Welcome

**Readers!  I recently moved to the City of Angels.  The good news is that I'm keeping this site alive while I simultaneously author Beverly Hills Bites.  Check it out!**

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

Sunday
Jun222014

LA Woman

My dear readers, 

Believe it or not, I recently moved to the City of Angels.  The good news is that I'm keeping this site live while I simultaneously work on something Los Angeles-centric.  Have a look-see: Beverly Hills Bites.  

The hope is that I can eventually merge the two websites together.  If you have any brilliant ideas to make this transition easier, please advise!  I'm a total stress case.  In the meantime, thank you for stopping by and I appreciate your continued patronage!

xoxo, 

The Lunch Belle / Beverly Hills Bites

Wednesday
May212014

Completely unBAREable

As if packing up the past 10-years of my life in NYC and moving to the West Coast wasn't stressful and difficult enough, Completely Bare wanted to wedge that proverbial knife even deeper...

In February, after having been a client for the better part of a year, I purchased a 6-pack of laser hair removal sessions from Completely Bare.  For those of you who don't know about laser hair removal, you have to wait 6-weeks in between sessions.  So, if you do the math, it would take 36-weeks to complete a 6-session package.  To date, I've completed two sessions and have my third on Friday. 

Rewind 1-month ago: I recently returned to NYC from a long weekend in LA.  I had just made the incredibly emotional decision to move across the country at the end of May, when my lease was due to expire.  In closing out and scheduling the cancellations of my utilities and other services, I contacted Completely Bare to see what I could do about my three remaining sessions (remember, one has to wait 6-weeks in between sessions).  The conversation between me and Carol, one of the managers, went something like this:

Me: "Hi Carol, I'm moving to LA at the end of May.  After my session on May 23rd, I will have three remaining.  I am not going to be able to use them, as I was informed that you do not have West Coast locations."

Carol: "OK, I can offer you one of two solutions.  You can transfer your credits in to another person's name, or we can extend the time frame to a year and you can use them when you come back to NYC."

Me: "Thanks, but I will not be coming back to NYC every 6-weeks or even 3-times in the next year.  I do not have to travel for work, and I certainly cannot afford to return merely for laser hair removal sessions.  If I send you a copy of my California lease, can I get some sort of refund?  This was not something that I planned when I had initially purchased this package.  Clearly."

Carol: "Sorry, but even giving you the two options I offered is normally something we don't do.  I cannot offer you a refund."

After trying to sell my remaining sessions to friends and coworkers, no one bit.  So, in utter desperation, I put a listing on (gasp) Craigslist.  I cannot afford to eat hundreds of dollars!  Thank you, Completely Bare, for making this process Completely UnBAREable.  Shame on you!

 

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
May152014

The Lunch Belle is moving...to the west coast!

Dear readers,

A week ago, today, I celebrated my 10-year anniversary in NYC.  And, coincidentally, I also did something rather 'life changing': I signed a lease for an apartment in Los Angeles.  Commencing on June 1st!  That's right, folks, I'm moving away from my beloved Manhattan in exactly 2-weeks from today. 

Both friends and coworkers, alike, keep asking me if I have grown tired of NYC.  And the answer is a wholehearted "hell no."  I love this city more than my own life; it accepted me with open arms, forced me grow in more ways than I could have ever imagined, allowed me to very proudly and happily relish in my authentic self, and so, so much more.  I am, without a doubt, a New Yorker to the core.  I live and breathe Manhattan and proudly bleed "Big Apple" red.  However, I have come to the point where I desperately miss my family - who reside on the west coast - and my rent has forced me out of the building where I lived for the past 7-years.  It was those two factors that initially got the wheels in my head turning about a potentially major move.  Then, the idea of having more square footage, a washer/dryer, and a dishwasher began to seduce me.  Pair all of that with 365 days of picture-perfect weather, palm trees, "dog beaches" for Lucy, and the fact that there are only 0.78% more women than men (as opposed to NYC, where there are 9.61% more women than men).  I mean, I would be an idiot not to go, right?   

