Category Archives: New York Restaurants

Prune

I have a lot of opinions. If you know me in real life, this is not news to you. Some opinions are totally founded, others… not so much. I’ll admit it either way. One opinion that I think is completely justified is the aversion to trendy restaurants. If the chef is incredible, the food the best you’ve ever tasted, the ambience outstanding, then great. I want to eat there. If the food is mediocre but no one is willing to say it because the backer is a Vanity Fair editor and Jerry Seinfeld dines with Brooke Shields at this place on the regular… I just can’t buy it.

Enter Prune. Anthony Bourdain endorsed. Frequented by celebrities. And wholly worth the money.

photo c/o Foodie in Denial

Prune 54 East 1st St, New York, NY. Prune is a teeny, tiny American restaurant with an open kitchen, bright lights, and zero pretension. The menu is small but hearty, the wine list extensive, and each bite worthy of a “wow.” Reservations must be made at least a couple days in advance for weekend spots but it is so very worth it.

On the menu:
Roasted marrow bones with parsley salad and sea salt
Pork braised in octopus broth with clams, kale, and beans
Lamb blade chop with potatoes skordalia and dandelion greens
Cornmeal poundcake with poached pears, whipped ricotta, and rosemary syrup
Candied pumpkin with sugared “hay” with greek yogurt and honey

Verdict: Oh mama. This is one of those meals where in two weeks I’ll probably forget what I had for my main course because the starters and desserts were so incredibly out of this world. I had a slight apprehension when my dining partner suggested the bone marrow. It literally showed up on the table looking like the picture above, and all I could think of was, “My dog chewed on bones like that.” But friends… oh, friends. You dig out the roasted marrow with a little spoon and spread it on oiled toast, top it with the crunchy greens, sprinkle a little sea salt on top and inhale. If you can get past the consistency of the marrow, you will LOVE this dish.

The other standout of the meal was the dessert. After a full bottle of wine, I was feeling just adventurous enough to order something called “hay.” I am so very glad that I did. Little cubes of candied pumpkin are nestled in shredded wheat, with a dollop of greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey. I wanted to lick the plate. It was just that good.

For a take on Prune’s fabulous “hay” dessert, take a cup of greek yogurt, crunch up some shredded wheat cereal into the cup, and add a drizzle of honey. I don’t know if this dish is commonplace somewhere in the world, but if not… I’m patenting it right now. Hey breakfast.

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Bonjour, Tournesol

c/o Flickr

Greetings, readers! Apologies for the long hiatus. I bet you were sick of staring at that greasy pizza, eh? My new day job keeps me busy and I find at the end of the long day, all I want to do is read my trashy Glamour magazine and go to bed at 10:00. But I’ve been eating some incredible stuff lately, and it’s worth sharing.

I’m not ashamed to say that I have been single for most Valentine’s Days in my life. Ok… all of them. Every Valentine’s Day. I’m a nice girl! Seriously!

Anyway. This year, as I am finally not single anymore, I wanted to celebrate but also wanted to avoid spending $300 on prix-fixe menus set amid red balloons and roses. The Boyfriend and I decided we’d celebrate on Valentine’s Day Eve instead, when most restaurants are still serving their regular menus and half the amount of people are out foraging for romance in the form of eats.

Tournesol 5012 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY. Tournsesol is a tiny French restaurant settled in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens, just north of Brooklyn. With a kitchen headed by Christophe Morvan, this simple but well executed menu has something for every taste, at prices that allow you to come back again and again. It’s a special occasion restaurant without the special occasion price tag. The entire staff is fantastically and authentically French, and incredibly kind and helpful.

On the menu:
Tartelette of brie with caramelized figs
Bouillabaisse
Beef Bourguignon with tagliatelles
Bread pudding with raisins and crème anglais
New Orleans style beignets with orange rum sauce, vanilla ice cream, and mango

Verdict: Friends… I think I have a new favorite restaurant. Never mind that it’s in Queens and I have a deep and profound love of my borough, this place is everything. It’s small but not crowded, intimate but unassuming, delicious dishes but simple fare, and a quality, high-class dining experience without Manhattan price tags. The tartelette was a bit salty but sweet, almost mozzarella like in flavor and consistency and perfectly complemented by the juicy figs. I adored my bouillabaisse, and the bread pudding was out of this world. But the real meal winner was the simple beef and pasta with pearl onions that tasted like it had all been simmering together in red wine for days, and God’s egg timer went off and he reached down into the Tournesol kitchen and said “Now! Now the beef is DONE!”

Ahem. So… in other words… I liked it. It was pretty good. You should eat there. Amen.

Apologies for the lack of original pictures, or pictures in general. It was Valentine’s Day dinner and I felt like a goober pulling out my camera. Just go see for yourself!

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Gosh, is it winter? I could barely tell.

I had planned on sharing a ridiculously sweet (literally and figuratively) recipe with you guys today but uh… something happened last night. I was tricked into drinking too much wine and then it blizzarded (it’s a word) here in New York and I found myself unable to resist the warm, snuggly, dreamy comforts of my bed. So no post for you today. Stay tuned for tomorrow…

A blurry picture of my neighborhood this morning

 

In other news, I realize I am behind the times on this but I had one of the most amazing cupcakes I’ve ever eaten last night. Have you had Butter Lane cupcakes? If not, RUN there right now. And try the banana cake with maple pecan frosting. It’s pretty much sent straight from the gods.

