Le Bernardin [bar]

I just love the Le Bernardin bar! There are lots of delicious bites on the menu and it’s great to be able to pop in without a reservation. This time I’m with a true food lover, CY Eats. She’s become one of my favorite dining companions! It’s so much fun to eat with people who enjoy it as much as I do. Over a beautiful bottle of bubbly (Chartogne-Taillet Les Barres Extra Brut), we feasted on dish after amazing dish. Seriously, each one was better than the last. I can’t stop thinking about the smoked salmon croque monsieur with golden osetra caviar, the king crab medley, and the barely cooked salmon. Oh, and the incredible lobster lasagna, the salmon rillette, and the gorgeous amuse bouches! So basically, every single thing that we ate. 😉 I had a blast catching up with CY, as always. A million thanks to Chef Eric Gestel (Executive Sous) for an absolutely outstanding meal!

Le Bernardin: 155 West 51st Street (between 6th and 7th Avenue)

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Beautiful start to an amazing meal

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Amuse Bouche: Tuna

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Amuse Bouche: Oyster

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Amuse Bouche: Mushroom Soup

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Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur, Golden Osetra Caviar 

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King Crab Medley, Warm Matsutake Custard, Seaweed-Shiitake Broth

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Salmon Rillette with Toast 

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Barely Cooked Wild Salmon, Savoy Cabbage, Truffled Garbure Broth

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Lobster Lasagna, Celeriac, Truffle Butter

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Milk Chocolate Mousse, Dark Caramel, Candied Peanuts, and Warm Malted Caramel

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Petits Fours

Le Bernardin [bar]

Ai Fiori (Private Dining)

We are so thrilled to be hosting a very special celebration at Ai Fiori, a restaurant that means a great deal to us. Ever since our first taste of the lobster vellutata and trofie nero pasta, we have been in love. It’s so exciting to have our family and friends experience the dishes from which we derive so much joy. The decadent four course meal began with a delightful amuse bouche of parmesan panna cotta — the perfect starter. I could barely contain my elation as the lobster vellutata was being poured into my bowl… it was just as exquisite as I remembered. So elegant and rich, yet cozy and comforting. Truly the best soup I’ve ever eaten. Next up was the best squid ink pasta on the planet: trofie nero! This was a unanimous favorite among our guests. The beautiful astice (butter poached lobster) and tagliata (dry-aged strip loin) followed, and the night ended with two scrumptious desserts (olive oil cake and dark chocolate mille feuille). The food was perfectly complemented by a lovely selection of wines (prosecco, sancerre, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon) chosen by Sommelier Colin Thoreen. It was an extraordinary night and we are so thankful to the Ai Fiori team for making our event a memorable one!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Amuse bouche: Parmesan Panna Cotta

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The anticipation builds as the Vellutata is poured

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Vellutata (lobster velouté, perigord black truffles, tarragon)

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Trofie Nero (Ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Tortelli (ricotta & mascarpone ravioli, sottocenere cheese, red wine glaze)

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Astice (butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, garden beans, gold bar squash purée, breakfast radish)

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Tagliata (prime dry aged strip loin, endive, potato terrine “cacio e pepe”, Balsamico, bordelaise)

Ai Fiori (Private Dining)

