Tag Archive | Upper West Side

NYLO Hotel Announces Weekend Flower Market at The LOCL Bar!

Nylo Bar Entrance
NYLO NYC Hotel Blooms with its Inaugural Flower Market Event! (All Photos By Gail)

What could be more intoxicating to the senses than sipping exotic cocktails in a bar filled with fragrant, exotic flowers? Discover this multi-sensory experience for yourself each Saturday and Sunday through November, 2017 at NYLO New York City’s hotel lobby (including the  bar, library, and piano lounge) which will be in full bloom as the space is transformed into a weekend flower market. Each weekend, a kaleidoscope of blooms supplied by Brooklyn’s very own CALA Floral Studio will take over the entire first floor of the hotel bringing in fragrant scents, and beautiful colors.

Cala Signage

CALA Floral Studio will be presenting a myriad of arrangements from bouquets to buds, all available to take home or gift. In addition, classes teaching the making of floral headpieces will be offered and a floral cocktail menu will blossom. The hotel’s LOCL bar will be serving specialty floral cocktails every day of the week dreamed up by head bartender and beverage director, Earlecia Gibb.

Ultra Violet

Amongst a floral centered bar on weekdays and an overflowing flower market on the weekends, patrons can sip an Ultra Violet, a Singani cocktail with a violet ice sphere and orchids,

Rose & Ash

Also on the menu is the Rose & Ash, featuring Lapsang Souchong infused Absolut Elyx, rose cordial and activated charcoal.

Secret Garden

For those who want to experience what spring tastes like, the Secret Garden is made of Bombay East gin, cucumber syrup, lavender bitters, Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic and floral buds frozen in ice-cubes. It tastes as beautiful as it looks!

Flowers

The Flower Market is the second art launch from Arthouse @ NYLO, a multi-pronged initiative to breathe new life and artful character into the hotel. Following the success of Arthouse @ NYLO’s ongoing Silent Cinema series, the flower market is specially curated experience to celebrate and reflect the neighborhood and hotel’s artistic voice. As the city shakes the last ice chip off its shoulder delving into the warmer months, the flower market is one of several concepts that will bring art and creativity to visitors and locals alike.

Fllowers

Crowd Scene

In the heart of the refined Upper West Side of Manhattan, NYLO New York City is just steps away from Central Park, Lincoln Center and the historic Beacon Theatre, among countless other landmarks. Your private sanctuary in New York City, each room is packed with creature comforts like a spa rain shower, plush bedding, and tons of natural light. Serene, spacious, an escape from the city hustle in a central location.

NYLO New York City is Located as 2178 Broadway (enter on 77th St.) New York, NY 10024. 212-362-1100. For reservations, reservations@nylo-nyc.com. Follow NYLO at @nylonyc.

Arthouse SignagePink Flowers

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Destination Dining: Saffron Fine Indian Cuisine!

Cover Shot
All Photos By Gail

For fans of authentic Indian food, New York City is blessed with several key neighborhoods where an abundant selection of terrific restaurants are available for your choosing. 6th Street in the East Village and Curry Hill (East 20s at Lexington Avenue) are convenient destinations for downtown residents who don’t want to travel outside Manhattan to get their fix of favorites like Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Vindaloo. But the Upper West Side also boasts its share of excellent Indian restaurants, and one of those is Saffron, located at 75th Street right on Columbus Avenue — one of the best locales for prime people-watching in the city!

Saffron Interior

The Gig was recently invited to dine at Saffron as part of a media dinner, where we had the opportunity to savor many of Saffron’s excellent, multi-regional dishes, be pampered by friendly, attentive service, and enjoy the great street views! Owned and operated by Raju Brahmbhatt, who is already an established successful restaurateur, each menu item at Saffron was personally developed by him to showcase the depth and breadth of authentic and diverse Indian cuisine, characterized by the use of exquisite spices, herbs, vegetables and exotic fruits. Here are a few of the dishes we enjoyed!

Onion Kulcha

Saffron
features an extensive selection of Indian breads, including this still-warm-from-the-oven Onion Kulcha; a soft white bread stuffed with fragrant chopped onion.

