Monday, December 30, 2013


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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

incognito italian bistro

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a press dinner at incognito Italian Bistro in Chelsea.  It's an open airy space and the weather was still nice enough to open the floor to ceiling windows.  they recently started featuring live jazz on Tuesday nights so that could make for a very enjoyable dining experience.

Although Incognito bills itself as an Italian bistro, the cuisine is actually a mix of Italian and Scottish. Not surprisingly, my palette was much more pleased with the Italian dishes. The best thing I ate was definitely the Rack of Baby Lamb.

It was perfectly cooked, juicy and well seasoned. The accompanying creamed potatoes were a helpful way to soak up the rosemary jus.  I knew it was good because it was the last item to arrive and I still devoured it. Usually by then I'm turning away food and only taking a couple of bites.  The pasta tasting was also a plus and I wish we had received a larger portion.

Lobster Ravioli with saffron butter and Risotto with lamb ragu.  The ravioli was creamy and light but lacked complexity.  The risotto was an interesting twist. I don't think I've ever had a dish quite like this.  I definitely recommend it.  I would also come back for the margharita pizza.

I had to resist going back in for a second slice since it was at the beginning of our meal.  The crust was crispy and the sauce was light enough so as to not make the pizza soggy.  I was not impressed with the Highland Haggis.

Perhaps it's because I'm not familiar with Scottish food, but it just seemed like an odd item for a summer menu.  The turnip tasted great but the lamb sausage was odd.  It was like a poorly constructed shepard's pie.  I would say the same about the Crepes.

Stuffing haddock, bechamel and leeks into a crepe just did not do it for me.  The varying textures were not well defined and it tasted more like a pile of white than any distinct item.  The fish was well cooked though and that was salvageable.

The meal certainly ended on a high note because the desserts were fantastic.  The chocolate torte was rich and the caramel sauce enhanced the depth of the chocolate flavor.

Incognito has the right vibe for a post work hang out or even an evening dinner.  Their menu offers a lot of diversity but has several staples that are bound to please.  I recommend Tuesday night because I'm sure the jazz will add to a pleasurable dining experience.

Hungry yet?

Incognito Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Copper Chimney

A few moons ago, AAA and I attended a press event at Copper Chimney. It was a private affair with a hand selected menu showcasing many of the top dishes at Copper Chimney.  

The lighting wasn't very good so some of these images may be a little more washed out than I would like.  We started with the Tandoori Samosa. 

These mini pockets of heaven were filled with spicy potatoes and peas. They were very flavorful so they didn't require a sauce, but one of the batches may have been baking for a little long because it was a little dry. The Gobi Honey Garlic were one of the surprising treats.  Gobi means Cauliflower in Hindi. The Cauliflower florets were tossed with a multilayered spice blend. They were not hot, just spice filled. Definitely a big fan. Bombay Bhaja was another surprising favorite.

We were served a variety of fritters, onion, eggplant, potato and spinach fried in chickpea batter. The spinach was my favorite and it was spicy, so you know I loved it! The Shrimp Balchao was by far my favorite appetizer.

A spicy blend of onions, tomatoes and curry cooked with red wine -- perfection! I was satisfied with the appetizers and truthfully, if the dinner stopped then, I would have been satisfied and quite impressed. But, thankfully it didn't! 

The entrees were saved in four separate bowls but really I ate them as one.  My favorite was the Lamb Vindaloo.

A tangy and spicy blend of lamb and potatoes. The lamb wasn't as tender as I would have liked, but the flavors were up there with the best vindaloo I've ever had.  The Chana Pindi was also up there on my list.

I don't know when I first fell in love with chickpeas, but it was definitely an India dish that first did it to me. I loved the blend of onion and tomatoes. Allegedly there were pomegranate seeds in there as well, but I don't recall tasting any. The Chicken Tikka Masala was solid.

Nothing spectacular in my mouth, but AAA was a big fan. The Saag Paneer Bhutta was another solid performer.

