122 East 7th Street (b/t 1st and Avenue A) New York, NY 10009
Since starting this Dukan Diet I have literally been shoveling in all forms of steak, turkey and chicken, and even sashimi and any baked fish I can get my hands on (I mean I had been trying the Skinny Bitch (vegetarian) diet for a while so this was a whole new world for me).
With that being said, I’m sort of sick of all this food, so I was dying to come up with a new way to continue my diet (after two weeks of doing this and I had already cheated…I mean I have a food blog what did you expect?) so my mind wandered to oysters.
I don’t die for them like some people, but I thought this was a good opportunity to expand my palate, so I found Desnuda, a Cevicheria (and oyster bar) and wine bar…an anorexic alcoholic’s dream. Yay!!
I convinced my lush of a cousin to join me (she had oysters the night before, but I think the wine bar swayed her), and I was on my way.
Desnuda is on a block in the East Village, which has a million and one amazing restaurants, so as I was aimlessly searching for the restaurant (no sense of direction AT ALL) I walked by three restaurants I was interested in for my next adventure (still haven’t been to Pylos or Luke’s Lobster) before I made it to Desnuda to be greeted by my cousin already sipping a glass of wine at the bar.
“Is there seating in the back?”
“I think it’s just the bar, “wine bar.””
“Oh, I get it.”
I order the same glass of rose as my cousin (I trust her) and scan what’s happening around me. There is a date happening next to my cousin (which I will agree, it is a fab date spot), and two gay men and their lady friend sitting to my right.
The bartender plops down truffle popcorn in front of us, and I slide it closer to my cousin and I. I suddenly realize it might be for the whole bar.
“I’m sorry is this yours?”
One of the gay guys looks up and replies, “no, it’s yours. They give it to everyone once they order a drink.”
“They must like you better than me, because they didn’t give me popcorn when I sat down,” my cousin says.
While that’s nice of her to say, I’m pretty sure they were just waiting for the rest of her party to arrive. I don’t think they thought my cousin came to a wine bar to sit by herself and drink (that’d be so sad).
My cousin had already scanned the menu and decided she was very into two tuna ceviche options, and a lobster ceviche. I really had my heart set on oysters so we figured we’d split one ceviche, and go our own way on one dish.
“Which tuna do you want?”
“I can’t eat fruit on my diet, so whichever one doesn’t have fruit.” (I already had popcorn woops).
“They both don’t.”
“Let’s do the spicy one.”
Then the bartender/waiter/chef (he does it all!) tells us about the specials of the day. I can’t tell if he lists two specials or one, because I only caught the first sentence and the last sentence, but I was into it.
“Maybe we should get a special and a ceviche, and then see what happens next.”
“Excuse me, was that one special or two?” (we’re dumb)
“We’ll get the first one,” (which was hamachi).
I sadly was buzzed from the one glass, and my cousin was cruising to her second.
“I like to try new drinks,” my cousin says.
“What are you getting next?”
“Can you get white wine after you have red, or is it the other way around?”
“I have no clue.”
“I don’t want the waiter to think I’m dumb.”
“Who cares if he thinks you’re dumb, just order a drink.”
She gets the cava, while I just get a second round of the rose. What do I know??
I then watch the bartender/waiter whip out a weird gadget and place glass bobbles on the table that look like round light bulbs: smoke starts going everywhere, and we hear him instruct our neighbors, “wait a minute ½ for this, and then eat this one minute after…”
Sounds complicated, but I’m jealous. What are they eating?
Tea smoked oysters.
Our tuna ceviche comes first, but I was convinced it was the hamachi, because when I ordered I said “we’ll have the Hamachi and the tuna ceviche” so I had assumed it’d arrive in that order, which in retrospect makes absolutely no sense, but like I said I had one glass and was tipsy.
So good! and SO spicy!
