A Sarcastic Appetite

Ten New Restaurants to Try
January 31, 2011, 11:09 pm
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Many, many moons ago, I gave you a list of restaurants to try. Those are all still great, but here are ten more.


Blue Hill Stone Barns, Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills: my Nirvana, my Holy Grail, my WMD. Wait. What? Dan Barber is a god among men – or among the various animals that populate the Blue Hill Farm, anyway. I dream about the 8 course Farmer’s Feast ($135), and when I am feeling parsimonious I dream of the 4 course lunch ($85, Sundays only). The menu – I shouldn’t even have to tell you this – changes with the seasons.

Burger & Barrel, W. Houston & Greene Street: Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar created a burger that was so good, he opened a whole new restaurant around it. The Classic and the Bash style are supposed to be good, as is the white truffle monstrosity they create when the truffles are in season – but you’ll have to wait until next fall for that one.

Gramercy Tavern, 20th Street near Park Avenue South: Danny Meyer can set the gold standard in this town, and for good reason. It’s more accessible than Eleven Madison Park (the Tavern Room is less formal, less pricey, and doesn’t take reservations), but the food is still excellent. It’s a very enjoyable experience – though be prepared to shell out for it.

Ippudo, Fourth Avenue & 10th Street: yes, the place is mobbed with Japanese tourists at all hours, and no, they only take same day reservations (but at least four hours ahead of time, which is ridiculous). A simple solution, so you can eat porkily delicious ramen? Go when it opens, for an early lunch, and slurp those noodles to your heart’s content.

Kin Shop, Sixth Avenue & 11th Street: everyone has been going nuts over Harold Dieterle’s new “contemporary Thai” restaurant. I think it’s the roasted duck breast and roti, and the massaman braised goat. Plus, it saves you a trip to Queens for real-deal Thai food.

Little Owl, Bedford Street & Grove Street: call a month ahead for a reservation. Just do it, and don’t complain about it. Joey Campanaro’s New American-ish cooking is worth the wait. It’s a teeny tiny adorable little sliver of a restaurant, so don’t go making resys for 8, but take your date and go whole hog. And I mean that literally: order the tagliatelle with pork bolognese to start, and the meatball sliders to share. No regrets.

Motorino, 12th Street & First Avenue: awesome pizza at a reasonable price. Order the Brussel Sprout & Pancetta, the Cherry Stone Clams, or the Margherita. As is the case with so many other joints in this town, it’s small, loud, and a little uncomfortable. Your best bet is to go at an off hour and get in and out.

Porsena, 7th Street & Third Avenue: Sara Jenkins (of Porchetta fame) had a lot of kinks to work out when this place first opened – including a fire and a pasta cook injured on the job – but she soldiered on, and the Roman-inspired food is well worth it.  The Orrechiette Con Salsiccia E Rape, spicy lamb sausage with wilted greens, is phenomenal, as is the ragu.

Red Rooster, Lenox Ave & 126th St: Everyone and their dog has been hot to trot for Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, which just opened in Harlem. The early word is that the Fried Yardbird and the Gravlax with Purple Mustard are excellent; the shrimp and grits not so much. Consider it a chance to explore a new neighborhood, though it’s been buzzing so be prepared to make a reservation – or wait.

Square Meal, 92nd Street & Madison Avenue: I love this little American restaurant, as do all the Ladies of a Certain Age who live in my neighborhood. Whenever we go, we’re typically on the, ahem, younger side of the age spectrum, but the food is delicious. They are still BYO, for a $5 corkage, but they have a nice (short) wine list – by quartinos or bottles. The menu is quite concise as well, but covers all the bases so as to please even the pickier eaters among us.


Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of January 27
January 27, 2011, 8:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m here to canvass the food blogs, so you don’t have to. Some highlights this week:

It’s a week of pop-up desserts: Robicelli’s will open a pop-up shop at Park Here, the, um, pop-up park installation at 201 Mulberry Street on Saturday. Also this week and next, Zac Young of Flex Mussels is operating Flex Donuts out of Zocalo in Grand Central Terminal. $1.50 for a delicious donut?! Count me in.

