Tag Archives: Cafe

{ The Crabtree in London } ****

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020-7385-3929
Rainville Road, London
W6 9HA

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I arrived in London around 11 am on a Sunday morning after a long 10-hour traveling experience without eating any food. Needless to say, I arrived in London hungry and ready to begin my food chronicles. My first meal was a proper Sunday Roast from The Crabtree in Fulham, which is a quaint and cozy little spot with a traditional English menu. The three roast options included: chicken, beef, and pork belly. I went for the beef with horseradish sauce, while my friend opted for the heavier pork belly with applesauce. Each was served with a Yorkshire pudding and gravy, roasted root vegetables, a stewed red cabbaged, and pureed butternut squash.

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Unfortunately, I was so hungry that I devoured mine without actually taking the time to process all of the flavors, so there isn’t much to say other than the fact that it was delicious. I cleared the plate within a few short minutes, excited to cross Yorkshire pudding off the “to-eat” list for London. One down, and twenty or so to go!

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I did love the atmosphere of the place though, especially as it was fitted out for Christmas with a beautiful tree and all sorts of lighted Holiday decorations. The bar seemed like a cozy place to grab a drink in the winter and during the summer months, they have a gorgeous outdoor patio equipped with grills for barbequing.

cn_image.size.the-crabtree-bar-restaurant-oxford-england

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Filed under Bars, Breakfast, Brunch, Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, International Restaurants, London Restaurants, Lunch Spots, Take-Out

Cafe Lift ***

Cafe Lift French Toast
 
428 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
215.922.3031

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Breakfast is my FAVORITE meal of the day. But it is not just an indulgence for me, it is a necessary ritual. God forbid I don’t eat my four-egg omelet before leaving the house in the morning, and I am like Atilla the Hun for the remainder of the day—just ask any of my friends.

Having spent almost all of my life with a passion for both breakfast and cooking, you can imagine that I have become quite talented at preparing 5-star omelets, fluffy pancakes, hearty oatmeals, and fresh yogurt parfaits (or at least I think so!). That being said, I am highly critical of breakfasts served outside of my own kitchen. Every now and then though, I venture to a restaurant to check out their version of breakfast and I did so this weekend at Café Lift.

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The restaurant is a modern loft space, decorated as if Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel had a love child. It is verging on the edge of hipster, but it is comfortable and cozy to patrons of all ages (and there is a wide variety!).

Inside Cafe Lift

I ordered the Plum Tomato Frittata with Asparagus, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, and Fontina Cheese, drizzled with Homemade Basil Pesto ($8).

Frittata 1edited

The basil pesto was so fresh and summery, and the frittata was executed very well, without being overcooked or hard. The parmesan-crusted home fries were tasty, but a bit overcooked and consequently mushy for my liking (I told you I was critical!). The multigrain toast was god awful, but I’m watching my carb intake so I’ll consider that a blessing in disguise!

To accompany my enormous frittata, I also ordered a Lemon Ricotta Pancake topped with Fresh Strawberries ($3).

Lemon Ricotta Pancakeedited

It sounded amazing, but fell a little flat for me. I thought the batter could have benefitted from some and/or more lemon zest. I just didn’t get that bright citrus flavor to compliment the creaminess of the ricotta. It did photograph quite lovely though. #pancakefoodporn

My friend Sara ordered the Special Eggs Florentine served with Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Spinach, and Truffle Hollandaise Sauce ($11.50).

Crab Eggs Florentine2edited

Normally, the dish would be served on an English muffin, but Sara is Gluten-Free so she had it open-face instead. She enjoyed it, although we both agreed the hollandaise was lacking a bit in truffle flavor…aka the best part.

All in all, the food was good but is it better than my own version of breakfast?

Nope.

I will definitely say that it is an awesome value for what you get though, and if you’re not as high maintenance about breakfast as I am, you will probably love it!

Here’s a look at what I would serve if I could have my very own brunch spot…

……..someday!

