Sunday, December 19, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The appetizers were also all top notch - panchetta pizza (possibly the highlight of the meal), salad (dates + blue cheese + walnuts = yes sir!), and mezze (squash dip, wild rice, beets, & some other tasty dips served with warm pita-like bread). We all agreed that the pizza was phenomenal - caramelized onions FTW.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Choptank just opened this year and we were eager to take advantage of the BlackBoard Eats 3-course meal (nibble, entrée, desert) paired with either wine or beer (of Choptank’s choosing). We had heard good things and it’s located just a short jaunt away from our apartment. It was packed at 9:15 when we arrived – I guess the buzz hasn’t died down.
They serve up a basket of Old Bay chips, which is a nice little treat and a good way to dive into a Maryland seafood experience. Eric promptly dropped the basket all over the floor. Oops!
We started out with a "nibble" (aka "appy" or appetizer) of the crab dip and fried oysters. The crab dip was very rich…almost too rich and heavy…but it was quite tasty despite lacking in the crab meat department. It’s served with bread for dipping and wasn’t finished by us, which is rare. The fried oysters were delicious…hard to go wrong with this dish.
Along with each course came a very full glass of wine for me and a beer for Eric. We were both impressed with the drinks they brought to our table. We were expecting half-filled glasses of cheap wine & a "standard" beer. We were wrong, thankfully.
For the entrée, I went with the jumbo lump crab cake served with salad and sweet potatoes. Eric commented that there should have been two crab cakes, as it wasn’t a huge portion, but it was certainly delicious and full of crab meat, not mayo. I would order this again.
Eric had a hard time deciding between the fried chicken and the burger, two odd options for a seafood joint, but our waiter and the online reviews really pinpointed these two as signature dishes. He went with the fried chicken.. It was a heaping portion of goodness - crumbly fried batter & piping-hot chicken below. The pepper-honey dipping sauce brought it to another level and he was happy with the decision he made.
For dessert (which is a little hazy, after a drink before dinner and two large drinks at dinner), we got the Bailey’s ice cream and vanilla-coconut 7-layer cake. Both were good, but certainly nothing special.
So…to sum up, this restaurant is good, not great. It’s one of those times when the whole somehow doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts. Each dish was good but after the meal was over, I didn’t get the I-have-to-go-back-and-recommend-this-place feeling like you can get at so many NYC establishments – post-meal glow, if you will.
As Sam Sifton says in his New York Times review of Choptank (I guess any mention of Baltimore allows people to draw upon the.best.show.ever):
New Yorkers probably deserve better. Certainly better is available. But as Snoop once said on “The Wire,” a stone-cold gangster making sense of the Baltimore night, “Deserve got nothin’ to do with it.”
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
My dinner here came before the brunch experience tainted our perspective on this local spot. One positive is that their bread basket comes with chunky tahini that is a nice departure from plain old butter.
My mom and I split the butter lettuce salad with a warm goat cheese crostini and it was tasty! I had a huge craving the day after for another butter lettuce salad - it's so superior to every other type of lettuce. I got the scallops as well, which were great - flavorful and accompanied by brussels sprouts and spaghetti squash. My mom went with the herb-lemon half chicken and it was quite tasty as well, and a large portion. We split a side of the brussels sprouts, since they were raved about in reviews and they really didn't live up to the hype. They weren't cooked enough so they were harder than I like my sprouts - the pieces of bacon did not redeem this dish.
To sum up, after eating dinner and brunch at 10 Downing in the same week, I would definitely use it as a fall-back dinner option going forward and will not be going back for brunch any time soon.
Friday, October 15, 2010
We started out with the mushroom appetizer with fried egg, pancetta and ricotta salata. Each bite was full of flavor - maybe a little salty - but definitely one of the best mushroom dishes I've tasted. Complete flavortown.
|Mushrooms covered with a fried egg|
Next up was the butter lettuce with lemon crema, gorgonzola, hazelnuts and olives. We both agreed that in our meal's setlist, this was the slow song that you need to catch a breather in between non-stop rock and roll jamming. Not a bad slow song - this dish was great. The lettuce was soft, the cheese was creamy and the hazelnuts added a nice crunch. This dish completely did it's part and did us well.
|A heaping pile of butter lettuce|
Encore: enter olive oil cake with a side of cappuccino gelato. This satisfied our sweet tooth and was a great capper to the evening.
