Tag Archives: artichokes

General Assembly

24 Mar

We had spent the beautiful, 60 degree day walking all around NYC.  We walked down the High Line, across to Union Square, wandered our way up to a meeting with our mortgage broker, and then popped into Eater’s Heat Map to see if we could find a fun place to have dinner near Midtown East.  No less than 30 minutes, we were walking in to the very new General Assembly, which opened earlier this month.

It was ringing a bell in my brain, but I couldn’t place it until I saw the Quality Meats card on the host desk and realized that both restaurants are from the great restaurant group, Fourth Wall (also of Smith & Wollensky fame).


The space has a great aesthetic, with a lot of light woods, white walls, and very well placed mirrors.


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A cute private room downstairs.



And their logo stamped on their butcher paper table covers and all tableware.  (I like a good logo branding job… it’s the advertising part of my brain… what can I say).


Right after we ordered, beautiful warm parker house rolls were served with a basil-like crunch and salt on top and nicely warm butter.  A great start to the meal.


Our drinks arrived moments later, including a great cocktail called Hop Scotch On the Rocks — Blended Scotch Whisky & Homemade Citra Hop Infused Honey. (Loved it)


And Mike got a Geary’s beer, from Maine, one of our favorite stops in Portland.


We started with an appetizer of gnocchi & Viking Village Scallops with a bacon beurre blanc sauce.  Holy smokes! This was insanely good.  Crazy good. Certifiably ridiculous.  The scallops were sweet and perfectly cooked, cut to the same size as the pillowy gnocchi with bacony bits and (I think) fried potato skins for crunch and chives on top.  The sauce was just so damn good.  Buttery and a bit tart and bacony and just… damn…

It was also a good portion for an app (could make for an entree, really, if you wanted something a bit on the smaller side).


For his entree, Mike got the steak frites, which came with either Colorado lamb or Creekstone beef.  Mike chose the lamb and it was a very good choice.  The fries were nicely crisped and flavorful, and the steak had a beautiful char and hotel butter on top, with a lamby goodness that was hard to beat.




I went with the Hudson Valley duck confit with gingered kumquats & apricots.


It had a very nice crispness to the skin and I really loved the gingered, candied apricots and kumquats with it. Mike wasn’t as big a fan, but I’m the duck confit person, and I thought it was great.


For sides, the Quality Meats superstar was on the menu: Corn Creme Brulee.  It was as good as I remembered it from our last meal.  I really love this side!


We also tried the crispy artichokes with malt vinegar aioli. I really enjoyed the fry on this, since it was light but added a great crispy. And the crisped basil on top with the aioli made for nice foils to the fry.


Unfortunately, we were really full by the end, so we were not able to take part in the desserts, which included a tray of custom, fun sounding eclairs.


We strolled home and it was a perfect moment of dusk which made the city look even more beautiful than it usually does.




A great way to end a great day. (I freakin’ love this city)


Overall, our meal was really fantastic.  From start to finish, there were items that were really good and then a few that were absolutely great.  That scallops appetizer alone is worth the trip to midtown.  It’s pretty close to my office, and I’m thrilled to have a great place to go for nice lunches.  The service was also attentive and speedy, without feeling rushed.  Totally worth checking out.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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Restaurant Week Summer 2013: Kutsher’s TriBeCa

3 Aug

We went to Kutsher’s TriBeCa when it first opened and had a pretty good meal with pretty lousy service.  Looking back on our last meal, a lot has certainly changed in the food, and our service this time around had no faults (and was actually quite lovely with a friendly waitress).

The space fits well in TriBeCa with a modern, industrial look.




The restaurant was not busy at all, but it was a Tuesday night.


The menu is quite large, but the Restaurant Week menu, while limited, had a good selection from around the big menu.


I saw that they had homemade Apple Pie soda on the menu and had to try it. Sure enough, it tasted like apple pie you can drink.  I really enjoyed this.  (Mike wound up making up his own drink by combining this with bourbon. It was awesome).


One of our friends started with the wild Alaskan cod gefilte fish. Gefilte fish is something typically relegated to Passover dinners where kids turn their noses up at it with exclamations of “ewwww” while many adults secretly can’t wait for Passover to come again just to have a reason to eat it. Gefilte fish is typically described as a fish cake, but that really doesn’t explain it at all. It’s a wet lump of fish parts, basically.  It took me years to even agree to try it again, and now I actually enjoy it.  But not more than once a year.

ANYWAY… back to our meal.  The combination of the gefilte fish with beets was nice, but the horseradish (typically served with gefilte fish) was a bit much for me. I’m really not a fan of horseradish, however, and everyone else enjoyed it.



