Restaurant Review: Calle Dao Chinese-Cuban Restaurant

A Journey through the Unique Fusion of Cuban and Chinese Cuisine 

Hello fellow NYC foodies and fusion food enthusiasts, there’s a new restaurant we’d like to introduce you to. Nestled in the vibrant location in Chelsea, NYC, is Calle Dao, the second location of the popular midtown foodie haven which offers a fusion of Chinese-Cuban cuisine. Calle Dao is the brainchild of Restaurateur Marco Britti who follows the Bryant Park location of this critics’ favorite and highly popular dining destination with the Chelsea opening. The name Calle Dão, a mix of Cuban and Mandarin, is a nod to Havana’s Chinatown, where Britti first discovered this unique culture and cuisine.

We had the pleasure of experiencing the delicious combination of the two cultures in a multi-course sit-down dinner, which included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, entrees, and dessert. While we couldn’t sample everything, we enjoyed the dishes that we tried. Our journey began with cocktails; four intoxicating concoctions handcrafted by Mixologist Joy Daniels (pictured below).

Calle Dão Handcrafted Cocktails

From left to right, the evening’s cocktails included:

  1. Macau – made with aged rum, fresh lime juice, and a sweet spiced syrup (demerara sugar, star anise, ginger, vanilla bean, black peppercorn, Chinese cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peels). A great balanced drink – not too sweet, tart, or spicy.
  2. Revolucion! – made with habanero infused tequila, ginger liqueur, absinthe, sweet corn kernels, pineapple, agave, and lemon. (**This was our favorite cocktail, it’s sweetness paired wonderfully with the savory passed hors d’oeuvres we enjoyed).
  3. MaxVer – made with gin, elderflower liqueur, white peach, shiso leaves, agave, and lime. If you’re looking for a cocktail that’s not at all sweet, this is the one for you.
  4. Flor de Oro – made with vodka, rose and vanilla infused dry vermouth, cherry jam, and fresh lemon juice. This was my least favorite and the only one I didn’t finish (mainly because I’m not really a fan of Vermouth).

Calle Dão Cuisine – Passed Hors D’oeuvres

The menu’s next offerings were a delight to our palate. Thanks to Chef Bradley Warner, we enjoyed some very exquisite hors d’oeuvres including Oxtail Croquettas with mango chutney and saffron aioli, Cuban Sandwich Spring Rolls, Double fried crispy plantains, and Duck Empanadas

We highly recommend that you treat yourself to all three dishes as they are superb, rich in flavor, perfectly seasoned, and the ingredient combinations…….amazing. The Oxtail Croquettas boasts a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth meat interior and a crispy exterior. If you love Cuban Sandwiches, you’ll love this bite-size version, and you will never go wrong if you order the empanadas. We were then seated to enjoy almost everything on the restaurant’s menu.

Calle Dão Cuisine – Appetizers and Entrees

We were in for a night adventurous delights (featured in order in the slideshow below):

  1. Ma-Po Maduros spicy pork, Sichuan peppercorns, toban-djan, and scallions
  2. Double fried crispy plantains
  3. Crispy Pig’s Ear with cilantro and sesame chili
  4. Charred Octopus in Mojo Verde with Chorizo Oil, Capers, Pimeton, and Olives
  5. Crispy Whole Fish marinated in Mojo Rojo
  6. Smoked short Rib & Chinese broccoli over classic la meìn noodles which predate ramen
  7. Spiced Goat Neck braised in House Spice Blend with Cilantro and Baby Bok Choy
  8. 14-Hour Char Sui Pork marinated and glazed Pork Tenderloin with plum onion escabeche and puré de batata
  9. Peking Style Roast Chicken over yellow Arroz Amarillo with chorizo
  10. Pato Frito Sour Orange Glazed Duck over fried rice with sunny side up egg.

We had several dish favorites from the dining experience. We approached this foodie journey with an open mind knew not every dish was going to be a hit with us. While some at our table weren’t so open, we left the restaurant quite satisfied with the entire experience. Our favorite entrees included the Crispy Whole Fish, Crispy Pig’s Ear, 14-Hour Char Sui Pork, and the Pato Frito Sour Orange Glazed Duck. The fish was exquisite. If you’ve never experienced freshly caught fish being cleaned and cooked right on the beach, this dish is the closest to it. We didn’t think we would really enjoy the Crispy Pig’s Ear but this was delicious. I loved the texture and lightness of it…..sort of like a very elevated pork rinds. We definitely enjoyed nibbling on these ears. The pork and duck were sublime. Both of the meats were succulent and were favorites of many at our table. Almost favorites included the Charred Octopus, which I wish has more of a crunchy texture; the Spiced Goat Neck I wished had a bit more kick to it; and while the Peking Style Roast Chicken itself was flavorful, the flavor of the rice was tame by comparison.

