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The Dutch, Soho, Crumbs Bakery, NYC

It was our last evening in NYC, ‘The Mother’ and I thought we would catch up with an old friend of his, F. I have heard wonderful things about The Dutch, voted as one of the top 10 restaurants in 2011 in NYC so suggested this place.

Located in Soho, the Dutch is one of the newest downtown hotspot. Andrew Carnellini, Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom are behind it and they opened a second location, Locanda Verde, in Miami Beach. Can’t believe I didn’t realise this at the time, could have definitely checked it out! I have heard that getting a reservation here is a complete nightmare! But thankfully, we were having an early dinner as F was going to play squash later that evening so getting a reservation was no trouble at all!

Very modern classic interior, the dining room was buzzing and extremely dark. The menu quite simple, I am sure there is something for everyone, poultry, pork, steak and even pasta and salad. I have heard about the famous fried chicken, but no one wanted entrée, in hindsight I should have just ordered it and ate it myself! There is even an oyster bar, it has been so long since I had a fresh oyster and have been craving for some.

We started with complimentary corn bread, fresh from the oven, it was warm and as much as I love good corn bread, this was a little bland. Shame!

Believe it or not, even on our third day in NYC, ‘The Mother’ was still feeling a little queasy, so opted for something simple and ordered the five-grain salad, beets, cherries, blue cheese (USD15). Unfortunately it wasn’t as ‘simple’ as he had hoped, it was a little rich for his liking. However, I enjoyed it, everything was fresh and although a little rich was definitely tasty.

F opt for spaghetti, black kale carbonara, farm egg (USD19) – I didn’t have any of this, but he seemed to have enjoyed it, demolished it in fact!

I couldn’t go past the pork (of course!) – grilled pork chop, baked beans and vinegared turnips (US34). OMG was my first reaction – it was definitely a GENEROUS and large serving. The pork cutlet was thick, but it was incredibly tender and succulent, and the baked beans were a wonderful complement. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish all of this, it was just way too big but it was great!

We also got a serve of housemade fries (USD9), which was indeed a generous serving. Crispy and delicious!

Unfortunately we were too full for dessert, I for one was stuffed! Service was very friendly and food came out in a reasonably short time. Would definitely like to come back and try their other dishes, and perhaps something from the oyster bar.

It was lovely to catch up with F, and ‘The Mother’ and I certainly had a wonderful time in NYC, albeit short.

Earlier that day, I bought some cupcakes from Crumbs bakery, I have been craving for a red velvet cupcake, and I remember going to Magnolia on my last visit and was highly disappointed!

Crumbs bake shop first opened in March 2003, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan by Mia and Jason Bauer. There are five different stores in NYC, and I went to the one on Madison Avenue during my lunch break. It’s a small store but so many cupcakes on offer that it took me a few minutes to decide. I knew that I had to get the red velvet cupcake, and got an oreo cupcake for ‘The Mother’.

WOW – the red velvet cupcake was scrumptiously good, it was incredibly moist and fluffy! I couldn’t stop eating it, gave ‘The Mother’ a small bite and the rest I devoured in seconds. I could have definitely have eaten another, and I am not sure why I didn’t buy more. I am craving some more now and I know I am never going to be able to get or taste anything quite like it! It’s not a pretty cupcake, ugly to be honest but it’s not about the looks – it was absolutely fantastic!

The oreo cupcake was good but not as good as the red velvet.

Another cupcake store I went too was Baked by Melissa – three different store location, I stumbled across one on my last visit in Soho and happened to be around there this time round so couldn’t resist. The cupcakes are tiny, bite size but they were great and can be eaten whilst walking and roaming around the shops – which we did, hence no pictures.

You can see the range of flavours here, but my favourite is definitely the smores, mint choc chip and although the red velvet is good, the best is still from crumbs I say. Yes, I am appalled that I ate all three whilst we were walking around Soho.

