128 W 26th St New York, NY 10001
Where have I been may you ask? I started a new job, that has weirdly sucked the life out of me, because I’m all punctual and workin’ hard and that stuff (is someone from my office reading this?), but I’m also drinking my nights away instead of eating them away. But not this time, oh no. I more than made up for it when my dad decided to take my sister and me to dinner one night at TreDici in Chelsea.
I was pretty excited since my dad had promised he’d pick me up, so I wouldn’t have to cab it to the restaurant, and just as I was reapplying my lipgloss I get a text message from my sister, “why are we picking you up? You’re so far.”
And then my phone rings, and it’s my dad:
“We’re sitting in some traffic, so do you want to just meet us there?”
My sister has gotten to him. Damn it.
I of course beat these numskulls to the restaurant, even after forcing my cab driver to do a full circle so he could drop me off in front of the restaurant, and I slither into the booth to get the seat that I want, and I begin scanning the menu: kobe beef ravioli, something with duck ragu, mac n cheese, meatballs…this is going to be a hard decision ahead of me.
My sister and Dad arrive, and they sit down.
“You were cranky over there, not wanting to pick me up.” Like I’m not going to call my sister out.
We’re all so mean when we’re hungry.
“You have a pimple on your face.” I got her back.
Thankfully the waiter brings over the bread basket, and we find out there are risotto balls inside the basket. I mean there are no words, fried balls of rice for a snack, done!
Full disclosure: my sister babysits for the restaurant’s owner, so I was already told that we needed to order the angry lobster appetizer, which was fine with me.
The waitress comes over and starts listing off the specials, and they were like little lullabies to my family’s ears: buffalo style calamari to start, a Mediterranean meatball, lobster ravioli, a pappardelle in a Bolognese sauce.
I could see my sister’s mouth water. I think I saw drool hit her plate.
I know right away that whatever appetizer we were discussing is getting replaced by the calamari, so we go with the calamari, the angry lobster, and meatballs stuffed with mozzarella cheese in the center.
Mains? I was committed to the kobe beef ravioli before I stepped foot in the restaurant.
My dad is having issues though, he hasn’t mastered cooking, and begins by telling us, “I haven’t had chicken in a while.”
“Yeah, because you don’t know how to cook it.”
“But I never order chicken.”
“So don’t get chicken.”
He goes with their orecchiette special served with spicy sausage and spinach, served in a oil and garlic sauce. He was never going to order chicken.
My sister, is completely overwhelmed. Lobster ravioli! Pasta! Spaghetti!
“I’ll have the lobster ravioli…I think.”
The waitress walks away.
“Why you gonna get the lobster ravioli when we already ordered the angry lobster,” my dad says as he butters the bread.
“I don’t know! It sounded so good!”
“What else did they say?”
I know which one she’s thinking about, “you want the pappardelle with Bolognese don’t you?”
“yeah,” and it is done.
Now that the ordering is out of the way:
“So tell me about your new job.”
To be brief, my new job requires me to cold call, all day, so my dad made me act out a cold call for him at the table.
I give my shpeal (which I refuse to write on my blog), and he actually looks impressed.
I’m not going to lie. I was flattered. I feel like an idiot half the time on the phone jabbering to people on the other end, so to get any compliment, even from my clueless dad and sister, I will take it!
Appetizers arrive. I have never had lobster in a spicy pepper broth, and I really should have it more often.
Buffalo style calamari: I’m going to use the word innovative. Judge me.
The meatballs: for one, they’re gigantic, yep giant balls. And they were…my favorite appetizer.
I was full just from the appetizers, and then we see the waitress bring over pasta, but it’s not any of the pasta we ordered.
Surprise! “We know you wanted to try the lobster ravioli, so we brought you some to try”
And there they are! 3 personal raviolis, for all of us.
To say I was stuffed at this point would be a gross understatement: risotto balls, lobster, meatballs, lobster ravioli, oh wait…we still have another course coming.
My kobe beef ravioli was out of this world. It is not to be missed. Even if you just get an order for the table so everyone gets one ravioli, it’s one thousand percent worth it.
My dad and sister were pleased with their choices as well.
