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September Restaurant Round-Up

 

Here’s where we went in September:

Bell Book and Candle

This little west village gem was the site of our bi-monthly book club meeting. It’s totally charming and pretty spacious given the location. The appetizers were varied, unique, and delicious – making this a great group spot. They even grow some of their own ingredients on top of the restaurant in their rooftop garden. It’s not necessarily the best meal I’ve ever had, but it was casual and fun, and an excellent value spot. Be sure to take advantage of the $1 oysters at the bar!

The Mark

Remember when I said that Jean-Georges restaurants tended to be hit or miss (last month’s review of ABC Kitchen)? Well, this was a miss. From the wall-to-wall carpet, to the been-there-done-that food, this place screamed hotel restaurant. With so many other amazing options in NYC, this one is a total pass.

Torrisi

Even though I mentioned this restaurant before, I have to rave about it again. Brad and I went here for our 4 year anniversary dinner and did it big with the 20-course tasting menu. It was AMAZING!!! If you are looking to do something really special in NYC, this is it. I seriously think I liked it better than the tasting we did at French Laundry (like that name drop? Just trying to keep things in perspective here!). The service is stellar and the food is inventive and ridiculously good. There were multiple times throughout the night when Brad and I would just look at each other completely unable to describe the amazing food in front of us. This place lives up to the hype!

Candle 79

People have been raving about this vegan, upper east side spot for ages. So when my mom was in town a few weeks ago, I decided it was just where we should try. Neither of us is vegan, but my mom is all into the Paleo thing and has some limiting diet restrictions, which made Candle 79 the perfect choice. I thought all of the food was very flavorful, but I really wasn’t fond of many of the “imitations” they tried to pull off. If you are vegan and haven’t had feta cheese in years (or ever), than you might love the nut version. But I just thought it was a poor second. Same for the meat substitutes. What can I say, I’m partial to my high-calorie, artery-clogging options. If you are vegan, you absolutely should try this place. If you aren’t, go with a vegan friend and stay away from any meat/cheese substitutes.

Gari Sushi

My new favorite sushi spot (sorry Yama!). This place totally rocked my world. I personally like my sushi with a bit of flare – some kind of fruit, crunchy topping, something that makes it more than just a piece of fish. My husband, sticking to his Japanese roots, likes the more traditional sashimi style, with an emphasis on the freshest fish available. We have found our happy medium at Gari. They are known for their “toppings,” which add just the right amount of oomph but still lets the beautiful flavors of the fish shine through. We tried the tuna with tofu puree, salmon with sauteed tomato, and yellowtail with jalapeno sauce, with the salmon being our favorite (multiple orders went down!). Brad was also totally in love with their mini bowls of udon. There are numerous outposts of the original Sushi of Gari around town, so be sure to stop in and give one a try!

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August Restaurant Round-Up & Giveaway Winner!

ABC Kitchen

I feel like the Jean-Georges restaurants I’ve visited have been a bit of a hit or miss. There are a few that I love (like Nogatine & Dune) and some that I really don’t (Lagoon in Bora Bora). But after 3 visits to ABC Kitchen, I can assure you that this one definitely falls into the love category. It won a James Beard best new restaurant award in 2011, and is consistently serving up delicious organic and locally sourced dishes. Everything is super fresh and seasonal (pretty much all of nyc has jumped on the farm to table bandwagon). It’s great to know that there is always going to be something new and delicious each time you go, but I have a few favorites that I would really like to see back on the menu this fall (squash toast and fried chicken, please!). At this visit, we started with a heirloom tomato toast, then split the burger and squash blossom pizza. The pizza was amazing, and worth going back for in itself. For dessert we had the ice cream sundae, which includes popcorn and candied peanuts and is swimming in chocolate sauce. Hungry yet?

The decor is also reason enough to visit. It’s pseudo located within ABC Home and is full of chic, modern furniture paired with elegant and mismatched china. It’s charming and sleek all at the same time. If you can’t get a reservation, we’ve had great luck just walking-in on the earlier side. You might have to have a drink at the bar if you want to wait for a table, but there are a number of bar tables that you can order from as well. Best of all, the staff is among the friendliest I’ve met. They’re a great source for information on what dishes to try since the menu changes frequently – definitely ask for their recommendations!

David Burke Kitchen

Another farm to table concept, David Burke Kitchen is delicious, laid-back, and, as we’ve come to expect from Burke, quite inventive. One of the standouts of our meal were the peanut butter stuffed, bacon wrapped dates, which were just as crazy and amazing as they sound. We also loved the pretzel crusted crab cake and the peach bbq short rib. Best of all, we got it on the cheap since it was restaurant week!! They even had specially priced bottles of wine, which you know we took advantage of. For dessert, a must have is the toffee monkey bread for 2. It’s massive, and even after it’s served for 2 (table side) half of it is still left in a cute little tin to take home and enjoy the next day. The woman next to me actually made the comment that it was the best thing she’d ever eaten. I certainly was glad to have that 3rd & 4th serving! The staff was attentive and helpful, and when our dessert was taking a little too long, they promptly brought over champagne to make it up to us. A classy touch.  We will definitely be back!

Il Palazzo

Everyone has their pick for Little Italy, and this is ours. If you are visiting nyc, Little Italy should definitely be on your go-to list. They close the street to vehicular traffic, so there’s tons of people walking around, vendors selling everything from pashminas to gelato, and a plethora of outdoor cafes serving up classic Italian fare. I’ve had great experineces at a number of restaurants down there, but I’ve been going to Il Palazzo since I first came to the city as an intern nearly a decade ago. There’s outdoor and indoor seating, and they also have a great atrium type space. The staff is always friendly and helpful and the food is excellent. If you are looking for classic Italian cooking, you really can’t go wrong here. The portions are also large so plan on sharing! My husband and his family absolutely love their capellini primavera. Ferrara Bakery is also right around the corner, so you must stop there for something sweet and delcious – I vote for the chocolate dipped cannoli!

Robert

Have an occasion coming up, like an anniversary or birthday? Look no further than Robert, which is located atop the Museum of Arts and Design. From their spot at the top of Columbus Circle, you get fabulous views of Central Park and Broadway. Ask for a table next to the window! I loved the vibe from the decor – very modern and fitting of a museum restaurant. The crowd was decidedly chic, as was the food. The menu isn’t extensive, but everything we tried was delicious and presented beautifully. I’ve been to The Modern, inside the MOMA, and I would choose Robert any day. You just can’t compete with the views and food.

Boite en Bois

Classic French food all the way. This is a neighborhood haunt, and has pretty much zero scene. I really don’t have too much to say about this one. If you are in the area (great for early dinner before hitting Lincoln Center) and are in the mood for excellent traditional french food without all the fanfare, this is your spot. Some might call it romantic, and some might call it small and quiet – while I really enjoyed my food, I would have to side with the latter.

And Kimster you’ve won the kitchen scale giveaway on behalf of Slimkicker! Please email me at themommygames@gmail.com and I will make sure you get set up. Congrats!

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