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Brunches at Co. and Tipsy Parson

July 24, 2014

I don’t remember exactly when brunch became a staple in my weekend routine.  Perhaps I was indoctrinated into this cultish New York ritual that one hot summer I spent in the city seven years ago.  Regardless, slowly but surely, grabbing brunch with friends has become a part of every day life.  I will share a secret with you.  Brunch menus don’t differ all that much place to place.  What makes a brunch place a favorite is really more a function of proximity to your apartment (or convenience for all parties involved) and whether or not there is a wait.  After all, even I have a time limit on how long I am willing to wait in line on a weekend before coffee.

And now, onto two of my favorite picks for brunch in the city.  Of course, given the proximity requirement, both are located in Chelsea.  The first is Tipsy Parson, a Southern comfort spot tucked away on 9th Avenue between a pharmacy and a boutique.  The food here is straight forward Southern fare with a modern touch.  Something I find hard to resist.  As part of tradition, brunch here starts always with a sticky bun.  It will arrive still warm and is best devoured within seconds which shouldn’t be too hard.

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The mac n’ cheese here is also a must have.  Even though for some this isn’t a traditional brunch dish but one bite and you will change your mind.  Creamy with a bit of crunch from bread crumbs scattered over the top, the noodles are coated with the right amount of savory cheese sauce that will make you want to scrape the bowl clean.

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For entrees, one of my favorites here is the mushroom toast.  Pillowy potato bread is grilled and smeared with a light herb ricotta and topped with tender fluffy scrambled eggs and earthy sauteed mushrooms.  Sometimes simple can be so delicious.

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For a lighter brunch option, the farmer’s plate is a great option.  Seasonal greens are grilled and tossed with mesclun and topped with two poached eggs.  I of course couldn’t resist adding in a few bites of spicy chorizo and an additional side of avocado.  Nothing has ever been made worse by extra avocado.

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My second favorite neighborhood brunch spot is located just a little further up the street.  Co. is better known for its pizzas but for me, brunch is a great time to stop by a sometimes busy Chelsea spot.  In addition to the full pizza menu, Co. offers a few delicious brunch additions that are very well executed.

One of my favorites there is the meatballs.  Nothing fancy, just well made tender veal meatballs in a light fresh crushed tomato sauce.  A drizzle of good olive oil and sprinkle of cheese completes the dish.  A great non-egg dish to start brunch off with.

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Like any good New York restaurant who is on point with culinary trend, Co. offers their version of avocado toast.  Even though it might be ubiquitous, the egg and avocado toast here is actually worth trying out.  The same amazing bread that Jim Lahey churns out next door is topped with creamy avocado, a barely cooked poached egg and shards of parmesan cheese.  A few basil leaves are torn and thrown in along with red pepper flakes for a little kick.

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Of course, you can’t come to Co. without the pizza.  One of my favorites on the menu is the flambe.  A thin crust pie is topped with bechamel sauce and a mixture of parmesan for bite and mozzarella for that stretchy melt factor.  The sweetness from the caramelized onion is balanced by the salty bite of the crispy lardon.  There really is no bad time for pizza.  Not even brunch when eggs typically rule supreme.

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Tipsy Parson | 156 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10011 | http://tipsyparson.com/

Co. | 230 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10001 | http://www.co-pane.com/

My Chicago Bites: Girl and the Goat

July 20, 2014

June in Chicago can be a little bit unpredictable.  Thunderstorms are frequent visitors that will send all into hiding with their sheer force and strength.  Luckily, on my last business trip out to Chicago this June, we were blessed with one beautiful summer day.  When that happens, the best thing you can do is be outdoors as much as you can to soak up every minute of it.  We did just that by extending our time in the sun with dinner al fresco at Girl and the Goat.

Since it was my second time dining at Stephanie Izard’s West Loop spot, I had a pretty good idea of what dishes would make it onto our dining table and luckily with a larger group, we were able to sample a wide range of dishes to my not-so-secret delight. We started the evening with a maize and blue bread with goat cheese butter and pea puree and a gouda bacon bread with back fat butter and romesco.  As good as the maize and blue bread was, the competition was just too stiff and the cheesy savory gouda bacon bread with a smear of even more pork goodness known as back fat butter won out.