This is not, by any means, my exit from blogging.  I'm currently at the stage where I'm deciding whether to write about my west coast adventures on The Lunch Belle or, like this move, pick up and start anew.  I'd love to hear what you think/prefer!

So, for the next few weeks, I may be a bit quiet, but please stay tuned for what's to come.  I can't wait for you to take this new and exciting journey with me!

~~~

Until we eat again and very loyally yours,

The Lunch Belle

Tuesday
May062014

Cherry blossoms and beef jerky...some of my favorites of late

Damn, it's been a long winter.  And you know what's kind of insane?  The fact that I still rock a jacket every morning on my way to work.  It's May 6th, for the love of god!  I should stop complaining though, because the next two days are going to be...wait for it...70-degrees and sunny!  But don't ask what's in store for Thursday - Sunday; just know that it's going to be chilly, wet, and windy.  Typical NYC weather for ya...

On a lighter, more "springy" note, I wanted to share some of my favorite eats, drinks, events, and photos of late.  Because if you can't look forward to a kick ass plate of roasted beets and Lamb Frites on a cloudy Manhattan day, then what can you (look forward to)?

...

Cherry blossoms a'bloom in Madison Square Park

.

...and, speaking of Madison Square Park, I'm totally loving that Spring Mad. Sq. Eats 2014 has commenced!  The lineup, as per usual, is great and I've already made my way over more than a handful of times (since opening day on May 2nd). #fatkidforever

.

Kaffe 1668's Sweet Potato Kale Salad

Sitting prettily atop a bed of kale greens are pinto beans, garlic and rosemary-roasted sweet potatoes, chunks of ripe avocado, and dried cranberries.  Add to that your choice of maple-mustard or sesame-tamari dressing, and you've got yourself one helluva hearty - and healthy - lunch/dinner. 

For a $9.87 price tag, you receive the salad, plus a refreshing iced tea and crunchy, buttery crostini points.  Oh, and for all of you health freaks out there, did I mention that this salad is vegan, organic, and gluten-free?  Bam.

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Now, going in a whole different direction from "vegan and organic," I'd like to introduce you to my favorite guilty pleasure: Wild Bill's Beef Jerky.  Namely, the "jumbo size tender tips."  Sounds disgusting, I'm sure (I just reread that last sentence and gagged), but if you're a 'jerky aficionado like me and my sister, then you will LOVE THIS STUFF.  I repeat, LOVE!  Each bite is packed with intense flavor, spice, and a tenderness unlike any other jerky I've ever tried. 

Since Wild Bill's is located in Memphis, a handful of coworkers and I pool our money together and order a hefty supply for the office.  You seriously can't get a more delicious, high protein snack!

.

General Assembly

I'm always suspicious of new restaurants that occupy HUMONGOUS spaces.  I mean, what's not to be weary of?  Having just moved in to the old Hurricane Club space, I entered General Assembly cautiously optimistic...

However, in terms of the newly-revamped space, the cocktails, and most of the food we ordered, I conclude that General Assembly has "staying power" potential for the long haul.  Dana and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience, and I cannot wait to return!

General Assembly: Lillet CupSearching for this summer's hottest thirst quencher?  Look no further than the "Lillet Cup," a gorgeous concoction of Lillet Blanc, muddled strawberries, and mint.  Menu standouts include: Gratis garlic pull-apart rolls and salted butter, Roasted Beets & Ginger-Citrus Yogurt, Colorado Lamb Frites (think traditional 'steak frites,' but substitute a charbroiled filet of lamb), and the Baked Brie Potato Gratin.

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Pre-packaged macaron sampler from Macaron Cafe available at Fairway Market locations citywide

Each box comes with a frozen assortment of nine macarons.  Because of the brilliant way in which they're packaged, each macaron remains perfectly intact - thus making this the ideal "from NYC with love" traveler's gift for friends and family.  

