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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...

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  • ~ I can consult and/or advise on all of your small and large events.
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Entries in Product reviews (27)

Wednesday
Feb062013

The Weekly Eater: 1/27 - 2/03

Since I'm transitioning in to a new-ish role at work, my schedule is kind of all over the place.  That, paired with the fact that I've just begun a month-long "academy" at Barry's Bootcamp (which is a 5x/week commitment - every weekday morning at 6am).  Needless to say, I'm exhausted.  But I'm also really excited about the new challenges ahead.

So, because I'm a bit pressed for time, I thought that, at least until I get in to a routine, I will start posting a summary of my favorite eats/drinks/activities/etc. from the week prior.  Hopefully, every Monday or Tuesday...

~~~

What I loved and/or really stood out last week (1/27 - 2/03)

Jamba Juice's "Brown Sugar Crumble" Oatmeal

I remember reading somewhere that Jamba Juice's oatmeal was" really good and way better than Starbucks" which, to be honest, didn't really mean anything to me.  I typically hate oatmeal.  And I think that the food at Starbucks - minus the cake pops - is sub par. 

Sick of my usual routine - which included a Nature Valley granola bar - I decided to give Jamba Juice's oatmeal a shot.  Unbeknownst to me, it happened to be "$1 oatmeal day" on the morning that I stopped in the store (which, by the way, happens *every* Wednesday!).  What an incentive, right?  I mean, what did I really have to lose for $1?

I chose the "Brown Sugar Crumble" because it was the lowest-calorie of the trio (registering at 220 calories/single serving), which also includes Blueberry/Blackberry and Fresh Banana.  Upon opening the container, my first observation was how scrumptiously attractive the oatmeal appeared.  By that, I mean it didn't look like a grey glop.  Beneath a crust of fresh brown sugar was a heaping helping of oatmeal.  I liked how visibly textured it appeared - you know, dispersed with tons of tiny lumpy-bits. 

Warm and comforting, just like that favorite blanket on your sofa, this transcendent bowl of slow-cooked porridge did not disappoint.  Since that first bite nearly 6-weeks ago, I eat this delicious oatmeal every single morning.  It's actually what I look forward to when I wake up! 

Now THAT is some sexy oatmeal!

...

Soul Cycle

"Spin is in."  And I have always bled Flywheel's black and blue.  However, in anticipation of a friend's upcoming birthday at Soul Cycle, I figured that I should take one class to familiarize myself prior to her event.

I wanted to hate it.  So bad.  I wanted to walk out of the studio post-class - roll my eyes - and feel reassured that Flywheel reigned supreme.  Well, that didn't happen.  I found Soul Cycle to be very different, but in a really refreshing and positive way.  Without a calibrated number on your bike, you don't feel like you're battling yourself or competing against the girl next to you.  Because, at Flywheel, you're only as good as your last number.  Period.  And, at least when I spin, I just want to lose myself in the rhythm of the music and enjoy the dark serenity surrounding me.  Additionally, at Soul Cycle, other body parts are incorporated in to the exercise beyond just your legs.  It's a winning formula.

This does not mean that I'm a convert, it just means that I appreciate and respect the differences between Soul Cycle and Flywheel

...

Millesime

$1 oysters every weekday from 5:30pm-8pm at Millesime's Oyster Bar

Spicy Tuna Tartare  If you love the contents of a well made spicy tuna roll, then this appetizer is for you:  A rectangular mold of lightly-bound tuna tartare is topped with a crunchy slaw and fried wonton strips for texture, and finished with an agave-soy jus.  Absolute decadence and sheer perfection.

Cherry/Chocolate Croissant Pudding  This was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable desserts I've had of late.  Imagine, if you will, a ramekin filled with warm, gooey, intensely-rich "bread pudding."  Only, instead of day-old bread, Millesime's version is made with chocolate/cherry croissant scraps.  And is crowned with a scoop of chocolate ice cream that nearly liquefies when placed atop the warm pudding.  Heavenly...

...

7-11's "Vermont Blueberry" coffee  I know, I know.  This sounds completely asinine, gnarly and, in all honesty, makes absolutely no sense.  Blueberry coffee?  Trust me, I was so geeked out when I saw this flavor at the 7-11 on 7th Avenue...that I had to taste it!  And guess what?  It's actually *really* good!  Seriously, if you see this wacky blend at your local 7-11, give it a try and please let me know what you think! 

...

A Taste of Modern Luxury: Celebrity Cruises Pops Up in New York City   Of any "pop up" that I've ever attended, this was, by far, the best.  Held at The Kitchen, the team from Celebrity Cruises "came to land," if you will, to showcase cocktails from resident mixologist, Junior Merino, and culinary creations prepared by Chef John Suley.

Tasteful and lovely decor in the "Molecular Bar" area of the space. 

Junior Merino pours one of his signature cocktails.

My first cocktail of the evening was the "El Angel," which was a concoction of:  Dehydrated Hibiscus, citrus, Dainzu Gomme, tequila blanco, mezcal joven, and Junior Merino's Aleppo Pepper Lime Rimmer

After finishing my first cocktail within minutes, I chose to proceed with "Coming Up Roses," a concoction made of:  Bacardi Razz, lime, Dainzu Rose Essence, rose petals, champagne, and Junior Merino's Rasberry Rose Foam.

About 3/4 of the way finished with my second cocktail, Michelle and I were whisked to our table for dinner.  Let me just say that if the three courses we enjoyed are anything akin to what is served onboard, I am confident that a Celebrity Cruise will be in my *very* near future...

Bread & salted butter for the tableJerusalem Artichoke Veloute: Iberico ham, black trumpet mushrooms, sourdough croutons, marscaponeHandmade Ricotta Cavatelli: Wild mushroom fricassee, mach, parmigiano reggiano, shaved black truffles (look at those truffles!!!)Five Spice Crusted Cervena Venison Loin: Celery root fondant, wilted spinach, red cabbage marmalade, lingonberry sauceSeared Halibut (this was my favorite dish of the evening): Salsify, beef oxtail marmalade, Brussels sprouts, parmesan emulsion

Pork and "Beans": Tenderloin, cheek, tarbals beans, collard greens, heirloom carrots, cider jus

Strawberry Fields and CustardsWarm Pineapple Tart Tatin: Coconut rum ice cream, lime confit, passion fruitValrhona Cocoa Cake: Chocolate mousse, peanut butter creme brulee, salted caramel ice cream

...

Needless to say, it was a very delicious and eventfull week! 

Thank you all, in advance, for your patience as I transition in to my new schedule. 

