Sunday Game Plan: NYC Restaurant week Winter 2020 & Long Island Restaurant Week

Happy Chinese New Year! So another health issues popped up and with one week of restaurant week already gone, it is time to give my game plan. This game plan is the Winter 2020 NYC Restaurant Week which began on January 21 and will end on Sunday February 9. Two course lunch/brunch is $26 and a three course dinner is $42.

After reviewing over 290 menus out of the 364 restaurants participating, there were a lot of restaurants continuing to participate plus several new ones. So, here is my plan for this year’s winter restaurant week adventure:

1) The Carlyle in the Upper East for dinner for two. This is the first time that they are participating for restaurant week. Definitely want to try their yellowfin tuna, beet salad, chicken, gnocchi and lavender creme brulee. In addition and it’s optional the wine pairing for all three dishes will be an additional $36.

2) Felidia in Midtown/Upper East Side is a great Italian restaurant with a connection to the Vatican because the owner Lidia Bastianich has served food to past three popes during their visits to New York. Personally I have eaten here this past summer for the Italian Restaurant Week and it will be interesting on how I will be treated because I experienced subtle inequality and slight discrimination when I dined there alone. Reservations go by very quickly.

3) Catch Steak is another restaurant under the Catch corporation located in Meatpacking is also participating in restaurant week for the first time for dinner. All three items chosen for their prix fixe are also sold a la carte. The ambiance of the place is awesome for pictures and girls night out.

4) Manhatta is a hard to get in restaurant under the Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group located in Lower Manhattan. They are also participating in restaurant week for lunch. Miraculously, I managed to get a reservation for a very early lunch. For my solo lunch, I definitely want to try the snails and lamb burger. Out of all the restaurants that are on this list, this is the one I am most excited about.

5) Aburiya Kinnosuke in Midtown is also participating in restaurant week for the first time and will be going for dinner for two. Definitely want to try their tofu, vegetable stir fry, black cod, chicken thigh, Shiratama Amitsu ice cream and mochi ice cream.

6) Ambassador Grill and Lounge located in the Millennium Hotel in the UN is also participating in restaurant week. All three items chosen for their prix fixe are also sold a la carte.

Due to time and obligations, I will not be able to eat at other restaurants this time around, so here is my wish list for restaurants to try: Cathedrale, David Burke Tavern, Tuome, Bann, Woodpecker, Cafe Boulud, Danji, Charlie Palmer Steak, Club A Steakhouse, and DB Bistro Moderne.

Now we will shift gears to Long Island Restaurant Week and over 175 restaurants will be participating. A three course prix fixe will cost $29.95. The awesome thing about this restaurant week is that they will be offering it on Saturdays until 7pm. Given that this restaurant week is coinciding with NYC restaurant week, it’s going to be difficult to participate. Therefore, here are my choices for this restaurant week: Red Salt in Garden City, Luigi’s in New Hyde Park and Imperial Meat Company in Huntington.

Stay tuned on my Instagram: tablespoonsandteaspoons and Twitter: spoonstt for posts during this adventure.

Meatless Monday – David Burke Tavern

Last week I decided to make solo trip to David Burke Tavern in the Upper East Side in Manhattan. The former Fishtail location will be one of the participating restaurants for the upcoming NYC restaurant week starting tomorrow.

One of the entrees that will be offered during restaurant week is the celery root ravioli. The dish consists of grapes, pickled celery and winter black truffles. This homemade dish is well balanced especially when all the elements are combined.

Celery Root Ravioli

Stay tuned for the Restaurant Week Game Plan.

Flashback Friday- NYC Restaurant Week – Bread & Tulips

Happy 2020! Can’t believe that we are halfway in the first month of the year! What’s even more exciting is next week is NYC Winter Restaurant week. One of the restaurants that will be participating during the restaurant week is Bread and Tulips.

Over the summer, my friend and I had dinner at this hot spot in Gramercy. They had happy hour until 7pm for discounted drinks. We came on a Monday evening during the summer and the place was dead. Service was on point in terms of knowledge and efficiency.

– Appetizers: To start, we took advantage of the restaurant week wine bottle special for $35. The wine was very good and the waiter re-corked the bottle to take home because we could not finish a bottle of wine. We ordered the crab cakes and Tuscan kale salad. The crab cakes were very good overall, the only comment I would say is that it was a little salty but all the components are well balanced if consumed in one bite. My friend got the Tuscan Kale Salad, which was really good, refreshing and healthy. Out of the two dishes, the kale salad was the better of the two.

