Tag Archive | Upper East Side

Restaurant Review: TBar Steak & Lounge

T-Bar Steak and Lounge Storefront
Image Courtesy of Lawlor Media. All Other Photos By Gail, Except Where Noted

One of the best things about the expansion of uptown Q Train service is that it’s now so much easier for downtown foodies to escape their dining comfort zone and visit great restaurants on the upper east side, such as TBar Steak & Lounge! At TBar, you’ll encounter the same high quality steaks served at classic, old-school establishments like Morton’s or Bobby Van’s, but TBar’s sleek, contemporary decor elevates the atmosphere to something a bit more festive, while they also offer a broader menu. Despite the word Steak being prominently displayed in its name, TBar’s also serves expertly-prepared fish, chicken and duck dishes as well as burgers, pasta, and huge fresh salads, so there really is something on the menu for every palate.

T-Bar Steak Front Dining Room
Image Courtesy of Lawlor Media

You will feel welcome right away in the the well-lit, open space of the main dining area, though it can get a bit lively when the room is full. If you are looking for a quieter, more intimate dining experience, you can ask for seating in the back room, which has a cozy feel with its recessed, red lighting.

Back Room Interior Shot
Back Dining Room

Flower Vase Interior Shot

TBar also has lovely modern decorative touches, such as these lush flower arrangements displayed in brightly-colored, oversized vases, which help to divide the space.

Olive Bread

While you peruse the menu, be sure to indulge in a slice (or two) of the freshly baked Olive Bread, which is studded with moist, ripe olives and served hot to your table with a selection of other fresh breads.

TBar Cosmo 1

Set the stage for a relaxed meal a with refreshing and potent TBar Cosmo!

Beet Salad Overhead

As an appetizer, my dining companion and I chose to split the Beet & Endive Salad ($17.00) which includes both red and golden beats as well as slivers of crisp apple, creamy goat cheese rounds, and a sprinkling of toasted, lightly candied pumpkin seeds, all tossed with an emulsified vinaigrette.

Beet Salad Detail

I never met a beet salad that I didn’t love, and this one is a palate-pleasing mix of textures, where the hint of sweet nuttiness from the pumpkin seeds really compliments the tang of the apples. This salad is perfectly portioned for sharing.

Plated Filet Mignon

We came to eat steak, and steak is what we ordered, in the form of a thick, 8-ounce Certified Black Angus Filet Mignon ($39), prepared with butter and seasoned simply with kosher salt and black pepper. There are steak lovers who will try to convince you that any cut of beef not served on-the-bone means sacrificing flavor for tenderness, but I do not subscribe to this school of thought. TBar’s filet mignon was absolutely delicious, being tender, pink and juicy on the inside with a flavorful, crispy sear on the outside — perfection! Meat cravings: officially satisfied!

Medium Rare Filet
Medium Rare is The Way to Go!

Steak Sauces

A roasted half-bulb of garlic accompanies the steak, should you feel compelled to dip the tip of your knife into one of the cloves and apply a dab of its mellow goodness to your meat (or try mixing a bit into one of your side dishes). A trio of complementary sauces will also arrive at your table, including the house Steak Sauce, classic Béarnaise, and Au Poivre sauce, that let you change it up to your liking!

Steak Elevation

Sides Overhead View

For our sides, we went with the Mashed Potatoes ($10), which were creamy, buttery bliss, and the Crispy Brussel Sprouts ($10) with thick cut bacon and a balsamic reduction. You can choose to omit the bacon if you prefer. Portions are generous and both sides could serve three people, depending on much food you have ordered.

Apple Crisp
Apple Crisp With Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

Finally, despite being completely full and satisfied from a delicious steakhouse meal, we could not say no to TBar’s decadent desserts  — the Banana Parfait Mille Feuilles, which serves a party of four ($24), is especially legendary — and our selections did not disappoint! For easy sharing, a great choice is the warm Apple Crisp ($15) drizzled generously with caramel sauce and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This dessert is loaded with tender apples, and so huge it could easily serve three people. (Confession: I took half of it home to eat the next day!)

Lemon Cheese Cake

There was also a special dessert that we could not resists:  Lemon Cheesecake ($12) with a sauce of tart lemon curd and fresh raspberries, which was so light it nearly floated off the plate. It tasted just as good as it looks!

Interior Shot with Boxes

As an aside, TBar Steak & Lounge happens to be located right next door my favorite import/gift/ housewares store, Flying Tiger (really, go there, you’ll thank me).  I noticed when we were seated that the restaurant had placed a selection of Flying Tiger’s navy-and pink-polkadot round storage boxes in the front window as part of their display. The boxes not only looked great, but this action ups the neighborhood-gem vibe that you get from TBar, while saying so much about how this restaurant supports local commerce. Just another reason why I’ll be looking forward to future visits.

TBar Steak & Lounge is Located at 1278 Third Avenue near the Northwest Corner of 73rd Street, NYC. Visit their Website at TBar NYC Dot Com.

Dining at Uskudar, NYC’s Best Turkish Restaurant!

Uskudar Interior Shot
All Photos By Gail

Heavyweight Champion Mohammed Ali once said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” Promoting itself as a Taste of Istanbul in the Heart of New York City, Uskudar Turkish restaurant’s 30-year dedication to authentic and delicious dishes has earned them a reputation for serving the very best Turkish cuisine in the City. Stop in for a visit and you will soon discover that the food speaks for itself.