Plattypants files reviews on Ciano and Millesieme; the former gets two stars for mostly well-executed but expensive Italian, while the latter gets one lonesome star, primarily, it seems, for the pike quenelles.

Eater NY has a funny Top 10 Awkward Dining Moments – and how to handle them. My favorite is number 1: order the damn dessert, already!

TastingTable just gave us the first word on the Lobster Roll Rumble, coming to NYC on June 9th. To say I am excited is a gross understatement…tickets go on sale May 4.

Danny at Food in Mouth checks out Osteria Morini – and doesn’t order pasta. It’s no $.99 pizza, but I think you’ll get over that once you take a gander at the meatballs.

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation check in on Bar Jamón, a Union Square standby and Casa Mono’s bar area, effectively. I highly recommend it.  Show up late in the afternoon on a Saturday, well after the lunch rush but before happy hour, and you will have the place to yourself, with all the cava and jamón you can shove in your little pie hole. It’s heavenly.

Meanwhile, at the New York Times Mark Bittman bids us all adieu; he’ll no longer pen The Minimalist column, but will instead write an opinion blog that focuses more broadly on the politics of eating in America. Shifty Sifty checks in at The John Dory Oyster Bar, giving it two exuberant stars; the food is “astonishing,” as is the wait – no reservations means cooling your heels for an hour, or more.

Coriander Chicken Tacos with Spicy Refried Beans
January 25, 2011, 9:07 am
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Oh. Are you one of those people who doesn’t like refried beans? Then I’m afraid you’re going to miss out on something pretty delicious. Even Ninja described this dinner as “the bomb.” I don’t know why he’s decided to relive 1997, but that’s a topic for another day.

Anytime I make tacos I am reminded of Taco Night when we were little – my mother would set out bowls of salsa, sour cream, scallions, and shredded cheese and we would all go to town. Or, um, I would go to town, and heap inappropriate amounts of condiments all over everything. It was great. Taco Night has apparently stuck with my gringo self, since it was all I could do not to set out a bowl of salsa. These don’t need any of that, I assure you.

As usual I’ve changed the recipe around a bit – it calls for bashing coriander seeds and pressing them into flattened chicken breasts. I just rubbed ground coriander into each breast, though you could also use chicken cutlets if you wanted. I love the refried beans, and not just because you simply chuck a bunch of stuff into a food processor and then heat the results with some chicken broth. It’s very good and very flavorful; you can just taste the oregano under everything before the heat from the chipotles in adobo hits you.

Serve these with sliced radishes, diced avocado, and plenty of freshly squeezed lime juice. I kind of wish I could take a Hot Tub Time Machine back to my 8-year-old self on Taco Night; I have a feeling she’d probably think these were the bomb, too.

Coriander Chicken Tacos with Spicy Refried Beans

Serves 4. Adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe.

2 15 oz. cans pinto beans

about 1/2 of a good-sized onion, roughly chopped

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, peeled but whole

1 tbsp. minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo – including sauce, though add more to taste

1 tsp. ground cumin

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 c. chicken broth

3 tbsp. canola oil

plenty of salt and pepper

2 chicken breast halves

about 3 tbsp. ground coriander

6-inch soft corn tortillas

3 radishes, sliced thinly

1 avocado, diced

2 limes

a handful of cilantro, chopped

In a food processor, blend the beans, onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, and cumin. Pulse, then add the olive oil. Taste and season as necessary. In a large saute pan, heat the beans with 1/2 c. chicken broth. Let that go while you do the chicken, but taste occasionally – you might want to add more chipotle in adobo sauce

On a small plate, add the 3 tbsp. of coriander and some more salt and pepper. Heat the canola oil in another large skillet. Press each side of each breast into the plate of coriander, then cook the breasts over medium-high heat, about 5-6 minutes per side. Set aside, let cool, and then dice. Heat as many corn tortillas as you want, one by one, in the skillet you used to cook the chicken (no need for oil or anything). Just give it a minute or two on each side.

Plate the tacos with refried beans, some diced chicken, sliced radishes, avocado, and cilantro. Finish with plenty of squeezed lime.

