Tag Archives: caesar salad

M. Wells Steakhouse for Valentine’s Day

17 Feb

We went to M. Wells Diner in Queens a number of years ago, and I was anxiously awaiting the opening of their newest place, M. Wells Steakhouse, but the Queens location made it a bit tough.   So when it was Mike’s turn for the annual Valentine’s Day surprise meal, he thought this was a great time to visit.  I was thrilled when I realized where we were heading (which was AFTER arriving in Queens… silly me).

It was actually less than an hour door to door from our place in Riverdale (Bronx) through Grand Central to the restaurant.  Hard to beat that!


Since we were in the middle of one of the coldest weeks of the year, the few blocks from the subway were on the chilly side, so I was excited when we were approaching the address: 4315 Crescent Street in Long Island City.  But this was all we found:



Luckily someone poked their head out and motioned for us to come towards a side courtyard and door.


Walking in, I was very surprised to see that the inside is a really nicely designed space. Definitely not expected from the outside.


A peek at the menu from Valentine’s Day since it appears to change often:


IMG_2320  IMG_2322

Mike ordered a very interesting cocktail that was a take on a Gibson, but had some pickled pork tongue on it. It was very oniony but enjoyable.  And fun to try. (Yes… this is our idea of fun!)


We quickly received a little warm sack with a side of butter and mustard.


Inside was a delightful sourdough and pretzel roll.  Apparently the mustard was VERY mustardy so I stuck with my pretzel roll with butter.  Very good bread to start.


On the topic of adventurous fun, we saw lamb brains on the menu and had to try it.  I have had brain once before and it was thinly sliced and fried.  This was really a hunk of brain. (If you are easily queasy, you may want to skip the next picture and description)


This was the inside… very mushy, somewhere between bone marrow and melty cheese.  I enjoyed the crispy end but I couldn’t get past the inner texture.  Even me. And I can eat anything.  It was VERY rich as well, so I’m glad we tried it, but can’t say we enjoyed it.


On the more normal appetizer side, we got a caesar salad.  This was COVERED in cheese and was a really fantastic caesar. Lots of great flavor with a burst of freshness from the dressing.


We decided to split the tomahawk steak under the recommendation by many.  It was cooked perfectly and the char on the outside was fantastic.  Didn’t need a thing. Just great steak.

However, I was expecting a lot more.  The reviews had mentioned truffles (which was not true on this night), and the end slices were almost entirely inedible due to fat, so there were really only about 5 or 6 slices we could eat.  Granted, it was plenty of food, and we wound up bringing some home to have steak and eggs the next morning, however, I can’t say it was $160 worth it.  At all. Even “for two.”


It came with a side of a potato-y, chees-y, butter-y… something.  Looking it up now, it was on the sides menu: pommes aligot.  And thanks to Wikipedia, I now know it’s melted cheese blended into mashed potatoes. Yes!


The stretch on this was amusing and the taste was incredibly delicious.


We also ordered a side of “foie gras gnocchi.”  I was very confused when these two dumpling like things were set in front of us.


But it didn’t matter that this didn’t resemble the gnocchi I know.  It was foie on the inside, wrapped in gnocchi, then fried crisp, with onions on top.  Pretty heavenly, to be honest.


After our meal, we were served little tea cups of consommé from the tomahawk steak as a “palate cleanser.”  I have never had a savory palate cleanser after the meal, but the consommé was fantastic.  Not at all greasy and really savory.


For dessert, they were doing a Valentine’s Day special of a “fried banana split” that had chocolate, vanilla, and lavendar ice cream with honey brittle, butterscotch sauce, and hot fudge.  How could we resist?

And it was certainly beautiful.

I enjoyed this but wasn’t blown away.  The brittle was the best part, but the banana was a bit mushy and I just don’t like floral flavored desserts (my fault, not theirs).  Mike thought the banana tasted a bit like wet laundry, but I thought he was kind of crazy.


On our way out, we saw the dessert cart and it looked quite beautiful. Made me a little mournful that we didn’t get something from this, but hey, no regrets.


Overall, I walked out of our meal pretty wowed.  I also realized that I didn’t remember how much that steak cost. Now, looking back, I have to say that it was a really great meal but absolutely not worth the price. Perhaps the Tomahawk was our mistake, because as much as it was a REALLY good steak, I’ve had comparable for half the price.  Add in the travel to Queens, and I’m torn.  We really, really liked it. And we were very happy with the meal. I just can’t say I truly recommend it.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10 (probably would have hit 8 out of 10 had that steak been priced more reasonably)

nomscale- 07.0


Fairway Market: Cooking with Lamb Demo (with recipes)

3 Feb

I was excited to receive an invitation to the “For the Love of Lamb” cooking demo at Fairway Cafe & Steakhouse. Not only did it sound like fun, but proceeds were going to a great cause, The Common Pantry. I immediately replied that I would love to attend and purchased a ticket for my husband, Mike, to join me.