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One of my favorites from my last meal was the goat empanadas.  Two crispy fried pockets came in an order so we had to triple up on it.  The grilled blueberries were an unexpected yet pleasant summer touch to the meaty empanadas.

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Two more dishes to nibble on as we enjoyed our beers.  I love a good fried pickle and the ones at Girl and the Goat were pretty on point with their crispy yet not doughy shell.  The pickles came with shallot aioli and yuzu harissa.  Both paired equally well with the pickles but I favored the depth of flavor that the harissa dip had that was perked up by yuzu.

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And what can you do to make something as simple as french fries taste delicious?  Why not dust it with ham bits and serve it with addicting sauces like smoked tomato aioli and cheddar beer sauce!  Both were so equally delicious that I couldn’t make up my mind as to which was a favorite as I alternated dipping the crispy fries into the sauces.

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As the name of the restaurant has hinted, goat is a star ingredient in many dishes here.  It was my first time having goat liver mousse and I have to say, it was quite the experience.  The gamey flavor of goat definitely jumped out so if you aren’t a die-hard fan, I would caution against ordering the dish.  Served with warm and flaky crumpets, the mousse was whipped into a blissfully smooth submission.  A pot of blueberry mostarda and some pickled rhubarb balanced the dish nicely with a little bit of sweet and a little tartness.

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From there we moved onto lamb stuffed calamari, another creative dish, this time featuring lamb instead of goat.  The calamari pieces remained tender and were bursting with flavorful filling made with ground lamb.  What made this dish even more special was the accompanying ramp mole and lamb sweet breads scattered around the dish.

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The sugo with pappardelle, rosemary and cape gooseberries might have been the least photogenic dish of the night but it was one of my favorites.  The pasta was al dente and tender, served with a succulent and rich meat sauce.  The gooseberries were a nice surprise that added a hint of sweetness.

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Just so we can say we had our daily vegetable intake, we chose the wood grilled broccoli and sauteed green beans.  The broccoli salad outshined the weaker green beans with its smokey char, rogue smokey bleu and spiced rice crispies for crunch.  Now if this doesn’t make a broccoli lover out of you, I don’t know what will.

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There was just one last dish before we threw in the towel and called it a night.  The confit of goat belly with bourbon butter, lobster n’ crab and fennel was delicate yet balanced.  A great take on surf and turf that would have been much better appreciated earlier on in the night before we stuffed ourselves silly with the myriad dishes, many featuring one of my favorite meats, goat.

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Girl and the Goat | 809 West Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60609 | http://www.girlandthegoat.com/

Black Seed Bagel: When Montreal Met New York

July 10, 2014

When Black Seed Bagel first opened its doors in Nolita, they sold out of bagels within hours.  It made us all wonder if this was going to be the next big thing that us New Yorkers will spent countless minutes waiting in line for.  The good news is that since that fateful opening day, the folks at the hybrid Montreal-New York style bagel shop Black Seed Bagel have mastered the art of supply and demand and the fear of a Cronut 2.0 has dissipated.

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Even though there is no longer a never ending line found these days at Black Seed, it doesn’t mean that their bagels aren’t worth a special trip down to Nolita.  However, before you do, you must erase all expectations of what a bagel means from your memory because here you won’t find the large fluffy chewy bagels we know and love from the likes of Essa and Murray’s.  Instead, the bagels at Black Seed are more of the Montreal variety, smaller and denser with a sweeter finish than their New York counterparts.  What else sets this bagel shop apart from others are its innovative spreads and toppings.  You can either build your own concoction or chose from a list of premade sandwiches.

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One of my favorites here is the number two, a lovely sandwich of beet cured salmon with horseradish cream cheese, radish and herbs.  Here, I substituted out the horseradish cream cheese with a tobiko studded pink number just for a little more color, as if the brightly stained salmon didn’t stand out on its own.  The fresh herbs added another dimension of flavor to the already punchy sandwich.  And that bagel, fresh from the wood fire ovens in the back of the store, was still slightly warm and perfectly chewy.

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For a more classic number, the number one sandwich is a good standby.  Stuffed with fresh salmon, tomatoes, capers and onions, the sandwich is finished off with cream cheese of your choice.  When in doubt, you can never go wrong with scallion.

