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Winter Restaurant Week 2014

Winter Restaurant Week has now passed, but here is a  sampling of restaurants I tried this time around. Let’s begin with lunches…

City Lobster

City Lobster

Appetizer: Lettuce wedge salad, complete with cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy onions, bacon, and bleu cheese. Even though I’m not a huge fan of ice berg lettuce, I really liked the toppings.
Main:
Fish and Chips were great. The cod was extremely flaky and I would have liked slightly more crispy but the French fries were spot on.
Dessert:
Profiteroles (large cream puffs) with coffee ice cream and chocolate on top. This was delectable. The coffee ice cream inside complements the full sweet chocolate flavor.
Service: Good.
Location:
City Lobster
121 W 49 St
New York, NY

Craftbar

Craftbar

Appetizer: The warm pecorino fondue w/ acacia honey, hazelnuts & pepperoncini, as well as 4 long pieces of crostini, was out of this world amazing— I love the creamy taste of the thick pecorino cheese. The honey and pine nuts worked well with the cheese, while the crunchy crostinis were the perfect accompaniment.
Main:
Lumache Pasta Bolognese. The pasta was cooked al dente and the ragu with the sauce worked together beautifully. I would have liked a little more cheese on it, but overall was a solid choice.
Dessert:
Chocolate peanut butter pie with honey roasted peanuts was yummy. It was light, and had chocolate mousse as well as slight peanut butter flavor. The honey roasted peanuts added a layer of deliciousness.
Service: Very competent and friendly wait staff.
Location:
Craftbar
900 Broadway
New York, NY

Now, onto the dinners!

Rayuela

Rayuela

Starter: Cheesy bread was amazing. We were only given one piece, but I definitely could have had many more.
Appetizer: Garlic shrimp with foccacia bread. The garlic shrimp was extremely flavorful but had some specks of hot pepper so was a bit spicy. The foccacia bread was disappointing, as it seemed to be just regular bread.
Main: Salmon with butternut squash and brussel sprouts was good. The sauce was enjoyable and I liked the crispness of the salmon.
Dessert: Bread pudding with caramel sauce and bananas were okay. It wasn’t bread pudding in the traditional sense, but the pieces were still quite moist and I liked the sauce.
Service: Pretty good
Location:
Rayuela
165 Alllen St
New York, NY

L'Ecole

L’Ecole

Appetizer: Spinach fettuccine with braised duck leg ragu made with tomato jam and carrots. This was well done- Wonderful pasta with plenty of meat.
Main: Braised pork osso buco with risotto Milanese and gremolata was mouthwateringly good. The risotto had a robust flavor and the pork osso buco was perfectly tender and came off the bone easily.
Dessert: Chocolate with apple crisp was light and delightful.
Service: Attentive and thoughtful
Location:
L’Ecole
462 Broadway
New York, NY

Brasserie 8 1/2

Brasserie 8 1/2

Amuse-bouche: Chestnut soup had a nice flavor to it.
Appetizer: Consommé de Boeuf – Short Rib Consommé, Ravioli, Parsnips, Black Truffles
Side: French fries were so good, with just the right amount of crunch.
Main: Filet Mignon – Petit Filet, Potato Croquettes, Espelette Pepper Bearnaise
At first, my filet mignon did not come with the potato croquettes but they made up for it by giving me an extra one. The petit filet itself was delicious enough on its own… Perfectly tender, flavorful, but would have liked more of the sauce. The potato croquettes were decent, but I preferred the French fries.
Dessert: I was able to try both.

The tarte au citron (Meyer Lemon Tart) was pretty good. There was a strong lemon flavor and it was both tangy and sweet. I enjoyed the crust, however did not discern the taste of thyme scented honey and the crème fraiche was tasteless.

Macaron – Vanilla Macaron, Valhrona Chocolate Ganache, Hazelnut Ice Cream
I enjoyed the macaron more. The French Macaron was large, dusted with powdered sugar and had the perfect consistency and chewy texture. The Valhrona chocolate ganache was rich, creamy, delicious. The hazelnut ice cream was very tasty as well.

Service: Not the best and had a long wait time in receiving our meals. We received a plate of mini treats to make up for it: Sea salt caramel macarons, raspberry cookies, biscotti and mini chocolate chip cookies. All of the sweet treats were wonderful, especially the macaron and chocolate chip cookie.
Location:
Brasserie 8 1/2
9 West 57 St
New York, NY

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Birthday in NYC

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Since I was in CA when my birthday hit, I celebrated with New York friends over the weekend, after I came back from holidays in California. I wore my new “Bright By My Side” dress that I ordered online from ModCloth. This flattering and sassy coral red dress is made of crepe fabric with sheer, puffy long sleeves with wrapped bodice and waist sash. I paired the dress with fashions from Shanghai: Coffee colored tights with cute little hearts all over and black high heel glittery boots, that are actually comfortable. And, of course the outfit would not be complete without an exquisitely sparkly and pearl tiara.

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I had my birthday dinner with a bunch of friends at Max Brenner at Union Square, which is a fun place to eat but incredibly crowded on a Saturday night and where we had to wait quite awhile, even with reservations. We were finally seated downstairs, in nice booth seating and I ordered one of the sharing dessert tastings with chocolate fondue. Our orders came fairly quickly and mine included a birthday candle on top an ice cream scoop, which was on a sweet waffle with berries. Everyone sang Happy Birthday, then we dug in!

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The dessert meal was pretty good, and was presented in a way that made it fun and creative to share. We had marshmallows that we could roast on the open fire (we had a little bit too much fun with that), as well as strawberries, bananas, cake, fried plantains, and the waffle. I pretty much dipped everything in the chocolate fondue. Yum! I also got to try some onion rings, waffle fries and black sesame encrusted salmon. If I had to order a non-dessert item, it would definitely be the salmon- Perfectly crispy, good flavor, beautifully presented.

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After eating, we were planning to spend the evening at Polar Lounge, which is located within the Marcel at Gramercy. However, we were informed that Polar was closed, so we waited for others in the lobby at the Marcel, which was actually quite lovely with silver and white accents… A silver couch, an area with a rectangular fireplace, and the main lobby area had a circular sleek black couch surrounding the room. In the center of the room, little white tables were adorned with candles, pretty pink, red and green flower bouquets on top. And the walls had interesting geometric patterns of white, brown and black colors.

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After more folks gathered at the Marcel lobby, we headed onward, in search of a suitable place to party. We passed by a park with this huge, gorgeous ball that changes into all different colors. There were also viewing seats that we could lay back on and watch the magic.

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We decided to go to Vunyc rooftop, which had a breathtaking and very close view of the Empire State Building! We had some drinks, shared great conversation, laughter and all around had a great time together.

The night didn’t end there. We barhopped a bit in the East Village and hit up Gin Palace and Easternbloc, where we did a lot of dancing and got a little crazy! I had a wonderful time with everyone… Even though we couldn’t party at Polar, we found some great places (and unexpected) to hang out at and enjoy each others company!

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