eat. shop. love. nyc.

A lady who lunches
March 2, 2011, 10:31 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , ,

This is my final week of blissful unemployment, and so I have been enjoying it by indulging in fancypants lunches. Many of the city’s best restaurants have weekday-only lunch specials, and the food is just as good  and the prices are way better than dinner. Monday, I went to David Burke Townhouse for the $37 lunch prix-fixe (they offer a $24 3-course menu as well). Tuesday, I partook in Bouley’s 5 course $45 lunch tasting menu. Wednesday, I am giving my system a break because I already have plans for a 3-course dinner at Yerba Buena with friends. Thursday, I have reservations at Jean-Georges for their $32 2-course lunch prix-fixe. And Friday, I am still deciding… I’ve already done EMP for lunch. Any other suggestions? I don’t think I can handle any more than 3 courses by Friday.


Tim Raue Berlin: almost too beautiful to eat
November 15, 2010, 7:45 am
Filed under: Drink, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

But too delicious not to eat.

Just around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, there is a phenomenal restaurant where you can have a painfully beautiful, truly stellar three-plus-course lunch for 38 euros. While I don’t often have the opportunity to drop mucho dinero on a single meal, we were on vacation and thought we’d treat ourselves to something nice. So instead of shopping, we decided to eat at Tim Raue. The menu changes seasonally, so you can check the latest offerings here.

The entrance to Tim Raue is via a courtyard, and once you walk into the restaurant you find yourself wondering whether you are in the right place or not because it actually looks and feels a lot like an art gallery. The reception is at a desk rather than at a stand, and I think that was the most confusing. Nevertheless, we were seated promptly, walking past the open kitchen, a grand magenta wall, and underneath a gigantic painting of trash bags and empty cardboard boxes along a tree-lined street. Artsy (not fartsy), right?

While we looked over the wine list, the wait staff brought over a few complimentary small plates to start: chili-, paprika-, and cayenne- spiced cashew nuts (maybe some allspice or nutmeg, too), butter lettuce in a white wine vinaigrette with radish, sliced radishes with sweet coriander sauce, and pickled daikon radish.

We weren’t familiar with many of the German wines on the wine list, but as we were in Germany, we wanted to try something local. We asked for a dry white with strong fruit and minerality and bright acidity. Also, not too expensive. The sommelier thought for a moment, and said he had just the bottle for us. He went to retrieve the bottle, and out came yet another complimentary dish, this time a lovely lobster consomme with sweet Chinese sausage, grape tomatoes, onion, cabbage, and star anise. I don’t care much for anise or anything with a licorice-y taste, but somehow it worked well in this soup and I found myself savoring each precious sip.

Our wine arrived as we were working on our soup, and we were presented with a chilled Dreissigacker Brechtheimer Riesling, 2008 vintage. Jochen Dreissigacker is a German wine producer who has 21 hectares of land in his Rheinhessen vineyards. To learn more about the wine, the grapes, and how it was produced, click here. If you’re satisfied with me telling you this is a damn good white, just try and keep an eye out for any wines from Dreissigacker as his wines have been making wine people talk (all good things) as of late. I understand it is difficult, but not impossible, to find outside of Germany given the low yield. We were charged 30 euros for the bottle, and it was well worth it.

We finally began moving into the courses that we actually ordered. For our first course, Sara ordereda tuna tartar with wasabi and cucumber sauce, topped with frisee and wasabi flying fish roe. I think there may have been some jalapeno in there somewhere, but I’m not sure whether it was in the tartar or in the sauce.

I opted for a heavier first course with the duck liver “peking.” I had no idea what to expect, but I thought it might be something akin to pate, which wasn’t entirely correct. The duck liver was chopped finely and served as a base for a leek and ginger mousse (also mixed with some pureed duck liver, I believe) piped in the shape of little kisses. There were two small dots of barbecue sauce, which tasted plummier than most, and was served with a side of sweet cucumber and some dark green puree I couldn’t quite figure out. Each bite was sinfully rich, and though the portion wasn’t huge, I was completely sated and didn’t need any more bites.

Sara’s second course was the beef filet with a sweet pea puree and soy brew. The sauce was sweet and fruity, like a more delicate hoisin, and again topped with frisee. They did not ask how she wanted the meat cooked, and it came out a beautiful medium rare. Check out the marbling on the meat! Drool.