Black Bean and Corn Omelet

garden omelet

Omelet with Goat Cheese

Huevos Rancheros KB

Brocoli and Gruyere Quiche

Veggie Omelet ad Hash Browns

Mushroom Spinach and Goat Cheese Oetitie Quiche

Mexican Scramble

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Yogurt with Berries and Granola

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Filed under Bakery, Breakfast, Brunch, Buck's County, Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, Lunch Spots, Pennsylvania

{ Best Lunch Spots in Buck’s County }

Finding good food on-the-go is tough when you don’t live in a city studded with Pret a Manager, Chipotle, and five-star food trucks. In Buck’s County, the options are pretty limited to full-service, sit-down restaurants or drive-thru, fast-food establishments. If you don’t brown paper bag it to work, you’re looking at either an overpriced gourmet salad, a 40-minute sushi luncheon, or a greasy quarter-pounder in the McDonald’s parking lot. But thankfully, local restaurant owners are finally starting to fill this market gap by opening quick-service lunch spots with high-quality food.

Here is a list of my favorite lunch spots in Buck’s County:

1. { Sariano’s Country Cafe }

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Located right in the heart of Lahaska, is this adorable French cafe with homemade croissants, fresh soups, and delicious Croque Monsieur sandwiches. You can eat al fresco at any of the outdoor cafe tables, or take your order to-go (just be warned that there is only one indoor table, so might not be the best option for a cold/rainy day!). The menu is posted on a black board behind the counter, and although isn’t terribly long, neither is the wait for your food!

I highly recommend the Grilled Vegetable & Mozzarella Sandwich, which is served warm on a Fresh Butter Croissant ($7.00). The vegetables are chopped up nice and small, and the croissant provides delicious and sturdy base for the sandwich, keeping it together as you eat.

Of course, this being a French cafe, I also recommend the Croque Monsieur sandwiches, which are served on homemade French bread. They have the classic Ham & Cheese ($5.50), but I suggest trying the Goat Cheese & Proscuitto ($6.50) combination, which isn’t something you see every day! Keep in mind that these sandwiches are served hot, so the cheese is warm and bubbly when they come out of the oven. Delicious.

And lastly, I really enjoy Sariano’s Shrimp & Corn Chowder Soup ($7.00), which is creamy and slightly spicy but not too heavy. The soup prices seems a little high, when compared those of the sandwiches, but the portions are really generous and it comes accompanied with your choice of crackers or homemade French bread.

If you’re really in a hurry, Sariano’s also offers an assortment of pre-made meals that you can choose from.

2. { Jule’s Thin Crust }

Photo taken from TheMainLineVine

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With new locations popping up all over Buck’s County, it is clear that Jule’s Thin Crust has found a recipe for success. This gourmet pizza shop, which relies heavily on locally and organically grown produce, offer 22+ varieties of pizza, innovative salads, and gluten-free, as well as whole-wheat, products. If you stop by for just a few slices, you can choose from anything available on the line and get back to work within 10 minutes. And if you’d rather place a full pie or custom order, you’re looking at a total wait time of about 15 minutes, but you’re more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine to help pass the time while you wait! Just keep in mind that you’re still at a pizza place, so to all my wine-snobs: NO, there will not be glassware!

I suggest trying the new Buffalo Chicken Pizza with hormone free chicken, chopped celery, blue cheese, mozzarella, arugala, and buffalo sauce ($2.90 per slice). Or the Kim’s Pie with hormone free chicken, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, balsamic BBQ glaze, mozzarella, and chives ($2.90 per slice).

Another classic, loved by all, is the Brushetta Pizza with Chopped Organic Tomatoes, Fresh Cubed Mozzarella, Garlic, Oregano, and Arugala, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil! It will revolutionize your idea of pizza.

