PJ Clarke’s – Appetizer Hot Spot

The nicest thing about NYC is the ability to walk out of  my front door and stumble into any number of awesome restaurants. No driving, no reservations, no pre planning. It’s  a (sadly costly) luxury and I never take it for granted.

When you grow up in the suburbs, you never take anything about city life for granted.

PJ Clarke’s is near-ish to my house and it says that it has been around (the original location) since 1884. With that kind of longevity, it had to be pretty good, right?

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The atmosphere is great – party pub, part restaurant, and entirely chill. Come here in jeans, with kids, sit at the bar for a few quick oysters…whatever you want. It doesn’t feel grimy, it just feels comfy. Major win.

The service is quick and friendly, and the food – well, a lot of it is really great!

Let’s start with the less than great:

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Au Poivre burger
I know, this should be the best part, right? But sadly, it just isn’t. The bun is cottony and the meat itself is underseasoned. It lacks the salty char of a grilled burger or the melting softness of a steamed burger. It’s cooked to order but there is barely any seasoning – beef needs salt. Or maybe some of that au poivre sauce which was applied so sparingly that I only tasted the spicy, hot taste of pepper in one or two bites of the whole burger. The toppings are fresh but also bland…this whole thing just lacks technique and seasoning. It’s too bad, because the raw ingredients seem great and the accompanying fries are thin and lovely. They even have my favorite ketchup.

Now, onto the better stuff:

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Short rib egg rolls with mashed potatoes

So delicious. What I wish my Reuben egg rolls tasted like. Thick and stuffed to the brim with tender, juicy short ribs and buttery mashed potatoes. Crisp on the outside and hearty on the inside, dipped in a rather fiery and creamy horseradish sauce, they are unmissable. This is so good that I would come here just for a drink and these. They are the ultimate guilty pleasure. So, so good, and – speaking from experience – - much easier to order than to make at home.

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Chopped kale salad

Shockingly good. Who would come to a burger place for a salad? Me, I guess. The kale is properly tenderized and served with creamy feta, avocado, and a bright but not sour lemon dressing. This is a great counterpart to that rather – how shall we say? – heavy main courses.

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PJ Clarke’s isn’t my favorite place in the neighborhood, even though the service is great. It’s just a little pricey for a sub-par burger. However, the cocktail and beer list is extensive and those short rib egg rolls are maybe my favorite dish within 10 blocks of my front door. I will be back for a drink and an appetizer in short time! Then, I can just mosy over somewhere nearby for my main course.

Gotta love the city life. 

3 West Restaurant in Bridgewater – Why I Love Suburbia

On a recent rainy Saturday in suburbia, I had such a delightful lunch that I figured I should blog it. This restaurant isn’t just good for a lazy day road trip, it’s good for a New York City restaurant.

I know how snobby that sounds.

Don’t worry, I promise to watch trashy tv and eat an awesome Doritos Locos Taco as penance.

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I found 3 West on my favorite app, Foodspotting, and loved the atmosphere from the second my family and I walked in. Cozy, warm, and inviting with brass fixtures, heavy wood paneling, and a rumbling fireplace. It’s the kind of place that is upscale but not snobby and where you could easily take your well-behaved kids for a brunch treat. Even better, get a sitter and come here with your significant other for a few drinks off of the extensive cocktail menu.

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Crispy shrimp spring rolls

Just what you imagine. Crispy, light, filled with aromatic vegetables and such mild, buttery shrimp that it might as well have been pork. Served with sweet-spicy chili sauce and a garlicky aioli, these could easily be eaten by the tray. They are juicy but not soggy and served piping hot – nothing worse than an old eggroll.

If that isn’t a saying, it should be one.

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Wasabi edamame hummus

WHOA. I rarely order hummus off of a menu unless it’s at a mediateranean or middle eastern restaurant, and I didn’t order this – my mom did.

Mama knows best.

This hummus is craveable. It uses chickpeas, garlic, onions, lemon, AND edamame, wasabi, and various asian spices. It’s savory, it’s thick and has some texture, and it has that wonderful, nasal-clearing property that wasabi has. I wish it had a little nutty component form some sesame oil, but other than that it was top-notch and spot on. SErved with freshly fried wonton crisps, we made quick work of this.  Forget Tuscan Hummus, it’s all about this Asian version.

