Archive for the 'NYC Dining Out' Category

27
Jul
11

Happy National Scotch Day!!

Being that I am Indian, I feel it is my social responsibility to post this for all my JWBL handle-toting peoples.  Happy National Scotch Day!  To celebrate, Primehouse New York and Altantic Grill Lincoln Center will be serving a variety of Scotch samples paired with bar bites….yes, all for FREE today from 5-7pm.

Primehouse (381 Park Ave. South at 27th St., New York, NY 10016 – 212.824.2600) will be serving samples of three  different types of Balvenie scotches, a 12-year, a 14-year and a 21-year malt.  Jared, “the Brand Ambassador” (sign me up for one of THOSE jobs please!) from the distillery will be there to answer questions and school you on your scotch.  Atlantic Grill (49 W. 64th St at Broadway, New York, NY, 10023 – 212.787.4663) will also be serving three types of Scotches: Auchstoshan Classic (a Lowland Single Malt Scotch), Oban 14-yr Old (a Highland Single Malt Scotch) and Lagavulin 16-yr Old (an Islay Single Malt Scotch).

Drink up my friends!

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15
Jun
11

Luke’s Lobster (FiDi)

HAPPY BELATED NATIONAL LOBSTER DAY! In honor of the crustacean’s day, yesterday Badda Boom and I decided on hitting up Luke’s Lobster truck’s newly minted mortar location in FiDi. I have been meaning to try Luke’s since the first time I met the lobster roll at the Hester Street Fair last summer. Unfortunately I didn’t try it then because I opted for the delish Swedish meatballs! Anyhoo, today was my lucky day but I knew I was going to have to dig deep for this pricey lunch. At $17 for a lobster roll, it’s definitely one of the more pricier lunches you will have.

The background story goes like this. Kid grows up lobstering in Maine, comes to NY to work in finance and through his dismay at the mayo-drenched lobster rolls here, he has an ah-ha moment to start selling his own rolls. He taps his dad who owns a seafood processing operation in Maine to be the supplier. Growing up, he and his dad had developed a great relationship with some of the best lobstermen in Maine so they get the good stuff. The lobster is caught, steamed and airsealed into individual quarter-pound packages within hours and is shipped to Luke’s Lobster. And people, you can definitely tell the freshness in this roll.

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The store has two lines. The window up front solely sells lobster rolls while the line inside dishes out some of the other items on their menu, like their shrimp and crab rolls. As we rolled up to the shop, I was relieved to see that there was no line. Perhaps because I wanted to eat at an insanely early 11:30…yes, about the time that some of you are brewing your first cup of joe. BB ended up going to the line inside because this time he wanted to try the crab roll.

Let me just stop here and comment on the kid working the window yesterday. He was SUPER friendly and I am going to go out on a limb here and say he ain’t from these neck of the woods. He was all smiles, commented on what a beautiful day it was and asked me how my day was going. Really? Cut the chi-chat kid. My cranky, stressed-out NY ass wants my lobster roll pronto so I can go back to my 247 email-deep inbox. *pause* *sigh* But instead20110615-042521.jpg, I smiled back and engaged. Sometimes we all need to just take the foot off the gas and enjoy the people around us. Congrats kid, you melted my cranky shell yesterday and got me to smile.

Onto the food. I ended up going with the lobster roll combo which comes with a bag of Miss Vickie’s Chips (not very Maine-ish I gotta say) and a bottle of Maine Root soda pop (my choices were Rootbeer or Blueberry) for the low low price of $17. Without Tax. For that price point, you expect a big sandwich, right? Nope. When you take a look at it, even you men will be saying size matters. What I got was a toasted lobster roll bun (which is essentially a hot dog bun) with lobster in it. But here’s the catch that will make you definitely come back for seconds. The whole thing is stuffed with large CHUNKS of lobster. A quart-pound of fresh, juicy sweet claw meat. They say that there are about 5 to 6 lobster claws in each roll. I believe it. The roll was absolutely delicious. What makes it such a win? There’s barely anything other than super-fresh lobsters in this roll. They line the bottom crease of the roll with a line of mayo and shove a heaping packet of lobster claws into with with a dash of oregano powder on top…that’s it. I’ve been to Maine and I’ve had my fill of lobster rolls here and up there, but this was like nothing I’ve had. It was an ode to the lobster. Luke, my friend, you are on to something delicious here.