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Chalk Point Kitchen, The Handy Liquor Bar

With almost twenty minutes to spare before our reservation at Chalk Point Kitchen, I was told that I could wait in the bar downstairs because it was "much more comfortable."  Although I spied a few empty bar stools in my periphery, I chose, for once, to keep my mouth shut and head to the floor below.  After all, I had just arrived from a spin class looking less than fabulous.  Oh god, I said under my breath, hurriedly searching for my cashmere sweater.  I didn't even realize that I had walked in to the establishment in my sweaty, sleeveless workout tank and visible sports bra. 

The Handy Liquor Bar is a romantic and hip juxtaposition that takes "subterranean" to a whole new level: Approachable.  From the plethora of intimate seating options and a cozy fireplace, to the friendly staff, this is a bar that I am confident I will return to time and time again.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that the drinks are handmade, reasonably priced, and delicious.  

While we enjoyed every aspect of our meal at Chalk Point Kitchen, down to the hand-written chalk table card with our names on it, my favorites included: Garden Beet Root Salad with salty blue and crunchy pistachios, Maine Uni Crudo with sea salt and salsa verde, Dayboat Chatham Codfish with a "livornese" sauce, Roasted Heirloom Carrots, and the Butter Whipped Potatoes.

Get. Here. Now.

Chalk Point Kitchen: Garden Beet Root Salad

Mad. Sq Eats (#MadSqEats), now in its sixth year, will return to Worth Square on Friday, May 2nd. The popular pop-up market is a collaboration between UrbanSpace and the Madison Square Park Conservancy; together, we’ve curated one of our best lineups yet.

100 Sardines by George Mendes
100 sardines will be a “sister” pop-up restaurant to ALDEA located off Union Square. They will serve hot and cold soups, sandwiches and rice dishes (both seafood and meat based) as well as Portuguese influenced salads. The rice preparations will be based on the success of ALDEA’s signature “Arroz de Pato ” and will be available to eat on site or taken to go.

Arancini Bros.
Arancini is authentic sicilian street food – fried rice balls made with arborio rice and filled with creative meats, cheeses and seasonal ingredients.

Bar Suzette
Bar Suzette, run by Peter Tondreau and Troi Lughod, offers savory or sweet delectable crepes with a continuously changing menu. At Mad. Sq. Eats, they also offer an expanded menu that includes burgers, truffle fries and other classic fare.

Calexico
Calexico serves fresh, flavorful Cal-Mex food in New York City and Brooklyn. They have several locations and carts, and have won many accolades for their food, including a Vendy Award for Best Street Food.

Charlito’s Cocina
Charlito’s Cocina offers fantastic meat and vegetarian sausages, paninis and sides; everything is made scratch.

Doughnuttery
Doughnuttery offers hot, fresh, and uniquely sugared donuts.

Hong Kong Street Cart
Hong Kong Street Cart serves delicious Asian street food, including pork buns, dumplings, ramen and more.

ilili
Contemporary Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine. Consistently voted NYC’s #1 Mediterranean restaurant by OpenTable diners!

Kicky’s Kitchen
Caketails by Kicky’s Kitchen are sweets inspired by cocktails. They have year-round caketails as well as seasonal cupcakes.

L&W Oyster Co.
L&W Oyster Co. features an array of the finest East and West coast oysters, as well as classic clam shack fare — like Lobster BLTs, Oyster Po’ Boys — and beautiful fish entrees that showcase sustainable seafood and local produce.

La Sonrisa Empanadas
La Sonrisa Empanadas offers vegetarian, beef, roasted or coconut curry chicken and pulled pork empanadas.

Macaron Parlour
Founded in 2010 by Christina Ha and Simon Tung, Macaron Parlour offers a wide array of delicious macarons. Their flavor offerings range from the traditional (Red Velvet) to the crazy and creative (Cheetos).

Mayhem & Stout
Founded by childhood friends, Steve Applegate and Jay Brown, Mayhem & Stout specializes in flavorful, fall-off-the-bone braised meats and creative, seasonally inspired house made condiments, relishes and spreads served on locally made bread. They also offer salads and vegetarian options.

