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….

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday – Woodpecker by David Burke

Happy Thursday and I’m happy to share with you my recent experience at Woodpecker by David Burke in New York City. Woodpecker by David Burke is a communal neighborhood spot different from the fine dining scene the chef is known for. The restaurant has a one page menu that features Chef David Burke’s classics such as the “Bacon clothesline”, Pastrami Salmon, Kale & Romaine Caesar, and his patented 40 day Saltage Prime Kansas City Strip. In addition to the classics, there were additional items made using wood burning ovens such as “Grillos” Pizza along with catchy dishes including Wings and Rings/Shishito, and Broccoli Mops.

I’ve had the privilege to be invited to the “soft” opening of Woodpecker about 3-4 weeks ago and I followed my server’s recommendation on the dishes I ordered.

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Broccoli Mops

Broccoli Mops – Broccoli florets placed on guacamole, citrus, fennel and toasted quinoa. The $15 dish was a bit high, but it was my favorite meal of the night. It was light and the mandarin oranges along with toasted quinoa made this dish complete. The citrus dressing was refreshing and the salad had a great balance of fresh ingredients. I would come back just for this healthy vegetarian dish.

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Wings & Rings / Shishito

Wings & Rings / Shishito – Love the presentation of this $16 dish. It looks deceivingly small but it was meant for sharing. Since I was alone, it was filling. The base of this dish is made up of six Korean style wings, which tasted nothing special along with fried calamari topped with a shishito pepper for each skewer. The taste of this dish was nothing special. However, I would order it with a group of people just for the pretty presentation, but not of my favorite David Burke dishes.

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40 day Saltage Prime Kansas City Strip 20 oz

40 Day Saltage Prime Kansas City Strip is 20oz steak made using Chef David Burke’s patented saltage brick. This $62 dish is a classic. The strip steak looked beautiful. The Himalayan salted crust with a glistening medium rare inside was a picture perfect portrait of a crispy outside surrounding or even protecting the tender meat inside. The taste of this steak just melts in my mouth. I highly recommend this type of steak but it is hard to get it at any place other than a David Burke restaurant.

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Apple Tart

To end my dinner, I decided to go for the Apple Tart with the smoked rosemary. I try not to order a dessert for health and weight loss reasons, but I can’t resist the beautiful presentation. The taste of this tart was interesting. I understand why this tart was unique, personally I would do without rosemary. Would I order it again? Maybe. But I would try the other desserts.

Anyways, I am excited to venture into Long Island to check his two new restaurants inside the Garden City Hotel. Stay tuned.

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.

Throwback Thursday – Saigon Casa

Vietnamese crepe

Pho

Six weeks ago we decided to check out Saigon Casa, Vietnamese restaurant in Port Jefferson Station in Long Island.

The menu has limited options in comparison to what I’m used to seeing in other Vietnamese restaurants in Queens.

One of the dishes that we had to order was the pho. There were many types of pho, but we ordered the Pho Tai Nam Gau, which a beef soup containing rare steak, brisket and flank steak with noodles on the side.

The soup tasted good and we loved the fact that we can add the noodles at our discretion to our small bowls. I am still in search and experimenting recipes that replicated the best one I’ve had to date at the Pho Bang in Elmhurst.

Another dish I had was the Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe called Bang Xeo. This crepe was sold as a special item at this restaurant. The dish was huge and it is made of rice flour and tumeric stuffed with shrimp and pork. The dish was delicious and I want to make this dish.

I would like to return to this restaurant to try their other dishes.

Lent – Sugarless Diet Game Plan

Hello everyone Happy Presidents Day! We as the title states it’s that Christian season again, Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which was the same day as Valentine’s Day. This Lenten season I decided to give up sugar with the exception of fruit and vegetables. So far, I’m getting through it but at the same time it is difficult especially when I had to eat out for Chinese New Year. Eating out was a challenge because I don’t know whether sugar was added to the diet. As a result, I ended up at a buffet, a Middle Eastern and Hibachi restaurant.

For the first five days of Lent, here were my meals containing 0g of sugar:

What I’ve realized is to successfully accomplish this I have to cook my meals at home.

After going through my current pantry at home, I’ve discovered more limitations to this no sugar sacrifice. However, this week’s game plan will consists of the following ingredients that contains no sugars to date:

Black beans

Red Kidney beans

Eggs

Salmon

Cod

Ground Kobe beef

Ground Turkey

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Ghee

Butter

Quorn Chik ‘n Patty

Cauliflower

Asparagus

Oats

Rice

Parmesan cheese

Cream cheese

Almond milk

Strawberries

Blueberries

Follow me on Instagram at tablespoonsandteaspoons for updates on the recipes made this week with these ingredients.

