Tag Archives: seafood

Catch: global seafood in trendy meatpacking

catch

I spent my first years as a restaurant-goer in NYC dining where I could most easily imagine myself as a cast member of Sex in the City. Straight out of college, I wasn’t looking for cute hole-in-the-walls — I got the biggest thrill wearing heels and strutting into exclusive spaces pumping dance music, offering $15 specialty cocktails, and turning tables like clockwork. Buddakan and Stanton Social were my locations of choice. Fortunately I’ve now moved on to less trendy pastures as a more seasoned New Yorker, but every now and then I’m dragged into the high concept restaurant chains of my past.

Catch last week was one such occurrence, but it helped me remember why I like menus intended for broad audiences. I admittedly went into it with low expectations, but I left impressed with the service, the food, the drinks and the experience overall. As a seafood lover with menu anxiety (it’s difficult to narrow down to one item after eating a Google buffet for the last five years), Catch’s food selection is perfect for me. They offer a small delectable sushi rolls, a raw bar, a ton of hot specials, family style platters, or a variety of fish simply prepared for those not as adventurous. Think of this place as the steakhouse for fish. It keeps that well-known, roomy corporate feel, but maintains a relaxed, light-hearted vibe with light colored furniture, good lighting, dance music, and fun cocktails. Waiters aren’t as formal, but the service is spot on.

The highlights of the many dishes we tried were the MrC roll with tuna, tempura shrimp and ponzu butter, the soft shell crab roll, the crispiest crispy rock shrimp I’ve ever had, and the tuna tartare crispy rice cakes. These dishes aren’t necessarily unique to Catch (find similar variations at Koi, Bond Street, Nobu, etc), but they’re done exceptionally well. The showstopper visually was the crispy whole snapper that comes out deep fried with an asian style saute, positioned as if it’s about to swim away. The sauce was definitely needed to add flavor. Chinese food lovers would die over the salty cantonese lobster tails; I’m just not a fan for thick brown sauces. The overly buttered mushroom pasta was the only disappointment, but that came as no surprise given it was one of the only pasta dishes on the menu.

warm pretzel rolls with mustard butter

warm pretzel rolls with mustard butter

crispy shrimp

hot, buttery crispy shrimp

hamachi tartare

hamachi tartare

salmon belly carpaccio - yes we did get all of this.

salmon belly carpaccio – yes we did get all of this.

scallop dumplings

scallop dumplings

fried whole snapper

fried whole snapper

cantonese lobster - photo from Zagat.com

cantonese lobster – photo from Zagat.com

banana brulee spli

banana brulee split

Dessert at Catch and its sister restaurants are remarkable, and that goes a long way for someone like me. The strawberry shortcake with a large buttery biscuit brought me straight back to my childhood. The banana brulee split was beautifully prepared, but given the tiny scoops of ice cream and difficulty of scooping up all the ingredients off the flat dish for an ideal bite, I would have preferred a less stylized version.

Despite the hiccups in food, I left hoping to plan my next work event or dad’s visit to town at Catch. It’s a crowd-pleasing special occasion restaurant that sets you up well for a night out – there’s not surprisingly a club upstairs, and it’s situated smack dab in the center of the Meatpacking.

Grade: A-
Location: 21 9th Ave above Sephora, entrance on 13th street. Also one in Miami.
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Filed under American, Bread Basket Breakdown, Meatpacking, Parents in Town, Seafood, Sex & The City Swank, West Village

John Dory Oyster Bar: fish bowls & parker house rolls

oyster

I went to the original John Dory Oyster Bar when it opened right next to Del Posto for about a year. It was good, but I don’t recall it being mind-blowing. Unfortunately, I had a similar experience at the relatively new Gramercy location last week. The space is uniquely aquatic, bold with beautiful fish tanks high above the bar, an ornate oyster shucking station, black tiled walls, eclectic fish art and bright blue and green cushioned high stools. But while I usually love everything stamped with April Bloomfield’s approval, I was underwhelmed by the food and frustrated by the horribly inefficient service. And despite all the hype surrounding its opening, the space emptied out by 11pm – a shocker for any NYC restaurant on a Saturday night.

