Restaurant Week: Distilled NY

For every Restaurant Week season, we try to do one family dinner as well as a family brunch since meeting for lunch during the weekday is next to impossible. This season, I decided on Distilled NY, since it’s on the Soho area and had a very interesting menu. We’re always up to trying something new, so a restaurant that advertises itself as a “New American Public House” definitely fits the bill! Their brunch menu ($29 per person) features 3 options for starters, entrées, and desserts. Although one of those desserts is an alcoholic “nightcap”!

Since we were a group of three, we decided to order a bunch of items and share them so we could try as much as we can. For starters, we opted for an order of their biscuits and two orders of their Distilled Wings. The biscuit comes with orange marmalade and whipped honey butter. The biscuit wasn’t heavy or crumbly at all, which I quite liked. The Distilled Wings, however, stole the show. It’s modeled after Korean chicken wings with a gochujang glaze. It’s served with Point Reyes blue cheese, which really hit the spot. I highly recommend ordering their wings – despite the messiness!

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For our entrées, we ordered one of each item on the menu – French Toast Waffles with banana foster; Country Fried Duck with a French Toast Waffle, smoked chili maple syrup, and whipped honey butter; and the Smoked Salmon Scramble with salmon roe, chives, and a mini baguette.  All three entrées were very good – the French Toast Waffles were perfect for someone craving a sweet dish. The bananas were perfectly caramelized.

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The Country Fried Duck was very moist and tender. The smoked chili maple syrup contrasted nicely with the saltiness of the fried duck. I think this was my favorite entrée out of them all – it was hearty and savory. The skin of the fried duck was super crunchy and crispy!

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The Smoked Salmon Scramble was also quite delicious – the salmon and salmon roe were very fresh – not fishy at all. The scrambled eggs were creamy and practically melted in our mouths!

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For dessert, they ran out of their Lemon Bars, which we were really looking forward to. We ended up ordering two of their Banana Bread and a S’mores. Turns out, since the S’mores is on their regular menu, you get half a portion – which I thought was a bit stingy of them. It’s not our fault that you ran out of the Lemon Bar! Both desserts were good enough. If I wasn’t so full from the previous dishes, I’d have definitely enjoyed the Banana Bread more since I’m a sucker for whiskey in cakes and breads.

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Service was attentive and our dishes all came out in a timely manner. When we arrived around 1pm, we were seated right away. The dining room was mostly empty with a 2-3 couples and one large group. When we left about an hour and a half later, the inside dining room was mostly full! Definitely come early or make a reservation on OpenTable!

Smorgasburg

In the years past, I’ve always made my annual Smorgasburg visit in early May – to beat the heat and the crowds. This year, since I was waiting for my cousin and his niece, we didn’t end up going until mid-June. If you’re going anytime during the summer months of late-June, July, or August, be sure to wear a lot of sunscreen and go early! In the earlier months of April and May, it doesn’t begin to get crowded until closer to 1:30/2:00. But in the summer, you definitely need to go at 11:00am to beat the crowds and the lines!

We walked around a little bit before I settled on what I wanted to try. My first order of business was Big Mozz Sticks for their fresh, made-to-order mozzarella sticks (4 long sticks for $8.00). Last year at Smorgasburg, Big Mozz was serving these delicious freshly made mozzarella bombs with pesto on the inside. Their new product this year did not disappoint at all. The mozzarella was gooey and cheesy and the mozz sticks just felt fresh and light – nothing like pizzerias at all.

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My second order of business was to finally try the chicken wings at Dan & John’s Wings, which has been a Smorgasburg regular for years now. I ordered their boneless wings (5 pieces for $8.00) with mild sauce since I’m not a huge spice person. The wings were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – a perfect combination.

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To combat the growing heat, I had one of my two usual drink vendors – Brooklyn Soda Works (my other being Kelvin Slush). I’ve had their blueberry soda before so this time I opted to try the Cherry Vanilla ($5.00), which was delightful. It kind of tasted like if you mashed a Cherry Coke and a Vanilla Coke together, which is awesome because they’re my two favorite flavors of soda.

