Tag Archives: kale salad

Restaurant Week – Winter 2015: all’onda

6 Apr

I somehow forgot to post this during Restaurant Week (I blame baby brain), but I couldn’t leave out our fantastic dinner at all’onda! We had gone to all’onda once before right when it opened and loved it, and I’ve recommended it ever since.  While I kept saying we had to go back, their participation in Restaurant Week inspired me to make that reservation first.

Here was the Restaurant Week Winter 2015 Menu:


And the regular menu that night:


I was impressed that the Restaurant Week menu listed both the Short Ribs (for 2) and the Bucatini with smoked uni.  Though both had an up charge, since both dishes are some of the best on the restaurant’s menu, it’s great to see there was the option to include them in a Restaurant Week tasting and the total cost was still a bargain.

We started off the menu and split the arancini. These were different from the squid ink ones we had last time, and instead came with black truffle and parmesan.


Very good, but not quite as original as the squid ink ones. (Nor as beautiful)


Back to the Restaurant Week menu, Mike went for the kale salad, which I thought was an odd choice from the other delicious things on the menu, but he enjoyed it.


One of our friends went for the scallop crudo which was fresh and delicious.  Great combination of flavors.


I got the grilled treviso with kobocha squash and aged balsamic.  (Looked it up: Treviso is a red radicchio)

It was packed with flavor and tasted just like the end of winter.


Our meal was quite the spread when it all came out.


We made fun of Mike for his entree choice as well… he got… the chicken. Now I love me a good chicken, but with all the amazing things on the menu, who gets the chicken?  He seemed very satisfied with his selection and the skin was quite crispy and it was well flavored (sorry for picking on you, honey!)


Our friends split the short rib for two.


Which could not have been more perfectly cooked. It was so tender on the inside with a great, slow cooked flavor and nicely charred outside.  A fantastic short rib.


I got the skate, which was awesome.  Cooked so the ends were crispy, the inside tender, and the light sauce brightening.


We added some sides we loved last time to split for the table, including the brussels sprouts.  The flavor of these sprouts is just fantastic.  All the right sweet, savory, and crunchiness.  Probably some of my favorite brussels in the city.


And then the polenta with miso cured egg yolk and wild mushrooms. Every bite was sensational and it was hard to not dip back in for more and more.


If the meal above was by itself, it would already be fantastic, but add on our favorite dish from the last time, the bucatini with smoked uni, and it rose itself back to star quality.  This dish is just so fantastic.  We got it without the spicy breadcrumbs and no one missed them.  The uni with the exquisitely cooked pasta and the sauce… it’s just one of the best flavor combinations ever.  I love this dish.


We were full… but never too full for dessert.

The olive oil cake with lemon and basil was moist and scrumptious.


But most of the table chose the hazelnut mousse with chocolate crumble and candied orange.  A perfect way to end the meal with a bit of sweet and excellent execution.


all’onda was one of our favorite meals in 2014 (#4 on the list to be exact) and we left this meal equally, if not more impressed.  If they participate in Restaurant Week in Summer 2015, make this your first reservation!  And if you’re looking for a great restaurant to have a really great meal, you can’t go wrong here.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

nomscale- 08.5

Chef Bill takes over the Strong Place Kitchen: Cobble Hill, BK

23 Dec

Chef Bill Seleno is nothing if not an alchemist.  The moment he touches an everyday ingredient, it becomes gold.  His last opening was creating the menu for King’s Clam Bar, and now he has taken on a new huge, multi-pronged project that is sure to further enhance Brooklyn as a food lovers destination (more on that will be posting in the New Year).  He has started by working with the team at Strong Place, a Cobble Hill staple.


Strong Place is known in the neighborhood for their craft beer, live music, and great food.


And Chef Bill has come in to up the ante even further, adding some Chef Bill touches to the menu. Working with the bar manager, a Cicerone (a beer sommelier), they created a menu that perfectly pairs with the 24 craft beers on tap.


The restaurant looks solidly like Brooklyn, with a big metal barn door that slides open for the bathroom.DSCF3609

They have many great craft beers on tap.


With beers from all across the country and lots of Allagash (one of my favorite beers from Maine) and Firestone (a favorite brought to my attention by good friends in Atlanta).


Chef Bill had arranged to have us do a tasting of the menu with beer pairings from the knowledgeable and excited Cicerone (we hadn’t told Bill I was preggers yet… we told him when we arrived)

Between the beer and the extensive, check-off oyster list, I was very bummed to be limited by my pregnancy.


