Friday, April 29, 2011

V-note: 1522 First Ave, New York, NY

When V-note first opened in my neighborhood and I found out that it was the same owners as Blossom Cafe on the
UWS, I wasn't really all that interested in trying it. (See my review of Cafe Blossom Here:
When I saw a Groupon for $30 worth of food for $15, I decided that maybe it was worth a try after all. The decor was totally appealing with sexy black lacquer walls, white leather banquettes and modern throw pillows. I pass by frequently and often see good crowds dining there late in the evening.
My friend and I headed over for a late lunch today and were 1 of 2 full tables which ended up meaning really attentive service. Our waiter was friendly and made some great recommendations for us. Even though I didn't adore the burger at Blossom, I decided to give it another try here since it's still the most popular dish. Well, I am so glad that I have my 'try everything twice rule' because this time, I was completely blown away. The soy cheese was crispy on the outside, but gooey and melty inside. The soy burger and soy bacon were both hearty, earthy, and really delicious. The bacon had a shockingly 'real' crispness to it and could hardly tell the difference. How do they do that? The caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and chipotle aioli topped it off beautifully and even though I was stuffed after half, I managed to find room for another few bites. My friend got the sweet potato fries and I got the side salad and both were perfect accompaniments to the burger.
For dessert I just had to try the chocolate ganache cake with peanut butter. It was ridiculous. (Ridiculously good) I couldn't believe that something dairy free could be this rich. If I could afford to eat out everyday, I think I could really do the vegan thing after all. I'm so glad I gave this place a try and I will definitely be back with my veggie friends!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

and on a totally different topic...

My CD of original music called Blurt is officially released and available for sale on today! It will be up on Itunes and other digital download sites in a couple of days.
Buy it here!
Thanks for your support.
The more I sell, the more great restaurants I can afford to blog about!
What a win win situation.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chez Carey! Variations on Mom's Pasta and veggie dish.

My mom used to make something like this for me when I was a kid and It's still one of my favorite go-to dinners. Loaded with veggies, it's a great way to get a ton of nutrients in one meal. It's grown up slightly, with whole wheat penne and chopped peperoncini, but for the most part it's still a comfort food for me. This version is super healthy; using cooking spray instead of oil, way more veggies than pasta and just a finishing sprinkle of Parmesan. You can feel free to vary the veggies, but this is my favorite combo.
Prep all of your ingredients first. Cook the pasta while you do the following.
Spray a pan with cooking spray and saute some minced fresh garlic and shallots. Add mushrooms, carrots, brussels sprouts and yellow squash and continue sauteing, add in shredded radicchio and toss a couple of times. Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatos and chopped peperoncinis. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and half a cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally as the liquid evaporates. When the brussels sprouts are tender, add the drained pasta and toss. Top with shredded Parmesan and enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chez Carey! Mussels in light sauce. MmMMMmmmm

Fresh Direct was having a great sale on fresh mussels so I ordered some to make for dinner tonight. They came out perfectly. Light but very flavorful, super easy and fast to cook.  Here's the concept:
Scrub a lb of mussels and throw away any opened ones that don't close when you tap them. Heat up a little olive oil in a big cast iron skillet. Add some whole cloves of garlic (I used 6 cloves). Add some chopped grape tomatoes. Add some fresh or dried oregano. Saute that for a few minutes and then deglaze with a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Add about a cup of chicken broth and a half cup of white wine. Bring it to a boil, back down to a simmer and then cover with a lid for 5 minutes or
until the mussels are all opened.
I happened to have some sweet potato fries that I made a while ago in my freezer so I had those on the side with a lovely salad. It was pretty much a PERFECT dinner, and thanks to the sale at Fresh Direct, the whole thing cost me about $3.

Cafe 50 West: 50 W. 22nd st, NY. NY

I bought a 'Pay $25 for $50 worth of food/drinks' coupon online for this restaurant and asked my dining pal to meet me for lunch. When I arrived, there was literally no one there except 2 people eating sandwiches. No one at the bar. No one at the hostess stand. No one. I waited for about 5 minutes and eventually the adorable bartender came out to seat me. After finding out how bad he is at his job, his adorableness faded pretty quickly. Harsh? Yes, but also true. He offered me a taste of red wine while I waited for my friend, which I accepted happily. That was pretty much the end of his attentiveness. For the rest of the meal, we had to constantly remind him that we'd ordered a glass of wine, a cocktail, an appetizer or a cappuccino. He hung out behind the bar ignoring us and the 2 other tables that now had people at them, texting on his iphone like a 16 year old at the diner table.
It quickly became clear that this restaurant probably offered the 50% off coupon because they are in grave danger of going out of business. They were out of about 6 items on the menu and apparently, as our waiter informed us, that's very common.  We decided to share the sliders and the spinach/artichoke dip. The dip was actually surprisingly good, with big chunks of artichoke and not too much goo. The pita was fresh and warm and perfect to stuff with the dip. The sliders were 'eh'. Fine, but certainly not worth any real praise. When we asked about dessert, we were told all they had was apple pie which we passed up, but 5 minutes later the next table over had a chocolate mousse. Hmmm. Weird. Anyway, the best part of our meal was actually the cappuccino at the end. Maybe because it was really a good one, but more likely it was because it signified the end of a not very good meal. Without the coupon and plus tip, this would have cost us about $55. Given the whole experience however, it wasn't even worth the 50%.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parlor Steakhouse: 1600 3rd Ave. New york NY

 I've been meaning to try Parlor for a couple of years now and when my father asked me to pick the meeting spot for a family dinner, it was the perfect opportunity to finally try it.
On the corner of E. 90th and 3rd ave, an area that is mostly tiny asian places and pizza joints, It has quite a presence to it. It's business/casual with an ever-so-slightly funky edge to it- a little different that most of the uber-masculine steakhouse that speckle the city. In warm weather, they round the corner with tons of outdoor seating. We had asked for a quiet spot, but once we got there realized there was really no such thing. It was totally jam-packed with a typical UES crowd on a Monday night. I'd imagine a weekend dinner requires a reservation.
 They have a 3 course prix fix for $35 which was totally reasonable and had plenty of choices that sounded great. As is typical for me after a winter of running half the mileage that I do in warmer months, I'm trying to get a few lbs off that have crept on so I ordered healthy choices. I do, however, follow a strict 'everything in moderation' theory and budgeted my calories/fat with my entree and app so that I could save some room for the fresh baked cookies dessert. I usually don't do things like not-ordering-steak at a steakhouse, but I did make sure to taste off the plates of those who did. My brother's cheeseburger was especially noteworthy, as were the needle thin crispy onions that came with it.
I started with the baby greens salad with beets and radishes and thought the uncut lettuce leaves were kind of annoying. If they are truly baby greens, wouldn't they be tiny leaves? I think this was really just butter lettuce. Adult butter lettuce. I also felt that 3 square centimeters of beet are hardly enough to get that ingredient highlighted in the description. It was fine though, just nothing noteworthy.
Next I had the garlic crusted salmon over spring peas/lentils with a horseradish sauce. I asked them to prepare it with minimal fat/butter and made a note to myself to take that into consideration when I went to write my review. I have to say, there was no compromise at all. This was a really outstanding piece of fish, cooked perfectly with a crisp topping and a slightly raw center- exactly the way I like it. The fresh vegetables underneath were cooked al dente, lightly seasoned and tasted of the season that we are supposedly in the middle of.
For dessert, a plate of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies were totally charming, but I kind of wish I had taken them home to enjoy at midnight with a glass of cold milk.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend Parlor to others. Knowing myself, I'll be too busy trying the zillion other awesome restaurants in this city to find time to return to this one...but ya never know. Once I'm back down the 3-5 lbs I want to lose, you might find me there chowing down on my own cheeseburger.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011