Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sea you at Thalassa

We were invited to try out Thalassa, an upscale Greek seafood restaurant in Tribeca. The Mr was busy, so it wound up being a lovely ladies night out. As soon as I walked in, I immediately felt the vibe- chic and modern, yet also very warm and welcoming.



Amuse Bouche: smoked salmon, wasabe, saffron sauce, and roe on cucumber

Appetizers: Calamari, Dolmas, Octapadi, & Maine Diver Scallops
So far, amazing. Of the appetizers, the table favorite was hands down the Maine Diver Scallops wrapped in crispy Filo wisps. It added a delightful texture to the buttery scallops within. We were then all equally impressed with the freshness of the tomato and feta used in the salad course. It's such a simple dish, yet when made with quality ingredients, can't be beat.

Tomato Salad
Main Course: Lavraki
For my main dish I went with the Lavraki since it is a traditional Mediterranean fish that you don't find on menus often. I really love a mild fish prepared with a light buttery, lemon sauce, herbs & capers and this fit the bill perfectly. With our mains we also were treated to sides of brussels sprouts, asparagus, and spinach. All simply prepared, fresh and light. At this point in the evening we were all very content, but then this appeared on our table:

Dessert Platter: Ravani, Mastiha Panna Cotta, Walnut Chocolate Karydopita, Greek Yogurt Cake, Baklava, and Gelatos
A dessert smorgasbord! I honestly can't pick a favorite, but we all appreciated the generous use of fresh fruit throughout which helped balance the richness.

Between all the good food, beautiful surroundings, live acoustic guitar, and Greek wine we all left feeling relaxed and contented. A wonderful evening out with anyone you'd like to impress whether it be a friend, associate, or date. They also have a third floor (not pictured) for private events- I could easily picture a swanky, intimate wedding celebration here.


*My meal was provided by the restaurant as part of a Press Dinner.

Thalassa on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Can Cook: Rustico Cooking

A friend received a gift certificate for an Italian cooking class through Rustico Cooking and I was more than happy to accompany her! After much deliberation (they all sounded so good), we finally decided on the Classics of the Italian Home Kitchen course featuring:
  • Truffled Eggplant & Mushroom Lasagna
  • Slow-Cooked Pork Chops with Olives & White Wine
  • Stuffed Baby Zucchini with Herbs & Parmigiano
  • Light-as-Air Tiramisu
The classes were quite big, a little too big for my taste, but the instructors did a good job making sure that everyone got involved at some point in the process. My friend and I missed the preparation of the pork chops for the most part. We witnessed the making of the b├ęchamel sauce for the lasagna and got hands on cooking the mushrooms & eggplant. The instructors made the pasta by hand then divvied it up so that we each got to roll out a piece in the pasta roller. We were also involved in the assembly of the zucchini, lasagna, and tiramisu. Then before we knew it it was time to enjoy the spoils! Everything was delicious even though the instructors felt like the pork didn't come out as tender as they would like.

Honestly, I don't see myself making these recipes at home. They are a little more involved than I typically like to tackle, but more importantly they were all chock full of cheese, oil, and cream. Also, I missed a lot of preparation steps, so didn't feel entirely confident that I could take any of these from start to finish (except for the Tiramisu). However, it was a really fun time and it was very smoothly run. I was really impressed with the timing of everything and that they got us out the door when they said they would. Would definitely recommend as a fun afternoon with a girlfriend or a date!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Full Accolades for Half King

Sea Scallop Special

THE Mac & Cheese

Turkey, Avocado, & Mango Wrap

Pasta with 3 Sauces
My Dad lived in Chelsea for a spell and made the Half King his local haunt. Through him we got to love their amazing Mac n Cheese and to appreciate their great selection of beers on tap. We also really dig it's laid back pub vibe, especially when we get to sit in the leather couch tables and kick back with friends. Now that we've moved to Chelsea we are sure to follow suit and make this our regular place. Good food, great brews, and a garden during the summer all around the corner!

Half King on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Taking it to the Max

We were invited out to Max Restaurant's East Village location to get a taste of what they're all about.
Bread & Dipping Sauce 
The first taste of bread and dipping sauce (olive oil, olives, & roasted tomato pate) let us know we were in for something good. Personally, I would love to see this dipping sauce served default with the bread instead of being on the menu as a side, but this is my last and only criticism of this meal.

