Tag Archive | NYC Restaurant

Brasserie 8 1/2 Scores a 10 For Fine Dining in NYC!

View of Atrium Lounge from Dining Room
All Photos By Gail

A commitment to enjoying life in Manhattan means taking advantage of the many finer things that New York City has to offer. One of those fine things is visiting unique restaurants where you can linger over a delicious meal in a relaxed and beautiful setting, with gracious service that elevates you from the daily grind, and creates a memorable experience. Because you only live once! Recently, the Worley Gig was invited to dine at Brassiere 8/12, a true hidden gem in the heart of midtown: and when we say hidden, we mean it, as the restaurant is tucked away just below street level in the famous Solow Building on West 57th Street (you know, the one with the big red 9 out front)!

Brasserie 8 1/1 View from Street

Just enter through the revolving door and follow the spiral steps down the your destination, where a lovely evening awaits you!

View Down to Lounge

While our visit to Brasserie 8 /12 was all about tasting the excellent French cuisine of Chef Franck Deletrain, my dinner date and I were instantly charmed by the restaurant’s classy-cool décor.  The Solow Building was built in the mid-70s and the décor pays homage to that distinctive era of design . If Mad Men had taken place in the ’70s, you might have seen this place used for more than a few 3-Martini-Lunch location shoots! Please enjoy our many interior shots, along with highlights of the food we enjoyed on or visit!

Front Bar

Whether you’re enjoying a cocktail while waiting for your party to arrive, or  having after-work drinks, there’s lots of room in the spacious cocktail lounge/bar area to sip or sup. Take a seat at the bar, grab a small table or sit back and relax on a plush leather sofa. You won’t be waiting long before a friendly waitress arrives to take your drink order, and they also have an appetizing bar food menu with items to please a range of palates. Happy Hour, which includes a $1.00 Oyster Special, runs weeknights from 4:30 to 7:30 PM.

View of Dining Room from Front

Extending naturally from the circular, atrium-like anterior lounge area, the dining room maintains an  expansive feel, and the open stairway design adds light and warmth to the space. Already a popular spot for a midtown Business Lunch, Brasserie 8 1/2 is an absolutely ideal date destination.

Booth View

Along with well-spaced, round tables (for ease of conversation)  the many large booths are luxuriously comfortable and spacious enough for party of four to enjoy lots of elbow room. The  booths also offer more privacy for business discussions or cozy encounters, but a mirror mounted high on the wall adds a sense of openness.

And now to the food!

Royal Bourgeois Cocktail
Royal Bourgeois Cocktail

The first order of business is the cocktail order, and we started off with the special Cocktail of the Day, the Royal Bourgeois. Made with 2 ounces of run, orange juice, sparkling wine and a little grenadine for color, it tastes as good as it looks: fruity, tropical, and very potent! The bartender creates a different off-menu cocktail each day, so be sure to ask what he has concocted on the day of your visit!

BYOB Lobster Dinner
Click Image to Enlarge for Detail

For Lobster lovers, Brasserie 8  1/2 offers a BYOB Lobster Dinner on Sunday and Monday nights, which includes your choice of appetizer and a main course (each featuring lobster prepared in a unique way way) for just $45 per person. Bring your own bottle of wine and enjoy no corkage fee! Additional sides and desserts are not included in the price, but with the cash you save on drinks, you can afford to splurge!

There is also a regular Prix Fixe menu, which is very reasonably priced at $42, that includes three courses. I liked the look of that, while my dining companion chose to order à la carte from an extensive array of Angus Beef steaks and French specialties.

Mushroom Soup

While we waited for our appetizers, we were served a delightful amuse-bouche of creamy Mushroom Soup!

Asparagus Risotta

My appetizer was a rich Asparagus Risotto with Tomatoes, Black Truffle Essence and a generous shaving of Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. It was excellent.

White Asparagus

My friend chose the White Asparagus appetizer ($17.00) featuring tender steamed white asparagus, Chanterelles Mushrooms, a tiny Fromage Blanc Flan, and a very generous portion of slice Smoked Duck in a flavorful broth. I snagged a slice of the duck, which was perfectly cooked, juicy and tender with a tantalizingly crispy skin! This is a very hearty starter which you might even order to share.

Filet Prix Fixe

It is true that I can never resist a prime cut of meat, so I had to choose the Filet Mignon au Poivre Vert: a Roasted 6-ounce Petit Filet, served with  Bordelaise Sauce, Potato Lyonnaise and possibly the most delicious Green Asparagus I have enjoyed to date. When it comes to scrumptious tenderness, it is hard to go wrong with a filet, but that does not mean that meat quality is to be taken for granted, and Brasserie 8 1/2 serves only prime, grass-fed Angus beef. So good! This entree can be ordered accompanied by a Half Lobster on the prixe fix menu for an additional $12.

