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

Restaurant Week: Dinner at David Burke Kitchen

July 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Restaurant Week kicked off last week so Katie and I took advantage of the prix fixe dinner ($35, not including beverages, tax, and tip) at David Burke Kitchen in the mod and fancy shmancy James Hotel downtown. I’ve actually always wanted to try Burke’s dishes – usually characterized as whimsical takes on the classics – and this “urban farmhouse” approach to a restaurant was intriguing. The interior reminded me a bit of Lure Fishbar, basically because we were underground and able to see people walking by above us, but there was a great deal of light thanks to the skylight. I liked that despite the industrial decor, the restaurant actually did have that country barn feel, possibly due to the large butcher’s block table, overflowing with loaves of bread and cheeses and pots of soup broths, in the middle of dining room and the large portraits of the restaurant’s suppliers in their element.

Restaurant Week menu

As usual, we planned our meal to maximize the number of different dishes we’d be able to try. For starters, I ordered the lobster dumpling soup and Katie got the asparagus with crisped prosciutto. I loved the rich, shellfish flavor in the broth, which the waiter poured at the table, and the two lobster dumplings, filled with a coconut fennel cream, were heavenly. I only regretted that there were two of them and Katie and I could only have one each. I have to say, however, that I’m not a fan of cold asparagus, especially if it’s been boiled as opposed to roasted or grilled. The burrata, something that I’ve been wanting to try for a while, was lovely though. Insanely creamy and rich and topped with olive oil and coarse shards of sea salt, it would’ve tasted great with anything.

Lobster soup - lobster dumplings, coconut fennel cream, red watercress

Asparagus and burrata - honeydew, prosciutto, basil

Although one of our starters was somewhat underwhelming, our entrees wowed. The short ribs and cavatelli (kind of a smaller gnocchi), with wild mushrooms and truffle cream, was probably one of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time. The beef was fork tender, the mushrooms added a great earthiness to the dish, and the cavatelli, with its little ridges, did an excellent job of sopping up the savory sauce resulting from the mingled beef juices, mushroom “stock,” and truffle cream.

Short ribs and cavatelli with wild mushrooms and truffle cream

Equally impressive was the enormous pork chop and parsley onion ring dish. At first, I had difficulty cutting into the chop, which made me worry that the meat had been overcooked, but when I took a bite, it was as tender as could be. I didn’t care too much for the mango chutney (I have a hard time understanding pairings of fruit and meat), but the onion rings were well seasoned and incredibly crunchy, and the two little slabs of cumin bacon added a smoky element.

Pork chop, parsley onion rings with mango chutney and cumin bacon

We also managed to get suckered into ordering a side of smoked beef fat and jalapeno French fries for the table. I should’ve regretted it, but they were just too good.

Smoked beef fat and jalapeno French fries

Desserts were solid versions of RW standards: an apple tart and chocolate caramel fudge cake. Nothing eye-opening but nothing sub-standard either.

Apple tart with caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, and fennel chip

Chocolate caramel fudge cake with salted caramel, goat's milk cajeta ice cream

Oh, and just another note. The red wine that we drank with our meal, Lai Lai Pinot Noir 2008, has since become a favorite, and I usually don’t even like red wine! Even more surprising, instead of coming from Burgundy (which is Pinot Noir’s original home) or California, this wine hails from the Bio Bio district in Chile. Anyway, I just thought it went very well with the food – great flavor and very smooth.

David Burke Kitchen
23 Grand Street
Soho, NY 10013
212.201.9119
http://davidburkekitchen.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.

RW 1 – Sushi-Ko

January 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

So many people visited DC this weekend! Tiff came by Friday night, and we had an amazing meal at Sushi-Ko, Washington D.C.’s very first sushi restaurant.

It’s actually Restaurant Week here, so we were able to get the three course meals for a lot less than what the usual price would be. Jia and Tiff both chose the smoked mussels and eggplant miso soups while I had the sushi-ko crab cakes with avocado, which were meaty yet light. They also came with the usual Japanese-style and zingy horseradish sauce that I’m absolutely addicted to. They were gone in about 2 minutes. I have no restraint.

Second and third courses were great as well. Tiff had a beautifully presented dish of salmon ceviche with giant glistening beads of orange ikura, salmon roe. It came dressed in yuzu vinaigrette, the citrus giving a perfect balance to the whole dish. Her final course was a spread of yummy sushi and a spicy tuna roll. Jia had rock shrimp and asparagus tempura which I didn’t try, but she seemed to enjoy it. Jia’s final course was the beef tenderloin, and even though she opted not to get sushi, it looked absolutely delicious.