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Crab Cakes
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Tuscan Kale Salad
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Restaurant Week Wine Special: $35 bottle wine – Campos de Riscas Estate Wine Organic Monasyrell – Syrah

– For the entree, we ordered the seared sea scallops and Long Island duck. The scallops was really good and the flavors were well balanced. Meanwhile my friend got the duck which was amazing and very lean. Out of the two dishes, the duck was the better of the two. That duck was to die for and personally I could see that dish become inconsistent if it was a busy night. Plus both dishes went well with the wine.

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Seared Sea Scallops with asparagus and pancetta vinaigrette
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Long Island Duck – Braised red cabbage, marcona almonds, sage and balsamic

The desserts were to awesome. The tartufo is amazing and with the lemon flavor and currents and walnut texture, the dish was a perfect end to my prix fixe. My friend got the chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut gelato, which was flawless.

Tartufo al Limoncello
Chocolate mousse and hazelnut gelato

Personal note, go on a non-busy night; given the restaurant’s reputation I can foresee regular people like us could get ignored and getting subpar service. The night we went it was dead (10 people were dining that evening).

Bread & Tulips is one of the over 300 restaurants participating in the upcoming NYC restaurant week starting from January 21 – February 7.

Stay tuned for suggested restaurants for this restaurant week….

Meatless Monday – Keste on Fulton

I have heard great things about Keste in the Village in Manhattan. I was thrilled when they decided to open another location in downtown Manhattan. This location is pretty hidden. The address states Fulton, but it is hidden behind bushes and plants and you would have to walk down a side street to enter the restaurant.

I have been to Keste several times because they awesome fresh personal pies, but they must be consumed before it gets cold. The chef/owner uses fresh ingredients and native techniques to execute a personal pie like no other. The place also holds pizza making classes and other food events.

What is awesome about this place was their $5 personal margherita pie. Here’s the catch, to get the discount, this pie must be eaten in the restaurant.

The place also has happy hour until 7pm and they have drink specials and complementary food samples.

If you want to splurge, the truffle pizza aka the Montanara Truffle $20, which has the perfect balance of truffle to mozzarella. Decadent and delightful!!

A great place for lunch, dinner, get together with friends of all food types meaning they have gluten free pizzas. A place worth eating and a bang for your buck!!

Throwback Thursday – Thai Villa – NYC

I finally made it to this amazing restaurant.  This amazing Thai restaurant gets really crowded and they do not take reservations on Fridays and Saturdays.  Plus, reservation are taken only for more than 6 people.  Therefore, I highly recommend that if there is a group make sure that everyone shows up on time or else you will have to wait a long time.  Wait time can go over two hours.  It’s a great place to have dinner with a group of friends. 

Food was amazing and service was on point for a very busy restaurant.  While I waiting for my friends, I had the mango sunrise mocktail, which was very refreshing and held me over until everyone showed up.  Once all my friends showed up, we were finally seated. 

Mango Sunrise

Once we were seated, we decided to go family style after observing other diners’ main order entrees.  To start we ordered the:

Pak Mor Puk ($9): Vegetable crepe dumplings made up of chives, cabbage, jicama, black mushrooms and bamboo shoots and served with roasted bell pepper-peanut vinaigrette dipping sauce. These dumplings are served in few Thai restaurants and is dish that is served to Thai royal families.  The dumplings are to die for.  I wish there would be more than four dumplings per order, but watching how these dumplings are assembled and made, it’s no easy task, hence the price of the appetizer. 

Pak Mor Puk ($9)

Por Pia Tod ($9): Crispy vegetable spring rolls made up of glass noodles, taro root, shiitake mushrooms and served with plum sauce. These spring rolls were standard and solid.  They come 6 rolls per order. 

Por Pia Tod ($9)

Sa Koo Sai Moo ($11): Tapioca dumplings stuffed with minced pork, peanuts and sweet turnips and served with green leaf lettuce.  Another dish that takes a lot of time to make let alone master.  There are five dumplings per order.  These dumplings are the best finger food/bite I have had and there are only a few restaurants that do it correctly, this is one of them.  Definitely worth the $11. 

Sa Koo Sai Moo ($11)

Spicy Chicken Wings ($14): Deep fried marinated tom yum flavor wings with Thai herbs garnished. These wings are a bit messy but tasty. Unsure if it’s worth $14 for 5 wings. 

