Saturday, September 17, 2011

Date Night!

This past Thursday night, we decided to change up our normal routine of having dinner at the table and relaxing on the couch. Keeping it local, we grabbed a drink at Blue Ribbon Bar on Downing Street and had dinner at Mermaid Oyster Bar on Sullivan Street. Blue Ribbon Bar is a great, little bar with a serious menu (food & drinks) despite being the size of a bedroom. With only a dozen or so bar stools, it has a very intimate vibe. While everything is very modern and has a shine to it, the walls are covered in wood and the lighting is dim so it feels very cozy.

I went with a pint of a recently-released Brooklyn Brewery beer, Concoction. The bartender said it had a smoky, almost scotch-like taste to it. He was spot on. With an alcohol content around 6.5%, it certainly tasted stronger than it was. It went down nice and smooth and I'd happily order another. Jess opted for a trio of red wines. They pour you 2 ounces (or a little bit more, if you get a nice bartender) of three different reds so you can sample them all. She was impressed with all of them.

By this point, our stomachs were growling so we headed over to Mermaid Oyster Bar. This place has become something of a local favorite for us as it always delivers and never feels like it's breaking the bank. I ordered a shrimp & oyster po boy with old bay fries, while Jess got her favorite, the calamari salad. We've had these dishes in the past, so it came as no surprise that they were delicious and led to us clearing our plates.

After a complimentary chocolate pudding to satisfy our sweet tooth, we walked around the corner to our apartment... home sweet home. Gotta love an impromptu, low-key evening with good food & drinks and the one you love.

Friday, September 16, 2011

ABC Kitchen

A long-overdue trip to ABC Kitchen was in store for us over Labor Day weekend – hard to get into since it hit the scene last year, it took a while for us to plan ahead far enough to get a weekend reservation at this local, organic food hotspot.

I was recently reading an article about how 9/11 changed the landscape of New York City restaurants – places with grand, museum-like designs, dim lighting, club music and menus with fancy-shmancy ingredients and delicacies have had their heyday. In the face of a major catastrophe (and an economic downturn), NYC has become a place where low-key, casual and good-for-you dining is where it’s at. ‘Organic,’ ‘self-sustaining,’ ‘locally-grown’….these are words you hear quite often. And ABC Kitchen is at the heart of this trend, for a good reason. Hey, if Jean-Georges is behind something, it's usually good.

The design is completely cozy: lots of wood, soft lighting, a casual and warm almost barn-like feel. And adding to the barn-like feel is the fact that this place is big on vegetables and does them right. You can have a meat-free meal and be completely satisfied – veggies are definitely the star.

We took a sharing approach and got a bunch of appetizers – no entrees – which was a great way to go.

Roasted beets with housemade yogurt: these were great and if you’re a beet-lover, give these a try. The yogurt adds tanginess without too much flavor to take away from the freshness of the beets.

Crab toast with lemon aioli: extra crispy toast smothered with a crab salad. A tad on the oily side, but quiet delicious because of it.

Roast carrot and avocado salad, crunchy seeds, sour cream and citrus: By far the best dish of the evening – what seems to be a simple salad is bursting with flavor. The roasted carrots are the star and are perfectly complimented by the creaminess of the fresh avocado and sour cream, and contrasted nicely by the citrus dressing and crunchy seeds. Mmmmmm.

Pretzel-dusted calamari, marinara and mustard aioli: Good, but nothing to write home about. The mustard aioli was the best part of this dish, since we didn’t taste any pretzel flavor in the calamari crust.

Whole wheat pizza with spicy cacciatorini meatballs, habanero tomato sauce and ricotta: a nice, spicy pizza with fresh ingredients.

All in all, the ABC Kitchen experience is among the best – both from an atmosphere perspective and the quality of the food is top-notch. Go for the vegetables and soak up the pretty atmosphere and lighting (thanks to ABC Home, which is connected through the back of the restaurant) - and just kick back and enjoy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Torrisi Turkey Yankee Stadium

I've been meaning to try Torrisi's sandwiches for some time now, and despite working around the corner from the restaurant, it took me until today at Yankee Stadium to finally try it. From co-workers and friends, I've always heard that their sandwiches were incredible and someone even went as far to say "it's the best turkey sandwich you'll ever have." In short, expectations were high when I bought a $14 turkey sandwich at a food stand in the Great Hall at the stadium.

Prepared to order, a soft sesame seed roll is piled with freshly sliced turkey, shredded lettuce, tomato, mayo, and spicy mayo (I ordered no onion since I don't like raw onion). At a cost of $14, I expected the sandwich to be a bit bigger but by the end of it, I realized it was the perfect size. Both my friend & I were comfortably full after each eating one. The turkey is moist and flavorful and the double mayo really works (and I'm not a big mayo fan). The spicy mayo adds a nice kick but nothing too harsh if you're spice-averse. The straight mayo bleeds with the tomato to create a nice little sauce. The shredded lettuce offers some nice crunch to round it out. Each bite is flavorful and delicious.. not something you expect from a turkey sandwich. We both walked away very happy and I trust you will too.

I'm not sure if it's the best turkey sandwich I've ever had but I don't think I know what the best turkey sandwich I've ever had is. Either way, this sandwich deserves to be in the "best turkey sandwich" conversation. For those going to Yankee Stadium, I suggest splurging on it and getting a side of garlic fries. Oh, and the Yankees won!