Tag Archives: New York

Flex Mussels *****

 
oftl-main_picture2-NYC-flexmussels1
154 W 13th Street
New York, New York
212.229.0222

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If there is one food that I crave above all others, it is mussels. They can be prepared in a variety of ways, encompassing a broad range of flavors; from coconut curry Thai to classic French white wine garlic. There are mornings that I literally wake up and have a hankering for a steaming pot of mussels. Not cheerios….mussels.

Needless to say, if mussels are on the menu at a restaurant, I’m usually ordering them. And I have suffered dearly for this habitude, because lets face it, there are certain restaurants (i.e. Irish pubs) where you should NOT be ordering the shell fish. I know the bacon cheese burger is the safer bet, but I have no self-control and inevitably end up eating the mussels…..for better, for worse.

flex-mussels-13th-street

This weekend though, I had the opportunity to go to Flex Mussels, which is renowned in NYC for their fantastic pots of ornate and unique mussels…23 different types in all! You can imagine how difficult it was to choose only a couple to share with my friends and fellow diners, Sam & Sara. In fact, a third party observer would have thought this was one of the most difficult decisions of my life the way that I carefully weighed out each option, debating whether to go with the tried and true classics or branch out and go for the exotic.

Finally, after a quick pep talk with our server, we arrived at a game plan. We would order three different pots of mussels to share among the table along with some truffle fries. First we got an order of the Dijon Mussels made with dijon mustard, white wine, creme fraiche, and parsley ($19.50). These were by far my favorite of the three, and I made that known by locating the pot directly in front of me and my big fat fork. The broth was so good, I would consider it drinkable. The mustard brought forth a tangy and acidic flavor that was carefully balanced by the creaminess of the creme fraiche. And the chopped parsley was fresh and earthy.

thai-mussels-flex

Next we enjoyed the Fra Diavolo mussels made with San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic ($19.50). Sam insisted that we order this classic, and although I thought they were good, I probably would not order them when at Flex again. Instead, I would opt for a more complex broth when at the Mecca of mussels, and save the run-of-the-mill spicy red sauce for the amateurs. I will admit that the large chunks of crushed tomatoes were delightful on the fresh baked bread provided for dipping and dunking!

almond flex 016

Lastly, we recieved our order of the South Pacific Mussels, which were made with kaffir lime, cilantro, white wine, and lemongrass. I tried persuading Sam and Sara to order the Thai mussels instead, which were very similar to the South Pacific in flavor, but with the added richness of curried coconut milk. Unfortunately though, it was two against one and we ended up going with the lighter broth. I wasn’t crazy about these because the broth was too almost too light. There was nothing sticking to the the meat of the mussel. I hoarded the remaining dijon mussels while my eating companions picked at their mistake.

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Last but not least, I must review the truffle french fries which were served with a creamy aioli dipping sauce. They were really delicious and made a perfect accompaniment to dip in the mussel broth (especially the dijon….did I mention it was drinkable?).

Flex_Mussels_fries

I am looking forward to my next dinner at Flex and I will definitely be trying the Thai Mussels along with the Mediterranean which has shrimp, kalamata olives, fennel, lemon, anise, and oregano ($22.50)

Ohh and I almost forgot to mention the wine/cocktail selection, which is pretty reasonable for NY fine dining. My friends and I shared a bottle of the Vincent Dampt Chablis for only $54. The selection of wines was also fairly extensive, which is somewhat expected at a mussel-centric restaurant. I mean, what goes better with mussels than wine?!

…..besides crusty bread, of course!

Flex_Mussels_bread

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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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Economy Candy ****

212.254.1531
108 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002

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I am sure that even those of you who haven’t been to New York, have at least heard of Dylan’s Candy Bar. It is famous for it’s extravagant candy displays, it’s excessive selection of all things sugary, and it’s outrageous, wallet-depleting prices. Dylan’s marks up a candy bar the same way that a nightclub marks up alcohol—200% being the minimum. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t gone to check it out. In fact, I couldn’t wait to go on my very first trip to New York because of all the hype surrounding it. But once I walked in, I felt the same overwhelming/dizzying/nauseating feeling that I got the very first time I walked into Forever 21. I mean it is 3 floors of candy that climb from ground to ceiling…the only thing that this place is missing is Augustus Gloop! But once I overcame the initial shock of it all, I began to notice many problems with the store (other than the obscene prices and massive crowds). You see, all of the candies are self-serve and conveniently located within the arm’s reach of a 4 year old. 4 years olds pick their nose, therefore, they should not also be allowed to pick their candies from a communal bucket with their hands. Of course there were metal tongs supplied at each candy station, but this did not stop countless adults and small children from using their grubby little fingers…can you say bacteria haven?!? Yuck!