Spicy Chicken Wings ($14)

Chicken Satay ($11): Grilled marinated chicken on skewers, served with peanut sauce, cucumber relish, and grilled brioche. The dish was standard, glad that the dish included the grilled brioche to make is more complete.  The peanut sauce is really good made the overall dish well balanced. 

Chicken Satay ($11)

For the entrees we shared the following:

Chicken with Cashew Nut ($17): Spicy chicken with pineapple, jicama, cashew nut, roasted bell pepper, scallions and chili jam. Served with jasmine rice.  The dish was very good and authentically spicy enough for the Thai American crowd that could handle spice. 

Chicken with Cashew Nut ($17)

Kaeng Neur Lamyai Bai Chapoo ($27): Braised jarret beef, betel leaves, curry paste, coconut milk and longan meat, served with Jasmine rice.  This dish is not served in many Thai restaurants, but it was definitely worth the price.  The dish had well balanced flavors and the right amount of spice kick which complemented well with the rice. 

Kaeng Neur Lamyai Bai Chapoo ($27)

We also ordered a side of Steamed Assorted Vegetables ($5), which was a good amount for the price and it complemented the spicy entrees. 

Steamed Assorted Vegetables ($5)

Finally, the dish I have been wanting to try and waited over 10 years is Royal Pad Thai ($24) which is pad thai encapsulated in a crepe.  In this case, this dish is made of prawns, shallots, bean sprouts, chive leaves, peanut bean curd and dried shrimp wrapped in net. The dish is beautifully presented and definitely worth the price because it could feed more than one person.  A one of a kind.

Royal Pad Thai $24

Throwback Thursday- 14th Annual American Cancer Society Taste of Hope

On May 23, 2019, I had the privilege to attend the American Cancer Society 14th Annual Taste of Hope event in New York City. I purchased my VIP ticket in person at $300 which included a gift bag and early access to food and drink. This year’s event had four honorees: Dana Cowin was this year’s Survivor Honoree. She served as Editor-in-Chief for Food and Wine Magazine from 1995-2016. She recently launched “Speaking Broadly”, a podcast that focuses on highlighting and linking amazing women in the food industry. There were two culinary honorees: The first honoree was Ralph Scamardella, Partner and Chef of the TAO Group. The TAO Group consists of restaurants such as TAO Uptown, TAO Downtown, LAVO, Dream Downtown, Dream Midtown, and Legasea in New York City alone. The Group also have restaurants in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The second honoree was Michael Lomonaco, Chef/Partner of Porter House Grill and Bar and Center Bar both located in the Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle. Recently, he opened the Hudson Yards Grill in Hudson Yards. Finally, we had a corporate honoree. This year’s honoree was Otto Cedeno founder of Otto’s Tacos. Otto’s Taco has been part of the American Cancer Society community for the past three years and is known for his awareness for Breast Cancer Month every October by selling “pink” tacos.

There were lots of food especially lobster which I am allergic to. Since I had a heavy steak meal the night before I went pescatarian for this event. Therefore, here are my favorite savory and sweet tastings from the event:

Sen Sakana – Nikkei Ceviche
Nobu Fifty – Seven Salmon Pastrami
Delicatessen – Tuna Tartare
Boulud Sud – Cured Faroe Island Salmon
Jora Restaurant and Bar – Quinoa Solterito
Drunken Fruit Products
Magnolia Bakery – Mini Banana Pudding Cups
Loi Estiatorio – Yiaourti Me Meli
Sarabeth – Chocolate Mousse
Serendipity 3 – Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate

For an event that was held at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, it was a success. Personally I cannot wait for next year’s 15th Annual Taste of Hope event scheduled to take place on Thursday May 21, 2020. Stay tuned for more details for details.

Meatless Monday – Red Salt Room by David Burke

A few days ago my fiance and I finally had dinner here at Red Salt Room in Garden City, NY. The restaurant was fairly quiet that evening which made it easier to talk. The food was more expensive than King’s Bar but you will be paying for a tasting on a budget. The chef/owner, GM Steve and our waitress/server Christine were very accommodating and took care of us. Service was fairly quick and although the presentation of the dishes appeared small they were deceivingly filling. We ordered a salad, and two sides.

Salad: We were curious with the heirloom tomato and ricotta salad because it was different from the heirloom tomato and burrata salad served from other restaurants. The presentation of the dish was deceivingly small but artistically whimsical. It is a healthy dish consisting a huge slice of tomato that could pass for a tomato steak on top of pesto with grilled peaches and ricotta on the side. The overall dish tasted good as individual components but combining all the components together makes the bite and taste complete.

