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Anthony David's: A Review

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Rainy Saturday evenings call for comforting Italian food.  In Hoboken I have my share of Italian restaurants to choose from.  In fact, I live exactly across the street from one.  However, I instead chose to head over to Anthony David's which was a few blocks away.  I had been here before a few months ago for a Sunday brunch, so I wasn't completely unfamiliar with the restaurant, but I had never had dinner here and was definitely curious.

Despite the crappy weather outside, the inside of Anthony David's was nice and dry and cozy.  Tables of families and friends dotted the interior.  There was also a bar counter where small groups could gather.  In addition, there is a larger dining room in the back.

We settled in and were greeted immediately by a friendly server.  Even though Anthony David's is a BYOB spot, they recently started to stock Unionville Vineyard wines by the bottle!  We reviewed the list of available wines and decided to go with a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with the meal.

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While we waited for the wine, we perused Anthony David's latest menu. Yum!

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We were pleasantly surprised to see that Anthony David's had ditched the traditional bread and olive oil that's served at the beginning of a meal.  They provided us with a spread that appeared to be made of beans and garlic, paired with slices of baguette. This was a delicious treat and we dove in.

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We started out the meal with some appetizers!

Charred Octopus - The octopus had a great flavor and was very meaty.  It was layered over a large portion of cannellini beans in a tomato sauce, which made this a hearty appetizer.  We definitely enjoyed this one.

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Burrata - I would never have thought to pair Burrata with salsa verde, but it was an ingenious idea.  This Burrata was served over a thick slice of bread and drizzled with olive oil and topped with salt and pepper.  Simple, clean, and tasty.

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Next up came the entrees!

Grass Fed Ribeye - This ribeye surrounded by market greens, roasted garlic, and pecorino & rosemary potatoes.  The meat was tender and flavorful.  The greens had a strong taste of garlic, so if you love garlic then this might be the dish for you!  The rosemary potatoes were fragrant and perfectly seasoned.

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Lobster Gnocchi - I really enjoyed the gnocchi and lobster paired together.  I also love corn in the summertime, so that was a welcome addition to this dish.  I think there might have been a few too many mushrooms here, but if you love mushrooms then this is the pasta entree for you!

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On to dessert!

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We went with donuts and a brownie for this portion of the dinner and we were not disappointed.

Chocolate Brownie - This was our favorite dessert.  The brownie was phenomenal.  It was chocolatey and just dense enough.  The pistachio gelato was a really nice addition on top of the brownie.  If you've never had pistachio gelato before, I recommend that you go out and find it!

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Warm Donuts - We were served four donuts - two were covered in a Nutella chocolate sauce, while the other two were covered in a bourbon glaze.  These donuts reminded me of zeppoles, which is basically a deep-fried dough ball.  I liked the contrast of the sauces on top of the donuts.  The donuts were pillow-y on the inside, but structured enough on the outside to hold up to the sauces.  These were a really tasty and a nice (and filling!) end to the meal.

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*Disclaimer - I was provided with the dinner in exchange for my opinion.  All opinions above are my own.

The Brunch Dish: Lilly's Craft & Kitchen

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The Brunch Dish is here once again!  This time we're talking about Lilly's Craft & Kitchen in Hell's Kitchen, NYC.  I confess that I have actually been here twice in the last few months.  The first time I was hanging out with my friends and their two adorable kids, so suffice it to say that while the pictures I took were cute, there was also a lot of other stuff going on.  Kids do not care if you want to take a photo of food!

The second time I visited Lilly's, I was with a friend and we sat at the front window - prime location for people-watching!  We grabbed the menus and saw that the brunch primarily consisted of quite a few egg dishes and burgers.  But don't worry!  They do have classic breakfast/brunch dishes such as pancakes and french toast.  There are also several weekend specials which they swap in and out.

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Have I mentioned that Lilly's also has an unlimited drink menu!?!?!

For $24, you can have unlimited Mimosas, Bellinis, or Bloody Mary's for 90 minutes with the purchase of a brunch entree.  This is a great deal if you plant to have 3 or more beverages over the course of brunch, as just one of these drinks is ~$8.  When I visited Lilly's, I was actually pretty tired so I opted for a coffee and a glass of wine.  My friend decided to take advantage of the Bellini drink special though!

