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About

NYC Nom Nom is a blog about food. Restaurants and recipes... from the good, to the bad, to the un-nommable. Recently, I joined Weight Watchers. But I refuse to give up my love for food. Join me on my journey of recipes and restaurants (whether you're dieting or not).

I am very fortunate in that I get to try many of the best restaurants in NYC. I also am realizing that I love to cook and have been expanding my culinary skills with my boyfriend, Mike. So what better way to chart my path through the world of food than with a blog?

I would not consider myself a foodie, as that moniker carries with it some level of expertise, of which I have none. I just really love food and am very lucky to have both access to good restaurants and a really great kitchen (by New York City standards anyway).

If you want to reach me, you can email me at sara@nycnomnom.com or if you have more questions, visit the NYCNomNom FAQs

So without further ado, enjoy nomming.


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28 July 10

Summer 2010 NYC Restaurant Week Round-Up

I have a tenuous relationship with Restaurant Week.  I’ve reviewed a few places before, and still believe that Restaurant Week in NYC is a great opportunity to fill seats in a restaurant and allow people to try the food at places they ordinarily wouldn’t want to “risk” at full price.  For me, it’s great.  I do a lot of client entertaining at restaurants, and I’d much prefer to have a preview before I risk my good relationships on a bad meal.  Some restaurants, however, just put the cheapest food they can on the menu and skirt by.  I know Restaurant Week is political in NY, but I wish these restaurants just wouldn’t bother.  I try to read reviews about the best places to eat during RW and then provide my reviews so other’s can learn from my successes and mistakes.

So without further ado, here is my round-up for Restaurant Week for Summer 2010 in NYC.  And good news… they just extended the “week” through Labor Day!  So go and find a place to eat a three-course meal: Lunch for $24 and Dinner for $35.  Tell them NYC Nom Nom sent ya. (And don’t forget to tip on the original food price!)

My first RW stop of this season was lunch at Olives (note to Olives: your website sucks) with the lovely Miss Lori (of Stuff I Ate fame). Olives is the Todd English restaurant in the W Union Square.  (Side online media geek rant… Olives: your website sucks.  Todd English: your heavy breathing website is creepy.  W Union Square: Sorry I just cost you and my old Search team a few cents. /rant)

We started with a basket of way too deliciously moist bread with caramelized onions on top.

Which came with olive goo for dipping in. Mmmmm

The posted menu is here(however, ours was a bit different).  Lori and I both chose the beet salad to start. I have had a good deal of beet salads in recent years, and this was hands down the best one I have ever had.  I would eat this over pizza.  It was absolutely perfectly seasoned, sweet, and the braised pistachios were TO. DIE. FOR.  Wow.  I just want to go back for this salad.  Immediately.

I first chose two other entrees on the menu before I settled on the ravioli.  It was a sad moment, as BOTH entrees had peppers that couldn’t be taken out.  So I settled for the raviolis.

And if you get “stuck” with raviolis, these are pretty damn good ones to get stuck with.  Not the best, but quite delicious and totally satisfying.  The peas were perfectly cooked.

Lori chose the trout (which seems to NOT be on the menu that is posted) which had cherries (damn I love cherries), beans, and bacon.  This is what I REALLY wanted but it had jalapenos.  Damn.  Since I couldn’t even sneak a taste due to my allergy, her full review is here.

And then came the desserts… we decided to each get one of the pana cottas.  The first was a buttermilk custard with wild Maine blueberries and things that we kept commenting tasted just like Kix.  Turns out, that is exactly what they were!  It was pretty good… but nothing to write home about.

The second pana cotta was a bittersweet chocolate with shaved brownie, cocoa puffs, and white chocolate fudge.  What they FAILED to mention was the watermelon sorbet.  It was so damn good that we each contemplated accidentally tripping and falling (mouth first) into our neighbor’s plates as their desserts came out.  This sorbet is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Overall, I was very impressed with Olives.  I’ve had apps and drinks there before and I’ve never been dissapointed.  I hear the regular dinner menu has AMAZING pasta.  Totally worth it.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

__________________________________

Our next restaurant of the season was Ilili.  This came as a recommendation and seemed especially enticing since they offered a free pour of Lebanese wine during the two original weeks of RW (thanks for the tip Wined and Dined!)  

