Tag Archives: truffle

Restaurant Week – Winter 2015: Bar Primi

5 Mar

Our second Restaurant Week stop was with some friends at Bar Primi.

Bar Primi is run by Chefs Andrew Carmellini and Sal Lamboglia with Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom of NoHo Hospitality Group, who also run Locanda Verde, The Dutch, Lafayette, Little Park (where we will be excitedly heading in 2 weeks) among others.

Here’s the 2015 Winter Restaurant Week Menu:


I started with the Grilled Octopus with Fingerling Potatoes (sans red hots).  It was a beautiful tentacle that was pretty tasty.  It was lightly sauced so it really focused on the great octopus flavor.  While I enjoyed it, I still have the bar set by Kefi, which is the best octopus I’ve ever had, so everything else pales in comparison, unfortunately.


I was the only one of the four of us who stuck to the Restaurant Week menu, and while I had 0 regrets, I was glad the rest of the table ordered off the menu so I could try a bunch of things, having never been to Bar Primi.

So the table started with the truffled mushroom crustino.  This was incredibly tasty and bursting with flavor.  The bread was just the right amount of crisp to bring it all together.


The table also ordered the stuffed mushrooms in sugo (which, sadly, had red peppers in it).


Here is an inside view, and everyone raved that they were very tasty.


We also got Sal’s Antipasti Salad for the table.  This was nicely flavored, however, I was expecting a bit more antipasti components.  My bites were mostly lettuce and chick peas and not much more.


For dinner, I chose the Strozzpreti from the Restaurant Week menu which has a mushroom marsala ragu.  I usually shy away from a dish without meat, but I didn’t miss the meat at all in this dish.  The pasta tasted like really amazing, gourmet macaroni and cheese with a hugely flavorful mushroom sauce.  I was so impressed with how much flavor they packed into this little pasta dish. And the pasta itself tasted incredibly fresh and was perfectly cooked.


Others around the table tried the Bucatini with Lamb Amatriciana, which they all loved.


And the Fusilli Napoletan with Nonna’s Veal Genovese, which they all also loved.


And the Friday special, lobster oreganata with linguine pangrattato. This tasted similar to a classic scampi dish and the lobster was great with it.


For dessert, we tried the Chocolate Hazelnut Torta off the Restaurant Week menu.  This looked like it was going to be dry, but the flavor was really fantastic and a great way to end the meal.


We also got a piece of tiramisu, and while it looked very melty, it was quite good.


I was VERY impressed with the Bar Primi Restaurant Week dishes I tried.  If I had only that, I would absolutely want to go back and try more, and was grateful to be able to try additional components with my fellow diners.  I will absolutely be revisiting Bar Primi, even after Restaurant Week is over. A very enjoyable restaurant.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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Umami Burger: Welcome to NYC

19 Sep

All of my California friends have been singing the praises of Umami Burger for quite some time.  When we were in San Francisco at the end of our honeymoon in June, we stopped by and really enjoyed our meal.  It was just weeks from opening in NYC, and this summer, we got our first Umami Burger in Greenwich Village.

We stopped by just a few weeks after opening (and after the 3 hour waits were supposed to be less and they had reportedly fixed their reservation system).  We checked in and they took our name and number down on an iPad, saying it would be about 45 minutes.  They said they would text me when the table was coming ready, so we went out to find a happy hour drink.  I was immediately texted with a link to see my place online (digitally) and saw we were about #15 in the list.  About 35 minutes later, I got a text that our table was coming up.  We wrapped up our drinks and walked back over, sliding into our high stools on the top floor almost exactly 45 minutes after first arriving.

A lot of reviews are panning the decoration, but I saw nothing wrong with it.  (Though I can’t say it was very memorable)



The Umami Burger menu is similar in all locations, however, there are (“secret”) specials for each location.  The specials in New York are a 5 spice duck burger (which they were sadly out of when we were there), a French dip burger (which I didn’t hear anything about and forgot to ask about when we were there), and cheese tots.


We were greeted by a (very enthusiastic) waitress who proceeded to tell us what “umami” means in a speech she must have rehearsed in the mirror a few times.  I was sitting at a table with fellow food fiends, one of which went to culinary school.  So it felt a little like being a tourist in my own food city, but we went with it.

They immediately came out with 3 umami sauces.  I don’t remember anything notable about them.



We decided to split a whole lot of sides so we could try as many as possible.  First up were the fried pickles. (They came with a jalapeno dipping sauce that I couldn’t eat).  I enjoyed them but nothing too special.



Truffle cheese fries.  I wanted these to be crispier.  The taste was good but the texture couldn’t stand up to the cheese sauce.


Tempura onion rings.  Yummy and not too greasy.



And then the secret tots.  I was somehow expecting tater tots with a cheese sauce, but instead these actually had the potatoes mixed with the aged parm and cheddar in the tot itself.  Quite delicious.



And then onto the burgers (stamped with the trademark “U” on the bun).  I went with the Original (parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, and house ketchup).


This burger was awesome.  Everything I want a burger to be.  A good, substantially fluffy bun that is toasted and has good flavor with a burger that tastes meaty.  Then the toppings all blended together for a great texture and flavor that was, yes, umami.  It just fills your mouth with greatness.


Mike and the other man at the table went with the Manly burger. Beer cheddar-cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, ketchup and mustard spread.

He says it was delicious and that it’s better than shake shack.


A manly burger that lived up to its name.


And if you think we would leave after all that indulgence without trying the special desserts, you have another thing coming.

The ice cream sandwiches are made with Brooklyn’s The Good Batch cookies and artisan ice cream from Blue Marble (also from Brooklyn).

We split 2 flavors.