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Spicy chopped salad flatbread

This is pretty much everything I love about food.

Fresh vegetables – check. Creamy chip0tle dressing with a slow, gently burn that heats up to a pleasant frenzy? Check. Buttery avocado and crispy bacon? Check. Crumbly, salty feta – double check - they aren’t stingy here! Warm, freshly fired pizza dough with a charred underskirt and pillowy top? Check.

Yeah, I ate this like it was my job.

The desserts here aren’t special, but everything else is! The service is personalized and attentive (ie, they heard us talking about my upcoming nuptials and brought us a celebratory cookie at the end of the meal), the atmosphere is lovely, and the food is well priced and just delicious. If this were in the city, I would be here week in and week out. I just can’t say enough about it.

Plus, when you are done with lunch, you can go to Target.

Who doesn’t love suburbia?

Meatloaf and Mashed Potato Quesadillas

This is a sweatpants-appropriate recipe.

It’s not classy. It’s not dinner party-appropriate. Hell, it’s not even fresh – it came about when my fiance was hangry* one day around 3 pm. I threw some stuff together, served it to him, and then asked for a taste…and it was good. Real good.

Blog good.

So, here it is. Just dig around your fridge and pull out the leftovers and make this rather tasty, embarrassingly trashy dish.

Meatloaf and Mashed Potato Quesadilla

spinach and meatloaf quesadilla1Ingredients:

2 tortillas

leftover meatloaf (the really good, glaze-y kind)

1 onion, diced and caramelized

1/4 cup mashed potatoes (yeah, we used purple ones)

Handful of shredded cheddar cheese (maybe 1/4-1/3 cup)

20140321_2017441. Put the tortilla in a nonstick pan over medium/high heat.
20140321_2018202. Add about 1/3 of your cheese.
20140321_2019143. Add the meatloaf, the onions, and…

20140321_201946 the mashed potatoes. Add all of the ingredients to the center area of the quesadilla, because when you add the top tortilla, the toppings will spread and you don’t want them to fall out of the sides of the quesadilla.

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4. Top with the rest of the cheese and the other tortilla. When you top with the second tortilla, push down hard with your fingertips. You want to mash the meatloaf and the potatoes and also tho help the melty cheese glue the tortillas together.

20140321_202059 5. Pretty soon, your bottom tortilla should be golden and crisp, which means that it’s time to flip! Just let the other side cook for a couple of minutes and you are ready to…

20140321_2022496. Serve (on a paper plate of course…toldja this was dirty food).
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This is a handheld guilty pleasure. It’s crispy, cheesy, and melty. It’s meaty, soft, and has buttery mashed potatoes. The meatloaf is even better than regular chorizo or ground beef because it’s extra soft, thanks to its breadcrumbs. The quesadilla gets its flavor from the spicy/sweet ketchup glaze that melts in the heat of the pan, and also the sharp, salty cheese. You can top this with sriracha or bbq sauce, but you don’t need to. This is everything that you need.

Oh, and you need sweatpants.

There…now you have everything that you need.

*Hangry: so hungry that you get angry. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

54 Below Changes the Concept of Dinner Theater for the Way, Way Better

I am a dinner theater survivor.

That’s right, I have been known to sing Neil Sedaka songs while wearing wigs and false eyelashes, while octogenarians and kids eat prime rib and ask why the iced tea is so cold*.

It’s by far the hardest acting job I ever did. To warm up before a show, to say heartfelt lines, and to sing and dance to the best of your abilities while the scent of mashed potatoes waft through the air and servers drop dinner rolls on the floor is truly a difficult act.

Which is why it’s great that 54 Below has improved this ancient form of theater.

At this swanky supper club, orders for food and drinks are taken before the show. You sit at the table, enjoy a leisurely meal, and then take it the best of what the city has to offer, from cabarets featuring Broadway’s brightest to workshops of new musicals backed by Darren Criss’ production company.