My second and third courses came together: the chef’s assortment of the day’s freshest fish as well as a crunchy spicy tuna roll with avocado and scallions. So fresh, so packed with flavor. You could really tell that everything, including the pickled ginger and wasabi, were homemade because they tasted so vibrant and powerful. I’ll definitely be returning a couple times this semester to try the chirashi and other entrees. YUM!

Paolo’s and Restaurant Week Part I

February 20, 2009 § 1 Comment

Winter in DC usually means I’m holed up in my dorm room on weekends watching crappy chick flicks or catching up on LOST. A couple weeks ago, Jia and I had had enough, and we decided to organize a girls’ night out at Paolo’s Ristorante on Wisconsin. We’d walked past a dozen times before, and with a sudden craving for some decent Italian food, we caved.

I went with two appetizers, the duck gnocchi and eggplant fritters, while my friends chose between the pizzas and specials. The duck gnocchi was a bit disappointing. I was really excited after reading the delicious sounding description, but the duck confit was tough and dry, and even though the gnocchi was pillowy, the arugula and biscotti crumbs had no business being in the dish. If the duck had been cooked better, the two alone would have been heavenly enough. The eggplant, on the other hand, was satisfactory. The cheese was molten hot and the sauce had a really nice tang, so I didn’t complain too much.

Everyone else said their food was fine, but I was too busy eating my food to care. ¬†Though I did choose not to order dessert, Jia and Tracy split the largest slice of tiramisu that I have ever seen in my life, and Melissa’s mandarin orange creme brulee was huge as well. We walked out of Paolo’s considerably stuffed and had to walk around M street before finally heading back to campus.

What got me even more excited, however, was DC Restaurant Week. I didn’t realize it until a couple days ago because school was, yet again, bringing me to full panic, but Amy and I decided that we had to go somewhere after almost a year of talking about eating out together. I tried finding reservations on Opentable.com, called Hook, Agraria, and other good restaurants in the area, but everywhere told me that they were booked from 6-9 tonight. In a desperate action, we decided that we’d walk around M street until some place took us in, or we’d go to Bangkok Joe’s since we knew they weren’t doing RW and would therefore most likely have a table open.

We didn’t have to walk too far. At Hook, there weren’t any individual tables available, but we sat at the end of a long table near the bar where there was full service. ¬†Hook is a restaurant very well known for its sustainable seafood, so it only made sense to order as much fish as we could. Appetizers were tuna tartare and an amped up clam chowder, but the entrees were the star of the show. My arctic char was no short of amazing – grilled so the skin was deliciously salty and crispy with the creamy celeriac puree to balance it – and Amy’s sablefish was light and airy but packed with the flavor of the ocean.

Desserts were amazing as well, and at this point, while I was taking photos, a chic woman came up to our end of the table and asked why I had a camera. Her name was Bethany Umbel, owner of Hook, and at that moment, she had been talking with Heather Chittum, the pastry chef who’d actually been named one of the “Top 5 Pastry Chefs in the Nation” and worked with Michel Richard at the famous Citronelle. I think they were both a bit on edge about me taking photos of the pastries (maybe they thought I was stealing presentation ideas?), but when they realized I was just an innocent food blogger, they eased up and sincerely said that they hoped we’d enjoyed the meal.It was a truly lovely dinner, and when I came back to the room to see how much the dishes originally would’ve cost me, I was shocked that the price tag would’ve been $61 without tax and tip. A serious bargain considering we only paid 35. Usually I’d say eating seafood exclusively isn’t my thing, but this was definitely a dinner to remember and I can’t wait until I go to Hook again.

Paolo’s Ristorante
1303 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC
202.333.7353.

Hook
http://www.hookdc.com
3241 M Street, Washington DC 20007
202.625.4488

RW – Lure Fishbar

July 30, 2008 § 2 Comments

Lure was the second experience of Restaurant Week 2008 and a true treat. I went with my old tennis teammate Joming and her friend Scott Yang Monday night for dinner to this subterranean seafood restaurant in Soho near Dean and Deluca. Let me first say that the decor inside is amazing – it looks like the inside of a yacht which makes sense. Clean lines, wood panels, leather booths, lots of blue.

For appetizers, Joming ordered the raw bar, I had the shrimp tempura, and Scott got the salmon tartare – a good spread. We were also surprised with two amuse-bouches, crab cakes on a stick and eggs on eggs (caviar topped deviled eggs) and an introduction to the executive chef himself, Josh Capon. A really nice touch if you ask me.