Scallops with Cauliflower, Dried Cherries & Capers
January 16, 2011, 11:52 pm
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Sounds weird, right? It’s one of those magical dishes where the sum of its [very disparate] parts equals something really delicious. I made this awhile ago, when the threat of that diet loomed, and I was trying to figure out what we could eat without killing each other. Of course, if he were really following it now, I am pretty sure a fair number of these ingredients would be verboten anyway. Thankfully, he just seems to be doing some kind of abbreviated version, cutting out most junk but without getting too anal about it. Yet.

And though I had been eyeing this number as a possible new “diet dinner” in the new year, I’m really just fooling myself; the only sauce here is butter. (Don’t get me wrong – it’s amazing.)

It’s from Michael Psilakis’ excellent How to Roast a Lamb, and he tells you everything you need to know in the recipe’s headnote; it’s almost a kind of stir-fry, so have everything all set before you get started. It comes together fairly quickly, though it does require several pans.

The end result, though, is delicious; all the veggies trick you into thinking you’re eating something healthy, but the outrageous sauce and the sweet-salty combination of cherries and capers remind you that no, in fact, you’re not. Which of course counts as success in my book.

Scallops with Cauliflower, Dried Cherries & Capers

Barely adapted from How to Roast a Lamb. Serves 2 as an entree.

1 small cauliflower head, chopped into bite-size florets
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 big handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
1 large shallot, finely chopped, divided
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
1 stick butter, divided
6 large sage leaves, sliced thinly
3 tbsp. dried tart cherries
2 tbsp. drained capers

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the cauliflower until tender, about 6-7 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add half the minced shallot and saute for a few minutes; add the cauliflower, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the cauliflower caramelizes slightly.  Add the rest of the olive oil, then add the spinach leaves and toss until wilted, about another 3. Divide among 2 plates. Heat 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large pan, then cook the scallops on medium-high heat, seasoned with salt and pepper, for about 2 minutes per side; don’t crowd them or they’ll steam. Pile 4 scallops on top of the cauliflower mixture on each plate.

In a small saucepan, heat the rest of the butter (6 tbsp.) over low heat. Add the rest of the shallots; once the foam subsides, add the sage leaves, cherries, and capers. Heat through – don’t let the butter burn – before spooning over the finished plates.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of January 13
January 13, 2011, 8:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m here to canvass the food blogs, so you don’t have to. A few highlights this week:

Ciano, which replaced Beppe, gets two stars from the Siftster, who drools over veal meatballs “with the texture of down pillows” and the exciting half-bottle policy, which nevertheless “does not favor the amateur or the neophyte.”

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation (who are hiring) check out EV standby Lil’ Frankies and declare the place has “withstood the test of time.” Watch for the rotating pasta specials, which can be awesome, and the solid pizzas.

Restaurant Girl does a nice round-up of “Best Northern European Eats,” with some classics – Café Sabarsky and Petrossian – and some new faces – Vandaag and Edi and the Wolf.

Brooklyn Fare, the teensy market with an attached restaurant – and tempestuous chef – is expanding. (The grocery store part, that is. Don’t expect to snag a seat at Chef Ramirez’s table anytime soon.)

Park Avenue Winter kicks off a partnership with the artist Marina Abramović (yeah, that one) that involves an mp3 player. Hmm.

Kathy at A Passion for Food does Blue Hill Stone Barns for lunch – which is only served on Sundays – and the photos are amazing. A day devoted to Dan Barber and $85 for four courses!? Sounds like a deal to me.

Adam at Amateur Gourmet hits up Grand Sichuan and the best part is the photo of Ma Po Tofu. Yum!

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of January 6
January 6, 2011, 8:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yeah yeah yeah, it’s a new year and all that. Let’s cut to the chase: highlights from this week’s restaurant round-up.


Pop-up restaurants are the newest rage, apparently. Frank Bruni breathlessly sets the scene: “John Fraser’s new restaurant is doomed. It may make a splash at the start, but by this time next year it will be over, done with, kaput.” Oh, Frank! Fraser’s place in SoHo will only be open for 9 months. What will they think of next, wine in kegs? Oh, wait, never mind.

