Tag Archives: FAVOR8

NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk

The Garage Door Style Entrance to Kinfolk, Temporary House of Frej

The Garage Door Style Entrance to Kinfolk, Temporary Home of Frej

Back in 2009 I read about a 10-seat place in Brooklyn called Brooklyn Fare that was preparing extraordinary dishes, yet was fairly unknown to the masses. Intrigued, I made a reservation for 8 people hoping I could convince 7 lucky friends to dine beside me that weekend. At the time, the ticket price of $95 a head seemed like a worthwhile, though steep, 20-course dining experience with Chef Cesar preparing everything table side. When I called, someone answered my phone call on the second ring and I had my choice of weekend reservations. Fast forward three years and three Michelin stars later, and the reservation book is full months in advance with a pricetag skyrocketing to $225 per person. Sigh. Last night I had an early-Brooklyn Fare-days deja vous moment at Frej. Something special is blooming.

Tucked down an untrafficked street in Williamsburg, you’ll come across a converted industrial building with a garage door front. The multi-purpose space is design studio by day, bar by night {with B.Y.O.V – bring your own vinyl – Tuesdays on the menu}. The bar is called Kinfolk and also plays the role of generous relative, providing space to Frej, its temporary dining houseguest {although I am hopeful this kinship becomes permanent}. It’s a symbiotic relationship — Kinfolk needed to serve food to obtain a liquor license and the guys behind Frej were looking for a small space to test out their concept. Named after the nordic God of Harvest, the menu is based on local-seasonal fare prepared with a scandinavian hand.

We settled into the intimate 10-table seating area and things started off simply, but on a high note. They had me at warm, fresh baked bread with a side of salty butter. That butter was gone by the end of dinner.

Frej Bread and Butter

Frej Bread and Butter

An amuse of pureed celery root, pork jowl and chicory was a perfect introduction to the balanced local, ingredient-focused flavors of the rest of the meal.

Amuse: celery root, pork bowel, chicory

Amuse: celery root, pork jowl, chicory

Smoked brook trout, egg yolk, dill, chickweed, rye bread was both light and rich at the same time. I loved the crispy rye bits strewn about the dish and I’m a sucker for dill on any finned friend. Oh, and egg, how I love thee.

Burnt hazelnuts crispy sunchokes skin beef liver puree

Smoked brook trout, egg yolk, dill, chickweed, rye bread

Burnt hazelnuts with crispy sunchoke skins, sunchokes and a beef liver puree, was a surprising marriage of textures and flavors. I loved the richness of the puree, was delighted by the use of the delicate sunchoke skins and enjoy hazelnuts on pretty much anything, but the one-step-beyond-toasted flavor really counterbalanced the liver puree and had me wiping the plate with said lovely warm bread.

Burnt hazelnuts, sunchoke skin and beef liver puree

Burnt hazelnuts, sunchoke skin and beef liver puree

Soft poached egg, with pickled hen of woods mushrooms and crispy seaweed. Hello egg again. This was one of my favorite dishes — it was earthy, it was vinegary, it was sweet, it was creamy, it was crispy, it was perfection.

Soft poached egg, scallop, hen of the woods mushroom, cauliflower puree

Soft poached egg, scallop, hen of the woods mushroom, cauliflower puree

Skate wing, pickled onion, carrot ribbon, fennel frawns, almond powder. I’m starting to catch on — fresh local fish, bright fresh herbs, a little earthiness, a kiss of sweetness and a touch of vinegar. That umami that we all crave and leaves us wanting more…more…more!

Frej Skate wing, carrot ribbon, pickled onion, fennel frawns

Frej Skate wing, carrot ribbon, pickled onion, fennel frawns

Beef cooked in hay with rutabaga and apple cider gelée. Ok, no, this was my favorite dish. I made what could have been three bites turn into nine, just so I could enjoy the perfectly tender beef with the accompanying, cleverly sweet and tart cider gelée bites. If it wasn’t already Wednesday, I would have made a reservation for the next night on the spot.

Beef cooked in hay with rutabaga and apple cider gelee

Beef cooked in hay with rutabaga and apple cider gelee

Hibiscus pound cake, dried berries, cardamom ice cream. And dessert didn’t disappoint either — somebody please make me a hibiscus pound cake for my next birthday. Delightful.