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What if you aren’t in the mood for salmon?  Well, you are in luck.  Black Seed also offers a fabulous sable fish which goes wonderfully with the horseradish cream although I would suggest throwing in some radishes and herbs for a little more crunch and color.

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Although Black Seed doesn’t offer any other proteins other than fish, you can actually make quite a delicious vegetarian number with the fillings offered.  Here we have an AM special with scallion cream cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato.  This might sound simple but it was quite a flavorful sandwich and when the ingredients are this fresh, you really can’t go wrong.

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For a sweet finish, I highly recommend splitting the number eight sandwich (after all, these are quite small).  A simple combination of fresh ricotta, apple and honey on a toasted bagel is healthy yet sweet enough to feel like dessert.

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Black Seed Bagel | 170 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012 | http://blackseedbagels.com/

My Charleston Bites: Martha Lou’s Kitchen

July 7, 2014

We started out the trip to Charleston with a traditional feast at The Hominy Grill and it just seemed appropriate to end our short stay here with lunch at another local favorite, Martha Lou’s Kitchen.  

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In comparison to some of the other restaurants we visited over the weekend, the pink little shack on the side of the road on the outskirts of town was bare bones.  From the one room dining room with the plastic covered tables to the Styrofoam plates and bowls to the cash only policy, this was not a fancy restaurant but the meal was nonetheless fabulous and the service genuine.  The best part was that the delicious Low country feast was all prepared by the very own Martha Lou who still is at the helm in her kitchen at over 80 years old.

A cup brimming to the rim with sweet tea and we were ready to eat.  The menu here is simple, there are fried chicken, which is a must order, as well as other fried goodies such as this fried shrimp platter that was served with a simple tomato salad, crinkle cut fries and toast.

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Even though we were still enjoying the fried shrimp platter, the second our fried chicken basket arrived, we dropped everything.  This might not look quite that impressive but trust me, one bite of the shattering crust into that juicy tender meat underneath, you will realize that there really isn’t any food better than a good piece of fried chicken.  There can not be enough said about a truly quality piece of fried chicken made from a recipe that has been perfected over so many years in the same hands.

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In addition to the baskets as well as some daily specials, Martha Lou’s also offers a variety of Southern sides that are almost just as delicious as the main star.  We sampled our way through a few including the baked mac n cheese, stewed collard greens with burnt ends and baked beans.

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But my favorite side by far was the giblet rice.  Flavorful as can be, these were infused with intense chicken flavors and even though by this point I was already full with fried chicken, I couldn’t help sneaking spoonfuls onto my plate.

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Now this was a feast to remember and a proper way to send us off, happy and full and already thinking about the next trip back.

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Martha Lou’s Kitchen | 1068 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403

My Charleston Bites: The Macintosh and Butcher & Bee

June 26, 2014

In the spirit of Sunday brunches, we popped by The Macintosh to see what Charleston has to offer when it comes to this weekend tradition.  The Macintosh is a trendy yet down-to-earth bar/restaurant located on upper King street, right in the middle of all the action.

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First things first, coffee and Bloody Mary to start and then we were off to the races with a rather generous serving of fries.

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Now these were no ordinary fries.  Topped with spiced cheese curd and hot gravy, these were Macintosh’s delicious Southern take on a Northern favorite.

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We were so busy devouring the mountain of fries that we almost ruined our appetite for our main courses. The delicious cheese curds from the poutines reappeared as a part of the Huevos Rancheros.  In true Southern fashion, beneath crispy housemade tortillas and sunny side up eggs was a good helping of flavorful pork confit.  The salsa added just the right amount of kick to the dish.

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Since we have been glutinous already, why not put it over the top with a plate of the “Mac Attack”.  This might be in the running for one of most insanely rich and decadent brunch dishes I have ever had.  Bone marrow bread pudding was topped with pork belly and an poached egg.  To top it all off, a light Hollandaise over everything.

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Our Monday lunch plans didn’t go quite as smoothly as Sunday’s.  While I am proud to say that I had done some intense due diligence before the trip to select a cross section of all the culinary delights Charleston had to offer, I did fail on one logistical aspect.  Silly me, why would a restaurant close on Monday for lunch?  Or not open at all for lunch?  Such was the case with Bowen Island Restaurant.  Refusing to settle for anything other than extraordinary, we swallowed our hunger for the time being and spent a short period on the beach before heading back into town.  Luckily, I had a few back-ups in mind and were fortunate enough to crash into Butcher & Bee off of the popular strip of King Street just 15 minutes before they closed the lunch service.