Even though I thought the weather was cold in NYC, I was told that it was a very mild winter. We had a lot of sunshine, except for our last day where it rained but I wasn’t too fussed, as we were off to Miami for some warm weather. Didn’t shop as much as I had hoped, did buy a few things, ate well considering and even managed to go to Per Se and Daniel with clients. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos, didn’t think it was appropriate.

I won’t go into details, my first visit to Per Se was a little disappointing (three years ago now), as I had high expectations and it didn’t live up to it. This time though, I had very low expectations. I really wanted to do the Chef’s tasting menu but it had a lot of seafood and raw stuff that it was just too hard. So had the vegetarian tasting menu and I was pleasantly surprised. Ten courses, each course was lovely and tasty. Definitely better the second time for sure.

Now Daniel, we didn’t have the tasting menu, we had a la carte which suited me fine. After my ten course meal at Per Se, I really couldn’t stomach another tasting menu back to back. From memory, I had the frog legs for entrée, and mains the suckling pig of course! Both were great, and I would definitely recommend coming here. Even though it was ‘work’ I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Will definitely take ‘The Mother’ here next time!

Service for both restaurant was definitely excellent!

Farewell NYC, I am missing you already! However, next stop.. MIAMI!

GA’s rating: THE DUTCH: 7.5 / 10

131 Sullivan Street

New York, NY 10012

USA

Ph: +1 (212) 677 6200

The Dutch on Urbanspoon

GA’s rating: Crumbs Bakery: 8 / 10

501 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10022

USA

Ph: +1 (212) 750 0515

Crumbs Bake Shop (Madison/52nd) on Urbanspoon

GA’s rating: Baked by Melissa: 7 / 10

529 Broadway (Soho)

New York, NY, 10012

USA

Ph: +1 (212) 842 0220

Baked by Melissa on Urbanspoon

Shake Shack, New York

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to visit Shake Shack! I have been to NYC a few times now but didn’t visit Shake Shack until this trip. I know our first visit, I was on the hunt for the best bagel so my focus was just on bagels. Second visit, we had been to Chicago, and LA eating lots of burgers that by the time I got to NYC I couldn’t look at another burger. The third time, it was such a short visit that it didn’t even occur to me, so this time round, I had to make sure that I visit the place.

It has been compared to in-n-out burgers which can only be found on the West Coast of US. I LOVED the burger at in-n-out, it was simple and tasty, and even the menu was simple and easy to read. I think ‘The Mother’ and I went here three times to get our cheeseburger fix!

Now Shake Shack opened in Madison Square Park in 2004 and became very popular. It has locations in New York, Miami, Washington, Westport, Saratoga Springs and Middle East. In New York alone, it has seven different locations. You can even go on the Shack Cam to see if they are busy or not! COOL!

‘The Mother’ and I came here after we watched a very exciting but violent game of NHL. It wasn’t as violent as I had anticipated but it was definitely fun.

We both couldn’t go past the single ShackBurger ($4.55) – American cheese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce.

Oh my, soft bun, tender and succulent meat pattie, this burger was good! So good that I asked ‘The Mother’ if we could come back the next day for a little snack! The burger was just the right size, it wasn’t too big, and it didn’t have a lot of stuff. Simple burgers are usually the BEST burgers I think! I haven’t had a good burger since my last visit at Lotus – unfortunately they have closed so I am uber gutted!

We shared a serving of cheese fries ($3.65) – crinkle cut topped with Shack Cheddar and American cream sauce. I love crinkle cut fries so this was excellent, it was crunchy and soft pillowy at the same time. Excellent fries I say!

I ordered their fair shake ($5.50) – the most expensive thing I ordered, vanilla shake spun with 100% certified organic Arabia fairly traded coffee. It was good but not my favourite I thought, it was a little bit on the sweet side for my liking.

‘The Mother’ ordered the Arnold Palmer ($2.15) – half lemonade, half iced tea. I thought it sounded weird at first, but it was definitely refreshing. ‘The Mother’ thought it could be sweeter, but thought it was perfect for me. It had a little bit of fizz and it went down extremely nicely!