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My friend's food arrived first (there was actually a glitch and my food was delivered to another table!).  She ordered the Lilly's Signature Burger which also comes with fries on the side.  It looked delicious and she enjoyed it as well!

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I opted for the Breakfast Quesadilla.  When I finally received it, it was fabulous!  The portion size wasn't too large and I really enjoyed the side of chips and salsa to nosh on.

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I will say that I highly recommend the brunch at Lilly's Craft & Kitchen.  Even though they sort of forgot to give me my order the second time I visited, everyone was really nice and tried their best to fix the issue once they realized it.

I would also venture to say that this is a favorable location to bring kids to brunch if it's earlier in the day.  They open at 11am on weekends and it wasn't too crowded at the opening hour.  It gets busier in the afternoon, so it will be more adult-friendly later on.

Either way, I have enjoyed my experiences here and I would definitely recommend Lillys' Craft Bar & Kitchen to anyone who might be in the Hell's Kitchen area for a weekend brunch.

Paname French Restaurant : A Review

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If you know me, then you know that I'm obsessed with France - Paris specifically.  So going to Paname Restaurant was a great experience for me.  Paname is the slang word for Paris, similar to how The Big Apple is slang for New York City.  I've never heard of that before and it was an interesting fact.

I was excited to get the opportunity to check out Paname and the lovely menu.  Chef Bernard Ros opened Paname in November 2014.  He is the owner, executive chef, pastry chef, and wine director!  Paname features an eclectic selection of updated classic French bistro dishes with a modern flair.  They are open every night for dinner, weekday lunch, weekend brunch, and an all day happy hour 12-7.  They don't offer delivery, but they do offer onsite and offsite catering. Paname is located in Upper East Side in New York City, on 2nd Avenue between 56 and 57th streets.

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Upon walking into the restaurant, I entered an intimate space which was decorated eclectically with Art Nouveau decor.  There are framed Parisian Art Nouveau paintings, classic wood bistro chairs, and wooden tables with crisp tablecloths.  The dining room seats 60 people and I'm pleased to say that you don't feel as if you're crammed into the space, as you may feel in other NY restaurants.

As we are approaching May and Mother's Day, you should be aware that Paname is planning to have a Mother's Day special menu with 3 courses for $40.  The menu can be found here.  So if you're wondering where to take your mom for her upcoming special day, here's your answer!  But don't forget about the regular menu too - see below!

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We started off with a plate of Amuse Bouche, which are little bite-sized hors d'oeuvres that Chef Bernard sometimes serves in between courses.  They aren't available on the menu, as Chef Bernard creates a variety of these on an ad hoc basis.  This amuse bouche platter consisted of a sardine pastry bite, a mushroom bite, and a cracker spread with a bit of Roquefort cheese.

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For an appetizer, we decided to order the Baby Octopus with White Beans.  I will confess that I'd never had octopus before but I decided to change that once and for all.  The octopus was very tender and the sauce was rich and savory.  I'm usually not a fan of beans, but the white beans were delicious as well.  I would definitely recommend this dish as a unique appetizer.  

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For our first entree, we started off with a Bouillabaisse with Shrimp, Cod, Clams, and Mussels.  This broth was very tasty and rich.  We were also given bread as well and I really enjoyed dipping my bread to absorb the sauce.  This bouillabaisse takes about 2-3 days to make.  It takes a whole day to reduce the broth to get to this level of richness.  If you're interested in a tasty, robust dish, then this is the one for you.

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Our next entree was the Oven-Roasted Duck with Barley and Mango Coulis.  This duck was so tender and moist that we could "cut" it with a fork.  It was served with a sweet mango sauce on the side.  Chef Bernard mentioned that the duck is cooked over the course of 3.5 hours!

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Our final entree was the Beef Bourguignon.  This is actually not on the written menu, but it is available every day.  Many places that serve beef bourguignon only serve it one day a week because it takes so long to make, but you don't have to worry about that at Paname!  This dish is made over the course of 2-3 days, so it's also rich and the meat is tender and falling apart.  The beef is served over mashed potatoes which soak up the stew to round out a delicious meal.

