Monday, August 23, 2010

Setting the Mood

My most favorite thing about eating out--aside from the fact that it's a treat, that's its shared with good company and of course, the food--is the atmosphere. I want to surround myself (and my guests) in a place that feels cozy, has a good spirit and makes you want to linger. Fortunately, I experienced 3 great places (again during restaurant week) that provided me with just this elements: 21 Club, Petrossian and One If By Land, Two If By Sea.

For years my mother-in-law has been wanting to take us to 21 Club. However, I envisioned the restaurant to be stuffy and old. Something about the way the jockeys were lined up on the outside, as if they were keeping guard of the restaurant, struck me as uninviting. I am proud to say I couldn't be more wrong! The restaurant is charming. The Bar Room reminded me of a cross of Serendipity with all the hanging antiques, and the comfortness I recall from the years of dining at Oscar's. The food was delicious. I couldn't' thank Alex's mom enough for this experience and I'm sure she loved proving me wrong!
Mention Petrossian and caviar is the first word that pops up! The three of us dined here and were taken away with the octopus shaped lamps, the caviar egg studded menu and the ocean atmosphere. Quite lovely. We sat for a few hours, ate and enjoyed ourselves. P.S. we never ordered the caviar on the menu, but the marinated herring, smoked salmon and stripped bass did the trick!
Described by many as the most romantic places in NYC, One If By Land, Two If By Sea is a very beautiful indeed. While it is romantic, I don't find it to be over the top. The windows overlooking the garden, the table side rose and lite candle, the dim lightening, the live piano music that filled the air with classics life Fur Elise (requested by my husband) may seem cheesy, but trust me it was perfect, especially on our anniversary! Definitely a place that warms the heart and stomach.
My favorite? Nah, can't give you that as all 3 restaurants offer their own uniqueness of style. But, they all equally create an ambiance that is comforting and sets the mood for the food to come. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thank Goodness for Food Shows!

I am a food show addict, no denying it! In fact, shows like the Barefoot Contessa and Everyday Italian are what inspired me to actually get in the kitchen and cook and eventually enroll in culinary school. I may or may not have made the actual dish I saw on TV, but still it inspired me to take a few ingredients out of the fridge and pantry and get creative! After graduating I've noticed my interest in these same food shows decreased a bit, and other shows have stolen my interest. Take for instance, The Next Food Network Star, Man v. Food and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I record these shows and during my downtime, sit and watch them with a pad and pen in hand. Over the weekend rather than eat out at the regular spots we love, Alex and I make it a mission to scope them out. Again, one of the many perks of being a chef and foodie! Over the last 2 to 3 weeks we visited Woody's in Connecticut; White House in Atlantic City, L&B Pizzeria in Brooklyn, and Veselka in NYC.

Woody's a hot dog establishment....awesome toppings like the Deputy Dog: Pulled pork and cheddar cheese. Or the Dog Father: Mozzarella Cheese, Sauce and Peppers

White House....think of Bill Cosby's fascination with hoagies! Proudly devoured a Cheese Steak Submarine and on the way home an Italian Submarine

L&B Pizzeria....sweet sauce over melted mozzarella a must try sicilian...If you must choose one, forgo the regular slice.

Veselka....talking about borscht here. Perhaps the idea of beet soup makes you cringe, but seriously this place will make you a fan...think beets in a deliciously rich beef stock!

I invite you to go visit any one, if not all of these establishments. You will form your own opinions, but you definitely will make one or two of these your favorite spots.