absolutely delightful little tea parlor in the West Village. food + pastry dainty & made with care.
Bonus points for cute waiter.
Archive for the ‘eating out & going out’ Category
absolutely delightful little tea parlor in the West Village. food + pastry dainty & made with care.
Self-serve froyo @ FroZen Yo
red velvet + cookies & cream froyo w/ kiwis, strawberries, & blueberries
the Green Velvet roll @ Current Sushi
brunch @ Bread & Chocolate
portobello + sundried tomato pesto omelette + mini hash brown (latke?)
pretty molded butter @ Sequoia
thai painted grilled salmon w/ wasabi mashed potatoes + glazed carrots
vanilla gelato + macaron
the kennedy center
boats on the Potomac
On the flip side of last entry’s bargain find, here’s a tip for what not to do at the famed Nobu restaurant chain if you’re a poor college student: order sushi.
Two rolls for $20 may not seem too steep, considering it is such a highly-appraised Japanese restaurant, but really, the portions were meager and the taste nothing special.
If you’re going aiming for $20 or under, there are several options on the cold and hot dishes menu (try the sashimi salad, if you’re craving raw fish, I sampled a friend’s, and it was delicious), although the portion sizes are really tailored for ordering more than one item.
Then again, if you’re aiming for $20 or under, why eat at Nobu?
Note: bad marks for the waiter who kept nagging us with a “Is that all you’re going to order?”…we’re college students, not investment bankers.
if you go (don’t order sushi!):
40 West 57 Street
New York, NY 10019
Three coffee drinks, 4 hours of sleep, 6 hours of testing and one giant sigh of relief later, finals week is finally over! (And on a more bittersweet note, so is freshman year of college. It’s hard to believe how life has changed since last May…so much has happened, and it’s definitely been tough at times, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences (or new friends!) for anything.)
Sleep, the beach, books, an internship in Soho (!), a nice clean kitchen, free time, old friends, new friends, family… yep, there’s a lot to look forward to. Here’s to summer!
Anyway, back to blogging…
Thai food may well be one of my favorite cuisines. Savory, sweet, and spicy, fragrant with lemongrass, basil, and lime, it’s far from your boring meat-and-potatoes. Thankfully, New York City is full of Thai restaurants, and even better, many of them offer “lunch specials” for just $10 or less, great for college students on a budget.
Take, for example, Sura Thai Kitchen, a great little place with a modern flair between 100th and 101st street, just a few blocks down from Columbia. For just $8, you get to choose from one appetizer and one entrée from a generous list. Thai iced tea or Thai iced coffee will set you back only a dollar more (a great deal, considering it can cost around $3 a glass full price!).
For lunch today, I had the beautifully plated Virgin Summer Roll, filled with veggies and sprinkled with peanuts and a savory sauce, and the Thai Basil, Sunny Side up Egg entrée. It turned out to be a spicy stir-fry of peppers, onions, basil and tofu (you have a choice of meat or tofu, I went for the vegetarian) topped with a fried egg, and served with white rice. A great venture out from the usual Pad Thai (although C got that, and it was delicious too). The only complaint I had was that some pieces of tofu had a very slight soured taste, but only a true tofu-maniac would be able to detect it.
I may not be a Thai-food expert, just a fan, but the food was good and cheap, décor sleek, service prompt, and staff friendly. Worth a repeat in my book! (Plus, it got the approval from some friends from Bangkok.)
Sura Thai Urban Kitchen
2656 BROADWAY 100-101ST
NEW YORK, NY 10025
I’m a firm believer that the cupcake trend is not a trend. Sure, bacon cupcakes may be pushing it, but the good-old chocolate on vanilla has been a bake sale staple for decades and will likely continue to be, regardless of economic boom-and-bust, even when the craze for gourmet flavors dies down.
Anyway, a nice side effect of this recent cupcake revival is that NYC has literally become a cupcake Mecca, with bakeries in every borough claiming to make the best buttercream and tenderest vanilla. Unfortunately, as an avid cupcake baker (and a little bit of a snob) myself, I’ve found these claims mostly ungrounded; all too often, innocent little treats are replaced by gargantuan blobs of sugary frosting and coarse cake (i’m talking to you, Crumbs).
