Well, this was the best idea I’ve had all week. What a perfect way to enjoy a lovely afternoon off. Atlantic Grill is one of my local favorites for when I want to go out to treat myself. (although I am quite happy to dine with company there too). This is one of those restaurants that doesn’t bat an eye when you say, ‘Just one’. Sidewalk seating allows for great people watching. Eating at bizarre times like 3:45 on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend pretty much ensures the pick of the best tables, totally attentive service and a bartender happy to bring over a crisp NYT. I had what I often have for lunch there, a chopped salad with grilled shrimp. The salad has chickpeas, capers, feta, olives and veggies and is so fresh and flavorful that I don’t even bother with the dressing. The shrimp are grilled to perfection with a subtle garlic/herb flavor. The basket of incredible bread is hard for me to resist- especially with whipped, fresh butter. Such simplicity, but so perfect. I should mention that I have never been less than impressed with my dining experiences here. It is a family favorite and we come in frequently. Whether it is for sushi, oysters, fresh fish prepared brilliantly, or appetizers and the most awesome chocolate fondue dessert around, it is consistently top-notch. I decide to treat myself to a glass of wine, my 3rd in a week. More than I usually drink in a month- I’m such a lush! Haha. This addition to my meal completes the ideal lunch. I sit reading the paper, occasionally distracted by fleet week hotties passing by, completely and totally content. I ask for the check and mention to my waiter that I write a food blog as I hand him my card. He quickly disappears to fetch me a free taste of their new dessert, as if to challenge my thinking that the afternoon couldn’t possibly get any better. Challenge happily accepted.
More like Lilli and Ew. ‘Seaweed on the outside please’. Pretty clear, right? Apparently not. I HATE the rice-on-the-outside trend of the last 10 years or so. Whose idea was that? You lose the whole special flavor and snappy consistency of the seaweed. Ugh. Anyway, that was fault 1. Fault 2 was my totally nasty, syrupy-sweet, lychee, green tea, bubble tea with a slight hint of dish water and detergent. What WAS that? I’m pretty sure they just tried to poison me. This is really all my fault. I need to learn my lessons. I have 6 wonderful, favorite, safe, local, consistent sushi standbys to choose from. Why why why do I insist on continually trying new ones that ruin my dinner and make me mad? I plan to console my meal trauma with a classic, reliable re-do tomorrow from somewhere I trust and love.
The dashing, sexy, adorable, charming, bright, funny, sweet man I met here for a date tonight might be the real reason that I have only glowing things to say about Uva. (and since it was his suggestion to write something like that, I would hope he is laughing as he reads this) I will definitely have to plan to have a meal alone here to reassess and make sure that my opinions were not totally skewed. That said with fair warning, we both really loved almost everything about this place. Intimate space and romantic lighting. Exposed brick walls and a lovely outdoor patio that made for a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The only negative was the noise level- a bit much, but luckily we were in a nook that allowed comfortable convo. Just don’t bring a low-talker here 😉 The wonderful wine menu led us to 4 choices, each of which were quite enjoyable. I especially liked my Pinot Grigio and D’s something sweet and pear-y. (um. Sorry. I’m a foodie not a wine connoisseur) We (much to my delight) agreed to share plates (my preferred method of dining) and had a hard time choosing from a large, appealing selection. Our waitress happily made some suggestions when we asked about her favorites, and they were excellent ones. The wild mushroom, arugula, parmesan bruschetta was delicious. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the topping was finely chopped and neatly presented atop each slice of toast- rather than a bed of large arugula leaves with piled-on mushrooms that make for pretty awkward date food. The mini veal meatballs in tomato sauce were tasty, rich, and hearty, but a reasonable portion size that kept us from totally filling up on them. The best dish was the ricotta gnocchi with truffle sauce. Wow. OMG. That was damn good. So filling, but we did just fine getting that plate clean. We finished with a dessert of sponge cake with nutella and ice cream. I *think* it was really tasty. Honestly though, I was a bit buzzed by then and probably too full to have even tried to eat more. Speaking for myself, I think it was just a perfectly fair attempt at making a great date last a little longer. Blush. Sigh.