Le Bernardin

I couldn’t be happier to be at one of my favorite restaurants with some of my most favorite people in the world, including my soon-to-be-hubby and my foodie bestie, SaraDISH. It’s been a while since I had a proper dinner at Le Bernardin — I think the last time was on my birthday in 2012. That’s way too long! I’ll be sure to make up for it with tonight’s meal. 😉 We’re going all out in order to select the seven best dishes for our upcoming wedding dinner. I feel so blessed to be able to share such a special day with my closest friends and family at a restaurant that is near and dear to my heart. After studying the menu and discussing, we decided to taste a total of ten savory dishes and five desserts. Each and every one was breathtakingly beautiful and absolutely exquisite. A few that stood out the most to me: Yellowfin Tuna with foie gras (Le B’s signature dish), Langoustines with truffles and chanterelles, the Lobster “Lasagna”, Crispy Duck Breast with sour cherry sauce, and the Le B version of “surf & turf”: Grilled Escolar and Seared Wagyu Beef with kimchi and Asian pear. There was also a dessert that I instantly fell in love with (and those who know me know that I am not a dessert person): Kataifi Filled Squash Cremeux with bourbon sabayon and spiced ice cream. Kataifi is a popular Greek dessert (it’s shredded filo dough) and it had the most delicious squash cream inside. Throw in some bourbon and you’ve got my ideal dessert — the perfect blend of sweet and savory. Several hours later, we were all very full and blissfully happy. Many thanks to the Le Bernardin team and to the two Chef Eric’s (Ripert and Gestel) for the most amazing meal ever! Less than a month to go until the big day. :)

Le Bernardin: 155 West 51st Street (between 6th and 7th Avenue)

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Starting off the night with a little bubbly

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Amuse Bouche Trio:  Beet, Oyster, and Butternut Squash Soup

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Layers of Thinly Pounded Yellowfin Tuna, Foie Gras, Toasted Baguette, Chives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Flash Marinated Hamachi, Sea Beans, Daikon, and Black Garlic-Ponzu Sauce

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Sautéed Langoustine, Truffle, Chanterelle, and Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Olive Oil Poached Escolar, Niçoise Olive, Grilled Maitake Mushroom, and Citron-Vinaigrette

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Barely Cooked Scallop in Brown Butter Dashi

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Lobster “Lasagna”, Celeriac, and Truffle Butter

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Pan Roasted Lobster, Baby Leeks, Sunchoke PurĂ©e, Red Wine “Sauce AmĂ©ricaine”

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Barely Cooked Wild Salmon, Asparagus, Peas, Fava Beans, and Chervil Emulsion

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Grilled Escolar and Seared Wagyu Beef, Fresh Kimchi, Asian Pear, and Soy-Lemon Emulsion

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Crispy Duck Breast, Snow Peas, and Sour Cherry Sauce

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Roasted Figs, Warm Mascarpone-Almond Cake, Jalapeño Vanilla Ice Cream

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Kataifi Filled Squash Cremeux, Bourbon Sabayon, Candied Cranberry and Spiced Ice Cream

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Milk Chocolate Mousse, Dark Caramel, Candied Peanuts and Warm Malted Caramel

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Slow Roasted Apple, Caramelized Puff Pastry and Canelé Ice Cream

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S’MORES (Smoked Madagascan Chocolate CrĂ©meux, Graham Cracker SablĂ©, Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream)

Le Bernardin

Utsav

I found out about Utsav on Twitter and thought I would give it a try. I typically don’t eat Indian food because it’s generally too spicy for me, but lately I have been trying to move outside of my comfort zone and built up my tolerance for heat. Baby steps. :) The two friends who joined me for dinner were Indian, so they were able to give me advice on what to order. We shared the bhel puri and spinach pakora chaat, which were both fried (already a good start), crispy, and mildly spiced. Yum! For our entrees, we had paneer makhanwala (cheese cubes in a tomato cream sauce), palak dal (yellow lentils and spinach), and bhindi ki subzi (okra, onions and tomatoes). I am obsessed with cheese so it’s no surprise that I like paneer, and the tomato cream sauce was delicious with just a hint of heat and spice. I also enjoyed the okra dish, especially with the plain and garlic naan. Overall, the food was really good and I am ready to turn up the heat dial (just a little bit) for next time!