Meanwhile, the Siftster gives 2 stars to Millesime, the brasserie in the Carlton Hotel on 29th Street. Sifty exclaims “Holy cats!” and commands you to “Eat! Eat!” Of course we won’t disobey; order the lobster pot au feu, with the toasted brioche for dessert.

Grub Street gets word that come January 11, DBGB will start hosting $25 Beer Tasting Tuesdays. The beer and cheese pairings will go down from 5 to 7pm.

With word that both Schnitzel & Things and the Souvlaki GR Truck are opening brick-and-mortar outposts, Midtown Lunch wonders if 2011 will be the year that food trucks go stationary.

Immaculate Infatuation’s busy adding to their own “Lunch in Midtown” list; so far, the usual suspects play starring roles – Cer té, Pampano Tacqueria, but I’m still hoping for an El Rey Del Sabor shout-out. I love those guys.

Eater NY learns that Mike (of Mike’s Apartment, of course) will soon be opening a……Boston style roast beef shop in the East Village? Huh.

And a post script: French 75s have never looked so good.



Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, Goat Cheese & Chicken
January 3, 2011, 10:19 pm
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There are rumblings afoot in Apartment 21B: rumblings of a new diet in the near future. One is supposed to eliminate sugar, dairy, meat, grains and who knows what else in order to remove the yeast from one’s system, yeast which we all have and is apparently responsible for every single ailment you have ever suffered in your life – and probably global warming, too.

Oh. Did you think I was going on this diet? No, no, no! I’m doing no such thing. The Ninja is! Or claims he is, anyway, and I’m terrified for the repercussions. We all know I get cranky when I don’t eat – but it’s genetic! He’s going to turn into some kind of Locally Sourced, Greenmarket Mr. Hyde for the next four weeks (four weeks!) and it’s not going to be pretty. It’s unclear to me what one can actually eat on this diet, but according to the Ninja I am a lowly, unimaginative peon who doesn’t deserve to know what happens on The Diet since I am uninterested in Eliminating Yeast and Solving the World’s Problems.

I guess I’m selling myself a bit short here. To be honest, I am interested in the idea of a cleanse – as long as it makes room for pinot grigio. If you have any suggestions, please pass them along. In the meantime, I’ll make more stuff like this quinoa salad, which is healthier than, say, my Roast Chicken, but sports enough olive oil and goat cheese so I don’t feel like I’m, ahem, denying myself anything.

Quinoa has many fans these days, and I can see why: Wikipedia tells me it contains amino acids, phosphorous, fiber, magnesium, iron – and is gluten free for those of us who care. Just remember to soak your quinoa for fifteen minutes in water to remove any trace of bitterness. (Most quinoa sold in stores has its bitter, waxy outer coating removed, but there are still traces of bitterness that remain, so soak it to be sure.) The rest of this is pretty straightforward: some roasted asparagus, toasted sliced almonds, a handful or two of spinach, diced chicken and a fair amount of goat cheese get dressed with a classic vinaigrette. And there’s plenty for lunch tomorrow – for those of us who will not be participating in The Diet, of course.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, Goat Cheese, & Chicken

Adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes. Serves 4ish.

1 c. quinoa

Water for soaking, plus 2 c. for cooking

1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

lots of freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

3 tbsp. + 1/4 c. olive oil

3 tbsp. grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1 whole peeled garlic clove

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c. sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 c. goat cheese

1 6 oz. chicken breast, diced

2 handfuls of spinach

Preheat the oven to 350.° Soak the quinoa in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. (If you don’t have time for this, just pour hot water over it.) Drain, then add to a medium pot with the 2 c. water and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Set it aside, still covered.

Spread the asparagus in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the 3 tbsp. olive oil; season with salt and pepper, then add the 3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano. Throw the garlic clove on top and roast for about 10 minutes, until just fork tender. Set aside. Pull the garlic off and mince it.

In a large salad bowl, combine the minced garlic, Dijon, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined. Keep whisking as you drizzle in the 1/4 c. of olive oil; taste, and correct seasoning. Add the cooked quinoa, asparagus, toasted almonds, spinach and chicken; toss well. Add the goat cheese and toss again; the heat from the quinoa and the asparagus should wilt the spinach slightly and melt the cheese.