I decided to try a different thai place for delivery tonight. I am generally a ‘Land’ loyal, but order from there so frequently that I thought it was worth trying another for variety’s sake. This really sounds like I am setting myself up for disaster. I ordered 2 apps: chicken satay and a salad, and one of my favorite foods in the world; mango sticky rice. I must admit, the chicken was actually excellent. Slightly crispy with the standard peanut dipping sauce. The salad was also good- the expected basic thai salad. The mango sticky rice was the disappointment I’d set myself up for with my unrealistic expectations. Land has spoiled me and this proved it. This was simply a mound of sticky rice, which was decidedly more mushy, less sticky, with sliced not-quite-ripe mango and sesame seeds. NO amazing delicious coconut tapioca milky goodness to pour over the top! Oh, so sad. So boring. So overpriced at $7 for plain rice and mango? What? That ridiculous. I’m sorry Land. I will not stray again.
Today’s post brings some crummy news. As you know, my motto is “I run so I can eat”. Sadly, I was hit by a car while jogging 11 days ago which means I’m not going to be able to run for at least 3 weeks. It’s been really tough on me so far, not only because running is my prozac, but also because I’m missing out on the wonderful happiness that I get from dining. I am trying to focus on the positive: that I AM breathing, that I WILL recover, and that it could have been much much worse. That said, I will not be doing much dining out for a little while and hence have been finding myself with quite a lot of time stuck at home. The bright side here is that I can work on another hobby of mine, cooking. I am trying my best to eat healthfully so that my injury doesn’t mean I’m going to gain too much weight. My friends have been sending me recipes and healthy suggestions and I am actually really enjoying experimenting. Last night’s dinner was a total success and I thought I’d share it with you. A garden salad with creamy herb dressing and a cheesy non-fat pasta with vegetables. I used half the amount of pasta and doubled up on the veggies. Here are the recipes, enjoy!
CREAMY FRESH HERB DRESSING (from Clean Eating Magazine)
6 tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp raw organic honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp parsley, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped finely
1 tsp lemon zest
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
in small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until blended. refrigerate until serving or use immediately. store in a sealed container for up to 5 days in the fridge.
CHEESY BAKED PASTA WITH SPINACH AND ARTICHOKES (from Real Simple Magazine)
8 oz. mezzi rigatoni
1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered
1 9 oz package frozen of creamed spinach – thawed
1/4 cup grated parmesan (1 ounce)
2 cups grated NON-FAT mozzarella (8 ounces)
cook pasta according to package directions and return it the pot after drained.
add artichoke hearts, spinach, parmesan and half of the mozzarella to the the pasta with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss it all
transfer the mixture to a shallow 2 quart or 8 inch broilerproof baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella
broil until the cheese is browned.
I ordered delivery in from Fresco Tortillas today thinking it would be nice to try somewhere new without spending much cash. Well, as they say, you get what you pay for. Tacos are anywhere from $1.09 to $2.69 depending on the filling. I had the grilled chicken with guac and the chili. Um. Ew. I don’t think that’s chicken at all. Ew. So much for that one. The chili one was okay- but pretty much reminded me of elementary school taco day. The tortillas themselves DID actually taste homemade- but they were squished and soggy by the time they made it to me. I think the salsa was actually tomato sauce. The guac was watery. Ew again. Oh well. It was worth a shot.
I was meeting up with my family for our annual Mother’s Day lunch here and immediately felt comfortable in my surroundings. It is bright, cheery, hip and modern looking. It feels like spring. Our party of 10 was seated at a long narrow table and didn’t feel at all squished, which I feel we often do in small NYC restaurants. I was so pleased to get a great corner seat by the window, such a cozy little nook with plenty of elbow room. I had a somewhat difficult time choosing my entree because pretty much everything on the menu appealed to me. A very good problem to have! My mother and I decided to share 2 entrees- score! We had the eggs Benedict (with spinach instead of bacon which I suppose makes it Eggs Florentine) and the turkey burger. Both were excellent. I especially loved that the burger had spinach and cheese *inside* of the meat like a little flavor-surprise, and was topped with caramelized onions. It came on a delicious roll with a side salad- the one disappointment was that it was simply iceberg lettuce with 2 tomato slices. Had I known that, I would have opted for the fries instead. For dessert, my sweet-tooth cursed family order a bunch of choices to share. The strawberry sundae and banana parfait were a big hit with us. The cookie plate was unremarkable. I didn’t expect to like the banana dessert, but the crispy caramelized edges were pretty darn awesome. Everything we had was present very nicely, tasted pretty delicious, and cooked to our liking, except for one person’s slightly overdone burger. To top it off the service was perfect. Not at all pushy or too-present, but there if you needed anything and very polite and patient. I will definitely come back here again, hopefully next time when the weather is warmer and the outdoor seating is set-up. Great find in the neighborhood!