3. { Marhaba }

Photo Taken from The New York Times

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Tucked away on a side street in Lambertville, is one of the best Middle Eastern Restaurants that I have ever been to! The interior is cozy, the prices are reasonable, and the food is authentic and a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The Gyro Sandwich, which is slow roasted lamb, topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and tahini drizzle on a warm homemade pita ($5.95) is a deal that can’t be beat and so it has become a regular weekly lunch for me and my mother.

Photo Taken from Jersey Foodies

I also recommend the Babaganough, which is a grilled eggplant spread mixed with tahini, garlic, and fresh lemon juice ($5.95) served alongside warm homemade pita bread. The spread has a zesty flavor and a creamy texture, that is beautiful when paired with the zatter spices on the pita bread.

Photo Taken from ThePalatePrincess

4. { Genivieves Panini & Salads To-Go }

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I found this place on Groupon a couple of weeks ago, and I have been hooked ever since! Located in the center of Doylestown, Genivieves serves up seasonally inspired food made with locally produced ingredients. The sandwiches are crafted like a work of art and the flavor combinations are a food-enthusiasts dream. My personal favorites are: the Vegetale with grilled asparagus, plum tomato, gooey taleggio cheese, and fresh pesto on multigrain bread ($7.50);  and the Tuscany with grilled chicken breast, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone on rustic ciabatta bread ($7.50). 

In addition to their fabulous warm panini’s, Genivieves also offers gourmet salads, homemade soups, and assorted baked goods. And if you find yourself addicted, as I have, then you can also order their food for catered dinners with 24 hours advance notice. Unfortunately, Genivieves is take-out only, so you cannot dine-in.

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Filed under Baking, Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, French Restaurants, Italian Restaurants, Lunch Spots, New Jersey Restaurants, Philadelphia Restaurants, Take-Out

Eataly in New York *****

200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229.2560

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Have you ever had the privilege of witnessing a child enter Disney World for the first time? You watch their face light up with joy, their little legs propelling them forward as quickly as possible, their eyes wide with excitement. Well add some intense hand gurning, and thats what I look like each time I enter Eataly Italian market. It is a Mecca for foodies–a specialty food market on steroids, with restaurants and cafes scattered throughout.

You can stand around high tables in the salumeria, enjoying a glass of wine expertly paired to compliment an assortment of specialty cheeses, or you can enjoy nibbling on  a freshly baked focaccia as you wait for your table at La Pizza & Pasta. And Lord knows you’ll have plenty of time to wash down several espressos at Cafe Vergnano, if you’re trying to get a table at the new rooftop birreria–the line to go up is longer than airport security at JFK. No, I’m not joking.

Sure, the market is expensive (and indeed touristy, as several other bloggers have observed), but it is undoubtedly worth the visit. Take it for what it is: an expensive dining experience in an avant-garde food theater. And on that note, I shall walk you through my Eataly experience this past weekend, beginning in the Salumeria with a nice glass of red wine (Italian, of course!).

After adapting to the circus like environment of Eataly, my friends and I gathered around a hightop table in the salumeria and ordered a platter sampling the selection of cured meats and cheeses. The cheese assortment included: a creamy ricotta, a strong parmigiano regiano, a pungent taleggio, a sweet gorgonzola, and a cacio de Roma. My personal favorites were the taleggio and the ricotta, which paired beautifully with the fresh fig and orange segments accompanying the plate. The meats we tried included: delicious mortadella cubes, 14-month aged prosciutto de Parma, and sweet & spicy coppa and sopressata. The prosciutto de parma was hands down the highlight of the plate–delicate and salty.

Next we headed over to La Pizza, where Neapolitan natives are firing up the kind of pizza that God would make if he were having dinner guests. And the gold-tiled ovens certainly add to the ethereal effect:

Photo taken by Adam Kuban from Serious Eats

I decided to go all out and order the most expensive pizza on the menu, which would be the Fru Fru Pizza coming in at a total cost of $22 (a price that you can somehow justify after the first bite!). For indecisive people, like myself, who can’t chose just one pizza on the menu, the Fru Fru offers a small sampling of three different topping combinations: (1) dollops of sweet ricotta cheese with cooked ham (no sauce); (2) aged mozzarella cheese with tomato sauce; and (3) delicious Parma ham with arugula and parmigiano reggiano shavings. It looks like this:

My favorite of the three, you ask? Probably the ricotta and ham because of the contrasting salty and sweet flavors (but the pizza crust is really the star of this dish!).