Melt Bakery
Melt Bakery is a sustainable ice cream sandwich company focused on locally sourced ingredients with seasonal flavor combinations.

- See more at: http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/calendar/mad-sq-eats-2014#sthash.M6eDYs7q.dpuf

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Saturday
May032014

Holey Donuts: One Donut You Won't Want to Glaze Over

Low-cal is not in my vocabulary. Diet ice cream? Portion control potato chips? Sorry, but you have no my place in my life. Let me be clear: I don't judge pastries based on how good they taste relative to their nutritional value. Sure, if I can avoid clogging my arteries, that's great. But when all is said and done, I want my pastries to taste good because that is their sole purpose.

So, you can imagine my skepticism when I was invited to try Holey Donuts!, a brand of low-calorie, low-fat donuts inhabiting their first retail store this week. Would they taste like the fake bread I eat on Passover? Would they be really good donuts that were just incredibly small? Would they be alien donuts with side effects of blue skin?

Well, first thing's first, I was taken aback to discover that the donuts were big. Aha, I thought, so portion control isn't the secret. This is going to taste like the pastries they served in synagogue growing up. Right? Wrong. A Holey Donut tastes like a donut because it is a donut. I kept chewing, waiting for a catch. Zilch. These were definitely donuts: sweet, sticky, chewy, and round. 

A Bay Ridge native and self-declared "Brooklyn boy", Frank Dilullo comes by his donut entrepreneurship honestly. He's no stranger to the world of the fried: Frank's father was one of the original Dunkin' Donuts franchisees back in 1958. Growing up sneaking clandestine bites of freshly-made donut "with the icing on top still wet," Frank owned several Dunkin' Donuts stores before selling them to start Holey Donuts!. "It was an accident, really. I was by the fryer, and I made the donut a different way than we usually did. I tasted it, and I was like, 'holy shit!' That's where Holey Donuts! comes from. 'Holy cow' will also work," he says, his eyes lighting up with that Brooklyn boy mischief. "Well, how do you make them?" I pressed. "That I can't tell you, but it's a twenty-two step process. Half of the work is done at our factory in Brooklyn, the other half here in the store." He wasn't lying. Every donut is customized on the spot, and goes from being dough to art. Already a successful online brand, the Holey Donuts! retail store looks like a day spa for donuts with jars full of fresh filling ready to be pumped into the fritters. It's like reverse liposuction for donuts. 

"I once had a baked donut," I confessed. "It didn't taste very good." "People tell me stuff like that all the time, and I'm like, if a donut is baked, it's a bagel. A lot of the time with low-cal foods, brands try to disguise it. Of course our donuts are going to have carbs and sugar. They're donuts! We just don't prepare them quite the same way."

I'm dying to reveal my donut-making conspiracy theories here, but I digress... In addition to donuts, Holey Donuts! has cinnamon buns, coffee, and juice. The store plans on staying open fairly late; think 10PM on the weekdays, and midnight on the weekends. "Or," Frank says, "until we're out of donuts." The store doesn't accept cash in an effort to keep things as germ-free as possible (my kind of place, hey there Jewish neuroses), and has a good amount of seating. Located in in a pink-splattered, spacious store in the West Village, Holey has a good shot of wracking up success.

Frank and his crew sent me home with several boxes of goodies, making me queen for a day in the office. To be on Holey Donuts! grand opening guest list, email info@holeydonuts.net, with 'guest list' in the subject line. Word on the street is that there will be goodies a' plenty.

 

Until we eat again, 

Aliza Kellerman for The Lunch Belle

Aliza Kellerman is an NYC based booze & food writer, an employed twenty-something, and an avid kvetcher. She sips and noshes her way through misadventures while befriending strangers and discovering new interests. Check out her blog at here, follow her here, and browse her portfolio here.