We'll definitely be back here - it's a great place to go with a group and share plates. Or you may just want to go and get the ricotta ravioli for yourself. I know Eric does. http://lartusi.com/index.html
Friday, October 8, 2010
Pinché Taqueria – I’ve always found it difficult to find really good, inexpensive Mexican food in the city, so when this spot was recommended to me by “Web,” I was pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty excited (anyone else excited for Curb to come back?!). I read good things online about the fish tacos so I went with the Taco de Pescado (Fish) & Taco de Camaron (Shrimp). While both were OK (not good, not bad, just OK), they were not filling at all and they each cost $4.
What made the tacos worse was that next to me, Jess was sitting PRETTY with a Pinché taco salad that looked somewhere between 10,000 & 1 million times better than my dish! The taco salad comes in a tortilla shell, which means you can add as little or as much crunch as you want. It’s also a heaping pile of lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, guacamole and comes with a delicious cilantro dressing (they have other options too).
However, I wasn’t ready to give up on Pinché for good. Not me! I went back just the other night & got another dish that was recommended to me… nachos w/ carnitas (braised pork). Bing bang boom! Just like that, Pinché was in my good graces! The nachos were loaded with cheese, topped with tasty, fresh guacamole, and the beans & pork were mixed into each layer of nachos!
Pinché redeemed itself and while I’m not ready to anoint them “my Mexican spot,” I’m pretty, pretty, pretty excited for my next experience.
(There are two Pinché locations. I went to the Lafayette Street location for both meals but the “eb” in “Web” claims that the Mott Street location is better. I don’t buy it.)
Pizza Box – This place was recommended to Jess & I by her cousin’s fiancé, Jordan, and we were anxious to find a good pizza-by-the-slice spot near our apartment. Jordan claimed it to be his favorite pizza place in NYC. Do I trust his pizza opinion? Not that much, to be honest, as he’s from Cleveland. But, I gave it a shot and was proven wrong... Clevelanders can know good pizza! I got a cheese slice & a ‘roni slice and both were on the money. As Jess said, “this is what you expect when you think of good New York pizza.”
Quantum Leap – Yet another recommendation - this one was by my sister’s friend, Julie K. Quantum Leap is a vegan, natural food spot with locations in the E & W Village. We ordered in from here and really, really enjoyed our meal. I got the Portobello Pesto Burger with a side of sweet yam fries. It’s a grilled veggie burger topped with roasted sweet peppers, grilled onions, Portobello mushrooms, & pesto sauce, and it absolutely rules! Along with the sweet potato fries, it’s a hearty, healthy meal that hit the spot! We’ll definitely be coming back here to sample the rest of their menu.
Silver Spurs Diner/Restaurant – Sweet potato fries were MONEY!! Turkey burger with swiss and avocado grew on me as the meal moved along and I ended up enjoying it. Similar to Quantum Leap, this meal was hearty, and felt healthy (even though it probably wasn’t). I want to come back here to get a beef burger (which I hear is huge) and to eat more of those tasty fries! Jess went with a salad and wasn’t disappointed – their salads are big and there are so many different options. This is a good spot to have right around the corner.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
We entered Do Hwa and were immediately taken back by the tasty aroma filling the air. After a long hump day, we all needed a cocktail... I was the only one who went outside the box by ordering the Yuja martini (chilled citrus vodka topped off with champagne & lemon sorbet). It went down easy and packed a punch... pretty much, exactly what you want from a martini. I didn't dabble but they had a nice selection of beers on tap, taboot.
We shared 3 appetizers between the 3 of us: Obok Salad, Japchae, and Dukboki. Not sure what any of that means? Me neither! Check out their menu here: CLICK ME! (From what I've read, it's always changing.)
Despite carrying some serious kick, the best app, IMHO, was the Dukboki. It looks like ziti pasta in a red sauce, but looks are deceiving. What looks like ziti are actually tender rice cakes, and what looks like red sauce is a hot chili sauce. We kept eating this tasty dish despite our mouths being on fire. Both the Obok Salad & Japchae were completely finished by the time the entrees came around, so don't think that they weren't good as well. The vinaigrette on the salad & the noodles in the Japchae really made the dishes.
