Miami eating…

Fellow eater and I spent some time in Miami recently and had a great time eating, especially since it was raining and/or overcast most of the time.  No complaints here though as we still had a culinary blast.

We had lunch at Stephen Starr’s “Le Zoo” in the Bal Harbour Shops for the first time.  FE had the burger and fries, and I had the crab and avocado salad.  Both were delicious.  I’ve noticed in the past that the portion sizes in Bal Harbour and its environs are smaller, and Le Zoo was no exception.  The portions are designed for the “ladies who lunch” crowd and the exceptionally thin people who reside in South Florida.  So order accordingly!

We had dinner at another Starr location, “Upland”.  We’ve been to the NYC location (see prior post) and the menus are similar.  I personally thought the food was better at the NYC location, mainly because the dessert I had was not available at the Miami location (chocolate budino).  This meal was still very good.  We decided to order two pastas each.  I had the bucatini cacio e pepe, which I also had at the NYC location, and we both had the rigatoni bolognese.  FE also had the sausage and kale pasta.  All of the dishes were excellent.  I’m giving a slight edge to the NYC location since that bucatini had more pepper on it, which I love.  I had the chocolate mousse for dessert, which was just ok.

We had lunch at yet another Starr location, “Steak 954”, which is in Fort Lauderdale.  This was a repeat visit for us and did not disappoint.  We sat outside on the covered patio even though it was pouring rain.  No matter.  FE had the grouper sandwich, and I had the grilled chicken sandwich.  Both very good.  Dessert was ice cream at Hoffman’s on Las Olas in FL, which was definitely my favorite dessert this trip.  I had the stellar coffee with calypso chocolate, and FE had a chocolate milkshake.

We had dinner at “Zuma” in Brickell, which is another repeat visit.  Zuma never disappoints.  FE and I shared the rock shrimp, spicy beef tenderloin, sushi, and grilled scallops.  The sushi was my favorite dish of the week (FE agreed).

We had two lunches at “The Grill” at Bal Harbour, both of which were excellent.  The Grill is located on the second floor of the Bal Harbour Shops, with a lovely view of palm trees and Collins Avenue.  FE had the french dip sandwich and the caesar salad with chicken.  I had the veggie club sandwich with chicken and the seared ahi tuna salad.  We shared the warm bread plate and dip duo for appetizers.  These were probably our favorite lunches on this trip.  The Grill does everything right, from service to food quality.

I’m looking forward to returning to South Florida soon to revisit the above, and to check out some new places.  Happy eating!

Miami eating…

DC Eating

I had a chance to check out two new restaurants in DC recently.  Both are offshoots of Philly restaurants so I was curious to give them a try.

First up was Pizzeria Vetri on 14th Street in the U Street area.  FE, Art Vandelay, and I headed over for lunch.  The menu is small and concise.  Art and I split the large margherita pizza, which is served on a long, elevated tray.  FE had a personal pizza, half sausage and half pepperoni.  The pizza was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.  The sauce was tangy, the crust was crunchy yet soft, and the pizza itself was cooked perfectly.

Next up was brunch at Le Diplomate.  This is the brainchild of Stephen Starr, and I guess it’s a sister restaurant to Parc in Philly.  I’ve been trying to have brunch here for some time, but it’s impossible to get a reservation.  They do reserve a number of tables for walk-ins, so we lined up at 9:30 am when the place opened.  We were seated right away and every seat was filled.

The food and service were excellent.  FE and I had the spinach and gruyere omelet.  I’m not a big fan of omelets, but this one was superb.  It was served with potatoes and various French breads.  Art had the zucchini frittata which he enjoyed.  He also raved about the fresh OJ.

I’m hoping to try All-Purpose Pizzeria on our next visit, and I’ll definitely be heading over to Pizzeria Vetri in Philly soon.  Happy eating!

p.s. I am on day 22 of my no dessert/sweets challenge so I didn’t have dessert on this trip.  We’ll see how much longer I can go.  There’s a Stock’s pound cake at work calling my name so it can’t be too much longer.

DC Eating

NYC eating…

I had a chance to spend some time in NYC with fellow eater recently.  Now that I’m a few pounds heavier and it’s harder to get up from my couch, I wanted to share with you what we ate.

