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Flatiron District

Hot Chocolate Festival 2016

February is here and it’s the annual Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery! Check out the calendar and indulge in a rotating menu of delicious liquid chocolate.

2016 City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival Calendar

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Time for Football at Slate’s “Undefeated Sundays”

The football season officially kicked off last night and that means it’s time for wings, nachos and beer. Everyone has their favorite sports bar (check out Lansdowne Road), but if you’re looking to scope out somewhere different, check out Slate‘s new “Undefeated Sundays.” From how Slate’s describing it, this is going to be an interesting combination of football, brunch, bar food and live music from some of NYC’s top DJs. The menu at the very least looks really good.

This all kicks off on Sunday, September 13th starting at noon so if you go, let me know how it is!

Undefeated Sundays

Pretzel Croissant City Bakery

I highly recommend the pretzel croissant from City Bakery. Combine a New York City pretzel with a buttery croissant and voila. Go there. Now.

A Lobster, Lobster Roll and Burger Walk Into a Bar…

Have you heard of Burger and Lobster? If you’re in New York City and love lobster, you need to check it out. The chefs here have it easy since there are only three items on the menu. For $20 you can choose from a lobster, lobster roll or burger. Literally, that’s it. And don’t worry, Burger and Lobster isn’t one of those places that skimps on portions. No matter what you choose, you’ll have a healthy portion of seafood or meat coming your way. Order a drink and for $30 you have yourself quite a nice dinner.

Burger and Lobster Manhattan New York City
One happy Burger and Lobster Customer

Click to add a blog post for Burger and Lobster on Zomato

Burger & Lobster

Move Over Chipotle, There’s a New Game in Town – Oxido Grand Opening Today

Oxido – 18 West 23rd Street, Manhattan, New York

Watch out Chipotle! Oxido opens today in the Flatiron District and it’s the latest fast casual restaurant in New York City featuring authentic flavors of modern Mexican cuisine.

I checked it out last night during the pre-opening festivities and dare I say this place has fresher and more flavorful ingredients than Chipotle, with a few additions outside Chipotle’s wheelhouse.

Pictures of some of the delicious food are below. I highly recommend the grass-fed grilled garlic steak and queso sauce. Order off the secret menu and get the “Make it Dirty” nachos. You can’t go wrong.

If you aren’t convinced yet, during today’s grand opening 1/2 of all proceeds will benefit Food Bank For New York City! Don’t miss it!

Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City

Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City

February Means Hot Chocolate and Pancakes!

It’s February and that means it’s time for City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival and Clinton Street Baking Company’s Pancake Month! These are some of my favorite annual food events are are well worth the trip to both places.

Every February, City Bakery announces its calendar of hot chocolate flavors. Each day throughout the month City Bakery features a new flavor of hot chocolate, ranging from lemon hot chocolate to rum raisin to banana peel. And this isn’t your cheap Swiss Miss hot chocolate. This is the real deal – thick, liquid chocolate gold.

City Bakery Hot Chocolate FestivalPancake Month at Clinton Street Baking Company is the place to be as well. Get there early though because lines stretch out the door on both weeknights and weekends. The wait is well worth it for some delicious pancakes and great variety of flavors.

Clinton Street Baking Company Pancake Month

Blue Smoke Barbecue

Blue Smoke – 116 East 27th Street, Manhattan, New York

Credited as the founder of New York City’s barbecue movement, Blue Smoke is a combination of hardcore barbecue and culinary artfulness. I’d previously been to Jazz Standard, Blue Smoke’s basement-level jazz club serving up delicious barbecue and soulful sounds. On this trip, I gave the upstairs restaurant a try and left a happy man.

Creekstone Farms Texas Beef Brisket

Creekstone Farms Texas Beef Brisket

The menu at Blue Smoke takes you along a barbecue-filled path – with ribs, brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and sausage populating the menu.

Creekstone Farms Texas Beef Brisket

Creekstone Farms Texas Beef Brisket

The beef brisket comes with your choice of lean or marbled meat, and mashed potatoes topped with crispy onions. Word of advice, go with the marbled brisket. The ring of fat adds a huge burst of flavor. This brisket was out of this world amazing. It literally dissolved in my mouth, no chewing necessary. Incredible flavor. The only downside was the portion size. I would have preferred some more meat for the $20 price. 

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich

The pulled pork sandwich was also good, although it didn’t come close to the brisket. It definitely is better than the pulled pork at Blue Smoke’s outlet shop at Citi Field. There was a solid amount of meat here and it was doused in a vinegar barbecue sauce.

Sweet Potato Wedge Fries with Maple Dip

Sweet Potato Wedge Fries with Maple Dip

The sweet potato wedges with maple dip were enormous. We literally must have had two full potatoes cut up on our plate. They had a generous sprinkling of course salt on the skin. The maple dip appeared to be mayo-based and had a hint of maple flavor. I had thought the dip would be straight up maple syrup and would have preferred that instead.

Toothpicks and Wet-Naps at the End of the Meal

Toothpicks and Wet-Naps at the End of the Meal

The best way to close out a meal? With toothpicks and Wet-Naps. Blue Smoke graciously brought these out with our check and it was a really nice touch.

The Verdict

Blue Smoke has my vote for some of the best beef brisket around. Melt in your mouth deliciousness is what I’m talking about. Prices may be a little expensive for what you get, but that’s one of the only downfalls here. I’d definitely go back for some great barbecue around Madison Square Park. 