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Midtown Restaurant Recommendation

People ask me all the time for restaurant recommendations, usually in the form of, “My family is staying in the West Village and they want an affordable Moroccan restaurant that will seat all 17 of them at 7PM on a Saturday and one is a vegan and one is lactose intolerant. Do you know of anything?”

The one neighborhood I’m asked about the most is midtown. “Can you recommend something affordable and delicious in midtown that isn’t tourist central or Europa Cafe?”

I’m happy to say I finally can.

Remember this beauty?

(click the pic for the original post!)

Mia Dona is a relatively affordable, incredibly delicious Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan (58th Street and 3rd Avenue) that is chic enough to make out-of-towners feel like they’re eating haute cuisine but rustic and friendly enough that they won’t stare down at something foreign and squishy and green that they’ve never seen before and ask, “What do I do with this?”

Recommended dishes:
Anything with meatballs
Ricotta gnocchi with roasted cauliflower, peas, pancetta, and basil
Chocolate cake with rosemary creme brulee (this was to DIE for)

It should be said that the service was a bit slow and the decor kind of strange (my dining partner commented, “I like the… farm equipment?”) but it serves its purpose: a reliable, relatively affordable, upscale dining experience that I’d recommend time and again.

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Viva Italia!

 

Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Joseph Bastianich, and Mario Batali: three of the brains behind Eataly (photo c/o Serious Eats)

 

On Monday, in honor of Columbus Day and being Italian and all, I finally made the trip to Eataly! I’ve been reading about it for months now and figured since I have my new camera and (I hoped) the crowds have died down a bit, I thought I’d make the trek.

Eataly is chef Mario Batali’s newest venture. It is essentially a mecca of Italian food, wine, and culture in the form of meats, seafood, cheeses, wine, gelato, espresso, homemade pasta, pastries, and even books. If it has something to do with Italy, you can find it at Eataly. Chefs and specialists prepare your food and answer any questions you could have about how to cook something, what to pair it with, and other details you never even knew you wanted to know.

Sounds pretty perfect, huh? Sure. Kind of. Uh huh. Every time I picked up a block of cheese or a slice of prosciutto I thought, “Yikes, that’s expensive.” Every time I walked by a table of people snacking on salami and sipping wine I thought, “Really? You like standing in this echoing warehouse packed with people trying to enjoy your twelve dollar glass of pinot noir?” Every time I smelled something delicious I was instantly distracted by the flashing flat screen TVs advertising trips to Italy and sponsors of the market.

I began to dream of the little Italian shop in Chelsea Market called Buon Italia with endless Italian cookie imports and meats and cheeses but at standard prices served by traditional little Italian men and women who barely speak English.

Call me a traditionalist (or maybe I’m just poor?) but Eataly struck me as a glorified Whole Foods, and I’m a simple girl myself. I think for now, I’ll keep my distance.

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Burger Blitz

Is there anything better than a burger? Anytime I ever think I could become a vegetarian, I think of a hot, juicy, cheesy burger and the thought flies right out of my head. I just couldn’t give it up.

Gratuitous picture of delicious burger in 3… 2… 1…

Petey's! In Astoria, Queens

Luxury Travel Advisor just posted a story on New York’s 7 Best Burgers, as compiled by The Brooklyn Nomad.  While Petey’s is not on the list, it’s certainly my favorite burger spot in Queens. I guess I’m willing to try the 7 listed here. You know… so I can keep YOU informed. I’ll just keep telling myself that.

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Free Sangria!

There’s a headline that’ll get your attention, am I right? This past weekend I went out for a delicious brunch with my lovely friend, Ben. When he sent me a list of possible new brunch spots, I saw the words “free sangria” and all other information was null and void. If there’s a better way to kick off your Sunday, I have never heard of it.

Combination plate with scrambled eggs, chorizo, and yuca frita

Agozar 326 Bowery and Bleecker St, New York, NY. Agozar is a Cuban-inspired restaurant positioned in a trendy neighborhood but with friendly prices. The brunch can not be beat! For around $15 – $17 you get an entree and two-hour unlimited free sangria.

On the menu:
Eggs benedict, Cuban style (Spanish ham, poached eggs, chipotle hollandaise, and Cuban toast) with salad
Combination plate: scrambled eggs, chorizo, yuca frita, and Cuban toast
Sangria!

Eggs benedict, Cuban style

Verdict: I don’t know, I’m still drunk.

Kidding! The food was DELICIOUS. An unlimited brunch drink special is no good if the food isn’t worth going for alone, and Agozar did not disappoint. Most would tell you I have an eggs benedict addiction and while they may be borderline correct, I just love trying out a new take on my favorite dish. My only criticism is that I like a thick slab of ham and you can see that this was sliced deli thin. In my opinion, when you have a hearty dish like eggs benedict you need the meat to stand out on its own. The chipotle hollandaise was a slightly spicy take on your standard hollandaise and while not a fan of anything spicy myself, I was putting this stuff on my lettuce and debating licking the plate clean. The chorizo was also perfectly done, crispy and hot off the grill and served in link form, which I prefer to the chorizo crumble you get in a lot of restaurants.

It should also be said that while the sangria was free, it was also very tasty. And they are not shy about refilling your glass! I highly recommend it.

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