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« The Weekly Eater: 4/21 - 4/28 | Main | Brunching uptown at The District »
Wednesday
Apr242013

The Weekly Eater: 4/14 - 4/21

What I loved and/or really stood out  last week in food & drink  (4/14 - 4/21)

 

Located on a prime strip in Soho is Oficina Latina, a pan-Latin restaurant specializing in sharable plates and cocktails.  Separated by a panel of French doors, the restaurant boasts both indoor and outdoor seating.  When weather permits, of course.

Oficina Latina: French doors open onto bustling Prince StreetWith an impressive selection of 100+ tequilas and mezcals, 100+ rums, piscos, and a South American wine list, Oficina Latina had me at “Kumquat Caiprinha.”  The following ingredients were served over ice:  Cachaca (a sugarcane liquor), course raw sugar, and freshly-muddled limes and kumquats.  The result?  Probably the most perfect, no need for modification cocktail that I’ve had in recent memory.  

Oficina Latina: Kumquat CaipirinhaI hope to return to Oficina Latina for another cocktail binge ASAP.  As in some time this week ASAP!

Oficina Latina - pan-Latin cuisine, cocktails - 24 Prince Street - NYC 10012

On Friday night, my girlfriend, Charlene, and I met up for some cocktails at Silver Lining, one of those speakeasy-type of lounges located in Tribeca.  You know, where bartenders rock suspenders and the lighting is so dim that you have to use your phone to illuminate the menu.  Had the know-it-all bartender not pissed us off – or the scene not lacked single dudes - we probably would have stayed a bit longer.  Alas, we got the heck out of there and went to Marc Forgione.

Charlene and I had gone in to the restaurant with the notion that we’d grab one drink so she could check out the space/menu for a future visit.  However, after the bar tender sold us on a bottle of red instead of by-the-glass, two seats miraculously opened in front of us.  “I have to eat something before I get on the train,” Charlene said.  After plopping in to the bar stools, we ordered some food.  We began with the Kampachi Tartare, which was accompanied by kettle-cooked potato chips.  Since I wasn’t starving – or, so I thought - I ordered the baked oysters with pancetta powder.  And, just as I had suggested, Charlene went with the famous cheeseburger (which isn’t even on the dinner menu!), accompanied by house-made fries. 

I’m not sure if it was because I was extra hungry, tipsy, or if it was just the fact that I hadn’t been back in ages, but the food at Marc Forgione was pure dynamite.  Everything we ate was outstanding!  So much so, in fact, that I’m taking my parents for dinner during their upcoming visit. 

Marc Forgione - New American cuisine - 134 Reade Street - NYC 10013

On Saturday, about six of my fellow New York Mexican Food Lovers' and I headed to Brooklyn for our monthly meetup.  Chavela's, a Mexican restaurant in Crown Heights, had been on my short list of "must try's" for what seemed like eternity.  And, believe me, it was well worth the wait!

As we turned the corner towards the restaurant, I was a bit horrified by the amount of people loitering outside.  But, hey, what better sign that we were in for a delicious treat than a sizeable crowd of hungry patrons?

Even with an incomplete party, the hosts were very flexible and told us that we could wait off to the side or, should seats open up at the bar, make ourselves comfortable.  And, wouldn't you believe, four bar stools became vacant within minutes...

Chavela's: View from my seat at the barAfter ordering a fizzy margarita (they're on tap!), we split some appetizers:  Trio of salsas and crispy whole tortillas (weird concept - chips would have been ideal), Tostadas (one with avocado, one with chorizo & potato), and Queso Fundido (peppers, onions, refried beans, Oaxaca cheese, and chorizo - served with warm, griddled corn tortillas).  While everything was tasty, the dish that I would recommend and/or re-order upon my return would be the Tostadas.  Namely the avocado version.

Chavela's: Place settingChavela's: Margaritas on tap!Chavela's: Crispy corn tortillas & salsa trioChavela's: Avocado and potato/chorizo tostadasChavela's: Queso FundidoFor me, the true testament of a good Mexican restaurant lies within their enchiladas.  Or their hard-shelled beef tacos.  For my entree, I ordered the cheese enchiladas with mole sauce and double rice, no beans.   

Chavela's: Cheese enchiladas with mole sauce, riceIt was my first bite of the enchiladas that, truly, sealed the deal.  Warm and gooey melted Oaxaca cheese was wrapped within mole-smothered corn tortillas.  And, while the other components were spot-on, it was the mole that took these particular enchiladas to a whole other level.  Smoky, sweet, and savory - with a faint kick of spice - the sauce was, easily, the best version I've had in NYC.  And the rice?  Perfect.  Just like home.

When I think about Chavela's, I become giddy and restless.  Because of they carry tequila *and* have a kick ass atmosphere - in addition to the awesome food - I think that Chavela's just may be my favorite Mexican restaurant in NYC!

Chavela's - Mexican cuisine - 736 Franklin Avenue - Brooklyn 11238

...

Granted, I was "three sheets to the wind," but after my late night snack at Maysville on Saturday, it's all I've been able to think about!  Aside from the fact that they serve outstanding bourbon cocktails, Maysville has an incredibly legit food menu. 

My life officially changed - for the better - when I tasted the "Crispy Grits."   Imagine, if you will, a perfectly-shaped cube of compact grits (1.5" x 1.5") that's been deep fried and then topped with a dollop of bourbon aioli and a ribbon of salty country ham.  As you take your first bite, the crisp exterior gives way to an insanely moist and creamy interior of savory grits.  The sweet bourbon aioli pops from the contrast of the salty ham.  This is, by far, one of the most well executed, impressive dishes that I've had in NYC to date.  I would wholeheartedly consider the "Crispy Grits" to be a destination-worthy plate.  I, myself, cannot wait to get my hands on another order.  

Maysville - contemporary Southern cuisine, bourbon - 17 W. 26th Street - NYC 10010  

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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