I ordered the suckling pig with sichuan sauce and pointed cabbage. You can’t go wrong with succulent pork, unctuous fat, and crispy skin. This was decidedly the most delicious suckling pig I’ve ever had, though I do wish that the sichuan sauce had been spicier. The waitress actually warned me that the little orange dots of sauce were very spicy, but apparently Germans have a lesser spice tolerance than kids raised on kimchee and red chilies. The cabbage roll was great, stuffed with more cabbage and veggies like mushrooms, and also containing some pork.

We were then brought a surprise (complimentary) dessert course of a tangerine ice cream popsicle dipped in tangerine flavored white chocolate and sprinkled with freeze-dried raspberries. This was our dessert course number one.

The came the dessert from the course menu: the salted caramel ice cream with cream of coconut, grilled pineapple, pineapple foam, and a round of coconut meringue. Salty, sweet, tart, charred, creamy, crunchy, YUM.

Finally, we were treated to yet another complimentary dessert, which would make this our dessert course number three: green tea mochi filled with green tea jelly and topped with vermilion foam, raspberries, a mint leaf, and dusted with matcha green tea powder.

After polishing off our three desserts, I wandered downstairs to check out the bar and the bathrooms. The bar was dark and lovely with its dark wood, the walls of climate-controlled wine, dim track lighting, and marble counter. Do stop by and have a drink here one evening, even if you don’t decide to eat. What a great place for a date.

Back upstairs, we had the pleasure of meeting two Michelin-starred Chef Tim Raue and his dog Molly (or maybe Mary? can’t remember exactly anymore). I got a little flustered and wasn’t able to say much more than “Thank you; it was beautiful and delicious!!” But I really just wanted to rave about how amazing the whole experience was, from the artwork to the lighting to the white-gloved staff to the interplay of color and texture and taste… This was better than my gourmand lunch at Eleven Madison Park, and less expensive, too. Keep up the good work, chef!

Outside, someone had scrawled out “That sunny dome / Those caves of ice” along a wall in the alley exiting the restaurant. It felt very poignant in the moment.

And as we looked back to bid adieu to Tim Raue once more, our fabulous waitresses waved us goodbye!

Eat: Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany – near Checkpoint Charlie).Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 26, 10969 Berlin, Germany. +49 30 2 59 3 79 30. Lunch seatings from noon to 2 pm, dinner seatings from 7 to 10 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Sushi UO blows me away (again)
November 12, 2010, 3:57 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve written about Sushi UO a couple of times already, which seems unfair because I have dined at several other restaurants and have failed to write about those experiences even once. But I just enjoyed one of the best sushi dinners I’ve had in a long time, and I felt I should encourage you NYC sushi lovers to go here once more. Don’t get swayed by the hype or the haters – Sushi UO’s celebrated Chef David Boudahana left several months ago and gone are the days of hot, tatted 23 year-old wunderkind sushi chef slicing fish and taking names.

On my most recent visit to Sushi UO last night, I opted to sit on the side of the sushi bar where two Japanese sushi chefs joked and laughed with one another as they worked away at fulfilling orders on a bustling Thursday night. He may not be 23 years old or covered in tattoos, but watching him slice, score, and roll, I thought he was pretty hot. It was definitely the best seat in the house. I felt like I was at a dinner theater, except better.

The first dish to arrive was the Creamy Rock Shrimp Tempura Duo with wasabi aïoli and spicy red pepper aïoli ($13). The shrimp is just barely cooked through, the tempura batter is unbelievably light, and there is just the right amount of sauce. No soggy bits, no gushing oil, no rubbery texture. Just delicious, bite-size pieces of creamy shrimp. Also, this is a huge appetizer. Can easily be shared between 4 people, so for $13, it’s a steal.

Sitting at the sushi bar is a great way to get a feel for the other dishes at the restaurant. Someone, presumably on a low-carb diet, had ordered a lovely roll wrapped with cucumber instead of rice. It was just four pieces, albeit four very large pieces, and immediately Sara and I had food envy. When we asked what it was, we were told it was the No Rice Roll #2 with yellowtail, tuna, kaiware (daikon sprouts), and Asian pear. Since that sounded light and heavenly and was just $8, we went ahead and ordered one for ourselves. The Asian pear brings a hint of unexpected sweetness that truly makes this roll stand out. This is going to be a roll I order every single time I come here.

Sara and I ordered the $49 sushi and sashimi platter for two. We didn’t know what would be on it or even how many pieces, but somehow we felt it would be a good call. And it was. The platter included 18 pieces of sashimi, 10 pieces of sushi, and an 8-piece crunchy spicy tuna roll. The rice-to-sushi ratio was perfect, and the fish was impossibly fresh.

