Tag Archives: Cocktails

XIX – Nineteen *****

bellevuephilly
 
200 S Broad Street #19
Philadelphia, PA 19102
215.790.1919

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I was in desperate need of a getaway, so this Friday night my friend and I got a last minute hotel deal at the Hyatt Bellvue in Philadelphia and made plans for an 18 hour girls retreat. We packed up the car after work and headed out to enjoy our mini “staycation,” which was to include a beautiful dinner at XIX Restaurant on the 19th floor of our hotel.

XIX is known for its luxurious dining room and incredible views overlooking the Philadelphia city skyline. Sara and I were lucky enough to snag a table outside on the balcony—along with 3 other couples, who were clearly in the early stages of dating, as we listened to the men desperately attempt to impress their female companions. I have never rolled my eyes so many times while simultaneously being grateful for my single status. This being said, it is a beautiful place to take a lady on a special occasion!

Kentucky STraight Orangeedited

We got started with a round of cocktails called the Kentucky Straight Orange, made with bourbon, orange bitters, and elderflower liquor. It was much sweeter than I was expecting a bourbon-based cocktail would be, but I attribute this to the elderflower liquor, which did grow on me as I sipped it down. I tend to prefer straight manhattans, but this is a great way to work your way into bourbon, if you’re just starting to experiment with it!

Mussels with Fenneledited

Next we ordered the Steamed Blue Bay Mussels in white wine and garlic sauce with fennel ($12). I would definitely have to rank these in my top five mussel experiences. They were meaty, and the sauce was obnoxiously good with thinly sliced fennel garnishing the top of the dish. The grilled sour dough bread served alongside the pot of mussels was perfect to soak up the remaining sauce. The only complaint I can find with this dish is that ¼ of the mussels in the pot were closed shut—and everyone knows you shouldn’t eat those suckers!

Grilled Spanish Octopus

As I began coming down from my euphoric mussel experience, the waiter arrived with our second appetizer: Grilled Spanish Octopus served on top of a bed of baby arugula with sweet peppers and fingerling potatoes, dressed in a sherry vinaigrette ($14). I would consider myself an octopus/calamari connoisseur because I order it out whenever possible, and this was the second best I have ever tasted, ranking just behind Mario Batalli’s grilled octopus with limoncello vinaigrette. For those of you that don’t know, Chef Batalli is famous for his grilled octopus, so that is saying A LOT! The meat was not rubbery and the delicate balance of acid in the vinaigrette was perfect.

Scallops2edited

Finally it was time for our entrée, and I just didn’t know if it could even compare to the appetizers, but it certainly did! We split the Pan Seared Diver Scallops with spicy poblano chili polenta, carrot puree, and mango ginger chutney ($32). The scallops were so perfectly cooked and the flavors of the mango, ginger, and carrot were very interesting and brightened the whole dish with a fresh taste. The polenta cake was definitely spicy and just the perfect size portion to compliment the scallops.

Bottom line, I would definitely go back to XIX for dinner and I hope to one day go for their brunch, which I heard was out of this world (I can only imagine based on last night’s meal!). I thought the price point was completely reasonable for the atmosphere and quality of the food. My only gripe with the restaurant was the service, and that is primarily because our server got way too involved in our ordering decisions and side conversations. At times, we actually thought he was promoting other local restaurants because he seemed to be trying to recommend we go everywhere else in Philly for similar food. It was bizarre and quite annoying. But I will be back….hopefully sooner than later!

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Sparkling Pomegranate Red Sangria *****

red-wine-sangria

Sangria is one of those drinks that reminds me of summer. It is a light and refreshing beverage to be enjoyed outside on a patio somewhere, and preferably with some good Mexican fare!

I tend to gravitate to red sangria over it’s fruitier white counterparts, because I am not the biggest fan of peach schnapps or flavored brandy. This being said, I also don’t like red sangria that tastes like spiked fruit juice (which is the case at 90% of the bars/restaurants I’ve ordered it from!). You end up drinking like 10 glasses of it in an effort to catch a buzz, only to get a sugar high that is generally followed by a massive migraine the following morning….not to mention the 800 calories you’ve also consumed. No thank you.

