One Hit Wonders – Good, Le Pescadeux, Pure Thai Cookhouse

I don’t always eat full meals at the restaurants I visit – if I had 3 courses and cocktails 5 times a week, I would be gigantic, poor, and probably have palate fatigue. This is a rundown of some delicious dishes that I have had at restaurants on which I couldn’t quite write a full review, but  knew that they deserved some notice. 
This restaurant is sophisticated, hip, and romantic with candlelight and an upscale comfort food menu. Though the service was a little uppity and aloof, the food and moderate prices made up for it. 
Burger with Aged Cheddar Cheese and Fries
Coarsely ground meat with a thick, dark crust concealing a warm, rosy patty. It was so moist that juices spilled onto the plate with each bite, saturating the salty fries with delicious bovine taste. The cheese was exceptional – tangy, sharp and thickly cut, and it stood up perfectly to the sturdy but not tough bun and that incredibly meaty burger. I am a big fan of condiments, but actually, this required no ketchup. It was more like steak than a burger – just fantastic, and worth every penny.

This lilliputian SoHo restaurant specializes in Montreal style seafood. That means lots of shellfish, including a fantastic oyster selection:
Beau Soleils, Moonstones, and Pine Islands
The Pine Islands were a first time oyster for me and each one knocked my socks off. Large, soft, and positively creamy – there was no salinity or iron-y taste. These were mild, light, and luxuriously textured. A squirt of lemon was all that was needed – didn’t even use any Tabasco here.
The best part? Each night from 4-7 PM, the oysters are all half price. 
Can I get a culinary “booyah?”

Every person who has been to Pure Thai Cookhouse has LOVED it; calling it incredibly spicy, incredibly delicious Thai food in a very casual, inexpensive setting. 
Wok Curry Paste with Pork, String Beans, Eggplant, Basil, Bamboo Shoots, Green Peppercorn Kaffir Lime Curry Sauce
This is perfect for those days when you want something with flavor but not too much spice. It is not overly greasy, garlicky, or salty. The pork is tender, and the sauce is very subtle and well balanced – sweet, bitter, sour, and just a bit spicy. My sister finds it far spicier than me, but she is a major wimp. The eggplant is soft but not mushy and the pork is thickly cut and tender, with no tendons or gristly bits. Pam is still my favorite Thai in the area, but if I had to go back to work in the afternoon and didn’t want a major food hangover, this would be my spot for sure. 
And there ya have it: Some of Fritos and Foie Gras’ one hit wonders!
Good on Urbanspoon
Le Pescadeux on Urbanspoon
Pure Thai Cookhouse on Urbanspoon