‘The Mother’ and I did come back for a late night snack, the Madison Square Park closes at 11pm so we rocked up at 10.45pm for a burger fix, after our early dinner. Disgusting I know but I really needed one last burger fix before we left NYC.

Eating in the cold isn’t ideal, but thankfully they had heaters and we sat right underneath one. The burgers are fantastic, compared with in-n-out? It’s been a while since I had in-n-out burger so it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. But I do remember loving it, but I think Shake Shack would have to be a little bit better. Regardless, AWESOME awesome burger! If only they had one in Australia!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)

11 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10010

Ph: +1 212 889 6600

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park) on Urbanspoon

ABC Kitchen, New York, USA

I made a promise a dear friend, T, that I must visit the ABC Kitchen whilst I was in NYC. ABC Kitchen is tucked away in the back of ABC Carpet and Home, furniture, carpet store and everything else for your home.

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Phil Suarez co-created ABC Kitchen, menu changes regularly and not only is the food sourced locally and sustainably but so are the decors. The tables and chairs, the porcelain ware and baskets are all handmade.

The place was buzzing when we rocked up at 2pm on Sunday, and were told there was a 25 minutes wait. We were happy to put our name down and walk around the neighbourhood which we did.

I love the décor, the sleek glass-top bar, the main dining room was impressive, and although we didn’t get to sit there, it looked quite sleek and comfortable. We sat near the bar, on high chairs and tables, which suited us fine.

The drinks menu was extensive, ranging from beers to organic cocktails, to organic sake and many more. The non-alcoholic options were just as inventive. I couldn’t help but order a non-alcoholic from memory it was strawberry and lime soda which was absolutely refreshing.

Started with bread, it wasn’t toasted but you could tell it was baked early that day and was served with some olive oil.

‘The Mother’ was still feeling queasy and unwell, so he didn’t eat much. He ordered a plate of fresh fruits ($9) – a plate of pear, oranges, apples and grapefruit. It looked rather depressing, considering I ordered something extremely yummy, but he knew he couldn’t stomach anything much.

I wanted something more substantial, house made ricotta ravioli with herbs and tomato sauce ($23). Six perfectly shaped ricotta filled with ravioli, oh my, they were absolutely delicious. The tomato sauce was a little sour but I totally enjoyed it! I couldn’t help but scrape the rest of the tomato sauce with bread. ‘The Mother’ asked whether or not I was going to lick the bowl, if the waiter hadn’t taken the plate away, I may just!

I have heard wonderful things about their sundae – salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, whipped cream and chocolate sauce! It sounded divine but I knew I would have to finish this all on my own as ‘The Mother’ was not going to have any. I didn’t want to waste the sundae so opt for the seasonal glazed donuts ($10).

Two donuts, chocolate and lemon with herbs, the chocolate donut had my name on it. It was good, seriously good that I could have definitely eaten two of them. I didn’t feel like eating the lemon so took that one home.

I saw other diners having the pizza and salad and it really looked divine! It was a shame that ‘The Mother’ was feeling queasy, I really wanted to try their other dishes. I was tempted to order the akaushi cheeseburger with herbed mayo and pickled jalapenos but it was the ravioli that won me over.

Really enjoyed my meal and no doubt I will be back later again this year when I am in NYC! Definitely worth checking out if you have never been.

Thanks again T for the recommendation!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

ABC Kitchen

35 E 18th Street

New York, NY 1003

Ph: +1 212 475 5829

ABC Kitchen on Urbanspoon

NYC and Ess-a-Bagel

A whirl wind work trip led me to Hong Kong, New York and down to Miami. I have never been to Miami so was uber excited and keen to go. ‘The Mother’ tagged along like a handbag and since we were in the US anyway, thought we would swing by Hawaii to catch up with one of his oldest friends, Lobster Dynamite.

