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 – Eat Up Drink Up Japan

Last weekend we have had the privilege to be invited by Japion to attend ChopsticksNY “Eat Up Drink Up Japan”.  

We attended the Dinner Session. Upon arrival, we were given a card containing circles each representing each of the six regions.  What I loved about this setup is that every attendee would have the opportunity to taste every dish as long as they present the card to the server at each station to be stamped. Once the card is stamped, a sample of each of the three dishes are served with a sake pairing of your choice or even try more sake. 

The event setup was well thought out where the attendee could feel that they are going on a food and drink journey through Japan.  

Our food journey began with dishes from Northeastern Japan – Hokkaido & Tohoku. This region is known for their seafood. Food samples paired with Gasaryu Kisaragi sake included: 

Salmon Teman-zushi – Favorite

Dashi Dofu (tofu) – vegetarian

Beef Tongue Roast

The second region we visited is the populated multicultural region of Kanto.  Food samples paired with Tsukinoi Taiyori Ginjo sake included: 

Peanut Miso atop Cucumber – vegetarian and favorite

Utsumomiya Gyoza (pan fried dumpling)

Deep fried monkfish 

We then traveled to Central Japan to experience the food and sake from the Chubu/Tokai region.  We decided to pair our food samples with Kubota Junmai Daiginjo sake. 

Sasa-Zushi (Favorite) – Rice is amazing

Nagoya Tebasaki (fried chicken wings)


Simmered Daikon with Yuzu Miso Sauce (vegetarian)

Finishing halfway through the food and sake journey, we moved on to the region called Kinki is considered the ancient capital of Japan. This region’s food also caters to the noble class. We paired our food samples with our favorite sake of the night: Umeoyado Yuzo Shu

Okonomiyaki (savory pancake) – favorite

Tekone – zushi (love the rice)

Nasu Dengaki – eggplant (vegetarian)

Next we head towards the warmer region of Chugoku and Shikoku. We paired our food samples with Suigei Junmai Ginjo Koiko No. 54 sake. 

Katsuo Tataki – favorite

Tai-meshi (love the rice once again)

Shoyu Mame (vegetarian)

Finally the sixth and final region is Kyushu located in southern Japan. The food presented is more common in most Japanese restaurants here.  We paired our food with the sake Yatsushika Tokubetsu Junmai

Roasted Wagyu Beef (favorite)

Pork Kaku-ni

Gane – vegetarian

After our six region meal, we visited the VIP section and tasted the “higher end” sake, which is unfiltered sake from the Daiginjo Counter.  The sake was served by sake sommelier Toshiyuki Koizumi of Wasan Brooklyn.  

The sake was definitely more refined and strong so the night end with consumption of three different degrees of matcha from Ippodo Tea Company and mochi ice cream. 

Meatless Monday – Udon Miso Noodle Soup

Happy Meatless Monday! Can’t believe October is almost ending and before we know 2017 is going to end and I am playing catch up with game plan recipes that we made this year to date.

On my New Year’s Day – Sunday Game Plan post there were a list of good luck foods to consume during the New Year.  One of these lucky foods is buckwheat noodles especially soba noodles.  Unfortunately, I ended up getting udon noodles, which also contains buckwheat.  In Japan, people consume long buckwheat noodles to signify good fortune.    Confession, I did not end my making the Udon Miso Noodle Soup until well after New Years due to leftovers and lack of room in my refrigerator.

Udon Noodles – introduced in the 9th century by the Buddhist priest Kudai is made up of buckwheat, which is considered a type of complex carbohydrates, which is documented to help with weight loss and prevent diabetes & heart disease.  They are also:

  • low in calories
  • easily digested – udon dissolves faster than regular pasta & three times faster than beef
  • due to its easy digestion and dissolving properties, it helps retain heat in the extremities during winter because blood is not rushing to the stomach.
  • contains four kinds of vitamin B:
    • Thiamine (Vitamin B1): plays a huge role in metabolism preventing headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness, nerve damage, brain disorders, especially Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), and memory disorders e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease, stress, inflammation and vision problems e.g. glaucoma.
    • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): prevents cancers, migraines and hair/skin damage
    • Niacin (Vitamin B3): plays a role in improving cholesterol levels, lowering heart disease risks, joint pain, treating diabetes, preventing acne, headaches, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, memory loss, depression, motion sickness, insomnia, muscle weakness, digestive problems, alcohol dependence and erectile dysfunction.
    • Folate (Vitamin B9): plays a critical role in healthy pregnancy by preventing neural tube defects, which causes spina bifida, anencephaly, malformations of the limbs and heart complications, prevents cancers, anemia, heart attacks, strokes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and depression.