Capizzi – Pricey Pizza in Hell’s Kitchen

If you were a tourist from SmallTown, USA coming out of Port Authority’s dubious Southwest entrance, and found yourself faced with men whistling catcalls, women slugging cheap booze out of paper bags, and a general feeling of fear…what would you do?
A)    Trust that you would reach a friendly area soon and walk up a few blocks, where you would be greeted with the tame atmosphere and delicious Thai food of Hell’s Kitchen
B)     Join in the fun, grab a 40 at the corner bodega, and pray that you didn’t wake up in Coney Island
C)    Spot a cute looking Italian restaurant across the street, and view it as a beacon of sanity and a port in the storm.
Most of us would choose C. That is the whole reason that Cappizzi exists. This small restaurant, hidden under the bus lane leading into Port Authority, fairly DRIPS little Italy the second you walk in there, as I did with Hungry and Feisty. Frank Sinatra croons on the radio, a mustached man flips pizza dough in the back, and a Coke machine sits…
Ready to dispense frosty sodas. Why does it taste so much better in a vastly overpriced glass bottle than out of a fountain dispenser?
Prosciutto and Arugula with Prosciutto Di Parma, Arugula, Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, and Olive Oil
This is an excellent pizza. The prosciutto is slightly thicker cut than I usually have it – a wise choice since it helps the delicate meat stand up to the peppery arugula and sturdy crust. The meat is salty and meaty – no hint of hard waxiness that cheaper prosciutto so often has. The Parmigiano is nutty and sharp, providing a welcome contrast to the unctuous meat.
The crust is good, not great- a bit thicker than I prefer, with not enough char or bubbles along the edge. But it does the job.
Loaded Pizza with Fresh Oregano. Provolone Cheese, Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions, Roasted Peppers, Garlic, and Fresh Oregano
This pizza is also quite tasty. The sausage is sweet with fennel and spiked with plenty of pepper. The pepperoni is a bit flaccid, but the roasted mushrooms, onions and peppers more than make up for that. The cheese is very mild, and I would prefer more of a punch, but it was at least high quality and pleasantly stringy. Be prepared that Feisty found a whole roasted garlic clove in her slice…I consider than an aphrodisiac, but if you are going to the club later, you might want to lay off those whole cloves.
So…cute restaurant, tasty food, good service…what’s the issue?
The price.
Oh, the price.
These pies – which are personal size, mind you- each cost between $15 and $20. For four pieces of pizza. Four small pieces. I don’t care how deep your pockets are, when you pay upwards of $10 for a personal pizza, unless it’s covered in truffles and served on gold, you are being gouged. The prices are just too high when there is better and cheaper pizza a few blocks in any direction. They are keeping these prices high because those bewildered folks coming off the bus keep stumbling in and paying those prices. It’s a way to make a buck. But, though the food is good, it’s not a way to get me back.
Lucky for them, a bus from Anywhere, USA is probably arriving in the terminal right now.  
Capizzi on Urbanspoon