I know, I’m stuffed, but they have crepe cake! It’s my new favorite dessert. I discovered it at Novita, and I haven’t looked back. It’s fab.
And the biggest surprise of it all?? It was all for the price of “on the house!”
As we’re about to leave I realize we never took a picture. “Wait! We still need to take a picture!”
“I’m not letting you take a picture with this pimple on my face.”
Guess she won in the end.
It’s not just an ordinary bread basket. It has risotto in it. It’s borderline magical.
Um, yeah they’re as good as they sound, and as big as child’s head. “The human head weighs 8 lbs.” They normally some with just two, but they gave us three, so one for each of us.
I have never ever had spicy lobster before, and I don’t understand why. It makes perfect sense, and I want to have it again.
Buffalo Style Calamari
No real description necessary, it’s gourmet bar food, and it’s good! Eat some of the celery, you’ll feel better about it.
Oh here’s our surprise lobster ravioli! It’s delicious. The ravioli’s are plump. it tastes fresh, and the sauce has great flavor.
Orrechiette: Bowl shaped pasta, crumbled sausage, finely chopped broccoli rabe & hot cherry peppers with EVOO & roasted garlic.
I prefer pasta in more of a sauce, but if this is a dish you’re into, I highly recommend it!
Kobe Beef Ravioli: wagyu beef, caramelized onions & fontina di val’dosta in marsala, browned butter & thyme with natural reduction.
Surprise there’s truffle, and if there isn’t, it tastes like there is. I wish I could eat this all the time, but I can’t otherwise I would look like a beef ravioli. It’s an amazing combination, and no ingredients overpowers the other, they just work together!
Pappardelle with bolognese sauce. It is a meaty dish for lack of a better word, maybe hearty is a better word? Ok, yeah, hearty. It’s satisfying to say the least.
Look at this beautiful creation! There are caramelized bananas on the side, if you’re into that. I mostly went for the cake.
Joe Shanghai [Click the photo above to go to Joe Shanghai's website]
24 W 56 Street (between 5 and 6 Avenue) New York, New York 10019
I decided to go for a nice Sunday dinner with my girls Sara and Caryn, but they live in the same building on the Upper East Side, and I live in Murray Hill, so we always try to go for middle of the road, because that’s what friends do. So I mean, we’re definitely doing Chinese, it’s Sunday, and it’s also the weekend of the Golden Globes/premiere of Girls, so let’s make it on the early side…
Final decision: Joe Shanghai in Midtown. a. I have never been b. I want to go c. that’s it.
Spoiler alert: I liked it. It’s not overrated. I’d eat it again (and again), and I liked our waiter.
So here’s how it all went down:
We were supposed to go to dinner at like 7, but I received a phone call at about 6:
“Caryn’s ready to go.”
“Ok, are you cabbing it there, or taking the subway so I know how much time I have.”
“I think I’m going to cab it.”
“If you’re going to cab it, then I’m going to cab it.”
Easy enough, except I was totally focused on Instagram, and didn’t realize that the cab driver dropped me off on 55th Street, and not 56th street.
“Oh, this is perfect. Thanks!” I say like an idiot, until I realize I’m on the wrong street, and have to walk , and guess what? Streets are longer in midtown than downtown. I just want my soup dumplings!
I walk in and tell the hostess my friends are already here, and they act like they have been waiting for the rest of the VIP party to arrive. They walk me up the stairs, through the dining area, to a private room with two empty tables, and a television set.
“Can you turn on the Golden Globe preshow?” we ask a waiter.
But I’m facing the wrong way to watch the television. Luckily though there’s a mirror so I watch the tv through the mirror during dinner.
What could be better? It’s like we were in someone’s living room (just with a lot of Chinese people serving us food – everyone stop acting like that was racist).
We decide on 2 orders of pork soup dumplings, and one order of crispy beef, and one order of tea for the table, oh and my friend ordered hot & sour soup.
Soup dumplings arrive, and our cutie waiter Sam, places one dump on each of our spoons, and does a bow of sort and says enjoy.
So this is what a LEGIT soup dumpling tastes like.
NOT date material, because the exterior of the dumpling is sort of sticky, so we were all licking our lips and the dumpling to make sure it didn’t stick to our face.
“You look weird.”
“What? It’s sticky.”