Poori

We also enjoyed this freshly prepared Poori, a puffed, quick-fried whole wheat bread. This one is always greeted with smiles when it arrives at the table.

Ginger Tikki Chicken

Ginger Tikka is made with boneless chicken marinated with fresh ginger, garlic and spices, and cooked in a clay oven. A tender and juicy people-pleasing dish!

Shrimp Balchao

For seafood lovers, Shrimp Balchao is a classic Goan dish with succulent shrimp in a spicy chili sauce.

Lasuni Gobi Cauliflower

Lasuni Gobi is a dish of battered and fried Cauliflower, served in a garlic sauce. Saffron has seemingly endless varieties of creative, vegetarian-friendly dishes.

Aloo Gobi Mutter

Aloo Gobi Mutter is another popular Indian vegetable medley of lightly spiced potatoes, cauliflower and green peas, cooked in a ginger and tomato sauce. All of these dishes are ideally portioned for sharing, so a small group of friends can enjoy an eclectic feast by ordering just a few items!

Basmati Rice

Peas and Carrot Pulao is the favorite Basmati Rice dish with Saffron’s special touch of, well, saffron!

Fish Tikka Jalfrezi Salmon

Another standout entree, for Salmon lovers especially, is the Fish Tikka Jalfrezi; tandoori Salmon Tikka sauteed with onion, bell pepper and special seasonings in a tangy tomato sauce — the best salmon dish I’ve yet tasted in any Indian restaurant. Highly recommended!

Palak Paneer

No Indian feast is complete without Paneer; a traditional Indian Cheese that is one of our favorites. The Palak Paneer pictured above combines  cubes of this delcious homemade cheese with spinach, garlic and herbs.

Indian Ice Cream Cake

Although we were all surely stuffed and satisfied by the end of the meal, Saffron did not skimp on serving two excellent Indian Desserts. The Indian Ice Cream Cake is light and luscious, with its three flavors of ice cream including pistachio, cherry and vanilla, layered on top of a moist, spongecake base. So good!

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun is a light pastry dumpling (not unlike a doughnut) served with a honey syrup. Sweet and a little decadent! What a fantastic evening!

In addition to its full dinner menu, Saffron also offers a variety of lunch options. Monday through Thursday, enjoy a special $9.95 lunch menu (Noon – 3 PM), or pick up a boxed lunch to-go for just $8.95. A weekend buffet lunch (Friday through Sunday, 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM) offers a fifteen course, all-you-can-eat entree selection for only $14.95  —  a unique alternative to the usual Sunday Brunch!

Saffron Indian Cuisine is Located at 320 Columbus Avenue, at the corner of West 75th Street, in Manhattan. Take the 2 or 3 Train to 72nd and Broadway, or the C Train to 72nd and Central Park West. Order online or make a reservation for dinner at Saffron NYC Dot Com.

Saffron Exterior

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Orale Mexican Kitchen

Jaritos Wall
“Pop Art”: Illuminated Wall of Jarritos Soda. All Interior Photos By Gail, Most Food Photos By Anne Raso

[Note: As of July 2014, Orale has changed its name to Chico Julio’s Oceans of Flavor and is now focusing on a Seafood-themed / Mexican Menu]

Hey do you like Mexican Food? I sure do. While there’s always been a dearth of authentic Mexican – or even the revered California Style Mexican – cuisine in Manhattan (and, let’s be honest, in the entire tri-state area) the Upper West Side has a new contender for at least a Top Ten List fixture with the arrival of Orale Mexican Kitchen, which has been open for just under a month.

Skull on Wall

Orale UWS joins its popular sister location in Jersey City , which has been winning fans since April of 2013. The Manhattan space mimics the NJ location’s décor with fun barrio style graffiti and street art murals, which gives the restaurant a vibrant and festive feel as soon as you enter. There’s also the incredible illuminated wall of colorful Jarritos soda bottles, which is as cool a work of ‘Pop’ Art as anything I’ve seen in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Cow Skull

Orale’s engaging menu is a good mix of standard Mexican favorites and Latin-inspired fare, which might encourage you to extend your culinary comfort zone and experiment a bit. But it’s always a good idea to start your meal with some fresh Guacamole.