The entree that both Farks got was the Steak Bibimbop. This dish consists of slices steak & loads of veggies packed on top of rice (white or brown) that's served in a way-too-hot pot. Oh, and it's topped with a fried egg (if that's your thing). You control your own spice & flavor destiny by mixing in as much chili sauce as you'd like. I think I might have put a bit too much on as I was sweating by the end of the meal. But, that might have had something to do with the dish being served WAYYYY TOOO HOT! I couldn't eat for a good 5-10 minutes til it cooled down to a reasonable temperature. It was rather tasty & quite hearty with a nice mix of flavors going on in the bowl. J-Fark thought that it lacked flavor and I understand why he said that.. there was a bit too much going on in the bowl, and combined with the hotness, all the flavors kinda blended together. I would get it again, but not before sampling some of the other items on the menu.
The garlic spinach side dish had LOADS of flavor and I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who likes the garlic-spinach combo.
Due to her aching belly, Jess went with the most neutral soup on the menu - the Mandu D'Uk Gook. It was homemade dumpling soup with rice cakes and was basically like wonton soup on steroids. There was lots of flavor in the broth and the dumplings and rice cakes really soaked it all up.
Overall, it was a tasty meal that turned us on to a type of food we weren't very familiar with. More importantly, it was great times with friends, and I think we would all come come back to check out their do-it-yourself grilling tables. Head down there & let us know what you think of Do Hwa!
I went away from my normal order (Shrimps Monte) and got the Veal Bolognese. This is the dish that my mom always gets and last time we were here, I tried it, and fell in love. Bolognese is NOT the right description since it's not even close to a traditional meat sauce. What it is is tender, thinly sliced veal that's topped with perfectly cooked prosciutto (crispy & tender all at once!) and mozzarella cheese, and surrounded all over by the most flavorful wine sauce. Their generous portion allows you to have all aspects of the dish in each bite! It's the kind of dish you wish they served at Olive Garden so it can be never-ending. Of course, the OG could never produce something this tasty.
Monte's is a go-to spot for the Farkas Family because I'm already excited to go back there and get this dish again! Go there & find out for yourself why we love it so much!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Greenwich Village Bistro was the first local joint we checked out, and it was a cool spot. Originally, we sat inside but the live music was a bit too loud & we couldn't hear each other speak. I think the manager told the trumpet player to chill out, but the decibel level still wasn't conducive to having a conversation. This was probably our fault for coming here for dinner around 9:30.
We parked ourselves outside & had the best of both worlds- live music, people watching on Carmine Street, and a nice end-of-summer breeze. The food was stellar (burger for me & shrimp with rice for Jess). The beer & wine were up to par, and the bill didn't set us back too much. Is this the kind of place we'll go to for a mind-blowing meal? Definitely not - but if we're looking for some good eats, a solid atmosphere, and some drinks, then GVB satisfies.
Suzie, Suzie...Suzie, Suzie! Suzie's chinese food! We had been told by numerous people that we NEEDED to try Suzie's ASAP! We got delivery one night and it was better than your average Chinese food for sure. We each got a "healthy dish" (Jess got chicken & shrimp and I went with chicken & mixed veggies) sautéed with their brown sauce. It’s nice to know that we have good Chinese food right across the street from our apt - some places can be seedy & gross, but Suzie's is the real deal.
Saving the best for last? You bet I am! Cafe Habana on Prince Street in SoHo was another spot recommended to us. We ordered take-out, took the 10 minute walk over there, and ate our sandwiches on one of the benches outside. They also have a sit down restaurant next door, but waits are usually long. Per my friends' reco, I went with their famous Cuban sandwich. Was it the best ever? No, but I'm not a Cuban connoisseur either. Was it damn good? Yes, definitely. Each bite had a nice amount of pork/ham and loads of flavor. It was the kind of sandwich I was sad to see end. Jess got the portobello and goat cheese torta with spinach, jalapenos, lettuce and tomato. An enjoyable sandwich, although the jalapenos dominate instead of adding some spice to each bite. Another highlight of this meal was the ridiculously tasty Mexican corn ($2) that they serve on the side. We each had a husk & loved every buttery, creamy bite. We'll definitely be back here for many meals.
We'll continue to explore our new neighborhood & update you on local eats we think you should check out....stay tuned.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Let me start off by saying Bobo definitely wins you over with its atmosphere right away. It's housed in a West Village townhouse and has two floors, oozing with soft lighting and eclectic decorations. It's a great spot to have a cocktail and some appetizers at the bar, and evokes the feeling that you may see Ernest Hemingway knocking a few back two stools away from you. Why? It just does.