La Silhouette Brings 4 Star Food to Hell’s Kitchen

I have a friend who hates where I live. He refers to it as “tourist central,” and when he comes into Hell’s Kitchen for dinner or drinks, he almost has a physical reaction. He just doesn’t think of it as a real part of New York City. He certainly doesn’t think of it as a destination in any sense of the word. 
He is about to eat crow. 
La Silhouette is a French-inspired fine dining restaurant in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen that is helmed by chef Matthew Tropeano, formerly of La Grenouille. It is a French inspired restaurant that takes classical French ingredients but prepares them in exciting and innovative ways. 
The decor at La Silhouette belies its cooking. It is all straight lines, muted colors with pops of red, and utilitarian decor. It looks like a restaurant hat would serve modern American or trendy Italian food, not one that would serve such fanciful and decadent items as these:
 Spicy Candied Almonds
These nuts at the snack bar are like none I have ever had. At first, they were delightfully sweet-candied, like pralines. Then, the warmth of cinnamon and the quick, shocking hit of cayenne. These are addictive and I ate way too many before I even got to my table.
 Duck Croquette
This is the first hint of Chef  Tropeano’s technique. The golf-ball sized croquette has a crispy crust that hides incredibly moist, sweet duck. Not at all gamy or greasy, the duck is tender and mild. The rosemary aioli underneath brings out the deeper tones of the duck. This is crunchy, soft, and meaty all at once. 
 Bread Cart
I wanted to try the seven grain and the foccacia, but I couldn’t tear myself away from the warm sourdough. A light, thin crust outside fluffy, warm insides. This is good enough to enjoy alone, but with the soft, unsalted butter, it is really a perfect example of French food. Good bread, good butter…what is more appetizing than that?
 Foie Gras “A La Botero” with Sweet Plantains, Roasted Pineapple-Shallot Confit, and Coffee Jus
Seared foie gras is my favorite food on the planet, so I knew I had to get this. 
Best decision of 2012, thus far. 
The foie is cooked perfectly, with a thick, salty crust outside and a slightly pink, melting center inside. It is meaty, sweet, and incredibly savory. The texture is perfect – smooth and crunchy all in one bite. The coffee jus has a pleasing bitter quality to counteract the pineapple confit’s sugar, and the plantains are revelatory. They tone down the pineapple confit’s sweetness while bringing out the rich tones of the foie. I can’t wait to cook with plantains at home. This foie gras is easily the best I have had since Paris, and the best I have ever had in NYC. This dish is worth going to the restaurant alone. 
Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffles and Parmesan 
Risotto is so easy to screw up.  This is perfect. The rice is creamy but still retains its integrity – no mush here. Thyme mixes in with nutty Parmesan, and there is no skimping on the truffles here. The thick shavings send up an intoxicating, heavy scent that explodes in a purely umami taste in your mouth. The risotto is perfection and not to be missed. 
 Veal Sweetbreads with Fennel and Roasted Garlic Ravioli, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
A shell similar to fried chicken, with a thick, crispy coating, surrounding soft, creamy meat. It is more mild and a bit firmer than foie, but with the same iron-y, mineral rich taste. It tastes like meaty, tender chicken fingers – that’s the best way to describe these. And though dunking them in ketchup or honey mustard might obscure the subtle taste of the veal, the bright, acidic Meyer lemon sauce added zip and elevated the dish. The roasted fennel is sweet and tender, as is was the soft, supple ravioli. Try this dish and you will be shocked how good a young cow’s pancreas can taste. 
 Cheese Plate
From left to right, there is a creamy, mild goat cheese, a sharp, nutty sheep’s milk cheese, and a pungent, very ripe blue cheese. Served with various accompaniments (including an incredible sweet cherry compote), this is a fantastic pre-dessert course.
 Chocolate-Marshmallow Cake  and Craham Graham Cracker Ice Cream with Toasted Marshmallow
A S’mores oriented ding dong on Michelin crack.
A few petit fours finished off the meal.
La Silhouette is changing the way that Hell’s Kitchen eats. The service is elegant and unobtrusive, the wines by the glass are excellent, and the food is absolutely four star. It is the best meal I have had in Hell’s Kitchen since Danji. Of course, because it’s in Hell’s Kitchen, the prices are incredibly cheap – if this restaurant were on the UES, the meal would have cost easily 3 times as much. Also because it’s in Hell’s Kitchen, there is a prix fixe lunch option. And take out for lunch. This is the best kept secret in NYC – a Michelin level meal right in Hell’s Kitchen, served by a pedigreed chef at unbelievably fair prices. 
Unfortunately for my friend, they don’t serve humble pie. 
*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.*

Tabata: Confessions of a Ramen Slut

I am a ramen slut. I give myself freely to sodium filled, dried packets of ramen and to high end ramen served with dashi foam in elegant restaurants. All these ramens incite my lust and excitement. But the ramen that I really feel for, with which I could really fall in love? Well, that ramen is the type of ramen that you would find in your Mama-san’s house. 
That’s Tabata Ramen
This minuscule, extremely clean restaurant on the south side of Port Authority ain’t fancy. There is a counter and a few tables in back, coke served from the can, and food that comes out quickly. This is a great place for a quick lunch or dinner – not a place to linger and discuss religion. 
 Green Salad
Every entree comes with this simple green salad. Just a few leaves of iceberg lettuce with a soy-sesame vinaigrette. Nothing special, but a nice way to cleanse the palate before what is a very hearty meal.
 Pork and Egg Fried Rice
So, SO good. This is not the standard, dried out, soy-dominated fried rice at most restaurants. This rice was incredibly fluffy, with soft egg, caramelized nuggets of pork, and a pile of spicy pickled ginger on the side. The rice was so delicate that it made the dish seem much lighter than it actually was. That means you can eat even more of it. Awesome.
 Geki Kara Ramen with Hard Boiled Eggs, Roast Pork, Bean Sprouts, Scallions, and Hot Chili Oil
Though this wasn’t quite hellishly spicy, as promised, it was absolutely delicious. Tabata uses chicken broth instead of pork, which gave it an extremely light, unsalty flavor. Usually after I eat ramen, I am dehydrated for hours, but not this time. The texture of the noodles itself was remarkable – springy, pleasantly chewy, and incredibly satisfying. The broth, which had a slow, light burn, was filled with snappy bean sprouts, fresh scallions, and these amazing hard boiled eggs. Amazing because although the whites were perfectly boiled, the yolks were velvety and not quite opaque – they were just a TAD jiggly. Creamy and smooth, they enriched the soup and added heartiness. 
Let’s not forget the pork, which was tender and juicy, though not quite as fatty as I prefer.
Gyu-Don
This beef over rice is like Yoshinoya, but about a thousand times better. Thin slices of beef and onions simmered in a sweet soy based sauce until the whole mess is caramelized. The fat on the beef melts and becomes succulent. Sweet, salty, utterly umami. Served over sticky rice, there is nothing more comforting and delicious. 
That’s all Tabata is: comforting and delicious. And cheap. And fast. And convenient to Port Authority. Well, I guess it’s a lot more than just comforting and delicious. It really has a lot to offer. 
Especially to a ramen slut like me. 
Tabata Ramen on Urbanspoon

