Pinky’s Space is an adorable little French / Southern Comfort Food restaurant that always has something fantastically Pink and eye-catching displayed in its front window. When I passed by on a recent Saturday afternoon, I had to cross the street to get a snap of this adorable Pink Gorilla and his little Japanese friend, Domo. I want to eat there.
Pinky’s Space is Located at 70 East 1st Street (Just West of First Avenue), East Village New York City
Here’s A Second Photo Without The To-Go Coffee Cup!
A comfy and welcoming bar and grill can easily become a favorite neighborhood hang out based on atmosphere, drink specials, favorite beers on tap and its number of wide screen TVs; with the quality of the food served being mostly inconsequential. And while the menu offered at Ivy Bar and Grill, open since February on Eighth Avenue and 56th Street, would indicate that they are not aiming to become an upscale dining establishment, the quality and taste of the new American comfort food they serve up says otherwise. I enjoy a good watering hole as much as the next New Yorker, but I am also a huge foodie, and Ivy is the first bar I’ve found that could seriously become a destination based on its cuisine. My dining companion and I discovered a few new favorites on our first visit this past week.
What will attract a varied clientele right away is Ivy’s décor; sleek and modern with an understated essence that gives the restaurant an adaptable vibe for many occasions. A modern bar with lots of seating runs perhaps two thirds of the length of the space. Exposed brick walls are highlighted with attractive touches such as custom lighting fixtures and accent mirrors, and the bar is flanked on the opposite wall by plenty of high table seating, so everyone can make themselves comfortable while grabbing a beer and a bite before watching the game. Happy Hour specials run daily from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM offers a specialty cocktail menu as well as a stand out selection of artisanal craft beers.
The rear of the restaurant is beautifully fitted out with a modern-textile upholstered high banquette encircling an intimate cluster of tables. In this way, Ivy feels contemporary and trendy, but also relaxed and without any pretense. Clearly, everyone is welcome.
We started our dinner with one of Ivy’s unique cocktails, a fruity and refreshing Kiss and Tell ($10) featuring Stoli Razz vodka, champagne and fresh raspberry purée, garnished with a skewer of fresh raspberries. This is a tasty drink with an appropriate kick. Any size appetite will be sated by Ivy’s impressively mouth-watering menu, which offers dozens of outrageous Appetizers, several Salads, a rather wide selection of Sandwiches and Burgers, and just enough Entrees to please basic tastes without overdoing it. We were tempted to dine solely from the many intriguing selections on the appetizer menu, and chose a few to start out.
We absolutely could not say no to the Fried Brussel Sprouts with Bacon ($11), a piled-high plate loaded crispy applewood smoked bacon pieces, sautéed sweet onions and topped generously with melted aged white cheddar cheese. The Brussels sprouts are cooked to perfection and have a pleasing mixed texture of being crispy fried (but not battered) on the outside and tender to the bite. There is no shortage of bacon chunks and we could easily have enjoyed this dish as a side to an entrée, or as an entrée itself with another appetizer. It’s that good!
Being fans of polenta, we also tried the Polenta Fries ($10). This fun take on traditional French fries features Italian polenta cooked with herbs, cut into sticks and lightly fried, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese shavings and served with a creamy, mild Romano cheese sauce for dipping. Delicious, different and also appropriate as a side dish to accompany a sandwich or entree.
If you read The Gig’s food coverage regularly you know we love a good steak, so the Steakhouse Springrolls ($13) seemed like a natural choice. These crispy rolls take a generous portion of sliced steak and surround it with traditional steak house sides of mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. This little steak house meal you can eat with your fingers is served by a trio of homemade steak sauce, black peppercorn reduction and A-1 sauce for dipping. Yet another unique offering that goes far beyond the usual nachos and potato skins you find on most bar menus.
Ivy Grilled Cheese Sandwich, with Chicken Roulade Entree in the Background
On the Sandwich menu, the Ivy Grilled Cheese ($11) caught our attention with its surprise main ingredient of soft ripened Brie cheese. This gourmet quality sandwich is stuffed with avocado and homemade mango chutney (made with fresh, diced ripe mangoes, not the sweet mango preserves you might be used to getting in Indian restaurants) and served on griddled sourdough bread, accompanied by a mound of crispy fries. We were fans from the first bite!
From the half dozen well-varied entrees we chose to split the Chicken Roulade ($20), a pounded thin and oven roasted breast of chicken rolled and stuffed with prosciutto, spinach and sundried tomatoes, served in natural pan jus. Sides included with this tasty dish are a sizeable scoop of luscious truffle mashed potatoes and perfectly tender fresh grilled asparagus. Considering that it’s not unusual to pay $20 for a burger at most sit-down establishments, Ivy’s Chicken Roulade is very reasonable priced for an entrée of this size and quality.
Hell’s Kitchen isn’t that close to our ‘hood, but we’ll be going back to Ivy Bar and Grill to revisit some of the delicious creations featured in this review, as well as to try a few we are craving just from reading about them!
Ivy Bar and Grill is Located at 944 8th Ave. (between 56th St & 55th St.) New York, NY. Phone (212) 459-9444 or visit their website, IvyBarNYC.com for full menus and more Information.
