Throwback Thursday – 2019 NYC Winter Restaurant Week

Hello once again! This month was very adventurous with various eating adventures and weight gain. However, I was successfully able to achieve one of my goals for this year, which was to write more reviews on Yelp and OpenTable. I am happy to announce (yes I know it’s cheesy) but I am now part of Yelp Elite. Therefore I am very excited to take part in more exclusive Yelp events and network with more elite Yelpers.

I am happy to say that I have attended at least one of my lunch and dinner restaurant recommendations for NYC Winter Restaurant week thanks to my new friends from Catholic NYC.

So let’s begin with the list of restaurants I was able to eat at for the first official NYC Restaurant week of 2019:

1) Delmonico’s

2) ilili

3) David Burke Tavern

4) Burke and Wills

5) The Dutch

6) Riverpark

Delmonico’s

The restaurant has two floors which calls for segregation from the restaurant week people and their high end regular clients. Overall service was good, my waiter was knowledgeable and recommended the great wine pairing with my entree. This would be a great special occasion restaurant or for a date night for two. Now to the meal:

– The appetizers offered for restaurant week were different variations of their regular menu appetizers. So I settled for the burrata with arugula, beets and poached pear, which was tasty with the Portuguese white wine. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo or the photo did it make it to this phone.

– For the entree, I settled for the miso butternut squash glazed bass, which was part of their regular menu and beautifully presented. The skin was crispy, and the meat combined with the squash and the leeks plus the white wine was perfect.

– For the dessert, I paid an extra $8 for their classic baked alaska, which was the highlight of my meal and worth the extra cost. The dessert presentation was amazing, the walnut cake, banana gelato, and lemon meringue plus carmelization smokiness was to die for.

Ilili

I came here to have dinner with three people and we had the opportunity to take advantage of the happy hour. The happy hour deals was good. The cool thing about this place was for $42 you get to order four things (Two appetizers, entree and dessert).

Overall the restaurant was busy and after paying our bill, the hostess had to “kick us out” of the table for new guests. She was really nice and accommodating by providing us with a free drink at their lounge. I ordered the “From Beirut with Passion” cocktail which is a basil cilantro mint infused vodka with sparkling passion fruit. This drink after was much stronger than the happy hour version.

– For the two appetizers I went with the steak tartare with onions and jalapenos and the fattoush salad. The tartare was a small portion designed to be cut into quarters to accommodate the perfect balance bite. Therefore the bite tasted good with everything combined. Next the fattoush salad arrived. The salad was refreshing, very minty and crispy due to the toasted pita chips, which worked really well after eating the tartare.

– For the main entree I ordered the Lamb Makboubeh and it was meaty, gamey and hearty especially with the dirty rice and mixed nut mixture. The cucumber yogurt sauce really helped mask the gaminess of the lamb shank. I only ate half of the dish and took the rest home.

– For the dessert came I ordered the ilili candy bar and it was a small portion compared to a regular order. It tasted so good and was a perfect end to the meal.

David Burke Tavern

This restaurant is my go to spot to take a group of people because their menu is the same for restaurant week. Service was efficient and very quick. I sat in the standing table at 5 to 8 and was done with everything at 9.

First I ordered a mocktail: Moscow Mouse which was good and refreshing.

– Appetizer: I ordered the pastrami salmon with falafel. The pastrami salmon was not the same as I had it before. The falafel was a healthier version that caught me by surprise because it was chewy and it did have the breaded crispy crunch that would be found in most if not all authentic falafel.

– Entree – I ordered the roasted branzino. The dish was one of the best dishes I have had in this restaurant to date. The branzino had a great roasted crisp especially combined with the squash, crispy artichoke and artichoke puree. The puree was the best I have had to date.

– For the dessert I went with my server’s recommendation of the chocolate hazelnut crunch cake. Unfortunately, the picture of this beautifully presented dish did not save on my phone. The cake was rich but it has to be consumed with the whipped cream for a balanced taste.