This might be a little blasphemous, but I actually think I enjoyed the salmon here at UO more than the salmon I had at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. The salmon was melt-in-your-mouth soft, almost buttery, without any of the harsh fishiness of stale salmon. The tuna was so fresh and so perfectly cut that the fish was almost falling apart at the striations between the grain (I don’t know the proper terminology – sorry!).

The crunchy spicy tuna roll was good, but that’s fairly standard, I think. I usually don’t enjoy unagi. I think eel has a tendency to taste way too fishy, and I feel like the sweet sauce usually just masks the flavor of the eel rather than enhancing it. At UO, this was most certainly not the case, and I really liked the taste and texture of my unagi, finding the sauce to complement rather than hide the flavor of the fish.

After we had stuffed ourselves silly with sushi, the waitress brought us a two-bite dessert of flourless chocolate cake with raspberry ganache. The perfect end to an already-excellent meal.

Next time I head to Sushi UO, I plan to order the Botan Ebi Sashimi ($9) two pieces of shrimp sashimi, one topped with ikura (salmon roe) and the other with uni (sea urchin roe). It looked positively amazing. I will also be getting the omakase, a Japanese phrase meaning “It’s up to you.” The sushi omakase is $38 and the sashimi omakase is $46, 9 pieces of the chef’s choice depending on the freshest fish of the day. It is beautifully presented with fried shrimp head and tail, and the chef takes you beyond just the standard tuna, salmon, yellowtail, etc. that you usually find in the sushi/sashimi platters.

If a guy were to take me on a date to Sushi UO (without having known that I totally love this place), I’d be thoroughly impressed. It’s small and intimate, dark and sexy, and the food is really effing good. Quality sushi for a reasonable (not cheap) price. Sake flight also available for $14, I think.

Another important note for you dealseekers: Sushi UO serves an impressive $24.07 3 course prix-fixe menu daily from 6 to 7 pm. Sushi UO is closed on Sundays.

Eat: Sushi UO (LES) 151 Rivington St. between Clinton and Suffolk, upstairs. 212-677-5470. They take reservations starting at 5 pm, or you can reserve seats on Open Table.

Back Forty $25 one-pot Sunday suppers
November 5, 2010, 8:37 am
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Back Forty is now offering a warm and toasty one pot meal with either a complimentary drink or dessert for $25 on Sundays through fall and winter starting November 7. They’ll serve a different hearty, comforting one pot meal each month:

  • November Sundays: pozole (Mexican corn and pork stew – actually made with human meat in pre-Colombian times as part of ritual sacrifice! – but don’t worry – you’re getting pork) i
  • December Sundays: Florentine lasagna (vegetarian with spinach, mushrooms, onions, etc.)
  • January Sundays: feijoada (beans with beef and pork, a typical Portuguese dish also typical in Brazil, Angola and other former Portuguese colonies)
  • February Sundays: gumbo (please let this be a seafood gumbo! – could be a mix of seafood and chicken)
  • March Sundays: choucroute (Alsatian recipe for preparing sauerkraut with sausages and/or other salted meats and charcuterie, and often potatoes) in March.

Eat: Back Forty (East Village) Front 1, 190 Avenue B at 12th St., New York, NY 10009-3600. (212) 388-1990.

Veg-focused Mondays at Dovetail
October 25, 2010, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I am an unrepentant omnivore, and it’s rare that I find myself not in the mood for meat. But lately, that’s been happening more frequently as I find my body craving greens and presumably rebelling from my usual heavy, butter-, meat-, and carb-laden diet. I want veggies, but I don’t want to give up meat entirely, and I don’t want to eat a salad. We’re getting into fall, people. Our veggies should be cooked.

Enter Dovetail, Michelin starred Chef John Fraser’s haunt on the Upper West Side, and Mondays are looking really good for satisfying those veg cravings. He’s offering both a vegetarian and a vegetable-focused course menu on Mondays for $42 (3 courses plus dessert). The seasonal menu changes frequently, so make sure you check out the Monday night vegetable menu on the website before making your reservations.

vegetarian (v. = vegan choices)
1st course
pumpkin soup rosemary, chestnuts
turnip ceviche (v.) quinoa, lime, pearl onions
beet salad greek yogurt, pistachios
2nd course
salsify (supp. 10) truffles, spinach, red wine
chanterelles on a shingle fennel, figs, peppers
autumn tempura (v.) tofu, chai curry spice
3rd course
fennel ravioli basil, artichokes, preserved lemon
braising greens lasagna baby carrots, pine nuts, golden raisins
barbeque parsnip rib (v.) coconut rice, daikon, cilantro

vegetable focused
1st course
escarole leaves
smoked trout, feta cheese
soft boiled egg bacon, quinoa, ramps, tofu
brussels sprouts leaves cauliflower, manchego cheese, pears, serrano ham
2nd course
root vegetables (supp 10) truffles, chicken, polenta
button mushroom gnocchi butternut squash, radish, sauce bordelaise
corn tamales poblano peppers, smoked duck
3rd course
salt baked fennel piquillo peppers, oranges, preserved tuna mayonnaise
roasted garlic risotto broccoli rabe, andouille sausage
endive lamb bacon, dates, apples

