Sunday, July 28, 2013

Spina - Riesling Wine Tasting Dinner

J and I are back once again. I feel like we give a lot of love to Spina.

Riesling is my favorite type of white wine and once I knew that Spina was going to do a tasting menu with this specific type of wine, I immediately checked my email every day to see when they might host this event.
I made the reservation right away when I knew the date. The manager of Spina remembered J and I, excellent memory and customer service.

J got a tattoo for the event. Hahahaa
Actually, the manager, Matthew, gave us a temporary tattoo so we can be in the "spirit." I have to say, it was a pretty nice tattoo there.

There were 4 dishes on the menu, each paired with a Riesling that was carefully selected by Matthew.

First was the Tuna Tartare, I absolutely love this dish. J and I really enjoy anything tartare and this was one of the better ones. There was a sweetness to the dressing and the pepper flakes on top really balanced out the entire dish. The chips were a plus, wish there was more!

The next dish was a more refreshing, a nice palate cleanser. The Watermelon & Ricotta Salata Salad was really light. Watermelon was sweet which balanced the bitterness of the arugula, the brined watermelon rinds was really appetizing, a little sweet, a little bitter, a little sour...perfection.

Ricotta Cavatelli reminded me of gnocchi. Ever since I had the gnocchi at Spina at the last visit, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. This was so similar in texture but made with ricotta cheese. So delicious! The pasta was dressed with some fennel sausage and broccoli rabe, excellent texture and taste.

The last dish of the tasting menu was the Oven Roasted Chicken. It was over a bed of fregola and corn, lovely texture. The chicken was very moist with a nice crisp skin, that doesn't happen often when you roast chicken. Also seasoned really well, a great dish to end the meal with.

But we didn't exactly end at that, which we should've.

Tiramisu was a bit dry, too much cocoa powder on top. Definitely should pass on this.

Otherwise, the entire meal at Spina was ever so perfect. I'm actually looking forward to their red wine tasting menu if they're thinking of having one...I should probably email Matthew...

175 Ave B
New York, NY 10009
(212) 253-2250 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thalia Restaurant - how can you say no to such cheap aphrodisiacs

J and I always have a hard time deciding where to eat, and we get annoyed and upset at each other about it but we get over it quick. This time, we ended up at Thalia's. Apparently they have HH $1 oysters after 7pm, unlike other places which ends at that time.

Thalia was big, there were couches for the lounge-y feeling, high tables for the sophisticated and regular dining tables for the romantic. We came without a reservation, waited for about 15 minutes for a table which was understandable.

Started out with a pitcher of Rose Sangria, it was more fruity than anything else and the Rose tasted really light. I also don't like how the ice melted so quickly making the drink a lot more watery than it should be.

Some bread and olive oil was served. J liked the foccacia but I barely had any since I wasn't a big fan of this type of olive oil.

We didn't order too much food because the waiter advised that we already had a lot of food already. It's nice when the waiter can judge the amount of food and tell if it would be too much or too little. Plus, in the end he was right.

The HH $1 oysters was really good. They were a decent size and each one packed with meat. I also ordered half a dozen of clams, J doesn't like it as much as I do but these were a bit briney and fishy...definitely could've passed. I really wanted another round of oysters but held myself back from ordering.

It took a while for our next dish to come which made the oysters set into the stomach and made us pretty glad we didn't order another round. The Fried Sweetbreads, special of the night, was amazing. The vinegar glaze went so well with the delicately fried sweetbreads, along with the watercress and onions, it was a match-made in heaven. For those that don't know what sweetbreads are, it's the throat or pancreas of a calf or lamb. In this case, it's the "throat" of a calf...taste very similar to the consistency of brain, it has that mushy feeling.

So at this point, we were at the brim of being full because the entree took a looong time to come.

The Filet Mignon w/ pork reduction, fingerling potatoes and broccoli rabe was quite impeccable. The steak was encrusted with a layer of dried cranberries and what seems to taste like breadcrumbs. But anyways, it was really good and cooked nicely to a medium rare which we ordered.

