eat. shop. love. nyc.

Maritime Parc Winter Menu

A friend of mine asked me if I might be interested in checking out a place out in Jersey City for dinner. Initially, I scoffed. Jersey City? Do I need a passport? How does one even get to/from Jersey without a car? Does it cost a million dollars to take a taxi? We ended up sharing a car between four people, and it was more than well worth the trip to check out the winter menu at Maritime Parc.

The restaurant is spacious, warm, and modern. It’s the kind of place you can go for a special occasion, but without any stuffiness or discomfort.

Maritime Parc’s executive chef and owner is Chris Siversen, a man who exudes an almost palpable humility and genuineness. His eyes twinkled as he chatted animatedly about his daughter and how she loves to help him out in the kitchen every time she comes to work with him. His food philosophy is one dedicated to seasonal local ingredients, elegant simplicity, and cooking food that is accessible and familiar, but executed exceptionally well in his open kitchen and with a smile on his face.

The cocktail menu at Maritime Parc was designed by Greg Seider of Alphabet City cocktail den Summit Bar.

Named for famous Jersey shipwrecks, the cocktails are inventive, restrained, and mighty tasty.

We started the evening with a bread basket served with a plate of pickled red onions, pickled apples, pickled feta cheese. The mix was pleasantly vinegary with a touch of sweetness, and the crunch of the pickled apples and onions was offset nicely by the give of the feta.

Next up was an appetizer of grilled oysters topped with bacon leek cream sauce, an upscale take on the more traditional Oysters Rockefeller. But really, can you ever go wrong when you combine oysters, bacon, and cream? I think not.

We had a nice bottle of Concerto Gruner Veltliner from Wolfgang Vineyards in Burgenland Austria.

It was a great winter white – full bodied with nice acid, and it did well to cut the heaviness of the cream of the oysters and the cheese in our next dish, an apple chestnut risotto. For me, this dish epitomized winter comfort food. It wasn’t the most beautifully presented dish of the bunch, but I liked the combination of the sweet apple and earthy chestnuts in the rich and creamy risotto.

Then came the lobster with spinach and ricotta gnocchi. Technically, it’s a gnudi and not a gnocchi because there is no potato so the gnudi are very light and pillowy, and they don’t overpower the delicate lobster meat and they don’t need a heavy sauce. This wasn’t my favorite dish of the tasting as I felt like the sauce could have been a little brothier and packed a bigger lobster taste, but that small criticism aside, it was still delicious.

The second fish course was a perfectly cooked fillet of pink snapper with crispy skin, pickled onion, pink grapefruit, lemon, basil, and olive oil. I’m partial to seafood as it is, and I’m a sucker to crispy skinned-anything, so this was easily my favorite dish of the evening.

The pink snapper was served with two hearty family-style sides of roasted brussel sprouts cooked in bacon walnut butter and fried mashed potato rings (donuts) served with a grainy mustard fondue. I got so excited about eating that I forgot to take pics until after we’d already demolished these. Woops. My bad.

The meat course was a venison loin in a juniper reduction, served alongside red cabbage and barley braised in red wine and red vinegar atop a parsnip puree. The parsnip puree was a nice departure from mashed potatoes, lending a slightly sweet dimension to the plate. At this point, I thought my stomach might quite literally explode. This is a very meaty, very filling dish, and while I am possessed of impressive eating faculties, I do have my limits. If you’re really hungry, this would be a great choice. The portion isn’t huge, but it’s so rich that it feels like more food than it is.

The venison was served with a mushroom cassoulet – homnjimeji, king oyster, oyster, and cremini mushrooms combined with mirapois, stock herbs, aromatics, and sauteed with garlic and shallot – and a creamy baked polenta with a crispy parmesan cheese top finished with a dash of truffle oil. If these dishes don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, you might want to check your pulse.

The lovely Michelle Park, NY1’s food and lifestyle reporter and, happily, a longtime friend of mine, asked Chris about where he gets his ingredients. Chris sources his ingredients from a distribution company called Zone 7 that sends him an updated product list every week of seasonal offerings from local farms. He likes to drive out to the farms from time to time, but Zone 7 makes his life easier by consolidating all of the information for the various potential suppliers in one place.

