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

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



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(NYC) Reviewed: Brunch - and a lesson in art history - at The Leopard at des Artistes

Restaurant: The Leopard at des Artistes

  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Location: 1 W. 67th St. - NYC 10023  
  • Pricing: $$$
  • What's delicious: Brunch. In its entirety.
  • Perfect for: Ladies who brunch - prix fixe menu/pre-theater - where to take the parents - special occasions


In Manhattan, zip codes are everything...Unless, of course, you're one of the lucky Upper East/West Side residents worthy enough of claiming a "One East/West...Street" home address.  For those of you who aren't familiar, the "One" designates a building's proximity to Central Park (read: a "One" means virtually *ON* the Park).  Case in point: The Hotel des Artistes, a grand apartment building and home to tony Italian restaurant, The Leopard at des Artistes, located at, you guessed it, "ONE W. 67th Street."

Upon entering the restaurant from the picturesque tree-lined sidewalk, I immediately "buttoned up," if you will: I adjusted my shirt collar, ran my hands along the top of my hair to calm any fly-aways, and corrected my posture from slightly slouched to upright.  Not that the restaurant was overly-stuffy or "black tie" fancy, but this has traditionally been my knee-jerk reaction upon finding myself in more, shall we say, high-end locations/venues.  Kind of like when I used to visit my aunt and uncle at their fabulous apartment (filled with museum-worthy art and an incredible amount of "breakables") located just across the Park from the restaurant.  To make a long story short, I wanted to look the part and be on my best "grown up" behavior for my brunch at The Leopard

"Because of the many ateliers and studios built especially for artists and musicians on West 67th Street, this particular block was often referred to as 'Artists Row.'  Designed by the architect, George Mort Pollard, the Hotel des Artistes has been home to many of the famed and illustrious, including Noel Coward, Isadora Duncan, writer Fannie Hurst, New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay, Alexander Woollcott, and Norman Rockwell."  In an ode to its colorful history, the restaurant's walls are adorned with "fanciful murals of frolicking nudes painted by Howard Chandler Christy, an early resident" of the building.

Moments after I was seated and two-sips in to my coffee, my girlfriend, Elena, arrived to join me for brunch.  In an ode to sample as many starters and entrees as possible, we decided to split a handful of dishes.  

To begin (and in a strategic effort to soak up the alcohol from the previous evening's shenanigans), we selected the bakery basket filled with homemade muffins, scones, Danish, and coffee cake.  House-made jam and sweet butter were served alongside as accompaniments.  While each morsel was every bit soft and delicious, the scones were particularly transcendent.  I wonder if they could be ordered on their own?

Bakery basket filled with an assortment of homemade carb-y delights!Because brunch shouldn't be all eggs and waffles, Elena and I chose to delve in to the meal with two salads.  

As if our sweet bread basket didn't contain enough carbs (god help me, I sound so "LA!"), we also received a savory version - accompanied by olive oil - in anticipation of and to pair with our saltier fare.

Savory bread basket accompanied by oilive oilPollo al Limone

The Pollo al Limone (loosely translated to "lemon chicken") salad featured hand-pulled, roasted free-range chicken breast that was served atop a green bouquet of arugula and frisee leaves, thick tendrils of fragrant fennel, celery, Castelvetrano olives, and finished with a tangy lemon dressing.

Salad: Pollo al LimoneCaprese

Taking center stage on the plate, a fluffy white cloud of burrata (mozzarella cheese with a creamy, molten-like center) could have been a doppelganger to the clusters that form just beyond your airplane window at 30k feet.  As if that wasn't righteous enough on its own, the cheese was lightly drizzled with olive oil and accompanied by chunks of tomato and sprigs of fragrant basil.  What a treat! 

Burrata, tomato & basil

For our main course, Elena and I chose one pasta dish plus a familiar breakfast entree.

Spaghetti "all carbonara"

Pungent Pecorino Romano (cheese), egg yolk, and black pepper came together to create a creamy trinity in which al-dente spaghetti noodles were tossed, coated, and then served in an artful tangle.  Salty guanciale (strips of thick-cut Italian bacon) crowned the pasta.

Spaghetti "alla carbonara"Des Artistes Eggs Benedict

Chef Brogioni "Italianized" this traditionally American brunch entree by substituting San Daniele prosciutto for overly-processed Canadian bacon and serving it atop a buttery, toasted slice of country bread.  The salty ham ribbons were crowned with a perfectly-poached egg and topped with a dollop of Hollandaise.  Herbed breakfast potatoes (...Were they twice or thrice fried?) were crunchy and well-oiled/salted, revealing a fluffy-soft interior.

Des Artistes Eggs Benedict

What - you think we'd leave without sampling at least one dessert?  Never...

