west village


Last week, I went to an event with Google Local at David’s Tea. The event was with Laurie Davis of EflirtExpert.com, and author of the recently released Love at First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating. The evening was simple – cocktails using David’s Tea, the location of which was where Laurie wrote the majority of her book. The sips were paired with a lovely spread from Murray’s Cheese.

I’d yet to try David’s Tea, and was completely overwhelmed by the options (in a good way). I fell in love with rooibos when I was in South Africa, and this spot? Has some 21 varieties of rooibos! Their tea of the month was red velvet cake, which tasted like it’s namesake. Red velvet cake has never been so ultimately and totally guilt-free. I walked out with 3 kinds of tea and these fabulous disposable tea filters (for someone like yours truly who wasn’t ready to commit to the fancy mug for loose tea).

They had one of their most popular flavors brewed up for sampling – forever nuts. Look at this. It looks more like granola, right? Turns out it’s amazing tea too! It’s a combo of almonds, apple bits, cinnamon, and beetroot. Not only was it really good, but you can also take the post-steep loose tea and put it to use. They said lots of people put it in their oatmeal, and I totally see why.

Of course, I got busy talking and forgot to snag a photo with Laurie, but so happy for her on the publication of her book. Check it out – I know it’s been on the shelves at Barnes & Noble here in NYC!

David’s Tea – Multiple locations throughout the city

What’s the best thing to do when the rain is coming down like crazy outside? Picking a good restaurant and tasting your way through the menu is up there in the list of options for me. Last Tuesday was so gross that Fatty Cue in the West Village wasn’t crazy busy. Perfect.

Cockatils - Fatty 'Cue, West Village

To start, we had to get the Ham, Jam, Butter & Bread (I’m a bit of a pretzel bread fanatic and it’s not something you often find on a restaurant menu). This was Edward’s ham, pretzel bread, and aged butter. The ham was on the stronger side and was even more so with the addition of the butter which seemed to have a smokey finish, with a light char along the top.

Ham, Jam, Butter, & Bread - Fatty 'Cue, West Village

Based on the servers recommendation, we went with the kale salad for our veggie selection. The kale was offset by a creamy green peppercorn & cincalok dressing. We learned cincalok is a Malysian condiment – a shrimp paste of sorts. The kale hadn’t been cooked down but the dressing cut through it fairly effectively. Though note, if you don’t really like shrimp, this dish is not for you as the flavor of the dressing is fairly prominent.

Kale Salad - Fatty 'Cue, West Village

An order of their bacon was a must. It’s a 1/2 pound of their bacon, deep-fried and thick cut. It’s prepared with coriander and served with a sweet & spicy salsa verde (very similar to a chimmichuri). I’d never seen something like this paired with bacon, but it was quite good. Plenty in this order to split between two.

Bacon - Fatty 'Cue, West Village

For our main, we went with the dayboat scallops, which were served with pork consomme and husky cherries. Though the dish only had two jumbo scallops, I’d have a hard time not ordering it on a subsequent visit. There was just a bit of crispness on the exterior of the scallops and the pork consumme and cherries added nice additional flavor layers.

Dayboat Scallops - Fatty 'Cue, West Village

Sadly, there wasn’t the option of dessert this evening. The unfortunate downside of rainy day dining at Fatty ‘Cue ended up being a flooded pastry kitchen. Sadness. Oh well – next time!

Fatty ‘Cue – 50 Carmine St (btw Bleecker & Bedford) – 212.929.5050
Reservations Suggested

Last weekend, a friend and I cashed in on our cookie making class at Milk & Cookies in the West Village. The class was a special offered through Thrillist but owner Tina Casaceli said she’d be open to doing more if there’s interest!

Milk & Cookies Bakery - West Village

Milk & Cookies Bakery – West Village

I’ll admit, that Sunday was a rare day where I wasn’t really in the mood for sweets – least of all cookies – but that soon changed. Their kitchen in their main West Village is cozy. We wound downstairs behind the bakery counter to the kitchen area.

I was really excited though to see what kinds of cookies we were going to be making. Rather than making cookies that we could also purchase up front we were instead baking her family recipes – all traditional Italian cookies you’d more likely find in an Italian bakery.