Two of my friends ordered the Quattro Formaggi with a mixture of gorgonzola, pecorino romano, mozzarella, and parmigiano reggiano cheeses. This is supposed to be served as a white pizza, but one of my friends also ordered it with tomato sauce and it was none-the-less delicious. You can feast your eyes on the white one:

And then of course someone at the table had to be a plain Jane and order the classic Margarita Pizza with tomato sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. I know there is something to be appreciated about the flavor of a few quality ingredients, but I like to live a little with my pizza toppings!! Like everything else at Le Pizza and Pasta though, it was amazing!

Most people would be throwing in the napkin by now, but not me! Sufficiently pregammed with my pizza appetizer, I decided to order a plate of Tagliatelli al Ragu di Manzo, which is a hearty (and rich) braised short rib ragu over homemade pasta. The pasta is cooked to perfection–just tough enough to stick to your tooth a little (the definition of Al dente). And the braised meat is so tender that it falls apart at the mere prodding of your fork. The dish is quite heavy given the nature of the sauce and the weight of the pasta, but it is every bit savory and delicious. I would highly recommend this pasta (as long as  you have already tried the pizza!).

So until next time, Eataly, Arrivederci!!!

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Filed under Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Coffee Shop, Italian Restaurants, Markets, New York Restaurants

b-Blue Natural Bar & Deli ****

Armenia 1692
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 4831.7024

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There are an infinite number of cute sidewalk cafes and restuarants in Buenos Aires. There are little vegetarian spots, tea houses, ice cream parlors, and even places strictly devoted to the sale of coffee and chocolates. The task of choosing just which one to spend your afternoon at can be quite overwhelming, especially in the crowded Palermo area. As I was walking to the gym the other day, I passed by at least 18 adorable cafes, each one begging me to abandon my work out plans and indulge in something delicious and homemade. I tried to fight the urge, but finally caved when I passed by bBlue Natural foods. I could see the salads being served in enormous porclain bowls and almost every table had a brightly colored fruit smoothie on it. I couldn’t resist.

I took a seat and ordered the b-Pollo Salad, which is a bed of mixed greens with shredded chicken marinated in honey, soy sauce, and dijon mustard, topped with sundried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, carmaleized onions, and croutons, and tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos). Personally, I like the bBlue house dressing with olive oil, vinegar, blueberries, lemon, honey, and mustard. It adds a sweet fruity flavor to the salad, which is a nice contrast with the sundried tomatoes. So far, this place serves the best salad in Buenos Aires (in my opinion, of course!). The portions are huge and they aren’t stingy with the meats or the cheeses. Also, the ingredients are incredibly fresh and absolutely everything is homemade. Ohh and finally a place that serves a non-mayonnaise dressing!! Major brownie points for that!

Since my first time at bBlue, I have become a regular and I have yet to have a bad meal. Another favorite salad of mine is the b-Deli Salad, which is a bed of baby spinach, lemon-marinated mushrooms, cubes of brie cheese, and toasted almonds, tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos) (I like to put the homemade pear dressing on this salad).

In addition to the salads, bBlue also makes incredible gourmet sandwiches!! They have all sorts of spreadable cheeses and aiolis, so the sandwich isn’t dry. My personal favorite so far is the Pollo Sandwich served on French bread with chicken marinated in honey and soy sauce, sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, melted gruyere cheese, with dijon and mayo (38 pesos). The sandwich is then served with side of incredible herb roasted potatoes and a ramekin of ketchup. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, but imagine a gourmet chicken cheesesteak, and that’s this sandwich.

