Tag Archives: New York

Dinner: Delmonico’s

delmonicos

I have wanted to dine at Delmonico’s for a very long time, and I can’t believe it took me this long!  It is such a huge part of New York history and also culinary history, as it set restaurant standards and created time-tested dishes.

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The original Delmonico’s opened in 1827 and had many locations and different owners since then.  It also involves a bit of trademark law.  The Delmonico family tried to keep rights in their last name, but a court ruled that when their last restaurant closed in 1923, the name went into the public domain.  So there were other owners who opened restaurants with the name Delmonico’s.  While the current restaurant isn’t in the lineage of the original restaurant, it serves the dishes Delmonico’s is famous for.

delmonicos table

Delmonico’s is historically famous for its grandiose dinners like those for Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.  It is also famous for being the first restaurant to let diners order a la carte.  It originated some dishes that have become classics like the Delmonico steak, Delmonico potatoes, Lobster Newburg, baked Alaska, chicken a la king, eggs benedict and Manhattan clam chowder.

On the night of my visit, CNN was there with a camera crew filming about the history of the restaurant and its famous baked Alaska.

As it is white truffle season, there was a white truffle special on the menu–lobster risotto with white truffles.  The appetizer version was $45.  I decided to splurge since I can’t recall having eaten white truffles before.

white truffles

My friend ordered the bacon appetizer that came with octopus.  I tasted it too, and it was delicious.

delmonico bacon

For my entree, I was deciding between lobster Newburg and Delmonico steak, and I opted for the famous steak.  Boy, am I glad I did.  You can’t tell from this picture, but this steak was cooked to perfection, slightly crispy char on the outside and pink on the inside.

delmonico steak

The 40-day aged bone-in rib eye was even better, if that can be.  This was an exceptional steak.

delmonicos steak

For sides, we got creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes.  Both were very good.  In fact, I think the creamed spinach is my favorite of all the steakhouses I’ve been to in the city.

delmonicos creamed spinach

delmonicos mashed potatoes

Since I saw the baked Alaska being showcased for the CNN program,  I knew I had to try one.  Generally, I’m not a meringue person, but of course, I love ice cream.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the meringue wound up being my favorite part.  The meringue has this light crispiness to it

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but it’s soft and frothy on the inside.  I loved it.  I could eat that alone.  But with ice cream and a nice crust, it was the perfect dessert.

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Sweets Week: Day 1: Orwasher’s Bakery

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There’s a sweet bready smell in the air at Orwasher’s Bakery. It’s as inviting as the friendly service.  Yes, it’s true, I rarely make it up to Yorkville and the Upper East Side, but Orwasher’s alone is worth a trip.  Especially for a jelly doughnut fanatic such as myself.  Orwasher’s has large pillowy doughnuts that are filled to order with your choice of strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry, blueberry or other fillings.

sour cherry jelly doughnut

sour cherry jelly doughnut

Wow, I’ve never seen filled-to-order jelly doughnuts before.  And the fillings are like preserves, not the standard blood-red goo in most commercial jelly doughnuts.

strawberry jelly doughnut

strawberry jelly doughnut

The bread looks amazing here, and I opted for a the seasonal pumpkin loaf, which was out of this world good with a little butter and sprinkle of cinnamon.

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Dina’s Top 5 Seamless Delivery

New Yorkers are known for their takeout.  Seamless makes it seamless, and I’m a big fan.  On a given night, I have over 400 restaurants to choose from in my neighborhood.  At this point, I’ve memorized my choices, and I’ve read the ratings.  I have favorites that I order from repeatedly.  This is how spoiled I am with takeout:  I’d like to move to a new neighborhood just to have some new restaurants to choose from.

So my top 5 cuisines on Seamless are:  Japanese/sushi, healthy, ice cream/desserts, Italian and Turkish.  This isn’t surprising because in New York, takeout is something you eat more regularly, and I eat healthy on a regular basis.  So I order sushi and health foods.  I have a favorite sushi place to order from:  Ageha Sushi.  I also have favorite rolls at Kodama and Ocha.  Kodama has this roll called red-eye with salmon, red pepper and cream cheese that is great.  Ocha has the winter roll that’s all yummy veggies like snow peas and baby corn.  I like the clean food from Fuel, and I often get grilled chicken and a sweet potato.  My favorite place to order dessert is Crepe Cafe Joli.  I don’t know what the frozen treat is made of but it’s low-fat and low carb and it’s delish.  I’m into the pumpkin right now, but I also like marshmallow.  When I’m in the mood for a turkey burger with sweet potato fries (and sometimes a milkshake), I order from Lucky’s.

