Monday, January 27, 2014

Double Date Sushi Night: Poke, New York, NY

Sushi and a Movie is quickly becoming our standard date night.  And better than that is how we spent a recent Saturday night – Sushi and a Movie Double Date Night, in NYC, at a BYO restaurant. 
As our plan quickly came together, Vanessa suggested Poke on the Upper East Side.  JB and I had been there years ago and remembered it delicious, but tiny and almost drab.  As we briskly walked on East 85th street, we realized that restaurant had moved down the block since our last visit and the tiny establishment was four times the old space, lively and vibrant.  And the BYO policy still remained. 
The  best part about our double date, other than the company, of course, was that we could sample so many different dishes.  Many of them are definitely worth sampling for yourself.  Our meal included:

 - Yellowtail Tartar with Jalapenos – Thinly sliced and ample sized, we dove into the 6 pieces that were presented to us.
 - Tuna Pizza – OK, this was an impulse, and nothing like what we’ve had at other fine sushi establishments.  This tuna pizza actually had mozzarella on it.  And instead of a rice cracker, it was a scallion pancake.  Odd all around.
 - Pearl Roll – Deep fried oysters with cucumber and scallion – after ordering one, we had to get another.
  -  Dynamite Roll – Spicy yellowtail, avocado and tempura flakes.  Yum, Yum and Yum.
 - Sashimi Special – If this was the kind of place that had a sushi boat, then this platter would have   come on it.  16 pieces of fresh, amazing fish – Tuna, Toro, Yellowtail, Salmon, Mackerel…it went on and on.
- Gyoza – We were still a little hungry after eating so much fish, so we added on an order of these and they were meaty and filled us up (but not greasy overly fried so there was room left for popcorn)

We got a little greedy at the end, so I can’t remember them all.  But with the exception of the tuna pizza (and really a tuna pizza isn’t sushi anyway), this is one fine sushi restaurant.  Pair that with your own bottle of wine or two and it’s a great night.  Movie or not.

Until our next Berger,

Poke Restaurant
343 E. 85th Street
New York, NY

Berger Review/Chain Reaction: BurgerFi, New York, NY

Technically our visit to BurgerFi in NYC is both a Berger Review and a Chain Reaction.  Either way, it’s a great spot.  And I had no idea until after we dined there, that indeed it was a chain.  We care about burgers, that’s about it, and maybe some fries, too. 
These burgers are good.  You build your own when you order at the counter.  I went for it with a single burger, swiss cheese and hickory bacon and fresh lemonade.  The burgers come out with their name “BURGERFI” branded onto the bun.  Though not large, I was immediately satisfied with the fresh ingredients.   And might I mention, free refills on the lemonade. 
The family concurred.   JB ordered the BurgerFi Cheeseburger straight off the menu.  A double burger, with double American, lettuce, tomato and a the BurgerFi sauce.  He was hooked.  The boys and Nana polished off their plain patties, too.

Fries were a hit.  We had to place a second order.   Onion rings were, too – although one order was enough for us. 
They also have hot dogs, a full bar and frozen custard.  Sort of like a Shake Shack but with a few more options. 
BurgerFi’s “Secret Menu” offers  fries “Well Done” or “Limp”.  I’d pay money to see JB order some “Limp” fries.  Perhaps on our next visit.

Until our next Berger.

1571 2nd Avenue
New York, NY
Side Dish: BergerFi is rapidly expanding.  In addition to four restaurants in NY, they are in Texas, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey and soon to be more.  Check their website to see if there’s a location close to you. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Banh Mis Out East: Wednesday's Table, Southold, NY

I couldn't believe it either. Real Vietnamese food in Eastern Long Island? Our local rag, Dan's Papers, said it was true. JB and I longingly miss the days of Bo Luc Lac being delivered to our door in minutes, so within about 18 hours of me reading about it, we drove ourselves to Southold in search of some Hanoi heaven.

Now, Wednesday's Table is not a typical Vietnamese restaurant. The owners are of Vietnamese descent but they offer a variety of soups, salads and sandwiches, only one of which is a nod to their heritage. In addition to lunch, they also serve breakfast including egg sandwiches and some awesome-looking baked goods.  

We called ahead to the counter service establishment and placed our order. One Banh Mi with chicken (spicy), 1 chicken BLT, a burger, fries and onion rings. We arrived at a bright, cute establishment with a few tables and chairs inside and plenty of room for outdoor dining, too. 

Each dish was a winner.  The Banh Mi was just as we remembered them. Chicken with a spicy sauce, onions, cucumbers, radish, cilantro and mayo on a crusty hero.  This is definitely authentic.  The Chicken BLT was just as good with a lemony aioli slathered on the ciabatta.  We also indulged in a few of their bite size onion rings which were crispy, plentiful and extra delish with some of that banh mi spicy sauce.

And my boys, of course, enjoyed their burger and fries.  JB and I snagged their brioche bun.  What really impressed me was that each sandwich had its own fresh made bread.

Actually, everything impressed me.  I can't wait to return.

Until our next Berger,


Wednesday's Table
53345 Main Road
Southold, NY

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Japanese Hideaway: Shigure, New York, NY

JB wants to be Mr. Japanese, still.  He loves it all  - sushi (obviously), robata, ramen, teppanyaki, sake and, of course, izakaya - the japanese gastropub.   In fact, it appears that these traditional Japanese small plates restaurants are starting to grow in prominence in New York as noted in Time Out and in a New York Times article written about Shigure that JB ripped out, handed to me and asked "When are we going?"

A few months later on a dark street in Tribeca we found ourselves in front of an almost invisible door about to enter this den of deliciousness.  This place is so under the radar, we didn't need a reservation on a Saturday night.  We were warmly welcomed by the bartender come hostess who showed us to a small table close to the bar with a great view of the sake map on the wall.   For most of the meal, we were the only non-Japanese patrons in the place, an excellent sign of authenticity.

Being a brewpub, JB ordered a Japanese beer while I stuck to wine.  It was impossible deciding what to order.  In hindsight, we probably over ordered, but when in an izakaya.....

Each dish was a treat in itself.

Our highlights:

-  Renkon Kimpira: These were pan fried lotus roots with a shishito pepper - crunchy and spicy, almost good for you

- Shio-Koji Fried Chicken: JB's favorite Japanese style fried chicken, white and dark meat

- Sashimi Maguaro & Avocado: Think tuna sashimi over guacamole.  And then think amazing.

- Mini Zuke Maguro Don: More tuna, this time over rice.  Sort of like a step up from your usual Tekka Don.  JB wanted to move into to this dish.

- Fried Pork with a clean ponzu sauce (can't recall the Japanese name): I didn't want to like this one and then found myself taking piece after piece.

There were more plates than there was room on the table.  Another excellent sign.

This is the kind of place you want to tell everyone about and then no one, it could be our own private restaurant.  Our secret lair.  But it wouldn't be fair if I didn't share.

Next time we're trying the sake menu, and of course, more small plates.

Until our next Burger,

277 Church Street
New York, NY