Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Next Stop: Italy

What we ordered:
- Grilled branzino with roasted potatoes and vegetables

- Penne pesto with wild shrimp, asparagus, and tomatoes

Worth the trip for...
- A great variety of fresh pastas and risotto
- A true "hidden gem" experience with only 6 tables and great service
- $10 lunch specials on all pastas and risotto

Skip the trip for...
- What used to be a solely BYOB restaurant - they got their beer & wine license a few months ago. Even with a decent wine list, they surprisingly still allow you to bring a bottle for a $15 corkage fee...not bad!

Radicchio Pasta and Risotto Co.
235 East 53rd Street
b/t 2nd & 3rd Avenues
website
Menu Pages listing

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Next Stop: Vietnam

What we ordered:
- Basil chicken with white rice

- Ginger chicken with brown rice

Worth the trip for...
- A much-welcomed change from the standard Midtown deli lunch for just about the same price (entrees were only $7.50)
- Surprisingly cool atmosphere

Skip the trip for...
- The lunch specials that are listed on Menu Pages - they aren't on the menu at the restaurant
- If it bothers you if two different entrees look shockingly similar, but taste very different!


Saigon 48
234 West 48th Street
b/t 8th Avenue & Broadway
website
Menu Pages listing

Friday, January 20, 2012

Next Stop: Canada

Classic New York food couldn't be better epitomized than by the Jewish deli. Everyone knows it's a must-have on any tourist's to-do list, and equally a must-have for any local New Yorker. What everyone may not know is that the Jewish deli epitomizes classic Montreal food as well. Here it's Katz's pastrami; there it's Schwartz's smoked meat.

When Mile End opened last year in Boerum Hill, they set out to give New Yorker's a taste of the true Montreal Jewish deli. Although the interior is a lot more modern than Schwartz's or Katz's (which both haven't been updated in probably 50 years!), the food is as old school as ever...in a good way!

What we ordered:
- Chicken soup with matzah ball

- Chopped liver with onion relish, egg, and pletzel

- Classic poutine topped with cheese curds and gravy, with smoked meat (on the side)

- Smoked meat (from the poutine)

- Cheese bagelach (think giant rugelach made out of flakey bagel dough, filled with a cheese danish kind of filling) served with fruit compote and sour cream

Worth the trip for...
- POUTINE!!!! It's almost impossible to find in NYC (and no, disco fries from the diner are NOT the same thing!)
- Matzah ball soup that rivals my grandma's
- Smoked meat that rivals Katz's pastrami

Skip the trip for...
- Big groups - the whole restaurant seats about 24 people, and you'll probably end up sharing a table with strangers -
- Smoked meat if you want to go before 12 noon - they won't serve it. So plan accordingly!


Mile End
97a Hoyt Street
b/t Atlantic & Pacific Avenues
website
Menu Pages listing

Friday, January 13, 2012

Next Stop: Spain

Before heading to Despana, all I was told was that it was a Spanish market/grocery. So, I was pleasantly surprised when we walked in to see that it was so much more. Gourmet Spanish products were stocked on the shelves and in the cases in the front (olive oils, cured meats, cheeses, etc.) and in the back was a tapas bar and cafe. It was so authentic and such a great find.

What we ordered:
- Pisto: simmered zucchini, red and green peppers, tomatoes, onions
- Tortilla Espanola tradicional: eggs, potatoes, onions
- Chorizo bocadillo: Traditional Spanish sandwich with chorizo, slices of manchego cheese, and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Pintxos served on fresh bread: Morcilla (black sausage) in tomato sauce and Serrano ham with manchego cheese


Worth the trip for...
- A truly unique tapas experience in a really well-decorated setting (subway tiles, dark wood, white marble tables, bookcases with books about Spain)
- The high-quality bottles of olive oil they have at every table...perfect for dipping the fresh bread into

Skip the trip for...
- Nothing!