Utsav: 1185 Avenue of the Americas (between West 46th & 47th Street)

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BHEL PURI (Crispy rice tossed with potatoes, onions, and chutneys)

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SPINACH PAKORA CHAAT (Spinach fritters drizzled with spiced yogurt & tamarind chutney)

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PANEER MAKHANWALA (Cubes of homemade cheese in a fresh tomato sauce)

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BHINDI KI SUBZI (Fresh okra stir fried with onions, tomatoes & spices)

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PALAK DAL (Yellow Lentils cooked with spinach)

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Plain and Garlic Naan

Utsav

Ippudo – West Side

Checked out Ippudo Westside for an early dinner — surprisingly, the wait was only about 45 minutes. (Much shorter than the two and a half hours that we waited a few years ago!) A friend and I grabbed a quick drink at a local bar and then headed over to Ippudo when they texted me that our table was ready. We already knew what we wanted: the Akamaru Modern (thin ramen noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions and garlic oil). Haven’t had this dish in years… and it was just as amazing as I remembered! The broth is rich and comforting — it’s the epitome of umami — and the pork belly was silky and luscious (wish I had like, ten more pieces). So happy there are now two Ippudo locations!

Ippudo: 321 West 51st Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenue)

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Akamaru Modern

Ippudo – West Side

Butter

It’s almost two weeks after my birthday and still celebrating! :) I’m a lucky girl. So excited to check out the new Butter restaurant in Midtown with my foodie bestie, SaraDISH. We were seated in a booth in the back, which was was super spacious and comfortable. SaraDISH and I started off with a refreshing Calamansi cocktail that had watermelon ice cubes (how awesome is that). We are usually hardcore carnivores, but decided to keep it light and stick with seafood and veggies. For apps, we shared Kumamoto, Blue Point, and Wellfleet oysters, Hawaiian yellowtail, and homemade ricotta with hen-of-the wood mushrooms & brussels sprout leaves (I’m a big fan of Chef Guarnaschelli’s homemade ricotta). Our entrees included the grilled striped bass with braised salsify and a ragu of braised baby carrots, parsnips & Hokkaido squash (from Union Square Market). Each dish was fresh and delicious! We ended our night with a light dessert of pistachio gelato and mango sorbet. Overall, I was really impressed with the food, service and atmosphere and I can’t wait to come back soon to try the burger — it’s only available at lunch. Thank you so much, SaraDISH!

Butter: 70 West 45th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue)

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Calamansi cocktail (Grey Goose, fresh watermelon ice cubes, torn mint leaves & calamansi lime juice)

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Warm, buttery dinner rolls

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Kumamoto, Blue Point, and Wellfleet Oysters

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Hawaiian Yellowtail with olive oil, birdseye chilis, and lime

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Homemade ricotta & hen-of-the wood mushrooms on sourdough toast with brussels sprout leaves

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Grilled Maryland Striped Bass with braised salsify and lemon

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Union Square Market Vegetables (braised baby carrots, parsnips & Hokkaido squash)

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Fourth birthday celebration with toasted pistachio ice cream and mango sorbet

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The dining room and bar

Butter

Betony

I’m thrilled to be back at Betony after experiencing such an incredible meal when I first dined here in August. Since then, I had the great privilege of interviewing Executive Chef Bryce Shuman for my chef interview series, Table Talk! He was one of the warmest and funniest people I’ve ever met, and I really enjoyed getting to know him. Tonight we started off with a beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir from Anthill Farms — it was a fantastic recommendation by the sommelier. Our appetizers were amazing:  foie gras bon bons (they are the best!), poached oysters with matsutake mushrooms and pearl barley, and cavatellli with poached egg and black trumpet mushrooms. We opted to add shaved white truffles to our cavatelli as an extra treat and were delighted when Chef Bryce came to our table to personally shave them over our pasta! The entrees were phenomenal, from the acorn squash lasagna (I had never tried an all vegetable lasagna before — even the “noodles” were made out of squash) to the sinfully decadent grilled short rib. I don’t know what’s going on with that short rib, but it is mind blowing for sure! For dessert, we shared frozen chocolate stout macarons, puffed jasmine rice with lavender and lemon, and honey crisp apple with cheddar ice cream. Every last bite was unforgettable. Thank you so much, Chef Bryce, for another beautiful and memorable meal!

