a hat tip to wd~50

Yesterday evening, the final meal was served at wd~50. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get seats for one of the final meals, which looked like a wonderful way to close out the restaurant’s over eleven and a half year run. I was lucky enough to get to go once back in February 2012, when T and I were celebrating our first anniversary. I never posted about it since even though the food and majority of the service was outstanding, our actual waiter for the evening was the worst I’ve ever experienced. It was one of the most innovative meals I’ve ever had – very varied in composition and featuring so many plays on the food that even in looking at the menu, I wasn’t expecting. Regardless though, looking back through the photos, it was quite a meal. I actually found the full paired tasting menu still sitting in my email drafts, so seems fitting to share it now. We didn’t do the pairings, but I’m leaving the details in the listing.

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Hamachi, lychee-buttermilk, asparagus, cashew
Cremant d’Alsace Brut Reserve Francois Baur NV (Alsace, France)

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Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese
Cremant d’Alsace Brut Reserve Francois Baur NV (Alsace, France)

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Foie-lafel
Riesling Belle Pente 2006 (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

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Poached egg in the shell, pumpernickel, caesar dressing, bean sprouts
Assyrtiko Koutsoyiannopoulos 2009 (Santorini, Greece)

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Sweet shrimp, miso noodles, chicory, yuzu
Rosé ‘Ròdon’ Le Fraghe 2010 (Veneto, Italy)

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Monkfish, smoked barley, beet-mustard, nori
Mencia ‘Dargo’ Raul Pérez 2009 (Bierzo, Spain)

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Quail, chartreuse yogurt, turnip, nutmeg
Mencia ‘Dargo’ Raul Pérez 2009 (Bierzo, Spain)

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Lamb loin, ‘red beans & rice,’ chayote squash
Shiraz ‘Gundagai’ Eden Road 2010 (Gundagai, Australia)

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Mango, sake caramel, yoghurt, cashew

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Menthol, ginger, pomelo, chamomile
Muscat ‘Samos Nectar’ U.W.C.S. 2002 (Samos, Greece)

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Milk chocolate, black bean, plantain, soy, peanut
Porto Noval Black NV (Douro, Portugal)

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Rice krispy treats

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wd~50 – 50 Clinton Street (between Stanton & Rivington) – Closed

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les turned hamptions at grey lady

I’ll admit that I randomly opt in for lots if Urban Daddy and Thrillist specials. I try to remember to check and see if they have appalling reviews but, more often than not, when friends email wanting to go, I’m in. Especially if it’s a good offer. And chances are if, like this one, it involves lobster – I’m in.

Grey Lady - Lower East Side

Grey Lady – Lower East Side

It wasn’t until I was sitting in Grey Lady that I realized why it was so oddly familiar. A quick peek on the Googles confined what I suspected – this was the old White Slab Palace space. A place that served generic cocktails with an inflated pricetag that tried way too hard. It was quite different to see it now as such a bright space. I mean, I could actually see my friends’ faces – though to be fair, it was all of noon on a Saturday. The feel of the restaurant was crisp yet cozy. I felt like I was in the Hamptons. Mission accomplished without requiring the LIRR. 

Dark and Stormy - Grey Lady

Dark and Stormy – Grey Lady

The special included a brunch main and unlimited cocktails for $35. For cocktails, you could choose from filling your glass with a mimosa, bloody mary, or dark and stormy. I started with a mimosa, which was good but standard, before progressing to the dark and stormy. Warning – that one means business.

Lobster Roll - Grey Lady

Lobster Roll – Grey Lady

For mains, it wasn’t a true choice as far as I was concerned. I knew coming in that it was all about the lobster roll. On their regular menu, that alone will set you back $25. The preparation was simple. There’s a buttered split top roll. Lobster was plentiful – check out this claw meat! Mayo was light – just like I prefer it to be. It’s paired with a light portion of potato chips and a celery salad. Summer on a plate!

I’d like to come back and check out their dinner menu. In the meantime if you’re like me and are not quite ready to let summer go, add this one into your rotation. It’s almost like you’re at the beach. Almost.

Grey Lady – 77 Delancey Street (at Allen Street) – 646.580.5239

return to rayuela

Always love to see a place deliver the same level of service and quality each time I return as I experienced on my first visit. Last night I went with a friend of mine and her boyfriend back to Rayuela. We started with their ceviche special – seven types of seafood, including grilled octopus, shrimp, and lobster. It was prepared with coconut milk and was deliciously fresh.