After such a satisfying meal, there was no room left for dessert. I'd love to come back just so I can have endless amounts of oysters. Next time, I'll stick to glasses of wine rather than the sangrias...

Thalia Restaurant
828 8th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 399-4444 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Munchies Cafe - something to cool down with during the heatwave

Munchies Cafe (MC) is fairly new, a nice addition to Brooklyn. The little cafe is really bright with summer colors, but the one thing that probably draws the most attention would be their touch screen computer monitors. Each table of 4, has a computer monitor that is connected to the internet, smaller tables don't have this feature. You can use it like your regular laptop/computer, watch anything on it and do whatever you please.

Their menu is pretty big, anything ranging from drinks, desserts, and savory foods.

J and I just wanted to relax and get away from the heat a bit. We ordered a drink and dessert each.

I had a regular Green Tea w/ Honey while J had a Strawberry Green Tea. I thought mine was way too sweetie, too much honey in there (I actually think it's some sweet syrup other than honey).

J had the Mario Brothers Snowy Mix Fruit. He chose watermelon as his fruit and coconut and red bean ice cream, all swimming in a sweet milky broth. Not bad, but it was definitely filling and there was a lot in there.

I had the Mango and Papaya Snowy Mix Fruit with green tea ice cream and mango pudding. They definitely pureed the mango and papaya to use as the "broth" base. It tasted very smoothie-like and so many fruits and pudding...

In all, I'm not too crazy about this place. It's nice to hang out and chill but the food just didn't wow me. I would come back for a drink and just chat.

Munchies Cafe
12 Bay 25th St
Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718) 333-1088

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Brennan & Carr - a special independence day in the heat

This year's July 4th was insanely hot, like temperature hot, like I want to dance naked in the street hot. J and I wanted to go to the beach but you see, we woke up late...actually, we woke up around 8 and was like let's sleep a little more and rolled over and passed out. The next thing we knew, it was already 11 and we had to sluggishly push ourselves up and get ready. So, by the time we got in the car and headed off to the beach, there was a long line just for parking...we turned around and drove off.

Needing something in our stomach, more like J's stomach since I already had steak for lunch haha

Brennan & Carr was on our list for a while, because of their roast beef sandwich. The place looked like a little cabin, gave me the cute vibe.

The Onion Rings were ok, had too much batter going on there and just a small amount of onion in the center. Plus, it was like hard-crunchy not fresh good crunchy. Need to go get my fix on onion rings now since this didn't cut it.

The menu wasn't big, but there were different variety of things. Everyone there ordered the clam chowder and what seems like iced tea, must be really good...must order next time.

J ordered this massive sandwich which he inhaled in like 5 seconds. The Gargiulo Burger obviously appealed to J because of the beef patty, roast beef, cheese, and onions, plus it was dipped into this heavenly beef broth. It was good but also really meaty and heavy.

I had a regular Roast Beef Sandwich with cheese, didn't want onions this time. Very simple and quite excellent. Mine was dipped also, makes it less dry and a lot easier to eat. I wished I had the appetite to finish it but the steak that was sitting in my stomach earlier was fighting me. J ended up finishing my half sandwich, fatty!

The atmosphere was really laid back and the staff there were nice. Looks like they came out of a 1970s movie, cool eh?

Brennan & Carr
3432 Nostrand Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11229
(718) 769-1254

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spumoni - Chef's Table to cure my deep and uttermost hunger

J's cousins came to NY to visit, dinner was always on the cousin so we really didn't care where we ate. We also know that the cousin likes Spumoni. No reservation for 5 people, waited around an hour for a table. Crazy packed and busy on a Friday night but definitely worth the wait.

The cousin chose the Chef's Table, better for us since we all don't have to decide on any dishes. Just keep it coming...