First: my tempura was AMAZING. I’ve never had shrimp that succulent and the outside crust wasn’t soggy at all, which is usually one of my biggest fears. The spicy mayo sauce had quite a lot of zing and reminded me of the sauce that comes with volcano rolls at Fujiyama Mama (a favorite local sushi place in Westfield). My mouth was so darned happy. And the portion wasn’t teeny tiny either which just meant more shrimp for me!

I didn’t get to try the tartare or the rawtasting, but therewas sound approval from both Joming and Scott, so I’m going to go with their statements and say they were both delicious as well.

Main courses: Joming and Scott had the nori crusted tuna and I went with a perfectly cooked and delicate (rare in my books) grilled salmon. My favorite part of this dish though was the lemon gnocchi underneath, which had the perfect smooth texture and a unique twist in taste from the citrus. This is something I want to try making the next time I get in the kitchen. It just added a whole another aspect to your regular gnocchi pasta. Yum.

Dessert started with another treat from the chef – strawberry creampuffs with a sour-cream poppyseed gelato. Joming couldn’t get her spoon away from the gelato, she just kept spooning away little by little (she though she was being subtle) until there was none left. I loved the creampuffs! They weren’t heavy at all and wonderfully buttery/flaky, but the strawberries cut the richness of the pastry.

There was also a lemon meringue bar, which would’ve been too sweet if there weren’t also the tart blueberries on the side. The sake mojito sorbet was…different. It took a bit to get used to the intriguing taste, but I came to like it by the last couple of bites. Very refreshing. Joming had decided to get the chocolate panna cotta, which I liked. Creamy, silky, smooth…a little bit of bitterness that mellowed out. I wanted more though. The cookie and banana in caramel sauce I didn’t care much for.

All in all, a wonderful meal, no doubt enhanced by the additional bites. I’d love to try Lure’s sushi next time and the raw bar since that’s mainly what the restaurant is known for. Given that it’s passed my initial tasting with flying colors, I’m now definitely more willing to shell out (haha! or not) money for a couple of special rolls and oysters. And now, I’m hungry again! Coming up…BARBECUE!

Lure Fishbar
142 Mercer St.
near Prince St.
212.431.7676

 

RW – Fleur de Sel

July 25, 2008 § 5 Comments

Restaurant Week kicked off Monday, and yesterday, Cathy, Tonia, and I met for lunch at Fleur de Sel in the Flatiron District near Union Square. The restaurant is rather small with amber lighting and what took up most of our attention while we waiting for our food was a weird sculptural bottle holder with a tree growing out of it. When I got back to a computer, I tried researching the significance of the gnarled plant, but no leaves.

Outside

For Restaurant Week, there were two choices for each of the three courses. For the first, all three of us ordered the chicken liver pate with salad, brioche toasts, and a balsamic reduction. As usual with French cuisine, the portions were small and such a tease. But it was the BEST pate I’ve had. It was so smooth, so creamy, so well-seasoned that I wished they gave us more brioche – light and crisp with a buttery sweetness – because the two paired beautifully. In the end we ended up smearing the extra on slices of the regular country bread they doled out for us throughout the course of the meal.

For the main course, there was pan seared cod with lobster emulsion and lamb shank crepe with baby carrots and turnips served au jus (what I had). The crepe was extremely thin and delicate and there was no skimping on the lamb which was extremely tender. I kept clanging my fork and knife against the plate because I was so eager to eat it all. I tried a bit of Cathy’s cod and it was so light that it broke apart almost immediately after you even slightly prodded it.

Dessert was the perfect end to an excellent meal. There was an assortment of sorbets with a sugary meringue at the bottom and a blueberry crumbcake with sorbet that was surprisingly light. The flavors of each of the sorbets were incredibly distinct – I hate when all you taste is sugar and nothing else when it comes to ice cream/frozen yogurt/etc. The only thing I regretted overall that the three courses were over so quickly.

The prix fixe for lunch is only 5 dollars more than the Restaurant Week price at 29 dollars. Considering the quality and presentation of the food that Cyril Renaud is creating from the kitchen, that’s still a heck of a deal. Plus, the menus change in tandem with the season and availability of ingredients so you’re not always going to see the same choices. Highly recommend it – if you can, try the pate! It was my favorite part of the meal.

Fleur de Sel
5 E. 20th St nr. 5th Avenue
212.460.9100

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