Monthly Archives: April 2012

La Bota, tapas for people who don’t care about food nor money.


La Bota
41 Greenwich Ave
(between Charles St & Perry St)
New York, NY 10014

 

I recently went to this little tapas place in the West Village to meet up with some old friends.  Another friend picked the place so I did my research and found that it was rated pretty well – hence, I agreed to go (ha, no but seriously, I don’t like paying for bad food).  Of course I scoured the Internet for all the best things to order prior to coming and ordered those exact things: pitcher of sangria, bacon wrapped dates, meatballs, and croquettes.  Sangria, as pictured above, was a $27 pitcher of immensely watered down red wine with fruits (mainly apples) that felt like they had just been put in recently.  Also, notice the concentric circles on the wedge of apple in my glass?  I vehemently tried to ignore it while sipping my water wine but I couldn’t help but meet its gaze every sip… I really should’ve just removed it, huh.

These are the Datiles con Bacon, aka, dates wrapped in bacon.  For $8, we got 4 mushy dates with probably one slice of bacon cut into quarters.  It wasn’t bad, because nothing can be that bad when bacon is involved.  I was just sad that it didn’t compare to my favorite bacon wrapped dates tapas in Boston at Toro where the dates are slightly crisp on the outside and much more sweet, filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese.  La Bota’s version is much simpler and more expensive.

I read that these meatballs were great and as many of you know, I do love my meatballs (see Meatball ShopParisi Bakery, and Banh Mi Saigon).  They apparently come in a mushroom sauce but as you can see, the sauce seems more like a tomato based sauce with some other vegetables in it (including a few slices of mushrooms).  For $9, I would expect something much more intricate.  The balls were small, dry, and very tough.  At least the sauce had enough salt to give the bland meatballs a little flavor.   Continue reading La Bota, tapas for people who don’t care about food nor money.

Healthy Brunch Alternative: Hummus Place

Hummus Place
109 St. Marks Pl
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009

 

I wanted something healthy, but not a salad nor sandwich nor sushi.  I didn’t want to wait in ridiculous lines for an eggs benedict but also didn’t want a bad brunch.  After much debate (per usual), LAW and I decided to try Hummus Place right in St. Marks.  I knew that hummus was healthy and I read some good things… my main qualms were that I couldn’t imagine having hummus as a meal…  and LAW really wanted to try this place and I was in a disagreeing mood… but he won this one. Continue reading Healthy Brunch Alternative: Hummus Place

Clinton St. Baking Company – not so good the third time.


Clinton St. Baking Company
4 Clinton St
(between Avenue B & Houston St)
New York, NY 10002

 

I’ve already briefly reviewed this place and like most people who have tried this place, I raved about it.  I’d like to caveat that the last time I visited Clinton St. Baking Company, I had more or less just moved to NYC and had yet to try the myriad of brunch places around.  And gollyyyyyy does NYC have a LOT of brunch places.  This time around, CSBC was not so yummy, particularly compared to a place like Prune.  Also, if you plan on checking out CSBC on a weekend, be prepared to wait 2 hours.  I would say that is the standard… I’ve been told that some have waited even longer during peak hours, which are from 10-2pm.  I recently went again on a weekday with a few out-of-towners* and only had to wait about 45 minutes…

 

They are most well-known for their pancakes, and I’d have to say, they probably do have some of the best pancakes in the city.

They are fluffy and thick (not the crepe-like kind) and have that nice glazed exterior from a heavily buttered pan.  Don’t be fooled by the syrupy looking blueberries… They taste very fresh and are not too sweet at all.  For those of us with a stronger sweet tooth, the pancakes are served with a warm maple butter that is seriously delicious.   I don’t even like pancakes that much but felt that these were worth ordering and probably the only thing worth ordering.  We were all savory-dish types so we ordered the pancakes to share – something I would definitely suggest as I could never eat an entire order.

Continue reading Clinton St. Baking Company – not so good the third time.

I get my salmon sashimi fix at Soba-Ya. Yes, at a noodle restaurant.


Soba-Ya
229 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Soba-Ya is, of course, known for its soba.  They market themselves as a Japanese noodle restaurant and proudly display this anonymous quote on their homepage: Sobaya’s handmade noodle … sheer joy!  Soba is a gluten-free buckwheat noodle that when made correctly, is supple, slightly chewy, and retains an earthy flavor.  Gluten is a crucial ingredient because it is what holds the dough together and gives it its springiness.  Without gluten, the dough can easily become very dense… ever had a bad gluten-free loaf?  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about then.  It is very difficult to make great soba, which is probably why it is so expensive to have good soba in New York.  The noodles are usually served on a bed of ice with a chilled, light dipping sauce on the side, or in a warm noodle broth.  The photograph above is of the Kamo Seiro, soba with duck dipping sauce.  This is a combination of the two aforementioned serving methods as the noodles are not cold, but are room temperature, and the dipping sauce is piping hot.

