March 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
The lunch at Bouley in Tribeca may be one of the best deals (five courses for $55) in New York City, especially since it happens to be in one of the most beautifully decorated and ornate restaurants I’ve seen. To start – some complimentary amuse bouches that I honestly don’t remember too much about (except that the cracker looking bite had caviar and some kind of black truffle cream). For the first course, I chose the “blini” of Scottish smoked salmon with roe and white truffle honey. The dish was topped with some sort of apple meringue that was a bit too sweet for my taste, especially since the truffle honey was already sweet, but the roe provided some necessary saltiness.
Next, one of Bouley’s most famous dishes, the porcini flan with golden princess crab and black truffle dashi. This was amazing – it came to the table with a cover and when removed, all one could smell was black truffle and brininess from the crab. Really warm and comforting, like a Japanese chawanmushi or egg custard, the portion initially seemed kind of small but was so packed with flavor and richness that it turned out to be just the right amount. I would go back to Bouley just to have this dish again. Also, what I forgot to take a picture of was the amazing bread cart that they wheel to each table after this course. I think there were about twelve different varieties (the usual sourdough all the way to a pistachio and apricot version) and you could potentially try every one of them, but we had to keep in mind that we had more courses coming.
The main dish, a slow braised Kobe-style beef cheeks with blue kale gnocchi, also hit the spot. I don’t have beef cheeks very often but always love how tender and unctuous they can be when done well and the sauce that came with was super savory and just this side of being over-seasoned. Also really enjoyed the perfectly cooked gnocchi (because who doesn’t love some butter soaked starch with their beef?).
For a palate cleanser after our savory dishes, a chilled coconut soup with pineapple granite, 10 exotic fruit sorbet, passion fruit and coconut ice cream. Really refreshing with a good balance of sweet and tart – this almost punched you in the face with its coconutiness. Around this time, we were struggling to stay awake, so a cappuccino was in order. My dessert was the hot caramelized Anjou pear with Valrhona chocolate, biscuit Breton, hot toffee sauce and huckleberry and Tahitian vanilla ice cream, which was a bit too sweet for me and since I was so full, I was only able to take a couple bites. However, when the tower of mignardises and petits fours came out, I had no problem popping a few chocolate bonbons in my mouth.
So there you have it – one of the best lunch deals in the city. At some point, I’d like to go back and try everything with their recommended wine pairing, which brings the meal to $110 before tax and tip. I think this would be a great place to bring parents when they’re in town and or a special date. Here’s a shot of the entryway, which is lined with apples to greet you and say farewell with the most heavenly smell (we kept wondering how often they have to check and change them out). Oh and I almost forgot to mention that when you leave, they send you off with not one but two individually wrapped cakes (lemon pound cake and stollen) for you to peck away at as soon as you’ve recovered from your lunch food coma. 🙂
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.
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.
New York, NY 10003
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.
38 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
May 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
It’s been a whirlwind first week at work (in only a very good way), and between all the firm lunches and receptions, I still managed to explore some restaurants in the Greenwich Village neighborhood.
First, YJC and I dined al fresco at Dos Caminos on W. Houston Street after she had a long day at work. We weren’t too hungry since it was pretty late, so we shared a huge bowl of guacamole, a trio of salsas ranging from mild to scorchingly hot, and freshly-fried tortilla chips and a side of crispy sweet potato fries (though I’m still partial to the ones at Maxie’s Supper Club in Ithaca).
I also ordered the chicken taquitos – pulled chicken rolled in crispy corn tortillas with shaved lettuce, queso fresco, and a tomatillo-avocado sauce and YJC got the Mexican chopped salad with a heap of tasty things like grilled corn, poblano chiles, green olives, and toasted cumin vinaigrette. No complaints – I like to think that I make a pretty mean guacamole and the version at Dos Caminos hit all the right notes of creamy from the avocado, sharp acid from the lime, and pungency from the onion with a good seasoning of salt. My taquitos, though on the small side, were filled with tender spicy chicken and the fried tortillas were fresh as can be. We’ll have to go back soon for their margaritas…the frozen prickly pear rendition sounds particularly intriguing.
While walking up 6th Avenue the next day, I happily discovered that Tertulia, Spanish tapas heaven, is only a couple blocks down the street from my summer apartment, so I rounded together some other food-obsessed summers for a dinner because I figured the more people we had, the more dishes we could try.
We ordered my favorites from the last time I visited – the brussel sprouts with pork belly and mojo picon, the flash-fried shishito peppers and sea salt, and my favorite, the roasted potatoes with pimenton and garlic all i oli, and rounded out the meal with the radish salad with baby rainbow carrots and anchovy vinaigrette and grilled Mediterranean prawns.
Everything was insanely delicious, from the super crispy taters to the acidic and pork-coated brussel sprouts to the prawn heads, out of which we enthusiastically sucked out the brain juices. I was reminded of Mark Bittman’s quote, “the juice in the head of the shrimp can only be described as God’s soup.” Add two bottles of the house red wine (we are still law students after all) and great conversation, and it was a pretty awesome, noisy night.
The next day, while work was slow, we created a huge Excel spreadsheet of all the NYC restaurants (I think the current tally is around 80) we wanted to visit, so prepare yourselves for a summer of epic eating and good company.
Dos Caminos Soho
475 W. Broadway at Houston Street
New York, NY 10012
359 6th Avenue
New York, NY