Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a NYC based food and travel website that views various dining scenes and destinations through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated thirty-something.



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Seriously though, is breakfast the most important meal of the day? 

The age-old question: Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? 

...Well, depending on the day you ask me, I will either be the first to a) exclaim "yes" or b) blurt a hearty "hell no!" 

Through thirty-something years of diet trial, error, and everything in between, I've taken away one important thing: Too much sugar in my diet just does not work.  When I have it, I want more.  And more.  Even so much as a few sugar packets in my coffee can ignite that addictive flame within!  After about 20-minutes post-ingestion, I find myself ravenously hungry and craving/obsessing over anything containing the stuff.  Or flour, for that matter.  Or a combination of the two.  Or a combination of the two...fried!  You get the picture.  

What has worked in curtailing my cravings and sugar binges is by following *to the very best of my ability* a lower-carb regimen filled with vegetables and healthy protein options, lightly sprinkled with dairy and whole grains.  And by cutting down on the booze.

So, on those rare mornings where I allow myself to relish in a breva latte with a shit ton of sugar and salted butter-laden pancakes completely suffocated by 100% pure maple syrup, breakfast becomes the catalyst of a downward nutrtional spiral (a.k.a. moving from the most important meal of the day to, perhaps, the most detrimental).  Outside of pancake cheat days, however, I'm always the first to agree that breakfast is, indeed, the most important meal of the day.  Why?  Because if you choose options that keep you full for a good three hours, you're less likely to snack before lunch.  

Without further ado, here are three delicious items - beyond the scope of eggs and breakfast meats - that keep my blood sugar stable, satiate me until lunch and, generally, just make me really happy:  

Brennan's Wholewheat Soda Bread

Be it my Irish roots, I love the texture and heaviness of (Irish) soda bread!  It's incredibly filling, hearty, and I feel llike you can taste every grain kneaded within.  The flavor is so much more alive and amplified than our crappy American white 'sandwich bread.' 

Under normal circumstances, I'd poo-poo having toast for breakfast (especially the American variety), but Brennan's is loaded with fiber, has no added sugars, and is finished/sprinkled with all of these delicious little seeds and oats.  So how do I take mine, you ask?  Two slices lightly toasted, lathered with salted butter.

*To purchase Brennan's products in the U.S., click here*


Basic Power Granola

If you think the name is weird, the website is weirder.  I found this granola at my local grocer and, on a whim, purchased it and brought it in to work to sprinkle atop yogurt.  To say that I was skeptical AF was an understatement; I mean, just look at the packaging.  It's so...basic.

Needless to say, this granola is so fricking delicious, that my coworkers and I cannot stop scratching our heads.  How could something without sugar, nuts, and gluten be this good?  Did I mention that it has 10g of protein and 7g of fiber per serving?  Somebody pinch me!    

Photo credit: Healthy Cookies Direct.

Modern Oats 

I'm a big proponent of reading nutritional labels; especially ones containing ingredients that I can pronounce.  Thank you, Modern Oats, for making the most wholesome, tasty, 'good for you' breakfast cereal that can be enjoyed both hot and cold.  That's right, folks, I do the initial 'steep for 3-minutes with boiling water to the fill-line,' then drown mine with almond milk and stir to blend, thus creating a muesli-like slurry of pure, unadulterated heaven.  What a treat!

Photo credit: Modern Oats

What do you enjoy for breakfast and how do you stay full until lunch without snacking?  I'd love to hear from you!


Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle 


The Best Menu Items At: Bagatelle

In my series, "The Best Menu Items At...," I cut the fluff and get straight down to business: Which food/drink items are so stand-out that I'd order them time and time again?

Restaurant: Bagatelle (yes, I'm serious)

  • Cuisine: French-ish, Mediterranean
  • Location: 1 Little W. 12th St. - Manhattan 10014  
  • Pricing: $$$$
  • Reservations? Yes, click here
  • Why go? Parisian gnocchi, model oogling/models-and-bottles, Instagram-worthy desserts, brunch parties


Bagatelle is not the type of restaurant that I typically frequent.  Sure, I enjoy French/Mediterranean cuisine and copious amounts of rosé just as much as the next person, but more often than not, I'm having a 'fat girl' day and I'd prefer *not* to be surrounded by models and their entourage when I'm trying to get my grub on.  Even the employees at Bagatelle are flawless!  Or being sprayed by champagne during one of those infamous weekend 'brunch parties.'  Call me boring, but I'll take my omelette with a side of peace and quiet, thank you very much.  Hold the Hollandaise and the live D.J.  

