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Revel’s Garden

Posted on Jul 25, 2007 in Al Fresco Dining, Best Of, Reviews

I’ll admit: The Meatpacking District has most recently evoked unfortunate memories of emasculated steaks at STK, inebriated hordes swarming Tenjune and many a wintry night battling for a taxi.  Revel has revived my hope for sanctuary in the midst of the madness.  Once known only as the “Bar With No Name”, this spot has recently gotten an actual name, a menu and a phone number to boot. Call me old-fashioned, but personally I’m partial to the reservation system and food.  A girl’s gotta eat.  Owner Paolo Secondo (Barolo & I Tre Merli) has implemented an international menu with delicate Mediterranean undertones.  With a backyard garden that seats 80 and dishes, the likes of spaghetti with lobster and bay scallops with chestnut honey & bacon, the Meatpacking District suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting.  That is, until you try to hail...

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Summer’s Best: The Simple Things in Life

Posted on Jul 9, 2007 in Best Of, Holiday Eats

As I basked in one of summer’s simplest pleasures – Carvel’s soft serve vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles while staring into a store freezer filled with Fudgie The Whale cakes – I realized we sometimes forget the edible warhorses that have transcended the very notion of food fads.  And before I descend into the chaos that is the Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center to uncover the latest fashions, I thought it only appropriate to honor the classics and reflect on summer’s greatest hits: 1) Carvel’s Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream – Top it with rainbow sprinkles or those divinely addictive chocolate crunchies, even the most devout chocolate snobs are hard-pressed to turn their nose up at this custardy creation. 2) The Lobster Roll – While it’s become a somewhat controversial of late, no one can...

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Summer’s Best Cocktails

Posted on Jun 11, 2007 in Best Of, Holiday Eats

It’s summer.  Perhaps time to mix things up, maybe switch out that vodka martini for a minty mojito or opt for lillet over rose.  There’s plenty of summery elixirs to be had in New York and with the onslaught of serious cocktail chefs around every corner, you’re bound to stumble upon a fresh-squeezed concoction.  You just have to know where to hunt the best down, so here’s a list of the latest & greatest summer cocktails around town…   Little Branch – Ease into a booth at this moody subterranean lounge with a Queens Park Swizzle – a mojito riff punched up with a bit of bitters – and let yourself be lulled by live jazz Sundays through Wednesdays. Address: 20 Seventh Ave., at Leroy St. Phone:212.929.4360 A60 – Tragically reserved for the New York elite, befriend a gifted...

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Summer Dining Al Fresco

Posted on Jun 3, 2007 in Best Of

Seeing as summer’s officially arrived, I’d say we’re due for an al fresco dining roundup. Afterall, we should seize these few precious months of sunny days and balmy nights.  Albeit cement sidewalks & fire escapes dangling from above may not be your idea of romance, but it’s New York City and there’s a boundless supply of great restaurants to be had.  My top ten picks for summer: Falai – Former Le Cirque chef Iacopa Falai has built a successful mini-empire on the Lower East Side, launching with this sleek modern Italian.  Spend an evening in a romantically lit, 15-seat backyard patio, where you can nibble on fresh baked breads and perhaps the best brown butter-bathed gnudi in town. Address: 68 Clinton St., at Rivington St. Phone: 212.253.1960 Spitzer’s Corner – (Premiering this summer) While owners Will & Rob Shamlian...

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The Inn LW12

Posted on Mar 17, 2007 in Best Of

Address: 7 Ninth Ave., at Little W. 12th St. Phone: 212.206.0300 Cuisine: Canadian-British gastropub Vibe: Ski lodge meets hunting inn Scene: Buzzing. Hours: Seven days a week, Dinner, 5:30 pm-12 am; Lunch, 11:30 am – 3 pm; Late night, 12 am – 3 am. Price: Appetizers, $9-$15.  Entrees, $18-$36. Reservations: Same day reservations. Highly Recommend: Poutine (cheese fries with gravy) Official Website   The Inn LW12th (short for Little West 12th) is technically trendy.  First, it’s in the Meatpacking District.  Second, it rides the gastropub wave.  Third, it fronts the sign of the former occupant (Rio Mar), very fashionable and even more confusing than having no signage at all.  And yet surprisingly, this Canadian-British gastropub feels like a charming escape from the harrowing hipster zone that envelopes it.  This charming three-story townhouse is part ski lodge, part hunting inn. ...