To me, cupcakes should be light yet satisfying; sweet, but not overly so, with just the right ratio of frosting-to-cake.
Fortunately, Lulu’s Cake Boutique fulfilled all my criteria, and then some.
The Raspberry Rhapsody cupcake I ordered was absolutely delicious, perhaps the best cupcake I’ve had in Manhattan so far. The vanilla cake was moist and fine-textured, the raspberry buttercream smooth and light, and the lemon curd filling fresh and tangy. The frosting-filling-cake ratio was spot-on; and the cupcake itself the perfect size—a real cupcake size, like the kind you bake at home, no more, no less. At $2.75 the cupcakes may cost more than your homemade treats, but are on par with most prices in NYC, the same as a chocolate or vanilla Magnolia cupcake. But where Magnolia’s goes for that homemade feel, with the imperfections in the cake and rustic frosting adding to its appeal, these cupcakes are all class.
If you visit:
LULU CAKE BOUTIQUE • NEW YORK CITY
112 Eighth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets)
New York, New York 10011
P.S. : Lulu’s also makes a variety of “retro” treats, snack cakes like Ding-Dongs and Twinkies in homemade form. Can’t wait to try the Red Velvet (or curiously named Passionately Kissed) Twinkies next time!
Note: Sorry for the late post, schoolwork is neverending as always… RW Winter 2011 is now over, although some places offer extended prix fixe menus through the month!
Restaurant Week Winter 2011: Le Cirque
Always frugal minded, trying to get the most bang for my buck during Restaurant Week (link), I booked a table for two at Le Cirque for Friday evening, a highly acclaimed upscale French restaurant in Midtown East (you can read more about its history here).
For a jacket-and-tie required establishment, I was pleasantly surprised at the courteous (although friendly would be pushing it) service—I may have had my LBD and heels on, and the bf his black blazer, but we weren’t fooling anyone, and were by a good decade or two the youngest customers there (the crowd being composed mostly of middle aged well-to-do couples and groups of businessmen). Even when we used the wrong plates for buttering our rolls, not much fuss was made—plates simply whisked away and replaced.
Oftentimes, RW menus tend to be limited and lacking in creativity, but Le Cirque proved otherwise, offering the customer a wider variety of choices than most, even escargot.
Overall impression? The richest meal I’ve ever eaten; manageable portion sizes prevented it from erring on heavy.
Appetizer: Escargot and Bacon Skewers on a bed of lentils (I don’t recall the actual title, but that pretty much sums it up)
•Unlike typical soft and garlicky escargot served on the shell, these were chewy, like clams, with a smoky flavor. Overall appetizer had a barbeque-sauce sweet and sour tang. Not the biggest fan of the chunks of bacon, a bit too fatty, but then again, not the biggest fan of bacon in most occasions.
Entrée: Duck Jambonette with sweet and sour pearl onions, creamy polenta
•A cute, fat duck thigh stuffed with some sort of meat filling (sausage? More duck?). Tender and well cooked, good flavor. Sweet and sour onions tangy and tender; the most buttery, richest polenta I’ve ever encountered.
Dessert: Chocolate Fondant with Rum ice cream, caramelized bananas
•Molten chocolate cake seems to be a norm in most restaurants these days, and a RW menu standby. This one was more room temperature, but intensely chocolate-flavored, and not too sweet, in fact, barely so. Ice cream and bananas were a nice touch.
Le Cirque in one word? Rich. The food, atmosphere, and clientele… Maybe not for the everyday college student, but a great RW choice to make you feel pampered and well-fed.
If you go:
151 E 58th St
(between 3rd Ave & Lexington Ave)
New York, NY 10022
Neighborhood: Midtown East
Just one of the myriad advantages of living in New York is having access to some of the best restaurants in the nation, if not the world. Unfortunately, as a working college student on a budget, these restaurants are rarely, if ever, affordable.
Enter Restaurant Week: a bi-annual promotion where even the finest restaurants offer discount prixe-fix menus, allowing the average New Yorker to have a taste of haute cuisine. At a set $25 for lunch and $35 for dinner (tax and tip not included), these menus still err on the pricey side for students (although they are often less than half of the normal cost). However, as a foodie and a New Yorker, I figured it worthwhile to try at least one lunch and one dinner during RW, as it is often abbreviated.