While our waiter was friendly, young, and passionate about his oysters, the wait time between placing our order and receiving the food was astoundingly long. Fortunately, early on in the meal I had devoured two warm, fluffy parker house rolls glistening with golden butter, which come 3 per $4 order.  The plates then came out at a snail’s pace, one at a time: oysters, razor clam ceviche (never again), an oddly textured semolina soup, chorizo stuffed squid, a lobster roll, and an odd dish called kedgeree, which is essentially a mixture of butter, rice and fish. While the chorizo stuffed squid, the shoestring fries and the oysters were expectingly tasty, everything else irked me for one reason or another. The lobster roll was smothered in mayonnaise, and I am still having nightmares about the razor clam ceviche. Slimy. Wet. Gross. Though, to be fair, I don’t think I would have enjoyed raw clams in any setting, so I don’t blame John Dory Oyster Bar for this.

JohnDory_Parkerhouse-Rolls

parker house rolls

chorizo stuffed squid

chorizo stuffed squid

nightmarish clams

nightmarish clams

mayo-roll

mayo-roll

So, given that the food wasn’t fabulous, I likely won’t head back uptown for my oyster fix – I’m quite content with Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village. But, if you’re in the market for the most delicious rolls you’ll ever taste, and want to be in a unique space away from the bustle of downtown, John Dory Oyster Bar has your name written all over it!

Grade: C+
Location: 1196 Broadway @ 29th
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Filed under Business Meal, Drinks & Apps, Fun Group Dinner, Gramercy, Seafood

Lure Fishbar: solid seafood in adult fashion

Given my freakish seafood-obsession, I can’t comprehend why it’s taken me four years to try Soho’s well-known Lure Fish Bar – essentially my favorite type of food in my favorite New York City neighborhood. Yes, the restaurant is a little scene-y & corporate, its nautical theme is a little tired and its clientele is a tad too New York housewives, but the menu has a plethora of creative seafood options and sushi that is nothing short of tasty. The place resembles the old-timers Atlantic Grill and Blue Water Grill further uptown in that it’s fish and sushi focused in a family friendly environment, but given the address it’s a little more amenable to a weekend GNO (Girls’ Night Out).

My two girlfriends and I shared the Crispy Calamari and Tempura Shrimp to start. The calamari, served as large pieces of crisp but lightly fried mini squid with lime glaze, made me realize the impurity of the heavily breaded piles I normally down at bars. I’ve had better breaded shrimp (Koi‘s is to die for), but this rendition was still good enough to keep my fork launching across the table for more. I decided on a special for my main, mainly because of the sides: Roasted Sea Bass with gnocchi, beets, and asparagus, but unfortunately the charred gnocchi was the best part of the dish. Dessert is really the standout – it’s rare that I struggle with choosing what to order, but with almost every item incorporating ice cream in some way, I had a mini panic attack. I narrowed it down to the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Given it came with a fat chocolate dipped pretzel and peanut brittle ice cream, I was pretty much in salty sweet heaven.

crispy calamari

rock shrimp with a little too much sauce

chocolate peanut butter pie

Lure Fishbar has got it going on for its wide range of seafood, good cocktails and last but NEVER least, dessert. Think ice cream galore. Try it for your next business dinner or night out with parents.

Grade: A-
Location142 Mercer Street @ Prince Street

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Maison Premiere: dainty seafood in New Orleans’ fashion

My favorite thing about Maison Premiere in Williamsburg is not necessarily its food or its cocktails, but its ability to transcend time and create a feeling truly reflective of an 19th century New Orleans’ absinthe house mixed with a classic Paris-cafe. An unassuming storefront with french country doors, wooden stools, leather booths, a gorgeous marble bar, waiters with curly moustaches, gold-leaf monogrammed white china, and a pull-flush toilet show the owners’ incredible attention to detail in creating a fully-orchestrated experience for their customers. The restaurant was formerly known for its cocktails, but with a new chef and a robust seafood-stocked menu, there’s much more to be found than a long list of absinthe drinks.

dining room bar

seafood (photo from website gallery)

