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.



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Entries in Eat this NOW (6)


(NYC) Stick With Me: This ain't your mama's chocolate shop!

Chocolatier/dessert shop: Stick With Me Sweets

  • Cuisine: Handmade chocolate, high-end sweets
  • Location: 202-A Mott Street - NYC 10012  
  • Pricing: $-$$
  • What's delicious: Bonbons, caramels
  • Perfect for: Dessert takeaway (single-serve or for groups/events), foodies, art buffs, gifts for the girl/guy who "has everything"
  • Menu: Click here


En route to meet my cousins for brunch a few Sunday's ago, I happened upon a very curious shop on Mott Street.  I say "curious," because its signage was in the shape of a candy wrapper!  And we all know what a sugar whore I am, no matter if the time of day is early afternoon or, in this case, 10:30AM. 

The wording on the 'candy wrapper sign' read "Stick With Me," so I just assumed it was a shop that sold Venus flytraps or the like.  Just kidding...

You had me at "chocolate."Needless to say, I was shocked to see that a specialty candy shop was already open at 10AM - on a Sunday - until I remembered that "I wasn't in Kansas Los Angeles anymore."  Just another reason why I love NYC so goddamn much.  Upon peering in the window, I was hesitant to enter as there was a live photo-shoot.  However, after having locked eyes with one of the employees, she smiled and mouthed, "Come in!"

Inside the small shop, white-washed exposed brick walls anchored metal shelves that were lined with handmade, decoratively-wrapped delectables in the form of: Flavored marshmallows, chocolate bark, nougat, truffles, and nut butters. 

Row after row of heaven!Just beyond the treat-lined wall was an L-shaped glass case filled with gorgeous bonbons, flavored caramels, and petit-fours.  "We were founded by Susanna Yoon, the former chocolatier at Per Se," employee, Nina, mentioned.  "We've only been open since December 2014, but business has been really great!"  From the moment I stepped foot within the shop, I knew I was going to be in for something special; but it wasn't until Nina mentioned "Per Se" that I was confident this experience would be transcendent.  "Since we're almost done with the photo shoot," she advised, "many of the bonbons are already cut in to halves.  Feel free to sample them and take as many photos as you'd like!"  Wow, was she serious?  Talk about amazing timing on my part!

Of the plethora that I sampled, the "P.B. & Jelly" bonbon was my favorite.  It was so exquisite, in fact, that I purchased a box of 6 as a hostess gift for my upcoming stay with my sister at her new home in Miami.

FYI: Stick With Me carries 24 (bonbon) flavor varieties!

And then there were those gooey, uniquely-flavored caramels!  'Yuzu & Salt,' anybody?  Yes, please!  Actually, make that a 'hell yes!'

Being the world's biggest fan of southern-style petit-fours (in essence, bite-sized cake drowned in a tooth achingly-sweet icing), I simply could not keep my eyes off of the mini "birthday cakes" displayed in the cake/dessert case adjacent to the bonbons.  "Oh my gosh, Nina," I exclaimed, "I simply must have one of the pink cakes to-go!  That is the cutest thing I've ever seen!!"

Although I wouldn't sample the cake until later that evening, I will say that, while the interior "cake" portion was scrumptious, the icing was gummy and a bit flavorless. 

Despite being a bit full when I arrived at brunch, I could not have been happier!  Not only had I crossed a task off of my "to do" list (buy sister a hostess gift), but I found a unique - even by NYC standards - dessert shop that is, truly, one of a kind!  To be honest, I hesitated posting this recap because, selfishly, I don't want to worry about any of you *also* bringing bonbons to the next party we're at together!

For a full list of menu items, click here.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle 


Los Angeles: My favorite plates and bites

Do you realize that I have been living in LA now for *gasp* over a year?  My anniversary was on May 29th!  And, to say that I've eaten my way through the city would be quite the understatement.  "Gorge," on the other hand, would be much more fitting. 

Without further ado, my dear readers, this post is dedicated to the ten best items/plates that I've eaten in the last 365 days.  In the City of Angels.


. . .

