Category Archives: Tribeca

Marc Forgione

Yesterday I decided to incorporate a walk around Tribeca during my morning exercise to check out the new All Good Things market in the area. The place looks like a very tiny version of Grand Central Market with good lighting, display cases, and signs of vendors catching the attention of customers strolling down the walk-way. But after a thorough review of the few prepared foods available, I knew I needed to go elsewhere to fill my Sunday mid morning belly. I wanted something delicious but low key. So, my companion suggested Forgione – a restaurant he claimed was casual, but that I always remembered as super duper fancy. We walked in, and despite the bright sun shining outside, it felt like it was 8pm on a Saturday night. We sat at the bar and had a cherry mimosa (a little too sweet but tasty), complimentary warm, honey-chive biscuits served with some kind of delicious whipped butter, and a roasted vegetable omelette with goat cheese. Now, I came to this place looking for something simple so maybe I had false expectations, but how inventive can you imagine getting with an omelette? This “omelette” came out as a flat pancake-shaped egg resting on a pile of small chopped up roasted vegetables and goat cheese. What happened to egg and filling integration?

glistening honey biscuit

I think my expectations of casual and straight-forward were incorrect, but I should have known given what I’ve heard about the dinners at this place. Still, I confidently profess that in no scenario is an “elevated” omelette better than a standard one. An omelette is an omelette, so please give me what I ordered. That said, I know there is real skill in the kitchen because damn those biscuits were crispy and delightful! I might return for dinner…but considering I’m typically looking for brightly-lit, happy-go-lucky, stick to your bones brunch spots, this did not win a spot on my Sunday morning grub list.

Grade: B
Location: 134 Reade Street
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Blaue Gans

Blaue Gans (Blue Goose)

Last week, I was so pleasantly surprised to receive a note in response to my Cafe Sabarsky blogpost from a longtime employee of the restaurants’ corporation, KGNY. It’s nice to put a name to the number of “web cookies” showing in my site’s analytics, especially when that person is connected to a restaurant I’ve (fondly) reviewed. And the reciprocal marketing works – the email incentivized me to arrange my next date with the ladies who introduced me to Sabarsky at Blaue Gans, another KGNY restaurant in Tribeca.

After rolling home in pain just an hour ago, I think it’s safe to say I’ve eaten more Austrian food in the last two weeks than I have in my entire life. I say that with no regret of stuffing myself. Every bite was rich, heartwarming, and filling. The food at Blaue Gans is cooked with history, tradition and soul, and the waiters express contagious passion when serving it. Detailed explanations and smiles come with every dish that arrives to the table, and curiosity about the food is very much encouraged.

Lauren, Austin, Sara and I sat on one of the long benches outside the spacious restaurant to enjoy the warm evening air – one of New York’s assets that I honestly live for. The outside bench served an even better purpose than letting the breeze touch my face, though: a huge working space to properly lay out the ridiculous amount of food that we ordered and were served compliments of the house, thanks to the incredibly friendly staff. Instead of thinking through our order and how it all fit together, when the waiter came, we called out every item that seemed remotely interesting. This I look back on as the starting point of our demise.

lipataur (definitely the opposite of the heart medicine)

First came the liptauer – a quark cheese spread with butter, paprika, and onions served with thick poilane-esque sourdough bread.  I love anything with cheese, but this was brightly colored, flavorful, creamy, and light – unlike any typical cheese spread I’ve tried before. My dad would have loved this.

smoked trout tart

cabbage salad

asparagus beautifully plated

sausage sampler…or the four of us spooning

Then came the pretzel. Then the smoked salmon torte, the cabbage salad, the green asparagus, the blood sausage, the sausage sampler, the spätzl, the pork schnitzel, and the white asparagus special. Yes, there were only four of us, and yes, we ate everything save one inch of the pretzel. And we all had our favorites – mine was the intensely flavorful smoked trout palatschinken torte, which was served as a wedge of thin crepes layered with generous chunks of delicious white fish and horse-radish creme fraiche next to beets and drizzled balsamic. And though I’ll always have a spot in my heart for Blaue Gans sinfully creamy spatzl with bright spring vegetables, I think my next favorite were both the green and white asparagus, which were perfectly cooked. The green asparagus were prepared with marinated chopped tomatoes and microgreens, while the white asparagus was much more decadent with potatoes and a creamy sauce reminiscent of hollandaise.