Calle Dao Desserts

At the time of our final course, we were so full but we tried to sample each of the following desserts. Crafted by pastry chef, Kate Holowchik (winner of the 2015 Vitamix Challenge dessert competition), the decadent Calle Dao desserts we enjoyed include:

  1. Matcha Tres Leches with chocolate crumb, chocolate sesame tuile, and mango coulis. As a fan of matcha, we loved this Asian incarnation of Tres Leches. The cake was moist and we loved the combination of the matcha and mango coulis.
  2. Chocolate Arroz Con Leche with ginger gelato, cashew sesame crumb, sweet sesame wontons, passion fruit caramel. Chocolate, passion fruit, and ginger superbly excite your taste buds.
  3. Bunuelos with Chinese five spice sugar, chocolate coconut sauce. Another favorite of ours, the sauce was rich and accented the Bunuelos nicely but we admit, we also dipped it in the pineapple jam.
  4. Coconut Rum Flan with pineapple jam, passion fruit caramel, and crispy rice noodles. We’ve never been a fan of flan but we do like this tropical version.

The wonderful cuisine plating won’t be the only feast for the eyes. Passionate about art, culture, and heritage, Britti (pictured below) has added many finishing touches to Calle Dao to ensure real flavor in the interior as well as the food.

Taking inspiration from traditional Cuban colors, the walls are adorned with vintage Chinese smoking adverts with Cuban touches throughout. A rare last edition of Cuba’s only Spanish and Chinese written Newspaper, Kwong Wah Po, hangs on the wall to welcome all who walks through the door. You will also find authentic cigar boxes decorating the rafters, as well as Cuban cigars at the hostess table. One decoration that also stood out was the giant Call Dao logo (a Chinese Chef’s knife) made up of several very real Chinese Chef’s knives.

We invite you to check out this Chinese-Cuban food fusion for yourself. We are looking forward to experiencing Calle Dao Chinese-Cuban Restaurant again soon.

Calle Dao Chelsea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bombay Sandwich Co. Flavors Up Ayurveda Vegan Eats in Midtown

For many, the word vegan will elicit many negative reactions, for others, it’s a new way of life that has significant health benefits. For us, it has a different meaning. While we would certainly enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, going vegan is not a choice for us….why do you ask, because of an allergy to mushrooms. Almost every vegan or vegetarian dish has mushrooms because of it’s almost meat-like texture. Great to those not allergic to mushrooms, bad for us. Thankfully, a semi-vegan lifestyle is not completely out of the picture for us if we so desired. We recently had the pleasure of experiencing the newest and most wonderfully delicious ayurvedic soul food, right in midtown Manhattan, at Bombay Sandwich Co.

The Bombay Sandwich Co. menu is packed with fresh, natural, and nutritious foods seasoned with some of the most flavorful herbs and spices that boast significant health benefits. These ayurvedic spices include Turmeric, Cardamom, Cumin, Fennel, and Asafoetida. All of these are great sources of vitamins and nutrients, are kosher, gluten-free, vegan, and contain antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, all while adding layers of flavor to the menu’s vegetables, legumes, and nut dishes. The result is delicious vegetarian and vegan options that we thoroughly enjoyed. And a bonus, no mushrooms of any kind. Bombay Sandwich Co. offers soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps, bowls, platters, vegan beverages, and desserts. Although we didn’t get to try everything because we had to leave early (this we plan on rectifying very soon), we did dive right into small samples of their Vegan Mango Lassi, Chana Masala, and French Lentils.

SALADS

Pictured above is the Kale & Hearty Salad featuring marinated kale topped with avocado, cabbage, carrots beets and sunflower seeds, with the house dressing; and the Organic Quinoa Salad, with mixed greens, organic quinoa, chickpeas, cardamom, dates, scallions, and almonds, with olive oil & lemon. Also on the menu is a Garden Salad and Small Shepard Salad.

WRAPS

There are two wraps available on the Bombay Sandwich Co. menu, the above Kale & Sweet Potato Wrap with marinated kale, beets, carrots, cabbage with sweet potato, dried cranberries, fresh ginger, carom seed, with date chutney in a whole-wheat wrap; and an Organic Quinoa Wrap.

SANDWICHES

Sandwich lovers will love the six varieties available. Pictured above is the Garden Sandwich, with mixed greens, avocado, cucumber, tomato, pickled onions, and alfalfa sprouts with a homemade kale and walnut pesto, tomato chutney, on 7-grain bread; and the Chana Masala Sandwich, their most popular, with mom’s slow-cooked chickpeas topped with mixed greens, pickled onions, and homemade date chutney on a Tasca ciabatta roll. The other sandwiches include Honey-Fennel Grilled Cheese, Veggie Mashup Sandwich, Organic Tofu Masala Sandwich, and Fresh Mozzarella & Apple.