Burke and Wills

For restaurant week I came here for dinner with three friends from Catholic NYC. This restaurant was another good go to spot to take a group of people because their menu is the also same for restaurant week. The restaurant from the outside looks like a hole in a wall, after bypassing the crowded bar there was a open deceivingly unknown space for dining. I would return to have brunch because the back area of the restaurant had a awesome sunroof plus I was informed that there was a speakeasy.

First I ordered a mocktail: Paul Hogan, which was good and refreshing.

Appetizer: I ordered the roasted beet salad. The salad was definitely colorful just as our server described and it was tasty and refreshing.

Entree: I ordered the barramundi which was both popular and highly recommended by our server. The dish was roasted perfectly crispy and mixed with vegetables it had a great balance of flavors. The dish compliment well with the Pinor Gris from Australia.

Dessert: I had to have the bread pudding which was so good and a perfect end to this dessert.

The Dutch

I finally had the privilege to enjoy lunch at the Dutch for NYC restaurant week. I barely made it to lunch before the kitchen closed for dinner. The staff was very accommodating and ensured I was well taken care of. Service overall was great. I took advantage of the deal $26 for two courses which was a great bargain for the amount of food I got. I highly recommend this restaurant for lunch for restaurant week, it’s worth it.

I had the hot tin roof cocktail which was good, refreshing and somewhat medicinal. For the appetizer I went with the shrimp cocktail, the shrimps were huge and the right amount of the crab louie made this deceptively small dish very filling.

The entree was the highlight for me, the roasted chicken kale caesar salad with lots and lots of cheese was huge that it could feed two people. This salad was so good, the chicken was tender and skin was so crispy while the kale and cheese combination hit the spot. I was only able to eat half of it.

Riverpark

For the final night of restaurant week dinner I came to Riverpark with 5 people fromCatholic NYC 15 minutes before they closed. This restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. Service was efficient and accommodating especially when they were going to close for the evening. I would return to have brunch because of the view and outdoor dining option.

Given the time of night I went light and pescatarian.

Appetizer: I ordered the cauliflower sformato. The appetizer was pretty and custard in combination with the cauliflower was to die for.

Entree: I went with the diver scallops and clams which was light and perfect for that of the evening.

Dessert I had to have the persimmon cake with the ginger ice which hit the spot and was a perfect end to this restaurant week adventure.

New York City Restaurant Week Winter 2019 Game Plan

Happy 2019! It’s been 21 days after the New Year but Chinese New Year is coming up. Anyways one of my goals for 2019 is to actively blog while fighting a health scare, working multiple projects and pursuing my next career move. Let’s begin 2019 with a game plan. This game plan is the Winter 2019 NYC Restaurant Week which runs today (January 21) thru Friday February 8.

This restaurant week was not heavily advertised and when I visited the website, I saw that American Express was no longer sponsoring the three week promotion. Well, after reviewing the 313 menus posted, I was more disappointed about the lower amount of discounts offered this season. In addition the timing was terrible on this end because Chinese New Year is on the week of February 4th so I really had to pick and choose my places this season. First, I am going to provide the total number of restaurants offering the best values for lunch, dinner and brunch based on our criteria.

For this season’s restaurant week, I have listed my recommendations for lunch, dinner and brunch.

Brunch: Catch for two and Rahi for two

Lunch: Frankie & Johnnies for one, The Dutch for one, Lure Fishbar for one and T Bar Steak and Lounge for one. For two people, La Pecora Blanca, Legasea, Mamo and Park Avenue Winter are my picks.

Dinner: For solo dinner nights my picks are Ilili, Delmonico’s, Rahi, Park Avenue Winter, Cesca and Gabriel’s. For two people, Maloney & Porcelli, Fine & Rare, Pig & Khao and Mamo. For three people, there’s Club A, Scarpetta and Burke and Wills. If you want to do a group dinner RiverPark, Woodpecker and David Burke Tavern are your best bets.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts and follow me on Instagram: tablespoonsandteaspoons and Twitter: spoonstt.

Cheers!!

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.

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! 