Bar it may be, but Maison Premiere’s food is nothing short of refined. My seafood plateau included an oyster with caviar, sea urchin with gaspacho, scallop with pear and horseradish, razor clam with celery root and apple, bay scallops with lemon grass and thai basil, and geoduck with white soy and avocado. My perfectly coiled raw Alaskan King Salmon with caviar and creme fraiche tasted like the most sophisticated version possible of my dad’s favorite lox and bagel breakfast.  The Lobster with sunchoke, chestnut, and custard was absolutely divine – a large white pot with creamy, soothing lobster broth and hearty chunks of lobster was the perfect thing to finish off my $3 order of home-baked bread and seaweed butter. Don’t expect anything but the raw oysters to be served traditionally here – my autumn salad, which was written sans description on the menu, arrived as a beautifully composed dome of fruit and lettuces, unlike any salad I’ve seen before. Dessert was just as eclectic – the rum-soaked cake and the absinthe panna cotta tasted shockingly more alcoholic than my wine, but the coffee pot de creme balanced out the oddities. And with dirty martinis and wine throughout, I left the restaurant feeling like I had quite a trip to the old bayou where alcohol induced artists and writers were the quintessential product of the times.

Smoked Alaskan King Salmon (photo c/o SeriousEats.com)

sea urchin close up (photo c/o seriouseats.com)

lobster with custard

oyster platter

Everything about Maison Premiere is intricately thought out, from the menu’s vintage font to each plate’s well-incorporated flavors. This is not a place for greasy food and brew. Come here only if you’re craving an experience – not a meal – of perfectly measured cocktails and delicate food in a hipster meets 19th century enclave. I commend this place not only for the inventive seafood, but for also staying true to the perfectly measured Maison Premiere brand. I’ll definitely be back for next season’s menu.

Grade: A
Location: 298 Bedford Ave between South 1st and Grand Street

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Filed under Brooklyn, Drinks & Apps, Romantic Date, Seafood, Southern

Mary’s Fish Camp: unadulterated seafood and a barely-legal ice cream sundae

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived in the West Village for four years and have never been to Mary’s Fish Camp. What is wrong with me? I love seafood, love my hood, love casual restaurants, love bar seating – I can’t believe I never considered it. Fortunately, it’s my man’s ultimate destination for fried clams and wine in water glasses, so we decided to swing by last night for an impromptu seafood fest.

Our hour-long wait for a seat brought to life the many reports of unbearable wait times for one of the restaurant’s few seats. Still, given our prime waiting spot that allowed us to witness each disappointed, shock and awed, or frustrated facial expression of those who entered hoping for immediate seating, the time flew by. Tables moved quickly and we finally got 2 great seats at the bar with the tiny kitchen and our waitress front and center. As a fish lover, I found it heart wrenching to narrow my options. There are a ton of whole fish options (fried or grilled), a lobster roll, fried fish sandwich, tacos, bouillabaisse, scallops – all my favorites, but we decided on exactly what we were in the mood for: fried oysters and clams, steamed clams, raw brussel sprout salad, raw oysters, and the special entree of pan sauteed tile fish with farrotto, raisins, and pine nuts. Everything was delicious. The fried clams and oysters came out hot and crispy with an incredible pink-colored, pickle-heavy tartare sauce. The oysters were briney, plump, and creamy. Even the tile fish was a standout in its simplicity. I was happy as a clam (ha!) sitting at the bar with my glass of prosecco and the most ideal seafood feast I could ask for. I looked left, I looked right – every patron couldn’t have been more excited with the food before them. It’s the type of place that reminds you of the beauty and value of simple, fuss-free food.

kitchen view

fried clams and oysters

Who knew I could be even more happiness-inflated after I was pressured into ordering the hot fudge sundae off the chalkboard menu. As I watched a chef scoop not one, not two, but three scoops of vanilla Laboratorio Del Gelato ice cream, add two-ladles full of hot fudge off the stove and a huge spoon full of fresh whipped cream, I knew doomsday approached. All feelings of fullness were forgotten and I immediately dug my long spoon right at the core of the beautiful creation. Now THAT’s what a hot fudge sundae should taste like. After so many disappointments by ice cream sundae claims on New York menus, downing this puppy felt like a breath of fresh air, until I had to limp home due to over indulgence.

this could be my life partner if all else fails

Mary’s Fish Camp, as cliche as it sounds, you are my new favorite place. If anyone asks me where to go in NYC, you are top of the list. People, it’s worth the hour wait and they’ll call you get a drink nearby.

