Sunday, June 19, 2011

Minetta Tavern (Black Label Burger)

We had been holding off on hitting up Minetta Tavern since it's such a far trek from our apartment...a four minute walk, just too strenuous. We decided to make the journey last night and our expectations were sky high after all the things we've heard and the responses to our RestoHoppers tweet...."This calls 4 a day of fasting so u can eat ALL u WANT...Congrats & have fun 4 the rest of us!"

We started off the night by indulging in their cocktail menu by getting the Blood & Sand and the Rhubarb Sophie...both delicious and strong.

Now...on to the food. We debated about the appetizer - Eric wanted to try the beef tartar but we ultimately went with the hamachi, which came with scallions and a citrus dressing. It was good but nothing to write home about. We were aiming for something lighter to prepare us both for our Black Label burgers....

We were very excited to have these plopped in front of us, both ordered medium because Minetta says that they "undercook." The burgers aren't huge, which we weren't complaining about, because the meat is supposed to be top notch. It's a dry-aged 70/30 rib eye, blended with skirt, brisket, and short rib. The burger is topped with melt-in-your-mouth caramelized onions (and a ton of clarified butter and salt) and sitting in between a brioche bun, which is just the right thickness so as to support the burger but not detract from it.

Our followers know that we usually like all of our meals, so it may come as a surprise to find out that we weren't obsessed with Minetta's Black Label burger. Yeah, it's a good burger, but did we appreciate the $26 worth of beef? Not really. Maybe it's the hype, maybe it's that we can't taste the difference between good beef & great beef, or maybe it's the hefty price tag for a burger. Whatever it was, we weren't blown away with "the best burger in the city." We're still partial to the bacon cheeseburger at Corner Bistro...maybe a little less high class, but it's equally as flavorful & half the price.

Good times at Minetta Tavern, but we won't be rushing back here any time soon. Check it out for yourself and let us know if we're blogging crazy talk.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Last night for our 5-year dating anniversary, we celebrated with a meal at Scarpetta. Despite trying to get a reservation right when this night became available, the earliest they could seat us was 9:30. Lesson: this place has some serious buzz about it & you better be on top of getting a Saturday night reservation. Sitting on the edge of the Meatpacking District, Scarpetta feels much classier & cozier than the B&T restaurants just a block west.

We had heard so much about Scarpetta prior to dining here that we didn't even need a menu. They bring you a fully-loaded bread basket (pick up the pinwheel & thank me later) paired with olive oil, mascarpone butter, and a tomato-eggplant tapenade. When you're eating at 9:30, you respect a good bread basket.

We started off with the famed creamy polenta appetizer, which was finished table-side and already split in half for us (why don't more restaurants do this for you?!?).  We were given a bowl of creamy polenta & the waiter spooned truffled mushrooms on top. It's at this point that you know you're in for a treat... the sweet smell of truffles hits your senses. Each & every bite of this dish should be savored. It's creamy beyond your wildest dreams and loaded with truffled mushroom flavor.

We each got the spaghetti entree - an odd move for us since we usually like to sample the menu, but every review we read said this was the best dish, so we each wanted it for our own. It was a good move. It's as simple as spaghetti can be... coated in marinara sauce & mixed with shredded basil. You don't think you're in for a treat when you first twirl your fork around the plate of pasta, but you're wrong. There's something about that sauce that just causes a taste bud party to erupt in your mouth. The sauce is a bit sweet and I think that's what it is. The pasta is perfectly cooked and a bit thicker than normal spaghetti.  By the time the meal was over, both our plates were completely empty. The reviews weren't lying.. this dish is phenomenal.

For dessert, we got the chocolate cake and it was sublime. The perfect capper to a delicious meal,  served with a salted caramel gelato, this dish does a great job of combining sweet & salty.

The biggest takeaway from Scarpetta is that everything brought out seems simple & slightly underwhelming: polenta, spaghetti, & chocolate cake...nothing too crazy right there from a culinary perspective.  However, when each dish is cooked to perfection, you realize its full potential. Scarpetta was an absolute treat and we're lucky to have celebrated such a wondrous occasion with an equally wondrous meal.