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Paname serves a variety of homemade and unique ice creams.  The night we went, we were treated to homemade rose ice cream.  I adore rose scents and flavors, so I found this quite delightful.  Chef Bernard will change up the flavors over time, so you might not get the same ice cream twice!

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For dessert, we chose a few items.  We had the classic Creme Brulee which was a sweet and crunchy treat.

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We also tried a molten chocolate volcano cake.  The cake was made of decadent chocolate, with a liquid chocolate in the center.  It was fabulous!  And look at that presentation!

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Finally, we tried the Apple Tart, as the French are known for their ability to make amazing tarts.  This was no exception.  The pastry was crisp and flaky and topped with a dollop of sweet vanilla ice cream for contrast.

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To get a rare taste of true Parisian food in the middle of NYC, I would recommend visiting Paname to check out the French fare.  I had an excellent dinner and I would truly go back again to try all the other dishes and sauces that I didn't taste on this visit.

*Disclaimer - I was provided with this meal in exchange for my opinion.  All opinions above are my own.

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Chimichurri Grill East: A Review

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I love Argentinian food and I recently had the pleasure of visiting Chimichurri Grill East.  There are actually two locations in Manhattan - one on the East Side and one on the West Side.  This night, I was visiting the newer location on the East Side. 

The facade of the restaurant does not adequately portray the size of this place.  There are 3 rooms inside, each leading from one to the other.  You will enter in the Tango Bar, which holds the bar and seating for 16 people.  From there, you can walk into the Pink Room, which is a bit more casual and can also seat 16.  The Pink Room then opens up into the Main Dining Room, which is elegantly decorated with a gorgeous Italian crystal chandelier, custom made chairs, an Argentinian cow hide mirror, and walls lined with beautiful photographs of herbs and spices taken by co-owner and chef Carlos Darquea.  The Main Room seats 60.

The Main Room will be rearranged each Tuesday night to accommodate Tango Nights, starting December 5th from 7-10pm.  Tango dancers will be able to come and enjoy dancing underneath the beautiful chandelier.  These are not professional dancers, but rather dancers who just enjoy to dance.  A few weeks ago, New York City removed the prohibition-era ban on dancing in restaurants and this has allowed Carlos to create such an event.

Before I get into the food, I also want to mention that there is a happy hour in the Tango Room and the Pink Room every Monday through Saturday from 4-8pm.  It includes Argentinian bar bites and small plates, special Argentinian wines by the glass, martinis, and beers.

Once we arrived at the restaurant, Carlos greeted us and presented an impressive tasting menu, which paired 7 of his favorite dishes with unique wine pairings, in addition to a dessert.  He and his wife worked on assembling the wine pairings and impressively, they were spot on with all of them!

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Our first course was Ostras, or grilled oysters.  I confess that I'm not usually a fan of oysters but these were amazing.  I spritzed the oysters with the lemon juice to make it a bit more tart.  Carlos also added a bit of Argentinian regianito cheese on top of the oysters which was very tasty.  You might not think of adding cheese to seafood or oysters in particular, but it really worked here.  This was paired with an excellent dry Argentinian sparkling wine.

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For our second course, we had the Berros salad, which consists of watercress, tomato, avocado, red onion, and cilantro with a squeeze of lime and olive oil.  I truly enjoyed this salad.  It was light and fresh and included all of my favorite ingredients.  It was paired with a nice Torrontes wine.

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Next up, we had a lovely grilled Branzino filet - Branzino a la Parrilla.  This was served over grilled asparagus and with a grilled Meyer lemon on the side.  The grilling of the lemon gave the juice a smoky flavor when the lemon was squeezed over the fish.  The fish was flaky and tender and paired nicely with a glass of Chardonnay.

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For our fourth dish, we enjoyed the Cerdo San Pablo.  This is grilled pork with an agave glaze which is served over sauteed red cabbage, apples, onions, and bacon lardons.  While I really enjoyed the pork, when it was paired with the sauteed cabbage mixture, it truly stood out to me as one of the best dishes I had that evening.  This was successfully paired with a Meritage wine (80% Malbec + 20% Cabernet).