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The space is classic supper club – dark wood, burgundy fabric, and well dressed servers. All of the servers here are gorgeous, so you indeed start eating with your eyes first. Though I didn’t photograph it, be sure to order the drink made with bourbon, paprika, and orange bitters. It’s really mellow, with brightness, a hit of spice, and a slightly sweet, buttery finish – almost like toffee. 

IMG_20140317_184838_243Charcuterie plate (captured after it was demolished and as lights were dimming)

SO worthwhile! This plate is filled with soft, creamy brie, a tangy fontina-type cheese, and a wedge of lovely, rather mild blue cheese. Add to that juicy olives, marcona almost, cornichons, and a bevy of cured meats and you have yourself a really great meal! The smoky chorizo is especially excellent.

IMG_20140317_184902_159Caesar salad

The only true misstep of the night. Fried shallots and torn basil are delicious, fresh takes on this classic dish, but they don’t save it. What did the dressing – the MOST important part of a Caesar salad – taste like? Beats me. There couldn’t have been more than a scant half teaspoon on this acre of romaine. It was like they were daring me to find it. Not a fan.
IMG_20140317_185214_371Steak tartare

Here’s the stuff. I could have used some tabasco but other than that, it’s quite good. Coarsely chopped beef mixed with capers, mustard, and pepper get a final, luxurious touch when you mix in the raw quail egg. It’s rich but not heavy and is really well salted, which is key to a tasty tartare. Like I said, it could really use some heat, but what couldn’t? Schmear it on the toast points and you might even be able to pretend that you are in Paris, except that here, you can get ice cubes in your water.

Look, this food is not worth seeking out unless you are here to see  a show. It’s mundane and expensive. But it does the trick, and is leagues better than that hot turkey sandwich of yesteryear’s dinner theaters. Plus, it helps you reach your minimum without getting wasted on watered down vodka sodas.

And it does NOT make me have flashbacks to the old days. Thankfully.

*Yes, that was an actual question by a patron. Could I even make that up?

Sensational Room Service at The Trump SoHo

Bachelorette trips are a thing now.

Did you know that?

Not a bachelorette party…bachelorette trips. We are talking anything from a long weekend in New Orleans to a week-long trip to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. We are talking 8 – 15 gals shelling out for plane tickets, hotel rooms, bars, restaurants, wine tastings, trashy clothes, and wi-fi in the room.

I just didn’t have enough energy to plan that or enough faith to let anyone else plan it.

But just because I had a traditional bachelorette out on the town didn’t mean that I didn’t have a getaway that weekend.

My incredibly cool sister took me away on a mini staycation. We stayed at a chic, cool hotel, had a spa day, and generally did sister stuff for the 48 hours surrounding the bachelorette shindig.

And we ate a TON of room service.

Expect a full write up of the Trump SoHo soon, but the room service needs its own post. It’s phenomenal. Better than the St. Regis, better than The Plaza, and on par with the Mandarin Oriental. Everything we ordered was excellent:

photo 2 (22)A burger ordered at 2 AM was delivered in 30 minutes. Seared to an ideal medium rare with a minerally, rich taste. It’s extremely beefy – a bit dense for my taste, but still juicy and well seasoned. Order it on the crisp English muffin or chewy/soft pretzel bun, and do me proud and get it with blue cheese melted on top. It’s enough to fill you up for the day or sop up the booze at night, but not so big that it gives you an overly filled, leaden feeling.
photo 3 (14)The continental breakfast. The pastries are so-so (muffins) to crave-worthy (The fluffy cheese Danish with warm, sweet cream cheese filling), but the fruit is a STANDOUT. Fresh, juicy, and sweet - where the hell do they get grapefruits that taste like they are dipped in sugar and pineapple that reminds me of Hawaii? The Donald might have some fake hair, but dude has real fruit connections.

photo 4 (15)Caesar salad

Not a full on kale caesar salad, just a few small, tender leaves added into the mix for texture and a more earthy taste. The dressing is aggressively salty and savory – not like you need a gallon of water after eating it or anything, but this isn’t watered down mayonnaise. This is a lemony, cheesy dressing that clings to the crisp romaine and hearty kale. There are small slivers of anchovy throughout, adding their umami taste to the salad. Fresh croutons, no bigger than a baby’s pinky nail complete the dish.

photo 5 (7)There is an entire eggs Benedict section of the menu…did y’all know that something like that even existed? Plain, Mexican, Norweigian…the choices go on and on. The classic comes on perfectly toasted bread with light hollandaise sauce, crispy home fries, and peeled asparagus.