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After we finished chowing down on the savory goodies, we moved onto the dessert portion of our trip. First up, gai dan jai, or egg waffles. Gai dan jai is a childhood staple for many Chinese kids, myself included. Back when I was younger, they used to be everywhere in Chinatown. Now there’s probably one stand on Canal Street and my favorite little old man cart on Grand Street (he’s only there on odd days now). So when the egg waffle cone craze started, I was super excited! I’ve had Eggloo, so I knew I had to try Wowfulls. We had their Wowfulls Creation ($9.00), which features Matcha Green Tea Gai Dan Jai with white chocolate chips inside and your choice of vanilla ice cream or their crazy ice cream. It’s all topped with mocha, green tea Pocky, and a drizzle of your choice. We opted for the fruity pebbles dust. The end result is this crispy egg waffle with delicious ice cream in the middle. The mochi was soft and the waffle was perfectly made.

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I also made a pit stop at Baonanas before we left. Baonanas sells “light and fluffy puddings”, according to their banner. I do have to agree – the puddings are, indeed, very light a fluffy. I opted for the double scoop ($7.00), because it allowed me to pick two flavors. They let you try one and I opted to try their Lychee Rose flavor. It was pretty good – but I also wanted to try their banana, which is their signature and most popular. I felt that both were tasty – but the Lychee Rose was definitely lighter and less sweet.

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All in all, I think it was a very successful Smorgasburg visit. We’ll be back in September to give some of the other places a try – I especially want to try the new kids on the block – Jianbing Co. for their Shanghai-inspired street food.

 

The Back Room at One57

The Back Room at One57 has been on my radar since last season’s Restaurant Week when my coworker dined with them for lunch. When they released their menu for the winter season of Restaurant Week, I quickly hopped onto OpenTable and snagged a reservation. The Back Room is located on the 3rdfloor of building 157. We arrived 5 minutes before our reservation and were led to a two-seater by bar since they were seating tables exactly at their time. I found this a bit odd, but didn’t mind all too much.

Once we were seated in their main dining room, our waitress explained their Restaurant Week menu along with the supplements and left us to peruse the wine list. After several moments, she returned to take our orders and supply us with some delicious freshly baked bread. She let us know that their dessert chef actually makes the dough for the bread every day and they bake them fresh to order. During our meal, they brought over another plate of bread just as we finished our first. I was absolutely in love with the bread and the cream cheese-like spread.

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For my appetizer, I had the Mangalista Charcuterie Platter with pickles and toast. The cured meats included Coppa, Cacciatorini, Fennel Sausage, Soppressata, and Spicy Nduja. My favorites were the fennel sausage and the soppressata. The spicy nduja was super spicy and a bit too much for me – even with the pickles and toast. I wish there were more toast involved with this appetizer – I ran out halfway through my platter!

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For my entrée, I opted for the Haweij Dusted Quail a la Planca with gem lettuce and spicy yogurt. The quail was mostly deboned, except for the drumsticks and wings. I appreciated this because then I wouldn’t have to use my hands! The quail was cooked perfectly and very flavorful.

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Halfway through our entrées, my mother decided she wanted to swap dishes so she could try my quail. She ordered the Red Wine Braised Beef Cheek with parsnip, rutabaga, and red onion jam. The beef cheek is braised for 36 hours, according to our waitress. The result was a melt-in-your-mouth dish. I barely had to chew! The dish is very rich so neither of us could finish it because it was so filling!

For dessert, my mom decided on the  with Hazelnut sandies, gianduja genoise, and salted hazelnut ice cream. The presentation of the dessert was outstanding; however I found that the darker colors of the Ombré were less delightful. The chocolate flavor was a bit too strong in those parts. The salted hazelnut ice cream was the standout.

