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Archive for the ‘les (lower east side)’ Category

Backlog: Summer Brunch  

For some reason, I always forget what this place is called and inevitably, I’ve been referring to it as “Tiny” Giant for the past 8 months or so.  Taken from their website- they can sum it up best and they do live up to their standards:

Our food is “Seasonal American” (which means we use fresh market produce that isn’t the same week to week.) It also means homemade sausages in the winter, juicy heirloom tomatoes in the summer and the best buttermilk chive biscuits every day of the year.

We serve refined comfort food – upscale riffs on homespun standards.

In some ways, this place totally reminds me of my brunch at Brown.  All this organic food gives me an image of a hearty farmer’s breakfast with produce from the farm, eluding a rustic feel/look to it.  And the wood panels Little Giant serves food on doesn’t exactly sway my thoughts another way either.

orange trim opening 
the outside

rustic bfast
trucker’s breakfast

Think of this as an open breakfast sandwich.  It’s a grilled piece of texas toast, with tomatoes, bacon, andouille sausage [that I gave to McTwinkle], scrambled eggs, sautéed cremini mushrooms & tomato gravy [read: tomato juices] with a side of homemade molasses baked beans [read: my favorite part].

poached eggs, pancake
 biscuit & gravy

Buttermilk-chive biscuit that looks like a hash brown from the picture, poached eggs, black forest ham, and garlic-herb gravy with a side of greens

sammie
duck club

The beauty of brunch is that you can have breakfast or lunch and McTwinkle’s eating lunch.  The savory duck club with duck confit, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, and herb mayo.  There were terra chips on the side.

more poached eggs 
pig in a poke

Two poached eggs swimming in a crock of creamed grits with floating andouille sausage with toast and greens on the side

 

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I love that the LES is such a booming place for bars and restaurants now because all these places are much closer to me!  It speaks volumes to my lazy ass.  However, it may not be doing as well for the ever expanding waistline of mine.  My friend from down the block and I walked a whole 10 minutes to Brown, which is the restaurant part of Green Brown Orange.  The Green is the catering facility and the Orange is the epicerie for private dining events.  Brown is a tiny place, with a few tables outside, and two long tables inside with two window booths [one to the left and right of the door].  It was hot the day we went but they didn’t turn on the AC, so it was steaming instead, especially with the sun beating down my back.  But I love summer days, so I can’t complain too much. 

brown outside
the dinky outside – looks kinda rustic doesn’t it?

brown inside
the tiny restaurant quarters inside

Aside from the forced coziness of the place, the food was fantastic.  Everything was organic and delicious.  I especially enjoyed the presentation.  It all seems very rustic, with the huge piece of bread and the pile of greens.  I ordered the baked eggs with roasted tomatoes, asparagus, and a huge slice of manchego cheese with roasted potatoes and onion and mixed greens on the side.  Just looking at the iron skillet/pan makes my mouth water- not to mention that it’s 45 mins away from lunch for me.  The reason why I’m intrigued with the baked eggs is that it’s like a sunny side omelet.  You get all the goodies associated with the omelet, but you also get the gushy egg yoke!  I carved out pieces of the baked eggs and made little sandwich bites atop the bread with the greens. 

baked eggs

eggs close up

sausage
i believe this is a side of the wild boar sausage that my friend ordered

finished
all done =X

As you can see from the last picture, I was a beast with my breakfast.  It’s rarely the case when I completely clean off my plate[s].  My friends tell me that it’s very un-Chinese of me to not clean my plates, but sometimes, I just can’t help it.  I think this last picture speaks for itself.  Brown is a lick-the-last-remnants-off-a-burning-skillet type brunch place.  ;D

 

Happy Eating.

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Les Enfants Terribles serves up French-African cuisine, but I’m usually there just for the brunch since it’s situated between my neck of the City and Chinatown.  I’ve been here countless times since it’s opened and have never been disappointed with their brunch food.  Though, I have to say, I only recommend this place for brunch.  I’ve had dinner here once and it wasn’t enjoyable.  I ordered the duck confit, and it had a really jelly like consistency [too much fat I’m assuming].  Also, at night, they dim the lights down so low that I couldn’t even see my food. 

