Daily Archives: July 21, 2011

Caffe Grazie: 26 E. 84th st. New York, NY

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My mother took me, my beloved Grandma and my Great Aunt Millie out for restaurant week lunch at Caffe Grazie, and It was a very pleasant experience. Just about everything on the prix fix menu appealed to me, and I had a hard time choosing what to order. I decided to go with the lightest of the 3 appetizer options, so I ordered the gazpacho. It was delicious. So summery and refreshing with the perfect combo of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and spices. I would have loved some (more) cilantro since that’s my favorite herb, but it didn’t really need it. It wasn’t completely smooth, but not really chunky either- which I generally prefer…it was a nice somewhere-in-between. I tried my Mom’s watermelon, feta, brioche croutons, mint, chickpea salad and it was really wonderful. The appetizer I didn’t order, but totally wanted, was the fried mozzarella with yellow and red tomatoes, basil and balsamic…but because I was about to eat steak AND mousse for my next courses, I figured that would really be too much indulgence for one day.

My entrée was flank steak over salad greens with caramelized onions and grilled tomatoes. What a fantastic summer lunch. Filling without being too much. There were only a few pieces of perfectly marinated and grilled steak so it wasn’t overly heavy as a mid-day meal. A very light dressing and the tomatoes and onions were a nice touch to finish it off.

For dessert, I had the VERY rich chocolate mousse with fresh berries. It was a fairly small portion, a good thing in my opinion when you are essentially eating heavy cream in a bowl. There were more berries than mousse and they were perfectly ripe and fresh. The chocolate was dark and the berries lightened it into a somehow refreshing ending to a great meal.

I looked over the rest of the menu and saw so much on it that I’d love to go back for. The atmosphere here is small and comfortable and makes a great spot to go with family. I would consider going back, but without restaurant week prices it’s actually a bit out of my budget, and the reality is that it doesn’t have quite enough wow factor to justify splurging on.

Lure Fishbar: 142 Mercer St. New York, NY

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After my CD release gig at the Bitter End (shameless plug: http://www.cdbaby.com/careyyaruss2) Gabriel and I decided to go celebrate with a cocktail and some seafood at Lure. I’d been there a few times for their $1 oyster happy hour, but never for anything else. We arrived to a full restaurant and were seated in a quiet, corner booth relatively quickly- just as soon as they could clear and re-set the table for us. No one gave us weirdo looks when we decided to sit on the same side next to each other. I often prefer ‘next to’ instead of ‘across from’, and I appreciated that they had actually set the table that way for us.

It was a pleasant surprise to see that they were participating in restaurant week- my favorite NYC ‘holiday’ (which has apparently been extended into restaurant SUMMER and is continuing through the beginning of September!!! OH HAPPY NEWS!) where 3 course lunches are $25 and 3 course dinners are $35 at a ton of the city’s restaurants. Since it was late and we didn’t want to stuff ourselves, we decided to order drinks, one prix fixe meal to share and a side of garlic spinach.

I had a strawberry/basil martini and it was STRONG. Then again, I was drinking on a mostly empty stomach. I intended to wait until I’d eaten a little bit before having a second sip. It was so delicious though, that I continued sipping on it before the food arrived. I can safely say that one cocktail was plenty for me.

We started with a raw bar sampler which included 2 each of shrimp, blue point oysters and kumamoto oysters. All were succulent and with a squeeze of lemon hardly needed any of the vinaigrette or cocktail sauce that sat next to them on the platter. There was also a tartar sauce flavored with lemon and horseradish that was tasty, but I skipped it so as to taste the purity of the fresh seafood. Our main course was the sushi sampler, 8 pieces of sushi and one salmon/avocado roll. I have to comment on the awesome ginger that came with this. It wasn’t the standard ginger, but a little bit thicker cut, fresher, and much more flavorful than most. We finished all of it before we even finished the sushi- which was also excellent. The spinach was a great accompaniment to our meal- even though It didn’t really go with it. We wanted a little something green and it was garlickylicious and cooked perfectly- not at all soggy or buttery, just fresh and wonderful.

For dessert we had the warm chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream and popcorn brittle. Now I personally don’t care at all that little, plain, round, warm, melty, chocolate cakes are no longer considered hip or cool enough to be at fine restaurants. Apparently, they are oh-so 90’s ,but as far as I’m concerned, that is just snobby bullshit. It’s a perfectly delicious piece of heaven. How can that possibly go out of style? I guess they add the trendy salted caramel ice cream as a more current touch, and it certainly was tasty- but as far as I’m concerned, warm, melty, chocolate things are always fine by me, with or without of-the-moment ice creams. Aside our cake sat the most decadent piece of dark chocolate, with ‘congratulations’ written on the top. Our waitress was rather awesome and sweet- giving me a big, heart-felt congratulations and asking me about my music. I was really touched that she was interested. How thoughtful is my awesome boyfriend to have mentioned to the waitress that it was a special night for me? Very very sweet. Just like my yummy dessert.

 *photos courtesy of Gabriel Sanders. http://www.magicsandbox.com/enter/Magic_Sandbox.html (except for 
the one of both of us that our lovely waitress took)