Keisha · May 15, 2009 · ·By
In the day, the rippled glass front of Carrera doesn't appear to be much. A modest sign hangs over, the door perched open. We stepped into the cozy spot laced with loud Spanish music. The space is relatively modest with a poured concrete entry way, grained dark wood stools and old photos and posters of Spanish bull fighters.
A friendly host settled us at a table adjacent a slightly awkward fountain with a neon light on daisies. While perusing the impressive wine list, a friendly kid (and most likely Midwestern transplant) offered us a few words on the menu. I selected a Spanish white that promised apricot and a balanced finish. My company had an Estrella Catalan pilsner.
To eat: we had the queso plate which featured four cheeses (all that seemed to be made from goat's milk), quince a few olives and a curiously shaped mini baguette (think comical mustache). We also ordered a plate of spanish olives, the pork belly and stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. The tapas-style dishes were more comparable to pintxos (tastings served in the Basque region of Spain). The varied flavors kept us quite satisified while sipping on our libatons. I switched to to a glass of red from the Ipsum winery in Spain. The promised notes of clove and chocolate were present and worked well with the robust cheeses and salty, meaty olives. Although my dining partner enjoyed the pork belly with a smudge of enthusiasm, I found it to be too fatty for my palate. I also prefer the dates at Boqueria to the regional style at Carrera.
Bonus! It's adjacent the East Village movie theatre. You could spend an evening making your way down the avenue, after a film, have a night cap at Shoolbreds.
Keisha · April 23, 2009 · ·By
I arrived in good company at Bar Jamón. A tight little u-shaped bar, the scene is quite accurately described by New York magazine, "the baying young crowd is territorially aggressive like junkyard dogs. But the food, if you can find a place to put it, is terrific—"
We ordered wine in petite carafe: perfect for sharing. The first selection (the name escapes me) was a smooth blend of four grapes: Tempranillo being the lightest, Merlot the darkest. The heavily (a sexily) accented server selected a few cheeses to match the wine: Montacabrer with tomato jam and Garrotxa with honey glazed Marconas. The combination offered a wonderful set of pleasures: sweet, tart, earthy.
We moved on to another wine from Olivares, and took the recommendation of the Jamon Serrano Fermin. The jamon was a spectacular creamy cured meat, freshly shaved before us. Although the tapas were rich, I found myself more satisfied that overwhelmed. We stood the entire time, as there wasn't a single chair available the entire evening.
Although crowded, it's an ideal spot to meet friends, drink and taste.
125 E. 17th at Irving in Gramercy.
Photo credits: Nick Dawson Flickr, alwayshungryny(dot)com, hoodwinks Flickr (respectively).
Keisha · April 12, 2009 · ·By
I settled into Brunch this afternoon, after perusing the street fair in Union Square. The chalkboard outside of Jack Bistro advertised three-dollar Bloody Mary's and mimosas: sold. We carefully examined the menu, choosing: the Onion Soup with Crostini broiled with Gruyere Cheese and the Eggs Benedict with frites and salad. The soup was: decent. The crostini almost tasted as if it had been microwaved...The E. Benny offered a variety of flavors and texture with the frites and salad, but I felt that the english muffin could have been toasted longer, the ham sliced thinner.
While both dishes were satisfying, I'm at a loss for why: you needed a reservation for a table (we sat at the bar) and those tables all filled rather soon after we settled). I've had much better brunches...perhaps, there's a lack of good brunch options in Union Square? Regardless: the breakfast cocktails were dirt cheap, food came very shortly after we ordered and the bartender was kind, and attentive.
Keisha · April 6, 2009 · ·By
We decided on burgers this evening. I had been sniffing around Zeitzefflately...the interior of the Financial District cafe seemed: clean, simple and subtly rustic. And the menu boasted wine: is there any other way?
We both selected Kobe burgers with bacon and avocado. A thick, delicious mess with sauteed onions, crisp lettuce and tomato on a homemade Portuguese bun. We shared an order of hand cut fries: salty and earthy. I'm going to go ahead and admit that after my first few bites I had to get a fork and knife. This is a first for me. There's just no other way.
If you have it, I'd recommend putting a dab of Sriracha in your ketchup.
