Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ponty Bistro

Hello eaters! I know it's been a while. I've been eating but so much has been happening that I haven't been writing. Please forgive me! I'm back now and will have a lot to write about given the many many dining experiences I've had. 

I recently went to a press dinner at Ponty Bistro. It's a Senagalese French restaurant in Manhattan. I ate at the original location which is on 3rd avenue and 19th street. It's a neighborhood I rarely dine in these days. The location seats about 45 guests and although there's no sidewalk cafe, if you come early you can snag a seat by the floor to ceiling window that remains open during warmer months. I have been to a couple of Senegalese restaurants before but rarely have I had the kind of culinary delight I experienced at Ponty Bistro. The first dish on the warm summer-like spring evening was Gazpacho.  


I have never been a fan of gazpacho so I was immediately skeptical. However when it landed on the table, I was pleasantly surprised by the scent of the berber spices. My first spoonful was enough to convince me. The spicy tomato based soup included cucumbers which had a cooling effect. The surprises continued when the Kale Salad arrived. 


Eaters, you know I'm not about the salad life. However I must say the combination of pine nuts, goat cheese, cranberries mixed with a lemon vinaigrette dressing was just right. I was the first to finish this dish and really wanted more. I was less impressed with the Risotto. 
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. The combination of truffle mushroom and asparagus with Parmesan cheese was actually pretty good. I just felt overwhelmed by the number of mushrooms in my tasting portion serving. They did add an interesting texture and provide a richer flavor, but the dish still seemed more rice than risotto. The Risotto was a distant memory when the African Mussels arrived. 
If there was a drool worthy dish, this was definitely it. The scent of the coconut milk, curry, lemongrass, and berbere spices hit you right as the bowl landed on the table. These were unlike any other mussels I've had the mussels themselves were larger than what I'm used to. The sauce was light but the flavor was HUGE. The sauce was so good we were eating it by the spoonful when we finished the mussels. The last dish was an unexpected favorite. Chicken Tagine. 

This was another dish with lively color and bold taste. It is inspired by the Moroccan dish of the same name. The onion based sauce includes a blend of rich spices. It had a little kick to it which I appreciated. The Cous Cous was also cooked to perfection and went really well with the sauce. 

There's no better place I could have asked for to re-enter the blogosphere. Ponty Bistro had a diverse menu and offers a cuisine you can't find in many locations around the city. The dishes are well worth the prices especially considering the portions. I'm looking forward to trying the Harlem location soon!

Hungry yet?  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bagatelle

I recently attended a Blogger night at Bagatelle. The restaurant is already well know for its party scene, but it could definitely use more shine for the delightful culinary creations of the talented chef Sébastien Chamaret. We were able to sample many of the signature dishes as well as some other delicious selections. By far my favorite dish was the Parisian Truffle Gnocchi. 

The melt in your mouth bite sized pieces of gnocchi were covered with thin shaves of truffle. Unbelievable. The truffle was complimentary not overpowering the way truffle typically is overused. Truffle was actually present in several dishes and each time it enhanced the dish. The Whole Roasted Truffle Chicken was phenomenal. 

The meat was juicy and fell right off the bone. The potatoes were lightly roasted and perfectly cooked; soft, but not mushy.  The White Truffle Pizza was not what I expected at a french restaurant. 

Again I was thrilled  that the truffle was not overwhelming. The crust was perfectly crispy.  The Ahi Tuna Tartare was fantastic. 

Sushi grade tuna with lime soy vinaigrette on top of an avocado salad. I was a little bummed that I had to share it with other people at the table. The Salmon Tartare was good but not quite as impressive. 

The mixture of fresh and smoked salmon was unique but the touch of cream threw it off a little. Generally the seafood entrees were not as well executed.  The Thyme and Parmesan Crusted Scallops looked great. 

They tasted fine. After so many great dishes, I was generally underwhelmed. The Grilled Salmon was also lacking. 


It was cooked medium but lacked any seasoning and was unimpressive.  The Calamari had a great presentation.
 

The polenta and tomato confit coupled with parsley butter added great flavor to the dish. The calamari was thin so it lacked the meatiness I usually prefer.  While we were eating, the lights were turned down and the music turned up. By the end of the meal, I was spending more time singing and chair dancing than actually eating. 

The party won't stop at Bagatelle, but the food should be given due consideration.  I highly recommend the gnocchi and the chicken. Several of the dishes are worth returning for and I can't wait to go back! 

Hungry yet?

Bagatelle on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Masq Restaurant & Lounge


It’s no secret that I LOVE NEW ORLEANS! Food is the primary reason that I love that city.  So when I received an invite to attend a press dinner at Masq Restaurant & Lounge, a New York restaurant with a New Orleans theme, I HAD to be there.  The theme is definitely there in the décor.  There are three main areas and my favorite is definitely the back lounge area, which is heavy on the masques and likely to be the location of my birthday celebration next year.


Aside from the décor, the food is heavily influenced by New Orleans, but also has some standout dishes outside of that theme.   By far my favorite dish was the Shrimp Po Boy.


It was served on a sweet Hawaiian roll, which enhanced the flavor of the Cajun fried shrimp by providing a contrast.  The spicy remoulade was also a game changer that brought up the level of complexity in an otherwise simple Po boy.  The Asian Marinated Salmon was a close second.


