Thursday, December 30, 2010

Frost Doughnuts

My little bro was in the mood for doughnuts this morning, and decided to take me to Frost Doughnuts which recently opened a location in the Mill Creek Town Center (near my family's home in good 'ol Washington).

The greedy little bugger ordered 3 different kinds of doughnuts:

1. Peppermint kiss: a red velvet cake doughnut with peppermint cream

2. Southern red velvet: another red velvet cake doughnut, but this time with traditional cream cheese frosting

3. Maple bacon bar: a maple bar doughnut with bacon bits

I, being a slightly less greedy person, limited myself to 2:

1. Malt chocolate cream: a doughnut similar to a bavarian cream, but with malt chocolate mousse filling rather than bavarian cream

2. I copied my bro and also claimed a Southern red velvet cake doughnut

Gah! Holiday weight gain... seems almost impossible to avoid

Saturday, December 25, 2010

5 Napkin Burger

My friends and I had intended to explore the West side and grab lunch in the Hell's Kitchen region, however we were so indecisive about choosing a place to eat that we ended up walking up and down 12 blocks several times before finally deciding on a rather boring default: burgers.

I ordered the original 5-Napkin burger, which is a 10oz beef patty with gruyere cheese, caramelized onion, and rosemary aioli. It's advertised on their website as being "Way too juicy for one napkin. Or four." However, I did NOT need more than one napkin. Probably because I eventually resorted to using a knife and fork.

Having ordered the meat patty to be done medium-rare, it was indeed pretty juicy - and made extra messy with the rosemary aioli topping (which I thought was probably the best part of the burger).

The fries were just regular fries and not too memorable.

Overall rating: 6.5/10


(It's been so long since I've had enough time to blog my food escapades that I've almost forgotten what to do. Here goes...)

Ever since watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in which he visited his pal chef Gabrielle Hamilton at her restaurant Prune, I've been aching to try the place. Located on 1st street and between 1st and 2nd avenue, it's long been a popular place for both lunch and dinner - having been named one of NY Magazine's best lunch restaurants in the past.

A few months ago - before my schedule exploded, I dragged my friend/former neighbor/fellow food-lover Niu Niu with me to brunch at Prune. It's a tiny space with just a handful of tables but with a bright and sunny atmosphere (both from the country home-like decor as well as from the huge front window).

Niu Niu ordered the Scottish salmon with lemon rice, scallions, and peas. She loved her dish, saying that the rice was creamy and the salmon perfectly done - soft and moist. I can't offer any personal opinion though, seeing as how I didn't taste it. Call me odd, but I've never been in the habit of trying other people's dishes - even if they ordered something that I wanted and a taste is offered to me. Not sure I can even explain why. Sometimes you just can't rationalize craziness...

I ordered the fried oyster omelette with remoulade sauce. Remoulade sauce is a french sauce that is usually aioli- or mayonnaise- based, that tasted a lot like tartar sauce - making it a perfect match for the fried oyster. The egg of my omelette was amazingly fluffy. On the side was an unidentified red sauce that was the consistency of water, mildly spicy in nature, and with a hint of sweetness as well as a hint of tartness.

The omelette was one of the best that I've had - but what else would I expect from a place recommended by Mr. Bourdain?

Overall rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Luke's Lobster

This afternoon I dragged my buddy Aaron with me to get lobster rolls - which I've been aching to try ever since I moved to the East coast. We chose Luke's Lobster on 7th street and 1st avenue because he went to school with the VP (who sadly wasn't there when we arrived today), and word on the street is that their rolls are pretty darn good. They reputedly use more lobster and less filler (including less mayo - which is good considering the fact that I'm now 5 years over-due for a cholesterol check. New guidelines say that everyone should get their cholesterol screened at the age of 20, and then every five years after.)

We both ordered the lobster roll, although they also have the option for crab rolls or shrimp rolls:

I thought it was great - I loved the fact that the outside of the roll was buttered, and the lobster was clearly fresh. My only gripe: I wish that the bun on my roll had been warmer (although it was light and fluffy nonetheless).

As per Aaron, it was one of the best "sandwiches" he's ever had, but he was disappointed by the size. We both finished in less than 10 bites. To fill him up, we had to stop by a bakery on the way home - not that I'm complaining! I got half a pound of cookies for myself too :)

Overall rating: 7/10

Luke's Lobster
93 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10009


Last night we went out for pizza at Gnocco - located on 10th street between avenues A and B. While I've heard good things about the pizza, the reputation of their pasta is more luke-warm. We didn't have reservations, so the 5 of us were seated in the front (near the door and sidewalk area), rather than in the main dining room near the open-air patio.