Eat: Dovetail (UWS) 103 W 77th St. at Columbus, New York, NY 10024-6909. (212) 362-3800. Vegetarian and vegetable-focused menus are offered on Monday nights.

Brunch & 5 courses of pig at ‘inoteca
October 17, 2010, 11:01 am
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It can be tough to grab a seat at always-bustling ‘inoteca on the Lower East Side. The constant bustle is understandable. The small plates are tasty, and ‘inoteca offers a vast selection of wine, featuring over 600 selections by the bottle and 25 by the glass or half carafe from the many wine-making regions of Italy.

One trick for scoring a table is to go for brunch instead of trying to elbow your way in at dinnertime. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am until 4:00pm, which is earlier than most LES restaurants which open at 11 or noon. Click here for the menu (scroll down for brunch under Prima Colazione).

My brunch go-to is the truffled egg toast ($9), which is essentially a fancy bird in a nest – just better bread with better cheese and a richer, truffle-oil laced egg served with bits of asparagus. Asparagus, eggs, and parmesan cheese are a combination sent from the heavens. You just can’t go wrong. Add truffle oil and some crusty bread and the combination is elevated to something otherworldly.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit heartier, go with the egg bollito (beef) or egg porchetta (pork). It’s an open-faced egg and meat sandwich, but the meat is so well seasoned and one whiff of the herbs will get you salivating.

If you’re in the mood for lighter fare, there’s also the warm farro with roasted fruit. Yum! And of course, it’s breakfast, so why shouldn’t you have a mimosa or some prosecco to wash it all down?

If you’ve got your heart set on dinner, you can take your chances with trying to fanagle a table sans reservation, or you can sign up for one the upcoming pig-centric dinners. Starting in October, the ‘ino restaurant group will be hosting a five-course dinner highlighting the choicest cuts of their Raven and Boar Farm pig prepared according to various Italian regional cooking styles. The first dinner is Tuscan-themed and takes place tomorrow at corsino, ‘inoteca will host an Emilia-Romagna themed dinner in November, and the third and final dinner will be Alto-Adige-themed at ‘inoteca e liquori bar in December.

  • corsino: Monday, October 18th, 8:00pm, Toscana
  • ‘inoteca: Monday, November 15th, 8:00pm, Emilia-Romagna
  • ‘inoteca e liquori bar: Monday, December 13th, 8:00pm, Alto-Adige

Tickets include the five-course dinner, wines paired with each course, tax and gratuity. The price is $160 per person. Additionally, if you’ve got money to blow and you love Italian cooking and more importantly, pork, then a ticket to all three dinners can be yours for the discounted price of $400.

Eat: ‘inoteca (LES) 98 Rivington at Ludlow, New York, NY 10002. (212) 614-0473

Let them eat chocolate bread pudding with bacon sauce
May 19, 2010, 10:00 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

[tweetmeme]If you live in NYC, you like to eat and have an occasional tipple, and you are a sucker for a deal, then you should be reading the Eater NY Dealfeed on a daily basis. Like I do. Then you would know about free food giveaways and special prix-fixe meals – here’s to eating well without breaking the bank! These are the two recent Dealfeeds I am most excited about:

  • DT Works, the sleek and playful brick and mortar shop from the folks behind the original Dessert Truck, will be offering free chocolate bread pudding (they usually serve with your choice of vanilla or bacon sauce) or a scoop of one of ice cream or sorbet. (LES) 6 Clinton St. at Houston. When: Thursday, May 20th, 11 AM – 11 PM.

  • Early bird specials from Lil’ Frankies’ – a ‘potluck’ dinner (translation: home-cooked, homestyle meal) for $8.95 from 4 – 6 PM on Monday – Thursday. 19 1st Ave. between 1st & 2nd Sts. Early bird special from Supper is a two course meal for $15.95 from 4 – 7 PM on Monday – Wednesday. 156 East 2nd St. between Aves. A & B. When: Mon – Thurs; 212-420-4900 & 212-477-7600. Cash only, by the way.