We started out with the Ahi Tuna with avocado and cilantro, which was by far the most scrumptious bite of the evening. The dish seems simple but the tuna is fresh, thick and bursting with flavor - this appetizer is a must. We also got some fried oysters and turnip scallops - both which were delicious. Some add-ons that came out were savory pancakes with a tomatillo salsa for on top along with a beet salad. We were stuffed and hadn't even received the entrees yet!...but everything was top notch.
The ladies got the trout, which came with a lovely meyer lemon sauce and fresh vegetables. The men opted for meat. Eric got the cheeseburger, which was fat, juicy, and topped with fried leeks. Not what he was expecting, but a flavorful surprise nonetheless.
Alongside our entrees came some pequillo peppers stuffed with lamb sausage - if that doesn't get your mouth watering, you probably should stop reading our blog. Flavor, freshness, creativity...boom! Great dish.
On the side came a summer succotash, which was heavenly: fresh corn, butter and tomatoes, which melted together in your mouth. We also received some sautéed green onions, which were tasty. This place knows how to do its vegetables.
Dessert? ....Nah! We were way too full. But the bruleed cheesecake sounds rather gluttonous, so we'll have to come back and indulge further.
Bobo is a great spot for some dank eats and fresh veggies! http://www.bobonyc.com/#MENUS
Monday, September 6, 2010
LaPiazza Buffalo Chicken - I headed back home (Plainview) for the pizza that I consider to be the best in the land. LaP's famed pie has loads of buffalo chicken & mozzarella cheese, but the kicker is the creamy blue cheese that is drizzled on top. Each bite is more delicious than the previous one and I won't go home without indulging.
Tipsy Parson's Luther Burger - Jess threw me a surprise birthday brunch with some of my closest friends. We went to the previously blogged about Chelsea brunch spot, Tipsy Parson. This cute little spot is home to the Luther Burger (bacon cheeseburger served between a sliced glazed donut). It's every bit as delicious as it sounds and if you're looking for a clogged artery, this is for you! Sweet, savory, crunchy, it has it all!
Mercer Kitchen - Jean Georges' SoHo spot had been on my "list" for quite some time so it seemed like a logical choice for a bday dinner with Jess' and my families. The atmosphere is a mix of modern & rustic. It's sleek and feels very new, but at the same time there's lots of exposed bricks & pipes. We all agreed that it was a cool-looking spot. The highlight for Jess & I was the Shrimp Salad app. We liked the scallop entree and the tuna spring roll app, but weren't gaga over it. Jess' bro got a chilled pea soup that everyone tried & thoroughly enjoyed!
Jess' gift to me was a day & night filled with all of my favorite activities. We woke up and headed north to Wave Hill. This park is under the radar and needs to be seen! You wouldn't believe how pretty The Bronx can be. We had a lovely buffet brunch (highlighted by home fries & fresh fruit) before exploring the grounds - gardens, greenhouses, ponds, fresh smells, and more - and laying out in the abundant sunshine!
Blue Hill was my dinner surprise and it was incredible. Obama dined here during a recent visit to New York City, so you know its legit. All of their ingredients are fresh from local farms, including their two in upstate NY & Great Barrington. The decor is simple, yet elegant. They start you with warm, soft, crunchy bread and soft butter - a great way to kick off our dining experience.
Looking for a new type of wine? How about a Malbec Rose served chilled? It was delicious & we're already looking into ordering some for our apt. Our server raved about the tomatoes being in season so we ordered the heirloom tomato salad to start. They split it for us (always a nice
move) and upon first bite we were ready for liftoff! The flavors of the tomato are bursting out and with each bite, you are amazed with how tasty a salad can be! The best part is still to come as the tomato juice sitting at the bottom of your bowl is intensely flavorful. Take some of your bread and use it to soak up the juice..... Ahhhh, a lil bite of heaven.
Jess' entree was the veggie special - eggplant. The bite I had was tremendous and she loved it! On the side of this dish was an eggplant spread that we shared. Think of your favorite babaganoush and it's kinda like that only more eggplant-y and fresh. The chicken dish I got was a reco from the waiter, and he led me down the right path. This was oozing with taste and super juicy! Not your mom's chicken (no offense, mom. I love your chicken tarragon!).