Keisha · April 1, 2009 · ·By
I had the pleasure of meeting an old business contact for dinner at Bouley last night. The Tribeca spot posed an intriguing challenge in locating: which of the four locations in the one block radius I was supposed to be at-- and where is the door anyways? A gracious hostess stepped outside and collected me when she noticed me walking from corner to corner and taking directions from waiters pointing in various locations.
Step inside. The warm sweet scent of apple wraps around you. I took notice of the shelves stacked with what must have been hundreds of fresh apples as decor. After surrendering my coat and declining a cocktail in the intermittent room following the entry room, we took a cushy table stacked with pillows to rest on. The room is made of swooping curvy ceilings and old school decor. Somewhere between Versaille and your Grandmother's home.
To begin, we were offered a Tomato Coulee with Salmon Roe and sampling of breads: Mini Baguette and Apple Raisin. The Coulee was light and simple and well matched with the subtly sweet cream. The bread: clearly wonderful and expert.
We sipped on Puligny Montrachet (2004) while looking over the menus. Divine. Sinful. Seductive. Interesting fruit: somewhere in the peach vicinity with a racy finish. For appetizers: Poached Organic Connecticut Egg with Coconut sauce and Crab with Truffles in small copper pot. The crab was: decent. I grew tired with the consistency of the sauce, but enjoyed the firm, buttery taste of the meat.
We transitioned into our main course shortly after finishing our appetizers, and declining offers of whole wheat loves from the bakery. I selected the Maine Lobster with PinotNoir reduction, spring peas and leaks. My company chose the Sea Bass. Both dishes were served with fingerling mashed potatoes, which I must say were quite surprising in their quality. I feel that mashed potatoes are something that are easy to skimp on in terms of love. Bouley is certain to make them creamy, smooth: flawless. The Maine Lobster proved quite delicious and well matched with the PinotNoir Reduction. The peas were a bit on the al-dente side for my preference, but fresh.
We punctuated our meal with the Chocolate Frivolous: plate of several different little trinkets: mousse, ice cream, cakes...a hint of hazelnut. The title is well suited. I had a torrid love affair with this dish. The chef offered us a creme brulee and two tiers (one three tier, one two tier) of truffles, cookies and other pretty things. I nibbled a bit (although exceptionally full at this point) while sipping on a Maury (2003) dessert wine.
As we collected ourselves and headed out to catch cabs to our respective residences (or in my case the Rose) the hostess offered us gifts of Lemon Cake.
In closing thoughts: a good experience. Stellar (flawless) service. I'm glad I had the opportunity, but I doubt I'd return. With so many restaurants in New York, I would choose something new, more simple or a knockout favorite over Bouley.
( Second Image:Hiro Blog)
Keisha · March 29, 2009 · ·By
I found myself in Japonica last Wednesday: a place which claims to be the best sushi in town (according to Zagat). I'm not sure that I follow this logic, Zagat. Jason and I shared a platter of varied fish, shrimp tempura roll, sweet potato roll and beef negemaki. All I can really say: filling. The service polite, well delivered- but really there isn't much else there. It's run of the mill, standard sushi. No fireworks. No dancers. Easy location.
Keisha · March 16, 2009 · ·By
I had the pleasure of meeting up with a friend, Jason, for dinner and drinks at Mad Dog & Beans near my apartment. The cantina rests on Pearl Street with low lights and tart-delicious margaritas. We started with the guacamole: spicy. The secret to good guacamole rests in the quality of the avocados- they must be ripened and stored properly (a secret I learned while working at a Southwestern restaurant during high school and college).
Mad Dog has this figured out. The homemade chips were well matched to the freshmade guacamole.We continued our meal with an offensively large chicken burrito and the Black Eyed Tuna ("Tuna Ceviche") which consists of thin sliced albacore with sesame seeds, tomatoes, serrano peppers and romaine. A sizeable salad with enough flavor and imagination to satisfy. I'm not suggesting that the food was spectacular, but certainly delicious and well-suited for the margaritas and Negra Modelo that we sipped on.
I think I'd go back...perhaps when my parents come to visit, or for happy hour...