I have been very fortunate to go to NYC a few times now, and no doubt there will be more visits in the coming years. I really do love the city. I was hoping to have most of the weekend in NYC, however, ‘The Mother’ got food poisoning on our last night in Hong Kong. Not quite sure what he ate, he didn’t eat at any hawker stalls, it was a proper restaurant he claimed. We were supposed to fly early on Saturday morning, and get to NYC around about midday, and I would have at least 1.5 days to shop and eat. Alas, that idea fell through, and we flew that evening, and arriving in NYC at about 8pm. I was gutted, but I knew I couldn’t leave ‘The Mother’ all alone – he looked as though he was dying – moaning and groaning but thankfully he got over the sickness quite quickly and we were heading to NYC!

We didn’t do much that evening, checked in, roamed around the city for a bit, it was COLD! Colder than I had anticipated, ‘The Mother’ didn’t bring enough clothes but he was ok with it, he wanted to shop anyway – his luggage only weighed 11 kgs!!!! Mine was double that – clearly I don’t know how to pack light.

Our first breakfast in NYC was no doubt a bagel! I have been looking forward to having a bagel since I found out I was going. Two jet lagged couple got up at about 5 am and was ready for our first meal of the day! ‘The Mother’ was hungry as he hasn’t eaten for at least 36 hours! There are so many bagel eateries in NYC, but after much google-ing and research-ing, we decided to go too Ess-a-bagel.

I could smell the fresh baked bagel as soon as we entered. Different types of bagels on offer, I was confused but excited at the same time, like a child in a candy store.

If you thought choosing which type of bagel you wanted was difficult, the next task was which cream cheese you want – so many different types! I didn’t think there would be that many different types of cream cheese.

‘The Mother’ was hungry (or so he claimed) and ordered three bagels between the two of us – plain, sesame, and poppy and plain, olive, and blueberry cream cheese to be put in each of the bagels. We weren’t fussed so told the guy to ‘surprise’ us. The plain cream cheese bagel…

I love blueberry and couldn’t wait to try the blueberry cream cheese bagel. It was a little sweeter than normal, but it was good. The bagel itself was of course excellent, we had it toasted to give it that extra crunch.

I didn’t think I would enjoy the olive cream cheese, thought it would be too salty but boy was I wrong! It was probably my favourite out of the three.

Unfortunately, we didn’t finish all the bagel – ‘The Mother’ wasn’t as hungry as he thought, he was still feeling queasy which was not good! But was glad he got his NY bagel!

The lines were long by the time we left, which was about 7.30 – 8am, but it does move rather quickly. No doubt we had a bagel from this place every single morning we were in NY! Probably OD’ed on bagels but seriously, we don’t get bagels like this in Sydney! TOTALLY worth it!

PS: you can even order and get it delivered! The thought did cross our minds a couple of times, but thought that would just be lazy! Next time we will though!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Ess-a-Bagel

831 3rd Avenue Street

New York, NY 10022

Ph: +1 212 980 1010

Ess-a-Bagel on Urbanspoon

Two meals I really enjoyed whilst in New York

I love New York and I have dreamt about living there for a while now. Not sure why we haven’t really pursued it, but I have been fortunate enough to come to New York several times now – for holidays with Hubby. There is something about New York that I love… the city, the people, the atmosphere, and of course the FOOD!!!!

I went to New York last year with Hubby and back then I didn’t have a food blog. We ate a LOT in New York but two places really stood out and worth mentioning (i.e. blogging!) are Babbo, and L’Ecole.

Babbo was highly recommended by a couple of friends, and it’s supposedly one of the best Italian restaurants in the city! I was told to book weeks in advance, however, if you do rock up there is a chance that you might be able to sit at the bar. We thought we would take our chances and just rock up, and we were extremely lucky as there were seats available at the bar. The place was buzzing and unbelievably busy!

The menu is quite intensive. Like your typical Italian restaurant the menu consisted of antipasti, primi, secondi, contorni, tasting menus and dolci e formaggi. We went straight for the secondi – can’t remember why we didn’t get any entrées to share!