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I opted for the Meyer Lemon Zabaglione with whipped tea, Buddha’s hand confit, and earl grey ice cream. I thoroughly enjoyed my dessert. The lemon was a bit tart and really helped after the savory, heavy beef cheek dish. The earl grey ice cream was a new experience – just a bit milky and lots of tea flavor. I highly recommend this dessert!

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Service was very attentive without being overbearing. Our waitress noticed my mother struggling with her big handbag and brought over a stool for her bag. That was so thoughtful! She explained everything on our menu and gave excellent suggestions when my mother didn’t know which entrée to order. Standout service!

The Library at the Public

I’ve walked by the Public Theater numerous times on my way to and from the East Village. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I discovered that there was actually a restaurant inside the theater! The Boyfriend had mentioned that he read about a restaurant called, The Library at the Public Theater. A quick Yelp search helped me discover this cool venue – coincidentally right smack in the middle of NYC Restaurant Week. An OpenTable reservation later, we were set for Tuesday dinner at the Library.
We arrived very early but they were nice enough to seat us anyways (I think this is a trend for us!). The Library’s Restaurant Week menu offers three courses divided into three “Acts” – just like a play. I thought this was really cute and clever of them. Act I, the appetizers, offered five options. Act II, the entrees, had four options. And lastly, Act III, had three dessert options. I was pleased to notice that their RW menu features items that are on their regular menu.
For Act I, I opted for the Burrata with green market vegetables. The burrata was very nice – moist and stretchy. I just wished that there was more!
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The Boyfriend had the Crispy Calamari with shishito peppers and chipotle aioli. The portion size was huge and this appetizer is definitely made to be shared! The calamari was crispy and crunchy – fried perfectly. The best part was the chipotle aioli, which was super tasty.
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For Act II, I had the Flat Iron Steak Frites with bitter green salad and Maitre D’Butter. The steak was cooked perfectly to my requested medium rare. The salad wasn’t bitter at all and went really well with the steak. The best part, though, was the huge portion of fries that we were able to share. It felt like they were never ending!
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The Boyfriend chose the Steamed Branzino with Madras curry and summer vegetables. We traded bites of our dishes so we could try both and I really liked his branzino. The fish was tender and the curry flavor was very subtle. It wasn’t a kick-you-in-the-face curry, which was very complimentary to the summer vegetables.
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For Act III, I had the Vanilla and Chocolate Soft Serve with Pocky sticks. They had me at the Pocky sticks! The ice cream was such a huge portion ice that I couldn’t finish it. I’m not quite sure what kind of chocolate was used to make the ice cream but it was really good – not too sweet with just a hint of chocolate.
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The Boyfriend had the Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Vanilla Soft Serve. His dessert was also huge – it’s definitely shareable between 2-3 people at least. The crumble was served warm, which contrasted nicely with the vanilla ice cream. But alas, we were too full from dinner to finish it.
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Service was attentive and our waitress was super nice. I must compliment the Library for serving their regular menu at regular portion sizes for Restaurant Week. A lot of places often create items that aren’t on the menu or downsize items that are on their menu for Restaurant Week. Props to the Library – I’ll definitely be returning!

