Korean Restaurant Guide Launch at Hanjan

My love for Korean food is well documented. Whether traditional or nouveau, I love me some kimchi, gochujang, and bibimbap. However, it isn’t as mainstream as, for example, Chinese or Thai cuisines. It just isn’t as well-known, and whereas any small city in northern New Hampshire will have at least one place to get lo mein and an almond cookie, if you live in a place without a big Korean population, you probably haven’t’ gotten a whole lot of chances to eat Korean food.

Luckily, when you visit NYC, you now have a guide to help you.

The launch of the Korean Restaurant Guide is incredibly exciting for all of us who know and love banchan. It’s a guide curated by the Korean Food Foundation, Chef Hooni Kim, and food writer Matt Robard that highlights the 40 best Korean restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. From high-end multicourse meals to fusion fries topped with cheddar cheese and bulgogi, this guide covers the best of the best in both English and Korean printing, tells you what the best dishes are, and how much you can expect to spend for your meal. Don’t want to schlep around the small guide? Just give the app a try – it should be available in March. This is exciting because now people have a guide to help them become acclimated to the world of Korean food. It’s garlicky and spicy and deeply satisfying. It’s the best, most vibrant colorful parts of other Asian cuisines fused into its own special collection of flavors and textures. If you haven’t tried Korean food, this guide may change your culinary life.

Of course, the guide isn’t the only reason I had to write this post. The luncheon to announce it was held at Hanjan, the new restaurant from Hooni Kim, who runs the incomparableDanji. This slightly larger, causal restaurant features many small plates and we were treated to a few items that chef Kim personally prepared for the meal.

Butternut squash porridge

The first realization that this would not be a traditional Korean meal. There was no garlic here, no fiery pepper paste of scallions. Only smooth, silky butternut squash soup that was as sweet and comforting as Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house. Even the rice was in the form of rice powder, used only to thicken the soup and give it a very smooth texture. This is a rich but not at all heavy or gloppy way to start the meal.

Bean Sprout, Napa cabbage, and bean sprout kimchi

Here was where the traditional flavors started to shine. The spinach kimchi is clean tasting and bright, with a slightly spicy taste of garlic. The Napa cabbage is the most traditional, spicy and salty and just a bit briny from the fermented fish that was likely used in the recipe. The bean sprouts were crunchy and slippery, nutty with sesame oil. This kimchi trio isn’t overtly flavored, it doesn’t leave you feeling like you sucked a sachet filled with the world’s stinkiest ingredients. It’s more subtle, luring you into the flavorful, intricate world of Korean food.

Grilled beef short ribs, winter lettuce, and ssamjang

Some of the best galbi I have ever had. Rich and falling apart tender, with a really pronounced beefiness that is almost funky, like an aged steak. Marinated in a sweet and salty sauce and served alongside ssamjang, bitter, pungent, and spicy with fermented beans and peppers, it is just wonderful. It’s your favorite bbq short ribs kicked up and moved far East. Wrapped in stiff winter lettuce, it was a bite that was hot, cool, crisp, and fatty all at once. I would come back to Hanjan for what they can do with meat.

That’s what she said.

Five Grain Rice

Sorry, I hated it. I like beans and I like rice and I like seeds. Put them together and they taste like mushy grass. I just can’t do it.

Korean citron sorbet

Unbelievable. A standout in a very tasty meal. Tart like lemon, sweet like orange, fresh and fruity like lime. It has a hint of bitterness like yuzu and the texture is so creamy that it might as well be ice cream. It’s sweet and refreshing – a perfect ending to a salty, spicy, beef heavy meal.

Though I haven’t tried the normal menu yet, I can already tell that I will love Hanjan. The long communal table, the inventive and flavorful food, and the prices that seem fair for the quality I will certainly be back soon to see for myself. And I will also be headed to the other tasty restaurants listed in the new Korean Restaurant Guide.

Kimchi, come to mama.

*This was a press meal. I was not required to write about it, and my opinions are my own and unbiased.*

Hanjan on Urbanspoon

Doughnuttery – Outrageous Doughnuts in Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market has done it again. The old-fashioned Nabisco factory in the heart of the Meatpacking district has a plethora of interesting restaurants and food shops, ever-changing and always interesting. None can be more interesting than the brand new Doughnuttery.