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Even though they were wrapping for lunch, the staff was friendly and guided us indecisive visitors.  To cool down from our day on the beach, a refreshing Mr. Q Cucumber soda and a Fentiman’s Mandarin and Seville orange juice.

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To balance out the generous portions of pork we had been consuming, a kale salad dressed soy, sesame and peanuts.  Light and refreshing, it was great to munch on something green and healthy.

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We piled on the veggies with the spring onion pancake.  This was a light and fluffy savory pancake topped with sauteed squash, spring onions and green garlic butter.  The flavors of summer shined through with the simple preparation.

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Because it was nearly 3PM at this point and we were both rather ravenous, it was pretty an unanimous decision to split two rather than one sandwich.  I almost skipped over the roast beef sandwich and boy was I glad that decision was overruled.  This might have been one of the best roast beef sandwiches I have ever enjoyed.  Generous slices of tender juicy roast beef was topped with a chimichurri sauce, sweet roasted onion jam and a dab of mayonnaise.  The Ciabata bread was lightly grilled and the warmth melted all the components into one homogeneous delicious sauce that burst with flavors.

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In comparison, the Carolina trout sandwich was a lot less exciting.  A grilled filet of trout was served on a soft hoagie with pickle slaw and remoulade.  Nonetheless, the fresh ingredients and wonderful combination of flavors still made for a pretty delicious sandwich.

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As happy as I am that we were able to fit Butcher & Bee into our adventure at Charleston for lunch, I am still determined to visit here for one of their pop-up dinners featuring guest chefs from all over.  A sandwich shop by day and a pop-up by night, how cool is that?

Macintosh | 479B King Street, Charleston, SC, 29403 | http://www.themacintoshcharleston.com/

Butcher & Bee | 654 King Street, Charleston, SC, 29403 | http://butcherandbee.com/

My Charleston Bites: Sean Brock’s Husk

June 22, 2014

Sean Brock has acquired quite a cult reputation in Charleston and beyond.  In addition to the popular McCrady’s, his second restaurant Husk has also garnered accolades all around for its celebration of Southern ingredients.  Husk is located on a quiet street in a stately Southern style house with that classic front porch, both on the first floor and the second, just inviting you to come for a glass of sweet tea.  The inside is just as welcoming with bi-level dining.  We were guided into the spacious living room with soaring ceilings and comfortable chairs for our Monday night supper.

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The heat of the early summer air outside made us crave something refreshing.  A classic glass of sweet tea and lemonade with cinnamon ice cube and a single leaf of sage please.  The cinnamon flavor grew as the ice cube melted, adding a deeper note to the drink than a typical lemonade.

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We were pretty determined to not stuff ourselves with bread but how can we resist when dinner rolls arrived at the table warm straight from the oven?

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Even though the menu here is seasonal and many dishes will rotate in and out, one that has made frequent appearances on the menu is the Kentuckyaki glazed pig ear lettuce wraps.  I am not sure what makes these Kentucky but the teriyaki sauce was sweet and savory, coating the pig ear pieces elegantly.  The pig ears were cooked until they were caramelized and tender, unlike any others I have ever had before.

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A closer look at these figure friendly wraps loaded with pig ears, fermented cucumbers and peppers to balance the punch from the teriyaki sauce.

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Because we were in the middle of ramp season, this delicious vegetable made a special appearance on the Husk menu in the form of hand cut ramp pasta.  Ribbons of the tender pasta provided a nest for other spring vegetables, spring peas, fava beans and asparagus.  Crisp crumble of country ham added that salty bite and the egg yolk made a sauce that bound all the components together beautifully.

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The pasta was hard to follow but some one had to do it.  The duck confit with dumplings stuffed with herbed potatoes, sugar snap peas, baby carrots in an orange-coriander broth was a strong dish, a very strong dish.  The generous portion of duck was cooked to perfection, tender and literally fell apart as my fork glided through the leg.  The skin was crispy but not oily at all with most of the fat rendered during the cooking process.  The potato dumplings weren’t light but the sweetness was a great balance to the salty duck.

