Tag Archive | Food

Champagne Brunch Returns to Beauty & Essex!

Champagne
“Cheers!” (Above and All Interior Photos By Gail, Food Photos By Anne Raso)

Here at The Worley Gig, we like to have nice things – because you only live once, as the kids are fond of saying. If you, too, enjoy the finer things in life, and are also a fan of the Boozy Brunch, let me tell you about what I believe to easily be the Best Brunch in Manhattan, and that is the newly re-launched Champagne Brunch at Beauty & Essex. A week has passed since our visit and we just cannot shut up about the delicious food and great service we experienced at this elegant and hip hot spot lighting up the Lower East side.

Beauty & Essex Chandelier

Beauty & Essex is a place to go when you want to feel like a Superstar. Separated from the street by a cool storefront Pawn Shop, the restaurant’s interior is simply stunning, with antique accents and amazing light fixtures including a dazzling crystal chandelier that extends from the ceiling all the way to the first floor.

Interior Bar Shot

Although a full (and very extensive) brunch menu is available, we chose to go with the Chef’s Choice Prix Fixe Menu; a 4 course meal which offers you a generous taste of eight different dishes as well as two glasses of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne for the bargain price of just $45 per person. Let’s Eat!

(Note: Since dishes are served family style and portioned for the number of people in your party, keep in mind that the portions shown in these photos are meant to serve two people).

Ceiling Light Fixture Detail

Your “Brunch Party” – which is what we are calling it – starts out with your friendly server asking if you have any dietary restrictions or requests, as Beauty & Essex will happily modify any dishes to accommodate vegetarian or gluten free diets, or any food allergies where possible. And then, the food just starts coming out to your table – and what a sumptuous feast it is!

Red Velvet Waffles

The first course consists of Red Velvet Waffles with Cream Cheese Icing ($12 a la carte). These 4-inch diameter waffles arrived piping hot and freshly made from the waffle iron, crispy on the outside an tender/ fluffy on the inside. There is no need for butter or syrup as the cream cheese icing drizzle adds the perfect additional decadence.

Mini Chocolate Croissants

Miniature Dark Chocolate Croissants ($9 a la carte) — flakey and buttery pastry stuffed with rich dark chocolate — are also part of your sweet first course.

Kale and Apple Salad

Should you feel any pangs of guilt from your “Dessert for Breakfast” course, redemption in the form of a fresh chopped Kale & Apple Salad ($12 a la carte) arrives next as part of your second course. Dressed lightly in a tart Apple Cider Vinaigrette, tender Kale and Slivered Green Apple are tossed with Candied Pecans, Crispy Pancetta and Shaved Goat Cheese in this light and healthy dish. It is understood that kale is a food that often strikes fear in the heart of the foodie, but be assured that there is no trace of bitterness anywhere.

Tomato Soup With Cheese Dumplings

Because Soup and Salad go together, course two also includes Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon and Tomato Soup Dumplings ($16 a la carte). Despite being described as “Soup Dumplings,” what you are really getting are Gilled Cheese and Smoked Bacon Dumplings (think: Dim Sum) resting atop a puddle of roasted tomato soup. Semantics aside, this dish is delish!

Fried Chicken Biscuits

Oh my, are you full already? Well, better make some room in your tummy, because it’s time for course three, and you won’t want to miss a bite of what Beauty & Essex has in store. Check out these Fried Chicken Biscuit Bites ($14 a la carte): a crispy fried morsel of chicken breast on a buttery homemade biscuit, topped with crunchy, tangy Red Cabbage Slaw. A ramekin of Tabasco Honey Butter is also present for spreading meltily (made up word) onto the hot biscuit. So simple, yet so sublime.

Light Up Rings

At this point in the meal, our server made the rounds, bestowing a gift to all diners of these colorful, flashy light-up disco rings! Par-tay Brunch in the house! The only thing more exciting than these rings was the fact that there was still more delicious food to eat! See for yourself!

Huevos Rancheros

Look! It’s Braised Short Rib Huevos Rancheros: a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg is layered on top of tender short rib and black bean puree on a crisp corn tortilla, resting in a tomato ranchero sauce, and topped with Mexican Cotija Cheese. Ole!

Skillet Roasted Potatoes

Course three is rounded out with a huge serving of savory Skillet Roasted Potatoes with roasted peppers and herbed sea salt seasoning. Don’t explode yet, because dessert is coming.

Caramel Mousse Bombe

This gorgeous thing is called a Caramel Mousse Bombe, and it is just insane. Inside this spherical chocolate shell is a light and fluffy caramel mousse on a chewy caramel cookie base. It is hard not to completely devour the Bombe, even when you have just eaten all of the food on the planet.

As you can see by this visual culinary journey we have just taken together, the Beauty & Essex Chef’s Choice Prix Fixe Brunch is a lot of food for a ridiculously reasonable price. And even though the menu says it includes “Two Glasses” of champagne, our glasses were topped off regularly and I don’t think anyone was really keeping too close of an eye on it, if you get what I’m saying.

