Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lunch at Lure

Lure: Something that tempts or attracts with the promise of pleasure of reward. Who wouldn't be tempted by restaurant designed like a luxury yacht. Located on Mercer Street, Lure Fishbar occupies the old Canteen space. Josh Capon still runs the kitchen here bringing Soho a great selection of seafood while not forgetting about the carnivores. I've been wanting to go to Lure Fishbar for quite sometime not only because the menu was exciting; but because its been getting pretty good press. Owners Josh Pickard and John McDonald are part owners in other notable restaurants such as B&B, MercBar, The Dutch, Chinatown Brassier, and Locanda Verde; so the two definitely know what they're doing.

A block away from Kristen's office, this was a perfect spot for lunch AND they were doing restaurant week! I was pleasantly surprised that their restaurant week menu reflected the same dishes that they normally serve. It really bugs me when restaurants create dishes during restaurant week that they don't normally serve.

We both started with oysters, because we were both in a seafood state of mind even before stepping foot into this subterranean yacht. East coast oysters proved to be meaty, fresh, and exactly what we wanted. For our second course, I went with grilled Atlantic salmon that sat on a bed of ratatouille. The fish was cooked to perfection and the bell pepper ratatouille really hit the spot. Kristen got the steamed cod which was paired with oyster mushrooms,  scallions, ponzu, and cilantro. Both dishes were delicious and were a good portion size.

I ended with a warm chocolate cake that was a bit dense for my liking. The cake's strongest component was the salted caramel ice cream which sat on top of some delicious caramel popcorn. Kristen got the panna cotta, which isn't normally on their dessert menu; but she seemed to enjoy.

Left feeling good and will definitely return. Can't really critique the service because we didn't have much interaction; but I guess that could be a good thing. Overall, a very pleasant meal.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Front Street

Hit up Front Street in the Financial District for some awesome food. These neighborhood spots are reasonably priced and super delicious.

Suteishi for sushi fix
Made Fresh Daily for breakfast or sandwich
Nelson Blue for outside seating, lamb burger, and great skewers
Barbarini for your Italian fix. Great paninis, pastas, meats, and cheese.
Jacks for coffee

Other decent spots:
Il Brigante

Harry's Italian = pizza/lunch sandwiches/late night
Adriennes Pizza Bar = AWESOME pizza
Sandwich house = Good sandwich alternative

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Casa Mono

Last week I had an amazing lunch at Casa Mono, a little nighborhood joint outside of Gramercy Park on E 17th Street. Casa Mono and its adjacent counterpart Bar Jamon are the brainchild of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Andy Nusser. At Casa Mono, the majority of the menu are small plates, but the small plates pack big flavor.

Try the duck egg with mojama, razor clams, fluke crude, and jamon iberico.

Ashley Santoro, the wine director, has put together an amazing wine list so don't forget to check that out. I had to go back to work, but I was dying to explore. NEXT TIME!

Moving On

Sho Shaun Hergatt
On June 14th, Florence Fabricant announced to the New York Times that Shaun Hergatt was leaving his downtown restaurant in the Financial District to possibly move to a smaller space in Midtown. Although the future of Sho Shaun Hergatt is still undetermined, Flo reports that the two-star restaurant will be rebranded in August without its chef, Shaun Hergatt. The split between Shaun Hergatt and Asher Zamir, the main investor, was amicable; but Mr. Hergatt wants to bring the restaurant to another level-- a level which he cannot get to with his current partnership. I've been wanting to dine at Sho Shaun Hergatt for quite sometime; but never made it untill this news motivated me. 

Sho Shaun Hergatt was awarded two-stars in August 2010 from Sam Sifton; but many think the restaurant could be listed among the city's best. Location is one reason that people attribute to the restaurant's lack of success. Its located on Broad St on the second floor of a condominium building in the financial district. Another reason might be the culinary landscape of 2010 when fine dining restaurants were on a decline. The economy wasn't what it use to be and therefore people weren't indulging in the kind of experience that Sho Shaun Hergatt has for them.

The reviews took jabs at the space saying that the restaurant could be anywhere in the world; but I thought the space was stunning and unlike any other restaurant in the city. Upon exiting the elevator, I walked left where I was greeted by a smiling hostess. I told her I was looking to grab some lunch and asked if I was in proper attire. She nodded yes and continued to smile inviting me to sit in the lounge area. The Pearl Room was Mr. Hergatt's vision of giving guests a more comfortable, casual escape while allowing them to join the sophisticated food of the dining room. The lounge leads into a beautiful hallway of glass. Wine bottles are encased in the glass; but its kind of a sad showing. You could tell that this was once filled with expensive vintages from all around the world; but now is scattered and sad.

In the dining room, tables are wide and very spaced out. There's an open kitchen which I always love especially when the food is so artistic and complex. The atmosphere is quiet and the staff is slim. The 100,000 sq ft space is decorated in Asian accents that make the restaurant look very worldly. This plays in chef Hergatt's cuisine which he says is inspired by his culinary travels. Most chefs now a days are going local while chef Hargatt is sourcing his ingredients from all over the world. He believes that flavor is the most important component of his restaurant so he's sourcing the best ingredients from all around the globe. 