So finally, here’s my recipe for Udon Miso Noodle Soup:

Obviously, I did not provide a calorie count for each of the ingredients because I cooked this dish in bulk (Serves 4 people).

2.5 cups of water

Left over mushrooms and kale (part of the spinach & greens family) (Mushrooms were 0.69 per package at Aldi, and kale was 0.99/lb on sale at local supermarket)

3 tablespoons of Yamajirushi Awase Miso ($4 lasts about a year)

1 package of Sunrise Extra Firm Tofu, cubed ($1.50 at Good Fortune Asian Supermarket)

1 red onion, sliced ($1.49 a bag at Good Fortune Asian Supermarket)

1 package of udon noodle (approximately  $3 or less if on sale for a pack at any Asian Supermarket)

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Traditional Tuesday – Dumplings

This summer I was on a dumpling phase  where I’ve eaten at various restaurants that serve various dumplings.

Historically dumplings were developed during the Han Dynasty in China by Zhang Zhongjing. Zhongjing was considered the “Medicine Saint” in his village.

One year, the people’s ears were frostbitten and he took a piece of dough skin and filled it with mutton, chili and medicinal herbs, wrapped it up and boiled it. This popular winter concoction helped promote blood flow to warm the body.

Today there are varieties of dumplings:

Korea – Mandoo

Italy – Ravioli

Poland – Pierogi

Spain, Portugal, South and Central America – Empanada

India – Samosa

Japan – Gyoza

Turkey – Manti

Tibet/Nepal – Momo

Below are images of the various dumplings I have had within the last two years. I definitely all kinds, but unfortunately no pictures were taken.

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao $6.95

Loofah Xiao Long Bao $7.95

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao Chocolate Dumplings

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Pork Buns $5.25

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Vegetable Dumplings $4.50

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao Shanghai Shumai $2.95

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Crabmeat and Pork Buns $6.25

Shanghai Cafe Steamed Tiny Buns $4.95

Shanghai Cafe Steamed Tiny Buns with Crabmeat $6.95

 

Korean octopus dumplings and glutinous rice dumplings

David Burke Kitchen – BBQ Chicken Dumplings

Klimat Lounge – Polish Pierogi $11

Klimat Lounge – Sauerkraut & mushroom, Spinach Mixed Polish Pierogi $11

Manor Oktoberfest – Pierogies with sour cream $8

Mrs. P’s Pierogies $2.50 (on sale any supermarket)

Agozar Cuban Restaurant – Empanaditas $9

Momos – Himalayan Yak $7

Below is a recent dumpling recipe (Thank you Tasty Japan) I made for Mother’s Day back in May that was creative and very budget friendly.

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Meatless Monday – 3 ingredient broccoli slaw

Happy Monday, it’s been a long while since I’ve posted a recipe here. 

Recently, during my food exploration, I visited Trader Joe’s and they were selling a 12 oz. bag of organic broccoli slaw for only $1.69.  In addition, my boyfriend and his friends visited Apple Festival at the Harbes Family Farm where he gave me Blondie apples, gala apples and honey crisp apples. Finally, I found leftover unopened pack of Dole Caesar Dressing Vinegrette from Caesar Salad Kit.  

With the three ingredients, one of each kind of apple was diced.  All of the broccoli slaw and apples are combined.  The dish was completed with the Caesar Dressing. 

It’s simple, quick way to utilize leftovers while using fresh healthy, organic ingredients. 

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! 

Meatless Monday – Game Plan – Meatless Budget Friendly Dishes Inspired by “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe”

Two Mondays ago, on March 20, I’ve had the privilege to attend the launch of Assouline’s “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe” at La Sirena located in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.  The event was well attended by local TV personalities and celebrities such as Carla Hall from ABC The Chew, Nicky Hilton Rothchild, Timo Weiland, Prosper Assouline, and Alexandre Assouline. 

Artistic and natural images depicting the relationship between art and food were provided by Robyn Lea who was present to sign copies of the book.  Recipes from the cookbook utilizes local and traditional ingredients inspired by the artist’s relationship of food and the New Mexican landscape. 

More importantly I came there to explore and taste the food created by La Sirena’s Michelin starred chef Anthony Sasso. Cocktails were sponsored by VDKA600. 

The food was overall tasty and natural. The recipes provided appear to be user friendly and ingredients are health-friendly and accessible at any supermarket. Unfortunately I was unable to taste everything because of the sacrificial commitment to give up meat for Lent. 

