Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So ready

Who's ready for the Big Apple BBQ Block Party?? These bloggers. This year we've learned from past experiences and purchased the VIP passes. T-10 Days.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Casa Havana Nights

Tostones y Mofongos
Last night we made pinchos and rice & beans and relived our recent vacation to Puerto Rico. In this spirit, we were excited to find a place with Tostones y Mofongos when we loaded up SeamlessWeb for a quick dinner fix. The Mr got chicken and I splurged for the shrimp. The tostones weren't quite as crispy as I'd like (probably just since it was a delivery order) and the mofongos weren't quite the same as the ones in Puerto Rico (to be fair this is a Cuban restaurant), but it definitely hit the spot. Also, the portions were huge, so we definitely will get two meals out of this order.

Casa Havana on Urbanspoon

A Quick Note at La Bergamote

How to choose?

Almond Croissant & Fruit Tarte 

I've heard a lot of really great things about La Bergamote, so when I needed a little treat for The Mr this afternoon I knew exactly where to stop. The Mr is a big croissant fan so I picked up an almond croissant, but bases on hearsay, we had to try the fruit tart as well. The croissant was much more soggier than I would like, but to be fair I was visiting at the end of the day, so they were not at their freshest. The fruit tarte on the other hand lived up to my expectations. It's always good to know where there is an adorable cafe where you can pick up high quality treats, especially when that place is right down the street!

La Bergamote Pastries on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 28, 2011

5 Stars for El Quinto Pino


Noodle Paella

Migas Aragoneses

We have found an amazing hidden gem across the street from our apartment. A teeny, tiny little tapas bar called El Quinto Pino. We went in fully intending to get some wine, but got sidetracked when we saw the frozen Horchata with brandy on the drinks blackboard. So creamy, sweet, and alcoholic!

Then we ordered the Noodle Paella and Migas Aragoneses. These dishes were each amazing in their own ways and we were blown away. This is exactly the type of spin on classic dishes we dream of every time we walk into a nice sit-down restaurant. And here they are in a small alcove barely visible from the street! 

Although we are extremely excited about this new find, we are also a bit nervous since the bartender mentioned that it is usually pretty packed and the only reason we were able to get a seat so easily is because every one is out of town for the holiday weekend.

El Quinto Pino on Urbanspoon

In an empire state of mind at The Highliner

Unfortunately, we never got a chance to eat at the iconic Empire Diner before they closed, but we have been waiting with baited breath ever since we noticed renovation activity occurring within. Finally, The Highliner has been unveiled in Chelsea.  I never got to see what it originally looked like inside, so I'm not sure whether it has changed a lot or not, but I love the art deco look inside with the mix of wood paneling, steel, and tiling. At first, I was surprised by the menu, since it is a bit more upscale than your traditional diner fair. It was also a bit random- Chilaquiles? Hmmm...wasn't expecting to see that. But we love Chilaquiles, so we decided to try it out. 
Chilaquiles (half order)
Note 1: What you are seeing is post-split! Very generous portions help offset the price.
Note 2: These were the best Chilaquiles we have ever had anywhere. And yes, we are including Chilaquiles eaten at boutique hotels overlooking the ocean in Mexico.

Update: We enjoyed it so much that we dragged our friends here for the Chilaquiles for Brunch the next morning!

Tom Colicchio to open the "Lot on Tap"

Here at Newbie Foodies we have just done restaurant reviews, but as part of our efforts to become more foodified, I have been actively trying to keep up with NYC food happenings. Usually when I find out about new restaurants or events I just bookmark them then write about them after we've visited, but I am so excited about this piece of news that I just had to share.

The High Line is expanding this summer (which is exciting enough by itself) and under the 30th Street section Tom Colicchio is opening the "Lot on Tap". It will be a beer garden and food truck emporium with an art installation. What's not to like here? They are projecting an opening as early as the second week of June, but of course that won't be soon enough for us!

Read the full story in the New York Times. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Grand Old Time at Grand Sichuan

Chicken Dumplings, Sesame Chicken, & Pork Lo Mein

We were recovering from being sick this week, so decided to have a cozy Friday night in. We headed across the street to Grand Sichuan for some good ol' fashioned Chinese Take Out. We went with some classics: chicken dumplings, sesame chicken, and pork lo mein. It was exactly what the doctor ordered and we're excited to officially have our new chinese take-out/delivery go-to.

Grand Sichuan International on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Quick Fix at L'Express

Croque Madame et Profiteroles
After a night full of drinking and dancing we found ourselves in need of of a late night snack. We were craving chocolate so made a beeline for Max Brenner. Unfortunately, we had miscalculated and realized too late that they are not open at 1am on a Sunday night. Then we remembered a little place called L'Express that we used to live across from which was supposed to have some pretty good food- and most importantly, is open 24/7. For some reason, in our year of living in the Flatiron/Gramercy area we never made use of this charming cafe. What a night-saver! This was the perfect place to fill our stomachs and wind down from a great night out.