Hibiscus pound cake with dried berries and ice cream

Hibiscus pound cake with dried berries and ice cream

The Skim: If you’re looking for a place with no pretense, but is rooted in innovation, then get thee to the Frej. These guys have mastered plate after plate of umami-satisfying local flavor combinations. Nothing is fancy pants. Everything is unique. Eye brows were raised with excitement throughout our entire meal and each dish was wiped clean and washed down with delightful Kinfolk cocktails {might I recommend the Kinfolk pink grapefruit collins}. The best part about it all? It only costs $45. The. Best. Undiscovered. Deal. In. Town. And you heard it here first, brunch will begin within the month. I may just move my permanent residence to 90 Wythe street — until then, Frej is making its way to my Favor8 list.


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Map: 90 Wythe and 11st Street {Brooklyn}
Reservations: A must — info@frejnyc.com {open Mon-Wed 6-10pm}
Phone: (347) 286-6241

More Brooklyn Gems You Should Know:
Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Isa is a Trip Not to be Missed
Do This!: Foraging for Food is F’ing Fun {in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with Leda}

Vinegar Hill House is a Sweet Spot for Supper
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
Brooklyn Fare Fares Well, Earning 2 Michelin Stars

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Behind Bohemian

Bohemian

I debated for a long time as to whether or not I was going to write about this NYC restaurant. Not because I don’t love it, but because I love it too much – I was hesitant to let anyone else in on the secret.  But after eating here three times in only a week {a first for me, EVER}, I decided it was only appropriate to share the love – my mother taught me never to be selfish after all.

This secret little gem is a place with no sign out front. A place with a long hallway that leads to a locked and unmarked front door. A place where you have to ring the doorbell to enter. And a place where you can only get a table if you call ahead, dialing an unpublished number that can only be acquired from someone who has been there before (ahem). This is my kind of place.

Sound pretentious? That’s the beauty of this little Japanese food find – it’s anything but. The lack of marketing and exposure is intentional to maintain a quiet environment filled with passionate regulars and excited pursuers of plated perfection. Once inside, you are greeted by its small and welcoming staff who guide you to one of six tables or one of six seats at the bar. The space feels more like a living room, with comfy couches and low cushioned armchairs surrounding knee-high tables that invite you to relax while enjoying each precisely prepared bite.  With white walls and an almost unnoticeable rock garden, it’s as if the intentional zen-like décor was designed to make the artistic dishes the only eye-catching visuals.

Japanese Cucumber Cocktail

The hand-crafted cocktails and meticulously grown and prepared food is the reason I’ve gone completely nuts for this place.  The first time I went I ate at the bar, which allowed me to watch in awe as Take, the resident bartender, hand carved a perfectly round ice cube from a block of ice, and sliced paper-thin Japanese cucumber circles into my precisely measured cocktail.

Seasonal Veggie "Fondue"

We were also wowed at first sight, when our meal started with a vibrant veggie boat of captivatingly crisp crudités served on ice with the most elegantly smooth, bowl-licking anchovy cheese “fondue”.  I could have stopped there an been ecstatic, but out came our sushi flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, with a clarity that let the candlelight shine through and a firmness in each pinkish bite unlike any I have had since I was actually in Tokyo. heaven.

Sushi Perfection

I could take you through every dish I ate each of the three times I paid a visit to Bohemian, but then this post would go on for days. I will say, if you can swing the premium prices for the washu-beef steak, that is definitely something you don’t want to miss. Since Bohemian is tucked behind the Japan Premium Beef market, you could consider this the specialty of the house,which you will quickly realize with each beautifully buttery bite.

The Skim: If you are seeking small and spectacular, find a way to get a seat at Bohemian. I am not above taking bribes or offers to be treated to dinner in exchange for a phone number, but I won’t post it here.

Can’t Get A Seat, Try One of These Japanese Joints:
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
Sensational Summer Sushi @ Geisha
Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!

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FAVOR8: New on 8.ate@eight

Hungry for more inspiration from 8.ate@eight?

FAVOR8:
Now you can easily access 8.ate@eight’s Top 8 Favorite Restaurants from the new tab at the top called FAVOR8. When you’re looking for a great meal out, this list will provide a sure thing. I’ll continue to update the list as new meals inspire me to spread the love, so check back and Eat Up!

As always, you can access all restaurant reviews by clicking the Eat Here! category in the right column.

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18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau

How To Cook Meat for Your Man

A few weeks ago I went to this amazingly wacky collectors exhibit in Brooklyn — a range of collections from hotel ashtrays to museum dust {???}. As I made my way around the room of oddities, I stumbled upon one table that did catch my interest. A collection of meat recipe booklets from the June Cleaver days: “Meats for Men”, “There’s Always Time to Cook Meat”, “Meat Recipes You’ll Talk About” were just some of my favorites. All published by various national livestock and meat boards of one nature or another, these booklets are full of hints on how to cook stews fit for a king or manage your meat over the course of the week — good nutrition calls for meat at least once a day, after all. With all this insightful inspiration, I was craving some good honest meat {wouldn’t you?}. Luckily NYC’s #1 rated BBQ joint, Fette Sau, was conveniently located right across the street from all this nonsense. Some pulled pork and a cold draft was in order!

First up, one of their many craft beers poured from the clever cleaver taps — one too many brews and an ornery attitude could get you in serious trouble!

Craft Beer Taps @FetteSau

And this is why you get a beer first. A long line of pork patrons eagerly away their moment to order. Hey ladies, notice how many men are here??? Don’t worry, the line goes reasonably fast, but why not share a cold one and a conversation while you wait.

Fette Sau Patrons

And while you queue up and converse, you can get inspired by the meat wall — a brilliant dissection of piggy cuts that any meat-loving man or woman should know!

Fette Sau Meat Wall

But what we really care about is das menu. The glorious list of smoked meats, waiting for you to step up and order by the pound. Black Angus Pastrami, Berkshire St. Louis Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork Shoulder, Berkshire Spicy Pork Sausage and more, served with a side of Coleslaw, Guss’ Kosher Pickles, Burnt End Baked Beans, among other goodies. The best part about this place — order a sample of everything and anything you want as it all gets dished on a big ‘ole tray with wet naps and some buns. Fette Sau’s BBQ is dry rubbed and smoked with a blend of Red and White Oak, Maple, Beach and Cherry. And while no sauces are applied during cooking, a selection of sauces awaits you at the communal picnic table seating, so you can play around with flavors and get creative stacking and gnawing at your order if you choose. The premium selection of organic, small-farm heritage meat is juicy with a prevalent smokey flavor that permeates the entire cut and decisively reminds you that this is not just another BBQ joint serving sticky sauced ribs. No, this is the #1 rated BBQ destination in all of NYC, and I can see why.

A Little of This, A Little of That

The Skim: If you’re looking to put a little meat on the bone, or a place to take your man so he can eat like a king, then Fette Sau is a must. The beauty of this high quality BBQ joint is it’s small cozy feel. With a tray of smoked goodness and a ball jar of suds you can settle in to stare longingly into the electronic fireplace with your king of the castle.

Map: 354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone: 718-963-3404


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Stick it To My Ribs:
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie
recipe goodness :: red chili-lime cornbread muffins
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ

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Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s

Roberta's Brooklyn

Located in a former garage in Brooklyn, down a warehouse-dense road, Roberta’s is nestled in a space that at first glance makes you question your propensity to enter. But when you do, you are warmly greeted by a brightly lit, rustic atmosphere set with reclaimed wood communal tables overlooking a piping hot wood-burning oven. Weather permitting, you can also grab a seat in the back garden and settle in for some equally delightful rustic fare.

Roberta's Communal Seating

Creatively named pizzas are the feature of the menu. We had the Da Kine, a word in Hawaiian pidgin that generally refers to anything abstract. It’s also a new take on the typical Hawaiian pizza with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, jalapenos, pineapple, prosciutto cotto. Let me tell you, it was DE-LISH-OUS! Thin slices of sweet pineapple, cut with a subtle spice from the jalapenos and topped with a delicate, almost lacy proscuitto, which I found to be so much better than the typical thick squares of ham. All washed down with a draft brew served in a Ball jam jar — doesn’t that just scream rustic dining experience?

Roberta's Da Kine Pie

The Skim: I can only speak to the stellar pizza I had, but the menu also features other creatively rustic dishes such as the Orecchiette with lamb pancetta, egg yolk, piave or the Pork Chop with fregola, guanciale, romanesco. This may look like a run-down industrial joint from the outside, but Roberta’s is serving upscale, unique dishes that will make your taste buds sing, but in a comfortable atmosphere that invites you to enjoy a low-key meal out with friends whatever the occasion.