Olives

Uskudar’s Chef/Owner Ibrahim Ozdemir began his 40-year career in the restaurant industry baking bread in one of Istanbul’s biggest hotels. When he opened Uskudar on the upper East side in 1987, his objective was to serve dishes whose flavors could transport diners to his homeland, if only for a few hours.

Turkish Bread

Ozdemir still bakes the fluffy, chewy bread that arrives at your table hot from the oven, and he takes care that every dish he serves is as fresh and authentic as possible. Even the lamb they serve is butchered on site. Uskudar’s extensive menu offers something for every palate,  including chicken, seafood, lamb and an array of vegetarian dishes. The narrow space is warm and cosy, with exposed brick, and back & white photographs of Istanbul landmarks adorning the walls. With the attentive, friendly service, you will feel at home right away.

I dined at Uskudar with a friend who had been there many times before, and she had been talking to me about the restaurant for weeks before we were able to finally a make date. There were so many dishes that she wanted me to try that we ended up ordering way more food than two people could possibly eat, but it was worth it.

Mucver and Borek

Two must-try appetizers are the Mucver — shredded zucchini fritters fried to a golden brown crispiness on the outside, but moist on the inside —  and Borek — crispy pan-fried phyllo rolls, stuffed with crumbled feta and spinach. Both taste great topped with a little dollop of tangy homemade yogurt.

Meze Platter
Mediterranen Meze Platter

An excellent way to sample many different tastes is to opt for the Mediterranean Meze Platter, featuring generous portions of assorted vegetarian appetizers including Yalanci Dolma (Grape leaves stuffed with rice, black currants, onions, pine nuts), Spinach Tarator (Spinach dip made with  labne — a strained-yogurt cheese — with garlic, and minced walnuts), Hummus (traditional Chickpea dip with tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice), Fasulye Pilaki (White Kidney Beans with scallions, tomato, garlic), Ezme (Tomato, onion, parsley, and walnut spread), and Patlican (Smoky eggplant dip with garlic, yogurt, herbs). Two hungry diners could easily make a satisfying meal from this selection of exotic and flavorful dips, accompanied by a basket (or two) of fresh bread and a generous pour from the wine list. If you are dining with a group, the Meze Platter can easily serve as an appetizer for three to four people. It’s huge!

Chicken Yogurt and Rice
Chicken Yogurt and Rice Pilaf

For an entree, I wanted to try a dish that I had not tasted before, but which had familiar ingredients, so I chose the Chicken Yogurt, which is chunks of chicken breast baked with sautéed pita and yogurt in a little casserole dish. Like all entrees, it comes with a side of your choice of rice or vegetables, and I chose the fluffy rice pilaf.

Chicken Yogurt Close Up

Here’s a close-up shot, where you see that a few colorful peppers and tomatoes have been added for flavor and texture. The chicken in this dish is absolutely succulent, and perfectly season. The sautéed pita maintained the consistency of a firm noodle, and the yogurt blended with the natural juice of the chicken to create a light sauce. This dish was excellent, and it would also be a good choice for a non-adventurous diner (we all know them) who had not tried Turkish food before.

Vegetable Casserole

My dining companion wanted to try the Vegetable Casserole, because although she eats meat, it was one of the few dishes she had not tried before. This dish is very simple,  comprised of a variety of vegetables such as carrots zucchini, potatoes and onions stewed in a tomato sauce, and served with a side of rice or vegetables. My friend asked if she could have a bit of both rice and vegetables as her side, and they were happy to accommodate her.

I will admit that after enjoying so many delicious appetizers, I purposely ate only about half my entree (taking the leftovers home), because I knew what was coming up next: Dessert!

Uskudar Dessert Menu

Uskudar makes all of their authentic Turkish desserts on premises, and while they may have unfamiliar names, you will surely recognize Baklava, a pastry made with many layers of flakey filo dough, baked with nuts and honey syrup. There are also Turkish versions of Flan, Chocolate Pudding, and Rice Pudding on the menu.

Turkish Dessert Trio
Trio of Desserts

Since my friend is a regular customer, she asked our server if the kitchen could put together smaller servings of three of her favorite desserts for us to share. Again, they were happy to do so. Here’s what we ate.

Baklava

This is the Baklava, which is studded with chopped pistachio nuts, gooey with honey, and very rich. One tiny piece was plenty after such a large meal.

Kadayif

This dessert is called Kadayif, which is a pastry that’s very similar to Baklava, except is it make with shredded wheat.

Kayisi 2

Last but not least, you must try the Kayisi: Pouched Apricots stuffed with a whole Almond, and topped with sweet Whipped Cream and finely chopped Pistachios. This sweet treat is simply divine, and I will order it every time I come back to Uskudar. Amazing.

While menu prices are very reasonable, Uskudar also offers a three-course price fixe lunch for just $19, and a three-course ‘early bird’ dinner (served 4 – 7 PM) for a mere $27 — which are unbelievable bargain prices for Manhattan restaurant dining. Whether Turkish cuisine is your favorite, or you’re just in the mood for trying something new, be sure to put Uskudar on your radar to enjoy an unforgettable culinary experience.

Uskudar is Located at 1405 2nd Avenue (Between 73rd & 74th Streets), Just One Block from the 72nd Street Q Stop, In NYC. Uskudar also offers outside catering, and they can host private parties, or small corporate events. Visit Their Website at This Link for More Information!