Grade: A+
Location: 64 Charles Street off of West 4th
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Filed under American, Fun Group Dinner, Seafood, Sugar Surge, West Village

Flex Mussels

Flex pre light-dimming

Last night, I had every expectation to have a mediocre meal at Flex Mussels. I’ve never heard anything negative about it, but having had it in my neighborhood for the last four years and never recalling any overtly positive reviews made me skeptical. As a restaurant, you’re either a momentous hot spot that eventually becomes accessible to the main stream diner (Centro Vinoteca), an unremarkable place with high aspirations that unfortunately never gets buzz and eventually shuts down (Scuderia), or a solid staple that continues to keep its neighbors happy and develops a following of repeat customers (Piccolo Angolo). Flex Mussels definitely falls into the latter category, and after my incredible meal there last night I can totally see why.

After perusing the Bentley Meeker light show at the Whitney with my good family friend Susan Holland of Susan Holland Events, we headed a few blocks north and east to the Flex uptown. For the upper east side, this place has a surprisingly cozy, sophisticated downtown feel – similar to Luke’s Lobster in Soho. The aesthetic is Nantucket meets romantic, with a candle-lit bar across a long table for side-by-side seating leading to two large, dimly lit rooms for table diners in the back.

When we were served a poilane-like sourdough bread and complimentary sparkling water immediately upon seating I instantly perked up. The menu is full of not only mussels, but an array of seafood and one or two options for those opting for meat or chicken. Both committed to tasting a variety, Susan and I started with the fish and chips and the kale salad. The fish and chips, we both agreed, were some of the best we had ever had. Served piping hot, the fish was hearty and encased in a thin, perfectly crisp batter with a delicious mustard-tartar sauce for dipping. The truffle fries with parmesan were ridiculous – it was hard for me to keep my hands off of them. The kale, very thinly shredded with pine nuts and feta, balanced this decadent English dish perfectly.

Susan with fish and chips

We then graduated to the two specials – a pot of thai mussels and the ahi carpaccio. The ahi, prepared with greens and oil, had a hard time winning my attention next to the immensely flavorful thai mussels marinated with coconut milk, lime, lemongrass, thai basil, tomatoes, garlic and onion. I was tempted to pick up the pot and eat the broth like soup; it was so rich, creamy and deeply complex. Perfect for the more civil act of bread and french fry dipping.

pot of mussels

After we thought we could eat no more, the dessert menu arrived. I had remembered my friend Princess raving about the doughnuts here, and with 15 fillings to choose from, we really had no choice but to order them. We selected a variety of four – peanut butter and jelly, chocolate, cinnamon and sugar, and salted caramel, all served with a vanilla bean dipping sauce.

fluffy, doughy, crispy doughnuts

I demolished these. This is after claiming that I actually don’t like doughnuts, I’m really just that dainty. Well, these were the best doughnuts I’ve ever had – they reminded me of the doughy pockets called malasadas that I grew up eating in Hawaii, but they were served hot and with a subtly sweet inside. The salted caramel was just a touch too salty, but the chocolate was divine. Doesn’t get much better than all of this dipped in vanilla sauce.

I’ll 100% be back to Flex Mussels, most likely the West Village location. A great price for homey, filling, quality food with flavor and craft, and a perfect spot for any occasion.

Grade: A-
Location: 174 East 82nd between 3rd and Lex Ave; also a location on West 13th
Website: http://www.flexmusselsny.com/82nd

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Filed under Affordable Date, American, Erin's Favorites, French, Upper East Side, West Village

Featured City Post: Miami

favorite sisters in the world

This weekend I had the time of my life as my sister’s Maid of Honor in her tropical Miami wedding. After months of build up and an incredible three day dance party, it’s been a bittersweet hang over coping with leaving South Beach. The weather was perfect, I was surrounded by my hilarious family and close friends, and I was treated like a princess alongside the bride the entire weekend. And even better, I had a chance to enjoy a few Miami restaurants in the midst of the non-stop celebration.