The first was a double chocolate peanut butter cookie.  Chocolate waffle cookie with chocolate peanut butter ice cream (very good in flavor but could have used some chocolate sauce or added texture).


And a peach vanilla brown butter.  Yes!  I loved this.  The brown butter sugar cookie was fluffy with a crispy edge and a nicely balanced sweetness.  The ice cream inside reminded me of being a kid and going to the local homemade ice cream store.  The chunks of peaches were delicious.


I can’t imagine not liking this place. What could possibly be bad about a well cooked burger with delicious ingredients, merged together with the express purpose of bringing out the savory flavors?  Sure, there is the novelty of “umami” that people like to hate on. But hell, if it tastes that good, be as cheesy as you want to be.  I’ll eat it up.  (And those ice cream cookie sandwiches are a great finale to the meal).

I’m a big fan. I’ll be back and looking forward to trying that duck burger.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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Honeymoon Finale: Back in NYC – The Nomad

22 Aug

And then… it was over. Our incredible, awesome, and totally amazing honeymoon had to come to an end.  We knew that after spending 3 weeks in bliss (1 week for the wedding in Maine followed by the 2 week road trip in the Pacific Northwest), returning home would be tough. But we planned ahead and booked a reservation in NYC that was on our Grubbit list for “Must Try Soon” locations.

We took the red eye back from San Fran on Saturday night and arrived pretty tired and dazed on Sunday morning.  We just weren’t ready to quit, however, so we took a nap and then finally went to dinner at The NoMad. (created as a more casual place to eat by a few guys from our favorite restaurant, Eleven Madison Park).


The dining room reminded me of being in Europe; specifically the Westin Paris – Vendôme with the glass ceiling.



We noticed that there was Ithaca Beer on the menu.  At first we noted how nice it was to see Ithaca Beer on this menu too (since we also had some at Eleven Madison Park) and it took us a few minutes to put some facts together.  I went to Ithaca College and had a nice conversation with the owner of Canlis (Brian Canlis) about his being roommates with one of the owners (Will Guidara) of Eleven Madison Park at Cornell (which is in the same town of Ithaca as my alma matter, just across the gorge).  Now suddenly it dawned on us… Ithaca beer wasn’t an accident. It was on both menus because it meant the same thing to these guys as it did to me… great beer from our great little college town.

Sadly, I no longer see Ithaca Beer on the menu posted online, but I’m pretty sure this was a beer that was brewed specifically for The NoMad.  And we loved it.


The bread that was served was quite delicious. Like a flat foccacia with rosemary. The rosemary looked more like Christmas Tree trimmings and was a bit much, but I liked that you could take off or keep on as much as you liked.



We began our meal with the Sweetbreads appetizer which were described as croustillant with parsley. I had no idea what that meant, but was pleasantly surprised when they came out looking like crispy spring rolls.



The flaky crisp on the outside was a great conduit for the delicious sweet breads inside.



This is how I want to eat sweetbreads. While I’ve always loved the taste, I’m not a huge fan of the texture. The crispy outside got rid of all textural issues and just let me fully enjoy the great flavors.


And who are we kidding? You think we could say NO to the famous chicken for two we had been hearing so much about?  It was described as a whole roasted chicken with foie gras, black truffle, and brioche.  I had read all about the preparation in this New York Times article and was very excited to try it.

As is one of my favorite traditions, they showed us the whole bird (feet and all) before carving it up. I find the tradition of shoving fresh flowers and herbs into the cavity quite funny, actually, in a admittedly and unabashedly juvenile way.



And then it was taken away to be carved and plated. It probably took all of 5 minutes for that chicken to come back, but after the smell I got and the look at that beautiful skin, it was the longest 5 minutes of my life.

We each got a breast served over a truffled potato purree (though I remember it being more chunky) and asparagus.


The key to the chicken is that it is stuffed under the skin with foie gras that has been mixed with truffles and brioche.  This created an incredibly decadent stuffing that also infused the meat with a rich, umami taste. I’m sure it is also a big reason why this was one of the most moist, flavorful chicken breasts I’ve ever had.



This was one beautiful, thoughtful, sensory blissed out dish.



I mean come on… this skin is a work of culinary ART. (Yes… I’m a little obsessed with this chicken dish)




The leg meat (all of it) is served on its own a separate dish.  This was with morel mushrooms and a sauce that was like a refined hollandaise. As if this could get any better.


And I did mention that they serve ALL of the leg…



Wow. Just wow. Chicken shouldn’t be allowed to be that good.

And after that, we couldn’t end without dessert.

We split two.

First up was the “Chocolate” which came with malted ganache with chocolate fondant and malt ice cream. Honestly, besides being chocolate, the description didn’t wow me all that much. But the dessert itself was as tasty as it was beautiful.


Lots of textures and flavors going on.



But sadly, that is all I remember about it because it was so overshadowed by the second dessert.

This was the “Milk & Honey” which was described as being shortbread, brittle & ice cream.


First, it was one of the most visually gorgeous dishes I have ever seen. So beautiful, in fact, that it has graced the cover of the NYC Nom Nom Facebook page since we ate there (with many people asking where the picture was taken).

Second, it tasted as good as it looked.  The honey flavors sparkled in my mouth.  The brittle and the ice cream were fantastic, with a white softer crunch that was somewhere close to meringue.  The taste of the honey itself was insanely good and made me reminisce a bit about our burnt honey ice cream experience from a few days prior at The French Laundry.



What a way to end it!  It was quite the finale to our incredible trip (and this was right in our backyard).  Eating here made me remember again how much I love living in this crazy city.  I have the best food in the world within walking distance.

And this was a prime example of how good food can be.

Every morsel was delicious and thoughtful. The food here was smart but not smarty pants smart.  It was hot librarian smart.  (And it was chicken!)

I cannot wait for more.

Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10

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