Tag Archive | Restaurant Reviews

Cherrywood Kitchen, A Neighborhood Gem in Hudson Square

Cherrywood Kitchen Dining Area
All Interior Photos By Gail, All Food Photos By Anne Raso

Hudson Square, a downtown neighborhood distinguished by its proximity to the Holland Tunnel’s entrance, probably isn’t an area that gets a lot of random foot traffic. In fact, if you never heard it referenced in a conversation about the location of a cool new eatery, you would likely be in good company. Things are different now though, thanks to the recently launched Cherrywood Kitchen, a gorgeous new restaurant serving a mix of American Bistro and BBQ fare. If this Soho-adjacent, not-quite-Tribeca address on west Spring Street was ever in need of a destination dining establishment, Cherrywood Kitchen has all the bases covered.

Cherrywood Kitchen Dining Area Corner Booth

Opened in late March by restaurateurs Konstantin Ziring and Vladimir Kuznetsov, Cherrywood Kitchen distinguishes itself as soon as you enter the space thanks to its beautifully finished “cherrywood red” tables and paneling from WoodPursuits accented by glass-shaded brass light fixtures and chandeliers. A faux library wall along a cat walk at the rear of the dining area adds comfort and character to the room, and a thick frosted glass partition shields the lively bar from the intimate feel of the dining spaces. It cannot be overstated: we love this room!

Cherrywood Kitchen Dining Area Banquettes

Heading Cherrywood’s kitchen is Chef Chris Cheung, whose impressive resume includes tenures at both Jean Georges and Nobu, and here, Cheung continues to approach everything he does with a ‘fresh is best’ attitude. All seafood is brought in live from downtown fish markets and even a signature poultry dish boasts its “Fresh Killed” chicken. Service is also noteworthy, before any food even arrives at your table. Our enthusiastic and deeply food-passionate server, Adam, took us on a culinary journey as he described the highlights of the menu, including each dish’s ingredients and preparations. His lively explanations filled us with eager anticipation and he continued to take good care of us through to the end of our meal.

Cherrywood Kitchen Sangria

Cherrywood Kitchen’s varied but not overwhelming menu is divided into dishes labeled snacks ($5–14), small plates ($11–14), large plates ($21–46), sides ($5–8) and desserts ($8–11). They have a custom designed cherrywood smoker on site, which is put to good use infusing a light and flavorful smokiness into everything from meats to signature cocktails. We started with an ample and refreshing glass of the Cherrywood Sangria ($12) with Peach Liqueur added to the traditional mix of Red Wine and Seasonal Fruit. Delicious!

Fresh Made Ciabatta Bread with Whipped Blue Cheese Spread

Cherrywood’s bread service has to be the best we’ve encountered, as a complimentary loaf of Housemade Garlic Ciabatta bread, served with a lighter than air buttery Whipped Blue Cheese spread arrives at your table to enjoy as you await your appetizers. If fresh baked bread is your weakness, be advised that this bread is decadently delicious and the whipped blue cheese spread is absolutely divine.Lobster Tacos

To start, we were instantly tempted by the trio of Little Lobster Tacos ($14), lightly dressed with an Old Bay-seasoned lemony Hollandaise and sprinkled with scallions. While your taste buds may tell you that you’re taking a crunchy bite into an authentic crispy corn tortilla shell, the tasty mini-taco shells are actually made from deep fried wonton wrappers! The lobster in these tacos is so fresh, tender and flavorful; we could have made a meal from them alone. Adam did tell us that Cherrywood has several specially priced taco dishes (not on the regular menu) for patrons seated at the bar only, so that is worth keeping in mind!

Micro Greens With Pear Vinaigrette at Cherrywood Kitchen

We also tried the Micro Greens ($12), dressed with a mildly sweet Pear Vinaigrette, and featuring artisanal Goat’s milk Feta cheese. This fresh salad is served over toasted large croutons (which are still tender, not too crunchy) and includes lots of tender bull hair beet and radish sprouts.

Wagyu Ribeye at Cherrywood Kitchen

As a nod to the classic steakhouse meal, Cherrywood Kitchen offers a Wagyu Ribeye ($46) that is out of control. This meat is so perfectly marbleized that to have it cooked beyond a medium temperature should be illegal. Accompaniments on this excellent dish include Cherrywood’s own invention, the Potato Crusted Spinach (spinach inside a potato bird’s nest crust to emulate the classic steak house sides of hash browns and creamed spinach) and a baby Gem lettuce wedge salad with housemaid blue cheese dressing. There is not one morsel of deliciousness out of place on this highly recommended plate!