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Our second entree of the night was a lovely local South Carolina coastal group.  Simply grilled and roasted, the firm white fish was served with a medley of spring vegetables and dressed in a light embered spring onion broth.

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Even though the skillet of cornbread was so tempting, we opted for a lighter side, J. Fields grilled snap beans, to share.  Smokey tomatoes and spring onions elevated the tender beans to a satisfying dish on its own.

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My sweet tooth got the better of me at Husk and I couldn’t resist ordering the heirloom Carolina gold rice pudding.  Served with blackberries and short bread cookies, this was light and will satisfy anyone who has a penchant for rice pudding like me.

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Our meal at Husk marked the end of our dinners at Charleston and I was very happy to have enjoyed it at Husk.  It is a restaurant that truly offers a wonderful representation of some of the best ingredients that the South has to offer.  The comfortable setting and the attentive service just added to the Southern charm.

 

Husk | 76 Queen St. Charleston, SC 29401 | http://www.huskrestaurant.com/

My Charleston Bites: The Ordinary

June 15, 2014

Having sampled some fabulous traditional Southern fare the first night at Hominy Grill, it was time to explore the lighter side of Charleston culinary scene.  We arrived at The Ordinary on King Street just as the sun was setting.  The sun cast long dramatic rays and shadows through the soaring windows of the grand restaurant, a bi-level space that was a temple to seafood.

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It was still relatively early in the night but we were ready to dive in right away.  There is always room for oysters and wine.  The menu was made up of small plates on the left with hot and cold dishes and the larger plates on the right.  And the raw bar and shellfish towers were highlighted front and center in the middle of the menu.  This was where we started our journey with a plate of the Maine lobster minute ceviche.  Sweet tender medallions of lobster was dressed in a citrus vinaigrette with minuscule pieces of celery and jalapeno.  Absolutely stunning and a must order.

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This was followed up by a selection of local oysters and Capers Inlet little neck clams.  The salad of razor clams came along for the ride.  Sliced on the diagonal, the soft fresh pieces of clams were tossed with paper thin pieces of fennel, apple and jalapeno.  The apple added a lovely sweetness and the jalapeno a herbaceous note more than heat.

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While we were enjoying the oysters and clams, we suffered a bout of order envy as we watched our neighbors enjoy the Maine lobster cocktail.  We acted fast and managed to squeeze in an order before moving onto the rest of our meal.  Is it possible to ever regret lobsters?  Of course not and we pretty much jumped all over this the second it hit our table.

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The smoked trout salad was a lovely salad made up of thick pieces of trout, wedges of eggs, fava beans and asparagus for a taste of spring.  Even though it was hard to get a bite that had every component in it, this was still a great dish.

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The next few dishes arrived in quick secession.  While we appreciated the generous helpings of the jumbo lump crab, the toast points with green garlic aioli were just a tad too salty.

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Only one appetizer from the hot section made it to our table.  The one that made the cut was the fried oysters were served with a generous helping of beef tartare.  Two of my favorite things together on one plate, the tartare was meant to be eaten as a sauce for the plump oysters.  Even though these might not have been the most plump fried oysters I have ever had, the beef tartare definitely made up for any shortcomings.

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And finally, for a little greenery, we chose the kale bagna cauda.  The hearty leaves of kale stood up well against the salty flavorful bagna cauda and finished with a crumble of bread crumbs, these had the power to convert any kale skeptic.

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Because the meal was so light, I didn’t hesitate to squeeze in a little sweet bite.  The vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberry consomme was light and refreshing.  This was summer personified.

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Don’t be fooled by the name, The Ordinary was no ordinary oyster bar and should definitely be a must visit for any seafood lover in Charleston.  If not for the fabulous food here, the beautiful space built for the restaurant will impress and inspire.  At least it did for me.

 

The Ordinary | 544 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403 | http://eattheordinary.com/

My Charleston Bites: Hominy Grill

June 12, 2014

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A long weekend in Charleston means a long weekend full of delicious meals, from our very first in the morning to the last.  I have long heard tales about the Southern city’s culinary scene and during the research phase, I uncovered so many spots that I had to pick and chose strategically.  Minus one scheduling snafu, I was able to curate a rather diverse group of eateries for a mere 3.5 days.