BOWLS

We may be biased since this is what we sampled, but the Bombay Sandwich Co. Bowls are hands-down going to be an ultimate favorite for us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a die-hard carnivore, you will not miss or even notice the lack of meat in these super meals. There are three bowls to enjoy, the Chana Masala bowl (pictured first), which features mom’s chickpea stew with garlic, ginger, tomato, Indian gooseberry (aka amla) and fresh ground spices (we could enjoy this every day for the rest of our lives and be very happy); the French Lentils bowl, with the chef’s favorite – slow-cooked French lentils with cumin, asafetida, red chillies and ginger; and the third (not pictured), the Veggie Mashup bowl.

Walking us through the menu was Chef Shiv Puri (pictured above), who started Bombay Sandwich Co. as a booth at NYC’s premier food festival, Smorgasburg, with his wife Shikha Jain.

“Our recipes focus on Ayurvedic healing spices so that each dish delivers more than just good taste. Our ingredients are locally sourced, organic and 100% GMO-free,” says Chef Shiv Puri and his wife Shikha Jain. “Our foods appeal to New Yorkers who are interested in healthy eating and that includes knowing what’s in their food and where it comes from.”

Every Bombay Sandwich Co. promises a flavorful and visual feast combining sweet, savory, cool and warm sensations with an equally vast variety of textures. If you’re looking to get away from the mundane tasting vegan food, look no further, your palate will definitely not be disappointed. Bombay Sandwich Co. has two locations, 48 West 27th Street in the Flatiron District, and 224 W35th St. in midtown. Visit www.bombaysandwichco.com for more information.

 

IHOP Premieres French Toasted Donuts for a Limited Time

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At IHOP, it can also be the most delicious. IHOP continues to break the rules of breakfast with three distinctive dishes hot off the test kitchen griddles. Elevating the breakfast treat that is french toast by combining it with donuts, IHOP is taking breakfast to another level of delicious. The IHOP French Toasted Donuts feature classic donuts dipped in sweet vanilla batter and then French toasted. The new lineup is available in three decadent, mouthwatering flavors ranging from savory to sweet.

“At IHOP, we’re always looking for fresh new ways to excite our guests and bring unexpected flavors together,” said Chef Nevielle Panthaky, Vice President, Culinary at IHOP. “This is a delicious mash-up of the classic donut everyone knows and loves, dipped in a creamy vanilla batter, French toasted to a light golden brown and topped off with flavors such as maple glaze and hickory-smoked bacon. And who better to do it than IHOP, the brand that has owned all-day breakfast for almost six decades?”

Bacon & Maple French Toasted Donut

The Bacon & Maple French Toasted Donut is a Bavarian cream filled donut, dipped in vanilla French toast batter, griddled, then topped with rich maple glaze and savory hickory-smoked bacon crumbles.

Strawberries & Cream French Toasted Donut

The Strawberries & Cream French Toasted Donut is a Bavarian cream filled donut, dipped in vanilla French toast batter, griddled, then topped with strawberries in a juicy glaze and powdered sugar.

Apple Fritter French Toasted Donut

The Apple Fritter French Toasted Donut is a warm apple fritter dipped in vanilla French toast batter, griddled, then topped with sweet cinnamon apples, powdered sugar and whipped topping.

We had the pleasure of getting an exclusive first taste of all three of these decadent breakfast donuts at an event with Chef Nevielle Panthaky, VP of Culinary at IHOP. It was an evening of ultimate decadence as we satisfied our almost insatiable appetite for these sinful breakfast treats. We also had the opportunity to recreate or create our own French Toasted Donut, thanks to the wide variety of available toppings made available to us.

The French Toasted Donuts are available from July 31st through September 24th at participating IHOP restaurants nationwide. The new menu items can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a combo meal with the choice of eggs, bacon, sausage or ham, and more.

Restaurant Review: Rahi Artisanal Indian Restaurant

We love food, we consider ourselves to be distinctive foodies, and we thoroughly enjoy indulging in amazing culinary journeys. We recently did just that at Rahi Artisanal Indian Restaurant, located at 60 Greenwich Avenue in NYC. Rahi, (meaning traveler in Hindi) is a collaboration between Chintan Pandya, an Indian chef with playful artistry, and restaurateur, Roni Mazumdar. They offer vibrant Indian food that slightly strays from the traditional Indian cuisine and uses local New York produce.

Staying true to the name’s meaning, Rahi Artisanal Indian Restaurant took us on a culinary journey to the four unique flavor corners of India. We started out with classic cocktails in delicious, untraditional flavors, and yielded to the explosion of various flavors of the appetizers, entrees, and desserts. We were in FOODIE heaven at Rahi Artisanal Indian Restaurant.