Ohh, and I almost forgot….the POMEDLADO!!!! It’s like a lemonade, but one hundred times better becasue it is made with grapefruit juice, honey, fresh ginger, and a hint of mint (13 pesos). Seriously? It redefines refreshment.

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{ High Tea in Tangier, Morocco }

When I told my parents—or anyone, for that matter—that I was going to be traveling to Morocco, they all had the same reaction, asking questions like; but why do you want to go there? Don’t you know how dangerous it is? Wasn’t a bomb recently set off in a café there? I would then negate their concerns with my own questions; haven’t you ever wanted to take a camel ride through the dessert? Or sit on decorative floor pillows and smoke hookah while sipping tea and listening to gypsy music?  Haven’t you ever seen the Sex & The City movie where they go to Morocco? If its safe enough for Carrie, then its safe enough for me! (and yes, I actually referenced Sex & The City to validate the safety of Morocco).

Bottom line: nobody could talk me out of going to Morocco, and I was genuinely excited for the adventure. I’m always reading about celebrities that go to Casablanca and Marrakech, living up the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But as our ferry from the South of Spain pulled into the port of Tangiers, Ariana and I realized that our idea of Morocco might have been a little falsely shaped by Hollywood. And once we made our way off the ferry, we concluded that Morocco might be safe for a celebrity with a bodyguard, but is definitely not the place for 21 year-old girls…on a budget, none-the-less! You really can’t try to cut corners with money when the safety of your life is at stake.

Anyways, there we were at the port with all of our luggage (the only people mind you, because we took a car ferry and everyone else drove away when it docked…like you’re supposed to do) and we had not the slightest idea where to go. We couldn’t speak the language and there was no map or information desk—welcome to Africa! I was starting to have a kniption when I remembered reading somewhere that Jimi Hendrix used to write a lot of his music at a place in Tangiers called Café Hafa. Naturally, that was our next destination.

I don’t think that much has changed at Café Hafa since the days when Mr. Hendrix was there (except you can’t smoke Hashesh at the café now…you need to “hashesh before,” as the owner put it), but the place has the most incredible view overlooking the Strait of Gibralter.

The café is a series of terraces stacked down the side of a mountain (all outside), with various green picnic tables and mismatched rusty chairs. They serve one or two types of food and a variety of beverages, including the infamous Moroccan Mint Tea. Café Hafa was my first tea experience in Morocco, but certainly not my last. I think that the tea is so popular out of necessity, given that the water is unsafe to drink. Why not boil out the bacteria, add some mint and sugar, and drink it that way? It’s a delicious and safer alterative to plain unsanitary water!

Ariana and I were too afraid to leave the café and step into the crowded city streets with all of our stuff, so we spent the following seven hours at Café Hafa journaling, reading, listening to music, and taking in the views. Then we used our Spanish to communicate with another couple sitting nearby, who eventually offered us a ride (in a school bus for some reason) to the train station where we hoped on the overnight train to Marrakech.

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Filed under International Restaurants

Green Cafe ***

Assortment of Macarons at Cafe Green

212.677.0666
377 1st Ave (between 23rd and 22nd)
New York, Ny 10010

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When you graduate high school, you move out of your house, and leave for college to start life on your own. Yes, I am aware that this is a politically incorrect over-generalization, but please do not take offense if you didn’t follow this path, because I’ve learned first hand that the chief value in going to college is that it’s the only way to learn it really doesn’t mean jack shit. Look at me for example, I went to a well-respected private university (go Canes!), and sure it was the best for years of my life, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am currently unemployed, with no income, in debt, living at home. Dropout Kelly on the other hand, has just been promoted to a management position at McDonalds, which provides a steady income, and she doesn’t have $160,000 of student loans to pay back. She also has a much healthier liver and knows what the heck a W2 form is. Now you’re going to make the argument that I will eventually get a better job than Kelly that provides me with a higher pay because I have a formal education. And it’s true that economists report that college education adds many thousands of dollars to a person’s lifetime income. But don’t we then spend this extra income sending our kids to college?! It is a vicious cycle really. And don’t even get me started on the girls who just go to college looking for a MRS degree…J-date is only about $30 a month and college is about $10,000. Do the math and save yourself the money.