Since it falls outside of the theme, it couldn’t be the favorite.  It is usually offered as a special.  The honey garlic soy sauce had deep flavors. I treasured every bite of the salmon.  I also very much enjoyed the Maryland Crabcake.



Another item that falls slightly outside of the theme, but it was seasoned to perfection.  The breading was light and it was quite obvious I was eating chunks of crab and not filler.  The arugula was slightly salty so I stayed away from that part of the dish.  This is definitely not the restaurant for vegetarians.  Both the Grilled Vegetable Flatbread and the Asiago Cheese Wedges were the least successful dishes.  

The tomato basil sauce tasted great, but the cheese itself was bland and the breading was equally tasteless.  The flatbread suffered a similar fate.  It was also foiled by its use of cheese.  The goat cheese seemed odd and detracted from the flavors.



The two dishes I would most like to return for are the ones I did not taste.  The Mac ‘n Cheese Croquettes and the Jambalaya.  Both of them contain some form of pork so I unfortunately missed out.  Judging by the empty plates and looks of satisfaction around the table, I would guess that these were the top dishes.  I have already inquired and I’m pleased to hear that the chef is willing to work with me and de-pork these dishes, when it comes to my birthday dinner.  I can’t WAIT to try both.

Masq’s menu is diverse but definitely has a clear New Orleans swing.  Considering my love for the city, I am thrilled that this restaurant exists in my city and I’m looking forward to returning.

Hungry yet? 

MASQ on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cook & Go


As the weather starts to cool down, hanging out has become more of a challenge and I'm always looking for a fun and interactive indoor activity. When I received an invite to attend the press event at Cook & Go, I was pumped! Cook & Go is an awesome venue that allows you to do just what it says...cook, and go! The concept is brilliant. They have a short cooking class where you make an individual portion of a meal then you box it up and you take it elsewhere to eat. The set up is beautiful and I was super excited to get started.


Our chef was awesome and we had four fantastic dishes to make.  The best part of the process is that you make your own dish, so you can add a little flair.  My absolute favorite dish was the Ravioli with Pumpkin Sage Sauce.


We assembled the three cheese ravioli ourselves then cooked it…and of course I made a few extra pieces.  The chef was also kind enough to give me some sauce to go. YUM!  The panko crusted chicken bites were quite easy to make, and I have already replicated them at home.


Our entrées were restaurant worthy, and quite hearty! We also had not one, but two desserts!


The Chocolate Cranberry Tart tasted great but mine fell apart a little in the oven. 

The Maple Upside Down Cake was much more successful!


I truly enjoyed the experience, and you can also take advantage of it.  For a limited time, Cook & Go is offering my readers a chance to get a 10% discount! It’s totally worth it and I already have plans to return in January.  Register here and use the password: Lady.  Also not a bad idea if you're still looking for a list minute holiday gift! 

This is also a great place for anyone who is unsure about whether they can cut it in the kitchen. You'll have some easy starter recipes created by well trained chefs! I also got to walk away with a new apron. 


Hungry yet?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The MasalaWala


I love Indian food yet I find myself ordering take out rather than going to restaurants. So when I was invited to a press dinner at The MasalaWala, I was thrilled! The restaurant is understated and seats less than 30. The cuisine focuses on Indian street food. My mouth immediately started watering when we received the menu. The Kolkata Gobi Manchurian immediately stole the show.


I don't know why I've never experienced such deliciousness in my life. The cauliflower was crispy and to some extent it was difficult to tell it was cauliflower. The blend of Indo-Chinese spices made this reminiscent of a high class general tso dish.  I was also a big fan of the Lamb Kakori Kebab.


In the last year lamb has reappeared in my diet and this was probably the best I've eaten. The lamb is imported from Australia, home of the world's best lamb. It is triple ground so it's incredibly tender then grilled in the Tandoori. Simply to die for! The Chicken Tikka was a close second.


The small chunks of chicken were marinated overnight which definitely showed in the depth of the flavor. They were then grilled in the Tandoori which cooked them to perfection. The samosas were standard fare.


Definitely well seasoned and thankfully not overstuffed but with so many other interesting dishes on the table it was not the star. When the entrees started arriving my nose was having a party thanks to all the amazing aromas. I absolutely loved the Nawabi Lamb Biryani (bottom left).


The lamb was just as tender as the Kebab. The rice was also cooked to perfection. The blend of flavors was what made it so amazing. I definitely had dreams about the biryani the following night and fully intend on calling in an order whenever I'm in the neighborhood.  The Chicken Kali Mirch was another great dish.


It had a unique flavor unlike anything I've tried before. The black pepper chicken was blended with a variety of spices reminiscent of curries I've tried before but with an extra kick.  The Lamb Pasanda was spectacular.

I really tasted the difference in Australian lamb than what I've eaten elsewhere. I had high hopes for the Shrimp Malabar. The flavors were right but the shrimp was slightly overcooked, almost tough.  The coconut curry was mild with slight tamarind undertones.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the selection at The MasalaWala. The mix of new dishes and familiar staples was refreshing. I had to leave before dessert so I will definitely be back to try it out!

Hungry yet?


The MasalaWala on Urbanspoon