Why, you may ask? Because not only does this small cart make handmade doughnuts on the spot, it makes them in insanely cool flavors.

The doughnuts are continuously made right in front of you, then when they are piping hot they are plucked from the oil…

rolled in flavored sugars or glazes, and…

delivered into your gluttonous little hands. The doughnuts aren’t just special because they are fresh and well made, with an airy texture and light, yeasty taste. It’s because of the glazes and sugars on hand.

How about sugars like PBCP (Peanut Butter, cayenne, pretzel), The Purple Pig (Maple, purple potatoes, bacon​), and Mistletoe (Ginger, cranberry, and sage)? Or perhaps you would like your doughnuts covered in a sugary icing, like the Raspberry balsamic sauce or the Pumpkin beer caramel sauce? Look, you can of course get a plain old cinnamon sugar doughnuts here but why would you? This place doesn’t just exist to give you a quick sugar high, it strives to challenge your tastebuds and expand the way that you think about this classic fried treat.

Cacaoboy with Sea salt, cacao nibs, and black sugar

This is one of the more tame offerings, but even it is so head and tails above your average sugared doughnut that it’s almost laughable. This doughnut is intensely flavored – salty, bitter, vibrant with chocolate, and of course, pleasantly sweet.

The different grains in the sugar provide interesting textural contrasts – a large cacao nib cracks pleasingly next to a melting grain of sea salt upon a fluffy, pliant tuft of doughnut. This is every bit as complex and well crafted as a $15 dessert in a fine dining restaurant.

The Doughnuttery is a welcome addition to Chelsea Market. Grab a half-dozen for a few very reasonable dollars, find a seat in the main thoroughfare and watch the world pass by.

​​​Scratch that…get the full dozen. They go that fast.

Doughnuttery on Urbanspoon

Buon Italia, Txikito, and Hakata Tonton

I go out to eat a lot – at restaurants, at food trucks, and at street fairs. Though most of the food I eat is pretty tasty, some of it is really exceptional, and that’s the food we are talking about today – 3 recent bites that are so phenomenal that they deserve a post all their own!

Buon Italia Bruschetta Caprese

I have long loved this Chelsea Market store for its wonderful Italian imports. If it’s Italian, you can find it here. From truffled cheeses to Nutella the size of an Olsen twin, to homemade porchetta, everything Italian is either imported or house made here. I have come here many times for artisanal pasta, rich cream, and imported olives, but I have rarely stopped at the small counter just outside the store, selling prepared food. A recent lunchtime visit proved that I have been a moron, yet again. This is the best bruschetta I have had since I was a child in California. One bite of this brought me back to the first time I ever tasted the Italian delicacy. The bread is toasted but not thick crusted, so it can be easily bitten and its surface is saturated with sweet tomato juices. Overtly garlicky, strewn with floral basil and very light, clean olive oil. Salted enough to bring out the tomatoes’ juices, then finished with three slices of mozzarella so creamy that they could practically be burrata. This isn’t a particularly big or inexpensive bite, but it is so perfect that it is worth every calorie and every cent.

Albondigas at Txikito

This tiny Basque-style tapas (which are called pinxtos) restaurant is hardly a sleeper hit, but it has taken me way too long to get here. Along with the cinnamon and apple tinged sangria, the don’t miss dish here is the albondigas. These little lamb meatballs are juicy and soft. They are crisp and caramelized on the outside and robustly lamb-y on the inside. Served in a broth made with white wine, garlic, and chiffonades of sharp mint, the dish is at once bright and deep. I could easily make a meal of this alone, with a side of bread. That is the only issue I have with this dish – stop being stingy with the bread, folks! Give a gal a piece!

 

Hakata Tonton Pork Belly

When I ran headfirst into a ramen festival on the Upper West Side, I was reminded again how much I love this city. Where else can you head out for pancakes and eggs and find yourself walking amidst ramen, gyoza, obanyaki, and other Japanese delicacies?! Even at 10:30 AM, I knew what my first bite would be. Hakata Tonton is famous for making all things pork – ear, belly, shanks…if it comes from the pig, it’s at Hakata Tonton, and it is delicious. These freshly grilled pork skewers proved that the restaurant deserves its excellent reputation.