L'Express on Urbanspoon

It don't mean a thing at Swing 46

One of my dearest friends came to visit and wanted to share her latest passion with us- swing dancing! With the help of the internets she found Swing 46 a Jazz & Supper Club and we put on our dancing shoes. The moment we walked in, I was enchanted. The lights were low and the band was hot, it was purely the stuff out of movies. Martinis seemed like the perfect accompaniment and we ordered Oysters Rockefeller, Mini Beef Wellingtons, Calamari, and Asparagus as well. I wasn't expecting much out of the food since I figured being a dance/bar setting was the primary function, so was delighted to find the food was delicious. They had a free dance lesson after the first set and The Mr and I were hooked. Looks like we've found our next hobby.

To be clear, I didn't get the impression that this is necessarily the place to find the New York local swing scene. Being midtown, it was definitely geared towards tourists and newcomers to swing who are looking to have a great experience- which fit the bill perfectly for us. However, my friend found herself dancing with the instructor a lot since most of the people were pre-coupled. I would definitely recommend stopping by if you find yourself in midtown looking for some cheap entertainment!

Swing 46 on Urbanspoon

Feeling Cozy at Bosie Tea Parlor

I was wandering around the West Village on a rainy day with my dear friend visiting from out of town, when we decided we could do with a spot of tea. I pulled out my iPhone map app and was delighted to see we were a few steps away from a place called The Pink Teacup. Although it was adorable, they were not actually a place that had much tea, it was a southern food restaurant. Major letdown. So out came the old iPhone yet again and this time it guided us to Bosie Tea Parlour.

What an absolute delight! They had an amazing assortment of teas and we found it very hard to narrow our selection, but we finally settled on a pot of toasted coconut and a pot of almond chocolate. Unfortunately, we were still pretty full from breakfast, so we did not order the full tea service, but I couldn't resist a couple of macarons. In addition to your usual flavors they offered Rose and Peanut Butter & Jelly which caught my eye and stomach's attentions. Delightful!

This place is an amazing find and I can't wait to come back to enjoy their Afternoon Tea. One final note, is that this place is adorable, but not overly frilly and feminine like most tea shops, so you might be able to drag a guy into this place without him grumbling too much.

Bosie Tea Parlor on Urbanspoon

Sold on Vintry

My friend was visiting from out of town and after a quick back and forth on the Staten Island Ferry, I wanted to bring her over to soak in some of the history and booze available on Stone Street. As we walked down the cobblestones trying to decide on which tavern we should grab a pint at, we noticed a Wine & Whiskey bar called Vintry. A glass of wine struck our fancy so in we went.

We were immediately impressed by the sophisticated polish of the place and knew we had made the right decision. Our bartender was as knowledgeable as he was charming and was able to navigate us quickly to wines that pleased our palettes. We wished we had longer to spend at this delightful place, but alas, had much more of New York to explore!

Vintry Wine & Whiskey on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's Our Lucky's Day

Seeing Red at Luckys
A while back we bought some coupons on Fab.com for Lucky's Famous Burgers value meals for $.50 each. That's right- two value meals with a normal value of $20 for $1! Now that's what I call a deal! We finally cashed these in at the Chelsea location and got Turkey and Veggie burger meals with fries and soda this afternoon on our way out to run errands.

We enjoyed our meal and it was a great alternative to your typical fast food chain options, but I don't see us returning unless we get another great coupon deal. There are just way too many burger options to explore in this city for the next time we get struck by a burger craving.

Lucky's Famous on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Taste of the Upper West Side

A classy event

We've become oddly obsessed with Man v Food recently (we watch with a mixture of jealousy and disgust), so were excited to see that Adam Richman would be in his home state to kick off the New Taste of the Upper West Side Comfort Classics event.

When we arrived we were given wrist bands and then a wine glass on a necklace. Any event where you where wine around your neck, seems pretty promising. Unfortunately, we arrived at 7:30pm so we missed our celebrity sighting, but the disappointment didn't last long as we soaked in the above sight. A beautiful tent with a live band filled with comfort food tastings done by famous NYC chefs with lots of booze booths to boot? I felt like a kid in a candy store, and yes, Dylan's Candy Bar was in fact present and had banana cotton candy!

After we stuffed ourselves silly with sliders, cookies, and all other goodies we were ready to head home incredibly satisfied. On our way out we received goody bags! Talk about icing on the proverbial cake! I hope this was a successful benefit for them financially and that other neighborhoods (such as our beloved Chelsea) and charities take a cue from this fantastic event.

Foodie Schwag!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Steamy Russian Samovar

Russian Beer 
Last fall, our Russian friend took us out for a traditional Russian dinner at Russian Samovar. No blog entry appeared, because, well...things got a bit out of hand with all the vodka and beer. This time, we swore not to repeat history. We went back and forth on whether we should order beer this time, but as you can see, beer won out.

Mushrooms & Potatoes, Olivier Salad, and Bliny
Last time we tried the herring and meat platters, but weren't won over, so this time we ordered our favorites. Foreground Right: Olivier Salad is basically the Russian version of potato salad and is therefore delicious. Background: Bliny is a mixture of salmon, capers, crumbled egg yolk, diced red onion, minced egg white, and caviar rolled into a crepe. Soooo good. Foreground Left: some good old fashioned fried potatoes and mushrooms.