Yes, yes, the soba is great but the real reason I come to Soba-Ya all the time is for this:

Continue reading I get my salmon sashimi fix at Soba-Ya. Yes, at a noodle restaurant.

Eataly Ingredients + My Cooking Skills = Shrimp Scampi with Squid Ink Linguini

Ever since visiting Rome over a year and a half ago, I’ve missed everything about it.  The cobble stones (which I can get a tiny taste of here on Bond St.), the incredible ancient Roman ruins that are just embedded within the modern city fabric (we stumbled upon Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane), and of course, the FOOD.  Even the little panino stands on the random corners of the streets had amazing bread and prosciutto, a combination that can last me many, many meals.  Olive oil was amazing… thick and green from every bottle at every restaurant.  Great Italian food, like Japanese food, involves the best and the freshest ingredients cooked simply.  LAW and I headed straight to Eataly to for our ingredients because… Eataly sounds like Italy.

      

Eataly
200 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010

 

Eataly is a high end Italian food market chain that sells fresh bread, cured meats, cheeses, gelato, freshly made pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, Italian cookies and chocolates, etc.!  They have locations throughout Italy and apparently a few in Tokyo.  In New York, the food market surrounds a center hearth that consists of a number of high end food-court-esque restaurants.  Mario Batali is one of the owners and describes it as a “grocery store with tasting rooms.”   Continue reading Eataly Ingredients + My Cooking Skills = Shrimp Scampi with Squid Ink Linguini

Rosa Mexicano is launching a new menu… and I got to try it first!

 Rosa Mexicano
9 E 18th St
(between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10003

 

Yes, yes… I said I would start to cry if anyone mentioned Mexican food to me again but I was recently invited to a blogger tasting event at Rosa Mexicano for the launch of their new menu and of course had to go.  Free food!  Rosa Mexicano is a high end Mexican chain restaurant with 15 locations nationally, including three in New York.  I had been to the Union Square/Flat Iron one twice before and had an experience similar to what most Yelpers seem to say: pretty good Mexican food (albeit on the heavy side), large portions, and expensive.  I had always associated Mexican food with large portions and heaviness but never had expensive upscale Mexican food.  Well, my friends, Rosa is switching it up and will be launching a new menu that features smaller and lighter portions, though priced similarly to their old menu.

This is the most interesting taco I tried.  It is the Panza con Callos de Hacha, aka. seared diver scallops, crisp Kurobuta pork belly, and orange-habanero salsa.  As you can see from the photo, the scallops are perfectly seared.  The sides were browned and very slightly charred, while the centers were still extremely tender and maybe even slightly undercooked (the way it should be).  The scallops were also tremendously sweet, which is completely necessary when paired with something as flavorful as pork belly.  I was surprised that the pork belly didn’t mask the scallop’s flavors.  Kurobuta pork belly is essentially Berkshire (an early-maturing breed that is known for its juiciness, tenderness, and flavor).  I had three of these tacos that night and depending on the taco, my slice of pork was better or worse (one more crisp, one burnt, one perfect, some with more fat, and some with less).  Three of these tacos go for $21 … a bit steep in my opinion considering you get about one full (large) scallop per taco.  But money aside, this new interpretation of surf-n-turf was delectable.

Continue reading Rosa Mexicano is launching a new menu… and I got to try it first!

Parisi Bakery, over 100 Years Strong.


Parisi Bakery
198 Mott St
(between Kenmare St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012

 

If you read my last post on the Meatball Shop, you’ll know that the Meatball Shop completely changed my outlook on meatballs.  Since having them, I didn’t think meatballs could get any better…each meatball type that is served at the Meatball Shop is put through a rigorous selection process and emerged as a winner.  They don’t serve sandwiches and pasta with meatballs; they serve MEATBALLS with bread and pasta.  Well, here is life lesson for you: it is possible to be even better than the best.