Beauty & Essex is located at 146 Essex Street (F train to Essex & Delancey), New York, NY 10002. Brunch is served on the second floor from 1 – 6 PM. Phone (212) 614-0146 for more information, visit Beauty and Essex Dot Com for Menus and Visit Open Table to make a reservation at This link.

Beauty & Essex Signage

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Celebrate National Potato Month with a Meal Deal from Potatopia!

National Potato Month Deal

Hey what’s up. Did you know that September is National Potato Month? Word.

To celebrate The Love of the Spud appropriately, let me tell you about an exciting offer from Potatopia, the all potato-concept restaurant, which I think you might be interested in. Because, Potatoes.

In honor of September being National Potato Month, customers can visit any of the three Potatopia locations in New York City, Staten Island or New Jersey throughout the month for $4 meals after 4:00PM. Meals for this deal include either a Build Your Own or Signature Meal. Both deals include a small fountain drink.

Potatopia Locations are listed below:
Edison, New Jersey: Menlo Park Mall
Manhattan: 378 6th Avenue – New York, NY
Staten Island, NY: The Staten Island Mall

You have just over 2 more weeks to take advantage of this offer, so head on out and get your Spud on at Potatopia!

Bacon Thing of the Day: Plate of Candied Bacon

Plate of Candied Bacon
Photo By Gail

Of course, everyone goes to New York Fashion Week events for the Fashion, but they also go for the food. Repoproom and Storefront outdid themselves with their champagne brunch that accompanied a showcase of brands like Ilana Kohn clothing, Marrin Costello jewelry and Souda design-focused furniture. The highlight of their very satisfying spread was the above pictured plate of Candied Bacon Strips, which I hovered over for several minutes. Mmm, finger lickin’ good!

Love Cafe & Bar: Russian Home Cooking Comes to Kips Bay!

Love Cafe Interior
Interior Photo Courtesy of Leigh Cort. All Food Photos by Anne Raso.

If you are a lover of Russian comfort food who thinks you have to hike it all the way out to Brighton Beach to taste Perogies and Chicken Kiev “like Grandma used to make,” then you will flip for Love Cafe and Bar, which recently opened in Manhattan’s up-and-coming Kips Bay neighborhood to astoundingly positive Yelp Reviews. And that says so much right there, because those Yelpers can be brutal.

Kips Bay has been a bit of a culinary wasteland, so we love to see any new restaurants opening along that strip of Second Avenue between 23rd and 34th Streets, but to have a great new Russian restaurant owned and operated by a lady like Margarita Abramov — a native of Odessa, Ukraine — who literally cooks recipes handed down to her by her grandmother, Sara, is especially thrilling, because Russian food is awesome. Abramov previously operated the popular and highly successful Sara’s Crepe Cafe in St. Augustine Florida for many years before moving to NYC and expanding her menu to include both sweet and savory favorites from her homeland.

Mango Ice Tea
Refreshing Homemade Mango Iced Tea is just one of the Tasty Beverages You’ll Find at Love Cafe and Bar

Love Cafe and Bar is an intimate, 18-seat establishment with bright red walls, charming decor, and a neighborhood feel, where you will be treated as if you are a valued member of the family. It’s this level of relaxed and friendly but attentive service which really sets Love Cafe and Bar apart from its peers. Here’s a peek at just a few dishes from their extensive menu which we sampled on a recent visit.

Olivier Potato Salad

The Olivier Vegetarian Salad ($8.95) is a take on potato salad containing carrots, pickle,  hard boiled egg and peas in mayonnaise-based dressing and garnished with plenty of fresh dill.

Beet Salad

We love Beet Salad so were delighted with the Vinaigrette Russian Beet Salad ($8.95) sauerkraut, carrots, onions, scallions, pickles, peas, potato and wine vinegar topped with more fresh dill. Super Fresh!

Chopped Liver

Chopped Liver fans will want try the House made Chicken Liver Pate Platter ($8.95) topped with pomegranate sauce and served with black Russian bread, tomato and onion. The serving is generous enough for the entire table to share.

Assorted Soups

Margarita’s hearty homemade soups are a highlight of the menu and we sampled three varieties: Both Hot and Cold Borscht as well as traditional French Onion Soup complete with a thick topping of melted Gruyere Cheese. All soups are priced at $3.95 for a cup and $4.95 for a bowl.

Potato Pierogies with Onions

Perogies and Pelmeni (another kind of Russian dumpling) have their own section on the menu and you can’t visit Love Cafe without trying at least one variety! We had the Potato and Fried Onions Perogies ($8.50). These are homemade daily and you will not find fresher Perogies in the city. Don’t skimp on the sour cream!

Stuffed Cabbage with Basmati Rice

For my main entree I chose the much-raved about Stuffed Cabbage served with Basmati Rice ($14.95). This dish is big enough to share, featuring two cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a filling of savory ground beef and pork, seasoned with garlic, onion and spices, accompanied by homemade tomato sauce and served with sour cream for topping. While each dish is made to order, the wait  is very reasonable and the food is rich but not heavy or greasy. You can really taste the love as well! Other recommended dishes are the classic dish Chicken Kiev (Breaded chicken breast pounded, rolled and stuffed with garlic butter and herbs, $14.50), Veal Schnitzel ($17.95), and Beef Stroganoff ($14.95).