FIRST COCKTAILS

Cardamom Margarita


DAVID: This is a comforting and fragrant starting drink with a cardamom hit that sneaks up on you for a pleasant flavor & finish. You have the tart saltiness of the tequila and rim with the soothing ending of the warm cardamom.

Juhu Daiquiri


GLASGOW: The cumin gives the pineapple flavors an interesting, almost savory flavor. It not only complimented the natural sweetness and tartness of the cocktail, the sharp, slightly bittersweet taste of the cumin evened out the sweetness of the pineapple rum.

SECOND COCKTAILS

Bachcha Cocktail


DAVID: This was such a delicious cocktail. So satisfying was the weight of the heavy juniper note of the gin was toned down by the earthy almond and pistachio. What you’re left with is a fragrant soft and slightly sweet flavor brought about by the rose water with the grown and relaxing heft of the gin.

Black Tea Smash


GLASGOW: As a bourbon lover, I was very excited to try this cocktail. Don’t go thinking this is a grown up ice tea, that wouldn’t do it justice. There’s almost a licorice-esque taste to this cocktail, there’s a slight kick to it that I really enjoyed, but it is mostly smooth. It’s a definite must for a cocktail connoisseur.

APPETIZERS

Sunchoke Vada


DAVID: This was a lovely light and airy starter with the soft and creamy texture of the sunchoke center. The heat of the chili and the sweet crisp comfort of the coconut marry nicely with the tart and sweet punch of the tamarind to create a pleasant and delightfully lingering finish.

GLASGOW: I like how the flavors of the coconut-chili crumble sat on the back of my throat, ensuring that every bite of the Sunchoke I swallowed had some heat to it. This dish was quite hearty and a bit rustic, it felt like I was eating potatoes without the heaviness.

Edamame Artichoke Chaat

DAVID: This dish was just perfection. The slightly natural lemony pop of the artichoke soaks up the tamarind so well that when balanced on top of the bed of earthy edamame and the crunchy sweet pomegranate, a wonderful quartet is created: tart, earthy, sweet and salty.

GLASGOW: Love that this vegan dish highlights the sweetness of the tamarind as opposed to its tartness. The combination of the crunchy pomegranate seeds, spinach chips, and tamarind give it a highly flavorful dish with great levels of textures.

Chettinad Octopus


DAVID: This was a cool seafood triumph. Take the delicateness of tender octopus with the island kiss of a milky coconut broth teemed with spicy aromatic curry and what you have are two meals in one. The second meal arrives when you’re left with that savory broth that is perfect for dipping Rahi’s melt in your mouth naan bread.

GLASGOW: This dish practically left me speechless. The combination of a creamy, tropical coconut milk and turmeric highlighted the freshness of the octopus. The coconut turmeric foam was divine……each bite fills your mouth with unbiased flavor and your senses with aromas like no other. I’d enjoy this broth on its own as a soup. This dish felt like a special treat, like I was being rewarded for something.

Eggplant Bharta


DAVID: I joked with the owner that this should be packaged and ready to be sold. This dish was oh so satisfying. The triumph of this dish was how the often-earthy quality of the eggplant disappeared in the spicy, smoky chunkiness of this dish. The blend of onions, cumin, spices and the consistency of the ragu-like dish were like the perfect vegan comfort food and the hearty grain toast it was served with was a great choice to hold up to the weight of the Bharta. I could easily see this as a veggie/vegan sandwich at a picnic as a great reminder of how satisfying meatless can be.

GLASGOW: I’m not a fan of eggplant, so I didn’t partake but from David’s reaction, it must be outstanding.

MAIN COURSE

Inked Crab


DAVID: This is crispy sea loveliness soaking in creamy briny harmony. The salt of this dish is nicely balanced with hints of sweet. The depth of the ink batter brings a sharpness to the delicateness of the sweet and crunchy soft shelled crab and offers up a different kind of satisfying savory to the dish.

GLASGOW: I didn’t try much of the Inked Crab because I had my own decadent dish to enjoy, but from my one mouthful I noticed the distinct flavors, such as the marriage of subtle sweetness of the mango curry and how it emphasized the distinct character of the squid ink crab.

Dalhousie Shepherd’s Pie

GLASGOW: Let me start by saying that Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorite dishes and I love eating it as much as I can. And Rahi’s interpretation blew me away. I’ll say it now, Cumin makes everything better. I loved Rahi’s flavorful take because, let’s face it, sometimes Shepherd’s Pie can be a bit bland, but the combination of cumin potatoes layered with farm fresh Raclette cheese, took this basic dish to indulgent levels.

DESSERT

Mishti Doi Cheese Cake

DAVID: This was a nice combination of smoky and sweet flavors with an interesting caramel and coconut cream combination with a delish crumbly Indian cookie crust.

GLASGOW: A creamy delight that was as decadent as it lovely. A great yogurt dessert on a crust of Karachi cookies that isn’t overly sweet, and bears a distinct taste of rosewater. You should definitely make room for this dessert.

Cream Pakora

DAVID: Coconut shines in this dessert with a pleasing blend and nice execution of dried and creamy coconut that shows the fruits depth. The crust is just doughy, soft and tender with an underlying hearty pleasantness.

GLASGOW: If you love desserts like beignets or eclairs, you’re going to love the Cream Pakora, a yummy coconut-jaggery cream housed in a light pastry dough. It may look heavy but it was quite light, so enjoy to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content.

DECOR

DAVID: The décor of Rahi Artisanal Indian Restaurant is charming like the collections of a “traveler” with a love for Indian roots and an eye for modern sensibilities. I was very pleased that their full bar also delved into the aesthetic of their establishment. This is a great location for Rahi and a necessary eatery to add and celebrate diversity to the neighborhood.

GLASGOW: It’s not just the food that will transport you to India, the aromas and visuals of Rahi Artisanal Indian Restaurant. The tables are smaller to ensure an intimate setting for conversation and sharing. White modern chairs match the marble bar and brick walls, which highlight the black and gold mural, painted by artists, Yok & Sheryo. The dining area extends to a sunken level.

Take the Rahi Artisanal Indian Restaurant journey yourself at 60 Greenwich Avenue, (212) 373 8900.

National Doughnut Day with Drunken Doughnuts at The Tuck Room NYC

Is there anything better than the deep-fried and sweet mounds of yumminess that are doughnuts? If there ever was a sweet treat to be celebrated, it is doughnuts. It’s impossible to dislike them, and thankfully we got to properly celebrate the dessert! In honor of this very important desert food, acclaimed mixologist Adam Seger hosts Drunken Doughnuts at The Tuck Room NYC, the newest hotspot located in New York’s South Street Seaport EVERY Thursday evening. The months’ old bar (it’s just a little over 6 months old) is lively and intimate all at once. We had the pleasure of partaking in this amazing blend of confectionery and cocktail heaven just in time for National Doughnut Day.

These alcohol-infused, bite-sized doughnuts bring new meaning to the term Amuse-bouche because your mouth (along with your taste buds and stomachs) will be so happy once they indulge in these boozy doughnut holes. Our night’s indulgence included two types of doughnut holes, Old-fashioned Glazed, and Double Valrhona Fleur de Sel (chocolate covered holes topped with sea salt). What makes these doughnuts “drunken” are the accompanying boozy sauces and sides including the decadent Bourbon Dulce de Leche Sauce, Boyd & Blair 151 Vodka Cardamom Whipped Cream, Pimm’s Spiked Mango, Pineapple, Habanero Marmalade, Dark Rum & Cognac Chocolate Sauce, and last but certainly not least, a boozy Cereal Milk Ice Cream.

Fair warning to those of you who will no doubt enjoy this experience, these boozy sauces, and sides do not have “essence of alcohol” or “flavored with alcohol”, these are made with full on booze, you can definitely get tipsy off this experience. The whipped cream and marmalade by themselves are enough to knock you off your sober feet. To experience Drunken Doughnuts at The Tuck Room NYC, you’re escorted to a secret room behind a bookcase called the Green Room, a dimly lit hidden enclave few will notice if not paying attention.

Surrounded by bottles of alcohol, walls filled with photos of iconic, framed photos, and a vast library of infused spirits curated by Master Bartender and Advanced Sommelier Adam Seger, created with The Tuck Room’s Heizenberg machine, you and your guests will greatly enjoy this modern speakeasy’s secret room.

All this was enjoyed at the end of this adventurous evening. Our evening of Drunken Doughnuts at The Tuck Room NYC begun with some very interesting and amazing Heizenberg infused cocktails. We decided to go with whatever cocktails were placed in from of us by the wonderful and attentive bar staff, Adam called it “Autopilot”.

The cocktails we enjoyed included the DrinkupNY, consisting of Balsam Magnolia Blossom Oolong New York Aperitif Wine, Perrier, and lemon; a modern interpretation of a Sidecar, featuring an infusion of Luxe Pierre Ferrand, California Nectarines, Nutmeg, and Sage with a float of Prosecco on top; a libation inspired by an English cocktail with Ginger bitters, Chartreuse, Cognac, and Fresh Lemon Juice; and a cocktail infused with Tequila, Fresh Cherries, Pomegranate, and lime. Since man can’t live by cocktails alone, we dined on wonderful starters by James Beard Award-winning chef Sherry Yard.

REUBEN CROQUETTES

These savory balls of yumminess were the perfect foodie delights to begin our culinary journey with The Tuck Room NYC. Each bit is filled with delicious crispy pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and sits upon a “thousand island” sauce.

