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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!
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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!
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!