Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ringing in the New Year at Olives

Gilt City ran a special tasting menu with wine for two and since this was a couple of blocks down and seemed like a good value, I jumped on it. I'm so glad I did! Located in the lobby of the W Hotel at Union Square, I've always seen posh people lounging around in the bar area who seemed much fancier than the likes of me. We decided to swank it up for the night and celebrate New Years a bit early and avoid the chaos. We were sat at the special 'Chef's Table' which was at the counter overlooking the kitchen and handed our glasses of Prosecco.  The Chef's Table experience might not be for everyone, but boy was it a delight for us! It was dinner AND a show as we got to observe the hustle and bustle of the chefs preparing and plating meals. 
Bread Basket with Olives & Tapenades
The bread basket contained focaccia and crispbreads and was served with an assortment of, you guessed it, olives, as well as both green & black olive tapenade. I love olives so was delighted by this pre-meal treat.
Arugula Salad
toasted pistachio vinaigretted, shaved manchego
Liked the simplicity of this salad a lot and the blend of flavors. However, I did find it got a bit salty as I went.
Creamy Spinach Flatbread
parmesan, lardo
Yummy flatbread with lardo cut so thin it was completely transparent.

Baked Spinach Fazoletti
wild mushroom braise
The Fazoletti was good for the first few bites, but then got so salty that I couldn't continue. This is slightly concerning, since I believe this is the first dish I have ever eaten that I found too salty.

Grilled Sirloin Steak
truffle mashed potatoes, crispy shallot garlicky escargot butter
The Mr. didn't have a salt problem with his steak though and we really enjoyed the blend of flavors. This makes me hope that the salt problem was a fluke for them rather than the norm. Especially since by this time we were determined to come back to try some things on the menu that we kept seeing prepared before us over, and over, and over which looked positively amazing.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake
malt chocolate sorbet, manjari pudding, chocolate wafers

Sticky Date Cake
caramel braised pear, ginger ice milk, bourbon toffee sauce
And before we knew it it was time for dessert! They tasted every bit as good as they looked, which further strengthened our resolve to return for another visit.

Olives New York on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Casin' the Burger Joint

Well what have we here?
The Scene

We look better than we taste

I was having one of my rare cravings for cheeseburgers and was able to convince The Mr to try one of Shake Shack's rivals and Burger Joint is without question the name that comes up the most. Despite the fact that several people had described in detail how you go to the Park Meridian and find the velvet curtain with the neon burger sign, we still managed to miss it. I think it was even more inconspicuous than normal since at the time we arrived the line didn't reach past the door yet.

Absolutely love that in the midst of a swanky Manhattan hotel there is a typical middle America greasy burger shack. And the burger did not disappoint, so greasy in fact that it disintegrated the thick wax paper it was wrapped in by the time we were done wolfing them down. Unfortunately, the fries just weren't that great.

While we really enjoyed this little outing, the greasy hole-in-the-wall style isn't our favorite burger category, so for us Shake Shack is still where its at. But if dirty burger joint is your preferred burger type then you definitely need to check it out!

Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 24, 2010

Put some Bocca in yo mouth

Attempted to go to Maialino for dinner, but weren't too excited about the extremely long wait, so did a quick search on the old iPhone for nearby Italian and found Bocca.

We started out with a selection of Prosciutto and two Formaggi (Pecorino Toscano and Rocca).

I was very tempted to get the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe since apparently watching them make your pasta in a big cheese wheel tableside is a site to behold, but was finally seduced by the Malfatti ai frutti di mare con pinoli e uvetta (House made “badly cut” pasta tossed mussels, crab meat, octopus, shrimp, pine nuts and raisins in a light spicy tomato sauce).

The Mr ordered the Fusilli alla norcina (Imported Garofalo spiral pasta with sweet sausage, touch of cream and grated imported smoked buffalo mozzarella).

Our dining companion, my dad, ordered the Fettuccine alla bolognese di cinghiale e ricotta salata (House made fettuccine tossed wild boar “bolognese” and ricotta salata).

Bocca is the perfect example of a restaurant that would be the hit of a smaller city, but in the great NYC just kind of blends in as 'average'. Food was great, although the service was a bit European. We didn't mind because we wanted a nice relaxed meal to chat, so it worked perfectly, but something I would be looking out for if I went back.

Bocca on Urbanspoon

Feeling like a Princess at White Castle


The Mr. had never, ever had White Castle and for him it was love at first taste. He first got to try some in New Jersey and was excited to repeat the experience when we went to my hometown for Christmas.

 Growing up I couldn't stand White Castle. Imagine my surprise being reunited with it 20+ year later...and liking it! I suspect that the culprit is onion, which I hated when I was younger, but have grown to like. It satisfies the fast food craving and if you can limit yourself to just one (Jalapeno Cheeseburger!) you really minimize the damage. Their fries aren't that great, so come for the sliders.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pre-Theatre at Marseille

I've visited Marseille a few times now for a nice meal before a show. While they are popular, I have not had problems getting reservations. Also, even though while they have a French influence, they have enough American food on the menu to not make it inaccessible. Throw in that they have great food and get you out the door in time for curtain and it's a perfect spot.

Marseille Burger

Moules Frites

Special: Butternut Squash Risotto

Pasta Pesto
The Mr. went in for the burger; my father ordered the Pasta Pesto, his staple; and I split the Mussels & Risotto with my mother. Mind you that the mussel plate pictured above is POST split. It is a huge helping of Moules Frites! We were all more than satisfied with the food and we all traipsed off to our show very satisfied.