*Items listed in no particular order


1) Salt & Pepper Caramel Donut, ICDC

2) Cherry Pie, Sweet Lady Jane

3) Rigatoni with Truffle Meat Sauce, Capo

4) Everything. On. The. Menu. Sugarfish

5) House Special Maine Lobster, New Port Seafood

6) Avocado Toast, Terrine

7) Mexican combination plate (cheese enchiladas, crispy beef taco, rice and beans), Gilbert's El Indio

8) Chile Relleno Burrito, La Azteca Tortilleria

9) Chocolate Croissant, Love Catering

10) 'Everything bagel' with a schmear of scallion cream cheese (...because this is the closest I'll get to NYC in LA), Brooklyn Water Bagel


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Eat this NOW: Sugar cookies from...

If you're looking for the biggest, most buttery, crisp around the edges yet moist in the center-sugar cookie, look no further than...Are you ready for it?...POTBELLY SANDWICH SHOP.  "I just took these out of the oven at 5," the cashier exclaimed at a quarter past six PM.  While the website boasts that they bake their cookies each morning, that's obviously not happening.  At least not at their Union Square location.  Potbelly is cranking out cookies around the clock, folks.  Not just in the AM!  Otherwise, how could they stay on the shelves?

Look, just do yourself a favor and try one.  You're welcome in advance!

Photo: Potbelly dot com


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Eat this NOW: Ken & Cook's Fried Chicken platter

I couldn't let another nanosecond go by without telling y'all about Ken & Cook's Fried Chicken platter.

Ken & Cook: Breasts, thighs, and a honey-buttered biscuitI seriously don't know what's sexier about the picture above - those butter "bubbles" atop the right biscuit half, or the outstanding color of the crust that's enveloping the chicken.

When it comes to poultry, I'm a breast gal.  Unlike my men, the dark meat just doesn't do it for me.  Luckily, it doesn't matter if you're a devotee of dark meat or white; you can rest assured knowing that there will be a hot, juicy, fresh-out-of-the-fryer chicken segment of your preference.  After all, this platter comes with both.

The reason that I don't eat fried chicken more often is because, believe it or not, the skin totally grosses me out.  And what's the point of all of that delicious fried crust if it's stuck to an enormous glob of skin?  Blech.  "I'll just take the nachos.  With an extra side of cheese.  Thanks."  But, for some reason, I couldn't stop staring at the words "Fried Chicken" on the menu that night...

On this particular occasion, I chose to delve in to my platter the polite way:  With a fork and knife.  I know, it's about as lame as eating pizza with utensils, but I wanted to properly observe the crust-to-skin-to-meat ratio.  Upon cutting my first piece from the breast, I was impressed by how little skin there was on the bird.  Why do some pieces seem to have such a thick lining?  Does skin elasticity range from body part to body part?  Don't I have better things to think about?  Sigh.  The crust had that beautiful, deep molasses color not unlike KFC's Original Recipe.  Before topping one of the biscuit halves with the piece of chicken I had just cut, I wanted to taste it.  Naked.  Finished with a dash of spicy black pepper, a puddle of warm butter, and sweet honey, the flaky biscuit literally melted in my mouth.  It's one of those unique, transcendent foods where, upon first bite, your body has a physical reaction.  Like the somersault your stomach does upon hearing amazing news.  And the chicken?  The meat, itself, was moist and juicy.  I was able to eat a perfectly intact bite (meat, skin, fried crust) without the slightest hint of skin "flavor" or gristle.  And the crust was perfectly seasoned with interlacing textures of savory crunch and gently-cooked, soft "batter."

While the other dishes that we ordered at Ken & Cook ranged from mediocre to good, the Fried Chicken platter is, without a doubt, worth going out of your way/neighborhood for.  And returning time and time again.



Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


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!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Where to eat when...my riff on Zagat's "10 Ideas for Special Dinners"

This morning, I read a post on Zagat's blog entitled, "Where to Eat When...10 Ideas for Special Dinners."  Go ahead, have a looksie for yourself...

Midway through the article, I literally blurted aloud, WTF?  Isn't Buddakan more "bachelorette party appropriate" than Locanda Verde?  It was at this very moment that I decided to create my own riff on Where to Eat When...10 Ideas for Special Dinners

After all, I can't keep an opinion, especially when it comes to NYC restaurants, to myself!

Gramercy Tavern: Great spot for a graduation dinner.


1)  Where to...take visiting friends

Zagat suggested Beauty & Essex

I'd suggest Rubirosa.  Why?  Because it offers delicious "red sauce" Italian food and kick ass pizza in a rustic, casual atmosphere that everyone will love.

I chose an Italian restaurant because, at least in my case, most of my "visiting friends" would be coming in from Texas.  And, while Texas makes the world's best BBQ, the state lacks legit Italian anything.  

