Monday, December 20, 2010

FC Nibble: Skip Mermaid Inn

Pin It If you have lived in NYC for any period of time, enjoy good food and have friends who also like food, Mermaid Inn will undoubtedly come up in conversation. This ‘oldie but goodie,’ with two locations (UWS and East Village), known for its fun atmosphere and reasonably priced seafood fare, is a standby for many.

Unfortunately, my first experience didn’t match those of my fellow foodies. Not in the mood for (and not impressed with) the entrée selection, we ordered several appetizers – an array of seafood delights - or so we thought. The PEI mussels were so disappointing (more than half a dozen were served closed shut) the waiter kindly removed them from my bill. The scallop ceviche was so acidic, I felt like I was biting into a soggy lemon.

While I did not try the Inn’s lobster roll, recommended by many, what I did try was not impressive and not the quality or caliber of the food I’ve come to expect in Manhattan.

If you want good seafood try Aquagrill (the raw bar is amazing and entrees showcase seafood at its finest).

96 Second Ave (between Fifth and Sixth)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dear West Village...

Pin It Dear West Village,

It is with complete and utter lament that I’m writing this post because well…I’m sorry. I’m sorry I called you gross and overrated. I’m sorry I thought you smelled and were filled with drunk college kids. I’m sorry I thought you had nothing to offer my spoiled taste buds. But alas, all of my previous experiences at crappy diners and hole-in-the-wall pubs have left a foul taste in my mouth. And FINALLY you’ve started to unfold in front of me….

Home – (sigh) Home sweet Home! Comfort food at its best. A great menu with wines from the Finger Lakes, melt-in-your-mouth short ribs, juicy pork chops and mac n’ cheese that defines logic (how do you get crispy and creamy in every bite??).

Choptank – With the salty shores of the Chesapeake Bay nearly 200 miles away, Choptank has captured the essence of Baltimore right here in NYC. Crab dip that makes your toes curl and sweet and salty crab chips are staples! But the whole fish was a treat and the burger was juicy and delicious. To top it off, Choptank had the friendliest staff I’ve ever experienced.

Fat Cat Billiards – This isn’t the Ritz, but what I didn’t expect from this underground bar was the SPACE! There’s nothing I hate more than being shoulder-to-shoulder with 100 complete strangers trying to enjoy a beer while screaming over the unrecognizable music. Fat Cat offers tables, couches and (gasp!) room to walk around! And with a $3 cover to listen to live jazz music, play whatever games you want (from Scrabble to pool to shuffleboard), Fat Cat has it all.

These are just a few of several places that friends and colleagues have recommended in the last few months including Perilla, WallSe, Automatic Slims and Westville topping off that list. Haven’t gotten to all these places yet but it’s in the works!

So West Vill (it’s cool if I call you that, right?), I promise to never judge you again! You’ve won this round. I will be back.

Founding Member of Foodies in NYC

P.S. – Don’t tell the LES but you’re now in competition for the top food spot in NYC!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Special Foodies In NYC Round Up!

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This was a special Foodies in NYC. We decided to do TAKE OUT and take a trip down memory lane of food clubs past (and pre-Foodies In NYC blog!).

So we ordered in some Turkish food from Marmara on the Upper East side. While snacking on some Manit (steamed dumplings with lamb and herbs...think the Turkish form of gnocchi), hummus, artichokes and Turkish meatballs, we came up with a a VERY random list of what we suggest to EAT or NOT TO EAT! We also decided to start a rating system! Five forks - MUST GO; One fork - Take a permanent RAIN CHECK!

Here goes!

Frank - Our food club inaugural dinner back in 2007! This is one of our favorite Italian spots! It's hidden in the East Village (you won't even see a sign) but worth the search! The food is fresh and authentically Italian. We have each been there several times since and highly recommend the borata appetizer - it's pure creamy-cheesy heaven! We give it 4.5 forks

Barbes - None of us had tried Moroccan food before so this was a little adventurous to us at the time - but it was great! Nothing scary on the menu and the dishes were very sharable. Plus - the authentic Moroccan white wine was great! We give it 3 forks!

Mercat - Amamos Tapas (we love tapas!) The plates were little and we tried a lot (8 plates!) We topped the meal off with homemade churros and left very full and happy! We give it 4 forks!

Graffiti - This strange little eclectic restaurant/shack was a surprise. All of the food is pre-prepped and cooked on hotplates in a closet-sized kitchen (the whole place is maybe 5 tables). We ate things like tofu, pork buns and pepper ice cream! And it was all fabulous! 3.5 forks!

