Friday, August 16, 2013

Livin’ it up at Lafayette

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The charcuterie platter  from Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery NYC. There is nothing more exciting for a foodie than scoring a reservation to a new, hot restaurant. You scour the menu days in advance plotting what you think you are going to order, you skim the latest reviews and pick out the right 'I-may-just-be-so-cool –that-I-eat-here-2x-a-week' outfit.

Anticipating our last FoodiesInNYC trip to Lafayette made me feel giddy. It had been a while since the ladies got together, and going to Andrew Carmellini's (of The Dutch and Locanda Verde) new hot spot was the cherry on my sundae.

Ravioli from Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery NYC The evening started with a reasonably priced, crisp and delicious bottle of rosé (reminiscent of the wine I drink on my recent honeymoon in St. Tropez) and a celebrity sighting - Serena Altschul of MTV and CBS Sunday Morning fame.

Now, while Lafayette is French and NYC is having a French restaurant resurgence, this is no bistro. Ladies and gents, if you want escargots and steak frites, go somewhere else (like Les Halles). Lafayette is more subtle.

We started with the charcuterie which including homemade duck mousse, pate, and other cured meat delights. For $30, it was an unbelievable value and since we devoured it with thick, rustic bread, we were pretty full.

Post-meat, we did the frisee salad with bacon maison and poached egg. I was in salty paradise. The bitterness of the frisee combined with the warm salty accompaniments was addicting. This was a highlight for me, but I was alone in my opinion. Anne and Christa weren't wowed.

Macaroons from Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery in NYC We then shared two spectacular pasta dishes - the evening’s special, which was a short rib and black truffle ravioli and Fleur de Soliel pasta which had a light cream sauce with peas. The pastas were done right. The ravioli was paper thin, but somehow still stood up to the short rib and the generous portion of truffles (which made us worried that we should have asked the dish's price before ordering! But don't fret, it was reasonably priced).

While we all claimed we were too full for dessert (and quite upset about it as the dessert menu is outrageous), we stopped by the bakery in the front of the restaurant and picked up some macaroons for a late night snack. Try the pistachio with cherry filing – tre magnifique!

FYI - Read Foodies' post on the The Dutch

380 Lafayette Street (between 3rd and 4th Street)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533 3000

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Room with a Familiar View

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Anybody home?

Now that some of the controversy around West Village staple Alta has calmed down a bit (Full discretion: The Foodies in NYC ate here way before March), we wanted to reminisce about some of the good times we can remember there...

So first, we ask you all to come clean. We’ve done it and we know you have - you’ve driven by that old Italian restaurant with the stucco-siding, or walked into that classic clam bar with the crab winking from his spot on the wall, and SWORN that you’ve eaten there before.  You can’t remember what you had or who you were with, but you remember it was good.  For us, that place is Alta.

While we admit we’ve never had a bad meal here, nothing about Alta screams out to us.  But it is one of those places you find yourself oddly drawn to time and time again. Maybe it’s the typical fried goat cheese balls, the succulent lamb meatballs or the tangy braised octopus that lumps it into the pack of Mediterranean restaurants in NYC - but yet, still keeps calling us back for more.

Known for its tapas style dining, it’s a fairly traditional menu with a consistent execution. The short rib entree and Brussel sprouts side are classy comfort food but the over-extensive wine list might be the reason we’ve a hard time remembering our past together.  So summing up our relationship with Alta, it’s essentially like having a one night stand after you’ve had too much to think it was pretty good but can’t quite remember until you run into him again and can’t fight the urge to indulge in a fried goat cheese ball.
There's the beef.

64 W 10th St  
New York, NY 10011

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Guest Post: Is Your Fast Food High…in Calories?