Throwback Thursday- Family Style Chinese food

Ever since I was a child I would have family style Chinese food. This is not your typical Chinese American cuisine. Majority of authentic Chinese restaurant are identified based on the number of Chinese customers eating there. There are two family style Chinese cuisine I have eaten at, both in Elmhurst. Every year I always have to celebrate my birthday with Chinese food. I grew up with the belief of consuming noodles on my birthday signifying long life.  When I eat at these family style Chinese restaurants I always request an order of pan fried noodles. Recently I had a craving a found a recipe to make it on own, which was recently posted here under Traditional Tuesday. In addition to the pan fried noodles we would order a crusted t-bone steak and honey walnut shrimp.

The top collage was taken place at China Pearl Chinese Restaurant, one of the original Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $300.

The bottom collage was taken place at the recently opened Broadway Seafood Chinese Restaurant also located in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $170.

The major differences between the two restaurants is the quality of food. China Pearl had the better house special soup, steak and honey shrimp walnut while Broadway Seafood had more street food options such as lamb chops and roast pig and duck and soy sauce chicken.

The pan fried noodles with seafood is better at Broadway Seafood than in China Pearl.

Stay tuned for more eating journeys…

Flashback Friday – Neirs Tavern

Happy Friday!! It’s been over a month since my last post, which was on an American holiday Memorial Day.  After a month of being MIA due to several food exploration dishes, I am back on the first of July – 4th of July weekend.  To begin:

Happy Birthday America!! To celebrate food and American history, let’s explore an historic venue in American history.  This venue is not in Washington D.C. or in downtown Manhattan, but in Woodhaven, Queens.

Almost 6 weeks ago I took my parents to the oldest tavern in US history now – Neir’s Tavern.  Actually I heard about this tavern from a segment that aired on $9.99 with Dave Evans where he had the tavern’s famous coldest beer in New York City.

Neir’s Tavern opened in 1829 and was restored in 2009.  The tavern has made several appearance in famous movies such as Goodfellas and Tower Heist.  I have had the privilege of meeting the tavern’s owner at the recent Queens Taste event & samples their cotton candy wings.

When I took my parents to the tavern, the location of it was not ideal but we were lucky to find parking.  Once we arrived, I felt the historical presence that this tavern has.  I definitely took advantage of the happy hour special of the $3 draft cold beer.  Also, I discovered that the tavern also has $5 lunch special that is a steal.

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Happy Hour Draft Beer $3

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BBQ Jack Wings $7.95

To start, we ordered the BBQ Jack Wings ($7.95), they were perfectly fried with the right amount of sauce.  Other popular wings also include Cotton Candy Wings, Teriyaki wings and Thai Chili Honey Wings both for the same price!

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“Tower Heist” Sandwich $9.95

My dad is a huge steak person so every non-Thai or non-Filipino restaurant he looks for the steak options.  The only option he had was the “Tower Heist” sandwich, obviously named after the movie “Tower Heist”, which is an open face steak sandwich with lettuce and tomato.  It comes with fries and cole slaw.   The steak tasted similar to a roast beef sandwich, so it was my least favorite.

After reading the food reviews of the tavern and there were rave reviews on the burgers.  Therefore, my mother and I ordered two burgers that were named after an actress Mae West, who got her start in this tavern and the classic movie “Goodfellas”.  My mother settled for the “Mae West” burger, which is made up of angus beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mushrooms along with cole slaw & fries.  Her burger was good, fries were not as crispy as I have had in the past and cole slaw had an acidic, sour and tangy twist that is unique from the cole slaws I have had in the past.

Finally, I went for the popular “Goodfellas” burger, another burger to add to the growing list of burgers I have had in recent years.  The “Goodfellas” burger consisted of an angus burger with grilled tomato, onions, pepper jack cheese and chipotle honey mayo.  The burger also came with fries and cole slaw.  The burger could have cleanly presently and huge that it had to be dissected with a fork & knife.  The burger overall was flavorful especially with the mayo and pepper jack cheese.

At the end of this high protein dinner, the overall service was good, but they were short staff where the bartender was also our server.  I would definitely return especially for lunch and explore the variety of wings they offer.