So here’s my top 5 Seamless delivery restaurants (in order of how often I ordered from them and a dish I like from them):

1.  Ageha Sushi (sweet potato roll)

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2.  Fuel (grilled chicken and sweet potato and juices)

3.  Crepe Café Joli (pumpkin and marshmallow frozen treat)

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4.  Lucky’s (turkey burger and sweet potato fries)

5.  Kodama Sushi/Holey Cream (red-eye roll/midnight cookies and cream ice cream)

Brunch: Café Lalo

I had always wanted to try Café Lalo, since it’s a popular Upper West Side café.  I love cafes, those calm, quaint places with large drink menus, cases of desserts and savory bites. The writer in me loves whiling away hours at a place like this, people watching, writing, discussing the world and living an amazing life.  At least that’s how I feel when I’m in a café.  Admittedly, I prefer downtown, so when I found myself uptown not too long ago, I decided it was time to try Café Lalo.  I’m glad I did and only wish it was closer to me.  For brunch, I got one of Café Lalo’s fresh organic steamed eggs; this one, with Bulgarian feta and avocado.  I’ve never had steamed eggs before and wasn’t sure what to expect. They are a lighter version of classic scrambled eggs and very pleasant.

eggs
Of course, one cannot visit Café Lalo without trying something from the case of sweet goodies.  I decided upon the honey lavender custard pie.  A lovely end to my meal, as it had a light hint of honey and lavender.  (In my opinion, lavender can be overdone, and I like it when it’s barely there.  I think Café Lalo’s honey lavender custard pie is a good example.)

honey pie

Eater’s Fall 2013 Cookbook Preview

Today is Eater’s Fall 2013 Cookbook Preview, a list of the cookbooks for Fall 2013, both domestic and international.  Some of interest to me include favorite topics of mine like classic New York restaurants/food and food Americana.  I also like Balaboosta, Robicelli’s, and I’ve been seeing a lot of John Besh on TV and liking his cooking and thought the combination of Southern and Italian cuisine was an interesting idea.

Balaboosta

By Einat Admony

Katz’s: Autobiography of a Delicatessen

By Jake Dell

The Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant Cookbook

By Sandy Ingber and Roy Finamore

Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes: With 50 Decidedly Grown-Up Recipes

By Allison Robicelli and Matt Robicelli

Collards & Carbonara: Southern Cooking, Italian Roots

By Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer

Cooking from the Heart: My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way

By John Besh

The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

By Nick Zukin and Michael Zusman

The Taste of America

By Colman Andrews

A Century of Restaurants: Stories and Recipes from 100 of America’s Most Historic and Successful Restaurants

By Rick Browne

Weekend Whets 7/19

Danish Day at Dassara, Sunday, July 21, 2013, 1 p.m. to close, 271 Smith Street, Brooklyn:  Celebrate Danish cuisine with frikadeller (meatballs) and Copenhagen street food pølser (sausages).

Belgian Restaurant Week, Sunday, July 21, 2013 through Sunday, July 28, 2013:  Celebrate Belgian cuisine with a trip to one of NYC’s Belgian restaurants.

New York City Restaurant Week 2013, Monday, July 22, 2013 to Friday, August 16, 2013:  Celebrate NYC restaurants with $25 lunch and $38 dinner menus.

‘Cue Up Summer Party, Thursday, July 25, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Elizabeth Street Garden, 209 Elizabeth Street, between Prince & Spring Streets, New York:   From Tasting Table, Delaney Barbecue’s beef brisket, sweet-and-smoky pork ribs, giant beef ribs and house-made pickles; bites from TABASCO® Buffalo Style Hot Sauce; Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery chocolate chip cookies, Melt Bakery ice cream sandwiches and Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls; unlimited cocktails from Hendrick’s Gin and Monkey Shoulder, Santa Margherita wines, and Goose Island beers; live bluegrass music by The Defibulators and summer yard games.  Tickets $75.

Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, Thursday, July 25, 2013 through Sunday, July 28, 2013, Atlantic City:  Food and wine event featuring Robert Irvine, Rocco Dispirito and The Neelys.  Tickets $40-$150 depending on event.

Two for Tuesday: Brooklyn Pizza

I finally made it out to Brooklyn to try Totonno’s in Coney Island and L&B Spumoni Gardens’ pizza in Bensonhurst.  Pizza is a controversial topic, I realize.  My grandmother talked about wood-fired pizza from Naples.  My mother grew up on coal-fired pizza.  As my family worked in the pizza business and owned a pizzeria, I’m pretty critical of pizza.  Among aficionados, Totonno’s has a history and is known as some of the best pizza.

Totonno's
On our visit, we didn’t have to wait on line.  There was one table available.  There are no frills here.  You sit; they bring you paper plates and plastic cups.  You have your choice of canned or bottled soda and water.  Service is rushed and not friendly.  Because of the demand and lack of space, you may have to share a table with other patrons, as we did.  We ordered the large plain cheese pie, which is a steep price at $19.50.

Totonno's pizza
The three elements of pizza are crust, sauce and cheese.  With a coal-fired oven, one would expect the blackened bottom and a certain flavor.  Sally’s Apizza in New Haven has the perfect coal-fired crust.  Totonno’s crust didn’t have that blackened bottom, and the dough was lackluster.  The tomato sauce was bland–just a tomato taste.  The cheese was also pretty flavorless.  I had really wanted to love this place because of its history, but I felt it was lacking in taste.  I really don’t think it’s worth a trip out to Coney Island just for this pizza.

L&B
L&B Spumoni Gardens is a subway stop and short walk away from Totonno’s.  Here, the specialty of the house are Sicilian-style pies.  For those who don’t know, Sicilian style pies are square pies that are more doughy.  My mom says that when she was young, Sicilian pies came with tomato and onion, but that is not how they are served today.  The pie at L&B is good, but where’s the cheese?  I understand the sauce is on top of the cheese, but I don’t think there’s enough cheese.  It’s unfortunate because the sauce is very good, slightly sweet and with oregano.  With more cheese, this would be one hell of a Sicilian pie.

L&B Spumoni Gardens pizza