All in all, I'd highly recommend Blue Hill if you are looking to celebrate a special occasion. We loved every aspect of our meal, and we think you will too!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Instead, we've gotten our eats from take-out, pick-up, etc... And since we are fortunate enough to live in New York City, the options are plentiful AND delicious. Here are some notable spots for good, quick, cheap food:
Yummy House - With so many grimy Chinese take-out places, YH is refreshingly just the opposite. Their food always delivers (no pun intended, well, maybe it was) and this past occasion was no exception. Orange Chicken, Chicken w/ Cashews, & Shrimp Lo Mein were enjoyed by all who got involved. Plus, their dinner pick-up special is one of the best around. Check 'em out!
Gracefully Market - This is a go-to favorite of mine when I want something healthy & hearty. They have a grilled chicken & vegetables salad that is MORE than enough for one person and it only costs $6.99. It comes with your choice of dressing & I suggest trying out the Sesame Ginger. I will have this salad anywhere from 1-2 times per week. They can be found on 1st Ave btwn 18th & 19th.
Kati - Jess and I tried their Thai food for the first time and were both impressed. It was delivered in no time and was very affordable (less than $10/person). The Pad Thai & Curry Tofu dishes were exactly what you'd expect... yummy!
Artichoke Pizza - If you haven't been here, do yourself a favor and go right now! It can be argued that their famed artichoke slice is more similar to artichoke dip than it is to pizza, but that's for another time. The slice is phenomenal & can fill you up for a mere $4.50 (recently raised from $4). The simplest description of this slice is artichoke dip topped with parm & muzz cheese placed on top of thick pizza bread. It will make you melt!
The Sicilian & Margarita slices are some of the best I've ever had, and this comes from someone who grew up eating LI/NYC pizza (yeah, I just tooted my own horn). They skillfully combine marinara sauce, parmesan & mozzarella cheese, and basil on their pizza to stand out (and way above) almost all of the other pizza joints in the city. The best part of their Sicilian slices is its crust - crunchy, crispy, & oily!
Oh, and I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't make mention of a few more things:
1) Aside from a couple of benches in front of their shop, it's all take-out.
2) There's always a line in front of their small pizza shop (14th St btwn 1st & 2nd).
Our one splurge of late was a brunch we shared at Cookshop last Saturday morning. Our friend was in from out of town (of course I took him to Artichoke to have New York's finest). So, we went out hard the night before (to my favorite bar, Hi Fi) and woke up needing a hearty breakfast to aid in our recovery. Plus, we wanted to get there one last time before Jess moved away from the neighborhood. I got their pancakes, and since they are big, light, & fluffy... they are perfect for a wicked hangover. They come topped with caramelized bananas & a cinnamon butter. I requested some chopped walnuts on top for an added crunch. Plain & simple, these flapjacks are some of the best NYC have to offer.
Jess followed suit by ordering one of her brunch staples... the egg white frittata. It comes baked in a small skillet filled with fresh vegetables, cheese and is nice and crispy on top. It's healthy, filling and delicious.
Did it cure our hangovers? Pretty much, yeah! Did it give us the necessary fuel to enjoy a sun-soaked day in this great city we live in? You're damn right it did!
We're sad to move away from Cookshop but I got a feeling we'll be back sooner rather than later.
And to celebrate a friend's birthday, Jess recently went to Mermaid Oyster Bar down in Greenwich Village (our new hood!), a sister restaurant to the Mermaid Inn (East Village and Upper West Side)...
It's a casual joint that serves up a variety of fresh oysters and yummy treats from the sea. We started with some drinks and the seafood tower, which comes packed with oysters, crab and other goodies. For four people, it was the perfect way to go. I also got the the sauteed calamari with shiitake & cremini mushrooms, feta cheese, and frisee lettuce, which has got to be one of my favorite dishes in all of NYC. It's a starter but is enough for an entree if you get something else as a starter. The calamari is complemented by the flavors of the mushrooms and cheese - everything melts together. It's a nice change from fried calamari or an Italian calamari with tomato sauce - it's definitely something you should try!
Monday, August 2, 2010
It's not very big but the space is filled with soft lighting, old school decor (think lots of dark brick & chandeliers), good music and people everywhere. We sat at the bar since there were no tables available and we got placed right in the heart of the hustle and bustle.
Even though the menu is tiny, we still had trouble deciding what to order (not surprising for the two of us)! It's one of those places where you know anything you get is going to be tasty, but you still want to make sure you nail your order. We opted not to get oysters, which seemed to be a big deal there, because there were too many other items we wanted. We started with the fried corn which was buttery and delicious. It's not coated in anything, just simply fried until the edges get crispy and super tasty. It was served with tomatoes, herbs and a delicious butter sauce. Corn & butter is a classic combination.