10 Ounce Filet

For the serious red meat craving, choose a generous 10-ounce Filet Mignon au Poivre ($45.00) which comes with Pommes Frites and Béarnaise Sauce. Brasserie 8 1/2  is famous for this french fries, which have a reputation as being among the best in New York, but when our waitress overheard my dining companion mention that she was counting calories, she  cheerfully offered the option of  substituting a salad for the fries, which was very accommodating and much appreciated. (I will have to order those fries for myself on a future trip!)

Field Greens with Oranges
A Field Green Salad with Fresh Citrus

Macaroni and Cheese

I also could not resist ordering a side Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Butter ($8.00), which is a steak house go-to side dish for me.  Served straight for the oven, all golden brown and crunchy on top, tender and creamy inside, this Mac & Cheese is made with small shell pasta, which cradles the creamy sauce for an extra rich flavor. This side is sized to share, but since I was with a calorie counter, I got to take half of it home to be enjoyed the following evening. It was amazing!

Tarte Tatin

For my dessert, I chose the classic French Tarte Tatin, made with generous layers of  tart Granny Smith Apples in a delicate Puff Pastry, a Caramel Drizzle garnish, and Caramel Ice Cream on the side. This dessert manages to be both light and decadent!

Pear Tart

Even though I suspected I would be eating it by myself,  I couldn’t resist ordering a second dessert, which was the Pear Tartelette ($9), baked on an ultra-rich Almond Frangipane filling (so delicious), also drizzled with Caramel and served a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. If you are fan of any dessert flavored with almonds, this is the choice for you. I did end up enjoying all but two bites of it at home the next night, and I am still thinking about it.

Table Scape with Glass Mural
The Restaurant is Filled with Lots of Cool Art, Including This Glass Mural at the Rear of the Dining Room Depicting Marlon Brando from the film The Wild One

Rear Bar
The Dining Room Has its Own Bar as Well!

We had a wonderful evening at Brasserie  8 1/2 and, while it is not in my neighborhood, I will be adding this plaice to my list of preferred dining destination in the future, for sure. Their Sunday Buffet Brunch is also garnering rave reviews on Yelp, so we may have to plan a return visit to check that out sooner rather than later!

Front of Restaurant

Brasserie 8 1/2 is located downstairs at 9 West 57th St (in the famous Solow Building) between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City. Phone 212-829-0812 for reservations or visit them on the web at This link!

Table Top with Menu

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Pink Thing of The Day: Eat Neon Sign with Pink Arrow

Eat Neon Sign

This fun vintage sign was photographed by me when I was eating dinner with some friends at Big Daddy’s Diner on Park Avenue South near 19th Street. They have very good food and excellent service. Also, you can play the Trivial Pursuit card game at your table while you wait for your meal.

Satan Burger

Bad Burger Neon Sign
Photo By Gail

OK, so it’s not really called Satan Burger, but wouldn’t it be cool if it was? Bad Burger can be found at 171 Avenue A between 10th and 11th Streets, in the East Village. Their burgers are actually very tasty, and their guacamole is excellent.

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

100 Montaditos Presents First Annual Running of the Bulls in NYC, September 18th!

Running of Bulls Banner

Now is your chance to emulate Ernest Hemingway and run with the bulls and you don’t have to go to Pamplona, Spain to do so. 100 Montaditos presents its first annual Running of the Bulls right here in New York City, on Thursday, September 18th, in conjunction with the grand opening of their second location on Ludlow Street.

All participants will meet up at 100 Montaditos’ Bleecker Street location (176 Bleecker Street) where they will be given red t-shirts in honor of the traditional red kerchiefs worn in Pamplona, Spain. The event will proceed for about one mile over to the new eatery at 177 Ludlow Street. Led by a bull-rigged Harley Davidson and several other faux bulls, participants will run, walk or stroll to the Ludlow Street finish line where their efforts will be rewarded with a two-hour party featuring 100 Montaditos signature tapas-sized rolls and an open bar.

Early registration is currently closed but 100 Montaditos will still be accepting walk ups on the day of the event, Thursday (9/18) doe a $15 registration fee. All proceeds will be donated to Food Bank For New York City, specifically benefiting their month long Go Orange to End Hunger campaign — a citywide effort to unite New Yorkers to become aware and engaged in the fight against hunger. For more information please visit, Go Orange Dot Org.

Be a part of this New York twist on the 14th century-Spanish festival for an evening of excitement, food and drink all while helping combat hunger in New York City. For more information visit 100 Montaditos Dot Com!

Pink Thing of The Day: Pink Bar!

Pink Bar
Photo By Gail

Hey, can you guess where this cool Pink Bar is located? If you said the Ladies Room at Beauty and Essex Restaurant, give yourself a pat on the back! And why does Beauty and Essex have a bar in its Ladies Room, you ask? To serve the Free Champagne, of course!

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.