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**Readers!  I recently moved to the City of Angels.  The good news is that I'm keeping this site alive while simultaneously working on something Los Angeles-centric, as well.**

Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a food website/blog that views the New York City dining scene through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated, critical, adorably quirky, and culinary-obsessed thirty-something year old.

For those of you who enjoy highly thorough and traditional restaurant reviews, you may find them located here

But that's not all!  Additionally, I...

  • ~ For tourists, I can help you create itineraries and answer any questions you may have/offer advice for your upcoming visit to NYC.
  • ~ I can consult and/or advise on all of your small and large events.
  • ~ I will assist you with restaurant recommendations.

Just consider me your one-stop NYC - and, most recently, Los Angeles - shop!

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Wednesday
Oct222008

An early dinner at The Spotted Pig

Was I the only New Yorker who hadn't been to The Spotted Pig? Apparently so, because when I divulged this to my girlfriends over dinner, I got a couple of chuckles. In order to best avoid the dinner rush, my friends and I arrived at The Spotted Pig around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Foreseeing a two-hour wait from some of the horror stories that I'd heard, I was pleasantly surprised when our table was ready for us by 6:15 p.m.

Situated on a picturesque, tree-lined West Village street, The Spotted Pig is adorned with unfinished hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, an old-fashioned mahogany bar, menu specials written on a large brasserie mirror and decor consisting of shabby chotchkies and mismatched plants.

To start, I ordered the deviled eggs followed by the infamous Spotted Pig burger (that I'd read so many raves about). The "eggs" (note the pluralization) were just one whole egg sliced in half. The cooked yolks were mixed with a zesty mustard blend, crunchy green chives and sprinkled with sea salt. Though I've had better versions, these devils were tasty and just "enough" substance to whet my appetite. The moment of truth came as my medium-cooked burger arrived. Enveloped between a grilled brioche bun was a generous portion of beef topped with an ample lathering of pungent and salty Roquefort cheese. Accompanying the sandwich was a mound of homemade shoestring fries, lightly dusted with sea salt and rosemary. Was the burger all it was cracked up to be? Indeed, it was. Though I felt that the amount of Roquefort used was slightly overpowering, the beef patty itself consisted of the highest quality ground meat, producing a juicy, velvety, melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece.

My experience at The Spotted Pig was virtually liberated of anything negative that I'd heard. I found the service to be excellent and our wait-time minimal. The food was pretty impressive and I will absolutely return.

Tuesday
Oct212008

Jane? What's the big deal?

Perhaps I'm just not very familiar with part of town that borders the Village and Soho, but surely there must be better brunch options in this area. I was truly looking forward to my meal at Jane, but walked away from my experience a bit disappointed. The space itself and overall service was lovely, but my entree left much to be desired. Did I order wrong? Maybe I need to drop the notion that if a restaurant serves and specializes in brunch, that surely their Eggs Benedict will be a hit. My entree arrived lukewarm, with just a small dollop of what makes every Benedict worthy of ordering...Hollandaise sauce. The home fries that accompanied my dish were a pile of measly sliced baked potatoes that were seasoned with a couple of red pepper and onion slivers.

Is it wrong to go in to a highly popular restaurant with great meal expectations? Or is it best to keep my general "glass half empty" outlook (that I generally have on life) on the NYC dining scene? Perhaps it's better to be pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday
Oct142008

El Paso, in pictures

Please enjoy pictures from my recent trip to El Paso, Texas. From the desert landscape to the authentic Mexican food, I regained a sense of nostalgia and appreciation for my lovely hometown.

 





Thursday
Oct022008

Lunch at Tenzan (Midtown East location)

For me, sushi was definitely an "acquired taste." I'm very particular about seafood, and for the most part, I avoid it unless I'm confident in the person who's preparing it. To this day, I still think I'm the only Jew who doesn't take lox on her bagel and cream cheese.

When I told Teddi that it was her turn to pick the restaurant, I was hoping that she wouldn't say "sushi." Sure enough, she mentioned that Tenzan had recently opened in her neighborhood and served, you guessed it, sushi. "It's light and healthy and just sounds good," she said. After a hefty three-hour French class, I was starving and reluctantly gave in to her restaurant choice. I did tell her it was her turn, after all.

Imagining I'd walk in to a dark 20'x20' room lined with linoleum floors and a dirty, overstocked fish tank, I found myself in the most zen-like atmosphere. Taking center stage in the restaurant was a floor to ceiling waterfall that made the most tranquil sounds. The space itself was large and finished with the latest in modern interior decor.

Since Teddi had eaten at Tenzan prior to our date, she noted that the lunch specials were the way to go. We each ordered the two-roll combo that came with miso soup or salad. I opted for the salad, a spicy tuna roll and a shrimp with mango roll. Instead of beginning my afternoon with a glass of plum wine, I ordered a cup of hot tea that was both nutty and spicy.