So tonight, I was on a mission to create my own unique sangria recipe that would taste delicious and also have my friends on their asses after only two glasses. I am proud to say “mission accomplished” with this one-of-a-kind sparkling pomegranate red sangria, which is without doubt the best sangria that I have ever tasted (my friends would second that statement too!).

The trick is to allow the flavors to develop overnight, by making the sangria ahead of time. I also like to use a merlot wine as the base of the sangria because it is a dry wine but has natural hints of berries, plums, and currants, which lend themselves well to the other fruity flavors, especially the pomegranate spritzer used to top off the beverage before serving!

 { Ingredients }

  • 1 L bottle of merlot wine
  • 1 cup of brandy
  • ½ cup of triple sec
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 orange, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple bits (I used fresh cut pineapple)
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries or blackberries
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Juice (I purchased mine from Trader Joes for $2.49)

{ To Make the Sangria }

In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped fruit, brandy, triple sec, and orange juice. Cover and allow to soak for 2 hours.

Add the wine to the mixture and allow to sit over night in the fridge. To serve, fill a glass with ice, fill ¾ with the sangria, and top off with a splash of sparkling pomegranate juice. Stir to combine.

 IMG_2047

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{ Kendall’s Hard Apple Cider }

Spkied Cider

My alcohol of choice is whiskey….on the rocks. But every now and then I am tempted to have something a little more fun; a “fancy cocktail,” if you will. Chocolate Martinis and Cookies N’ Creamtinis are not exactly what I have in mind though. I like to stay in the bourbon & whiskey family and far, far away from the whipped cream and flavored vodkas. I mean I want a cocktail after all, not a day’s worth of calories in a martini glass.

When my mom brought home fresh apple cider from the incredible Solebury Orchards in New Hope, I was determined to make a spiked cider cocktail with it. I grabbed the Maker’s Mark, a knob of ginger, some fresh lemon, and got to bartending. The result was an amazingly delicious, not too sweet, cocktail that captured all the flavors of fall. I originally served the drink in a martini glass, but after I got my blog photo, I decided that it was better enjoyed in a short glass over crushed ice. Once I took away the feminine glass, my dad agreed to have a sip and then proceeded order his own.

This is an awesome party cocktail for the holidays, and a great new way to enjoy apple cider!

{ Ingredients }

  • 3/4 cup apple cider (I love Soleburry Orchards Cider)
  • 1/3 cup bourbon (I use Marker’s Mark!)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 sliced of fresh peeled ginger
  • 2 slices of apple, for garnish

{ Directions }

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the cider, bourbon, lemon juice, and ginger. Shake to combine. Strain the cocktail into 2 short glasses filled with crushed ice and garnish with apple slices.

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The Black Horse Tavern ****

215.579.6152
101 South State Street
Newtown, PA 18940

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Happy Hour--a time, usually between the hours of 6-8, when drinks are offered at reduced prices, encouraging co-workers to mingle outside of the office setting.

This is what Happy Hour used to be–back in the 1990’s when people had jobs and could afford to keeping purchasing cocktails long after the drink specials had ended. But with the unemployment rate ticking ever higher, the definition of Happy Hour is changing: it is no longer only a place for the over-worked to release steam, it is also a valuable networking tool for the unemployed to try to find work. And bar/restaurant owners are recognizing this paradigm shift caused by the economic recession, offering better drink prices, extending discounts to include menu items, and even beginning their Happy Hours earlier in the day (before the 9-5er’s are released from their cubicles).

As an unemployed college graduate (or stay-at-home-daughter, as I prefer to say), I recognize the valuable opportunity that Happy Hours provide for networking (and budgeting) and I try to make it out to one each week. Of course, I also need to vent my frustrations of failed interviews and wasted cover letters!