The smoky and crisp meat is tender, contrasting with bouncy ribbons of pure, opalescent fat. If you don’t like the texture of fat, this isn’t  for you, but I love it.  Slathered with a tangy-sweet Japanese BBQ sauce and a smattering of sesame seeds, I could have eaten this entire skewer then had another.

 But, as you see, there are just so many delicious bites in NYC – I always like to save some room for the next serendipitous dish.

Txikito on Urbanspoon

Highpoint Bistro – A High Point in Chelsea’s Restaurant Scene

A recent lunch hour found me in Chelsea. Not the cool, food oriented part of Chelsea – more like the dirty, crowded part of Chelsea. I didn’t expect to find a great meal here, other than the hot bar at Whole Foods, but then I remembered that I had a freestanding invitation to dine at Highpoint Bistro and Bar. Well, okay.

Highpint Bistro and Bar is located on busy Seventh Avenue. It sits amidst nail salons, bars offering 2-for-one shots, and a few scattered fabric stores. Once you step inside, you leave all that behind. The bistro is slim but well designed, with comfortable tables and booths in the sunlit space. The high ceilings and long bar make it ideal for a leisurely lunch with a friend.

The menu is full of modern American dishes that take cues from Asian and Europe. Think your classic neighborhood joint with a bit more international flair.

Tuna Tartare Tacos with tobiko, avocado mousse, cucumber noodles, and spicy mayo

These 4 tiny tacos are an ideal starter because they are small enough to be light but flavorful enough to whet the appetite. Dices of mild tuna are marinated in a salty soy and ginger mixture, then topped with ruby beads of tobiko and a smooth cilantro-seasoned avocado mousse. Drag it though the Sriracha spiced mayo for a final touch of heat. The cucumber noodles are also delicious – sweet, sour, and a little spicy, they actually taste like al dente noodles.

Avocado BLT

The only way to make something with bacon better is to add avocado – Highpoint took that advice and did it to great effect. Buttery avocado lay on crisp, thickly cut bacon, juicy tomatoes and crunchy romaine lettuce. That same Sriracha mayonnaise added a bit of heat ot eh sandwich, and the combination of spicy, creamy, salty, and meaty, was thoroughly enjoyable. The one issue I had with this sandwich was that the bread was very dense and cottony – a thinner, more artisanal bread with better holes structure would better serve the excellent ingredients. The accompanying homemade potato chips were a bit salty, but overall a welcome side dish.

Spanish Flatbread Pizza with Manchego, Chorizo, and a Fried Egg

This pizza succeeds because it is properly titled – it is a flatbread/pizza hybrid. Thicker than a flatbread, but less charred than a pizza. My expectations were met in every way. A bright tomato sauce under nutty manchego cheese, thick slices of spicy, garlicky chorizo, and a perfectly baked egg. The egg was runny and rich on the pizza, adding another layer of indulgence. The final, inspired touch was a pile of lightly dressed arugula, adding acidity to the dish. This was the winner of the day.

Highpoint Bistro is a fantastic addition to a part of the neighborhood where a nice restaurant is in high demand. Service is amiable, prices are fair, and the food is really high quality. Next time you need a break from the unrelenting heat, stop in at Highpoint Bistro, and treat yourself to a really delightful meal.

*Disclaimer: The restaurant paid for my meal. I was not required to write a review, and the opinions are my own and unbiased.*

HIGHPOINT Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Panera – My Dirty Little Secret

My dirty little secret shouldn’t really be a shocker. You know I eat chili dogs. You know I love Frito pies. Does it really shock you that I love Panera?

That freshly baked bread.

That free WiFi.

That bread.
Those courteous, well groomed servers who always get my order right.
Those bread bowls, cookies, and pastries.

One track mind.

Feisty Foodie took me to a Panera preview party for the first Panera location opening in Manhattan NYC. This could be seen as the end of all things New York OR as the beginning of something great. 
Who am I kidding? It’s the beginning of something great.