Hot Cherrywood Smoked Ribs with Sweet Chili Glaze

Under the banner of Slow Cooked Specialties of the House, we tried the Hot Cherrywood Smoked Ribs with Sweet Chili Glaze ($29) served with crisp Apple Celery Slaw. The photo above makes it appear as if the side of slaw is quite small, but the truth is that the massive slabs of ribs simply dwarf the slaw by comparison. Marinated in pineapple juice (for tenderness), cilantro and garlic, the ultra tender rib meet simply falls off the bone with minimal prodding of a fork. There is a lot of food on this plate, but we couldn’t help thinking that the spice of the chili sauce, and the almost equal heat of the slaw, would have been perfectly complimented by a side of rice, of which you have two choices: Bone Marrow Clay Pot Rice or Saffron Clay Pot Rice ($8 each). We’re sure that each is equally delicious.

Crunch and Munch Crumble Pie with Seasonal Fruit

For dessert, we had to try the nostalgia-inducing Crunch and Munch Crumble Pie with Seasonal Fruit ($10). This individual, baked-to-order dessert is made with a different fruit each day, depending on what strikes Chef Cheung’s fancy. On this night, the pie was brimming with fresh apples that were just the right mix of tart and sweet. Crunch and Munch, the namesake caramelized popcorn and peanut treat, is pulverized to crumbs and sprinkled on top before baking, which melts the caramel slightly to add a light crunch on top of the sweet fruit. A swirl of light, creamy Apple Foam was added as a garnish but you could probably ask if they have vanilla ice cream if you are a straight up ala mode fan.

We also shared the Valrhona Chocolate, Caramelized Banana and Sesame Fritters ($11) – an architectural triumph of dessert presentations which, sadly, did not make it onto the camera roll. The chocolate is whipped into a mousse and accompanied by a dark chocolate cookie crumble, flanked by sliced bruleed bananas and topped with two spherical, sesame-studded fritters reminiscent of the pleasantly chewy, Japanese Mochi rice dessert sometimes served in Asian restaurants. Very interesting!

We must admit that we are in the early stages of a serious love affair with Cherrywood Kitchen. High Fives All Around On This One.

Cherrywood Kitchen is located at 300 Spring Street, just West of Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013. Phone (646)559-2328 for reservations and visit their website at Cherrywood Kitchen Dot Com for menus and more information.

Cherrywood Kitchen Menu Cover

Desmond’s Steak House Offers a Tailored Dining Experience

Desmonds Globe Lighting Front Entrance
Interior Photos By Gail. Food Photos By Anne Raso.

A steak house might be described as Manly, Elegant or Down Home, depending on its location, target clientele and the type of image it wants to project. Open for under a month and centrally located just a few blocks west of Macy’s or east of Times Square, Desmond’s Steak House seems to indicate that one Steak House can be all things to all people, within reason of course. Occupying an 8,000 square-foot space (formerly the site an OTB) at 513 Seventh Avenue, Desmond’s is a welcome dining addition to a neighborhood that’s somewhat calling out for a renaissance. Before you even open a menu, the interior of Desmond’s offers you a choice of rooms and dining spaces in which to enjoy your meal, each with subtly different décor to suit your mood, or the size of your party.

Front Bar

Entering on 38th Street just east of Seventh Avenue, you’ll notice the restaurant’s ground floor meat locker, stuffed with cuts from Strassburger Meats (which also supplies steaks to Keen’s and Sparks) before ascending a glass block-encircled staircase featuring suspended deco globe lighting – very lovely and unique! At the top of the stairs a gorgeous, marble-topped wraparound bar welcomes you.

Desmond's Bar Area Seating

The front of the restaurant features tufted-leather booths that separate the bar from a private dining area – done in lighter finishes with distinctive architectural features like brick arches, fieldstone and porthole-like faux windows – that’s ideal for hosting a special event.

Private Dining Area

Private Booths

Follow the bar around to the right and you’ll pass a row of private booths perfect for a romantic dinner for two, before entering the massive, clubhouse-like dining room overlooking Seventh Ave – an open setting suited for anything from a family get together to a business dinner. No matter what the occasion, you’ll feel comfortable at Desmond’s.

