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 were 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.

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.

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 – 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…

Meatless Monday – Strawberries

Happy Memorial Day! Happy Monday.  As we are approaching the end of May, I want start off by week by sharing four very simple strawberry recipes all appropriate for Meatless Monday.

Strawberries was initially considered a luxury food prior to the 19th century.  It originated in South America and the crop was sent to Europe for breeding purposes.   There are many varieties of strawberries, but this post will focus on the health benefits of its consumption.  Strawberries have a rich source of antioxidants, manganese in particular and vitamin C.  These two sources along with other antioxidants that play role in cardiovascular disease such as decreasing fat oxidation especially in the blood vessel area, lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol.  More importantly, 1-2 cups of strawberries per day can help reduce high blood pressure.

For families affected by type 2 diabetes, 1 cup of strawberries (approximately 47 calories) may reduce the risk by its ability to lower blood sugar levels.

For families or patients with cancer, strawberries contain anti-cancer properties that may help reduce risk or worsening of specific cancers such as breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, cervical and esophageal cancers.

Other research studies show that strawberries contain components that may help with aging, cognition, brain and motor function.  Another study using rats, rats who consumed strawberry extracts that may prevent gastric diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and ulcers.  Another recent study also reveals that an antioxidant found in strawberries may help prevent and even treat retinal disease.

Since it is National Strawberry Month plus knowing the health benefits of consuming them, there are many uses of strawberries.  One obvious reason and most likely the best way to eating them is raw, only one cup of strawberries have low calories plus a multitude of health benefits.  If eating raw strawberries is not a possibility or if you want something quick, below are four pictures of recipes that do not require as many ingredients.

Strawberries can be included on a salad, such as the Strawberry Arugula Salad, that was previously posted three weeks ago here.  Personally, I enjoy eating them raw or in the morning when I am in a rush, I like to make smoothies.  My smoothies contain about:

1/2 cup of sliced strawberries (approximately 24 calories) – $3.88/2 lbs. – Stop & Shop

1 cup of almond milk (unsweetened)/1 cup of cashew milk (unsweetened) – 30 calories / 25 calories- 2 for $6 (Stop & Shop)

Sometimes, I like to add other items such as

1 cup blueberries – 85 calories or 1/2 banana sliced – 55 calories

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Cravings for dessert and don’t want to cook or bake, this sound biased, but I have had the pleasure of enjoying baked strawberry goods at the recent Queens Taste Event from Esta Joy’s Kitchen and Rudy’s Bakery and Cafe.

In the past, I have enjoyed the strawberry panna cotta dessert made by Pastry Executive Chef Zac Young at David Burke Fabrick, when it first opened in 2014.

These items are so simple to make and obtain, if there are no food allergies to strawberries, take control of your health and well being by taking advantage of this nutritional crop.  Cheers!!

 

Meatless Monday – Rad Thai Salad

It’s Leap Day and for the last several days I have been recovering from the class I took during Union Square Fest at Athleta.  That workout was so intense that I struggled walking up and down the stairs for several days.  Right after the workout, I decided to swing by Sweetgreen.20160224_204541 Sweetgreen uses all their ingredients grown from local and community farms so everything is fresh.  I decided to order the lowest calorie dish (375 calories) called the Rad Thai, derived from the Thai street dish Pad Thai.  This salad consists of organic arugula + organic mesclun, sprouts, carrots, shredded cabbage, spicy sunflower seeds, cucumbers, basil, citrus shrimp, and one round of spicy cashew dressing.  The salad was incredibly filling.  My favorite part of the salad was the citrus shrimp.  The total cost of this salad was $12.85 plus tax.  The price is reasonable given the ingredients used.  I would definitely return and try the Spicy Sabzi.

For those who do not have access to Sweetgreen or the organic ingredients, this salad can be made on a budget and it can serve more than one person.

Salad Blend – Arugula & Mesclun or any mixed salad = 2 for $5 at Stop & Shop

Sprouts – Chinese or Asian Supermarket usually sells for a decent price.

Shredded Carrots = 3 for $5 at Stop & Shop

Cabbage – usually the best sale is before St. Patrick’s Day at the price of either $0.19 and $0.29/lb. at Stop and Shop.  Red Cabbage is usually purchased at $0.99/lb. on sale at any supermarket.

Shrimp – $6.99/lb at Stop and Shop

Spicy Sunflower Seeds – convenience store e.g. CVS, 7-11, Duane Reade

Cucumbers – usually purchased $0.99/lb and below.

Basil – I usually purchase a fresh pack at an Asian supermarket (approx. $2.00/lb)

Citrus Marinade – orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, sriracha

Spicy Creamy Cashew Dressing (Derived from “Redeeming the Table”) – Juice of 1 orange, Juice of 1 lime or lemon chopped raw cashews, garlic, sea salt, red chili flakes and Grinds of black pepper

I have not made this dish personally, but after researching the ingredients, now I want to make this dish.  It would be serve as a great and quick potluck dish too.