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! 

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 – 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.