Main Dining Area

Grilled Slab Bacon

To start our meal, we selected the Grilled Slab Bacon appetizer ($15), which was noticeably less fatty than the usual steakhouse pork belly, and the edges had a tasty crispiness. This dish is served with a smooth applesauce whose sweetness makes an excellent accompaniment to the tender, smokey meat.

The menu says that all meats are grain fed and aged 50 days, and as far as selection of prime cuts, all bases are covered. Red meat fans can choose from a NY Sirloin (which is their strip, available in 12oz and 16oz cuts), a T-bone (20oz), a Porterhouse (48oz, portioned for two), a Boneless Ribeye (20oz), a Cowboy Ribeye (bone in, 24oz) and a Filet (in 8 or 14oz portions). If steak is not your thing, they also have selection of delicious-sounding seafood entrees as well as a raw bar that we heard patrons seated near us raving about.

My dining companion and I chose to share the 14-ounce filet ($50). Served with a choice of five specialty sauces, we selected the Horseradish Cream. The generous portion of meat arrived with a perfectly pink interior, and was buttery tender with a flavorful, crispy sear, but we had a bit of an issue with the (unexpected) bone-in presentation.

 Filet with Sauce

It’s no secret that cooking meat on the bone enhances flavor, and while this is generally preferred with, say, a pork chop or fried chicken, on a filet it was just a distraction. I doubt anyone would argue the point that a filet is among the most consistently tasty cuts of beef available, and a fully trimmed cut would certainly not suffer for having the bone removed. Being as Desmond’s has an on-site butcher, perhaps they could consider offering a trimmed version of their filet in addition to the bone-in presentation. Since it is considered inappropriate to gnaw on a bone in a fancy restaurant, much of the delicious meat was lost to us – definitely the only disappointment of the evening.

Grilled Veal Chop

As a second entrée, we selected the Grilled Veal Chop ($40) served with Horseradish Potato Puree and topped with sautéed Chanterelle Mushrooms. This grilled-to-perfection chop was thick, juicy, lean and scrumptious – qualifying as possibly the best veal chop in the city. My dining companion especially loved the Horseradish Potato Puree, declaring it to be the best she’d ever tasted.

Creamed SpinachMashed PotatoesExotic Mushrooms

For sides to share we chose the naturally sweet Creamed Spinach ($11), Mashed Potatoes ($9) and the sautéed Exotic Mushrooms ($11). I would say that each side serves 2 – 4 persons, depending on how many sides you order and individual appetites. The portions are definitely very generous!

Vanilla Panna Cotta

We finished off a hearty meal with couple of small but satisfying sweet treats from Desmond’s enticing Dessert Menu. Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberries Three Ways ($8) was sweet and light with the best fresh raspberries I’ve ever tasted. The Warm Chocolate Cake ($9) has a delicious milk chocolate flavor but it virtually dissolved when we tried to divide it between us, so I’d advise you not to do, that unless you don’t mind the mess, which we did not.

Service at Desmond’s is top shelf and our server, David, was especially friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating. We look forward to exploring the menu further on a future return trip.

Warm Chocolate Cake

Desmond’s is located at 513 Seventh Avenue (enter on 38th Street), New York, NY 10018. Phone (212) 391-6900 for Reservations or visit their website at Desmond’s Steakhouse and Grill.com.

Christos Steak House: A Steak Lover’s Paradise

Full Feast Perspective Shot at Christos Steak House
The Feast Awaits (All Food Photos By Naomi “Natalie” Markewitz)

The greatest discovery any foodie can make is finding a local restaurant where you just know when you sit down at your table that anything you could order on the menu will be delicious. This is not the same thing as having a favorite restaurant where you really love the Cheese Enchiladas or the Green Coconut Curry. I’m talking about a dining establishment that not only serves your favorite dish, but a place where the quality of what you already know you love is so amazing that you’re encouraged to try things you might not have otherwise. It is from such circumstances that true Food Adventurism is born, and that just makes life more enjoyable. Because dining out is awesome.

We recently went on a food adventure (outside the borough of Manhattan, even) to a wonderful Greek Steak House called Christos, where we ate the Best Steak of Our Lives, and also enjoyed various other delicious foods that put us into a satisfying food coma. We are going to share that experience with you now. Please settle in.