Right now my favorite Happy Hour hands-down is The Black Horse Tavern in Newtown. They do it all right:

  • Starts at 5 pm, ends at 7 pm (Mon-Sat)
  • $3 drafts, $4 wines, and $6 martinis
  • 1/2 price menu items
  • Trivia on Friday nights (for free drink prizes–I won one last week!)
  • Free bar food available during Happy Hour (usually their delicious flatbreads!)

In my opinion, it’s the best deal in town and like all good things, it draws a consistent crowd. Aka: If you get there after 5 pm expect to sip your delicious martini while standing! They have an extensive speciality martini list, but I recommend the Grapefruit Bubbling Cosmo with Ruby Red Vodka, Cointreau, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice, all topped off with a splash of Champagne. It has a perfect blend of citrus without tasting artificial.

As far as bar food goes, YOU MUST GET THE TRUFFLE FRIES!!! They come topped with Parmesan Cheese and Belgian Aioli and they are to die for!

I also really like the flatbreads at this place. The Margarita is very simple but delicious made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, oregano, olive oil, and spicy marinara sauce. It’s tasty finger food that is easy to share, and I’ve got to admit that it is better than some of the pizza places I’ve tried in these neck of the woods.

Last but not least, I also tried the Caesar Salad with crisp hearts of romaine and a garlicky brioche crostini, dressed to perfection with a Caesar drizzle. It was a great portion for like $4, which is definitely recession-approved pricing!

Although I have only been to the Black Horse Tavern for Happy Hour, I hear from my neighbors that the kitchen also makes fabulous burgers and steaks for dinner. In fact, one of my neighbors said it was one of the best steaks that he has had in years (and this guy is a credible foodie in my book!).

Bottom line: if you are looking to avoid the rather pretentious cougar scene at La Stalla, and you want better bar grub than Isaac Newtons can offer, head to The Black Horse Tavern! You won’t be disappointed.

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{ Dewar’s Birdie – A perfect summer cocktail! }

“The proper drinking of scotch is more than an indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full senses with which he has been endowed…”

-David Daiches,  Scottish Scholar

And to that, I reiterate the wise words of Mr. Ron Burgundy: I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch!! Here is goes down, down into my belly…

It always comes as a bit of a surprise to people when they see a young 22-year old girl drinking a glass of scotch on the rocks, but it is undoubtably my drink of choice (along with Margaritas–and I can sense your eye roll, but hey, I need to maintain some level of femininity). I’m not really sure how I acquired a taste for the spirit since my father doesn’t drink it, but I like that it doesn’t make me pass out (vodka) or become mean and bitter (gin). Of course, I also love the slight nod of respect that each male bartender gives me when I place my order. They seem to find something sexy about a girl that rejects fruity cocktails and fancy garnishes for a stronger, malted beverage that is decidedly masculine in nature.

And for years, thats exactly what scotch has been: a gentlemen’s drink. A drink closely associated with  men in their 70’s that have humidor cigar collections and wood-panelled “libraries” filled with leather bound books. And nowadays, expensive scotch is the drink choice of younger business men looking to assert their financial success by drinking 20-year-old malts, and telling everyone at the bar about it! But good scotch doesn’t have to be expensive scotch, and it doesn’t have to be a man’s only drink.

This summer, Dewar’s put out a line of innovative cocktail recipes that can help ease anyone into the delicious smoky flavor of scotch….especially women. I’ll admit that I was hesitant to try some of these recipes at first because mixing scotch with other alcohols seemed like a strange concept, but I was really pleased with the taste of this Dewar’s Birdie cocktail, which has hints of raspberry, almond, and citrus. It is defintely a feminine way to drink scotch, but I’ve seen muscle-heads sipping on Mai Tai’s by the pool before so I would’t be surprised if your man steals a couple of sips!

