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Catching up on some of my blogs so today is your lucky day, I am blogging about two summertime restaurants since they are relatively short. The same weekend we dined at EastHampton Grill (see below), the next night we dined at the Blue Parrot (also in Easthampton). Totally laid back restaurant/bar type of place that serves up Mexican food and margaritas.
We got margaritas for the table and the house guacamole. It was freshly made and tasty as far as guac goes. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I chose to get the lobster tacos. I’m sorry but I thought they were so sad. Not much to them except lobster slapped on some warm tortillas, add some shredded lettuce and a side of pico de gallo. For $18 bucks, I was disappointed – AND you only get 2. I found the tacos bland and I was still hungry after I polished those things off in approximately six bites.
Cookie Monster got a side of tomato salad which I tasted with some cheese melted over it, some slices of avocado and then pesto. This was pretty tasty because the tomatoes were so sweet and accented by the saltiness of the cheese and creaminess of the guac. But really, could I make this easily at home? For sure….
So in all honesty the place is what I expected. Low key and a place you come to drink and sort of hang out, not to be wowed by the food. The End.
Blue Parrot, 33A Main Street, Easthampton, NY
Gosh the summer has just flown by! I can’t believe this weekend is Labor Day and what marks the official end of summer. I have been extremely lazy about updating this blog but I blame it on the heat and the sun – afterall, they don’t call it the “lazy days of summer” for nothing. One weekend this summer we had a late night dinner at EastHampton Grill in Easthampton. I heard it was owned by the same owners of Hillstone (formerly known as Houston’s – and home of IMHO the best french dip in the world!!!) and I was interested to see what they put out – tasty fare or would it be mass produced franchise crap?
I started with the jump shrimp — and jumbo they were!
They were served with two sauces – one that was a creamy dill and tartar like sauce, the other was a traditional shrimp cocktail. I had a good time mix and matching. Shrimp were huge and succulent. Very sweet for such large shrimp and they gave you about 5.
Cookie Monster got the tuna tartare:
Tuna was definitely fresh and I liked the diced bits of cucumber scattered throughout but I thought the entire thing needed salt. When I added salt, the flavors came out alot more and it was quite enjoyable. My shrimp were still my favorite appetizer though.
For main course, Cookie Monster and I shared the soft shell crab sandwich (this is my half – the thing was HUGE):
MMMMMM!! The soft shell crabs were lightly battered then fried but not greasy. You could taste the sweet crabmeat and the tomato and bibb lettuce really added a nice fresh balance to the sandwich. DELICIOUS! Incidentally someone else at the table had the french dip I previously spoke of – so they offer it at this location too! Go get either sammie and you won’t be sorry.
Close up shot:
Pleasantly surprised by this place. Food was delicious! Great bar scene and the restaurant was bustling even at 1030 at night. The other thing I liked is the crowd isn’t young and full of sharehouse twentysomething year olds. It’s elegant without being stuffy, comfortable but still sophisticated inside. Great place to get nouveau american food with a twist on comfort.
EastHampton Grill, 99 North Main Street, Easthampton, NY
I try to keep my personal life out of this blog. Yes there are some references and hints to my life but for the most part, I try and keep it to food. But I do need to say one thing today – I honestly have the best husband in the world. He always knows how to make me feel special and he does these little things for me that mean the world to me. My birthday was no exception. We went to dinner at Marea on my actual birthday (blog posting about Marea to come) and he told me that the next day he wanted to take me to a more low key dinner….which turned out to be a surprise birthday dinner with my closest friends with the special guest being the Bo Ssam at Ssam!!! Nothing says I love you like a big hunk of slow roasted pork to share with friends. (Thanks, Cookie Monster, you are seriously the best. :))
So the Bo Ssam is something I’ve always wanted to try at Ssam Bar. It’s not something you can choose off the menu for that day because it must be pre-ordered. For that reason, I’ve never gotten around to it. However it’s glorious, fatty pork served with a bunch of Korean condiments and oysters. It’s like Thanksgiving Korean style!!!!
So the meat is huge. It’s fall off the bone and you take tongs and literally peel off the meat:
It’s served with butter lettuce, two types of kimchi (cabbage and radish), some Korean hot chili paste and diced scallions:
The idea is you take a lettuce leaf, put a generous heaping of that pork in the middle, toss whatever condiment you want and then eat it like a taco! It’s so delicious. The pork is fatty and rich and the kimchi’s acid cuts into that richness. The lettuce acts as a crunchy crispy and fresh vessel. It’s glorious.