Yakitori Torys - Danielle and Christa LOVED it - Anne HATED it. Chicken neck and/or skin may be an acquired taste - but definitely try this place for traditional yakitori. NOTE - the rest of Manhattan apparently agrees with Anne ;) Yakitori Tory actually closed this summer - but many on Yelp offer up Yakitori Trotto as a great alternative. Overall - Danielle and Christa give this 3.5 forks!

Freemans - Great if you can get in and/or find it. It was so good - we wrote down everything we ate! Spinach artichoke dip (DD's favorite!), fried chicken and pork chops are a must and we dove into desserts with a brownie, cheery tumbler and a blueberry cobbler - oh my! 4.5 forks indeed!

The Spotted Pig - This was where the idea for our blog first percolated! We waited for over an hour to sit (on a weeknight) - but it was well worth it. We had a friendly waiter who seeded the idea for us to write about our experience. It's a British inspired bistro with some Italian influence. The burgers, deviled eggs, shoe string fries and chicken liver pate made it worth the wait. PLUS - we just found out that this is owned by none other than Shawn Carter - aka JAY-Z! We give it 4 forks!

So, when we select our restaurants, we do our research. We want good food, good drink and good atmosphere - so it really is rare that we have a "less than good" experience. But after 3 years, we accumulated a small list of "meh" places.

Woo Chon - Korean BBQ. Christa and Anne overrode Danielle on this. It was a little too "authentic" for our taste. We had to grill our own food -- (um - that's why we go out - so we don't HAVE to cook our food - DUH)!
1 fork

Southern Hospitality - Don't be fooled by the "celebrity ownership" here (stick to singing, dancing and those SNL skits Justin Timberlake - please!) It wasn't terrible - but there is MUCH better BBQ in the city...2 forks

Great Jones Cafe - Some will be surprised to hear this - but it just wasn't up to par. Good bevvies but average food. 2 forks.

So there you have it! Some of our most memorable meals - here is to many more!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Making a Splash at the Waverly Inn

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Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend, hasn't had the truffle mac n’ cheese at Waverly Inn…

The scene at Waverly Inn felt like something out of a James Bond movie – old Russians with deep pockets and young models on their arms whispering in the corner…

JG spotted at Waverly Inn with SK in the back corner, sucking face over the grilled octopus salad and organic chicken breast….

It was very difficult to begin writing a review of our experience at Waverly Inn. Do we focus on the “scene” and the who/what/with who/when? Or the richness and interesting qualities of a meal that can only be described as gourmet, comfort food?

So, we went with D – all of the above. The night started at a fun nearby lesbian dive bar called the Cubby Hole, a very…colorful, place in the west village. The pinwheels floating on the ceiling characterize the people inside brightening the room and giving the bar a cool vibe (the tunes helped too!). Loosening up with some before-dinner drinks made our entrance into Waverly Inn seem surreal. Walking below street level in the dim lighting of the restaurant felt very 1920, speak easy-esque, like we were being transported onto the set of an old movie. Kudos to our guest Jeffrey for “getting us in” even though Anne and I still believe we could have done it on our own ;)

Now, on to the food. As three people with different personalities, we are also foodies with differing palettes. Appetizers were a hit all around (except for Anne, the seafood hater) – grilled baby octopus with fresh oregano, celery and cerignola olives; refreshing chickpea salad; tuna tartare with avocado, diced egg and a dijon emulsion. Entrees were another story. While mac n’ cheese, burgers, chicken and pork chops aren’t revolutionary menu items – the preparation was hit or miss. While the Waverly Burger was good – we’ve had better. The Amish Organic Free-Range Chicken with organic butternut squash and foraged maitake mushrooms was tasty but not spectacular. The Berkshire All Natural Pork Chop with Asian pear, mache and endive salad was flavorful but a tad too salty when topped with pork belly. The truffle mac n’cheese (not on the menu – you have to ask for it), in my opinion, was the only “stand out” dish - but at $60, I may have subconsciously forced myself to like it. The next day, when the girls reminded me that it was kind of liquidy and not really cheesy (in which we proceeded to discuss the many virtues of Velvetta) my opinion was swayed. While the food left us in limbo, there was one thing we could agree on, the wine! A 2009 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Cosecha from Spain was the perfect summer rosé, light but strong enough to accompany a heavy meal.
No photos are allowed at the Waverly Inn so this was our only souvenir!

For dessert, people watching with a side of piping hot bananas foster topped with creamy and cool vanilla ice cream. My (and Anne’s) favorite part of the meal!

