Pier A Harbor House

Executive Chef: Richard Gras
Cuisine: American / Seafood
Vibe: Casual / Beer Hall / Spacious / Picnic Table seating
Location: 22 Battery Place
Website: Pier A Harbor House

Back at Pier A for a family member’s birthday and so excited to be here! I couldn’t have beer and whiskey (they are part of my Lenten sacrifice), so I went for the Pimm’s Cup which is super refreshing and light. Cucumber cocktails are awesome. Since there were a bunch of us celebrating, we ordered up a storm and I got to try a little bit of everything. A few of my faves: the warm pretzel with beer mustard (amazing!), chicken strips (so juicy), and lobster mac & cheese (nice chucks of lobster and the perfect amount of melts cheddar). Even though it’s technically spring, it’s still 35 degrees out so we couldn’t sit outside… But I’ll be back again soon! Added bonus: I found out that Pier A is open every day until 4am. Perfect for night owls like me. :)


Pimm’s Cup (Pimm’s No. 1, ginger beer, cucumber and lemon) 


Assorted East and West Coast Oysters


Warm Pretzel with beer mustard and honey mustard


Fish & Chips


Chicken Strips


Fried Shrimp


Lobster Mac & Cheese


Ooey gooey cheesy goodness!


Montauk Calamari


The Long Hall Kitchen


Executive Chef / Owner: Esther Choi
Cuisine: Korean Ramen
Vibe: Casual / Counter seating
Location: Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue (between West 15th and 16th Street)
Website: Mokbar

After a few meetings at the office, my lovely friend, LaNinaEffect, and I headed over to Chelsea Market for lunch at Mokbar. Since I still can’t eat beef or pork until Easter (I gave them up for Lent), I decided to try the Chicken Ramen. It was so good! I actually think I like it better than the pork ramen. <gasp> The dark meat was so juicy and tender, and I’m obsessed with Chef Esther’s cucumber kimchi. LaNinaEffect, a gluten-free vegan, gives the Vegan Miso Ramen (with rice instead of noodles) two thumbs up. I had it during my last visit and loved it. The broth is so savory and flavorful. We were treated to a Kimchi Trio — absolutely amazing! My personal faves are the cucumber and daikon. I could eat them all day, every day. Many thanks to LaNinaEffect and to Chef Esther for a fabulous lunch!


Chicken Ramen (Roasted Chicken Thigh, Cucumber Kimchi, Garlic Chive Salad)


Close-up of the amazing chicken ramen


Kimchi Trio (Cabbage, Cucumber, and Daikon)


Vegan Miso (Kombu Shiitake Doenjang Broth, Tofu, Triple Seasonal Vegetable, and Crispy Potato) 


Seasonal Tea: Apple Cider

Table Talk with Chef Deepak Ballaney

Current Gig
Executive Chef and Owner, International Wings Factory

About the Chef
Chef Deepak Ballaney’s first job was at IBM in the Information Technology department in India. Eventually, he switched careers and went into the Hospitality field, where he worked for the Taj Group of Hotels.  Chef Deepak came to the United States in 2003 and continued to work as a hotel consultant for another six years. At the peak of his hospitality career, he decided to follow his passion and enroll in the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating, Chef Deepak consulted for several restaurants, including two Indian restaurants (Akbar in Edison, New Jersey and Delhi Heights in Queens, New York) and a Mexican restaurant, El Dorado. In 2012, he decided to make his dream of opening his own restaurant a reality. At first, he couldn’t decide between fine dining or doing something more casual that would help him create his own brand. Chef Deepak went with his gut and opened International Wings Factory in Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 2013. IWF serves up tasty wings, burgers, and sandwiches and is known for their unique sauces with global flair.

International Wings Factory: 1762 First Avenue (between 91st and 92nd Street)


Chef Deepak Ballaney in the kitchen at International Wings Factory

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bombay, India. At first, my life was exactly what my parents wanted it to be. If your father is a scientist, then you will become a scientist. Just a very typical Indian family. I graduated with majors in chemistry and physics, and got a job at IBM. But my long-time dream was always to attend culinary school and have my own restaurant.

What did you enjoy eating most as a kid?
Scrambled eggs, but done the Indian way. It’s called Bhurji.  The eggs are made with clarified butter (ghee), a lot of masalas, onions, tomato, and prepared on a flat iron skillet. No matter what time of day, I can always eat them. I used to love to eat them at three in the morning after a long night of drinking. (Laughing) They are the best!

At the moment, what is your favorite ingredient and what do you like to make with it?
I use spices a lot, but my all-time favorite ingredient is chipotle pepper. I use a lot of them in my cooking along with other Mexican chilis. Since I own a wing place, my favorite sauce is buffalo sauce. It’s the base of many other sauces that we make here at IWF.

What kitchen items are important for a home cook to own?
I would say that everyone should own a whisk and a spice rack. Some of the spices that I cook with most often are cumin, black pepper, and cayenne.  They are absolutely essential. So much flavor comes from good spices! I also highly recommend the Vitamix blender.

