Welcome

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.  Pressed for time?  Take a peek at The Weekly Eater, where I condense seven days in to one summarized post.

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-shop!

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Need more streamlined advice?  Shoot me an email with your specific requests:  Lindsay@TheLunchBelle.com.

Wednesday
Jan292014

The Weekly Eater: Dining adventures in the Polar Vortex

Damn, the winter sucks.  And it's not like it only lasts for a month or two in NYC.  No, the bone-chilling temps hang around well in to April.  And the attire?  Don't even get me started on the unsexiness of it all.  With my floor-length black puffer jacket and furry ear muffs, I look like the Michelin Man directing air traffic.    

...and the air in my apartment is so dry that my poor dog has constant static-cling.

To further darken an already dark season, I took a bad spill a few weeks ago and fractured my hip.  "I've never heard of anybody under the age of 90 with a broken hip!  Hahhahhah!"  Said the resident office clown.  He does have a point though!  Doctor's orders are for me to modify my exercise routine so as not to further break the break.  Otherwise, I'm looking at surgery.  So, as you can imagine, I've been spending even more time doing what I do best:  Eating.  I've *tried* to cut back on my drinking to ward off extra non-exercisable calories. 

Without further ado, here's where and what I've been eating as of late... 

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El Maguey y La Tuna  Mexican food, Lower East Side

Verdict:  A little rough around the edges and the restroom gave me vivid flashbacks of Mexico (...you cannot flush paper down the toilet) but, all in all, I enjoyed a tasty meal paired with warm service. 

If you do find yourself at El Maguey y La Tuna, famous for their handmade mole sauces, make sure to try their phenomenal Chilaquiles Verdes.  Imagine, if you will, a mound of mild green mole sauce-saturated corn tortilla chips finished with melted white cheese and paired alongside eggs (cooked to your liking) and black beans  This is a truly transcendent dish that is destination-worthy in every sense of the word. 

Chilaquiles verdes con juevosTo help weather the frigid temperatures outside, might I suggest the sweet and comforting Mexican Fruit Hot Cider? 

Mexican Fruit Hot Cider.

La Cenita  Mexican food, Meatpacking District

Verdict:  Hated it, hated it, HATED IT!

What are the ingredients for a shitty restaurant?  1) 9 times out of 10, a location in the Meatpacking District 2) Wait staff that doesn't communicate with the busser staff 3) A manager that scans the room constantly for famous folks and only approaching tables that appear to be occupied by Greek shipping magnates 4) Charging $9 for a double espresso.  Yes, I said $9 5) A waiter that exclaims, immediately upon being seated, "Hayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy girls!  What kind of water are we going to have tonight?  Still?  Sparkling?  You'll want to make sure to hydrate yourselves in preparation for drinking!"  To his unfortunate surprise, neither Jean, Ceci, nor I was imbibing that night.  And to our unfortunate surprise, that's when service took a somber turn for the worse.  6) Must I go on?

Get here NEVER!

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Oreo's newest flavors!

VerdictOreo sent me a brought a box of each, Cookie Dough and Marshmallow Crispy,so I brought them to work.  The winning flavor amongst my coworkers was...a tie!  I told folks to take one of each and then let me know which was their favorite.  There was no middle ground; my colleagues either loved one flavor and hated the other. 

Personally, I did not have a favorite.  I enjoyed both of the new flavors, though found their respective fillings to be too oily/greasy.  I also noticed that the actual cookie portions didn't stick to the filling/icing very well.  I will say that I did enjoy the generous filling-to-cookie ratio...

*These two new flavors hit the shelves on Monday, 2/3.*  If you happen to buy a box of each, let me know what you think, overall, and which flavor you enjoyed more.  Personally, I cannot wait until Birthday Cake, Lemon, and Peanut Butter flavors are debuted!! 

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Hu chocolate bars

Verdict:  Never was I EVER even remotely in to dark chocolate.  I passed it off as bitter crap that only snobby, skeletal wannabes and the men who love them ate.  That was until, out of sheer desperation, I succumbed to a Hershey's Special Dark mini.  And loved it!  Slowly, I began sampling various brands of dark chocolate and cacao percentages ranging from 40 to the mid 70s.  And then I stumbled upon Hu bars... 

Of the flavors I've sampled thus far, I'd have to say that my favorite is the Almond Butter & Puffed Quinoa.  I totally get that it sounds too healthy and too hipster, but it's fcuking delicious.  Imagine the crunch of a Nestle Crunch bar married with the sweet/salty/textural appeal of a Reese's PB Cup.  Bam! 