You can also add an oyster to the mix, which I tried – it adds a creamy brininess to the flavor profile.
Dinner conversation? I have no clue. I dont think people were really talking to be honest, just shoving pork into their mouth. We finished the entire thing. Behold:
Did I mention that we had like 20 pork buns to start? It was hog heaven – pun intended.
But oh no, we didn’t stop there. Everyone insisted we have cake so what do we get? Pancake cake (literally layers of pancakes) which is served with bacon and a butter sauce!! What……
It is literally breakfast for dessert.
The meal was spectacular and my type of meal! Yes, admittedly I have a food hangover today but it was so worth it. Thanks to my friends for coming and a very special thank you to Cookie Monster for setting this up, managing to keep it a secret and footing the entire bill! You are very special to me!!! I love you.
So if you haven’t tried this Bo Ssam, put your order in, grab some friends and go!!!!
Momofuku Ssam Bar, 207 Second Avenue, New York, NY
Monday was Cookie Monster’s birthday! :) I thought about taking him to his favorite place, Annisa, but I wanted to try and surprise him with someplace new and different. We both avidly watch Top Chef and love Tom Colicchio so I thought Colicchio & Sons might be a good spot. I read the reviews for dining in the main room and they were pretty glowing so I booked the place.
The room is beautiful. Cookie Monster told me that it is the old Craft Steak. The ceilings are high and swooping, everything is bare, clean and sophisticated and what I loved the most is that the tables are set far apart from the table next to you. I mean you could probably fit another table in between. That means more privacy.
(Please note that you can get a less expensive meal at the Tap Room located within the restaurant and the more formal meal is served in the Main Dining Room.)
The restaurant offers a la carte options as well as a variety of tastings menus. We opted to do the four course tasting menu plus wine pairings. It was his birthday afterall! You get an option of two things for each course. Except for the first course, we pretty much got the same thing. Let’s get started.
Amuse bouche of cold tomato soup (I think – can’t remember to be honest) but it prepped our tongues for the food to come.
Amuse bouche of a little puff filled with lima bean puree. (Think of a cream puff but it’s filled with lima beans instead of cream – and it was the size of my thumbnail.) It was yummy. Lima bean puree had a very light and smooth lima bean taste to it.
My favorite amuse bouche: cucumber panna cotta topped with salmon roe. I LOVE ikura sushi so this was up my alley. Loved the little briny pops of the egg against the cool cucumber custard. Cookie Monster found it a bit fishy but he doesn’t like caviar or ikura.
The table bread shows up piping hot and glistening in all its buttered glory in a cast iron pan. There is a light sprinkling of sea salt over the top. These were DELICIOUS. We ate four of those babies before our first course even got there haha.
For first course, Cookie Monster got the cold corn soup with Alaskan king crab and summer truffle:
Corn is in season so the soup was pleasantly sweet with a full corn flavor. The soup was chilled and velvety smooth. As you can imagine, crab meat pairs very well in this soup. I did not taste any truffle but I only had one spoonful.
I got the seared tuna with yukon gold potato chips and leek puree:
Tuna was very fresh, sashimi grade and I liked the cute potato chips and the pickled shallots but really, this is not something I’ve never tried before so it didn’t exactly blow my mind. If I had to choose between the corn soup and this, I would still take the tuna since I’m not a fan of sweet plates but the soup is definitely more interesting/inventive of the two choices.
We both got the pasta option for second course which was fresh made bucatini with roasted cherry tomatoes and bottarga (dried fish roe that has been cured – quite a delicacy).
Surprisingly Cookie Monster enjoyed this despite the shaved bottarga. I thought he would find it fishy. He thought the flavors worked really well together: acid from the tomatoes, salt and depth from the bottarga. I found the dish boring and lacking pizzazz. It was good but again, nothing that wowed me.
For our third and main course, we both got the roasted and braised suckling pig served with polenta and sunburst squash:
What was so great about this course was that you got a little bit of everything on the pig. You got herb crusted pork belly, braised shoulder with crispy skin (our favorite part), a small bit of loin, and two other parts that I can’t remember. But basically you got to taste all the various cuts. The suckling pig was delectable and very moist and flavorful. As I mentioned the shoulder with a bit of crispy skin was my favorite.
For dessert, I got the chocolate pot de creme with apricot, frangipan, chamomile and olive oil ice cream:
This was perfect for me. I like chocolate pudding alot and it was slightly bitter and not too sweet. There was a little bit of olive oil cake which was moist and delicious.
