New Pinkberry Flavors! FOR FREE!

By grace.g.yang · June 20, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Chelsea,Desserts,FRO-YOLYMPICS,K-town,LES,Lunch,Things to do in NYC

On the heels of Red Mango’s recent announcement of tangomonium, Pinkberry has stepped up their game by introducing TWO new flavors: coconut AND passionfruit. They’re giving it away for FREE next Friday (5-9pm):


In addition to offering new flavors, Pinkberry has also started offering free delivery (in NYC). AND…they have bing cherries. Your move, Red Mango.


By grace.g.yang · June 19, 2009
Under: Desserts,Lunch,Midtown West,My Life,Prix-fixe

Last weekend, my mom and I treated ourselves to a nice lunch at Jean-Georges, the Michelin 3-starred restaurant. They have one of the best lunch deals in the city (thank you to one of my readers for pointing this out to me!) For $28, you can pick two dishes from their menu and each additional dish is $14. Not bad for a fancy restaurant, right? Here I am outside by the Jean-Georges sign:


We were escorted to our corner booth, which was very spacious (I could see how people would think the restaurant is very romantic; there are seats IN the walls that look really cozy). To get to the actual restaurant, you have to walk through Nougatine, the more casual space adjacent to Jean-Georges. We were given our menus and decided on four courses (and dessert). The first thing that came out was lots and lots of bread:


The sourdough bread is from Balthazar (one of my favorite restaurants/bakeries in the city) and the roll is from Sullivan Street Bakery. Sullivan Street Bakery is run by Jim Lahey, who also owns Co (or Company), where Jean-Georges is an investor; small world if you work in the restaurant business!

The waitresses also brought out an amuse-bouche:


The amuse-bouche was a grilled gruyere sandwich and tomato, a strawberry peppermint drink with baby cilantro, and a sliver of salmon. My favorite was the strawberry peppermint drink because of the smooth taste and the chunky texture (bits of strawberries). The young cilantro also added a delicate flavor boost. My mom liked the gruyere grilled cheese sandwich, but I thought it was a little soggy and not warm enough (mine was a tad cold when I sampled it).

We had to choose our four dishes wisely, so we were all over the menu with our choices. The first dish my mom picked was the peekytoe crab with asparagus, mustard, and lemon juice:


The presentation was beautiful, especially because they creatively shaved the asparagus lengthwise for a ribbon effect. However, I thought the mustard taste was way too Asian and completely ruined the flavor of the crab. My mom liked the dish, but I was definitely not a fan.

I started with the goat cheese gnocchi with caramelized baby artichokes and parsley:


There were five pieces of gnocchi (the same amount of gnocchi as per se’s salon menu) but they tasted too much like goat cheese and didn’t have enough give when you bit down on them. They actually tasted like they were just pieces of goat cheese that were put in a mold for the pretty presentation. The baby artichokes were crispy and had a nice lemony olive oil drizzled on top. A fun dish, but not something I’d order again.

For our main dishes, my mom ordered the roasted veal with vegetables:


My mom asked for medium rare and the waiter said that the veal was prepared medium rare anyway so we didn’t have to worry. However, I thought veal was supposed to be really tender and not really chewy? I mean, if I’m eating a baby cow, I’d assume it would be a little more tender than its mom, right? I thought the veal was a little on the tough side, but not tough enough to the point that I wouldn’t eat it all.

And finally, I ordered the skate with chateau chalon sauce:


I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what chateau chalon sauce was when I ordered the skate. I just knew that I had skate at Nougatine and I liked it so I would try it again at a Jean-Georges establishment. The skate was topped with some vegetables (tomatoes and zucchini) and the chateau chalon sauce was poured around the skate tableside. Apparently, chateau chalon is a type of wine that is difficult to acquire in the US, but it’s definitely worth it (one website claims that if you use chateau chalon while cooking, a regular cook is transformed into a “grand chef!”) The sauce was buttery, slightly tangy, and tasted so good with the acidity of the tomatoes and the skate. My mom and I both LOVED the dish.

We were both pleasantly full after the four dishes, but decided to order the rhubarb dessert:


The pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini, is somewhat of a heartthrob (well, according to my friends, at least) so I wanted to see if his desserts measured up to his looks. My mom and I went with the rhubarb dessert; you pick the focus of the dessert (chocolate, rhubarb, strawberry, and vanilla were the choices) and then you get a tasting of the flavor. We chose rhubarb because I’m a huge rhubarb fan and were presented with a green tea cake with hibiscus poached rhubarb and a rhubarb and birch beer ice cream float. The green tea cake was really disappointing; it was very grainy, tough, and the only redeeming taste was the hibiscus rhubarb, which I chose to eat by itself. The rhubarb and Birch beer ice cream float, on the other hand, was delicious.

While we were finishing up our meal, my mom took some pictures of the lighting because she thought it looked cool:


Before we could finish our meal, a little cart rolled by with even more desserts:


The waitress cut up the freshly made marshmallows for us – vanilla, rose, and ginger. I couldn’t taste the rose flavored marshmallow, but the ginger was very strong and the vanilla marshmallow tasted like a normal marshmallow.

We were also given tiny macarons and some chocolates:


The macaron flavors were chocolate, peanut butter and jelly, and apricot (I think). The chocolate and apricot macarons were kind of flavorless (and we almost couldn’t tell what each macaron was flavored with) but the peanut butter and jelly macaron tasted like lots of peanut butter. The chocolates were flavored with ginger, mango, and other types of ganache – good, but nothing like the chocolates you get at per se or The French Laundry!

Me and my mom at lunch:


The meal was enjoyable, but I didn’t think the service flowed very well and our main course dishes came out after a long period of time (with no waiters coming by to refill our bread plates or refill our water). I enjoyed the food enough to make a reservation for dinner (near the end of June) so I will report back on that meal soon!


By grace.g.yang · June 18, 2009
Under: Chelsea,Lunch

Company, the new-ish pizza joint opened by the famed bread maker Jim Lahey (the mastermind behind Sullivan Street Bakery), has been on my list of places to visit since it opened. Co/Company is one of the only restaurants I know of that charges for bread and butter (the only other place I’ve encountered is in Spain), but since Lahey owns Sullivan Street Bakery, I assume it’s more normal (although at Jean-Georges, they give you Lahey’s bread for free…well, it’s included in the meal cost.) I finally made it to Chelsea over the weekend and was in the mood for pizza, so I crossed my fingers that the line wasn’t going to be ridiculous and stepped into the restaurant:


I was in luck because there was practically no one in the restaurant and we were seated immediately (3pm on a Sunday afternoon might be the best time to go). I read a lot about the different types of pizzas (mostly good things) and was thinking about ordering the Popeye (with lots of spinach), but I decided to order an appetizer and one pizza to share instead. We started off with the artichoke salad with arugula, capers, pecorino, and olive oil:


Sadly, the artichokes had no taste whatsoever. The arugula was doused with lemon infused olive oil and wasn’t unpleasant, but was definitely something I wouldn’t order again. I thought the artichokes would definitely have more flavor, especially since they were marinated in some kind of olive oil, but they tasted like I was chewing on a fibrous stick of some sort. Definitely skip this salad.

For the pizza, we went with the fennel and sausage pie:


The pie comes with crushed tomato, roasted fennel, sausage, red onions, chili flakes, buffalo mozzarella, and parmesan and was very hearty. While I was enjoying the pie, I was thinking to myself that this is definitely something I could eat all the time, but I definitely missed the tomato sauce that usually comes on pizza. I mean, there were crushed tomatoes on the pizza, but it’s just not the same – I could eat pizza with crushed tomatoes AND tomato sauce! The pizza was semi-healthy (minus the pork sausage) and very filling. After I finished two slices, I felt full but not stuffed and decided against ordering another pie (even though I still wanted to try some other choices on the menu).

I liked the whimsical decor of the restaurant (there are globes hanging from the ceilings with animals glued upside down to the continent they’re from) and the service was good (we were the only table the waitress had to deal with), but the pizza definitely didn’t blow me away.

Calexico Cart

By grace.g.yang · June 17, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Lunch,Mexican,Soho

After hearing a lot of great things about Calexico Cart (and watching a segment about it online), I dragged some friends there for lunch. Andy, Lou, Harlan, and I walked over from our offices and got in line for some of the burritos:


The guys that own Calexico are from California and started the cart because they didn’t think there were any good burrito options in the city. The menu is straightforward and I ordered two carne asada burritos (one was for my brother, I swear!)

Here they are making our burritos:


The carne asada burrito is grilled hangar steak with rice, beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and avocado cream. The finished product (that I had to take all the way from Wooster and Prince!):


And the innards:


Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the burrito because I thought the flavors were all really muddled together. When I was on vacation in California in the mission district, I thought the burritos were heavy, but the meat tasted a lot fresher and more flavorful. I thought Calexico’s steak was too tough and chewy. The guys, however, thought I was crazy for not devouring the burrito for its deliciousness (well, I did finish mine, and some of my brothers, but it wasn’t easy!) A lot of people from the office LOVE the place now and go there once a week even though it’s a far walk, but I haven’t been back since. I might give it another shot if I’m in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t make a special trip for their burrito.

Calexico Carne Asada - Cart on Urbanspoon

DBGB Kitchen and Bar

By grace.g.yang · June 11, 2009
Under: Burgers,Cheap Eats,Dinner,LES,My Life

Remember how I made this birthday list of all the things I wanted for my birthday? Well, my family took me to Minetta Tavern, my mom’s taking me to Jean-Georges this weekend, and my other friend is taking me to Annisa on Tuesday. I have to say, I have really great friends and family and they love making me happy (by feeding me lots of good food!!)

On Tuesday, my friend Lou took me to DBGB, the new Daniel Boulud restaurant that opened on Bowery. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the opening (as have many other bloggers) and I was so excited that I made a reservation last week. The restaurant features a bar in the front and a main dining room in the back (which is surrounded by the kitchen!) The walls of the restaurant are decorated by really beautiful copper pots, all of which were sent by famous chefs (I noticed Thomas Keller’s, Ferran Adria’s, and Pierre Gagnaire’s while I was walking around) We sat at the last two top by the dessert station, which gave us a perfect view of the awesome sundae’s being made throughout our meal.

Our waitress was really friendly and brought us a bread basket to start:


Have I ever mentioned how I’m a huge fan of large chunks of salt on butter? Well, I am. The bread wasn’t anything great, but it was enough to satiate me while I looked at the menu – actually, the wine/beer menu was so large that I had to give it back to the waitress since it was taking up too much table space!

I already had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to order (which kind of surprised my friend considering the restaurant officially opened the day before our dinner). I read that the matzo ball soup was a great appetizer, but it was too warm for a hot soup, and none of the other appetizers really caught my eye, so we decided to just get two entrees and dessert. However, immediately after we placed our order, we changed our minds and decided to go with the cucumber soup (Lou had been eying it, anyway):


The cucumber soup is served chilled with smoked salmon grassini and a little dill tapioca. I have to admit that I’ve never had cucumber soup before (actually, the only cold soups I’ve had are gazpacho and a beet soup my mom makes), but the cucumber soup was mellow flavored, very creamy, and overall very delicious. The soup didn’t arrive until after our entrees arrived (even though the waiter asked if we wanted to get the soup first), but no biggie – just more food to eat all at once!

Since I definitely wanted to try a burger and I really dislike Daisy May’s BBQ (they top one of the burgers with Daisy May’s!!), I went with the most original – the Yankee: 6 ounces of beef served on a sesame bun with iceberg lettuce, tomato, lettuce, an Essex St. pickle, and fries:


I must be in some kind of bun funk because I really could not stand the bun on the Yankee burger. I mean, it was so dense that it almost felt like I was eating two really thick pieces of pound cake with a beef patty sandwiched in between it. Also, I really dislike shredded lettuce in burgers because it reminds me of a Big Mac from McDonald’s. I mean, if I eat a burger at a restaurant, I think the lettuce should be Boston lettuce. The meat was tender (I mean, it could still be mooing by the looks of it, but I really couldn’t taste all of the flavoring because the bun overpowered all other tastes)

The inner Yankee:


Even though the meat is incredibly red and looks really juicy, I just didn’t get the juiciness from it. Lou said he thought I was crazy for not thinking the burger was juicy, but maybe it’s because I was spoiled by the black label burger last weekend, where I had to lick the juice off my fingers because it was dripping everywhere…but I digress. The fries lacked the freshness you get from freshly fried fries – they didn’t taste stale, but they definitely weren’t fresh or super hot.

There are a lot of sausages to choose from on the menu (Daniel Boulud is a big fan of sausages- ha!) and they’re made in house by a…sausage man. You can order one (they range from $9 – $15) or you can get the sausage duo for $21. Obviously I wanted the sausage duo (because of the savings but more importantly, MORE SAUSAGE!):


I definitely wanted to try the beaujolaise (any sausage filled with pork, mushrooms, onion, bacon & red wine is a-ok in my book) and we also went with the tunisienne (spicy lamb & mint merguez, lemon braised spinach, and chickpeas). The beaujolaise, on the right, had a lot of great textures and the lentils + dipping sauce added more rich flavors that all exploded in your mouth. A mouth party, you might say. The tunisienne was actually my favorite item of the night because the mint really made the lamb not as heavy as you’d expect. Plus, the lemon braised spinach was pretty excellent – something I could eat everyday.

Originally, the plan was to get two entrees and dessert because I really wanted a sundae, but I really didn’t think I could stuff two scoops of ice cream into my belly (although if I really tried, I could’ve done it). We decided to pass on dessert, but here’s a picture of the dessert prep area:


The restaurant ran really smoothly (I guess that’s why they have a soft opening!) and was absolutely packed for a Tuesday night – almost every table was occupied and the bar was pretty full as well. I don’t think their burgers are worth ordering, but I will definitely be back (actually, on Sunday), for their sausages AND ICE CREAM SUNDAES!

DBGB Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

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