The good meals started immediately when my long lost birthright friend Jamie picked me up from the airport to join our friend Stacy at Michael’s Genuine Food in Miami’s Design District. Though we hadn’t seen each other in over a year, we were quickly distracted by the ridiculous amounts of amazing menu options.  We relied on Jamie’s vegetarianism to narrow things down a bit, but were aggressive on the cheese – to start, we ordered the beet, heirloom tomato and blue cheese salad, the burrata and farm-grown heirloom tomatoes with fleur de sel, and a creamy cheese of the week that Jamie urged me to write down and I claimed I would remember but I expectedly do not. Whoops!

beautiful buratta

beet salad

We continued our aggressive ordering with the wood oven double yolk farm egg with gruyere, tomato and crostini, the oven roasted trigger fish with prawns, and the crispy rice cake with egg, chorizo and shrimp. Though I can’t stomach any form of mayonnaise, I actually loved the smokey tomato aoili served alongside the fried risotto cake – this dish was my favorite. We had no aim to eat lightly, but the portions were relatively small so we weren’t actually suffering until dessert, which as you all know I struggle to avoid. The brownie sundae and the orange creamsicle pot de creme served with donuts didn’t intimidate us at all, and at the end of the meal I was convinced I’d never eat again.

crispy rice cake

double yolk - a little runny for my style

mmm dessert.

But you guessed it, I did! After eating lightly by the pool the next day, I had an amazing seafood dinner hosted by Eli (the fiance)’s family in the private room at Quinn’s. Sending out 7 bread baskets for a party of 12, this place won me over immediately. My sister and I shared huge claws of stone crab, a light green salad, simply seared ahi tuna, and a rich sea bass and risotto. The sea bass was buttery, rich, fresh, flavorful – a luxurious treat. The warm molten chocolate cake with ice cream, however, stole the show. It reminded me of the “moelleux au chocolat” in Paris, oozing with velvety rich chocolate and totally consuming my thoughts. No matter how full I am, no matter how ill I may be, I would die before saying no to this dessert. It’s life changing.

bride and me outside of Quinn's

tuna

yes, we shared both

So after rolling out of dinner number 2, I mentally prepared myself for dinner number 3 at Ola, the location of the wedding’s eve cocktail party. Ola is a well known Latin American restaurant on James Street in South Beach with a very Rio-esque, pristine and modern vibe. Its menu is filled with my favorites – tacos, empanadas, seafood, rice and beans, and most importantly, pao de quejo (cheese bread), the Brazilian food that brings back memories of my excessive carbo loads in Sao Paolo. Knowing that I had a night of cocktail-ing and schmoozing ahead I tried to resist over-eating, which turned out to be incredibly easy considering my panela cured salmon with quinoa tasted like a chunk of seafood-flavored banana bread. Pretty much dessert in fish form. Fortunately, the jicama and king crab salad and the crispy rock shrimp “chicharron” was enough to satisfy me for the rest of the night, so I wasn’t too disappointed.

rock shrimp chicharron

looks better than it tastes. sadly..

And as my dad had been drooling about weeks leading up to the event, we ended our weekend at Miami’s classic Joe’s Stone Crab, where I arrived full from lunch but continued to dine as if I hadn’t eaten all day. We shared a ton of sides – the lobster mac & cheese and the fried asparagus were the most memorable, and my cousin Natalie and I shared stoned crab and king crab legs. The crab is so meaty and fresh; there’s really nothing like it. At a huge round table with my cousins there was really no better way to end the weekend. And I managed to have a few bites of the best hot fudge brownie sundae I’ve ever had just before hopping on my flight back to NY.

fried asparagus

lobs

lobster mac

stone crab!

The meals between the momentous ones involved a lot of late night room service, poolside french fries, cheese plates, and hotel chocolates. Coupled with excessive skinny-strawberry lemonade cocktails and a few taste tests of my sister’s vodka ice luge, you can imagine why I felt like a ton of bricks limping off the plane at JFK at 1am Sunday night. Whatever queasy feelings ensued, it was all worth it, and with great food, sunshine, and family, I felt like one of the most fortunate people in the world.

Congrats sissy and Eli! May the odds be ever in your favor. 