Hamachi is prepared next, and is just so so pretty. I like the tuna better, but the Hamachi was yummy, but they put salt and pepper on top, and it was just way too salty.
My cousin is up to glass #3, while I’m treading lightly with #2. I decide it’s only right if we get a third dish, and the lobster ceviche is ordered, which was my favorite by far, probably because it was the least healthy according to my diet. It came with mango (oops), and it was mixed with coconut milk (douple oops).
“The guy next to me keeps bumping his elbow into me,” my cousin says.
“Do you want to move seats?”
“No, it’s ok. I think he has an accent. Maybe he’s Israeli.”
“If he’s bumping into you then he’s definitely Israeli,” and we start cracking up, we’re hysterical! (she married an Israeli, judge me if you will, but they’re pushy sometimes, but I’m ride or die for my homeland).
As we’re paying the bill, I realize I’m not even one step closer to liking oysters more, but I like ceviche more.
Desnuda (rose wine)
It’s a wine bar so I have to highlight the wine. Here it is. I know nothing, and I can’t give an ounce of an educated summary of the flavors, but I drank it, and it increased my BAC, so I’m into it.
Desnuda (truffle popcorn)
The beginning of the end of my diet. Some people are a little over truffle’d everything. Sometimes I agree, but not this time. I don’t know why I’ve never had this before! AMAZING, and worth just going for wine and the popcorn!
Desnuda (tuna ceviche with jalapenos and scallions)
This was SO spicy. I really liked it though, and I thought it was good quality tuna. It was the right cut, and had good flavor!
Desnuda (hamachi: with scallions and salt and pepper)
A little salty but I scraped the salt off and threw the scallion everywhere! You can see the jalapeno on the side, which was accidentally left over from the tuna. I’m messy.
Desnuda (lobster ceviche: coconut milk and mangos)
I couldn’t find the detailed description on the online menu, but trust me when I say I died for this. I love lobster in general, and I was obsessed with the mango/coconut milk combo.
Nicoletta [Click the photo above to go to Nicoletta website]
160 Second Avenue (on the corner of 10th Street), New York, NY 10003
I know what you’re thinking, I’ve never heard of Nicoletta, what is this place? I’m just so insanely on trend that I decided to a try the new Michael White restaurant that opened in mid-June (let me think I’m cool ok!).
I secretly knew there might be a wait since it’s a new restaurant and they don’t take reservations, but I didn’t tell my friend who I was meeting there (like I was gonna let her pick a different place), so I got there a few minutes early, put my name down, and phoned my mom to kill some time.
I see my friend approaching, and I tell my mom I have to go, “you called me!” She says and then hangs up. Jewish moms…
I break the news to her that there is a wait, and I have to say, she kept it together pretty well, considering she texted me that she was starving a few minutes before arriving, so plus 5 for maintaining your composure girl.
We opt to go across the street to 13th Step to get a beer, while we wait for our table (they call you when your table is up). Just as we order our Blue Moons (the girly beer), we get a call saying our table is ready. It was like 10 minutes earlier than they said, so I already loved them. We cancel our drinks and haul ass back to Nicoletta (it was 10 feet away, but we were hungry!).
“This place is so cute. I love the aesthetic….you can put that in the blog. aes-thet-ic,” my friend says it slowly like I’m about to whip out a pad and jot it down.
“I’ll be sure to note that.” That being said, it is cute. Brick walls, red décor, I’m gonna label it “laid back chic.” Do what you want with that information.
We order our wine and settle into the menu.
“Ok, what are we gonna get?”
We try so hard to look at the menu and decide, but we keep getting distracted, talking about how hungry we are, her “douschebag professor,” you get the idea….
I felt like my eyes were turning into ping pong balls as I tried to catch the waiter’s eye, maintain eye contact with my friend, and scan the menu (I’m a multi-tasker what can I say?).
“Ok, let’s just decide on a pizza first.”
“I’m not into red meat,” my friend replies.
