Egg Shop

We were meeting up with some college friends for drinks and dinner but I was completely stumped on where to eat. A friend suggested Egg Shop, located in Nolita, just a few blocks shy of both Soho and Chinatown. A quick look at the menu showed promising options so we decided on it. We arrived around 7:30 on a Monday night and was seated right away.

We decided to split appetizers to start since none of us could figure out what to get for our entrees! The entire menu looked so good! We started off with their Golden Bucket ($16.00), which is fried chicken with hot honey, fresh herbs and sea salt. I really, really liked the chicken! The outside was crunchy while the meat was juicy. I also liked the hot honey because it was sweet and had a kick at the same time. IMG_7430

We also split two orders of the Maple Sausage Sliders ($11.00) since each order only came with two. The Maple Sausage Slider featured a housemade sausage patty with Vermont maple syrup with a fried quail egg on top. They had me at the fried quail egg! The sausage was a bit messy to eat because of the runny quail egg yoke but it was pretty flavorful – with a bit of a kick as well.

IMG_7431

For my entree, I went with the Eggshop B.E.C. ($10.00), which features a broke yoke, Shelburne Cheddar Cheese, black forest bacon, and tomato jam on a panini roll. The first thing that caught my eye was the leaky yoke – I absolutely love a broken egg yoke. I love it when it leaks into the bun of the bread and softens it up. This sandwich was really good – the bacon was thick and flavorful and the tomato jam was a more refined version of your standard ketchup. I wish I could eat this for breakfast everyday!

IMG_7432

We also split a side of fries ($5.00), which comes with Sohha yogurt and sweet chili sauce for dipping. We barely touched the sweet chili sauce cause the Sohha yogurt was the better of the two. For those of you unfamiliar with Sohha, it’s a Mediterranean, savory yogurt that’s located in Chelsea Market. It’s literally the best dipping sauce ever because it’s creamy and savory, which compliments the salty fries.

IMG_7434

For dessert, a friend and I split the French Toast ($9.00), which features french toast soaked in Vermont maple syrup and Ronny Brook Chocolate Cream. It’s topped with fresh fruit – in our case, it was blueberries and apple slices. The french toast was good but the best part was the sweet chocolate cream – it tasted so good!

IMG_7436

Service was attentive throughout and our waitress was very nice. I would definitely recommend either coming really early or really late because around 8:00 – 9:00PM, the restaurant was packed! By the time we left around 10:00, it was only half full. And yes – they let us sit there for almost 3 hours!

Bohemian

I first stumbled onto Bohemian a few years ago while trying to find somewhere to take the Boyfriend for his 21st birthday. Bohemian, nestled in the back of a Japanese butcher shop in Noho, is one of the most exclusive restaurants in NYC. It might actually be harder to get a reservation at Bohemian than it is at some of NYC’s 2-3 Michelin starred restaurants! Their number isn’t listed anywhere online and their website doesn’t offer much help either. You have to either know someone who has eaten there before or email them with your reasons why they should let you have their number.

I emailed them with a plea to allow us to celebrate this special occasion but I ultimately settled on Sakagura (aka the best Salmon-Ikura Don ever!). The number remained in my email inbox flagged for the next few years. For our 5 Year Anniversary this year, I decided to dust out the number and give them a call. I called exactly one month from the date and was given the option of a 6:30pm or 8:30pm seating. I opted for the 6:30pm.

We were seated right away and left with their menu and drinks list. We both already knew that we would be getting their Tasting Menu ($58.00), which consists of basically 6 courses. For drinks, we both ordered a Sapparo Premium on draft ($6.00). This gave us plenty of time to look over the dining room, which was pretty small. There were only two tables for 4 and four tables for 2 – a super intimate setting.

IMG_7485

Our first course was the Farmer’s Fresh Vegetable Fondue, which featured an assortment of vegetables on ice with a small fondue kept warm by a candle. The vegetables were very fresh and many of them had a firm crunch. The fondue was the highlight of the course – it tasted a bit like caesar salad dressing but with a hint of cheese. I’m not normally a huge fan of raw carrots but I gobbled them up!

