point (ME), Island Creek (MA), Navy Point (NY) and Totten Inlet (WA) oysters as well as littleneck clams from NY. Beautiful clean flavors from perfectly shucked shellfish with a nice, punchy horseradish and tangy mignonette, just the way I like.

We weren’t particularly famished (a rare thing) so we shared the snap pea salad with spicy green pea curry and herbs and the famous hot fried chicken with honey butter biscuits and slaw. A nice balance between something green and fresh and something comforting and gluttonous. The honey slathered biscuits were out of this world – steaming and flaky on the inside – and the chicken, while not super spicy like I had imagined, had great seasoning and crispiness. The restaurant is only a few blocks away from the apartment but somehow I always forget that it’s there. I need to come back more often.

I had a short stay-cation in the middle of May and on one of those days met up with co-workers for a leisurely weekday lunch at Little Park, Carmellini’s newest restaurant in the Smyth Hotel in TriBeCa. This place does farm to table, vegetable-heavy dining without coming across as preachy or pretentious and all of the dishes are really well executed and unique. We got a bunch of small plates to share for our first course – the fried Brussels sprouts with apple and smoked parsnip (my favorite dish from my first visit); the beetroot tartare with horseradish and smoked trout roe and girandole pasta with duck ragu and crispy herbs. My favorite of the three was the beetroot tartare. I actually didn’t really miss the meat here and thought the separate components of rye, beet, roe and goat cheese came together in a really delicious and cohesive dish.

For my main, I ordered the duck confit leg with poached egg, stewed rhubarb and mustard greens. Actually not as memorable to me as our starters but I liked the tartness of the rhubarb against the rich, fatty duck. All of this food washed down with a couple glasses of wine and I was in a pretty buzzed and happy (and not terribly stuffed) mood when it came time to leave and move on to the next bar. 🙂

 

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Brunch at Maialino

November 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

First, I just want to say that my thoughts go out to all those affected by Hurricane/Superstorm/Shitshow Sandy (if you’d like to make a donation to the Red Cross and relief efforts, here is the link).  In light of all the destruction, it’s been amazing to see how people have come together and persevere through such difficulty. NYC in particular, hang in there! You’re still the best city on earth.

On a more positive note, I’m continuing with restaurant posts from this summer. This time, a brunch at Danny Meyer’s Maialino in the Gramercy Park Hotel with some Georgetown friends who’ve relocated to New York City. We ordered three snacks to share: potato skins with pecorino and black pepper, tomato risotto croquettes and mozzarella, and fried shishito peppers with lemon. All of them were well-executed; crispy potatoes that were well seasoned, creamy, comforting croquettes, and nicely charred and blistered peppers.

I wasn’t really craving anything sweet that morning, so I went with the spaghetti alla carbonara. It’s not a typical brunch dish but it includes creamy egg yolk and bacon-y guanciale, so it still hit the right note for me.

The other entrees were simple scrambled eggs with potatoes and mixed greens, ricotta pancakes with market fruit and fresh ricotta, and the daily omelette with a garden salad.

More than anything, this was a good meal accompanied by great conversation and lots of catching up. Maialino’s atmosphere and service is really casual and friendly, with lots of natural light during the day and rustic accents, and it’s the type of place where I’d love to have brunch with my girls every weekend, a la Sex and the City.

My hopes are with the NYC restaurants, especially those downtown, that were hit particularly bad by Sandy. Know that your patrons are rooting for your recovery and look forward when you’re able to open your doors again.

 

 

Maialino 
2 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
212.777.2410

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!)

Peels

February 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

Southern cooking has been enjoying a lot of popularity in New York recently, with lots of joints offering up their variations on fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and red velvet cake. Laura and I recently tried Peels on Bowery for brunch, and even though I won’t be able to visit again for a while, I’m pretty sure Laura will be stopping by frequently this semester.

The first floor was very cozy-looking, with a bakery and dessert case displaying various pastries and delicious-looking loaves of bread. It was a bit cramped though, so we were seated upstairs where we were greeted by a beautiful bar and lots of natural light. I’d love to be able to sit at the bar on early Sunday mornings, with a cup of tea (I’ve given up coffee) or brunch cocktail and catch up reading magazines.