Nutella Chocolate Mousse

Plated atop a bed of hazelnut "crunch" that acted as a pseudo crust, the nutty Nutella-hinted chocolate mousse revealed a refreshingly-dense texture with a flavor subtly reminiscent of a dark chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  Finished with a gooey layer of ganache icing and a scoop of banana gelato, this was one of our favorite dishes - and presentations - of the meal. 

Nutella Chocolate Mousse

As if the meal weren't delicious enough, the service was also top-notch; two key components that go hand in hand in making any restaurant experience that much more memorable.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


(NYC) A 'Journey to the Stars' with Michelin

*This event and article were attended/captured/photographed by Jean Hsu and edited/formatted by The Lunch Belle.  Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were captured by Ms. Hsu.**

The Michelin Guide Gala for 2016 - a culinary celebration in which the 2016 Michelin starred-restaurants are announced - was recently held at the Classic Car Club of Manhattan.  And I got to go!

Prior to the uber-famous Michelin Man making his grand appearance in a roaring yellow Corvette, guests were encouraged to mingle whilst enjoying light canapes and seasonally-inspired cocktails from several of the Guide's Starred restaurants. 

Of those that I sampled, the "Valborg" cocktail from Aquavit Restaurant (Famous Grouse Blended Scotch, grapefruit, and lemongrass-infused aquavit) was my favorite.  Snow Leopard Vodka, Cutty Sark Whisky, a plethora of wines from Napa Valley, plus G.H. Mumm Champagne flowed generously throughout the eve.  Additionally, we were treated to a tasting of Macallan's newest rare cask whiskey - served on the rocks (just how I like it).  And how about those ice cubes (below)?

I must admit - I was a little surprised by how small of a focus there was on food, considering all that I had read - and seen - about this event from prior years.  Mini crab and lobster sandwiches, watermelon bites filled with feta, polenta morsels, and crackers topped with smoked salmon/roe were periodically passed by waiters.  Additionally, there was a long table in the back of the space that featured a grandiose spread of artisanal breads and macaroons from Bridor de France.

After the squishy and adorable Michelin Man made his entrance, Michael Ellis - Managing Director of Michelin Guide - took to the stage and began to announce the Star recipients!  Below are  all of the *new* Stars that were awarded to New York City restaurants.  For the full recipient list, click here:

In regards to the cultural diversity and vegetarian-focus in this year's selection, I was really impressed!!  Congratulations to all of the brand new, additional Stars-gained, and annually-recurring recipients!


Until we eat again,

Jean Hsu for The Lunch Belle


Recipe: The best bfast sandwich you've never made...

Are you ready for this?  The other morning, I saw one of my coworkers do the *CRAZIEST* thing in our office's communal kitchen: He cracked a fresh egg in to a small glass bowl - scrambled it with a plastic fork - threw in some sliced breakfast sausage - scrambled it again - then put the mixture in to the microwave for a 45-second zap.  What emerged was a gorgeous, golden soufflé dotted with porky nibs and subtle wafts of steam.  Followed by a...Pop!  Two slices of perfectly-charred toast sprang from the toaster and, within seconds, a scrumptious egg'wich was born.  "Gross, Lindsay," he laughed.  "Close your mouth!  It is not that serious."  I suppose I was so stunned by the fact that a) he MICROWAVED an egg and b) created a restaurant-worthy (or, at the very least, Starbucks-worthy) breakfast sandwich, that I just stood there staring at him - mouth agape - completely unable to speak. 

That night, I made my way over to the supermarket and purchased 1/2 dozen eggs, English muffins, havarti cheese slices, and some chunky salsa.  I managed to locate a small glass bowl and made sure to set it near my car keys so as not to forget any of my ingredients.

...and to the office I went.  

I sliced my English muffin in half and put it in the toaster.  Meanwhile, I cracked my egg in to my small glass bowl and decided against a scramble.  I wanted the full "yolk" effect; you know what I mean - when you take your first bite and the molten, yellow core runs down your chin.  I sprinkled some salt and pepper atop the cracked egg and put it in the microwave for 30-seconds.  Bam!  What was revealed was the perfect, circular cooked "fried egg" a-la a McDonald's (visually, not internally).  I put half of a slice of havarti cheese atop the cooked egg to allow it to melt.  When the 'muffin was perfectly toasted, I lightly spooned salsa atop each half, sprinkled some more salt on each piece, then placed the egg and cheese atop.  The result?  Breakfast perfection.  At a fraction of the cost of what I'd spend elsewhere at somewhere, say, like Starbucks or McDonald's.

You be the judge: How good does that baby look? 

DIY microwaved egg'wich...