I was pleased to find that iceberg lettuce did not take center stage as the main component of my salad. The robust, meatier mixed greens actually enhanced the flavor of the ginger dressing. Both of the rolls were excellent and exquisitely fresh, however, the spicy tuna stole my heart. The ratio of fish to rice was precise and the temperature of both rolls was perfect; not cold, but not warm. The shrimp with mango was a lovely combination, but I felt that the bland shrimp was overpowered by the zesty ripe mango.

When the check arrived, I was shocked to find that our entire meal set us back a mere $18! For $9 each, Teddi and I had a fantastic meal, great service and left the restaurant with full bellies. So take it from me, any of you sushi-unaficionados, Tenzan will change your mind on the infamous roll forever.

Wednesday
Oct012008

Since when...? (on-going)

Since when

...Were us ladies unable to purchase a designer bag or pair of shoes (exclusive of the Birkin) for under $1000?
...Did Mexican restaurants start charging patrons for chips and salsa?
...Did unisex restrooms become the "norm?" Ew.
...Are women too damn lazy to get their worn-out high heels capped? I hate the clicking noise it makes. Take care of yourselves, ladies! Jeez.
Thursday
Sep252008

Burgers & Beers at the Corner Bistro

Amidst the chaos of last week's historical Wall Street meltdown, I found myself wondering what, if any, coping mechanisms people used to get them through this tough time. Would bars be getting more business? What about casinos? And how about drug dealers? I would assume so, but maybe not. This was a financial crisis, after all.
In what has become all too habitual, I decided to numb my pain with a good, inexpensive meal. Noshing on a cheeseburger, fries and a beer (or three) sounded like the perfect dose of medicine for me. My friend Susan and I made our way to the charming West Village neighborhood and found ourselves at the Corner Bistro. Before we walked in, I was imagining us having to wait in a long, winding line for a table. The Corner Bistro is an infamous institution in New York known for their burgers, bar scene and painfully cramped quarters. Luckily, Susan and I arrived around 6:30 p.m., which is considered "meal time for Seniors" by Manhattan standards. We scored a fantastic corner booth in the bar room without having to wait a second.

I wasn't sure whether it was the jazz music singing to me in the background, the old fashioned tin ceilings and the chocolate brown hardwood floors, or observing all of the names and initials etched in our butcher block table; but this restaurant felt very comforting, uplifting and "old New York" to me. Corner Bistro's food menu is simple: Burger, cheeseburger, grilled chicken sandwich, BLT, chili, and French fries. The full bar menu, on the other hand, is much more extensive.

Susan and I each started with a cider beer and split a custom order of chili-cheese fries (I say "custom" because chili, cheese, and French fries are all on the menu, but they aren't offered as the combined greasy masterpiece which I ordered) as an appetizer to our Bistro Burgers ("Bistro" is the addition of cheese and bacon). The cider beer was cold and the chili cheese fries were a hot mess (in a good way). Thin, McDonald's size French fries, were piled on a plate and topped with American cheese slices and doused with homemade beef chili. Pasteurized-processed cheese is normally something that grosses me out to the point of avoidance (except when used in grilled cheese sandwiches), but it worked well with this dish because this type of cheese is creamier than other varieties, such as cheddar. Plus, the chili was piping hot, allowing the processed product to melt seamlessly over the fries. (Oh, who knows, maybe I'm just trying to console my inner "white trash!") Our Bistro Burgers arrived on small, 6" diameter paper plates similar to those that cake used to be served on at childhood birthday parties. Fresh iceberg lettuce, a thick tomato slice and white onion graced one half of the bun, while the thick beef burger patty topped with melted American cheese and bacon graced the other. After a sprinkle of salt and a lather of ketchup, I united the sandwich together and took my first bite. Fitting my mouth around the burger wasn't easy, but I was determined to taste every element, from the bottom bun to the top bun.

Susan and I must have been silent throughout our entire meal. I was so entranced by my Bistro Burger, that I was speechless. The fresh hamburger buns must have been buttered and grilled prior to the addition of ingredients, because they held their shape beautifully. The beef patty had a crusty, perfectly seasoned and salty exterior giving way to a velvety medium cooked interior. The crunch from the lettuce, onion and bacon was a welcome textural and flavorful contrast to the soft bread, meat and melted American cheese. All in all, a perfect cheeseburger.
 
When I came home from work today to edit this review prior to publishing, I reread the first paragraph a couple of times. How ironic was it that just a week ago I had somewhat of a sense of job security, and today, I now find myself in the same situation as so many others on Wall Street? On Tuesday of this week, I received the grim news that the hedge fund that I've worked for the past three years has decided to shut its doors. Needless to say, I'm heartbroken, disappointed, scared and angry. So now I ask myself the same question I hypothetically asked others in my first paragraph, "What coping mechanisms, if any, will I use to get me through this tough time?"

*Something to note when dining at Corner Bistro: it's CASH ONLY