I also quickly became frustrated by the obnoxious selection of candies and chocolates. I don’t need cocoa scented bath salts, or edible panties, or a chocolate spa (whatever that is), I just want to get my favorite sweets and get the heck out! Thus, I was very relieved to discover the Economy Candy Store on this most recent trip to NY. Almost everything at Economy Candy is in some sort of packaging and there are employees (wearing plastic loves, might I add) to help you get the items that are not wrapped. Therefore, you can eat your food without wondering about all the millions of hands that have touched it before your lips!

Economy Candy is significantly smaller than Dylan’s Candy Store, but it appears far less crowded because it is not a tourist destination and there aren’t as many screaming children running around (big plus!). But just because they have less square-footage, doesn’t mean that they have less brands/kinds of candy available (there just aren’t Hershey’s pillows or monogrammed chocolate bars). They carry all of the old-school names in candy though such as, Bazooka, Pop-Rocks, Sugar-Daddy Caramel Lollipops, Razzles, Fizzies, and even hard to find candies such as, Bubble-Gum Cigarettes, English Chocolates, Lemon-Heads, and White-Chocolate Kit-Katz (didn’t know that those they existed? Well, they do in Europe, and Economy candy is nice enough to import them and bring them to you!). The best part about Economy Candy though, comes when you arrive at the register. Unlike Dylan’s Candy Bar, you won’t go into cardiac arrest when you are told your total…you can survive the purchase and take your chances with diabetes after eating all of your affordable goodies!

The Exterior Window of Economy Candy

I purchased a ½ pound bag composed of mixed Dark Chocolate Cherry Cordials, Dark Cherry Coated Orange Peels, Chocolate Coated Espresso Beans, and Cocoa Dusted Almonds. I loved all of the candies with the exception of the cherry cordials, which I expected to be chocolate covered cherries, but turned out to be something entirely different that I still cannot figure out. I also purchased a box of Bazooka Gum, Dried Apple Rings (yes, they even have healthy snacks!), Chocolate Coated Marzipan, and an assortment of flavored Gummy Bears. All of this was under $15 dollars. I actually found myself buying extra just to meet the credit card minimum!!

5 pound bag of Gummy Bears!!

Dylan’s is a place to see at least once, but this is the place to actually buy your favorite candies, whether they are child-hood favorites or modern day delicacies. Take a stroll off the beaten path and find you’re way to the Economy Candy Store!

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Num Pang Sandwich Shop *****

Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich comes with Cucumber, Pickled Carrots, Cilantro, Chinese and Thai Eggplant Spread, and Soy Milk Chili-Mayo baked on bread made by Parisi Bakery

212-255-3271
21 East 12th Street (between 5th and University)
New York, NY 10003

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For my birthday, my roommate Ariana got me the book “The Definitive Guide to the Stuff White People Like.” Not only is the book hilarious (as you may have judged by the title), it is also astoundingly accurate. It’s kind of disappointing though because all of the things that I thought made me unique, just so happen to be characteristic of the entire Caucasian population. My uniqueness is really the taste of millions…sad face.

One of the chapters in the book discusses the white person’s love for expensive sandwiches, and I for one, am guilty as charged. The book states,

“What do white people like to do for lunch? The answer: eat expensive sandwiches. If you need to find a cache of white people, get yourself to a sandwich shop. Generally, these places aren’t open for dinner, have a panini press, and are famous for their bread. There are always vegan options. This type of restaurant is best for business and friendship situations, because it does not carry the romantic connotations that sushi and breakfast do. These sandwiches generally start around $8.99. Remember, that whenever a white person wants to go to a sandwich shop you are looking at at least a $15 outlay after tip and drink. Also note: White people will wait up to 40 minutes for a good sandwich.”