IMG_7487

Our second course is their famous Uni Croquette. The name is a bit misleading because it’s uni on top of a mushroom croquette. The outside of the croquette was crisp and thin – not soggy or oily at all. I particularly liked the mushroom filling because it was very smooth and creamy. The uni was a generous serving and made each mouthful even more creamy.

IMG_7488

The next course was the Washu Beef Short Rib Sashimi, served on a plate on top of ice with soy sauce, a dash of wasabi, Japanese pickled radish and soy sauce marinated garlic. The garlic gave each bite a kick, which was needed since the beef didn’t have much taste otherwise. They call it a sashimi, but I believe the beef is lightly seared on the outside.

IMG_7490

Our fourth course was the “entree” section of the meal – the Pan-Roasted Branzino. The branzino is served on a cast-iron skillet with a variety of roasted sides- zucchini, brussels sprouts, mini potatoes, cauliflower and an mushrooms. All the sides were very good and paired well with the fish. THe branzino was very well seasoned and cooked to perfection – the meat was so tender and soft. The skin was also very well seasoned. The only gripe was that we had to debone the fish – I’m usually a pro at this but at this point they had turned down the lights for ambiance so it was a bit hard to see.

IMG_7492

The fifth course is your choice between a Sashimi Rice Bowl with Tosa-zu jelly or Washugyu Mini Burger. I ordered the Washugyu Mini Burger and the Boyfriend ordered the Sashimi Rice Bowl but we ended up splitting the two so we could try more things. I really enjoyed the Washugyu Mini Burger – it was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and had so much flavor. The Sashimi Rice Bowl was nice as well – the Tosa-zu jelly was sweet, sour and vinegary. It definitely opened up the palate!

IMG_7494

IMG_7493

Being silly and naive, we thought we wouldn’t be full from the tasting menu and ordered a side of sweet potato. We were so wrong! While the sweet potato was very good (it was sweet and caramelized), we were way too full after the branzino to even finish the potatoes!

IMG_7491

Our tasting menu ended with a small bowl of Yuzu Panna Cotta. The panna cotta was perfect – light and airy. You don’t notice it during your first bite but as you ate more, you realize that there are tiny bits of yuzu inside the panna cotta! The layer of yuzu jelly on the top gave the panna cotta a tart flavor. It was one of the best panna cotta’s that I have ever eaten!

IMG_7495

Service was attentive without being overbearing. Our dishes came in a timely manner and we were in and out within the seating time requirements (when I made the reservation, we were told that we would have the table from 6:30-8:30pm). I want to say that it’s all hype about Bohemian, but it’s not. They serve legitimately good food in a great environment. I liked the exclusivity and the intimateness of the dining experience. Now that I’m in the system, I can’t wait to come back!!

