Search Results for: "the smith"

The Smith – Midtown East’s Dining Destination

The Smith is just way too good a restaurant for Midtown East. Of course, that’s why it started in the East Village and is only now making its uptown pilgrimage. But, really…this place is destination worthy, which I rarely say of a restaurant east of Park Avenue in the 50s.

The Smith is an American brasserie serving from breakfast through late nights, with a huge menu including a raw bar, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and a bevy of desserts. The Bloody Marys they offer for brunch are great to boot – spicy and full bodied, with a nice kick of vodka. The decor is casual brasserie – dishtowel napkins, tiled floors…

and this eclectic display of vintage liqueur bottles. 

Water

This place offers complimentary sparkling water. Glory be and the saints be praised, because, as a gal who can down 4 club sodas at one meal, this is both welcome and a huge money saver!

Oysters

It was a risk ordering oysters in a non-seafood based establishment, but it paid off. The oysters here – Beau Soleils, Fanny Bays, and Cotuit Bays – were fresh, briny, and full of oceanic oyster liqueur. I expected good oysters, but these were great – easily as good as the oysters at Mermaid Oyster Bar. Served with some of the fiery housemade habanero vinaigrette, they were an unexpectedly fantastic start to the meal.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

French Onion Soup gone American Tomato Soup. That is the brilliance of this dish. A steaming layer of gooey melted cheddar cheese covered a thick slice of sourdough bread that became soft and tangy in the creamy tomato soup. The tomatoes were clearly roasted, bringing out their sweetness before being mixed with fresh cream. I thought I detected chicken or beef stock in the background, but it could just be that the stock was simmered for long enough that the flavors all fully developed that umami taste. Perfectly seasoned, with enough salt to bring out the tomatoes’ savory qualities, this was a stand out dish.

Simply the best tomato soup I have eaten in the city, and one that I aim to recreate at home. Serving it French Onion Soup style was a stroke of genius.

Chicken Paillard with Mozzarella, Roasted Peppers, Arugula, Marinated Tomatoes, and Parmesan Dressing

If you feel like this, this is just what you feel like. Know what I mean? This tastes exactly like you think it will. Thin, juicy chicken cutlets with charred, smoky edges, topped with bitter arugula, silky red peppers, juicy tomatoes, and salty, nutty, Parmesan dressing. Filling but not heavy, savory but not overtly garlicky or spicy…this just fit the bill.

With a few of my sister’s very tasty, lightly salted fries (that reminded me quite a bit of In-N-Out, actually), this was a perfect lunch.

The Smith is just so great. The portions are huge, the atmosphere is festive, the price is right, and the service is expedient. 

And even though the food is way too good for Midtown East…I’m not complaining.
The Smith Midtown on Urbanspoon

First Nights of Passover Eats

Happy (belated!) Easter and Passover, y’all!

I am not having my seder until next weekend (best part about Passover is multiple nights to celebrate!), so here is what I enjoyed this weekend:

20150402_123531 Schwarma eggroll from Olympic Pita

Don’t worry, I had this before Passover. And it’s awesome! Spiced, tender beef inside a flaky, crunchy, old fashioned NYC style egg roll wrapper. Dip it in the creamy tahini served alongside and prepare to be in heaven. The portion is huge – one of these and a side of Moroccan carrots and you’re good to go.  20150403_191933 Cheese platter from Ardesia

No bread for me this week. But that cheese is WONDERFUL. Nutty goudas and creamy triple cremes and truffle honey…it’s a cheese lovers delight. It changes all of the time and the portion is really ample. Plus, the night that I went, there was a special bottle of wine open and they were selling glasses – how fun! I would never spend enough money to buy the bottle, but a glass – sure! I love Ardesia and don’t know why it isn’t on more “must visit” lists.  20150405_092045 Matzoh Brei at The Smith

This place can do no wrong. Gotta love a joint that knows that you can’t eat waffles and has this as a special. A bit more matzoh and less egg than I prefer, but still delicious – sweet onions, fresh herbs, cool sour cream. Highly recommended.