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At this point, we took a quick pause for a homemade raspberry sorbet to cleanse out palates.  This was nice, clean, and refreshing, as it was intended to be.

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Up next, we have the fifth course.  Since receiving the tasting menu, this was the course that I was most looking forward to.  I absolutely love empanadas and can never get enough of them.  These were small tasty bites filled with organic chicken, grass fed beef, and swiss chard and manchego cheese.  On the table we had small bowls containing two types of chimichurri sauce - red and green.  Yes, there is such a thing as red chimichurri sauce.  These made excellent partners for the empanadas.  This dish was one of the highlights of the meal for me.  These were paired up with a Pinot Noir.

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For our sixth course, we started to delve more into the meats.  We had beautifully grilled lamb chops served with a fresh mint and fava bean mash.  The lamb was plated over a syrah au-jus sauce.  This was another excellent choice by Carlos.  The meat was simply delicious and I ate every last bit of it.  I cannot say enough about the mint and fava bean mash either.  This was paired with a Syrah.

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We finally made it to our seventh course!  This was a wet-aged black angus filet mignon, which was perfectly cooked so that it turned out tender and juicy.  It was also served with an Argentine blue vein cheese sauce and polenta fries, which were quite delicious.  This was paired with a Malbec.

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For dessert, Carlos brought us a Panqueque de Dulce de Leche.  This is a thin crepe, served warm and filled with dulce de leche.  This was the perfect end to this meal.  It was paired well with a beautifully sweet Torrontes ice wine.

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I would highly recommend checking out the Chimichurri Grill.  Everyone there is really nice and friendly, as well as very knowledgeable about the food and wine that was being served.  I can't say enough about the food.  It was a great experience and I really look forward to dining there once again.

 

*Disclaimer - I was provided with this meal in exchange for my opinion.  All opinions above are my own.

Porter Collins: A Review

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Last weekend, I sidled over to Porter Collins, which is a newer restaurant that opened in uptown Hoboken a few months ago.  They are a part of the Pino Hospitality group, which is also responsible for Anthony David's and Bin14, which are acclaimed Hoboken restaurants.  To set the scene, Porter Collins offers a bottomless weekend brunch from 11am - 3pm.  This is accompanied by an all-you-can-eat buffet, as well as a few chef specials which are delivered directly from the kitchen.

My friend and I arrived at 12pm for a Sunday brunch last weekend.  The outside of the building is slightly industrial but definitely has a modern flair to it.  Psssst - do you see that Happy Hour sign outside?  There is a 1/2 price Happy Hour every day from 5-7pm when you order food from the bar.  One day when I am able to leave work early, I'll take advantage of this for sure!

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Upon entering, you're greeted by greenery (not pictured - there are a number of larger plants behind the hostess station) and a bar area.  There are a few high top tables as well, if you're inclined to eat there.  In the back of this section, Porter Collins also has an area that can be used for private events such as birthday parties or wedding receptions.  There is a full bar as well as the ability to set up DJ equipment for all your music needs.

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Alright, let's get down to the brunch!  The brunch is held in yet another room at Porter Collins.  This one has really cute beachy details.  They are actually looking to add even more beachy decor soon, but for now, I still think it looks amazing.  Can we just appreciate this mural for a second?

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So. Every Saturday and Sunday, from 11am - 3pm, you can hook yourself up with an all-you-can-eat-and-drink situation.  The food is buffet style and the drink options are Bloody Mary's, Mimosas, and Bellinis.  The chef's specials are included in the brunch price of $35 per person.  When we were there, some of the chef's specials were omelettes, eggs benedict, and banana pancakes!

Below are some pictures to really give you the experience --

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If you need a pick-me-up, as we ALL do on weekend mornings, there is a full service coffee bar that you can take advantage of.  Porter Collins offers both cold-brewed iced coffee as well as regular hot coffee, but if you need a shot that will be $5 please.

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Here's a glimpse at our first plates of food.  Yup.  First plates...