All in all, Waverly Inn made us examine our foodiness. Is it really all about the food or the experience? Are the rich and sophisticated missing out on the diners, drive-ins and dives of the world because they feel that Waverly Inn is “it”? This experience made me happy to be a foodie who doesn’t judge a dish for the dollar signs attached to it but for the quality of food and the experience of enjoying a good meal with friends. But let’s just say the next time we want a great burger or creamy mac n’cheese, you’ll more than likely find us in a borough, and not the west village.  :-)

The Waverly Inn
American (New)
16 Bank St , New York NY 10014 (At Waverly Pl)
(917) 828-1154

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

FC Nibble: Foodie in Cali

Pin It Being foodies, we are required to try the food of not just our local eateries but to experience culinary genius all around our epi-curious nation. So, just a few weeks ago I embarked on a culinary adventure to the left coast to drink, eat and be merry (in no specific order). Here is a brief digest of some Cali tips for NYC-ers:

San Francisco Bay Area:
  1. Pier Market Seafood Restaurant – Creamy and chunky clam chowder with warm sourdough bread, fresh tuna steaks and smooth local beers – how can you go wrong? Don’t forget to ask for a seat by the window so you can take in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the sea lions working on their tans!

Napa/Sonoma Region:
  1. Mustard’s Grill – Proudly ate an entire roasted garlic clove in addition to the delicious Mongolian pork chop (their specialty) served with sweet and sour red cabbage surrounded by their housemade mustard sauce and complimented by a Napa Valley Michael Pozzan Cab Sav.
  2. the girl and the fig – You cannot go here without trying the grilled fig and arugula salad topped with toasted pecans, chèvre (goat cheese!), mano formate pancetta, figs and port vinaigrette. I’d also suggest, if you’re taking a break between wine tastings, either the salami and brie baguette sandwich or the top sirloin burger.
  3. The wineries worth the tasting fee (and in no particular order) – Grgich, Gundlach Bundschu (pronounced Gun-Lock Bun-Shoe), Buena Vista, Goosecross, Andretti, ConnCreek, Cakebread (a staple of most wine country excursions), Adastra, Peju Province.
  4. To avoid: Sebastiani (too commercial); Hotel room service (with all the great food at your fingertips, take a nap after the vineyards close at 5 or 6 and venture out at night).

It’s going to sound strange but the best thing I ate the entire two days in Napa/Sonoma was a sunsugar tomato from Adastra Vineyards, which Owner Chris Thorpe laid out for us during our tour/tasting. It was the sweetest, juiciest, most decadent tomato I’ve ever laid taste buds on and immediately experienced the dedication, heart and pure satisfaction of being a farmer (both wine and crop) in the Napa/Sonoma valley.

San Diego Area:
  1. South Beach Bar and Grille – FAB fish tacos (the mahi and baja were our personal favorites) and great views of the Cali sunsets; fried jalapenos dipped in ranch – what else can I say?
  2. Trattoria Acqua (in La Jolla) – Gourmet Italian done right – from the al dente pasta with kicking pomodoro sauce to the fried brie in phyllo dough with golden delicious apple slices on toasted bread and melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto.
  3. Solare – Deliciously fresh Italian food in a very feng shui'd atomosphere on the naval base where they filmed Top Gun!
  4. In ‘N Out – Crunchy, toasted bun + fresh lettuce + tomato + flavorful moist patty = burger heaven - you can't go to the West Coast without trying it!  (Avoid the fries - they are better at Fatburger!)
  5. Baked – Best. Cinnamon. Buns. Ever.
  6. To avoid: The shops/restaurants on the Mission Bay Walkway – when “they” tell you to try places off the beaten track and away from the tourist areas, they mean it!

Not to cross-contaminate our clubs but for all the foodie-bookies out there, I’d highly recommend Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, a foodies bible (according to Danielle) that was the perfect companion on my trip.

All in all, visiting California reminded this foodie that simple food done well can be a great flavor exploration. My souvenirs from the trip: a nice tan, a case of wine and five extra pounds!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fastest Food Club EVER: Orsay

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While we pride ourselves on food adventures in the City, we Foodies in NYC, rarely take advantage of a New York tradition – Restaurant Week. This summer, we gave it a shot. Orsay was our choice, a “traditional,” pricey, UES French bistro. Now, you’d be naïve to expect perfection during Restaurant Week. It’s one of the four weeks each year that restaurants around Manhattan open their swanky doors to common folk, dumbing down their high-priced menus to serve a three-course dinner for $35 (a three-course lunch is $24.07). For dinners, it’s a great opportunity to try something you might not be able to afford otherwise, or to test drive a joint before spending serious cash. I have had some really wonderful Restaurant Week experiences over the years (Tribeca Grill and Mesa Grill to name a few)…. I must say this was my worst!

