Jardiniere

January 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

Super delayed post on a trip to San Francisco and my first time in California (gasp). As expected, a lot of my activities were planned around meals and restaurants and, for dinner the night of my arrival, we went to Traci des Jardins’ French-influenced restaurant, Jardiniere. Being from New York, I’d decided to walk there from my hotel (only about 30 minutes or so), not realizing that my route would take me through the sketchy-ass Tenderloin neighborhood, but I managed to get there in one piece (albeit, slightly shocked by the sight of multiple people shooting up heroin out in the open).

The restaurant itself was beautiful and maybe a little bit fancier than I’d anticipated, and we started out with some raw oysters with all the typical fixings, delectable little bites of sea urchin, lardo and zesty meyer kosho on crostini and a colorful salad of juicy heirloom tomatoes with crisp romaine, fried bread and crescenza (a soft, creamy and very delicate cow’s milk cheese). All the hype that I’d heard about California’s fresh and amazing produce rang true and I started getting super excited about tucking into a big meal after a morning of traveling.

For our next course, we ordered an absolutely killer gnocchi dish with lamb sugo and cabbage, which I absolutely fell in love with, the duck breast and confit with sweet corn and pumpkin seed mole and a side of creamy polenta and goat cheese. It turned out to be a ton of food (I still felt stuffed the next morning) but everything was delicious. You could tell that the pasta was made from scratch (so fluffy) and the duck was perfectly seasoned and prepared a nice medium rare. The polenta also had a ton of corn-y flavor and I appreciated the tangy accent from the goat cheese. Let’s just say that by the end of the meal, after a bottle of red wine, I was certainly succumbing to the charms of the West Coast.

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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

 

Kinshop

August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dinner at Kinshop with Cahill girls began with a bottle of crisp white wine, a perfect pairing with the brightly-flavored meal to come…

Starters included a (very) spicy duck laab salad with toasted rice, ground chili and romaine hearts. Acidity from fish sauce, rich meatiness from the duck, and cool freshness from the lettuce – so many different elements playing off each other in a seemingly simple dish.

Our second starter were the grilled prawns with fresh lime and “Phuket-style” black pepper sauce. Loved sucking on those brain-filled shrimp heads a la Anthony Bourdain, and the sauce was so good that we kept it for other dishes.

This fried pork and crispy oyster salad with celery, peanuts, mint and chili-lime vinaigrette¬†was probably the dish I was most excited about (based on reviews) and yet, it thrilled me the least when I finally tried it. Don’t get me wrong, it was still mighty tasty but I think the flavors didn’t meld together as well here as in other dishes.

This was the runaway favorite – fried broccoli and Chinese sausage with young coconut-gooseberry chutney and fermented plum vinegar. Yes, the broccoli is fried so it’s probably lost all its health qualities, but none of us cared. It was surprisingly light and ever-so-crisp and went so well with the tartness of the plum vinegar and sweetness of the chutney. And who’s going to complain about Chinese sausage with their vegetables?

My favorite main plate – Northern Thai style curry noodle with braised brisket, cucumber, peanuts, fresh herbs. So comforting, so complex. This is something I’d want to eat on a rainy day while watching television on the couch. Definitely better than a burger and fries.

Our second main – massaman: braised goat with fried shallots, purple yams, mustard greens, and toasted coconut – a very rich dish with tender goat, lots of greens (there’s our fiber for the day) and an amazing coconut brothy concoction. Roti was the ideal vehicle to mop up any remaining sauce.

Desserts: Thai iced tea ice cream, lychee sorbet, coconut cream cake with kaffir lime syrup and toasted coconut. The coconut cake was somewhat bland, but we all fell hard for the ice cream and sorbet, the lychee sorbet especially. It reminded me of being in China, where we’d eat bowl after bowl of that fleshy, sweet fruit.

Top Chef fame aside (the owner and chef is Harold Dieterle, winner of Season 1), this is a great, casual place for a dinner that features a spin on your classic Thai and Southeast-Asian cuisine.

Kinshop
469 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
212.675.4295

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