Charlie Palmer

We originally had reservations elsewhere for Restaurant Week but a last minute meeting left us scrambling to find last minute reservations in the Midtown area. A thorough search led us to Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, which had several openings. We arrived just on time for our reservation but were told that they were clearing up a few tables. After a few minutes, we were led to a table-for-four right by the window, which was nice.

Our waiter came by to drop off the menu and asked if we’d like to see the wine list, which we did. Wine prices were decent and I had a very nice glass of Riesling to go with my meal. We all opted to do the Restaurant Week menu, which offers three choices for appetizer and entrée and two choices for dessert.

For my appetizer, I opted for the Steak Tartare, which is served with a quail egg, gaufrette potatoes and whole grain mustard. I really enjoyed my steak tartare – it was lightly seasoned and the mustard provided a nice kick to the steak. My only complaint is that I wish there was more!

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My sister and mom both ordered the Butternut Squash Soup with winter spices, green apples, and chive. I took a few sips of the soup and I thought it was quite good. The green apples and squash cubes provided a crunchy mouth feel.

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For my entrée, I decided to do steak on steak and went for the Double Ranch Flank Steak with truffled potatoes and red wine jus. I ordered it medium rare and I think it came out a little closer to medium, but it wasn’t a huge problem. There was still a nice pink center and I really enjoyed the truffled potatoes. It was a solid steak.

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My mom ordered the Pan Seared Salmon with braised leaks, fingerling potatoes, and meyer lemon emulsion. The salmon was tender and moist, and paired really well with the leak and lemon sauce. If I didn’t have my heart set on the steak, I would’ve definitely ordered the salmon.

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For dessert, we all opted for the Cheesecake Pudding with graham cracker crumbs and raspberries on top. I actually really liked this dessert because you still get to have cheesecake without it being super filling and heavy. I paired my dessert with a cup of coffee (extra $4.00), which helped to tone down the sweetness of the pudding.

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Service was fairly attentive. Two mangers stopped by during our meal to check up on us and make sure we were enjoying our meals, which was nice. I don’t think Charlie Palmer is the best steak I’ve ever had, but it is definitely a solid steakhouse. If you’re ever in the area and strapped for a dinner spot, give Charlie Palmer a try!

La Sirene

La Sirene is another one of those long-time bookmarked restaurants on my list. It’s affordable, in an easily accessible location, and is BYOB (with a corkage fee). When my coworker suggested Restaurant Week Lunch at La Sirene, I quickly hopped on OpenTable to reserve us a spot.

When we arrived at 12:30PM for our reservation, the restaurant was packed. Almost all the tables were full. We were seated in a table-for-two and given menus to look over. We took this time to sneakily look at our neighbor’s dishes to help us make our final decisions – we’re both visual eaters.

Since it was so cold outside and neither of the salads looked appealing (too cold to eat something cold!), we both opted for the French Onion Soup with roasted bread with Swiss au gratin. It’s a different take on your typical French onion soup since the cheese was on the bread instead of the soup. The soup itself was excellent and tasted great soaked up with the bread. I just wish there was more cheese!

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I opted for the Gnocchis A la Parisienne, or gnocchi in a truffle white sauce with Swiss au gratin. It’s basically a French mac and cheese with Swiss cheese and truffle sauce. When the dish was served, it was still bubbling – so definitely be careful! It’s super hot! The gnocchi was really good – they were soft and pillowy. It really hit the spot on such a cold day.

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My coworker had the Steak Tartare, which they grind themselves in-house. I had a few bites of it and enjoyed it. It was perfectly spiced and flavored. Highly recommended if you’re in the mood for a good steak tartare!

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For dessert, La Sirene served up a mini selection of their house desserts – Banana Brulee, Choux Chantilly, and sherbet of the day. My favorite of the bunch was the Choux Chantilly, which was a light choux puff pastry with whipped cream. The puff pastry was soft with a bit of a crunch and the whipped cream was light and airy. The Banana Brulee was interesting take on a classic crème brulee, using banana pudding instead.

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Service was hectic, to say the least. There were two waiters in my section and they seemed a bit frazzled. I don’t know if they numbered the tables wrong or what, but the table next to us got all three-courses wrong. Several other tables also received late or wrong orders – we almost got two rounds of dessert! Perhaps we had just caught them on an off day? Regardless, the food was solid and I’d definitely come back if I’m in the mood for some delicious French.

