Flashback Friday – 2018 NYC Summer Restaurant Week

TGIF — It’s Flashback Friday and it’s been over six weeks since I’ve last posted here.  Well, it’s restaurant week again and we are entering the last seven days of this high end eating on a budget event.  This year’s restaurant week started on July 23 and ends next Friday, August 17.

Did you know that NYC restaurant week started 26 years ago to welcome the Democratic National Convention (DNC)? We all know who won the election.  Anyways, back to food, NYC restaurant week started with 95 participating restaurants in 1992 to approximately quadrupling to 380 in 2018.  This season, few restaurants in Brooklyn, Queens and even Staten Island are jumping on the bandwagon for this budget friendly opportunity.  This season was disappointing because lunch/brunch meals are only two courses (appetizer with entree or dessert) for $26 and a three course dinner remains at $42.

After 3 weeks of thorough review of 317 menus out of the 380 restaurants, here are the logistics that are broken down into: best lunch, dinner and brunch for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5+ people.  Our criteria is comparing what the restaurant is offering for restaurant week to their daily lunch/dinner/brunch menu; for example, if crudo is part of the regular lunch appetizer menu, we want to see if the restaurant is serving the same item on their restaurant week menu.  Some restaurants are even offering parts of their regular as part of restaurant week, which is a great way to go.

We will begin with the total number of restaurants that are offering the best value meals for lunch, dinner and brunch based on our criteria.

Slide1Personally one of the reasons why I have yet to participate in this year’s restaurant week is because I am on a diet, which I will disclose at some point this weekend. Therefore, we created another table that breaks down the overall number of best value meals to accommodate the vegetarians, pescatarians, people in low carb diets (that’s me) and comfort (those who want to YOLO)!

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Even though I am on a diet, I do plan to take advantage of restaurant week, which is easier said than done because there is no control of how the food is made.  However, with the comfort meal types, the appetizers are either on the vegetarian, pescatarian and low carb side.  The hard part is dessert, which in case, lunch is ideal, but due to my full time job, I can’t take advantage of the lunch offerings this season.

In the past, I have shared my experiences of eating at restaurants for restaurant week and if you need any ideas or suggestions,  below is the list of places I have eaten at for past restaurant weeks:

Capital Grille at all three New York City locations (Grand Central, West 50s and wall Street) their 14 ounce bone-in dry aged sirloin steak is still being offered for this restaurant week.  In addition from now until September 2, Capital Grille is also offering what they call a “Generous Pour”, which costs only $28 for a tasting of seven wines with the purchase of dinner.   The suggestion for this restaurant week:

Lunch for 1: Caesar Salad & Signature Cheeseburger with Truffle Fries

– Dinner for 2: Wedge of Bleu Cheese or Clam Chowder

Bone-In Dry Aged Sirloin Steak  (14oz) w/ Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans

Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon w/ Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake and Creme Brulee

Fonda (Comfort Food) in the East Village has awesome happy hour specials, but for restaurant week it’s a good way to get four friends to get together for drinks and happy times.  Check out my post on what the guacamole, enchilada suizas and dessert (morenitas).

Blenheim (Comfort Food) a Michelin rated restaurant offers a stipulation from my experience eating here two years ago.  The menu changes frequently for the season, which makes it exciting.  This season, a solo dinner is the way to go with the following: Fried Chicken, Pork two ways and Chocolate cremeux.

Tavern 62 by David Burke (Comfort Food) located at the beginning of the Upper East Side is one of the few restaurants that are utilizing their regular menu have new customers try their food and feel that they belong. They have great happy hour specials, where there are $10 burgers and $8 fries.   Check out the pictures and previous write up about the transition from Fishtail to Tavern62 by clicking on the “Tavern 62 by David Burke” link.  I do plan on returning to this restaurant because I feel welcomed but more importantly it’s a great deal for restaurant week and the customer will get their money’s worth.