Guacamole Trio

Orale dresses up its Guacamole de la Casa (Avocado, Tomato, Cilantro, Onion, Jalapeno & Lime) with five different topping ($7 – 9), or you can select a tasting of three for $12, which is what we did. To the de la Casa we added a scoop of the El Naco (topped with so-close-to-bacon Crispy Braised Pork Belly) and the Blue Demon, topped with Cabrales Blue Cheese and Toasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The Guacamole is served with a literal bucket of freshly made tortilla chips and a selection of three spicy sauces, which deliver varying degrees of heat, to your taste.

Holy Guacamole

Pork Tacos al Pastor

Tacos De la Calle (5 soft corn tortillas stuffed with varied fillings) are a popular dish at Orale and a tray of 5 will set you back $16, which, believe it or not, is competitively priced for these parts. We shared an order of the Tacos Al Pastor, which are made with tender marinated & Roasted Pork topped with Caramelized Pineapple, Chile de Arbol and Cilantro. Very satisfying and delicious! Other taco fillings include, Roasted Bone Marrow topped with Crispy Pork Belly, Beer Battered Fish, Vegetarian with sautéed Seitan, Chili Rubbed & Seared Tuna, and Spicy Beef Tinga. A great idea for a party of two or three diners would be to get two orders of different tacos and share them!

Rice and Beans

The menu leads one to believe that a side Rice & Beans come with the tacos, though that is not the case. However, a size appropriate for sharing is just $6.

Dinsaurio Short Rib

One of the house specialties, the intriguingly named Dinosaurio, is an entree of one huge Short Rib served on the bone, marinated in ancho and chipotle-chile and cooked until a tiny nudge of your fork frees the meat from that very serious bone (Dinosaurio, indeed). The meat is sublimely tender and flavorful, though it has a bit more “marbling” than I generally care for. My dining companion, on the other hand, absolutely raved about it. The plate arrives dressed with Tamal de Olla (a creamy polenta lightened with fresh corn) and a delicious Tomatillo Chipotle Compote.

Brussels Sprouts

Under the Bocadillos section of the menu, a large dish of fresh Brussels Sprouts ($5), quickly deep fried and then seasoned simply with salt & pepper, is an unorthodox but complementary side to both the traditional and Nuevo-Mex dishes.

Vanilla Flan with Caramel Sauce

We finished off our meal with a favorite traditional Mexican dessert, Vanilla Flan with a luscious Caramel Sauce ($7), which was recommended by our very friendly and helpful server. Again, after a hearty meal this portion was certainly big enough to share between two people (in fact, we could barely even finish it).

Orale also has an extensive drink menu featuring classic margaritas, specialty cocktails and a wide selection of Tequilas, Sangria and Beer. This place is a great addition to an already fun neighborhood. I’m looking forward to future visits to further explore the adventurous menu! Get your Cinco de Mayo reservation in now before they fill up!

Orale Mexican Kitchen is Located at 768 Amsterdam Avenue (near 98th Street), New York, New York 10025. Phone (212)749-2929 or visit Orale MK Dot Com for reservations.

‘Aangan Style’: Fine Indian Dining on the Upper West Side!

Aangan Mosaic Chandelier
All Photos By Gail Except Where Noted

Do you like Indian Food? I sure do. I have a couple of favorite destinations on Indian Row (East 6th Street) and also Curry Hill (vicinity of Lexington Ave and 28th Street) but I didn’t really have a favorite Indian restaurant with a proper uptown address. That changed last week when I was invited to visit and review Aangan, conveniently located just steps from the 103rd Street stop on the Number One train. Even folks who dread traveling above 14th Street can be assured that dinner at Aangan is worth the trek!

Our considerable feast at Aangan included at least a dozen different dishes, all delicious, but where Aangan really distinguishes itself from its peers is in the restaurant atmosphere, level of gracious service and overall dining experience. Aangan is a Hindi word meaning “Courtyard,” and it is typically associated with the open spaces in traditional Indian homes – an area where families get together to relax, dine and spend time with each other.