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Filed under Feature Post, Featured U.S. City Posts

Ed’s Lobster Bar

Outside Ed's

When my cousin suggested Ed’s Lobster Bar for dinner tonight, I have to admit I wasn’t that thrilled. I never like planning in advance to go to a restaurant with a specific food agenda in mind – a burger place, or a ramen place, for example – because who knows what I’ll feel like eating at that moment? I looked at the Ed’s Lobster Bar menu online, though, and being the seafood lover I am I knew I wouldn’t have trouble finding something I liked. So glad I overcame my fear!

view of the narrow bar

Ed’s doesn’t take reservations, so my sister and I showed up at 6pm on the dot to avoid the crowd. Though there were only a few people seated, our stone-cold faced waiter showed no excitement about relenting and allowing us to sit while waiting for cousin Lisa. In an attempt to generate a smile on his face, we ordered prosecco and clam chowder after downing a few bags of oyster crackers.

The clam chowder, which the waiter proudly claimed as flour-free, came out piping hot. While slightly thinner and creamier than the classic San Francisco chowder (a la Boudin), it was incredibly flavorful, rich, and well seasoned with subtle chunks of bacon, chive, and onion. The only thing missing was the operative ingredient: large pieces of clam. Instead, it was served with just one large unshelled clam. Regardless, the soup was so addictive that I could hardly allow my spoon to rest between bites.

scrumptious clam chowder

Right after our clam chowder, we were given an awesome amuse bouche of lobster risotto – quite a welcome surprise for a casual little seafood house.

risotto amuse bouche

I had no choice but to order a lobster roll after seeing at least 5 of them fly by my view, and it was just as incredible as it looked. In fact, it was the best lobster roll I’ve ever had. Huge chunks of delicately dressed lobster meat nestled in a decadently soft buttered roll created the perfectly compact, refreshing sandwich. It brought me right back to the Cape Cod summers I never had but always imagined. And while some lobster rolls can suffer from fishiness or the overpowering disgustingness of mayonaise, Ed’s Lobster Roll tasted impeccably fresh and had the perfect ratio of lobster to dressing. Just another reminder of how incredible lobster really is, any time of the year.

perfect lobster roll

I got my lobster roll with a side of salad, but after tasting a handful of my sister’s fries, I couldn’t keep my hands away from them – thick cut, perfectly salted and hot, these fries totally lived up to the quality of this roll.

All of our food was fantastic, but toward the end of our meal we got final validation of the restaurant’s worth when Pee Wee Herman arrived, cocktail in hand. Like a respectful gen Y-er should, our waiter’s whole disposition changed upon seeing PeeWee’s face, and he waited on him hand and food like a servant to a king. Too bad everyone around us were too engrossed in their lobster-themed food to really care that such a legend had arrived.

what I would have ordered had I not been so full

If not to see PeeWee again, I will absolutely return to Ed’s Lobster Roll when I’m looking for a casual environment with predictably delicious food. And next time – I will DEFINITELY get the lobster roll in dessert form. If you find a chance to come, just don’t expect to get any reaction out of the gray haired, lanky waiter when outwardly praising the food.

Grade: A

Location: 222 Lafayette Street at Spring

Wesbsite: http://www.lobsterbarnyc.com/

*some pictures from Google images

 

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Filed under American, Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, Nolita, Seafood, Soho

Marea

Marea Marea Marea. Everyone talks about Marea. Now I understand why! I rarely venture up to the Upper West Side but upon reading another review of the place, I felt compelled to give it a shot. Most importantly, one of my best friends was in town, and after a weekend of eating solely bagels, chips, bean dip and sangria, we were looking for a delicious and hearty meal.
Marea is a sophisticated spot, but it’s versatile. You could dress up to go here, but you could also, like I did, wear Jeans and a nice top and feel comfortable. You can tell that every detail in the surroundings was very carefully chosen, down to the utensils and place settings. It’s really a beautiful place, and the food is amazing. Below is a picture of Sophia, me and Sara, obviously really excited about our meal.
The servers wowed me from the start. Not only did they come around immediately after we placed our order with a wide selection of breads in a basket, but they brought an amuse bouche of delicious cubes of raw salmon to the table. I love freebies, especially when they involve seafood and are delicious. GOOD ONE MAREA!

I could have ordered everything on the menu, and being the indecisive person I am, it took me about 10 minutes of interrogating the waiter to finally decide. Thankfully I loved every bite and left without regrets. We started with the Chickpea and Seaweed Fritters, which were fried doughy goodness, and sardines, which I didn’t touch. They have a great selection of little sharable bites, so I definitely plan to try something new next time around.

I am rarely wowed by pasta. To me, hot carbs with tomatoes and oil and a few other random ingredients is hard to mess up. Bur Marea’s lobster ravioli with salmon roe was incredible. Ravioli especially tends to be dry, over or undercooked, but this ravioli was not, and the ratio of filling to pasta was perfect – rather than skimping on the filling, as most restaurants do, Marea literally stuffed these little dumplings to the brim with lobster goodness. The best part of the pasta, though, was the light buttery cream sauce. I could have made a meal out of this and the bread, along with the salmon roe that bursted with flavor with every bite. This ravioli may have been some of the best I’ve ever had.
I expected to be disappointed by the next pasta dish I tried, but fortunately I was wrong. The spaghettini with bone marrow and squid, which Sophia ordered, was up there with the ravioli. Such a rich, intense meaty flavor really deepened the flavor of what could have been a bland tomato sauce, and surprisingly coated the squid perfectly. I was in pasta heaven.
For my actual main course, I ordered the swordfish, which was delicious as well. Simple and delicate, it was the perfect main dish to follow the rich marrow pasta.
And of course, for dessert, we ordered the Gianduja with cocoa nib crem, hazelnut chocolate, and fior di latte gelato. Eating this after having consumed two bottles of wine, I have to say I wasn’t in the best state to fairly judge, but, it was awesome. And as if I wasn’t filled to the brim already, the waiter topped us off with a selection of hand crafted chocolates that I devoured. AND THEN, as we were leaving, they handed us a lemon poppy seed muffin for the morning. I told myself that I wouldn’t be able to eat again until the next evening. Of course that was a lie, and the lemon poppy seed muffin turned out to be the perfect breakfast meal.

Thanks Marea – you get an A in my book (but please move further downtown if you can).

Grade: A
Address: 240 Central Park S
Website: http://www.marea-nyc.com

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Filed under Business Meal, Erin's Favorites, Italian, Parents in Town, Romantic Date, Seafood, Sex & The City Swank, Special Occasion, Upper West Side

Blue Water Grill – an upbeat seafood restaurant with something for everyone


Ooooooo the dessert at this place. That’s what stands out – the caramelized banana ice cream tower – loads of vanilla ice cream in a hazelnut shell with toasted marshmallow sauce. Sounds disgustingly sweet, right? Well it was but it was amazing! Moment of silence. 

Blue Water Grill is a BR Guest restaurant (Dos Caminos, Wildwood bbq, Blue Fin, etc etc), but it is, in my opinion, a step above in terms of quality of food and elegance. It’s a place you could bring your parents, your boy/girlfriend, a group of friends, your best friend, a client – it’s basically just a very standard, pleasant, versatile restaurant with a menu item for the most or least picky person. It has a positive feel – well dressed people, a lot of activity, lots of cocktails, and even a section downstairs that plays live music. You can order off the sushi menu or the standard menu, and along with the “simply grilled” section where you can be as specific as you want about what fish and sauce you want to eat, there are a ton of composed entrees to choose from. My mom, sister and I started off with a salad and a special lobster sushi roll – both were tasty and satisfying, but nothing out of the ordinary.  For their entrees, my mom and sister had the ginger soy lacquered chilean seabass, which I severely regretted passing up for the sake of being different. 
The chef cooked the fish perfectly to give it a melt in your mouth, buttery texture and a wonderfully mild miso taste. I practically devoured my mom’s. I had a special halibut entree that was over-seasoned and overzealous in terms of ingredients and mixed flavors. Overall, this place is a solid staple for a night you don’t want to think to hard about where you’re going to eat for a place with a large menu of filling & tasty options, a fun but sophisticated feel, and overall good drinks and service. I give it a 4. 
Address: 31 Union Sq W @ 16th street

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Filed under Business Meal, Parents in Town, Seafood, Union Square