Blood Sausage – Lauren’s fave

spatzle!!

spätzl!!

schnitzel with spätzl – say that five times fast.

The “jäger schnitzel,” which came recommended by my blog correspondent, was pretty much my dad’s heaven: thin pan-sauteed pork finished with cream, mushrooms, veal broth and bacon. But not just any bacon – a generous heep of thick, crispy chunks of lean cured meat. Next time I’ll have to try the veal schnitzel.

apple strudel – a non-distant memory

Amazing

The madness didn’t stop with our entrees. Nope, all of us came knowing we had no choice but to order my favorite – the apple strudel. How could we leave it out after our romantic experience with the pastry at Cafe Sabarsky? And given the overwhelming variety of options, we had no choice but to try something new. After much debate we requested the “eis kaffee” – a sundae with vanilla ice cream, espresso, coffee, and whipped cream. Little did we know that the kitchen would send, along with strawberry cocktails, the other options we were contemplating – a chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut and caramelized bananaslemon-basil mousse filled with mixed berries, and the salzburger nockerl, a wonderful dish of warm poached huckleberries and a cloud of meringue inspired fluff. We became the perfect eating partnership as we each gravitated to different dishes. Lauren focused on the marshmellowy white souffle, Sara daintily hacked at the lemon-basil mousse, I aggressively tackled the apple strudel, and Austin gulped down the remains of the coffee sundae. We all partook in the chocolate mousse.

We all knew the coma we were getting into throughout the process, but the knowledge of the consequences of over-eating is sadly never enough to stop me. What kills us makes us stronger, right? Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Given the service, the variety of food, the importance of dessert and the beautiful set up at Blaue Gans, I will no doubt return, hopefully with my father whom I know for sure would go crazy over this place. Definitely recommended for all occasions – heavy brews and dinner with friends, a peaceful night with the family, a business lunch, a date…any and all occasions seem to fit well with Austrian food and a solid operation. It’s not common to find a New York neighborhood restaurant like this one that truly appreciates and welcomes its customers – something you think would go hand in hand with owning a business so dependent on its consumers. So if you need to refreshed of the exclusive, swanky, overly hyped scenes that populate this city, this is the place to get your real-people fix.

Grade: A
Location: 139 Duane Street at West Broadway
Website:
 www.kg-ny.com

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Landmarc in Tribeca

When Landmarc restaurant comes to mind, I think of two things: clients and parents. With a straightforward and sophisticated salad-pasta-meat-fish menu, round tables, fairly low noise level and residential location, it makes the perfect setting for a formal occasion with adults (including myself). Sara and I decided it would be a great place to try for her mom’s visit this week.

Be sure to bring your iPhone flashlight application – without this, I’m not sure we would have been able to read the menu in the darkness of the restaurant. With the variety of interesting appetizers, our table selected a few to share. Though not as thin and crispy as I had expected, the crispy prosciutto and Fontina Flatbread was my favorite. I was unimpressed by the bland smoked mozzarella and ricotta fritters, which for $13 only came with a three tiny fried zucchini spears and three small rounds of fried cheese.  The tuna carpaccio, on the other hand, came just as described with a refreshing black olive salad and tuna sliced so thin it was almost invisible.

flatbread

fritters

Tuna

I was very pleased with the pan seared salmon, which came with buttery corn and a healthy dollop of earthy pesto. I rarely am served a rare salmon when I request it, but this came out perfectly pink and tender with a layer of seared crisp skin. There are a ton of salads to choose from for those looking for something lighter, and I loved the cold chopped salad that came with celery, cucumber, and my favorite – hearts of palm. Most intimidatingly heavy menu items can be ordered in half portions here, which I love, considering I’m always afraid to commit to one main dish!