Tagged with: mad dog and beans, pearl street, dining out, nightlife, Financial District, taste, drinks, restaurants
Keisha · January 11, 2009 · ·By
I feel like I don't get to see Brittain enough. We connected this afternoon for Brunch at Jarnac in the West Village. A cute little spot, I'd walked by it before thinking I ought to check it out. Michelin Guide recommended, I knew it had promise.
We started with coffee and agonized over the menu. A jumble of detail and temptation, Brittain selected the: Brioche French Toast w/ Caramelized Bananas, Vadim cruched on the: Corned Beef & Hash w/ Fried Eggs and I simply had to try: Handmade Pork Tamales with Poached Eggs and
Hello love. The dishes expertly satisfied that Sunday afternoon drag, misgivings of late nights and dreading the work day to come. The Brioche French toast stacked with a light crispy flavor and succulent Vermont Maple Syrup, the Corned Beef and Hash a savory masterpiece with crusty homemade toast and the Tamales: gorgeously textured pork, smoky and subtly sweet mole with perfectly poached eggs and a dallop of sour cream. I sprinkled a bit of sea salt over the top and reveled in the beauty of each bite.
After finishing our dishes and catching up on Islandgossip, career updates and a few laughs we headed back into the cold. On the way to the L train, Vadim looked up, "I think I just saw a man having sex."
"Up there, corner window."
I stepped back, looked up. Saw the man in question, "No, he's just without shir- oh, my, oh yes. Wow. Vigoriously so. Cute blond with him!"
- And somewhat humorously in the Meatpacking District.
Keisha · January 11, 2009 · ·By
One can only take so much DJ action at BXL, ergo: forge on for sustenance. Having not been to El Centro in some time, we ventured towards Hell's Kitchen for a late dinner. Margaritas and Skinny Mojitos (substituting Splenda for sugar, it was actually tasty- a credit to the fresh squeezed lime juice), Grilled Shrimp and Jack Quesadilla and Goat Cheese Empanadas: d'lish! We ordered a side of guacamole, which I felt was a bit bland at first, but when coupled with the house made chipotle salsa and velvety spices of the dishes, it blended quite well.
The quesadilla was decent, for what it was. The serrano chiles and epazote certainly complimented the simple flavor of the jack cheese, although I felt that it was nothing spectaculor. Granted, it's a quesadilla, which has never really been anything to write home about. The empanadas were absolutely delightful. I think I'm kind of on an empanada kick right now. Although fried, they weren't heavy, just slightly rich with the goat cheese filling. The salsa roja exhibited a lovely smokey flavor to match the pungent cheese. I can't quite place my finger on it, but I genuinely enjoy this spot. The portions aren't massive, which is comforting. They know they can satisfy you with quality and interest, rather than size. A little less American, per se.
Keisha · January 9, 2009 · ·By
Last night: Vadim drove down from Connecticut to see a share that I am deeply interested in. Carroll Gardens, gorgeous- exceptional. We decided to get a light bite, and to meet up with Max, over wine. Max suggested the Black Mountain Wine House, as he had been meaning to check it out.
The lighting is wrapped in honey hues, the crowd decent, the tables wood and carved with names of friends and lovers. Max (who apparently needs adult supervision) requested: an ashtray, a lemon, a glass of water and some matches. The skeptical barkeep decided to entertain the requests. Max performed magic. Max's magic earned us free glasses of wine.
On the suggestion of the barkeep, I sipped on the Flying Vine Red. The wine is a delightful, easy blend of Cab, Petit Verdot and Syrah. Vadim and I split the Thai Curried Mussels and Max requested the Panini, which is affectionately described as, "The House Mortadelia, Hot Peppers and Polish Bacon The Hipster; Goat Cheese, Eggplant and other cool stuff!" Both dishes were on par with wine bar expectations and quite wonderful in their balance of spice and variety.
Black Mountain is a gorgeous little spot. It's ideal for sinking into pillows, low light and conversation. The service proved to have a decent mix of attention, and anticipation of desires. The food plates are varied, curious and $10 each. I'll return. I'm interested in trying the Pitch Cabernet (Walla Walla, 2004) which is currently a featured bottle.