Brunch at Maialino in NYC, New York

image of Maialino in NYC, New York

I had Maialino on my list of restaurants to visit for a while, the restaurant being suggested by one of my colleagues Dan. We decided to move it up the list when we saw their olive oil cake and chocolate croissant bread pudding on the show Unique Sweets. We chose to go to brunch, on a Saturday. The restaurant, located in the Grammercy Park Hotel is beautiful. 
image of Maialino in NYC, New York

It has three distinctive areas: the bar area with a few tables and communal tables, the cafe where you can order your espresso and some viennoiseries and then the dining room that had a very warm feel, casual but elegant at the same time. In the back, a wall full of Italian wines:
image of bottles of wine at Maialino in NYC, New York

Because Maialino is an Italian restaurant, another creation from Danny Meyer who already spoiled us with Gramercy Tavern,  Eleven Madison Park and Shake Shack. 
image of dining room at Maialino in NYC, New York

Opened in 2009, this modern trattoria proposes Roman dishes. Maialino means piggy in Italian, so no wonder why this animal is drawn on the menu as well as well represented in the dining menu crafted by Executive Chef Nick Anderer. 
image of table at Maialino in NYC, New York image of table at Maialino in NYC, New York

image of table at Maialino in NYC, New York image of table at Maialino in NYC, New York
image of sugar at Maialino in NYC, New York image of salt at Maialino in NYC, New York

We had very good service there and the waitress asked us first if we wanted to start with a beverage, mentioning that they have a nice "coffee program". Being a coffee drinker, I got interested and ended up ordering a cortado that is between a cappuccino and a macchiato.
image of cortado coffee at Maialino in NYC, New York

Not only did it look beautifully done with a leaf drawn in the cream, but it was also very good.

image of cortado coffee at Maialino in NYC, New York

We decided to start our brunch with Suppli al Telefono, some tomato risotto and mozzarella croquettes:
image of risotto croquettes at Maialino in NYC, New York

The croquettes were dense with a slight crunch and lots of mozzarella cheese in the middle.
image of risotto croquettes at Maialino in NYC, New York

I could have eaten them with or without the tomato sauce served with it.

Then, Jodi ordered the Frittata Bianca:
image of frittata bianca at Maialino in NYC, New York

At first, it found it deliciously herbaceous, but unfortunately, some parts of the frittata had too much herbs to the point that it completely overpowered the whole dish.

On my side, I ordered the Contadino:
image of contadino at Maialino in NYC, New York

These are poached eggs served with herb roasted fingerling potatoes and caramelized onions.
image of contadino at Maialino in NYC, New York

The dish looked fantastic and I understood fairly quickly why they brought me a spoon to eat it: the eggs were very soft and the yolks runny, playing the role of some kind of sauce when eaten with the delicious potatoes that were served skin on, adding some texture to the dish. This was so good that I wished there were more, despite the fact that there was not enough caramelized onions! This is a fantastic brunch dish that I definitely recommend.
image of contadino at Maialino in NYC, New York

Then came the moment of dessert! Yes, we went for that and were ready to eat that bread pudding!
image of torta di olio d'oliva at Maialino in NYC, New York

Unfortunately, they only serve it for dinner. Bummer! But don't worry, we found some replacements...First was the olive oil cake called Torta di Olio d’Oliva that we wanted anyway to try:
image of torta di olio d'oliva at Maialino in NYC, New York

It was served with a cream made of vanilla beans and mascarpone. I admit that I did not really care about the cream: just having the cake was sufficient. You do not taste the olive oil, but it gives a nice constancy to the cake, probably replacing some, if not all, of the butter. Needless to say that we finished it.

We also shared a toffee glazed brioche bun:
image of toffee glazed brioche bun at Maialino in NYC, New York

It was small, too small unfortunately, because also very good!
image of toffee glazed brioche bun at Maialino in NYC, New York

The brioche was probably cooked on a bed of sugar that had a nice caramelization on the bottom and sides, and the toffee was sublime. I truly appreciated that it was not too sweet.

I really liked my meal at Maialino and it is definitely on my list of places to go for brunch. I will probably go back to try their dinner, but it will not just be for their bread pudding: their menu looks fantastic!

Enjoy (I did)!