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Our very first proper meal in town was at Hominy Grill, a traditional Southern spot and a Charleston favorite because it’s important to start with a classic.  Graduation weekend at College of Charleston and Mother’s Day coincided when we were in town and brought large groups to Hominy Grill, located right off campus.  Instead of ducking inside and joining the celebration, we opted to dine al fresco in the gentle Southern heat.

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Our waiter asked if we would like some complimentary boiled peanuts before our appetizers.  What kind of question is that?  Of course we do!  These salty treats were gone within a matter of minutes, leaving us licking our fingers wishing for more.

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Quarter pound of pickled shrimp with lemon dill vinaigrette was plenty to share for two people.  Light and refreshing, the plump shrimp came pre-peeled, making it easy for us to devour these.

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To balance out the healthy pickled shrimp plate, we complimented it with okra and shrimp beignets with salsa and cilantro-lime sour cream.  These were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  A dab through the bright cilantro lime sour cream, these were pretty delicious.

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Since we were in the South, the classics had to make an appearance.  The Charleston Nasty Biscuit was anything but.  A tall sandwich that almost defied gravity, the biscuit sandwich was actually a little less daunting than it sounded.  No light meal though by any means.  A piece of golden fried chicken smothered with sausage gravy and cheddar was tucked in between flaky biscuit.  Honestly, anything better than fried chicken biscuit?

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Shrimp and grits was another Southern classic that we couldn’t and wouldn’t pass up.  A generous portion of creamy cheesy grits was served with a medley of plump shrimp, mushrooms, scallions and bacon.  Lighter than I expected, these were a good reprieve from the Nasty Biscuit.

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The blackboard next to our table listed out the day’s special vegetables and sides.  We sampled a trio, tomato pudding, fried grits and green beans, which came with a side of corn bread.  My favorite was the tomato pudding, a sweet rich combination of tomato and sweet cornbread that had been slowly baked.

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We polished off pretty much every last bite on our plate and were determined to hand back the dessert menu set down by our waiter.  My resolve was weak though because all he had to say was chocolate pudding and I was hooked.  It didn’t hurt that this was named by Alton Brown as one of his favorite things he had ever eaten.  I am happy to say, Alton Brown has some fabulous tastes.  This little bowl of chocolate pudding was smooth and creamy.  The chocolate flavor was deep and rich, not overly sweet.  Isn’t it amazing how the stomach always seems to be able to find room for dessert?  Not a bad way to start our culinary weekend in Charleston.

Hominy Grill | 207 Rutledge Ave., Charleston, SC, 29403 | http://hominygrill.com/

Modern Venetian at All’onda

June 10, 2014

All’onda, one of the newcomers to the Union Square neighborhood, chose to describe itself as Modern Venetian.  What exactly is Modern Venetian?  I am not sure to be exact but given the buzz around the restaurant and its delicious dishes, I was ready to check it out with fork in one hand and knife in the other.

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The trick to trying a new restaurant is to go with a small group so I can truly sample all the dishes that I have had my eyes on.  Trust me, I have been studying the menu here for quite some time now.  And while pastas were what had been calling my name, you really can’t go wrong with an order the arancini with black truffles and parmesan.  What is better than fried cheesy rice balls?

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Four of us decided to share our meal and luckily, we had very similar taste buds and my companions all immediately embraced my personal top two choices from the pasta sections, the garganelli and the bucatini.  The garganelli was dressed with peekytoe crab in a citrus and tarragon sauce.  The citrus and tarragon added a light touch to the already delicate pasta.  On the other hand, the bucatini was on the richer side with a deep smoked uni sauce.  The spicy breadcrumbs on top just added a nice kick to the smokiness.

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We decided to be adventurous and try out the lumache.  What makes this shell shaped adventurous wasn’t only the fact that it featured an aged duck ragu with a bitter treviso that was tempered by the heat.  The finishing touch of a flutter of chocolate on top of the deeply colored dish wasn’t overwhelming and remained in the background for a note of depth.  Even though this was a warm dish that reminded me more of the Fall, all of us eagerly dug in and polished off the generous portion.

