Ladurée Soho

I have been waiting pretty impatiently for the Soho location of Ladurée to open ever since rumors came out about it last year. Almost all my friends know how Ladurée macarons are my absolute favorite! The Boyfriend and I were both super excited about not having to trek up to to the Upper East Side to their original location every time a craving hit. We’ve both been in the new location to pick up boxes of macarons before but we waited until we had a free day before heading over for lunch.

I had made reservations via OpenTable and we were seated right away in their dining area. The hostess left us with menus – both the food menu and the drinks menu. We both opted to go with hot coffee to start off with. The coffee came relatively quickly – but then we were left with our menus for the next 20 minutes or so. After a pretty long wait for our waitress to come back, we finally managed to flag her down and make our orders.

The bread they bring over to your table is super hot. They’re most likely baked to order because I had to do a bread juggle because they were so hot! They look a bit like English muffins with the nooks and crannies on the inside. They were so delicious when smeared with butter!

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The Boyfriend went with the Omelette Ladurée ($16.00), which features mushrooms, cheese, ham, and tomatoes inside a thin egg omelette. The omelette was pretty good – I was so amazed by how thin it was! It managed to keep all those ingredients inside without breaking at all.

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He also ordered a side of Ladurée French fries ($5.00), which are thick cut and lightly salted. They were so thick, they looked like Jenga blocks!

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I went with the Club Saumon ($19.50), which features smoked salmon, hard-broiled eggs, cucumber, lettuce and mayo on toast and served with Ladurée French fries and a mesclun salad. You get two sandwiches stacked on top of each other so it looks a bit like a circular tower. I really enjoyed this sandwich. You get the best part of each slice of bread – the middle. I love hard-broiled eggs in sandwiches and this one had an abundance of them. I’ve never had a smoked salmon club sandwich before and this was an amazing first one! Combined with the French fries and salad, I was really stuffed after I cleared my plate!

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The food was delicious and the coffee definitely went down smooth. I love the attention paid to the small things – like covers for the coffee carafe handles to prevent us from burning ourselves. My only complaint is the mediocre service. After we ordered our coffees, I felt like we were forgotten about. After we flagged down our waitress and made our orders, we seemed to lose her again. We asked the waiter who brought our food over for water, but he never came back. We finally managed to flag down someone to get water and ketchup so props to the waitress from the other part of the dining room who put up with us even though we weren’t her table.

My tip is to look over the menu before you come or look it over outside the storefront. Make all your orders at the beginning so you never get forgotten about!

Motorino

Since the Boyfriend started grad school at NYU, I’ve started compiling a handy list of cheap and affordable restaurants in the East and West Village. We weren’t really feeling Japanese, Thai or Chinese so we opted for pizza at Motorino, which is closer to Union Square than the East Village. Motorino does a great lunch special Monday-Friday from 11am to 4pm. You get a mixed green salad and your choice out of four 12″ personal pizzas.

We stopped by around 12:45pm and was seated right away. We both opted for the lunch special and our salads came almost right away. They come with a side of balsamic vinegar and olive oil as dressing. The portion is actually pretty big for a lunch special. The greens were fresh and the light dressing was very refreshing on a hot day.

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I opted for the Margherita Pizza, which features tomato sauce, Mozzarella di bufala, basil, pecorino and Extra Virgin olive oil. The sauce was very sweet, which I loved and the mozzarella cheese was very liberal. The crust, however, was the best part. The insides were soft and chewy while the outside crust was crunchy and crispy. I definitely enjoyed my pizza – in fact I liked Motorino’s pizza more than the famous Grimaldi’s, which I thought was rather bland.

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The Boyfriend went with the Brussels Sprout Pizza, which features brussels sprouts, fior di latte (cow’s milk mozzarella), garlic, pecorino, smoked pancetta and Extra Virgin olive oil. The pancetta gave the pizza a really great salty flavor while the brussels sprouts kept it fresh and healthy. I liked my pizza better but he argued that his pizza was better.

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We finished off with a slice of their Tiramisu ($9.00), which was very creamy and had just the right amount of espresso flavor. At $9, it was a bit steep for a dessert so I think I’d go without it next time.

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All in all, we enjoyed our lunch at Motorino. It’s a very filling lunch at a faction of the price of ordering a pizza regularly. If you’re in the area and craving pizza, check out Motorino!

The Grey Dog

I woke up in the mood for French toast one day and a quick Yelp search lead me to The Grey Dog. I had passed by numerous times on my way between Soho/Noho and Chinatown but never really noticed the restaurant. The Grey Dog is a cafeteria/counter-service style, which means you order and pay at the counter. After you order, you pick a table and a waitress will bring your food when it is ready.

They offer a variety of breakfast foods (served until 3pm) salads, Michigan sandwiches, burgers, entrees and some small plates. After some time with the menu, my French toast craving was overtaken by the idea of mac & cheese. The Grey Dog offers a baked sharp cheddar mac & cheese with a cute salad ($9.95). The cute salad is basically a mini mixed greens salad with shaved cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette.  The cute salad, in my opinion, was really good. It was light and refreshing and just the right size to supplement my huge portion of mac & cheese. The mac & cheese was also quite good. It was a bit more watery than your typical mac & cheese but it worked well together since it helped lessen the bite of the sharp cheddar.