Cookie Monster saw something on the regular dessert menu (not an option for the tasting) that he wanted more – a chocolate semifredo, which he adores. We asked our server if he could swap it in and when I told her it was his birthday, the restaurant graciously allowed us to swap.
And then an added surprise, they sent him a mini cake with a candle. What a nice touch – I didn’t even request it!
The dinner ended with petite fours:
I thought the meal was delicious and well prepared and perfectly executed but I cannot honestly say I was blown away by the meal. I’ve been spoiled by this city of New York and been able to enjoy a wide range of dining options so my standards may be higher than your average diner. This meal was good but nothing extraordinary. The service however was impeccable and I give this restaurant kudos for the incredibly professional, polite and friendly service we got. Everything was seamless.
Colicchio & Sons, 85 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY
Cookie Monster and I had dinner once at Il Pesce portion of Eataly and didn’t exactly walk away loving it. (See the review here.) This past Sunday we stayed in town to watch Coldplay and so we took the opportunity to run some errands. We were in the Flatiron district and so we decided to try our hand at La Pizza section of Eataly if the wait wasn’t too long. It was about 20 minutes and they ask that you check in with the desk in about 10-15 minutes. We wandered around a bit deciding which groceries to buy after lunch and then headed back to the desk and stood there thinking they would announce our name when it came up. UM WRONG. FYI – if they say come back to the desk in so and so time, make sure you go back to the desk and check in. Apparently, we were pushed down the list because we didn’t check in. What…..And we were just standing there trying not to be one of those annoying patrons that ask about the wait every 10 minutes. Haha apparently at Eataly it pays to be annoying.
We couldn’t decide if we wanted pasta or pizza so we decided to split one of each! Perfect compromise.
I was eyeing the homemade veal agnolotti in a veal reduction sauce so we split that:
(Don’t you just love Instagram? Both the food photos were taken with Instagram if you were wondering.) The agnolotti was tender to the bite and the perfect delicate vessel to deliver the veal. That sauce was light and had a bold veal flavor to it since it was reduced veal stock (and probably other things I couldn’t place). Diced parsley brought color to the dish and mild herb flavorings. I ADORED IT. Incidentally they sell this agnolotti uncooked at one of the fresh pasta counters. Go get it and make it at home!
For pizza, we got the 3 season pizza which essentially is 3 different pizzas all in one. Talk about bang for the buck! (well it is a couple dollars more than the other pizzas on the menu but that’s probably because you get more variety and ingredients in one pizza)
To the far left you have no sauce pizza topped with fresh arugula, thinly sliced proscuitto and shaved parm. There is just a slight drizzling of EVOO and it was great. You got the peppery freshness from the arugula, salty meaty bite from the proscuitto and then that nuttiness from the parm. Moving to the middle you have melted mozzarella over tomato pizza topped with parma ham. SIGH. That parma ham was so good and the ingredient that made the slice. It was slightly sweet, a little smokey and perfect against the mild melted mozz. The far right is your basic margerhita pizza with the simple ingredients of tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil. What was so great about this pizza is you got so many different flavor profiles with all of them so your tongue never got tired of just one flavor. We loved the parma slice the best. Now the crust – it was delicious! Crunchy in places, chewy in others and just the right thickness – which is to say, it was nice and thin as it should be if it’s cooked in a brick oven. See the bits of char? Yum.
So La Pizza was great. We really enjoyed the food and that means we will be back again. I don’t know that we would wait an hour or anything longer than 30 minutes for a table here (and trust me the waits can get that long) but it’s definitely worth another lunch visit. The food was pretty darn good.
La Pizza, Eataly, 200 5th Avenue, New York, NY
Girls’ night out was last week and someone made reservations at The Standard and The Lion. I do not like the food at The Standard and have stated so on my review of the place. It’s a place to be “seen” but the food sucks. I have heard about The Lion. I categorize it with other scenester places and have never had any interest. To me, places like that the food usually sucks but people pile in because it’s hot and you might catch a glimpse of celebrity. I don’t care how hot the place is if the food sucks. Well anyways everyone wanted to go to The Lion and I figured I have never been and maybe it will surprise me…so we went there.
First huge negative. We had reservations for 8:30 pm and we got seated at 9:45 pm. WTF? No apologies, no offer of a free drink, nothing. I guess since the restaurant is so hot, it doesn’t matter if the patrons with reservations wait. It’s worth it to be part of the scene to wait over an hour for your reservations right? NOT. Strike one.
Finally we sit down and there is an F list celebrity in the house. A new member of the Real Housewives of New York (the one that hawks Yummie Tummy) and another cast member of the show MisAdvised are having dinner together behind us. Guess Andy Cohen introduced them and now they are friends lol. Anyways who cares.