~~~

Until we eat again (next week),

The Lunch Belle

Monday
Jan142013

Layer after caramelized sugar-encrusted layer: A DKA at DAB

On Saturday, I met fellow blogger, Sara (of Small Chick Big Deals), for a mid-morning treat at Dominique Ansel Bakery...

Macarons and "King Cake"An assortment of sweet, handmade indulgencesThe bakery's famous "DKA"While so many of his other fancy retail treats will certainly tempt, you'd be an idiot not order at least one "DKA" (Dominque's Kouign Amann) from Daniel Boulud alum, Dominique Ansel.  What the heck does Dominque's Kouign Amann mean?  Don't worry, I didn't know, either.  But I'll do my best to explain in laymen's terms:  Imagine, if you will, a croissant that, instead of being rolled in to a crescent shape, instead resembles some sort of flower whose petals are folded in to the center.  While the traditional croissant could be considered savory, what sets the DKA apart is the fact that sugar is added to the dough.  The pastry is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough and the sugar caramelizes.  The result?  A crunchy, burnt-sugar exterior that gives way to a moist, pillowy interior full of airy, intricate layers. 

You can even purchase a box of three DKA's!  I cannot fathom a better hostess gift...

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Nov152012

William Greenberg's color and flavor kaleidoscope of "black and white" cookies

Blame it on me feeling guilty about leaving town for two weeks.  I am the lone-woman (read "mother") of the office, after all.  What will the fella's do without me?  Or, the fact that, this time next week, the country will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday of the calendar year.  Without me.  Or, maybe I was just looking to soothe that one last itch/craving of "New York" before I book it out of here.  Folks, I'm talking about today's "black and white" cookie purchase at William Greenberg Desserts...

Since my dumb ass has all of these strict, ridiculous rules about what I can eat and when, I never allowed myself to sample the "black and white" cookies that I had purchased last month at William Greenberg Desserts for my baby cousins.  And, obviously, not doing so has done way more bad than good, as I have not been able to get those damn cookies off of my mind.

It's slow-moving mornings like today's when I find myself overly-fantasizing about food.  Sometimes, my paramour will be cheese enchiladas.  Other times, it's ice cream.  And, today, it was cookies.  "Black and white" cookies, to be exact.  Sure, the packaged ones at the drug store work just fine.  But only in a bind.  Today, I wanted something that was handmade.  As in handmade an hour ago.  Not "handmade" a month ago.  So, I gave my rigid diet 'the bird' and made my way over to William Greenberg Desserts, where I picked up nearly a dozen "black and white" cookies in different sizes, colors, and flavors...

The goods

These mini "black and white" cookies are festively dressed for the season in vibrant red and green frosting.  (Blue and white-hued Hanukkah cookies are available, as well!)

Before presenting them to the team, I made sure to snag one of these babies for myself.  First off, I loved the cookie's realistically-small, saucer-shaped size.  Because, as many of you know, "black and white" cookies are, typically and traditionally, ginormous.  To the point where you feel like a complete a-hole if you consume one in its entirety.  Secondly, the actual "cookie" portion of this particular sample was soft, moist, and not too sweet.  And, most importantly, at least to me, its fondant-like, powdered sugar-icing was thick, had a very delicate crunch, and was void of any almond-y after taste. 

Large and mini "black and white" cookies, with a sweet potato or pumpkin-cookie base, are frosted with vanilla and chocolate buttercream.

Pumpkin "black and white" cookie  Hey, it's the holidays, folks.  And you can bet your nalgas that, just like my coffee order at Starbucks, I will always choose the festive, seasonal flavor/color over the everyday/standard! 

