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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Peels



"Peel me off another piece of that fried chicken!", is all I have to say about this wonderful venue brought to NYC diners by the same owners of Freemans restaurant in the lower east side. This is such a great place for so many reasons and if you appreciate good old american comfort food like I do, you don't want to miss an opportunity to dine at Peels!


We began with the Clam Chowder ($9) a creamy new england style clam chowder served with buttermilk crackers. It was well balanced not being skimpy with the clams that were fresh and diced. It also had a hint of fresh thyme that really added to the flavor of the chowder.








Then for the Andouille Corn Dogs ($9) served with a creole style mustard. Peels took the good old american corn dog and put their own twist on it substituting the traditional frankfurter with andouille sausage. My dinner guests and I absolutely worshipped this dish!!










The Potato Dumplings ($9 app/$18 entree) served in a butter sage sauce with roasted squash were very similar to gnocchi in style, just not quite as dense. I liked that the roasted squash brought a touch of sweetness to the dish that was then cut with the butter sage sauce.









For our entrees we had the Fresh Fried Chicken ($21), which we all attacked like wild beasts on a freshly killed carcass and that is exactly how it is described on the menu, "fresh kill, free-range bird". It was served with red creamer potatoes and a southern style gravy with black pepper. It is american comfort food at it's best and absolutely to die for!!!!


















The Cheeseburger ($14) held its own as well. It's amazing to me how many places can screw up a burger and that's because producing a delicious tasting burger isn't as easy as one might think. Grass fed beef is used for the Peels burger, which has a very earthy flavor to it, much different then grain fed beef. It is served with cave-aged cheddar, homemade pickles, roasted onions and french fries. Need I say more?





All the entrees came with sides, however, we ordered the Roasted Brussel Sprouts ($6) that were roasted along with diced apples. The sweet flavor of the apples kind of cut the bitter taste that brussel sprouts can sometimes have. I thought that was a very interesting twist.









We skipped dessert and I'm sorry we did as I later found out that Peels makes some excellent doughnuts! Sunday is doughnut day and they run a special $2.50 a doughnut until they are sold out. I hear they do interesting flavors such as Sesame sugar and Tasso sugar flavored doughnuts.



You don't want to miss the Peels experience! They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a great place to sit and cure that post partying hangover at Sunday brunch with friends, or to stop in for a cocktail and people watch as there was a nice amount of good looking hipster types roaming the place. I'm hooked!



Peels Punch ($13)


Peels
325 Bowery NY NY 10003
646.602.7015
http://www.peelsnyc.com/




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rayuela

This simply stunning venue that is somewhat surreal with a tree growing straight through the dining room, presents something very different to it's patrons. Rayuela (translation "hopscotch") named after the novel by Julio Cortazar, certainly provides an experience like no other. It presents a cuisine that is referred to as Estilo Libre Latino or Freestyle Latino cuisine, mixing unorthodox ingredients into traditional Latino dishes. It's a great place for a dinner date or even just to stop in for a few cocktails with friends. On this occasion, it was a place for my cousin Renzo and I to catch up.


For our first course we had the Hamachi ($15) served with avocado and orange zest in a wasabi citrus sauce. This colorful dish of raw yellowtail tuna was served ice cold and the wasabi citrus sauce had a real kick to it. It was a great start!











For my entree I went with the Vieras con Huitlacoche ($25) grilled sea scallops served with a huitlacoche valencia rice with a crabmeat corn salad and a truffle pablano sauce. Huitlacoche, known as the mexican corn truffle, is a gray fungus that sometimes grows between the corn and the husk. Also referred to as corn smut, it is a mexican delicacy and it was absolutely delicious!











































I have had dinner at Rayuela on numerous occasions and it is never a disappointment. Not only is the food consistent on each and every visit, the service is always very on point. The staff is well versed on the menu and extremely friendly taking that extra step to make sure that our experience was a good one. They even let my crazy cousin charge his phone behind the bar.
I love you Renzo!!!!!!!