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The Boyfriend ordered the Seared Tuna and Avocado Taco ($14.95), which also comes with a cute salad. This dish stole the show. They cook the tuna to your liking and our tuna was definitely on point with our medium rare request. Tuna should never be eaten completely cooked unless it’s canned! The tacos come with a corn salsa, which was amazing. It had a tiny hint of spice but nothing too overpowering. I highly recommend this dish (even if you’re their for breakfast!).

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We also opted to share a piece of Peach Cobbler ($5.00), which is a huge portion. It was a great portion to share and it was super delicious. It was just the right amount of sweetness!

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I’m so glad that Yelp pointed me in the direction of The Grey Dog because we had an amazing brunch. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was relaxing. I will definitely be back – perhaps next time for dinner!

Shimizu

More often then not, when the Boyfriend and I have some a special occasion to celebrate, we opt for Japanese. It’s not on purpose, but it usually ends up happening. It’s probably because both of us favor Japanese food out of all the many cuisines available to us in NYC. For our belated 4th anniversary dinner, we ended up at Shimizu. It’s located in the theater district in Manhattan, but it’s definitely one of the more underrated sushi restaurants in the city.

They start you off with some complimentary potato salad, which is a nice beginning to the meal. It was pretty tasty!

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We opted to split two small appetizers since we wanted to save our tummies for the fish. We did the edamame ($6.00) and their special of the day, Cold Tofu with three flavor sauces. The tofu was firmer than what we like but it was still pretty refreshing. From the left, we had scallion and Katsuobushi, or Bonito flakes, followed by the chili pepper and finally, scallop sauce. I liked the scallop sauce the best but the Boyfriend enjoyed the Bonito flakes.

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For our entree, we decided to get two entree sets and split it. I picked the Deluxe Sashimi Platter ($34.00), which features 3 tuna, 3 yellowtail, 3 salmon, 2 white fish, 2 scallops and 2 fatty tuna or toro. Boy was this sashimi good. I really enjoyed the yellowtail – it really had a fresh fish flavor. I also really liked the toro, which melted in my mouth. The best, however, was the scallops, which were sweet and chewy!

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The Boyfriend picked the Deluxe Sushi Platter ($27.00), which features 2 tuna, 1 yellowtail, 1 white fish, 1 salmon roe, 1 shrimp, 1 eel and 1 yellowtail scallion roll. The Boyfriend ate the salmon roe, eel, salmon and tuna. I sampled the shrimp, tuna, and white fish. The white fish sushi definitely tasted a bit different than the sashimi version. But my favorite was the shrimp – like the scallop it was really sweet. I love sweet shrimp!

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We ended the night with some Green Tea Ice Cream ($4.00). I’m convinced it was Chinatown Ice Cream Factory Ice Cream – it was milkier than usual green tea ice creams and I’ve eaten more than enough CICF to know! The service was attentive and on point. The fish was super fresh and delicious – it’s definitely one of the best sushi restaurants that we have both been to. I can’t wait to be back to sit at the bar and have some chef’s choice picks!

Gotham Bar & Grill

For my birthday, the Boyfriend and I decided to have a birthday lunch instead of dinner since we had a pretty full week of plans ahead of us. After some prowling through Yelp, I decided on Gotham Bar & Grill, since it’s pretty well known for having good food and it’s across the street from where he had class later on in the day. Gotham offers a regular a la carte menu along with their special $34 Greenmarket Lunch Prix Fixe. We both opted for the Greenmarket Prix Fixe since it seemed like a great deal. You get three options per course, which I thought was an ample selection.

When I had made reservations via OpenTable, I made a note about wanting a quieter table since it was a birthday lunch – just the two of us. When we checked in with the maître d’, I was greeted with Birthday wishes from both the host and hostess. We were brought over to a corner table with a party of three next to us. Despite the fact that we were close to other tables, everyone spoke in such hushed voices that I never felt intruded upon.

After we placed our orders (our waiter didn’t even bat an eyelid at the fact that we went with the cheaper option), we were given a bread roll with butter. The bread was a bit on the harder side but was a nice segue way into our first course. We both opted for the Wild Striped Bass Sashimi with asian pear, watermelon radish, cucumber, yuzu ginger emulsion and avocado wasabi puree. The avocado wasabi puree was very refreshing and not spicy at all. The wild striped bass was very fresh and  we both quickly gobbled it down.

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For my second course, I went with the Pan Roasted Hake, served with braised savory cabbage, potato puree and a verjus butter sauce. This was the first time I had foam on my food! The hake was very soft and cooked to perfection. The potato puree was very fragrant and the savory cabbage was very refreshing.