There was Grandma Connie’s Anise Toast – perfect for dunking in your morning coffee and far better, IMHO, than biscotti. Easy and only five ingredients: flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar, and a bit of anise oil. Dont love anise? You can replace the anise with pure vanilla or pure almond extract, or another flavor that strikes your fancy.

Shaping the log

Shaping the log

Slicing up the cookies

Slicing up the cookies

Finished Anise Cookies

Finished Anise Cookies

Next was Grandma Tina’s Chocolate Drop cookies. We used bittersweet chocolate, which led to a chocolate cookie that wasn’t super sweet. All in all, this one only used 9 ingredients! After baking, we lightly iced these and added a walnut on top. So good.

Baked Cookies - Pre-Icing

Baked Cookies – Pre-Icing

Finished Chocolate Cookies

Finished Chocolate Cookies

The third kind we made was Aunt Annie’s Sesame Seed Cookies. This also was only 9 ingredients. You could do the recipe with standard sesame seeds or even black sesame seeds. The cookie portion crumbles slightly in your mouth and the sesame seeds added a fun crunch.

Dough & sesame seeds, ready to go

Dough & sesame seeds, ready to go

Rolling out the cookies

Rolling out the cookies

Coating the cookies in sesame seeds

Coating the cookies in sesame seeds

Finished cookies

Finished cookies

Finally we made Viscotti or Aunt Rose’s Famous “S” cookies, which Tina explained her aunt made every day fresh for her uncle. I was surprised how easy it was to form the dough for each cookie into an “S” shape. Like the anise toast, I found the “S” cookies paired nicely with coffee.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

Dusted & finished

Dusted & finished

So many fabulous cookies!

So many fabulous cookies!

We had a blast in the class. Tina made us feel completely at home and I walked away with four recipes I can’t wait to make on my own. I haven’t tracked it down yet, but looking forward to checking out her cookbook (look like we got a nice taste of chapter 7!) – and maybe returning back to their store for their whoopie pies, which looked delicious!

Milk & Cookies – 19 Commerce Street – 212.243.1640

Back in April, I was lucky enough to make it to the second evening of Chef Tom Sellers‘ two night event at Creative Edge NYC in the West Village. When my boyfriend asked me to go, it was a question that didn’t really require any consideration. Chef Sellars has a restaurant by the name of Story opening shortly in London. One of his staff members explained that he’d always known he wanted to name his restaurant Story since he was a small child.

The venue was decorated simply yet elegantly. Basic tables with center pieces with white candles. Flowers. Even simple wooden cutouts of kitchen utensils. Wine was present yet basic. It wasn’t paired with each course – just a solid red or white present throughout the meal. The dinner was comprised of seven courses in total, one being fish, one meat, and two dessert.

Course 1: Burnt pink onions with grape, gin & lemon

Course 1: Burnt pink onions with grape, gin & lemon thyme

Aside from onion rings, I can’t say I’ve ever had onions as a course on their own. I was pleasantly surprised just how good this dish was. The burnt onions were extremely burnt with a smoky charred quality go them. The lightness of the grapes, gin, and lemon lightened it up perfectly to balance to a perfect spring dish.

Course 2: Beetroot, sorrel, & horseradish

Course 2: Beetroot, sorrel, & horseradish

I was surprised how much I liked this dish. I’m not a fan of horseradish in the slightest, but the horseradish snow made for a fun, playful addition – adding a sharp contrast to the beetroot and sorrel.

Course 3: Pumpkin with goats butter and smoked

Course 3: Pumpkin with goats butter and smoked honey & lovage

This course was a sweet deviation from its predecessors. The smoked honey was an actual honeycomb which I liked – both for the visual and for the flavor. Skip it though and the dish has a significantly less sweet taste to it. I really liked the combo of the goats milk and the pumpkin. Both were of a softer consistency but had distinctly different flavors – the pumpkin slightly sweet and the goats milk slightly salty.