I ordered the rabbit with peas, babbo pancetta and carrot vinaigrette. I have never tasted rabbit before so thought this would be a nice… and indeed this was more than just ‘nice’. The rabbit was tender and tasted like chicken!! It was wrapped with pancetta which was baked and mixed with peas. The combination of the salty pancetta and rabbit really balanced out. The carrot vinaigrette really gave it a nice touch!

From memory, hubby ordered the special of the day which was soft shell crab served with peppers and vinaigrette. Hubby is a sucker for soft shell crab – there were no guessing what he was going to order once he heard it was the special of the day! I am not usually a fan of soft shell crabs as it can get extremely oily but this was pleasant – the crab was lightly battered and tender, and it wasn’t oily at all. It was surprisingly light and tasty!

For dessert, we shared the pistachio and chocolate semifreddo. This was TOO DIE FOR! The chocolate semifreddo had a nice crunchy chocolate base, and the pistachio was a great compliment to the semifreddo. It was unbelievably sweet but not sickly and was perfect with a cup of coffee!

We had a great meal here and would definitely come again. Make sure you make a booking if you want to be seated at the table, however, if you are not fussed like us, the bar was just as good! The service was fantastic and waiters tentative!

Another place that was memorable is L’Ecole – the French Culinary Institute’s Classic Culinary Arts Career Program (now that’s a mouthful!). Apparently, behind every meal at L’Ecole is the passion and dedication of over 60 Chef-Instructors and students from every corner of the school. This place was remarkably fantastic and at a reasonable price!

We came here with one of Hubby’s colleague and his partner. The dinner menu consisted of four-course or five-course prix fixe or the Chef’s classic menu. We all opted for the five-course prix fixe and for each of the courses i.e. appetizers, fish course, meat course, and dessert there were 5 – 6 options! The range was intensive and I was utterly amazed at the options of food! It took me a good 15 mins to decide what I want, everything sound absolutely fantastic!

For the appetizers, I ordered cold poached salmon with cucumber salad, whitefish roe and smoked leek vinaigrette. The salmon was soft and delightful, the whitefish roe was a great compliment to the salmon and the smoked leek vinaigrette was flavoursome! The different flavours really worked well together. It was a very light yet incredibly tasty meal.

Hubby had the duck consommé with poached duck egg. This was served warm and it was utterly amazing. The duck consommé was full of flavour and the poached duck egg was absolutely divine.

For the fish course, I had the sautéed monkfish with pickled cherry tomatoes. The monkfish was tender and moist, it was cooked to perfection. The sauce was flavoursome and the cherry tomatoes and spinach really gave it a nice touch.

I had the duck breast and leg with kale and sweet and sour sauce. This was also amazing! The duck was succulent! I thought the sweet and sour sauce would be weird with duck but I was pleasantly surprised! It was really great, and the baked potato was fantastic.

Every time I see tiramisu on the dessert menu, I can’t go past it. So without really perusing at what else was on the menu, I ordered the tiramisu. The tiramisu was light, it came in a dome with white chocolate on the outside. It was a little sweet for my liking but it was still yummy.

I didn’t take a photo of what the others ate – it was just too hard! They were all hungry and started eating as soon at the plate was in front of them. *sigh* We were all extremely happy with the meal though. The food was just simply divine – dish after dish was better than the last! Service was fantastic, our wine and water glasses never went below half. It was definitely worth every penny and we all had a wonderful time and a memorable meal! Will definitely return next time we are in New York.

GA’s ratings Babbo: 8 / 10

GA’s ratings L’Ecole: 8.5 / 10

Babbo Restaurant

110 Waverly Place

New York, 1011, USA

Ph: +1 212 777 0303

Babbo on Urbanspoon

Le’cole, French Cullinary

436 Broadway (at Grand Street)

New York 10013, USA

Ph: +1 212 219 3300