But the moment these voluptuous beauties came out, I knew I was going to cheat.  Much to my protective husband’s chagrin.  I had one. ONE!  I shouldn’t have done it. But I just couldn’t resist.


3 months of no alcohol, no soft cheeses, and no raw seafood was making me into a cranky pregnant lady. I also had a sip of each of the beer pairings throughout the meal. Just a sip.  Funny enough, my doctor was more upset about the oyster than the beer.  So… no more oysters.  But the moment that baby is out, somebody send over a few dozen, okay?

(PS- It was so good… no regrets)

These were paired with a Firestone Walker Pilsner and they went very well together.


Next out was an awesome bar snack: Fried chick peas.  These were warm and had a little crisp with great flavor. I ate nearly the whole bowl and had to slow myself down to have room for the rest of the meal, and I’m not even a big chick pea fan.  I would go here just for these and a beer in the middle of the day (after June, that is!)  Delish.


With this they also brought out tequila lime chicken wings (that I couldn’t eat due to a peppers allergy) but Mike very much enjoyed.


These were paired with Two Roads Octoberfest (from Connecticut) and that went very nicely with the chick peas (and Mike enjoyed with the wings).


Our next dish was a kale salad with cauliflower, tomato, carrots, brussels sprouts, chick peas, apples, walnuts, and burnt lemon caramelized vinaigrette. This was a FANTASTIC salad. I usually go for salads for all the goodies and view the lettuce/green as simply a conduit to get the other delicious things into my mouth.  This was a perfect salad with lots of goodies and great combinations.

The beer pairing with this was Two Roads Abby Blonde Style, and you wouldn’t normally think of beer with salad, but this totally worked.


Our next dish was duck confit with horse radish and celery root with bacon.  I LOVE duck confit and this did not disappoint.  Crispy, tasty skin with flavor rich tender meat in the middle.  I don’t typically like horseradish, but the tiny bit I added to my bite did compliment it nicely. And the celery root puree with bacon in it was a great compliment of rich flavors.


This was paired with Allagash Victor, which is a Belgian style golden strong ale. They extract sugar from barley (basically making oatmeal) and use a Cabernet Franc wine to ferment it.  It went perfectly to cut through the fattyness of the confit while toning down the horse radish a bit.


Next up was the “Boo-ya-base” which was a twist on a classic bouillabaisse dish.  I couldn’t have this (back to the allergy) but Mike really enjoyed it (sorry for the flash picture… only way to see those delicious mollusks). This dish had some of the craft beers actually IN the recipe to help bring together the flavors and the beer pairings.  The sauce was made with Piperdown Scotch Ale and the potatoes are boiled in Stout.

It was paired with the Allagash Confluence Belgian Strong Ale which goes through 2 fermentations.


Since I couldn’t have the boo-ya-base, I got to taste a freshly slow cooked pork butt which had all the delicious qualities of slow cooked pig.


For dessert, we tried the caramel pudding with white chocolate whipped cream and a soft chocolate biscotti. Even this was paired with beer (Left Hand Milk Stout) and they were a great match.


Our last dessert was an apple cobbler (with the apples slow cooked in, what else? beer).


The whipped cream was made with bourbon bacon (and BOY was it bourbony). The bourbon is macerated with the bacon  and it certainly had strong flavors of both.  Very original.

This was also paired with beer: Almanac Golden Gate Gose (from Northern California).  My sips throughout the night proved to me that the Cicerone knows what he’s doing, even with the desserts.


Our meal was fantastic from start to finish.  Every day, I miss being able to go around the corner to the old Albert Hall Tavern (where we first met Chef Bill) so I can have the food that Bill does oh so well… the food that makes you happy… reminds you of the food you grew up but with a modern, fun twist.  I wish I lived closer to Strong Place so I could be a regular, but if you happen to be one of the lucky ones in the area, you cannot miss with this menu at Strong Place and it’s worth the trip if you’re not local.  The beer pairings, attention to detail, and great, relaxed atmosphere just add to the draw.

They will be doing a pretty awesome sounding New Year’s Eve menu this year if you’re looking for a delicious way to spend the evening.

They also have live music and an outdoor patio (for when the weather is a bit nicer).

Highly recommended.

More on the journey of Chef Bill coming soon.

il Buco

5 Sep

One problem with having a destination wedding at the end of a school year is that sometimes some of your favorite people just can’t make it. Such was the case of my cousins (technically, my dad’s cousins, but we’re all just one big… really big… happy family).  So upon arriving back in NYC, they offered to take us out to a meal.  And that is how we found ourselves at il Buco.