I have been lucky enough to be invited to a few complimentary dinners, demos, and classes, and each and every one is very different.  Some feel like they are constructed for the press, with photo opportunities throughout and bulleted fact sheets as we leave to help us write our posts.  Those have their place, and it’s always fun to be exposed to these things that I would otherwise probably not have stumbled upon on my own.

This was a bit different. While “press” were invited, I would guess that most of the guests there were present for the sheer enjoyment of it (whether press or not) and greeting us with immediate glasses of bubbly helped make sure everyone had a good time from the start.


There were a few “brands” represented at the event, with a focus on Australian Lamb and Australian Wines.

This Stone Dwellers was a lovely sparkling wine that I really enjoyed. I am not a champagne fan, so I’m always on the lookout for something bubbly and celebration-y without tasting like dirt (sorry champagne lovers).


The cafe upstairs from the market was set up nicely, with simple white linens and nice red chairs, with all the ingredients out on a display table when we arrived.


Including a beautiful rack.


And a lovely leg.


As well as some plate garnishes, ready to go.


Our menu of the day looked scrumptious, with all things I love (lamb, fig, caesar, parnsnip turnip mash, roasted brussels, apple tart, chardonnay, pinot noir, and muscat… all on the list of my favorite things!)

(See recipes at the end of the post)


We were welcomed by a very nice woman who worked at Fairway and introduced us to a spokesperson for Australian Lamb (who just bubbled over with excitement about her product, which is always good to see and makes it so you can’t help but be excited as well) and Chef Vinnie, who apparently is self-taught and has been with Fairway for some time.


Vinnie wound up being a great teacher.  Passionate and informational, with great tidbits but no over-explanation.


First tip: Press the rack into the hot pan to get a good, full sear, rather than letting it hang out and wait. The pan should be very, very hot and you only need about 1-2 minutes per side.


Next tip: Really press the breadcrumbs onto the mustard coating to make sure it really sticks.


So much that when he lifted it up, it (mostly) stayed put.


Then it went into the oven to cook while he started adding an herb mixture to the lamb leg.


Next tip: Always roast on very high heat. He quoted someone who taught him as saying that anything under 400 degrees F is “baking cupcakes.”

When the final dishes came out, he taught us how to cut up the rack (through each lolly pop it should slice really nicely).IMG_5705

And then fan it out with garnish.


The leg was bought boneless (for ease and cooking time, though chefs always seem to prefer cooking them on the bone), so it was wrapped in string, which he removed after roasting to show us how (unwrap… discard…)


But the key was holding it together as you slice so it plates nicely.

IMG_5717 IMG_5719

And then moving it all as one piece once sliced.


And yet again, use the “fan out.”


Both dishes, plated and ready to go!


Throughout the night, various wine experts spoke to us, including Joshua Wessen who was proclaimed to be a “wine guru.” He told us about the Stone Dwellers Sparkling Brut which contained chardonnay and pinot noir (my two favorites). Similar grapes as are in champagne, but similar to prosecco in preparation.  They press the red grapes gently so the wine stayed white.  Really nice.


We also tried a Paringa Sparkling Shiraz, which was also quite nice. Sweet but not too sweet and I had to agree with the expert that this could probably go with anything.

With our first lamb chop, we had the Yalumba “Y Series” Viognier 2012. This was one of (if not the?) oldest family owned wineries in the region, established in 1849.  The vineyard has a huge respect for the Viognier grape from France and they worked with clones for 30 years in the nursery.  The wine maker is Luisa Rose and it was obvious there was love in this wine.


Our chop was scrumptious. The great thing about lamb is that it is quite easy to prepare and doesn’t need a lot of ingredients to taste great.  This was a great example of that.  It was so easy when we watched him prep (even easier than I thought) and it tasted so special.


Our next wine was a Punt Road Chardonnay from 2011.  This had a little woody and was a very nice balance of flavors.  Punt Road was one of the first wineries outside of Melbourne.


It went very nicely with a slightly peppery caesar salad that was lightly dressed but had an ever so slight essence of anchovies (which I loved).


