Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Capital Grille, Chrysler Center

I have previously posted a not so flattering review on the Capital Grille in Boston (click here for Yelp), so I was not too enthused when I was invited to dinner at a New York City location. But, Capital Grille always seems to have high ratings, so I went in with higher hopes. 

First off, what a beautiful location. The exterior is grand and modern, and the dining area is very spacious. The decor is less ostentatious than the Boston location, so you feel a bit more at ease and that you're just in a fancy steakhouse. Second off, low and behold, it was Restaurant Week. The waiter assumed that because we were a party of sixteen that we were probably here for the cheap specials. How presumptuous. And no, I decided to not order off that menu because it wasn't that entirely appealing. 

My dinner:
I started off with the wedge salad, which is a classic lettuce wedge with bacon bits and ranch dressing. Please take a moment to reference the photo below. Is my salad overflowing with ranch dressing or is it not? If you said it is, then you are correct because the lettuce was drowning in dressing. Let me say hands down that this is completely unacceptable. I couldn't eat about two thirds of it because there was more ranch than vegetable. In what eating context is this ever okay? Let me know if you have an answer, thanks. 

I then had the lobster and crab cakes. The photo is a bit misleading, but the cakes were probably slightly larger than silver dollars (not sure if kids these days even know what that is). They were dry. And overpriced. Enough said. 

I ordered the lamb chops (all the beef entrees were obscenely over portioned) to share, and it came with a fig sauce that I ignored after the first bite or so. Sure, it may add some color to the plate, but it did not pair that well with the lamb. The meat itself was superb. That having said, the lamb chops were very deliciously done. They were very juicy and tender. I had a few bites of other people's steaks, and those too were well cooked... though I do question Capital Grille's plating styles. 

AND the star of the show... the lobster macaroni and cheese! I've read so many raving comments on it, and I love mac and cheese, so this was all I was looking forward to. Verdict? Eh. I don't know if they were trying to go for al dente with the macaroni, but it was overall undercooked. The cheese was one dimensional, and the crumbs were not integrated into the dish. There were a nice few lobster chunks. I guess that makes it better. Whatever. Moving on. 

Dessert: Their creme brulee and espresso chocolate cake are both solid. However, because most of our table ordered from the Restaurant Week menu, the waiter never came back to ask me what I wanted for dessert. So I didn't get any of my own. So much for great service ratings. 

Wedge salad

Lobster and crab cakes

half order of lamb chops 

Lobster macaroni and cheese

My self plated dinner

Parmesan and herb marinated tournedos

Capital Grille
155 E 42nd Street
New York, NY

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

E 7th Street New York, NY 10009

When did the East Village become so trendy? Sorry, I ask that question a lot, but seriously. Does anyone else feel like there has been a recent surge (okay, maybe not that recent) of new yuppie destinations besides me? Well, on Sunday afternoon, I finally got around to trying out a few goodies on east 7th Street between First and Avenue A (seriously, who goes there ever?). Here it is: 

I've had quite a few lobster rolls in my life, and more often than not, I find myself disappointed. It's usually questionable amounts of minced lobster meat tossed with an unnecessarily large serving of mayonnaise and celery. However, Luke's Lobster is different. For $17, you can get a 1/4 pound of seasoned lobster in a lightly toasted buttered roll with a pickle, a bag of Cape Cod chips, and a soft drink. Succulent, delicious, and satisfying for sure. 

Verdict: The lobster roll is tasty and it is visually generous, but even with the seasoning, it still lacks some seasoning. It does a great job for my New England fix, but my heart is still at Neptune's

Luke's Lobster
93 E 7th Street #A
New York, NY 10009

Don't want to wait in line for Big Gay (though they do have really good ice cream)? Walk up the block closer to First Avenue to People's Pops! I first had one at Madison Square Eats earlier this summer, so it was nice to see their actual stand here. This time, Michael and I tried the melon with jasmine. It had a very sweet honey dew flavor, and the jasmine combination was quite creative. This is definitely the best choice on the block to cure the summer's heat.

I'm going to say it. My favorite cupcakes in Manhattan is Butter Lane's. I've had Georgetown, Sprinkles, Crumbs, and Melissa's, but none compare to the simple perfection that is Butter Lane. Their cakes are soft and fluffy, and their frostings are flavorful and not overwhelmingly sugary. You can choose from a variety of frosting combinations with either their vanilla, chocolate, or banana cakes. Some of my favorite combinations: raspberry with chocolate, cinnamon honey with banana, and maple pecan with vanilla. 

Also, they currently have a deal where if you check into Foursquare, you can get 3 for the price of 2! They also had their cupcake making and frosting classes on Groupon before. So what are you waiting for? 


Butter Lane
123 E 7th Street
New York, NY 10009

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tom Colicchio's Craft

I really appreciate good food. I don't remember the last time I had such a thoroughly pleasant meal. I’ve been to quite a few restaurants that specialize in farm to table foods, but Craft is by far the most memorable dining experience where the freshness of the food is married happily to the chef’s flavors. In a nutshell, Craft is what you wished your pioneer American grandmother cooked like.

We started off with a half dozen Wellfleet and a half dozen Barron Points. They were both on the medium side, and I cannot over emphasize the freshness. They were served with a simple lemon and a vinegar concoction. The amuse bouche arrived shortly after, which was a blissful chilled corn and basil oil soup.

We then ordered several appetizers to share. My favorite was the butter lettuce and six minute egg, which was a simple salad topped with a breaded soft boiled egg. The egg was inexplicably delicious. The runny yolk all over my lettuce was divine. Another highlight was the suckling pig ballotine. If you like Chinese style roast pig, you will like this. It is crisped to perfection! The foie gras with peach was also a favorite. The foie gras was supple, and the tart notes of the peach balanced the fattiness of the liver.

For my entree, I ordered the eggplant and basil mezzaluna. For me, a mezzaluna is similar to a wonton because of the thin skin (read: I now understand Mistral’s crab ravioli). These mezzalunas in particular were beyond delicious. The mashed eggplant and basil were flavorful and aromatic, the skin was silky smooth, and the sauce was creamy but not overwhelming. So good. My brother and father shared the rib eye and bone marrow, which my brother said he preferred to Minetta Tavern’s monstrosity. My mother had a very tasty lamb loin, which was well seasoned and tender without any of the gamey flavor.

One of my favorite parts of dinner was actually the side dishes. Definitely get the braised corn; they’re sweet and creamy. I also really enjoyed the hen of the woods mushrooms, which were flavored nicely with some thyme. And my brother had many helpings of the potato gratin, which was quite rich.

Finally, for dessert, my brother predictably got the raspberry and lemon tart, which was a bit too sour for me, but that’s what he likes. My dad’s greek yoghurt panna cotta was good, but it would have been better if it were a smaller portion. I think the favorite was the peach-pecan cobbler. It’s like apple pie, but summer. I got it with salted honey ice cream, so needless to say, I was in my happy place. If only my parents had a bit more patience, then I could have tried the chocolate soufflé!

All in all, what a great dinner! I don’t remember the last time I had such a solid meal from beginning to end. The ingredients were simple, the food was of great quality, and it was all so delicious. I cannot wait to come back again! And okay, I understand that you probably do not have a pioneer American grandmother, but neither do I. But in my wildest dreams, this is what she cooked for me in my little house on the prairie.

Butter lettuce and six minute egg

30 day dry aged rib eye bone marrow 

Eggplant and basil mezzaluna

Raspberry and lemon tart