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For a contrast to the lumache that reminded me of the Fall was the ramp pasta.  The hand cut rombi pasta was lightly tossed with grilled ramps and asparagus, two poster children of the Spring.  Even though the flavor was very seasonal, it fell a little flat in comparison to the multitude of flavors from the other pastas.

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Even though we had originally come to try the pasta dishes, the description of the short rib stole our attention as the waiter diligently described the sous vide cooking process that resulted in a very unique texture.  The impressive dish for two arrived at our table and we were intoxicated by the beautiful smell before we even made the first cut.

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Slicing through the tender short rib revealed the texture that was more like that of pastrami.  Instead of overcooking the short rib to a dangerous stringy texture, the slices of short rib was beautifully marbled and literally melted in my mouth.  The tomato mostarda added a nice brightness that was balanced out by the lightly scented saffron risotto.

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Just because we were a hungry bunch, we also ordered a side of roasted Jerusalem artichokes in a sweet glaze.  It was a great supplement to our short rib that was disappearing at a rapid speed.

Four pastas and one short rib for two later, we were at our limits and had to sadly forgo dessert.  Walking down the short flight of stairs to the bar downstairs at the entrance, I was already envisioning a return visit on another Sunday evening for a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta.  Even though we were able to sample quite a few dishes at All’onda, I am still at a loss to describe what exactly is Modern Venetian.  Does it really matter other than fabulous new flavors and techniques married with classics in order to deliver a new neighborhood favorite?

All’onda | 22 East 13th Street, New York, NY 10003 | http://allondanyc.com/

Where Chicken is King: Rotisserie Georgette

June 4, 2014

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that chicken is the dish to order when dining at Rotisserie Georgette, a newcomer to Midtown east, given the name.  Walking in, I noticed that Rotisserie Georgette projects a decidedly different feel than its neighbor, another favorite spot, Rouge Tomate, despite the similar soaring ceilings and floor to ceiling windows.  Most nights and some days, you will find Georgette Farkas there to greet the guests, made up of mostly after work business patrons and a distinctly Upper East crowd.  She walks around with a purpose and elegance that is reflected in the ambiance.  Despite the comfortable dining room, I loved grabbing a seat at the large bar at the front of the restaurant where the bartenders are busy churning out classic cocktails and pouring glasses of wine from a rather international list.

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Even though the chicken is the main attraction here, there’s nothing wrong with having a little bit to nibble on.  A delicate slice of the foie gras dacquoise that’s smoother and lighter than butter is served with a tart rhubarb chutney and topped with a sprinkle of candied pistachios.

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For something a little healthier, the roasted leeks is a great choice.  The grilled red onion vinaigrette imparts a sweet and caramel flavor, a great contrast to the thin slices of duck prosciutto.

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Despite how delicious the appetizers are, you should listen to your server and definitely save room for the roast chicken.  The half chicken can be served with three types of sauces, including a classic provencal, a spicy diable and a grande mere, a red wine reduction studded with mushrooms and bacon.  There isn’t much that can top a perfectly cooked chicken and the one at Rotisserie Georgette comes very close to that perfection.  While with most roast chicken, the skin is my favorite part but the juicy flavorful meat of the poulet roti puts up a good show.  Alas, you can’t fight true love.   The crisp skin is perfectly seasoned and shatters as soon as your fork pierces through, no hint of greasiness at all.

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When ordered at lunch, the chicken is served with a generous pile of pommes frites and a side salad.  For dinner, the chicken arrives solo so a few orders of the sides is necessary and highly recommended.  Whatever you do, the rotisserie potatoes must be involved.  One bite and you can just tell that the creamy tender pieces have spent their sweet time roasting in some fabulous chicken drippings, soaking up every delicious note.

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Other notable sides include a serving of slow roasted carrots with the most delicious caramelized end bits and a bright minty bowl of buttered spring peas.  For a heartier side, the farro and arugula is a must have.  There is nothing healthy about these nutty bits but they go so well with the roast chicken that you will not regret it.

Of my recent three trips there, I have never made it to the dessert portion of the meal.  The portions here are generous and dishes have been so delicious that I can’t stop myself from sneaking in just one more piece of the roasted potatoes despite knowing that I have already reached beyond my limit.  It’s sometimes so hard to turn off that greedy little voice inside.

Rotisserie Georgette | 14 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022 | http://www.rotisserieg.com/

 

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