hearty chopped salad

delicious salmon

When it comes to dessert I am most critical, but the platter of mini tiramisu, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, a blueberry crumble, and a chocolate eclair was pretty much divine. For someone as indecisive as when making food choices, mini of everything is a no-brainer. And I usually hate lemon desserts, but I couldn’t get my hands off of this subtly sweet lemon tart with freshly whipped meringue.

platter of minis

My judgement of Landmarc remains. It is a solid, well rounded, and reliable restaurant that provides an ideal experience for family outings or a crowd with diverse preferences. Don’t expect to be blown away by any unique executions, but be confident that you’ll leave with a satisfying meal.

Grade: A-

Location: 179 West Broadway btwn Leonard and Worth Streets

Website: http://www.landmarc-restaurant.com

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Filed under American, Business Meal, Californian Cuisine, Fun Group Dinner, Parents in Town, Pizza, Tribeca

Smith and Mills

Last night I finally had a chance to try the food at Smith and Mills, an intimate yet eclectic garage turned cocktail bar on a bustling corner in Tribeca. The spot is large enough for 8 tables and a bar just a few stools wide, but the coziness and white cushioned booths are what makes the place so charming. The fashionable hipster staff is quite friendly, too – in a rare turn of events in New York city, they actually allowed our party of two to sit at an outside table for four.

Along with a glass of prosecco, Sara and I shared salmon tartare, burrata, and squash blossom salad. The menu includes a small sampling of cheeses and glamorized bar food, but the options for healthy food are limited. Though we had asked for light dressing based on Sara’s last impression of the salad, an oily vinaigrette overwhelmed the fine ribbons of squash, and we could hardly dent the pile. I expected the salmon to be served nude, but it was also covered in a thick dressing, and the large capers were jarring. The saving grace was the burrata, though it bordered on regular fresh mozzarella considering its lack of creaminess.

salmon tartare

With its unique atmosphere and specialty cocktails, I wouldn’t rule out Smith and Mills in the future. I just won’t return hungry.

Grade: C+

Location: 71 North Moore Street between Greenwich and Hudson

Website: http://www.smithandmills.com

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Locande Verde – Private Event

Private Room

I admit it costs an arm and a leg to reserve the private room at Locanda Verde, but if you’re on someone else’s generous budget, there should be nothing stopping you from looking into it. The back room is absolutely gorgeous and totally closed off to outside noise, so it allows you to create an intimate experience for groups ranging from 20-50 people. With an expansive bar, a private entrance into the kitchen, and a devoted waitstaff, the private room makes you feel like for a second, Locanda Verde is truly yours.

Special menu

But the best part about hosting an event here is undoubtedly the family style food. As the coordinator of a work-hosted event tonight, I had the privilege of selecting the menu, and every single bite took my breath away. The reason I love Barbuto is similar to the reason I absolutely love Locanda Verde – the food here is pure, flawless, and simple. Each dish spotlights its few ingredients – flavors aren’t complicated, just straightforward. You can really taste the love and history in this cooking.

To start, we were served platters of four appetizers: blue crab crostini, ricotta crostini, beat, orange and fennel salad, and a green salad with marcona almonds and apple. The salads weren’t ordinary, but had intense depth and texture, and the crostini came with thick charred bread that perfectly complimented the carefully executed accompaniments. I’ve reviewed the ricotta before, but I’ll say it again: it’s indescribably insane. Creamy, with fresh, fruit extra virgin olive oil, a bite of this on toasted italian bread will take you straight to heaven. Don’t expect to remain focused on conversation while eating.

ricotta crostini

blue crab crostini

The pasta course blew me away as well. Heaping bowls of ligurian trofie pesto with roasted tomato and potato as well as gigantone with sunday night ragu and provolone picante steamed from the table. The pesto was deep, rich, and bright green, not diluted with oil, and texturally interesting with a mix of string beans and root vegetables. The flavors were bright but comforting. The gigantone was on the heavier side, but the extra-large rigatone was perfectly dense and al dante, and stood up well to the hefty tender short rib ragu.