When the servers brought out the desserts, I was torn. On one hand, I was giddy with anticipation. On the other hand, I was cursing the lack of available space in my stomach. But I have discovered that I might have a separate stomach or some small reserve designated for desserts only, and I happily tried a bit of all of the desserts that came out (in order of appearance below): powdered sugar munchkins (not on the menu, served warm and impossibly moist – if Dunkin’ Donuts ever got a hold of this recipe, they might take over the world), the “Poppy-Sicle” (orange poppyseed cake topped with a tangerine creamsicle tube and lemon-yuzu foam), the chocolate tasting trio (milk chocolate pecan pie, dark chocolate brioche pudding, and white hot chocolate), and the deep dish apple pie served a la mode with butterscotch ice cream and a crispy apple cracker.

Woohoo! I love grown-up desserts.

Side note: in the summer, you can actually just take a ferry to the dock and there’s a huge outdoor space right on the water. If you want some primo seats to the Red Bull Air Race, this is the place to grab lunch and hang out all day. While we had a fancypants dinner, there’s also a great bar menu featuring burgers and salads and the like, and in nice weather, Chris fires up the grill on the deck. While I really enjoyed the winter menu, I think this would be even more amazing in summer when you can sit out on the deck and eat lunch and drink beer overlooking the water and the lower Manhattan skyline, make a day of it, yanno?

Eat: Maritime Parc (Jersey City, NJ) 84 Audrey Zapp Drive, Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ 07305. (201) 413-0050. Click here to make reservations.


NYC to Maine gastro road trip Part III
September 2, 2010, 7:10 am
Filed under: Eat, Go | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[tweetmeme]CONTINUED from My Magical NYC to Maine Gastro Road Trip Part I and NYC to Maine Gastro Road Trip Part II. I should probably try to be a little more creative with these blog titles. My apologies in advance – this particular entry is lacking in food porn. For that, you may want to revisit prior entries or skip to the next in the series (Part IV).

SATURDAY NIGHT: Brunswick > Rockport (1 hour)

I fought desperately to stay awake after our third lobster roll of the day, but eyelids… so… heavy… I didn’t want to leave our courageous driver awake alone, so I tried my very best to stay awake (but failed). It was only about an hour or so from Brunswick to Rockport, where we had booked what seemed to be the only free room that was anywhere near Rockland and didn’t run $200 a night for a 2-night minimum stay. We rolled into our lodging for the evening around 9 pm, food coma-ed and bleary-eyed.

The 7 Mountains Motel had had a cancellation, and proprietor Joyce Braley had called me back to let me know I could have a room for four with two double beds for $100 (plus $5 for the guv’nor) on Saturday night.

I guess I was super-excited to be in an honest-to-goodness motel. A motor hotel! Continue reading

NYC to Maine gastro road trip (Part II)

CONTINUED from My Magical NYC to Maine Gastro Road Trip Part I.

SATURDAY LATE AFTERNOON: Georgetown > Brunswick (30-40 minutes)

We high-tailed it from Georgetown to Brunswick after whetting our appetites at Five Islands Lobster Co. Brunswick is home of the infamous Fat Boy Drive-In, which offers an absurdly low price of $6.25 for a lobster roll. Yeah. That’s right. I said drive-in.

You pull up in your shiny little rental car, park, and turn your lights on for service.

They bring you a menu, you order your food, and then they bring out your food on a little try that hangs off of the driver’s side window like so:

Continue reading

NYC to Maine gastro road trip (Part I)

[tweetmeme]I had what was easily the best in-country travel experience of my life this past weekend. I road tripped from New York City to the magical state of Maine, aka The Way Life Should Be, for the 63rd Annual Maine Lobster Festival with three food-loving friends, eating our faces off along the way.

Five Islands Lobster Co., Georgetown, ME

Word of advice to those considering a similar road trip: reserve your rental car way in advance. The price differential for week-of car rentals vs. month-before car rentals is substantial. We paid $380 for an economy car (3 weekend days) from the Avis at La Guardia airport after booking it two days before leaving, but checking rates a month out, it looks like 3 weekend days will run you about $150 or so. You can take the train to Brunswick and then Maine Eastern Railroad from Brunswick to Rockland for about $220 per person round trip, which is ridiculously expensive and doesn’t allow you the freedom to pull over whenever and wherever you want = sux.