This being said, one of my first lunches in New York was a Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich from Num Pang Sandwich Shop (Ohh, and the book also states the white persons love for all things pertaining to New York—living in it, talking about it, visiting it, ect..,—how much more unoriginal can I get?). Num Pang serves up fresh Cambodian cuisine from a small, walk-up ordering window located on 21 East 12th Street between 5th and University. The sandwich wasn’t really expensive (only cost $6.75) but I did wait about 25-30 minutes to get it, so it can be classified as a typical “white person” sandwich experience. The Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich comes with Cucumber, Pickled Carrots, Cilantro, Chinese and Thai Eggplant Spread, and Soy Milk Chili-Mayo baked on bread made by Parisi Bakery. The vegetables were crisp and fresh, and the spreads packed a ton of flavor. I don’t normally like cilantro, but in this case, I LOVED it!!

Devouring my sandwich, al fresco!!

As you can see by the photo, the sandwich is about the size of your hand (unless you have really big hands, then that’s another story), and it is stacked high, so open wide. Ohh, and do yourself a favor and don’t forget to grab some napkins, because the spicy mayo is delicious in your mouth but not so pretty on your blouse.

The outside of Num Pang Sandwich Shop

This place is the definition of a hole in the wall, and remember that it only accepts cash!! Although there is some limited seating upstairs, I chose to eat outdoors a la curbside—very al fresco!

Please, please, please make your way over to Num Pang and try their delicious food!! It is absolutely awesome, so do not let yourself be intimidated by the thought of trying Cambodian food—you will not be disappointed. In addition to the roasted cauliflower sandwich, I also hear that their Pork Belly Sandwich and Skirt Steak Sandwich are very good. I can’t wait for my next trip to New York to try more of their food!

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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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Magnolia’s Bakery **

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes

212.767.1123
1240 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

I have postponed writing this blog post for quite some time now—almost a year, in fact—because I know what I have to say about one of “America’s most loved bakeries” will probably not be received well among the general public. However, in my defense, I have given it multiple chances of redemption. I’ve gone over five different times and tried multiple menu items, but yet I always find myself disappointed. Sure the little bakery is spectacular to look at, and everything is frosted and sprinkled to perfection, but the product itself isn’t that great (in my opinion, of course…I don’t want to upset any of the devout followers of Magnolia Bakery’s sweet-tooth subculture!).

Magnolia Bakery opened its doors in 1996, and is often dubbed as the creator of the “cupcake craze” that took America by storm in the late 1990’s. Dessert suddenly evolved into a statement piece, and people were demanding bite-sized, “trendy cupcakes.” Being a foodie and a baker myself, I was super anxious to try the so called “Grand Daddy of all Cupcakes.” On my first visit, I ordered the German Chocolate Cupcake and the Red Velvet Cupcake, as well as a Double Fudge Brownie. The red velvet cupcake was dry, the German chocolate cupcake was painfully sweet, and the double fudge brownie was mildly redemptive and good in comparison to the rest. I actually threw away the two cupcakes after a couple of bites…wasn’t worth the calories!

Double Fudge Brownies

I attributed the terrible cupcakes to the time of day (it was night when I went, so maybe they weren’t freshly baked), the off-chance that there was a substitute baker, and the possibility that my taste buds were off. I didn’t want to believe that they were normally that bad, and so I went again…four more times!

I have tried several cupcakes, bars, pies, brownies, and cakes and the cake is always dry, the icing is always too sweet, and the Magic Cookie Bar is always the only thing that I enjoy from my purchase. So if you do go to Magnolia, I recommend that you order a magic cookie bar as a plan B in addition to whatever else you decide to try! The Magic Cookie Bar is divine combination of graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and condensed milk. Other than that dessert, I am very under whelmed by Magnolia Bakery and think it is overrated.

