Tag Archives: Upper West Side

Upper West Side Brunch

I recently had brunch at two very nice spots on the Upper West Side, an area of the city where I usually do not spend much time.

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One is Machiavelli on Columbus & 85th.  A gorgeous restaurant with lush decor, the menu is decidedly Italian, including brunch with dishes like polenta with parmesan and truffle oil, nutella crepes, and lemon and ricotta pancakes.  I had the frittata salsiccia with Italian sausage, goat cheese, spinach and tomato.  It was wonderful.

Another spot is Ella Kitchen & Bar on Columbus & 72nd.  Here, the brunch consists of appetizing Latin & Mediterranean variations of classic dishes like baked eggs with Argentine sausage; eggs Benedict with grass-fed skirt steak and sauteed spinach; or avocado toast with edamame, black sesame seed, scallions, radishes, and hard-boiled egg.  I got the classic baked eggs with heavy cream and parmesan.

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New Taste of the Upper West Side June 3-4

The 9th annual New Taste of the Upper West Side, a two-night celebration of the restaurants and chefs of the Upper West Side, is scheduled for June 3-4, 2016.  This is an event you don’t want to miss and one of my favorite food events in the city. (I’ve written about New Taste of the Upper West Side before.) This year, event hosts include Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America and author of “Own Your Kitchen,” Alex Guarnaschelli, chef/owner of Butter, judge on Food Network’s Chopped, mentor on Food Network’s All-Star Academy & author of “Old-School Comfort Food,”  and Sara Gore of NBC’s New York Live and Open House.

Each night, over 45 area restaurants will be participating, some new and some returning, including Momofuku Milk Bar, Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Sarabeth’s, The Meatball Shop, Parm, RedFarm, Luke’s Lobster, Shake Shack, Rosa Mexicano, Tavern on the Green, and The Ribbon. Participating chefs include Sarabeth Levine, Christina Tosi, Jacques Torres, Cesare Casella, Rich Torrisi and Bruce & Eric Bromberg.

Events include:

Friday, June 3rd at 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM                                             Summer in the City: Surf & Turf
Presented by Glenwood

Enjoy surf, turf and other summer favorites from 45 area restaurants in a chic beach setting.  Try the offerings of the yet-to-be named restaurant debut from two-time Michelin-star chef April Bloomfield with partner Ken Friedman (Spotted Pig, The Breslin); and Maison Pickle, the newest restaurant from the Jacob’s Pickles team. Other newcomers include Jin RamenHan Dynasty and Playa Betty’s, along with past participants, such as Momofuku Milk Bar, The Meatball ShopJacob’s PicklesShake Shack and AG Kitchen.

Where:  Under a grand tent on Columbus Ave between West 76th and 77th Streets in the O’Shea Complex Schoolyard                                                              Cost: $105 per person or 2 for $185

Saturday, June 4th at 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM                                              BEST OF THE WEST

Best of the West is an event celebrating the Upper West Side’s most famous and celebrated restaurants and chefs. There will be wonderful cuisine, world-class wines and cocktails, and music by Joe Battaglia & The New York Big Band. Neighborhood newcomers include Crave FishbarOlma Caviar Boutique & LoungeOrwasher’s Bakery and Amorino Gelato along with returning favorites including RedFarmBoulud SudDovetailJacques Torres and Rosa Mexicano.

Where:  Under a grand tent on Columbus Ave between West 76th and 77th Streets in the O’Shea Complex Schoolyard                                                             Cost: $135 per person or 2 for $250

Saturday, June 4th at 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Best of the West VIP Presented by 21 West End

Best of the West also offers a VIP experience, Best of the West VIP, with exclusive access to a private lounge and bar and Caviar Lounge by Olma Caviar. VIP guests receive a gift bag of goodies from Upper West Side sponsors. VIP admission starts an hour earlier than the event, so you have early access to the 45 chefs and their sample offerings.

Cost: $225 per person

This year’s sponsors include 21 West End, Argo, Glenwood, DNA Info, New York Post, West Side Spirit, Barritt’s Ginger Beer, Brusco Group, Rosa Mexicano, Cargill, Rishi Tea and Boston Beer Company.

The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District (“BID”), a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, created the annual event and donates all net proceeds to the area for improvement and beautification projects, such as the Columbus Avenue BID’s Sustainable Streetscape project, the Wellness in the Schools program, Greenhouse Classroom, Citymeals-on-Wheels and Theodore Roosevelt Park.

Recap of Best of the West 2015

The Smith, gnocchi, white truffle

Toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle cream from The Smith

Last weekend, I attended Best of the West, the third and final night of New Taste of the Upper West Side, the annual food event celebrating the chefs and restaurants of the Upper West Side.  It was a beautiful evening–though not clear enough for Manhattanhenge, but perfect for the festivities going on under the tent as the sun set and the stars twinkled above the upper Manhattan sky.