Course 4: Scallops, cucumber, dill & cream

Course 4: Scallops, cucumber, dill & cream

I can’t say I’ve ever had scallops sliced like this. The slices were not even half an inch in thickness. Very unique. The cucumber and dill were a nice pairing although I found the horseradish in this dish to be a bit overpowering, perhaps just based on enjoying it in conjunction with the second course.

Course 5: Lamb loin with rhubarb, lettuce & turnip

Course 5: Lamb loin with rhubarb, lettuce & turnip

The lamb slices in the dish were very tender. The flavor was nicely accented by the strong flavors of the turnips and rhubarb. The sauce from the meat itself was so good I used it to accompany the bread, which says something.

Toasted wheat, milk and pomegranate

Course 6: Toasted wheat, milk & pomegranate

Course 6: Toasted wheat, milk & pomegranate

I really liked this one. It was light and not overly sweet. The toasted wheat made our table think of Frosted Mini-Wheats, albeit a less structured form. The base was almost mousse-like and I really liked the crunch of the wheat and the bursts of fruit flavor the pomegranate seeds provided in contrast to the base.

Course 7: Chocolate, yogurt & thyme

Course 7: Chocolate, yogurt & thyme

I didn’t love the addition of the thyme, but I wasn’t surprised as I’m not usually a fan of floral elements. The rest of the dish was great though. I liked the crispy texture of the yogurt which contrasted to the slightly bitter chocolate.

Here we are with Chef Sellars!

Here we are with Chef Sellars!

 The meal overall was excellent. Pity that Chef Sellars is opening his restaurant instead in London! I’ll have to make a point to check it out on my next visit or hope that he’ll come back over to our side of the pond for another event.

Several weeks back, okay probably more like months at this point, it was finally that first night where it’s warm enough to sit outside. Actually, to sit outside with a frozen drink even! We’d chosen to try Agave in the West Village based on our plans to see the documentary on Candy Darling at the IFC Film Center (fascinating film, by the way) and my pleasant experience there ages ago once for brunch. To start, we tried their frozen pomegranate margarita, which wasn’t overwhelmingly tart. Nice start.
Pomegranate Margarita - Agave

Pomegranate Margarita - Agave

We then opted for their guacamole, which they kindly allowed us to spice up. The presentation was very attractive, with the guacamole overflowing out of a small tortilla shell. However, I did notice the portion size was a bit on the small side due to the container. Just an observation. The blue tortilla chips were a nice change.
Guacamole - Agave

Guacamole - Agave

For my main course, I had their crab quesadilla. The portion size was just right, but I learned a lesson not specific to Agave that I just need to accept and move on. To me, crab just never works out in Mexican/Latin meals. Crab enchiladas I’ve had? Just not quite right. Something about the flavor of the meat mixed with the Mexican spices and sauces just combines to make something henceforth I’ll be skipping.
Blue Crab Quesadillas - Agave

Blue Crab Quesadillas - Agave

Overall, service was great and the food was fresh and flavorful. While I wouldn’t say I was blown away, good solid spot if you’re looking for somewhere to book in the West Village with outdoor seating, extensive menu, and reservations for larger groups. And next time, I’ll remember crabs and Mexican food? Shouldn’t be friends.

Agave – 140 7th Ave South (b/w 10th St & Charles St) – 212.989.2100
Reservations Recommended

A few weeks back, I found myself with some friends in the West Village, wandering around after a trapeze class in search of a dinner option which wouldn’t require reservations. We walked past Mexicana Mama, a restaurant I’d always been curious to try but at which I’d yet to eat. Looking in, we could tell there’d be a wait, but we decided to wait it out.

Chips & Salsa - Mexicana Mama

Chips & Salsa - Mexicana Mama

There’s not a true bar area. Instead, there’s a long high counter along the left-hand side of the restaurant, with the tables for the main seating area located on the right. As we waited, we enjoyed their margarita of the day (watermelon) and an order of chips and salsa. I liked that they gave you a choice of salsa with the order – mild, medium, or spicy. We went mild and it was quite good. Interestingly enough it was a very smooth texture – no lumps at all, and was creamy. We couldn’t place what caused the creaminess. And the margarita had fresh watermelon in it. Perfect.