Marea

The Boyfriend and I have a tradition of trying to out-do each other in picking restaurants for each other’s birthday meals. Last year, he took me to Gotham Bar and Grill. I, in response, took him to Ai Fiori. This year, he decided to up the game and treat me to the pinnacle of the Altamarea Group – Marea.
I have been looking forward to this meal since the reservations were made. This would be my first Michelin two-star restaurant! We’ve been following the Altamarea Group for a little around two years now – ever since the Boyfriend had Marea for his graduation dinner. He didn’t do the prix fixe though, so this would be a first-time for the both of us.
We arrived on time for our 6pm reservation. We checked our coats and were led to a two-seater near the windows. Our waiter came by with menus and the wine list, which was quite extensive. Over thirty pages long! While we perused the menu, a secondary server dropped off the amuse bouche – fish and eggplant paste on top of a wheat cracker. You know you’re in for a treat when even the amuse bouche is delicious!
IMG_7466
We both decided to do the prix fixe at $99.00 for four courses. You get your choice of a crudo, ostriche (oysters), or antipasto. Then you choose a half-portion of any of their pasta dishes, which is followed up a pesce (fish) or carne (meat) entree. The prix fixe is completed with a dessert off their dessert menu.
After stalking Yelp photos for a few days, I insisted we order the Ricci ($18.00) to split. It’s not part of the prix fixe options, but it’s a definite must try. Each order comes with two pieces of crostini with sea urchin. The sea urchin is topped with a slice of lardo and then toasted for no more than 15 seconds to melt the lardo. Although it is pricey, these babies are a tiny piece of heaven. The sea urchin is so creamy and the lardo is so fatty!
IMG_7468
I opted for the Astice, or Nova Scotia lobster with burrata, eggplant al funghetto and basil. There’s a $7.00 supplement to the prix fixe and it is indeed worth it. The burrata is so creamy and mixes so well with the lobster. Burrata is usually pretty bland in taste, which is why it brought out the saltiness and sweetness of the lobster. They complimented each other so well!
IMG_7469
The Boyfriend went with the Polipo, or grilled octopus with smoked potatoes, radish, pickled red onions, chilies and tonnato. The octopus was so good! It was flavorful and chewy without being stringy. If you’re looking for more flavor, than the octopus is the one for you!
IMG_7470
For my pasta, I opted for their famous Fusilli with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow. I watched Andrew Zimmern cook this dish on Bizarre Foods and was so impressed. First, the braised octopus is slightly grilled. Then it’s cooked in red wine and tomato sauce. Seconds later, the fusilli, which is hand-rolled everyday, is added in. The bone marrow is added in as close to finish as possible so that it’s slightly melty, but not completely so. Finally, they top the dish off with spicy bread crumbs. This is all done in less than two minutes! I can’t even begin to describe how good this pasta is – there was so much flavor and the slightly melted bone marrow was so creamy. Every bite was like a tickle to the tastebuds.
IMG_7471
The Boyfriend went with the also quite famous, Strozzapreti with lump jumbo crab, sea urchin and basil. I quite liked his pasta because it was on the lighter side and tasted like summer. It was just so fragrant and light!
IMG_7472
For his entree, he decided on the Branzino, which is wild stripped bass with garbanzo, prosciutto, spring onion and fennel bagna cauda. I loved it. It went along very well with his pasta choice because this dish was equally as light! Everything was super fresh and easy on the palate.
IMG_7474
My entree choice was the Capesante, or seared sea scallops with crispy potato, spinach and mushroom cream. I’m a sucker for mushroom cream so this was a no brainer for me. The scallops were pretty darn big – and this was post-cooking! The portion size was very generous. I had four very big scallops on my plate, along with all the sides. The scallops were perfectly seared and tasted very good with a dip of the mushroom cream. Don’t underestimate this dish – it’s actually very filling!
IMG_7473
After our dishes were cleared away, our waiter came by with the dessert menus. This was an adventure all on it’s own – neither of us could decide on what to order! I finally decided on the Crostata di Cioccolato, which is dark chocolate ganache with marsala and hazelnut gelato. First off, the gelato is delish! Second, this dessert tasted like a dark chocolate Ferrero Rocher. There was a crunch on the bottom that’s reminiscent of the shell of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate.
IMG_7476
The Boyfriend went with the Budino al Limone, which is lemon pudding torta with honey and blackberry fennel sorbetto. I actually ended up like his dessert more because I felt like I was eating frozen lemon pudding, which I absolutely love. I also liked the crunchy bit on the top – really helped make it feel like a tart.
IMG_7477
A few moments after our desserts came, our waiter stopped by with an complimentary order of their Bombolini, or espresso doughnuts with lemon ricotta dip and plum sauce, with a candle and a chocolate plate saying “Happy Birthday”. I had mentioned in my OpenTable reservation that it was a birthday celebration but didn’t think they remembered. But our waiter did! The espresso doughnuts were so good!! They were warm and soft on the inside and tasted amazing with dipping sauces.
IMG_7475
The service was great – our water glasses were consistently filled once it hit the half-empty mark. It was iced water too – nothing bothers me more than cold water without ice! Our waiter and the busboys would stop by to pick up dishes and present new cutlery but we weren’t consistently hounded. I felt like we were able to have a nice and quiet dinner together without people hovering over us. This is the perfect amount of service – plus our waiter remembered it was my birthday! Extra points! Another plus point? Free muffins for the ladies compliments of the pastry chef! I ended up getting two since both the hostess and the coat check attendant gave me one.
All-in-all, I had a truly lovely meal at Marea. The food was great and the service was on point. The cocktails were good too – nice and strong. I recommend doing the prix fixe if it’s your first time, because you really do get to try a little bit of each part of the menu. Next time though, I’d forgo the prix fixe and just get a full portion of the Fusilli instead of an entree. It’s just THAT good!