If your food were music, what music style(s) would it be and why?
Definitely house music.  Most of the time, there are no vocals – it is just clean music with simple rhythms. It’s very upbeat and it makes me happy to listen to it. I play it all the time in the restaurant. I have seen people from all over the world come in, and after five minutes, they are bopping their heads and tapping their feet to the house music. The good vibes are contagious! (Laughing)

Where are your favorite places to travel for the cuisine?
Mexico, Thailand, Spain, and India are my favorite countries because of their cuisine. Flavor-wise, these countries contribute so much. Their flavors give life to any food. I have actually never been to Mexico — I tried to plan a trip there on three different occasions, but something always happens and I had to cancel. It’s number one on my list for places to visit.

If you had not gone the culinary route, what would you have done instead?
I would probably be an actor. I always tell people, the restaurant industry is like Broadway. We put on our best face every day – it’s basically like putting on a show. I love it. (Laughing)

Which chef do you admire most right now?
Thomas Keller is number one to me. He has a good history with food. I have not had a chance to eat at French Laundry, but I have been to Bouchon and Per Se. I think it’s an amazing experience to dine at his restaurants. It shows how much effort goes into each step from sourcing the food to putting it on the table. I would love to spend just one day in French Laundry to learn everything that they do.

When you get a chance to dine out, where do you like to go?
When I want fine dining, I love Per Se and Daniel.  For every day eating, I enjoy going to Pongsri for Thai food and Marseille for French.  As for Indian restaurants, Yuva Indian Grill or The MasalaWala are great. My latest passions are ramen and dumplings – I’m always looking to try something new. The problem with the chef lifestyle is that unfortunately there is not much time for eating out! (Laughing)

If you had to give up one of the five food groups (Bread & Potatoes; Milk & Dairy; Meat & Fish; Fat & Sugar; Fruits & Vegetables) and could not eat anything from that group for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Bread and Potatoes. That was an easy one. I very rarely eat carbs, so I won’t miss them very much!

The Little Beet Table

Executive Chef: Franklin Becker
Cuisine: Local / Seasonal / 100% Gluten-Free
Vibe: Casual / Upbeat
Location: 333 Park Avenue South (between East 24th and 25th Street)
Website: The Little Beet Table

Finally made it to The Little Beet Table! I gave up beef and pork for Lent, so this is the perfect spot for yummy non-meat eats. For those of you who can’t eat gluten, you’ll be happy to hear that LBT is completely gluten-free. Tonight I’m with my foodie bestie, SaraDISH, and we are ready to get our healthy eat on. Bring on the veggies! We loved the roasted carrots w/ ricotta and roasted sweet potatoes — simple and perfectly prepared. The prosciutto & mozzarella flatbread was really good, too, except that I had to remove the prosciutto (I was so sad). Being the amazing friend that she is, SaraDISH ate it for me. Friends don’t let good food go to waste. ;)  The salmon with avocado caponata was one of my favorites of the night — I will definitely be back for more of that omega-3 deliciousness. SaraDISH, you’re the best for treating me to this dessert-worthy dinner!


Such a cute logo!


Green Preservation Society (Hendricks gin, cucumber juice, lime, cracked pepper)


Roasted Carrots with whipped ricotta, sumac, and pistachios


Prosciutto Flatbread w/ arugula, pecorino, mozzarella and fresh tomato


Slow Cooked Salmon w/ avocado caponata, pistachio, and black olive


Roasted Sweet Potatoes with smoked sea salt and olive oil


White Bean and Kale Soup


Roasted Apples, vanilla-walnut haroseth, and battenkill cream


Chocolate Mousse, chocolate chip cookie, and kona caramel


The dining room


The bar

Lincoln Ristorante

Executive Chef: Jonathan Benno
Cuisine: Modern Italian
Vibe: Elegant / Upscale / Spacious / Floor-to-Ceiling Glass Windows
Location: 142 West 65th Street (between Amsterdam and Broadway)
Website: Lincoln Ristorante

So excited to be at Lincoln for my birthday this year! Chef Jonathan Benno’s food is simply amazing, and our meal was beautiful and delicious from start to finish. I really loved my burrata appetizer — it was such a unique combination of ingredients that totally worked! The eggplant parmigiana (a side dish) was quite possibly the best version I’ve ever had at a restaurant. And, naturally, the pastas were exquisite. Pistachio gelato for dessert was the perfect end to a fantastic meal. Can’t wait to come back for more!


Rosato Sbagliato (aperol, zucca rabarbaro, cocchi rosa, solerno blood orange liquore and topped with prosecco) 


Lurisia Gazzosa (Sparkling Italian Lemon Soda)


Eggplant Caponata amuse bouche


Burrata, garnet yams, pomegranate, pistachios, and radicchio


Eggplant Parmigiana


Agnolotti di Sedano Rapa (celery root filled pasta, foie gras sauce, pecorino romano, black truffle)


Conchiglie Nere con Frutti di Mare al Fra Diavolo (quid ink pasta, lobster, shrimp, seppia, mussels, chili, basil)


Gelato Trio: Cinnamon, Pistachio, Chocolate


Birthday treats


Beautiful open kitchen