Pesto

gigantone with sunday night ragu

I could have died and gone to heaven on apps and pasta alone, but they set an quite the precedent for Locanda’s famous wood fired chicken and grilled branzino with zucchinis. The branzino stood out to me as the most flavorful with flash fried basil and thin, crispy skin. Light, basic, and served atop a gorgeous rouge sauce, it was a perfectly fresh choice to follow the pasta. The roast chicken was simple, but with lifeless skin, it didn’t stand up to the chicken at Barbuto.

roasted chicken

Finally, as a private party, we were served full sized, richly brown, dark chocolate pistachio tarts with dishes of rich and creamy pistachio gelato along with a pear and ginger crisp. In a world obsessed with the hazelnut-chocolate combination, the chocolate-pistachio tart sang uniqueness in my mouth and truly stole my attention, as others around me scraped their spoon against the ceramic dish in search of the warm pear filling.

chocolate tart

I left Locanda Verde feeling like every single penny was certainly well spent. The group of 20 unanimously agreed that it was some of the best food we’ve ever tasted, and if I ever have the opportunity to work on a budget like I did tonight, I’ll definitely think of Locanda first. I could definitely see myself eating pasta in a wedding dress…

Grade: A

Location: 377 Greenwich Street @ North Moore

Website: http://www.locandaverdenyc.com

*pictures courtesy of Anjali Kumar and Yelp

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Filed under Business Meal, Drinks & Apps, Erin's Favorites, Family Style, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Tribeca

Locanda Verde @ the Bar

About a month back I organized a 30-person dinner for work at Locanda Verde, and it was supposed to take place tonight. Due to the over-blown ominous warnings of an impending snow storm, however, I was coerced into canceling. I soon became bitter that a delicious 4 course meal I had been anxiously anticipating vanished before my eyes, especially as the sun shined outside my office window. The remedy to my angst? Screw the media and their storm threats and go to Locanda Verde regardless. Not a blizzard in sight, sturdy boots were strapped on, and it was my friend Bruce’s 40th birthday – all signs pointed toward instant gratification.

Because of the long wait for tables there, Bruce, his sister, and I were seated at the end of the bar, where Bruce temporarily had to stand until a third stool was released to the wild. I rarely do bar seating but am always reminded what fun it is – you get to interact with the waitstaff, order what you want when you want it, and it’s much more laid back than table dining. The place was packed but not so much that we were overwhelmed by wall to wall bodies, thanks to the front waiting area.

We started with my favorite – the sheep’s milk ricotta crostini. The menu changes often but this item is and will always be longstanding. It’s phenomenal in its simplicity – utterly creamy, nutty, and silky – it pairs so perfectly with a crusty crunk of charred bread and a glass of wine. It’s less fluffy than the ricotta I’ve had elsewhere; denser, in between the consistency of whipped cream and cream cheese.

Being with two adventurous eaters, we proceeded with the tripe alla parmigiana with a farm egg, which was more like a tripe-tomato stew en casserole. In spite of the foodie I claim to be, I couldn’t bring myself to eat the main component, but the egg and the sauce was great with the warm rosemary focaccia.

Next, we split my favorite – the pumpkin agnolotti with sage and brown butter sauce. Silky smooth, delicate, ravioli-esque pasta filled with soft, buttery, sweet pumpkin puree, this dish was surprisingly light but obviously delicious. Their pastas are insane.

For our main, we shared the short rib special, which sat on top of a smooth puree of potato. Being fish obsessed, I was surprised to find myself licking my plate clean. The meat fell apart so gracefully – its fragility was almost poetic. On the side we ordered another favorite of mine: roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and pecorino, which were evidently cooked with a generous portion of rich extra virgin olive oil and coarse chunks of sharp cheese. At the risk of sounding repetitive, these were AWESOME.