BRIOCHE CRUSTED CRAB CAKES

Just when I thought I’d tasted heaven with the Rueben Croquettes, the crab cakes, which featured Old Bay Remoulade, Frisée + Citrus Salad, and Yuzu Vinaigrette took that feeling to another level.

SPICED + SWEET PORK BELLY WRAPS

Last but not least on the foodie adventure before our sweet tooth journey begun was the above pork belly wraps featuring Butter Lettuce, Nuoc Cham Caramel, Limes, Radishes, Jalapeño, Fresno Chile Aioli, and Cilantro.

All this was enjoyed while sitting at the bar, listening to what could only be called as the perfect classic bar music, as episodes of BarTales (the new single-city documentary series featuring Dale DeGroff, Gaz Regan, Adam Seger, and David Wondrich) plays on the flat screen directly above. This entire evening felt like we crossed something off our bucket list. We promise you will enjoy everything about Drunken Doughnuts at The Tuck Room. So if you’re looking for an amazingly delicious and intoxicating foodie experience, head over to the South Street Seaport and indulge in a night of Drunken Doughnuts at The Tuck Room NYC.

Restaurant Review: Brasserie 8 1/2 at the Solow Building

Going into midtown is not really the thing to do for New Yorkers unless you work in the area. We usually try to avoid the area, however, with a wonderful restaurant like French Brasserie, Brasserie 8 1/2 at the Solow Building, avoiding this area is not an option. What’s cool about the location of Brasserie 8 1/2 restaurant, given all the craziness around midtown, is the fact that you can retreat to the centrally located, spacious, and well-decorated haven for a well-prepared quick lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch.

The main street location of Brasserie 8 1/2 is great because not only is it near trains and office buildings, it’s not in the midst of clustered tourist hubs. On a fairly warm day, we headed away from the hustle and bustle of the noisy New York City streets to experience their sophisticated French cuisine. As soon as you head downstairs, you’ve entered in its quiet and serene open environment to enjoy a great culinary experience, courtesy of Chef Franck Deletrain, and an attentive staff.

Our culinary journey at Brasserie 8 1/2 started off with a few delightful wines, including a lovely Sancerre (French wine), crisp Chardonnay, and a sublime rose. They were the perfect pre-starters to wake up our taste buds for the onslaught of decadent french flavors we foodies were about to indulge in.

APPETIZERS

White Asparagus with Chanterelles Mushrooms, Fromage Blanc Flan, & Smoked Duck

DAVID: This was a delicate dish with distinct deep flavors. The smoked duck was buttery tender and its richness balanced nicely with the subtle tartness of the asparagus. The Fromage blanc flan was creamy, light and airy and surprisingly held its own against the pleasant earthy weight of the Chanterelles mushrooms and the smooth comforting texture of the white beans. It was like an eclectic garden farm remix dish.

GLASGOW: Because of my allergy to mushrooms, sadly I couldn’t partake in this dish but the look of content and satisfaction on David’s face said all I needed to know.

Grilled Octopus with Sunchokes Mousseline, Fingerling Potatoes, Espelette Pepper

DAVID: This was a melt-in-your-mouth freshness with a delicateness that octopus must have in order to be perfectly balanced with the fragrant charring. The sauces paired with it were savory and sweet adding nice opposing dimensions to the lovely neutrality of the octopus. The fingerlings added a nice familiar balance to the mélange of flavors with just a touch of creaminess.

GLASGOW: Every bite of this multi-textured appetizer was so flavorful. Octopus tends to be a bit gamey and chewy, but this perfectly grilled delight. I love the slight touch of nuttiness and sweetness the Sunchokes added to the dish, and the slight char on the octopus did not take away from its “melt-in-your-mouth” consistency. The Fingerling Potatoes added a touch of a rustic feel to the overall dish.

MAIN COURSES

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

DAVID: This dish was textural overload in a great way. The light crispy outer of the crab cakes fell perfectly into the soft sweet and tender inner. Take the sweet and briny notes and add them with tang and sharpness of the horseradish and pickled red onions for a refreshing tartar sauce remix that doesn’t overpower but adds a nicely artisanal element to this dish. The sea beans create a smooth edge to the briny properties of the dish. It was a lovely arrangement of accents for the crab cakes.

GLASGOW: Although I had one one bite of the crab cake (I was saving room for my own entree), the sweetness of the crabmeat will forever remain with me. Even now, my taste memory is remembering the perfectly crisp crust (not too crisp) and the light yet juicy interior. My favorite part? No sign of any oily or greasy residue was left on the tongue, just a mouthful of fresh, sweet crabmeat.