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When they have the time, real foodies, like the Foodies in NYC, love to enjoy a relaxing, quality meal with a complementing atmosphere. They can’t possibly do this every meal, can they? I bet they secretly chomp down on a fat Big Mac from time to time. Which is why Foodie Christa allowed her younger, economically yet calorie conscious brother to write a review of the current fad around fast food chains going healthy.  
BK Healthy Burgers (Veggie: 410cal, 21g protein; Turkey: 530cal, 26g protein)

BK teams up with the popular veggie burger brand, Morning Star, to deliver a paddy filled with carrots, mushrooms, and unidentifiable green things. It tastes like chicken and newspaper, though is significantly better than some of the cheaper, store brand veggie burgers out there.

BK’s turkey burger has a rubbery consistency that squeaks when eaten. However, the portion was much larger than the veggie burger and could curb even a large appetite.  The potato bread was a good addition. It also doubles as entertainment – when throwing a cube of the turkey paddy at the ground, it bounced back about two-three inches.

BK Take home: Have it your way and accessorize your burger with enough lettuce, tomato, onion, and toppings to up the flavor profile.  The turkey burger was much bigger, tastier, and included potato bread - and it bounces off asphalt pretty well.

Wendy’s Flatbread (Smoky honey mustard: 370cal, 22g protein; Asiago ranch w/ bacon: 530 cal, 30g protein)

Wendy is a cruel mistress when it comes to the flatbread – she cuts her normal chicken sandwich in half, tosses it in a sweet sauce, and charges the same price as the “regs” chicken sandwich. The wheat flatbread, however, did live up to my high expectations. I’m not sure why they threw bacon on a diet menu item, but I’m not complaining. The sea salt fries were delicious for seven minutes, then got worse by the minute.

McDonalds’ Premium Grilled Chicken McWrap (Sweet Chili: 360cal, 27g protein;  Ranch: 430cal, 30g protein; Bacon: 440cal, 33g protein)

Mickey D’s big, burrito-like wrap comes in a cool cardboard holder for eating on the go. (You can stop reading now because the holder was the best part.) The chicken was tasty, even comparable to Wendys’ chicken but I don’t know who the hell invented the flavor “sweet chili,” but no one should change the fundamental properties of chili, ever. Stick with the bacon or ranch flavors. I’m not exactly sure what makes the chicken so “premium.” I asked for my wrap by stating, “Fill it up, premium, cash.” Maybe we should ask if it is unleaded, or if cash is cheaper than credit. 

Taco Bell Fresco Menu (Fresco beef taco: 110cal, 8 g protein; Fresco steak taco: 160cal, 11g protein)

Taco Bell thinks they can pull the sombrero over our eyes by losing the cheese, and adding cilantro and tomatoes, to make any normal item on their menu, “Fresco style.” However, the Fresco menu does win overall for its nutritional value, taste, flavor, and complementary ingredients. Taco Bell is the only company that pays one extra penny per tomato for ripe tomatoes. All other fast food companies use green tomatoes that have been unnaturally ripened by an oxygen gassing process. This is important to a Jersey local. The beef may not be top quality, but they are aware of that. Last year they ran an $0.88 taco special when it was revealed that their beef is 88% beef and the rest "filler." At least they are honest and embrace their B-quality beef. Taco Bell continues to keep it real and wins the Fast Foodie trophy.

So remember, with all of these new healthy alternatives, embrace your right to have it your way.

Vinny is a Fast Foodie and music producer for the Electric Slide Crew. Listen to his tunes on Soundcloud, or follow him on the tweet street @Vinny_Conte.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

L’Artusi – An Italian Epicurean Adventure in the West Village

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I take my Italian food very seriously. I studied abroad in Italy and pride myself of my love of all things Italian!

Italian food just naturally brings people together, it makes you want to ‘dine,’ and take your time before leaving the dinner table. In the U.S., you can categorize Italian food into buckets: Grandma’s Italian which is the ultimate comfort food which relies heavily on red sauce, breading and cheese; and Italian-Italian which is less saucy and focused on using a few ingredients to  bring out dishes most organic flavor.  Don’t get me wrong, both ‘Italians’ are equally good and absolutely serve their purpose.

Focusing on the latter, I recently had a girl’s night at L’Artusi. This West Village hot spot books about 30 days out, however, the ambiance, service and food are well worth it! And, for a West Village restaurant the prices aren’t terrible (entrees average $25). Now, my lady friends can eat, and while we were dressed to kill, we made sure our pants weren’t too tight so we wouldn’t disappoint.

While we truly loved everything, some of the highlights included: a house-made ricotta appetizer, which was so smooth and sweet, it would have made a delicious dessert. The Roasted Mushrooms with pancetta, fried egg, ricotta salata is the definition of umami (and pictured below). This salty dish felt hearty but not heavy and the fried egg was the perfect ‘sauce’ to take it from a side dish to a stand-alone plate.

While I wish I could have tasted all the pastas, the Orecchiette with sausage, salumi, and pecorino was my fav.  It was cooked just right and lightly sauced (note –a true Italian restaurant will sauce the pasta just enough so that it can be eaten with every bite but that there should be none leftover in the bowl when the pasta is gone. If you need bread to sop up your goodness - then there is too much sauce).

Finally the highlight for all the ladies was the chicken dish. We wouldn’t have ordered the chicken if it was not highly recommended by the waiter. In my experience there are very few places where one should order chicken over another meat or fish option. This quarter chicken is one of those expectations.  While its preparation is not highlighted on the menu it appears to have been brined and its tender saltiness falls off the bone.  I think we all secretly wished we each had our own plate and weren’t sharing.  Oh well….we know for next time!

The Takeaway: When you are in the mood for Italian - but not like Grandma used to make – try L’Artusi! 

228 W 10th St,
New York, NY

Monday, February 25, 2013

This is the story of a quaint little French bistro….with one of the best burgers in NYC!

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When you think of French food – what comes to mind? Fancy and pretentious? Foie gras? Escargo?  Bet you’d never think – “DAMN those Frenchies know how to cook a burger!”

Well, let me tell you – there is at least one French bistro that can grill up this mouthwatering American staple.
Café D’Alsace is a cozy little eatery on the upper east side that offers very traditional French fare  - Duck á L’Orange, Moules Frites and the like. But my personal favorite is the Burger D’Alsace - 10 oz of fresh sirloin, caramelized onions and choice of Gruyere, cheddar or Alsatian Muenster.  While I truly believe that you cannot go wrong on your cheese choice – the Gruyere always calls to me. They then marry the cheese with the caramelized onions so that they form a crisp, gooey topping to the perfectly cooked sirloin patty, served on a brioche bun.  The meat is perfectly seasoned so all you need to do is just dive right in.

Sorry I don’t have a photo. I ate it before I could snap a photo. :( So you will just have to try it out for yourselves! Did I mention they deliver?

Café D’Alsace
1695 2nd Avenue (the corner of 88th)
New York, NY 10128
Tel (212) 722-5133 | Fax (212) 257-7017 |

Monday, January 28, 2013

Who is winning the FroYo Wars?

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Two words: Orange Leaf.

From time-to-time, we get invited to some fun events. But this one was a bit more personal. Our friends were working on the grand opening of a brand new Frozen Yogurt establishment called Orange Leaf, a self-serve, choose-your-own-toppings, frozen dessert chain – and we were lucky enough to score an invite!*

Of course there was more than one jab at “opening a fro yo place on the coldest day of the year” – but honestly – when are you NOT in the mood for a delicious frozen treat? Answer: Never.

So off we trekked to Murray Hill. It’s a great location actually – right beneath a gym (who doesn’t want to reward themselves with a low fat treat after a tough spin class) and a block away from the Kips Bay movie theater.

Danielle doing some tasting 
The flavors are great. Our (Anne & Danielle’s) mutual favorite was the English Toffee.  Coconut, Peanut Butter, Wedding Cake, Chocolate Mint and Cookie Cake (with Oreo!) ALL ranked close seconds. They also pair up flavors that mix well together so that you can swirl them (hello Chocolate and PB!)