Top: Miss Scarlet “O’Keefe” containing VD600Vodka in Mandarin orange. Bottom: The Tao Margherita

Chilled Gazpacho

Chickpea and Eggplant Casserole with Fresh Basil

Split Pea and Ham appetizer inspired from the Rancho de Abiquiu Split Pea and Ham recipe

Finger food version of the Spaghetti with Pesto Genovese

Steak tartare using ingredients from the Sizzling Bourbon steak with garlic and crushed peppercorn recipe

Pecan Delights

Finger foods inspired by recipes from the book

For the next two weeks, I will be seeking to test out the meatless version of this recipes such as the spaghetti and pesto Genovese and chickpea and eggplant casserole. 

Meatless Monday – Purple Potatoes

Happy Monday! Happy First Day of Spring! It’s almost midnight and its been weeks since my last post.  For the past several weeks I’ve been recovering from a herniated disc where sitting in one position was absolutely painful.  On a brighter note, I’ve been working on mastering several dishes and reading more culinary cookbooks and science research for inspiration.  But…

Back to business.  It’s Meatless Monday and I want to add that since March 1st I’ve given up meat for forty (40) days for Lent.  So for the next several weeks, majority of my posts will be mostly vegetarians and/or vegan.

For today, we will be focusing on one of the healthiest potatoes to consume: The Purple Potato.  One weekend, I went to Fairway with my parents and came across a bag of small purple potatoes for $2.50 so I brought a bag because I heard really good things about them.  During this research journey, I came across this image below from Dr. Axe summarizing the benefits of consuming purple potatoes.

PurplePotatoGraphic

After reading Dr. Axe’s summary on purple potatoes, I did a little investigation on to additional evidence based research within the last five (5) years.  The following confirmed:

  1. Purple potatoes contained high level of anthocyanins, which prevent inflammation and inhibit cancer growth especially breast cancer, gastric cancer and colon adenocarcinoma (Sugata, M, Lin CY, and Shih, YC, 2016).
  2. Another study showed that baked potato extracts have reduced colon cancer stem cell growth along and lowered the number of tumors (Charepalli, et al, 2015)
  3. Anti-microbial potential against Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa especially during consumption (Ombra, MN, 2015).

After the investigation of this native South American crop, I came across a recipe from Chef Aaron Sanchez, who by the way is this year’s honoree for the 12th Annual Taste of Hope.

1 bag of small Peruvian purple potatoes = 70 calories for 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons.

8 tablespoons of olive oil = 120 calories/tablespoon (Pantry)

1 tablespoon of dried oregano = 15 calories/tablespoon

1 tablespoon of minced garlic = 15 calories/tablespoon

Dash of ground black pepper

1 tablespoon of dried cilantro = 5 calories/tablepoon

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Overall taste of the potatoes were good and very flavorful especially with the olive oil, garlic, oregano and cilantro mixture.  Plus all four mixture components carry health benefits as well.  This is a very healthy, filling and budget friendly dish that can be consumed more than once.  Stay tuned for more!

 

 

Christmas Day Game Plan

On behalf of Tablespoonsandteaspoons we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  Since Christmas is on a Sunday this year, we decided to devise a meatless game plan that is comforting yet luxurious.  This game plan is my contribution to this year’s family holiday dinner.  My cousin and aunt are handling the meat dishes. 

Anyways, this year’s game plan includes the following: 

– Roasted Brussel Sprouts 

– Truffle Mustard Macraroni and Cheese (recipe from Food52)

– Merlot Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies

We will elaborate on the recipe details during the last week of 2016.  Stay tuned. 

Flashback Friday – Hair of the Dog 

Happy Friday! Happy Candy Day! Today I am revisiting an afterwork Friday happy hour experience at the Lower East side sports bar called Hair of the Dog. This bar is part of a chain called NYC Best Bars is known for their happy hours and brunch. Happy Hour is half price of every drink at the bar until 8pm. For brunch they offer “BYOC” Bring Your Own Coffee.

In addition to the happy hour offer, I had to taste the food. The menu had a great variety of bar food. I was there for a co-worker’s birthday party and I had dinner plans after so I only ordered one appetizer and their only dessert item on the menu.

For appetizers, I went with the combo of onion rings and Tater Tots ($7), portions were pretty big so it is great for sharing. Both tater tots and onion rings were crisp to perfection; the grease complemented and absorbed the vanilla vodka and ginger ale cocktail I had.

The bar menu only had one dessert, which was Deep fried oreos. Given that the other bars that is part of the chain offered Deep fried oreos, I had to order it. After consuming 2 cocktails the fried oreos definitely hit the spot and covered up somega evidence of my alcohol consumption.

After looking at this food picture, I did a little research on any healthier options to make these dishes. Below, are three reasons recipes I found online that I would like try:

Healthy version of Deep Fried Oreos: Baked “Deep Fried” Oreos

Tater Tots using sweet potatoes (healthy alternative): Baked Sweet Potato Tater Tots plus Baked Onion Rings

Stay tuned for updates. Also find me on Instagram (tablespoonsandteaspoons).