winner, winner chicken (and bubbles) dinner

I was just reading about Sarah Simmons’ new restaurant, Birds and Bubbles, as I received an invite from N to go check it out during her recent trip to NYC in September. The wait to get a prime time seat was a bit on the longer side, so I felt super lucky that my friend from Detroit was so on top of the Manhattan food scene. I went to one of Simmons’ City Grit dinners back in 2012 and had been planning on coming back. This was a good alternative!

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When T and I arrived, they had already been seated and were perusing the fabulous menu. The selection of bubbles to accompany your order is extensive. We had the H. Billiot Fils Brut Rose, which was a raspberry rose that was amazing. The list on their website gives you an idea.

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They started with an order of deviled eggs. I didn’t have any (not a fan) but as I have always heard, the verdict was that they were amazing (especially the flavor added by the sriracha flakes).

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For main course, we ordered several of the winner, winner, chicken dinners – which is a whole chicken, three sides, and a bread basket. They tried to dissuade us from ordering two for our party of six, especially since one was ordering their own dish, but we insisted. Note: their leftovers reheat fabulously, and make a perfect dish to bring to potluck brunch the next day. Just saying…

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The chicken itself was outstanding. Not greasy at all. The breading was not very thick and was slightly crispy, just the way it should be. Being from the South, you could say I am a bit picky when it comes to Southern food, but knowing Simmons’ North Carolina roots and passion for fried chicken, I did not expect anything but the best.

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For sides, the grits were good. The green chiles were a nice addition. I was not a big fan of the vidalia onion soufflé. It was somewhat runny and soggy. It was the only low point out of the dishes on the table. For me, the unexpected winner of the entire meal was the slaw. Slaw, you say? Yes, slaw! I’m not usually a big fan of slaw, usually avoiding it. This slaw though is amazing. Definitely a must have on the menu. The buttermilk biscuits were definitely the star of the bread basket, but I pretty much knew at buttermilk.

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For dessert, I highly recommend the banana pudding. It’s a perfect balance of savory (touch of salt) and sweet. It’s enough for two if you’re looking for a smaller dessert option. So good. We went shortly after the restaurant opened, which is likely why the service was on the slower side. I look forward to going back again to check it out again in the future.

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Much thanks to Ms. N on the reservation!

Birds and Bubbles – 100B Forsyth Street (b/w Grand and Broome Street) – 646.368.9240
Reservations Required

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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

holidays, facebook, & craft

It’s been a busy several weeks going into Christmas. Aside from the Christmas parties, there were concerts (Pink & meeting John Mayer) and even Sleep No More hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. This blog has been a bit neglected, with November focused on NaNoWriMo and December being a holiday whirlwind. That doesn’t mean, however, there haven’t been some fabulous meals, so it’s time for some overdue catching up.

A week ago, our team at Facebook took some of my work team out for a holiday lunch at Craft. It was a beautiful lunch, taking place in their private dining room. It was a really nice space, with an area in the back corner that opened into the kitchen where you can watch them preparing the food.

We started with a fabulous pasta dish – ricotta cavatelli with butternut squash and parmesean finished off with a dusting of roasted pumpkin seeds. The pasta was so light that it melted in your mouth, almost as if it was instead butter. So good. The flavors were simple and light, so it was not a heavier pasta. The pumpkin seeds were a fun addition – a nice contrast in texture. It looked so simple, but I was quite impressed.

For my main dish, I went with the Black Bass, which was served with a potato puree and niçoise olives. The outside was lightly charred, rich with flavor. I’m usually not a fan of olives, but the flavor here worked perfectly – a bit tart and salty. The flatiron steak also looked excellent, served with cipollini onions, hen of the woods mushrooms, and bordelaise.

For dessert, we were all treated to some gingerbread served with quince, muscato, and crème fraîche‎. The entire dining space was filled with the rich spicy smell of gingerbread. I did not even have to have a bite to know this was going to be quite good. It was moist and molasses-y, which was balanced out nicely with the ice cream and the fresh slices of quince. It was truly the holidays on a plate!

Craft – 43 E 19th St, New York, NY 10003 – 212.780.0880
Reservations Required

dish buzz: brunch at stanton social

Stanton Social, Lower East Side

Stanton Social, Lower East Side

I have only been to Stanton Social for dinner, but was curious to try their brunch. I wanted to do something I don’t usually do and come back to a restaurant I have already reviewed to give insight into some of their other offerings. My mom and I went to check it out a couple of Saturdays ago. We arrived in to a very calm restaurant around noon and watched it come alive, completely filled with patrons by 1pm.

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dish buzz: lantern

Lantern - Gramercy

Lantern - Gramercy

Hope you’ve all had a great beginning to the new year, full of lots of fabulous culinary delights! To get back into full swing for 2009, I thought I’d start with sharing one of my low-key favorites, Lantern.

Compared to the flashy Manhattan restaurant scene, Lantern in Gramercy is very much a quiet neighborhood contender when it comes to Thai food. If you come at an off-peak time, you may even find the children of the owners in the restaurant as well. It’s not pretentious, the service is good and prompt, and it just feels welcoming.

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dish buzz: l’ecole

L'Ecole

A friend of mine is attending the French Culinary Institute and we’d been saying for forever that we were going to try out the restaurant associated with the school, L’Ecole.

There are two options: one is an earlier seating between 5:30 and 7PM with a $42 prix fixe four course meal, and the second is a later seating between 8 and 9PM and is also $42 prix fixe for a five course meal.

The meals prepared for the earlier seating are done by the chefs who teach at the school and the four courses include a choice of appetizer, entrée, pre-dessert, and dessert. The later seating is prepared by the students of the school and the five courses include a choice of appetizer, fish course, meat course, salad, and dessert. That’s a mouthful, but in a paragraph, that’s how it works! Continue reading

dish buzz – restaurant week, summer 2008

I’m sure many of you think that the time for Restaurant Week has come and gone. But oh no no… there are quite a few restaurants that have extended their participation on through September 1st, but only offering the menu Monday through Friday.

I have mixed feelings about Restaurant Week, which were somewhat confirmed by my two restaurant visits. But that will not keep me from going each time, and I recommend you use it as a good chance to check out some spots you wouldn’t otherwise. I’m a big fan of checking out the regular menus and pinpointing those restaurants where it would be a significant discount. Continue reading