I was insanely hungry, waiting that long really got me grumpy. Good thing the bread and butter came, but the butter was rock hard. So glad my boyfriend's hand is so warm, he warmed up the butter in no time. Love me some salted butter with bread. They took it away from me after 3 slices because they were afraid I would get too full...

I never thought I would enjoy Artichokes this much, the lemon-y sauce was so good. Too bad each person only gets one...

This dish was really different. The Mozzarella in Carrozza pan-fried with mozzarella cheese in the center, covered in sauce-y and tomato-y bed. Oily and unhealthy but extremely delicious.

Moving on to the Chef's Salad so we don't feel too guilty. It was a simple salad with greens, tomatoes, onions, cheese and olives in a vinaigrette dressing. Good palate cleansing dish.

So much for cleansing 'cause the next dish was Shrimp Two Ways. The shrimp cocktail was really good, big pieces of meaty shrimp. I think I actually prefer the fried shrimp with tartar sauce, so good...couldn't really speak at this moment cause everything was just amazing so far.

J's favorite Baked Clams. I love it also, with some lemon on top it was so perfectly summery. The breadcrumbs didn't over-power the delicate clam meat. J and I can probably eat endless dishes of this.

And if that clam dish wasn't enough, the Linguine in White Clam Sauce came. So effin' good. Pasta cooked al dente which is how it's suppose to be. Sauce was light yet flavorful and so many little clam meats. I would totally be a happy camper if I can have this all to myself, I wouldn't need anything else...just this dish and me.

So, that wasn't even the entree. The entree for the night was Grilled Steak, 2 plates of that sucker above. Could've been more on the rare side but it was good, like meaty carnivore goodness. All it need was a bit of salt and pepper, perfect.

Sides were mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe. I totally devoured the broccoli rabe, love it! Mashed potatoes lacked some flavor tho...

This moment, we were done. Hoping there wouldn't be more and just carry on to the finale.

Massive dessert. I don't even know if there's a name for this, Chef's Dessert will be the name. There was like 3 scoops of spumoni ice cream, those wedges of ice cream wrapped with chocolate, 2 slices of cheesecake (which I didn't care for - me no like cheesecake), and whip cream! We were all in the stage of comatose and had to struggle to lift ourselves off the seats to leave.

Excellent meal. It's even better when you don't need to pay for it...well we did pay for tip but that was probably nothing compared to the bill.

L&B Spumoni
2725 86th St
Brooklyn, NY 11223
(718) 449-1230

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Spina - Rose Wine Tasting Dinner

J and I never had a wine tasting dinner before and this was a first that definitely didn't disappoint. Spina was one of the places we loved and when I got an e-mail from them about a tasting menu with wine, I immediately made the reservations.

We came a bit earlier than our reservation, but the manager of Spina was extremely nice and had us seated right away. He also asked us if we would like to start and we eagerly said yes.

Starting off...

Each dish was paired with a delicately selected rose wine to match the taste of the dish. I wasn't able to take a photo of each glass but know that it was paired perfectly. Rose wine is one of the more difficult wines to pair because it's a mix of white and red.

Delicious foccaccia that was made in-house along with the ricotta cheese. I never love cheese this much and this is on the top of my list. Creamy and light, I can eat this every day.

First up was the Fluke Crudo. Simple but extremely well done. Thinly sliced fluke with olive oil drizzled over, the sea salt really brought out the freshness of the fluke and the chives added a great crunch. Love anything crudo.

Second was the Heirloom BLT Salad. Pretty much what it is is what it sounds, fried tomatoes, bacon and some arugula. Tomatoes were really fresh, there was two kinds - heirloom and regular.

Third, the Goat Cheese Gnocchi got me a little worried because it was gnocchi and it had goat cheese. I had a bad experience with gnocchi and I'm not a big fan of cheese in general, mix them together and I start to get a bit skeptical and panic a bit. But, surprisingly the dish was really good. I can find myself really liking goat cheese gnocchi...haha

Fourthly, the main entree was the Scottish Salmon. Got some mushy peas there and more bacon! I can really learn to love these kind of tasting menu if majority of the dishes got bacon in it. Salmon was a bit bland but it was good, since the bacon totally offsets that with its saltiness.