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 1 1/2 part Dewar’s White Label Scotch
  • 1/2 part Disaronno Originale Liqueur
  • 1/2 part Chambord Liqueur
  • 3/4 part fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 part ginger ale
  • Wedge of lemon or lime for garnish
  • Ice

{ To Make } Combine all ingredients, except ginger ale, in a shaker glass filled with ice and shake for 10 seconds.

Pour into a short glass filled with ice.

Top with ginger ale and lemon/lime garnish.

Enjoy immediately!

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Food Porn: Cuzco, Peru

My friends and I decided that we would end our 6-month South American adventure with a bang, and do the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu before flying home for good. And given that the Inca Trail is a rigorous 4-day, 50 km trek, reaching a height of 4,200 meters (I was not aware of any of these “minor” details before paying my deposit), I had an excuse to eat whatever I wanted while staying in Cuzco the couple of days beforehand. I needed to bulk up before this climb….and I certainly did!

Peruvian food is one of my favorite types of cuisine because it has such a wide variety of national dishes ranging from soups, to fish, to poultry, and even llama and alpaca meats! Below is a collection of photos, documenting my most memorable meals:

Lomo Salteado  – Lomo Salteado is a traditional Peruvian dish with Asian influence that can be found everywhere. It is strips of sirloin steak marinated in vinegar and soy sauce, that is then stir fried with red onion, parsley, and tomato. It is usually served alongside rice (image #2), atop french fries, or on a sandwich (image #1).

Dieta de Pollo – The quint essential comfort food, dieta de pollo is a delicate chicken noodle soup. I ate a bowl of this stuff before almost every meal, and I found that most Peruvians eat a bowl of soup before their entree as well–a soup society…I like that!

Aji de Gallina – Another classic Peruvian dish with a surprisingly French influence! French chefs, put out of employment by the social upheaval of the French Revolution, traveled to the New World and settled in Peru, creating a cuisine that blended local Peruvian flavors with French styles and techniques. Aji de Gallina consists of shredded chicken in a spicy cream sauce, flavored with cheese, garlic, nuts, and rocoto peppers (spicy Peruvian peppers). It is normally served with white rice and/or french fries.

Rocoto Relleno – As I mentioned before, Rocoto is a very spicy Peruvian pepper. Therefore, when you break down the Spanish name, a rococo relleno is a Peruvian stuffed pepper…a very spicy one at that! This particular dish originates in the city of Arequipa, but is now served all over the country! It is can be filled with beef, vegetables, and cheese, among many other things. The one in the photo above is even deep fried!

Pollo con Arroz – Chicken and rice has never tasted so good!! Peruvians know how to prepare a chicken that literally melts off the bone and the cilantro flavored rice that accompanies the poultry is out of this world!! The raw onion and tomato garnishes add a fresh crisp texture to the hearty dish.

Pollo Relleno con Alpaca in Elderberry Sauce – This was our way of easing into trying alpaca. We weren’t going to order an alpaca fillet outright, so we tried a chicken dish that was stuffed with bits of alpaca first. The dish was then finished in an elderberry reduction (elderberry being very popular in Peru), and then accompanied by sautéed vegetables. What does alpaca taste like, you ask? Chicken. Go figure!

Pisco Sour – When in Peru, have a Pisco or two!! Pisco Sour is a popular Peruvian cocktail that dates back to about 1900, getting is name from the Quechua word Pisco, meaning bird. The drink is made from Peruvian grape brandy (pisco), lime juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters. It is mixed in a blender so it comes out frothy and full of citrus flavor.

Assortment of Causas – With over 8,000 species of potatoes native to the Andean region, it is no surprise that Peruvians use a lot of them in their cooking. A causa, in its most basic form, is a mashed yellow potato dumpling mixed with lime, onion, chili, and oil. The potato mixture is then stuffed with any combination of avocado, chicken, canned tuna, and shellfish. We decided to try the seafood sampler version, and it was light and lovely.