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"Off the Menu" Secrets

Posted on Feb 14, 2007 in Best Of

Why is it that "off the menu" always sounds so much sexier than anything actually in fine print?  Sometimes, it feels like you’re dining in coach while in-the-know regulars are feasting in first class.  I only just became hip to In-N-Out Burger’s so-called "secret menu", which apparently caused quite a stir about five years ago.  After stumbling upon Le Cirque’s "secret" pasta primavera a few weeks ago, I was inspired to do some digging around for New York City’s best "off the menu" gems: Nobu – Rumor has it there’s an "off the menu" ribeye, blessed with a bevvy of dipping sauces (wasabi pepper, balsamic teriyaki & a spicy anticucho) that blows the black miso cod out of the water.105 Hudson Street, (212)219-0500 The Stanton Social – It’s technically classified, but The Stanton Social snags A5 certified Kobe from...

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Best Valentine’s Day Restaurants 2007

Posted on Jan 16, 2007 in Best Of, Spring Eats

Valentine’s Day maybe Hallmark’s favorite holiday, but it may not be yours.  If you’re lucky enough to score a date, you might want to start contemplating your restaurant options now.  Veterans at the Valentine’s reservation game have probably already secured their reservations (or enlisted their assistants), so I thought I’d offer a few Restaurant Girl Suggestions of my own: Splurge Spots Le Bernadin – If you want the best, this is pretty much as good as it gets. 155 W. 51 St., btwn. 6th & 7th Aves., (212)554-1515 Cafe Gray – Go for the magnificient park view, stay for the sumptuous short ribs. 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd floor, (212)823-6388. Gramercy Tavern – They don’t call Danny Meyer the king of hospitality for nothing. 42 E. 20th St., btwn. Broadway & Park Aves., (212) 477-0777. Veritas – Even the snobbiest...

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Best & Worst Dishes Roundup of 2006

Posted on Dec 28, 2006 in Best Of

BEST DISHES 2006 – Restaurant Girl’s Roundup It was the year of the burger, pork, local produce, steak and retro desserts of the parfait sorts.  Though threatened with a potential ban, foie gras graced us with its ubiquitous presence on the newest menus around the city.  Duck confit, brussels sprouts, gelee, and salty & sweet desserts were in fashion, and lest we not forget the now painfully cliche, caviar-topped scallops atop cauliflower puree.  As 2007 looms just days away, some of these trends will happily die away, while others will become culinary fixtures.  So without further ado, here are my picks for the best & worst dishes of 2006: SLIDERS – A cross between a meatball sandwich and a mini-burger, The Little Owl’s sliders still linger fondly in my memory.  Thanks to Joey Campanaro (The Harrison & Pace), these...

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Restaurant Girl's 2006 Roundup

Posted on Dec 13, 2006 in Best Of

Best New Restaurant Picks for 2006 – A Year in Review After a year of gluttonous feasting at some of NYC newest restaurants, I thought I’d offer a Restaurant Girl Roundup of the best and worst of 2006.  While the mega-restaurant trend of the Asian fusion sorts, has thankfully fallen flat, New Yorkers seem to be embracing the little guy.  The Buddakan’s of the city have taken a back seat to intimate newcomers with impossible to score tables, like Little Owl.  Equally, a new genre of genteel steakhouses are on the rise, as are tapas bars, small plate spots, and Asian street food chains.  Seasonal cooking continues to seep its way into Spanish, Italian, and even gastropub fare.  So without further ado, for better or worse, here are some of the top restaurants and trends (* indicates highly recommended):...