Laura ordered the shrimp and grits, with a fried-egg, housemade tasso bacon, and jalapeno grits. The only other time I’ve ever had shrimp and grits was at Riverpark by Tom Colicchio, and these came very, very close. For whatever reason, to me, the Riverpark version had a lot more flavor and spice and a more generous serving of much creamier grits. Initially, I was a bit thrown by the jalapeno flavor in the grits and the tasso sauce was extremely smoky, but the shrimp was perfectly cooked. Plus, I’m as much of an egg slut as anyone else so when Laura sighed with happiness at the first bite, I could only agree with her.

I had the classic biscuits and gravy, but topped with two lusciously poached eggs (told you I couldn’t resist a bit of golden, oozing yolk). The biscuit wasn’t too bland, which is a frequent problem, and studded with mini-pockets of butter, and the sausage gravy was slightly spicy without being too heavy. Mixed with the richness of two egg yolks, it was comfort food nirvana.

So yes, there are a ton of Southern restaurants popping up in New York right now, but as with any other food “trend,” some are better (at times, much better) than others. Granted, I haven’t been able to eat at all these new eateries so maybe I simply don’t know any better, but I’d argue with anyone that Peels is high up on the list, not only because of the great, heartwarming food but also because of the homey atmosphere and friendly service.

Unfortunately, this is my last winter-break/NYC post for the time being and I don’t know when I’ll visit the Big Apple next. On the plus side, I have promised myself to try new recipes this semester (my mom gifted me a Le Creuset dutch oven for Christmas so definitely using that!) so I’ll be keeping you posted on future kitchen successes (and disasters).

Peels
325 Bowery
New York, NY 10003
646.602.7015

Brunch at Riverpark

July 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Last weekend, Katie and I ventured all the way to the east side of Manhattan for a beautiful brunch at Riverpark by Tom Colicchio, located in Murray Hill, where we met up with friends who are getting married in October!  Although the restaurant is literally plopped in the middle of nowhere, it does boast some great views of the East River from its two outdoor dining sections: the Terrace (communal seating with long picnic tables) and the Patio (a more formal setting).

Outside

As a starter, we ordered simple grilled bread topped with a generous amount of creamy avocado, something that seems easy enough to make at home but never tastes the same as in a restaurant, possibly due to the fact that this version was drizzled with a fruity olive oil and sprinkled with fat shards of coarse sea salt.  I could eat this alone as a meal and be perfectly content.

Grilled bread and avocado with olive oil and sea salt

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of brunch because many restaurants just go with the old standbys – eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles, some kind of omelette with everything thrown into the mix – without applying their own interpretation or a little twist. But when I was looking at the menu for Riverpark beforehand, I knew this would be a real treat, not just because of its affiliation with great chef Tom Colicchio but also because it actually had a brunch menu that piqued my interest.

This was actually the first time I’d ever had shrimp grits, so even though I had no base for comparison, I thought this dish was very well executed. The shrimp were fat and tender, and my favorite part was sucking the brain juice out of the heads. And to all the people who squeal at this, let me just say I feel sorry for you because you’re clearly missing out on the best part of this tasty crustacean. The grits, very similar to polenta, were very creamy and luxurious for such a simple grain and tasted even better when mixed with that reduction of shrimp stock, butter, and whatever else.

Shrimp and grits with pulled pork, charred tomatoes, scallions

Other dishes included biscuits and gravy with Berkshire sausage and sage, Katie’s pork belly sandwich with a fried egg (can you say decadent?) and fries, and fried chicken sliders with honey and pickled vegetables. Everyone raved about the food, as well as the excellent coffee.

Biscuits and gravy with Berkshire pork sausage and sage

Pork belly sandwich with fried egg, cheddar, and frisee and fries

Fried chicken biscuit sliders with honey, cheddar, and pickles

It was one of those perfect, leisurely meals. Great company and conversation, excellent and comforting food, beautiful weather and a great view. Even our waiter was extremely cute. So although this restaurant was somewhat hard to find (we took the 4, 6 subways to 28th and walked from there), I’d definitely go back again, no question.