We didn’t intend to order dessert (the sweetness of our delicious Barbera wine sufficed), but because Bruce is a good friend of the staff, they sent out the maple budino with candied pecans, maple, and butternut sorbet for the special occasion. They also must have seen me longingly eyeing the dessert menu. Though every part of the meal was stellar, the dessert is the reason I will return to Locanda Verde at least once again before the end of the month. As Bruce sister’s said, the indescribably soft and light maple pudding was “f***ing phenomenal.” When I think maple, I think excruciatingly sweet. This was beautifully subtle in every sense of the word…Pastry Chef Karen DeMasco really, really has a gift.

I’m pretty lucky that the only sub-par meal I’ve had thus far in 2011 was the one cooked by yours truly (see post below), but even luckier that the extent of deliciousness of the positive meals has been so incredibly grand. This meal really tipped my scale….Call me cliche, but I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve jumped high up on the Locanda Verde bandwagon.

Grade: A+

Location: 377 Greenwich Street @ North Moore

Website: http://www.locandaverdenyc.com

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Corton NYC

Corton has been praised as one of the best new restaurants in New York City, but based off of the descriptions of its delicate and refined food, it didn’t strike me to be a potential favorite. While it may seem like I only dine at expensive, snooty places, I don’t. I’ve just had a lot of reasons to dine at special occasion restaurant recently (birthday, new job, etc.). In fact, going to Corton wasn’t even my choice – it was my manager Eileen’s choice, since she and my two other managers kindly offered to take me out to celebrate my birthday. And in retrospect, I am SO glad we followed her suggestion!

The restaurant is absolutely gorgeous – with a white, pristine, Japanese-zen feel, and background noise so low you could almost hear a pin drop, it felt more like a wellness center than a typical New York restaurant. But everything about the restaurant coincides. The food is clean, beautifully and perfectly presented and combines pure, fresh, simple ingredients to create intense and complex flavors. The service is subtle and impeccable as well – calm yet attentive, and not overzealous in the slightest. Quite an artful place.
The *only* complaint I would have about the restaurant is that they do not allow photos of their food. Out of snobbiness or respect for their guests (I was sitting a table away from Matt Lauer), Idon’t know; nonetheless it made me discouraged to write this blog. However, with constant flashbacks of the wonderful food I consumed at Corton, I couldn’t help but distribute a stellar review to my (3) avid fans.

I and the rest of my group opted for the three course meal – along with 2 amuse bouches, a delicious selection of bread rolls (with two types of butter and fleur de sel), the various accoutrements the come as surprises with each dish, and a chocolate truffle and macaron tasting, it was more than enough food. To start, I ordered the “From the Garden” salad. While it sounds dull, it was probably the best, most inventive and artful “salad” I’ve ever tasted. Bright and beautiful young vegetables with edible flowers doused the plate on top of hidden of root purrees and flavored oils. Really light and clean, but totally satisfying. We also decided to split an “in between” course that was incredible – “Early Spring,” which consisted of four separate plates: a scallop, sweat pea ravioli, a delicate crab salad, and a beautiful piece of rare quail. Of course I’m butchering the image of each course with poor descriptions, but you should know that each plated dish was as beautiful as food could be – a painting on a plate, with complimenting colors, textures, heights…it was almost surprising that it tasted as good as it looked!

For my main course, I had the halibut with morel mushrooms. Of course, it was perfectly cooked, light, comforting, and wholesome, but the best part about it was the heavy portion of freshly cooked green risotto served in a steel pot. I also managed to try the Angus beef, which was actually a hearty size. At that point in the meal, I was perfectly full (not only off of food, but off of probably close to a sweet bottle of Pouilley Montrachet burgundy), and felt so fortunate to have had one of the most intricate and spectacular meals of my life with three of the people I most admire.

Dessert followed the trend of the rest of the food – it was pure goodness. I ordered the “gold bar,” which is Corton’s version of a dense yet creamy, chocolate caramel layered cake. If I were to return, I would order a dessert with less intensity considering all of the wine and collectively-rich food I consumed, but no complaints in retrospect.