Chicharron de Pollo – Chicharron normally refers to a dish containing pork rinds, but since that didn’t particularly appeal to me, we decided to order the chicken version of the dish instead, which tasted like good ole’ American fried chicken. The fried chicken thighs were then finished with a garlic, ginger, and panda chili sauce, which was out of this world (and every ounce fattening!).

Peruvian Tequenos – Tequenos are not really Peruvian by nature, but these were because they were filled with lomo salted and aji de gallina. Anything stuffed and then deep fried is generally delicious, and this was no exception. I particularly loved the spicy rocoto dipping sauce that accompanied the tasty appetizer.

Tallerines Saltados con Pollo – If you have ever been to Peru, you will have noticed the incredible amount of Asian (chifa) influence on the food there. This is because the Spanish brought Chinese slaves to the country and with them they brought their national cuisine. One of the very popular Asian inspired dishes is Tallerines Saltadas, which are essentially lo mein noodles with poultry or beef (poultry in the photo above!).

Pollo en Salsa Rocoto with Quinoa Tabouli – This was supposed to be served as a sandwich, but since the restaurant ran out of bread, I ordered it as a deconstructed plate of ingredients. The elements included: chicken sautéed in a spicy rocoto pepper sauce, sautéed eggplant and caramelized onions, quinoa tabouli salad, and french fries. The platter had an awesome mix of Peruvian, Asian, and Middle Eastern flavors.

Alfajors – Alfajors are shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche spread (a.k.a caramel). They are popular all over South America, but prepared slightly different by every country. For example, Argentina coast them with chocolate, Chileans in Patagonia fill them with berry flavored jams, and Peruvians simply serve theirs with a dusting of powdered sugar. We got this plate of petite alfajors and fruit jams complimentary with our bill at Chi Cha de Gaston Acurio, and we all agreed that they were the best alfajors we had on our trip (sorry Argentina….)

{ San Pedro Market in Cuzco, Peru }

Woman selling her herbs and spices.

Baskets of dehydrated rocoto peppers and dried fruits.

Enormous loaves of bread, which can be found everywhere in Peru.

The line up of fresh juice bar stands.

Sam pulls up a chair and tries a juice. Have it at the stand though, because if you ask for it to go they give you a plastic bag with a straw:

To-Go cups are so American.

Where the Peruvian locals go to eat.

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Las Adelitas *****

 
(+420) 222-542-031
Amerika 8, Vinohrady
Prague, Czech. Republic

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Pop on your sombrero and pump out the tequila, because this place knows how to do Mexican grub RIGHT!

When I first arrived in Prague this summer, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I figured that there was a famous bridge, an arc de triumph, and a few beautiful cathedrals (as this goes pretty much without saying in all European cities), but I certainly did not anticipate that I would find the most incredible and authentic Mexican food tucked away in landlocked, Central Europe.

And then I met Fernando.

Fernando is a food enthusiast from California, that decided to settle in Prague and open up Las Adelitas Cocina Mexicana with a few of his friends. My friends and I were lucky enough to meet this crew out at the bar on one of our first nights in Praha, and after a few good beers and some drunken Macarena dance moves, we got an invite to have dinner at the restaurant later in the week (while watching a couple of futbol games, of course!). Now I am always down for Mexican grub, but I was particularly excited for this meal, having consumed nothing but dumplings and goulash the previous five days.

The Macarena Dancing....I was not kidding!

When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a large table covered in assorted plates of food and I became truly beside myself. We were given a sampling of almost every style dish on the menu (my dream come true)!! We started with homemade tortilla chips accompanied by salsa verde and salsa Adelitas (red salsa), as well as Cilantro infused Guacamole. The chips were fresh and crunchy and the Guacamole was delicious, with large chunks of chopped tomato and onion.

Cue the first round of drinks–Margaritas!

Margaritas on the rocks and by the pitcher! Absolutely amazing with a spicy pepper rimmed glass!

