August 27, 2012

Apertif: Birthday Dinner 2012

This year's birthday was very low key, and lovely! I stayed in Long Island with ABF, and we went to a place near his home, Apertif. My friend CJ had a very nice first date there and spoke well of it, and I do love all zings Fraynch!

The decor was a favorite of mine--dark wood, rich red (without being brothel-y), images of Paris all over the place. Lovely!

They have an impressively interesting and delightfully affordable wine list. ABF ordered their house Merlot, which was delicious. I went with the Old World flight, which had reds from Spain (Garnacha grape), France (Grenache/Syrah blend) and Italy (Sangiovese/Cabernet/Merlot blend). These were a little... chewy..? for me...on their own. Got much more delicious with the food, but next time I think I'd start with a glass of a house red. I'm no wine aficionado--I think I was out of my league with this flight--but it was still fun to try different types.
I'd heard great things about the roasted beet salad. Those things were true. Succulent beets, tangy, soft goat cheese, and pine nuts for a little crunch amidst the arugula. Sensational. A drizzle of rich, 25-year aged balsamic vinegar was the perfect finish.
Shame on me for never making this at home!
ABF started with their special soup that day-- cream of wild mushroom, sprinkled with some shredded Gruyere cheese. This was impressive, even to me, She Who Fears Fungi!

My entrée: Fricasseed scallops over a butternut squash purée with leeks. I'm not a huge leeks fan, but the scallops were out of this world perfectly cooked, a little savory crust on the outside. The cream sauce with the touch of truffle? NOMANOMNOM! So outrageously wonderful. Happy Birthday to my MOUTH!

ABF's dish: Poulet Farci (Persian Chicken)-- chicken breast stuffed with spinach and cheese, set nicely on a sauce infused with Chardonnay and dates. This chicken was shut your mouth good. The mashed potatoes were just okay, but the chicken was supremely delicious and juicy.

There was a coffee creme brulée I really wanted to try for dessert, but we were both surprisingly stuffed--and happily so. Perhaps next time-- and I think we'll snag one of those cute small booths in the bar area. Excellent service, a wine list that wows, and fabulous food--let's go this weekend, ABF!


242 Sunrise Highway

Rockville Centre, NY 11570

(516) 594-3404

August 15, 2012

Dosas in SoHo: Hampton Chutney Company

I got caught up in commuting chaos yesterday, and once again, ABF came to my rescue. He met me halfway in SoHo as I went above ground (since the trains weren't going in OR out of Brooklyn anytime soon). He noticed that I was flagging a bit, so we walked a short block over to Hampton Chutney Company, right near the Prince street N/R subway stop. The 3-store company first started in Amangansett (in the Hamptons), and now has two locations in NYC, in Soho and the Upper West Side.

It had been years since I'd eaten here, but knowing ABF's penchant for Indian cuisine, I thought he'd get a kick out of it. HCC is famous for their dosas, a soft, crepe-like wrap made from rice (so it's gluten-free, FYI!) We snagged the bench seat in the front and I ordered 2 dosas, an iced chai for me, and a hot cardamom coffee for ABF.

I'd forgotten how big these things are-- we could easily have split one. Note for next time. I had the #10 dosa, with chicken, potato masala and spinach. Deeeelicious. I love those spicy potatoes!

Each one comes with a free chutney-- cilantro for ABF (we both love cilantro) and mango for me (I love mango, ABF not so much)

ABF had the #10 dosa with roasted peppers, onions & arugula. While he thought the sandwich was good, he loved the cilantro chutney most of all. The #10 was tasty, but we both much preferred the #8 (aka mine!) Has my order envy come to an end? Well, not completely. While I love the iced chai at HCC, ABF's cardamom coffee was out of this world. I'll have to try that on ice next time.

Those dosas can be tricky to handle, so I usually just go at them with a knife and fork. If you're wanting something more mainstream, you can also try their sandwiches and other entrées. Everything is fresh, light, won't weigh you down, and the extra-friendly, welcoming service is great, too! A big thank you again to my Awesome BoyFriend (ABF), for rescuing me from commuting chaos and helping me get back on track in mind, spirit, and stomach! I know this place won't replace his love for Chicken Korma and other heavier Indian dishes, but now we both have a new love for cardamom coffee, and I'm glad he's a good sport to try new things with me...and rescue me when the MTA seems bound & determined to make me cry. Yay, ABF, my hero! :)

Hampton Chutney Co

68 Prince Street

New York, NY

(212) 226-9996

(see their website for other locations/info)