Second word of advice: get a GPS. Borrow it from a friend or rent one from the car rental company. You might think your phone can handle it, but I’m not sure how dependable it will be when you don’t actually have any signal. You’ll be super glad you have GPS when you’ve had your third lobster roll of the day and you are ready for dessert and need to figure out how to get to that one diner you read about with the famous pie.

Final words of advice: don’t forget the bug spray, the sunscreen, the corkscrew/beer opener, a mini cooler, and cash. Many of these famous seafood shacks are outdoors, accept cash only, and some are BYOWhatever. If you are going for Lobsterfest in August, make sure you’ve booked a room several weeks in advance as the lodging in the area fills up quickly. If you are going any time other than summertime, make sure the places you want to go are open, as many shut down in cooler weather. Also, print out all of the addresses of the places you would like to go for easy input into the GPS, and be prepared to go with the flow.

FRIDAY: NYC > Boston (4-5 hours)

It’s roughly 7 hours from NYC to Rockland, ME, home of Lobsterfest. Rather than wake at the butt crack of dawn on Saturday morning, we thought it’d be smart to break up the trip a bit and stay in Boston overnight Friday as Boston is right around the halfway mark to Rockland. From NYC to Boston, it’s about 4 hours. On Friday nights around 8 pm, it’s more like 5 hours and that entire additional hour of traffic is located right outside the city. Once you clear out of the city traffic, it’s smooth sailing. We arrived in Boston around midnight, where we had arranged to stay with a friend who happens to be from Maine. As Adam tucked us into our respective couches, he told us bedtime stories about this glorious wonderland where lobsters were $3.99 a pound, where weekends were spent sailing or kayaking, and where it felt like the most magical summer camp experience you never had, all summer long. Maine… our senses tingled with anticipation. We drifted to sleep dreaming of barbecues, lighthouses, salty breezes, and lobsters growing on trees.

SATURDAY MORNING: Boston > Portland (2 hours)

We got up around 7:30 and started the day with a tasty grilled cheese sandwich on buttery multigrain bread with some kind of gooey white cheese – havarti or fontina, maybe? Thanks, Adam! Since Adam was heading to Portland for the weekend, he hopped into our car with us and we took off for Magical Maine. During the car ride, he kept telling us about how good the food is in Portland, pulling up this NYTimes article on the high level of cooking in this 65,000 person town’s compact urban center, where chefs regularly eat at and critique one another’s restaurants farms and make ample use of local ingredients from nearby fishing grounds, dairies, apiaries, mushroom beds and smokehouses.

And so we headed for brunch at Harding Lee Smith’s The Front Room in Portland.

While we waited for our table to open up, I took in the warm, wood paneled interior, the friendly hosts (is everyone from Maine this nice? – the answer is yes), and ordered myself a lime and raspberry rickey to start off my morning in style – housemade raspberry puree, fresh lime juice, seltzer, and vodka – while catching up with an old friend from LA (also a Maine native, now Portland resident). While all of the food was very good, the clear winner was my potato gnocchi with spinach, bacon, two poached eggs & hollandaise. The gnocchi was unthinkably pillowy and light, the thick chunks of bacon were savory and toothsome, and the hollandaise was rich and decadent. And for just $8!

The Front Room
73 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101-3661
(207) 773-3366

After an hour of unsuccessfully trying to convince the Maine natives to join us on the second leg of our road trip (they already had plans to kayak all day, throw some steak and $3.99/lb lobsters on the grill in the evening, and go sailing on Sunday), we moved on. Continue reading

Eleven Madison Park Gourmand Lunch Part II
March 30, 2010, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Continued from Eleven Madison Park Gourmand Lunch Part I.

After the most perfect salad of my life, I had a phenomenal foie gras terrine with golden pineapple relish, pickled pearl onion, and passion fruit gelee. It was served with a housemade rum raisin brioche toast, so the whole of the course was extremely rich. I thought the portion a little too large given the richness, but I got over it. After all, it is foie gras, and gras it was. It was during this course that I regretted not having a glass of crisp, high acid white wine to cleanse my palate after each mouthful so I could taste each bite anew. Then I remembered that alcohol was not my friend (see Part I for previous night’s activities), and I sipped contentedly on my super-gingery gingered ale instead.

One more time… everything was so beautiful!

The rum raisin brioche.

