Tag Archive | Beet Salad

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 New York 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!

UPDATE JUNE 2017: LOVE CAFE IS NOW CLOSED FOR BUSINESS

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.

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Midtown Foodie Find: B & Co.

B and Co NYC
Exterior Photo Courtesy of B & Co. All Other Photos By Anne Raso. Click on any Image to Enlarge.

It was really by accident that we ended up at B & Co. on East 58th Street. Earlier in the day, plans called for us to dine on the lower east side, but electrical problems at that establishment saw our reservation moved to midtown. And what a fortuitous change of plans that turned out to be, because our meal at B & Co set a new bar for delicious food and very fine service in midtown Manhattan.

Honeycomb Mirror Ceiling Detail

B & Co. is a months-old establishment, situated mid-block, directly across the street from FAO Schwartz Flagship store, that features not only a fine restaurant but also a lounge and a private club area – all on separate floors. We sat in the restaurant’s front bar area, where we could enjoy the mesmerizing honeycomb mirror that travels up the wall to the ceiling, while we lost ourselves in the ever-changing, farm-to-table fresh Northern Italian / Mediterranean cuisine.

Let me show you what we ate, and tell you a little bit about each dish, so you will have some good ideas of what to order for when you go there.

Burrata Pugliese

Have you ever had Burrata cheese? If not, you need to try it, because it is just insane. Burrata starts out as a mozzarella ball, to which mozzarella curd scraps are stuffed into the inside of the ball of cheese and topped off with fresh cream. The Burrata Pugliese ($24) pictured above is accompanied by locally farmed beefsteak tomatoes, drizzled with balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with shredded fresh basil. It’s a perfect appetizer to share.

Red and Yellow Beet Salad

I never miss a chance to enjoy a beet salad and B&Co’s Barbabietola Red & Yellow Beet Salad ($16), with chunks of Brin d’Amour cheese and extra virgin olive oil, is satisfyingly delicious. It’s a very healthy choice and another great dish to share with a dining companion. And look how beautiful it is!

Risotto Invernale

Look at the huge, tender sweet chunks of Butternut Squash nestled in this dish which is called Risotto Invernale ($40), a Northern Italian specialty that is suitable for vegetarians but oh so decadent and rich tasting. One of the more popular items on the menu, this risotto also features porcini mushroom and black truffle, cheese, cream and truffle oil. It smells as good as it tastes!

Steak and Potatos

For a tasty red meat fix we ordered the Tagliata ($39), grassfed New York Strip Steak which features roasted golden fingerling potatoes and a flavorful Calvados sauce made with Apples, Apple Brandy and Heavy Cream. This dish is usually prepared with bone-in filet mignon, which was sadly unavailable on the night of our visit, but the NY Strip was cooked perfectly, surprisingly tender and juicy.

Broccoli Rabe

We ordered a side of gorgeous Broccoli Rabe ($9) to go with the steak, and it was easily the best broccoli rabe I have ever eaten. Sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and a tiny bit of garlic, proprietor Max Burgio told us that they deliberately use very little garlic in B & Co’s kitchen so that the natural flavors of the food are just enhanced and not overwhelmed.

Imperial Cannolo

And this beautiful thing, (sigh) this is how we ended our meal, with B & Co’s special house made Imperial Cannolo ($12), a delicate, crispy fried pastry shell stuffed with divinely light sweetened Ricotta filling (the key: less sugar) and garnished with fragrant candied Orange Peel, that will ruin you for any other type of traditional cannoli (the plural of cannolo) pastry ever again in your life. It was so huge, the two of us could not even finish it. Seriously, I could talk about this dessert for the rest of my life.

I can’t wait to go back to B & Co. and take all of my Foodie Friends with me. Every dish we ordered was like the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten and the service was just amazing. It may be in what I would call a “Destination neighborhood,” but the trip is totally worth it.

B & Co. is Located at 18 East 58th Street (Between Fifth and Madison) New York, NY 10022. Call (212) 838-3200 for Reservations or visit B and Co NYC Dot Com.