They PEEL THE ASPARAGUS.

If that doesn’t scream class, there is also two ply toilet paper in the bathroom.
photo 1 (19)Club sandwich

I’m somewhat of a club sandwich connoisseur. I have had them everywhere from California to Rome, from cruise ships to Jewish camp (turkey bacon just ain’t the same). I love a club sandwich. And I have NEVER had one as good as the one I ate here. The trick is using smoked chicken instead of the traditional turkey – such a simple swap but an inspired one. Chicken naturally has a more mild, delicate flavor and texture that blends with the other ingredients instead of dominating them. Crisp bacon, buttery avocados, fresh veggies, and the thinnest white toast imaginable. All it needed was  a healthy dollop of mayonnaise. And those fries – sensational. Hot, crispy, and well seasoned with Parmesan and herbs. So many times, room service fries arrive cold, stale, or – the worst offence, in my book – soggy. These are hot, crisp, and deliciously seasoned each and every time.

Who needs tropical beaches and foot long drinks?

I had room service all weekend long. Happy bachelorette to me.

Baked Buffalo Chicken

Originally published at Whisked Foodie

Though it’s hard to characterize something as “the best,” some things just are “the best.”

For example, “Walk Like an Egyptian” is the best song by a girl group.

The first sequel is the best Back to the Future movie. And Anchor Bar Buffalo Sauce is the best sauce for wings. It might be because the bar created the buffalo wing, or it might be because it is the perfect blend of spicy, salty, and tangy. But it is, without a doubt, the best buffalo sauce on the planet. It doesn’t need any doctoring or fresh herbs. It doesn’t need any extra heat. It really doesn’t even need chicken – mix it with blue cheese dressing for the world’s most delicious veggie dip. If you do want the original dish, you will have to fry those wings. However, I – shockingly! – take the lazy way out and bake them. I also use thighs because who doesn’t love some juicy meat? Just use this easy recipe on some wings and thighs, bake them, and impress everyone at your girls night.

 What, y’all don’t eat wings at your girls nights?

The Best Baked Buffalo Chicken

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Ingredients:

2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and wings
¾ cup flour
1 tablespoon pepper
1 cup anchor buffalo sauce

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1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Then, toss the thighs in flour and pepper until they are coated. Place them on a greased baking sheet. 

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2. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the juices run clear when the thigh is poked with a fork. 

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3. Take out of the oven and toss immediately in the buffalo sauce. Too much sauce isn’t a problem, too little sauce is. Don’t be stingy, here!

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4. Serve immediately with blue cheese dressing and celery. 

This stuff is so delicious. Even though it isn’t fried, it is crispy from the flour coating, juicy, and undeniably saucy. The sauce is obviously the king – don’t doctor it at ALL! It’s signature vinegary, spicy flavor is all I want or need in an American-style wing. And don’t forget that floury coating because that is what keeps the chicken from getting soggy. I have eaten these for dinner with some freezer fries and for lunch with an iceberg wedge salad – they don’t weigh you down too much and the flavor is just exactly what you crave. These aren’t great the next day, so try to eat them all in one sitting.

Somehow, I don’t think that will be a problem.

After all, these are the world’s best baked wings. 

Print Restaurant – Location, Location, Location

You’ve heard it before and you are about to hear it again – location, location, location.

Hell’s Kitchen is known for its plethora of cheap Thai restaurants and trendy bars, but the farm-to-table concept hasn’t made a big splash in this part of town. Furthermore, restaurants rarely spread father west than 9th Avenue, let alone to the car dealerships of 11th Avenue. Print, the restaurant at Ink Hotel, is thus one of a kind.

This restaurant, owned and operated by Adam Block, is so committed to seasonality and sustainability that it has hired a full time forager whose sole job it is to source products and produce from local farmers and indigenous plants. Black, who has previously consulted for both Thomas Keller and Alice Waters, has put together a menu that seems more at home on a farm in Vermont that on a car dealership dominated street in Midtown.