2)  Birthday With A Large Group

Zagat suggested Buddakan

(Age 30 and under)  I'd suggest Beauty & Essex.  Why?  It has the space - the sexy atmosphere - and the bar "candy" necessary for a fun, memorable evening.  Plus, it's much newer to the dining scene than Buddakan.

(Age 30 and over)  I'd suggest The Breslin Bar & Dining Room.  Why?  Because it's mature, casually sophisticated, and your friends - both male and female - won't hate you.

3)  Birthday With A Small Group

Zagat suggested Gramercy Tavern

While I like that suggestion, I would prefer to host a small group for the "bo ssam" at Momofuku Ssam Bar.  Why?  Because this particular meal encourages sharing and interaction, which I find perfect for a birthday celebration.  Especially if, like me, you have friends from a variety of different cliques who may not all know one another. 

4)  Bachelorette Party

Zagat suggested Locanda Verde

I'd suggest The Hurricane Club.  Why?  Because the atmosphere is exotic and transporting - the cocktails are sweet and strong - and there are plenty of sharable plates.

5)  Bachelor Party

Zagat suggested Volare (...um, I've never even heard of that place)

I'd suggest Keens Steakhouse.  Why?  Steak.  Don't eat beef?  Order the mutton chop.  Need I say more?  The atmosphere is completely old-school and masculine, plus they have a killer selection of "dude liquor," like scotch and other fine browns.

6)  Where to Take Your Parents (They're Paying)

Zagat suggested Craft

I'd suggest BLT Fish.  Why?  Because, if your family hails from a land-locked locale, this restaurant will open their jaded eyes to just how incredibly delicious fresh fish/shellfish can taste.  Plus, you can't beat the fact that, for some odd reason, this joint remains somewhat of a "hidden gem."

7)  Where to Take Your Parents (You're Paying)

Zagat suggested Casa Nonna (...again, this is a place that I've never heard of)

I'd suggest Bridge Cafe.  Why?  Because it sits right across the street from the famous Brooklyn Bridge - oozes with history that dates back to 1794 - and serves some seriously solid food/drink.

8)  Graduation Dinner

Zagat suggested Saxon + Parole

I'd suggest Gramercy Tavern.  Why?  Because the food, while of the highest caliber and quality, is still familiar to everyone in the family.  There's nothing particularly "weird" or "exotic" that your waspy Grandma will shun. 

Great cocktails and a lovely, casually elegant atmosphere, to boot.

9)  An Affordable First Date

Zagat suggested Tertulia

I'd suggest Grape & Grain.  Why?  Because NO ONE in their right mind wants to go to dinner on a first date!  Can you say "awkward?"  Go to a place where, god forbid, you can run as fast as you can if shit doesn't work out.  And that means small plates, folks.  Not entrees

G&G is perfect:  It's cozy and intimate - the atmosphere is romantic enough to where you both look sexy under dim lighting, but not romantic enough to freak either of you out - and, most importantly, the food/drink is solid.

10)  Fancy First Date

Zagat suggested Brushstroke

I'd suggest Hudson Clearwater.  Why?  Because that's as "fancy" as it should get, fella's!  It's a first date, for god's sake!  Come on, dude, if you try too hard to impress her, don't even think, for a second, that you're not being blatantly obvious.  Desperation smells.  Like designer imposter cologne.

Hudson Clearwater has great seats at the bar where you two can enjoy delicious cocktails and plenty of "fancy-ish" sharable plates. 


So, what did you think of Zagat's "Where to Eat When...10 Ideas for Special Dinners?"  Did you agree with most of their recommendations?  Disagree?  How did you think my suggestions compared?  What restaurants would you add/take away?

Speaking of "Where to eat when...," those of you who have followed The Lunch Belle since inception may recall a lengthy list of scenarios I created, such as "Where to eat when...you wanna blow your diet with an ice cream binge," and many other quirky - yet essential - "Where to eat when's" for a slew of your major life dilemmas/celebrations.  But, for reasons that I can't recall, I stopped updating that list long ago.  And, to be frank, I couldn't tell you why, because they were so much fun to write and funny as hell to read, if I do say so myself... 

So, I've decided to re-create a list of "Where to eat when..." that will be bigger and better than ever!  After all, you know you could have used a couple of solid recommendations for where to run to/order from after that slimy douche-bag totally dumped you on your ass.  Am I right?   Thought so.

Stay tuned!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle