Category Archives: New York Restaurants

Classy Ladies

That is one giant shaker of Old Bay, but we're not complaining

In addition to my incredible birthday lunch, I was treated to an equally delicious birthday dinner. I got an e-mail a few weeks ago about a special deal at Choptank in Manhattan from Tasting Table (on a side note, if you live in New York and you don’t get these e-mails, you are SERIOUSLY missing out). For $36 you get half a dozen crabs and a growler of beer. I said, a GROWLER of beer. That’s a half gallon, people. One half gallon of beer.

Please don’t judge me.

Anyway, I knew this was what I wanted for my birthday. When the waitress laid out the newspaper, handed us little wooden hammers, and set down a roll of paper towels, I knew I made the right choice.

They pour those crabs out on the table in front of you from a paper bag! Love it.

Choptank 308 Bleecker Street between Grove Street and Barrow Street, New York, NY. Choptank is named after the Choptank River in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay. The food is mid-Atlantic inspired and seafood-centric, and just down-home enough to make me want to go back again and again.

On the menu:
Homemade potato chips with Old Bay, served with crab dip (a free starter!)
Middleneck Clams with garlic Butter, herbs, and country toast
Tasting Table special: 6 crabs plus a growler of Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner, served with red potatoes and fresh corn
Thousand layer cake with fudge frosting
Hamburger cookies with frosting and vanilla ice cream

Thousand layer cake

Verdict: The clams! The clams! Oh lord, the clams! The crabs were a lot of work (a LOT of work) and not really worth the effort, but oh man, the clams. I could’ve eaten three dozen. They were served in a steam pot full of melted butter with just a pinch of red pepper flakes and a hint of garlic. Becca and I both agreed we’d like to pour that sauce on everything from steak to cardboard. It was that good. Choptank gets its seafood from a New York fish market, but their baked goods are imported: the cake from a local bakery, and the cookies are delivered straight from Maryland where hamburger cookies are a local specialty.

Hamburger cookies - essentially black and white cookies but amaaaaazing

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Oui, Oui Baby

Marinated fingerling potatoes

French food is my favorite cuisine. Hands down. And for my birthday, my parents took me to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze at The London where Monsieur Ramsay has created quite the menu. This $26 pre-fixe lunch is available year round, but right now it’s Restaurant Week and there is an additional pre-fixe menu for only $24.07. So… there’s really no reason not to go. Have you left yet? Okay, read the review first. And then go.

Tortellini of beef short rib

Maze by Gordon Ramsay at The London 54th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, New York, NY. Maze offers a standard 3-course pre-fixe meal for lunch with tapas-sized offerings. The food is French-inspired but in true Gordon Ramsay style, there is an element of comfort food and Asian fusion.

Pan seared halibut

On the menu:

Marinated fingerling potatoes with Holland leeks, poached quail’s egg, and prosciutto
Tortellini of beef short rib with escarole, trumpette royale and dashi
Cobb salad with free-range eggs and blue cheese
Pan-seared halibut with butternut squash and brown butter vinegar sauce
Boulliabaisse
Chocolate pudding with stout ice cream, pretzel, peanut butter powder
Vanilla custard with citrus fruits, brown sugar oats and mandarin sorbet

Cobb salad (minus the bacon for my veg mom)

Verdict: DEEEEELICIOUS! I read very mixed reviews of this restaurant online, but I was so impressed, as were my parents, and that’s saying something. I won’t try to run through every dish for you, but let me tell you that the sauces made these plates. My gorgeous halibut was set down in front of me and then the waiter poured the brown butter sauce over and I almost dove in head first. The chocolate pudding was also a stand out dish, and I don’t know what peanut butter powder is but I know I need more of it in my life. I went back to work in a food coma and was effectively useless for the rest of the day. In my book: success.

