Meatless Monday – Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant Week Summer 2017 Game Plan

Happy Monday! With halfway through NYC restaurant week, I’m playing catch up. Over the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve been thoroughly reviewing 337 out of the 390 menus for this season’s restaurant week. This week I will be blogging my picks that I believe is the best bang for your buck.  

In addition, if you have an American Express credit card you can register your card to get an extra $5 off your meal purchase of $35 or more for up to 4x for restaurant week.  

If you have instagram you can take pictures of your prix fixe course and tag #NYCrestaurantweek for a daily chance of winning a $50 gift card. 

So let’s get to it:

Since it is Meatless Monday, I came up with seven (7) participating restaurants that you can enjoy a three course vegetarian meal for either $29 or $42. 

Here’s the game plan for vegetarians who want to enjoy NYC restaurant week:

Three course Prix Fixe Vegetarian Options picks for NYC Restaurant Week.

1) Acme – $42 3-course  dinner    

    Appetizer: Caesar Salad

    Entree: Baked Rigatoni 

    Dessert: Affrogato

2) Casa Lever – $42 3-course dinner 

    Appetizer: Caprese or Insalata Di  Barbabietole

    Entree: Gnudi or Cacio e Pepe or Arrabbiata

    Dessert: Mix Your Berries or Formaggi

3) Distilled NY – $29 brunch (Sunday)

     Appetizer: Housemade Granola or Fresh Start Salad

     Entree: Mushroom and Cheese Enchilada

     Dessert: Blueberry Semolina Cake or Earl Grey Panna Gotta

4) Empellon Taqueria – $42 dinner 

     Appetizer: Little Gem Lettuce with Toasted Corn or Carrots with Achiote and Coconut Crema

     Entree: Mixed Mushrooms with Pasilla Chile taco or Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Almond 

     Dessert: Passion Fruit Curd with Citrus, Mezcal and Meringue. 

5. Felice 64 – $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Arancini (lunch), Crostone Ricotta (dinner)

    Entree: Spaghetti al Pesto or Fusilli so Ferretto 

    Dessert: Gelati e Sorbetti

6) La Pecora Blanca –  $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Cauliflower (lunch) or Toscano (dinner)

    Entree: Toscano (lunch) or Orata (dinner)

    Dessert: Ricotta Cheesecake

7) Sant Ambroeus Soho  $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Tofu “Ricotta”

    Entree: Linguine Cacio e Pepe

    Dessert: Torta Do Frutta

Out of the 7 restaurants, I’ve only eaten at Empellon Taqueria and their Brussels sprouts with Toasted Almond taco was so good but the portions are very small, definitely pricey for $14 for 2 tacos. 

Looking forward to blogging more restaurant options this week. Enjoy and stay tuned! 

Throwback Thursday – Villa Erasmo – Middle Village, NY

It is been awhile since I posted something food related. There were several projects that were going on simultaneously in the last six months. One of these projects was serving as a committee member for my local parish’s Jubilee gala. To celebrate the successful execution of the event, the committee was treated to a four course prix fixe dinner at Villa Erasmo located in Middle Village, N.Y.

Villa Erasmo (69-61 Juniper Blvd South Middle Village, NY 11379) is a secret find Italian restaurant located past Juniper Valley Park.  

We went on a Tuesday night and I was 45 minutes, thanks to a broken rail at one subway stops. Anyways, the four course meal was good overall, but have had better versions of each dish. The bread was very very good.  Portions of each dish were perfect where there were no leftovers. Service was overall great and very accommodating. I would personally like to return to thr restaurant and explore the rest of the menu. 

Here’s the four course meal that I ordered: 

Appetizers: Eggplant rollatini and butternut squash agnolotti. 

The eggplant rollatini was a good start to the dinner experience. It had a the right amount of cheese and eggplant balance. It hit the spot. 

Butternut squash agnolotti was something I did not expect. The dish looked like two ravioli, this was my least favorite dish. 

Entree: Veal with mushrooms and artichoke hearts

The veal entree was also unexpected but in a good and healthy way. The taste of the veal, mushroom and artichoke hearts all together in sauce was well balanced especially eating it together in one bite. 

Dessert: Tiramisu

The dessert definitely hit the spot with a great balance of whipped cream, cocoa and rum. The dessert definitely went well with a cup of tea to end the night as the restaurant was closing. 

Eggplant rollatini

Butternut squash

Veal entree with mushrooms and artichoke hearts

Tiramisu

Stay tuned for more food adventures both at home and on the road. 

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…

Throwback Thursday – Fonda – East Village

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Also did you know that it is National Enchilada Day! Personally I have not eaten enough enchiladas at restaurants because I usually go for nachos, quesadillas and tacos.  However, two summers ago, I decided to take advantage of the summer restaurant week at Fonda an urban Mexican restaurant located in the East Village location.  They have two other locations, one in Chelsea and the other in Park Slope (Brooklyn).  The restaurant was a winner of the 2014 “Love New York” Awards and the 2015 winner for Diner’s Choice from OpenTable.  I recalled visiting the restaurant on a weeknight and they had a great deal on a prix fixe that included a margarita.  The items listed below are still on the menu.  Also, this was the first and only time I actually ordered an enchilada as recommended by my server.