Next we shared an order of Chicken Nachos with shredded tinge chicken, melted cheese, jalapeños, salsa verde, black beans, and sour cream. Finally, a nacho platter done right: no pump cheese in sight, a proper serving of chicken, and an even distribution of toppings. Nothing artificial on the plate. Ohh, and the homemade salsas, take this classic dish over the top!

Cue next round of drinks–Tequila shots!

Las Adelitas has a ridiculous selection of imported tequilas that will have you singing La Vida Loca as you stumble on out the door.

The next thing we ate were the Flautas–3 crispy corn tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken stew “Tinga,” topped with melted cheese, sour cream, pickled red onion, and fresh lettuce. The chicken was very tender and the juices in the stew helped to keep the meat moist, compared to regular shredded chicken. I had never had meat “Tinga-style” before Las Adelitas, but I quickly fell in love with the spicy and smokey chipotle flavors. This spice was subdued and nicely contrasted by the sour cream and cheese garnish!

After the flautas were polished off, we began noshing on an assortment of Quesadillas; (1) Quesadillas de Tinga with stewed shredded chicken, onion, and tomato, (2) Quesadillas de Cochinita with achiote marinated pork meat, and (3) Quesadillas Vegetarianas with season mushrooms. All of the quesadillas were made with homemade corn tortillas, topped with sour cream and cheese, and served with refried beans and rice!  I’d have to say that my favorite quesadilla was the pork-filled one, which was followed by the vegetarian option, as the mushrooms were a nice change-up of flavor.

The homemade tortillas were really what made this dish special though. It seems that the quality of Mexican food (especially in America) is going to shit anymore; pump cheese is taking over, meat quality is deteriorating so burritos can be made larger and for cheaper, salsas are jarred, and chips and tortillas are no longer a made on site. Las Adelitas has preserved the art of homemade corn tortillas, delivering a truly authentic cuisine to their diners.

Cue next round of Margaritas (and one foot on the floor at bedtime!)

Next we sampled some Crispy Corn Tostadas, one of which was topped with stewed chicken Tinga and the other which was topped with Achiote marinated pork meat. They were both garnished with pickled red onion, and accompanied by a serving of seasoned rice and refried beans. I am a sucker for all things pork, so I gravitated towards that one in terms of preference, but both were phenomenal. The meat was very, very tender and well-seasoned.

All in all, we had an incredible meal and an unforgettable night! If you are lucky enough to be in Prague, definitely go check out Las Adelitas (they even deliver!).

I would not hesitate to make the statement that Las Adelitas is hands down the BEST Mexican grub I have ever had the privilege of eating. Worth another trip to Prague!

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Corner Shop Cafe ****

212.253.7467
643 Broadway (and Bleecker)
New York, NY

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I was preparing to photograph my lunch today (a couple of delicious chicken quesadillas), when my phone alerted me that I had “insufficient memory space” to store the images. Considering that I upload and delete my photos as I write reviews, this notification means that I am seriously behind on blogging (too much eatting, not enough writing!). I was forced to go through my collection of food photos and decide which images looked the most decadent, deleting the others that were not up to par. This sounds like an easy task, but choosing which images to part with was a painstaking process. Needless to say, my quesadillas were cold by the time I finally finished. In order to make space for future reviews, I will be backtracking a bit and intermittenly posting some articles on New York grub.

The first review is from one of my favorite lunch/brunch spots in NYC–The Corner Shop Cafe. Their menu is an eclectic mix of sandwiches, pastas, salads, and eggs but these often simple dishes are far from the ordinary here.  The Corner Shop Cafe has mastered the art of delivering the classics with a whole new twist, taking them to another level. For example, their PB & Banana Grilled Sandwich which comes on cranberry raisin bread dipped in french toast batter, served with honey and minted berries ($9). Clearly, this is not your mom’s PB & J!

Some how I fought the temptation of ordering this mastermind creation (along with the Creme Brûlée Dipped French Toast ($11)), and instead opted for a lighter lunch of Steamed Mussels in a white wine garlic sauce with parsley, peas, and tomatoes ($12). Let me tell you, these mussels were fan-freaking-tastic! The mussels themselves were plump and fresh, and the sauce was out of this world. The herb parmesan crostini soaking in the bowl was also a very nice touch and made the meal more satisfying.