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This year’s event featured 44 restaurants and many wineries and breweries, serving up tastes of their best dishes and drinks.

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I wish I could’ve tried all of the options, but I did my best to eat my way around the entire tent.

The food is definitely the highlight of the evening, and I was happy to try the offerings.

Bromberg, The Ribbon

Chopped liver on rye crackers from The Ribbon

 

RedFarm

Chicken & watercress dumplings from RedFarm

 

Ed's Chowder House

Skuna Bay salmon sliders with pickled pepper relish & aioli on a Martins potato bun from Ed’s Chowder House

 

Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria, stracciatella

House-made stracciatella served over fettunta with a spring rhubarb compote and fresh mint from Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria

 

Sysco Metro NY

Chilled shrimp over farro salad from Sysco Metro NY

 

Cesare Casella

Cesare Casella salami station

My vegetarian friend was also happy, as there were a lot of options for vegetarians.  In fact, some of my favorite dishes of the evening were vegetarian ones.  The chipotle grilled seitan with corn salsa and avocado mousse from Candle Cafe West was a delicious favorite.

Candle Cafe West, seitan

Chipotle grilled seitan with corn salsa and avocado mousse from Candle Cafe West

The barbecued turnips, avocado, pumpkin seeds from Dovetail was delicious as well.  Our vegetarian favorite was the toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle cream from The Smith (and yes, we did have seconds!).

For the sweet tooth, there were a number of options–from classics like brookies at Alice’s Tea Cup and  banana pudding

banana pudding, Magnolia Bakery

Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery

and whoopie pies at Magnolia Bakery to beautiful pastry creations like Driscoll strawberry parfait verrine from Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres

Strawberry parfait verrine from Jacques Torres

and strawberry tiramisu from Jean-Georges.

Jean-Georges

Strawberry tiramisu from Jean-Georges

The dessert standout was the salted caramel macaron spiked with Remy Martin Cognac 1738 from Mille-Feuille Bakery.  Oh, boy, did this have a kick!

Mille-Feuille Bakery, Remy Martin, macaron

Salted caramel & Remy Martin Cognac 1738 macaron from Mille-Feuille Bakery

Best of the West offers a VIP option where doors open an hour earlier, as well as offering other perks like a gift bag of goodies and a private lounge area.  I like the VIP option because it is less crowded and there are no lines to wait to try the food.  Also, the VIP hour gives you a better opportunity to meet your favorite chefs for a photo and chat.

Lauren Scala, WNBC “Today in New York” host was MC and hosts included Anne Burrell, chef and host of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America”

Anne Burrell

Anne Burrell in the VIP lounge

and Marc Murphy, chef and host of Food Network’s “Chopped.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the entertainment.  As you walked through the tent, you were greeted by glamorous beauties on stilts

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and a corde lisse artist a la Cirque du Soleil.

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A DJ spinning great house, dance and techno music divided the night with Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band for a night of Dina music heaven.  Some folks danced, especially as the night wore on.  And of course, the night ended–too soon–with the band’s rendition of New York, New York.

The 8th Annual New Taste of the Upper West Side This May

This May, get ready for the 8th annual New Taste of the Upper West Side, a three-night celebration of the restaurants and chefs of the Upper West Side, and one of my favorite food events in the city.  (I’ve written about New Taste of the Upper West Side before.)  This year, food celebrities NBC’s Adam Richman, host of Food Fighters, Food Network’s Anne Burrell, host of Worst Cooks of America, and Marc Murphy, owner and executive chef of Benchmarc Restaurants (Landmarc and Ditch Plains), executive chef of Kingside and judge of Food Network’s Chopped, will be hosting.  Over 80 area restaurants will be participating, some new and some returning, including Momofuku Milk BarBar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Sarabeth’s, The Meatball Shop, ParmRedFarm, Luke’s Lobster, Shake ShackRosa MexicanoTavern on the Green, and The Ribbon.  Participating chefs include Sarabeth Levine, Christina Tosi, Jacques Torres, Cesare Casella, Rich Torrisi and Bruce & Eric Bromberg.

Events include

1.  Soirée in the Park is an outdoor cocktail party with live chamber music, champagne and hors d’oeuvres from a number of restaurants like Sarabeth’s and Luke’s Lobster.  The event is a fundraiser for Theodore Roosevelt Park, surrounding the American Museum of Natural History, and all net proceeds are donated for park enhancements.

Where: Theodore Roosevelt Park

When: Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 at 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM  (Rain Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2015 at 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM)

Cost: $150 per person

2.  Comfort Classics presented by Sysco.  Forty UWS restaurants compete for “Best Comfort Food Dish.”  NBC’s Adam Richman, host of Food Fighters and author of  Straight Up Tasty (released May 2015) is host. Food Network’s  Katie Lee will be autographing a limited number of copies of her new book, Endless Summer CookbookChristina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar will be there along with Shake Shack, Sarabeth’s, The Meatball Shop and an impressive list of area restaurants. There will be international wine selections, cocktails and live music by the Silver Arrow Band. 