We walked into the old school dining room and immediately encountered its clichéd Parisian décor (small white floor tiles, dark wood trim and marble table tops). In the sweltering heat, we were “blessed” to be seated directly next to the door. Every time a patron walked in a gust of hot, muggy air hit our table. The only plus of our seating location was the people watching. If you want to check out some GREAT UES stereotypes go to Orsay! You’ve got Grandma in her Chanel suit (in 90 degree weather), the girl on a date who doesn’t eat (and is wearing Lilly Pulitzer with pearls – barf), and old stuffy men trying not to look like pigs with their high-end cufflinks and custom-made shirts. And us classy girls, mais oui!

Now, on to the food. We tried everything on the Restaurant Week menu. Here were some of the highlights and lowlights (mostly lowlights): our appetizers included Gazpacho (a waste of 100 calories with no taste or kick), a feta and watermelon salad (with not enough feta or watermelon) and blood sausage, which requires more detail. The dark brown, post-digested-like substance caused me to nearly “lose my lunch (dinner)” at the table…. all of the Foodies tried the “delicacy” and the consistency - combined with the flavor left much to be desired.

Onto the highlights - we ordered a delicious bottle of Prosecco, proving once again that when in doubt, go Italian and go BUBBLY! This effervescent delight made a great pairing to the meal. The one non-Restaurant Week item we ordered was escargot. This dish was everything that makes a French bistro worth coming back for. The snails were perfectly cooked and the butter, garlic and herb pool that they swam in almost led me to ask for a straw. Even Anne, who is not a fan of seafood, organ meat and other strange creatures, took a risk in our recommendation and tried some (note: she didn’t like it -- and we’ll spare you her reasons why) -- but we still give her credit for trying).

The rest of the meal was simply average and not worth rehashing - we consumed all three courses in under an hour, as it was clear our waiter needed our table for big spenders and regulars. With the record set for fastest food club ever, we felt the need to unwind from the race that just occurred and headed to one of Foodies in NYC’s old standbys– Uva. We finished the night with more Prosecco and a Torta Di Mandorle (almond tart served warm with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce). We stayed for approximately the same amount of time as it took to consume all three courses at Orsay and did what we do best, ate, drank and laughed (a lot). Overall, our Restaurant Week experiment ended up being an interesting experience, one made better with amazing friends…and plenty of booze!

1057 Lexington Ave (At 75th St)
(212) 517-6400

1486 2nd Ave (btw 77th and 78th)
(212) 472-4552

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FC Nibble: I'll Have The Gin Cocktail, But 86 The Lettuce

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This saucy little Italian place has been generating some buzz in Tribeca for its unusual décor and more even more unusual cocktail menu. So I went off with a bunch of friends to try it out. The huge booths sitting on platforms are said to rotate (but we didn’t see it) and the tables were covered in a white rubber mat with grenade-shaped salt and pepper shakers.

The drinks were...inventive. Check out the menu for yourself! Some of the combinations are incredible – and we were excited to try something new! I ordered the La Signoria which was: gin, lemon juice, sugar, lettuce, strawberry and balsamic reduction. No – that wasn’t me doing my impression of Rachel making a trifle on Friends (STILL cracks me up!). As much as I wanted to LOVE this drink…it tasted like lettuce water. I even made everyone at the table try it to confirm.

My friends ordered the Paco-Taibo white tequila, pink peppercorn, thyme, cherry tomatoes, honey rimmed with parmigiano (yes the cheese!). Shawn kept calling it “aggressive” – so I gave it a sip – the tequila and the parmigiano WERE aggressive – they fought the whole way down!

Note fellow Foodie in NYC member, Danielle, also recently dined Il Matto and tried the Bloody Frida and really enjoyed it.

So – the drinks were by FAR saved by the wine – a great, crisp, floral French white.

The food fared much better. For apps – go for the parmigiano-style zucchini with smoked mozzarella- it was savory and smoky – almost with the consistency of chutney. Yum!

I was conservative on the meal choice and (given my roll of the dice on the drinks didn’t go my way). I ordered the black olive triangle shaped ravioli, stuffed with buffalo mozzarella over tomato sauce topped with fried eggplant. The eggplant was more of a thin chip that garnished each creamy little ravioli.

My friend Krista got the pine nut crusted chicken over celery root puree and garlic chips. While they SAY it was pine nuts – we’re pretty sure they MEANT peanuts. And when they say crusted – they mean smothered within an inch of that poor chicken’s life! (read: we all were craving some jelly after trying Krista’s dish! )

The others opted for saffron pappardelle with osso buco ragout and bone marrow sabayon. It was very rich – but also very good.

I would recommend Il Matto…but just opt for the wine instead of the overly ambitious cocktails!