Betony:  41 West 57th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue) 

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Anthill Farms Pinot Noir

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Foie Gras Bonbons, cashew, and black pepper

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Poached Oysters, matsutake, and pearl barley

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Chef Bryce Shuman shaving beautiful white truffles onto our cavatelli

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Keep ’em comin’, Chef!

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Poached Egg, black trumpets, cavatelli, and shaved white truffles

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Red Oak Acorn Lasagna, acorn squash, and pumpernickel

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Grilled Short Rib, romaine, and sweetbreads

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Trio of Frozen Chocolate Stout Macarons

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Jasmine Rice, lavender, and Meyer lemon

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Honey Crisp Apple, Thyme, and Cheddar Ice Cream

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The dining room

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The dining room

Betony

Le Bernardin [lounge]

Had an amazing time hanging out in the Le Bernardin lounge with one of my favorite foodies. We enjoyed multiple cocktails, including the Brooklyn Bee and the LB Champagne Cocktail (so good), and sampled some tasty bites: Kanpachi Tartare and Warm Lobster & Truffle “en Brioche”. Perfection! I think it’s fantastic that Le Bernardin has a casual lounge where diners can stop in for a quick drink and bite to eat. This little impromptu visit made me want to come back for a proper dinner. Counting the days my return!

Le Bernardin: 155 West 51st Street (between 6th and 7th Avenue)

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Brooklyn Bee (Brooklyn Gin, Lemon, Lavender Honey, Champagne, Absinthe)

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Kanpachi Tartare, Wasabi Tobiko, Ginger-Coriander Emulsion

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Warm Lobster and Truffle “en Brioche”

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LB Champagne Cocktail (Roederer Champagne, Lemongrass, Black Pepper, St. Germain, Lemon)

Le Bernardin [lounge]

Ai Fiori

Ai Fiori has officially become one of my top three favorite restaurants of all time. I went back for the third time since February, and it was just as memorable as ever. The Vellutata and Trofie Nero are the two must-order dishes for me and my bf — we are obsessed with them! They are consistently amazing. Great service and fantastic food — that’s what makes me a die hard Ai Fiori fan for life!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Amuse bouche (whipped egg with pickled ramps and breadcrumbs)

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Special: (Spanish Mackerel Crudo, radish, caramelized onions)

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Vellutata (lobster soup, périgord black truffles, chervil)

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Trofie Nero (ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Astice (butter poached nova scotia lobster, asparagus, morels, chĂąteau chalon sauce)

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Birthday dessert!

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Petits Fours

Ai Fiori

Ai Fiori

Back at Ai Fiori for the second time in two weeks! This time we were celebrating a milestone birthday for a dear foodie friend. I was thrilled to finally be reunited with my beloved Vellutata… and it was every bit as glorious as I remembered it. Rich, savory, and luxurious — lobster soup at its finest! Another outstanding dish was the Trofie Nero (black squid ink pasta). I’ve never been a big fan of squid ink, but this homemade pasta with fresh seafood and crunchy crumbs was INCREDIBLE! I think I just discovered my new favorite pasta. Move over, Tortelli! (Just kidding. I still love you.) Continuing with the lobster theme, I went with the Astice as my entree, which was fantastic (I tried it last year and loved it). Time after time, the food at Ai Fiori continues to wow me. It is both elegant and comforting — a hard balance to achieve, but Chef Michael White makes it seem effortless. His homemade pastas and soups are simply the best!

Ai Fiori: 400 Fifth Avenue (between West 36th and 37th Street)

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Vellutata (lobster soup, PĂ©rigord black truffles, chervil) — this picture does not do it justice. It is amazing!

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Trofie Nero (Ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, spiced mollica)

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Astice (butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, glazed root vegetables, Nebrodini mushrooms, ChĂąteau Chalon sauce)

Ai Fiori