Watermelon Margarita - Mexicana Mama

Watermelon Margarita - Mexicana Mama

For my main, I went with one of their daily specials – spicy fish tacos. I love me some fish tacos, but there are two ways they typically go wrong for me. First, they’re usually fried. I can’t explain why, but I just don’t want anything fried on my tacos, even if I’m a Southerner. It’s just distracting. Second, they usually are accompanied by very mild sauces, oftentimes downright flavorless.

Spicy Fish Tacos - Mexicana Mama

Spicy Fish Tacos - Mexicana Mama

And here’s where Mama got it especially right. The fish was light and flaky and, most importantly, entirely free of batter. Yes! And, as I expected based on the description on the specials board, it indeed was spicy. The fish was topped with onions, corn, a light dusting of cheese, and a habanero sauce, wrapped in a fresh tortilla. Why doesn’t anyone else do this? Why is it so hard to find it? BECAUSE IT’S SO GOOD! I guess motivation for me to make it myself, or come back and gamble it’s on the menu again. Hmmm.

Queso Fundido Con Chorizo - Mexicana Mama

Queso Fundido Con Chorizo - Mexicana Mama

I passed on the other dish which caught my eye in large part because I’d just been to Havana Central the weekend before and had the same dish, which is Queso Fundido con Chorizo. The portion size at around $17 is plentiful, and is served with fresh tortillas. I’d recommend splitting between two. You can even get them to do half chorizo and half rajas poblanos. Nice option.

Mexicana Mama – 525 Hudson St (between 10th St & Charles St) – 212.924.4119
No Reservations

I’d place Caliu in a lengthy list of restaurants tucked somewhere in the West Village that I’d likely never know of unless (1) I were still dating someone over there or (2) they jumped on the latest trend and popped up on one of the numerous deal sites/mailing lists. This time, it was the latter. Usually their brunch is $25 per person, and includes an entree and your choice of unlimited sangria, mimosas, or bloody marys. With the special though, it was $25 for two people. Deal.

Their website gave us the impression that they didn’t accept reservations for smaller parties, so we opted for plan B – getting there when the opened to land a table. Usually this works with even the craziest of restaurants. However, we were greeted by a hostess who didn’t agree.

Chorizo Sandwich - Caliu

Chorizo Sandwich - Caliu

She pursed her lips and looked back up. “Reservations?” We nodded no. She sighed, flipping through the list of the “haves” for emphasis. “Well, fine but you can only stay until 1. Then we’ll need the table back,” she said, emphasizing the word back as if it were an attempted slap. We meekly explained the website wasn’t clear reservations were an option. C’mon. We’re the reservation girls. I’m the Open Table Queen. Seriously! Anyhow, we were finally permitted to sit down in the dining area, where after all that struggle we found ourselves in the middle of a sea of empty tables. Oh irony. We were brought menus and mimosas appeared soon after, served in tiny glasses that made me think they were aiming to force cardio on their servers.

Chorizo Sandwich, Interior View

Chorizo Sandwich, Interior View

Their menu was pretty interesting. After reading a bit online and reviewing the choices, the no-brainer option for me was the chorizo sandwich, prepared with spicy chorizo, fried egg, and salsa verde, which was served with truffled hash browns and a salad. Once I’d de-runny’d my egg, I really liked the dish. The chorizo had been formed into a standard sausage patty shape, but with the distinct bold flavor of chorizo. I knew from the moment I first tried it in Spain I’d found a new lifelong friend. It was on the heavier side though, so if I had it all to do over, I’d make reservations and eat more slowly – that’d solve all problems.

My friend had their grilled cheese – which was prepared using thick slices of bread and equally thick slices of cheese. I’d have a hard time resisting the grilled cheese if I were to return back. It just looked so darn good.

In the end, the server nicely allowed us to stay as long as we wished, eventually moving us over to a high-top table in the bar. Which was fine. More than fine. Perhaps it was a disconnect in approach. The hostess just needs to get on board. If I go back, it would be to try their tapas which we did not get to experience. Always enjoy the chance to compare a restaurant’s jamon serrano (delish).

Caliu Tapas – 557 Hudson Street (b/w W. 11th. & Perry St) – 212.206.6444
Reservations (Obviously) Recommended

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