A bread basket was brought to the table with butter and a saffron potato mash. This kept me amused till my first course of salmon tartar came out. The wild salmon tartar was topped with crispy rice and sat next to a Wakame seaweed salad. The salmon was absolutely delicious while the seaweed salad sat atop guacamole was an interesting component to the dish.

My next course was a hanger steak with potatoes and mushrooms. The steak was cooked perfectly--loaded with flavor. The potatoes are always a nice accompaniment to steak; but the mushrooms were unbelievable. Dare I say these were the best Hen of the Wood mushrooms I've ever had. Granted there were only two on the plate; but I considered asking them for a side of these earthy treats. The sauce complimented the entire dish and even lead me to dipping my bread like I just finished a bowl of pasta. 

A selection of sorbet was next-- a nice trio of coconut, rhubarb, and passion fruit. The sorbet like the savory dishes was artfully prepared and visually appealing. The trio of sorbet sat on shaved ice to which I couldn't get a flavor. But it came me going back---tasting and tasting. In a bit of a rush, I asked for my bill and headed out. The $33 prix fixe menu 

Kin Shop

Kin Shop
I didn't plan on going to Kin Shop last Wednesday; but I'm glad I did. My original intent was Soto; but I then heard they were closed till after 4th of July. Craving sushi, Christa and I tried Ushiwakamaru on West Houston; but had no luck. The lady at the hostess stand gave us that "are you kidding me" look right before she told us to come back after 9:30. It was an hour and a half wait next door at Miss Lilly's as our mood instantly changed to Jamaican. Disappointed, we walked to Thompson St so we could try Tomoe, another sushi spot on my radar. Only 20 minutes, I was down to wait; but Christa ran away once she noticed the "B" letter grade. I told her that a "B" wasn't that bad and made a crack about her wishing for a "B" in high school--she didn't appreciate that. Lupa, Mario Batali's italian Osteria was jamming; but Italian food wasn't tempting enough to wait. It then occurred to me that we were a short walk away from Kin Shop, so I called and they seemed less crowded with a half hour wait. We walked north and by the time we got there, we walked right in. 

Harold Dieterle runs the kitchen at Kin Shop, a contemporary Thai restaurant on Sixth Ave. If you watch Top Chef, this name might ring a bell as Harold won the first season. Harold and his partner Alicia Nosenzo also own Perilla, a quaint restaurant on Jones Street.

We walked right into Kin Shop which was a bit of a surprise. Kin Shop always seems crowded as its a combination of a neighborhood spot and a destination. Regulars might come by for their weekly Thai fix while others travel from other neighborhoods to taste some of Dieterle's food. We started with the spicy duck laab salad and the fried pork and crispy oyster salad. The spicy duck was indeed spicy--probably the hottest thing we ate all night. But the heat brought flavor and had its purpose. The fried pork and oyster salad was another winning dish. The fried oysters were monsterous, the peanuts added a nice textural component, and the mint added a nice touch. The bacon added to the dish without overpowering it. All in all, the appetizers were a great success.

For our entrees, I was going to get the goat; but I went with the Northern Thai Style Curry Noodle-- a combination of brisket, cucumber, and fresh herbs. Christa got the Sour Yellow:roasted king oyster mushroom. Snow peas and turnips sat in the earthy broth and quickly disappeared. The entrees were good; but the appetizers were better. (I feel like this happens a lot!)

To full for anything else, we left and walked off a delicious dinner. Overall, Kin Shop was a great experience and I'd definitely go back to try out other items on the menu. Not only did the food excite me, but so did the beverage list. Kin Shop's beverage list was full of a ton of great treats from their beer selection to their wines. Grab a Singha lager from Thailand or a Nectar IPA from California. If you're interested in wine, Kin Shop offers 3 whites, 2 reds, 1 rose, and 1 sparkling by the glass. For a more extensive selection, keep reading down the menu for their bottle list. For whites, find your selection by section--aromatic, clean and crisp, or funky, rich, and full. Find a couple Rieslings under the aromatic section and continue down the menu if you're looking for something more clean and crisp like a Gruner or Vouvray Sec. Funky, rich, and full was the section that really got me pumped. A Marsanne from Napa, a Txakolina from Basque or even a Carricante from Mt. Etna. Reds are categorized by fruit driven or spicy/earthy. A great selection and all offered at a fair price. There's nothing worse than a restaurant that jack's up their wine prices and turns an average night out into a $200 night out.

Service was pretty good. Our server seemed knowledgeable although we didn't really ask him for anything other than recommendations. They kept up with water, which is important in a spice forward cuisine. Their credit card machines weren't working, but nothing to complain about--except the $3 extra i had to pay for the ATM charge haha. Definitely go check out Kin Shop.