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Entries in Restaurant reviews (305)

Monday
Jan142019

Reviewed: Zavo

Restaurant: Zavo

  • Cuisine: Continental
  • Location: 1011 Third Avenue - Manhattan 10065
  • Pricing: $$$
  • Reservations? Yes, click here
  • Why go? For some savory before your sweet (Dylan's Candy Bar is next door)

...

Conveniently housed *next door* to Dylan's Candy Bar (plus dangerously close to Bloomingdales' Third Avenue entrance), Zavo makes for an ideal pre or post-shopping destination with a vibe that's more serene than Patsy's but not quite as buttoned up as Club A Steakhouse.

A bright, white-washed space is elegantly appointed with modern furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook bustling Third Avenue.  While you wait for your party to arrive, grab a glass of champagne at the sexy marble-topped bar that traverses the dining room. 

Photo credit: Zavo's website

There are plenty of crappy bread baskets to be had across the city, but Zavo's is not one of them.  Filled to the brim with a fresh and flavorful assortment that goes beyond sliced, dried-out baguette, this carb-laden masterpiece is accompanied by 1) a small bowl of briny olives and pickled onions, and 2) fragrant pesto for dipping purposes.  As tempting as it is to scarf it down in its entirety, save room for two things on the menu: Char-grilled Octopus and a homemade dessert.  

Beneath the smoky and perfectly char-grilled exterior crust was impossibly tender flesh.  The generous portion of octopus was perched atop a melange of warm chickpeas and fresh mango bits, plus chunky hummus that had the consistency of nutty peanut butter (vs. smooth).  The presentation was completed with microgreens and spheres of crunchy, paper-thin radish.

Char-grilled Octopus

My commitment issues in the relationship arena spillover to my plate when, among other things, I have to choose ONE dessert to split amongst the table.  "No!  No, you choose," is what you'll typically hear me say in an attempt to coerce my fellow diners.  What?  I don't want to take the heat for picking the wrong thing!  Luckily, our waiter at Zavo felt my pain and offered to present us with a sweets sampler...      

DessertFrom the honey cake, assorted ice creams, and gorgeous chocolate mousse/fondant work of art (pictured above), my favorite dessert of the assortment was the pistachio baklava.  Made in-house, it had that ooey-gooey, cloyingly sweet consistency that I love, with much less of that 'phyllo dough crunch.'  In other words, I take my baklava like I take my oatmeal: Overly-saturated with honey.  My mouth is watering as I'm writing this!   

...

Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Dec212018

The Best Menu Items At: Lagman House

Restaurant: Lagman House

  • Cuisine: Dungan
  • Location: 2612 E. 14th St. - Brooklyn 11235  
  • Pricing: $
  • Reservations? Yes, click here
  • Why go? Off-the-beaten path/transporting culinary experience
  • Good to know: BYOB - Halal-friendly  

...

One of the top five reasons I love living in NYC is that, within minutes, I can literally be transported to another part of the world via the cuisine of a respective neighborhood.  Case in point, Lagman House, a cozy Central Asian gem located in Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn), which specializes in the food of the Dungans, Chinese Muslims who fled China in the late 19th century and settled in what is today Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (and, most recently, Brooklyn).  Located merely steps from the Q train stop, Lagman House is a sizable establishment featuring a casual atmosphere and knowledgeable table/waiter service. 

Because of Central Asia's unique juxtaposition of cultures and geography, the Lagman House's tri-folded paper menu reads in both English and Russian, with the following FYI for its Muslim/practicing patrons, "We only use Halal meat."  It took me a while to decide what I wanted to sample, for the menu is generous, very well proportioned by course, and filled with an abundance of intrigue-provoking options.  I decided that, since it took me a little over an hour to get from my apartment to the restaurant, I would take my time and enjoy the entire experience (which also included making my holiday cards list for my annual distribution via Paperless Post), begining with a glass of kompot (Slavic fruit punch).  

While everything that I tasted at Lagman House was flavorful and visibly handmade with love and care, I had two undeniable favorites:

Dungan Style Samsa

Most of us have had our fair share of empanadas and samosas, but I'm willing to bet that almost none of you have ever had a samsa (unless you're in/traveled extensively thgough China, where Dungan cuisine is quite popular)! 

Sauteed white onions and strips of beef - plus the savory gravy in which they bathe - are enveloped by the most buttery of pastry doughs and deep fried.  A single order comes with two samsas and is accompanied by a very secondary (read unnecessary) tomato sauce for dipping. 

I have never tasted a more flaky, mulit-layered dough that wasn't made with lard (Muslims do not eat pork products).  Unlike its distant cousins (empanadas, samosas), the samsa is almost a meal in itself!

.

Thon Lamian

Nothing suits this blustery time of year in NYC better than a warm bowl of soup.  With a perfectly seasoned and mildly-spicy homemade beef + vegetable broth.  And a mound of thick, hand-pulled noodles, strips of beef, and a melange of vegetables. 

What I particularly enjoyed and found unique about this famous Dungan soup, aside from those homemade noodles, was the fact that the vegetables included bell peppers, onions, garlic bulbs, and green beans; not the typical assortment you see in a ramen or a stew.

.

I know what you're thinking: Is Lagman House destination-worthy from the outer boroughs?  Yes, absolutely.  If not for the samsa, alone, this is the only restaurant in the entire country that serves Dungan cuisine.  The chef is the owner's wife and mother of five (four of whom work in the restaurant, as needed) who, by the way, does not look a day over twenty-five. 

Come out and support this beautiful and delicious success story of the quintessential American dream!  

...

Until we eat again

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Sep212018

Reviewed: No Monkey Business at 'The Drunken Munkey'

The Drunken Munkey's flagship location on the Upper East Side has been bookmarked on my Yelp account since I moved to the area earlier this year. I found both the food and elevated cocktail program intriguing, especially for a neighborhood not particularly known for being a "restaurant destination" (as compared to my old Chelsea abode). This past summer, the team behind The Drunken Munkey opened a second location downtown. I was lucky enough to be included in an intimate media dinner at the restaurant's hip West Village digs earlier this week. Our table of eight enjoyed three hours of great conversation, delicious Indian food, and hand-crafted cocktails from a creative program rarely seen paired with this cuisine...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun052018

Reviewed: Sing for your BBQ at GunBae

Korean BBQ upstairs. Karaoke downstairs. What could possibly be a better combination? If you find yourself in the Tribeca neighborhood craving Korean (traditional plates plus BBQ, too) - but aren't particularly keen on a fancy/pricy tasting menu a-la-Jungsik - then look no further than GunBae.

Click to read more ...