West Bank Cafe Measures Up

West Bank Cafe is one of the most popular pre-theatre restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen, and for good reason.

It has an elegant atmosphere, a reasonably priced prix-fixe, and a small but eclectic menu. But few pre-theatre restaurants can be considered serious dining destinations. My question was – did this place measure up at lunch service?

Bread and Hummus

I am a sucker for a unique bread service, and this one did the trick for me. The bread was thinly sliced ficelle that had an airy, slightly sour interior and a slightly stiff crust. The hummus was out of this world.  Smooth but not too thick, with a looser texture than the norm, and a very bright lemony kick. There was the sweet, savory taste that can only be roasted garlic, and paired with the excellent bread, it was a really fantastic starter. 
Fresh Roasted Turkey with Rocket, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, and Rosemary Aioli
The most boring thing on the menu. Why did I even get it?! Well, because I have great instincts - this thing was outstanding. Why is fresh roasted turkey so great on a sandwich? It was juicy, hearty, and paired so well with the slightly bitter rocket and the woodsy, rosemary scented aioli. The oven roasted tomatoes were well paired with the sandwich – they were sweet, juicy, and tender, with a taste in between tomato jam and sundried tomatoes. Paired with lightly dressed greens, this simple sandwich was delicious.

Lobster Spaghetti

My dining companion got the lobster spaghetti, which she inhaled before I could taste…I guess that means it was tasty?
West Bank Cafe, while not a destination restaurant, is far beyond the standard pre-theater meal. It is well priced, with great atmosphere and a really delicious menu. I have had the huge and juicy burger and freshly cut fries, and can vouch for that, too. Though the service can vary from efficient and professional to slow and confused, it is good more often than not. Whether you have a theatre date or not, this is a great neighborhood spot.
West Bank Cafe on Urbanspoon

Uncle Nick’s Brings Greece to Hell’s Kitchen

When I want cheap, wholesome food served in huge portions, a casual setting, and with tons of garlic, there is only one place to head in Hell’s Kitchen: Uncle Nick’s.

Uncle Nick’s is a Greek restaurant (with another location in Chelsea), that is open all day and with a slightly more hip, liquor focused ouzeria next door that really gets hopping at night. When we arrived for an early lunch, the place was pretty empty, but on a Saturday night at 8 pm, good luck getting a table. The atmosphere is incredibly casual in the big and bustling restaurant – people everywhere are ordering plates of flaming saganaki, servers are running around yelling at each other in Spanish, and the scent of garlic and oregano envelopes the place like a heavy cloak.