Where: Columbus Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets

When: Friday, May 29th, 2015 at 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Cost: $105 per person or 2 for $185

3.  Best of the West is an event celebrating the Upper West Side’s most famous and celebrated restaurants and chefs.  There will be wonderful cuisine, world-class wines and cocktails, and music by Joe Battaglia & The New York Big Band.  Hosts are Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, and Marc Murphy, judge of Food Network’s Chopped.  Over 40 area restaurants will be participating.

Where: Columbus Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets

When: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 at 7:30 PM – 10 PM

Cost: $135 per person or 2 for $250

Best of the West also offers a VIP experience, Best of the West VIP, with exclusive access to a private lounge to enjoy unlimited champagne. VIP guests receive a gift bag of goodies from Upper West Side shops and sponsors, and participate in private book signings with complimentary cookbooks from Anne Burrell and Marc Murphy.  VIP admission starts an hour earlier than the event, so you can mingle with star chefs.

Best of the West VIP

Where: Columbus Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets

When: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 at 6:30 PM – 10 PM

Cost: $225 per person

This year’s event sponsors include Ford, New York Post, Palm Bay International, Sysco Foods, Manhattan Beer, Argo Real Estate, Brusco Group, Celebrity Cruises, Diamond Kosher Salt, Rosa Mexicano, The Westsider, The Spirit, Alan Garten & Friends, Barritt’s Ginger Beer, Beacon, Belvedere Capital, doNYC, Five Star Catering, Flowers on the Park, Jana Water, Polar Beverages, Richard Bloch Architect, Tito’s Vodka, West Side Rag and White Plains Linen.

The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District (“BID”), a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, created the annual event and donates all net proceeds to the area for improvement and beautification projects, such as the Columbus Avenue BID’s Sustainable Streetscape project, the Wellness in the Schools program, Greenhouse Classroom, Citymeals-on-Wheels and Theodore Roosevelt Park.

Dinner: Makana

Makana brings Hawaiian and Japanese barbecue to the Upper West Side with its new location.  I recently drove by this area, and when I saw the name and the sign, I knew I had to try it.  I didn’t realize it was a small, mostly-takeout spot, though, so there aren’t many seats here.  But my friend and I got the cozy table by the window and shared some delicious food.  I got the Kalua pork, smoked slowly roasted for hours with cabbage.  The plates come with macaroni salad, white rice and garden salad.  I didn’t understand why it was served with rice when it had macaroni salad.  I don’t usually double up on my carbs, so I didn’t eat the rice.  But I really enjoyed the pork and the macaroni salad.  Really yummy!

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I couldn’t resist getting the Spam avocado roll, even though I don’t eat Spam, and it was good too.  My friend got a spider roll.

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My friend also got one of the noodle soups, and he loved it.

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Sweets Week: Day 4: Sugar and Plumm

Sugar and Plumm on the Upper West Side is one of those places that appeals to the kid in all of us.  It’s part retail candy store, part café, part patisserie but all fun.  There are a number of specialty crepes, milkshakes, sundaes and cakes, but on my visit, I opted to try a little of all of them.  I ordered the earthquake in a fishbowl.  Earthquake in a fishbowl is a sharable dessert that could also be called kitchen sink because it has everything in it–chocolate caramel cake; key lime pie; Brooklyn blackout cake; New York cheesecake; butterscotch pudding; vanilla, chocolate and dulce de leche ice cream and whipped cream.  I’m not sure the bowl is really a fishbowl, as it has a lid on it, but it looks like a large bowl used to store candy in a traditional candy store.

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My favorite parts of the fishbowl were the cheesecake, the butterscotch pudding, and the key lime, but everything tasted good.  This dessert was fun and delish.  It’s great for kids, a family, or a romantic date.

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Sweets Week: Day 2: Treat House

The owners of Treat House on the Upper West Side are probably hoping that rice krispie treats are the new cupcake.  While rice krispie treats also bring us back to childhood memories, I’m not sure they have the mass appeal of cupcakes.  However, the rice krispie treats at Treat House do give cupcakes a run for their money.  On my visit, I got four treats, caramel sea salt, chocolate raspberry, s’mores and a seasonal maple pecan.  The former two were almost sold out, and they were fresh and delicious.  There were plenty left of the latter two, and they were a bit on the stale side.  However, the caramel sea salt and chocolate raspberry are delicious and add depth to a rice krispie treat, which is something I didn’t think could be perfected upon.  My preference is the chocolate raspberry.

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