Bacon Turkey Bravo

Smoked Turkey Breast, Bacon, Smoked Gouda, Lettuce, Tomatoes and Signature Dressing, on  Tomato Basil Bread

Please understand that this sandwich is more than the sum of its parts. Smoky, clean turkey. Rich Gouda. Slightly spicy, salty mayonnaise spread. Crisp bacon. Sweet tomatoes and lettuce so fresh that I buy it myself at the supermarket. 
And that bread.

Savory, slightly sweet, soft and yeasty. Sturdy enough to stand up to the dressing, but soft enough to easily tear through with my teeth. Just a perfectly constructed sandwich – the right amount of filling and the right proportions of ingredients.

Baguette

Thin, crunchy crust with a slightly sour, moist interior. Perfect with butter or one of their excellent soups.

Try the French Onion or the creamy Broccoli Cheese soups.

And now that you know my dirty little secret, you might as well confess…

You know you love Panera, too.
*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*

The Simple Kitchen

After a few too many days of chili and margaritas, I needed a detox. I needed a nice, quiet dinner out that wasn’t too expensive or too indulgent. That’s how I ended up at The Simple Kitchen
This tiny Chelsea Restaurant, hidden off a side street, specialises in local, organic food. All of the cheeses, meats, vegetables, and even wines come from organic and often local producers. Though it isn’t vegan or even vegetarian, there are many vegetarian items available.

The restaurant really is tiny-this is the whole thing. It is relaxed but still nice and very quiet – perfect for a relaxed dinner with a friend or a meal at the bar with a great book.

Scarlet Quinoa with Beets, Spinach, and Lemon-Dill Dressing

What a refreshing way to start a meal. The quinoa is sweet and nutty – cooked perfectly until it is no longer crunchy, but is still a wee bit al dente. The small chunks of beets are tender and sweet, and the bright, herby dressing brings a lightness and acidic touch to the salad. This is a light, refreshing way to start a meal.

Butternut Squash Soup

How is something this creamy, deep, and satisfying VEGAN?! If I didn’t know better, I would swear there was cream in this – it is that rich and buttery. The soup is served piping hot, with enough salt to counteract the squash’s natural sweetness. It manages to be incredibly savory while still tasting of that earthy, sugary butternuts quash. If you like butternut squash ravioli, you will love this. 
Hell, if you are alive, you will love this.

Asian Cabbage Stir Fry with Bell Peppers, Soy, and Tofu

This is like something I would make at home. Crisp cabbage, sweet bell peppers, ginger, and soy sauce thrown in a steaming hot skillet until the vegetables wilt and become a warm, pleasantly salty, Asian-inflected amalgamation. Though this could use a few birds eye chiles to bring out the bell peppers’ sweetness, it is a good dish. The tofu was especially nice – creamy and substantial.

Moroccan Carrots

The standout of the night. Plump nuggets of carrots, cooked still with a bit of bite to them, coated in a spicy, zesty spice mixture. Cumin, coriander, a bit of red pepper flakes, and more spices I could not decipher make these carrots an incredibly rich and flavorful. The spices are all very savory and earthy, which help bring the carrots’ rich, deep flavor to the forefront – since carrots are naturally so sweet, this is a unique and delicious interpretation of a classic root vegetable.

The Simple Kitchen is just that – simple food, in a simple setting, that is simply what you need after a few too many indulgent nights. The prices are very reasonable, the service is relaxed, and the best part is, since I ate so well, I had room for half a pint of ice cream for dessert. 

So much for being virtuous. 