Riverpark by Tom Colicchio
450 E. 29th Street
New York, NY 10006
http://www.riverparknyc.com/ 

Restaurant Weekend

January 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

This past weekend was filled with so much good food, and there was quite a variety of it too. We had dimsum at China Garden, hearty Italian at Filomena, where I only managed to finish half of my entree and dessert (two meals in one!), and a light breakfast at Leopold’s Kafe down in Cady Alley.

Sunday morning, Ameya imed me asking to go to dimsum at China Garden, but because it was already 1 PM, I was a little reluctant since it would take him a while to drive down from UMD and get us to the restaurant. What ensued was probably the fastest sit-down restaurant meal of my entire life.

When we got there at 2:15 (because parking took a while as well), the cart ladies swarmed us, trying to finish off all the steamers they still had before they had to pack stuff away. So, in about 20 minutes, Ameya, Varun, and I devoured about 12 dimsum dishes – dumplings, har gao, egg tarts and all – and paid our check at around 2:35. In a way, it was a meal of perfect efficiency.

Restaurant Week at Filomena is probably one of the best promotions during that entire week. We had four courses of soup, appetizer, main course, and dessert (as well as a complimentary sambuca or amaretto), and the portions were absolutely huge! I went last year as well so I was able to plan my eating strategy more accordingly, and saved enough food for an entire extra meal the next day.

Everything – the homemade gnochhi, the delicious rigatoni in vodka sauce, the chocolate mousse cake and the raspberries n’ cream dessert – was so frikkin’ delicious and perfect for the cold day we were having. And as usual, the restaurant was decked out in decorations for the next closest holiday, which meant there were paper doves and shiny plastic red hearts hanging from the ceiling everywhere! So cheezy, but still cute.

The next day, we stopped at Leopold’s Kafe for breakfast/brunch and luckily, we got there before it became packed with patrons. I opted for the fresh grapefruit juice with the most amazing and flaky almond croissant I think I have ever had (my plate was completely covered in crumbs) and giant roasted baby red potatoes with caramelized onions seasoned with fresh thyme.

A perfect balance between the sweetness of the pastry and the savory heaviness of the potatoes. If I had to choose one brunch spot to go to for the rest of my time at Georgetown, it would be Leopold’s, hands down. The service is so friendly, the atmosphere is sleek and chic, and the food is amazing, especially the breakfast options. The giant pastry case near the bar isn’t a bad thing either.

Easter Brunch at Hook

April 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

I think my first visit to Hook is responsible for my current obsession with all kinds of seafood. I’ve loved sushi for a long time, but there really aren’t enough restaurants that serve delicious, sustainable fish like Hook. According to the Washingtonian, they also supposedly have some of the best brunch in DC, so for Easter, my floormate Alan and I decided to stop by and get our fill of seafood.

The first time I went to Hook with Amy, it was for dinner and we were seated at the long table across the bar since we didn’t have any reservations. This time around, the restaurant was airy and filled with light, and Alan and I were seated a cute little alcove, from where we could actually see the cooks working in the kitchen.

For appetizers, Alan got the almond scones (he wanted to compare them to Leopold’s and Poupon, I think) and I got one of Hook’s signature dishes, the grilled calamari with walnut-pesto and some smashed potatoes to which I didn’t really pay attention. That single dish is now the one that I find myself craving the most often. Actually, I had it at the Tackle Box, the more casual, lobster-shack inspired sister restaurant of Hook, with Amy yesterday.

My seared barramundi was tasty and light. One of things I love most about Hook is that all the fish has this wonderful crust on the outside that’s perfectly seasoned, and the fish just flakes at the touch of a fork. Also, the vegetables and sides, like lentils or black eyed peas, that accompany each of these dishes are something that I would never really crave or want, but everything comes together so beautifully that I wish there was some way for me to reproduce the taste. Which I probably can’t.

After brunch, Alan and I walked to Baked and Wired since he had never tried their cupcakes before, and I managed to persuade him to sample the red velvet while I exercised all my willpower and stuck with a good macchiato. I think I may have made another B & W convert in him.

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