Restaurant Week at 10 Downing

Last Friday I visited 10 Downing for restaurant week and the only words that accurately describes my dining experience are – grave disappointment.

I’d been patiently waiting for 10 Downing to get their feet wet after numerous bad reviews from early restaurant go-ers. I figured that they just needed a little time to adjust to us snobbish foodies looking for the next hot spot. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Ironically, I was convinced that I’d gotten one of the best reservations restaurant week had to offer. I had a 9pm reservation for two on a Friday night. I’d been optimistic after hearing rave reviews from friends, but then again they ordered the small plates. Either way,  I figured my friend Justin and I were in for a treat.

Justin and I decided to share everything we ordered. We decided on the Winter Lettuce Salad and Veal & Bacon Terrine for appetizers. And before they arrived we had received an interesting Amuse Bouche of carrot soup. Though it wouldn’t be my first choice for a palette cleanser, it was mildly refreshing. Soon after we were served our appetizers. I enjoyed the winter lettuce salad which incorporated a healthy mix of greens and grapefruit. The terrine on the other hand was not my thing. Although I appreciated the plating and multiple elements of the dish it was a bit bland and incongruous. The arugula and the date puree just didn’t come together with the terrine for me.

10 Downing Bacon & Veal Terrine

Carrot Soup

For our main courses we ordered the olive oil poached sea bass and the Painted Hills Farms beef short ribs. Neither were flavorful or satisfying. Both portions were unusually small and apparently this is the case all year round (not just during restaurant week). The sea bass was cooked well but was lacking in flavor. And the short ribs were very dry and the smoked potato, apple, and pomegranate slaw was just a sad pairing. The must was reminiscent of baby food.

Beef Short Ribs

10 Downing Wild Bass

The food is likely no better now than it ever was and given their minuscule portions a small snack would be more satisfying. Luckily the cocoa nib pannacotta gave the meal somewhat of  a happy ending with its salty sweet creamy crunch. The varying textures of the chocolate and panna cotta gave the dessert great depth!

Unfortunately they were out of their other Butterscotch Pot de Creme dessert and apparently this isn’t anything unusual since Blondie and Brownie had the same experience. So our meal ended a bit on a sour note with one less dessert and slight hunger pains but we enjoyed the decor. As for everything else, not so much.

Cocoa Nib Panna Cotta

Cheeseburger

10 Downing

10 Downing St (at 6th Avenue)

Party Eats: Superbowl 2010 Recap

Superbowl is one of those occasions that calls for a good recipe. A recipe that will satisfy the masses and not stray too far from what they already know – chili, buffalo wings, seven layer dip, etc.  Because when you’re going to a pot luck Superbowl party, there’s bound to be competition. And being a food blogger and somewhat of a food expert I needed to put my best foot forward and legitimize my expertise.

So instead of my fabulous but familiar Spinach and Artichoke dip I decided to mix it up by putting  a new spin on an old reliable – Chili. Although I’d never made chili before, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from providing one of the best dishes at the potluck. I ambitiously decided to combine Chef Emily’s Venison Chili recipe and Simply Recipe’s Turkey Chili recipe to make my Smoky Chicken Chili. I substituted freshly ground chicken for beef to lighten up the potluck menu but added some bacon to incorporate some smoke to balance the spice. And inspired by PaulaDoesPasta, I served the Smoky Chicken Chili in small wanton cups.

Along with my Smoky Chicken Chili was an entire spread of familiar Superbowl comfort foods including an assortment of chicken wings, seven layer dip, Frank’s red hot buffalo chicken dip, beef stew, fried plantains, and pulled pork sandwiches. Needless to say we had a lot more food than was expected.

But my friend Justin was a very gracious host and coordinated an excellent superbowl extravaganza. And, I must say that I was very impressed by everyone’s culinary skills, especially the seven layer dip.

Restaurant Week at SD26

Although these photos clearly speak for themselves, it would be selfish of me not to share the incredible meal I experienced this afternoon at SD26.

Ever since I sampled SD26’s hamachi ceviche at the New York Taste event, I vowed to indulge in a full meal at their restaurant conveniently located on the outskirts of Madison Square Park. Given the fact that the New York Taste event was back in November, what I tasted that night may or may not have been hamachi ceviche. But needless to say, SD26 made quite an impression on me amidst some of New York’s most renowned restaurants and chefs.

But despite my overwhelming desire to try what I believed would be an outstanding meal, SD26 is a small investment for a 26 year old working in media. Lucky for me they jumped on the Restaurant Week bandwagon, allowing me to sample some of their signature dishes at a fraction of the cost. And of course in hopes that I’d be lured back for more, much more.

And the verdict, well the pictures say it all. SD26’s food was my muse, and the camera a mere bystander in what you see before you. The restaurant week menu held true to their original lunch menu which included a well rounded selection of meats, fish, and a few other surprises like their soft egg filled ravioli and homemade chitarra pasta. The hardest part of my day was deciding what to order.

But we soon learned that it didn’t matter what we ordered. It was all incredibly luscious. From the well seasoned “Uovo” whose silky yolk and truffle butter just melted in our mouths to the perfectly succulent Guinea Hen and finally ending with the incredibly flavorful and wonderfully textural Vanilla Bean Panna cotta and velvety crispy Moka Bar.

I have to admit that despite the fact that SD26 will be a costly affair now that restaurant week has come to a close, it is absolutely worth saving up for.

