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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.

xoxo, 

Lindsay

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  • 6/20-6/23: Milwaukee
  • 6/28-7/7: Turkey & Greece
  • 8/10-8/19: LA & San Diego

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Saturday
Sep222007

Lunch at Grand Sichuan Eastern, 9/22/07

Being bad NEVER tasted this good. Picture it...Saturday, September 22, the Jewish day of atonement (a.k.a. Yom Kippur). I'd stopped eating the night before around 7 p.m. with the intention of fasting for the next twenty-four hours. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling confident that I could make it to 7 p.m. that evening without a bite of food. A friend and I went to services around 11 a.m.; after doing some much needed praying, we went outside to take a break. He'd received a text message from a coworker telling him to come over and meet him at Grand Sichuan Eastern. We decided to meet up, but would be strong in the midst of temptation and NOT eat a thing. After all, we were going there to visit with a friend...a friend who just so happened to be at a restaurant.

Saturday turned in to a rainy mess. After dodging the storm and racing from window over-hang to window over-hang, we finally reached Grand Sichuan Eastern. My first impression of the restaurant: small, clean and modern with our table being the only non-Chinese diners. This was one of the first times in my life that I've gone to a Chinese restaurant where the rest of the crowd DID NOT look exactly like me. My God, I love New York! What a welcome change from Texas.After trotting through rain puddles and shivering from my drenched outfit, I'd worked up quite an appetite. I decided to give in (God help me, for I've truly committed the ultimate Yom Kippur sin) and order lunch, as did my friend. Every thing we ordered was fantastic: soup dumplings, egg drop soup, sliced fish in red sauce, beef & broccoli, sesame chicken and the shrimp special. I'd never had soup dumplings before, but now I'm hooked. A soup dumpling is basically what it sounds like; a dumpling with a "soupy" interior. One has to be very careful when consuming a soup dumpling, because if you're not careful, you could hurt yourself (with a hot broth explosion in your mouth), or someone else (with a hot broth explosion directed at their face). The sliced fish in red sauce and the shrimp were probably my favorite dishes. Both were extremely fresh and had the right texture and balance of spices. The beef and broccoli was your hum-drum, run-of-the-mill Americanized Chinese food that tastes the same at every Chinese restaurant from New York City to Amarillo, Texas; but the sesame chicken at this restaurant was of much higher-quality than the versions I was used to: chunks of golden, white breast meat that was bathed in a perfectly sweet and tangy sauce.

To make a long story short, I believe that if you're one of, if not the only English speaking customer at a non-English-speaking ethnic restaurant, you're probably in for a fantastic dining adventure. My favorite part of this lunch was when we first arrived and were placing our order (I'd been craving an egg roll), and when I proceeded to order an egg roll, the waitress looked at me like I had five heads and ten eyes, then began laughing (as did the entire restaurant).God, I love New York. I feel so blessed to live in this amazing city. I highly recommend Grand Sichuan Eastern...a wonderful meal from start to finish. Being bad NEVER tasted this good!

Wednesday
Sep192007

CLOSED: Dinner...And brunch at The Nolita House, 9/07

I feel like it's always so hard to make plans for an after-work drink or dinner with friends in this city. Everyone is so busy and has so many things going on in their lives. So when one of my most busy and successful fashionista friends, Megan, was able to grab dinner with me last night, I was elated.

In honor of Megan's birthday (which was actually over the past weekend), we decided to have dinner at The Nolita House. Neither of us had been before, but we were both excited about what we'd seen on the menu via the website. Upon arriving at The Nolita House, we were seated immediately. After Megan and I caught up a bit and perused the menu, we decided to order: Hefeweizen beer (two-for-one Happy Hour special!), corn fritters, macaroni and cheese, and the wild mushroom papparedelle pasta. The corn fritters were fantastic, and honestly, I cannot stop thinking about them. An order of fritters comes with about five one-and-one-half-inch long treats that look similar to mini footballs. Crispy and golden on the outside, the fritters ooze with creamy, corny, cheesy goodness on the inside. We could not have been happier with this appetite teaser...until our main dishes arrived. The macaroni and cheese is served in a skillet with a salad on the side. The noodles weren't your everyday elbow macaroni noodles, but more of a rotini noodle swimming in the most rich, delectable cheese sauce I've had in a long time. Every creamy bite had a nice crunch from the golden brown bread-crumb crust/topping. The wild mushroom pappardelle was one of the best pasta dishes I've had in Manhattan. The pasta was HOMEMADE (which I appreciate so much), with chunks of wild mushroom, artichoke, red peppers and pine nuts throughout, and finished with a light cream sauce. The Nolita House is a wonderful restaurant and bar that really shines in every department. I can't say enough about the service, happy hour specials and food. Two thumbs up!!