Other restaurants I definitely want to try are the following:

Smith & Wollensky – Dinner for 4 – Comfort Food

Appetizer: Mixed Green Salad, Caesar Salad, Calamari, and Pea Soup

Entree: Filet Mignon, Lemon Pepper Chicken,  Salmon Waldorf, and Pan Roasted Branzino

Dessert: Cheesecake, Bourbon Pecan Pie, Chocolate Mousse Cake and Coconut Layer Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

Barraca – Dinner for 2 – Pescatarian/Vegetarian

Appetizer: Ensalada de Mercado and Pulpo a Feira

Entree: Paella de Verdura (minimum 2 people) and Paella de Calamares

Desserts: Churros de Rellanos and Corte de Helado

In addition, offering a great $18 wine pairing deal for restaurant.  They are also one of the few restaurants that are offering a three course lunch meal for restaurant week for $26.  Plus, they have a great $6 happy hour menu from 4pm to 7pm.

Nickel and Diner – Dinner for 1 – Pescatarian/Low Carb

Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Chowder

Entree: Ginger Crusted Halibut

Desserts: Honey Semifreddo

In addition, they have a great happy hour menu from 3pm to 7pm.

Lugo Cucina Italiana – Lunch for 2 – Low Carb/Pescatarian/Vegetarian

Appetizer: Kale Mango Salad, Mussels Fra Diavolo

Entree: Salmone Al Forno, Eggplant Parmagiana

Although I may have disappeared here on my own site, but I am posting on my Instragram page: tablespoonsandteaspoons.  Please follow me.

I will continue to strive to post more often here.  Stay tuned….

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday – Spot Dessert Bar

This year I have visited a restaurant that focuses on desserts.  This place has become my favorite go to places if I have a sweet tooth. The unique Asian fusion flavors and elaborate presentations has been recognized by NBC, Zagat and Examiner. 

Each dessert is served to share and it’s $10 per dish.  It’s ideal to go with groups and order the tapas set. I was with a group of girls and we ate at the original Spot Dessert Bar in the East Village.  We ordered a 3 tapas set costing $27.  Below is the three tapas we ordered:

The Harvest

Golden Toast

Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake

Another perk of Spot Dessert Bar is their punch card; so for every $10 or every tapas set ordered a stamp is placed. If you collect 9 stamps, you get a free dessert.  The quickest way to the free dessert is to order the tapas set. I’ve eaten here three times at all the locations and ordered the 3 tapas set each time, which resulted in 9 stamps entitling me to a free dessert tapa on my next trip.  Stay tuned for more….

Flashback Friday – Dessert Professionals Top 10 Pastry Chefs 2017

Happy Friday and since it’s the last day of June we would like to commemorate the official last day of National Candy Month. 

This year’s event featured chocolates sponsored by Guittard. 

Below are images from this year’s event:

Display on how chocolate is made.

Unfortunately I am not at this level yet of baking and preparing dessert. However, I did make an economical quick dessert made for a last minute pot luck gathering or a great cheat treat.  This quick dessert requires only 4 evidence based health friendly ingredients: chocolate brownie mix, Red wine, eggs (optional) and grapeseed or olive oil or butter.  

I prefer to use Ghiaradelli brownie mix, Chianti wine (5 tablespoons), grapeseed oil (8 tablespoons) and 1 egg

Combine all ingredients as instructed on the brownie mix and add mixture to a greased pan

Bake for 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Social Saturday – Dessert Professional Magazine Top 10 Pastry Chefs in the Country 

One year ago, I have had the privilege to attend the the celebration of the top ten pastry chefs in the country hosted by Dessert Professional Magazine at the ICE in downtown New York City.  Below are some of the many favorite highlights from the amazing pastry chefs.  We are very excited to return this year’s event. 

Meatless Monday – Game Plan – Meatless Budget Friendly Dishes Inspired by “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe”

Two Mondays ago, on March 20, I’ve had the privilege to attend the launch of Assouline’s “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe” at La Sirena located in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.  The event was well attended by local TV personalities and celebrities such as Carla Hall from ABC The Chew, Nicky Hilton Rothchild, Timo Weiland, Prosper Assouline, and Alexandre Assouline. 