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The look of the restaurant is sleek, streamlined, and just hip enough to avoid trying too hard. It feels a bit corporate, but sufficiently sophisticated enough for a weekday lunch or business dinner.

dinner and lunch at marea and scarpetta 038Black bean soup with cilantro and crema 

The beans are tender and meaty, and the soup has a thick consistency. Spiked with fragrant cilantro and a drizzle of tangy crema, it is nonetheless flat tasting. Some additional Mexican spices like cumin or coriander would round in out, adding smokiness. Even some fried garlic chips would have added texture.

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Poached eggs on a bed of seasonal vegetables with speck, Parmesan cheese, and toast

The ideal brunch any time of year. The eggs are perfectly cooked, with velvety whites and gooey yolks that spill out over the salty speck and nutty Parmesan cheese. The vegetables vary by the day, but if you are lucky enough to get some freshly foraged mushrooms and spicy arugula in your mix, you won’t soon forget this dish.

dinner and lunch at marea and scarpetta 044Steak and eggs with homefries

Nicely fried eggs with firm whites and runny yolks. Crisply fried potatoes with fresh peppers and herbs. And steak that is not only cooked well (that is, to say, rare), but is served with a totally unusual sauce. Dill, parsley, basil…anything fresh and green goes into that sauce. It brings a fresh, verdant taste that steak rarely gets. It somehow makes the meal lighter, so it’s an ideal breakfast.

dinner and lunch at marea and scarpetta 039Blood orange salad with arugula, dates, Parmesan, and almonds

Why don’t more people use dates in salads?! They are like cranberries’ softer, sweeter, slightly easier-to-get-along-with cousins. With crunchy almonds, salty cheese, and juicy blood oranges, this salad is a textbook lesson in varying textures and tastes. In fact, this salad is one of my new standards. In fact, I can’t wait to recreate it at home – with avocado, naturally.

Print does simple food very well. It brings a well-known trend to a lesser frequented part of the city, and as such has endeared itself to the neighborhood. The service is quite good, and though the prices are a bit high, the food and atmosphere makes up for it. Hell’s Kitchen now has a new type of restaurant to add to its mix.

Location is everything – you should just make sure that your location is at this restaurant. 

Craftbar Excels at Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week can sometimes be…how to put this… a scam.

Fancy, big name restaurants put out “special” menus to feed to the hungry masses at a reduced prix fixe cost. Though this sounds great – a chance to dine at a world renowned, Michelin-starred or Top Chef helmed restaurant for only $25 at lunch – it is often a let down. A harried staff pushes out more meals than it can handle, there are add ons and up-charges that make the price skyrocket, and the food itself is often sub par, banquet hall quality food prepared for the masses.

Can you tell I’ve been burned?

However, I had one Restaurant Week meal that shone brightly, competing with any lunch I have had in recent memory, snd at a much better price.

I have reviewed Craftbar before, but this meal is so exemplary that it deserves special recognition.

First, the (very short) list of cons:

-No bread basket

-Several different servers during the meal (although they were all extremely skilled and efficient without rushing us)

Now onto the pros:

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Marinated chickpea salad with yogurt, eggplant, and pickled red onions

Tender standard chickpeas and nutty, slightly chewy black chickpeas in a bright, slighty spicy chile and lemon vinaigrette. The underlying yogurt is silky and thick and the eggplant is soft while the pickled onions add the appropriate amount of acid to the dish. This is Mediterranean without being in-yo-face about it. It’s just  fresh ingredients put together in an interesting and thoughtful way. I wish I had some of those breadsticks usually offered to eat with this, but ah well.

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Mussels with chiles, Szechuan peppercorns, and kaffir lime

This is an ideal warming, wintry lunch. Not as fiery or salty as yu might get from Kin Shop, but that’s okay. As with the chickpea salad, this isn’t meant to represent a specific kind of food. It’s meant to take Asian influences and apply them in a careful, delicately balanced way. The mussels are almost all open, cooked until juicy and plump. They are in a light, chili flecked broth that is more filled with garlic and fennel than fish sauce. The Szechuan peppercorns give their signature tongue tingling effect, and the broth is easily sopped up with the two fluffy pieces of upscale Texas toast. The portion is ideal – enough to fill you yet not so much that it will weigh you down after lunch.