Grade: A+
Address: 239 West Broadway @ North Moore
Website: http://www.cortonnyc.com

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Locanda Verde – Italian food in a French brasserie setting

After reserving a table one month in advance, I was finally able to try Locanda Verde – a favorite of my manager and co-worker alike. I rarely venture down to Tribeca, but after my visit to Locanda I see why people make the trip – this place is truly a unique version of an Italian ristorante. Rather than the typical mundane decor and paper table cloths prevalent in Little Italy or North Beach, Locanda Verde resides in a vast, brasserie-like space with a massive bar, delicious Italian fare and even better desserts (in fact, it just won NY Mag’s “Best of” for pastries). Not at all your typical mom & pop Italian restaurant, Locanda Verde is very upbeat vibe, appealing to a younger, better-looking New York crowd and down-towners seeking solid food with their after-work drinks. Loved the vibe…and, really enjoyed the food as well – just wouldn’t give it an A for service. My waitress seemed as if she were dodging fire the entire night, rarely pausing to give us a chance to speak. But, I guess that’s to be expected when you go to such a high-profile joint like Locanda Verde, which probably turns tables faster than most Tribecan hot spots.

Food was delicious, but not hundreds of steps ahead of the Batali or Denton restaurants I’ve visited. In fact, its menu is very similar to that of L’artusi and Dell’Anima – a couple of crostini options, a variety of pastas, a choice of sides, and a small range of meat and fish.
One thing that did help Locanda stand out was its bread – rosemary lemon focaccia baked on the premises and served warm. Texture like pillows of dense, perfectly soft bread dough. So yummy. Look at that – the definition of buttery and golden brown!
To start I of course ordered my favorite of any Italian menu – crostini. Locanda is known for its sheep’s milk ricotta and the accolades are totally deserved – it was probably the best ricotta cheese I’ve tasted. Wonderfully smooth texture, accompanied with sea salt and a pocket of amazing extra virgin olive oil, this could be my breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The wild mushroom crostini came in a different form than the ricotta crostini – rather than a pile of topping beside a stack of crusty bread, it arrived as a flatter, thinner piece of crostini with its topping pre-mounted. I’m not sure if I like the inconsistent interpretation of crostini- I prefer that a restaurant take a solid stance on their crostini preparation choice. Anyway, this topping was not my favorite – the mushrooms were smothered with a thick, balsamic vinaigrette which was, while flavorful, quite sour and overpowering. I wanted to actually taste and feel the texture of the wild mushrooms, but that didn’t happen (again, missing Frankie’s crostinis…).
For my main course, I ordered the Stuffed Mountain Trout with gala apple and pancetta, which was served as a roulade atop a creamy bed of lentils, which I really enjoyed.
The fish was great, but as to be expected with trout, not overly flavorful or wow-ing. I would order it again if I were in the mood for something very simple and light on the stomach.
I have to say, the side of brussel sprouts was probably the star of entree. Served hot in a dish with generous chunks of pancetta and crispy, buttery bread crumbs, the sprouts felt less like a vegetable than a main course, but was a great accompaniment to a light entree. I was also able to try a pasta my co-worker had raved about – the Gigantone with sunday night ragu and provolone picante. I unfortunately forgot to take a photo in my food bliss, but the huge chunks of shortrib were quite noteworthy – a meat lover’s pasta fantasy. The gigantone itself – larger versions of rigatoni – was wonderfully al dente and held the sauce just right. I would definitely order this pasta again if I were craving something on the heavier side.

For dessert, I ordered the La Fantasia di Cioccolata, which consisted of two huge scoops of homemade gelato (amazing), a drizzling of warm salted caramel sauce, and a couple mini chunks (wish there had been more) of dense chocolate brownie. This was incredible. And to top it off, they sent us off with two dark chocolate -walnut biscotti upon signing our bill. I definitely left the restaurant as I usually do – rolling. But having been able to experience such a fun and spunky ambience while tasting creative modern Italian food, I was definitely okay with the stomach pains.

Website: http://www.locandaverdenyc.com
Address
: 377 Greenwich St (corner of N.Moore and Greenwich)

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