“Why do you have to make it look sexual?”
“I love slurping the soup. I love that part.”
“The [hot & sour] soup has shrimp in it.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
Crispy beef arrives.
I’ve had a lot of crispy beef in my lifetime (does that sound sexual? I don’t mean it to be), but this was some of the best crispy beef I’ve ever had.
“What is she wearing?”
“Jessica Alba looks good.”
“Kate Hudson looks amazing.”
“She just seems like a bitch.”
“You guys, when I got dropped off at the wrong spot in the cab I saw the LOVE sign, wanna take a picture after we finish eating?”
“Okay, but who will take it?”
“I don’t know.”
“We’ll ask someone, and then they’ll steal my phone.”
I had a bite. I liked it. It felt like it had more layers than the average soup. I Recommend.
Oh hello dumplings. No one warns you that they’re sticky on the outside, but I guess you look paste it once you bite into a legit soup dumpling. It’s all it’s cracked up to be. The dumpling doesn’t fall apart when you bite it, and there’s soup cradled at the bottom of the dumpling. They are pretty much little bundles of love.
Just the name is delicious, crispy beef. While other people my age are getting married (it’s lovely they’re in love blah blah blah), I’m busy making love to this crispy beef, so it’s pretty much the same thing. Sometimes crispy beef can be hard and crunchy, but this was cooked just right. Love ya crispy beef xoxo.
And here is how I watched the Golden Globes, in a Royal Caribbean t-shirt I got at a vintage store in Wisconsin (that a guy once told me I wore a lot, turns out I do), and through a mirror at a Chinese Restaurant. Too Legit.
Look, my phone didn’t get stolen, and look at the fab tourist photos I got from it!
I have just returned from a family vacation to Anguilla, and if you think I eat a lot normally, then you do not want to see me on vacation. Despite the fact that I sit on a beach all day, with no movement with exception to me getting up to dip my feet in the ocean or to turn over to get my back tan, I still think it’s completely acceptable to gorge myself to the point of no return, to then return to my lounge chair, possibly more bloated, but definitely more tan.
Just to give myself a little credit here, for no one else’s benefit but my own, I did work out every single day on this trip, which included tennis lessons (in which my mom continued to say “you really did love tennis. You should take lessons at home”) and pilates classes, and yes sometimes both in one day, but they probably did nothing for the 3+ meal a day marathon I was running on this trip.
To give you some background on Anguilla, there are a million trillion restaurants on this small island, and almost all are on the beach, so not only did we go out every single night for a 3 course meal for dinner, but we also left our hotel every single day to go out for lunch to sit at a different beach, and shovel in some food.
“Off we go to another meal!”
“It’s like as soon as we finish lunch, we wonder where we’re going to dinner.”
“Where are you guys going to dinner tonight?”
“Can you believe it? It’s time for another meal.”
These are some of the fabulous quotes my mom continued to say over, and over, and over, AND over again to anyone that would listen to her: our driver Russell, my sister’s campfriend and his family, our new vacation friends from Long Island, our other new vacation friends from Queens, people in our Pilates class, and yes even our waiters at the restaurants (the island is small, so people generally have more than one job, so they would literally watch us stuff ourselves at breakfast in our cover-ups at our hotel, and they would see us dressed up stuffing ourselves again for dinner at a restaurant).
It was like my mom felt the need to defend our actions to everyone in sight.
I personally thought we should just try and not make it so obvious, and just accept that everyone else was doing the same thing. What else was I going to do? Run on the beach? I started to laugh as soon as I typed that.
So, was the food worth it? Hell yeah it was worth it. Anguilla has some of the best restaurants in town, and for your benefit, I am going to give you the rundown on some of the favorite spots in case any of you do decide to make a trip there.
The entire list includes recommendations, but one place pissed me off so badly that I need to begin with a review of the worst restaurant on the island of Anguilla: Jacala.
Jacala is owned by a French man named Jac, and if the name of the restaurant doesn’t give you a hint, he was maybe one of the most pompous narcissistic horrid restaurant owners I have ever encountered.
First off: he takes everyone’s orders for the entire restaurant, so you need to wait for at least 15 minutes just to order drinks, let alone dinner. Can you say control freak?