Restaurant Week – Clement in the Peninsula Hotel

I’ve been to Fives in the Peninsula Hotel before – it was actually my very first Restaurant Week meal back when I was still a teenager. When I heard a new restaurant, Clement, had replaced it, I was instantly interested. And better, it was on the Restaurant Week list! A quick OpenTable reservation got us right in for a 1:30pm lunch on a Friday afternoon.
Clement is located on the second floor of the Peninsula Hotel. When you first walk up the stairs, you’re greeted by the bar area to the left and the dining room to the right. We were seated right away and our waiter explained the Restaurant Week options as well as the $10 wine options to go with the RW menu. I opted for a Rosé while the Boyfriend went for a White. Both were very light on the palate. The RW menu offers three options for both appetizers and entrees and one option for dessert.
For my appetizer, I chose the Green Asparagus with crispy hen egg and lemon. The dish was very good – very light and refreshing for a hot summer day. Clement cooks their poached eggs sous vide style inside the shell before cracking it onto a spoon. This equals a smoother and silkier poached egg, which was effortless to pop.
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The Boyfriend chose the Fluke Crudo with white soy, grapefruit gel, and rice cracker. I had a bit of his fluke crudo and just like my appetizer, it was light and refreshing. The grapefruit really helps open up the appetite.
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For my entrée, I had the Fresh Tagliatelle with roasted mushrooms, parmesan, and sherry essence. The pasta itself wasn’t the best that I’ve had – it didn’t taste like it was made in-house. The mushroom and parmesan sauce, however, was very good. I liked that they used an assortment of mushrooms, since each tastes slightly different with a different mouth-feel.
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The Boyfriend had the Clement Burger with brioche bun, spicy mustard, and fries. The burger was pretty tasty – but not the best burger we’ve both had. It tastes very good with the spicy mustard so make sure you slather some on before taking a bite! The fries were thin and crispy and a very generous portion. The burger would probably be the biggest portion size on the RW menu if you’re a big eater.
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For dessert, we both had the Peach Almond Tart with salted caramel and mascarpone ice cream. The tart shell was pretty hard (and slightly difficult to eat) but the filling was very good. It tasted even better with a scoop of ice cream, which wasn’t too sweet and complimented the slightly tart flavor of the peaches.
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Service was very attentive. We had coffee at the end of our meal (2 cups actually!) and weren’t rushed to leave even though we were the last ones left in the restaurant. The coffee is very good and you get unlimited refills – but just a heads up, it is $9 a cup. All in all, Clement is a very solid Restaurant Week lunch.

Restaurant Week – Telepan

I’m a huge fan of restaurants that offer items from their regular menu on their Restaurant Week menu. This allows me to try something that a restaurant would normally offer and determine if I want to come back when Restaurant Week is over, which I think is should be the while point of the event. Telepan falls right into this category. Their RW lunch menu allows patrons to pick an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert off of their regular menu for the low price of $25.

The moment Restaurant Week reservations opened up, I quickly snatched reservations for lunch at Telepan for a Friday afternoon (taking full advantage of my summer Fridays!). We arrived early for our reservation but they sat us anyways. The dining room was quiet despite having a few other tables filled. Our waiter stopped by with the offer of water and left us to peruse the menus, which had the biggest selection of options I’ve seen during Restaurant Week.

For my appetizer, I went with the House Smoked Brook Trout with corn blini and green onion sour cream. This dish was divine. The smoked trout was flavorful without being too salty or fishy. The corn blini was soft and served as a perfect foundation for the smoked trout.

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The Boyfriend had the Poached Egg and Frisée Salad with wild mushrooms and mustard vinaigrette. We were both pleasantly surprised when we each took a bite. This salad is simple – there are only a grand total of 4-5 ingredients in it but it was so flavorful! Each bite tickled our taste buds and left us wanting more.

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For my entrée, I had the Roasted Chicken with carrots vinaigrette, organic grits, and wild spinach. The spinach was a bit bitter but everything else on my plate was perfection. The chicken was so tender and soft, I barely had to chew each bite. The carrots vinaigrette was very good – it felt more like a sauce/gravy than vinaigrette, which suited me just fine. I think this is one of the best pieces of chicken I have ever had.

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The Boyfriend had the Maine Pollock with salsa verde, heirloom tomatoes, and eggplant. The portion size was very generous and he really liked it. There was a nice crunch to the Pollock and it was very nicely flavored.

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For dessert, I had the Telepan S’more, which was heavenly. It comes with a dark chocolate brownie with marshmallow in the middle and graham cracker ice cream on top. The marshmallow was fluffy and slightly melted. It was also a bit warm, which tasted so good when mixed with the coldness of the graham cracker ice cream. I highly recommend coming to Telepan just for this dessert!