Manila Social Club

I was a huge fan of Miller’s, so when I found out that they’ve been replaced by a new Filipino-French restaurant, I knew I had to try them out. Manila Social Club, located on the corner of Hope Street in Williamsburg, serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 4pm. We arrived right in the middle of brunch time and wait about 15 minutes before we snagged two seats by the bar.

The menu is small, but varied and they’re currently only serving coffee and mocktails. The mocktails all sounded super delicious, but as we were catching a movie right after, I didn’t want to drink too much! Once you order, they bring over complimentary biscuits with ube spread. The ube spread was so good! It was sweet and buttery and spread so evenly on my biscuit. I’m not usually a fan of biscuits, but I gobbled them right up.

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We started with an order of the Lumpia Shanghai ($8.00) to share. Lumpia is sort of a Filipino egg roll of an assortment of goodies wrapped inside. These came with longaniza, or a type of Spanish sausage similar to chorizo. The lumpia were perfectly bite-sized and tasted amazing with the dipping sauces.

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We also ordered a side of Spam Fries ($7.00) to nibble on while we waited for our appetizers. I’m convinced these “fries” aren’t made with real Spam because it wasn’t overly salty or had the processed texture known to Spam. Regardless, they were very tasty – not too salty at all.

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For my entrée, I had the Mango Soufflé Pancakes ($14.00) with Ube Ice Cream. They offer this dish with syrup, but you don’t even really need it because the ube ice cream is more than enough. The pancakes are very moist and soft – when smeared with the cold ube ice cream, it almost melts in your mouth. I really like how there are little mango chunks in the pancake.

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The Boyfriend had the Meat & Eggs ($14.00), which features garlic fried rice, pea shoot + radish salad, two eggs any style, and a meat of your choice. He picked the Longaniza, since it’s a bit harder to get that elsewhere. The longaniza had a hint of spice, but wasn’t overpowering. It paired very well with the garlic rice. The Boyfriend was already full from our appetizers but he finished his entire dish!

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I think there was a mix up with the orders and our entrée orders didn’t get processed until much later in our time at the restaurant. The manager comp-ed our appetizers since we waited 20-30 minutes for our entrées. They didn’t have to, but it was a really nice gesture and showed how well-versed they are in customer service. I really appreciated that they proactively did that without any further prompting from us besides a casual inquiry on our food. I highly recommend Manila Social Club – be sure to try anything with Ube!

Kopi Ramen

I’ve frequented Kopi Kopi Café in the past before – it’s very conveniently located close to both my office and NYU. When I read on Yelp that they have opened a ramen restaurant in the back of the café, I knew I had to check them out. We strolled in on a Saturday afternoon and were seated right away. The menu currently consists of a handful of appetizers and four options of ramen. Their beer list is quite extensive!

We decided to order the Pork Belly and the Charred Edamame as our appetizers. The Pork Belly is marinated with miso and served on top of seasoned seaweed with chopped scallions. I loved this presentation because it was very quick and easy to eat. Unlike Pork Belly Buns, which I have a soft spot for, these were bite-sized and mess free. The pork belly was tender and not overly sauced.

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The Charred Edamame was a nice change to the typical edamame dishes at Japanese restaurants. There was a smoky flavor to each piece, which coupled nicely with the course salt.

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We actually fought over who would order which ramen on the menu, since all of them looked quite good. In the end, I ordered the Shoyu Ramen, which is a soy based ramen with duck broth. The ramen was thick and bouncy, but it was the broth that shone. The broth was salty without being overly so – I gladly drank almost all my broth. The seaweed, bamboo shoots, and pork belly were a nice addition.

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The Boyfriend ordered the Miso Ramen, which was delightful. The pork broth was milky and just the right amount of salty. Most of the time, miso ramen is too salty for my tastes because of the heavy use of miso, but this one was just right. I think the miso ramen is a heartier than the Shoyu Ramen, so if you’re a bit more hungry, definitely go for the Miso Ramen.

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Service was attentive and friendly. Check in on Yelp for a free beer – draft or canned. If you’re an NYU student, you also get a discount if you show your ID. Service charge is included in your bill so all you have to do is take your check to the counter and pay there. I highly recommend paying Kopi Ramen a visit before everything hears about it and crowds over!