Horta

These dandelion greens are so delicious that they had even my vegetable-fearing father licking the plate. They are dandelion greens, which are like a cross between spinach and rapini – the tender, silky chew of spinach matched with the verdant, slightly bitter taste of rapini. These were steamed then lightly dressed in olive oil, mellowing out the bitterness and rounding off the harsh edges. Doused in bright lemon, this is a great dish for someone who really loves greens like rapini, kale, or spinach.

Gigantes

Though not as perfectly rich as those at Agnanti Mezze, these beans were still delicious. Large, tender white beans in a spicy, tangy tomato sauce filled with sweet onions, fragrant oregano, and a hefty dose of black pepper. Thick and hearty, this could be a meal alone if paired with some of Uncle Nick’s excellent tzatziki and pita bread.

Greek Fries

The best thing at this restaurant, hands down. Thicker than chips but thinner than steak fries, these round, golden spuds are the ideal combination of crispy, creamy, and salty. Dusted with dried Greek herbs and salt, they need no dipping sauces or accompaniments.

Mahi Mahi

There is always a large selection of fish at Uncle Nick’s, and if it’s on the menu, it’s fresh. It is the restaurant’s policy never to serve frozen fish, and every fish I have tried has been excellent. The mahi mahi was an example of how really fresh foods need minimal adornment to shine. The fish was simply rubbed with herbs olive oil, then grilled skin side down on an open grill. The result was a tender, moist, velvety fish that was unbelievably mild, with an enjoyably fatty mouthfeel. A spritz of lemon was all that was needed to finish this fish – if you like fish, you must get some at Uncle Nick’s.

The zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and potato dish served alongside the fish deserves its own mention. Savory, earthy with thyme and oregano, and cooked until all the vegetables were soft and creamy – kind of like gourmet baby food. Sound gross? Well, it wasn’t…it was awesome. One of the best dishes of the day.

Uncle Nick’s is just the best. Cheap food, big portions, good service, and GREAT food. We didn’t even get the fragrant Cretian Meatballs, the garlicky Scordalia dip or the meaty, robust Pasticcio this time. That’s the thing about Uncle Nick’s – no matter how many times you go, you always have stuff you need to order next time. 
And there will most certainly be a next time.
Uncle Nick's on Urbanspoon

Ajisai Sushi – Americanized Sushi at its Best

I am one of those people who loves sushi. But hold on a second…I loved it BEFORE it was trendy. 
I mean…was it really trendy in 1991? Cause that is how long I have loved sushi. So when I go out for a sushi dinner, it had better be good. 
Oh yeah…and I love authentic sushi…Sushi Yasuda is one of my top 3 restaurants in NYC…but I also love fusion rolls.
This is the “Fritos” part of the blog.
Ajisai is a small restaurant near my home that is very casual. 
The inside is totally strip mall chic, but I look past that because the food is fresh, the service is efficient and the prices are really reasonable.
They also remember not to put tobiko (fish roe) in my rolls, because I hate the texture of little balls popping in my mouth.
That’s what she said.
You can start with a salad if you want. Nothing amazing here, nothing terrible. Fresh veggies and that zippy, tangy, fluorescent ginger dressing that is so addictive that I SWEAR it has crack cocaine in it. But other than that…just okay.
Spicy Scallop Roll.
Yes. Briny, salty, a bit spicy with Sriracha sauce, slippery but not slimy and incredibly fresh The rice it was paired with was just a bit warmer than room temperature, which is how sushi rice should BE – slightly warm so that you get all the flavors of the rice vinegar and the gentle heat can bring out the flavors of the fish. This was perfect. 
Unagi. Now here is the stuff!!
Fatty, meaty pieces of barbecued eel brushed with caramel-y sauce and served with a band of nutty nori. If you have never had eel, I really think of it as steak of the sea. It is so rich and doesn’t have any residual seafood taste to me…if Americans didn’t know they were eating it, they would eat way more of it. Truth be told, I could eat 7 or 8 slices of this over a bowl of sushi rice and call it a day! But then I would miss this:
Spicy Mama Roll-spicy tuna, spicy yellowtail, spicy salmon, crunch & asparagus wrapped in Kombu 
seaweed.
This is one of those great Americanized sushi rolls, where everything is kinda mish-moshed together and just tastes great! This is, literally, all those different kinds of fish chopped together, flavored with spicy sriracha mayonnaise and served wit ht hat wonderful rice and Kombu seaweed, which is more papery and less nutty than regular nori. I am not going to look you in the (virtual) eye and wax poetic about the subtle differences of the fish here. What I will tell you is that the tartare of sorts was fresh, tasted silky and mild, and that the asparagus was a welcome textural crunch. Dragged through the spicy mayo and sweet eel sauce…I wanted for nothing at that moment in time

