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Archive for July, 2006

Despite the fact that I woke up this morning feeling like I’d rather fall off a roof than to wake up and go to work, I had an amazingly fun and productive weekend.  Food-wise and other.  Whereas I stayed at home all weekend and rotted last weekend, I was barely home this weekend. 

Friday, I celebrated Eva’s birthday with her.  We had French as a power lunch at Django’s because their restaurant week menu sounded terrific.  They always have a pre-fixe lunch available, but the restaurant week one looks so much more appetitizing.  As always, our opposite food likings caused us to order everything they had on the restaurant week menu [of course, it also helped that they only have two choices for each course].  For starters, I had the baby argula and hearts of palm salad with “shaved parmesan and an avocado-lime vinaigrette.”  I heart hearts of palm so it was yummers.  All the ingredients were fresh so I appreciated that- I hate the brownish look greens start getting when it’s been out for too long.  Eva had the chilled corn vichysoise with “roasted sweet corn salsa and cilantro pesto.”  It tasted like a cold corn chowder, which was pleasantly surprising.  She added some pepper, which also gave the soup a good zing. 

django
corner of 46th & lex

salad      soup
starters:   salad   //   soup

I had the roasted monkfish with “warm cranberry bean salad, pancetta & bordelaise,” while Eva had the grilled hangar steak with “summer tomato panzanella and sauteed rapini.”  I didn’t taste the cranberry so I think the bean overpowered it, but it was still a very good sauce.  The vibrant colors of my dish was like eye candy to me.  The swirl of bacon in the shape of a snail – genius… because I heart bacon.  Eva’s steak had a type of herb butter on top that reminded me very much of the cheese spread I had last week at Cafe Centro.  The rapini I’m guessing is referring to the chinese greens you see before you.  I’ve recently learned that Italians also use them in their cooking.  Eva liked the panzanella- the rice stuffs underneath the steak, but I only got to try the steak with the butter.

monkfish     steak
main course:  monkfish   //   hangar steak

As usual, halfway through my entree, I got full.  But pre-fixe means 3 courses, so I was damn sure going to finish it all.  For desert, I got the plum pound cake with came with vanilla ice cream and a bit of plum sauce and a egg roll type cracker to top things off.  The combination of the sauce, cake, and ice cream was absolutely delish.  It dried plums in the pound cake kind of reminds me of a fruitcake- but it was way yummier and without all that stupid nuts stuff.  Eva got the chocolate mousse, which came in a martini glass with some “bittersweet chocolate strussel” on sprinkled on top and a yellow cherry on top of that.

cake      mousse
sweet desert:   plum cake    //     chocolate mousse

On Friday night, we were suppose to meet up with Irene for JoJo’s for dinner, but Eva- who was uber eager to make the reservations, made them for the wrong day!  It’s okay.  She actually checked and the restaurant week menu was only offered from 5-6:30 pm or something crazy like that.  I decided we should just go to Balthazar instead.  The massive amounts of rainpour that occured before and during the time we decided to meet up didn’t dampen our spirits! 

I always wanted to go to Balthazar- in my mind, it has always been a New York chic type of place- and it’s in Soho, my second closet.  When I called for reservations that afternoon, I was on hold for a good 10 minutes because “all our reservationists are currently busy; please stay on the line for the next available reservationist” I was told.  Yes, I also think it’s crazy they have their own automated message like that.  Though, I do believe Nobu should invest in it.  I manage to snag reservations for 6pm- the exact time I would be able to make it downtown after work. 

The place was really nice inside, the decor was simple [tables and chairs] with an old feet elegance feel [the clock on top of the door, certain trimmings].  They tried to cram a lot more tables into the space they had [which looks quite big do to their mirrors], so there are a lot of undesirable tables to be had and we were in one of them.  We sat in between the front door and the bread carving station.  The worst part of it though is that none of us were very thrilled with the service.  We waited an hour for our food and the waitress never came by to check on us – ever.  She kept walking by our table though, but never bothered to update us on our order or anything like that.  Several tables around us got their food earlier than us even though they arrived or ordered after us.  We even saw 2-3 table switches before getting our food.  When we flagged the waitress down, she told us it’s slower for us because we didn’t order appetizers [which is a lie- cuz we ordered two].  That’s also no reason why we would be seeing so many people around us eating before us. 