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The Boyfriend went with the Braised Beef Short Ribs, served with braised greens, roasted root vegetables and parmigiano reggiano. I had a bite of his short ribs and they were very well done. It was soft and tender and very flavorful.

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For his dessert, he went with the Baba Rum, which is rum cake served with passion fruit cream, whipped chantilly and citrus segments. I had a bite of his rum cake and they definitely did not skimp on the rum. He especially liked the blood orange segments since its a bit more tart.

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For my dessert, I went with the famous Gotham Chocolate Cake, served with salted almond ice cream. To my surprise, my cake came with a candle (held up by a dollop of cream) and a “Happy Birthday” plaque. I loved that they did that without any prompting from the Boyfriend or me – it was such a nice way to end a great lunch. The cake itself was airy and rich at the same time. It tasted like a lava cake but without the gooey chocolate. It wasn’t overly sweet and was contradicted nicely by the salty almond ice cream. With every bite, I wished I had more!

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I really enjoyed my lunch at Gotham. Our waiter was very attentive and personable the entire time. I’ve been to restaurants where the waiters visibly show their displeasure when you order the cheaper prix fixe rather than a la carte. But this did not happen here at all. Our waiter knew his stuff about all the dishes and was able to answer all our questions. And plus, I got a birthday candle! I love the attention to detail to make their customers enjoy their meals just a little bit more. I can’t wait to be back!

Tommy Bahama

When I first stumbled unto Tommy Bahama, I was a bit skeptical since it’s considered a chain restaurant – a higher end chain restaurant, but still a chain restaurant nonetheless. But it’s been a year since being in Hawaii or somewhere tropical, so I was really craving something with an island feel. So when my mother asked me where I wanted to eat for my birthday, I quickly made reservations for the Tommy Bahama in Midtown Manhattan.

The restaurant is located on top of the clothing store so you have to take the stairs up. We arrived a bit early and we were seated right away in a nice booth table. Our waiter greeted us right away and offered to get us started with drinks. We ordered two drinks and decided to see which one we liked more after it arrived. We had the Bahama Mama ($12.00) and Manhattan’s Best Mai Tai ($14.00). The Bahama Mama was definitely the lighter of the two and pretty fruity. The Mai Tai was very strong but still good nonetheless.

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We opted to split three appetizers instead of each ordering one individually. First up was the Ahi Tuna Tacos ($12.50), which is served with a fried wonton shell, Asian slaw and wasabi creme on top. These were so good! The wonton shell was hard enough to withstand biting but not as hard as regular taco shells. The wasabi creme was very flavorful without being spicy.

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Next up was the Ahi Poke Napolean ($16.50), which features chunks of Ahi Tuna tossed with capers, guacamole and served with flatbread. I’ve been missing poke since we left Hawaii so this was definitely my favorite appetizer of the night. They did not skimp on the tuna at all – there was definitely enough tuna and guac to go round. Just like the tacos, the tuna was super fresh and I quickly gobbled up more than my share.

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Since we needed some veggies, we opted for the Bungalow Salad ($8.00), which features romaine lettuce tossed with toasted almonds and macadamia nuts, feta cheese, sun-dried blueberries and a meyer lemon vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was very light and fresh and paired very well with the other ingredients. We even used the bread to soak it up after we finished the veggies.

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And speaking of the bread – they’re baked to order and served with a honey butter, which made it taste like a cinnamon roll!

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For my entree, I went with the Kona Coffee Crusted Ribeye ($29.00), which is served with a warm potato salad and a light salad. The salad and potatoes definitely helped balance out the savory steak. I’ve only had Kona Coffee steak before once before and this one really put up a good fight. It was tender and flavorful. The portion size is also insanely large!

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My mother went with the Macadamia Nut Encrusted Red Snapper ($29.50), which is served with almond rice and a wasabi-soy beurre blanc. The portion size for this dish was also insanely large. The mac nut crust was very crunchy and crispy. I also thoroughly enjoyed the almond rice, which was fragrant and tasty.

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For dessert, we opted to split two. At Tommy Bahama, your waiter brings over a tray with all the desserts on it to show you which ones they have. I really like that they do this because I’m a visual eater and I loved being able to pick based on what each dessert looked like. I decided on the Pineapple Creme Brulee ($9.00), which features a Tahitian Vanilla Bean and white chocolate mousse that’s served inside an actual pineapple. It was smooth, just the right amount of sweet and oh so good.

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My sister picked the Malted Chocolate Pie ($10.00), which featured a mocha mousse surrounded by a chocolate cookie crust and topped with English toffee crumble. This dessert was really rich and heavy – the complete opposite of the creme brulee. It was good, but after a few bites, it became a bit too much. This is definitely a dessert so share.

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I really enjoyed my dinner at Tommy Bahama. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food was and how well done all the dishes were. I don’t think I had one thing that I didn’t like! The service was attentive and our waiter was able to answer all of our questions about the dishes. I love it when waiters really know their own products. I highly recommend Tommy Bahama if you’re ever feeling like getting away from the hustle & bustle of the city and relaxing with some island-themed food!