Flashback Friday – Sweet Chick – LIC

Five months ago my friends from college wanted to do a girls night with dinner at the new and popular chicken and waffle spot in Long Island City called Sweet Chick.  Personally I have heard how popular this place was in Brooklyn, but the one in Long Island City was said to be bigger and more accommodating than its original location.  They are also two additional locations, one in Brooklyn and the other in the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

When my friend contacted me on Saturday afternoon, she informed me that this restaurant did not accept reservations and it was walk in only.  Given my knowledge of this franchise’s popularity, I decided to take a cab to the restaurant.   I was glad I did because the nearest train station was closed for routine weekend repairs.  When I approached the restaurant, there was a line going out the door of people putting their names down on the wait list.  As I got closer to the host inside the restaurant, the host was telling each person on line that the wait was two hours.  When I heard that the wait time was two hours, most people walked out, but I stayed so I can talk to the host and even the manager about wait time, when the restaurant did not appear crowded.  Anyways, I put my name down and the host stated that they would try to reduce my wait time and as more and more people decided to leave, my wait time was reduced to 30 minutes.  Thirty minutes was definitely better than two hours.  By the time, my friends arrived and we were finally seated.  To start, I ordered the Pink Noise cocktail ($12).  The cocktail tasted really good (flavors were well balanced), but strong (there were two maybe three different liquors in this cocktail) and I was buzzed throughout the night despite consumption of the fried chicken and waffles.

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Pink Noise – White Rum, Brut, Luxardo, Rhubarb-Ginger Shrub, Lime and Grapefruit Bitters

Now to the food:

 

For the table we ordered the Crawfish Hush Puppies ($11).  The hush puppies were greasy.  The hush puppies also contained corn, which enhanced the texture.  I loved the jalapeno jam because it complemented the saltiness of the hush puppy.  If you don’t want to feel that you’re eating greasy fried fish fritters, the remoulade sauce was a great addition if you want to mask the oily exterior while embracing the crawfish flavor inside.20180428_1959136262720583375910645.jpg

Crawfish Hush Puppies – Remoulade Sauce, Jalapeno Jam

For those who can’t eat seafood, there are the pork belly nuggets ($10), but personally it was too small of a portion for the price.  It was also forgettable.  Personally it was a failed attempt to create a balanced dish of a sweet marinated pork belly with a pickled fruit and the acidic kimchi.

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Pork Belly Nuggets: Kimchi, Blueberry Balsamic Glaze, Pickled Watermelon

On to the entrees…

We ordered three different chicken and waffles dishes ($19 each); all look really good and interesting.  In addition, you can even design your own chicken and waffles meals. 

  1. Nashville Fried Chicken Waffle – my friend ordered this meal because it was one if not the spiciest meal in the menu.  My friends like their meal, I took a bite of the chicken and it was packed with Southern flavors and spice.  If you like hot and spicy, this is a choice you won’t regret.
  2. Buffalo Fried Chicken Waffle – my friend ordered this meal and tasting a piece of that buffalo fried chicken,  it definitely lived up to its name.  What I mean is that this was definitely a chicken and waffles version of Buffalo Fried Chicken. It is a twist from a classic that will leave you satisfied.
  3. Fried Chicken Parmesan – I am a sucker for cheese so when I saw fresh mozzarella on top of a fried chicken served on a little cast iron plate with tomato sauce, it was over. The mozzarella, basil and parmesan waffle complemented the tomato sauce.

Overall the fried chicken was properly battered and the texture of each bite from three different dishes was very consistent.  Plus, the dish helped alleviate the alcohol buzz from the Pink Noise.

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Nashville Fried Chicken Waffle with Milk Jam Waffle

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Buffalo Fried Chicken Waffle – Celery and Carrot Waffle, Blue Cheese

 

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Fried Chicken ParmesanTomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Basil and Parmesan Waffle

To end our evening of awesome comfort food, we ordered the entire desserts menu.  All the desserts were to die for.  If you want to go towards the healthy route, stick with the blueberry cobbler.  Personally I would choose the Daily Special Donut Ice Cream Sandwich, which was amazing.

I realized why service was slow throughout the evening because the chef was ensuring that every dish that came out of that kitchen was up to par and all of our orders did not disappoint.