I watched as his 3 waitresses walked around scared to make the wrong move, or step out of place.
He completely ignored my family, maybe because we were all women, maybe because he could, but he came over to take our order with a smirk on his face knowing he made us wait.
And the food??? He started off by serving us a cold asparagus soup with a soggy tortilla, which tasted exactly like the soggy noodles Chinese restaurants serve you at the beginning of a meal.
And the rest? Stuffy French food with a ton of sauce. The menu is described as “intuitive” cuisine. WTF is intuitive cuisine?
It was the ONLY restaurant that we did not order dessert, and the poor waitress that came over to tell us the specials brought over a huge board with 8 different desserts listed on the chalkboard. She would say one, and then nervously stare at Jac, and then say the next, each time watching the owner move from the bar to the main room. She looked frozen in fear of saying something incorrectly.
The restaurant has a posh reputation, but every single patron besides my family was over the age of 65. Skip this place, and go for a good meal.
This was the least innovative dish, and tasted like something I could get at any run of the mill sushi spot.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce with a side of asparagus and yams.
Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce? Sounds delicious right? UH NO. It wasn’t even warm when they served it, and it was whatever.
Porkchop in an apricot sauce.
Porkchop with sauce, sauce, sauce sauce, and a rice that tasted like potpourri.
Now on to the good stuff:
[Click the photo above to go to Straw Hat's website]
Straw Hat (lunch or dinner): Love itttt. We went with another family for dinner, who has a love for food like us, so it was very exciting to have some rum punch and eat with a group.
Order: the tuna flat bread, which comes with truffle aioli. I ordered it twice, once for lunch and once for dinner (as an appetizer relax, like I’d only order that).
Crabcake minus the crab, and plus the lobster. Pretty, pretty good.
Say hello to the tuna flat bread. I love it. I love it. Did I mention I love it?
Spring rolls stuffed with fresh fish. Yep, it wasn’t bad.
The appetizers were definitely the highlight of the meal, so that’s what I’m going to leave you with. Lunch is standard fare, and difficult to complain about.
[Click the photo above to go to E's Oven's website]
E’s Oven: This is a local spot, and hands down one of my favorite places we ate for lunch. I ordered the filet of red snapper with a side of vegetables, and so did my mom. My sister ordered the lobster club Panini with a side of fries.
“You can have fries or sal-“
The waitress was super sweet and accomidating, especially when concerning my mom’s tomato allergy.
This restaurant is not on the beach, but it was near our hotel, so we were back on the beach rather quickly.
For the record all the bread on the island was absolutely amazing. Every loaf was served fresh and warm, and this was no exception.
The best carrots I’ve ever eaten. I have no idea why. Plantains are also on that plate. My mom and sister HATE bananas, and even they liked them!
This to me is America meets the Islands: aka lobster plus club sandwich. This is a lobster club panini.
[Click the photo above to go to Smokey's website]
Smokey’s (lunch): jerk chicken, ribs, rum, beer, all while you’re sitting on the beach. We went last year and this year, so recommendations vary. Jerk chicken wrap, the lobster roll, fish sandwich, or the ribs are all good choices. Oh, and they also offer a 50/50 plate of onion rings and fries…won’t kill you to try them.
Picante (dinner): LEGIT Mexican food. Tuna tacos, fish tacos, guacamole, even the artichoke dip is to die for. Island food is delicious, but by the end it’s like “if you hand me another piece of snapper or grouper I’m going to smack you with it.” Picante is the perfect change of pace. It’s laid back, always crowded, and they make some strong ass drinks.
And we saw Kelly Osbourne there, so there’s that.
My sister: that girl looks like Kelly Osbourne.
Me: Monica, that is Kelly Osbourne.
My sister: O heehee
My jam: the tuna tacos.
[Click the photo above to go to Barrel Stay's website]
Barrel Stay (dinner): French with Asian influence. I loved it. Order a salad, fish with Asian noodles, crayfish, or escargot, and you won’t be disappointed. I ordered a sea food soup, which tasted like a deconstructed French onion soup with spicy seafood.
The restaurant is also on the water, and I loveddddd the chef. He came out to tell us the specials, and crouched down so we were all eye level. He was very engaging, and patient with any questions we had. He even helped me find the bathroom. He was a fabulous ying to Jacala’s putrid yang.