Anyways, enough of this ridiculous tangent on education. The point is that I went to college and established my own way of living and doing things, and now I am forced to live back at home where I can no longer comfortably live in my particular manner. I cannot just roll out of bed and cook my breakfast in my underwear…shirt and pants are required. I cannot drink my orange juice straight out of the container…I need to use a small “juice” glass. I cannot leave the house without reporting where I am going and then giving an estimation of when I will be returning (and I need to call if I am later than my estimation). I cannot buy groceries and put them in the fridge with the confidence that they will be there later. In college, everyone has their own shelf in the fridge and you eat only what is on your shelf (unless you come home drunk and eat half your roommate’s box of Special K…but you admit it with shame the next morning and buy them a new box). At home, family is family, and what’s mine is yours is the name of the game. That means that the lifespan of a package of Oreos is about 36 hours.

It’s been one week and I needed some space of my own, so I headed out to New York City to meet up with a girlfriend from college that was visiting. As soon as I stepped out of Penn Station, I was overtaken by the aroma of delicious street food and from then on my mind was strictly on getting something to eat. In a hurry to meet my friend, I decided to stop at Green Café for some coffee and cookies. I got a delicious Cappuccino and the absolute best Macarons that I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

There was an assortment of about 20 different flavors to choose from, all of which were displayed in a glass bakery case. I tried the Wedding Almond flavor and Casis (which is infused with currant flavoring). Personally, I preferred the sweet almond flavor over the tartness of the casis, but the textures on both were incredible. Ohh, and if you didn’t realize by now, the cookie I am referring to is a macaron, not to be confused with a coconut, chocolate-laced macaroon. I love those too, but a macaron is a cream-filled cookie sandwich, made from egg whites, almond powder, and a pinch of sugar. They usually come in very bright colors, that vary according to flavor. Some of the other varieties that I didn’t get to sample include; pistachio, caramel, crème brulee, espresso, raspberry, mango, vanilla, nutella, passion fruit, and lavender.

Assorted Macarons

Café Green has a small little seating area, and serves up healthy items for both breakfast and lunch such as omelets, paninis, and wraps. I would definitely go back for a macaron the next time that I am back in the city! I would have brought some home, but you can only imagine how quickly these things would be eaten given that Oreo’s usually only last a day and a half.

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Filed under Baking, Coffee Shop, New York Restaurants

Brasserie 360 ****

Warm Chicken Club, with Grilled Chicken, Goat Cheese, Bacon, Tomato, Boston Lettuce, and Mayonnaise between 3 slices of Whole Wheat Bread

212.688.8688
200 E 60th Street
New York, NY

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Still full from our Mexican meal last night, Jen and I woke up and headed straight to Bloomingdales without stopping for breakfast or coffee. But after just two hours of lugging around an arm full of shopping bags, we were ready to get some food. Unfamiliar with that particular area of the city, I asked the woman behind the handbag counter for some suggestions and she enthusiastically replied, “ohhh yes, there are so many great places around here to eat at!” Unfortunately, she then listed off places such as California Pizza Kitchen, Papa Johns, and TGI Fridays. What was worse is that she acted as if I had never heard of these places, and described them in detail to me, recommending her favorite menu items. I wanted to get out of the conversation fast but had no escape, Jen had to finish paying for her handbag. I tried to be polite, but I couldn’t even pretend to be interested in these places and she wouldn’t stop ranting and raving about the enormous “gourmet” salads offered by CPK.
I don’t mean to sound like a food-snob (which I openly admit that I am), but why would I ever want to go to a chain restaurant in a city filled with such culinary richness? I’ll save my fast food/chain restaurants meals for desperate times (such as Orlando), thank you!