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And although this is not a part of the brunch, we just had to try the frose to close out this brunch!  Let it be known that it was excellent.

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OK, so I've got your recap of everything below.  There's also a regular menu snuck in there in case you are not interested in the brunch (what!?) or can't make it there on the weekends.  Personally, I can't wait to go back to try out more of the brunch items and the chef specials.  The summer menu also offers amazing options, so I'll need to book another table as soon as possible!

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*Disclaimer - I was provided with the brunch in exchange for my opinion.  All opinions above are my own.

Sel et Poivre: A Review

Sel et Poivre is a cute, quaint French restaurant that is tucked away on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  It is designed in the style of a classic Parisian bistro, and their classic French dishes are served with an update style.  The owners are Christian and Pamela Schienle, a husband and wife team.  Christian is also the executive chef and the wine director and he oversees all the desserts, which are made in-house.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this restaurant is quickly approaching it's 28th (yes, 28th!) year in business.  They have been in the same location the entire time. If you're familiar with the lifespan of many New York City restaurants, you'll recognize that this is the equivalent of multiple restaurant lifetimes.  Because of this, the Schienle's are familiar with a number of their patrons.  Christian greets them at the entrance by name and ushers them to their seats.  Throughout the evening, he can be spotted throughout the dining room, making small talk with everyone, answering questions, and making sure the guests feel welcome.

Before we get into the food, here are a few additional things I learned -

- At the time we visited the restaurant, they were in the middle of a Wild Game Festival.  They serve game at all times (see their Wild Game Menu on their site), but they were running a special menu then to highlight their offerings.

- They offer daily specials, which includes some of the wild game that was featured for the Festival.

- There are different specials associated with different days of the week.  There are patrons who will come to the restaurant on certain days just to ensure they can feast upon a certain meal, such as coq au vin, sweetbreads, and more!

- They offer prixe fixe options for lunch, dinner and brunch.  Check out the menus on their site!

And now, the food...

Wild Boar Pate Plate - This was not on our tasting menu, but Christian brought it out for us to sample.  It is not on the regular menu but is typically offered as a special.  The plate contains a slice of the wild boar pate, red wine mustard (yum!), slices of baguette, a dried prune, and cornichons.  I'm not a fan of pate in general, but I tried everything else on the plate and it was all tasty.  I personally loved the red wine mustard.  Red wine and mustard combined into one condiment?  Thank you!

Lentil Soup - Can I admit that I've never had lentil soup before?  Can I still remain in the foodie club?  This lentil soup has a chicken and potato base and it's blended up so well that it tastes super creamy, even though there is no cream added.  It was delicious and I recommend it for sure.

Also, please keep in mind that we were served from the tasting menu.  So these portions are a bit smaller than those you would see when ordering from the regular menu.

Salmon with White Bean and Green Beans in a White Wine Sauce - Spoiler alert.  This was my favorite dish.  I loooove salmon but it's not great everywhere.  It is great here.  The salmon was tender and flaky and the white wine sauce was delicious.  I made sure to eat everything on this plate.

Bistro Burger - I was pretty nervous about this one, as I prefer my burgers to be cooked well done or medium well.  This Bistro Burger was presented medium rare.  Cue my racing heart!

Still, it was fantastic!  Set et Poivre has used the same butcher for almost 28 years and the burger patties has been the same the entire time.  This burger was so simple but very juicy and flavorful.  I would definitely order it again!

We also received a side of fries with the burger.  Now, I am a fry fanatic.  I could eat them every day if I didn't stop myself.  These fries were so delicious!  They take Idaho potatoes and double fry them so that they end up crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  I'll take another round of these please!

Escargot - We received a surprise course during dinner - escargot!  It was not on the menu but one of the ladies we were dining with asked about it and Christian graciously brought out a few servings for us.  The escargot was presented in a divine garlicky pesto sauce which really paired well with it.  I made sure to drag some of the homemade bread through this sauce as well!