Despana
408 Broome Street
b/t Cleveland Place & Lafayette Street
website
Menu Pages listing

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Next Stop: Turkey

What we ordered:
- Cacik: thickened yogurt with cucumber, garlic, mint and dill and fresh-baked bread (Turkish version of tzatziki)

- Borek: phylo stuffed with feta cheese and parsley (To me, these are not borekahs, but are cigars. Either way, they were delicious.)

- Greek salad: lettuce mixed with shepherd salad, topped with feta cheese, elephant beans, carrots, red onions, and stuffed grape leaves served with special house dressing

- Iskender kebab: vertically grilled slices of lamb over diced Turkish bread, dressed with tomato sauce and homemade garlic yogurt sauce

Worth the trip for...
- The cacik - very minty and fresh tasting
- A wide variety of meat options, each with a variety of preparations

Skip the trip for...
- If you're low-carb conscious. They are constantly bringing more fresh bread and it's hard to resist!
- A pretty empty restaurant, which makes it really quiet and kind of awkward

Taksim
1030 Second Avenue
b/t 54th & 55th Streets
website
Menu Pages listing

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Next Stop: Greece

What we ordered:
- A Greek beer called Mythos - did't know Greece had its own beer!

- Chicken souvlaki - fresh pita filled with char-grilled chicken, sliced tomato, sliced red onion, french fries (yes, IN the pita), and tzatziki sauce
- Chicken souvlaki special - same as the regular, plus feta cheese inside

- Greek fries - hand-cut fries sprinkled with feta cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper




Worth the trip for...
- Being able to try the formerly food truck-only food now in a sit-down restaurant
- Really cute decor - I've never been to the Greek islands, but based on pictures I've seen, this looked spot on: white-washed walls, accents of blue, and brightly-colored flowers
- Those fries - never would have thought feta would go well with fries!

Skip the trip for...
- A giant souvlaki, like the kind you'd find at any diner. This had one small kebab of meat...not very filling

Souvlaki GR
116 Stanton Street
b/t Ludlow & Essex Streets
website
Menu Pages listing

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Next Stop: Korea

What we ordered:
- Kimchi taco - flour tortilla filled with tofu, red onions, salsa, shredded kimchi, and romaine tossed in chili soy vinaigrette, topped with KalBQ's original taco sauce and shredded cheddar and jack cheeses

- Kimchi quesadilla - filled with chicken, cheddar and jack cheeses, and shredded kimchi

- Classic bibim rice bowl - white rice with chicken, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, and sprouts topped with a fried egg, served with a side of kimchi and gochujang hot sauce

- This is what it looked like all mixed up!

Worth the trip for...
- Really great flavor combos, especially in the kimchi taco
- A lot of food for your money - two rice bowls, one taco, and one quesadilla turned into a total of 4 meals!

Skip the trip for...
- 100% authentic Korean food - this is definitely a bit more fusion (cheddar cheese?!)
- It's in the same space as Atomic Wings and is not the most glamorous space

KalBQ
36 Lexington Avenue
b/t 23rd & 24th Streets
Menu Pages listing

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Next Stop: Germany

The simplest way for me to describe Rolf's German Restaurant is "Christmas on Crack." I think this the perfect example of "A picture speaks a thousand words!"
I have never seen so many ornaments and lights in one restaurant. They have taken over every inch of the walls, ceiling, and light fixtures...enough that I broke an ornament while taking off my scarf. RIP, purple ornament!

It was definitely a fun place to have a holiday dinner with friends, especially ones who share in my love of schnitzel!

What we ordered:
- Potato pancakes with applesauce

- Chicken schnitzel with mashed potatoes and green beans

- Braised chicken leg in pepper-paprika sauce with green beans

- Weiner schnitzel with red cabbage and spatzle

Worth the trip for...
- The kitsch. Yes, it's insanely crowded during the holidays with locals and toursts alike, but there's something fun about the warm glow and sparkle of holiday deocrations.
- The schnitzel. The pieces were on the smaller size by schnitzel standards, but they were very tasty.

Skip the trip for...
- The sides. Frozen green beans and what I imagine to be boxed mashed potatoes didn't cut it.

Rolf's
281 Third Avenue
@ 22nd Street
website
Yelp listing