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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SHUTTERED 8st Kitchen

Never had I seen so many local Korean hipsters slamming Korean Bombers (soju or whiskey dropped in Korean OB Lager) in one evening. 8st Kitchen has a happy hour that doesn't end until way after 7pm; and they keep going and going throughout their meal.

We were quite lame on the drinking front, but held up on the food end.

Spicy squid 오징어볶음 - wok-fried squid tossed in spicy pepper sauce served with somen noodle

Pan-fried oyster 굴전 with diced vegetables coated with egg batter was less successful due to the oyster completely lost in heavy egg batter

Kimchi stew 김치찌개 with tofu, pork belly

Sizzling hot stone bibimbap 돌솥비빔밥 white rice & vegetables in hot stone bowl, egg yolk & choice of meat


Recommendations: stews, bibimbap and korean barbeque

8st Kitchen 22 West 8th Street b/t 5th & 6th Avenues 212-477-7755

Monday, July 19, 2010

SHUTTERED Catalan (Fork in the Road: Houston, TX)

Roasted Berkshire Pork belly with Steen's pure cane syrup - the perfect fat-to-meat ratio and enough for an entire meal

Arborio-dusted calamari with jalapeno lime dressing - calamari was oily and the dipping sauce, too acidic

Baby arugula, roasted hazelnuts, can vinaigrette, spicy fried oysters - these plump oysters were lightly breaded & deep fried

Spice roasted Grouper, local sweet carrot, crabmeat

Seafood Stew: Local fish, clams, shrimp and calamari - extremely bland flavors

Blackened snapper over a 'crawfish boil' - the flavors worked well together, although the pepper overwhelmed the dish a touch

Lamb chops over white beans cooked down with lamb shoulder and Morcilla

Berkshire pork chop, sweet potato and Texas apple hash demi

Bacon & goat cheese grits

Redneck Mac & Cheese

Every main course's meat was tough, particularly the chops. While Catalan falls short in the entree category, it succeeds with small plates and sides; and honestly, most of the small plates have portions big enough to be considered entree-size.

Kudos to the team for their use of farmers that supply the menu!

Catalan 5555 Washington Avenue

Friday, July 9, 2010


Amuse Bouche of ramp, mussel, mushroom, broth, coconut foam and disk of spicy ham

Sea Urchin toast meticulously prepared with tweezers - cauliflower cream, sea lettuce and lime

Lightly lemon-cured fluke with bacon, crunchy soy and almond milk

If there is ever a poached egg dish, of any sort, on a menu, I order it. This slow poached egg in a garlic broth with bacon, peas, mushroom and seasonal black truffles is an appetizer to be reckoned with.

Hanger Steak - smoked potatoes, golden carrots and piquillo peppers

Growing up in Texas, I've eaten my fair share of game and this venison is 1st rate. I've only had one venison dish that was perfection at Auberge de Soleil in Napa. This was a Denver leg cut crusted with coriander, mustard seed, star anise, clove, cumin and black pepper and then cooked on the plancha. Then it is topped with a crumble of toasted almond, crispy shallot and huckleberry, then the napa cabbage, a froth made with hazelnut milk and finally a pomegranate reduction.

Watching George Mendes' tattooed staff cleaning after a hard night's work.

Friday, July 2, 2010

SHUTTERED: Quinto Quarto

Resembling a small, Roman dining room, Quinto Quarto inconspicuously sits on tree-lined Bedford street. During our 20-minute wait, the cheery Italian host brought us small tumblers of red wine before seating us in our nicely candlelit, corner table.

Carciofi con Guanciale (Sauteed artichokes with pork cheek)

Spaghetti cacio e pepe (Spaghetti with cracked pepper and pecorino)

Salsiccia vino Bianco (Roman Sausages cooked in white wine with roasted potatoes and green beans and tomato sauce)

This is a simple menu and there are no complicated dishes coming from the kitchen; but it is good to know that you can make these exact dishes at home. Quinto Quarto chefs don't quite stack up against any NYC American-Italian chefs, but it's a nice neighborhood spot for the right price. 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and a bottle of wine for $60

14 Bedford Street b/t 6th & 7th Avenues


The owners of Tia Pol and El Quinto Pino now give you their take on Basque tapas with another establishment in Chelsea.

Piperrak (Blistered peppers with sea salt) - a take on shoshito peppers with a heavily granulated sea salt almost uncrusting the peppers

Arraultza (Sofrito, palacios chorizo, quail egg)

Pochas (Navarran white beans, Buchot mussels, white wine, parsley) and undoubtedly the winner of the evening!

The almost everyday 'special' of slow-roasted suckling pig with Chimichurri. The crispy skin is delicious.

i Trulli

There are a few reviews I missed throughout the winter, but will post pictures with captions.

I Trulli embodies a true Tuscan ristorante, particularly on a bitter winter evening.

Wood-oven roasted oysters with cavolo nero and fonduta

Malloreddus (Sardinian Saffron Dumplings with sausage and tomato) - Makes the entire meal worth the trip!

Costoletta (Grilled Veal Chop, brussel sprouts, herbed potato puree and pinenuts)

Brasato (Braised Short Rib of Beef, Pumpkin Farrotto, Broccoli Rabe) - super tender hunk of meat with a semi-sweet pumpkin side and the bitterness of broccoli rabe

122 East 27th Street b/t Park and Lexington