Until we eat again, 

The Lunch Belle


(NYC) From where to sip cider to the best bars to catch the football game: Fall for Fall with Foursquare's "Ultimate NY Fall Guide"

In anticipation of my upcoming trip to NYC (ahem, tomorrow!), I couldn't wait a second longer to post this outstanding NY-centric Fall guide!  It's got everything, from the top orchards for apple picking to the city's best bars to watch the football game! 

Per the list, below, I've highlighted some of my favorite tidbits...but please find the full lineup *here.*  Enjoy!

Photo found on: offmetro.com.

Where to Watch FOOTBALL

There are 248 Sports Bars in NYC:

  • 54: # of flat screens at The Grayson, the East Village’s new football-watching spot
  • 23: # of stops on the 1 train from Times Square to Bronx Alehouse, the no. 1  sports bar in NYC overall (on 238th Street, in the Bronx)


The Resurgence of CIDER

When American settlers came to the New World, they found barley hard to grow, so they turned to apples for cider. By the 18th century, New England was producing over 300,000 gallons of cider a year. A lot of the apple trees planted by “Johnny Appleseed” didn’t survive prohibition however, and Americans later started planting and eating apples as snacks.  Hard cider didn’t regain popularity, until... NOW!

Union Square Greenmarket

“Sweet cider still out-sells hard cider but hard cider is on the rise.” -Samascott Orchards, Kinderhook, NY

    6 vendors sell sweet cider
  • 2 vendors sell hard cider

Wassail: NYC's 1st cider bar (12 ciders on tap, 100+ by the bottle)

*Wassail (def): The traditional practice, dating back to Medieval England, of singing to the trees to foster a bountiful harvest.



Forget Sleepy Hollow! These are three spooky spots right in NYC:



*As picked by the Foursquare community:



Best apple picking locations by state:

*Did you know that New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the country, next to Washington State?  Peak season for picking: September 1 - October 25



BEGINNER Peebles Island State Park, Waterford, NY

    Perimeter Trail, 1.8 miles
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Do the hiking trail around  the island. The walk along the water is beautiful.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: The Snowman, Troy


    Blue Trail, approx. 2 miles, Inwood, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Witness the changing colors of the leaves while trailing through the last remaining, naturally occurring, native hardwood forest on the Manhattan Island.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Indian Road Café, Inwood

ADVANCED Bear Mountain State Park

    Appalachian Trail, 6 miles, Bear Mountain, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Beautiful when the leaves change color during the fall. Great Oktoberfest event but don't go during the last two weeks. Mad packed.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Woodbury Commons, Central Valley

OVERNIGHT Mohonk Preserve

  • High Peters Kill Hike, 7.5 miles, New Paltz, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “The most beautiful, if not most intense, hiking in Ulster County.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Mohonk Mountain House New Paltz



Sakuro Martini

‘Nduja Pizza

Pesto Meatball Sandwich

Orange Wine

Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich

  • Fuku, East Village

Jams Chicken

  • Jams, Midtown East

Wasabi Guacamole and Japanese Pancakes



B & H Dairy, East Village (Now reopened)

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Vegetarian matzo-ball soup

Black Seed Bagels, NoLita

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Bagel sandwich with tobiko spread

Russ & Daughters Cafe, Lower East Side

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Super Heebster: bagel toast, whitefish & baked salmon salad, wasabi-infused fish roe, horseradish dill cream cheese

Sadelle’s, SoHo

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Everything 2.0 bagel with Nova lox

*An outpost of H&H Midtown Bagels is scheduled to open on the UWS this winter



“Comfort Food” is a trending taste in the Fall.  And, speaking of this season...

  • In the Fall, people search more for pumpkins than they search for ice cream in summer - but beer beats both tastes all year long!  Here are some of our favorite haunts:



  • Corn vs Corn Dogs vs Sweet Corn
    • Of the three tastes, corn is the most popular with a rise from mid-September to early November; corn dogs spike in late October; sweet corn is small and steady.
  • Funnel Cake vs Caramel Apples
    • Funnel cake fervor starts to rise in early July and peters off; caramel apples take off in Fall.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup vs Fried Chicken
    • Chicken noodle soup may be food for the soul—and especially desirable in Fall—but of all soul food, fried chicken is by far the most popular year-round.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


(NYC) Fighting cancer with music...and mezcal

*This post was written by The Style Gourmande and edited/formatted by The Lunch Belle.  Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were captured by The Style Gourmande.*


Yellowchair - a free, membership-based social media network for foodies - collaborates with chefs, restaurants, interesting venues and brands to create one-of-a-kind culinary experiences.  Members have access to curated dinners, tastings, private events and culinary adventures making it the perfect backdrop for “Dinner with NEW friends.”  And the ideal sponsor for last week's agave-infused dinner at Casa Mezcal, hosted by Corey Wade (third place finisher and first homosexual male contestant on America's Next Top Model, musician, TV personality, and LGBT spokesperson) and Sound Affect, a platform that partners with celebrity musical artists to promote their appraoch to revolutionizing the war on cancer.  Pretty cool, eh?