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Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
Maialino
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Gramercy / Italian
* Street Address
2 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10010
* Phone
(212) 777-2410

Revisit: Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York

image of Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York

Republic is one these little gem that Union Square has to offer: great food and reasonable prices. We go from time to time and have never been disappointed. We ended up there again. I admit that I forgot how loud this place is...and the fact that the seating is communal means that you will probably hear whatever people around you are talking about...
image of Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York
What I love about the decor is all these beautiful black and white photos where noodles will be present (their motto is "Think noodles"), with people most of the time. And, as it was close to Christmas, they saddled them with Santa's hat.
image of Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York

I love the diversity of their menu, that spawns from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and China, sourcing quality ingredients. What I like is that they offer small dishes, perfect for sharing, as well as large ones if you want to go solo.

We started off with our favorite appetizer: sautéed mini dumplings.

image of sautéed mini dumplings at Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York

Made with minced pork, they are small; but they serve plenty of them, mixing them with cabbage, ginger, cilantro, scallions, and dressed with an oyster sauce. 

Then, Jodi ordered the curry vegetable noodle soup:
image of curry vegetable noodle soup at Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York

This sole choice of soup for vegetarians was composed of rice noodles,  coconut milk, tofu, snow peas, carrots, fried shallots, cabbage and broccoli. 

On my side, I ordered the curry chicken noodle soup.
image of curry chicken noodle soup at Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York

It was composed of rice vermicelli, shredded chicken, curry, coconut milk, bean sprouts and cilantro.

The soups were overall good and tasty, my favorite being the chicken one. Definitely, picking a broth with coconut milk is rarely disappointing, the milk adding some smoothness to it. However, I prefer when the noodles are thicker as they have more texture. But overall, it was good. 

So I can tell you that it was not the last time at Republic! And if you go there, do not miss the dumplings!

Enjoy (I did)!

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Petit Déjeuner at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

image of Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

If you recall, few weeks ago, I posted about a chocolate tour in New York City. Well, the tour started at 12pm and we decided to have breakfast in the city earlier that day. Our place of choice was Le Pain Quotidien, one of our favorite places. Don't be fooled: Le Pain Quotidien is not French but Belgian! This franchise is present all over the city and they have fantastic breads and viennoiseries such as croissants or pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant).
image of Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York
I love this place also because it has this rustic feel with all this wood and the communal table in the center of the room.

Jodi simply ordered a pain au chocolat:
image of pain au chocolat at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

I admit that the pain au chocolat at Le Pain Quotidien is one of my favorites in the city: flakey and buttery, it has a bit of crunch on the outside that is divine.

She had it with tea:
image of tea pot at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

On my side, I ordered the petit déjeuner: choice of croissant or pain au chocolat with an assortment of organic breads, juice and a regular hot beverage.
image of coffee pot and orange juice at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

I decided to order a pain au chocolat, an orange juice and some coffee.
image of breads and pain au chocolat at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

The bread that day was 5 grains (flax seeds, rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds with raisins for some added sweetness), wheat and baguette.

Besides butter, they brought speculoos, that is a spread made from a cookie (Belgian in that case).
image of speculoos at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

It looks like peanut butter, but definitely tastes like cookie which is not really something I like to taste on a piece of bread...
image of bread with speculoos at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

In France, speculoos is extremely popular and people even eat it in crêpes! 

They also brought some red berries jam:
image of red berries jam at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

It was fantastic with the 5 grain bread that was definitely my favorite or with the wheat bread.
image of wheat bread with red berries jam at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

But I admit that the 5 grain bread with simply butter was perfect.
image of 5 grains bread with butter at Le Pain Quotidien in NYC, New York

This was a good breakfast: good price and great bread. Le Pain Quotidien is definitely an address I keep whenever I want to have a nice breakfast or just a pain au chocolat...

Enjoy (I did)!

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BBQ at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

image of Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

We finally made it to Blue Smoke, that I tried last June at the Annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party in New York! They have two places: the original on 27th that we visited and another one in Battery Park city. 
image of Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

The place on 27th is huge with very high ceilings and an industrial feel, from the apparent air duct and the lightning.
image of Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

But, contrary to place like Dinosaur BBQ, my nose was not overwhelmed by the smell of BBQ when we entered! 

They sat us in a booth and we were ready for a feast! At least, I was...