60 Thompson St
New York, NY 10079
Went with several floormates, sister (and her bf) to Kitti Chai, a high-end Thai restaurant in the Village for brunch (which turned out to be lunch) last Saturday. Here’s what I ordered:
Appetizer: Roasted Japanese eggplant, bell pepper and pickled ginger salad
•This salad was a bit iffy. Although the taste was light and refreshing, the textures were off—eggplant mush rather than strips, interspersed with long pieces of red bell pepper, and alarmingly large strips of ginger (initial assumption was that it was bamboo shoots—slices were way too large for such a strongly flavored herb/root).
Entrée: Pan seared Bronzini, Shanhai shoots in a spiced chili broth
•Fish was well prepared, with crispy skin and tender firm flesh. A delicious sauce, especially when eaten with the rice (served in communal bowls on the table—we found ourselves asking for more, a bit lacking in quantity).
Dessert: Banana spring rolls with burnt honey ice cream
•The ice cream was spot-on, bursting with essence of burnt honey. Spring rolls tasty, though uncreative—simply bananas wrapped in phyllo dough, deep fried.
Initial chagrin at having to wake up at 10:30 am (the horror!) on a Saturday morning quickly disappeared once I entered Kitti Chai. Although the food was merely good, not fantastic, an overall artful presentation (of the dishes, the décor), made for a delightful experience. Perhaps not worth the full price, but a good RW venture.
Maoz Vegetarian, NYC
New York, NY 10025
www.maozusa.com (they have several locations in the US and worldwide)
This little vegetarian fast food place has been on my back burner for ages. I even saw it pop up in Amsterdam this summer when I went there for vacation (apparently the chain was founded on Reguliersbreestraat– another reason why I’m in love with that city, sorry New York!). And two days ago I spotted it in Union Square on the way to Whole Foods, another (more expensive) love of mine. So today I finally decided to stop by for lunch with a friend, in the Morningside Heights outlet, conveniently located across the street and a few steps down from Columbia.
At $4.95 for a basic falafel sandwich with unlimited toppings, it’s a great deal for the college student and student-at-heart. Although I am no falafel connoisseur, the little chickpea balls were deliciously crisp-fried on the outside and a moist green (cilantro?) on the inside. Definitely beats the kind from the Jersey mall. The pita (choose from whole wheat and white) tasted fresh and fluffy, not cold and wimpy like the grocery store kind. I loaded my sandwich with dill marinated cucumbers, crispy roasted broccoli (it was addiction at first bite!), and tons of yogurt sauce, my favorite. There was a bounty of veggies and sauces to choose from, including roasted peppers, chickpeas, mayo, tahini sauce, and much, much more, and with the self-serve format, feel free to try them all! (I went up three times for more yogurt sauce.)
$2.25 bought me a mint lemonade to wash it all down, with a real mint leaf floating in it. It was nothing mindblowing but a nice change from the usual flat diet coke.
Overall, a definite recommend—I will be visiting this place again. Fast cheap food with a vegetarian vision, what’s not to love?
P.S.: Here’s to my first blog post in college!
Select snapshots from our vacation to northern europe, amsterdam, and paris
chicken and lamb biryani, amsterdam
lovely banana pancake, amsterdam
delicious dark espresso, amsterdam
sundried tomato bagel, walnut honey bagel, stroopwafels and radishes
chocolate spread assortment in amsterdam!
delicious tea in dover
strawberry vanilla fool tea
huge carrots in norwegian farmer’s market
wild raspberries, norway
canteloupe cream tart w/ kiwi sauce, the only tasty thing on the cruise
wild blueberries! found in norwegian park
purple cauliflower, norwegian market
gruyere galette w/ fried egg and salad, paris
galette w/ gruyere and tomato coulis, paris
sanwich stand, paris
chevre, camenbert, and tomato baguette, paris
macarons in mcdonald’s?? I didn’t push my luck…
fresh baguette– is there anything better?
chocolate muffin filled with NUTELLA!
raspberry, rose petal, and lychee sundae from Laduree, Paris
chestnut ice cream w/ macarons from Laduree, Paris
we licked the bowls clean.
But do not worry! I am coming back…August 10th. My dad, grandma, and I are leaving for a 11 day cruise in northern Europe. Expect to see many food and travel pics when I return!