Even though we got a free taste of wine, I saw a cocktail on the menu that I couldn’t resist.  It had tequila, mulberry syrup, and lime.  It was quite enjoyable.  And obvious QUITE strong… the pictures for the rest of the Ilili post are terribly out of focus.  Apologies in advance.

Their Restaurant Week menu is here.  (They also offer a Dinner special for $39 every Sunday - Wednesday that is similar to the RW menu was. It doesn’t appear that they are officially participating in the extended Restaurant Week, but this was a steal even for an extra $4!)

We went to Ilili with our friends Josh and Lillian, and what is so much fun about Ilili’s menu is that there is just SO much to choose from so we each chose 2 small plates, 1 entree, and 1 dessert and then sampled around the table.  I love friends who share their food!

First up was the green beans with date molasses garlic whip, sesame seeds, and pickled pearl onions.  Delish!

Then there was the insanely creamy hummus…

…That came with well inflated pita.

We also got artichokes (which aren’t on the current, year-long menu).  I hear they were good, but they were spicy so I had to do without.  Poo.

We tried the Mekanek, which was lamb sausage sauteed with olive oil with lemon and pine nuts.  Tasty.

And the steak tartar that came shaped like a meatball.  I prefer my tartar less reminiscent of raw meat I cook with… but at least it tasted good! (And yes… I stuck to the far side of the plate below)

I ordered the lamb meatballs with onions and pine nuts in a tomato sauce.  These were so good and lamb-y! MMmmmm

Our last “app”/small plate was the lamb ribs with burned strawberry, scallions a la plancha, cuin, and aleppo broth.  I REALY wanted to try this (burned strawberry just sounded interesting) but, turns out, the aleppo broth took me out of contention.  Lillian said it was good though!

Josh chose the braised rabbit with eggplant, romano beans, and roasted heirloom tomatoes.  (Right Josh? Man I hope that’s right…)  He liked it whatever it was!

Mike chose the Chicken Shish Taouk which was marinated in lemon and garlic on a spiced pita.  He enjoyed thoroughly.

Lillian chose the striped bass with a ragout of clams and herbs, kouzbara toast, and lemon espuma.  It was deliciously tender and juicy.

In my humble opinion, my entree was the best.  It was the lamb and plum stew with crispy vermicelli.  It helps that lamb and plums are 2 of my favorite foods.  The meat just fell apart on my fork and the tastes were effortlessly elaborate.  I loved it.  Love love loved it.

The desserts were plentiful.  First up was the Ilili Candy Bar that came with chocolate kataifi crunch, chocolate ganache, pistachio and fig caramel and finished with warm chocolate sauce (table side).  I’m not sure why it was called a candy bar, but it was delicious and decadent.

Josh chose the homemade Lebanese ice cream.  I’m not sure what kind it was… but he enjoyed it from what I could tell.

Lillian got the Ashta which is traditional Lebanese clotted cream with orange blossom simple syrup.  This was tasty, but not as rich as I like my desserts. (I’m a glutton for chocolate).

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with Ilili.  Not only was there a lot of food and a lot to choose from for a typical Restaurant Week menu, but they do a similar special all year long AND the food was spectacular.  Not a bad dish on the table.  I will do work lunches and dinners here.  It was that good.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

__________________________________

After reading some reviews, Mike and I chose to do a RW dinner at Park Avenue Summer (which also doesn’t appear to be on the extended RW list).  They change the menu and decor for each season.

Our bread basket was concerning, as while the biscuits looked delicious, they also looked like they could have potential inclusion of peppers (and as we all know, jalapeno peppers ARE in fact peppers).

Luckily, they read my mind and included a descriptive card about the breads! (and the Summer Corn Roll was tasty).