We weren't particularly hungry after having had a huge brunch, so ordered 3 pizzas to share amongst ourselves:

1. Tartufata: fresh mozzarella, truffle sauce, mushrooms, and Speck (juniper-flavored ham that is similar to prosciutto)

The pizzas had a fabulously thin and crispy crust, as you can see from this slice:

2. Parmigiana: fresh mozzarella, eggplant, tomato sauce, fresh basil, and shaved parmesan (this was my favorite of the 3 - I thought the fresh basil was a nice touch)

3. Affumicata: smoked mozzarella, tomato sauce, and Italian sausages

Then came dessert - which none of us can ever seem to resist. Two out of the three Jenns shared the Semifreddo al Limone e Menta: lemon and mint parfait with caramelized peach (I thought it looked a little bit like half a snowball)

Tiffany ordered the Tiramisu: mascarpone cream, espresso coffee, and lady fingers served in a glass (you can kind-of see her sitting patiently in the background in her hot-pink dress and hands folded neatly in her lap... I realized recently how tolerant all my friends are. I always demand that they refrain from touching their food until I've gotten all the pictures that I want. It can be a pretty painful experience for them if they're super hungry and I'm having difficulty with lighting...)

The third Jenn ordered the Torta al Cloccolato e Caffe: chocolate mousse, coffee biscuit, almond, and Bavarian coffee

I chose the Torta di Ricotta: Italian cheesecake (made with Ricotta cheese rather than cream cheese), whipped cream, and fresh berries. This was surprisingly light, and uber yummy

Overall rating: 8/10

337 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10009

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Today we went to Morandi on the West side (Waverly Place and 7th avenue) for brunch in celebration of my friend Tina's birthday. The place had a nice lay-out, with the main dining-room opening directly into the out-door seating and sidewalk area. We were lucky enough to be seated within easy access of the cool breeze, although there were deeper-set regions of the dining room for those who might like more privacy.

We started off with Cestino di Pane (basket of sweet breads). Balthazar's bread basket has a reputation for being really good, but I thought it paled in comparison to what Morandi had to offer. The Cestino di Pane included: a brioche with chocolate and hazelnuts, a ricotta fritter, sugar doughnuts, an italian croissant, sweet pistachio bread, a cherry spiral, and panetti al forno with prosciutto. By far my favorite was the sweet pistachio bread:

For entrees, Tina ordered the Fricando di baccala: salt cod, potato, scallions, and black olives topped with two sunny side eggs

Mary was the only one of us who ordered a sweet entree (which is odd considering the fact that she's the one of us with the smallest sweet-tooth), going for the Fazzoletti di ricotta: warm crepes with lemon ricotta, topped with strawberries, and garnished with raspberries and blackberries

The two Jenns (yes - we call them "the Jenns" - with there normally being 3) ordered the same thing - Pane frattau: two sunny side eggs over spicy tomato-flatbread casserole with smoked pecorino (a type of hard Italian cheese made from ewe's milk)

Olivia and I opted for the Fagottini con prosciutto: baked crepes with ham and fontina cheese. I'm normally the one who likes ordering sugary dishes for brunch (and was VERY tempted by the waffle with creme fraiche and seasonal fruit compote), but I ended up being uber pleased with my savory crepes. The prosciutto was not too salty, and the crepes had a hint of sweet that balanced perfectly with the cheese and ham filling.

We initially did not plan on eating dessert - having been filled up pretty well with the bread basket and our entrees, but once we saw the dessert menu, our resolve caved. Olivia and Shuli ordered the Pesca: rose poached peaches and peach granita with hazelnut gelato and candied nuts

Jenn and I shared the Semi Freddo al Cioccolato: frozen chocolate custard with caramel and olive oil gelato. The chocolate custard was thicker than mousse in texture, and very rich. The olive oil gelato was the best part - the olive oil flavor was more of an after-taste and not too overwhelming. Jenn was a fan of the caramel, which I had to admit was pretty good, even though I'm not normally a huge caramel lover.

The Tina and Jenn ordered the special, but somehow I managed to miss the name. It seemed to be some sort of elder-flower mousse with berries. The servers even put a candle in the middle in honor of the birthday girl.