Happy Roll hot pepper tuna, asparagus inside, topped with salmon, tuna, eel, yellowtail, tobiko, crunchy with sweet honey wasabi sauce
Similar fish to what we had before, but vastly different roll.  Here, tuna was lightly seared with chili flakes and pepper until it had a crunchy, spicy outside but was still soft and rare within. The fish that topped the roll was clearly high quality, with deliciously fatty salmon, mild and buttery yellowtail, silky slices of tuna and that rich eel topping the roll. The honey wasabi sauce as a little too cloying for my tastes, but luckily, a few hits of wasabi paste punched up the spicy levels and made the fish taste even sweeter. The rice was, again, of paramount importance here, with the tender grains accenting the delicate texture of the fish,and the tangy flavor of the rice bringing out the fish’s lightly oceanic notes. 

This is just a great sushi place. If the rolls are a bit sloppy and the music is straight off a 14 year old’s i-pod, I don’t really mind. The fish is consistently high quality, the rice is very well made and the rolls are just what I crave. Not mind blowing, a destination joint or even remotely authentic, but it is so fresh and satisfying that it will always be at the top of my list. 
Because…after all…I DO need to have some Frito-type food on this blog. 

Nizza – Like Your Nonna’s Kitchen

As I have said before…Italian food isn’t my favorite food to eat out. Namely, because if I want it, I can make it pretty well at home. Also, it isn’t known for its layers of in-your-face flavor or so-hot-it-makes-your-nose-run spice. I really like those punchy, aggressive flavors. Italian food often seems comforting to me, and I don’t usually dine out for comfort. 
Note the use of the word “usually”
But on a cold, rainy day, after doing some physical exercise(under much duress, I assure you), I just wanted something comforting. Something warm, something familiar, and-preferably-something cheesy.
I wanted lasagna. And I wanted it now. 
 Nizza is a small restaurant that focuses on the food of the Italian Riviera. It is well laid out, casual but not dumpy…
 and there is a really swell looking bar and wine list. But I didn’t have time for that. I needed carbs and I needed them about 15 minutes ago.
 Luckily, our extremely efficient server brought us some bread and olive oil immediately. Ignore the phone-quality pictures, and focus on the fact that this bread was awesome. Greaseless focaccia that was fluffy and soft, but managed to have a delicate crust that was shmeared with Parmesan cheese. The olive oil was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but the bread was so great that it did the trick alone. 
 Nizza’s version of a Caesar salad. I am not a fan of huge leaves of lettuce on a plate. Sure, they might look cool, but it is not that easy to stuff a huge wedge of lettuce into your face without looking like Bugs Bunny. And the plate was too small to use a knife with the lettuce. So the presentation gets a fail-it really did take away from my enjoyment of the salad. This is all quite the shame, because the salad itself was great. A bit oily, perhaps, but it balanced the fishiness and lemony quality of the salad. Far less creamy and salty than I am used to, which I found to be a welcome change from the norm. 
 Wild Boar Lasagna.This arrived to the table STEAMING hot, in the dish in which it was baked. If I had toughed this by accident, I would have been branded.
And the brand would have read “delicious”
Layer upon layer of wide noodle were staggered with slightly gamy, extremely hearty chunks of wild boar in a bolognese that was a TRUE bolognese – all meat and mirepoix with just a touch of tomato paste. The small dices of tender carrots and caramelized onions added sweetness to the sauce and the tomato paste added tang. The creamy bechamel made the boar stand out in it’s meaty intensity, and highlighted the brightness of the vegetables. The pasta was toothsome and the mozzarella was stringy perfection. 
That’s what this meal was-perfection. Well priced, well served, well dined. I would not call this a destination restaurant – it wasn’t THAT well priced – but I must say that it REALLY fit the bill. It was not overly salty or greasy, and by using quality ingredients and cooking them simply, the restaurant produced the food that was what I was craving. And, when ya get down to it…that really is doing a great job. 
And this from a girl who claims she doesn’t eat out for Italian food!
Nizza on Urbanspoon

