Tag Archives: NYC

French with a Flair: The Affaire

14 Jan

Cocktail Dreams

When the owner of The Affaire, the resto/soon-to-be burlesque joint/lounge (that used to be home to China 1) contacted me to come in opening week, I was skeptical of the once-trendy bar’s ability to reinvent itself as a decent restaurant. Well, boy was I wrong – and I’m not afraid to admit it. This is not your average “bar-gone-wrong-so-let’s-salvage-it-as-a-restaurant”. Affaire in the East Village/LES (Avenue B btwn 3rd/4th Sts) is truly its own unique entity; the sexy restaurant/drink den features a menu of delicious french nouveau cuisine that is actually playfully american in its execution.

I was lucky enough to dine in January while there is still a 3 course $19 prix fixe – for vegetarians they doubled up on the apps – but the important part is that I got to try SO much! As far as starters go, the endive salad with walnuts and pear was yum, the roasted beet with roasted goat cheese and almonds was DELISH but teeny, and the mini pizzette provençal with goat cheese, tomato, peppers & herbs was nice to share. The #1 stand out of the apps was the TRUFFLED Mac & Cheese, which was actually RIDIC – penne with so many different cheeses, topped with bread crumbs and truffle oil, then baked to perfection. We ordered 2, we finished 2 – it’s amazing, go get some – NOW.

Truffled Macs Where its At

As far as entrees go, we had a plethora of veggies for moi and my dining partners had the duck leg confit which, I’m told, was amazing. We also had several sides to complement our main dishes. The haricots verts were pretty standard beans in my book, and the spinach was pretty good too, but the brussel sprouts with bacon were RAVED about.

Before dessert, I got the full tour of the space from Andrew, the owner. While there’s a similar setup, the resto/lounge has been updated since the days of China 1 and I certainly hope that the renovations will breathe new life into the amazingly large and diverse spot. I’m especially excited about talk of brunch, which I’m told will include a DJ and some sort of multiple cocktail option (you can expect a review, once it’s fully rolled out). After our tour, we got to taste dessert! The profiteroles were like little yum eclairs, but the true star was the warm chocolate cake which was served a la mode and made for a warm/cold chocolate nirvana.

All in the Cocktails Details

I should add that the bartenders made it a point to ask questions so as to make your drinks exactly as you want them and the wait staff (esp the most wonderful, Nicole) were all attentive and helpful. Restaurateurs, take note: this is how a restaurant’s roll-out should be. Foodies, take note: this is a new and notable worth trying.  I would particularly recommend going for a late weekend dinner that would easily segue into cocktails downstairs… Whenever you go, visit The Affaire, where it’s perfectly acceptable to be having one (with food, of course). Book through Savored for 30% off your total dinner bill most evenings or check their website for daily specials!

They do excellent private events as well – to book your very own secret society dinner, email PreferredDiners@gmail.com

Much Ado About Fondue: Taureau

10 Jan

As soon as I heard about Taureau, the new-ish East Village (7th St btwn 1st and A) BYOB Fondue resto, I knew I was going to have to check it out.  Need me to back up?  Yes, I’m talking about a restaurant that is BYOB – with no plans of changing that status, and serves Fondue – with every intention of changing your life with its cheesy goodness.  Like what you hear? Good, let’s proceed…

Taureau’s an intimate dining experience whose seating arrangement has diners packed in at close proximity and whose cheeses pack in a major punch of flavor.  The small tables are all equipped with a heated top to keep your bowl of melted cheesy goodness at optimal temperature for dipping whatever you order from the menu – be it animal, vegetable, or mineral breadable.  Each order includes a very basic green salad, as well as an unlimited order of croutons.  Speaking of unlimited, EVERYTHING you order to dip in your vat of cheese is bottomless – as in, eat as much as you want and another order will miraculously appear on your table.

Delicious Dishes

The star of the evening was The Soprano fondue – Parmesan aged 18 months and blended expertly with White American.  The flavors of these 2 very different cheeses blended quite nicely and made for a very versatile dipping sauce.  For our veggies, we had cauliflower which was steamed to perfection, sweet potatoes (which were just OK – but could be great with a different variety of cheese) and my personal fave, the mushrooms – there were a ton of perfect bite-sized pieces and they complimented the fondue oh-so well.  As for meat, there is the option of having raw, marinated meats brought out that you cook in oil on the table, but due to my veggie status, we didn’t opt for any of those carnivorous options.  My guest researcher did have the Salami and Chorizo from the cured meats section of the menu – the Salami was apparently very good, or so I’m told.

While the cramped cozy seating would lend itself easily to multiple posts on “Overheard in NY”, the delicious situation happening in my mouth made it easy to tune out our next-door neighbors.  Couple that with servers that were helpful, plus the attentive hostess, and you’ve got a slam dunk of a resto in my book.  And hopefully, that dunk is straight into a bowl of delicious cheese at Taureau.