Included is a shot after Tina took a bite, so that you can appreciate the interior of this mystery-dessert

Overall rating: 8.5/10

211 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Mercer Kitchen

Last night a few friends and I decided to try one of Jean Georges' restaurants - Mercer Kitchen at The Mercer Hotel (on the corner of Prince St. and Mercer St. in Soho). I had originally considered making reservations for his namesake restaurant - Jean Georges, but after my buddy Jesse posted an article in which the place was cited with 18 health code violations, I decided to scratch that idea.

The decor was uber trendy and the service was very prompt, but it was another one of those restaurants that got progressively dimmer as the night wore on - once again affecting the quality of my photos (to my major irritation, since I personally hate using flash). By the time dessert arrived, we were pretty much eating by candlelight (romantic - yes... but not necessary when it's a group of 4 girls).

We started off with drinks: Jenn ordered a Cosmo:

I decided to try their Cherry Yuzu, which tasted like cherry syrup mixed with sparkling water and some sort of citrus fruit (makes sense - since Yuzu is a type of East Asian fruit that looks like a mini wrinkled grapefruit):

For entrees, both Nicole and Niu Niu ordered the slowly baked salmon on corn pudding with cherry tomato vinaigrette. Niu Niu had requested that hers be done "rare," but was disappointed when it arrived more along the lines of "well-done." Nicole on the other hand, likes her fish cooked to a crisp, so she had no complaints. They both agreed that the corn "pudding" was actually the consistency of soup.

Jenn ordered the sea scallops, which were accompanied by pea greens ravioli and smoked bacon vinaigrette.

We also shared a side of the macaroni and cheese, which was unimpressive:

I chose the steamed red snapper, which arrived on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes, and garnished with basil vinaigrette and cucumber. I thought the snapper was done perfectly, and was much more satisfied with my dish than most of the others were with theirs. Normally I'm pretty picky with my seafood, and there's nothing that gets on my nerves more than fish that has been over-done.

For dessert Niu Niu selected the passion fruit souffle with passion fruit ice cream. The souffle LOOKED yummy, but ended up being way too sour (unfortunately the pictures did not turn out well, so I'm opting not to include them). I chose the warm Valrhona chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream, which tasted like all the other molten chocolate cakes that I've ever had. Jenn ordered the local strawberries with strawberry infusion and strawberry red wine sorbet. She liked her dessert the best - probably because she was so amused by the mini-size of her strawberries. Each one was similar in shape and size to those lemon-head candies we used to pig-out on in grade school.

Overall rating: 6.5/10 (although I thought my entree deserved a 7-8/10, the salmon was rated a 2 by the others...)

The Mercer Kitchen
99 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Tonight my roommates and I decided to go to a restaurant that I've been aching to try - mostly because of it's awesome name: Tree. The place is located on 1st Ave between 11th and 12th streets, and although the interior is pretty small, they have a nice garden seating area (which we peeked at, but decided that air conditions was more appealing than nice scenery).

I started off with the French onion soup, which had gruyere cheese and toasted whole-wheat crutons. The beef broth had a nice flavor, but there were a tad too many onions, and some random stiff leaves (I'm sure it was some sort of herb, but I couldn't figure out WHAT exactly... and then when I accidentally chewed into some, I decided to call it quits). It was one of those dishes where the first half a dozen bites were REALLY good, but then it became a struggle to finish.

Daniella decided to try their soup de jour, which tonight was cream of asparagus with creme fraiche. Her assessment: "It was alright..." I didn't personally try it, so I have nothing useful to add besides the fact that I LOVE creme fraiche!!!

For entrees, both Anna and I ordered the duck, which consisted of a crispy leg confit, sweet onions and rosemary, cherry tomatoes, and garlic gnocchi. I personally thought the duck confit was a bit overcooked and on the dry side, while Anna enjoyed the texture but thought it was too salty.

Jenny ordered the salmon tartare (normally under the category of appetizers) which was accompanied by a small amount of mixed green salad and two slices of dijon baguette.

Daniella opted for the grilled salmon, which came on a bed of sauteed spinach, with roasted fingerling potatoes and a mint lemon butter sauce. She also felt that the chef was a little too liberal with the salt. (I apologize for the quality of the picture: after we arrived it got progressively darker and darker, and despite increases in ISO and minimizing the aperture on my camera, the crispness of my photos still suffered)

In the end, it was decided that the atmosphere of the restaurant was much better than the quality of the food. It was cozy with interesting decor (next to our table was a sewing machine drenched in melted wax - melted wax being a common theme, although not well demonstrated in my pictures). The service was friendly and although the food took a while to arrive, the staff was attentive without being stifling.

Overall rating: 6/10

190 1st Ave
New York, NY 10009