Here’s a little sample of what we ate: the goat cheese and asparagus salad
[Click the photo above to go to Veya's website]
Veya (dinner): “It looks like a tree house!” my mom exclaimed multiple times. There is a live band that plays in the background, and excellent wait staff. To start get the conch fritters to or the layered salad. And for your main? Crayfish. duhhh.
[Click the photo above to go to Scilly Cay's website]
Scilly Cay Island: The best day we had! You take a 10 minute boat ride to a small island called Scilly Cay, you lay on the beach, have the yummiest and strongest rum punch, and the food! I ordered a combo platter of lobster and crayfish, which comes in a light curry sauce, with a pasta salad and fruit. And the restaurant owner, a character!
Say hello to my little friend: lobster and crayfish combo.
And here’s the view!
[Click the photo above to go to Blanchard's website]
Blanchards: American owners from Westchester, my people. The corn chowder is made with no cream and filled with flavor. The key lime pie is a great way to end your meal.
And they have a more casual spot next door for lunch. For $3 you can get a lounge chair for the day (can you tell it’s owned by New Yorkers?), it’s the only place on the island that charges for chairs, but it’s also the only place where you can find frozen yogurt, milkshakes along with sandwiches, salads, and burgers.
You can just tell they had Americans in mind when this restaurant was created, but still has the authentic vibe of the island with bright green and blue chairs and tables.
Andy Cohen has finally tweeted me back after a month of tweeting him to go to a meal with for everyone to read!! Ah!! It’s not exactly a yes, but I’ll take it…for now. I will still continue tweeting him every.single.day until he agrees. I mean, he lives in Manhattan. I live in Manhattan. I’ve already seen him at Morandi (he clearly didn’t recognize me for some unknown reason). We can go again if he wants, and this time we can sit together.
The Madelyn [Click the photo above to go to the Madelyn’s website]
82 W 3rd St (between Thompson St & Sullivan St) New York, NY 10012
My dream in life is to get free food, and it finally came true when I went to my very first tasting at the Madelyn.
Here’s how it went:
The first decision I had to make was who was I going to take? I felt it was appropriate to invite my friend who I went to the Madelyn opening with, but he told me he had plans, so he’s a dill hole.
I could invite my friend who also has a food blog, but he’s going to some art show. He gets gayer and gayer (politically incorrect I know, but it is what it is) I swear.
I also had my holiday office party the night before so I was not in good shape to say the least. Who could I invite where I wouldn’t have to over extend myself for at dinner?
“Mom, do you want to go with me?”
Ding ding ding ding.
I unfortunately told her while I was still at work, and might I add a busy day, and she was a machine gun of questions.
“Where is it located?”
“How do I get there?”
Text me this. Text me that. I think my favorite suggestion of hers was she wouldn’t pick me up at my apartment, but I could have the cab drop me off somewhere on the west side, and she could pick me up from there.
So I would tell a cab driver a random corner, so I could drive downtown with my mom and her GPS, which she fights with…constantly…absolutely not.
“I’ll meet you there.”
Dinner was at 8:30, and of course my mom arrived at the restaurant at around 8 o’clock. I have to take extra care with whatever outfit I put together for my mom, because according to her I almost always a. need to iron it b. need to fix my hair c. need to put on more lipstick. I decide on a button down with a sweater.
When we arrive I order some wine, and we are seated at a couch in front of the fire place.
It is very romantic, and hot. I start pulling off my sweater, and I see my mom make a face.
“It’s ironed. Don’t worry.”
I can see she didn’t believe me until she saw the shirt for herself.
Lucky for us, a couple next to us found the fire place very romantic, and proceeded to make-out the entire meal, which was 5 courses by the way.
“How drunk do you think they are?”
“Why do you think they’re drunk?”
“Who makes out like that sober?”
The waiter and owner ask us if we have any special requests, and the only piece of information they need to know is that my mom is allergic to tomatoes.
“Did you tell them I’m allergic to tomatoes?”
“I just did.”