While we were sorry to say goodbye to Chef Dave Martin’s woefully short-lived Meatball Factory, which shuttered its doors at the end of April, the space at the corner of 2nd Second Ave and 14th Street didn’t stay empty for long. In an exciting “Contemporary art gallery meets fun summer eatery” venture, the folks at The Hole Gallery have launched a pop up restaurant, cleverly named Hole Foods, which will serve a rotating menu of seafood and featured comfort food dishes in a vibrant, modern art gallery setting.
Creating a completely artist-designed space, Joe Grillo of the collective Dearraindrop has transformed the restaurant into a colorful den of artworks, with a neon drip mural (pictured above) across the ceiling, walls and floor, customized tables and tablecloths, painted furniture, video works, black light bathrooms (Yes!), a ceiling installation and interactive sound sculptures. He even made a customized chef suit and hat for the executive chef, Robert Rubba. Grillo has exhibited internationally and has his first big New York City solo show with The Hole this coming October.
We passed by the restaurant this past Sunday afternoon, feeling parched by the freakish late spring heat, and being excited to perhaps sit at the bar and enjoy a chilled and refreshing artsy cocktail. Alas, it was not be, as the Mother’s Day holiday found the place to be closed up tight. We did peek in the windows, however, and the place is pretty cool. The limited menu looks appealing also, but the big green B on the door makes us want to wait a few weeks to see if they can transform that into a much happier blue A. Hole Foods promises to fill their summer tenure with special art projects and performances, including a Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black night, with hostesses and servers in head to toe Karen Black make up (read: expect partial nudity). So, maybe the food isn’t what’s most important. We’ll see.
Hole Foods, a Three-Month Pop Up Restaurant, is located at 231 2nd Avenue (Northwest corner of 14th Street) in NYC and will be in Operation until August 5th, 2012. Phone 212-260-8015 for more information.
It is no secret that The Worley Gig is a huge fan of all delicious foods, and we try not to discriminate. But if we had to pick a favorite single food (rather than an entire ethnic cuisine, in which case Mexican FTW!) we would choose Macaroni & Cheese. Because, pasta and cheese baked together, yum. Over the course of the past year’s many restaurant reviewing adventures we have had the pleasure of sampling a current trend in Macaroni & Cheese preparation: the addition of truffles, or truffle oil, which elevates this humble comfort food dish into the culinary stratosphere. In this post we revisit five New York City restaurants featuring a Truffled Macaroni & Cheese dish on their menu. Feel free to pay any of them a visit and tell them we sent you!
Upstairs at The Kimberly Hotel
All Food Photos By Anne Raso
Midtown Manhattan’s finest east-side rooftop dining experience is found at Upstairs, a swanky open-air cocktail lounge (with awesome nighttime views of the Chrysler Building) located on the Penthouse level of the Kimberly Suites Hotel (145 East 50th Street). On our first visit last summer, our heartiest mid-week appetite was more than satisfied by an order of rich and fragrant Truffled Macaroni & Cheese ($12), baked en casserole to a golden hue. Simply perfect. Rating: A
The Meatball Factory
Chef Dave Martin takes credit for starting the Truffled Macaroni & Cheese craze while he was a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. His signature dish, a Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($11), is among the most popular items on the menu at The Meatball Factory (231 Second Ave at 14th Street). Chef Dave’s secret to achieving such delicious, cheesey-truffly baked goodness involves first cooking the cream base for the sauce until it develops its own “nutty” flavor, then slowly folding in both Fontina and Parmesan cheeses so that ingredients blend perfectly, preventing the sauce from “breaking.” This technique makes for a very creamy sauce and a unique integration of flavors that, when combined with the essence of black truffles, elevates this memorable creation high above “your Mama’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese” status. Rating: A-
Update: Sadly, the Meatball Factory Has Closed as of April 30, 2012.
At Bahr Che Wine Bar (tucked away at 26 Astor Place) their limited menu is enhanced greatly by the Lobster and Black Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese ($16.00) — one of the heartier choices on a menu punctuated by tiny salads. We especially enjoyed the big chunks of lobster tucked around tendrils of macaroni in a mild cheese sauce, but ultimately the dish called out for either more sharp cheddar cheese or extra seasoning (a few sprinkles of salt, even) to bring out the much desired black truffle essence. Rating: B-
One of our favorite new dining spots on the Lower East Side is DL (95 Delancey Street) where they do their Ludlow Mac (Elbow macaroni, with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese) three ways, including a glorious Truffle and Mushroom ($15), version. This is a classically oven-baked dish with a crispy panko crumb topping and plentiful slices of fresh mushroom added, which goes a long way towards enhancing the rich and flavorful truffle oil-infused sauce. Rating: A
Sons Of Essex
Sons of Essex is one of no fewer than three restaurants with the word Essex in its name that is also located on Essex Street (in this case, 133 Essex Street, between Stanton and Rivington). Sons of Essex is so enthusiastic about the Macaroni & Cheese trend that its menu even has a separate section dedicated to detailing the various types of Mac & Cheese that SOE serves. In addition to a daily Mac & Cheese special variety, each day of the week you can also get the Truffle Mac N Cheese ($16) made with elbow macaroni, Gruyere and a truffle cheese sauce, baked to achieve the crunchiest golden brown top you could ever ask for. Easily shared between two people, this dish answers the burning question, “What shall we have for an appetizer?” Rating: A+
The above grilled cheddar cheese sandwich served between two halves of a glazed donut (Look Here for possible inspiration) is probably the least fancy of a selection of Grilled Cheese Donut Sandwiches found on the menu at Cincinnati’sTom & Chee restaurant, which specializes in grilled cheese concoctions of every conceivable combination. I wish I lived in Cincinnati.