I know I had heard many people speak highly of il Buco, but it just somehow never made it on the list of places to go.  I was very glad that my cousins changed that.

The decoration inside is like an eclectic French country farm house that got taken over by a whimsical decorator who enjoyed making lamps  look like octopus with tea pots on the end.




(Apologies in advance for the dark photos.  Turns out, octopus tea kettle lamps do not bring in as much light as my camera would prefer.)


We split a whole bunch of apps.

We started with the special bread and olive oil and the dish of olives.  Both were really way above average.  The olive oil had an amazing grassy/woody flavor and the bread was a great combination of crispy crust with fluffy interior. And the olives were probably the best I’ve ever had. Really flavorful.

For plated apps, we tried the Ricotta, which was house made ricotta with Battenkill Farm milk, stonefruit, fennel, hazelnuts, and Catskill honey. I loved the way the honey balanced the stonefruit which balanced the cheese.  And the fennel really worked with this dish to further balance out the flavors.


We also split the Insalata di Zucchini with shaved Bodhitree Farm’s summer squash, purslane, toasted almonds, pecorino Sarde, and mint.  Fresh and delicious.  Loved the mint and toasted almonds complimenting the squash. (This made me want to add mint to all my salads)


FourSquare tips mentioned enjoying the Cavolonero which was Tuscan black kale, garlic-anchovy-lemon vinaigrette, filone croutons, and parmigiano reggiano.  Awesome.  I am usually only a fan of kale when it’s roasted, but this was in its raw form and it was just brought to life with the vinaigrette and the cheese.


We each got our own entrees, but we certainly passed them around for sampling.

One person got the fish.  This was perfectly cooked.


Someone else got the macaroni. I couldn’t try it due to peppers, but she really enjoyed her dish (as did everyone else that tried it).


Mike got the Porchetta with Flying Pigs Farms heritage pork, Umbrian lentils, swiss chard, and grain mustard. I think it also had some chicharones.  The pork itself was packed with flavor and had great pieces of fatty meat with a good sear.  The potatoes were also crispy and well seasoned.


I got the Papparadelle which was house made egg pasta ribbons and green and yellow summer squash. I loved loved loved this dish.  It tasted like summer. Fresh and light but totally satisfying. It seemed too simple: Pasta, squash, cheese.  But it all came together in a really nice, full flavor.


One highlight of the night was letting my cousin order the wines.  Boy was this a treat!  We tried a few superstars including this gem from 1986.


Pretty sure this is the oldest bottle of wine I’ve ever had. And it was sooooo good.


For dessert we tried a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of caramel gelato. These had such intense, wonderful flavors.  That chocolate was packed with flavor.  Wow.



We also got the Torta di Cioccolato which was flourless chocolate cake, espresso caramel mousse, and candied walnuts. This was so rich and so chocolatey. Reminded me of the desserts my great grandmother made from Europe.


I orered the Panna Cotta all’ Aceto Balsamico which was described as “cooked cream” drizzled with 10-year balsamic vinegar.  The panna cotta itself was really flavorful, but the balsamic really put it over the top. It was rich and sweet and had just enough tang to balance the cream.


This was a fantastic meal, start to finish.  All the food tasted incredibly special, unique, and really above the norm.  I was not expecting to enjoy this meal as much as I did, but now I see why people absolutely love this place.

There was, however, one issue…

The service.

Our waitress made it feel like we were inconveniencing her by simply being there.  As if her job was slave labor and we were there to enforce her brutality. She actually rolled her eyes, on multiple occasions when we asked questions or asked for refills like water or bread.  At one point we asked for the sommelier to come over so we could have wine… with our dinner… novel concept I know. She rolled her eyes, again, and then proceeded to not send him over and finally sent a busser (I think) to take the order instead. This was after we were almost all the way through our dinner. She came over to tell us that the sommelier had been busy, as if we had asked if she could please bring over the President of the United States.  I thought maybe she was coming to say “Sorry he is busy and we didn’t get you wine for your dinners.” Not even close.

It was one of the most ridiculous services I’ve ever seen.

It certainly shouldn’t have happened. It really sours an excellent meal when the person whose job it is to be your waitress makes you feel like you are torturing her.

It’s a shame, because despite the service, this restaurant was damn near flawless.

Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10 (One full point deduction for the awful service)

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10