Aangan Interior Shot

In this way, Aangan provides an authentic Indian courtyard restaurant experience on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The restaurant’s interior is beautifully fitted with a glass mosaic chandelier, wall mounted candle fixtures and elegant, modern padded wall finishes. Floor to ceiling windows looking out onto Broadway provide lots of natural light and great people watching. Once the sun sets, Aangan continues to glow with its special brand of hospitality.

Mango Lhassi with Rum Cocktail
Mango Lassi with Rum

My dining companion (also a food blogger) and I ordered modestly: two appetizers and two entrees – all to share – plus a basket of bread. But our waiter asked if they could bring us a few additional items and house specialties which they’d like us to try, and we could hardly refuse. What we ended up with was a bona fide Indian buffet featuring favorite dishes and tasty new discoveries.

What we ate:

Shrimp Balchao

Shrimp Balchao: Medium-sized shrimp marinated in Goan Balchao Sauce ($10.95). When people say a shrimp dish was “Perfectly cooked,” they are talking about the tender and sweet shrimp in this dish. The sauce has just a mild kick. Really lovely.

Bhel In Phyllo Cups

For an unusual appetizer, go with the Bhel in Phyllo Dough Cups, comprised of Spiced crispy Rice and Lentil Flour savories served in pastry cups ($6.95). It’s a light and tasty choice that I’ve never seen on any other menu.

Crispy Cauliflower

Another favorite that I first had at Junoon is the Lahsooni Gobhi: Lighty battered and Crispy Fried Cauliflower tossed in Tomato Garlic Sauce ($8.95). This is a hearty appetizer for vegetarians or a complimentary side to any meat dish.

Assorted Indian Appetizers

The two appetizers we ordered, Vegetable Samosas: Triangular turnovers filled with Potatoes and Peas ($6.95), and the Paneer Pakora: Cottage Cheese Fritters Served with Mint Chutney and Tamarind Sauce ($7.95), arrived on an attractive platter of mixed Vegetraian appetizers including Vegetable Kabob (mashed veggies in a lentil wrap) and a very delicious, pleasantly crunchy Onion Pakora. This off-menu assortment is something you could ask your server about if you are game for trying many different things. Aangan is very eager to make sure your experience is enjoyable and personalized. And, as you can see, they create a beautiful presentation with every dish.

Tandoori Chicken and Lamb

They also brought us a Small Platter of Chicken and Lamb Tandoori to sample. The lamb is exceptionally tender and flavorful, and the chicken is a good choice for the less-adventurous diners in your group.

Tandoori Lamb Chops

Tandoori Lamb Chops are another house specialty, priced to share at $19.95.

(Photo Above and Below By Anne Raso)

Tandoori Salmon

Also perfect for sharing, and with a gorgeous presentation, if I may say so, is the Tandoori Salmon: Filet of Salmon marinated in yogurt, coriander, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika and turmeric ($19.95). The salmon is meaty, tender and perfectly cooked.

Chicken Korma

Here’s a dish everybody loves, Murgh Korma: Boneless pieces of chicken in a rich cashew nut and almond cream sauce ($14.95). I love that they put a cherry on top of this.

Murgh Xacutti

Murgh Xacutti, a very mild Goan Chicken Curry cooked with coconut and aromatic spices and served with mint rice ($14.95), is an excellent choice for curry fans who want to go easy on the heat.

Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer: Puree of Spinach Cooked with Homemade Cottage Cheese ($12.95). You just gotta have it.

Lamb Biryani

My favorite dish of the night was the Lamb Biryani: Aromatic rice with cubed Lamb ($15.95). I always love a good Biryani, and the Lamb in this dish was beyond tender and so flavorful. I would order this again.

Assorted Indian Breads

An extensive selection of Indian flatbreads are priced at $2.95 – $4.95, or you can build your own Bread Basket, with your choice of 3 breads ($11.95) which we did, selecting the Garlic Naan, Alloo Paratha (filled with mashed potatoes) and, my favorite, Onion Kulcha — which I highly recommend. These fresh and hot from the oven breads are light, delightfully chewy and crispy.