Rayuela, LES - before the crowd arrived

Rayuela, LES - before the crowd arrived

This time for my main course I went with the Cochinillo en Tamarindo, a tamarind-seasoned baby pork chop, ginger pumpkin purée, spicy sausage, apple pear escabeche, with Oaxaca mole. So many strong flavors that mixed together into one wonderful dish.

Cochinillo en Tamarindo - Rayuela

Cochinillo en Tamarindo - Rayuela

Paella de Concha - Rayuela

Paella de Concha - Rayuela

Rayuela – 165 Allen Street (b/t Rivington & Stanton) – 212.253.8840
Reservations Recommended

pumpkin maple cupcakes at babycakes

I have a tradition when it comes to getting my hair cut, and it involves Babycakes. I’m one of a small club of people who think vegan and gluten free baked goods and a head full of highlighting papers logically go together.

Now I’ll confess, I have no dietary restrictions (unless bakeries ever start to incorporate mushrooms into their sweets – guess you never know). Gluten and I so far are friends. However, the process behind t intrigues me. No dairy, yet the icing has a similar creaminess about it. And I’m a fan of agave as a sweetener. It has a less syrupy taste as sugar does for me. And I like that they’re not using food coloring in their goods. Much more natural.

So much to choose from...

So much to choose from...

I’m a fan of their cookie sandwiches – which are two cookies and a thin layer of vanilla frosting. Mmmm. Just because you have an unhealthy obsession with that lovely layer of white cream doesn’t mean it has to be entirely unhealthy. I always feel a litlte better about myself after getting one there as opposed to say Mrs. Fields.

Pumpkin Maple Cupcake & Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich

Pumpkin Maple Cupcake & Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich

I’ve still yet to try their donuts. Maybe next time…

Babycakes – 248 Broome Street (b/w Orchard and Ludlow) – 212.677.5047

clinton street – pancake month ’11

February has been a month for lots of great food offerings. I finally made my (at minimum) annual visit down to Clinton Street Baking Company for their Pancake Month. The crowd was definitely much bigger than last year. I guess the popularity of the event is growing over time – good for them.

Definitely warranted. I cozied up at the bar counter with my cappuccino and enjoyed that day’s offering, crunchy banana pancakes with cinnamon-chocolate-chili sauce and warm maple butter. Delicious. If you haven’t gone yet, there are still two days left – today and Monday. Looks like the offering is “Chocolate Chunks” – served with fresh raspberries and a raspberry-caramel sauce. Delish.

Happy weekend!

Clinton Street Baking Company – 4 Clinton Street (b/w Houston & Stanton Streets) – 646.602.6263

doughnut plant, king of manhattan’s donuteries

Apple Cinnamon Donut

Apple Cinnamon Donut

Before a recent outing to the Doughnut Plant’s actual store down on Grand, I’d only had the offerings you are able to pick up at Joe the Art of Coffee. There you can usually find their coconut cream/coconut glaze donut and I’ve occasionally seen their blackout donut. And while I will agree it’s not a bad alternative, the real deal? Can’t be beat. Now I’ve talked about donuts before. I’ve talked about some I enjoyed as well as some I found to be incredibly underwhelming. Many sing the praises of Bouchon Bakery and while I enjoyed theirs, I still say (and now more emphatically) the Doughnut Plant is where it’s at. Continue reading

romantic tapas at rayuela

Clearly in keeping with my trend to visit romantic restaurants on girl’s night outs, I recently went one Saturday to Rayuela in the Lower East Side. I found the decor refreshing yet simplistic from the moment we walked through the door. The bar area was small on the right-hand side before you enter the main dining area, which continues up a set of stairs to a second level. There are a few white curtains and candles were lit throughout. Nice and elegant.

As much as I am usually a proponent of solo dining, I’d recommend this be a place you go with at least another person with you. Many of the plates are intended to be served tapas style and even those which are main courses can be easily split between two or among more if you want to be able to try more of the menu. I had read much of Rayuela’s inventive cocktail menu, but in the end it was the sangria that caught our eye. The blanca contained mint, limes, sugarcane juice, and Brugal Anejo. I always love to try sangria. No matter how many times I try it out places, it’s always different. I prefer white to red, even though I oftentimes find it too sweet. This was just the right touch of sweet, without being too sweet. It almost tasted like sangria trying to masquerade as a mojito. Highly recommend that if you come here, you consider giving this a try ($10/glass or $36/pitcher). Continue reading