Our next wine was the Stone Dwellers Pinot Noir from 2011.  It was an early ripening red and we heard a story about the wine maker who ran around the vineyard and he ran into a giant spider web and then a red bellied black snake in the long grass and in a fruit bin. It was a reminder that wine is a “living thing” and this wine was said to have been made with a lot of “love and danger.”  It tasted great.

Next wine was Yalumba “The Scribbler” which was a Cabernet Shiraz blend from 2010.  It’s a “baby” of their signature wine (which is apparently very expensive) and they blend it to soften it a bit.  This went down reeaaaaalllll easy.  We both really loved this wine.


They mentioned that they had served the two wines to give two different perspectives (if you’re keeping track, we are already up to 6 wines!)

The leg of lamb could not have been more flavorful, and it was well complimented by the Brussels and the root mash.


I loved the lardon on top of the sprouts.


For dessert, we had the Mitchel London’s Apple Tart with the Yalumba “Museum” Muscat NV.  Both the tart and the muscat were fantastic separately and even better together.  A great end to a great meal.


By the end of the night, we had tried (ok… fully consumed) seven wines, and they were all great, easy to drink wines.  A really wonderful showcase of what is so good about Australian wines.


We just had so much fun at this event! The demo was great, informative, and interesting.  The meal was absolutely delicious from start to finish and could have easily been served in one of the best restaurants in NY.  I already was a lamb fan, but this definitely pushed me over the top and made me want to make it at home even more. We have dabbled in a few rack of lamb recipes when we found the racks on sale, but now I’m excited to try a leg of lamb and cook it for a dinner party.

And I will certainly be going straight to the Australian wine section in the near future.

Thanks Fairway!

While I did receive a complimentary ticket to this event, all opinions expressed are entirely my own and I was not required to write about this event. I just really wanted to, because it was pretty great. 

Speaking of… they just emailed me to say that they are doing a special Valentine’s Day dinner. (Which at $45pp for Valentine’s Day seems like a steal to me compared to most places in this city).  Here’s some more info from their press release if you want to go!



Chef Mitchel London’s Special Menu for Valentine’s Day:

  • Roasted Wild Mushrooms in Thyme and Garlic
  • Rack of Lamb with Parsnip & Turnip Puree
  • Crepe a la Crème Flambėed in Cointreau
  • Glass of Prosecco

$45 per person. Please call the Café at 212 994 9555 to make a reservation.  Fairway Café & Steakhouse regular menu will also be available on February 14, 2014.


 And here are all the recipes from the lamb demo:


Fairway Market: Cooking with Lamb Demo - Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb


  • 1 rack of lamb, trimmed (about 1.5 pounds)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 TBS Fairway extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBD grainy mustard (like Fairway Moutarde en Grains)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 TBS grated parmesan cheese


  1. Season rack of lamb with salt and pepper
  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat
  3. When hot, add olive oil
  4. When oil is smoking, add rack of lamb and brown well for about 3 minutes on each side
  5. Set aside and let cool
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  7. Mix together mustard and garlic
  8. In separate bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs with parmesan cheese
  9. Spread mustard mixture on lamb, coating all sides evenly
  10. Pat breadcrumb mixture tight on all sides of lamb
  11. Place rack of lamb on baking sheet
  12. Roast for 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness
  13. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into chops
  14. (Serve with Easy Fig Chutney, see other recipe)

Fairway Market: Cooking with Lamb Demo - Easy Fig Chutney


  • 1 lb fresh figs, like Artibel Italian (diced into 1/4" dice)
  • 3 TBS onion marmalade, like Artibel Delice Red Onion Marmalade
  • 4 TBS fig balsamic, like Artibel Fig Condiment and Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBS fig preserves, like Royal Preserve Purple Fig "Figue Violette"


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl
  2. Mix well

Fairway Market: Cooking with Lamb Demo - Parsnip Turnip Mash


  • 3 large turnips
  • 6 large parsnips
  • 3 yellow carrots
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp Fairway honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper


  1. Peel all vegetables
  2. Rough chop all vegetables (to about the same size)
  3. Place all vegetables in a large sauce pot completely emerged in water
  4. Season water with a pinch of salt
  5. Bring water to a boil
  6. Boil for 10 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender
  7. Strain water and place vegetables in a large mixing bowl
  8. Add butter to vegetables while veggies are hot
  9. Add honey
  10. Season with salt and white pepper
  11. Using a potato masher, mash all ingredients together

Fairway Market: Cooking with Lamb Demo - Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb


  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh chives
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 1/2 cub Fairway extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 TBS grainy mustard, like Fairway Moutarde en Grains
  • 4-5 lb boneless leg of lamb
  • 1 TBS sea salt
  • 1 tsp course black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Chop all herbs
  3. Mix herbs and garlic with olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard to make herb marinade, set aside
  4. Season lamb with salt and pepper
  5. Use 1/2 of the herb marinade and rub evenly over the lamb
  6. Let lamb marinate for 30 minutes
  7. Remove all visible herbs from lamb (to prevent burning) and place in roasting pan
  8. Roast lamb for 30 minutes on 450 degrees and then drop oven down to 350 degrees and continue to cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour (for rare)
  9. Remove lamb from oven and, while hot, rub on the rest of the herb marinade
  10. Let lamb rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving

Fairway Market: Cooking with Lamb Demo - Roasted Brussels Sprouts


  • 1/2 lb thick-sliced bacon
  • 1.5 lbs Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/4 cup Fairway extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 6 oz. roasted chestnuts
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cook bacon on a bacon sheet until crispy
  3. Remove bacon from oven, reserve all fat drippings
  4. Chop bacon into 1/4 inch pie, set bacon aside
  5. Raise oven to 400 degrees F
  6. Clean Brussels sprouts by cutting off bottom stem and outer leaves
  7. Do not discard outer leaves: Set aside and toss with half of the olive oil
  8. Place leaves on sheet tray and roast in oven for 10 minutes or until leaves are browned and crispy, set aside
  9. Once Brussels sprouts are cleaned, stand them on the side you cut the stem and slice them thin, almost shaving them
  10. Thinly slice shallots
  11. Place shaved Brussels and shallots in mixing bowl
  12. Add in bacon drippings, chestnuts, remainder of olive oil, salt, and pepper
  13. Place shaved Brussels sprout mixture on a large sheet try and spread out evenly
  14. Do not overcrowd the tray, use 2 trays if necessary
  15. Roast at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until nicely browned
  16. Once removed form the oven, toss together with chopped bacon
  17. Garnish each portion with the roasted leaves




Angelo and Maxie’s- Restaurant Week 2010

1 Mar

After a lovely mani/pedi date with the incredible Lori, she recommended we visit Angelo and Maxie’s where not only was her friend, Carlotta, tending bar, but it was also Restaurant Week.  Even though I’m supposed to be on a diet, I figured I could make it work at a steak house with portion control.  Plus, I just need to enjoy SOME of Restaurant Week like I have in year’s past (Summer 2009 and Winter 2009).

In case you don’t know how restaurant week works, here is the menu from Angelo and Maxie’s (they all work similarly with a prix fixe of an app, entree, and dessert with lunch for $24.07 and dinner for $35):




January 25th-February 28th, 2010 

(excluding Saturdays and February 14th)


First Course

Choice of:

Maxie’s House Salad

Angelo’s Caesar Salad

Soup of the Day


Second Course

Choice of:

Grilled Filet Mignon (au poivre or béarnaise available)

Charbroiled New York Sirloin Steak

1 ½ pound Herb-Roasted Chicken

Broiled Salmon over Fresh Sautéed Vegetables

Marinated Roumanian Steak with Grilled Onions (dinner only)

Maxie’s Chopped Steak with Sautéed Onions (dinner only)


Third Course

Choice of:


Chocolate or Vanilla Ice Cream

Fresh Fruit


LUNCH:  $24.07

DINNER: $35.00 


Lori and I both chose the caesar salad (per Carlotta’s recommendation) but only I went all in with the anchovies.  (Lori got them on the side but couldn’t bring herself to try one).  I LOVE salt, so I like anchovies, though only in small doses.

We also both chose the Filet, however, I went with mine sauceless (hoping to save some calories).

Lori chose au poivre.

For my dessert, I sucked it up and chose the fruit salad.  It was a sad moment in my life, but I knew I couldn’t have both the steak AND the cheesecake.

Or could I? Lori was gracious enough to give me a few bites. Thank GOODNESS I didn’t get this… it was so insanely good I never would have stopped eating it.

I love the take-home bags with all the cows.

We also each enjoyed a glass of the Malbec, again as recommended by our lovely bar tender Carlotta. It was a Carolores Del Sol and we both enjoyed it very much! Will have to be on the lookout for that little gem.

Overall, I thought our meal was great, and for $24 it’s hard to beat! The steak was cooked perfectly and, if you’re not slaving over a diet, you MUST try the cheesecake.  Holy cow!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

Lori, a fellow food blogger (and lover), wrote about our experience here if you’d like to see her perspective on the same meal.