Boulliabaisse

Chocolate pudding

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Let the Games Begin, Ja!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the World Cup kicked off this past weekend. While I cheered for the USA because, well… I am an American, I don’t feel a strict allegiance to any team. I find myself pulling for the underdog in every match, despite my heritage, and therefore could NOT root for Germany on Sunday when they played Australia. They’re so mean! And the Aussie team is nicknamed The Socceroos. Can you stand the adorableness?

Despite my disdain for the German team, I am 25% German and therefore showed a tiny bit of support by spending 25% of my Saturday eating German food and drinking a ridiculous amount of Spaten Oktoberfest. Don’t worry, it was ALMOST noon.

The colors got weirdly wonky in this picture, but many, many thanks to Ben for capturing them at all, since I am a terrible blogger and forgot my camera

Heidelberg Restaurant 1648 Second Avenue, between 85th St and 86th St, New York, NY. This place has been around since 1964, in a neighborhood called Yorkville that used to be predominantly German. The food is traditional German fare, and the beer is served in pints, half liters, liters, or 2 liter boots. That’s right. Two. Liter. Boots. And you thought the boot was a mythical figment of Beer Fest‘s imagination. The decor is pure kitsch (the waitstaff wears lederhosen and dirndl…) but so enjoyable.

On the menu:
Potato pancakes
Bratwurst with sauerkraut and potato salad
Sauerbraten with red cabbage (not pictured)

Potato Pancakes

Verdict: Jawhol! As a small aside, I dubbed this the year I will learn to love the foods I have typically shunned. On that list: sausage. I ordered a bratwurst because I felt like ordering potato pancakes was too safe, and I wanted to try a differently prepared type of sausage. Holy, holy mackerel, am I glad I did. This brat was lightly fried and spectacular; like a deep fried hot dog, with tangy sauerkraut and cool potato salad to smooth it all out. I did taste a dining partner’s potato pancake and it was SUBLIME. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and the size of my face. Did I mention I like pancakes? The sauerbraten was perfectly cooked and unbelievably tender, and I can not wait to go back to Heidelberg and order it for myself.

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Lucky Gnocchi Day

The remnants of a pesto/ham and tomato/marinara bowl of love

One of my favorite New York Deals comes in the form of pasta. All you can eat pasta, to be exact. On the 29th of every month, Piola in the East Village offers an all-you-can-eat special in which they walk around serving from giant bowls of their handmade gnocchi with different sauces that include traditional marinara, chicken and broccoli alfredo, four cheese, pesto, and a magical ham-tomato red sauce that I believe also includes unicorn tears and fairy dust. Yes, it’s that good.

Tell the waiter you want the gnocchi special and let the games begin. If you want more pasta, you leave your little card on green. If your pants are about to split, maybe consider turning the card over to red and the pasta man will stay away from your table. I know gnocchi seems like a heavy dish to offer endless bowls of, but there is a little story behind this. From Piola’s website:

“The story begins with a missionary arriving in a small village in Italy on the 29th of an unknown month. He arrived upon a very poor house asking for food. He was welcomed to their house and was offered the only thing they had on the table, ‘Gnocchi’. The missionary was very thankful for their warm reception and wonderful food. Soon after the missionary left the house, the poor family found some gold coins right under their Gnocchi plate… 
Since then the ‘Lucky Gnocchi Legend’ has gained recognition all over the world. Families gather together every 29th of the month and enjoy Gnocchi in order to have luck and prosperity in their lives. PIOLA has adopted this beautiful legend, ‘Lucky Gnocchi Day’.”

Piola also offers a plethora of other deals, and the food is incredible. Let me tell you, dear readers, February is a sad, sad month.

Unless it’s a Leap Year. Then we’re cool.

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Happy Holiday Weekend!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am jonesing for a long weekend. And this one is especially spectacular because it’s Memorial Day weekend and it’s the OFFICIAL (drum roll pleeeeeease) beginning of summer! Prayers: answered.

This weekend, I’ll be eating a lot (I know, it’s terribly shocking) and to whet your palate, a few pictures of beautiful brunches inhaled calmly and daintily enjoyed last weekend.