Flashback Friday – Esquared Hospitality making its mark in Queens & Manhattan

Summer is going by way too fast! I have had the privilege to recently dine at Champions Bar & Grill located inside the grounds of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.  In order to eat at this restaurant, reservations were required.  In addition, only Loge and Promenade Season Subscription Ticket Holders with a restaurant pass were allowed.  As one can tell, this was a splurge lunch.  Normally, this post will be placed on the “Throwback Thursday” section of this blog, but an exception has to be made as the US Open will wrap up this Sunday 9/11.

After meeting with the chef and staff, I was overwhelmed by the high quality dishes offered.  After the chef’s suggestions, I decided to go with the lighter fare section and ordered the Grilled Asian kobe skirt steak salad ($34) with french fries ($12).  Taking full advantage of the experience, I burned the wallet(s) more by ordering a Moet Chandron Rose Champagne ($28).  20160830_144740

The meal was presented as I expected – classic David Burke (DB) style.  French fries on their little metal baskets.  The fries were not as crispy as I expected, I always eat their fries and so far the best french fries I have had from them were from David Burke Townhouse.  The kobe skirt steak did not melt in my mouth as I thought it did because I ordered it medium instead of medium rare.  Portions were filling and the champagne complemented the meal.  Staff and General Managers (GM) were accommodating.

Previous to my US Open experience, I have eating at BLT Prime in Gramercy back in January for the Signature Series  Event and that was a splurge dinner of $175 per person.

On a more wallet friendly side, I have eaten at BLT Steak in Midtown East where I have ordered a prosecco ($15).  I have had two specials: the rock tempura shrimp (don’t recall the price; it was a one day special) and the duck liver mousse pate (complimentary tasting from the Executive Chef).  Plus, I ordered the duck fat hash browns ($12) and for dessert I went with the Chef’s suggestion of the “banana cream” cream puffs ($12).  The duck fat hash brown dish was a side dish that is filling and comforting enough that it could be a main entree.  But the cream puffs were the perfect ending to my meal as its balanced sweetness of the bananas and cream covered up the pungent and rich flavors of the duck liver and fat.

Even though my food selections at the restaurants were not the healthiest, but the quality of food given for the amount paid was well worth it.

Chef David Burke has announced on social media that he will be opening the BLT Prime by David Burke in Washington D.C. and Tavern 62 at the former Fishtail by David Burke restaurant in New York City.  I am also excited to explore the other sister restaurants especially Casa Nonna and By Chloe.

Till then stay tuned!

Meatless Monday – 2 courses – 7 ingredients

Happy Monday! Following my game plan posted yesterday, I created a two course meal that only requires a total of eight ingredients. These two dishes commemorate three monthly food observances:

National Egg Month
National Salad Month
National Strawberry Month

The first dish requires only two ingredients. It is gluten free and Paleo friendly.

Banana Pancakes
1 ripe banana = 110 calories = $0.49/lb. this week at Stop and Shop
2 eggs = 90 calories/egg

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Second dish requires five ingredients:
Strawberry Arugula Salad
1 cup arugula = 6 calories
6 strawberries sliced = 35 calories = $2.99 a package on sale this week at Stop & Shop
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted = 350 calories
1 tablespoon spoon extra virgin olive oil = 120 calories
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar = 30 calories

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Throwback Thursday – Weekend Lunch for 3

Happy Thursday! Let’s travel back in time to earlier this year where I took my parents out to lunch during Valentine’s Day weekend.  We decided to return to Coco in Elmhurst, NY.  The restaurant specializes in Malaysian Cuisine.  Personally it was Malaysian fusion cuisine.  The restaurant is currently in the process of updating their menu on their website, but one of the major changes is that they deliver food now with a minimum of $10 purchase.

However, after a long cold winter day of running errands, my parents and I decided to have lunch.  Check this out, total cost for three people plus leftovers to go = $35

The Roti Canai and Singapore Rice Noodle dishes were my favorites.  The Lamb Curry was on the spicy side and the crispy duck was on the dry side.  Service could be better.  The meal was hearty, comforting and affordable especially for three people.  I would definitely return to try other dishes such as the Hainanese Chicken, Curry Laksa, Belacan Kang Kung, and Satay Chicken.

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.