All of that being said, I recently enjoyed dinner at Bagatelle sans a live D.J. set and was seated a good two tables' distance from the next gaggle of young models.  It was quite a pleasant and delicious evening!  My point?  Bagatelle has something for everyone, even your grandparents me!  Just do your homework prior to your visit to make sure you're a) not about to walk in to a party (if that's NOT what you're looking for) or you're b) about to walk in to a party (if that's NOT what you're looking for).     

Tuna Tartare

While most versions of tuna tartare pale in comparison to Chef Jean Georges' famous rendition at Nougatine, Bagatelle's interpretation can stand on its own.  

The trifecta of textures - ripe, buttery avocado, crispy and salty taro chips, and cubed pieces of fresh, ruby red-hued tuna - flirt so compatibly with one another that you will find yourself enthusiastically alternating between bites of tuna and taro - tuna and avocado - avocado and taro, etc. - kissed with a sweet and savory soy dressing. 

Tuna Tartare

Gnocchi à la Parisienne 

There's gnocchi.  And then there's Parisian gnocchi.  Sounds way more fancy, right?  It is!  If you're familiar with a profiterole, the same dough is used to make Parisian gnocchi: pâte à choux.  Hint, there are no potatoes in the French version of this recipe.     

I'm not going to go as far as to say that I prefer the French rendition to the Italian, but damn.  Nothing quite compares to these perfectly-cooked pillows of warm dough that effortlessly envelope the inside of your mouth with such a rich, savory 'carb elixir.'  Paired with a buttery cream sauce infused with a mild hint of truffle, the dish is finished with salty parmesan cheese.  C'est magnifique!  

Gnocchi à la Parisienne

Apple Gala

This is one of those dishes that, upon arrival, is so visually unexpected and artfully stunning that it takes your breath away.  Quite literally.  And best of all?  Unlike fondant on a wedding cake, it tastes great, too!  

I can't quite describe this masterpiece beyond the notes on the menu: "Mascarpone mousse, apple filling, white chocolate, sablé Breton, fresh fruit, vanilla ice cream."  

Bottom line: If you're down with apples and willing to shell out $16 for a dessert, then don't even think twice about ordering this Instagram-worthy morsel of edible art.

They should rename this 'The Big Apple'...

Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle 


Life's a beach! Elite Traveler's Top 100 Hotels in the World

It's that horrific time of year here in NYC (...the sun sets at 4-something P.M., the forecasted highs don't go above 35 degrees, the air is so dry that the skin on your knuckles cracks open, and everyone is in a generally angry/pissed off mood) when I get the itch to get the hell out of town.  Visions of white sand beaches, frozen drinks crowned with magenta-colored umbrellas, and the smell of sunscreen dance in my head.  Aside from yesterday's snow storm, nothing has gotten me thinking about a winter escape more than Elite Traveler's recent release of their 'Top 100 Hotels in the World.'  


*The Four Seasons New York, US, has the most expensive suite costing $50,000 per night

*Exclusive rental of Cliveden House, a 5 star country house in Berkshire, UK, costs guests $70,000 per night

*List includes hotels frequented by A-List celebs including the hotel George and Amal Clooney spent their wedding night, and the Mexican resort favoured by Justin Bieber, Mick Jagger and Tom Cruise

*USA has the most hotels, with 20 featured on the list

 Elite Traveler, the world’s leading private jet lifestyle magazine, has announced the Top 100 Hotels in the World for 2018.

For the second edition of this list, Elite Traveler presents updated picks of the properties that offer the most opulent hotel experiences. Hand selected by Elite Traveler’s editors, the list feature 14 new entries, including the spectacular Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland.

From basking in the foothills of a Unesco-designated wilderness reserve in British Columbia to rubbing shoulders with A-List celebrities in Mexico, the collection offers a true ‘round the world’ variety of hotels frequented by those who travel by private jet.  


Now, I don't know about you but, when I close my eyes and imagine myself in an exotic, far off land...I am standing on the balcony of my over-the-water bungalow deciding whether to jump in to the crystal clear ocean beneath me for a morning swim, or to call room service and order a crazy-induglent breakfast.  Decisions, decisions.

Photo credit: One & Only Resorts, Maldives


Stay warm out there and dream BIG

The Lunch Belle


List: My Top 10 Favorite Dishes of 2017

In no particular order, I'd like to present you with ten of the absolute BEST new dishes that I had the pleasure of eating in 2017... 
Grandma Val's Meatballs with Smoked DiPalo's Mozzarella - Pig Bleeker, NYC
Everyone knows that New York is home to the best 'red sauce-Italian food' in the universe.  But how about a 'red sauce-Italian' staple on the menu of a Southern/BBQ-bent restaurant in Greenwich Village?  Make no mistake, folks, the best meatballs in Manhattan can be found at Pig Bleeker (the aforementioned Southern/BBQ-bent restaurant in Greenwich Village).  When it comes to the name of the dish: I don't know who this 'Grandma Val' woman is or was, but I want to hug her and give my thanks for making the most fork-tender, perfectly seasoned 'balls this side of Italia.
Crispy Layered Potato, Beef Fat - White Gold Butchers, NYC
Have you ever had a multi-layer crepe cake?  Neither have I.  But I would say that Chef April Bloomfield's 'Crispy Layered Potato' at White Gold Butchers is akin to a savory version.  Imagine, if you will, layer upon carb-y layer of thinly-sliced potatoes cut in to perfect, bite-sized cubes before being plunged in to a pool of piping-hot beef fat and deep-fried.  Prior to service, each morsel is finished with the perfect Salt Bae-esque dusting of, you guessed it, salt.    
Lasagna - Lucciola, NYC
This is, hands down and by far the best lasagna this side of Italy.  Why?  The pasta noodles are MUCH more delicate and thin (as compared to the dry, pre-packaged crap you buy at the grocery store) - you can literally taste the amount of love and 'simmer-hours' which go in to creating that perfect Bolognese sauce that seductively envelopes each savory layer - and the cheese is virtually molten in texture, not dry and clumpy like commercial ricotta. 
Sausage, Egg, and Pimento Cheese Biscuit - Callie's Hot Little Biscuit, Charleston, SC
This was one of the very best sandwiches I've ever had - not just in 2017, either.  We're talking 'ever,' folks. 
The pork sausage was kissed with sage and garlic, among other savory seasonings - the freshly-cooked farm omelette remained warm and intact - and the pimento cheese was nothing short of heavenly.  How could this combination get any better, you ask?  This trinity of ingredients came sandwiched between the flakiest, most buttery buttermilk biscuit on the planet.  
Chicken thigh (meat) - Uncle Gussy's, NYC
When I was knee-deep in the Atkins Diet last year, Uncle Gussy's chicken was my daily go-to for lunch at the office.  Whether you're on a protein-based diet or not, this is the best marinated/char-grilled poultry in town.  Don't waste your time on the breast meat; at Uncle Gussy's, it's all about 'dem thighs!  
Braised Short Rib - Sermet's Southernterranean, Charleston, SC
I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical upon ordering the short rib; historically, I've always found it to be laden with gristle and unevenly cooked.  While dining at Sermet's for New Year's Eve, we felt a bit pressured to order this dish, as it's the restaurant's most prized plate.  To my shock, not only was it outstanding (think fork-tender and gristle-free), this once frowned upon cut quickly rose up the ranks as "one of the best beef entrees I've ever had." 
Tied: (Faux) Cronut - The Donut Pub, NYC and The Flex Donut Collection - Flex Mussels, NYC  
Granted, it's been a good 14-years since I've lived in Texas but, as a native, I can wholeheartedly say that Mighty Quinn's makes the best brisket in NYC.  Perfectly marbled and finished with crunchy flakes of sea salt, this local mini-chain puts everyone else's brisket game to shame.  
Soy-Garlic BJ Wings - Barn Joo, NYC
While being a relatively new chicken wing fan, I can confidently say that the traditional American version pales in comparison to the Korean preparation.  Why?  Because KFC (Korean fried chicken) is cooked twice, resulting in a crust that virtually shatters upon each bite.  The crunch is truly extraordinary and, for someone who's never tried it before and/or is unsuspecting, quite surprising!  Now, pair all of that double-fried excitement with a pre-service plunge in to a pool of soy-garlic glaze, and you've got one hell of an appetizer.     
Cold Sesame Noodles - Hwa Yuan, NYC
Fresh and chewy Chinese egg noodles are lightly tossed with and served atop a shallow pool of a mysteriously delicious sauce that tickles each of the five basic tastes: Sweetness (ginger, sugar, sesame and, perhaps, peanut butter), sourness (tangy, a hint of vinegar), bitterness (subtle heat from chili paste), savoriness (soy sauce, sesame oil, and a mother-load of umami), and saltiness (soy sauce).  
Until we eat again
The Lunch Belle