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The London Bar

Posted on Nov 20, 2006 in Beer Bars, Best Of, Reviews

151 West 54th Street, nr. 7th Ave. (212)468-8889 website TYPE: Asian-inflected French VIBE: Modern elegance OCCASION: A mature date or civilized family affair DON’T MISS DISH:  White onion veloute with duck ragout DON’T BOTHER DISH: Peekytoe crab with avocado & sweetcorn sorbet DRINK SPECIALTY: An extensive wine list & classic cocktails. PRICE: $70 & up HOURS: Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 365 days a year, 6AM – 11PM in the London Bar.  High tea served every afternoon at 4 PM.  Dinner only in Gordon Ramsay at the London, beginning at 5:30 PM. RESERVATIONS: Reservations are recommended, especially for dinner.  Be prepared to dial two months before you actually care to dine.   RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10):  6 (pretty good) FINAL WORD: A royal mess – The London Bar was wildly inconsistent on opening night. Still, it’s well worth a visit...

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The Crack of Cake

Posted on Nov 6, 2006 in Best Of, Dessert, Sneak Peek

Cake Man Raven708-A Fulton StreetBrooklyn NY 11217718-797-2598718-694-CAKE (to pre-order cakes) I have accidentally stumbled upon the perfect slice, (no, not Di Fara’s pizza).  Behold, Cake Man Raven’s sublime red velvet cake; a cake so decadently divine, it literally keeps me up at night.  I suggest you get yourself to Fort Greene immediately for the slice of a lifetime.  At the risk of playing the role of the playground drug dealer, this is one addiction I encourage you to  indulge in, calories be damned.    Deep in Fort Greene, a line of people slowly file into a modestly marked shop, slip the counter girl a five, then skip out with a slice as if you’re about to engage in some sort of illicit activity.  Parodixically located in Park Slope, Harlem Baking Company sells giant fluffy slices of red velvet cakes. ...

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Posted on Sep 29, 2006 in Dessert, Reviews

7 West 32nd Street (btwn. 5th & 6th Aves.) (212)695-9631 Hours of Operation: 7 days a week, 11 AM – 11PM daily NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Though curiously under wraps, I managed to coax owner Daihwan Choi into divulging that the medium (8 oz.) is 200 calories.  All of the yogurt here is non-fat, but carbs have yet to be disclosed. INSIDE SCOOP: Pinkberry hopes to open locations on the UES (82nd & 2nd Ave.), Nolita (Prince & Mulberry), and Meatpacking (20th St. & 8th Ave.). INSIDE SECRET: There’s an off-the-menu mochi topping for in-the-know yogurt addicts or bi-coastal Pinkberry loyalists. PRICES: Original flavor – Small, $2.95, M $3.95, & L $6.45 Green Tea flavor – Small $3.90, M $ 4.95, & L $8.25 One topping is an additional $.95, $1.50 for three toppings Still reeling from the disappointment of yesterday’s...

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Posted on Aug 14, 2006 in Best Of

Contributing Writer: Booze Boy Remember that morning in college when you woke up sprawled out on your bed, face down, head throbbing, one arm twisted around your bedpost?  Do you remember what caused that hangover from hell?  Chances are it was tequila-related, probably some dangerous combination of Pepe Lopez, Aristocrat or Cuervo Gold tequilas.  It was largely due to the fact that the tequila you were drinking was only 51 percent agave, the bare minimum required by Mexican law for tequila to be called Tequila.  That means 49% of what you were drinking was anything but agave.  And when I say anything, I mean anything – we’re talking sugar, rum, vodka, food coloring, salsa.  That 49% of anything is called mixto, and it acts as a mixer/flavor agent whether you know it or not, which is why you felt...

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Gin Lane

Posted on Aug 10, 2006 in Beer Bars, Best Of, Reviews

355 West 14th Street at Ninth Ave. (212)691-0555 Savory NY video   TYPE: Continental/Raw bar VIBE: 30’s supper club OCCASION: Let them lure you to linger over dinner or stumble in for a late-night bite GO WITH: A date or a posse of prepsters DON’T MISS DISH: The French fry tasting DON’T BOTHER DISH: Heirloom tomato salad PRICE: $40 & up HOURS: Dinner & drinks, Monday-Saturday, 5 PM-4 AM, the main dining room stops food service at 12 AM.  The bar menu’s served until 2 AM.  Closed on Sundays.  Look for lunch hours in the upcoming weeks. RESERVATIONS: Recommended, especially on Thursdays & weekends. INSIDE SCOOP: Snag the chairs next to the fireplace in the back. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10): 6 FINAL WORD: Speak easy, drink heavily. CHEAT SHEET: DRINK: Strawberry Nirvana NIBBLE ON: The french fry flight...

