All’onda

All’onda has been on the Boyfriend’s radar for a while now – his aunt wanted to have dinner here when she was visiting NYC but couldn’t get a reservation. With Chef Chris Jaeckle, alum of the Altamarea Group, as the executive chef,  there has been so much attention paid towards All’onda. The Boyfriend and his parents have been to Marea before so when it came time to pick a restaurant for his birthday dinner, they veered towards All’onda.

We arrived at 6pm for our reservation and was seated immediately. When we arrived, there was only about 2-3 other tables occupied. By the time we left around 8pm, the restaurant was packed! We were seated on the second floor by the window, which I really liked cause the lighting was great for pictures!

We started off with appetizers to share. Our first was the Arancini ($12.00 for 4 pieces). They used to have an uni and squid ink version but with the lack of Maine uni available on the market, I can definitely see why they changed it to a black truffle and parmesan version. Despite the change, I really liked the black truffle and parmesan – it was very fragrant and easy on the palate. They’re a bit on the small side so if you have a larger party, you might want to order a few more.

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Our second appetizer was the Clams Casino ($15.00), which features cut clams with pancetta, panko and parsley. I kind of wish the clams were a little bigger because the topping was very flavorful. I love panko crusted dishes so this was a great dish for me.

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Our last appetizer was the Risotto Astice or Lobster Risotto ($23.00). It sounded great when we read it on the menu but we had all already settled on entrees so we decided to share it for an appetizer. I’m so glad we did because it was so good! The lobster chunks were very generous and the risotto was cooked perfectly – still a bit stuff but soft enough to eat. The sauce was very strong and tasted great with the fresh lobster.

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For my entree, I went with the Garganelli with Peekytoe Crab ($24.00). It’s cooked with citrus and tarragon, which gave it a very fresh, summery taste. I really enjoyed my pasta dish because it was very filling but tasted super light. There was also hints of Thai flavors too, which really appealed to my tastebuds. I highly recommend this dish – the Boyfriend even said mine was better!

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He, himself, went with the Lumache with Aged-Duck Ragu ($24.00). The dish is sprinkled with chocolate flakes on top, which may sound and look a bit weird but worked well with the saltiness of the aged duck. The duck melted in your mouth and tasted great with the al dente pasta.

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The parentals went with Stripped Bass with English peas, baby carrots and taggiasca olive ($31.00) and the Chicken with Lemon puree, broccoli rabe, and pan sauce ($25.00). I sampled a bit of the chicken and it was probably one of the juiciest pieces of chicken I have ever tasted in my 23 years of life. It was so smooth and not dry at all.

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We also split a side of Mushroom Polenta ($9.00) with miso-cured egg yolk. The polenta was very flavorful and cooked thinly so it was too goopy like a lot of other polentas. The miso-cured egg yolk worked well to give flavor to the otherwise tasteless polenta.

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For dessert, we split the Olive Oil Cake, which comes with ricotta gelato, lemon sauce and basil seeds. The cake comes warm so it was a nice contrast to the cool gelato. I’ve never had ricotta gelato before so this was a new experience for me – and I found that I liked it! Because it was ricotta flavored, it wasn’t as sweet as other gelato flavors so it really complimented the olive oil cake. The cake itself was very soft and smooth.

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I really enjoyed my meal here – everything tasted amazing and despite the smaller portion sizes, we all ended up pretty full by the end of the night. Service was decent – sometimes our waitress disappeared but our plates were always cleared and our water glasses were always full. I also highly recommend coffee – it’s $3.50 for a whole French Press of coffee so it’s definitely more than enough to share between two people. My only regret is that we couldn’t try the Bucatini with Uni since market price of Santa Barbara uni placed the dish at $50 that night. Perhaps next time we’ll come back to try it when Maine uni is back on the market!

Smorgasburg 2014

It’s time for my annual trip to Smorgasburg! Every summer, the Boyfriend and I try to make it to Smorgasburg at least once to try out the new vendors. We always see some familiar stands – Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mimi & Coco, Blue Bottle Coffee Company, Dough, Brooklyn Soda Works, and Mighty Quinn’s. But every year, there are brand new stands that we’ve never seen before – and definitely want to try out.

We arrived around 11:00am, which is when they open, so we walked around to take a look at all the stands first. Our first stop was at the Ramen Burger stand. Despite trying it last summer when it first came out, we both wanted to get one this time. Because we were there just when the stand opened, we only waited about five minutes since we were 3rd in line. This time around, they have cheese option – I’m a cheese lover so I opted in. Each burger with cheese comes up to $10 each, which is a bit pricey but you’re paying for a delicious burger! I actually prefer having the cheese on it since it gives the burger a bit more flavor. I only wish the burger wasn’t so fully cooked!

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After we polished off our ramen burgers, we walked around a bit more to see all the options. We walked by Lonestar Empire just as they pulled out a beautiful piece of brisket. The smell and amazing appearance hooked us and we ordered their Slow-Smoked Texas style Brisket Sandwich ($9.00). You get your choice of moist, lean or a mixture of the two so we went for the moist. They have a few toppings you can add on to your taste but we decided to do it plain. The brisket was so soft and tender! It was very well flavored. We’re both not big brisket fans but this one definitely changed our minds!

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By now, we’re getting pretty hot so we stopped by People’s Pops for some Shave Ice ($2.50). They have two flavors and we opted for the Plum Orange Blossom flavor, which was both tart and sweet. The shave ice takes a long time to melt so it’s great for snacking on while you walk around the stands.

