Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Smith (Pancakes-specific)

Eric here... I'm not sure if I have written this or not, but I LOVE PANCAKES! They are a great way to start your morning off, especially if you are hungover and in need of a hearty meal to soak up last night's alcohol :-) Today was one of those days for me. The Smith is a busy, busy place and was probably not the best choice for a couple with a nasty hangover, but these pancakes made it worth it...

Three big, fluffy pancakes are topped with baked apple slices, candied walnuts, and a white rum caramel sauce. And of course, a healthy portion of syrup (as desired by the individual). Some purists don't like any toppings, but for me, they provide a great blend of textures in every bite (I dig the crunch). I've gotten these pancakes many-a-times and they are always light & fluffy. It's quite the sweet dish & these pancakes are large so be prepared! I promise you that if you also enjoy pancakes, get these, and thank me later!

Olives - Union Square W Hotel

This weekend was our second go-round at Olives, the restaurant in the W hotel in Union Square, a Todd English joint. Not many people know that this place serves good food, since many people come just for the bar and the atmosphere. It really is a wonderful dining experience, especially at the tables with the curtains around them - it's very intimate and the service is great.To start off, the dirty martinis are great - nice, big chilled glasses. Their olive spreads and bread basket are quite tasty too.

We started off with three appetizers to share - the fig & prosciutto flatbread, the beet salad and the small portion of the butternut squash ravioli (3 pieces versus 6 for the entree). The flatbread (pictured) was great, the figs and salty prosciutto play well off of each other. The beet salad was better the first time around. The ravioli is wonderful and two people in our party got it for their main dish. It's savory and delicious.We both got the scallops for our entree - the dish is a masterpiece both in appearance and taste. Three scallops - cooked through to perfection & browned on the outside - come on a thin layer of whipped sweet potato. There is quinoa and some crunchy oat pieces on the plate as well, accompanied by the outer layers of b-sprouts. When you put the pieces together, it is the perfect scallop bite. We were fortunate to have a lot of these bites!

Those who had the ravioli as their entree thoroughly enjoyed their dishes. On the side we got the spicy broccoli (a side of another entree but they let you order it for the table) because we had heard that it was "the best thing I ever ate" on the Food Network... Not true in our opinions! It was very average, as was the carrots side we ordered.

Since we were celebrating a birthday, we got two desserts to share. The apple crisp (which is a different version of the dish) and the liquid snickers (pictured) - both were great for a few bites each & satisfied our sweet tooth. If we had to pick one to get again it would be the liquid snickers since it was a deconstructed twist on snickers. To finish you off, they give you a mini lemon cupcake surprise, which was good, but not necessary.

All in all, a great meal! We left feeling full but not weighed down. We love this place and will definitely come back!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Last weekend, we went out to dinner with our parents to Gonzo (13th St btwn 6th & 7th). We had heard good things and it was on our mental list of "places to try." Gonzo is sneakily big as you walk down a few stairs to get in and are greeted by a bar area with a bunch of tables. However, if you keep heading towards the back, you walk into a large dining room with an open, yet rustic, feel.. With the large, open room, Gonzo got loud by 9-10 PM when it really started to fill up. They seated us at a circular table, which is always nice when you are dining with 6 or more people. Plus, by going with a group of 6 people we were able to sample a bunch of the different dishes offered:

Appys: We'll start off with what Eric felt was the best thing that he tasted all night... Wild mushroom pizza! We ordered a pizza - half mushroom, half margherita - for the table and everyone was able to eat 2 slices (1 of each).

The sauteed mushroms & onions were carmelized to perfection and together with the muzzarella cheese and "tortilla-thin" pizza crust, it was a pizza party for your taste buds! Everyone who tried this slice was a fan! The margherita was fairly average, so we would say that if you go, try something a bit more exotic - they had lots of pizza options with a variety of toppings.

We also shared the grilled onion salad with aged balsamic vinegar and the arugula salad:

Both salads were a success and the same could be said for each: if you like onions/arugula then you'll be sure to enjoy this salad. For an additional $4, you got some aged balsamic vinegar on top of the grilled onion salad. We read before that this was worth trying so we indulged. No doubt, it was tasty & a great way to give the dish a little more life, but if you're not a big balsamic fan or don't want to spend $17 on a salad appetizer, don't feel bad for not getting it as it doesn't make or break the dish. The arugula salad comes with a tasty surprise underneath the bed of greens, but we wouldn't want to ruin that for you so you'll have to go to Gonzo to see for yourself!

On to the entrees: I (Eric) got the braised shortribs since it came highly recommend by our server (very sweet woman, although on this Saturday night, she was a bit all over the place). I normally don't order shortribs but I figured what the heck!

The shortribs were very tender, and were falling off the bone. The meat had tons of flavor and the fat was marbled right in there so very few bites were too chewy or fatty. The portion size was HUGE and could easily be split into two meals. Especially since we got a handful of sides for the table.

The creamy polenta was super rich and had mascarpone cheese mixed in to give it its creaminess. It paired perfectly with the hearty shortribs. The balsamic roasted brussels sprouts & roasted asparagus were both above average sides that paired better with some of the lighter dishes on the table.

Would I get the shortribs again? Probably not. Even though they were cooked very well, it was still a bit too fatty for me, and just not my thing. Next time around I want to see what their pasta dishes have to offer..

I (Jess) went a little lighter and ordered the grilled scallops:

There was an arugala pesto on top and it was a lovely flavor match for the scallops. Since it's been almost a week, I don't remember what went along with them, but it was a delicious dish that I would order again if I went there.

For dessert, the table shared two dishes: a brown sugar cheesecake & a pecan praline ice cream sandwich. The latter was held together by two pecan meringue cookies and filled with vanilla ice cream. The former was a slice of cheesecake heaven to top off an already rich meal. This was one of the stronger pieces of cheesecake we've had in some time with a great, crumbly crust and sweet, creamy filling. Won the award for the dessert MVP! Please make sure you save some room for it!

Also worth mentioning was that Gonzo had a great wine list, with lots of good reds & whites to choose from. All in all, Gonzo is a solid spot worth venturing to for a quality Italian meal. We hope to return soon to sample some more of their menu.