NYC – 6/22/16 – Alon Shaya @ Chef’s Club

Shaya was one of my favorite meals of 2015 so I obviously could not miss the opportunity to have some of Alon Shaya’s food closer to home.  It was fantastic although with a limited menu I couldn’t help but feeling that I just wanted to get back to NOLA.

Salatim served with pita bread – Louisiana crab tabouleh, bulgur, mint, tomato; Labneh, hold land trinity; Blackened eggplant salad, tahini, pine nuts

Fried oyster hummus, pecan brown butter

Cochon de lait shakshouka – slow roasted pork, stewed tomatoes, green chili zhoug

Louisiana shrimp – okra, paprikash, jasmine rice

Continuing the month long birthday celebration

NYC – 6/20/16 – Gramercy Tavern

I put Gramercy Tavern on the shelf for a few too many years always chasing something new and never going back to too many of the tried and true classics.  I’ve recently put it back into rotation although only in the Tavern room.  Such was planned for this particular night but when there was a long wait vs. no wait for the dining room my date chose the later.  We quickly decided to do the tasting menu and then somehow got to talking and I never even looked at the menu let alone remembered to take a photo.  So unfortunately no descriptions.  However if Gramercy Tavern has fallen off of your to-do list as well, do yourself a favor and go back asap because it is as fantastic as ever and holds up to anything we are all so intent on booking as soon as it opens.

NYC – 6/16/16 – Sadelle’s

Sadelle’s is one of my absolute favorite brunch and lunch spots despite the iffy service and hordes of people. But I put off dinner for some time based on the early poor reviews. I went in with low expectations and so was actually pleasantly surprised. The prices seem high especially for presentations that aren’t even worth commenting on. But portion sizes were large and all of the dishes quite good. Unfortunately the large plates and portion sizes do not work with the table sizes and I found myself having to rearrange the entire table quite a few times which has become one of my biggest pet peeves. The twice baked potato was perhaps the best possible version of this classic and may be reason enough for a return dinner visit.

Tuna tartare


“Kaspia” baked potato

Roumanian steak


NYC – 6/15/16 – Contra & Restaurant Andre

Yet another great Contra collaboration dinner, this time with Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre in Singapore.  He is fantastic as is his food and I hope to someday make it to Singapore!

Baby mushroom croque en bouche

Oyster, lapsong gelee, peas

Rose champagne, heirloom tomatoes, poisson de roche

King crab, celery sabyon, capers

Elysian fields lamb, scallop lasagna, cresson-wasabe

Quail, fava, cherries


Charleston, SC – 6/12/16 – Two Boroughs Larder

It is incredibly sad to be writing this on the day that Two Boroughs Larder is closing.  I suppose it is fitting that this was my last meal of a great birthday weekend.  I am happy to have visited once and can’t wait to see where Josh Keeler ends up.

TBL charcuterie – pickles, mustard, country bread
Seasonal lettuce – benne seed tahini, meyer lemon, bread crumb

Confit new potato – slow roasted carrot, bordelaise, shallot

Carbonara – bucatini, Neuske’s, english pea, calabrian chile, mint


Charleston, SC – 6/11/16 – Leon’s Oyster Shop, Edmund’s Oast and Peninsula Grill

Leon’s Oyster Shop
We arrived at Leon’s focused on a few dishes from our menu preview. But as I finally am getting to this blog update looking back on the menu I realize that I would love to have absolutely everything right now.  I was trying to overdose on peel ‘n eat shrimp this trip and at least in my mind it cancelled out the calories of delicious fish fry.  And no, one can never ever have too many hush puppies.

Peel ‘n eat shrimp, old bay, comeback sauce

Hush puppies, honey butter

Char-grilled oysters, lemon, parsley, butter, parmesan

Leon’s fish fry, mixed fry with condiments, hush puppies and pea salad

Kale salad, butternut squash, pepitas, currants, charred lemon, ricotta salata

Edmund’s Oast
If you are a beer drinker and end up in Charleston Edmund’s Oast is definitely a must do.  Super interesting beers and I still can’t get over how good the PB&J was.  It sounded kind of terrible, and I was incredibly skeptical, but it was fantastic.  The PB&J flavor was there but so subtle as was the yeasty flavor of bread.  Of everything I had on this trip, that beer was one of the most memorable.

“Gin Joint” style jerky

Pickled vegetables

Beef tartare, tonnato sauce, celery, charred toast

Cauliflower, fresh sheep’s milk cheese, calabrian chile

Peninsula Grill
Following dinner we raced to Peninsula Grill to have a slice of their famous coconut cake before they stopped serving food.  I am always skeptical of heavily lauded baked goods and generally am never that impressed.  But this cake was insanely good.  If I had not exhibited any self control I could have easily finished it (and it was enormous).  I am likely ruined for coconut cake forever.

Charleston, SC – 6/10/16 – Xiao Bao Biscuit, Bar at the Spectator Hotel, the Ordinary and the Belmont

Xiao Bao Biscuit
After several hours of very warm biking around Charleston we made our way to Xiao Bao Biscuit for lunch.  The Okonomiyaki lives up to the hype and is completely fantastic.  But the pork candy takes it to another level entirely.  This stuff is absolutely addicting.  I have no idea how it is made, but why is nobody else doing this?  Brilliant.  Our other dishes were delicious but admittedly overshadowed through no fault of their own.

Okonomiyaki – Japanese cabbage pancake with pork candy

Pad Kra Pow – minced beef, beans, thai chili and basil over rice with farm egg

Bo Bo Ji – Sichuan style chicken, cilantro, scallion & peanut salad over rice with a roasted sesame flavored sauce

Bar at the Spectator
We stayed at the Spectator hotel which I cannot say enough good things about.  The rooms were absolutely lovely and the service top notch.  Addressing guests by name always makes one feel special and was done in such a warm manner that you immediately felt that you were friends with the entire staff.  Room service breakfast was included in the room rate which I thought was a great touch especially as the rates did not seem inflated to compensate and the choices were perfect.  Butler service was also provided to all rooms and upon arrival our first butler David took my dress to be steamed and returned not only with my dress, but with a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate my birthday.  I would have been quite happy to move in and cannot imagine staying anywhere else in Charleston.

The bar is beautifully decorated and I had read glowing reviews prior to the trip.  The cocktails were indeed quite good  And as Bravo’s Southern Charm is one of my many guilty pleasures, I was excited to see that Gentry bourbon actually exists and was on the menu.

The Ordinary
I’m still kicking myself for not choosing this for my actual birthday dinner.  The Ordinary is housed in an old bank building and it makes me so happy when these structures are re-used.  It was my mission to overdose on shrimp this weekend and so it makes an appearance here.  An all seafood dinner which at the end of day 2 of Charleston summer temperatures was exactly what I wanted to eat.  And a first for me with wahoo crudo which was a lovely dish.  Unfortunately I have forgotten the ingredients in our desert but that seems bound to happen to me at least a few times per trip.

Ordinary Hawaiian Rolls, Sea Salt Butter

Peel & Eat Shrimp
Jumbo Lump Blue Crab, Grapefruit, Avocado

Wahoo Crudo, Corn, Summer Truffle

Black Bass Ceviche, Avocado, Cucumber

Steamed Snowy Grouper, Porcini Ragout

The Belmont 
A perfect nightcap at the Belmont.  Despite the bouncer outside we only had to wait a few minutes to get inside with seats at the bar.