Spinach and cheese in an onion and tomato curry sauce. The other diners that sat my table were definitely into it and finished their portion quite quickly, but really who am I to judge? Wasn't much left when I finished.  

Copper Chimney gets solid marks from me. The appetizers were great and really opened the palate and set a high bar for the entrees. The entrees met that bar and a few of them even exceeded it. Definitely Indian food worth traveling for. Special thanks to One Source Resource for the invite!

Hungry yet?

Copper Chimney on Urbanspoon

The Mermaid Inn

On a snowy day earlier this year, I splashed through the puddles down to the East Village for dinner with Ms. O and Mr. M.  I was super excited to finally dine at The Mermaid Inn. We sat in the main dining room at the back of the restaurant. Although it was cold outside, it was quite warm in the nautical themed restaurant. Since the office closed early, our dinner was before 7 which means we were able to take advantage of the amazing happy hour specials! To kick off the night, we started with the Grand Platter. 

We are definitely seafood lovers so we were thrilled when the platter arrived. They oysters were fresh, the clams were flavorful and the shrimp were fantastic!  The lobster was a nice touch, but the star of the platter was the chilled bowl of Tuna Crudo. 

Holy moly! The sushi grade tuna was chopped in bite size pieces and mixed with avocado and jalapeño. It was like eating the best spicy tuna roll you've ever had but without the rice or seaweed. From that point on, it was non-stop food at our table. We were curious about the Lobster Knuckles Escargot, after all you can't combine two of the most delicious items without piquing our interest.

Le sigh. The tricked us! It was really lobster knuckles served escargot style.  Still delicious, but not as exciting as the advertisement would lead you to believe. The Mermaid Fish Tacos were as advertised!

Lightly fried beer battered tilapia in a tortilla filled with red cabbage for crunch, pickled jalapeños for spice, and pico de gallo for liveliness! The pickled jalapeños were the most powerful part, which was perfect for me. Definitely not for the uninitiated though. The biggest disappointment was the Boston Bibb Wedge Salad.

No surprises from me that generally, a salad is disappointing, but the specific complaint was the blue cheese. Too overpowering!! I suspected as much because Ms. O never lets her salad linger and this one lasted the entire meal. Mr. M ordered the grilled octopus which had some pork product that I couldn't eat.

Judging by how quickly the plate was emptied, I imagine it was quite good.  He also ordered the Mini Clam Chowder. 

The baby cup was done in no time. I of course ordered more oysters, because I just couldn't help myself. They were phenomenal.  We also ordered Steamed Maine Bouchot Mussels.

They were cooked with prosecco and although I liked them, because after all, it's difficult to be dissatisfied with mussels, they weren't spectacular. The fries that came with it were good, but with so many other choice items on the table, it was difficult to eat too many fries. Ms. O enjoyed her Fried Clam Slider.

I enjoyed The Mermaid Inn so much, I was back there within a few weeks, but this time I went to the upper west side location with MM and AAA. We had a glorious time. I ate too many oysters, but also sampled other items.  AAA tried the Shrimp Corndogs.

Too much Corndog, not enough shrimp. We also tried the Lobster Slider.

Yummers! It was filled with lobster, so much so that it was falling out.  Yessss! I hope they'll be at this year's Lobster Roll Rumble!  We also ate two orders of the Fried Calamari.

Yup, we were loving it. Lightly battered and lightly fried but heavily flavored - YUM! I also ordered the mini clam bake.

A bite size version that was well spiced - especially the potatoes!  The shrimp corndogs were a no go.  Stay away! 

The Mermaid Inn is high on my list of favorites of this year. I highly recommend their happy hour, because the specials are just too good to pass up. It also runs late enough that you don't feel like you're force feeding yourself early in the day.  The service was also incredible both times. They were very responsive and reminded you when happy hour was about to end. Although they have no dessert menu, I have no complaints because they serve everyone a little chocolate pot and a fish fortune.


Hungry yet?

Mermaid Inn on Urbanspoon