Marseille on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brunch tastes just as sweet at Rose Water

Went to visit our friends who live in Park Slope out in Brooklyn and further explore what this charming borough has to offer. Walked about a bit before settling on Rose Water which had a long wait and good reviews. Our wait outside in the cold was worth it! The tiny little restaurant was warm and cozy and the food was fantastic. I got the special which involved eggs, pesto, butternut squash, cauliflower, kale, and feta. The Mr. got the Slow Pulled Pork Sandwich on Brioche with cheddar, pickled cabbage, apple, and mustard dressing.

Rose Water on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good Times at Medieval Times

Our friend decided to celebrate his birthday at Medieval Times and so off to New Jersey we went! We collected our crowns and were lead to our table. Here was the Bill of Fare:
Garlic Bread, Tomato Bisque, & Ale

Roasted Chicken, Spare Rib, & Herb-Roasted Potato

Pastry of the Castle

Ok, now where you get to be surprised. This was all really, really good! I mean, we knew we'd have a good time cheering on our knight and enjoying the corniness of it all, but we didn't expect the food to be any good. So there you have it folks, next time you get a birthday party invite to Medieval Times, go hungry and prepare to be amazed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Redhead Knock Out

I've been hearing about the Buttermilk Fried Chicken at The Redhead for a while now, so when some coworkers suggested we head there for dinner, I was all about it. While we waited for our table I took a glance at the drink menu and saw the magical phrase "hot chocolate car bomb". Hold the phone. Making hot chocolate alcoholic is always a good idea, but somehow combining it with an Irish Car Bomb? Genius! The description read: "Guiness, Jameson, & Bailey's Marshmallow". I didn't know there was a 'Baileys Marshmallow', but I had to have one. It was deeee-lic-ious. We ordered their famous Bacon Peanut Brittles to start, which were a yummy snack. It threw me off a bit though, because it's peanuts tossed with flavoring and not anything like peanut brittle. Then it was on to the legendary buttermilk chicken. Not only was the chicken crispy and tender and everything nice, but the accompanying corn muffin and spinach, almond & pear salad were also really impressive. Even the guys in our group proclaimed "Hey! This is a really good salad!"
My mouth is watering...

Redhead on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Save some room for Sala One-Nine

The Mr. was craving paella so we pulled out the trusty old Diner's Deck, and wouldn't you know it, we were only a few blocks away from Sala One-Nine! Normally when we pass it on the way home it is chock full of people enjoying drinks & tapas. Fortunately, on a Sunday night it was a big quieter and we didn't have to tackle crowds to get a seat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Can Cook: "Chicken" Parmesan

Lightlife Chik'n Marinara with mozzarella, spaghetti, homemade sauce, and roasted vegetables

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Best Ramen: Totto Ramen

Totto Extreme Spicy Ramen
Totto Ramen has been recommended to us as a good post theatre dinner spot. After showing up at 5pm one night (when they open) and already encountering at least an hour wait, we found out why. So this time we showed up post-show on a frigid night. We braved the wait in the little shelter provided outside of the door. When we were finally ushered inside we understood the wait time- this place only seats about 12 people! But they have the routine down pat. They were ready to take our order the moment we sat down. Once we did the bowls were on our table within 5 minutes. We had to have been in-and-out of there within 30 minutes, although we never felt pushed or rushed.

The Mr. decided to go with the Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen and I ordered the Totto Extreme Spicy Ramen (which is the same as his, just with tons of extra spicy stuff!). We were both wowed right away. It was a good thing the extreme spicy stuff was served on the side, because I only used half of it and that was plenty. After a few silent minutes in the cab on the ride home we both wound up admitting that this was our new favorite ramen. We felt guilty and wrong betraying our often professed love for Momofuku & Ippudo, but our taste buds could not lie. Totto Ramen has stolen our hearts (and stomachs).

Totto Ramen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Special: Truffle Prix Fixe at Sorella

Back in December we found out about a special white, Alba truffle 4-course dinner being presented at Sorella for only $75 per person. Normally a dinner featuring so much truffles would cost quite a bit more, so we knew we had to jump on this opportunity. They led us past the front half of the restaurant which is primarily a wine bar to the back garden room. The skylights and plants made me feel a hint of spring in the dead of winter. On top of that the soundtrack was all Beatles. So far, so good.

So romantic
Breadsticks on table, cute...but sanitary? 

We didn't look too closely at the menu since we had come for the truffles, so when the first course came out we weren't sure what it was, but were excited by the generous truffle portion. We started eating and at the same time were like 'Hmmm, this is... interesting...what is this exactly?' and pulled out the menu. Uh oh, carne cruda. I know enough romance languages to parse out 'raw meat'. I was almost scared to tell The Mr. We gave it an honest try, and of course picked off all the truffles, but this course just wasn't for us.
Carne Crudo
 The second course was an onion stuffed with raisins, nuts, sausage and various other goodness. All of which of course is topped off with truffles! This was one of those dishes that had several layers of flavors. Eaten by itself, the stuffing failed to impress, but when eaten with the golden onion shell the flavors bloomed.
Cipolle Ripieni

 Course 3, was of course pasta. I chose the Tajarin & The Mr. chose the Agnolotti. Sooooo rich, soooo buttery, and soooo filling.

The meal ended with dessert which did not incorporate truffles in anyway, I thought it would have been cute to end the meal with chocolate truffles. But it was delicious, so if that's my only complaint for the evening, you know it was a good meal! Hope they do a repeat performance at some point.

Espresso Panna Cotta

Sorella on Urbanspoon