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This is definitely not an everyday lunch option, but it is definitely something to throw into your lunch rotation to have once every so often to treat yourself with. Will I be back? Well, does a bear shit in the woods?! Yes, I will be back and this time I’m going to have to try that crab roll since Badda Boom inhaled his before I even had a chance to get off the phone. At least I got a picture for you guys 🙂

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14
Jun
11

Dined and Done…

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So my trusty lunch buddy, Badda Boom and I just hit this downtown smorgasbord up and man was it packed! I was hoping it was going to rain because today was the last day of my two-week detox, but alas it didn’t rain and my detox was cut short by a day. Oh darn.

So as we rolled up to the plaza we immediately knew we needed a strategy…long lines, herds of people, and so much to sample! Clearly this was a “sharing is caring” kinda day and we were going to split everything so we can try more. So we started scoping out the menu signs at tables…and everybody’s plate that was walking by. He saw some delish (and very easily portable) empanadas floating around so Salud was stop numero uno.

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The beef and cheese empanadas were $3 ea or 2/$5 and they came served with crema fresca. Badda Boom got us two and here we go. The crust was light and flaky surprisingly not too oily but the filling was the star of this one. The beef filling was charred and well seasoned but the corn provided a surprising hint of sweetness when you are least expecting it.

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As we walked around we checked out all of the different booths and writing mental postits of everything so we can narrow down what we wanted. As we took 5 steps we ran into Pound and Pence and their London Porter-Braised Lamb Sandwich served with pickled carrot salad. Braised lamb? No brainer here since BB and I both love lamb. Ok, we will start walking and checking the tables out after just this one. It was deelish. The sandwich looked like a sloppy joe but with immense flavor. The carrot salad definitely had a strong Indian influenced flavor which was probably thanks to some cumin and the strong yellow tint came from a heavy hand with the herdi (turmeric). Overall two happy grubbers and now onto the rest of the event.

There were ceviches at several tables with everyone giving the dish their own spin. Being that this IS the Wall Street area, we are pretty steakhouse-heavy down here and they definitely represented their specialities. Delmonico’s line was out.of.control. And with a roped off line we were not even touching that one…even if they did have their amazing crab mac and cheese on the menu. Only thing missing was a VELVET rope. SMH.

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The infamous Stone Street venues were out in full force also. Waterstone Grill had a tilapia sandwich and crab gazpacho, Mad Dog & Beans had their steak tacos and Mexian corn, The Dubliner had some amazing looking beef stew and the eponymous Stone Street Tavern had spicy gazpacho and some insanely yummy lobster mac and cheese. The City Hall Restaurant on Duane Street was there with their crazy grilled steak sandwich which looked scrumptous with its grilled onions and non-mayo-y coleslaw. Since we didn’t watch the seasons turn waiting on that Delmonico’s line for the crab mac n cheese we decided to get the Stone Street lobster mac n cheese with the grilled steak sandwich.

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The grilled steak sandwich was pretty good, but nothing outrageous. The carmelized onions and the coleslaw were wonderful topping because they layered sweet and salty flavor profiles nicely with the steak. The coleslaw was smart because it also contributed a unique crunchy texture to each bite that you would not usually get in a steak sandwich. I’d give it a B+.

Now onto the mac and cheese. This is a classic case of “you can put truffle oil on anything and make it taste good.” Yes, it tasted GREAT. However, there is a big BUT in here. I have a pet peeve. I hate when a dish is marketed with the spotlight on an ingrediant and you have to go on a scavenger hunt in that dish for the ingredient. Don’t serve me shrimp fried rice with one shrimp. Capiche?? Well, here we are with this bowl of lobster mac and cheese…and barely any lobster. If you click on the right picture below, you will see some red shavings. Those three red thread-like lobster pieces were the “lobster” in my dish. Really? NO BUENO! No wonder they threw in truffle oil; it was to take away from the fact that they forgot to add the lobster! Badda Boom would also like me to add in here that he thought the mac n cheese was a lil spicy. For the record, I did NOT. Let’s also keep in mind that I am Indian and I like fresh jalapenos, or as he likes to say, I like my food radioactive. Nooooo, I like my food like I like my men, with a lil flavor! Helloooo!