The original plan was to go to an all-you-can-drink brunch in Greenwich, but decided that if we were going to be hitting up wine tastings all day, we probably shouldn’t start the day off by getting completely smashed- since most of us drank a ton of wine just the night before.

While the space inside Les Enfants Terribles is small, the restaurant managed to fit a bar, which is where most of the action takes place every night.  Since the space is small, the seating is cramped, which would normally be very bothersome, but there’s generally no fights for space during brunch hours.  There are also a few tables outdoors.  It seems that they’ve taken a few tables that belonged to the school a few blocks away and incorporated them into their outside decor.  There’s even a little chalkboard indicating the day’s specials.  Thus, the outside decor gives off a very banishing kids from the classroom to sit in the halls to figure out what they’ve done wrong vibe, which fits with the restaurant’s name. 

les enfants terribles, outside
the floor to ceiling windows behind the school desk-chairs open up during nice weather

While they don’t offer any spectacular dishes, they have a good variety of choices for brunch.  One can perhaps find better versions of everything they serve here at other restaurants around Manhattan, but that’s just too much trouble.  I like it here for the cozy neighborhoody setting and consistently good food, which is what always draws me back.  Speaking of which, I’m offically back to my eggs benedict and salmon thing.  I got the eggs benedict norwegian, which comes with  ::drum roll:: salmon!  The salmon I believe was cured; it had a good flavor- nothing special or unsalmony about it.  I noticed they’ve changed their hollandaise sauce- it’s orange, not yellow like it used to be- or maybe there’s just too much cayenne [if they even used that – I didn’t taste it].  Anyways, the eggs benedict came with a side of fries and mesclun salad, with a light olive oil based dressing.  Another reason why I love coming here is because their fries are always soo crunchy.. except for today!  Mine were half crunchy, half soggy, but Phil’s were really crisp, so I just stole his.     

eggs benedict eggs benedict

The quiche special of the day was duck and that is what Rich ordered.  I enjoyed the flakiness of the crust and the cheesiness of the quiche, but the duck itself was a bit too hard for me.  I think it baked too long and the meat started to shrivel up into Chinese sausage like consistency, so I wasn’t too pleased with it.   

quiche

Phil got the equivalent to a philly cheese steak.  Under the mountain of gooey cheesiness, there were strips of steak and caramelized onions.  Can you see from the picture how wonderfully golden and crunchy his fries look??  Since he sat right accross from me, I had easy access to his fries.  Phil didn’t like the onions too much though, so Rich and I fought for them.  They were so sweet [maybe just a touch too sweet] and juicy, which is the only way I like my onions.  I didn’t get to try the meat so I cannot comment on that but Rich and Phil both gave it their thumbs up.  In fact, Caled ordered it two weeks later for himself.

steak

 Caled got the duck leg confit, which came with fries and bacon salad.  The duck leg was braised in herbs, which I haven’t seen before.  I was surprised that this dish would have a more spruced up salad than the others.  I don’t know why they would choose to put bacon in this salad, but I certainly wouldn’t complain becuase I love bacon.  Rich ordered this two weeks later and they both gave it their approval. 

duck leg

While Les Enfants Terribles may not serve the best of everything, they have a unique selection for brunch and can satisfy almost any palate.  There are veggie options and regular eggs and bacon! 

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Some of us got together to go with Jess to Essex to start off our birthday celebration.  I’ve been to Essex for brunch before and loved it, but I went this weekend and was fairly disappointed.  The pancakes were still as good as ever but they just didn’t do the eggs well.  The kitchen staff should’ve paid more attention to our eggs.  Eggs, to me,  are practically the most essential part to brunch-  next to mimosas and bellinis that is.  I’ve always been drawn to this place due to it’s high ceilings and the skylight that allows ample daylight to stream through.  Also, brunch for $15 with 3 brunchtails [brunch cocktails] in no way, shape, or form, a bad deal. 