UPDATE: Social Eatz Has Closed For Business as of March 2013
I’m a big fan of Top Chef since I got hip to the show in its second season. I am especially enjoying this season’s “All Stars” competition, featuring favorite Cheftestants from past seasons, and am excited for the finale beginning tonight, and then wrapping up in next Wednesday’s episode (Richard Blais for the win)! Although this has never been a point of contention for me, many fans I’ve talked to like to whine about how impossible it is to fully enjoy the Top Chef viewing experience when you can’t actually taste the food. To me this is like saying you can’t possibly enjoy watching a True Blood if you are not really a vampire, which is just silly. But I guess that is reason to be grateful that most, if not all, Top Chefs also operate their own restaurants. Angelo Sosa may not have quite made it to the finals of Top Chef All Stars, but he currently has the starring role as the Chef and owner of a cool new trendy-casual restaurant called Social Eatz, which opens for business on Thursday March 10th in a midtown east neighborhood of Manhattan.
Social Eatz hosted a Media night on Tuesday evening to stir up some advance buzz, and I was lucky enough to snag an invite as the Plus One of my writer friend Anne (who was also kind enough to take all of the pictures in this post). Anne and I had a blast at Social Eatz, which has a fun vibe, comfortable decor and food that is totally off the charts. If you’ve wondered why Angelo made it to the finals of his season (before losing to Kevin. Who? Exactly) and why it was likely a no brainer for the producers to invite him back for All Stars, wonder no longer. The guy can cook his ass off.
According to its mission statement: Social Eatz reinterprets favorite NYC foods “with flavors from across Asia, including Korea, China, Vietnam, and Japan, with Top Chef All Stars’ Angelo Sosa, a self-proclaimed Asian food fanatic, at the helm. Sosa has designed a menu featuring certified organic vegetables and certified sustainable humane meat and fish ranging in categories from Soup’z, Salad’z, App’z, Sandwich’z, Taco’z, Burger’z and Sweet’z.”
We sampled delicious fare from just about every category, as detailed below:
(All Photos By Anne Raso) Tomato Soup with Thai Chile and Curry Whipped Cream. Effing delicious.
Smoked Rib with Mesquite Tamarind Sauce. Best. Rib. Ever.
“Imperialist” Hot Dog: A grilled Chicken Apple Sausage topped with Pickled Onion & Green Pepper Relish on a Potato Bun with a Side of Sake Cheese Sauce. This was my favorite thing.
Charred Bibimbap Burger with Slow Cooked Egg and Pickled Carrot and Cucumber, Served with Fries. OMG.
Chocolate Brownie with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Toffee Sauce, served with chilled Rice Milk. Thank you chocolate toffee brownie for making me so very, very fat.
We also had some tasty and very potent cocktails. Don’t skip the alcohol on your trip to Social Eatz!
Prices range between $5 for the soup and $12 dollars for the burger, so you can see it is quite affordable and an excellent value for some good eats. Or should I say “Eatz”?
Me with Angelo – He is So Hot!
Social Eatz is Located at 232 East 53rd Street, Between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan (close to the 6 train). Phone 212-207-3339, Website: www.socialeatz.com. Dress Code is Casual. Reservations are recommended.
Woman’s Day magazine must have gotten a lot crazier than I remember it being when I was ten years old and my mom had a subscription. There’s a blog-worthy article online (see link below) right now, about overstuffed foods, that had my jaw hanging open, thinking I had somehow clicked over to This is Why You’re Fat Dot Com. My favorite of the featured gastronomical anomalies is the Mac & Cheese-Stuffed Meat Loaf. “The mouthwatering creation – wrapped in eight slices of apple wood-smoked bacon and boasting two pounds of ground beef – is filled with black truffle-saffron Mac & Cheese made with Romano, Asiago and sharp Cheddar cheese. To assemble, the bacon is draped across a loaf pan, a shallow layer of meat loaf is added, which is topped with the gourmet cheesy noodles, then another layer of meat loaf, and then the bacon is folded over the top before baking.” I would eat it, and ask for more. The full recipe, finely detailed with many pictures, can be found at This Link!
The above photo is the closest approximation I could find (via Google Images, always so helpful) of the delicious “chicken and lamb over rice, with salad” lunch I purchased today from the street cart on the corner of Wall and Pearl. A five dollar bill gets you all that and a can of soda (today it was “a nice Hawaiian Punch”). Jesus god, what a bargain. Street Meat!