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….

 

 

 

Flashback Friday – Dosas

Happy Friday! Although it is National Dessert Day, I have been fascinated about the popular Indian street food – Dosa.  When I first saw this dish, I was overwhelmed by the how big it is.  It is mostly served as a meal for a good part of the day.  Personally I have consumed it as an early dinner.

Dosas also known as Dosai is an ancient Tamil dish.  This gluten free, vegetarian street food dish is made up of rice and lentils.  Therefore, there are health benefits in its consumption.   Dosas are a good source of carbohydrates and protein that will last the whole day.  It is a lengthy process to make dosas and I don’t think that I will be making one anytime soon.  Therefore, I will be leaving this up to the pros.

Recently, I have had the experience of consuming this vegetarian dish at two places in New York City.   One famous spot world is Saravana Bhavan.  There are two locations in New York City (Manhattan).  This restaurant does not need an introduction because it is well known throughout India; the establishment of this franchise was made a controversial person who is banned from leaving India because he was convicted of murder.  This is to show that as long the food is good it does not matter where it originated from. But if you don’t want to be traumatized,  I visited another spot, which is located in Queens called Hillside Dosa Hutt.  This neighborhood spot is in the heart of the Indian community. The cashier that served us was hospitable and knowledgeable about Dosas.  Hillside Dosa Hutt was recently listed on the Eater list of the top 60 cheap eats places in NYC. 

Hillside Dosa Hutt – Marsala Dosa $5.50 (Top Left) and Paneer Bhurji Masala Dosa $9.00 (Bottom left) Saravana Bhavan $9.99- Marsala Dosa (Top right)  and Onion Chili Rava Dosa $10.99 (Bottom right)

Portions of each dosa were huge. I have not been able to finish a whole dosa in one sitting.  If you want more variety then Saravan Bhavan is the place to go, but for a quick meal on a budget then Hillside Dosa Hutt will suffice. 

 

 

 

Flashback Friday – Central Bar Happy Hour – NYC

Happy Friday!! A few months ago I stopped by my colleague’s happy hour birthday party at Central Bar, which is an Irish bar in NYC.  It was a Friday night during Lent, where I decided to give up cheese and can’t eat meat.  In addition, I was on a diet.  Given the situation, I was limited to what I can order.  After scrolling the menu and I was impressed of the happy hour drink specials.  So I decided to participate by ordering the following:

Sweet potato fries $6 – House made sweet potato fries and chipotle mayo

Spiked Arnold Palmer $6 (happy hour) and $9 regular price – Firefly Sweet tea Vodka  and housemade lemonade

20160226_190557Food and drink was worth the price for happy hour.  The Spiked Arnold Palmer was well-balanced with tea/lemonade mixture and the vodka.  The sweet potato fries were perfect to absorb the alcohol content.

Personally, I love sweet potato fries and I was inspired to make my own, but I came across a product when I visited Trader Joes for only $2.29 for a 15 oz. package.  The package serves 5 people and each serving size is 3 ounces.  Now 3 ounces is equivalent to 5 tablespoons.  The fries were very good and well coated.

Recently there was a video posted on Tasty on making sweet potato fries.  Below is my product of the recipe.  Texture was crispy as I was mixing in the garnishes of salt, cheese and parsley.  The addition of cornstarch definitely added crispiness to the fries.  I just need more practice on mastering this dish.  Meanwhile, I will definitely stick to ordering at a restaurant or bar especially at Central Bar.

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Sweet potato fries are a healthy snack.  The history and health benefits on consumption are posted on my Meatless Monday post, which was also National Potato Lover’s Day.

Now that Lent is over, I would definitely return to Central Bar and take advantage of the drink specials and their potentially health friendly meat/cheese dishes.