Osteria Morini

For my birthday dinner this year, I decided to cross another Altamarea Group restaurant off my list and try out Osteria Morini. I tried to make a reservation a week ahead of time but could only get 5:00pm options so we decided in walk in at 7pm. They quoted us an hour and a half wait time but we only ended up waiting about an hour.

We opted to start off with a cured meats and cheese plate. There are quite a few choices in each category and you get to mix and match between the two. We went with the 3 for $24 option with 24 month aged prosciutto, mortadella and La Tur cheese (goat, sheep and cow milk). Each plate comes with grilled bread and warm tigelles, which I absolutely loved. One of my favorite dishes of all time is the prosciutto and warm flatbread at Da Andrea and this was a bit like it. The cheese, which was super soft, was very mlld and I ended up eating most of it. IMG_7451 We also split the Polpettine, or prosciutto and mortadella meatballs baked in tomato sauce ($14.00). The meatballs were very tender and not dry at all. They were good but I couldn’t quite tell the difference between these and regular meatballs – the prosciutto and mortadella didn’t really stand out. IMG_7449 For my entree, I decided on their Cappelletti, which are tiny truffled ricotta raviolis in a melted butter sauce with prosciutto ($24.00). This was really good! The ricotta ravioli was very good and the melted butter sauce was creamy without being too heavy. I loved that each bite was like biting into a pillow! IMG_7454 My sister had the Garganelli with cream radicchio, truffle butter and prosciutto ($23.00). I thought this was pretty good but definitely not as good as the garganelli that I had at Costata. The plate definitely looked pretty – very rustic! IMG_7453 My mom had the Brodetto, an Adriatic style seafood soup with calamari, scallops, fish, shrimp, clams, and mussels ($29.00). I really liked her dish! The soup was very flavorful and tasted really good with bread. The scallops and fish were both very tender and melted in my mouth. The mussels were a pretty good size as well – and very fresh! I can see myself returning just for this dish alone. IMG_7452 For dessert, my sister and mother split 3 scoops of gelato ($8.00). My sister picked strawberry, vanilla and chocolate-hazelnut. The chocolate-hazelnut was my favorite – it wasn’t too sweet and only had a hint of hazelnut. The cookie was also a nice touch – there were nuts in them, so people with nut allergies beware! I had an Affogato ($9.00) for myself. The freshly brewed espresso was poured in at the table, just the way it’s meant to be done. I really liked the gelato – just the perfect mixture of sweetness and bitterness! This also helped me fight the incoming food coma from all the good food! IMG_7456 Service was attentive and our waiter was spot on with his wine recommendations. They were also really nice and moved us from the table closest to the door since it was pretty chilly whenever someone opened and closed the door. A+ service!

Westville – West Village

It was a pretty chilly day so I was seriously craving some tomato soup and grilled cheese. We usually head to Bouchon Bakery when I get this craving – their combo is one of the best I’ve ever had. But since it’s a bit of a trek now since we’re no longer going to school in midtown, the Boyfriend found Westville, which serves up some delicious grilled sandwiches. We arrived around 1:30pm on a weekday and there were three other parties waiting in front of us for a table. We came at a opportune time though because we only waited about 15 minutes – several parties left at the same time. The place is pretty small so definitely be prepared for a wait! Their soup of the day was a creamy tomato soup so we decided to get that to split. It was pretty tasty – definitely not Bouchon or Juliette status for me, but it was pretty good. It definitely fulfilled the craving that I had! IMG_5538 We also split their Smokey Mac & Cheese ($8.00). It was done with huge spirals, which was a new one for me. The bottom was really, really creamy while the top layer was crispy and smokey. It really did taste like smoked cheese! I’d come back for this mac & cheese alone. IMG_5539 We’re huge piggies so we each also got a sandwich after we split the first two. The Boyfriend had the Beer Battered Po’Boy Sandwich with homemade tartar sauce and fries ($10.00). It was a lot bigger portion than we both expected but it was definitely good. The po’boy was crunchy and well seasoned. I only wish there was more tartar sauce cause I’m a fiend for it! IMG_5541 I went with their Grilled Cheese ($8.00), which features a blend of cheddar and gouda on a Portuguese muffin with bacon. The Portuguese muffin is sweet so it was a nice contrast of sweet and salty. It was definitely very well grilled and the cheeses mixed well together. Throw in some bacon and you’re in grilled cheese heaven. Everything is better with bacon! You also get your choice of fries or salad with this sandwich so it definitely makes a hearty meal. IMG_5540 We were definitely too full by the end for dessert but I was definitely eying their pies a la mode. Maybe next time I shall save some room for a piece of pie! Quick tip: Their bathroom is a super tiny closet in the back of the kitchen area so be very careful when you’re going back and forth!