Know before you go: Taureau is cash only, now taking reservations for dinner (highly recommended) – call 212.228.2222. Bring your fave bottle of wine and be prepared to have your socks knocked off – our bill clocked in at under $60.  All I’ve got to say is next time, I’m leaving room for dessert…

Japanese BBQ, Cooked by You: Gyu-Kaku

7 Jan

Cooking your own dinner at home is a great way to save money, but it can, at times, get a little boring… BUT, cooking for yourself at a swanky resto with a tabletop grill?! Nothing boring about that folks! Gyu-Kaku, with locations in the East Village (Cooper Sq @ 5th St) and Midtown East (3rd Ave @ 50th St) is a fun, interactive restaurant, which turns your grilling desires to reality.

Veggie Bevy

A few friends and I visited the East Village location – the ambience is upscale and the waiters are very helpful when it comes to deciding how much you need to order off the menu. We started with Tofu Salad (YUM), Tuna Volcano (a table fave), and Crispy Seaweed with Cream Cheese (which was… different). While we were eating our apps, they brought over the veggies we ordered to get them going on the burner, since they take a bit longer to cook.

Some of the vegetables come in foil packs (the Japanese eggplant was FABULOUS, and the mushroom medley was very good as well), and there’s also an assorted vegetable plate with veggies you can cook right on the grill.  As for the meats, the ladies went with simple chicken and shrimp, which took a little longer to cook than our server mentioned, but I guess that varies depending on the intensity of the flames on the grill.

OMG: On MY GRILL!

Overall, the experience is the biggest selling point at Gyu-Kaku – it’s a unique thing to do and can be a great icebreaker if you’re just getting to know someone. That being said, this probably isn’t the ideal spot to go if you’re catching up with someone, just because it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in conversation and burn your food, and when you’re the chef, it’s not the kind of error you can send back to the kitchen. If you’re not that hungry, I suggest just going later in the evening to get dessert – the smores are AWESOME and you can order a side of marshmallows, if that’s what floats your boat. PLUS happy hour with ½ off drinks runs Mon-Thurs 9:30pm-closing.

Smores Galore

If you’re going with a group, it’s more than worth your while to book your reservation through Savored – it’s $10 to book, but you’ll get 30% off your meal which was $45 off for our crew.   Enjoy, and get cooking kids!

Get Hot This Winter: Prana Power Yoga

5 Jan

It's Getting Hot in Herre

I think for a lot of people who have at some point practiced yoga, hot yoga is like the final frontier.  Now don’t get me wrong – I’ve tried many different styles of yoga, but the thought of sitting in a 95 degree heated room and THEN trying to get my yoga practice on seems almost laughable.  Then again, I’m always up to try something new, so when a friend invited me to go to Prana Power Yoga in Union Square (B’way @ 17th St), I thought at the very least it would be an exercise in humility.

I’ll admit that I took the time to read through the FAQ section of the Prana website because I had my doubts about what to expect – so if you’re worried, give it a little read.  What I can add is that a tank top and yoga pants or shorts is the best attire.  Also, you can bring your own mat and a large towel, or rent from the studio for $2 each. Most importantly, make sure you hydrate well throughout the day and bring a bottle of water with you; you’re going to sweat out a whole lotta toxins, friendos.

The studio itself is toasty and clean and the staff members are so friendly.  They have a great deal for first time students; for $30 you can get either 1 week of unlimited classes or 3 classes to use over the following 30 days (or if you just want the 1 class, it’s $18).  Packages are also available to returning students and they help to bring down the cost per class substantially.

Overall, I think the heat factor really enhanced my yoga experience.  Being so aware of your breath and on maintaining focus despite the heat makes for a much more self-aware practice – surprisingly, I found it incredibly energizing. Whether you’re looking for a new way to get your sweat on during this cold winter, or just want to turn up the heat of your workout routine, Prana Power Yoga is definitely worth checking out.

Cupcake Binge at Sweet Revenge

3 Jan

I Recommend Sweet Revenge

Cupcakes, Wine, Happy Hour… these are a few of my favorite things – so you just KNOW that putting them all together is going to get my attention. Bringing all these things and more to the table, Sweet Revenge in the West Village (62 Carmine @ Bedford) delivers on all accounts. The cupcakery is the brain child of Marlo Scott who, after being laid off from her corporate job in 2007, decided to damn the man and save the empire bake some damn good cupcakes.

The small-ish space utilizes every square inch to fit the hungry cupcake craving masses in comfortably but I still think it’s best to hit SR up during off-peak hours. Not only will you have more room, but you can hit up the happy hour which is 4-8pm Monday-Friday and will get ya $5 beers or the very excellent deal of a glass of wine + a cupcake for only $10.

Jamaican Me Hungry

The menu is pretty diverse for a cupcake joint – they serve sandwiches, salads and some breakfast foods. What really caught my eye though (besides the cupcakes – duh!) were the savory cakes. I had the Jamaican Curry cake and while I enjoyed it, it was not at all what I expected. The muffin- esque cake was more like a moist cornbread with veggies baked into it – the coconut curry dipping sauce on the side was especially great.

Sweet Revenge Namesake Cupcake

For the happy hour special, I opted for the namesake cupcake – the Sweet Revenge. Peanut Butter cake, Ganache filling, and Peanut Butter Fudge frosting. Oh Em Gee! But I must say you should definitely split with a friend because all that sweet gets a little intense.  Better yet, share 2 cupcakes to switch up the flavors between bites! However you decide to get your sweet on, def look no further than Sweet Revenge.

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