Side dishes: We ordered truffle steak frites and tomato gratin. The flavor of the truffle steak frites were reminiscent of the truffle fries I had back in the day in David Burke Townhouse. I do miss the truffle fries, but I knew what I was getting myself into whem I ordered the steak frites and thank you Christine for the heads up about the thickness of the potatoes. The steak frites can serve as a main dish for one or a side dish to share with 2 or more people. My fiance was curious about the tomato gratin our waitress Christine was knowledgable and raved about the dish. The dish was definitely sharable for 2 or more people it is reminiscent of a chicken parmigiana without the chicken. We loved the tomato gratin and a great semi low carb vegetarian dish to order.

I definitely want to return one weekend for brunch and the next Long Island Restaurant Week.

Throwback Thursday – Filipino, Italian and Eat Thai Visit Thai Restaurant Week

Happy 4th of July! As we celebrate freedom and the birth of America, we believe that over the span of 200 years, our country has become a melting pot with a diverse group of immigrants, first/second generation children building their legacy. What better way to honor and pass on traditions through food. So let’s begin with:

Filipino Restaurant Week, which took place from May 13th thru May 26th. They have a three course lunch and three course dinner special. We chose a place called Grill 21 in the Gramercy section of NYC. They had a three course deal for $35 for two people. So below was the following:

Shanghai Lumpia

Combo set of BBQ Chicken meal

Buko pandan (young coconut and pandan leave mixture)

Combo set: Kare kare (beef oxtail in peanut and vegetable sauce)

The food was good, service was very quick and reservations were strict. It was definitely great deal plus I had leftovers for the next day.

The next place(s) we went to was for Italian Restaurant Week took place from June 1-8 of this year. It was a eight-day celebration of authentic Italian cuisine. Three course lunch was $29.99 and three course dinner was $49.99. We were privileged to have dinner at two restaurants that were participating: Felidia and Barbalu.

Let’s start with a solo dinner at Felidia which was a pretty nice restaurant. It has 3 floors, the first floor is the bar and section for regular and high end clientale. The second floor is where all the new people/tourists sat. The third floor we believe was where private events would take place. When I entered the restaurant the hostess and staff were polite but I sensed there’s a type of prejudice. The hostess sat me in the corner with my back turned to the crowd. After a few minutes, the server saw me and repositioned me to let me enjoy the ambiance of the place. The server was really nice and accommodating. So below is what I ate from the restaurant:

Complementary bread with beans and hummus

Capasante – scallops with vegetables

Vitello

Tiramisu

Complementary cookies

Service and staff needs work but the food is one of the best Italian foods ever. Everything I ate was cooked to perfection. If I had to choose, the vitello was the dish I have ever had and the tiramisu was my second favorite. I would definitely return to this restaurant for the upcoming NYC restaurant week starting July 22 through August 16.

The second restaurant we went to was Barbalu located in the South Street Seaport. This husband and wife restaurant was rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy after their original restaurant was completely destroyed. We went for dinner and their three course dinner was only $42. The food was overall good especially for a local small business spot. Service was definitely better than Felidia. So below is what we ordered:

Appetizer special: Bresaola with arugula

Pear and Ricotta Fagottini with Cream and Truffle Oil

Tartufo Gelato

My favorite out of the three was the pasta entree because all the flavors balanced out and the fagottini was freshly made. This restaurant is perfect for freshly made pasta plus they also have gluten free pasta. Personally I would come back for a group dinner.

Finally OpenTable provided a promo from Thailand Insider called #Eatthaivisitthai restaurant week which is occurring now until July 15. Thailand Insider is holding a contest where you take a picture(s) of the food eaten at the participating restaurant(s) and hashtag #Eatthaivisitthai, tag “Thailand Insider” and a foodie friend to join in. The prize is a 10 day culinary trip to Thailand. So, I went on a solo dinner to Somtum Der in the East Village to take advantage of their happy hour. For happy hour it was 1/2 price drinks and $6 fried chicken thigh. In addition I ordered the thai tea panna cotta and larb moo spring roll.

Mangosteen martini

Fried Chicken Thighs

Thai Ice Tea Panna Cotta

Po Pia Larb Moo

The restaurant is closed from 4-6pm and it opens at 6pm sharp. Since I was dining alone I had the option to sit on the stool or on a table so I chose the table. Once I sat on the table I felt that service was rushed. Other than the rushed service the food was on point. I was impressed by the mangosteen martini especially with the price the quality of the drink (balance of juice with alcohol). I would definitely return to this place with friends to try their som tum and suggested combination sets.