Beef & Cabbage Pirozhoks
This time we tried the pirozhoks which are beef or cabbage mixtures in a puff pastry. As stated before on this site, I don't believe I've had anything wrapped in puff pastry that I didn't like.

We let our appetizers settle as we danced and enjoyed the live music. I love the feel of the place with it's flowery tablecloths and fringed lamps. It's one of those rare places that makes you miss smoking in restaurants, since it would really fit with the ambience. When The Mr invited me out to dance with something to the effect of 'Come on, let's go' our new waiter friend intervened to show him how to "properly" ask a lady to dance. This was a hilariously welcome intervention at this point, as we had been building up a rapport with him over the course of the evening. It worked like a charm!

Chicken Kiev & Braised Rabbit
After a while we had worked up an appetite for our main course and out came our Chicken Kiev and Braised Rabbit. The quality continued in their entrees.

We had a fair share of vodka
But how can we forget the vodkas! So many amazing infused flavors to try: Garlic, Apple Cinnamon, Coriander, Cherry, Ginger, Chocolate, and Red Pepper...just to name a few. This time, according to our Russian friend, we did things right by drinking our vodka with fatty foods over the course of time and didn't get into trouble.

Honey Cake, Raspberry Napoleon, and Special Tea
Since we were in much better shape than last time, we stuck around for dessert and were so glad we did! The Russian Tea is served with lemon and cherry preserves that you put in to sweeten. The Honey Cake was very good, but the Raspberry Napoleon completely stole the show!

Russian Samovar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Going is Good at Ca Va

Bread and First Wine Tasting 
We had a great experience with a Gilt City tasting menu for two with wine pairings at Olives, so when Todd English's midtown restaurant Ca Va came up, I was quick to snag one. We've been quite busy lately, and to my dismay, I suddenly realized that the certificate had expired. I gave them a desperate call and they graciously let us come in and still redeem it. This surprised me and I wanted to mention since I don't believe a lot of places would have done this.

Our meal started with a Bacon Potato Salad: maple glazed bacon, caramelized red onions, fried chick peas, and fingerling potatoes served over a garlic aoili and garnished with powdered sumac. This was my favorite dish and it made me really wonder about the characteristics necessary to classify something as a salad. Don't be fooled, not a whole lot of veggies happening here.

Bacon Potato Salad

jumbo prawn, oxtail rillettes, horseradish cream
warm fingerling potato salad with mustard seed

This dish was a very close runner-up for favorite. Very intense mustard and horseradish flavors which somehow worked together instead of one overpowering the other. If you aren't a big horseradish or mustard fan, I would absolutely not recommend ordering this. If however, those flavors appeal to you, you might want to run to Ca Va to order this right now.

Lamb Stew
Our third course was a French lamb shoulder stew with peas, turnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic, celery, tarragon in white wine and clarified broth. We aren't the biggest lamb fans so weren't as excited about this one, however, it was still quite good.

Dessert Plates
Finally, for dessert there was a chocolate cake with a ganache center served with homemade vanilla marshmallows and homemade graham crackers to create a modern S'mores twist. In case that wasn't enough, they also threw in some petit fours to sweeten the deal. Pun intended.

Like Olives, this is a swanky, modern place perfect for when you want to feel metropolitan and chic. The service was spectacular and the food was incredible. This is a great option when you need a special pre or post theatre dining option.

Ça Va on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Don't Miss Miss Lily's

Since we've moved to NYC, The Mr will occasionally ask if I've heard of any place that has good jerk chicken. So when I started reading a lot of rave reviews for Miss Lilly's I didn't waste much time before getting us over there. I immediately liked the vibe of the place. The decor is themed and they push the border of being kitsch, but don't go over into being cheesy and somehow make it hip. The front room's theme is counter & booth lunch spot, while the back room is music themed.

We are grooving on the ambience and our Red Stripes when our appetizers arrive: Jerk Chicken wings and Spicy Shrimp. This was messy, eat with your hands style dining and it was full of flavor and spicy heat. I was immediately transported back to our vacation in St Martin when we would eat at the BBQ shacks and started to feel just as happy and relaxed as I was then.

The Jerk Chicken entree with cucumber yogurt salad, rice & beans, jam, and plantains. It all complemented each other so well, and the jerk seasoning was really spicy. For once, I stayed my hand from piling on more hot sauce- this is the spiciest dish I have been served in a restaurant for quite some time...perhaps ever.

This meal was truly exceptional and Miss Lily's is definitely worth going out of your way for, exactly the kind of dining perfection we are always on the hunt for here at Newbie Foodies!

Miss Lily's on Urbanspoon

Nuts for Almondine

Coffee, Croissant, & Passion Fruit Macaron
We were enjoying the New York Photo Festival in DUMBO when we found ourselves in need of a coffee break. Almondine had been recommended to us based on their reputation for having some of the best croissants in NYC. The Mr loves him some croissant, so we definitely needed to try them out. The croissant was buttery and flaky and so, in a word, delicious. I also threw in an added bonus of a Passion Fruit Macaron. A perfect little cafe to enjoy high quality french treats and take a break.

Almondine on Urbanspoon