Sel Et Poivre Revisited: The Game Festival

Three years since visiting and reviewing Sel Et Poivre, I was invited back to taste some new and varied offerings on the restaurant’s traditional French menu.  The restaurant was busy and lively as ever with a surprisingly packed dining room for a chilly winter Tuesday night.

For the rest of February and well into March, Chef Christian will be serving a variety of rarer meats as part of the restaurant’s annual game festival. In addition to classic French fare like duck, steak, and veal kidneys, you can expect wilder visitors such as venison, quail, and even antelope!

The meal started with two game sausages: one made of pure venison and the other a mix of venison and wild boar with cheese and jalapeno peppers ground in for extra flavor. I had never tasted venison before, but had heard that it can taste quite gamey when not hunted or prepared properly. Gamey flavor, often described as musky or pungent, and tougher texture come from meat being left out for a time after hunting.

The venison sausage I tasted was salty and filling with flavors that reminded me a bit of spiced lamb though the texture was a little bit firmer. The wild boar variant was both peppery and a little sweet with a mouth feel that felt lighter and more traditional for sausage.  I would not call myself a game enthusiast quite yet, but I found the pure venison sausage to be pleasant and different in an earthy way.


Venison Sausage and Venison and Wild Boa Sausage


Next I tried the escargot, which was slathered in garlic butter and parsley, a classic combination. It was a delightful appetizer bursting with succulent juiciness, savory flavor, and a light spring breeze of herbs. The texture of the snails was melt-in-your-mouth rather than chewy–delicate enough to make me forget what I was slurping!


Escargot in Garlic Butter and Parsley Sauce

The third course was both the simplest yet the most enthralling for me: a creamy red pepper bisque. With a kiss of cream and a dollop of potato, the dish had a wonderfully viscous texture whilst still remaining relatively light and frothy. I cannot stress enough that I really dislike bell peppers, but I adored this soup. The dish carried the full-bodied summer aroma and sweetness of the pepper, but bolstered and grounded it with a rich swirl of cream and salty potato. I’m sure Chef Christian could work wonders with any vegetable, but this seasonal bisque special was a total treat for me.


Red Pepper Bisque

The first main course we tried was cod served on a bed of lentils. Despite an intense aroma of fish stock around the dish, I found the fish flaky, light, and just right in terms of saltiness. Covered in cream and garnished with little peppery punches of mustard seed, the lentils made for a strong and filling contrast as a side.


Cod and Creamy Lentils

The second main course we enjoyed was quail stuffed with goat cheese in a port wine sauce. The quail was delicate with crispy,  seared skin and savory meat without a trace of gamey flavor.  Quail is a bonier, smaller bird than chicken with more delicate morsels of meet. The sweet, slightly acidic sauce mingled beautifully with the billows of melted, salty-tangy goat cheese nestled within. It was served with wild rice and pureed sweet potato that balanced out the decadence nicely.  I’m told you get a pair of quail to gobble down when ordering off of the regular menu!


Quail Stuffed with Goat Cheese, with Wild Rice and Pureed Sweet Potato


We began dessert with the smoothest creme brulee I’ve ever tasted. It was garnished with a perfectly ripe raspberry. I only wish it had been topped with more.


Crème Brûlée

Following that was an incredibly fluffy apricot crepe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Chef Christian attributed the meticulous, eggy delicateness of the crepe’s thin layers to a simple flick of his wrist. The apricots were warm and spiced, melted down to a heavy syrup that had been expertly drizzled over the crepe to impart their flavor without leaving it soggy. It was a dazzling yet wonderfully understated dessert.


Apricot Crepe with Ice Cream and Mint

My second visit to Sel Et Poivre was a forest full of flavor. Between the game animals and artful arrangement of fruit and vegetable flavors, at times I felt like I was enjoying courses from the king’s last hunt at a medieval court feast.