My friend Sam ordered Brie & Basil Panini with aged tried cheese, oven roasted tomatoes, and prosciutto on a toasted ciabatta roll ($13). Again, a very common menu item, but executed perfectly. The ingredients were all very fresh, from the salty to prosciutto to the flakey bread, and the side salad was dressed perfectly with a nice light vinaigrette.

My other friend Ariana went all out and ordered the Truffled Poached Eggs on Toast Platter with two organic poached eggs atop grilled asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and drizzled with truffle oil served with grilled ciabatta bread ($10). A little bit of food jealous crept up on me when this plate was brought to the table. You know when you second guess your meal decision and get grumpy because another person’s food at the table looks better. Ariana was kind enough to fed me forkfuls every now and then though, so it lowered my post-order dissonance. Everything on the plate was fantastic and for the menial price of $10, it tastes even better!

We also all shared a bowl a Cream of Tomato Soup ($7), which paired great with my herb parmesan crostini. I highly recommend this soup because they only use enough cream to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. You can see by the color of the broth that the cream isn’t too overdone or heavy. It begs for grill cheese dipping!

Also, the prices on the drinks were very reasonable. We had a couple of Mimosas and a round of Chardonnay for about $10 each. I am looking forward to going back to the Corner Shop Cafe as soon as I return to the states!

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Magdalena’s Party **

Thames 1795
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
11.4833.9127

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Brunch, in the United States, is defined as a weekend ritual for twenty-something year olds (typically New Yorkers), who gather to share their first meal of the day after a long night of drinking and debauchery. The meal occurs any time after noon and before 5 pm on a Saturday and/or Sunday, where the participants recap the events of the previous night over several rounds of moderately priced Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Brunch is not just a meal; it is an urban cultural affair. In fact, people are so devoted to this culinary phenomenon, that there are entire websites dedicated to finding the best brunch spots in most major US cities—who can make the best eggs Benedict, the biggest blueberry pancakes, the most delicious omelette, and the perfect Bloody Mary. And don’t even get a New Yorker started on the best bagels and egg sandwiches!! Oy Vey!

I consider myself a fairly loyal “brunchee” at home, and after having a rather long and drunken night last night, I decided that the best way to embark on a new day was by starting it off with a proper brunch. Luckily, the brunch concept is catching on here in Buenos Aires and a ton of search results came back, much to my surprise. I was looking at the list of restaurants, when I spotted the words “breakfast buritto” nestled into the description of a place called Magdalena’s Party. My heart jumped and the decision was made, we were going to Magdelena’s!

We got a table right away, and began drooling over the very Americanized breakfast menu, which included items such as “American Diner Special,” belgian waffles, and bagels with lox. My pupils were dialating by the second. We started off with a couple of Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, which I thought were all very good. The mimosas here are made with fresh squeezed orange juice–a classy step up from Tropicana back home! And the Bloody Mary was very tasty, especially taking into account that Argentines are typically very shy with the pepper shaker and this drink had whole peppercorns at the bottom! Like little nuggets of gold!

Next we placed our food order, which entailed two orders of the Cali Coast Omelettea delicate crepe stuffed with eggs, black beans, bacon and cheese, and topped with pico de gallo, avocado and sour cream, served with a side of home fries–(45 pesos) and one order of Blueberry Pancakes (30 pesos). Then after placing our order, we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

We continued waiting for a total of one and a half hours before the first dish was brought to the table. And that was just the first dish. The second one didn’t come out until 15 minutes later, and then the third one about 5 minutes after that. Therefore, we all ate at seperate times and without an appology from the server, who acted as if this kind of service was normal and acceptable.

