Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Joseph Leonard

We went out to Joseph Leonard – a restaurant that has long been on our list, and should be on yours too - this past Friday night. Resting on the corner of Waverly & Grove in a converted one-bedroom apartment, Joseph Leonard has a great vibe. You walk in and are immediately greeted by an L-shaped bar and classic rock (Clapton, Talking Heads, etc) blasting from the speaker system.

With a bar on the ground floor and the kitchen "upstairs" (just a few of them), JL has very limited seating and one is expected to have to wait for a table on the weekend. We were shocked when we were brought right to a table on the upper level. SCORE!

It looked like everyone sitting at the bar was socializing and having a great time - it's definitely that kind of place. There are also seats right in front of the kitchen, which seemed fun since the chef was chatting with customers and it's always a plus to be able to see your food being cooked!

Instead of bread on the table, they have out a jar of mini pickles – double score! We started off with a couple of their cocktails & a handful of their daily selection of oysters. On this night they had some from two northeast states that we can't remember. No matter where they were from, they were damn tasty and went down very easy with our drinks...a great way to kick things off.

On to the main course & a couple more cocktails (they make a mean old fashioned)... Jess ordered the cod, which was crispy on the outside and served with confit red peppers, yukon potatoes and a salsa verde. All the flavors went well together and made for a filling and satisfying dish.

While Jess was the one tipped off to the treasure that is JL, Jess was Eric's tipster on what to order. The consensus of JL eaters is that the braised pork hock is the thing to get. Since Eric is a sucker for signature dishes, he signed up for some hock, despite not having a clue what he was getting himself into. The waitress explained that it’s brined and then braised overnight….and then deep fried. So, he knew that this couldn't end too poorly. Served alongside an arugula salad, this pork hock was down right filthy (in a good way). With a crispy exterior and meat on the interior that was falling off the bone, it was the right choice. Each bite was scrumptious & loaded with pork-y goodness. We quickly understood why NY Magazine put this on their "Best Of Pork" list.
We also got a side of the brussels sprouts that need to be mentioned because of the unique way they were prepared... shredded, roasted, & then topped with some sriracha (hot sauce). Delicious!

There was not enough room for dessert so we continued to sip our drinks as the meal came to a close. We loved our dinner at Joseph Leonard and will definitely be back when we want a tasty meal out with some cocktails.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Frankies Spuntino (17)

SPUNTINO (spoon'tîno), noun: An informal meal or a snack; also, a casual Italian eatery.
If you're looking for a fresh, delicious Italian meal, you're not at a loss for options in NYC. What makes Frankies Spuntino better than the rest? The friendly faces and comfy feel…oh yeah, and the meatballs.

Frankies had long been on “the list” but due to the no reservations policy, it’s only appropriate for certain evenings. When Eric and I planned to grab a bite on Friday evening with no real plans after, this was a perfect destination. We walked in and were told it would be a half hour wait…we were expecting longer. The people who walked in five minutes later were told an hour and 15 minutes, so I guess we arrived during the sweet spot. We stood around the bar area with some wine, beer, bread and olive oil, conversing with the bartender about his favorite dishes, so the wait seemed to whiz by.

Upon sitting, we ordered the Cremini Mushroom & Truffle Oil crostini, which was good, but not nearly as delicious as our recent crostini binge at Corsino. We also ordered the Meatballs with Pine Nuts & Raisins, which were the star of the meal. They didn’t come with quite as much marinara as we needed to cover each bite, but regardless, they were a dish we would order again and again.

Eric got the house-made Cavetelli with Faiccos Hot Sausage & Browned Sage Butter, which he promptly devoured. Cavetelli is an interesting pasta because most people have no idea what it is. The best way to describe it would be to show you a picture. See below. The portion was large but not over-the-top, the pasta was perfectly cooked, the sausage added a ton of flavor & a nice kick, while the browned sage butter lightly coated it all and added a ton of flavor. All in all, a fantastic ordering decision.
I got the Roasted Vegetable Salad, which was a mix-up of beets, sunchokes, mushrooms and other yummy roasted vegetables. No lettuce in this salad…it was light and packed with flavor. On an evening when I didn't want to eat too heavy, this was the perfect choice.

Frankies is definitely a unique and cozy New York spot. We're looking forward to dining at Frankies (457) Sputino in Brooklyn...the original. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls…..Oyster Bar

Last Saturday night, we strolled over to Pearl Oyster Bar, a seafood lover's gem amidst the chaos of Greenwich Village. It is known by many to have a top-of-the-line lobster roll & strangely enough, Eric had never had a lobster roll before (yikes!), so this was going to be a special evening for him. Even stranger, we walked in and pretty much sat right down in the bar area. You can usually count on at least an hour wait, so this was music to our appetites! (Sitting in the bar area does mean that they’ll rush your meal along a little quicker, though. If you want to nosh at a slower pace, you should probably sit in the dining room so you don’t get evil stares from the people waiting at the bar for a table while you milk that last sip of wine.)

We started out with a small bucket of steamers and the fried oysters – two solid appetizers. The steamers are a fun “get involved” appetizer and let’s face it, anything you dip in butter is going to be good. The fried oysters come on top of a delicious tartar sauce and again, anything fried is going to be good. I’ll give Pearl a thumbs up for not screwing either of these up, but I wouldn’t say either were OUT of THIS WORLD fantastic.

The star of the evening was by far the lobster roll, which is what you should get at Pearl, hands down. Eric’s world was rocked. What comes in an unassuming bun is a big ole heap of lobster meat mixed with a light coating of mayo and herbs. No celery in this roll…straight up lobsta. And overflowing on the other side of the plate are shoestring fries, a crispy and salty complement.

Jess went with the pan roasted cod, as she had already hit up the lobster roll another time and wasn’t in the mood. The cod was fresh and had a browned exterior that made for a nice texture contrast to the flaky fish. The dish came with sautéed snap peas and almonds and was good, but not fantabulous like the LR.

Pearl Oyster Bar is a place where you can always have a good time & a great meal and is a must for NYC seafood lovers…