 

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Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Jan242014

The Lunch Belle interviews RHOA's infamous Mama Joyce!

Love her or love to hate her, Mama Joyce is the unofficial matriarch of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Personally, while I've always remained neutral in tiffs between her and famous daughter, Kandi Burruss, it wasn't until I actually got to speak with Mama Joyce, one on one, that I absolutely fell in love with her. 

Photo credit: Jessica from Reality Wanted dot Com Southern women, especially of the older school, are tough cookies.  They don't put up with a bunch of crap and are more than happy to gingerly put you in your place.  By the same token, you will never meet a more outwardly warm, gracious, polite, or welcoming woman than a Southern dame.  And Mama Joyce is no exception.   While she may come off as a fire cracker on television, she could not have been more lovely over the phone.  If I could describe my interaction with MJ (Mama Joyce) in one sentence, I'd say that she is like the grandmother you never had.  But always wanted.  Sweet and loving...with a dash of Southern sass.

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TLB = The Lunch Belle

MJ = Mama Joyce

TLB:  "Hi MJ!  Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me!"

MJ:  "Hi!  You are welcome."

TLB:  "So I heard that you've lost quite a bit of weight.  Congratulations!  40 pounds, to be exact!  Can you divulge how you did it?"

MJ:  "Thank you!  I started a program called Dramatic Weight Loss about 2-years ago.  Actually, it was Kandi who first told me about it.  And, yes, I've lost 40 pounds!"

TLB:  "Well, congratulations again!  But I want all of the dirty details.  What did the diet entail?"

MJ:  "For the first 3-days, I had to drink a protein shake every 3-hours to prevent hunger.  Once I went in to ketosis, I was able to add food back to my diet like salads and fish."

TLB:  "Shakes, eh?  Were they gross?" 

MJ:  "Girl, no!  I still drink them - by choice - to this day!  I love the chocolate or vanilla flavor that I make extra sweet with Sweet 'N Low."

TLB:  "Interesting.  That really says a lot about the company's products if you drink the shakes now, in your maintenance phase, by choice!   Speaking of maintenance, don't you find it to be harder than the actual diet, itself?"

MJ:  "You know what's funny?  I hadn't had fried chicken in months until the other day and, wouldn't you know, it upset my stomach!  Also, I can now be around sweets without having to indulge in a piece of cake or candy.  I don't crave those things anymore.  It's crazy!"

TLB:  "That is crazy, because no matter how far in to a diet I am, I still crave donuts/cake/gummy candy/ice cream, etc. on a daily basis.  God bless you, MJ!  So, I have to ask, do you cook at home?  If so, how often per week?"

MJ:  "(Chuckles) Thank you, baby.  Yes, I do cook at home.  About two times/week."

TLB:  "On the off times when you aren't cooking, do you go out to eat?  If so, what do you order at, say, an American restaurant?"

MJ:  Girl, I love Red Lobster.  I usually order some kind of baked fish, salad, and either a baked potato or rice."

TLB:  "...and I love Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits!  Do you let yourself indulge in those?"

MJ:  "(Chuckles) Me too!  Well, mayyyyyyyyyyybe just one."

TLB:  "Switching gears now.  How's your granddaughter, Miss Riley, doing?  I haven't seen her on the show all season!"

MJ:  "Oh, she's wonderful, thank you.  She is doing great."

TLB:  "I loved seeing your sisters with you a few episodes back.  You can see the resemblence!"

MJ:  "Thank you.  Did you know that I am the baby of fourteen?"

TLB:  "No!  That is amazing.  And so interesting!  I love it.  Now, MJ, in closing, is there anything that you'd like for me to share with my readers?"

MJ:  "Just let everyone know that I am self-sufficient.  Kandi and I have rekindled our relationship and we're stronger and better than ever.  I love my daughter."

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~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Wednesday
Jan152014

Recipe: Parfait Parfait (macerated fruit + yogurt)

So I hate it when these byotches are like, "...since I think I look hot, here's a healthy recipe - that actually tastes worse than cardboard - I make sometimes.  Because, obviously, you want to look like me.  Oh, and please make sure to comment on my newest full-body selfie." 

Kim K. Sigh.Right?  I mean, shut the fcuk up.  And while you're at it, gag me with a dumbbell...