After sharing this information here on my blog, I am craving chicken and waffles.  I definitely want to check out the other locations especially the one in the Lower East Side.

Cheers!!!

Social Saturday – 13th Annual American Cancer Society Taste of Hope

On May 10, 2018, I attended the American Cancer Society 13th Annual Taste of Hope event in New York City. I purchased my VIP ticket at $275 which included a gift bag and early access to the food and festivities.  The event had two honorees:  Sarabeth Levine was this year’s culinary honoree and Chef Antonio Prontelli was this year’s survivor honoree.

My top 5 favorite savory tastings from the event were the:

  • The Smith’s Toasted Ricotta Gnocchi with White Truffle Cream
  • Calle Ocho’s Pastelillos Cubanitos
  • Jing Fong’s BBQ Roast Pork Pastry Puffs
  • Casa Nonna’s Siamese Agnolotti
  • L’Amico Fontina Cappelletti with Wild Mushroom and English Peas

My top 5 sweet tastings from the event were the:

  • Bonsai Kakigori’s Strawberries and Cream Kakigori
  • Loi Estiatorio’s Yiaourti Me Meli
  • Melt Bakery’s Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Java Melts
  • Frose & Campari Popsicles

Below are images from the event.

There were a lot more stuff at the event. The event set up gets better and better every year. There were a lot of wine tastings, beer tastings and emerging food companies promoting their products.  More importantly a lot of the food tastings were on the healthier side; there were salad variations, ceviches, and barbecued dishes.

I can’t wait to visit these restaurants during the upcoming restaurant week if they participate.  Stay tuned.

Social Saturday – Andaz Kitchen and Bar – Wall Street

Happy Saturday and I’m counting down the days until I’m able to eat food with refined/processed sugar again. As I stated in my last post, I gave up sugar except for the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables for 40 days for Lent. It’s been really challenging and hard especially this last 10 days with the gatherings for St. Patrick’s Day.

Ten days ago I’ve have had the privilege to see a preview of the food and drink at the revived Andaz Kitchen and Bar at the Andaz Wall Street Hotel in Wall Street. Previously named Dina Rata, which I learned was an Indian name meaning moon. It was deceiving that a place with that name was serving Italian food. Anyways, I preferred the new name.

When I arrived, I was greeted with champagne which I did not drink due to the sugar content. However, I settled for the Chianti which has low sugar, thanks to one of the general managers who suggested the wine as he also gave up sugar. The wine went well with my selection of crudites containing fruits, and vegetables with no hummus, dressing and/or dip to avoid the possibility to ingesting sugar.

I was impressed by the food display and presentation. I loved the color of the vegetables indicating that it is fresh. I also liked the cheese and cold cuts selection.

Next, the passed food samples from the menu, which included a variety of dishes inspired from different cultures including Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Italy and Vietnam.

Below are images of the food created by Executive Chef Pietro Consorti from the event:

Crudites

Cheese and charcuterie display

Tasting plate of cheese and cold cuts

Tasting plate of fresh and colorful vegetables

Bread, butter and anchovies

Jerk Pork Sliders

Toasted prosciutto and baguette

Puntarelle e stracciatella

Panzarella red snapper and green olives

Beef Peccadillo plantains

Fruit berry tart

Rum babba

Flan de leche

Liquid Lab mixology interactive cocktail session setup

It was obvious that I did not eat everything due to the 40 day sugar sacrifice. As a result I did not try anything containing bread and dessert. However, my favorite even from just looking at the menu was the Beef Peccadillo plantains.

Thank you to the management team at Andaz and Andaz Kitchen and Bar including Executive Chef Pietro Consorti for making me feel welcomed. I can’t wait to return and sample the remaining dishes.

Big shout out to the Liquid Lab team for a great demo on making the cocktails, which I could not participate. I do look forward to seeing them in the future.

Stay tuned for more.

Flashback Friday – Winter 2018 NYC Restaurant Week

Today is the last day of NYC Restaurant Week and after reviewing menus and reviews, I was not impressed with the options that were offered this season. Therefore, I was considering skipped this season’s restaurant week. However two of my friends wanted to do restaurant week lunch and dinner. So after getting my arm twisted, I ended up eating a really good lunch at Cut by Wolfgang Puck in Lower Manhattan. My friend wanted to eat there and so I joined her. The service at this restaurant was really good and very accommodating.