Dining Room Detail at Christos Steak House

Located in Astoria Queens, half a mile from very last stop on the Q or N line, Christos is everything a classic steak house should be while also offering a distinctive Greek touch to their dishes. The interior is warm and unpretentious and you can choose to have your meal in the front room, well lit with natural light from the street, or a more intimate area towards the back, which would probably be good for a larger, private party. If you’re on your own, or prefer a more casual seating area, there’s plenty of space and extra tables in the bar area.

Interior Bar Shot at Christos Steak House

Service is friendly and very accommodating, so you really feel welcome and that your patronage is appreciated. The menu is quite extensive and as long as you have brought along your heartiest appetite you should find it challenging on what to choose, as every item looks so amazing.

Select Appetizer Trio at Christos Steak House
Signature Appetizers: Crab Cakes, Lamb Cigar, Fried Cauliflower

Christos has the Surf and the Turf fully covered. For fans of Oysters, there’s an impressive Raw bar, and their menu of Signature Appetizers, (Priced $10 – $19) includes a wide variety of seafood options including fried or grilled Calamari, Charred Octopus, Mussels Aegean (White wine, garlic, plum tomatoes, feta) and two varieties of Baked Clams. Diners can also sample smaller portions of Christos‘ specialties by choosing the Trio Appetizers ($15), to mix and match three selections from a generous list of meat, vegetable and seafood delicacies to whet your appetite. With a wish to be adventurous while leaving room for big a fat steak, we chose a sampling of tiny Crab Cakes in lemon remoulade, one fillo wrapped minced Lamb Cigar with roasted pepper yogurt sauce (the best lamb cigar we’ve ever tasted) and the barely-battered crispy Fried Cauliflower. The flavorful and meaty crab cakes are fried in clarified butter at a high temperature that makes it possible to use virtually no breadcrumb coating (this is one of chef Mina Newman’s secrets, which we are sharing with you now!)

While Christos also serves a succulent center cut Pork Chop ($22) and Lemon Thyme Brined organic half Chicken ($19), we came to eat a big steak. Once we saw this in the front window:

Raw Filet Displayed at Christos Steak House

We quickly decided on Christos’ 10 ounce Filet at $36 (a 14 oz is available for $45). All of Christos beef (except for the filet) is carefully dry aged for 21 days in their temperature controlled cold aging room to achieve peak flavor and supreme tenderness. Steaks can be paired with select sauces or crusts to further enhance the flavor ($6 – 8). My dining companion chose the Roquefort Cheese and Red Wine Garlic Sauce, while I opted for a sauce of Wild Mushrooms in port wine sauce called Mavrodaphne. The Port reduction added a distinctive sweetness to the rich sauce that I really enjoyed, though it might not be to everyone’s taste. Most importantly, the filet was absolutely perfectly cooked medium, with a pink center and crisp sear, melt-in-the-mouth tender, juicy and flavorful. Best. Steak. Ever. That is all.

Gails Steak and Feast at Christos Steak House
Featured Sides, Center: Creamed Spinach, Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Potatoes, Truffle French Fries With Parmesan

Sides are out of control and include twelve different, mouth watering vegetable dishes (we could not do without the Creamed Spinach, cooked to perfection and topped with crispy fried onions, $8) and nine varieties of mashed potatoes, all $8.00 and portioned for sharing (our selection: Sour Cream & Chive). Truffled French Fries with Parmesan Cheese were an off-menu special that night, so we had to have them as well. Because, Truffle Fries.

Baked Astoria Dessert at Christos Steak House

There is little chance that anyone will have room for dessert after indulging in such a feast, but we forced ourselves to order the Baked Astoria, a take on the classic Baked Alaska created by Christos by sandwiching cookies and cream ice cream in between layers of chocolate and red velvet cakes, covered with Meringue peaks and flambéed — a over-the-top ending to a magnificent meal. We shall be returning to Christos for further Food Adventures.

Christos is located at 4108 23rd Ave, Astoria, New York 11105 (Take the N or Q Train to the last stop, Astoria/Ditmars, turn left on 23rd Avenue and walk 10 blocks up to Christos – so easy!). Visit Christos on the web at This Link to view the complete menu or to make reservations.