Now I’m off to buy all of those 75% discounted jellybeans!

Weekend Eats: Slush Edition

This weekend was cold, slushy, and there were, like, NO good movies out.

Did anyone else eat almost entirely crap this weekend?
20150219_105349 Cadbury Creme Egg Biscuits

Duty free shopping at Heathrow isn’t about expensive moisturizer and gargantuan sized bottles of booze for me. Nope, for me it’s about potato chips and cool candy. Oh, and the greatest cookies since the first Girl Scout came to town. Buttery shortbread topped with that wonderfully sweet Cadbury Egg creme and enrobed in thick milk chocolate. These are sweet, rich, and the perfect afternoon snack. Or breakfast. Whatevs.
20150221_092733 Dunkin Donuts

VOM! Was this place always so repulsive? Cottony, sticky, stale, tasteless balls of crapola stuffed with phosphorescent jam. UGH.  20150222_110408 Avocado toast at The Smith

Again with the avocado toast, again with The Smith. I regret nothing. This is a delicious, savory, filling breakfast is a symphony of clean tastes and textures. Crunchy, seeded bread. Smooth avocado. Creamy poached eggs. Sharp scallions and bright, vinegary frisee. A healthy dose of red pepper flakes. Sunday morning and a cup of coffee are perfect accompaniments.

Soup’s On!

I’ve given up on tomatoes until at least June. My margarita glasses sit dusty and forlorn. And my legs are so pale that I could be mistaken for a vampire. That’s right, it’s winter. And if you can’t beat ’em, at least indulge. My preferred indulgences are favorite tv show marathons, a sub-zero warm vest, and soup. I do love me some soup.  It’s something that you really can’t eat year round, and even if you could, it just tastes so much better when it’s foggy outside, and you are playing hooky from work thanks to a nasty cold.

From high-end to low-end, healthy to indulgent, and familiar to downright outlandish, here are some soup spots where you can indulge your cravings.

Hale and Hearty

This is kind of the Starbucks of soup – it’s inexpensive, it’s on every street corner, people love to rag on it, but it’s downright addictive! You could do worse than to end up at this soup emporium, which offers many rotating soups that change daily. Go for the classic three lentil chili or Tuscan white bean, or go for a seasonal favorite like chicken and sausage jambalaya, Senegalese chicken with peanuts, or a truly creamy and rich Maryland crab chowder. Best of all, you can sample as many soups of you want before you choose!

The Smith

This neighborhood haunt has a ton of great food, but none is better than its creamy tomato soup. The thick, chunky soup is loaded with bright tomato taste and then covered with thick sourdough bread that is then broiled under a blanket of tangy cheddar cheese. It’s the grilled cheese and soup mash-up of your childhood dreams!

The John Dory

Forget the Grand Central Oyster Bar; come here for the best oyster pan-roast in town. It might be the only soup on the menu, but it’s a doozy. It tastes purely of butter, creamy, and briny oysters. It’s rich but not too thick and is served with the ultimate in toasts – uni-topped crostini. This is for the seafood lover looking to up the ante on the standard clam chowder lunch.

Pancakes, Knoblewurst, and Gelato – A Good Weekend

Okay, all, I have done my latke detox and I am back in the game!

This weekend was full of heavy hitters and tastes you need ASAP.

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Caramel pecan pancakes from The Smith

The Smith hits it out of the park once again. These pancakes aren’t quite up to Du-Par’s level, but man-oh-man are they close. The are a little dense, but other than that, ideal. Not too sweet, since they get drenched with a sweet, smooth, buttery caramel sauce, toasted pecans, and a whipped cream concoction that can only be described as “someone get me a cardiologist because I want to eat this until my arteries explode.”

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Knoblewurst from Katz’s

Don’t worry, I got some pastrami, too. The knoblewurst is just a nice, garlicky way to round out the meat-fest.

