Throwback Thursday – Villa Erasmo – Middle Village, NY

It is been awhile since I posted something food related. There were several projects that were going on simultaneously in the last six months. One of these projects was serving as a committee member for my local parish’s Jubilee gala. To celebrate the successful execution of the event, the committee was treated to a four course prix fixe dinner at Villa Erasmo located in Middle Village, N.Y.

Villa Erasmo (69-61 Juniper Blvd South Middle Village, NY 11379) is a secret find Italian restaurant located past Juniper Valley Park.  

We went on a Tuesday night and I was 45 minutes, thanks to a broken rail at one subway stops. Anyways, the four course meal was good overall, but have had better versions of each dish. The bread was very very good.  Portions of each dish were perfect where there were no leftovers. Service was overall great and very accommodating. I would personally like to return to thr restaurant and explore the rest of the menu. 

Here’s the four course meal that I ordered: 

Appetizers: Eggplant rollatini and butternut squash agnolotti. 

The eggplant rollatini was a good start to the dinner experience. It had a the right amount of cheese and eggplant balance. It hit the spot. 

Butternut squash agnolotti was something I did not expect. The dish looked like two ravioli, this was my least favorite dish. 

Entree: Veal with mushrooms and artichoke hearts

The veal entree was also unexpected but in a good and healthy way. The taste of the veal, mushroom and artichoke hearts all together in sauce was well balanced especially eating it together in one bite. 

Dessert: Tiramisu

The dessert definitely hit the spot with a great balance of whipped cream, cocoa and rum. The dessert definitely went well with a cup of tea to end the night as the restaurant was closing. 

Eggplant rollatini

Butternut squash

Veal entree with mushrooms and artichoke hearts

Tiramisu

Stay tuned for more food adventures both at home and on the road. 

Throwback Thursday – National Sandwich Day

Happy Thursday! First I want to congratulate the Chicago Cubs for finally breaking the curse and winning the World Series after 108 years. Anyways back to food it is National Sandwich Day. 

As I was watching world series history, the commercial for Subway came up with their promotion of buy 1 sub and drink get 1 free sub.  With all due respect to the bargain eats and listing of calories promoted by Subway, I am going to share two different sandwich experiences. 

Both sandwiches were purchased in the Financial District during lunch both were under $10 and it feels like eating a meal for two. Both sandwiches is a perfect quick meal as you consume protein, vegetables, with or without calcium and carbs in one shot. 

The first sandwich I had was a vegetarian sandwich from Num Pang, a Cambodian sandwich shop. There are six locations throughout the city. The shop had a great variety of sandwiches along with rice balls and drinks such as watermelon juice and Vietnamese coffee. All their sandwiches consist of freshly made semolina or quinoa baguette with pickled carrots, cucumbers, cilantro and chili mayo.  One of their cheapest sandwiches that appeared to be healthy yet very tasty was their Spicy Organic Tofu ($7.95). The sandwich was freshly made and served warm. The sandwich had a perfect balance of the firm tofu and vegetables, well worth the price.

Recently I was exploring Eater’s top 60 cheap eats in New York city right now. One of the restaurants listed was Grotto Pizzeria and Restaurant also located in the Financial District. This hole in the wall restaurant has been around since 1985. You have to go down a several stairs. As you enter the place looks like a regular pizza takeout spot where pizzas and sandwiches are separated and ordered separately. The guy behind the counter pointed me in the right direction to the sandwiches. I went with the sandwich suggested by Robert Sistema and Eater, which was the the sausage, broccoli Rabe and mozzarella sandwich. I waited and ate half of this filling sandwich ($9.75 with tax). This sandwich has to be eaten with all its components in it as it had the bitterness of the broccoli Rabe, the saltiness of the sausage and the creaminess of the cheese on a fresh roll. 

Although I am not a sandwich person, I do enjoy a really good sandwich once in a while especially from Katz, Carnegie or Russ and Daughters. Definitely want one check out other cheap eats listed on the Eater’s top 60 cheap eats. 

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…

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.