Thank goodness for everyone, the food was good.  The three of us shared the balthazar salad with “haricot verts, asparagus, fennel, ricotta salata and truffle vinagrette.”  The vinagrette was good, the cheese was too much, the asparagus and greens were good.  It was all a bit on the plain side but I combined it with my main course and it was good.  I got the roasted fennel ravioli [yes, mroe fennel] “with tomato, pesto, crispy parmesan” and roasted shallots.  The ravioli, as I said, tasted good with the salad. 

bread carver    bread basket
hello mr bread carver carving the sexy bread for my bread basket

balthazar salad     ravioli
balthazar salad and ravioli [see the parm crisps?]

Irene and Eva got the duck’s shepard pie and boullabaise, respectively.  Since I can’t eat seafood, I can’t comment on the boullabaise- only that the girls seemed to really enjoy it.  Eva says it’s very “hearty” and there seemed to be a good amount of actual seafood inside.  Irene’s shepard’s pie ROCKED.  It was sooo goodddd.  I can’t get over it.  The mashed potatoes and the shredded duck pieces- yummo!

duck     boullabaise
yummolicious duck shepard’s pie and boullabaise

We decided it wasn’t worth sticking around for desert after waiting so long for dinner so we just left.  Irene and I ended up having some Ice Cream Factory ice cream [half almond cookie / half mango on a sugar cone for me]. 

We went KTV-ing afterwards and Eva’s friends surprised her with .. CAKE!  It was actually a pretty good cake.  From the ouside of the cake, it looks like one of them chinese bakery cakes- which Eva hates- but inside there was a layer of custard and a layer of chocolate.  It was too sweet for my palate, but it was good for everyone else’s sweet teeth.

cake      slice
custard in the middle layer and a layer of chocolate on the bottom surrounded by cream

Thus concludes Friday’s foodings.  Saturday night, after bar hopping, the fam and I decided to go to St. Marks for some late night dining at Yakitori.  Apparently, this is a chain with a restaurant in Toyko too- yay for authenticity.  Then again, most places on St. Mark’s is quite authentic.  Honestly, I don’t know what any of the stuff we got is called because I wasn’t paying attention to the ordering and I wasn’t really hungry.  We got the grill platter- which included gizzard, chicken skin, pork, and something else on sticks.  I got ramen with pork and pickled cabbage.  Jenn got kimchi noodles.  Lydia got clear noodles.  There were two orders of fried chicken and a grilled rice ball with salmon inside. 

yak
looks ghetto, eh?

ramen            grilled stuffs
ramen / / grilled meats

food
rice ball / lettuce / fried drum stick

noods   noods
oodles of noodles

Sunday, the cuzzies and my aunt and I went to have lunch in Chinatown at New Pearl River Restaurant on Elizabeth Street.  4 dishes + 5 bowls of rice + a tub of soup + an orange = $25.  A hearty meal with yummy fresh ingredients and freshly cooked.  This is their new fave restaurant introduced by my mother.

soup
soup with pork and veggies

pork
sweet and sour pork- lean meat!

veggies
greens [dou meu] and fo yu … yea… i don’t know it in english

egg
chicken with bitter melon

There was also eggplant and beef that I forgot to take a picture of because I was busy eating.  I think I have concluded that Chinese food is one of the most least eye-candy [well.. to a non Chinese person] looking type of food.  We’re not really big on the presentation but the taste always makes up for it! 

And there you have it- a food filled weekend.

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free burritos!

There were free burritos at Chipotle right by The Firm yesterday and I had no idea.  This is what you get for working in a bubble.  When I could’ve sweated it out with the rest of the suited people of midtown, I had a cupcake and salad from the Caf.  Oh wells, it’s not like I would’ve waited anyways.  Crazy people.  Where do they get all this time to wait?  I would’ve been shot for using up billable hours. 

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This year for restaurant week, I’ve been keeping under the radar.  I think it’s mostly because I’ve already either eaten at all the places I want to go to or I can’t get reservations.  I truly believe that all food bloggers should be treated like royalty in the food industry.  GIVE ME A TABLE AND I WILL WRITE GOOD THINGS ABOUT YOUR FOOD…  but I guess the restaurant week menu could always suck and thus the former not happening. 

Where do I want to go? [just to name a few]
. Gramercy Tavern
. Nobu [again]
. One if by Land, Two if by Sea [on a date]
. Brasserie 8 1/2 [everyone’s already been]
. Mercer Kitchen
. Chanterelle

I had reservations for Smith & Wollensky, but I ended up cancelling them-twice by the busy schedule of one person.  I could always hop by for lunch since I work so close so it’s all good.

The twin made reservations to Cafe Centro for Friday so I went along.  Cafe Centro is owned by Rapatina, which includes restaurants like Brasserie and the Rock Center Cafe. 

What is seemingly a casual and everyday-ish restaurant turns out to be pretty schmancy on the inside.  The interior of the restaurant really steps away from the hustle and bustle of Midtown.  I walk by this place everyday and would never think of going there for restaurant week.  It’s a place for a nice quick outdoor lunch to me.  After looking at the a la carte prices, I now know- this is definitely midtown.  Average entree cost is $25, which incedentally happened to be the cost of our bottle of wine- after a 25% discount, that is.  [We ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio.]

When we sat down, we were presented with loaves of bread, butter, and this mysterious spread- and olives.  Only Richard ate the olives b/c none of us seemed to have acquired a taste for them in our 20 some odd years on this Earth.  Back to this mysterious spread.  At first, I thought it was garlic butter.  Then, I had a closer taste test and realized it was cheesier.  It turns out that they combined several cheeses [goat cheese & blue cheese being two] with green onions to make it. 

pre app
*pst! it’s on the right

For my appetizer, I chose the seared tuna with hearts of palm and it came with a bitty salad on the side.  There was also crab salad as a selection, which of course, I can’t eat.  The tuna was good and fresh.  I would’ve liked some mesclun but that’s just me.  You all know what a mesclun salad eating freak I am.  Unfortunately, I can’t share my experience with the crab, but I didn’t hear any complaints about it.

tuna     crab salad

For my main course, I got duck confit.  It came with corn rhubarb, spinach, and a strawberry reduction sauce.  Rhubarb is a plant that is sour and mostly used as a fruit in pies like this corn rhubarb piece.  The presentation was nice but it’s impossible to eat a tower of duck and trimmings so I took my tower apart.  It turns out I’m not a fan of rhubarb and I think I’ve had it before… somewhere.  The strawberry reduction was too sweet for me, but it was tolerable in tiny doses.  Most of the guys, however, got the steak.  It came with potatoes, tiny stripes of fried onions, and truffles with a kick-ass unidentified sauce.  I dipped my duck into the steak sauce and it was fab.  Phil didn’t like his potatoes because it was room temperature and he thought it was undercooked.  Rich and I thought it was delish with the sauce and the cheesey herb spread.

duck confit
duck in layers

steak         steak

Cafe Centro has changed their pastry chef so they are no longer offering soufles, much to the dismay of my friend Jon.  They did offer blueberry crisp and chocolate cake.  The blueberry crisp is made up of blueberries, some type of breaded shell, marscapone cream, and fried lemon crisps.  It was too sweet for my taste buds but it was still yummo.  Especially the marscapone.  The chocolate cake came with fresh whipped cream, strawberries, chocolate chocolate [the zigzag thing], and some type of sauce. 

 blueberry       chocolate

 It was a good dinner all in all.  It wasn’t the best and it’s not the worst.  Was it worth the $35 price tag?  Not really.  But good effort on behalf of Cafe Centro though.  I would come back for lunch and just do entree without all the extras.

 

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