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Entries in Restaurant reviews (305)


Lunch at Grand Sichuan Eastern, 9/22/07

Being bad NEVER tasted this good. Picture it...Saturday, September 22, the Jewish day of atonement (a.k.a. Yom Kippur). I'd stopped eating the night before around 7 p.m. with the intention of fasting for the next twenty-four hours. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling confident that I could make it to 7 p.m. that evening without a bite of food. A friend and I went to services around 11 a.m.; after doing some much needed praying, we went outside to take a break. He'd received a text message from a coworker telling him to come over and meet him at Grand Sichuan Eastern. We decided to meet up, but would be strong in the midst of temptation and NOT eat a thing. After all, we were going there to visit with a friend...a friend who just so happened to be at a restaurant.

Saturday turned in to a rainy mess. After dodging the storm and racing from window over-hang to window over-hang, we finally reached Grand Sichuan Eastern. My first impression of the restaurant: small, clean and modern with our table being the only non-Chinese diners. This was one of the first times in my life that I've gone to a Chinese restaurant where the rest of the crowd DID NOT look exactly like me. My God, I love New York! What a welcome change from Texas.After trotting through rain puddles and shivering from my drenched outfit, I'd worked up quite an appetite. I decided to give in (God help me, for I've truly committed the ultimate Yom Kippur sin) and order lunch, as did my friend. Every thing we ordered was fantastic: soup dumplings, egg drop soup, sliced fish in red sauce, beef & broccoli, sesame chicken and the shrimp special. I'd never had soup dumplings before, but now I'm hooked. A soup dumpling is basically what it sounds like; a dumpling with a "soupy" interior. One has to be very careful when consuming a soup dumpling, because if you're not careful, you could hurt yourself (with a hot broth explosion in your mouth), or someone else (with a hot broth explosion directed at their face). The sliced fish in red sauce and the shrimp were probably my favorite dishes. Both were extremely fresh and had the right texture and balance of spices. The beef and broccoli was your hum-drum, run-of-the-mill Americanized Chinese food that tastes the same at every Chinese restaurant from New York City to Amarillo, Texas; but the sesame chicken at this restaurant was of much higher-quality than the versions I was used to: chunks of golden, white breast meat that was bathed in a perfectly sweet and tangy sauce.

To make a long story short, I believe that if you're one of, if not the only English speaking customer at a non-English-speaking ethnic restaurant, you're probably in for a fantastic dining adventure. My favorite part of this lunch was when we first arrived and were placing our order (I'd been craving an egg roll), and when I proceeded to order an egg roll, the waitress looked at me like I had five heads and ten eyes, then began laughing (as did the entire restaurant).God, I love New York. I feel so blessed to live in this amazing city. I highly recommend Grand Sichuan Eastern...a wonderful meal from start to finish. Being bad NEVER tasted this good!


CLOSED: Dinner...And brunch at The Nolita House, 9/07

I feel like it's always so hard to make plans for an after-work drink or dinner with friends in this city. Everyone is so busy and has so many things going on in their lives. So when one of my most busy and successful fashionista friends, Megan, was able to grab dinner with me last night, I was elated.

In honor of Megan's birthday (which was actually over the past weekend), we decided to have dinner at The Nolita House. Neither of us had been before, but we were both excited about what we'd seen on the menu via the website. Upon arriving at The Nolita House, we were seated immediately. After Megan and I caught up a bit and perused the menu, we decided to order: Hefeweizen beer (two-for-one Happy Hour special!), corn fritters, macaroni and cheese, and the wild mushroom papparedelle pasta. The corn fritters were fantastic, and honestly, I cannot stop thinking about them. An order of fritters comes with about five one-and-one-half-inch long treats that look similar to mini footballs. Crispy and golden on the outside, the fritters ooze with creamy, corny, cheesy goodness on the inside. We could not have been happier with this appetite teaser...until our main dishes arrived. The macaroni and cheese is served in a skillet with a salad on the side. The noodles weren't your everyday elbow macaroni noodles, but more of a rotini noodle swimming in the most rich, delectable cheese sauce I've had in a long time. Every creamy bite had a nice crunch from the golden brown bread-crumb crust/topping. The wild mushroom pappardelle was one of the best pasta dishes I've had in Manhattan. The pasta was HOMEMADE (which I appreciate so much), with chunks of wild mushroom, artichoke, red peppers and pine nuts throughout, and finished with a light cream sauce. The Nolita House is a wonderful restaurant and bar that really shines in every department. I can't say enough about the service, happy hour specials and food. Two thumbs up!!