Ending the rose wine tasting dinner was the Passion Fruit Panna Cotta. Absolutely perfect to end the meal with. Had a nice melon puree around the panna cotta and it was paired with a sparking rose, one of the hardest to pair.

It was a great evening and a superb meal. Spina can definitely host a fantastic wine tasting dinner. The manager was extremely knowledgeable about his wines and the staff was attentive and friendly. They know exactly when to bring out clean glasses and help us move onto the next dish.

J and I came to Spina the first time with no high hopes, but Spina seems to surpass our expectations each time. I can see myself really loving this restaurant.

175 Ave B
New York, NY 10009
(212) 253-2250

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paprika - we wanted to but we didn't know why

It was one of those nights where J and I couldn't possibly decide what to have for dinner. While walking around the East Village, we saw Paprika. Totally forgot why we wanted to come here, we also had no idea it was here all along. So, we just shrugged and went in.

Luckily, they have a table open for us because it looked quite full, plus they asked if we made reservations...errr

Starting off with some bread and olive oil. We literally finished off the olive oil with two slice of bread, that's how crazy we were and how good it was.

J insisted on getting the Beef Carpaccio ($13) which I was fine with. Boy, it tasted the bomb! You really couldn't tell it's beef, raw beef. It had a nice citrus-y flavor to it and the arugula, truffle oil and shaved parmigiano cheese worked so well. I mean, how can you say no to truffle oil?! I need to go back for this.

We also got their Special Cutting Board ($16). I was surprise at how much meat there were for that price, total win. There were also 2 pieces of cheese, I'm really assuming it was mozzarella but it was on the melted side, it tasted creamy and milky...meh I'm not a fan of raw cheese.

Moving onto entrees, I got their special. I really need to stick with my first decision. But the Spinach Fettucine in Pesto sauce w/ cherry tomatoes and brussel sprouts ($16) was too hard to resist. Very clean tasting and healthy, maybe a little dash of salt would've made it a tad bit better.

J stuck with his original dish he saw on the menu, Buckwheat Tagliatelle w/ cabbage, cheese and garlic ($16). His dish was on the heavy side, full of flavor. It's a type of dish where you would want to eat slowly, take a sip of wine and then go back for another bite. There's no way you can wolf this dish down.

Paprika is nice. It's busy but nice. Don't think we'll be heading back but I won't say no if someone invites me...

110 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10009
(212) 677-6563

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cutting Board - taking mom out for a nice run

I originally wanted to come here with J but I took my mom instead...haha

It was a mother and daughter day, didn't really want to eat the generic Chinese food so I took my mom out for something new and different. Heard good things about Cutting Board, the fusion of it.

Spacious inside but there were only 2 waiters, really? But they were quick, so not exactly any complaints about that.

I don't think my mom has ever experience mussels like this. The CB Mussels ($8) were quite delicious, served in a saffron broth, one breadstick was definitely not enough. Mussels were plump, which was a good thing. Generous portion too.

My mom had the Curry Beef w/ Rice ($6) which also had a fried egg. I liked the idea of how they separated the meat sauce from the rice, this gives the person utter control of how much meat they want and plus it doesn't sog up the rice this way. A sunny-side up egg is always a good addition to any dish.

I had the Pancetta & Cream over Linguine ($6), not bad at all. I was afraid it would be too creamy and weird tasting since you know, Asian places don't do creamy. But this was pretty good, kind of impressive if you ask me. I've been wanting carbonara but this will do for now until I actually find a place that serves up good carbonara.

So far, I kinda like Cutting Board. It's different and pricing is really reasonable, not to mention the taste isn't bad at all. I still need to take J here.

Cutting Board
53 Bayard St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 528-0188

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