“Great, I try to avoid red meat too.”
We go for the broccolo pie, which is broccoli rabe, peppers, and some pesto thing happening.
“Doesn’t your family think it’s weird that you don’t eat meat? Like your dad?” (referencing one of my blog posts, she’s a fan!)
“Yeah, he does, but then he does this…” and I motion him hitting his chin implying my face blew up.
“I hate that! My brother makes fun of me too, but did he run 3 miles before eating, no! I did!”
I’m suddenly wondering if we’re on the same page…
“You run 3 miles?”
“I work out like 5 or 6 days a week.” Hmm, do you? I work out 3 days a week, putting her at a 50% advantage in the aerobic department. I don’t like not being the fit one at the table (it happens often if you can imagine). I’m starting to doubt her.
We order two “small bites,” of a cucumber salad and risotto balls (her suggestion, my love for her is growing again).
We look over at the table next to us, and two skinny girls are eating 3 small bites. We will NOT be outdone.
“Maybe we should get that eggplant,” she says. I can forgive you for your 5-6 workout regimen. Consider it water under the bridge.
We order, and my friend rushes to wash her hands. The cheese stands alone. I whip out my phone, and pretend I’m busy.
She sits back down, and tells me there is a bathroom on the main floor. I am loving this place more and more.
The small bites are indeed small (my pictures below make them look large, but they are not, but they’re also $5 sooo I get it), but they’re really really yummy.
Cucumber salad is on the healthy side with a nice crunch; the eggplant has great flavor, and it comes with bread so yay to that, and the risotto balls are deep fried balls of rice, so I didn’t foresee that being a problem (only 4 of them though, so portion control!)
My friend notices little silver circles at the sides of our table.
“Is this for our bags?”
I look around at the other tables. “Nope, that’s where they put the pizza stand in.”
Honest mistake. She’s going to kill me when she reads this, because she’s going to say I made her sound like an idiot. I think it’s a normal question!
Before I can fully laugh at her, we look at the skinny girls next to us, and see their pizza has come. Looks like they’re eating tonight too. I wonder if they ate anything else today, or if they’re just naturally skinny.
Our pizza arrives, and it’s go time! It was yummy, but I’m gonna shoot you straight, I liked the small bites better. We decided we would have preferred a “saucier” pizza.
“Like the ones the girls have next to us…” Do you think these girls know how much trouble they’re causing for us?
I look down at my wine, and I see a little bug has lost its way into my glass of rose, and is now doing the free style in my glass. It looks like the bug is legit swimming in my glass, and I cannot stop watching it.
“Look at that thing!”
“It’s really swimming.”
I share with the busboy that I have an Olympic swimmer in my wine glass, and he takes it and returns with a new glass that is bug free.
“Would you ladies like dessert?” YES.
Gelato is the only option, and I’m not complaining.
“Would you like any toppings?”
We pick the pistachio nuts that the waiter recommends, and he looks at us all crazy and says, “that’s it?” Toppings are fifty cents fyi.
We go for the caramel sauce.
As we wait for our dessert, we see the girls next to us have ordered individual gelatos. Now they’re just rude!
We get ours, and it is definitely the best part of the meal. It’s amazing. 16 handles may be across the street, but ditch the fro yo and get the gelato for sure.
As we depart from the restaurant, I realize there is construction on 3rd avenue, and no cars are allowed on the street. Guess I’ll call my mom while I walk home.
This picture was taken before a bug flew into my glass. I don’t know much about wine, but I liked mine.
Nicoletta (cetriolo:spicy red wine vinegar marinated, cucumbers, black peppercorn)
This was delicious! I am a really picky cucumber eater (I don’t like when it has a mushy center), and this had the perfect crunch and mix of acid. I loved it!
Nicoletta (caponata: marinated sicilian eggplant, peppers, pine nuts, basil)
This was surprisingly amazing. I loved it, and tried to share with my friend, but I kept dipping my fork back into the little bowl.