Cookshop – Huevos Rancheros in NYC

I rarely visit the same restaurant twice, unless it’s in my neighborhood. I especially don’t care to review the same restaurant twice on my blog. But occasionally there is a restaurant so unique that it deserves a double mention. 
Such is Cookshop
 My previous review covers Cookshop’s locally and seasonally inspired lunch menu. It describes the relaxed, breezy dining room. But it doesn’t go over any of the brunch items. 
And, as good as lunch was, brunch was even better.
Grapefruit Brulee with Creme Fraiche and Brown Sugar
This is why you cook seasonally. Grapefruit is at its peak right now – tart, juicy, without a trace of bitterness. By covering it with brown sugar and broiling it until the surface was crispy and sugary, the fruit tasted incredibly juicy and fresh. Serving it with creamy creme fraiche and a scattering of earthy fresh mint grounded the dish, making it complex and well rounded. Though there could have been a bit more char and crackly crunch on the top of the grapefruit, the combination of sour, sweet, crunchy, and creamy was a great way to start the meal. 
 Griddled Cheese with Cabot Cheddar, Candied Pecans, Honeycrisp Apples, Fries, and Salad
This was a simple but great grilled cheese sandwich. Crunchy bread, sharp cheddar cheese, juicy apples, sweet pecans, and a healthy dose of piquant grainy mustard. The mustard really made this dish, and brought out the savory, salty elements of the cheese. The apples could have been sliced a bit thinner on a mandolin, but the tart, fresh flavor was excellent.The lightly dressed greens on the side were pristine and seasonal with bitter frisee and spicy radishes. And fries are just always awesome.
That’s my official food blogger stance on fries. 
Huevos Rancheros with Eggs, Black Beans, Ranchero Sauce, Monterey Jack Cheese, Lime Creme Fraiche, Pickled Jalapenos and Onions, and Crispy Tortilla Strips
This is it. This is the reason you come here for brunch. A huge ceramic platter came to the table so hot that its contents were still bubbling inside. A thick layer of molten cheese covered perfectly baked eggs, with solid whites and delightfully gooey yolks. Tender black beans, spiced ranchero sauce (a zesty, tomato based sauce similar to enchilada sauce), and the slight heat of jalapenos. Freshly fried tortilla chips that offered crunch, bracing pickled onions that offered freshness, and lime creme fraiche that cooled the palate. Onions, garlic, cumin, and a smoky heat pervaded the dish without being overtly sharp or pungent. This was bright, deep, hearty, and satisfying. I can’t say enough good things about this dish or about the fact that it was an extremely ample portion. 
Cookshop is a place I have to frequent more often. The prices are reasonable, the service is great, and the food is exceptional. They continuously prove that cooking seasonally and locally results in the best food on the planet. 
Don’t be surprised if you see a third review for Cookshop at some point. It’s just that great. 

The John Dory’s Fantastic Pan Roast Outshines its Service

What do you do when the service is the pits but the food is fantastic? Aye, there’s the rub. I could do without the surliness, but that crudo. That soup. Those ROLLS!
…let me rewind for a moment. 
 When 3 of my favorite foodies wanted to go to dinner at The John Dory, I was more than happy to become the fourth member of the date. April Bloomfield’s seafood focused restaurant has been making a splash (pun intended) for awhile now, and I was anxious to see why. 
The light dining room, with high topped tables and a counter with stools running around the room’s perimeter, was a veritable hot spot when I arrived at 7 pm. They don’t take reservations, so grab a drink at the bar and go to the back of the room – near the restrooms – to grab one of a few hidden tables to relax at while you wait for your table. 
Pink Snapper Crudo with Cucumber and Cured Lemon.
Snappy, bright fish paired with clean cucumber and slightly bitter, sour lemon rind. A straightforward dish, all about the sushi-grade quality of the fish – so bright and not at all fishy or briny. The cucumber echoed the fish’s firm texture and the lemon rind brought a round, tangy note to the dish.
 Burrata with Canary Melon and Trout Roe.
Burrata. Mozzarella’s richer, sexier, more desirable cousin. Smooth and taut without, creamy, unctuous and liquidy within. Standing on crisp, sweet melon, it made the more savory taste of the mozzarella come through. Though you often see burrata with tomato, this is an interesting combination – the melon has the sweetness of the tomato, but none of its harsh acidity. The trout roe on top added pops of salinity and brine, bringing the sea to the grassiness of the cheese. The roe itself was not slimy or overtly salty, but tender and filled with the pure essence of the sea. Melding with the rich cheese and sugar melon, it was a truly great appetizer. 
 Oyster Pan Roast with Uni Crostini. 
Cream. The alcoholic tang of sherry. Sweet butter. Plump oysters, just warmed through, their natural sugars caramelizing on the outside, contrasting with the salty, oceanic juices that flowed freely when they were bit. Thin as a soup but richer than a stew – no vegetables or flour to get in the way. Just the lush cream, the biting sherry and those deep, briny ousters. The crispy crostini was generously layered with fillets of sweet and salty uni, redolent of the sea and with an iron-y taste not unlike liver. Crisp bread, creamy uni, rich stew…this bowl was so small we were at first sure that it wouldn’t be enough for us. It was. Especially with…
Homemade Parker House Rolls. 
Don’t know why we got this. Don’t know where I remembered hearing about them. All I know is that the rolls arrived PIPING hot to the table, glistening in butter and a scant amount of coarse salt and then…well then it all goes blank. When I split the rolls a puff of steam emerged and I remember the pliant, buttery dough melting in my mouth against the crisp brown of the crust. There was no butter here, no tapenade. These didn’t need any. It was a fantastic piece of bread. 
And the meal itself was fantastic. Except for…the service. It was just really lackluster. There was no communication between servers and buspeople, our server took about a million years to take our order and then the food took quite awhile to come. On top of this, the server made it very clear that she would rather be unclogging a toilet than serving our table. This would have been acceptable if not for 2 things: 
1)When the prices are this high (not exorbitant but certainly upscale), the service should be nothing but gracious
2)We saw the server berate our busboy in front of us for some minor offense. This is NEVER appropriate – it is demeaning, it is unkind and it is unprofessional. Hopefully this was a one-time situation, because it really soured our meal. 
But did it sour it enough for me not to go back? I would say, no…with caveats. The food was just outstanding – truly well made and delicious. The service really did leave something to be desired, but I would give it one more chance to see if it improved.
So here’s hoping that the service was oa one time glitch. Because the rest of the dinner went swimmingly(yes, again with the puns).
John Dory Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Socarrat Paella Bar – The Good Stuff is Burned

After the delicious paella at Alta, my interest in the traditional Spanish dish was peaked. Why have I never really explored this type of food before? It’s rice. It’s meat. What’s not to love?
To that end, I headed to Socarrat Paella Bar. This restaurant, with 2 NYC locations, mainly focused on paella. You can choose from variety of different paellas, as well as assorted tapas. 
The restaurant – for which you will definitely want reservations – features one long, thin table where you sit with your dining partner. This would be very hard to do with more than 4 people. It is also a little crowded and the stools have no backs – doesn’t bother me, just FYI. Though there are some tables in the adjoining wine bar…come on, people! Have some fun here! Suck it up and sit at the long paella bar. Half the fun is seeing what the people next to you are eating.
The paellas are all made to order, so the server suggests you order a few tapas to start the meal with while you wait the 25 minutes or so for the paella. 
Pan Tomaca – Toast, Tomato, Olive Oil, Garlic, Sherry Vinegar. 
Also known as Pan Con Tomate, this is often one of my favorite dishes in a tapas restaurant. Sadly, this just didn’t cut it for me – the bread was too fresh, rendering it a bit soggy. You really want a crusty, tough piece of bread that can stand up to juicy tomatoes and vibrant garlic. There was not enough salt or garlic, leaving the tomatoes flat tasting and a bit acidic. It was not a fortuitous start to the meal. 
Tortilla – Egg and Potato Omelette
Luckily, this picked things up. If you have never had a Spanish tortilla, you might be expecting a round flatbread made of flour or corn – the thing that you get with a plate of fajitas. Not so. A Spanish tortilla is a light but rich omelette filled with slivers of tender potatoes and sharp onions, served with a garlicky mayonnaise. Mayonnaise on top of eggs. Possibly the most delicious experience ever. This tortilla was perfection  -thick but incredibly light, with the onions and potatoes breaking up the fluffy texture of the egg. 
Meat Paella with Duck, Pork, Chicken and Chorizo
The decision on which Paella to order was a difficult one, but we really wanted to try the chorizo, and this is the only paella on the menu with chorizo in it. The paella arrived in a sizable pan (minimum order is for 2), which was set in front of us. 5 minutes after the server set it down, she came back and scraped up the bottom of the pan, so we could get the crunchy bits of rice(called the socarrat -see how they did that?) from the bottom of the pan. 
Much like bibimbap, the crunchy, chargrilled bits of rice were my favorite part. Adding a slightly bitter, crunchy, caramelized texture to the rice, it took the dish from great to unmissable. I have to be honest and say that I couldn’t really detect the pork, chicken or duck from one another. All the meat was in small , tender chunks, having an extremely hearty, earthy taste. It kind of had the best of all worlds – the proteins seemed to pick up the gentle subtlety of the chicken, the gaminess of the duck and the unctuous fat of the pork. It was basically a delicious barnyard. The chorizo was a salty, garlicky, fatty-crunchy delight. The rice was glistening in fat but not at ALL greasy – just the perfect marriage of starch and fat. It was a bit salty, and next time I would ask for it with less salt, but it wasn’t salty enough to ruin the dish. 
I mean, if it was…would we have scraped the dish clean with our forks and fought over the last of the socarrat?
This meal hit the Paella-craving spot! A fun atmosphere, more than reasonable prices and totally delicious food made for a great date night spot or dinner out with friends. Just make sure that you tell your dining partner that the stuff on the bottom of the paella pan is burned…that way, you can eat the socarrat all by yourself.
Socarrat Paella Bar on Urbanspoon