 

We started with a chef’s treat of watermelon pieces on a stick.  Good… but if you are just going to serve watermelon on a stick, it had better be VERY good watermelon.  It wasn’t.  Just okay.  I’m hard to impress with watermelon though.

The restaurant was VERY dark (even leading an old lady to block the stairs as we went to our seats to allow her “eyes to adjust”) so the pictures are not great.  Sorry!

Here was the menu.

Mike started a dish that isn’t on the posted menu (my memory isn’t good enough for this!)  I have no recollection of this… hmmm…

I got the salmon tartar and this was REALLY good.  Impressive citrus flavor that perfectly balanced the fish.

Mike got the Dr. Pepper Baby Back Ribs for his entree with fresh peach slaw.  He made the right choice.

I went with the roasted chicken with peaches.  It was just… ehh.  The skin wasn’t crispy enough, there was too much sugar in the peach sauce and not enough peaches, and the chicken was a bit dry.  Very disappointing.

We also ordered off the regular menu (in addition to a bottle of wine) and got the fried artichokes.  I was SO disappointed with these.  The breading was so heavy and fried so much that you couldn’t even taste the artichokes.  They tasted like fast food.  Weird and disappointing. 

For dessert, Mike chose two curious flavors of ice cream: sweet corn and carmelized honey.  They were both stupendous but I LOVED the corn. Wow! Like licking cold popcorn flavored deliciousness. 

I went with the Chilled Banana Parfait with Chocolate Crumbs & Banana Butterscotch Puree.  Honestly, I hoped it was something like my insanely delicious Faux Banana Ice Cream, but it was lackluster until I hit the butterscotch, which made it better, but still not GREAT.  Bummer.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed by Park Avenue Summer.  I don’t know if it was the RW menu or if the food was just not what I expected.  Bummer.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

__________________________________

Our last scheduled stop for Restaurant Week was dinner at Perry Street (a Jean Georges restaurant I had heard good things about.  They also seem to not be participating in the RW extension… damn.  But they do have a summer special for lunch ($26) and dinner ($38).

The day before, Mike and I checked out the RW Dinner Menu and were disappointed to see that they only had 2 apps and 2 entrees to choose from (and both entrees included scary words like “spicy” and “ratatouille”).  I called to confirm and asked if they could move us to lunch, which had a MUCH bigger menu (though even with so much selection, I had trouble finding pepperless items).

I really liked the ambiance of the restaurant. 

Even the bar just looked comfortable.

 

We started with an amuse bouche of cold watermelon soup.  It was tasty but a little too vinegary for me (it burned the throat).

Mikes app was the goat cheese and peach salad.  These were the best peaches I have had all season.  Hands down.  I want to know where they source them from.  This is how peaches are meant to be.  Mike enjoyed the crystallized wasabi (and wasabi nuts) but I steered clear (not a fan… reminds me too much of the scary pepper in taste).

I went with the arctic char sashimi with lemon, olive oil, and crispy skin.  It was good, but really was no comparison to the salmon tartar from the week before at Park Avenue Summer.

Mike chose the grilled yellowfin tuna burger. It came with bonito mayonnaise, shiso, and yuzu pickles.  I think it was tasty, but it was a bit hard to get past the fact that this was ground up tuna rather than a tuna steak.

I had the spinach and goat cheese omelet with crunchy potatoes. 

It was good but nothing too special.

For dessert, Mike got the “berry soup.”  It was good, but felt like a cheap alternative to a real dessert.

I went with the chocolate lava cake. 

It was disappointing… especially because the center was pretty well done.  The chocolate was SO bittersweet that even the ice cream (which was tasty) couldn’t quite make up for it.  It was also a bit dry.  It would have been well suited for a berry sauce of some kind.

Overall, I was underwhelmed by Perry Street.  For a name like Jean Georges, I expected more, especially for Restaurant Week.  I don’t know how their regular menu is, but this was just… ehhh.  Another bummer. 

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

_________________________________

Restaurant Week Summer 2010 was an overall success since we had TWO great meals. 