Mangia tutto!

Il Matto
21 Church Street (between White and Franklin)

Monday, July 26, 2010

FC Nibble: Barnacle Billy’s

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Maine is known as the Vacationland State and there is no better starting point for a true Maine vacation than Barnacle Billy’s in Ogunquit. Billy’s has become an annual pilgrimage for my boyfriend and me. This past Fourth of July, we went with 11 of our friends and enjoyed dinner on a private deck overlooking the bay.

You go to Billy’s for two things – the famous rum punch and a delicious, fresh-from-the-ocean, Maine lobster, at the size of your choosing (I’m a 1.5 lb girl, if you’re keeping score). The rum punch, a combination of fruit juices and rum (lots of rum) is the potent signature cocktail of Billy’s. They even have a two punch limit that is ‘strictly’ enforced, but if you are committed, you can generally score a third. We started with two great apps – Billy’s humongous shrimp (you order by the shrimp) that could be a meal all by themselves; and the bacon-wrapped scallops with a maple syrup dipping sauce – I mean, really, how can that be bad??

Then it was time for the feature presentation – a perfectly boiled crustacean, a bib, some drawn butter and the tools of the trade. The lobster meat was succulent, from the tentacles to the claws to the abundant tail meat. I made quick work of my lobster and sat back to enjoy the beautiful evening on the bay.

With good friends, good food and great bevies, Billy’s is a must-try if you are ever in Ogunquit!

PS - This post was co-authored by Mitchell Wexler :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This is NOT your Friday Night Pizza...

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There are two types of pizza: that great neighborhood favorite we all rely on for Friday nights (didn’t everyone have “Pizza Fridays” growing up?) and then there is gourmet artisan Neapolitan pizza. There is a place for both types – but Monday night Foodies In NYC went to Keste Pizza and Vino in the West Village – a place made famous by magazines like The New Yorker, Time Out New York and even "The Today Show." Being the PR goddesses we are, we decided to check it out for ourselves!

The menu is big and a bit intimidating with ingredients you don’t expect to find on pizza (butternut squash and artichokes, for example). But we came hungry and ready to experiment! Once we talked Danielle out of a salad…which looked delicious (but Christa and I quickly convinced her that it would take up precious room in our bellies for PIZZA), we decided to try three different types of pizza.

We ordered the house favorite – the Keste pizza – with tomatoes, fresh (incredible) buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, gran cru (a hard Italian pecorino cheese) and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, Pizza del Papa Pizza – butternut squash cream, imported smoked mozzarella, artichokes and red and yellow peppers and lastly, we ordered the special of the evening the Burrata Pizza with ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and a melt-in-your-mouth Burrata cheese (tastes like a buffalo mozzarella/ricotta combination).

Keste uses a thin, but flavorful, pizza crust as a foundation for some of the best, authentic, fresh Italian ingredients. The crust then bubbles and puffs up at the ends, which becomes a helpful tool when scooping up some of the fantastic toppings! Though, we did find the Pizza del Papa and the Burrata a tad bit soggy towards the end because of all of the ingredients it had to carry, but we won’t hold it against ‘em.

I think we all had different favorites. I loved the smoked buffalo mixed with the butternut squash cream, Danielle loved the crispy arugula with the prosciutto di Parma and Christa loved dipping the crust into the drippings of all three!

So we recommend checking it out! Go early though – because by the time we left (around 7:30 on a Monday night) there was a line out the door! Also – check out the website for a really interesting history of pizza.

For a very special ending to the meal – walk down the block to the corner of Carmine and Bleecker to Grom for a gelato that will take you from the busy streets of the West Village immediately to the gelaterias of Italy! Try the Dark Chocolate – or if you’re feeling saucy – try the EXTRA Dark Chocolate. OR try both, since Grom lets you have two flavors in one cup (in any size you want). It was the perfetto ending to our Italian culinary journey! Ciao!

Keste Pizzaria and Vino
271 Bleecker St
(between Morton St & Jones St)
New York, NY 10014

233 Bleecker St (and Carmine)
New York, NY 10014

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FC Nibble: Road Trip! Danielle Samples the Slow Food of Sacramento

Pin It The slow food movement is something I, as a proud foodie, try to embrace (when I have the patience). What is it you ask? Well it’s a group of chefs and proprietors who are committed to cooking with local ingredients and changing their menu regularly to incorporate what’s fresh, in season, and, well… delicious. Supporting these restaurants and chefs who believe the best food is in your own backyard will always leave you satisfied on multiple levels.

When it comes to slow food, Grange in Sacramento doesn’t disappoint. Changing its menu daily with what is best and freshest in Northern California, Grange was a great treat during my short stay in California’s capital. The wine list was quite impressive and we sampled some great reds and whites from nearby Napa. The appetizers were delicious. I highly recommend the assorted marinated olives with goat cheese flatbreads.

Entrees were large portions and they really felt like they were created in a farmer's kitchen. While most of my dining companions opted for carnivorous fare, I went for tuna which was perfectly seared. Dessert, which I normally skip, was a smooth and silky chocolate mousse I highly recommend it – that is – if chocolate mouse is in season :).

926 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 492-4450

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some like it Hot…Some like it Dilly, Sweet, Sour or Smoky…

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We’ve never been to Persia (aka Iran - does JFK fly direct to Tehran?) but it did seem fitting that our first Persian food club fell on the hottest night of the year (so far) - making the subtle Ravagh ( on the Upper East Side feel like a mirage after a 15-block walk through a concrete desert.

Now, we did stop at a nearby cantina on the way, called Maya, (owned by Richard Sandoval) to quench our thirst. Happy hour specials included a strawberry lemonada with vodka and fresh mango margaritas that were perfect for a hot summer evening.

After leaving the watering hole, we crawled through the thick, sticky heat to Ravagh. Our initial reaction was a little PG-13 (well...Anne's was full on R-rated) when we noticed that the windows and doors were wide open. Did I mention it was 90 degrees outside? We opted for an inside, white-clothed table where there was an exposed brick wall, lovely pink napkins and air conditioning! Spoiler alert: our table was NOT large enough to house the army of plates we ordered. But that may be more a function of how we order food - and not speak directly to the size of their tables :)

Channeling Jake Gyllenhaal (, we ate like princesses. Starting out with warm pita bread that just popped out of the oven, we dove into two cool appetizers and a crisp Villaggio Pinot Grigio that hit the spot. The apps included a smoky yet smooth Babaganoush (one of the best we’ve ever had) and a traditional Salad Olvieh (translation: potato salad with chicken and peas). Both dishes were a nice treat to the start of the meal - but the standout was by FAR the Babaganoush!

For the main course, we shared three plates and several rice dishes. We highly recommend the kabobs – chicken and lamb (amazing) – with grilled veggies to round out the dishes. We also shared a Khoresh Fesenjan which is a traditional Persian stew with crushed walnuts and boneless chicken cooked in a pomegranate paste. The stew was a little too rich and sweet for our liking but definitely an interesting flavor combination – and maybe a dish that's better in the winter. The general consensus was that we were glad to have tried it - but can't imagine eating it as an entire meal.

Saving the best for last were the rice dishes: Albaloo Polo which is sweet and sour cherries mixed with basmati rice and Green Rice which was dilled rice with fava beans. A perfect sweet and salty mix, the cherry rice was a stand-out while the dill was a little too “dilly” for our palettes. Unfortunately, we were too stuffed for desserts – the plates were HUGE and left very little room on our cute round table. But a glance around the room revealed some interesting and luscious-looking dessert choices. We can't forget to mention that Ravagh was kind to the wallet as well. The wine was $26 and no plate cost us more than $16.

So overall Ravagh Persian Grill was a sizzling, smoking hot success! Similar to most Middle Eastern cuisines, we can definitely say that the flavors in Persian cuisine are like fireworks in your mouth – salty, sweet, sour, smoky…take your pick.

Ravagh Persian Grill
1237 1st Ave
New York, NY 10065
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
(212) 861-7900

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is it bad that I licked my knife?

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So, here’s the truth…We are ladies who LOVE to eat, but we are not necessarily ladies who love to cook. So when a restaurant quality meal is offered to us in the comfort of a cozy Manhattan apartment, we don’t need to be invited twice. We collectively jumped at the opportunity to experience culinary paradise in the home of Personal Chef Jason Ungar of Jason’s Kitchen.

Jason, 32, has been doing catering jobs and personal chef gigs for a number of years. As a self-taught chef, most of Jason’s inspiration comes from his travels, the culture of New York and, of course, the Food Network.

We picked the protein, lamb, and everything else was up to Jason’s creative palate!*

Let’s dig in to the first course: Anson Mills cheddar grit cake, quail egg, crispy chorizo, roasted poblano emulsion.

The presentation was lovely. The grit cake was coated with panko bread crumbs and lightly fried – so they were a very different consistency from typical “southern style grits” and made for a good sturdy platform for the goodness that Jason piled on top! And let’s face it – when is crispy chorizo ever a BAD thing?? The dish was savory and smooth and with a subtle hint of cheddar – really yummy!

SIDE NOTE. Our dear readers should know about how us Foodies In NYC members feel about egg and yolk. Danielle and Christa can slurp yolk through a straw they love it so much! Anne, on the other hand, usually sneers at the sheer mention of yolk. However, this quail egg was the star of the dish -- even for Anne. (“It was like a rich, creamy, buttery sauce that pulled the entire dish together – not at all how I think of yolk!”) (Check out the evidence ). The lesson here -- every once in a while, try food you don’t think you like -- you may end up surprised!

And for our entree: Za'atar crusted loin of Australian baby lamb, kalamata-kissed 'cassoulet' w/ white beans, fennel, and hen of woods mushrooms, with a roasted garlic-lemon-feta cream sauce.

Huge kudos to Jason for cooking the lamb to perfection! From what we are told (from those who cook), lamb is a tricky meat….very easy to overcook. NOT the problem here. Perfectly medium rare medallions of tender lamb sat atop a delish cassoulet (or bean “stew” with fennel and “hen of woods” shrooms). This dish was topped with the bliss that was the roasted garlic-lemon-feta cream. The sauce was so amazing – that we all took a last lick of the spoon before Jason sent the remainder of it sadly down the sink. Sigh………………..

Last was a very special treat from Marcy’s Morsels, a brand new boutique chocolatier based in Manhattan. (Note, we at Foodies in NYC firmly believe that no matter how full you are, there is always room for a little dessert, after all, it’s a totally different compartment.) Marcy’s signature chocolate is the Crispy Cluster -- a ball of dark chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallow and rice cereal. The Clusters are little tiny confectionary contradictions: they are sweet, but not too sweet and crispy – but also creamy thanks to the peanut butter! The Clusters came individually packaged so it was like opening a sweet, delicious little present!

Marcy’s Morsels are made to order and make a great treat for any gathering!

So in sum: we came; we ate; we loved. Thanks Jason (and his fabulous wife Randi) for an incredible evening!

*Note: FINYC subsidized the cost of all food!

To have Jason Ungar come cook for you – contact him @:
(917) 656-0456

To order from Marcy’s Morsels – contact Marcy @:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

FC Nibble: A Must Read at The Library Hotel Bar

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What it lacks in actual literary novels, The Library Hotel’s Bookmarks Lounge makes up for in its atmosphere, “bevies” and noshes which speak a thousand words. Sitting atop The Library Hotel on 41st and Madison is a quaint hotel bar on the 14th floor surrounded by the enormous art-deco and brick facades of New York’s concrete jungle. On one of the nicest days of the year so far, our small party (you can’t really bring a large group if you want to sit outside) sat in the garden area towards the front of the bar. Bookmarks is accommodating for larger groups as well with a large atrium in the back and an enclosed area with large plush leather chairs and a décor that helps give the venue its name.

Now, IMO*, the menu should be a New York Times bestseller. With drinks like their signature Bookmarker and The Aviator (with sloe gin, lavender and a lemon peel served up in a martini glass) and several other options, you won’t want to put it down! And the noshes were like the last 50 pages of a suspense novel (somewhat predictable but you keep going back for more). I would definitely recommend the calamari – very lightly fried and salted with that melt in your mouth consistency, three bites are enough – and also the cheese platter – the variety of cheeses with fruity chutney on a slice of toasted bread is like spring in your mouth.

Overall a great read from beginning to end - I would definitely recommend Bookmarks Lounge for any of my foodie (or book club) friends to add to their summer reading, I mean eating, lists!

(*IMO = In My Opinion, for our more seasoned food club members)

The Library Hotel
299 Madison Avenue & E 41st St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 983-4500

Monday, March 29, 2010

FC Nibble: The Coffee that Never Gets Cold

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I live for that first sip of coffee in the morning. Nothing tastes as good as that first, perfect sip. And then I get on with my day (or my day gets on with me). While I try to read the paper, check my emails and slowly slip peacefully into my day, around 9:05 – it all goes to hell. Stick with me here – I’m getting to the coffee. So as I go from meetings, to conference calls, to whatever it is that fills my day, my sad, large cup of coffee sits there, half-full and stone cold.

It’s usually about 11 AM that I actually finish it. Ick!

So when my friends Shawn and Holly told me about their idea to build a “new” coffee shop nearly a year ago – I was so excited! They researched, traveled - visiting over 100 roasters, wholesalers and cafes from San Francisco to Vancouver - and worked their butts off to understand what made a REALLY GREAT cup of coffee. And they pulled it off by opening Rook Coffee Roasters!