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Overall, this was definitely a welcome diversion to the usual humdrum of downtown lunching. If you were planning on just “running out” to grab something, this was not the place since the lines were pretty long. With that said, considering the insane turnout this year, I have to commend all of the restaurants for their overall efficiency and hospitality. With this being over, what now? Food trucks folks!! They seems to be migrating down to FiDi in droves this year and I’ve noticed. Now that my detox is over, let the food truck games begin 🙂

Salud

14
Jun
11

Dine Around Downtown

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Attention all downtown lunchers!  Ever wish there was a place you can go and sample everything that FiDi and TriBeCa has to offer foodwise?  You’re in luck!  Today, from 11am to 3pm you can sample treats from all area restaurants who will be showcasing their best stuff at Chase Plaza.  The food will range from $3-$7 and of course there will be live entertainment.  For a list of all of the participants click here.  I’m on my way right now and may have to report back 🙂

18
May
11

What Lola wants…

So upon hearing this next piece of news, I had flashbacks to the summer of 2002.  Shlepping 40lb backpack full of lawschool books and party shirts shoved at the bottom from TriBeCa to a little party haven up in the sky on 47th St.  Oh yes.  China Club how we loved thee and thine open bar/free food from 5-7pm.  Almost everybody who was anybody that partied in midtown between 2002-2004 either started or ended their Thursday nights at China Club’s Jade Terrace.  The parties ended and the venue went through different reincarnations.  Last year Grubstreet reported that the Copa was planning a supper club to bring the some much needed life back into this space.  After that there was silence, so I figured the plans went belly-up.  Not so!  Last week Grubstreet followed up with a report that Alex Garcia (of Calle Ocho fame) was named the executive chef for the venue that is expected to open “early summer” but after checking out the supper club’s website, we now know WAS due to open June 2010, so who knows.  Keep checking the link for updates on concept and menu!

21
Apr
11

La Sirene (SoHo)

For one of our dinners last fall, Lil Miss Chatterbox chose La Sirene for the Phat Friday Dinner Club. Oh la la.  This very cozy and intimate place with VERY low lighting (READ:  very romantic).  As we get closer to the restaurant, I notice we are practically facing the Holland Tunnel entrance and the skeptic in me slowly starts creeping out.  But I trust LMC so I keep mum.  Thank God, because the place was the perfect hole in the wall bistro.  Il était très mignon!  The place is very tiny so reservations are smart and being on time is smarter.  With that said, the staff was very gracious by letting us be seated without our full party being there.  I’m going to apologize for the quality of the pics because I forgot my camera at home and so was left having to resort to my camera phone.  Onto the food…

After waiting 45 mins for Dr. Knots, we decided on started on the apps.  LMC and I shared the seafood sauteed calamari and Brewmaster ordered the escargot.  The calamari were sauteed in garlic, parsley, olive oil and bread crumbs and were cooked as they should be–tender and not tough.  This was my first time trying snails so I don’t really have a bar to set what was served against.  They were cooked in a butter and garlic sauce that you could pour over anything and everything and it would still taste good.  As for the escargot, they were tougher than I expected.  I was chewing and chewing…and chewing.  I’m going to have to give it another shot to see if this is the way all escargot are supposed to be cooked.  Overall?  Better than I what I imagined as a child. 

Halfway through our apps, we were STILL waiting for Dr. Knots so we called to see where he was…”almost there.”  Uh huh.  So he said wanted to order the Goat Cheese Tart.  Perfect.  Waiter…!  By the time the tart cooked and arrived at our table, Dr. Knots was still “almost there.”  Since Brewmaster and I are fromage fiends, we helped ourselved to half of the tart.  Hey, you snooze, you lose…especially when you’re 1.5 hrs late!  The goat chesse tart was the best appetizer we ordered.  It was oh so flavorful and the cheese was smooth and very fresh.  Well, it should be flavorful considering it was made with shallots, truffles, grapes and a covered in a “veil of 90 days Aged Swiss Cheese.”  YUM!   The sauteed seafood was tasty and fresh, but it was tough to follow in the goat cheese tart’s footsteps.

The entrees were all very good, but the filet mignon topped with a perfectly seared slab of foie gras was delicious, decadent and blew the other dishes of the water.  I was so enrapped in the dish that I completely forgot to take a picture of it!  Dr Knots got it and it was a unanimous decision that it was one brilliant piece of boeuf!  To round off the rest of the entree lineup were the seafood casserole and the beef bourguignon.  They were both delicious but for those who have a slight aversion to seafood and cheese, the casserole may not be the way to go.  The bourginone is a classic dish and this was definitely traditionally prepared with no extra flair.  It was a good, hearty dish to have when it’s cold out.