First course arrives: oysters and champagne. I am not an oyster person, but had I brought a man: champagne, oysters, fireplace…that’s like out of a movie. Except in reality I was trying to figure out a way to slip an oyster on my mom’s plate so it looked like I ate more, and my mom drank the champagne before I could cheers her.
Next course arrives: Guanciale “pork jowl” pizza with black truffle and egg.
They had this at the restaurant opening, and I picked at it, but this time I had to hold myself back. It was sooooo good. The egg is cooked in the center of the pizza, and you dip the pizza into the runny egg. I asked for this pizza to go, because if I finished it I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat anything else.
I’m already in reclining position on the couch.
Home made burrata cheese on naan bread with pesto and tomato. My mom’s portion had no tomato (touché). The naan bread was toasted perfectly, and I never ever everrrr don’t like burrata cheese.
As the courses continue, my mom and I are served different dishes to accommodate mi madre’s allergy.
I get spicy shellfish soup. She gets fried artichokes on a bed of lettuce.
“I can’t find my contacts list anymore on my phone.” My mom got her first Iphone, and before that she was using the Blackberry Pearl, so you can imagine the delightful questions my sister and I get asked.
“Is that why you emailed me that you were here, and didn’t text me?”
You probably put it in another folder.”
“How do I call people now?”
“You have the address book in the “phone” section when you make a call. The green button.”
I get eggplant parmesan. She gets pork belly.
“Why is it green now? I need the brown button.”
“It’s two different buttons.”
We both get veal ravioli, which tasted exactly like my grandmother’s kreplach. It’s always exciting with a restaurant dish reminds you of a home cooked meal.
And finally: apple crisp.
“Do we tip the waitresses?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never had a tasting before.”
“What are we supposed to tip?”
“I’ll give it to them. You know, like the mom, doing it. It’s a mom thing.”
As long as I don’t have to do it. Miss Awkward over here.
The owner Lou comes over to ask us how our meal was. He plops down next to me, so I’m a little sandwich between him and my mom. I can barely focus, because I keep staring at the couple next to us.
“You ready to go home?”
I grab my coat as the guy grabs his lady’s butt, and off we go.
Champagne and Oysters.
These are East Coast oysters, hence their size. I am not a fan of the texture of any oyster, but I did enjoy the flavor of these.
Guanciale “pork jowl” pizza with black truffle and egg.
This is just sooo delicious when cooked right. Bacon, eggs, cheese, bread (no tomatoes)…its like a food pyramid of yummyness. I was beyond excited for leftovers, but my mom ate it instead.
Home Made Burrata Cheese: grilled naan bread, pesto, roasted tomato
This bread had the perfect amount of crunch. Creamy cheese, and pesto. It’s not a cute thing to eat: potential green in the teeth, and requires more than one bite, but seriously I don’t care. It’s worth it.
Madelyn’s Spicy Shellfish Soup: shrimp, scallops, little neck clams, garlic, tomato broth
This is perfect for the winter weather. It’s hearty but not heavy. I had a few bites, because soup fills me up very quickly, and I had to save room.
Fried Baby Artichoke Salad: parmesan cheese, chili oil lemon vinagrette, parsley
This was light and crunchy. They served this to my mom, while I received the soup, and I popped one of those chokes right into my mouth. I actually preferred this, and I think my mom preferred the soup (but she couldn’t eat it heehee).
My mom was again jealous that she couldn’t eat this. Solid eggplant dish.
Berkshire Porkbelly with vinegar sauce.
I sort of died for this. The porkbelly was crispy on the outside and a little fatty, and the vinegar just gave the dish some acid. This was the first time they made this dish with the vinegar sauce, and I loved it. The waitress even brought over the vinegar they used, so my mom could use it for cooking at home. Here it is below.
White Vinegar for pork belly, sold at specialty markets.
Veal Ravioli with balsamic reduction.
I try to stay away from pasta dishes at restaurants that have a lounge/bar vibe. It just seems too heavy for a cocktail, however this was delic. If it tastes like something my grandma made it’s a great sign.
FYI: this was just for me, and they served another apple crisp just for my mom. I was about to keel over at this point. My mom lovesss apple crisp, and it was very good. However, it was still very hot when it was served to us, so I think the crisp needed to sit for a bit longer so it wasn’t so oozy. Still a great end to the meal :)