Magic Cookie Bar

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Pazza Notte **

Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare – shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta

212.765.6288
1375 6th Ave
New York, NY

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After lunch at Brasserie 360, Jen and I continued to shop for a few more hours until our tipsy bubbly feeling turned into a headache/hangover. We had one of two options: (1) find advil and get on the next train home, or (2) keep on drinking. Obviously, being 21-year-olds we chose the latter option and posted up at the bar at Rue 57. I wanted a fun drink, but nothing on the drink menu was enticing me so I asked the bar tender to make me her specialty. She whipped up one of the greatest and freshest Pims Cups that I have ever tasted. The citrus from the fruit and the earthiness of the herbs was incredible. I would go back to Rue 57 for this drink alone. After 3 of these, Jen and I were ready to eat….again! Alcohol is just a vicious cycle of eating and drinking.

Pims Cup at Rue 57

 

So we walked, or stumbled shall I say, out of Rue 57 until we came across an Italian restaurant called Pazza Notte. To start, we ordered an appetizer of Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce. It was delicious, as you expect any fried food to be! The marinara sauce was exceptionally good and a little spicy! They also brought out another sauce that was cream or mayo-based, which had a nice spice to it as well. We also ordered a side of Truffle Herb Parmesan Fries, which were out of this world good! They were served with ketchup and another mayo-based Cajun flavored dipping sauce.

Fried Calamari

Truffle Fries

For my main dish, I ordered the Risotto Di Funghi, which is wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil and parmesan cheese. This dish is noted as the “owner’s favorite” and it sounds divine, but I was very disappointed. I found that the risotto was too mushy and entirely too oily. It actually made my mouth feel dirty after the first bite, and so I sent it back and continued snacking on the truffle fries instead!

Jennifer ordered her usual Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare, which is shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta (photographed at top). She thought it was amazing and had no complaints, although I did not try the dish myself.

The one redeeming factor for Pazza Notte was the drink special—two for one martinis! Jen and I chose to sip on the Blood Orange Maritinis for the remainder of the evening and they were delicious! However, I am a foodie and not an alcoholic, so I probably won’t be going back to Pazza Notte anytime soon. I can get drinks at a bar—I expect good food at a restaurant.

2 for 1 Blood Orange Martinis

 

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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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El Nuevo Amanecer **

Shredded Beef Quesadilla

212.387.9115
117 Stanton Street
New York, Ny

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Jennifer and I splurged on staying at the ritzy Gansevoort Park Hotel for our girl’s weekend, but found that we weren’t really in the mood for the ritzy hotel nightlife that took place at the rooftop bar. We went up there to find women snobbishly sipping on $25 cocktails, flashing the best of their designer brands and young men standing in circles discussing their plans for the evening, emphasizing how many bottles they planned to buy at the club. Jen and I considered mingling and then looked at each other and simultaneously said, “screw this, lets go dance and drink cheap beer.” So we bee-lined it for the door and took a cab over to Ludlow Street, which is a great little place to go bar hoping. We had a few drinks at Spitzers’ and then went dancing at little club, where we worked up a ferocious appetite.

We exited the club with sore feet and grumbling bellies, so we decided to stop at the first place within sight—a Latin American restaurant called El Nuevo Amanecer. It was one of the few food places still open, and there were an abundance of late night diners inside.

We grabbed a table and looked over the menu while noshing on the complimentary Homemade Tortilla Chips and Salsa. After noticing Guacamole on the menu, we also ordered a side of that for our chips! The chips, salsa, and guacamole were all delicious and definitely my favorite part of the entire meal.

Homemade Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Guacamole

For an entrée, I ordered the Beef Burrito, which I had expected to be shredded meat since the menu read “machada,” but much to my dislike it was like cubed steak. The meat was kind of tough and rubbery, but I was desperate for food and so it didn’t stop me from finishing the entire thing. The burrito was served with Spanish Rice and Refried Beans, and topped with Salsa Verde and Lettuce.

Beef Burrito with Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, and Salsa Verde

Jennifer ordered the Beef Quesadilla with Melted Cheese and Shredded Beef. Hers seemed to be a lot better than mine because the meat was prepared properly. Her was also served with Spanish Rice and Refried Beans.

El Nuevo Amanecer is a decent spot for late night eats because the prices are good, the hours are until late, and they serve alcohol. I didn’t love the food though and wouldn’t go back by choice, however it worked for a drunken food fix last night.

 

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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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