9/23/07

I'd be a liar if I said that going to the same restaurant twice in one week is normal behavior for me. So on Sunday, September 23rd, I found myself at The Nolita House, once again. My favorite dining companion, Emily, and I arrived for brunch around 12:30. The restaurant was packed, but we were able to find two stools to sit at while we waited for a table (which I found to be a welcome relief; nine times out of ten, I end up standing during my thirty-minute table wait). About twenty-minutes later, Emily and I were seated. The brunch menu at The Nolita House is quite extensive; from omelettes, French toast and pancakes, to croque monsieur's and everything in between.

To our pleasant surprise, there was a live jazz band playing at the restaurant. The music was fantastic, and most importantly, not too loud. After perusing the menu and debriefing Emily on The Nolita House's famous mac n' cheese, we each ordered an omelette and split a side order of the mac.

For my omelette, I requested egg whites with: avocado, locally made sausage, caramelized onions and Brie cheese. My order also came with mixed greens, homemade herbed fries and a fresh-squeezed orange juice. I must say that this is one of the best omelettes I've had. The ingredients were impeccably fresh and I was particularly impressed that the buttery avocado chunks and brie cheese didn't overpower the omelette with a greasy aftertaste. Each bite was made more delicious when paired with the delicately seasoned (I'm guessing it was rosemary) herbed fries.

Emily enjoyed her breakfast, as well. She seemed to be very impressed by the mac n' cheese, as we devoured the entire dish and fork-fought for the last bite. The Nolita House wins again!

Friday
Sep142007

I just don't get it!? 9/14/07

Barely forty-eight hours after my previous "I just don't get it!?" experience, it happened again! After a friend of mine had to cancel dinner plans with me on Thursday night, she felt obligated to make it up to me on Friday evening. We decided to get a couple of girls together after work and eat dinner at La Palapa (St. Mark's location). I couldn't wait for an ice cold margarita and some really good gossip.I'll make this one short and sweet. What is the deal with Mexican restaurants CHARGING customers for chips and salsa? I just don't get it!? I would be more understanding if one was only having drinks at the bar and not eating a meal; but I'm infuriated that I have to pay an additional price for chips and salsa when I'm already paying a premium for Mexican food in Manhattan! As if that weren't bad enough, my cheese enchiladas were stuffed with un-melted queso fresco that had the consistency of cottage cheese. My girlfriend also complained that her fish tacos were too "fishy."Oh La Palapa, you've truly let me down!

Wednesday
Sep122007

I just don't get it!? 9/12/07

My last boyfriend was European, and while we only dated for a year, he taught me so much (subconsciously) about new cuisines that I'd never really given much consideration to. Case in point, French cuisine. I'd always been mesmerized by the talent and sophistication that had come from France (i.e. Daniel Boulud), although I hadn't really experienced a true French meal (with the exception of French onion soup and French fries). My idea of an exotic meal in New York City would be trying a new "red sauce" Italian restaurant. Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite comfort foods consist of: cheese enchiladas, cheese burgers, Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, and any other greasy pairing you can think of. I'm not really one to order exotic fish (with the exception of fried shrimp or a lobster roll) at restaurants, as I grew up in a land-locked town in Texas. Being the great girlfriend that I was, I decided to be "open" to new foods and cuisines. When we'd discuss where to go for dinner, 9 times out of 10, I'd let him choose (because I believe in compromise AND because I wanted to expand my culinary horizons).

Instead of being the girl that only ate at Mexican restaurants and ordering cheese enchiladas, I became the girl that was eating at French restaurants and ordering the loup de mer; the girl at sushi restaurants ordering the hamachi; and the girl at Greek restaurants ordering the whole branzino. Who had I turned in to? Who was I?After a bittersweet year of dating, the European man and I broke it off. While reflecting, I was happy to take away the fact that I'd exposed my palate to a variety of new taste adventures. I learned so much!So finally, the point of my post, "I just don't get it!?"

Last night, I went to dinner at Markt, my fave Belgian nabe joint, with two girlfriends. We decided to split some mussels for an appetizer. I was looking forward to this, as I felt like I'd really grown accustomed to seafood and shellfish over the past year. I guess I'd never really looked at a mussel. Upon stabbing one with my fork, I must have punctured the "stomach" portion of the creature. Unlike deveined shrimp, I don't think it's possible to devein a mussel, because a glop of what looked like black toothpaste oozed on to my plate. I put two and two together and discovered that what had the texture of ocean sand, was in fact the mussel's waste. Gross. I just don't get it!? Why the hell do people eat other animal's crap (literally)? What's so un-chic about a great bowl of French onion soup & some greasy fries, anyways? This situation made me realize that I will forever be the land-locked Texan surrounded by a sea of sophisticated urban gastronomes.