We started of with deviled eggs. They sell them by the half.
image of deviled eggs at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

They were delicious, with a nice amount of mayonnaise and we could definitely taste some spices.

image of deviled eggs at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

Then, we tried the corn bread:

image of corn bread at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

I love corn bread with a BBQ meal and this one tasted fresh, was not too firm and delicious.

Then we tried the Mac & Cheese:
image of Mac and cheese at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

It was a nice presentation in a small rectangular cast iron dish. The top was a bit burnt, but no crunch. However, it was extremely creamy and I truly appreciated that they did not add any seasoning that would have overpowered the delicious taste of the cheese.
image of Mac and cheese at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

Jodi ordered the Caesar salad with pecorino cheese and croutons.
image of caesar salad at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

It was a bit too salty...

On my side, I went for the ribs sampler, my bucket ready for the bones!
image of bucket at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York


The sampler was composed of (from bottom to top):
  • Kansas City spareribs.
  • Memphis baby back ribs.
  • Texas ribs.
image of rib sampler at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

The ribs were good, with the meat falling off the bone. My favorite was the Texas rib that was more flavorful with a bolder taste. Of course, I tried some of the sauces that were on the table...
image of sauces at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

But did not tried their spiced salt:
image of salt at Blue Smoke in NYC, New York

At the end of the meal, we were too full to get dessert. Too bad, because I saw that they serve a banana cream pie and they even have a dessert sampler that is one of those things that more restaurants should do! The food was good, but a bit overpriced. For instance, the rib sampler was $20 and did not include any side! If you are in the area and want to eat BBQ, then go to Blue Smoke. Otherwise, Southern Hospitality remains my favorite

Enjoy (I did)!

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Dinner at Craftbar in NYC, New York


image of Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

After a delicious brunch few weeks ago at Craftbar, one of the restaurants from Chef Colicchio, we decided to go back for dinner with our friends Annie and Leif. Of course, before going, we did our homework: check the menu. I admit that I was a bit disappointed because they do not serve their burger for dinner...Well, it will give me an excuse to go back...

We went on a Tuesday and the place was crowded! I liked the atmosphere there, rendered by the impressive decor and all the candle lights. 
image of Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

The menu is seasonal and apparently, the vegetables are coming from the green market, located few steps from the restaurant. What I like is that they propose small plates and large plates, the small ones perfect for sharing, with the possibility to make them the size of an entree. 

While we waited for the food, they served us some cheese sticks that were a bit spicy. 
image of cheese sticks at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York


Then the food came and I was thrilled to try one small dish that Leif shared with me: duck hearts and dumplings!
image of duck hearts and dumplings at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

I never tried duck hearts; veal, chicken, yes. But not duck. And it looked like...a heart! 

image of duck hearts and dumplings at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

It was served with small onions, bacon and a fried egg. Before trying the dumpling, I tried the duck heart. It was interesting and not what I imagined. The heart was so juicy that when I bit on it, the juice got released in my mouth leaving a sensation characteristic of a horror movie...Ok, I exaggerate a bit, but it felt weird! Then, the taste was not as robust as duck meat can be. The outside was also chewy. I liked it, but not as much as chicken or veal heart.
The dumpling was a bit dry and heavy; it was better eaten with the egg yolk. In fact, I am not sure what all these components were doing on the same plate.

Jodi got the Green Market vegetable salad, served with sheep's milk ricotta and a truffle vinaigrette.
image of green market salad at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

When the dish came, you could definitely smell the truffle in the vinaigrette and I truly appreciated that it was not overpowering, although being present enough to give another dimension to the dish.

On my side, I got the fried chicken!
image of fried chicken at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

The presentation was nice and appetizing and there was for sure lots of chicken. The coating was made with buttermilk: it was thick and crispy, not greasy, and the chicken was very good, perfectly cooked and moist. I definitely liked it! However, the sides it came with were not as good:
  • The Anson Mills white grits were a bit bland. I wish they would have served it with cheese or butter.
  • The BBQ Heirloom beans had a nice texture, not being fully cooked and being a bit crunchy, but the BBQ sauce was really too sweet.
  • The braised escarole was a bit bitter.
We also shared some green beans with cocoa nib butter and mint:
image of green beans at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

Based on the description of the dish, I would have thought that it would taste different from regular green beans...It did not...