Grilled Lamb Chops

DAVID: This was a rustic yet refined dish that had familiar elements offered up in a refreshingly remixed way. The delicate coffee rub on the tender buttery chops lent the sharp vibrant and deep flavor of the coffee nicely to the gamey loveliness of the lamb. The grilling of the chop sealed the deal for a nice marriage of smoky flavors and aromatic textures. The fingerlings, tomatoes, and asparagus were pleasant and piquant and a good pairing with the organic nature of the grilled chop and the earthy rub that created an air of hearty elegance.

GLASGOW: I must say, the taste of this dish was not what I expected. The full dish includes Fingerling Potatoes, Green Asparagus, Coffee Rub, and Charred Tomato Relish. I was fully expecting to have the very distinct taste of coffee with every bite of this dish, but I was pleasantly surprised (I’m not really a fan of coffee but I was just going against my norm) to not even get a hint of coffee. The coffee rub actually gave the lamb chops a very rustic, earthy flavor, with the fingerling potatoes and charred heirloom tomatoes adding to its earthiness. Of course, the lamb chops themselves (which I got medium well) were perfectly charred and smoky. In a word – sublime!

DESSERTS

Warm Molten Chocolate Cake

DAVID: The softness of the cake is perfect and just airy enough to take on the smooth depth of the espresso ice-cream that created a rich creamy pleasantness when it hit the molten ebony center. The balance of bitter and sweet created a deep finish reminiscent of the espresso that often finishes a great meal.

GLASGOW: I always get chocolate deserts but wanted something different, so I passed on trying this dish but visually, it’s sinfully decadent, and David was very happy.

Bosc Pear Tartlette

DAVID: The tart is decadently sweet, creamy and smooth and a great compliment to the fragrant spicy cinnamon ice-cream and the nutty aromatic toasted slivers of almond. The indulgent pear and the woody accompaniments created quite a finish.

GLASGOW: An amazing and elevated take on the classic apple tartlette, this Bosc Pear Tartlette is a reward for your taste buds. It was heaven in every bite, not overly sweet, the crust not too crunchy or hard, and although we’re in full spring mode, I thoroughly enjoyed these fall flavors. The pairing of cinnamon ice cream and almond Frangipane with the pear gave the perfect nod to the fall season without being too heavy on the reference.

The stylish French Brasserie 8 1/2 is located at 9 W 57th St, just steps from Fifth Avenue. While satisfying and rewarding your palate on their sophisticated French cuisine, you will love the breathtaking original artwork by Léger, Matisse and others favored by the Louvre.

Brasserie 8 1/2 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Restaurant Alert: Chefs Club Counter Launches in New York City

Attention foodies, there’s a new culinary haven now open in the iconic neighborhood of Soho, NYC. Encompassing the famed corner of Spring and Lafayette, at 62 Spring Street, is Chefs Club Counter, the first “fine-fast” concept brought to life by Stephane De Baets, the Belgian entrepreneur behind the game-changing restaurant group, Chefs Club.

Stephane de Baets

An off-shoot of Chefs Club, Chefs Club Counter will offer a quick and affordable fine food options for customers eager to partake in popular dishes from some of the world’s best chefs in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. The menu, curated by Culinary Director Didier Elena, a 20-year Alain Ducasse alumnus, features select dishes available in a limited quantity for a limited time. We had the pleasure of indulging in Chefs Club Counter’s “fine-fast” food concept with the culinary geniuses Chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Eggslut‘s Alvin Cailan, and George Mendes.

George Mendes

Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Alvin Cailan

The VIP preview of Chefs Club Counter’s decadent bites included possibly the most amazing burger we’ve ever tasted, the JG (Jean-Georges) Burger Sliders, Duck Rice, Grain Bowls, Tomato, and Stracciatella, and Wild Mushroom and Chicory Pizzas, and the celebrated LA favorite, Eggslut Crostini from Chefs Club Counter roster: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, George Mendes, Linton Hopkins, Magnus Hansson, and Eggslut’s Alvin Cailan.

As if these delectable bites weren’t heaven enough, the dishes were paired with Ben Watts’ Watts Up Rosé, which flowed throughout the evening, much to our delight. Almost 600 guests were in attendance to sample the exclusive and limited edition menu, including downtown’s creative luminaries enthusiastic foodies, neighbors, and influencers from all walks of life.

Ben Watts’ Watts Up Rosé – David White

We’re not sure how long the menu will remain the same but we highly recommend you head over to Chefs Club Counter try their delicious fare as soon as you possibly can.

Restaurant Review: Savor Hakka Chinese Cuisine at The Chinese Club

We’ve enjoyed many amazing culinary journeys but our culinary adventure of Hakka Chinese cuisine at The Chinese Club may just be the most flavorful yet. For those non-foodies who are not aware of the Hakka Chinese food served at The Chinese Club, all meals, from appetizers to main dishes and desserts combine Indian spices with Hakka Chinese cooking techniques, and finessed with a modern twist. As foodies who love everything spicy and flavorful, this marriage of cultures is absolutely brilliant. A brainchild of married couple Chef Salil Mehta and Stacey Lo, known for their Michelin star and Bib Gourmand designated Malaysian restaurant Laut in Manhattan, the food at this barely a year old foodie heaven will blow you away.