Our famous - and gorgeous - musical entertainment for the eve: Corey Wade (Photo courtesy of Yellowchair)Casa Mezcal is a modern and eclectic Mexican restaurant located in Manhattan's super hip Lower East Side neighborhood.  And, given its name, the perfect venue for a mezcal-fueled dinner!

We were given 2 types of mezcal to sample: Los Amantes (thrice distilled) and Santa Pedrera (twice distilled).  While each version of the spirit delivered the traditional smoky flavor and aroma, the Santa Pedrera‘s notes were much heavier - or shall I say fuerte!

Aside from the chips and salsa/guacamole, the first dish to be presented was the "Chapulines estilo Oaxaca"  (Translation: Toasted grasshoppers seasoned with salt and lime).  I could only bring myself to eat one.  It wasn't that the insect tasted bad...I just couldn't get over what I was eating!!  And that crunch!  (Squirm!)

Grasshoppers!!! The second dish we were served was the Queso con Yerbasanta (Translation: pan fried cheese wrapped in santa herb and served atop tomatillo sauce with tortilla on the side).  As a self-professed cheese'oholic, I could not have been happier. 

Post dinner, Cory Wade was our entertainment for the night!  He sang tons of awesome cover songs and had the most sultry voice.  After his performance, he sat down with us and had a few shots of mezcal!



Until we eat again,

The Style Gourmande for The Lunch Belle


(NYC) I got crabs...and I loved it!

*This post was written by Eric V. and edited/formatted by The Lunch Belle.  Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were captured by Eric V.*

In honor of Singapore Restaurant Week in the Big Apple, yours truly was invited to attend the Singapore Crab Throwdown at The Daily Meal Kitchen & Bar!

Hosted by The Daily Meal and the Singapore Tourism Board, this exclusive cooking class was led by influential Singaporean chefs, Justin Quek and Wayne Liew, who flew in especially for the celebration!

Check out the drool-worthy menu lineup, below:

After a quick introduction of the program - plus an overview of Singaporean cuisine (and its pan-Asian Chinese-Malay-Indian fusion) - by the staff at The Daily Meal, the first live demonstration commenced. 

Singapore Chili Crab

Chef Wayne Liew, of Keng Eng Kee Seafood (plus his brother and sister who also work at the family-run restaurant,) explained that Chili Crab is a traditional Singaporean dish and a favorite in the city-state.  Although the team wasn't using Sri Lankan mud crabs in this particular preparation, which are preferred and used at Keng Eng Kee, local crabs made for a sufficient substitution, especially when dressed with a mélange of flavorful ingredients, including: Sambal, chili, sweet and sour sauce, and a pinch of sugar.


Chef Wayne Liew's Singapore Chili CrabSalted Egg Yolk Crab

Chef Liew and the Keng Eng Kee team also prepared a twist on the traditional Singaporean entree, Salted Egg Yolk Crab.  This salty egg yolk "powder" is a Chinese ingredient that's actually used on many dishes in Singapore, including onion rings, French fries, and calamari!  Some have even gone as far as to call it the nouveau truffle...

Mmmmm, salted egg yolk!Salted Egg Yolk Crab Chef Wayne Liew + the team from Keng Eng Kee Seafood and me!.

Justin Quek, one of the best-known Singaporean chefs in the world, was next to demonstrate his cooking for the group. 

When I used to live in Singapore a few years ago, I visited his fabulous restaurant, Sky on 57, and had a lovely Franco-Asian meal.  I was so excited to get to meet Chef in person!  And it was totally surreal to re-experience his cuisine in NYC!

Chef Justin Quek and me!Crab Vermicelli in Light Ginger Broth

As an Asian chef who trained in France, many of Justin's unique culinary creations could best be described as "Asian food with French thinking or (vice versa) French food with Asian thinking."  In keeping with the shellfish theme, Chef prepared crab vermicelli in a light ginger broth.  Inspired by Singaporean hawker-stall food, he explained that this particular dish could be enjoyed at any time of the day - served as a representation of Singaporean comfort food or made more upscale by pairing it with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Chef Justin Quek's Crab Vermicelli in Light Ginger BrothWok Fried Black Pepper Crab and Maine Lobster

Chef Justin Quek's Wok Fried Black Pepper Crab & Maine Lobster


Until we eat again,

Eric V. for The Lunch Belle