I was pretty full by the time we finished the foie gras course, but I knew we had a seafood, meat, and dessert course yet to come so I sucked it up (poor little me) and got to eating. The fish course was a butter-soft John Dory filet with pickled daikon radish, edamame, and dried winter citrus. The fish was so soft and creamy, and the cream sauce was a great complement. I enjoyed the edamame, but the winter citrus tasted like dried mangos or passion fruit, which are too sugary for me and in my opinion, should not be paired with fish. Fish is so delicious; it can stand alone!

By the way, do you guys know what a sauce spoon is? Because I didn’t. I saw this weird flat spoon-looking thing with a notch on one side and couldn’t figure out whether I was supposed to cut my fish with it (like a fish knife) or what. So I asked, and I was told that this doohickey is a sauce spoon. I still don’t get what the notch is for, or why a regular spoon wouldn’t wok just as well in scooping up leftover sauce. I clearly have a ways to go in wrapping my head around fine dining and the more delicate points of etiquette.

Continue reading

Lobster lovers rejoice!
January 30, 2010, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Eat, Go | Tags: , , ,

$35 for an appetizer, 1.25 lb. TWIN lobsters, and dessert. That’s right. TWIN lobsters. Not 1, but 2. When it comes to lobster, it is, indeed, double your pleasure.

Did my first NYRW dinner out last night at City Crab and Seafood Company. $35 gets you your choice of seafood chowder, salad (boo – who orders salad for RW?!), or lobster and crab spring rolls; plus TWO 1.25 lb. lobsters and corn, Alaskan King Crab legs, or crab cake; and key lime pie, apple pie a la mode, or chocolate mousse.

The seafood corn chowder was good, though I think I prefer my corn chowders to taste a bit more strongly of corn and preferably with just one type of seafood (clam, shrimp, lobster, or fish; not all together). Yes, I get that a seafood chowder contains a multitude of seafood by definition, so maybe I’m biased, but I would have taken a good New England clam chowder and been just as happy, if not more so. Continue reading

Hello, Restaurant Week.

So glad you’re here.

I have started working out again, and it has nothing to do with some flimsy new year’s resolution. No, no. It’s something much more serious and meaningful than that, my friends. It’s so I don’t turn into a fat tub of lard during winter restaurant week (which is actually two weeks of hard core eating) as I stuff myself with 3 course meals day in and day out.

My lineup is dictated by three key factors: (1) the presence of seafood on the menu – I am a sucker for shellfish, (2) spicy/ethnic flavors, and (3) proximity to my office – so I can sneak out for lunch without being gone for 2 hours – and home – because I like to eat and be able to walk some of it off on the way home. Makes me feel less guilty. So here it is, my NYRW lineup:

  • Today, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010: Dinner at City Crab and Seafood Company, Gramercy. They had me at “Seafood Chowder.” By the time I read “lobster” on the menu, I had already drooled a little on myself. RW menu. 235 Park Ave S; New York, NY 10003. (212) 529-3800.
  • Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010: Brunch at Joe Doe, LES. Okay, so it’s not technically a RW meal since JoeDoe isn’t participating, but it is still going to be awesome. I am stoked to try the winter beertails (or “prepared beers”)  he’s got on his drink menu now! Please let there be bourbon. 45 E 1st St (btwn 1st & 2nd Aves); New York, NY 10003. (212) 780-0262.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010: Dinner at Le Cirque. Honestly, I don’t really know a lot about Le Cirque. Only that at some point, it was a really famous, very snooty French restaurant. I suppose the food is good, since people don’t generally enjoy snooty otherwise. RW menu. 151 E 58th St; New York, NY 10022. (212) 644-0315.
  • Wednesday or Thursday, Feb. 3 or 4, 2010: Lunch at either Butter (NoHo), Lure (SoHo), or Del Posto (Meatpacking – yeah, I’ll risk getting in trouble for taking a 2 hour lunch for Mario). Hurry up and decide, Jason!
  • Friday, Feb. 5, 2010: Romantic dinner at Rayuela, LES. I had some friends who went for a birthday dinner last weekend and they said the food, and especially the paella, was amazing. Did someone say seafood and cilantro? Sold. RW menu. 165 Allen St (btwn Rivington & Stanton); New York, NY. (212) 253-8840.

Where are you eating? Tell me if you have any recommendations!