For $29, my lunch prix fixe included the following: goat cheese ravioli, crispy quail salad and empire apple crumble.

For dinner, I decided to use my $100 gift card I won at last year’s American Cancer Society Taste of Hope event to eat from Massoni, an Italian/Asian casual fusion restaurant. Service was not par and food was not what I had expected. Furthermore the waiter was terrible, he didn’t know how the food was made and screwed up people’s orders. He suggested items for the $42 prix fixe, which was a bad idea because everything was salty. The waiter too responsibility for his mistake and gave me a free drink and a side dish of squash.

In addition, I took advantage of the happy hour $8 wines until 7pm. I had a Falanghina/fuedi di san gregorio 2014, a white wine and a Barbera/pico maccario 2015, a red wine.

For the $42 salty three course prix fixe dinner, I ordered Biriyani balls, Brussels sprouts pizza, and Snickers cannoli. Let’s put it this way, the cannoli was the best dish out of the three. The first two dishes were so salty that I couldn’t finish it, my friend shared the appetizer with me and I took leftover Brussels Sprouts pizza home.

By far Massoni was probably the worse restaurant week meal I have had and I used the remaining balance on the gift card to order more food to see if their regular menu was better….

My friend ordered the salmon and it was supposed to have potatoes and leeks. Let’s just say the dish was a disappointment because it not only had too much dill but it was salty with very little potatoes and leeks.

If it was not for the gift certificate I would not have eaten at this restaurant. I believe the food needs more work, I have to give the benefit of the doubt that this place opened less than a year ago. Honestly, I would not come back here, there are more restaurants out there to try for better food and service.

Throwback Thursday – Fishtail to Tavern 62

Happy Winter Solstice! Yes it’s officially winter and this year is going by way too fast.  I was reviewing the thousands of pictures taken within the last five years and I’ve come across several pictures taken of my meals eaten at David Burke Fishtail (closed on January 2016), which is now Tavern 62, which opened in October 2016.    Anyways, what I enjoyed eating at both places was the camaraderie vibe between the staff, bartenders and management.  I enjoyed the happy hour deals, well presented entrees and desserts. Food tasting at times varied depending on the day and whose cooking it and whether it was healthy or not is another story.  But anyhow, I am still drawn into eating at this place due to their seasonal changes in menu.  Below is a chronological timeline of some of the dishes consumed at Fishtail and Tavern 62.

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….

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. 

Throwback Thursday – Mixed Berries Dessert

This past Christmas my cousin made of the best cobblers ever and I’ve yet to order one from a restaurant.  This week was the week to clean out the fridge and pantry.  As a result, there were still leftover blueberries and strawberries from New Year’s  and an old fashion fruit cobbler mix purchased on sale from Aldi. Therefore, a decision was made to made a mixed berry cobbler. Totally not being creative here but we followed directions outlined on the cobbler mix. Therefore, the look and taste definitely does not compared to the freshly made cobbler from scratch.  Although this dessert is high on calories it carries some healthy ingredients that have demonstrated resourceful in healing, preventing and evening treating disease, two of which were mentioned in previous posts. 

1 box of the old fashion fruit cobbler mix from Baker’s Corner = <$2 on sale = 110 calories/serving

1 large egg = 70 calories 

strawberries, sliced = 24 calories

16 tbsp blueberries = 85 calories

2 tbsp sugar = 100 calories 

6 tbsp melted butter = 300 calories (50 calories/tbsp. 

Five ingredients used plus sugar

Mix egg with the dry mix using a fork until well blended.

Grease 8×8 pan and lay out the fruit

Sprinkle sugar over the fruit.

Place egg cobbler mixture on top and spread evenly to cover the fruit.

Sprinkle melted butter evenly on top of the cobbler. Place the dish in the over at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Good news: Cleaned out three leftover products from the fridge and pantry (strawberries, blueberries and cobbler mix). 

Mediocre news: Definitely can tell that the taste of the end product came from a prepared mix. 

Take home message: attempt to make a cobbler with available fruit from scratch. 

Flashback Friday – China Grill

Happy Friday! It is time to take full advantage of the summer deals during my vacation.