And that bread? Crispy and unreal.
Nicoletta (suppli’ risotto, mozzarella, ragu antico)
A deep fried carb with dipping sauce. It’s not packed with flavor, but it’s not meant to be. It’s just yum.
Nicoletta (broccolo pizza: broccoli rabe pesto, smoked scamorza cheese, cherry peppers, spicy bread crumbs)
Looks pretty good right??? I think it’s the same pizza they have on the website, which makes me feel like I have superb photography skills. Anyway, it is really great, but I think it needed something like maybe more tomatoes or salt, and they dont serve the food with any of your standard pizza toppings.
Nicoletta (gelato with caramel sauce and pistachio brittle)
I could not help myself with putting up two pictures of this. It was just so good. They said the gelato was vanilla flavored, but I swear it had some marshmallow thing happening. Also, please note that it’s not a super large portion: they serve it in a regular size glass.
Mono + Mono [Click the photo above to go to Mono + Mono’s website]
116 E 4th St (between 1st and 2nd Ave), New York, NY 10003
Girl birthday dinners…too many girls, too many opinions: Is this funny? What do we order? Is this insulting? Can I taste that? Am I being left out? Did we just get deep? Should we order drinks? Fun, but oh em effing gee!
This one started out reg, with an email invite for seven of our closest friends to Mono + Mono either Tues or Wednesday. Perk of a birthday dinner is you don’t spend 30 e-mails fighting over what restaurant to go to (or at least that happens with my friends: I don’t like that place, that’s too far, the food looks weird, it’s too much money, I want byob…is your head spinning?). But Tuesday or Wednesday was like its own ticking time bomb…
“I don’t care, up to you.”
“I’m down for whatever”
The email chain continues with different ways of trying to convey that each girl is “go with the flow and fine with whatever,” until the opinionated one of the group is like WEDNESDAY! Ok fine, no one wanted to make a decision anyway.
7:30 dinner gives me just enough time to turn into a human being post work. We arrive, and the host greets us suggesting we hang up our coats, because in his exact words, “it’s a stove back there.” (a stove? Maybe an oven? I immediately think of Bridesmaid’s…What kind of name is stove?”)
Only 3 out of 7 have arrived, and I have to tell you, I’m starving. I already looked up the restaurant ahead of time (I mean who doesn’t??), but the menu was overwhelming me nonetheless. Mono + Mono specializes in their fried chicken, and their Soju (Soju is Korean alcohol, but I would say it pretty much tastes like vodka infused with fruit) so in my mind those were definites.
Eventually the others arrive, and we can get down to business, but not before my friend arrives, plops down in her seat, and announces she “loves getting spit in the face at work” (she’s a middle school teacher in the Bronx, so a student spit at her). What.an.intro. Dinner is about to go down…
“Are we sharing?”
“Yeah, lets share.”
“I want the chicken.”
“Ok, what chicken should we get?”
“I want fries too.”
“I don’t eat chicken, but I’m just going to get something else.” (what?)
So far we have 2 large plates of fried chicken (1 soy garlic, and 1 hot & spicy) and one order of French fries after my friend boldly states that she “loves potatoes.” Yeah, ok, sure.
“The hot & spicy is pretty spicy”
“That’s ok, we like spicy,” says Miss Wednesday. Since I actually like spicy it was fine with me.
The waiter throws out that the chicken takes 40 minutes to prepare…wait what? Let’s get more food.
“Who wants sushi?”
“I’m fine with sushi.”
“We’re still getting the French fries right?”
“How about the ninja roll?”
“Wait, are we getting French fries?”
“I want a salad, does anyone else want a salad?”
“if you want the salad, I’ll eat the salad.”
“Everyone will pick at it…”
Soju arrives first. All of us are handed small glasses with a large block of ice in the middle, and the Soju is poured on top of the ice cube. It is gone in a matter of minutes.