Chocolate Crepe

Grandma Sara’s Dessert Crepes are a specialty of the house and we had the chance to try a couple of favorites. The Chocolate lovers choice is going to be La’Belle Chocolate Crepe, drizzled with chocolate sauce and dulce de leche and served with vanilla ice cream ($9.50). So decadent!

Apple Crepe with Caramel Sauce

Another of Margarita’s specialties is the Crepe aux Pomme et Caramel ($8.95), a warm apple crepe with two layers of caramel sauce that is made individually from scratch with fresh apples! It tastes even better than it looks!

Love Cafe and Bar serves Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Dinner. With so many favorite and tempting dishes left to try, we can’t wait for our return visit!

The Love Café and Bar is located at 430 Second Avenue (Between 24th and 25th Streets), New York, NY 10010. Hours are 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM Daily.Phone (212) 779-7300 for more information, and peruse their extensive menu at This Link.

100 Montaditos Opens on Ludlow Street

More Assorted Montaditos
Just a few of the 100 Montaditos on the Menu (All Photos By Gail)

Hey what’s up. Do you like tapas and also little sandwiches? I sure do. A few weeks ago I was introduced to this cool place on Bleecker Street called 100 Montaditos, which are little sandwiches that are not only extremely delicious but also very reasonably priced (i.e., cheap). And who doesn’t love a delicious bargain? You can bet that NYU students are all over this place. Because a good thing cannot be stopped, 100 Montaditos has just opened another, slightly more upscale location on Ludlow Street. Let me tell you why you need to check it out.

Assorted Montaditos

Named after its signature item, the montadito, 100 Montaditos offers crunchy, baked-to-order tapas-sized bread rolls filled with 100 variations of traditional Spanish tapa fillings including Serrano ham, chorizo and Iberian cheeses. Specialties include BBQ Pulled Pork Montadito with cream cheese, bacon and ali oil; Garlic Pork Loin Montadito with fresh tomato, lettuce and mayo; Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese Montadito; Smoked Salmon Montadito with cream cheese and arugula; and Meatballs with crispy onions and marinara sauce. So, something for everybody!

Chocolate Montaditos

They even have Dessert Montaditos made on fresh-baked chocolate bread! Be still my heart!

Meat and Cheese Platter

In addition, the menu offers a collection of salads, dry-cured meats and cheese platters and other Spanish favorites, such as Tortilla Espanola – traditional omelet from Spain with potatoes, eggs and onions (pictured below) – and Paella – Spanish rice with assorted seafood.

Tortilla

If you are thirsty (and you are going to be after eating those cured meats) 100 Montaditos offers 11 domestic/premium beers on tap; Clara – which is a blend of Spanish draft beer and lemon-lime soda; and an assortment of traditional Spanish Sangrias including Orange Sangria – a blend of red wine and orange soda. Refreshing!

Sangria Pitcher

And take look at these prices!: Montaditos: $1.50-$3.00; Salads: $5.50-$6.50; Raciones: $12.00; Beer/Wine: $4.00. Crazy!

100 Montaditos new location just opened mid-August at 177 Ludlow Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Hours are Monday – Sunday from 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM. For additional information please call 646-666-0993 or visit them online at 100 Montaditos Dot Com.

100 Montaditos Signager

Modern Art Monday Presents: Claes Oldenburg Tartines

Claes Oldenburg Tartines Front View
Claes Oldenburg, Tartines, 1964,Plaster painted with Tempera, on Porcelain Plates, Glass and Metal Case (Photos By Gail)

If there is one artist whose work consistently brings a smile to my face, it is pop art sculptor Claes Oldenburg, who is best known for his larger than life soft sculptures of food and huge, lifelike replicas of ordinary objects. Possibly because I am obsessed with art, food, and art that looks like food, I really find myself drawn to this work, a glass disly case filled with an array of Tartines (a tartine is an open-faced sandwich with a spread on top). I love it.

Tartines is part of the collection of Martin Z. Margulies, and was photographed by me in March of 2014 while on loan to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Claes Oldenburg Tartines

Yes, it Exists: Food Truck Magazine

Food Truck Magazine Cover
Photos By Gail

This morning, I was walking to my office when a guy dressed in full on Chef Whites handed me what I thought was a takeout menu, but which turned out to be a copy of Food Truck Magazine. Apparently, Food Truck Magazine is now a thing. This makes sense since Food Truck competition shows are all over the TV and there are even Food Trucks parked in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see page 10 for a story on this hot button issue).

The premier issue of Food Truck Magazine has Shaquille O’Neal on the cover promoting Soup Mobile, his new joint venture with the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. Their catch phrase : “Soup For Me!” Also inside its informative pages you will find a very timely editorial on how Food Trucks should have Letter Grades, just like brick and mortar restaurants (I agree), announcements for new Food Trucks around the city, and a review of the recent John Favreau film, Chef – which, appropriately, is about a chef who owns a Food Truck!

Food Truck Magazine is clearly an idea whose time has come. I look forward to reading future issues! Visit them online at Food Truck Magazine Dot US. Mangia!

Food Truck Magazine Back Cover