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At 12pm, the beer garden opens so we went straight in for some day drinking! I opted for the Rum Punch ($12.00). They use a good amount of rum in the cocktail so it’s at medium strength. It was just enough rum for me to taste it but not so much that it was like a punch in the face. It was nice and refreshing – I love summery-tropical drinks!

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We then headed over to Ca’pisci for some Calamari Salad ($8.00). They toss chunks of squid, tomatoes and homemade croutons together to made this calamari salad. It’s a better deal than their squid sticks, which are the same price. It’s light and refreshing and a must have if you’re a squid fan! The salad was a perfect for the hot weather because it’s chilled.

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My favorite drink of the day, which I went back for seconds of, was from Bellocq, which sells loose leaf teas as well as two iced teas. The iced teas of the day ($3.00 each) were #21 White Nixon Tea and #82 The Phoenix. Both teas are white teas and taste amazing chilled. I had the White Nixon Tea, which has hints of white peony and grapefruit while the Boyfriend had The Phoenix, which has hints of fruit, orchid and honey. We both agreed that the White Nixon is better suited for summer since it is fruiter and lighter. We finished both our teas and went back for a second cup!

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For dessert, we went with an ice cream sandwich from The Good Batch. A friend had previously Instragram-ed a picture of the Nutella-Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich ($6.00) from them so I knew I had to try that one. And it was a great decision because it was so good! The cookie was just hard enough to hold the sandwich together and the nutella + nuts in the sandwich made it both smooth and crunchy at the same time. I quickly gobbled it up and hardly left any for the Boyfriend!

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If you haven’t been to Smorgasburg yet, I really recommend that you make a trip soon! There’s so many different cuisines to try out – there’s West African, Ethiopian, Columbian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American, Mexican, and so much more! But remember to go early or else there will be huge crowds and lines.

Broadway Bites 2014

After watching Maleficient at 34th street, the Boyfriend and I stumbled upon Broadway Bites, a seasonal popup market located at the intersection of 33rd street and Broadway in Greeley Square Park. We noticed a bunch of familiar vendors like Mexicue, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mighty Balls and Roberta’s. But we also saw a few vendors that we haven’t tried yet!

Our first stop was at Onigiri by Tampopo, which serves Japanese rice balls. They had a variety of rice ball fillings but we opted to go for the Salmon Scallion ($5 each). The prepare it to order so your rice ball is always toasty warm and ready to eat. Even though I’m not a huge fan of scallion, I thought the filling was pretty good. It was light and flavorful – perfect for a hot afternoon.

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Our next top was NuNu Beers & Scoops, which was serving up a variety of alcoholic beverages and chocolates. We opted for the Frozen White Wine Sangria since it was pretty hot. The plastic cups they serve it in is pretty small but the sangria was really strong. The moment the ice starts to melt, you can sip at the delicious goodness!

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We also made a top at Mimi & Coco for some takoyaki and edamame. If you order takoyaki on it’s own, it’s $8 for six, but if you order a side with it, it’s $10 total for both. The takoyaki was pretty good but I really liked the edamame – probably because it was so hot outside and the edamame was super chilled!

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Our final stop was at CAЯNAVAL, which serves up Brazilian cuisine. Despite the fact that the corn and sandwiches looked very delicious, we were eying the churros. Their churros are made to order – they have this little machine that squeezes the dough out in a churro shape. They’re then fried and rolled in sugar. Brazilian churros are filled with dulce de leche so that’s exactly how we ordered ours – it’s sweeter and messier than we’re used to but it was still pretty good!

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There’s not a lot of room to sit and eat – they have some high tables for standing but that’s about it. It’s definitely not a place to really catch up with friends or have a leisurely meal. But it is a great place for a quick snack or drink! I highly recommend NuNu’s frozen sangria!

Amelie

I first heard about Amélie via Yelp because everyone was raving about their Happy Hour Specials ($10 for a flight of 3 red or white wine and $5 select appetizers). I put it on the list but it wasn’t until months later that we walked by and decided to stop for lunch.

They serve a lot of their dinner appetizers during lunch so we opted to try the Warm Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese Ball with honey, caramelized onions and toasts ($7.00). This was so good! The goat cheese was perfect to spread on the toast with some onions. The sweet taste of the red wine onions contrasted with the tartness of the goat cheese very well.

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We opted to split two mains. I started with the Smoked Salmon and Arugula Salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and leeks tossed in a mustard vinaigrette ($12.00). The smoked salmon was fresh and the salad was packed with veggies. I liked the mustard vinaigrette because it was very light but packed with flavor.

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The Boyfriend started with the Amélie Burger on brioche bun with tomato, sweet onion, lettuce and French fries. We opted to add gruyere cheese for an extra $1. I really liked the burger – it was filling and cooked to our desired taste. It was packed with veggies and cheese! The french fries were also quite good – I liked that it was thin and crunchy!

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We didn’t stay for dessert since we were both stuffed from the burger and salad. But I can’t wait to be back to try the Happy Hour specials! I really enjoyed the food – but I loved the service even more. We walked in with iced lattes from Stumptown down the block and our waiter didn’t require us to throw them out or finish them outside. He even offered to move our coffee to maison jars so that we could keep them and drink them inside the restaurant. That’s what I call great service!!