Wild Boar Osso Bucco with Wild Mushroom Risotto - This was our last main dish.  I confess that I've never tried wild boar before, so I was looking forward to this.  The meat was so tender that it fell right off the bone.  The flavor reminded me of pork, but also of beef.  The wild mushroom risotto was absolutely delicious.  It was creamy and the mushrooms provided a nice bite.

Warm Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream - On to the desserts!  This was my favorite dessert.  That's shocking, considering I'm a huge chocolate fan, and the other dessert is chocolate.  The crust on this tart was crisp, and the apples were caramelized, soft and sweet.  The ice cream was cold and creamy.  I could eat a few of these in one sitting!

Chocolate Terrine - This dessert was a nice end to the meal.  It's a rich, creamy, chocolate mousse, layered over a tart fruit puree.  It was the best way to close out this amazing meal!

**Disclosure: I was provided this meal free of charge.  However, all opinions are my own!

Miss Lily's 7A Cafe: A Review

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In case you didn't know, I had a little old birthday last week, on August 22nd.  I initially figured I'd gloss over it and go to work, like any other normal day.  Then a few days later I realized I had a few extra vacation days so why not just take some time off.

A few years ago a good friend recommended Miss Lily's to me, but I brushed it off, stating that I wasn't really interested in going to a Caribbean food place outside of the Caribbean.  Well, cut to me trolling the Instagram about a month ago and stumbling across the feed for Miss Lily's chef.  Wow wow wow!  I had to have everything.  So off I went to Miss Lily's with my friend Sandra for a birthday meal.

I went to the East Village location which is called 7A Cafe.  There is another Miss Lily's restaurant in Soho, as well as a Jerk Shack on Houston Street in NYC.  I haven't been to those, but I definitely want to make the rounds!

 

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Serenata: A Review

I haven't done a review on here in a minute, so let's change that!  This time, I can't even take the credit for this find.  One of my friends found it and I was completely game because I can eat Mexican food wherever and whenever.

Seranata is a healthy Mexican restaurant that you can find tucked away on a side street in the beautiful Chelsea area in NYC.  They have outdoor seating options, which is definitely a bonus.  Just look at it!
 

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Nai Tapas Bar: A Review

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Tapas!  I have to admit that I have not extensively explored the world of tapas before.  I've visited a few restaurants and they were good but nothing that I would "write home about", so to speak.  But last week, I visited Nai Tapas Bar in the East Village and all that changed.

This was a complete culinary experience.  I'd never seen anything like it before.  To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from this restaurant but our whole experience was simply amazing.

The restaurant boasts a sit-down bar for 15 people.  The rest of the dining room seats about 75 people.  The decor is rustic and unique.  I loved that there was a silhouette of a face carved into one of the brick walls.  There is also an original Spanish mural near the back of the dining room.

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The Malt House: A Review

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I'm once again coming at you with a NYC restaurant review!  This time, I had dinner at The Malt House.  There are actually two locations: one in the West Village and one in the Financial District.  The West Village location is the original one (established about 3 1/2 years ago!) and that is the one I visited.

I'd never heard of The Malt House before, but once I walked in, I was immediately intrigued. I love pubs and this place was no exception.  It was dimly lit and cozy inside.  Upon walking in, I was able to see a few communal tables and also a beautiful wooden bar.  I was immediately given a warm welcome and shown to our table in the backroom.  If you like exposed brick and wrought-iron, I think I've found the place for you!  The back room isn't large, but you can easily make yourself at home.  The seating consists of expansive tables with booth seats on one side and simple stools on the other.  I'm a fan of this setup because you don't have those cumbersome high backed chairs which tend to get in the way.  It also made it easier to turn to my neighbors and hold conversations throughout the evening.

Armando Avila is the executive chef at The Malt House and he formerly worked at STK and 5 Napkin Burger.  He has created a menu that is a selection of classic American comfort dishes.  I hardly ever (ok, never!) turn down some good old comfort food so I was excited to dig in!

Before we get started, here is the menu that we were given.  We were served just about everything on that list!  I say "just about everything" because we ended up getting Lobster Mac & Cheese instead of the Truffle Mac & Cheese.  Overall, I thought the food was great!  Even if I did have to roll myself down the street to the subway later in the evening.

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