Seriously though, if you're trying to start your day off sans that tempting breakfast burrito - pancake stack and hash browns - bagel & schmear - etc., consider my "Parfait Parfait."  Not because you want to look like me, but because this delightful yogurt cup actually tastes good.  And it's way better for you than that sausage/egg/cheese biscuit thing you've been munching on.  Plus, you'll feel like a bad ass knowing that you "cooked" your own breakfast!   

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Recipe:  Parfait Parfait (Did you know that the word "parfait" means "perfect" in French?)

The secret that makes this recipe so delicious is the macerated fruit.  And what's best is the fact that you can make this fruit medley last for 5-days/a work week!  

Step 1:  Macerated fruit

  • 2 apples, chopped in to bite-size cubes (If you don't like apples, sub pears, persimmons, 2 cups of fresh berries.  Need more ideas?  Just ask.)
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I like dried cherries, raisins, figs, peaches)
  • 1 tablespoon jam/preserves of your choice

Combine fruit and jam in a tupperware container (or any container with a lid).  Shake or stir to combine.  Keep refrigerated and allow to macerate for 24-hours prior to initial serving.

Trader Joe's has a great selection of dried fruit.Step 2:  Greek yogurt

Why Greek?  Because it has almost triple the amount of protein as non-Greek yogurt.  My brand of choice is Fage.

Step 3 (optional):  Granola

I love granola in my yogurt, but you certainly don't have to add it if you're opposed.  I appreciate the added fiber and texture from the crunchy oats and nuts.  I also believe that it makes this recipe perfectly balanced.

Step 4:  Combine and enjoy!

Using about 1/5 of your macerated fruit, combine it with 1/2 cup of yogurt and a handful of granola (optional).  Enjoy this breakfast - or snack - daily for the entire work-week!

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Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Jan092014

Eat this NOW!

I'm not one to go out of my precious way to sing the praises of just anything.  Whatever it is has to be really fcuking phenomenal.  We're talking worthy of changing lives, people.  So, I couldn't let another minute go by without telling you about the best thing I've eaten in the new year, thus far.  Hell, it may even be the best thing I've eaten.  Ever.  Seriously, though, not sharing this experience with you would just be wrong on so many levels...

ABC Kitchen's Roasted Kabocha Squash ToastWhile I have always been a fan of the toast varieties at ABC Kitchen, I've never made it a point to order one upon each visit.  That was until recently, when I tried their seasonal (that means it won't be on the menu forever) Roasted Kabocha Squash Toast offering.  Imagine, if you will, a slice of fresh country bread schmeared with a thick layer of house-made ricotta cheese.  This is crowned by a squash chutney, of sorts, as the consistency is almost jam-like.  Roasted chunks of kabocha squash (winter squash) are married with tangy apple cider vinegar and finished with crunchy flakes of sea salt.  The result is a perfectly seasoned and balanced explosion of sweet meets sour meets subtle texture meets the warmth of the creamy ricotta cheese and the crunch from the hearty toast. 

Mind blowing.  Sheer dynamite.  Eat this NOW!

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Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Saturday
Jan042014

Recipe: "Eat your emotions" cherry cobbler

TGISaturday!  Man, how happy are you that this week is over?  I don't know about you but, thus far, 2014 has sucked.  Oh, and Happy New Year, by the way.  Sorry, I should have said that first.  Now, back to my bitching:  Nothing catastrophic has happened.  Yet, at least.  But when the petty bullshiz starts to pile up, all it takes is that one seemingly miniscule comment/event/slip for the "straw to break the camel's back."  Seriously, I've had it up to HERE with flaky friend behavior (you clowns know who you are), dudes with a Napoleon complex (Yes, I'm talking to YOU!), nasty weather, "selfies," the Mexican food in NYC, Miley Cyrus, and...OK, fine, I'll stop.  But not without telling you that the icing on my proverbial cake was last night, when I tripped over some clutter in my room and got a huge gash + goose-egg on my forehead, wrist, and shin.  "Sexy" doesn't even begin to describe it...

So, in an effort to make myself feel better, I decided to whip up my favorite "eat your emotions" dessert:  Cherry Cobbler.  And you know what?  I actually *do* feel better!

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Cherry Cobbler

When cooled, my Cherry Cobbler can be cut in to squares for individual portions!

Adapted from Mrs. Reister's original recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 14.5-ounce can pitted red tart cherries in water (I use this brand)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (whole wheat flour gives the crust some girth and a deliciously toothsome bite)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted 

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Pour entire can of cherries (including liquid) in to a bowl and blend with 1 cup sugar.  In another bowl, sift the flour, remaining cup of sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Add the milk to the batter and stir to blend.  