We returned to an old favorite, ABC Kitchen, for “brunch”.  For the record, I don’t love brunch because I’m an early riser and I can’t wait until 11 or even 10 am to feed.  On this particular day, I had a proper breakfast at home around 7, and our “brunch” reservation was for noon, so it worked out perfectly.

As usual, the restaurant looked great.  It’s probably the prettiest restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, just because of the unusual decor.  I ordered my usual roasted carrot and avocado salad, and the mushroom and parmesan pizza with farm egg.  FE ordered the akaushi cheeseburger with a side salad instead of fries.  Unfortunately, the kitchen had a fire that morning and the fryer was out of order.  Regardless, the food was terrific.

We then stopped at Eataly so that FE could pick up some supplies.  Fortunately, we remembered to bring an empty suitcase so we could haul all of his pasta purchases back home.

Dinner was at a new place for us recommended by a co-worker called Upland.  It’s a newer Stephen Starr restaurant located on 26th just east of Park.  The space is beautiful – both classy and casual at the same time.  The food was spectacular but we did have a service snafu.  The manager remedied the situation and it appeared to be an unusual occurrence.  I thoroughly enjoyed the octopus with pesto, bucatini cacio e pepe, and hazelnut budino.

Our best meal of the trip was probably brunch the next day.  Due to my hunger concerns, FE and I had a pre-brunch breakfast sandwich at Treehaus (51st and 3rd).  It seems to be a place with healthier options, and I really enjoyed my whole wheat toast with egg, fontina, and avocado.

Of course, I was still hungry for brunch at 11:15.  We returned to an old favorite that has relocated and remodeled.  I’ve been stalking its return for over a year, and finally it’s open.  It is Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe.  FE and I ate at the old location several times, on recommendation of my same co-worker mentioned above.  Apparently, the restaurant lost its lease at the old location and had to relocate a few blocks away to 19th and Park.

The new space is similar to the old one, but more modern.  It’s a beautiful, open, two story loft room.  Our server was delightful and seemed truly happy to be there.  This restaurant was reopened as a no-tipping establishment.  The prices are a bit higher but Mr. Meyers provides a decent wage and benefits to all of the employees.  The prices are not for the faint of heart but hey, this is NYC and the restaurant is worth it.

I had the tortellini in brodo, which is chicken tortellini in broth.  The pasta is homemade and you can tell.  This was a little bowl of heaven.  FE had the pappardelle with rabbit ragu and he was very pleased.  I ended the meal with a piece of the chocolate espresso pie, which was delicious.

 

NYC eating…

A return to the old, yet it’s new…

I had a chance to eat at an old favorite recently – “Friday Saturday Sunday” in Philadelphia.  I have many memories at this place over the years, from dinners with old friends and family, to running into co-workers while there with friends and family.  The restaurant closed about a year ago, changed ownership, and underwent a transformative renovation.

I was nervous to return for fear that it wouldn’t compare to prior visits.  Boy was I wrong!  First of all, the space itself looks terrific.  It’s warm and inviting, but it still feels classy and special.

Second of all, the food was great.  I can even say I think that the food now is better than before.  The prior menu contained a lot of old favorites, which were great.  However, the new menu is food-forward but in a good way.

Fellow eater and I decided to indulge in the pasta special of the day, which was a lamb and goat cheese ravioli with sorrel mushrooms and pecorino cheese.  I’m not a lamb fan but this was delicious.  The pastas are made on premises and you can definitely tell.

FE had the escargot which he really enjoyed (I ate most of the pasta, sorry FE).  FE had filet mignon and I had the grilled shrimp with grits.  Both were excellent.  The shrimp was so flavorful that it didn’t even need the sauce that came with it.

We didn’t try dessert.  I wasn’t in love with any of the choices so I didn’t want to waste the calories.  The homemade ice cream sounded intriguing but I wasn’t wild about any of the daily flavors that were offered when I was there.  Definitely next time!

Finally, the service was stellar as usual.  I was happy to see that Mr. Connelly is still working there, and we were fortunate enough that he took care of us on this particular night.

I’m happy to highly recommend this restaurant, but please don’t swarm it so I can still get a reservation!

A return to the old, yet it’s new…

What I’ve been eating…

I have to confess, I was lucky enough to eat at Barclay Prime yet again recently.  I ate my usual and it was excellent (again).  I did have the coffee ice cream with chocolate brownie chunks this time, which was the special flavor of the day.  Wow.