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To say we were in for a treat would do The Chinese Club a great injustice. This was truly an epic culinary experience. The significant aspect of Hakka Chinese cuisine is its texture. Another is how the cooking technique highlights the natural savory flavors of meats. We started off with several amazing appetizers that really stirred our taste buds. Our Hakka Chinese Cuisine at The Chinese Club started with the following four appetizers:

Organic Salt & Pepper Mushroom

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Although I could not enjoy this vegetarian dish because of an allergy to mushrooms, the consensus of the level of deliciousness of this tempura mushroom with scallions was one of utter delight. The unanimous and very audible sounds of yums came from all sides of the dinner table.

Aloo Chat (Indian Street Snack)

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There is so much amazing texture and color in this vegetarian and gluten-free tangy crispy potato dish with crispy noodles. This delightful dish is savory, fresh and tangy all at once. You may not be able to tell from the photo but for us, this dish perfectly captured the amazing combination of Indian and Chinese spices that are found in the Hakka Chinese Cuisine at The Chinese Club.

 Wings On Fire

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Although you can’t tell by this photo which surely doesn’t do it justice, these lollipop chicken wings with spicy mayo will transport you into an instant out of body experience. If you love food that’s full of bold flavor, these make a perfect starter to begin your culinary adventure.

Chinese Bhel Salad

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This perfect little salad crispy noodle salad is all vegetarian and gluten free. The Indian-Chinese style salad boasts a cornucopia of colors and textures that included avocado, pomegranate seeds, puffed rice, carrots, etc. You’ll love every bite for its mixture of smoothness and crunch.

Hakka Chili Chicken

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If you love fiery spicy flavor then The Chinese Club Hakka Chili Chicken offers the perfect amount of flavor excitement you love. These crispy hunks of boneless chicken are seasoned with green chili, onion, bell peppers and soy sauce. They’re so delicious, you won’t be able to stop eating until your plate is completely empty.

Vegetable Manchurian

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The extensive menu continues with the vegetarian Manchurian dish, a divine and flavorful set of vegetable dumplings in a spicy brown sauce featuring garlic, onion, chili, and cilantro. Meat lovers won’t care that this dish has no meat and vegans and paneer fans will be blown away by the flavor.

Schzwen Chutney Vegetable

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Fans of paneer, the decadence continues with this vegetarian delight. You’ll love the Schzwen Chutney vegetable’s mix of spicy vegetable fritters, celery, peppers, onions and scallions with paneer. Like the Chinese Beil Salad, it is a wonderful blend of color and texture.

Fish with Hot Garlic Sauce

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It was very difficult to select a favorite dish from our Hakka Chinese Cuisine at The Chinese Club culinary adventure but the above Fish with Hot Garlic Sauce was at the very top of our seconds and third helpings list, thanks to the perfectly fried fish fillet in a bold garlic, ginger, chili, scallion sauce.

Rice three ways: Cumin, Brown, and Jasmine

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We’d have the pleasure of enjoying Jasmin and brown rice, but thanks to our experience with Hakka Chinese Cuisine at The Chinese Club, we’re adding Cumin rice to our list of must enjoy again over and over.

DESSERTS

Fried Ice Cream with Fried Noodles 

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Words cannot fully describe how amazing The Chinese Club’s take on Fried Ice Cream is. Instead of the traditional breaded ice cream, their version has coconut ice cream surrounded by crispy deep fried noodles. It is incredibly delicious.

Chinese Fortune Waffle

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And the last and certainly not least desserts is this marvelous Chinese Fortune Waffle you see above which features huge egg waffles with coconut and taro ice cream, chocolate pocky sticks, fresh fruits (we love the strawberries and lychee on there), sprinkled fruity pebbles, and of course fortune cookies.

Chef Salil Mehta and Stacey Lo

Pasar Malam - Brooklyn, NY

Pasar Malam – Brooklyn, NY

Stacey’s great grandfather, Lo Fung Sho was an immigrant worker in Darjeeling, India, who at the turn of the 20th century founded the “Darjeeling Chinese Club” as a cultural refuge for Chinese immigrants and expats living in India. This cultural refuge is the inspiration for The Chinese Club. The couple has reincarnated his recipes with Indian spices, Hakka Chinese cooking techniques, and modern interpretations of both cultures.

The menu for The Chinese Club changes every three months and secret, off-menu items are posted on their social media; many with limited availability. Want to try these dishes for yourself, head over to 208 Grand St in Brooklyn, NY. If you have tried Hakka Chinese Cuisine or visited The Chinese Club, then share your experiences in the comments.