I got the latkes, which last time were only fair.  Comparing this to the picture from last time shows VAST improvements.  These were crispy and the bits of potato that were hanging off reminded me of potato sticks.  Last time they were a bit soggy whereas this time they were crisped up nicely with a great potato mixture inside.  The apple sauce on the side was also thick and nicely flavored.  I wish the sour cream was a bit more sour, but it was still good.



Mike ordered off the Restaurant Week menu to get the crispy artichokes because he knows I absolutely love artichokes.  Last time, we LOVED this dish.  This time, it was pretty good but not as great as last time.  The crispy parsley was missing and the artichokes didn’t have enough crisp. But I never would have faulted this dish had it not been so outstanding last time.


Both of our friends got the salmon off the Restaurant Week menu.  They both enjoyed this very much.


I got the brisket off the Restaurant Week menu.  I was having some camera trouble and it looks like I somehow failed to save a picture of it!  (Damn)  It came over a BBQ sauce that was quite good and the meat was flavorful without being overly fatty.  I have a problem where all brisket is compared to my grandmother’s brisket, which means all brisket is fair at best.

Mike went off the Restaurant Week menu to get the burger.


This came with a fried onion ring filled with cole slaw on top of a cheeseburger and latkes on the side.  It was a bit big once the onion ring was on top, but he said it was a nice juicy burger.



We also got some matzo crusted onion rings on the side.  These were well seasoned and the matzo crunch was nice.



For dessert, our friend got the coconut cake which he loved so much he refused to share it (just kidding, he offered, but not convincingly).


And I got the rainbow cookie ice cream cake. I loved this in theory, but it was missing the signature almond flavor that make rainbow cookies so good.  The ice cream inside was also a bit lacking in flavor.  It would have been nice if this had been strongly almond flavored to bring it all together.


One nice thing that Kutsher’s TriBeCa did is give out a “Dine Again Card.” This was the first time I’ve seen this, but it was a nice touch and really brings the entire purpose (in my opinion) of Restaurant Week full circle.  The goal is to get you to try a new place (or try a place again that was so-so in the past to give it a second shot) with the hope that you will come back.  Why not give people a reason to?


As far as Restaurant Week goes, I wouldn’t say this was my favorite meal. But I think it was a good value for what we got and I’m glad we got to try it again and see that the kinks have been ironed out (at least on a Tuesday night).  I enjoyed it and would happily return (especially for free latkes!)  This is the perfect place to bring the family when they’re in town. A little fancy, but a little bit of home and what we all grew up on.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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Grand Opening: Tavola

30 Sep

We lived around the corner from a pretty infamous place: Manganaro’s. There were 2 restaurants: Manganaro’s Hero Boy and (the late) Manganaro’s Grosseria.  They were side by side and the grocery displayed a sign very specifically stating that they had no affiliation with Hero Boy next door.  It was a very long family feud and the restaurants had both been there for over a hundred years. Anthony Bourdain had famously lived in an apartment above these restaurants before he made it big. He even featured them on a show a few years back.

I ate there once, and they had a group of Italian ladies fighting and cursing pretty constantly in the background, while cranking out awesome old fashioned Italian food that they served on floppy paper plates.  

But then, they closed. After all those years.

A new restaurant quickly started going in, and last week, the NY Times featured this new restaurant, Tavola, in an article.  Tavola opened on Friday (or thereabouts) and we went for a late night dinner.

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The menu is full of the classics.

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And they kept many pieces of the Grosseria as it was, giving it a bit of flashback to days gone by.

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They kept the old ceilings.

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And the very pretty old sky light in the back.

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They built a brand new oven that was quite beautiful.

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And they are doing their pizzas in this wood burning oven.

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It is a good mix of new and old, and it was instantly comfortable.  Even though it just opened, by keeping a lot of the old design, it felt somehow as if this place had been there forever.

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When we entered, it was pretty full and service was buzzing.  There was some confusion and we waited a bit too long for things like bread, water, and the check, but it was obvious that there were just small kinks that needed to be ironed out.

We started with hearty bread.  It was well flavored and good and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

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We had the arugula and fire roasted artichoke salad.  This was good, with a very nice dressing. I wanted more flavor and more quantity of artichokes, but overall it was a nice starter.

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We then tried the wild boar and veal meatballs, with fresh mint and pine nuts. These had a very nice flavor and the mint was a nice compliment.


Then we had the lasagna with veal meat sauce.  I really loved this dish. The noodles were thicker and really held up to the layers.  The sauce was great and this tasted like everything you want from classic Italian.

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Overall, everything we had was very good and very hearty.  I can see this becoming a really nice, local place to eat on a cold night. As they iron out some of the service issues and get cranking, I can see them doing a very good business here in the section just south of Hell’s Kitchen.

The neighborhood is really growing with tons of new restaurants and building, and I’m glad to have Tavola as part of that growth.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10