Malgova Mango Pudding

After enjoying such an impressive repast, we hardly had room for Dessert, yet we were able to savor a few bites of the Malgova Pudding – described as a ‘Mango soufflé’ with a touch of Coconut ($4.95). This fruity dessert has a firm, gelatinous consistency, rather than the traditionally creaminess one expects with something called “pudding,” but it was quite light, tasty and refreshing.

Come to Aangan and enjoy the Indian Courtyard Dining experience! You’ll be glad you did!

Aangan is Located at 2701 Broadway on the Northwest Corner of West 103rd Street (Right at the #1 Train Stop). Visit them online at Aangan Dot Com or Phone 212-280-4100 for Reservations.

Aangan Logo

Neapolitan Pies Hit the Upper West Side at Fratelli La Bufala

Fratelli la Bufala Restaurant Logo

In Italian, the word Bufala (if you couldn’t guess) means Buffalo: as in the mighty animal and the delicious mozzarella cheese, but the word can also signify something that is meant to be a joke, or a humorous story. At least that’s what I was told when I visited Fratelli La Bufala, a new European-based chain Pizza restaurant that opened its doors on Broadway and 76th Street on April 27th. One might ask if New York City really needs another pizza restaurant, let alone a chain restaurant just getting its feet wet in America. But early signs point to Fratelli la Bufala having something unique to offer.

The Fratelli La Bufala brand (FLB) was established in Naples, Italy in 2003 by three partners, who created a whimsical back-story for their road to success, recounted as an old-fashioned fairy tale. The story goes that, after the loss of their father, the young and brave Fratelli brothers emigrated to different corners of the world in search of fame and adventure. After many years of hard work, they joined together their respective successful pizza restaurant ventures, which today account for 100 Fratelli La Bufala (literal translation: Brothers of the Buffalo) restaurants in major cities across Europe, and now in the US (the NYC location is only the second in the US after Miami) with plans to expand further.

Le Reale Pizza at Fratelli la Buffala

La Reale Pizza With Prosciutto (Food Photos By Anne Raso)

As soon as you enter the lively and bustling space, you’ll see the impressive black pizza oven attended to by three authentically regional chefs, who came over from Naples to work and train new employees in the ways of pizza making. Once we gazed upon these hot and deliciously fragrant pies travelling from the oven to various tables across the restaurant, we knew we had to taste them. Since we had brought only a modest appetite, we chose to focus on sharing one pie, knowing that future visits were likely so we could sample many other selections. Our choice was the La Reale ($20.50), a white (sauce-less) pie covered with mozzarella, provola and ricotta cheeses, cherry tomatoes, and plentiful portions of salty prosciutto. To us, there is no such thing as too much cheese, and this was one of the most luxuriously cheesey pizzas we’ve tasted. Dare we say it: Best on the Upper West Side! The pizza also has a wonderfully chewy-crisp thin crust, which is what you expect from old fashioned oven-baked pies like these. Add a big green salad and you’ve got a feast that will satisfy any appetite. Of course, we also had to try a dessert, and their rich and creamy Tiramisu ($9) ranks among the best. Mangia!

Tiramisu at Fratelli la Buffala

Tiramisu

With Fratelli La Bufalo open for just under a month, as expected, they still have a few wrinkles to iron out, which we’ll make you aware of now. When we visited, the gas grill was not yet in operation, which meant that none of the menu’s featured meat dishes (including the mashed potato-stuffed meatballs and the rib eye steak) were available. Likewise, several pasta dishes (and even a featured dessert) were unavailable for whatever reason, so it’s advisable to either stick to ordering the pizza, or be sure to ask before you start perusing the menu’s many color photo-studded pages if there are certain dishes which are ‘off menu’ that day.

On the upside, the NYC location is lovely and comfortable with an engaging ambiance. The interiors were designed by Lelia Castellano and include colorful murals and pop art paintings by Antonio Montariello. It’s simple, but chic, modern and unpretentious. And the pizza really is delicious.

Fratelli La Bufala is Located at 2161 Broadway at the Northwest Corner of 76th Street, New York, NY 10024 ( just blocks from the 1, 2 and 3 trains at 72nd Street). Phone 212-496-5303 or visit their website at This Link for more information. The Restaurant does not accept reservations at this time.