Summary: Skip Perry Street and Park Avenue Summer, Hit up Olives and especially Ilili.

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3 March 10

Tribeca Grill- 2010 Restaurant Week

My second (and unfortunately final) stop for NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2010 was Tribeca Grill (corner of Greenwich and Franklin) with the wonderful Carrie.  I had never been, and I was excited to see they had a very delicious sounding Restaurant Week Menu.

I had to go with the Chestnut soup (LOVE chestnuts!) and it was good, but not great. It just wasn’t chesnutty enough. 

Carrie went with a regular green salad.

Carrie also chose the black truffle cavatelli and was kind enough to give me a bite. It was delish!

I went with the red wine braised short rib that came with brussel sprouts, chanterelles, and pancetta.  It was quite tasty!

I tried to avoid eating TOO terribly and chose to spend my calorie budget on the short ribs rather than dessert… but I couldn’t just NOT get dessert.  So Carrie and I both chose to go with the gelato.  She chose the coffee.

I went with a fruit trio.  I think it was strawberry, banana, and something?  I’m not sure what.  It was good but far from the best I’ve had.

Overall, I think it was a decent restaurant week menu and I’m glad I got to try this, but I’m not sure if I’d be in any rush to go back.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

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1 March 10

Angelo and Maxie’s- Restaurant Week 2010

After a lovely mani/pedi date with the incredible Lori, she recommended we visit Angelo and Maxie’s where not only was her friend, Carlotta, tending bar, but it was also Restaurant Week.  Even though I’m supposed to be on a diet, I figured I could make it work at a steak house with portion control.  Plus, I just need to enjoy SOME of Restaurant Week like I have in year’s past (Summer 2009 and Winter 2009).

In case you don’t know how restaurant week works, here is the menu from Angelo and Maxie’s (they all work similarly with a prix fixe of an app, entree, and dessert with lunch for $24.07 and dinner for $35):

*****

RESTAURANT WEEK 2010 MENU

Sunday-Friday

January 25th-February 28th, 2010 

(excluding Saturdays and February 14th)

_____

First Course

Choice of:

Maxie’s House Salad

Angelo’s Caesar Salad

Soup of the Day

_____

Second Course

Choice of:

Grilled Filet Mignon (au poivre or béarnaise available)

Charbroiled New York Sirloin Steak

1 ½ pound Herb-Roasted Chicken

Broiled Salmon over Fresh Sautéed Vegetables

Marinated Roumanian Steak with Grilled Onions (dinner only)

Maxie’s Chopped Steak with Sautéed Onions (dinner only)

_____

Third Course

Choice of:

Cheesecake

Chocolate or Vanilla Ice Cream

Fresh Fruit

_____

LUNCH:  $24.07

DINNER: $35.00 

*****

Lori and I both chose the caesar salad (per Carlotta’s recommendation) but only I went all in with the anchovies.  (Lori got them on the side but couldn’t bring herself to try one).  I LOVE salt, so I like anchovies, though only in small doses.

We also both chose the Filet, however, I went with mine sauceless (hoping to save some calories).

Lori chose au poivre.

For my dessert, I sucked it up and chose the fruit salad.  It was a sad moment in my life, but I knew I couldn’t have both the steak AND the cheesecake.

Or could I? Lori was gracious enough to give me a few bites. Thank GOODNESS I didn’t get this… it was so insanely good I never would have stopped eating it.

I love the take-home bags with all the cows.

We also each enjoyed a glass of the Malbec, again as recommended by our lovely bar tender Carlotta. It was a Carolores Del Sol and we both enjoyed it very much! Will have to be on the lookout for that little gem.

Overall, I thought our meal was great, and for $24 it’s hard to beat! The steak was cooked perfectly and, if you’re not slaving over a diet, you MUST try the cheesecake.  Holy cow!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Lori, a fellow food blogger (and lover), wrote about our experience here if you’d like to see her perspective on the same meal.