Pier 9-Great Martinis, Sinking Service

You know when the menu look awesome and the meal just…doesn’t quite measure up?
This is a woebegone tale of a night such as that.
Pier 9 is a brand new Hell’s Kitchen restaurant that is like an upscale version of a seafood shack. VERY seafood focused menu with lots of interesting options. The space is trendy but not stuffy, and we were seated quickly, right by the oyster bar. So far, so good.
The By Land Martini: Karlssons potato vodka, black truffle brine, blue cheese & truffle stuffed olives. This is now one of my favorite martinis in NYC. Served chilled but not icy cold, the vodka’s bitter, acidic taste was tempered by the earthy, deep black truffle brine. I tend to prefer VERY cold martinis, but this one was really better a little less frigid, so the truffles could come through. The vodka was smooth and the olives were THE BEST STUFFED OLIVES I HAVE EVER HAD. Meaty, juicy, and just salty enough to temper the vodka. It was stuffed with the MOST smooth, and tangy blue cheese, It was as fluffy as goat’s cheese and was lightly pungent, so as to compliment the vodka, not overwhelm it. This was a hell of a cocktail.
Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits. It took a little while to get these, but when we got them, they were dynamite. Dense but not heavy, with a tight crumb and a great balance between sweet corn and kicky(though not hot) jalapeno. Some honey butter would have put these over the top, but they were still delish.
And then we waited for about 15 minutes, in the not very busy restaurant. Not long enough to affect the meal in a big way, but long enough to remind me that the restaurant was new and still working out kinks.
Mini Laughing Bird Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillos & Cucumber Salsa. These were kinda disappointing. The shrimp were well cooked, and were amazingly tender and sweet without being mushy, but it was more of a ceviche than a taco filling. Tacos are hot, right? These were cold. Not room temperature – cold. Like ceviche. But I didn’t want ceviche. I wanted tacos. The pickled onions and tomatillos were tangy and delicious but not quite zippy enough. Some extra heat or a bit of creaminess from avocado or sour cream would have mixed up the flavors and textures here. The shells were wonderfully fresh, but this was just not Latin tasting enough. And…once again…tacos should be hot. Right?
I got the Seared Yellowfin Tuna with Stewed Tomatoes, Olives & Piquillo Peppers. This took awhile to come, but the tuna was perfectly cooked and rubbed with a wonderfully spicy and flavorful, though not salty, rub. That little dish with the sauce? Lukewarm. I like hot food hot and cold food cold. This just seemed like it was sitting out for awhile before I got it. The flavors were all right, with the sweet tomatoes, salty olives and smoky peppers, but the temperature was just off putting. The veggies on the side were also incredibly cool. Not to my liking at all.
Here is the good news: I managed to steal a bite of my friend’s lobster roll. This was good, almost shockingly so. I mean, it was real good. The lobster was cooked perfectly-tender but not stringy or mushy, and just dressed in the barest coating of mayonnaise possible. Tiny dices of celery and the right amount of salt and pepper brought the lobster’s natural sweetness shine through. Mild, buttery, with the right amount of snap, and served in a top split hot dog bun. Served with piping hot(THANK YOU!), liberally salted fries, it was a really great rendition of the classic dish.
S’Mores Doughnut-Holey cream® Doughnuts, Marshmallow Filling & S’Mores Ice Cream.
This should have been perfect – a warm, perfectly buttery but none too sweet yeast doughnut (p.s., be sure to check out Holey Cream if you live in Hell’s Kitchen – they have insanely good doughnuts that they make into ice cream sandwiches), topped with intensely sweet and gooey marshmallow cream, smothered with deep, dark chocolaty ice cream. But…as you will see…the ice cream had melted all over the place by the time we got it. It was still delicious, just not perfect. And the taste was great, but if it wasn’t so goopy and soupy, it would have been a PERFECT dessert.
And the truth is, I want Pier 9 to be perfect. It has some wonderful ideas, but a few big service issues, involving wait times and getting food out so it is still hot enough. It had some delicious dishes, and some that needed work, but the whole concept has big potential. It is just a wee bit pricey to have these issues…if they could fix those issues than I think this could really be a knock out restaurant. 
But until then…you know I will be back for that martini.
Pier 9 on Urbanspoon