Now I have worked in restaurants all of my life, and I understand that sometimes there are just “off days” and the server can’t do anything to icnrease the producitivty of the kitchen. However, I also believe that a server acts as the face of the restaurant and needs to honestly and appologically inform customers of problems that occur. It is amazing what a smile (and free round of mimosas) can do to alleiviate the agony of a long wait for food.

This being said, I am torn with my review of Magdalena’s Party becasue the food was not bad, but the service was abomidable. My Cali Coast Omelette was actually pretty good. I thought it could have used a little bit more egg inside of the crepe, but the general flavor was tasty and the home fries were done perfectly. In fact, the home fries were really, really good now that I think back.

The pancakes were also nice, although the server forgot to mention that they were out of blueberries that day and just shrugged her shoulders and walked away when asked about it. And getting syrup was like pulling teeth…quite a painstaking task.

Overall, I probably won’t go back to Magdalena’s becasue I had such a bad service experience and often the service is what you remember the most when the food is just average. But again, I understand that restaurants have bad days, and had the wait not been so long and the service not so bad, I would have enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere. Try Magdeaena’s Party if you have a lot of free time to kill, becasue your Brunch might turn into a Drunch if you have the same waiting experience that I did.

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Sugar Bar ****

Costa Rica 4619 
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 11.4831.3276

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Those of you that know me, know that my favorite spot in Miami was a place called Greenstreet. It was a bar by night, an amazing cafe for lunch and dinner, and the best brunch spot in South Florida on the weekends. Today, I am thrilled because I have finally found the Greenstreet of Buenos Aires–Sugar Bar. It is owned by American entrepreneur, Martin Frankel, who has managed to bring a small piece of the US bar/culinary culture to Argentina. And on behalf of all us expats, thank you, Mr. Frankel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love eating traditional Argentine food (parrilla, milanesa, empanadas, ect…) but man do I miss thick juicy burgers, spicy chicken wings, and club sandwiches sometimes. Sugar Bar offers all of these aforementioned menu items, serving each dish with a glorious variety of American condiments. For example, The Blue Cheese Burger made with 200 grams of freshly ground beef, grilled portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and creamy blue cheese spread served with a side of fried potato wedges (44 pesos). The quality of the beef is absolutely amazing (which goes pretty much without saying in Argentina), but the topping combination takes the burger to the next level. The blue cheese adds a nice bite to the earthy flavor of the portobello mushrooms, and the french fries (which are more like steak fries) are also greasy finger-licking good.

If you’re in the mood to get a little messy, I suggest the chicken wings at Sugar Bar (available in buffalo, spicy buffalo, and terryaki). They compete on the same level as the wings at Casa Bar and The Alamo, although I must admit that I still think Casa Bar takes the prize for the best wings. That being said, these are pretty damn good  too. They just have a thicker, more non-traditional, flour coating on them than Casa Bar and they aren’t as spicy. None-the-less, I enjoy them with my liter of beer almost every night I go there.

If your not into eating wings off the bone but still want the buffalo flavor, I recommend trying the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which is boneless grilled chicken breast smothered in buffalo sauce, topped with a crispy fried onion ring, lettuce, and tomato, served with a side of creamy blue cheese spread and heaping of fried potato wedges (42 pesos). I have never tried this dish myself, but I saw my friends get it for lunch the other day and they went crazy for it. The onion ring looked divine and the blue cheese was mild and whipped into a very light, spreadable consistency.

Additionally, Sugar Bar serves (drumroll, please) SOUP! All of you expats living here in Argentina know just how big of a deal this is! They have an amazing Chicken Noodle Soup that is packed with large chunks of all-white meat chicken and chopped vegetables (23 pesos). Clear broth soup is a rare find at a restaurant in Buenos Aires, and this one is New Jersey diner style! Delicious…

They also serve a hearty Black Bean Chili (25 pesos) and French Onion Soup topped with oven baked gyuere cheese (20 pesos). Anyone looking for a taste of American comfort food in Buenos Aires, should head to Sugar Bar!

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Filed under Buenos Aires Restaurants, Cocktails, International Restaurants