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Lemon poppyseed cake

Moist, tart, and sweet. I don’t know if poppyseeds have a taste, but I love them anyway. Totally worth having to floss your teeth for an hour after you eat it.

For $25 before tax and tip, this is my favorite pick for Restaurant Week. It’s done so well, with a large variety of menu choices, including several of the restaurant’s signature dishes. The service is great, the food is delicious, and the price is right.

Now, someone bring me some floss, because those poppy seeds are definitely still all over my teeth. 

The Game Festival at Henry’s End – Worth the Trip!

I don’t get out of this damned borough enough.

I mean I love Manhattan – I love sleeping here, working here, and especially eating here. Some of the world’s greatest eating experiences can be found just a cab ride from my front door.

And some are better found a train ride away – just over the bridge, in Brooklyn.

I’m not talking about hipster Brooklyn. You don’t have to wear a smaller jeans size than your girlfriend or carry a copy of “on the road” in your back pocket.  I’m talking about just Brooklyn being a place that happens to have outstanding food.

The food is at Henry’s End.

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Don’t expect much in the way of decor – it looks like any suburban pub. Families, friends, and longtime diners all crowded around the small tables. Christmas lights stay strung year round and you may find yourself next to a toddler having a meltdown.

It’s the kind of place where you expect a solid burger and maybe some frozen fries.

Not where you expect a totally memorable meal.

Though unpictured, the butter that comes with the varied bread basket is excellent. The bread itself is good if not great, bu that butter is sweet, soft, and dense – like whipped butter but with a smoother, heavier texture.

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Seared foie gras

Excellent. Nothing groundbreaking but foie is already perfect – let’s not reinvent the wheel, okay? This is a decent sized serving with a good sear on the outside and a warm, melting texture inside.  It is smooth and cuts with a spoon – clearly high quality. It’s served with softly poached pieces and a fruity balsamic glaze. Soft, lightly crunchy on the outside and rich beyond belief – at $17 it is the best priced foie dish in town, and thus one of my favorites.

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Pistachio crusted goat cheese and beet salad

Creamy herbed goat cheese is warm and unctuous inside its thick, fried coating of breadcrumbs and nuts. The beets aren’t overly spiced – they are earthy – really beets for beet lover. The lightly dressed spring leaves alongside lighten up the dish – it’s a welcome addition to what is sure to be a meat heavy meal.

Especially if you go, as I did, during the annual game festival, when game meats are heavily featured on the menu.

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Buffalo Pappardelle

Un-friggin-real. I have only had buffalo in burger or filet form, where it tastes lean and rather sweet. These short ribs are almost unrecognizable as buffalo – it is as fatty as pork. I mean that in a good way. Is there a bad way to mean that? The pappardelle is thick and eggy, clearly made in house. It’s draped in that soft, fatty buffalo that breaks apart on the tongue with the flavors of rosemary and red wine resonating through the palate. Some sharp pecorino cheese on top is the perfect finish.

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Antelope with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts

This is so good I could cry just writing about it. I was nervous to order antelope because I don’t like really earthy flavors - they go muddy and dirty to me. This, however, is by far my favorite game meat. Ever. It comes seared medium rare and cuts like filet mignon. It tastes like filet too – soft, juicy, and with an incredibly mild taste - nothing too iron-y or woodsy here. It’s really juicy but not fatty. It’s lean but still soft, not cottony. It’s rubbed with cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, bringing out the sweeter side of the meat. It’s served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes and salty roasted Brussels sprouts – a great counterpart to the dish’s sweet elements. I ate every ounce of this and could have eaten more – not because I was still hungry; the portion is very ample – but because it was so delicious. Please get this.

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Mud Pie

Chocolate ice cream with a very nice Kahlua kick to it – almost enough to get you tipsy! Oreo crust, viscous hot fudge..yeah this is the ideal end to a hell of a meal.

The best part is how this meal taste, but the second best part is how reasonable it is  because it REALLY is. Just so delicious, so interesting, so well portioned. It’s worth a trip across the bridge.

Contrary to what they say on Survivor, it’s nice to get off the island.

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.