Room Service Delivers

I eat a lot of Thai food.  I know i do.  You guys might be kind of sick of seeing posts on Thai food on this blog, I could totally understand that.  So, if that is true, you should probably go to another blog-cause I ain’t changing, baby!  DAMN I love Thai food!!! It is cheap, it is exotic, I can always try something new and it is ALWAYS delicious!  I went to Room Service for some reliably delicious Thai fare in a really trendy and cute setting.
See what I mean?  There is a really cool, gaudy chandelier inside a modern glass cubicle.
And little statues.  The pics are blurry here, but you get the point…this is a trendy place, nice enough for a date, but cheap enough for a friend (DAMN I’m good!).
Onto the eats.  For an appetizer, we got the Larb- Minced chicken seasoned with herbs, mint leaves, scallion,
lemongrass, shallots and chili tossed in lime juice.  This was a good, if not outstanding version of the dish.  Acidic, juicy, salty, and sour with just a hint of spice from the chilis.  The veggies were all fresh and gently “cooked” by the dressing, and the chicken was herby and moist.  The lemongrass was an especially delicious addition here, adding a hit of freshness on the back of the palate.  Unfortunately, I missed ground rice powder here, which is used to give the chicken a unique, almost cornflour-like coating, and makes the dressing thicker for drinking up with a spoon at the end!  However, this was definitely a delicious starter-I’m just being picky, because…well… because I eat so much Thai food, I have to be! ;)
For my main, I got the Sautéed Chicken in a prik khing chili paste and Thai spices with lime leaves, string beans and bell peppers.  I got it because it said it was spicy.  What it didn’t say is that it was AWESOME!  Tender pieces of chicken with sweet bell peppers and flash sauteed string beans, coated in this ginger-y, pepper-y, garlic-y sauce that must have had nuts of some source, because I swear I tasted something like peanut butter in it!  This was not the fiery heat I feel from a great Pad Kee Mao, but rather a slow, low burn that built slowly enough to allow me to savor all the flavors.  Though I tend to favor pork, I was thrilled that I got chicken here, since the neutral chicken taste allowed the flavors of the prik khing to really shine.  More spicy than hot, and more intricate than anything, I cannot even TELL you how many points this hit on my tongue! i didn’t leave a scrap on my plate, I’ll tell you that much!  This is highly recommended for anyone who loves chilis, ginger, or LIFE!
And so was the restaurant!  Delicious, fast service, and INSANELY cheap-these dishes cost about $33 all together.  Due to the trendy atmosphere, loud music, and close set tables, this isn’t the place to propose or take your parents for a quiet meal, but it is the perfect place for a girls’ night out, a quick bite to eat at the bar, or to once again proclaim your love for the food of Thailand!
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