Little Cheese Pub Packs a Lot of Flavor

I am a lactose PRO-tolerant. After I eat cheese or a milkshake, I actually feel healthier. True story. 
Soy milk has never passed these lips, and probably never will. 
 Little Cheese Pub is a restaurant in Chelsea focused on one of my favorite lactose wonderfoods – that’s right – cheese.
Nearly everything on the menu is centered around cheese, or its natural pairing, sausage. There is also a huge selection of beer, and quite a few wines to drink, should you prefer. 
I did not prefer. I didn’t even want to drink water. I wanted to save all my room for the cheese. 
Blue Cheese with Port Wine and Clover Honey/Chick Pea Dip with Green Spanish Olives
These set the tones for the night . The chick pea dip was full of texture and small pieces of tender chickpeas, briny olives and the light kick of garlic. It was like hummus gone Mediterranean, with the taste of the chickpea really coming through,
The blue cheese dip was pow, in-your-face sweet and funky. It was like eating a very ripe Bleu D’Auvergne with a drizzle of honey: deep, earthy, totally umami with a sweet richness from the honey. The port wine echoed the funkiness of the cheese and added a tang that kept the dip from being too one-dimensional. This was one of the best presentations of blue cheese I have had in awhile. Soon, I left the fresh crostinis alone and started eating it with a spoon. It would be DYNAMITE spread over figs and broiled. 
Landjager-pork sausage with toast and blueberry mustard. 
This hard sausage was slightly spicy, very meaty, and went well with the piquant housemade mustard. It was a bit TOO hard for my tastes, but there was no waxiness, and the sausage was robustly flavored with spicy cloves.
French Man Mac-Morbier Cheese, Duck Meatballs, Balsamic Onions. 
Yes. Oh yes. Small shells were enveloped in a creamy, stretchy cheese sauce that was earthy, slightly bitter and absolutely funky. Not salty funky like the blue cheese dip, but tangy funky. That tang worked well with the sweet and tart balsamic onions and the duck meatball that was dense but not hard, and mild tasting.

I really wouldn’t have known that this was duck if I hadn’t read the menu. The meatiness broke up the thick richness of the sauce, and the onions provided another layer of flavor. It wasn’t the best mac and cheese I have ever had, but it was certainly tasty. 

That is generally how I would describe Little Cheese Pub. Not the best, but good. I wouldn’t make a special trip here, but I would definitely stop off if I was in the area for some Mac and Cheese and maybe a glass of wine on tap. The prices were fair, the service was good (if a bit laid back – it was okay, it went with the feel of the place), and the food was both filling and tasty. 
And…let’s face it. I never feel better than after I have a huge plate of mac and cheese.
Little Cheese Pub on Urbanspoon