TWSS.

On soft, unmemorable rye bread with a smear of hot, extremely memorable, deli mustard, this is the hot dog of your dreams. Juicy, crispy, meaty, and awesome.

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Passion fruit and Keffir lime gelato at il laboratorio del gelato

The consummate dessert post Katz’s. I often go for the creamy fior di latte or the vaguely alcoholic Kahlua, but this may be my new go-to order. The keffir lime is tart but not bitter, nicely juxtaposing the creamy, sweet, bright passion fruit. the textures of both are creamy and pleasantly dense – the perfect consistency for scooping with the plastic spoons.

Tomorrow – lunch in Columbus Circle.

September – The 4th Month of Summer

Is it actually September? Who cares?! Eat like summer lasts forever!

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The watermelon and feta salad from The Smith

Yes, I know that I go here all the time, but it’s just so delicious. Love the buzzy vibe, the buzzier drinks, and the seasonal and reliable menu. Watermelon season is rapidly coming to a close, so enjoy this salad while you can! Sweet watermelon with freshly cracked pepper and coarse salt is one of life’s great pleasures – sweet and savory defined. Paired with delicate microgreens, juicy tomatoes, and some crumbly, piquant feta, it really hits the spot for a light lunch. Don’t overlook the drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar, perfect for swiping with some of the excellent tabletop French bread.

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Guacamole at Rosa Mexicano

Though the dinner fare here was generally overpriced and unimpressive, the guacamole was legitimate! It’s made tableside to your specifications – extra spicy, no cilantro, squeeze of lemon instead of lime…your wish is their command. It’s as fresh as it comes, and once you have had a margarita, the presentation really qualifies as dinner theater. I would come here for some guac and drinks and go elsewhere for a main course.

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Claw Daddy’s

I haven’t eaten here yet, but I had to miss a press event this week and I. Was. BUMMED! Just click over and look at the menu – it’s all shellfish all the time! Louisiana home cookin’ at its finest – crawfish, 2 kinds of crab, lobster, gumbo…come to mama! I can’t wait to try this restaurant soon – have any of y’all been there? (PS, I haven’t been compensated for this post in any way…I just think it looks super awesome and after my trip to New Orleans last year, I am always looking for good N’awlins food!)

Let’s jump into what I am now calling the last month of summer!

Almond Croissants at Lady M and Dining Fine at The Andaz

What have I been eating lately? This stuff:

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Almond croissant at Lady M

This bakery, famous for its 20 layer crepe cake, also makes one hell of an almond croissant. The edges are crispy and wonderfully crunchy while the middle and inner pale layers are moist. The top is glazed with sugar and sprinkled with slivered almonds. The filling is the best part. A thick layer of almond paste is hearty, nutty, and sugary – it’s like the best marzipan on the planet. The croissant is large but still carefully constructed – it’s the perfect breakfast or coffee time snack.

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Russ and Daughters Gravlax at The Shop

Perhaps the greatest gravlax on the planet, now served at a delightful restaurant in The Andaz 5th Avenue. The restaurant is stylish and sleek, but the menu is nothing like the hotel restaurants of yore. The ingredients are all sourced from individual butchers, bakers, and fishmongers from all over the 5 boroughs. It’s more like a marketplace where you can get food made than a standard restaurant. We had Schaller and Weber mini bratwursts that were juicy, savory, and surprisingly sweet. We had Feather Ridge eggs whose yolks were so thick and yellow that they were nearly orange. And we had thickly cut gravlax that is permeated with fragrant dill and pepper, layered on as lab of cream cheese and a toasted bialy studded with sweet caramelized onions. This place is a great treat brunch place.

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Burrata at The Smith

Yes, I come here all the time. And, yes, I always rave about it. But that’s because it is always…always…ALWAYS great. The service is wonderful, the prices are fair, and the food is delish. The burrata is better than many I have had in sub-par Italian restaurants. It’s a creamy, ample portion; served with salty and savory roasted red pepper relish, bitter arugula, and a couple of thick, crunchy croutons. A tasty appetizer or its own small meal with a slice or two of the accompanying French bread.

Cafe Fiorello Does Not Impress

Ugh this is one of those posts I DREAD writing.

Like, I almost didn’t write it.

However, I realized that I owe it to you, my readers, to give you my honest opinions.

And, honestly…I don’t know how this restaurant has been around so long.

Cafe Fiorello has long stood across the street from Lincoln Center – prime real estate all year long, but especially good in the holiday season. Hordes of little girls and their grandparents flock to see “The Nutcracker” and afterwards, who wouldn’t like a little pasta? You would think the dining room would be at the top of its game to entice clients who otherwise might not come this way, to return in the warmer months.

If that’s the case…ai yai yai.

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The dining room si large and loud, but not unhappily so  just the generally happy buzz of contented diners. It’s on the fancier side of things, but it’s very kid friendly – really the perfect family setting.

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Bread basket

Tasty. The multigrain bread is dry and forgettable but the foccacia is lovely – vaguely garlicky and studded with fresh basil. Best of all, there is a pesto butter sandwiched in the slices, like delightful, creamy, salty surprises throughout the soft bread. Definitely enjoyable!

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Burrata

Okay, nothing more. Nowhere near Amali. Nowhere near a lot of places. A little dry. A little bland. A little…little. Where is the olive oil? The seasonings? The “more than 1 measly slice of tomato?”  All this is lacking and it’s still $18? It’s a miss.

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Meatballs

They serve their purpose, even though they did come to the table lukewarm. I love the nutty, crunchy pistachios on top and the soft texture of the meatballs. But they are quite one note. The sauce is too sweet and the balls are too bland.

That’s what she said.

Where is the fragrant oregano or the kick of Sicilian chiles? Where is the layer of sharp pecorino cheese or the sliver of melting garlic in the sauce? For the love of Pete, where is the SALT?

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Spaghetti carbonara with truffles.

Sure, I make the best carbonara. But this verrsion could at least TRY to measure up. Or, you know, it could be lazy and not offer any taste or texture other than “gloppy.” It could be lacking salt and have steamed the asparagus into oblivion. The egg yolk is wonderfully unctuous but..again..where is the salt? Or pepper? The pasta itself is the saving grace – it is obviously fresh and is al dente with a fresh, eggy flavor and ideal texture. Unfortunately, despite the ample shavings on top, it was like the flavor was purposefully sucked out of the truffles. Why? WHY?!

And the service…oh, the service. The night we went, the menu had changed that day. The place was busy. A bathrooms flooded. I get all that – I do. But when you wait an hour and a half for your meal, squinched into a booth that is crowded with patrons on either side, and the wrong meal is brought to you? You need more than just a small portion of the rather expensive meal comped.

You need an apology. A visit from the manager. A question about how they can improve. Some attention at all.

Our server was sweet but totally overwhelmed. Dining here was not a great experience.

And in a city with so many winners, why would you come here? For a better meal at half the price, go to The Smith.

Like I said, I hate writing less than stellar reviews…but more than that, I would hate if you wasted your time, money, and stomach space here.

Cafe Fiorello on Urbanspoon

Recent Tasty Bites: Summer Edition

Now it’s time to look at a few super tasty dishes around town:

pix 001-001 Rose Rose at The Smith

A cocktail so delicious that it would stand toe-to-toe with any libation at a high end bar, let alone a restaurant. Rose Lillet, prosecco, fresh strawberries, and muddled basil make for a sweet, verdant, effervescent drink. It’s not overly sugary, but rather, sweet with the strawberries. Teh basil prevents it form being dessert like, and the glass it is served in just adds an elegant touch. It’s fabulous with dinner but equally tasty as a stand alone drink. 

pix 019-001 Ice cream sandwich at Jacques Torres

The best reason to love summer since swimming pools. Two of Jacques famous chocolate chip cookies sandwich fresh ice cream or sorbet. The coconut ice cream is especially decadent – rich and heady with a strong vanilla-coconut taste. It is creamy and squidges out of the edges of those awesome cookies – large and flat, with huge hunks of deep semi-sweet chocolate. Be aware that you will need some strong teeth to get through this sandwich since it’s rather large and the cookies harder vs. softer. But the payoff is worth it!

pix 039 Tuna Tartare at Cafe Tallulah

That’s right UWS, keep on getting hotter! Cafe Tallulah is a swanky brasserie-style restaurant that manages to be hip in the evening, relaxed in the afternoon, and tasty at all times of day. It’s the perfect spot for a happy hour cocktail and one dollar oyster (every night till 8 pm), brunch with a few friends, or dinner on date night. Sup on classic French fare as as well as fusion dishes. The tuna tartare is a recent favorite. Fresh tuna, tender and lean, served atop cilantro-flecked avocado puree with baby vegetables and spicy aioli alongside. It’s light and vibrant, with fresh ingredients and a fair price tag. I could eat this as a light main dish and it makes a great shared appetizer as well. With places like this, the west village should worry…the uptown restaurant scene is catching up!

Cafe Tallulah on Urbanspoon

New and Notable (to Fritos and Foie Gras)

And now for another edition of “Stuff I’m Eating that Deserves Mention”

Slider from White Manna

My love for burgers knows no bounds. I love fancy ones. I love cheap ones. And I especially love mini ones known as sliders – tiny burgers, steamed on a griddle with onions and served under melted American cheese and a squishy bun. Though White Castle made the slider famous, White Manna made it happen. This diminutive greasy spoon in Hackensack has been around for decades and still serves burgers by the bagful. They are – no exaggeration – the greatest sliders on the planet. Fatty but not overly greay, flavorful but not just with salt, with just a smidge of cheese to balance out the soft, juicy patty. The onions are plentiful and sweet and the crowning touch here are the tangy pickles – they add a necessary fresh note to the otherwise meat-n-bread slider. There isn’t too much I can say about this slider other than that the fact that 3 of them are the IDEAL drunk food. I mean, I was craving one after I had this…

Cranberry Spritz at The Smith

Are you one of those people who gets drunk off a glass of wine? Who can’t handle more than half of a martini? Who is no longer allowed to go to any regional Ruby Tuesdays because you once got belligerent after a particularly potent pina colada?

Don’t tell me it’s just me.

If you, too, are a lightweight, then you will love the “low alcohol” line of drinks at The Smith. Designed to drink before the theatre, they are enough to loosen you up after a long day, but not enough to make you feel tired or get you totally knackered. This spritz is refreshing and tart, with a slight sweetness form the ruby port and an herbal note of rosemary. It is fizzy, light, and just enough to get your night started without the danger of making it end too soon. By being kicked out of Ruby Tuesdays.

Like I said, don’t say it’s just me.

Free Ice Cream at Stew Leonard’s

Cross Disneyland with Whole Foods with Costco. That’s what you get at Stew Leonard’s, a Westchester area supermarket that has its own dairy farm, costumed characters, and local produce on premises. It’s huge, it’s rife with unique, locally produced goods, and it’s sample central. Load up on tastes of lobster bisque made that day, egg salad from chickens that laid the eggs that morning, and BBQ beef sandwiches that say – and I quote “you’d have to own a cow to get fresher beef.” Perhaps the best part of this little shopping trip is the realization that when one spends at least $100, there is a free ice cream at the end of the road. The soft serve is so creamy, so soft, so milky fresh and clean tasting that it puts most other ice creams to shame. The cotton candy is delightfully sugary and a small bowl will put you into diabetic shock, but it’s worth it.

 Just make sure you get a slider on the way home to balance out all of that sugar. 

The Smith on Urbanspoon