We ended the night with a trifecta of ice cream and the profiteroles.  Yes, Italian profiteroles in a French venue.  What? You gotta problem wit that?!  The ice cream flavors Brewmaster opted for were mango, dark chocolate and coconut.  The mango and dark chocolate were very good, but the coconut didn’t taste like much.  The profiteroles were…well profiteroles!  Anytime you put ice cream and chocolate together and squeeze it between a light flaky pastry, you win.  And yes, that’s what she said folks.

A few other things to know about this lovely little spot.  Not only is it BYOB, but they have a local liquor store that delivers right to the restaurant!  Drink up my friends, drink up.  Also, it’s cash only.  You don’t want to show up on a date here without some paper in your pocket.  Très gênant!  This place is awesome to have in your artillary of restaurants for it’s versatility since it’s great for family dinners or a romantic date.  The prices are very reasonable considering the quality of authentic French cooking you are getting. Keep in mind that you do not have Thomas Keller cooking in the back.  You come here for their rustic, classic french bistro dishes.  Will definitely be back.  Over and over.

21
Apr
11

Junoon (Madison Square Park)

I’m Indian and I was raised by a mother who refuses to use anything canned or frozen when cooking, so I’m super particular about my Indian restaurants. So particular in fact, that I altogether just avoid them.  After reading the NYT announcement of Junoon’s opening, this past winter Miss BaDa Bling and I decided it was a must try.

As you walk in, you immediately get transported back to the 80’s when opulent decor was rampant at Indian retaurants, albeit Junoon’s elegance is definitely definitely cranked up a few notches.  As you enter, the high, long, tastefully decorated, cavernous entry, it really let’s you know that this place is going to be a little bit different than the Indian restaurants available these days.  The decor was what I would describe as opulent contemporary. 

As I was waiting for BDB, I waited at the very empty bar and ordered a Fall Daiquiri which consisted of white rum, lime, muddled spices and vanilla-orange syrup.  I ordered it thinking it was going to knock my mojari off but alas, it did not.  The concept and the flavors weren’t bad, but I felt I was going to turn the candle next to me into a blowtorch everytime I exhaled.  But hey, the bartender got me to chat him up for sure. 

Once she arrived, we were taken to the left-side dining room.  The minute we walked in I realized that this was going to definitely be a very corporate card set.  The sparse crowd was all suits talking shop except for BDB and I. 

 Our meal started off with an amuse bouche comprised of a little potato patty over a well seasoned tamarind chutney with a dot of cumin yogurt on top–all very traditional flavors merged into one bite.  We moved on to the piri piri prawns which were good, not great.  When we ordered this, we were anticipating some heat from the Goan spices but overall were disappointed because the spice factor was weak didn’t pack much of a punch at all. 

 

For our entrees we ordered the Lamb Shoulder and the Goan Shrimp.  The lamb was prepared in papaya juice with the traditional blend of spices called garam masala.  Garam masala is used in many different regions in India and the individual spice components used can vary.  The most common ingrediants though are black/white peppercorn, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin which are toasted together and blend into a fine powder.  The lamb was seasoned very well and cooked to a perfect medium temperature.  This was my favorite dish of the night. 

The Goan shrimp was good also.  Anything prepared with tamarind sauce already has a head start in my book, but keep in mind that this dish is prepared with coconut milk so it was definitely a richer dish.  But after being close to polishing of our bottle of red, we couldn’t stop dipping the onion kulcha in the gravy.  At this point I have to comment on the service.  There wasn’t anything we requested, that they didn’t provide to try to accomodate.  If you go to the menu and want to order the onion kulcha, it won’t be there.  But it’s one of my weaknesses and I must have!  We asked for it and off the waiter went to discuss it with the chef to see if he could make it.  And he did. 

To wrap up, we went with a singular dessert option because we were stuffed but had to try something!  The spiced chocolate cake with chai ice cream was pretty good.  It was rich, but the chai ice cream was a perfect pairing of flavors.  What turned up the notch on this dessert for me was the texture of the overal dessert.  Instead of having a smooth bite right through both the cake and the ice cream, the chef through in some chocolate flakey crunches to give each bite a little something more.  Have I had better?  Sure.  But this was definitely not a shabby dessert.

Overall the meal at Junoon was a success, however, at this $200 dinner-for-two price point I was left thinking that there are definitely better values out there for quality food.  Will I be back?  Perhaps…on someone’s corporate tab.




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