SD26

Madison Square Park

19 East 26th Street (between Madison & Broadway)

Adventurous Eating: Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival

So much food and so little time to blab about it. But this past Saturday’s Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival is worth the gossip. 60 beers, 40 bourbons, and lots of barbecue – oh my! I was submerged in a pig pen, I mean a warehouse filled to the brim with more dark beer, bacon, and men than I could take down and it was wonderful.

I came hungry and I conquered – garlic bacon, maple bacon, pork sandwich with coleslaw, Dinosaur BBQ’s pulled pork with baked beans (DELISH!), chicken wings, ribs, corn bread, collard greens, and to finish caramelized popcorn. It was quite a day and the barbecue was only half of it.

30 beers beckoned me, I only like the dark ones. And dark they were from Brooklyn Breweries to Heartland Brewery I drank til my hearts content – which clearly didn’t amount to that much. But despite my intolerance for binge beer drinking, I did manage to come across two new Belgian Style favorites which happen to be on the lighter side… Goose Island’s Matilda and Palm Breweries Palm which were both well paired to the spicy barbecue.

Needless to say, the event was a success. How can you go wrong with beer, bourbon, and barbecue – even if you skip the bourbon?

Feast your eyes on these finger lickin’ event photos…..

Restaurant Week at Park Avenue Winter

Wednesday afternoon my Grandma took me out for a fabulous restaurant week lunch at Park Avenue Winter.

More to come….

Two Girls Out for a Great Lunch

Food Happenings: Hot Plates Live

Last night Metromix debuted some of NY’s newest downtown eateries at the their latest food soiree, Hot Plates Live. Highline Ballroom hosted nearly 200 hungry attendees who happily chowed down on a variety of snacks from eleven local restaurants. I figured arriving an hour late would have left me with slim pickins but to my surprise, most everyone came prepared with enough grub to satisfy this ravenous crowd.

Being a foodie and food blogger, I’ve learned that strategy can be very important at these events. I usually look at the event roster and think okay – which restaurants am I dying to try? which restaurants are looking low on food? which restaurants are the most expensive? And the reason why these questions are important is merely because these questions will determine which tastings are the most desirable. Luckily this event only had eleven dishes, otherwise I might have been in trouble!

But sometimes less is more and in this case I’d have to agree. Since the number of dishes on the must try list were tolerable, it enabled me to spend a greater amount of time with each dish and take in all of the flavors and textures, rather than racing to the next taste. That being said, there was only ONE restaurant which demanded seconds and that was Mark. See my rating of dishes below…

  1. Mark, mouthwatering sliders with American cheese and caramelized onions and served with homemade sauces!
  2. The Norry (at Kampuchea), succulent tamarind-glazed ribs
  3. Luke’s Lobster, mildly buttered and grilled main shrimp in a New England style bun
  4. Spot, deconstructed cheesecake with passion fruit air
  5. Stuffed Artisan Canolis, irish creme, peanut butter, nutella, and coconut canolis
  6. Corsino, ricotta crostini with honey and squid skewer
  7. Ofrenda, toasted tortillas topped with pigs feet, rice and green tomatillo salsa
  8. Spina, safron infused pasta with bolognese
  9. Sigmund Pretzel Shop, soft-style german pretzels with assorted homemade mustards
  10. Bia Garden, crispy pork belly, daikon hash, pickled new-year vegetable
  11. DISQUALIFIED – Lucy Browne’s, ran out of sliders!
  12. DISQUALIFIED – B. Clinton, never made an appearance. No pigs brains after all.

Despite the order you see above, if I was hard pressed to pick two favorite dishes, it would be Mark’s sliders and Spot’s deconstructed cheesecake.

These buttery sliders were perfection! Due to Mark’s genius preparation (see on right above), each slider was heated and stored face side down so that when they were served, the sliders would appear as if they were made right on the spot – fully intact buns, warm caramelized onions, and slightly melted cheese. Yum!

Although this dish didn’t look like much from afar, it had the perfect tartness to culminate a savory meal. And as someone who loves to mix multiple flavors and aspires for the perfect bite, this deconstructed cheesecake was both delicious and fun to eat.

Other notable dishes were presented by Stuffed Artisan Canolis, The Norry, and Luke’s Lobster.

But with the good, always comes the disappointing. And despite their attractive presentations, my least favorite dishes of the night were Ofrenda’s tortilla toppers , Spina’s pasta bolognese, and Bia Garden’s crispy pork belly.

More event photos…

Turkish Meze at Beyoglu

After seeing the Blindside last Friday, my friends and I stopped in for a bite at Beyoglu. I was pleasantly surprised by the festive decor and the welcoming staff. Beyoglu serves their dishes family style, so we ordered a plethora of wonderful Turkish meze to share with an affordably priced Cab/Shiraz blend.

Our food came out extraordinarily quickly which left me a bit skeptical. But despite the fact that the majority of the food was likely prepared in advance, all of the dishes were pretty tasty. My favorite dishes were the Greek salad and the hummus. The octopus left little to be desired, hidden in between mounds of red onion and tomato and the lamb kebab was flavorful but had an unsettling texture to it (possibly because I’m not used to eating lamb in that fashion).

Though Byoglu’s decor was comforting their food was less than satisfying. Its a cute and reasonably priced but doesn’t leave anyone much of a reason to return in a city filled with dozens of real Turkish delights.

Greek Salad crisp lettuce, greek olives, onion, feta cheese, stuffed grape leaves & artichokes

Hummus chick peas & tahini seasoned w/ cumin & garlic

Doner Kebab vertically grilled thinly sliced lamb & beef over rice pilaf

Ahtapot Salatasi char-grilled octopus marinated in olive oil & balsamic vinegar

BEYOGLU

1431 Third Avenue at 81st Street

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