Pour melted butter in the bottom of a 9x9" pan (can be glass or metal).  Pour batter in to the pan.  Pour cherries on top of the batter.  Bake for 45 minutes to one hour - note that the crust should be a deep golden color, similar in hue to honey.

Serve warm.  Or cold.  Room temperature works, too.  Hell, this cobbler is so good, it doesn't matter which temperature it's served.  Trust me, the crowd will go wild.

Enjoy!

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~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle 

Tuesday
Dec312013

Two months' worth of my favorite eats, drinks, and jaunts

Because December is (gasp!) almost over, I wanted to share some of my favorite eats, drinks, and treats.   And, most of all, I'd like to wish each and every one of you a very happy, healthy, successful, fruitful, and delicious New Year. 

All my best,

The Lunch Belle

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Mead 

Be it corn, wheat, potatoes, grapes...you can make an alcoholic beverage out of pretty much anything.  So, why not honey? 

Recently, I discovered mead, a.k.a "honey wine," at Distilled, one of my favorite local bars.  Ranging from semi-sweet to cloying, mead goes down almost too easily.  Which is precisely how I like my alcoholic beverages.  Bottoms up!

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Warm Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad at Blue Water Grill

Blue Water Grill's Warm Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad"Warm Brussels Sprouts."  Fine.  I get that.  But add "Caesar Salad" to the name?  That just sounds unappetizing.  And smelly.  If it were not for our server gushing about this dish after having asked what her favorites were on the menu, there's no way that I would have ordered this particular salad.  

Never, in a million years, would I have guessed how much I loved this bowl 'o greens.  Don't be fooled by the name like I initially was; the only thing "Caesar" about this dish is that the 'Sprouts are finished with a quick sautee in the namesake dressing.  Oh, and sprinkled with shredded parmesan cheese.

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Otto's Tacos

You all know what a sucker I am for Mexican food.  And you also know that, since moving here almost 10-years ago, I've been on a constant quest for solid Mexican restaurants.  Looking back, it's not that I haven't been successful in my tireless search, per se, I just haven't found more than a handful of places that I'd actually return to.  Otto's Tacos just so happens to be one of those "handful of places."

Aside from the fact that they make their corn tortillas in house (shwing!), it's the garlicky guacamole, the 'why didn't I think of that' Masa Fries + dipping sauce, that secret red marinade on the carne asada, and the shrimp taco in its entirety that took my breath away.

Corn tortillas are made on the premises!HorchataMasa Fries & spicy dipping sauceGuacamoleCarne asada tacoShrimp taco (my favorite).

Breads Bakery

As a discriminating carb-o-holic, I take my baked goods seriously.  Very seriously.  Especially when the said bakery is of Israeli-Jewish descent. 

Chocolate babka and Nutella rugelach aren't all that is sold at Breads Bakery.  Think olive and cheese breadsticks that are worthy of changing your life; bourekas; loaves of freshly-baked breads and crusty baguette; warm chocolate croissants; a small gourmet sandwich/salad counter.  That's just to name a few of the mouth-watering offerings...

Dark chocolate and Nutella rugelachCrusty, cheesy breadstickBoureka trio.

'Chicken broth rice' at Nyonya

With entree accompanying-rice options of "brown, white, coconut, or chicken broth," I decided to live daringly and choose the latter.  After all, who hasn't had the first three?  Can I just say that this was one of the best decisions I've made in recent memory?  Imagine your traditional, semi-sticky, white jasmine rice.  However, instead of being boiled in plain old boring water, it's simmered in rich and salty chicken broth.  The resulting rice is light yellow in color and full of flavor.  To be honest, I would rather eat 'chicken broth rice' than a traditional entree.  

Try. It. Now.  

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Shipley's Donuts

If you ever find yourself in Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport's terminal B, do yourself a solid and grab a fresh-from-the-fryer donut - or kolache - from Shipley's.  They're worth every last calorie, namely the glazed cake donuts. 

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Home for the holidays...

For Thanksgiving, I joined my immediate and extended family in Texas for an abundance of cooking, delicious food, and plenty of cheer.

Lucy (white dog) and my sisters dogs got to come home, too!Many margaritas were had......and for Christmas, I joined my immediate family in California, where my sister lives.

Not bad for a "winter" view!I ate more than my fair share of Mexican food.I got my In 'N Out burger "animal style."Mom, my sis, and I got matching David Yurman bracelets from Santa Claus.We went to a Van Cleef & Arpels exhibit at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.

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Until we eat again (...next year!),

The Lunch Belle