I'd be a liar if I said that going to the same restaurant twice in one week is normal behavior for me. So on Sunday, September 23rd, I found myself at The Nolita House, once again. My favorite dining companion, Emily, and I arrived for brunch around 12:30. The restaurant was packed, but we were able to find two stools to sit at while we waited for a table (which I found to be a welcome relief; nine times out of ten, I end up standing during my thirty-minute table wait). About twenty-minutes later, Emily and I were seated. The brunch menu at The Nolita House is quite extensive; from omelettes, French toast and pancakes, to croque monsieur's and everything in between.

To our pleasant surprise, there was a live jazz band playing at the restaurant. The music was fantastic, and most importantly, not too loud. After perusing the menu and debriefing Emily on The Nolita House's famous mac n' cheese, we each ordered an omelette and split a side order of the mac.

For my omelette, I requested egg whites with: avocado, locally made sausage, caramelized onions and Brie cheese. My order also came with mixed greens, homemade herbed fries and a fresh-squeezed orange juice. I must say that this is one of the best omelettes I've had. The ingredients were impeccably fresh and I was particularly impressed that the buttery avocado chunks and brie cheese didn't overpower the omelette with a greasy aftertaste. Each bite was made more delicious when paired with the delicately seasoned (I'm guessing it was rosemary) herbed fries.

Emily enjoyed her breakfast, as well. She seemed to be very impressed by the mac n' cheese, as we devoured the entire dish and fork-fought for the last bite. The Nolita House wins again!


Dinner at Pylos, 8/24/07

Amidst the gritty, yet adorably charming block of 7th Street between 1st Avenue & Avenue A, stands a Greek oasis named Pylos. This restaurant is so easy to walk by and not notice, as I almost did, myself. My boyfriend and I had plans to meet there for dinner at 7:45 p.m. on Friday night. As I looked around the block for some sort of signage, I was becoming angry, thinking he had mistaken the address. Before I could utter another cuss word, there it was!

Upon entering Pylos, you immediately feel transported to the Greek Isles (that sounds super cheesy, but it's true). The entire ceiling is covered with clay pitchers; the walls are stark white with royal blue accents and the atmosphere is clean, modern and warm.We were seated immediately, but told that the next reservation for our table was at 9:30 p.m., so we had until then to eat our meal; not a problem, considering it was only 7:45 p.m.

The complimentary homemade pita and chickpea dip was out-of-this-world! The pita bread was crisp and buttery on the outside and almost doughy on the inside. We started with the homemade sausage with tomato sauce, which was so tender and fresh and the tomato sauce added the perfect amount of tang. My boyfriend ordered the duck and I ordered the shrimp and scallops over pasta with a lightly creamy tomato sauce. We couldn't have been happier!

This was one of the best meals I've had lately, from start to finish. The service, ambiance and food were excellent.


Dinner at Eleven Madison Park, 7/26/07

After months of reading phenomenal things about Eleven Madison Park on chowhound.com, I decided it was time for me to try it for myself. I can't begin to tell you how many people have raved about EMP. I was very excited and intrigued about my 7:00 p.m. reservation.

My friend and I arrived fifteen minutes early and waited for our table in the bar's offshoot area. We admired the restaurant's tall ceilings and lovely Art Deco decor. After about ten minutes, we were seated.The service began outstanding, but towards the end of our meal, it dwindled. During the time of outstanding service, I was blown away by the immaculate attention to each and every guest. Each of us ordered a drink; I had a champagne cocktail and my friend had a glass of Merlot (recommended by the sommolier, of course). My drink was light, refreshing, fruity and sweet.

First, we were brought a long and narrow tray with four of the chef's starters (grilled cheese on paper-thin crackers with truffle essence, tuna tartare with baby squash and caviar, meringue sandwich cookies with foie gras as the center and sweetbreads wrapped in a light fried dough). Periodically, we were served lovely assorted breads and rolls.Since this restaurant only does tasting menus, we opted for the three-course menu with the choice of two savory dishes and one sweet dish. I ordered the Diver scallop ceviche, the lobster "lasagna" and a peach souffle.The ceviche was very interesting; I've never had raw scallops before. They were paired with watermelon, lobster and lemon oil. It made for a very interesting flavor combination. My entree (the lobster "lasagna") was pleasant, but I was not floored or blown away. I did enjoy the peach souffle with lemon-thyme ice cream.

Overall, my experience at EMP was positive. I didn't like the way our service turned out towards the last half of our meal. My food was good and very unique, but I've realized that fancy food is not my favorite food. Would I return to EMP? I think so, but most likely at brunch for heartier fare.