What stands out about Orange Leaf is the cookie bar. That’s right kids – a COOKIE BAR.

 The store launched in conjunction with a great charity called Cookies for Kids Cancer. They raise funds through local bake sales to support research for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancer. They are providing their delicious cookies as toppings! Brilliant! The topping bar also includes favorites like Butterfinger, M&Ms, Heath bar and lots and lots of fruit. But it’s the cookies that stand out. There were about eight different flavors (traditional chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate mint, etc) and who knew they would pair perfectly with FroYo?!
With Foodie In NYC Friend Brittany! 

So if you find yourself in Murray Hill with a hankering for something sweet (or tangy – they have a great Classic Tart flavor too!) give Orange Leaf a try!

Thumbs up for Fro Yo!

Orange Leaf
608 Second Avenue
(between 33rd Street and 34th Street)
New York, NY 10016
Also check them out on Facebook and Twitter

*Disclosure: we were provided a $5 coupon 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guest Post: Red Cat, Where the Apps, Sides and Desserts are the Stars

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Friend of the Foodies in NYC Samantha Wolf dines at Red Cat. Here is her FIRST Foodies' review!
I have now been to Red Cat twice, both times with FoodiesinNYC Danielle, and after trying a substantial portion of the menu between the two of us, we figured out a plan to get the best of the best at this cozy Chelsea restaurant: stick with the starters, sides and dessert.

During our most recent excursion we went in with this plan in mind and it was hard not to get distracted by the delicious entrée selections – a variety of American-style fish and meat dishes – but we stuck to our guns and it was definitely the right move.

One of the must try dishes is the baked polenta, served in a cast iron skillet with stewed tomatoes and parmesan: it is almost like lasagna but even more cheesy and delicious.  Pretty sure both Danielle and I burnt our mouths trying to get at this as soon as it hit the table.

One of the restaurant’s staples is the light tempura of green beans with sweet hot mustard. These lightly battered string beans are awesome, but they were a little undercooked making them more greasy than tempura should be  the second time so they didn’t live up to our expectations.  The menu is seasonal and is constantly changing, but we fell in love with the butternut squash special side that appeared on the November menu – it was perfection. Even though my dining companion is proud to call herself a carnivore, we went completely vegetarian and Danielle wasn’t left craving a filet for dessert.

Lastly, we discovered what may be one of the best desserts in NYC here on our first visit: Pistachio Semifreddo. I am a dessert lover and I can honestly say this is one of the best desserts I have had, maybe ever.  The pistachio ice cream sat atop a soft brownie and was doused in dark chocolate sauce which hardened after it hit the ice cream.  Heaven.  On our second visit we tried their seasonal semifreddo, which was solid but in no way compared to the pistachio dream.

So far, everything I have tried at Red Cat has been delicious, but if you want to do it right, stick to a sampling feast of the sides and starters and top it off with dessert.  And don’t forget the wine!  If they have a T-Vine’s Grenache you won’t regret it – make sure to get the full bottle.

Samantha Wolf is a PR prof and a frequent diner in downtown Manhattan. As a pescatarian, she loves sushi, all things veggie and anything with truffle oil. Her favorite course is dessert.  

Red Cat 
227 Tenth Ave (Between 23rd Street and 24th Street)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Did you know that Christa Conte moonlights?

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Foodies In NYC founding member and Hoboken resident Christa Conte is CHEATING on us! That’s right folks, our own Ms. Conte has been MOONLIGHTING as a contributor to the ever-popular Hoboken Patch! THE NERVE! If her posts weren’t totally fabulous and mouthwatering, we would be totally pissed. But it’s Christa! And to know her is to love her. So from time to time we will share her posts on because ….well…even people in New Jersey gotta eat! :)

In her most recent post called “Dining on a Dime,” Christa offers fantastic tips on making the most of the deals on Groupon, Living Social and other local “Deals” sites. Also check out Christa’s past Patch posts (say that 3 times fast…) here.