Map: 261 Moore St Brooklyn,NY
Reservations: For Parties of 10+
Phone: 718-417-1118


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Another Pie Please:
Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali
Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate


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The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi

La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (The Science of cookery and the Art of Eating Well) is an iconic cookbook found in nearly every Italian household and is also known by the shorter name of its author, L’Artusi. I don’t know if it’s more fitting to say the NYC restaurant L’Artusi lives up to that iconic name or to say they are creating their own modern version of the Art of Eating Well through the complex, yet traditional Italian flavors that grace each plate. Either way, it was my selected destination of choice to celebrate Puglia Wine Week, and yes, we ate and drank very very well.

L’Artusi, the sister restaurant of dell’anima, partnered with Apulian wine producer Agricole Vallone to feature several of the best wines from this region and complement each pour with dishes inspired by Apulian cuisine. Agricole Vallone produces wines from three different estates located in Brindisi and Salentino, both found in the most southern region of Puglia known as Salento {the stiletto tip of the boot for those of you less familiar with Italian geography}. The region is known for its breathtaking views of the Adriatic and producing the Negroamaro grape using a traditional Pugliese tree technique. Sounds like a place I need to visit, but for now I’ll settle for an enjoyable evening of local pairings while sporting my own heels.

L'Artusi

To start, we ordered the housemade ricotta with sea salt and lemon, served with a side of raisin-mustard seed marmalade jam and homemade buttermilk crackers, as well as the scallop crudo, sliced thinly and served simply with lemon and olive oil. Our server paired this with the Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Rosato doc 2009. The creaminess of the ricotta and surprisingly light buttermilk crackers were outstanding on their own, but also worked perfectly with the deep pink rosé that exhibited sweet floral and cherry aromas.

L'Artusi Housemade Fresh Ricotta with Sea Salt, Lemon and Homemade Buttermilk Crackers

One of the reasons I love L’Artusi {and dell’anima} so much is because of their small plate, sharing approach to the menu. It’s a great way to sample new flavors and also solves the menu indecision problem that I’m often faced with {just bring a few friends and start ordering!}. The next two plates that followed were unanimously agreed around the table to be two of the best dishes of the evening. The beef carpacio with horseradish crema and rye crisps was so simple, but the crunchiness of the crispy bits and the mustardy kick of the horseradish added a unique depth. The roasted mushrooms with pancetta, fried egg and ricotta salata was my personal favorite — it was sharp, creamy and earthy and had a subtle kick from the pickled chili that was an unexpected, but welcomed surprise. Both dishes went extremely well with the Vereto Salice Salentino Riserva Rosso doc 2006, a 90% Negroamaro red with hints of pepper and chocolate.

L'Artusi Beef Carpacio with Horseradish Crema and Rye Crisps

L'Artusi Roasted Mushrooms with Pancetta, Fried Egg and Ricotta Salata

To finish off the evening we ordered two pasta dishes, but the highlight was an off-the-menu item that arrived from the kitchen and was an incredible celebration of the fall season. Butternut squash ravioli — not an uncommon menu item, but add marscapone cheese, a brown butter sauce and fresh grated parmesan and you have a perfect little package of flavors that would make any taste bud happy.

L'Artusi Special Butternut Squash with Marscapone and Ricotta

“I want to sleep in a pillow of whatever is in that ravioli”
— overheard @ L’Artusi

To pair, we closed out the meal with two reds tasted side-by-side, the Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Riserva doc 2006 and the Graticciaia Salento Rosso igt 2005. Both ruby red in color, the Graticciaia was made in an amarone-style, with 30% dry grapes and 70% fresh, which resulted in a dryer finish but opened up nicely over time and held up to the heavier pasta plates.

Agricole Vallone Wines

Table with a View - L'Artusi's Open Kitchen

The Skim: Uno) Eat at L’Artusi. With a menu featuring an artful list of crudo, veggie, pasta, fish, meat, cheeses and desserts, you won’t have a hard time eating well or creating a satisfying shared table evening. Due) Drink Apulian vino. Next time you’re looking through a wine list and perplexed by the plentiful picks, opt for a Negroamaro, Bombino Biano or Primitivo, three varietals common of the region. And for those of you who care, Puglia is the second largest producer {after Sicily} or organic wines, an indication of the important role agriculture plays in this unique Italian region. Buon Appetito and Salute!

Map: 228 west 10th {btw Hudson & Bleecker}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-255-5757


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Mangia, Mangia!

The Art of Brunching Well @ L’Artusi
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo

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Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails

Highlands Bar NYC

A brief glance at the Highlands menu might have you scratching your head wondering what it all means and WHY anyone would sample Scottish food. Pork Faggot, Haggis, Neeps, Tatties, Cullen Skink…either I’ve had one too many Scotch cocktails and the words have gotten all mixed up or I need one of those fine plaid-clad bartenders to provide a wee bit of foreign translation assistance. But be not afraid, if you are envisioning a plate of unappetizing, unrecognizable food, you are in for a real treat when you order from the menu that was created to showcase modern Scotland. The atmosphere itself will clue you in that this contemporary gastropub is both authentic, but cutting edge at the same time.

Scottish Art?

Highlands is split into two quaint rooms. A dining area equipped with brick walls, close-set tables and a strange painting featuring a young boy with wolves hung over a faux fireplace. And the bar {where you can also order food}, with plaid-clad bartenders and backlit blond wood shelves showcasing some of the finer imports from Scotland:  Scotch, Malts, Gins and Ales. If you plan to eat at the bar, I suggest you get there early, because the bar draws a large crowd eager to imbibe unique hand crafted Scottish cocktails such as the Lucky White Heather {Famous Grouse Scotch, Rosemary Star Anise, Lemon and Egg White} or the Blood and Sand {Glenrothes Special Reserve, Cherry Herring, Orange Juice, Lemon and Bitters}. It’s a great place to expand beyond your usual vodka soda or Amstel light order, while exploring the young and vibrant patrons.

A Menu Must: Lamb Sausage Roll with Mint, Upland Cress and Harissa Aioli. It’s hard not to like when a mini sausage is wrapped in a flaky warm crust and served with a spicy sauce for dipping. I’d like to call it an upscale pigs-in-a-blanket, and well, who doesn’t love those!

Highlands Roast Chicken

I also had the roast chicken breast, that was both crispy and juicy and can be enjoyed whether it’s 90-degrees out or 20. And in case you’re wondering what all those other items are that I referred to, here’s a little cheat sheet. Go ahead and give it a go!

  • Pork Faggot: Kind of like a Scottish meatball, pork mixed with fresh herbs and sometimes breadcrumbs
  • Haggis: Traditional Scottish dish containing sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach. {You may need a strong stomach and sense of adventure for this one}
  • Neeps: Yellow turnip
  • Tatties: Potatoes
  • Cullen Skink: Thick soup made with haddock, potatoes and onions

The Skim: It’s friendly, it’s cozy with great drinks, great food, great bar and great atmosphere. Clearly I think it’s great. I’ll go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite NYC restaurants and bars. You can be as adventurous as you dare, but the menu serves all interests and will give you a taste of traditional Scottish fare with some modern twists. Go to eat or just drink, but either way, go.
Map: {150 west 10th St. btw Waverly & Greenwhich Ave.}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-229-2670


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The Red Cat: Comfortable Quarters & Cuisine

When you think of the color red or a cat {some people anyway} what comes to mind are feelings of warmth and comfort. Dining at The Red Cat evokes touches of both these, not only through one of the best, consistently excellent New York restaurant menus around, but also through the impeccably decorated space, where red walls, antique lanterns and dark wood always sets the mood for a memorable meal and experience.

A menu must: The Tempura Green Beans with hot mustard sauce. I order it every time as an app and always wonder how a green bean can taste SO good. As the saying goes, everything tastes better fried. Indeed! And with the salty tempura and spicy mustard, the green bean becomes the perfect vehicle for a french fry-like snack, but with a little nutrition thrown in.

Tempura Green Beans

But equally as delicious and probably also worthy of a menu must list, is the Shrimp Corn Cakes with Celery Root Salad and Red Chili Oil. It may not sound like anything overly exotic, but the flavor combination of the shrimp corn cake {a twist on the more commonly known crab cake} and the crunchy, fresh celery root with the slightly spicy red chili oil really makes you savor every bite and wish you weren’t sharing with your table guests.

Shrimp Corn Cakes with Celery Root Salad and Red Chili Oil

For my entree I had the Grilled Buttermilk Pork Chop with Cranberry Bean And Corn Succotash, with White Wine Bacon Butter. Pure mmm mmm mmm. I don’t know if it’s the buttermilk {makes me think of pancakes}, or the succotash {so fun to say} or maybe the bacon, yes the BACON! that makes this dish sit squarely in the comfort zone of your taste buds, but you CAN NOT go wrong ordering this entree. It’s simple, yet flavorFUL, and with every bite you enjoy the core ingredients.

Grilled Buttermilk Pork Chop

The Skim: If you haven’t already paid a visit to The Red Cat, well then what are you waiting for? And if this is already one of your favorite restaurants in NYC, then maybe it’s time to pay it another visit, because there are so many comfortably good, reliable items on the menu it’s only prudent to try them all. {227 Tenth Ave btw 23rd/24th Streets}


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Put a Pork Chop and Corn Salsa on Your Plate @ Home:
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa

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Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare

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Weekend=brunch. Sunny long weekend=outdoor brunch. There is no better place to settle in for a delicious cup of joe and ‘egg’cellent sunnyside-up-something, than my favorite UWS-get-your-morning-going hot spot, Community Food & Juice. Usually buzzing with Columbia students and adventurous eaters willing to explore a 3-digit neighborhood {located @ 112th/broadway across from the Tom’s, the infamous Seinfeld diner}, C F&J lures brunchers with seasonal, local and organic fare that is simple, yet unique.

Orange Juice sound good? Try blending it with their freshly squeezed carrot juice for an ultra-orange, vitamin C-packed morning refresher that will help clear away the fuzzy head. Or if you’re more of a hair-of-the-dog kind of person, I highly recommend the Wasabi Prairie Mary that features house made bloody mary mix and wasabi powder for that extra kick that any good Mary requires. As for the more substantial part of the meal, you really can’t go wrong. The blueberry pancakes with maple butter syrup are one of the most popular dishes and have diners sopping up that liquid gold and asking for more. My favorite dish is a slightly new twist on an old classic. The B.E.L.T. is what a true breakfast sammie should be — double cut applewood bacon, a runny sunny-side-up organic egg, lettuce, tomato & mayo served on sourdough toast with a side of carrot hash browns. Is there really anything more you need to start your morning out right?

The Skim: Forget the breakfast sandwich from the cart guy on the corner and treat yourself to fantastic, fresh fare at Community Food & Juice. While most restaurants consider brunch a money making complement to their main dinner menu, C F&J’s brunch is the standout favorite meal of the day. So go on and get Juiced! {2893 Broadway, btw 112th/113th}


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August in April

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You may think I’m talking about all the 70-degree weather we’ve been in having, but in fact I’m referring to dinner at August, a small refuge that satisfies both appetite and ambiance. Both the heated outdoor atrium and the narrow candlelit front room — showcasing a wood-fired oven and reminiscent of an underground wine cellar — provide ideal settings for a memorable meal.

We shared two starters, the first was a Striped Bass Tartar laden with fresh herbs, pistachios and a citrus vinaigrette, which had the perfect contrast of fresh and earthy flavors with a surprising, but subtle chili pepper kick. The second, was what they called an Asparagus Mimosa — I like it already! Farm fresh asparagus tossed in a light dijon sauce and topped with radish shavings, served with an unexpected poached egg custard dusted with bottarga. Mustard is my favorite secret ingredient, so this punchy, peppery, creamy, salty combination is high on my list. For my entree, I went with our waiter’s recommendation and something I would not normally order — Roasted Duck. Served with a ginger cavatelli, rhubarb, and spring onions, I again was overwhelmed by the unique earthy flavors with a pleasantly surprising zest in each bite. As much as I truly enjoyed my dish, I admittedly had a bit of food envy when I tried a bite of the homemade gnocchi served with merguez sausage, spring peas and stinging nettles. Nettle what? Do not be afraid, nettles are a plant with toxic, stinging hairs, which are perfectly edible once cooked. I hope.

If all that complex flavor talk scares you {and it shouldn’t}, then check out their casual ‘Pies & Peronis’ Sunday night dinners — featuring a selection of Old World Style pizzas from the wood burning oven, served with a bucket of Peronis for $25. Sounds like a perfect diversion from the fast approaching Monday morning blues.

The Skim: Beyond the A+ atmosphere, the menu contributes some very unique, but simple, fresh flavor combinations that makes August worth coming back to…in May, June, July or any other month. {359 Bleeker Street btw Charles & West 10th}


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