Sunday Game Plan – Diet plan for one week

Hello everyone! So tomorrow is July 1st and this is the perfect time to make a change with the end goal being weight loss and eventually getting into my dresses comfortably.

After doing some research I read an article from Woman’s Day regarding a 6 day summer weight loss program and as much I want to replicate the plan, I have to do some modifications because I had to work with what I had. In addition, I will be traveling back and forth so planning healthy meals will be tough. The article set a plan where the most calories come from dinner. The calorie outline listed on the article was 300 calories for breakfast, 400 calories for lunch, 500 calories for dinner and 150 calories for snacks. Therefore the total calorie intake is 1350 calories.

For this week’s game plan, I have listed meals for 7 days instead of 6. In addition I didn’t count calories so I am unsure if I went over the total calorie intake. So below is the list of breakfast, lunch and dinner meal plan for the week.

Pictures of these proposed meals will be posted on my Instagram: tablespoonsandteaspoons.

Wish me luck and stay tuned!!

Social Saturday – 2019 Queens International Night Market

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Almost two months ago we were privileged to attend the preview of this year’s Queens International Night Market behind the New York Hall of Science inside Flushing Corona Park in Queens. With a small fee $5 which went to charity, we get the opportunity to taste dishes from returning and new food vendors. Founder John Wang, started the International Night Market back in 2015 in the effort to create a cultural event to celebrate the diversity of immigrants and small businesses. The Night Market was designed to sell dishes at a cap of $6 and in the beginning of this project, I’ve learned that half of the proceeds were going to be donated.

On April 27, there were 54 food vendors that participated in the event. The vendors came from various countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Colombia, Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Mexico, Moldova, Malaysia, Ukraine and Indonesia. In addition, to the diverse food options, there were unique food creations such as the Moffle Bar and Twister Cake.

This was my fourth time I visited the Night Market and this time my goal was to taste the food at Burmese Bites. This vendor always had a long line because you get your money’s worth. Portion sizes were shareable. So finally we were able to order a dish from Burmese Bites. Burmese Bites were selling three dishes and we ordered the Keema Palata for $6. The dish tasted authentic and really good plus it fed two people, the portion size appeared deceivingly small but it was extremely filling.

During our visit to the Night Market, we sampled food from 7 out of the 54 food vendors. We just want to disclose that healthy food choices during this visit did not cross our minds as we were embracing the diversity that was celebrated through cultural and even fusion dishes. Below are the dishes that we tried that stood out from the event. The total cost of the dishes below we spent was: $40 for two people, which was not bad for 7 different dishes.

There were five other dishes we tried including the Pho Ga (chicken pho soup) from Em Vietnamese for only $5. The soup was really good especially that it was cold that night. The soup was also hot, fresh and filling.

We were already full at this point so we walked to various vendors and we spotted another vendor that we wanted to try: Jibarito Shack which is a Latin food vendor that served sandwiches using fried plaintains instead of bread. As a result we decided to split a low carb sandwich. We ordered the El Dominicano made with roast pork, pickled onions, queso frito and Dominican salami for only $5. The sandwich was definitely low carb but the first two dishes we had previously were better.

We also checked another new vendor called KINIKorean Dakgangjeong & Ganjang Chicken. We ordered the Ganjang (not spicy) fried chicken $5. The chicken was messy but tasty however it wasn’t as crispy as Bon Chon.

The next place we tried again was Joon a Persian rice cup spot that can be filled up with various flavors. We got the Pomegranate Walnut Chicken and Tumeric Beef and Eggplant at $6 each. Personally I like overcooked rice which is a little dried but other people didn’t like it. In addition, the proportion or balance of meat with sauce to rice was uneven meaning that there was more rice leftover after eating the meat(s). The leftover rice had no flavor and once it got cold, the taste was not the same once served hot.

For dessert we went to Wembie for some awesome Farmer cheese donuts ($4). The donuts definitely hit the spot.

We ended the night with Ecuadorean dark chocolate from Element Truffles. These chocolates were raw, organic and dairy free. We ordered a small dark chocolate bar with sea salt and tumeric for $3.

The Queens International Night Market runs every Saturday night starting at 5pm until midnight starting now until August 17 and September 28 thru October 26. It’s free and prices for each food item is capped at $6.