I was also lucky enough to have a chance to eat at a brand new “fast casual” place called “Verts”.  Verts is on 16th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets in Philly (side of the 1601 Market building).  It just opened on 3/10.  I was walking by around lunchtime so I decided to stop in.  Apparently, half of the Philly lunch crowd had the same idea!  I was about the 25th person in line.  I decided to stick it out to see if it was worth it.  It was.  And p.s. the line moved quickly.

I ordered a rice bowl with falafel, cucumber and tomato salad, cabbage, pickled jalapeños, chickpeas, and red pepper seasoning.  I also had a side of pita chips and hummus.  I decided to go conservative since this was my first time here.  It was delicious.  The falafel was comparable to Naf Naf up the street (also very good).  The toppings were fresh and flavorful.  The jalapeños were so hot that my mouth was numb (also a good sign).

I can’t wait to go back and try the turkey and mushroom meatballs!

What I’ve been eating…

Another excellent meal at Barclay Prime

We had an impromptu “family party” at Barclay Prime in Philadelphia recently.  Fortunately, we were able to snag a last minute reservation in the lounge for our party of five.  Matt took care of us and as always, he went above and beyond in ensuring our comfort and satisfaction.

We had wagyu sliders, truffle mac and cheese, butterball potatoes, kale salad, roasted cauliflower, brussels sprouts, filet mignon, salmon, and ribeye.  Everything tasted great and the pace of the meal was perfect.

We ended the meal with two of the warm deep dish cookies, one with mint oreo ice cream and the other with chocolate chip ice cream.  Delicious!

Fortunately I’m going back with colleagues soon.

FYI the Patriot Parking garage around the corner on Chancellor Street offers validated parking for $17.

Another excellent meal at Barclay Prime

Great eats in Fort Lauderdale

Fellow eater and I spent some time in Fort Lauderdale recently.  We had some great meals so I wanted to share them with you.  I also wanted to memorialize them for the next time we visit.  Here they are in no particular order:

1.Asia Bay – This was our second visit to this Asian gem on a canal on Las Olas.  Las Olas is the main drag in the town.  There are many high end shops, bars, and restaurants.  We were lucky enough to sit outside at a table right on the canal.  We split the spicy tuna sushi and spring rolls, both of which were out of this world.  I had the shrimp fried rice, which had a nice kick to it.  I went with the medium spice level and that was plenty hot.  I was hoping to return for another meal but we ran out of time.

2.Steak 954 – We had both breakfast and dinner here.  This is a Stephen Starr place, somewhat similar to his Barclay Prime in Philadelphia.  The only discernible difference is the weather!  We sat outside overlooking A1A for both meals.  As with all Starr establishments I’ve been to, the service was impeccable and the ingredients were high quality.

I had the wagyu sliders and the scallops as my entree.  FE had a 22 0z. ribeye.  Everything was great.  We shared the ice cream sandwiches for dessert.  OK, OK, I ate most of them.  The red velvet cookies with cream cheese gelato and the gingersnaps with green tea were my favorites.

3.Hoffman’s Chocolates – This is an ice cream place and a chocolatier, also on Las Olas.  The stellar coffee ice cream was great.  I would go back just for that.

4.Kilwin’s – Another ice cream place and chocolatier, also on Las Olas.  The cookies n’cream on a homemade waffle cone was delicious.  FE had a chocolate-covered twinkie which FE thought was great.

5.Seasons 52 – Although this is a chain, we love this location.  The food is always terrific and the place has a great vibe because of the weather.  You can’t go wrong with any of the items here, especially the mini desserts!  I recommend the chocolate peanut butter one.

6.Serafina by the Water – This is an Italian restaurant located on a canal.  The setting is perfect – right on the canal along a row of docked yachts.  The portions are large so we didn’t order an appetizer.  I had the pappardelle bolognese and FE had king crab with squid ink pasta.  This was FE’s favorite dish of the week.  For dessert, we had chocolate mousse and tiramisu.

7.Angelo Elia Pizza – This appears to be a local chain.  We visited the Federal Highway location.  The pizza is fantastic and we shared the arancini appetizer.  We were too full for dessert there so we stopped at Whole Foods for cookies.

Great eats in Fort Lauderdale