The first thing that I noticed about this particular cookie was its rich, sweet buttercream frosting.  This eventually gave way to a moist, dull orange-hued, cake-like interior with the slightest pumpkin essence.

Sweet potato "black and white" cookie  Ditto on the first two sentences above re: festive, seasonal flavors and colors.  Although the frosting was identical to that of the pumpkin cookie, it was this particular sweet potato base that really tugged at my holiday season-loving heart strings.  While I wouldn't describe it so much as cinnamon, this cookie had a fragrant aroma and just enough allspice flavoring to evoke that of one of my favorite Southern treats:  Sweet potato pie.    

...

In every aspect - size options, seasonal flavors and colors, and packaging - these "black and white" cookies make the perfect holiday gift for your favorite host/ess with the most/ess.  Even if that host/ess happens to be you!  Tomorrow, in fact, I'm bringing a box of these cookies with me all the way to my cousin in Singapore!

Needless to say, I wasn't the only one who fell in love...My coworkers went absolutely bananas over these cookies!  Like, to the point that one of them plans on making his own pilgrimage to William Greenberg Desserts after work. 

On that note, here's to hoping that my departure tomorrow will fare just a little bit *sweeter* with my team!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Sep132012

Instagram crazy

Somebody stop me!  For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, I apologize.  Kind of.  And, for those of you who don't, I'll explain:  Just today, I decided to fcuk around with my Instagram account and actually learn about all of its cool features.  Besides having the capability of taking new and uploading current photos, you can then edit your pics before sharing them with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare!  So, with that, I just went hog wild and uploaded about twenty photos.  In a row.  Literally.  Hence my semi-sincere apology.  But I'll take it all back if one more person asks me how I was in Seattle and the East Village at the same time...   

Check me out, y'all!  My Instagram handle, obviously, is:  TheLunchBelle.  Let's be friends!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Aug102012

Face in Hole = Bored no More

Bored?  Well, I was, too...Until I found this hysterical, stale-time swallowing, *free* app called Face In HoleI know, the name is a bit raunchy...

OK, so here's how it works:  The app has hundreds of photos of people/animals/celebrities with their faces whited-out.  Insert a face of your choosing to the said photo and save it.  I promise that you'll be busy - and laughing - for hours!  Trust me, I'm so addicted that I've already surpassed my alotted picture-messaging "maximum" for the month!

Here are some of my recent faves:

Since I CANNOT STAND that monitone, home-wrecking, emotion and heartless ho-bag, Kristen Stewart, I superimposed my face over hers.  Take that, K-Stew(pid)! 

Then, I thought it would be fun to make some photos using my adorable Lucy's face.  Because, obviously, she's way cuter and cooler than Anne Hathaway...

Now, run along and download this app!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Tuesday
Apr032012

It's baaaaaaack! Haagen Dazs' Salted Caramel Truffle

Strep throat + 101 degree fever = perfect excuse to eat ice cream!


Siva, one of my readers, alerted me to the fact that Haagen Dazs recently re-released its 2009 limited-edition salted caramel ice cream flavor.  Under a new name.  This year, it's appropriately called "Salted Caramel Truffle."  And the recipe is slightly different...

So, after receiving this monumental news, I threw on my flip-flops, grabbed my wallet and keys, and made a bee-line towards my nearest bodega.  Please let them have it - please let them have it - pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease let them have it!  I kept chanting under my breath.  I walked straight over to the freezer bin and, sure enough, there it was.   (Angelic choir music plays in the background...)

I couldn't get home fast enough.  After all, I still remember that miserable day in late 2009/early 2010 when this "limited time" flavor was no longer available.  I felt as though I had been personally wronged and robbed.  So you can imagine how elated I was to finally be reunited with my favorite pint. 

I anxiously opened the lid and ripped off the plastic seal...

Unlike the caramel ice cream of yesteryear, this version was as white as snow.  Perhaps this base was either vanilla or sweet cream?  Visually, this appeared to be the only difference, as I recognized the thick caramel ribbon and chocolate truffles.

My first bite revealed that the base was, in fact, sweet cream.  The thick ribbons of caramel were kissed with fleur de sel, and the chocolate truffle cubes were bursting at the seam with, you guessed it, caramel.  I enjoyed my next few nostalgic spoonfuls with my eyes closed in an effort to truly savor every delicious sweet and salty contrasting flavor. 

It's just like I remembered it, but better!  The sweet cream base, as opposed to the caramel, is more subdued and less sweet, thus allowing the key ingredients - salted caramel ribbon and the chocolate-caramel truffles - to take center stage.

And, before I knew it, the enitre pint was empty!  Whoever said that sick people don't have appetites obviously has not met The Lunch Belle!

I am beyond thrilled that the ice cream gods over at Haagen Dazs FINALLY decided to bring back my favorite flavor - even if it's only on shelves from February-December, 2012.

GET. YOUR. OWN. PINT. NOW.  Trust me, you will love this flavor!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle