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« NYC Guides, Staten Island | Main | A pre-Bastille Day cruise with Chef Marc Murphy »
Thursday
Jul192012

My whirlwind-week in review: A sister, a bachelorette party, and becoming a "mother"

Whew!  It's been a whirlwind of a week.  My apologies for not having posted anything sooner, but my hands have been tied!

After having just seen her in California, my sister flew to NYC (a week ago, today) for our cousin's bachelorette party.  We crammed a ton of eating, shopping, sisterly bonding, and debauchery in to her 5 days in the Big Apple, and I'm excited to finally be giving you the recap!

...

Thursday, 7/12

From the moment my sister landed, we hit the ground running! 

After rushing home from work, I took a lightning-fast shower and got primped for my dear friend, Christine's (a.k.a. "Hollywood"), birthday party at The Liberty

~

Friday, 7/13

For dinner, my sis and I went to Almayass, a new Lebanese-Armenian restaurant that had been on my "must-try list." 

The atmosphere is very romantic and ideal for a date!  In terms of decor, the space is kissed with white-washed walls and patches of exposed brick - dark-wood ceiling beams - dramatic, wrought-iron chandeliers - and Venetian art.  On the evening we dined, the music was an tragic interesting melange of Frank Sinatra, Lebanese pop, and dentist office/Kenny G-esque elevator music. 

We began with the Hummos Almayass, which was accompanied by thin halves of pita bread and crisps.

Visually, the hummos was a lovely spectacle.  However, I think I would order the regular hummos, sans the "special Almayass sauce," if I had to do it again.  I was disappointed that the pita bread was not homemade.  It was slightly cold and clearly mass-produced.  Have I become so spoiled that I expect all Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants to make their pita in-house?  Thank you, Omar's Kitchen & Bakery.  I blame you for this!

Hummos Almayass

In addition to the bread and crisps, we received a small dish filled with za'atar and olive oil.  Hated it!  The flavor aired on the side of 'overwhelming' and the texture reminded me of wet beach sand.  Meh.

Za'atar "dip"

While my sister ordered a bowl of lentil soup for her appetizer, I opted for the Spicy Olive Salad (with tomato sauce, spicy paste, and fresh lemon dressing).

There wasn't much of a kick to it at all, so "Spicy" in its title was misleading.  As a green olive lover, I thought that this salad would be a home run but, alas, it was too salty.  And that speaks volumes coming from a salt-o-holic.  Sigh.

Spicy Olive Salad

Per our server's suggestion, we chose the Queen's Delight (sliced and marinated filet mignon with a special sweet/sour cherry sauce) for one of our entrees.

While the beef was perfectly bite-sized and cooked to a tender "medium," I found the cherry sauce to be cloyingly sweet and too liquid-y.  But it would be killer on pancakes!

Queen's Delight

I had read various reviews stating that the mantee, a filled pasta/dumpling, was a must-try.  Leila and I opted for the Mantee Spinach, as opposed to the beef version.

Boat-shaped raviolis were filled with seasoned spinach and topped with a tomato-y, garlic-yogurt sauce.  Unfortunately, the actual "mantee" were not even cooked al-dente.  They were crunchy, for god's sake!  :(

Mantee Spinach

The next and last entree that we split was the Grilled Prawns.  I let my sister choose this dish, even though the description, "...served with cocktail and tartar sauce," scared the crap out of me.  Why?  Because it's a Middle Eastern restaurant, not a damn fish shack! 

The prawns, while generously sized and meaty, were limp.  And definitely NOT grilled. 

Epic fail.  On more than one level.

Grilled Prawns

While my sister adored Almayass, I wasn't such a fan.  At least in terms of the food.  The service - despite a slight language barrier - and atmosphere, however, were brilliant.   

~

Saturday, 7/14

The bachelorette festivities for Cousin Barb began at noon with a delicious brunch at one of our other cousin's apartments.  Highlights included:  Mimosas, avocado toasts, fresh bagels, homemade granola, and Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie!

After brunch, we walked over to Chelsea Piers and hopped aboard a Classic Harbor Line schooner for a late afternoon cruise!  The views of downtown Manhattan and Lady Liberty were outstanding.  I felt like a tourist in my own city, and embraced the hell out it.  I highly recommend this particular cruise/company!

After 1.5 hours on the water, we returned to land.  The group (15 of us) scattered and later met up for dinner at 9:30pm at Supper.

We had our own private room!

With lots of wine...

The groom even showed up as a surprise (...don't worry, he didn't stay long)!

We ate a plethora of delicious Italian food, served family-style.

Whew!

After dinner, the group headed to Happy Ending to dance the night away.

~

Sunday, 7/15

The next morning, my sister and I made a bee-line for brunch at Aquagrill.

The space is sunny, cheery, and what I would describe as 'casually sophisticated.'  Think:  Sunflower-yellow hues, seashell chandeliers, crisp white tablecloths, and plenty of natural light.  There's a sizeable raw bar near the entryway, housing a multitude of fresh 'jewels from the sea.'  Oysters.  Lots and lots of oysters.

To drink, I ordered the "fresh squeezed lemonade," which arrived in a tiny, awkward wine glass.  And it wasn't even good.  Big waste of $4.   

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

A basket of freshly-baked sweet biscuits and mini-muffins were accompanied by salted butter and orange marmalade.

We started with one of the daily specials, a sushi-type roll that was composed of avocado and crab meat, and wrapped in a thin strip of raw sea bass.  The creamy avocado added the perfect amount of buttery richness to an otherwise light, seafood-centric composition. 

Sea Bass, Crabmeat & Avocado Roll

What we received next was the highlight of the meal, at least for me.  Local oysters, from the waters of CT and MD, plus four Jonah crab claws were paired with all of the proper accoutrement:  Vinegar, cocktail sauce, aioli, lemon wedges.  Jicama/mango slaw accompanied the crab claws.

Oysters & Jonah crab claws

And, last but not least, my sister and I split the Maine Lobster Sandwich, which was accompanied by French fries.

Served atop moist, homemade ciabatta bread were ample chunks of sweet lobster meat that was lightly dressed with cayenne mayonnaise and vegetable slaw.  Although the portion was on the smaller side, both the sandwich and house-made fries were pretty fcuking incredible.  I could have eaten four more servings.  Seriously.

Maine Lobster Sandwich

~

Monday, 7/16

Before checking out the MoMa, my sister came to my office and met me for lunch.  Where we continued our discussion about dogs, at length.  And, being the mother of two pups, she convinced me that it was about damn time I become a dog owner, as well...

So, I did something I rarely do:  Listened. 

Without further ado, please meet my new "daughter," Lucy!  She's a 5-month old Maltese puppy who's every bit as quirky, curious, and energetic as her adoptive mother.  We also share a passion for shoes.  :)

Obviously, I'm already on the lookout for dog-friendly restaurants/bars so, if you have some solid recommendations, please let me know!   

...

Places mentioned in this post

Bars:

  • Happy Ending - a Lower East Side mainstay that's great for late night dancing and debauchery
  • The Liberty - spacious, new, great bar food, ideal for private functions

Restaurants:

Places to visit/things to do and see:

  • Classic Harbor Line - take a schooner cruise along the NY Harbor!  Great experience.
  • MoMa - Museum of Modern Art (sorry, I still haven't been, so I cannot comment)

 

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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