I ordered the eggs benedict with gravlax– I know, I’m becoming way too obsessed with this whole gravlax thing and I will stop.  My eggs came on an English Muffin topped with hollandaise sauce with a side of spinach greens and home fries.  My biggest problem is with the eggs!  Apparently all our eggs were overcooked.  The poached eggs, Jenn’s sunny side and my benedict- none of the yolks ran.  =(  I guess it makes my dish easier to eat and distribute bites around the table, but I was expecting some runny eggs.  The gravlax just tasted like regular salmon to me, I didn’t taste any dill or anything else for that matter.  I read that Essex cures their own gravlax, so maybe they should do it for longer or look into their method.  *shrugs.  The homefries were soft and flavorful- I’m not sure what they put in it unfortunately but they’ve got a good recipe for homefries.  I stuck my greens onto my eggs benedict and ate them with the salmon.  Hollondaise sauce didn’t disappoint either, but there was nothing special about it.

eggs benedict w/ gravlax eggs benedict half

The pancakes at Essex were amazing, but I’m almost positive I wrote about that last time.  Phil got it today and he was absolutely in love with it.  He couldn’t finish them so he offered it to the table, where everyone was all over his pancakes… like gravy on mashed potatoes. 

Jess got the aristocratpotato pancake topped with house-cured salmon gravlax, poached eggs, and salmon caviar.  Do you see how her eggs are overdone too?  =/  The redeeming part of this dish is the potato pancake, or hash-brown I guess you can call it.  It was light and crunchy on the outside and soft and warm with distinguishable strips of potatoes on the inside.  Mmmm.  It also wasn’t too oily [but meh, some people like the greasiness].

eggs and potato pancake

Meh, I will give Essex the benefit of the doubt this time because they haven’t failed me before.  I will be very mad if they do it again though. 

What do you have after a brunch and brunchtails?  Cupcakes!!!  Before I met up with my brunch buddies, I went across the street to get some cupcakes for us from triple s aka Sugar Sweet Sunshine.  I got a variety of flavors, but I only ate one- my fave- the sexy red velvet.  It was light, airy, and flavorful as usual.  There were only three left in the batch and I swiped them all.  I saw them working on frosting and sprinkling sprinkles on top of some more in the back of the store though.  The frosting was creamy and not hard like a shell of candy frosting.  It also isn’t as sweet as ones from Magnolia’s. 

sss cupcakes

That night, I met up with Sherman for some shopping and we had a small dinner at Serafina in Noho because we were going to eat while singing karaoke later on.  Serafina is diagonal from Tower Records, which sadly, is soon to be out of business.  This is one of those extremely dim restaurants on the inside, where you almost have to read by candlelight.  Actually, at some tables, I bet you really do have to read by candlelight.  There’s an open grill where you can see the brick oven for the pizza, and that is where I’m assuming they make the bread for the bread basket. 

serafina

The bread sticks they provided were really good.  I’m a fan of butter with my bread, but they provided olive oil like a good Italian restaurant.  The bread was good enough to eat alone so I didn’t complain.  This bread, I swear, comes from the same dough as their pizza crust.  It certainly smells like it.  I remember when I was in Junior High School.. back in the day when Pizza Hut was still good and it was still alive and kicking on 21st & 2nd.  Their crust was the best I’d ever tasted.  I went to a Pizza Hut about two years ago, and it was..  in a word, gross.  The pizza was cold and the crust was not warm and had a different texture from what I once remembered it to be.  I think greased the pans with butter or some other lub to make the pizzas come out easily, and that was the key to their yummy crust.  I wonder if I had the same exact pizza today– would I have the same appreciation?  Maybe, maybe not.  But either way, this is what Serafina’s bread reminds me of.  Sherman, my friend who has been ‘cutting down’ the carbs, ate a whole stick and then some by herself. 

bread

  pumpkin They even decorated each table with a tiny pumpkin for the upcoming holidays.

We shared an appetizer and a entree and it filled the both of us up.  I don’t remember their entrees being this big, but *shrugs- always a good thing.  We ordered the il sashimi di tonno, which is finely sliced sushi grade tuna with avocado and their special dipping sauce.  The red strips on the side are ginger pieces- I thought they were peppers until I tasted one.  This dish definitely had an asian flare to it; the tuna was sprinkled with scallions and sesame and poppy seeds and the special sauce turned out to be none other than soy sauce.  Underneath the dipping sauce was a bunch of cilantro leaves.  The tuna was good wrapped around pieces of avacado and cilantro with the minimal amount of soy sauce.  There was definitely too many sesame and poppy seeds, so I had to scrape some of them off.  The juice of the tomatoes were also good with the tuna- too bad there weren’t more of them.

tuna

I wanted carbonara, but decided that the cream would be too heavy and I’d be too full afterwards so we decided on the i tagliolini di cortina; homemade with chicken mushrooms, peas, & touch of cream.  They split the dish into two portions for us and I thought that my plate was the whole dish.  I was all, “umm.. we only ordered one of these” and felt really happy and stupid when they said, “we split it for you.”  The cream for the pasta wasn’t heavy and the chicken was tender.  I don’t think they were paying attention to how much chicken they were putting in my portion because there was.. a lot.  I couldn’t finish all the chicken.  I always have to eat a bite with chicken, pasta, pees, and mushrooms so in the end, there was a lot of chicken left.  There was definitely chicken overload on my plate.  I didn’t want to eat it alone and I was full, so I just left it alone. 

 pasta pasta
my pasta before and after massive cheesing

 

Yes, I’m well aware of what a fatty day I had…  

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I HAD BRUNCH THIS PAST WEEKEND!  Finally!  It’s been forever since I’ve had me some brunch.  Arthur and I have been saying we would go for about 3 weeks now and didn’t make good on our word ’til this Sunday.  We are busy people, so it’s understandable, but it’s also brunch!  My absolutely favoritest meal!  I feel so sad for those out there who haven’t experienced brunch, or whose cities don’t have brunch.  =(

Before I get into the brunch, I had dinner with the fam on Thursday after some studying at the cafe [LSATs- they are the death of me].  We went to my favorite Malaysian place in Chinatown- Nyonya.  Well, they’re only my favorite because they have this really cool Chinese-style black ink mural on the wall and their roti canai rules all. 

nyonya
situated btwn an italian rest & chinese herb shop

The roti canai is a Malaysian version of the Indian pancake, but made different, and is in some ways… better.  The description of the roti canai at Malaysian restaurants in fact, always uses the words “Indian pancake” as a description- or maybe that’s just the translation.  Either way, I like it from this place especially because Nyonya makes its own.  It comes in layers and is all poofy, crunchy at the corners, and fluffy.  If you stand outside and watch from the window, you can see the chefs making them and rolling them out into big circles, like pizza dough!  The roti canai comes with a curry sauce and usually with a potato or two and a piece of chicken.  I always fight for the potato.  The chicken is usually attached to some bone, so I forfeit that off the bat.   I shared the pancake with Jen and Lydia.

roti canai

best shared with others; it’s more filling than it looks

 For my main course, I decided I didn’t want what I always get- the Chow Kueh Teow [fried noods with shrimp, squid, egg, chili sauce], but today, I decided I didn’t feel like anything spicy, so I got my non-spicy alternative, the fried egg noodles.  They use the same noodles in wonton soup and stir fry them with bean sprouts, eggs, squid, shrimp [but I can’t eat that so it’s out] and snow peas.  This time they added mushrooms to the mix.  I like the dish without the mushrooms, but eh, they weren’t really bothering me.  I can’t really describe the flavor of the dish; I mean it’s stir fry, you know?  You should just go and evaluate for yourself.  =)

egg noods

I didn’t go out on Friday night this week cuz I was busy prepping for the LSATs like a crazed sleep deprived mad woman.  I did have sushi on Saturday night before the drinking, but I’ve already posted pictures from Sushi Lounge. 

Sunday, I went to Casanis again.  This time, it was for brunch.  $11 for a dish, oj, and coffe/tea.  Most of the dishes from the brunch menu were more lunch options [lots of burgers], but I got the eggs benedict with gravlax.  I had no idea what gravlax was, so guess what I did?  I googled it on my treo!  =)  Yes, I’m a dork.  You may stop laughing now.  Gravlax, is actually Swedish in origin, not French like I thought- anyways, it’s raw salmon cured in a salt-sugar-dill mixture.  It kind of reminds me of lox for some reason, *shrugs.  Well, this one was cured in way too much salt and the salt really brought out the salmon flavor- it was too salmony and salty for me.  I’d probably order this again from another restaurant though, just to make a really accurate concensus of whether or not I really don’t like it.  Last time I came here, I thought the chef had a really heavy salt hand too.  This time around though, there were more salty items, so maybe the third time will be the charm?  The potatoes that came with my dish were good; soft and not too saltily spiced.  The salad was okay; vinagrette dressing was a bit bland, but I didn’t mind too much.

eggs benedict
*mmm hollandaise

gravlax 
up close with my eggs & fish on an english muffin

Arthur decided he wanted an Irish breakfast for brunch.  There were the tomatoes [not fried like they’re suppose to be], pork slice, mushroom halves, sunny side up eggs, english muffin, and the non tradtitional baked beans.  Did you know that the Irish tend to frown on baked beans being served with breakfast because it’s seen as a British twist to the Irish breakfast.  [It’s wonderful what you info is on wiki!]  I’m also pretty sure these are canned beans, which don’t really bother me cuz I really liked them.  I kept picking them off Arthur’s bowl.  He seemed to like his breakfast, but it was difficult to combine all the flavors. 

irish breakfast
not so traditional Irish breakfast

…. Miami foodings to come next week.  I’ll be in West Palm Beach and Miami this weekend!

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suits & cupcakes

Yesterday, Jon & I accompanied Stan to get a suit for our formal dinner next week.  Things wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t yearning for my damn cupcake the whole time we were at Macy’s.  After ages of measurings and combing through colors; we decided on a Liz Claiborne black silk(?) stripped suit (black stripped pattern on black basically).  The bad thing is that even though the blazer fits and looks good on him; the pants are PLEATED.  ACK!  That’s just disgusting.  The sales woman and I were both like- yea… that’s going to make you look fat.  Maybe he’ll prove me wrong and be able to pull them off.. but I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see.  It will be excrutiating if we have to repeat this process- actually, it’s not bad if I don’t have my foodie cravings.  But… it’s safe to say that’s pretty unlikely.  Thankfully, Macy’s is a place where there are tons of food shops for men and people like me. 

So after the suit shopping, we rushed over to…. Sugar Sweet Sunshine for my Sexay Red Velvet Cupcake with cream cheese frosting!  Seriously, Stan & Jon can attest- one was not enough for me- it was a damn tease!  But I refrained- I didn’t go back for seconds.  The cake was soo succulent and soft and the frosting didn’t overpower the cupcake itself.  I enjoy their cupcakes because it’s not too sweet- it’s perfect for people who like sweets but don’t have a ginormous sweet tooth.  I have to admit that their red velvet isn’t as flavorful as it could be, but like I said- that’s just the way I like it.  So if you want something richer, sweeter, and frosting friendly- go for Magnolia’s.  I will stick with me triple S.

What’s left to say but, CRAVING SATISFIED!

Notice the two-hands-hold?  I had to be extra careful not to be my usual klutzy self since i dropped, yes, dropped a Magnolia’s cupcake last time. =X  Jon was there to witness it.  It was not pretty.  I tried to save it but it just did not want to be saved. 

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