Summer Restaurant Week ’09 Recommendations

RestaurantWeek'09Summer

After a tough year Summer Restaurant Week is here and has officially extended its offerings from the get-go. New York City Restaurant Week is now three weeks long which gives us a better opportunity of actually scoring reservations at some of the better restaurants out there, or so I thought.

The two restaurants I had initially planned on trying out were 10 Downing and Daniel Boulud’s new East Village gastropub, DBGB. I’ve confirmed that these hotspots are the most desirable restaurants on Restaurant Week as I was unable to get a reservation at either of them before 6pm any day of the week. Honestly, I’m not too crushed over 10 Downing as I’ve heard they still have some kinks to work out but was sincerely disappointed about DBGB. And I was trying to make dinner reservations which doesn’t even offer a Restaurant Week menu. I guess I’ll try back next month.

In any case, all is not lost. Today my lovely grandmother treated me to lunch at Brasserie and will be trying out Opia this evening. Friday I’ll be at Amma and I hope to make it to Elettaria AND Centro Vinoteca before the end of the month. We shall see.

But for those looking to get a taste of the good life without spending a small fortune I recommend trying out some of these fine New York City establishments:

LUNCH

DINNER

Oldies but Goodies

New AND Notable

Remember, often times the more expensive the restaurant, the better value you’ll receive. That is unless your meal is the size of a penny.

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A RARE Surprise

RARE CheeseburgerStill on a food high from Tuesday’s Foodbuzz event at David Burke’s Townhouse, I was determined to get me some more beef. I could still taste the delightful saltiness of David’s sliders on my tongue and was looking for a local equivalent. It’s 7pm, and I’m in Murray Hill, where should I go? Since my sister, Amanda, had suggested RARE, I immediately agreed despite the crowd that we would encounter.

I’d only been to RARE once before and was NOT impressed. The service was abominable! Of course the day I decide to visit RARE, they run out of ground beef. How a burger restaurant runs out of ground beef is BEYOND me but they did, and left us sitting there for an hour thinking our food would be “just a minute”. BUT, everyone and every restaurant deserves a second chance, and on Wednesday, that restaurant was RARE.

I mean, the place is always packed so they must be doing something right. The crowd is a mix of businessmen and twenty-somethings all after one thing… the BURGERS. But despite the crowd that night we were seated within minutes, intimately squeezed in between two other tables, just how I like it. Well, not really but my energy was already directed towards deciding on which burger to order.

RARE Chicken Caeser

How Amanda ended up with a chicken Caesar salad, I’m not sure. But spotlight was on me as I diligently tried to get my mouth around the mammoth of a cheeseburger I’d ordered. Though the actual burger itself wasn’t that large, between the lettuce, beefsteak tomato, white onions, and pillow-like brioche bun, the height of the burger towered over me.

RARE Cheeseburger Height

Doesn’t that look like a fun challenge? Let’s just say that I’m glad you didn’t witness me eating this thing. It wasn’t too pretty…unlike the dipping sauces that were served in accompaniment.

RARE Dipping Sauces RARE Shoestring Fries

New Mexican Chili Ketchup, Roasted Garlic Aioli, Chipotle Aioli, and Honey Maple Dip were served with each side order of RARE’s shoestring fries (since they are served a la carte, and NOT included with the burger) I must admit that the fries were a tad limp, but despite their lack of crispness, my sister and I still devoured them. We’re a big fry family!

So the verdict on RARE… very satisfying. I’d be hardpressed to say the food was great, but it’s a solid neighborhood joint to go for a burger and fries. And RARE offers up some interesting preparations, such as the Mexican & BBQ Bison Burger, for those not just looking for the classic cheeseburger.

David Burke’s Foodie Wonderland

David Burke's TownhouseDavid Burke, you had me at hello. Foodbuzz you’ve always had me.

Hats off to the producers behind last night’s Foodbuzz Millionth Blog Post celebration at David Burke’s Townhouse. I was in complete awe and admiration of the truly stunning display of American fare chef David Burke, had prepared for us. And as a recent winner of the James Beard Lifetime Achievement award, I wouldn’t expect anything less!

I was told he was out to impress, and that he did with an overwhelming selection of fresh shellfish and sashimi, classic sliders, perfectly grilled meats, countless fried and steamed dumplings, and dozens of other tantilizing bites including a charming selection of petit desserts. The selection of food seemed endless! And I savored every last morsel from their special Lychee Martini Cocktail to their signature cheesecake lollipop. But the best part was, so did everyone else!

David Burke's Townhouse Lychee Martini David Burke's Townhouse Sliders

In my circle of family and friends I’m hard pressed to find someone who truly loves and appreciates food more than I do. Whether we’re talking sweet, savory, sour, meat, fish, vegetables, I love them all. I eat every meal as if it were my last and I have a good feeling that some of the other foodies in the room do the same. For once, I wasn’t alone!!! My eyes popped and my mouth watered along with dozens of other ravenous foodies eager to taste the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. And this time, God himself encouraged us to enjoy the fruits of our laborious food writing.

David Burke's Townhouse Lobster Scramble David Burke's Townhouse Sushi

In about 90 minutes I consumed 2 sliders, numerous dumplings, lobster scramble, lobster bisque, tuna sashimi, grilled rib eye, grilled salmon, assorted sushi, scallop ceviche, tuna tar tar, foie gras, beef carpaccio, butterscotch panna cotta, a beignette, apple fritter, and finally David Burke’s trademark, cheesecake lollipop.

David Burke's Townhouse Espresso Creme Brulee David Burke's Townhouse Lollipop Tree

And after indulging in some phenomenal food, making some new foodie friends, and meeting the renowned David Burke in the flesh, the clock struck midnight and I was no longer a cheesecake lollipop on a pine tree pedestal. Though I’ll continue to savor – the wonderful flavors – of David Burke’s Town-house.

David Burke's Townhouse Jessica Hartley