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4 October 09

Dining Deals

As a lover of Restaurant Week, I’m always excited to see when restaurants extend their deals.  “Wined & Dined” put together a great summary of who is having deals, so why re-create it? 

Happy Nomming (on the cheap)!

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3 August 09

Wrap Up: NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2009

Restaurant Week is something I do look forward to, even if we have a love/hate relationship.  I understand that many restaurants hate it because it forces them to serve sub-quality food to, what I have heard us being referred to as, “riff-raff.”  (Nice).  Now while I understand 3 courses for $35 ($24.07 for lunch) means that the ingredient cost usually outweigh the profit, however, I know I have proved many times that I can cook a damn good meal for less than $35 per plate (Hell! Less than $20 per plate!)  I also always buy a bottle of wine (usually one more expensive than I would otherwise) and if I get to sample a meal that is outrageous, I will go back, and probably bring my reps with expense accounts.  Now I know some people will go there, be rude, take up tables, not tip well, and probably never come back… but for those of us who can’t afford the BEST meals in the city every day, it’s a nice treat to get to sample for an affordable price. 

I try to do some research before I make the reservations to make sure that I go to the places that have already been tasted and approved by fellow food lovers.  I’m not overly concerned with size of portion (I could use a little portion control anyway!) however, I want to have food that is delicious and a reasonable selection of what’s actually on the menu.  This year my Restaurant Week research informed me that the two places (that had openings) we wanted to try were Delmonico’s and Aquavit

Our first stop was Delmonico’s on a Thursday evening (65 Beaver Street at the corner of William).  I usually don’t travel much to the Financial District, and I think I’m always pleasantly surprised when it takes me less than 20 minutes from Times Square (my office) to get there.  It was pouring, but the glow of the NYC rainy streets and the umbrellas gave the great restaurant entrance an old New York feel, which was quite appropriate.  (Turns out Delmonico’s has been around since the 1820s).

The restaurant itself was beautiful inside.  The first thing I noticed on the wine menu was that they had a Vouvray (by the glass).  My favorite wine in the world is a Vouvray (first tasted on Valentine’s Day 2008, and always proves very hard to find).  This one did not disappoint, but it wasn’t quite the amazing Domaine Du Viking 1999/2000 I have fallen in love with.  I was still thrilled to have it though!

I had a toss up on the appetizer selection as there was a pasta with artichokes listed, however, I went with the lobster bisque, since it’s something I don’t eat very often.  This one was great, though not in the top 5 (maybe even top 10) in my honest opinion.

Mike went with the iceburg wedge and the blue cheese was exceptional.

Mike and I both ordered the fillet that billed itself as “served with accompaniments.”  This turned out to be 3 strips of root veggies and 3 string beans and a pile of mashed potatoes.  Now there was nothing really wrong with the entree, however, it just wasn’t what I thought it would be.  The presentation reminded me of a wedding, and I just couldn’t get that association out of my head.  The potatoes were just okay and the 6 slices of veggies seemed very sparse and bland (especially seeing as though veggies are typically a thing restaurants can doll up inexpensively to make the plates look better for restaurant week).  The meat was good, but not exceptional.  I had no “wow” moments at all.

Until dessert…  and even then it was only a mini wow.  I should have gone with my gut and tried the Baked Alaska on the regular menu, however, I was quite pleased with what we did get.  I believe mine was called a “Yankee Doodle” Cake and resembled a homemade hostess cake with a rich chocolate outside and drizzled with caramel.  It was good, but forgettable.

Mike had a panna cotta parfait.  The blueberries smelled heavenly, but the parfait itself was somehow lacking to me.

One other thing of note: The service was so quick that it honestly felt rushed.  I couldn’t imagine that they can cook fillets made to order in under 15 minutes, however, I’m pretty sure that’s about how long it took to get through the app and then immediately be served the steaks. I love good service, but this was so quick I hardly had time to sip my wine between courses. Also, the restaurant was not full (and I noticed those around us ordered off the Restaurant Week menu as well, so they may not have even been there at all otherwise).

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

_____________________________________________________

Our next restaurant week stop was Aquavit Cafe (aka AQ Cafe) which is the more “casual” version of Aquavit Dining Room (we tried for the dining room but they didn’t have an open reservation.).    AQ Cafe is located at 65 E. 55th Street between Madison and Park Aves.  Aquavit came as a recommendation from the incomparable Lori (a fellow food lover and blogger), who went there for Restaurant Week this past winter.

I liked that rather than the usual bread, we were started with popcorn that had fresh shaved parmesan and what I think was dill on it.  Unfortunately, the popcorn tasted as though it had sat out in a humid room for a bit, but I love popcorn even when it’s stale, and the cheese really was delish on top.

We decided to try the flights of Aquavit.  I’m not a fan of vodka nor licorice (two comparisons I’ve heard to the taste), however, since it was the namesake of the restaurant, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

We each picked three.  I went with Blueberry & Elderflower, Coconut & Espresso, and the Lingonberry sampler.  Mike chose Fig & Cardamon, Pear Vanilla & Black Pepper, and Pineapple & Thai Basil.  I definitely chose the winning flight, as I thought all three of mine were better than all three of his.  The ultimate winner, however, was the Coconut & Espresso, which would probably be the only one I’d reorder.  Overall, I think Aquavit just isn’t for me, but it sure looked pretty:

I started with the Herring Plate.  It was really great, and each piece of herring was either in a different sauce or had a different topping.  I’m still not sure what all of them were, except I can guess that one was roe, one was something sweet and fruity (pear maybe), and one was scallions. The fourth one I was clueless about, but I enjoyed.  I would have liked a little information on what I was eating exactly, but it didn’t deter from my enjoyment.

Mike ordered the chilled corn soup with smoked salmon and beets.  He had never had cold soup before and this was an instant turn-off for him.  Personally, I like cold soup, although this one could have benefited from a bit more flavor.

I went with the exact same entree I got as Smorgas Chef a few weeks ago (I heard that branch is now closed!) except this one was hands down better in every way.  The potatoes were more potato-y, the lingonberries were perfectly sweet, and the meat balls had a perfect flavor and were even more tender.  Not to say that Smorgas Chef wasn’t good, but it was too easy to see a difference since it was so recent.

Mike went with the Herb Roasted Chicken with green beans, corn, and mushrooms.  The corn mush on the bottom was yummy, but the chicken was a bit too dry and flavorless.  Surprising.

Desserts stood out bar none. I had the chocolate mousse with peanut powder and grape sorbet.  I wanted to lick the plate.  There was something a bit off with the texture on the bottom of the mousse, but I value taste more than texture.

Mike’s dessert was even better.  He got the “Arctic Circle” which was a goat cheese parfait, passion fruit curd, and blueberry sorbet.  The whole thing was great, but the sorbet was sensational.

The service here was quick but didn’t feel rushed.  I liked the atmosphere as it was open without being load and nicely decorated.  The idea of specialty flights of aquavit was also quite nice.  The entrees were very variable for us, and I would probably award a 7 to mine and a 6 to Mike’s, however, the desserts pushed this one out in front.

Overall Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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20 July 09

A welcome Times Square Addition: Montenapo

There aren’t a lot of options in Times Square for fine dining, so when a new place opens up with a lot of buzz, we all get a little excited.  Montenapo is a brand new Italian restaurant in the New York Times building (and look! they even have a Twitter).  The restaurant itself is set up very well, with very high windows on the inside wall facing a pretty internal courtyard with trees.  It had the effect of feeling as though you were no where near where you really were… the center of the center of Manhattan.  The details were perfect in the decoration, with a nicely lit bar that looked hip yet not hipster while still looking classic without being stodgy.  We had great, attentive service the entire time.

The menu itself is drool-worthy and I went in with the fear that I wouldn’t know what to choose.  Luckily our wonderful hosts were just as excited about the food and we ordered to the nines. 

We began with a sampler that I cannot even find on the menu.  It was cheeses (aged parm and mozzarella if memory serves) with prosciutto and salami.  There was also a lobster dish and some amazing shrimp.  Everything was fresh and fabulous.

Next we had the “pasta course” where everyone got a perfectly plated sample of two pastas on the menu.  We tried the Pappardelle (ribbon pasta with lamb ragout, fresh thyme, and parmesan cheese) and Agnolotti (ravioli pasta filled with braised veal cheeks, served atop celery root puree and veal stock reduction).  Both were absolutely phenomenal and SO fresh!

We all ordered our own entree.  I went with a special on the Restaurant Week menu: Brasato Di Manzo (slowly cooked boneless short ribs with fava beans and mashed potatoes).  Again, it was sensational.  Fresh and done perfectly.

The woman next to me went with the Dentice which was a red snapper filet baked with cherry tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, black olive tapenade and fresh time in a white wine sauce.  I tried a bite and it was delicious.

There was an order of the boneless spring lamb wrapped in pancetta that I also sampled (much to my delight) but was too far away for picture taking.  The winner of the ordering, however, was the Osso Bucco with saffron risotto.  If I hadn’t had osso bucco the night before, I would have ordered it, but I was happy just to taste it.  It was perfection.  Probably the best I’ve ever had.

We decided on a dessert sampler and were informed that their pastry chef was “the best in town.”  Now I am quite the pastry critic, however, they may not have been lying! There was not a bad dessert on the two plates, and for a sampler they were of AMPLE size. 

On plate one we had something I can’t remember, a baked apple in a pastry (YUMMO!), ricotta cheesecake, and a flourless chocolate souffle.

On plate #2 was creme brule, fresh fruit, one of the best chocolate mousses (mees?) I’ve ever had, and tiramisu (I don’t even like tiramisu and I thought this was outstanding!)

We rolled out of the restaurant and truly struggled to get any work done all afternoon.  This is a very welcome addition to my office area and I highly recommend it! 

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

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12 February 09

NYC Restaurant Week: Winter 2009 

First, for anyone that doesn’t know what Restaurant Week is, a brief synopsis:

Lunch $24.07 | Dinner $35.00

Included in these prices is a special three-course, prix-fixe menus at participating restaurants. It doesn’t include beverage, tax or gratuity, however, it’s hard to beat 3 courses for $24-$35!

Usually restaurant week is only 2 weeks long, however, since it has been extended through February 27th, I think this post is still relevant.

Now I have a love/hate relationship with Restaurant Week. 

Love: I can try the best restaurants that I usually couldn’t afford on my own through a sampler of an app, entre, and dessert.

Hate: Restaurants are so variable in what they serve.  Some serve the cheapest items that do not represent their trust menu and in VERY small portions.  On the other hand, some have great menus that really show off the good food and make me want to come back.  (Dear Restaurants: Please note that I come in with 5-20 people on business lunches and am in charge of recommending where we eat.  INCENTIVE!)  I have had some great hits and some great misses over the years.  Winter 2009 score summary: 8, 9, and 4.5 Nom Points.

Within the original 2 week planned event, I was very pleased to see that they were now including Sundays and that MLK Day was within the weeks.  Usually I cannot take advantage of the lunch specials since I’m working, but this year I scheduled two.  Some of the best restaurants only serve lunch, not dinner, so it was fun to have new options.  Here is the rundown of my Restaurant Week-Winter 2009:

Place: Craftbar
Date: Sunday, January 18th, 2009
Company: Boyfriend Mike
The Nommage:

  • Pecorino-Stuffed Risotto Balls: These are delicious little fried balls of risotto and cheese. So delicious, in fact, that I burned my mouth not once but twice to the point of no return while trying to stuff these delightful little noshes into my very hungry mouth.
  • Cheese Sampler: Small, especially for the price, but VERY tasty. 
  • Baked Eggs: This was my entree.  It had confit leeks, short ribs, fingerling potatos and ibarra chocolate.  At first I was skeptical about chocolate in eggs, but I am skeptical no more!  It added a perfect flavor to this hearty brunch dish.
  • Eggs Benedict: Mike’s Entree had bacon, fingerling potatoes, and cipollini onions.  Quite delicious.

Negative Nom Points: It turns out that the restaurant was listed incorrectly and they were not participating in Restaurant Week on Sundays.
Positive Nom Points: The wait staff was incredibly appologetic and wound up comping us for BOTH appetizers (the risotto balls and cheese sampler).
Overall: It was a bummer to not get the restaurant week menu, but they more than made up for it and the food was DELICIOUS. (8 out of 10 Nom Points)

Place: Cafe Boulud
Date: Monday, January 19th, 2009
Company: Best Friend Lori
The Nommage:

  • Squash Soup: Lori and I both chose this appetizer. It was quite good, though I prefer a bit of crunch in my soup (such as pumpkin seeds). I also eat squash soup pretty much wherever I go, so I have high standards.  I believe the other option was a salmon dish.
  • Braised Veal Cheeks: Lori and I again both decided on this entre. We were VERY happy we did.  The portion seemed small only because it was so delicious that neither of us wanted it to end.  It was as tender as could be and the flavor was amazing.  The other option was a ravioli that is presently escaping my memory.
  • Passion Fruit and Banana Cake with Banana Mousse, Passion Fruit Gelee and Lime Shebert: Lori ordered this.  I was so-so on it as I am a chocolate fan, but it was quite good for what it was.
  • Chocolate Financier: Chiboust Cream, Caramelized Pecan, Vanilla Ice Cream and Crème Brulee on a soft fudge chocolate cake… TO. DIE. FOR.  End of story.

Negative Nom Points: I’m having trouble coming up with one… perhaps the fact that it’s on the UES makes it slightly out of the way for most New Yorkers… but the travel was worth it!
Positive Nom Points: Great food. Great service. Amazing Restaurant Week offering.  Hard to beat. (9 out of 10 Nom Points)

Place: Mercer Kitchen
Date:
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Company: Boyfriend Mike
The Nommage:

  • App? It was so bland I can’t even remember it.
  • Slowly Baked Salmon with Brussel Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes: As someone who has very recently and delicately entered the world of fish eating, I thought the salmon was a safe choice. I was wrong.  It tasted very fishy.  I also love the taste of brussel sprouts because they are a good hearty vegetable, however, they were shaved down so small that it tasted a bit like limp lettuce on top of a heap of boring mashed potatoes.
  • Ranch Cheeseburger on a Toasted Brioche Roll and French Fries: Mike’s entree… it was a burger. Nothing special.  Not bad, not good, just not thrilling in the least.
  • Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with Cocoa Bean Brittle and Vanilla Ice Cream: This saved the meal.  It’s hard to go wrong with warm chocolate cake, but this was especially gooey and all the right flavors.
  • Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Blood Orange Sorbet: As someone who can typically take or leave cheesecake, this was worth taking!  But I’m still glad that I ordered the chocolate cake and Mike got the cheesecake.

Negative Nom Points: The salmon ruined the meal. Could they come up with more rudimentary things for their menu? Salmon, Cheeseburgers, and Chicken do not make for an interesting culinary adventure. 

Positive Nom Points: At least the desserts were good, but I’d never go back. (4 out of 10 Nom Points)

I also managed to go to a few restaurants while they had the restaurant week menu with my job.  I wound up ordering a meal or two off the special menus.  The top winner is the Hake at Blue Fin.  It is a white fish with an almond crust and chestnuts (my fave!) and butternut squash in a light celery broth.  DELISH!  I also made an attempt to eat at Asia De Cuba.  Turns out they have only 2-3 dishes on their regular menu that I can eat (I’m allergic to peppers) so that was a bust.  The scallops were heavenly though.

And there you have it folks!  Restaurant Week Winter 2009 in a nutshell.

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All artwork and photos copyright of Sara Axelrod unless otherwise stated. Originally themed by Hunson and Josh

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