Rook scours the world for the best beans and roasts all of its own coffee on premise. With exotic beans like Kenya Kirimara Peaberry, Costa Rica La Amistad – and my personal favorite – Ethiopia Harrar – it is unlike any other cup of coffee you’ve every had! Just give Shawn or Holly your preference in coffee (bold, light, nutty, etc) and they will happily help you navigate the beans to find your perfect roast!

There is only one problem with Rook - - they are not in Manhattan. YET! Rook Coffee Roasters is nestled in a cozy little shop off of Monmouth Road in Oakhurst, NJ (careful not to blink – you may miss it!). No fancy lattes, cappuccinos or caramel-drenched-whipped-cream-smothered “specialty coffees.” Just an amazing cup of made-to-order coffee that is so good – it never ever has the chance to get cold!

Rook Coffee Roasters
60r Monmouth Road.
Oakhurst, NJ 07755
Check them out on Facebook and Twitter: @rookroasters

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Food Club Favorite: The Italian Wine Bar that keeps on giving…

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Uva Wine Bar was an unexpected surprise. We were sort of flailing on a cuisine one month…and picked a safe bet for everyone – Italian (prego!) We rocked out on the appetizers - a tried and true FC strategy so we can try as much as possible! Their appetizer list is extensive and they have great cheese and meat (affettati – which means cured meats) plates that you can customize. So we decided to get only 2 entrees HOWEVER – the meal was so delicious – we ordered another entrée! What little piggies we were! What stands out for us was the antipasti - with these delicious meaty green olives, the gnocchi di ricotta with creamy black truffle and chive sauce (they smallest gnocchi we’ve ever seen!) and the AMAZING bruschette with sheep’s ricotta cheese and black truffle honey.

I personally liked it so much – I brought my aunt and uncle there when they made their annual pilgrimage into the city (they were kind enough to treat us! thanks again Uncle Ken and Aunt Linda!). I ALSO recently took my mother there as a “thanks” for helping me with some apartment decorating. We had parppardelle alle ragu di vitello (home made pasta ribbons sautéed with ragu of veal and montasio cheese!) and the chicken filled with caciocavallo cheese, with plum tomatoes and artichokes. Tip on the pasta – eat it quickly – it’s so fine and thin that it cools fast! We went with a simple Sangiovese that pulled the whole meal together. It was just what we needed after a hard day’s work!

The net here is that Uva is consistently great yet unique – meaning it’s not the typical Italian-American heavy sauce/gooey cheese meal. The service is always great – and they always fit you in.

Now go – Manga!

Uva Wine Bar
1486 Second Ave (at East 77th Street)
New York, NY 10075

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dumont: The Comfort Food Cure

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So its cold out there, I mean FREEZING. We are facing the kind of days that make me want to curl up in bed and hibernate. The days that you just want some comfort food to keep you warm. Perhaps a perfectly cooked burger….maybe some mac & cheese…Whatever your poison is to get you through the winter months, Dumont has it.

For the first time EVER, Food Club made its way to Brooklyn. Now, it has been quite some time since I made it to the Borough and I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant, but the commute was quite easy (the restaurant is located right across the street from an L stop), and I was really surprised at how cute the restaurant was. Even in the freezing temperatures, we were able to eat in the garden, which was tented and filled w/ heat lamps (warning, even though you stay warm w/ the lamps, you may want to wear extra warm shoes)…

First, the cocktails were delish and fairly complex. We highly recommend the
Garden Champagne Cocktail (St. Germain, Crème de Violette and fresh lemon). I had a gin and rosemary drink that gave me quite a buzz and set the mood for evening. Once we were seated, our very aloof waiter (probably my biggest complaint about the whole experience) took our appetizer order. For me, appetizers are always my favorite part of the meal and these were delightful – the crispy artichokes with baby arugula and parmesan is a must try and the fried poached egg over a salad with pancetta (a special that night) was pretty awesome. However, I may be biased because I love anything with a runny yolk.

For a main course we ordered a few burgers (with gruyere), a half roast chicken and some mac & cheese. I tried the burger and the mac. The burger was very good and each one was cooked exactly as we asked, but the standout was the mac, by far. The combination of cheddar, gruyere, parmesan and bacon is just divine. I would go back just for this dish many times over!

Believe it or not, we saved room for dessert…and I am glad we did. We ordered an apple crisp and a brownie with hazelnut ice cream (okay, we ordered two brownies J). Both desserts were fabulous. At one point, when my pants reached a tightness of great proportions, I wanted to stop, but I just couldn’t! I liked the apple crisp more than brownie, but I don’t think that was the consensus at the table. The apples were al dente and the crispy crumble was the perfect compliment. We were happy to agree to disagree.

My recommendation, check it out. Make the trip and please, please, PLEASE order the mac & cheese.