For the entree, I got the seafood salad appetizer because it sounded too good to pass up. Scallops, calamari and clams in a white wine sauce with huge chunks of tomatoes served over crusty bread - it was deliciously flavorful.
Eric went with the brick chicken. What's brick chicken? I think it's chicken served on a brick, but I really can't be sure. (NOTE: I've since learned "brick chicken is usually chicken that is cooked on a grill or griddle with a brick on top so as to smash it and make it cook more evenly." Thanks Val!) What was put in front of me was a half chicken (bones in) oozing with flavor juices. The bird was cooked perfectly and wasn't the slightest bit dry. Just the opposite as there was more than enough juices so that each piece could be dipped in said juices. The skin was crispy & seasoned well, providing a little texture to each bite. Served alongside the chicken is eggplants, zucchini, capers, & squash. All well & good, but the star of the dish is the chicken. And you should know by now that nothing was left on my plate.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Since a lot of meals were consumed on this trip, we'll stick to listing the highlights:
Love Apple - A great first meal out & turned us on to some delicious "New Mexican" cuisine. What's the difference between Mexican & New Mexican? We're still not sure. Either way, the Tamale that we ordered had the perfect amount of heat & loads of flavor. It's a small spot that you could easily drive right past, but don't! Instead, eat outside under the lights and find out why Taos residents are "weird," as our waitress insisted. I would replace the word "weird" with "in their own artsy, laid back, simple world."
Casa Benavides - This is not a restaurant. This is the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at, and they make homemade granola that is the best I've ever had. It's moist & chewy, with a crunch here & there from the nuts dispersed throughout. It has coconut shavings & dried fruit and it was so good that we bought a pound of it for the road.
Max's - Arguably the best meal of the trip. The chef at Max's used to work under Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, and the guy has tons of talent! He was even so nice as to come out to our table at the end of the evening & chat it up with us. The owner was also there that evening & was speaking to us throughout the meal, and even provided us with some great reco's for the following day - Frito pie anyone? (Yes, that's what you think it is - the owner described her favorite Santa Fe treat as splitting open a bag of Fritos and dumping in cheese, chili and fix-ins! They sell Frito Pies in the square in downtown Santa Fe).
The staff's friendliness definitely contributed to the great experience we had, but the meal would have fallen flat if the food didn't deliver.
The heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese sorbet appetizer was a hit. Who knew that cheese could be in sorbet form? It melted and spread it's flavor all over the delicious, locally-grown tomatoes.
Everyone loved their entrees with Chicken Two Ways & Beef Sous Vide being the most memorable.
If you're ever in Santa Fe, you need to go to Max's!
Chatting it up with the owner
Ore House - You could put their Charred Salsa on just about anything and it would taste good.
La Boca - Tapas. We got 12 different plates & all of them were wiped clean by the end of the meal. Eric's favorite: bruschetta w/ mushrooms, fried egg, truffle oil and reggianito.
Taylor's (Gott's Roadside) - So good we went here twice! In the fried department, the sweet potato fries & garlie fries were top notch. As for sandwiches, they are known for their Ahi Tuna Burger & it lives up to the rep - it's paired with a great wasabi mayo and asian slaw. The patty melt & chicken club were also being raved about. On top of great food, you are eating on picnic tables with the Cali sun at your back & lush green grass at your feet. After some morning wine tasting, a stop at Taylor's is just what your belly ordered.
Market - Our first dinner in Napa and it totally kicked the city off right. Great flavors and a cool bar. Everyone loved the chicken roll appetizer and their respective dishes (filet mignon & lamb short rib to name a couple) - you can't go wrong here.
Mustard's Grill - An institution in the Cali wine country - this place is packed every night serving up delicious meat. Three out of four diners got the mongolian pork chop (listed on Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate Series") and we do not normally eat pork chops but it was DELICIOUS. Another must is the onion rings - not traditional, but thin and piled up high on the plate.
Morimoto - One of our favorite NYC Iron Chef hotspots just opened in Napa, so we were anxious to try it. The decor is great - almost as cool as the one in NYC. I love getting the spicy king crab to start, because it's just SO GOOD and they give you a lot of crab meat. We got the tuna pizza as well, which is another popular dish there. As a main dish most of us got tuna that they cook for you in a really hot bowl in front of you at the table, along with delicious sushi rice and an egg mixed in. We all agreed that the dish delivered & left us very satisfied.