Friday
Apr252014

So, a New Yorker walks in to a bar in L.A...

I consider myself fairly laid back/accepting/open when it comes to many things.  For example:

  • If a friend is acting like a total byotch, I'll chock it up to PMS or something else that really has nothing to do with me. 
  • I try to break down racial and cultural stereotypes and judge a person based on their attitude/personality - or lack thereof - not by their religion or skin color. 
  • I'm generally not the type of person to tell my employer that I "can't" perform a certain job function.  I have a "can do" attitude/work ethic on the job.

However, when it comes to places/locations/cities/towns, I am a seething critic and snob.  As a New Yorker, I think that pretty much everywhere else in the world sucks.  Hard.  Except for Paris.  Small towns freak me the fcuk out, as do strip malls.  Falling asleep - or, shall I say, attempting to fall asleep - in silence makes my skin crawl.  Businesses that close before 9pm are straight-up lazy.  What's up with that, by the way?  The most fearful I've ever been was on a trip to a sleepy New Mexico ski town during the summer before my 7th grade year.  My family and I spent 4-5 days in Ruidoso, which felt more like a multi-year prison sentence.  There was absolutely nothing to do but stare at pine trees and pretend that I enjoyed nature. 

So, where am I going with all of this?  I wanted to give you a quirky prelude to my recent visit to Los Angeles, a city chock-full of stereotypes.  Below, I will break each one of them down, from my point of view:

  1. "Driving is a nightmare."  Traffic is traffic is traffic, people.  Seriously!  Whether you're in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or LA, it's just a fact of daily life.  Be it you behind the wheel or a cabbie/driver.  And, to all of you a-holes who scared the crap out of me prior to my trip, I did not let the gridlock get the best of me.  Thank you very much.  Actually, it was way less intense/dramatic than what you idiots made it out to be.   
  2. "Everyone is blonde and has fake boobs."  Wrong.  Actually, to be honest, I didn't even see that many blondes.  And, aside from my instructor at barre class, I didn't spy any fake racks.
  3. "All of the chicks are rail thin and gorgeous."  Wrong again.  In fact, there was only one gal who was so good looking that she took my breath away.  And the thin thing?  Not so much.
  4. "LA sucks."  No, LA does not suck.  You suck!  People are intimidated of LA because of its size, the necessary driving, the wealth, the smog, and the "fake people."  But you know what?  I really liked LA.  I look at all of those "grievances" as a challenge.  Bring it on!

And here are some generalizations that I made on my own (sans stereotypes):

  1. There are taco trucks EVERYWHERE.  Dream. Come. True.
  2. People are not any nicer/nastier than they are in NYC. 
  3. The hipster population in Brooklyn pales in comparison to the City of Angels.  They're fcuking EVERYWHERE!
  4. ...with that being said, where all my yuppies at?  Anyone?
  5. Rodeo Drive is merely a stretch of a few blocks.  Yep, that's it. 
  6. Perhaps I was just famished, but I found the pizza in LA to be quite delicious.  Shout out to LA Pizza Company and Bottega Louie!Bottega Louie's wood fired savory pie
  7. There's just something incredibly special and magical about those super tall palm trees.
  8. The fact that you can eat or drink in surroundings as lush as Hawaii is priceless.FIG at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica
  9. It isn't all Porsche's and perfectly manicured lawns and landscape; there are some downright fugly parts of LA.
  10. Valet parking is expensive as chit, man!
  11. For an airport in such a huge city, LAX is a total dump.  
  12. Were most of the apartment/duplex complexes built in 1975?  WTF?  Ew.
  13. Tricked-out low riders are everything. 
  14. ...I forgot how sexy I find cholos.  No joke.

That just about wraps up my recent visit to El Lay.  What are your thoughts/opinions on the City of Angels?

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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