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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From NYC, with love

Dear readers,

After a 16+ hour journey home from Hong Kong, I've decided not to let my jet-lag "hangover" get the best of my weekend.  Between uploading photos, doing laundry, unpacking, and responding to emails, it's going to be hard for me to justify relaxing. 

Thank you for being so patient with my lack of posting last week!  I promise many fabulous photos, food stories, and details to come from my whirlwind Asian adventure.  Please stay tuned and enjoy your weekends.  All my best...

Read it & eat,

The Lunch Belle


So many (soup) dumplings, so little time!


Brunch at ilili

It had not even been 48-hours since my return from Hong Kong but, jet-lag be damned, I was eager to meet Deidre for brunch at Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar.  Upon our arrival, we realized that Ayza did not open until 3pm and, clearly, did not host a Sunday brunch.  "Where to?" Deidre asked.  We were at the crossroads of No Man's Land Street and Restaurant Wasteland Avenue.  "Let's just walk down 5th Avenue," I said, "surely, we'll run in to something."  

As we walked by ilili, a light bulb went off in my head.  I had recently read about their new brunch service and, without another option, Deidre and I decided to check it out.  Upon being seated, I took a moment and looked around the spacious, sophisticated dining room: most of the tables were occupied by Lebanese couples and families.  This, I concluded, was a very positive sign.

ilili's brunch menu is divided in to two parts: a $27 prix fixe option, which includes coffee or juice, one alcoholic beverage (Pomegranate Cava, Mimosa, or Bellini), an entrée, and a side dish; or traditional a-la-carte.  For Deidre and me, the decision to go "prix fixe" was a no-brainer.  Choosing which appetizer and entrée to order, on the other hand, was a bit more difficult. 

Our server was gracious and knowledgeable in answering questions pertaining to the menu.  Below, you will find photographs of my meal with respective descriptions captioned under each picture:

Prix-fixe brunch at ilili: to wash down my meal, I chose to alternate sipping between coffee and a flute filled with delicious Pomegranate Cava

Prix-fixe brunch at ilili: for my entree, I chose the "Chakchouka Eggs in Cocotte." Served in a cast-iron skillet was a casserole-like dish composed of three sunny-side-up eggs and a deeply flavorful, spicy tomato sauce. An arugula salad and hash brown "dumplings" - a fancy version of tater tots - accompanied.Prix-fixe brunch at ilili: as my side, I chose the "Mekanek," which were links of fragrant lamb sausage sauteed with olive oil and lemon. These little morsels paired harmoniously with the zesty eggs.Prix-fixe brunch at ilili: pillowy and puffy handmade pita bread accompanied both my and Deidre's brunch entrees.~

Conclusion I wasn't just impressed with my brunch at ilili, I was blown away.  From the monetary value of the prix-fixe option, to the quality of ingredients and passion added to each dish, I highly recommend sprinting, not walking, to the restaurant in order to experience this fabulous weekend treat for yourself.  There have only been a few, not even a handful of, meals that delighted me from start to finish, and this brunch at ilili was, most certainly, one of them.


From Hong Kong, with love

Dear readers,

Tomorrow, I will embark on a 16-hour journey to Hong Kong.  I have been eagerly anticipating this day since I made my initial flight/hotel reservations in May. 

In a twist of fate, I managed to fracture in my right knee two weeks ago.  Refusing to let this inconvenient "road block" stand in my way, I convinced my doctor put me in a leg - or shall I say "thigh-high" - brace, which will allow me to walk freely, without crutches.  My mobility may be low, but my spirits remain high. 

With my friend, Ceci, in tow, I plan to eat my way through the "Pearl of the Orient."  Stay tuned for, what I imagine will be, some incredible photos and tales from this monumental adventure!  Pending internet access, I will resume writing upon my return. 


Read it & eat,

The Lunch Belle   


(Food Network star) Claire Robinson & Eggland's Best Eggs' contest update: and the winner is...

Congratulations to David Johnson, of Lubbock (Texas), who won The Lunch Belle's first-ever contest, by correctly answering the following question:

What are the names of the restaurants in Memphis in which I, The Lunch Belle, claim as two of my worldwide favorites?  (answers: McEwen's on Monroe, The Arcade)

David won a signed copy of Claire Robinson's first cookbook, 5 Ingredient Fix: Easy, Elegant and Irresistible Recipes, plus an Eggland's Best gift package!  Upon receipt of his winnings, Mr. Johnson was kind enough to send me these stellar prize photos, below:

Congratulations, David!


Read it & eat...and stay tuned for more exciting contests to come!

The Lunch Belle