Bottega - One of our favorite meals on the trip was at Michael Chiarello's Napa hot spot. Our waiter was truly amazing and made the meal a fun experience, with the food doing its part as well. The polenta under glass is a must and the ribolita appetizer was delicious as well. Most of us got salmon, which was very tasty, as were the short ribs. I would make sure to come back here next time I'm in Napa.
Tra Vigne - Short Rib takes the cake for best entree of the night. It's a beautiful restaurant with lots of great options, but we were wine'd out. We did get lots of amusement from Carrie Underwood & her hubby dining two tables away.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Expect some reviews on our wild west adventure in a couple of weeks. Until then...happy eating!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Mexican & Tuscan fare, you say? We're there. We started out with the guacamole with basil (instead of cilantro) and red pepper, which made me think: why doesn't everyone make guacamole with basil? It was GREAT and definitely a stand-out against every other guac I've had. We almost ordered a second, since it's not that large of a serving, but ultimately decided on another appetizer.
The BlackboardEats deal was a free bottle of wine with your dinner, so we got a bottle of the Pinot Grigio. I'm always a little afraid to take advantage of deals or discounts, but this restaurant was all for it and I'm sure they've gotten a lot of new business because of it.
For the main course, I got the Salmone Al Tamarindo - roasted salmon fillet topped with a balsamic-tamarind reduction, served with sauteed spinach and shoestring tortilla chips. The menu also mentioned that this dish is the winner of "Matilda's Cooking Slam," whatever that is. But I will say (as would the other other diner who ordered this), it tasted like an award-winning dish. The salmon was perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The balsamic sauce and spinach really complemented the dish and the tortilla chips gave it some texture & crunch.
Eric got the BlackboardEats-recommended Gnocchi with a basil-cilantro pesto. This dish is right up his alley and with a little help from his friends (me & the 2 other diners), the plate was wiped clean by the end of the meal (this is not a rare occurrence). They even left him the Parmesan cheese dish so he was able to spread it on top of the gnocchi liberally. The best bites came from the middle of the dish when the gnocchi was soaked in the delicious pesto & topped with a dash of cheese. Gnocchi with pesto is a famous & dangerously delicious dish. Matilda threw us a Mexican cilantro twist curveball and hit it out of the park.
With a cute atmosphere and great food, I would definitely give Matilda another visit in the near future! Check 'em out here: http://www.matildarestaurant.com/menu.html
Monday, July 5, 2010
Freemans Restaurant endeavors to serve rustic cuisine in a colonial tavern turned hip Bowery hotspot. The restaurant largely succeeds in its pursuit. With exquisitely seasoned American staples and a beautiful decor, the only real downside to the Freemans experience is that too many people are aware of its existence.
Without a reservation, the food bloggers were twice denied a table. Thus, when our dear friend Lindsey was about to embark on her 25th year, the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone presented itself. We would celebrate her birthday and get a reservation at Freemans (they only accept reservations for parties of 6 or more). We called many weeks in advance and they were able to accommodate our party for July 3rd at 9pm.
When we arrived the joint was packed. We waited outside in the sweltering summer air for about twenty minutes and then we were ushered inside to our table. The AC cooled our skin and the beautiful people were easy on the eyes. The front bar's antique fixtures and dim lighting were juxtaposed with top shelf liquor and hipsters in fedoras. The tables in the front were way too close together for my taste which is why being led to the backroom so delighted me. We were led through the kitchen, past the waiters' lockers into what had to have been the best table in the house. A lone oak table sat in the middle of the private room. Beautiful plants adorned antique bookcases and kitchen shelves stocked with wine and liquor. After seating, our group really felt like we were being treated to a special evening in someone's colonial home.
The service was great, and the restaurant even accommodated a seventh and unexpected party guest. The waiter recommended some specialty cocktails and our evening began.
I had a Gatsby something-or-other and my friends got the Freemans Cocktail and the Grass Roots Sour. Although the list of ingredients was certainly impressive and exotic, for $12.00, the cocktails did not impress me that much. My Gatsby tasted like a gin and tonic flavored with ginger ale and I found myself wishing I just ordered a dirty martini like the b-day girl did.
All in all, a lovely and memorable evening with great people and great food.