Magnolia 6th Ave at 12th Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

On the menu:
French toast with real maple syrup
Lobster frittata with red bliss potatoes and an English muffin
Eggs benedict with red bliss potatoes
Coffee
Mimosas

Verdict: Love this place! Let me paint you a picture: my old friend, Kristy, and I met at Magnolia to catch up after almost two years of not seeing each other. So we needed some time… a lot of time. The staff was incredibly sweet, amazingly patient, and they didn’t even judge us when we ordered three full meals between the two of us. “Can we uh… have the French toast for dessert?” Our waiter grinned and assured us that “people do it all the time!” Thank you for lying, waiter friend.

Another thing that completely sold me on Magnolia was their banana bread basket served before the meal. Tucked inside a linen napkin were squares of moist, flaky banana bread (without nuts! wahoo!) that Kristy and I munched on before, during, and after our meals. I love when a New York restaurant serves bread and water immediately after you sit down, as if saying, “Hangover cures while you wait!”

Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends! Enjoy every sun-filled minute.

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“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” -Erma Bombeck

Just a quick post to shout out a delightful little bakery in Williamsburg that could easily be transplanted to the English countryside or a quaint little town in Northern California. Not only was the ambience perfect for a sunny Saturday, but the flavor combinations of the baked goods were mind/tastebud blowing.

Action shot!

Bakeri 150 Wythe Avenue, btwn 7th St and 8th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. The assortment of baked goods is incredible, and they also serve sandwiches, coffee, and other assorted drinks.

On the menu:
Hazelnut rosemary chocolate chip cookie
Pistachio raspberry muffin

Verdict: Sweet, cakey, salty, post-brunch heaven. I mentioned in a previous post that I am not opposed to dessert after brunch because it is technically a midday meal and technically I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want so THERE. Ahem. You might not think rosemary in a cookie would be so tasty, but the consistency was spongy but dense enough to hold up the flavor, and the chocolate was a nice balance to the salt. The muffin was sublime: the pistachio flavor pervaded and the raspberries were a nice sweet aftertaste.

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Brunch in BillyBurg

Country Ham Biscuit

This was a weekend chock-full of amazing eats. So for the next three days, I’m going to regale you with stories of what I ate in a two day span. Prepare yourself. It’s a lot of food for one small lady, but I ate so I could report back to YOU. Seriously, you should be thanking me. And sending donations for a gym membership.

Egg 135 N. 5th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Egg is a tiny white-walled hallway of a restaurant with a focus on Southern-style dishes. My lovely friend Sasha has been raving about this inexpensive brunch spot for months (“the biscuits! my GOD, the biscuits!”) so her sojourn into town from DC was a perfect excuse to make the trek to this neighborhood I otherwise steer clear of. Too much ironic-disheveled-Salvation-Army makes me itchy.

On the menu:
Eggs Rothko (easy-cooked egg in a slice of brioche, topped with cheddar, served with broiled tomatoes and kale)
Country Ham Biscuit (thick cut ham, fig jam, and cheddar on a country biscuit, served with grits)
Mimosas
French press coffee (NOTE: Egg serves each table its own French press; how swank is that?)

Eggs Rothko

Verdict: Hipsters, be damned, I am going back to EGG! Oh, the beauty of salty, thick-sliced ham paired with sweet fig jam and salty melted cheddar. I feel I have to discuss the filling and THEN the biscuit because they are magic alone and perfection together. Some might tell you I peeled away the top of the biscuit to save for later and eat slowly at the end of the meal with fresh raspberry preserves… but those people would be liars.

The wait at Egg will run you at least a half hour if you go during typical brunch hours, but it is worth the wait, my friends. Sasha did not tell a lie: the biscuits are to die for. Everything tasted like it was straight out of your Kentucky grandma’s kitchen: farm fresh, made on premises, and prepared with love. More than once my fellow diners and I cried out, “Man, that is SOAKED in butter!” But y’all know that’s just fine with me.

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