Anyways, I realized that we were on our own for this one and that the best thing to do was just walk until we saw a menu that peaked our interest. So that’s just what we did. We walked out of Bloomingdales and headed down the block until we spotted Brasserie 360. I can always go for French food, and New York is filled with an abundance of fabulous Brasseries so I figured it was a safe bet. Sure enough, it turned out to be our best meal in New York!

To start we ordered a round of Mimosas and 2 glasses of Chardonnay (after all, shopping is always more exciting with a buzz!). Next we moved onto appetizers—Jen ordered the French Onion Soup baked with Gruyere and Provolone Cheeses ($9). It was probably one of the best French Onion soups that I have ever tasted (second to Nordstrom’s Café Bistro, which holds first place in my mind). It came in a large crock and the cheese was perfectly gooey and browned on the top. The broth was also a beef stock, which I think has a much heartier flavor than places that use chicken stock.

Glass of Chardonnay

French Onion Soup baked with Gruyere and Provolone Cheeses

I ordered the Tuna Tartar with Wasabi Whipped Avocado Cream served over Dill Marinated Cucumber Slices ($16). I was not used to eating tuna tartar without some form of cracker or plantain, but the cucumber slices were just perfect for the crunch (plus they are healthier!). The flavor of the wasabi was perfect and the creaminess of avocado helped subdue the heat, so it wasn’t too spicy. It was a little pricey for an appetizer but they used the highest grade of Tuna and the portion was very generous, as you can see in the photo below:

Tuna Tartar with Wasabi Whipped Avocado Cream served over Dill Marinated Cucumber Slices

For my main course, I ordered the Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Avocado, Tomato, and Goat Cheese instead of Bacon. The salad came tossed in a light herb vinaigrette, and it was delicious. Of course, it is kind of hard to screw up a Cobb Salad, but I assure you that this was much better than any of the ones at CPK! The goat cheese was especially good, and the chicken had a nice herb marinade.

Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Avocado, Tomato, and Goat Cheese instead of Bacon

Jennifer ordered the Warm Chicken Club, with Grilled Chicken, Goat Cheese, Bacon, Tomato, Boston Lettuce, and Mayonnaise between 3 slices of Whole Wheat Bread (photographed at top). I thought that the bread was a little bit bulky, and she removed the center slice as well. But the sandwich was awesome and certainly filling! Her entrée was also served with a side of Sweet Potato Fries, which were hands down the best sweet potato fries that I have ever tried, and best of all they were large cut steak fries! I kept sneaking my fork onto her plate to grab some.

Overall, amazing place, great atmosphere, and reasonable prices! Go!

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Filed under New York Restaurants

Fika Espresso Bar ****

 

Assortment of Desserts Offered on Countertop

646.649.5133
407 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016

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This morning—after I had the pleasure of scrubbing hardened pasta noodles off the stove under my mother’s watchful eye—Jen and I set out for New York City. Of course, our St. Patty’s Day hangover (and my required clean-up duties) prevented us from getting out as early as we had hoped, but we were on the train by 3 O’Clock in the afternoon and in Manhattan by 5.  Our first line of business was upon getting there was finding some strong coffee, as we were still trying to kick the residual headache/tiredness/nausea. We saw a great little espresso bar called Fika located across from our hotel (on the corner of Park and 29th) and walked over after checking-in.

The place was quaint and very tiny with a monochromatic and modern décor. It is a Swedish owned company (Fika meaning “coffee break”), and traces of Ikea Sweish design are everywhere! On the counter, there was a great little selection of cookies and biscotti, as well as a large selection of house-made truffles in a refrigerated case. Fika is an espresso bar but equally as well known as a chocolatier. I got a Cappuccino with Skim Milk and a piece of Almond Biscotti, but the truffles were certainly calling me and I was sad to pass them up. The cappucchino was very good and steaming hot, with plenty of frothy foam on top the espresso. The almond biscotti was also a very nice crunchy treat and the perfect size. I hate places that serve a jumbo piece of biscotti because I like to finish it still wanting more, rather than be bored with the flavor or overwhelmed by the sweetness. People sitting at the limited number of tables inside the coffee shop were very artsy and youthful.