The table bread was good. It was warm rosemary bread – soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.
I asked for the foie gras as my appetizer and two other girls decided to share the foie gras but our waiter messed up and only delivered one. When I asked about it, no apology. I just let it go. Sigh. Strike two.
And boy am I glad I let it go and didn’t order a second!!! t don’t know if the plate was hot when they put that slab of duck liver on the plate or what but when I cut into it, it was very very soft. It was gross and kinda runny. Unless my foie gras was seared quickly and meant to be served hot, I do not want my COLD foie gras to be served melting. It was served with some candied cherries and hazelnuts but they did nothing to save the foie gras melting on the plate. FAIL.
One of my friends got the wild king salmon dish:
It was served with chanterelle mushrooms and sweet corn. The fish was fresh but it was bland.
Another friend got the pork chop which was impressively served with a glass lid filled with smoke. They remove the lid table side and voila! smoked pork chop.
It’s served with a side of collared greens and bacon and no joke this thing was like 3 inches thick and on the bone. At least you get what you pay for – it’s $34. It was moist, well cooked and tasty but again needed salt. It’s huge too so I gotta give the restaurant props for dishing out a huge serving. My friend portioned out some for the table and still couldn’t finish this monster.
I got the branzino with a medley of beans, baby fennel and herb pesto:
Again the fish was tasty and fresh but I had to add salt to it.
So we were done with the meal and we requested that the waiter please put the leftover pork chop in a doggy bag for my friend that has a great dane at home. We paid the bill and still no doggy bag. They forgot and when I mentioned it to the waiter, he didn’t apologize but rather stated matter of factly “I had no control over that.” Um…ok. So you mess up our appetizer order and then you forget to bring us the doggy bag with no apology? Strike 3.
The main courses were fine (albeit bland) but the entire evening from start to finish just sucked. They made sure the drinks were free flowing but aside from that – the very late seating, the errors throughout the meal with no apology, the melting foie gras, the blandness of everything – I’m just not into this type of restaurant and truthfully have zero interest in ever going back. By the way, there is nothing “sceney” about this place anymore in my honest opinion.
The Lion, 62 West 9th Street, New York, NY
I’ve reviewed Osteria Morini before here. And I’ve been back several times thereafter for the amazing pastas but I try not to do duplicate blogs on the same restaurant over and over again unless I eat something different or worth blogging about. I pretty much get the same thing every time I go to Osteria Morini anyways: the meatballs made with mortadella and proscuitto, the chicken liver and I just can’t seem to stray from the macaroni with peas, sausage and cream. This time the table shared the delightful meatballs and I started with the macaroni pasta for appetizer. For main course, Cookie Monster and I split the porchetta. This is what the blog is about…the porchetta. Behold:
Porchetta is savory, fatty, boneless pork that is seasoned and carefully rolled together then cooked slowly. You usually get a piece of crispy crunchy pig skin along with that moist meat. This was a sizable portion. It was about 2 inches thick and served with some bitter greens and roasted cherry tomatoes. The best part was the crispy porchetta skin. It was soooo addictively crunchy with that amazing coating of collagen and fat that coats your tongue and lips. The meat was very tender, very moist but also very salty. Even too salty for me. I wanted a piece of bread of or something but alas, this porchetta is served all by its lonesome. It’s quite salty and it ruined it for me. Also, it’s misleading because the hunk of porchetta served looks huge but it’s about 1/3 all fat. Looks are deceiving.
We got a side of roasted cauliflower:
The cauliflower was cooked till tender and then au gratin (with cream and cheese)…but again, too salty! We ordered the side to eat with the porchetta but each bite of either plate was overly salty. Sigh.
So the verdict- skip the expensive porchetta and stick to the pastas.
Osteria Morini, 218 Lafayette Street, New York, NY
My mom picked up a bunch of Korean pastries from the pastry store when we went to K town for lunch one day. I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this pastry I saw. Firs, as an aside, Koreans have some strange savory pastries – for example they like to make “pizza pastries” which is essentially pizza but on a more sweet dough. They also make “hot dog pastries” which is the same dough but it’s wrapped around a hot dog like a giant pig in a blanket. This was a donut filled with tuna salad?
The outside was fried and quite airy. It didn’t have any sweetness to it so it tasted just like fried dough but then you got to the center and it was stuffed with tuna salad.
I know it sounds gross but really, if you think about it, it’s just fried dough. If the tuna salad was more tasty, I was thinking this could be pretty good! So the question is, would you eat this?