Cocktail: Frozen Rosalita Margarita $11; $7 happy hour

Appetizer: Guacamole $12.95 dinner; $7 happy hour

Entree: Enchiladas Suizas $19.95 dinner

Dessert: Morenitas $7.95 dinner

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I believed that the prix fixe was offered on either a Monday or Tuesday evening during happy hour.  The portion size were exact for one person.  The overall food experience started well and expectations was diminishing by the end of dessert.  My favorite items out of the four images were the rosalita and the guacamole.  The enchilada was on the greasy side and the morenita was way too sweet especially after the consuming the dishes I had prior.  I have not returned to the restaurant and yet to try the other two locations.  The happy hour and daily specials are appealing in the East Village location so since I enjoyed the drinks and the guacamole, I would definitely return on a Sunday night for the Guac and Cocktail Sunday Special.

As mentioned in my Sunday Game Plan – 1st week of May, I plan on making enchiladas to commemorate National Enchilada Day, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I decided to make this dish over the weekend – Mother’s Day weekend possibly.  Stay tuned!

Flashback Friday – Capital Grille

Happy Friday! Continuing on the same vein on beef consumption, this is the perfect opportunity to post a flashback Friday blog. NYC restaurant week is still on and as previously mentioned the best deals is during lunch right? Well with a full time job during the day and a hour lunch break there is no opportunity to really take advantage of the restaurants that only offer lunch Monday to Friday.  So after doing extensive research on menus for restaurant week some steakhouses offer the best deals.  Recently decided to head to Capital Grille for dinner.  For $38 you get a three course meal, a choice of appetizer, main course and dessert. Keep in mind this was a huge calorie meal this is not recommended for daily consumption.  So the Capital Grille three course meal totaling 1300 calories included the following:

Appetizer:
Clam Chowder = 280 calories
Main Entree:
Dry Aged Sirloin Steak 14 0z. = 620 calories
Dessert:
Creme Brulee = 400 calories

Below is picture of this delightful meal:

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NYC Restaurant Week Anticipation

It’s been a busy week but I have been reminiscing my happy days of eating out.  One of my hobbies to this day is taking advantage of NYC Restaurant Week.   NYC Restaurant Week is back and starting from January 18th – February 5th, participating restaurants will be promoting three course meals at a bargain price ($25 for lunch/brunch and $38 dinners) Mondays – Sundays.  Over the past 10 years, I have had the pleasure of eating at high end restaurants at a bargain price.  Ideally, the best deals for NYC restaurant week is lunch/brunch and one of my favorite restaurants, which took about two years to get reservations, David Burke Kitchen in Soho.  My very first experience at a David Burke restaurant was at David Burke Kitchen for dinner back in 2012 thanks to Celebrity Chef David Burke who I have had the pleasure of meeting at a library earlier in the year.  This very first experience introduced me to the famous Frozen Arnold Palmer created by Zac Young.  I loved the Frozen Arnold Palmer so much that I have to make one trip every summer just to have it.

During NYC restaurant week, David Burke Kitchen utilizes their current menu as part of their restaurant week menu.  In translation, this means that there is no separate menu for restaurant week, one can choose an appetizer, main entree and dessert from their regular menu.  As a result, reservations would sell out days after the promotions were released. During the past two years, I have had the privilege of eating lunch for restaurant week at David Burke Kitchen.  Food, service and staff were on point.  The first restaurant week lunch I had was at their Garden. For the appetizer, I ordered the Kale Salad, which was healthy and had a good portion serving; the dressing balanced the dish very well.  Kale and cashew are two of my personal favorite kinds of food. For the entree, I went hearty by ordering the Short Rib with Homemade Cavatelli Pasta.  The short ribs were tender and the cavatelli just melted it my mouth.

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NYC Restaurant Week Lunch 2013: Kale salad, Short Rib Cavatelli & Frozen Arnold Palmer

The following summer, I returned to the same restaurant for lunch and took advice from my waitress and went with the BBQ chicken dumplings for the appetizer and the classic Kitchen burger with fries for entree. For the dessert in both occasions, I always turn to the Frozen Arnold Palmer, the refreshing end to my meal.

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BBQ chicken dumplings

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Kitchen Burger

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Frozen Arnold Palmer

It is amazing how a year changes, and now I am excited to explore new restaurants such as The Wayfarer for restaurant week lunch to support E Squared Hospitality and David Burke.  In addition, David Burke will be hosting a Signature Chef Series at on Wednesday January 20th entitled “Tip to Tail”, it will be a 5 course meal of beef with wine pairing, I’m so excited to come and support David’s work.