Rayuela
165 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002
212.253.8840
http://www.rayuelanyc.com/


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Commerce Restaurant

Tucked away on Commerce Street, Commerce is most definitely one of my favorite spots to dine in the Greenwich village area. Formerly the Grange Hall, it has been renovated to give the feel of a brassiere. It has a beautiful bar that produces a fine melange of anything from young hipster types to the local more mature adult looking for a delicious meal in the neighborhood. The menu offers a diverse selection of fare possessing notes of Italian, French and even Asian cuisines.
One thing that is very distinctive about this place from a culinary perspective is the bread plate that Commerce supplies to its' guests. It is always piping hot with an assortment of mini sourdough, pretzel bread (my favorite), and there was one type that was stuffed with bacon or pancetta. It's definitely an experience!

For our first course we decided to go with the Hamachi special ($17). Thinly sliced Hamachi served with micro greens, red onion and a spicy remoulade. The Hamachi was very fresh and the appetizer was the prefect amuse bouche in proceeding to our next course.








My dinner guest went with the Parmentier ($22) which is basically the Commerce version of a shepard's pie. Beef stew topped off with buttery whipped potatoes and then baked in the oven to a golden brown. This is a dish that perfectly translates comfort food and with those components you really can't go wrong.







I decided to go with the Pecan Crusted Lola Duck ($29) served with wild rice. I realize not everyone loves duck, however, I'm a huge fan, especially if it's cooked right. The breast was cooked to a perfect med rare as per the chef's recommendation. The leg was braised and was extremely tender with the meat falling right off the bone. I was very satisfied with this dish.


For dessert we went with the most popular item on the menu the old fashioned banana pudding with Nilla wafers ($10). The banana pudding was dense, creamy and complimented very well by the old American favorite, traditional Nilla wafers.

The service was a bit slow on this occasion but I have dined at Commerce several times and this was simply just an off night for them. Nonetheless, the servers are always very hospitable and not to mention, damn good looking!! The food is always consistent regardless of whose in the kitchen. Definitely squeeze Commerce into your dining out agenda!

Commerce Restaurant
50 Commerce Street NY NY 10014
212.524.2301
http://www.commercerestaurant.com/main.html#




Saturday, January 8, 2011

STK

This hotspot in the meatpacking district has sex appeal. It is very chic in decor taking on the look of a restaurant/lounge. This is an excellent spot to have a fun dinner with friends or a pre-cocktail before reaching your nights final destination. We were brought to our table and the server arrived immediately. I started off with one of their speciality cocktails from their well designed cocktail menu. I had the dirty pearls ($17) a martini made with ice cold belvedere vodka, olive juice and blue chesse stuffed olives, a triumph!
After our order was taken, this first step of our STK culinary experience had arriven at the table...the bread!

Oh this bread was just a mound of fluffy doughy heaven hot from the oven! Covered and stuffed with creamy melted blue cheese, I just could not stop eating it (even though it was a bit of blue cheese overkill alongside my dirty pearl martini). Then for our first course,

The avocado citrus salad ($15), although seemed simple and unimpressive in description on the menu, ended up being something very special in person. The sweet and sour zing of the fresh sliced pink grapefruit combined with the creaminess of the avocado and watercress really just exploded in my mouth getting those salivary glands going! It was the perfect start to prepare us for our next course...
In honor of steakhouse etiquette, we decided to go with dishes that were, clean, simple and straight forward. I had the maine lobster ($42) served with sweet drawn butter, baked lemons and sprigs of laurel. The lobster was cleaned and separated so that the meat could be pulled from the shell with ease. My dinner guest went with the small filet mignon ($24) a 6 0z. cut that was so tender it did not require a steak knife to cut into it. It was juicy and cooked to a perfect med-rare, raw in the center but warm. It was excellent! We had the asparagus ($9) and creamy yukon potatoes ($9) as our a la carte sides. Again simple, straight forward and delicious!!



The service was excellent and on point. Our waiter was accommodating and gracious. I highly recommend STK!!

STK
(646) 624-2444
26 Little W12th Street NY NY 10014
http://www.stkhouse.com/