Aureole

For our second Restaurant Week meal of the Winter season, we decided to have dinner at Aureole’s Liberty Room ($38 for three courses). Aureole, located just a little off of Times Square in the Bank of America Tower, boosts one Michelin star. We arrived just on time for our reservation and was ushered to their coat check area. This was a very quick and painless process and we were seated soon after.

The restaurant is very well-lit, which I appreciated very much. I understand that it can be romantic and it gives ambiance, but if the restaurant is so dark that I can’t see my menu, I will not be a happy camper! We were presented the Restaurant Week menu along with their regular menu.

IMG_7328

I decided to start with the Foie Gras Torchon with Toasted Brioche and Citrus Marmalade. The menu said grapefruit, but I’m pretty sure I had a clementine marmalade. The foie gras was divine! It was super creamy and very buttery. I actually ran out of brioche and started smearing the foie gras on bread from the bread bowl, which was kind of limitless. When we polished off our first bowl, one of the waiters popped over and offered us another one.

IMG_7329

The Boyfriend started with Bucatini Pasta with Ruby Red Shrimp, Spicy Tomato and Herb Gremolata. I had a bite of his pasta and it was a tad on the spicy side. I liked the texture of the pasta – it was cooked to a perfect al dente. But I think we both agree that our favorite pasta dishes belong to the Altamarea Group.

IMG_7330

For my main, I ordered the Olive Oil Poached Scottish Salmon with Watercress Veloute and Yukon Potato Mash. I really enjoyed my main! The salmon was cooked perfectly to a mid-rare with the pink hue in the middle and melt-in-your-mouth smoothness. The potatoes was a nice combo with the watercress veloute since the potatoes were otherwise flavorless.

IMG_7333

The Boyfriend had the Braised Short Ribs with Red Cabbage, Broccoli, and Pickled Fresno Peppers. The short ribs were pretty tasty but not as tender as we had hoped. It didn’t quite melt in our mouths – until we got to the fattier side. It was a good piece of short rib, just not the best we’ve had.

IMG_7334

My dessert was the Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Mousse, Caramelized Walnuts, and Crème Anglaise. The carrot cake pretty tasty – the crème anglaise really made the dish. But the cake itself was a bit on the stiff side. I wish it was a bit softer!

IMG_7337

The Boyfriend had the Warm Chocolate Ganache with Oreo Cookie, Caramel, and Espresso Ice Cream. I really liked his dessert (and so did he)! The chocolate wasn’t too sweet at all. The espresso ice cream was so good that I wish there was more. The ice cream had a nice bitter kick but with a creamy, sweet aftertaste.

IMG_7336

All in all, you can count on Aureole for a solid meal. The food was good and the endless bread bowl didn’t hurt. I had their signature cocktail, the Aureole, and it was amazing. It tasted like passionfruit bubble tea without the bubbles. So good!

My major complaint with Aureole was how rushed our dinner was. We barely had any time between courses to digest. I think we finished dinner in less than an hour. About a few seconds after our desserts arrived, our waiter dropped off our check. He accompanied it with a “no rush!”, but the damage was pretty much done. I have strong feelings about waiters who bring over checks before we ask for them. It’s a very passive aggressive way of telling your customers to hurry up and get out. They even asked if we had to make a show (they offer a pre-theatre prix fixe) and we told them no. There should’ve been no reason to rush us. I understand it is Restaurant Week, but I have never gotten rushed at any other restaurant during RW. And I’ve been to a few other Michelin starred ones! I think I wouldn’t mind coming to Aureole again, but only if I’m in the area. No special trips for me.

August Gatherings

Chinese New Years always means a family dinner with the Boyfriend and his group of childhood friends and family. We’ve hopped around various Chinese restaurants in both Chinatown, Manhattan and on 8th Avenue, Brooklyn – usually eating somewhere new every year. This year, one of his family friends suggested August Gatherings on Canal Street. We’ve been to the previous restaurant before but it has now been revamped with new management and a new cook lineup.

I had brought two bottles of wine for dinner and the servers were super nice about helping us open them and providing wine glasses. The tiny snacks on the table – kimchi cucumbers, pickled turnips, and peanuts were all pretty tasty. We were all still munching on the delicious cucumbers when the food started arriving – our menu was already decided for us by management and the cooks since the Boyfriend’s family friend is a regular customer at August Gatherings.

First to arrive was their take on a Chinese dinner staple – Walnut Shrimp. The shrimp was lightly glazed with a dallop of wasabi cream. Instead of walnuts, they used Spanish almonds. I really liked how they brought out the shrimp on an individual plate for each person – the presentation was very nice. The shrimp was even better! There was a zesty and limey taste to it, which really helped open up the palate. The wasabi cream wasn’t too spicy either.

IMG_7300

Next up was the Kabocha Seafood Bisque, which was served in a pumpkin – fitting since Kabocha is typically known as a Japanese squash. The bisque was absolutely delicious – I ended up drinking two bowls of it! The bisque was very creamy – the pumpkin was sweet while the seafood was salty so there was a nice contrast in each spoonful.

IMG_7301

Next is the Lettuce Wraps, which the servers helped each person assemble. I thought that was a super nice touch since we probably would’ve made a mess – I know I would’ve! They even came back a little later to help assemble seconds for the people who wanted another one. The meat was tender, but the mushrooms in the wrap filling was definitely my favorite.

IMG_7302

Our next item was another personal dish – one plate for each person. Wild Scallop with applewood smoked bacon and truffle cream paired with bamboo infused sticky rice topped with Hawaiian black salt. This dish was my clear favorite the night – the scallop was seared to perfection and the truffle cream was one of the most fragrant things I’ve ever eaten. I used the sticky rice to soak up the truffle cream and it was literally one of the most perfect bites of the night.

IMG_7303

The follow up dish was a family style dish, much like the lettuce wraps – Broccoflower with Spanish Chorizo. Broccoflower, or Romanesco broccoli, is a sort of broccoli-cauliflower crossbreed. I highly enjoyed this dish as I’ve never had Broccoflower before. It tasted a bit more like broccoli than cauliflower but I liked how it was softer. The chorizo was a tad spicy and paired well with the otherwise flavorless vegetables.

IMG_7304

Next was another personal dish – dry aged steak with mushrooms and a foie gras topping. The steak was very tender despite the fact that it was cooked past my usually medium rare. The foie gras gave a creaminess to the dish – I love foie gras!

IMG_7305

Our next dish was another adaptation to a Chinese staple – longevity noodles. Longevity noodles are always eaten during major celebrations – Chinese New Years, weddings, birthdays, etc. Instead of the standard chow mein version, they served us a Black Bass and grape tomato version in a spicy sauce. The noodles were al dente and not mushy at all, which is usually the case with other Chinese restaurants. I was almost too full to eat anymore but I finished all my noodles!

IMG_7306

Our last savory dish of the night was a Pork Shank with two sauces – a raspberry yogurt sauce and a bonito stock on top of purple yams. I ended up eating the pork shank with a mixture of the yogurt sauce and bonito stock – it was surprisingly good together. The best part, however, was the purple yams – they were so sweet!!

IMG_7309

To finish up our meal, we had a “sweets” platter with egg tarts, almond cookies and their signature bun, a sweet pork bun with a pineapple bun topping. The almond cookies were delicious, the egg tarts were flaky but the best was the bun! I have no idea why no one didn’t think of this combination sooner but it was amazing – the best parts of two favorite buns in one. I love the crust of pineapple buns but usually don’t eat it because of the lack of filling. This completely solved the problem!

IMG_7310

Service was attentive throughout and I give huge props to our host, Henry, and the amazing woman at the counter (I didn’t catch her name) for an amazing meal. Also props to the cook because I never expected to have such an unique meal in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. I literally cannot wait to be back for more sweets and delicious food!

Dieci

Since Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, we opted to skip the crowds and the price hikes and dine on a Friday instead. After some research, I stumbled upon Dieci. Dieci, located in the East Village, serves up Japanese-inspired Italian dishes. Like most authentic Japanese restaurants in NYC, the restaurant is super tiny and only has about 4 small tables-for-two and one long bar table that seats about 10.

We arrived before our 6:15pm reservation and was able to be seated early – it was too cold to wait outside! We were offered menus and water right away – but we wanted some tea to warm up. They have quite a nice selection of teas but we both opted for some Hojicha. They make their tea in French presses and serve them in small teacups – I didn’t mind the smaller cups at all though because our waitress always made sure your teacups were full!

We started off with one of their specials of the day – the Enoki Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil ($9.00). It’s sort of textured like a cream of mushroom soup but much lighter and more fragrant. I really liked it – especially since we were both freezing from the 10 degree weather outside and it warmed us up instantly.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We decided to split a second appetizer since I’ve heard such good things about their Uni Scrambled Egg with sturgeon caviar ($18.00). I actually liked the combination of scrambled egg with caviar better but the uni was definitely fresh and not fishy. The caviar gave just the right amount of saltiness with the otherwise pretty tasteless scrambled egg. The dish size is pretty small but packs a punch in taste. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I had the Gnocchi with cod roe and crab cream sauce ($18.00) for my entree. It was so good! The cream sauce was salty from the cod roe and a bit sweet from the crab. The gnocchi was soft and pillowy, which made for a perfect combo with the light sauce. I absolutely love gnocchi with light and fragrant sauces!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Boyfriend went with the Tagliolini with squid ink, tomato sauce and calamari ($16.00). The picture definitely does not do this dish justice at all! The tomato sauce was very sweet, which I really liked. But the highlight of the dish was the pasta – it didn’t taste or have the texture of your traditional pasta. It was bouncier and had much more mouth-feel.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For dessert, we decided on the Strawberry Compote ($8.00) with marscapone mousse and balsamic vinegar since every other dessert involved ice cream. It’s too cold for ice cream! The mousse was very smooth and the strawberries were super sweet. A great way to end an otherwise savory meal!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Service was super attentive and our teacups were always refilled with hot tea. We got new cutlery for every single course, which was a nice touch. The restaurant was consistently full during our stay and we heard they were fully booked that night and Valentine’s Day as well. I’m not surprised because the food was delicious and service was superb. I can’t wait to come back for more pillowy gnocchi and savory uni!

 

Costata

Ever since the Boyfriend had his graduation dinner at Marea, we’ve been on an Altamarea Group quest. We ate at Ai Fiori during Summer Restaurant Week last year and now we’re trying out its sister restaurant, Costata. I managed to plan a weekday lunch since it’s just a few minutes away from my office. We arrived earlier than our reservation time, but they were able to seat us right away.

Costata doesn’t normally open for lunch so their a la carte menu for lunch is a bit limited. Their Restaurant Week menu, however, doesn’t lack for options. There are three choices for both appetizers and entrees and two choices for dessert. Plenty of options for even the pickiest eater!

For our appetizer, we both went with the Beef Carpaccio with crema di funghi, artichokes, pickled turnip and parmigiano. This was amazing and one of my favorite dishes of the day. The artichokes and pickled turnip were tart and just a bit sour, which really helped open up our palates and appetites.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We decided to pop our Restaurant Week a la carte cherry and split their Garganelli with alla fiamma, speck, radicchio and truffle cream ($23.00). Our waiter suggested we have this as a “2nd course” and have it between the appetizer and entree. This was a great idea since we were able to space out our dishes and thoroughly enjoy each of them. Now, back to the pasta! The garganelli was cooked to a perfect al dente and tasted so good! It was super light and fragrant – not heavy at all. The speck and truffle cream together was danced nicely on our tastebuds. I highly recommend this dish!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For my entree, I chose the Pappardelle with short rib ragu. The portion size looks small but it’s actually pretty filling! The short rib was very tender and gave a hearty feel to the dish. I didn’t much care for the carrots but the pasta itself was cooked perfectly and was super bouncy.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Boyfriend went with the Sirloin Flap with bearnaise, arugula and fries. I had a piece of his sirloin and it was pretty tasty. It was cooked perfectly to his requested medium rare and wasn’t chewy at all. I also really enjoyed the fries – they were semi-thick cut and very crunchy on the outside. The fries were very evenly salted – so nicely done that I didn’t even need ketchup!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For dessert, the Boyfriend decided on the Vanilla Panna Cotta with citrus, sicilian pistachio and blood orange sorbet. The panna cotta was very nicely done but I really liked the blood orange sorbet – just the right amount of tart and sweetness combined.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I had the Torta di Mascarpone with marscapone mousse, lady fingers, amaretto and coffee crema. It’s basically a neater version of a classic tiramisu. In my honest opinion, it’s an even better version of a tiramisu. It was refined, neat and tasted so good! It had just the right amount of bitterness from the coffee and just the right amount of sweetness from the lady fingers and marscapone mousse. It might have been the best dish that I had the entire lunch!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Service was attentive without being intrusive. Our water glasses were consistently refilled and we received new cutlery for every course – no taste mixing at all! I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch and definitely plan on returning for dinner to try their regular menu.

Onomea

When I first heard about Onomea opening in Williamsburg, I quickly put it on my “To-Go” list. I’ve been to Hawaii two times now and I love everything about the cuisine and lifestyle there. I’m always craving Longboards, Hawaiian Sun POG, Loco Moco and Poke – especially the Loco Moco. I’ve even tried to recreate it myself but my beef patties never end up as good!

After months of saying we were going pay a visit to Onomea, we finally set a date and went through with it. We ended up inviting a friend to come along since he’s never had Hawaiian food before. We arrived around 6:30pm and was seated right away with menus. It’s a pretty small menu with just a few options in each category but don’t let that fool you! The food here is delicious!

They have three beer options – it’s not much but I was seriously conflicted. I’ve had both Longboard and Big Wave before in Hawaii so it was really a matter of which I missed more! We all decided to go with Longboards ($7.00 each) though because it is Kona Brewing Company’s most popular beer.

IMG_6099

I ordered the Poke ($13.00), which is Ahi Tuna with white onions, seaweed, green onions and sesame. I’ve had tons of Poke before and I thought this one was pretty good. It was a decent sized serving and the seasoning was on point.

IMG_6100

A friend ordered the Spam Musubi ($5.00), which is spam and rice wrapped in seaweed. Spam Musubi is a super common snack in Hawaii and I’ve tried to replicate it without any success. This one was a very tasty version. The spam was nicely seasoned and served warm. I just wish there was a little bit more rice like the Hawaii versions!

IMG_6101

I ordered the Loco Moco ($14.00), which featured a Teriyaki burger served on a bed of rice with a sunnyside egg and topped with gravy. Loco Moco is also super popular and common on Hawaii so I’ve had plenty of these too. It’s one of the top foods that I miss from Hawaii because it’s just so tasty and hearty. It’s comfort food at it’s finest and this one really hit the spot. The burger patty was cooked nicely and wasn’t tough at all. The gravy was on point! I really liked that it was sweet and salty at the same time – there was a nice tang to it.

IMG_6102

Our friend ordered the “Hawaiian Size It” option for an extra $5.00 and I have to say it’s a great deal. For an extra $5.00 you get an extra order! He managed to finish all of it – I have no idea how but he really enjoyed the gravy and patty!

IMG_6105

The Boyfriend went with the Teri Burger ($11.00), just to try something else. The Teri Burger is a Teriyaki beef patty on a toasted bun with mayo and lettuce with your choice of fries or salad. I had a few bites and it was pretty good. The burger was juicy and flavorful.

IMG_6103

We were all pretty full but you know me, I always have room for dessert! They had two gelato flavors as well as a Coconut Custard with toasted coconut shavings. It’s a big dessert so definitely more than enough for sharing. There’s a nice layer of jelly on the bottom, which I really liked.

IMG_6106

Service was attentive and we were constantly asked if we needed anything else. The vibe is really nice too – everything is all blue and earthy. The music is constant island jams and it just feels very laid back. I can’t wait to be back again to satisfy my Hawaiian food cravings! Now if only they could get some Dole Whip!