Their meatball hero is orgasmic.  The bread is soft Italian bread that is chewy and dense, but fluffy at the same time.  Apparently, “whenever Frank Sinatra was in town, he would send one of his daughters down in a limo to pick up four loaves” of bread from Parisi.  The meatball sandwich is lined with a thin layer of mozzarella to protect the bread from the tasty marinara sauce and of course to add a bit of creaminess to this tomatoey sandwich.  The meatballs are SO incredibly tender, not crumbly at all, and if you give it a little squish, will feel that they are a little springy.  I’m seriously salivating just thinking about them.  Be right back, need to wipe down my keyboard.

 

Just kidding.  Totally kidding.

Continue reading Parisi Bakery, over 100 Years Strong.

The Meatball Shop

Meatball Shop
64 Greenwich Ave
(between 7th Ave & 11th St)
New York, NY 10011
(also 2 other locations in Lower East Side and Williamsburg)

 

I was never particularly fond of meatballs before living in NYC.  Meatballs always reminded me of dry and limp cafeteria spaghetti – not exactly something I would seek out.  But after moving to NYC, I found that the Meatball Shop was the talk of the town.  As a very open-minded eater, I was eager to change my mind about meatballs and checked out the Meatball Shop as soon as I could.  The first time I went, we waited 2 hours for a table… don’t worry, this was before they had opened any other locations.  I’ve been to all three locations now and will say that the original Lower East Side one has been lacking in quality since the opening of the other two locations… not sure why.  The West Village and Williamsburg locations are great and much bigger.

Okay I know, I should really start with a meatball photo but one of my favorite things about the Meatball Shop is their market salads.  They switch it up… every week maybe?  The one pictured above is probably my favorite: butter lettuce, almonds, radicchio, sunchoke, clementines, and sherry vinaigrette.  If you think about each ingredient… they are all very intensely flavored and so the combination could either go really wrong, or so so right.  The butter lettuce was soooo tender and leafy!  I now know why they are called butter lettuce because in their prime state, they really feel like they melt in your mouth… like butter.  Almonds are always a welcomed addition to anything… it gave the salad a great crunch and nutty context.  Radicchio is slightly bitter and almost a little spicy sometimes.  I actually barely tasted them in this salad but I’m sure they added to the complexity of the salad.  This was my first time having sunchoke and wow, was it amazing.  Sunchokes are knobbly and funny looking… kind of like twisted ginger roots.  They were boiled or maybe blanched just so that they had the consistency of a very chewy potato.  They were slightly creamy… and had slight sweet and nutty undertones.  They went very well with the almonds and butter lettuce.  The clementines were the sweetest I’ve had (nothing like those awful sour and dry ones you find in most supermarkets) and the sherry vinaigrette just bonded all the flavors together.  I. LOVE. THIS. SALAD.

Here is a close-up of a classic beef ball with spicy meat sauce.  See how juicy and tender it looks on the inside?  You have the option of picking the type of ball you want and the type of sauce (see menu photo on top).  Having tried all of the balls and almost in every ball-sauce combination possible, I find that the classic beef ball and spicy meat sauce is my favorite.

Continue reading The Meatball Shop

Cracker Pizzas from Posto, not QQ but a nice change.


Posto
310 2nd Ave
(between 18th St & 19th St)
New York, NY 10003

 

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I am a diehard Luzzo’s fan when it comes to pizza (and are probably annoyed with my constant referral to it).  Though, as a pizza-lover with an open mind, I’m always willing to give other people’s favorites a try.  That beautiful piece of work up there is what Posto calls the Shroomtown, a medley of portobello, shitake, button mushrooms, and white truffle oil over a light coat of marinara and cheese.  It could have used more truffle oil (always use more truffle oil) but otherwise was an amazing fungi experience.  I find that real Italian pies have very great but sparse ingredients.  It usually makes me appreciate that one cherry tomato or basil leaf much more.  Posto, on the other hand, really piles on their toppings … in a very American way – excess x 10!  When excess is in the same sentence of mushrooms, I’m all for it.

This is the Salsiccia Dolce, which includes sweet italian sausage, caramelized onions, fresh basil, marinara sauce and cheese.  As you can see from this photo, Posto’s pizza crust is very thin, so thin that this thickness at any other restaurant would probably cause the pizza to become soggy and … well, flaccid.  Posto’s crust is luckily very crisp at the bottom and so manages to keep the pizza in full form throughout your dining experience.  It is a little less cracker-like than Otto’s pizza but does not have the same chewiness as Luzzo’s pizza (understandably due to how thin it is).  I will say that Posto’s toppings are incredible.  They not only use the freshest and most robustly flavored toppings, but they also give you a ton of them on each pie.

Continue reading Cracker Pizzas from Posto, not QQ but a nice change.