Inside of Fika Espresso Bar

Overall, I was very pleased with the strength of the coffee and the cozy little atmosphere. I suggest it for anyone that is looking to break away from the Starbuck’s movement, which has taken every street corner and rest stop by storm!

Assortment of Chocolate Truffles and Sandwiches

Cappuccino

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Filed under Coffee Shop, New York Restaurants

Gusto Fino Italian Deli & Market ****

Chicken Louie Louie with Chicken Milanese, Portobello Mushrooms, Melted Mozzarella, and Creamy Marsala Sauce

Sadly, I boarded a plane and headed back from Colombia this morning. Of course, being a part of the flight safety watch list (long story—starts with a carry on, ends with a butcher knife and interrogation), I was searched several times, holding up the entire group I traveled with. They unpacked and unfolded every piece of clothing in my luggage twice, and they questioned me relentlessly at customs, while the rest of my friends just walked through with a “welcome back.” It was frustrating, but all the hold ups at the airport gave me time to ponder whether or not I would resume my carb-free 4-hour body diet when I got home. I had been pounding arepas, fruit, and chocolate to the face all weekend and didn’t seem to look any different. I certainly felt different though! I felt alive again—like someone had given me a blood transfusion and injected me with energy and pure life. Carbs are the fuel of my existence and the source of my happiness. I will not go without them ever again!

So the first thing I did when I got back to Miami was go get a delicious fully carb-loaded sandwich.

What does fully carb-loaded mean? It means I got white bread, not wheat. It means I ate both sides of the bread, instead of open face. It means I got breaded and fried chicken on that sandwhich, instead of grilled chicken. Carb on top of carb….two are always better than one!

This sandwich sounds a bit gross and overwhelming, I know. But it was absolutely divine. It is called the Chicken Louie Louie from Gusto Fino Itlaian Deli in Miracle Mile. The Chicken Louie Louie, is a hot sandwich with breaded chicken strips, sautéed onions, Portobello mushrooms, melted mozzarella cheese, and a creamy marsala sauce. Cheers to ending that carb-free diet!

That sandwich was awesome. The creamy marsala sauce (which I had some skepticism about) was incredible. Totally buttery and fattening, but you got to walk into this meal knowing that your going to waste you’re entire days with of calories on one sandwich. The bread that the sandwich was served on was also fabulous, a little thick for my liking, but since I’ve been depriving myself of carbs for so long, I ate it! It’s rare to get such good bread in Miami, so I was most impressed by that. I was also thrilled with the meal because it was served piping hot! I had to wait for the sandwich to cool off before eating it, and I love hot food, so brownie points for that!

My roommate, Ariana ordered the Mario’s Ultimate, which is a cold sandwich served with parma proscuitto, fresh mozzarella cheese, pesto sauce, tomatoes, and arugala salad, topped with olive oil and balsamic glaze. It was tasy, but paled in comparison to the Proscuitto Sandwich from La Sandwicherie. We have gotten so accustomed to our proscuitto sandwiches with their delicious secret sauce, that this one felt lacking without it. She actually took it home and put our stash of secret sauce (we steal a bottle from La Sandwicherie every time we go) on the sandwich and ate it for dinner!

Mario’s Ultimate with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Proscuitto, Arugala, Balsamic, and Pesto

Overall, this place has an enormous menu and you can get an extraordinary amount of food for just $10. There are combo options for soup and a drink for just $1.69 extra. It’s such a great value for your money, and its always refreshing to see a deli joint in Miami!

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Filed under Markets, Miami Restaurants