Mozzarella di Bufala & Melanzane a Funghetto 
Here's where things took a drastic turn. This mozzarella was like no mozzarella we have ever tasted anywhere. There were actually two different textures happening, a firmer outer edge which gave yield to a soft, creamy center. And the explosion of deliciousness didn't end there, to the right of our new cheesy friend you will find the melanzane a funghetto- fried eggplant in tomato sauce with basil. At this point of the meal the entire table agreed that we could go home more than happy, but there were more delights awaiting many more.

Lasagna Fatta In Casa
Pasta #1: Beef lasanga with bechamel. I'm such a noob I thought that bechamel sauce was only used in white/cream based pasta dishes. Oh how wrong I was. No wonder this dish was a mini stack of heaven. Also note that this is a tasting portion which was like, 1/8 of the full order. It is massive, so if you want some of this incredible layered bliss make sure to plan to split or bring some home...or just be really, really hungry.

Fettuccine Al Sugo Toscano
Pasta #2: Fettuccine with tomato meat sauce. Full steam ahead with fresh, house-made pastas and sauces.

Spaghetti Alla Chitarra
Pasta #3: Spaghetti with lamb ragu. This dish is topped with Pecorino cheese, where the rest of the pasta dishes have the traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina
Pasta #4: Gnocchi with tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella.

Ravioli of the Day
Pasta #5: The Ravioli of the Day. It involved truffle- lucky us!

Filetto Di Baccala Al Forno
Ok, at this point we've tried five different types of pasta. And while normally we are good at pacing ourselves, they were so good that we couldn't stop. Needless to say, at this point we are pretty stuffed to the point of being uncomfortable. Yet somehow, this pan seared cod in truffle oil with mashed potatoes was still delicious.

And then the desserts came out:


Creme Brulee
Of course, we all found our second wind and tucked in to these desserts, but oh my goodness- so much rich food and wine. If you want straight up amazing, classic Italian food, this is it. One of the best meals we've had in New York. Thank goodness there are two of them...and thank goodness I don't live across the street from one of them, because honestly, I can't control myself around food this good.

*My meal was provided by the restaurant as part of a Press Dinner.

Max on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wishing I was a Lokal

The folks over at Lokal Mediterranean Bistro invited us to trek on out to Brooklyn to try out their fare. "Sure" we thought, "we'll do a post on them for our Brooklyn readers". Oh were we wrong. This post is for anyone reading, because it is absolutely worth the journey from wherever you are.
Turkish Beer & Wine from the Mediterranean
 It was a frosty February night, but when we walked in, we immediately felt a bit warmer. We were surrounded by the whites & turquoise of the Mediterranean and started out our meals with some authentic beer & wine from the region.

Bread, Oil & Vinegar 
Oh the bread. Spongey, moist, and delicious. When we asked what kind of bread it was the waiter was a bit puzzled by the question. To him, it was just bread. However, he very helpfully went back to the kitchen to get the ingredient list for us. Yep, basic run-of-the-mill bread ingredients, but something in the preparation made it transcend basic bread for us.

Sauteed Spinach
 When it came time to order, we went with the waiter's suggestions. Sauteed spinach may not at first sound like an exciting choice for an appetizer, but that is until you read how it is served: pine nuts, raisins, caramelized red onions, red peppers, feta cheese, and paprika yogurt. An amazing blend of textures and flavors. The Mr. immediately declared that he would go home happy with just a huge plate of this, and I had to agree.

Lamb Burger

But we owed it to you, our readers, to continue on with main courses, to truly assess this eatery. We went out on a limb a bit by ordering the lamb burger since we aren't usually big lamb fans, and it paid off. Loved how the cucumber relish and thick cut tomato added a burst of freshness. 

Roasted Free-Range Organic Chicken
But the real star of the show is their roasted chicken served over beets, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. I normally don't like chicken and after eating this dish I now know why. This is the moistest, tastiest chicken I have ever tasted. The sharp contrast made me realize that most of the time I find chicken to be bland and dry. The root vegetables were the perfect accompaniment. We will make the journey back to Lokal just for this chicken.

So there you have it folks. If you are lucky enough to live nearby, go here for your next dinner. If not, figure out what combo of trains will get you there!

*My meal was provided by the restaurant as part of a Press Dinner.

Lokal Mediterranean Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And I would walk 99 Miles to Philly

After our review of Shorty's, I realized that we've never done a post on 99 Miles to Philly. For shame! This is The Mr.'s go-to cheesesteak order that is constantly being delivered to our apartment and has ruined all other cheesesteaks for us:

Cheesesteak with American, Onions, & Mushrooms
with Waffle Cheese Fries
Here it is, one last time before we move out of their delivery area...*sniff*...

99 Miles to Philly on Urbanspoon