Last was desserts! Jodi went for the ice cream sandwich:
image of ice cream sandwich at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

It was made of a delicious buttery blondie cookie and a tasty peach ice cream that had small bits of peach in it. A perfect Summer dessert!

On my side, I ordered the praline chocolate cake:
image of praline chocolate cake at Tom Colicchio Craftbar in NYC, New York

It was served with a vanilla ice cream and candied pecan for some crunch. The cake was light with a nice layering of the chocolate and the praline. I truly appreciated that it was not too sweet!

I have mixed feelings about the dinner at Craftbar: the menu is definitely original, but not as good as the brunch and a bit pricey. The service that night was not that good and it took a while to get our desserts, to the point that I thought they forgot to place our order. 

Enjoy (...)!

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Republic in Union Square, NYC, New York


One of my favorite reasonably priced fast serving restaurant in Union Square is Republic. I went few times and have never been disappointed! 
The pluses besides the prices?
- they have a nice selection of small plates that are perfect for sharing. 
- several menu items are vegetarian. 
- fast service. 

The minuses:
- the noise level, especially the music. 

The decor is very simple with amazing photos featuring noodles (they have several dishes made with it). There are only communal tables, but they usually sit you on your own table, except if it is too crowded. 

So we decided to order small dishes. 

We first shared the sauteed mini dumplings. 

It was the first time we ordered this and I was surprised because I was expecting a plate similar to what I eat in a Chinese restaurant ! It was served like a salad, with cabbage, ginger, cilantro and scallions. The sauce was oyster sauce. The dumplings, made with minced pork, were light and softer than I expected. I guess the salad made it look like an healthy dish! Great dish in fact!

Then Jodi ordered the vegetarian salad.

It was of course with some fried tofu (not greasy), cabbage, carrots, broccoli...Lots of veggies for sure with a delicious ginger dressing. Light and fresh!

I ordered the fried calamari. 

For sure, I was not expecting the Italian version if the dish! It was an Asian rendition that was quite successful! It was lightly breaded calamari dipped in a spicy mayo, topped with sesame seeds. 

I also ordered the Vietnamese Chicken Salad:

It was made of shredded chicken, napa cabbage, carrots, shallots, asian basil, with a ginger dressing. There was quite a lot of chicken considering it was a small dish. It was very refreshing and light.

This was again a great dinner and perfect as we were heading to a concert at Irving Plaza! Definitely a good spot for a quick, affordable and delicious food!

Republic
37 Union Sq W
New York, NY 10003

Enjoy (I did)!

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Brunch at Craftbar in NYC, New York

image of Tom Colicchio's Craftbar in NYC, New York

I have become a fan of Tom Colicchio: not for his personality on TV, but his food! We tried Colicchio and Sons and the famous TC Burger that is for me the best burger so far in New York City. So, last time, we were close to Union Square, trying to find a place for brunch and decided to try Craftbar as it was on my wish list of restaurants (trust me: it is a very long list). The place is gorgeous: high ceilings, dark wood with a gateway across the restaurant joining the wine cellar that you cannot miss.
image of Tom Colicchio's Craftbar in NYC, New York

Similar to Colicchio and Sons, although a bit industrial looking, there is this sense of space, modernity and warmth. 
image of Tom Colicchio's Craftbar in NYC, New York

For brunch, the menu offers pretty standard brunch dishes, but just reading their description, you know that it is different and you wish you could order everything! After a difficult time to make up our mind, we ordered our food. Jodi ordered the croque Madame:
Image of Croque madame at Tom Colicchio's Craftbar in NYC, New York

Croque Madame is a croque Monsieur with a fried egg. It was served with mustard and pickles.
image of pickles for Croque madame at Tom Colicchio's Craftbar in NYC, New York

What definitely made this dish successful is the sauce Mornay that is the Béchamel sauce with additional shredded or grated cheese. This was fantastic and very filling. 

On my side, I ordered the braised mushrooms and poached eggs:
Image of braised mushrooms and poached eggs at Tom Colicchio's Craftbar in NYC, New York

Even if I preferred the croque Madame, I liked that dish: the eggs were perfectly poached (I hate when the yolk is overcooked), there was a lot of fontina cheese and lots of mushrooms that gave an earthy dimension to the dish and contributed to the balance of flavors.

This was definitely a great brunch and I look forward to going back to try their Craftbar “Double Stack” Burger!!!

Enjoy (I did)!

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