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The Boyfriend had the Coconut Cake, which comes with coconut whipped cream. We both thought the dessert was a bit lackluster and didn’t quite belong on the menu. The cake was very crumbly and the icing tasted like it might have been cream cheese. The end result was a slice of cake that was a bit on the heavy side. Compared to the delicious and airy coconut cake at Orchid’s in one of my previous posts, this one was legions away. The coconut whipped cream was tasty though, so that was the saving grace.

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Service was attentive without being overbearing. Our dishes came out in a reasonable amount of time – we had enough time to chat and enjoy our courses without feeling rushed. I huge pet peeve of mine is a rushed meal! I would definitely return to Telepan – even on a normal basis because their dinner prix fixes aren’t even expensive! Keep in mind, however, that for the rest of Restaurant Week, they only do lunch Wednesdays to Fridays from 11:30 – 2:30.

Restaurant Week – Delmonico’s

Delmonico’s has been on my radar for a while now so when my mom mentioned she’d like to have dinner during Restaurant Week, I quickly made reservations on OpenTable. The restaurant has a lot of history – dating back to 1837. It’s credited as the 1st American restaurant to allow its customers to order a la carte, instead of prix fixe. The building itself is a site to behold – it’s on the corner and the restaurant takes up the entire bottom floor. At first glance, it might be easy to walk past it. But once you’re inside the restaurant, it’s like you’ve been transferred to another much older world. You feel like you’ve walked into another time!

Our waiter came by with menus, explained the Restaurant Week menu and left us to peruse our options. Delmonico’s menu is pretty similar to other Restaurant Week menus – there are three options for appetizers, entrees, and desserts. There are three addition options for both appetizers and entrees with supplements. If you want one of their more classic dishes like Lobster Newburg or Delmonico’s Steak, you have to pay extra.

Both my sister and I opted for the Chef’s Chilled Soup of the Day since it was so hot outside (boarding around 95 degrees). The soup of the day was a Butternut Squash with lobster chunks. It was so good – it wasn’t very cold, which was nice. The butternut squash was strong and nutty, which mixed well with the lightly salted lobster. I think this was my favorite dish of the night.

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My mom went with the Gulf Shrimp Risotto with heirloom tomatoes, charred corn and basil.  I liked her risotto but I’m not a huge fan of corn in my risotto. The portion was decent for an appetizer.
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For our mains, both my sister and I had the 8-ounce Filet Mignon with chef’s seasonal vegetables. The filet mignon is only available for the dinner menu for Restaurant Week. I’m a huge fan of filet mignon – it’s probably my cut of choice because I don’t like big, meaty steaks. I don’t like to saw through a huge steak so this was perfect for me. The portion size is generous and cooked to my requested medium-rare. The sides were green beans and fingerling potatoes, which are two of my favorite steak sides. Both were very tasty. The combination of steak juices and the potato sauce made for a great dipping for my steak.
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My mom went with the Grilled Striped Bass with maitake mushrooms, sauce Americain, marble potatoes, and Maine lobster. The portion size was very generous and my mom couldn’t even finish her dish. The Maine lobster was a nice garnish to the striped bass and everything blended well together.
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For dessert, we ordered all three so we could try them all. My mom ordered the New York Style Cheesecake with strawberry compote (pictured first). My sister ordered the Dark Chocolate Mousse with salted caramel sauce (pictured second). I opted to pay the $6 supplement and try their famous Classic Baked Alaska with walnut cake, banana gelato, apricot jam and meringue (pictured last).
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The Dark Chocolate Mousse was my favorite – there was a nice crunch at the bottom of the mousse. The dark chocolate was nice because it cut the sweetness of the mousse. The Baked Alaska was a bit underwhelming – I found it a bit too sweet. And I have a sweet tooth so if I think it’s too sweet, that’s saying something! It’s also a huge portion so it’s definitely sharable.

Service was attentive throughout dinner and all our dishes came out very quickly. We barely waited 5 minutes between courses. I didn’t particularly feel rushed but it did end up being a quick dinner. Delmonico’s is a very classic and well-oiled steakhouse. I’d probably return again to try out their classic Delmonico’s steak with sides (I spied them on the table next to us!).