Blue Smoke on Urbanspoon

Melt Shop

Restaurant: Melt Shop – 601 Lexington Avenue & 55 West 26th Street, Manhattan, New York

Depending on who you ask, the best grilled cheese in New York City can be found in a number of restaurants across the five boroughs. I mean, who isn’t a fan of melted cheese in between two pieces of bread slathered with butter?

Searching for that mind-blowing grilled cheese, the other day my Dad and I gave Melt Shop a try to see if lived up to the hype I’d heard about.

Tater Tots Melt Shop

Tater Tots

I ordered:

  • Truffle Melt: havarti, arugula, and cracked black pepper drizzled with truffle oil on toasty sourdough bread
  • Tater Tots

I’d heard so much about the tater tots I had to order them. They were a little cold, but overall, not bad. I liked the sprinkling of cheese on top of them that helped make these fried potatoes a little more interesting. I easily ate through the majority of these, and quickly.

Truffle Melt Grilled Cheese Melt Shop

Truffle Melt Grilled Cheese

I then moved on to the Truffle Melt. Havarti, arugula, and cracked black pepper is drizzled with truffle oil, all on toasty sourdough bread. The Truffle Melt grilled cheese was delicious. The proportion of cheese to bread was just right and the sourdough gave this sandwich a nice taste that normal white bread would have left empty. The stretchy havarti cheese was fully melted throughout and I could clearly taste the truffle oil. Best part, the arugula made me feel like I was actually getting some ‘greens’ in my sandwich so I felt better about all that cheese and butter-soaked bread.

Truffle Melt Grilled Cheese Melt Shop Close up

Truffle Melt Grilled Cheese

Melt Shop was the perfect stop for a weekend lunch. The Lexington Avenue location was empty on a Saturday afternoon since it mainly caters to the workweek lunch rush. My Dad and I had plenty of room to kick back, relax and enjoy some delicious grilled cheeses. Next time I’m in the area and craving something inexpensive, unhealthy and completely satisfying, you better better believe I’ll be paying Melt Shop another visit.

Melt Shop on Urbanspoon

L&W Oyster Co.

Restaurant: L&W Oyser Co. – 254 5th Avenue, Manhattan, New York

Only about six months old, L&W Oyster Co. is one of the newest additions to Manhattan’s seafood (more specifically, oyster) scene. The folks behind Almond are behind this oyster house. 

Atmosphere

The restaurant can best be described as black and white. It gives off both a casual and upscale vibe at the same time that portrays casual elegance. Don’t get the impression that the folks at L&W are suffering from an identity crisis. Quite the opposite. They’ve captured your typical “by the beach” seafood house and brought it to Manhattan – casual during the day but classy at night. The interior features whitewashed booths, industrial copper lighting fixtures providing light to a row of booths, black wood floors and your typical beach-themed artifacts.

Exterior of L&W Oyster Co.
Exterior of L&W Oyster Co.

Food

The menu at L&W (note that this is slightly outdated as the menu is evolving) immediately threw me off. It’s organized in a very creative way. There isn’t a dedicated section for appetizers, entrees, sides, etc. Instead, L&W categorizes its food by ‘small things,’ ‘medium things,’ ‘bigger things,’ ‘booze stuff,’ ‘sparkly stuff,’ etc. I felt like this was almost liberating and allowed me to peruse the entire menu without being confined to ordering one thing from each category.

Brooklyn Clam Chowder
Brooklyn Clam Chowder

I’m a sucker for clam chowder so I of course had to give the Brooklyn Clam Chowder a try. This cream-based chowder wasn’t your typical New England clam chowder or your Manhattan clam chowder. It’s a hybrid made with beer from the Brooklyn brewery. The color may have been slightly off-putting – tan, off-whiteish – but the chowder itself was delicious. It had enough small bits of mussels in it and was a nice consistency (not too liquidy and not too thick) to keep me happy. There were also small crunchy nuggets in it as well which I believe were taking the place of your usual oyster crackers. This was a nice way to differentiate this chowder from others.

Cioppino
Cioppino

Next up was a Cioppino (fish stew) complete with mussels, chorizo, other seafood goodness I can’t remember, all topped with a small pile of yellow rice. There were lots of mussels in this dish and I loved the combination with the seafood combination with the chorizo. I was stuffed afterward and didn’t have any bread to mop up the stew but am sure it would have been just as delicious as everything else was.

Service

Our waiter was very enthusiastic and on top of everything from the start. The food came out at a steady pace and our wine and water glasses were consistently refilled. What more can you ask for? Unfortunately, the service did slightly deteriorate toward the end of the meal and we were left waiting to order dessert for quite some time.

Value

L&W is on the pricier side, with oysters around $3 each, ‘small things’ and ‘medium things’ around $13-$16 and ‘big things’ in the upper $20 range. That being said, if you’re willing to spend some money, L&W has a menu set up for exploration.

The Verdict

L&W Oyster Co. does the perfect job of combining casual and elegant along with delicious food. The relaxed atmosphere puts you at ease as you look through a menu that disrupts the traditional way food is supposed to be ordered. I loved the Brooklyn Clam Chowder and the Cioppino and would gladly visit L&W again to try some of the other items on the menu. If you’re in the Flatiron District and looking for some seafood, you won’t be disappointed with L&W Oyster Co. 

L&W Oyster Co. on Urbanspoon

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