Food arrives staggered as we all grab at it with our forks, chopsticks, fingers, and whatever utensil we can find on the table.
“Who has seen Hunger Games?”
“I’m seeing it on Friday.”
“Did you read the book?”
“She definitely didn’t read it, she only saw the movie.” (she only saw the movie)
“I’m reading it now…”
“Who watches Shahs of Sunset?” This show is so bad it’s good, and I have verbal diarrhea going on and on about Resa (if you don’t know who that is, that’s just too bad for you)….Mob wives comes next…and then like any girl with a pulse, Fifty Shades of Grey comes up.
“I want to read it.”
“it’s on my kindle.”
“Is it a fetish? Like a baby?”
“Like the Nip/Tuck episode?”
“No, like S&M.”
So I guess this is my next book, I need to be able to keep up with the conversation, and I have to tell you it was difficult. Diagonal conversations, across the table conversation, adjacent conversation, my head was spinning. “What are you guys talking about over there?”
The fried chicken arrives. Each plate is half soy garlic and half hot & spicy. “Why didn’t they just put each on a different plate? That’s so dumb.” Whatevs lets eat. As it turns out, the waiter was not messing around, it was really spicy. You can’t tell the difference between each flavor chicken until you take a bite of it, so all hell broke loose.
We suddenly turn into rabid animals sniffing the chicken, biting the chicken, then putting it back. It was a scene. When it was all said and done, I have to say it was really good. Although everyone went nuts from the spicy, I would make the argument that the soy garlic might have been too sweet without the spicy chicken paired with it.
I sneak off to the bathroom, and request a candle and dessert for our birthday girl. Frozen yogurt! Yes! Tastes just like Pinkberry. As we’re winding down I see Miss Wednesday sucking the gigantic ice cube into her mouth, rolling it around, and then spitting it back into her glass…it’s time to go home.
Mono + Mono (grapefruit flavored Soju)
It’s alcohol. It’s fine with me.
Mono + Mono (mango salad)
A little creamy, but we each had a a bites, so great for a few bites, but definitely get it to share, not for yourself.
Mono + Mono (fries)
These were actually unreal! I “love potatoes” too. We ordered a second round of these. It came with 3 dipping sauces. One is a spicy mayo, which my friend almost spit out after already eating the spicy chicken (still funny).
Mono + Mono (spider roll)
Look at this monster! The pickiest eater of our friends decided it looked too good to not try, and surprise, she liked it! It’s deep fried and covered in sauce…puh-lease.
Mono + Mono (Ninja roll)
Looks cray right? We each got a roll or two depending on who didn’t want this particular dish. I definitely would get them to share, because they’re good for a taste, but not a whole meal.
Mono * Mono (fried chicken)
Here it is! Can you tell which one is spicy, and which one is sweet? I don’t care I’d eat them again just to watch everyone freak out.
Yuca Bar [Click the photo above to go to Yuca Bar’s website]
111 Avenue A (corner of 7th Street), New York NY 10009
Thirsty Thursday + March Madness = great time to go out.
After much anticipation, I finally made it to Yuca Bar! Yay! Wisconsin and Syracuse game was also on (I’m a Wisconsin alumni, and the rest of my family is Syracuse alumni, smack talking was wild all day) so it was hard for me to choose: yummy dinner or supportive alumni. I went with yummy dinner (I have a food blog! Sports are never going to win unless I’m dying to see some guy that’s watching the game), and decided to bother my friend for constant updates via texts.
We opted to walk there (nice out, and burn some cals before a not so skinny meal) so armed with a Wisco t-shirt (Look! I’m hardcore!) and sunglasses, I grabbed an iced coffee, and strolled to meet my friend further downtown closer to the restaurant.
As soon as I meet up with her, she points to my coffee, and makes this gesture with her hands that look like she’s suffocating a wildebeest: “Supress!” she screams.
“If I didn’t get this iced coffee I would have made us stop and eat at the closest restaurant.” And I wanted to make it to Yuca Bar.
The walk entailed a few screaming outbursts and a debate if we were on the right side of the street (I think it’s there. I think you’re wrong…I was wrong)
It is over 70 degrees and my jeans are sticking to my body.
I point to my pants, and scream, “Glued!”
We suddenly realize there are people next to us listening to us talk about how sweaty we are, and start laughing and keep screaming, “Gross! Disgusting!”
I then see a big black Labrador sitting outside the restaurant and I go to pet it.
My friend goes “ew don’t do that.”
My hand is 4 inches from the dog’s face, and I pause, “no? This is a bad idea?”
“I mean to each their own”
I pet the dog and go, “I’ll just wash my hands.”
We walk into the restaurant.
“2 please, can we sit outside?”
The host points to my iced coffee, and I look for a place to throw it out, and instead just put it on the hostess stand (whatever).
“Nothing is available.”
I look outside and I see a bunch of tables. “But there are seats right there?”
“Oh for dinner!” then seats us (are you confused, because I was!)
We sit down and the waitress tells us about their drink specials ($5!!). She described one as “alcohol mixed with alcohol.”
“What should we order?”
“I think I’ve been looking at the wrong menu all day.”
The waitress walks over and we order guacamole to start (who needs to look at a menu to order that? Puh-lease!)
We order the arepa con carne, fish tacos (pescado…see I can do Spanish), and plantains stuffed with pork.
“So we’ll get meat, fish, and pork.”
“We’re so easy!” (are we??)
“I kind of want rice and beans.”
“So we can get them, we’ll just need a second table to fit all the food.”
The waitress comes over to take our orders, and at the last minute my friend goes, “are the rice and beans big?”
“No, they’re small.”
“And that too!”
Everything was yummy! My favorite dish was the arepa, because it was sweet and it soaked up all the flavors from the meat. We had to move plates around to put it closer to me.
“Everything is so good!”
“I know it’s really good.”
“Your voice went up at the end. You don’t think it’s that good.”
“I do, I think it’s really good! It went up again didn’t it?”
“I don’t know that’s weird.”
The meal went off without a hitch except that not one, not two, but THREE homeless men stopped to ask us for change. Do my friend and I attract that sort of attention? This is our new dating pool??
The owner politely scurried them away from us as we awkwardly cringed and tried to pretend they were not there. He was really nice and apologized, explaining that because the restaurant is near a park there are a lot of homeless people in the area (so we’re not causing this? Phew!).
“She has a food blog!” my friend screams in the owner’s face.
“Oh, wow, you do?” We got a free round of drinks! I couldn’t believe it!
Strong drinks, good food, friendly wait staff, I was in heaven with exception to the threatening texts I received from my family through out the whole meal about the basketball game: Booyah! You’re going down! Fool’s Gold (I was confused by that one)!
I was a little drunk and I told my dad to suck it after Wisconsin lost. That is not appropriate, and I don’t recommend texting that to a parent.
On that note, I will be returning to Yuca Bar just not when a basketball game is on.
Yuca Bar (happy hour special drink)
It was mixed with real acai berries, which are supposed to be super healthy! I don’t know if this drink was healthy, but it was strong and good!
Yuca Bar (salsa and guacamole)
Basic but always good. So easy to fill up on this!
Yuca Bar (tacos de pescado)
Deep fried what up! I love crunchy cole slaw with fried fish. It was good, but the fish need a little somethin somethin so I dipped it in the guac.
Yuca Bar (arepa con carne)
Here is my favorite dish! Isn’t it just so pretty? It was difficult to cut in half, and it didn’t look so cute afterwards, but I did not care one bit!
Yuca Bar (platano relleno)
I have a soft spot for plantains, I have no idea why. Some people don’t like pork, but it’s a juicier meat, and the whole dish was delic!