August 14, 2012

Bourbon & Brunch: Char No. 4

I met up in Brooklyn with Sara (of NYC Nom Nom) and her fiancé (that's right! Engaged! Congrats and Mazels all around!) Mike--after some wandering we stopped for lunch at Char No 4, recommended by one of Sara's friends. Char is in one of my favorite Brooklyn 'hoods, Cobble Hill. It's a great place to walk around, barhop, restaurant-stroll, you name it.
The entrance is a bit nondescript, but the wall of bourbons inside is most certainly not! Bourbon is a main claim to fame here, so we each tried a drink accordingly:
Sara had a Noreaster (on the right): Ginger beer, lime, maple syrup. Quite lovely! Mike had the bloody mary, which came with a slice of pickle and a hefty dose of heat, which tickled and prickled nicely long after your sip.

Mine was the Bourbon Bonnet, with fresh pineapple juice, habanero peppers, cherries, and a bit of brown sugar. YES. I wish I had another one of these right now-- sweet/sour and so refreshing!

I was also impressed, yes, I said it, with the ice cubes---they're pretty striking all on their own!

We shared an appetizer for the table: smoky, deep-fried pork nuggets. These were tasty on the first bite, but one was plenty for me. PS: That hot sauce is no JOKE, son.

I'd had some eggs already that morning, so I opted for a lunchier option: their pulled pork sandwich, which came with baked beans and pickled veggies on the side.

I don't know if I've ever had a more melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork. Wow.

The beans were also delicious, not sweet, and everything on that plate was even better that night (I had half the dish at lunch, half for dinner).

Mike's dish was impressive looking-- poached eggs over a giant biscuit that was more the size of a serious Belgian waffle. He generously let me try a bite and damn, that was a good biscuit.
Sara went for a breakfast sampler dish: it came with a poached egg, cornbread, ham, home fries, and cheese grits. I am not a grits person, but I had at LEAST 2 bites of these. Mmmm cheesy. The home fries were tasty, not greasy at all.

Everything was great. The food, the service, the prices. Our server went above and beyond in making sure none of the dishes contained peppers (Sara's allergic), and even made sure she knew Mike's & my drinks were spicy and she shouldn't sample them. I loved our experience at Char No 4 and will happily return for more bourbon & brunch!
Char No 4

196 Smith Street

Brooklyn, NY 11201

(718) 643-2106

August 09, 2012

Hinsch's is Back!

I posted last fall (amidst my London/Amsterdam posts) that Bay Ridge favorite Hinsch's was closing. That was true, for the moment. Weeks later, the shop REOPENED (I do feel a little toyed with, I'll admit it) for a new and improved version-- not only does the new Hinsch's offer free wi-fi, but they are now open late for dinner!

First things first--how is breakfast? Well now they offer fancier 'brunchy' options, so I gave the Eggs Benedict a whirl. Very good, but one of my eggs was overcooked. Kel encouraged me to send it back, something I have done perhaps twice in my life. Normally I wouldn't say anything, but the manager came over at just the right moment and saw the hardboiled yolk. 2 minutes later, I had a second, perfectly-poached egg. Much better! The sauce was good, English muffins perfectly toasted, and the fruit kabob was a nice touch.

My dish also came with a free OJ. Granted, it's literally a shot glass worth, but that's about all I need anyway. It is definitely fresh-squeezed, too!

Kel got her usual-- 2 eggs over easy, cheese fries and crispy bacon. Everything was perfectly cooked and she was quite happy.

A few weeks later, we tried them out for dinner seeing as, up until now, the only meals we've ever tried were their breakfasts or their burgers (both delicious).

It was around 8:30, late dinner for us, so we were one of only a few tables that night. The dinner menu is even more expansive than the old menu, which is saying something. It took me a while to make up my mind, but I settled on the spinach salad with crispy bacon, hard-boiled egg, mushrooms, and a lemon vinaigrette. I added some grilled shrimp for extra protein.

It wasn't just good, it was GREAT. I ate almost every bite (except for those still-kinda-creepy mushrooms) and will be re-creating this lemon vinaigrette at home. Tart AND mellow at the same time, no sicky-sweetness to it. Excelsior!

Kel ordered the cheese quesadilla, which was impressively large (easily enough for 2-3 people to share as an app, 2 people for an entree). It came with pickled jalapenos, sour cream, and guac. Good, but not anywhere near my salad's awesomeness.

Of course we split a Hinsch's famous sundae for dessert. One scoop of vanilla ice cream, one scoop of chocolate, and marshmallow topping. So good!!


8518 5th Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11209

(718) 748-2854

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...