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Drink Pink

Posted on Aug 1, 2006 in Best Of, Sneak Peek

I met a Wine Girl who’s been around the grapevine & happily volunteered to coax us through the wine list.  Without further ado: What’s the perfect summer wine for a picnic, bbq, or outdoor fine dining?  Ranging in sweetness and seriousness, there’s a ROSE to fit any fare and satisfy even the most sophisticated palate.  And rose isn’t just for ladies – real men aren’t afraid to drink pink. What is a rose? Rose wine generally comes from black-skinned grapes of any varietal (Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet, Sangiovese, etc.).  What makes rose different from red wine is the length of time the grape juice stays in contact with its skin, aka, maceration.  The grapes are first crushed, de-stemmed, then left to macerate before pressing.  The rest of the rose wine-making process is exactly the same as it is for...

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Booze Boy on Scotch

Posted on Jul 17, 2006 in Best Of

  It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with food, but even a Restaurant Girl gets thirsty and I’m quite fond of liquor.  Luckily, I met a boy who knows his way around the bottle – let’s call him Booze Boy.  He’s stopped by to share the wisdom of his scotch drinking ways: Have you ever heard someone walk up to a bartender and order their scotch “neat”?   Hey, maybe you’ve even been that person.  Did you ever notice that the first (and second and third) sip burn? That’s because neat translates to no ice, no water, nothing – just plain straight up.  Most single malt scotches are anywhere between 42% and 50% ABV (alcohol by volume), also known as 84-100 proof.  That’s almost half alcohol – no wonder the stuff burns.  It’s not the same grain alcohol burn we all...

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The Inside Scoop

Posted on Jul 11, 2006 in Best Of, Summer

Who would’ve ever imagined that one day you’d be able to watch a music video on your ipod or send mail from your computer or…order gourmet ice cream from a virtual ice cream shop?  Forget fishing for M & M’s from the office vending machine, Moobella machines offer made-to-order fresh ice cream, right on the spot.  Just pick from one of 12 different flavors – cake batter, banana, & mocha – add one of 5 mix-ins – reeses peanut butter cups, chocolate chips – and you’ve got custom ice cream in 45 seconds flat, $2.50 per serving.  Hmm…I wonder if this robotic ice cream man’s got a girlfriend. Who needs Ben & Jerry when I can make designer ice cream myself without lifting a finger – well, maybe just a couple of fingers, but only to type in my...

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Burgers & Cupcakes

Posted on Jun 2, 2006 in Dessert, Reviews

458 Ninth Ave. (btwn. 35th & 36th Sts.) (212)643-1200 VIBE: Cafeteria cool OCCASION: Breakfast or your lunch break GO WITH: Co-workers or go it alone DON’T MISS DISH: Beef Burger DON’T BOTHER DISH: Fresh squeezed lemon Fizz PRICE: under $ 10 INSIDE SCOOP: Will deliver anywhere in the city if you pay the cab fare HOURS: Monday-Saturday, 8-9 PM, Sat. & Sun. 10-9 PM RESTAURANT GIRL RATES (1-10): 6 FINAL WORD: What could be better? You’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven at Burgers & Cupcakes if only it weren’t in Hell’s Kitchen with a window view of Lincoln Tunnel traffic.  This simple, but perky cafeteria-style luncheonette with pink & brown painted walls invites you to rediscover your inner child, bringing you back to a time of blissful naivete when calories and carbs didn’t matter.  I took the...

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Food Finds

Posted on Mar 3, 2006 in Best Of

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Posted on Feb 23, 2006 in Best Of, Dessert, Winter Eats

Forget about love, hot chocolate is in the air every February at The City Bakery and time is running out!  Whether you’re looking to make a big commitment or just sample the goods, run don’t walk to  the Hot Chocolate Festival for a shot or cup of the hottest chocolate in town.  If you’re looking to slip into something more comfortable, sip the banana peel hot chocolate on Saturday, February 26.  But if you’re looking to fulfill your darkest desire, slip in on Sunday, February 27 for expresso hot chocolate.  Whatever you’re craving, The City Bakery will be sure to satiate your sweet tooth.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  It might just be better than sex. Until we eat again,...

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