One of these deals is the bento box lunch special from 12pm-4pm Monday-Saturday at China Grill in New York City.

Did you know that China Grill was around for almost thirty years? Well after one of the best fusion lunches I have had in a while, I can definitely testify to that.

Earlier this week, I caught up with a friend for lunch and both of us were definitely excited to explore the options.  So below are the two bento boxes we created.  Both of us ordered the Peking duck salad and wasabi mashed potatoes.  My friend ordered the dumplings and salmon teriyaki and I was on the noodle box and shrimp red curry.  Our bento boxes were “to die for”, presentation was beautiful but more importantly the taste was on point.  It was definitely worth the $19.87 spent on this meal.

In addition to the bento box, we decided order the popular salted caramel soufflé ($20), which has to be ordered ahead of time and it is served only on the lunch menu.

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Made to order dessert that serves two people available during lunch

After devouring the divine dessert, that was well balanced.  The sponge cake, plus the cream and caramel definitely hit the spot.

It was after 4pm and happy hour begins.  My other friend contacted me and informed me that I have to come here for happy hour.  It turns out she was right.  The menu offers a lot of options for drinks such as cocktails and bar bites from their appetizer menu.  So I settled for the lychee and cucumber cocktail ($8) with the lotus root dumplings ($7).  Both choices were delicious.

Overall service for lunch and happy hour were awesome.  My friend and I were satisfied and I can’t wait to share this experience with my friends and peers.  Cheers to China Grill and their continuing success.  See you soon China Grill!

 

Throwback Thursday – Blenheim

Happy Thursday so as promised and better late than never I will be posting my dining experience from NYC restaurant week.  Although it was painful to see the $4 price hike on a prix fixe meal, I want to get my money’s worth eating a restaurant with a reputation e.g. Zagat rated, Michelin starred.  In my previous post categorizing where I would eat while getting my money’s worth plus collecting bonus OpenTable points.

Well guess what, I did not include a farm to table Michelin rated restaurant called Blenheim.  The reason why this restaurant was not on my list of restaurants to eat during restaurant week was that their menu was not yet posted on their website or NYC.go’s site.  Anyways, the ambiance and West Village location, the restaurant was cozy, local and low key.

Unfortunately I missed the happy hour special, which ends at 6pm but very excited to indulge in their summer cocktail that contains a hashtag called “#WildWestVillage.  This cocktail consists of watermelon, tequila, honey and berry.  At at splurge of this $16 cocktail, one drink was definitely enough but more importantly it was very refreshing.

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Two of my girlfriends joined me in this restaurant week experience.  The restaurant week menu and the regular menu were given with instructions.  If we wanted to order from the restaurant week menu, the whole table had to participate, which we all did.  Now in hindsight, service treatment was biased because we felt that we were not treated as regular customers.  For example, bread was served to us but in a smaller plate compared with the rest of the customers.  My friend actually called it out where our server heard it and the host had to “clean up the mess”.  Anyways, back to the food, the food served during restaurant week was in small portions compared to their a la carte menu.  However the quality of food did not disappoint.  For appetizers, I ordered the poached egg served with beans and asparagus.  My friend ordered the chilled soup and my order friend got the salad.  I had a tasting of all three dishes and they were all good, but my favorite of the three was the poached egg with asparagus and bean.  The presentation was natural and pretty, but more importantly the flavors were perfectly balanced.

One of the major reasons why I wanted to eat here was their english pea agnolotti and was so glad it was part of their restaurant week menu.  In addition to the agnolotti my two other friends ordered the roast chicken and fish dishes.  Portion wise, the agnolotti and chicken entrees had one of the smallest, the best entree buy was the fish.  I loved the agnolotti entree and enjoyed tasting the freshness of the roast chicken and fish entrees.

Blenheim’s restaurant week menu dessert did not have many options so we went with the waitress’s suggestion of the honey semifreddo and the suggestion was spot on.   The portion size of this dish was also good.  The semifreddo and the fresh wholeness of the berries with honey was a great end to the meal. 20160728_202921

I would actually return to the restaurant just to have another order of the agnolotti regardless of the mediocre service.  But it would be interesting to actually see whether I would be served differently if I ordered from the regular menu than from the restaurant week menu.  Time will only tell…