Artistic and natural images depicting the relationship between art and food were provided by Robyn Lea who was present to sign copies of the book.  Recipes from the cookbook utilizes local and traditional ingredients inspired by the artist’s relationship of food and the New Mexican landscape. 

More importantly I came there to explore and taste the food created by La Sirena’s Michelin starred chef Anthony Sasso. Cocktails were sponsored by VDKA600. 

The food was overall tasty and natural. The recipes provided appear to be user friendly and ingredients are health-friendly and accessible at any supermarket. Unfortunately I was unable to taste everything because of the sacrificial commitment to give up meat for Lent. 

Top: Miss Scarlet “O’Keefe” containing VD600Vodka in Mandarin orange. Bottom: The Tao Margherita

Chilled Gazpacho

Chickpea and Eggplant Casserole with Fresh Basil

Split Pea and Ham appetizer inspired from the Rancho de Abiquiu Split Pea and Ham recipe

Finger food version of the Spaghetti with Pesto Genovese

Steak tartare using ingredients from the Sizzling Bourbon steak with garlic and crushed peppercorn recipe

Pecan Delights

Finger foods inspired by recipes from the book

For the next two weeks, I will be seeking to test out the meatless version of this recipes such as the spaghetti and pesto Genovese and chickpea and eggplant casserole. 

Throwback Thursday – Élan

Recently I have received information from various sources of restaurant closings in New York City.  One of them was a restaurant that was on my list for NYC restaurant week to go to, but unfortunately was booked for the days that I am available to go.  The name of this restaurant is élan and I finally made the effort to explore the restaurant on what I thought was the last day.  The restaurant was only serving a prix fixe menu – 3 course meal for $40.  I had the privilege of meeting one of the owners – George.  George informed me that they are extending business until the end of the month hopefully. Meg, my server for that evening was good, but she could be better.  She neglected to inform me of the other specials that was off the menu that evening.  However, her accommodation and hospitality towards was good.  Meg provided a great sales pitch on the popular dishes to try and her recommendations were on point.

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Three course menu options

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Sea Urchin Guacamole 

The first dish I ordered was the Sea Urchin Guacamole.  The dish caught my eye and I was immediately curious.  I asked Meg, my server, about the dish and she highly recommended it so I went with my gut plus her approval and ordered it.   The dish was beautifully presented, approximately 1 cup of guacamole with a sea urchin in the middle surrounded by taro chips heavily seasoned in sea salt.  Personally I am not a salt fan, but the dish was well balanced.  The saltiness of the taro chips complemented the acidity and sourness of sea urchin mixed with the guacamole.  I devoured the dish.

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Complementary house made everything pretzel w whole grain mustard butter. 

While feasting on my appetizer dish, Meg served me a house made everything pretzel with whole grain mustard butter, which was delicious. Hands down.

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Striped bass in red wine butter sauce with house made fried sage potato chips and snap peas. 

For the main course, I followed Meg’s recommendation of the chef’s special of the day dish, which was off the menu.  I ordered a striped bass, which is pan seared star bass on top of a delightful red wine butter sauce.   I loved the red wine butter sauce.  The fried sage potato chips were cleverly made, a piece of fresh sage leaf sandwiched in between two very thinly sliced potatoes and deep fried.  The dish was beautifully presented and tasted even better than the guacamole appetizer.

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Enjoyed my meal with a 30z sherry wine

 

After reviewing the drink list, I came across this sherry wine that cost only $6 I had to try it.  The sherry wine was just right for my tolerance and went well with what I ate so far.

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Milk chocolate mousse with passion fruit 

For dessert, I decided to once again follow Meg’s recommendation of the milk chocolate mousse.  George, one of the owners, served me the dish.  The dish hit the spot.  It had the right balance of the natural sweets of the passion fruit with the milk chocolate.  What I learned is that this was the first day that they were serving this dish and I was satisfied.  I would definitely order it again.

Overall this was one of best prix fixe meals I have had in a while because every dish tasted better and better.  The food experience left a lasting impression and I am sad that this place was closing.  I told three of my friends and convinced them to come to this restaurant.  Therefore, I will definitely be returning.  Hopefully, they will extend their business until the end of the month.