Sel Et Poivre

Location: 853 Lexington Avenue (Between East 64th and 65th Streets)


Phone:  212 – 517 – 5780

Lunch 12 PM-4 PM on Mondays through Fridays

Dinner is 4 PM-10:30 PM on Mondays through Thursdays, 4 PM to 11 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, 4 PM-10:30 PM on Sundays.

Brunch is 12 PM-4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

The game festival runs until mid March!


The Malt House Fidi: A Gourmet Gallery

Fidi is one of the super cool faux trendy neighborhood names that realtors and Taylor Swift are trying to popularize in their quest to make already famous locations easier to hash tag. In the 140 character era, “Fidi” just seems cuter and less imposing than “The Financial District” or “Wall Street!” Nomenclature aside, the area is filled with both business people looking to relax on their off-hours and tourists that hunger for the next hot spot.

Last winter, I had an opportunity to visit The Malthouse’s West Village location, and its Fidi branch managed to be a completely different experience for me, set over three expansive levels and sporting a revitalized and reinvented menu thanks to Chef Armando Avila. While many of the dishes I enjoyed uptown were offered here, the majority of what I tasted had been improved or altered in some big ways.

The décor was nothing short of stunning with brick, wood, glass, and steel all interlaced together in a massive building with the space between the floor and the ceiling feeling almost limitless at times. It’s an impressive, architectural feat, considering the building was once a mere deli. The bar in particular stands out as a shimmering crescent of wood against a rainbow ocean of bottled wines, beers, and spirits. Definitely one of the best places in the city to have a power luncheon!



The Food

The meal began with some tiny mushroom bites, tasty hors d’oeuvres that consisted of a duxelle, a mixture of minced mushrooms and onions, served atop bread with a bit of umami truffle aioli. Like a kind of inverted stuffed mushroom, the dish was packed with savory flavor, heightened with the aioli. The truffle flavor made my taste buds flutter. I only wish they had been more than bites.

Mushroom Bites

Mushroom Bites

Our second snack was a simple and elegant cheese plate consisting of pungent Tallegio and creamy Camembert. The two cheeses complemented each other well and were served with ample fruit preserves and nuts. While French fries and cheese curds still make an appearance here, there definitely are more upscale offerings at the Fidi location.

Tallegio and Camembert Cheese Plate

Tallegio and Camembert Cheese Plate

The third appetizer was a corn chowder. Amazingly, despite its creamy and viscous texture, it was made only from pureed corn and garnished with crispy onions and chives that added crunchiness and zest.

Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

Next came slow-braised Short Rib Sliders and Truffle Fries. The sliders were packed with meat. The fries were covered with perfect amounts of herbs, truffle oil, Parmesan cheese, and salt. Again, while The Malt House Fidi certainly exudes higher class, it’s grittier American comfort options continue to be excellent and high quality in their execution

Pork Sliders

Pork Sliders

Truffle Fries with Blue Cheese and Malt House Sauce (Ketchup + Mayonnaise + Diced Pickles).

Truffle Fries with Blue Cheese and Malt House Sauce (Ketchup + Mayonnaise + Diced Pickles).

The main courses followed in rapid succession with Fish Tacos and Salmon Po Boy on the lighter end of things. Blackened, spicy salmon, meaty swordfish, and delicate mahi mahi all highlighted Chef ‘s talent in choosing and preparing fresh seafood, with the fish tacos peppered with latin-inspired spices and salsas that varied from sweet to fiery.

Fish Tacos, made with the Chef's seasonal pick from the market!

Fish Tacos, made with the Chef’s seasonal pick from the market!

However, it was the revitalized Malt House Wagyu Burger that captivated me the most. All the toppings just coalesced together in a brilliant symphony of seasonings and flavor. The bacon was crunchy at first bite, but succulent as a whole, melting into the tangy, creamy pesto, which was in turn complemented by the ripe acidity of the sweet tomato, which contrasted with the tangy but not unwelcome kick of pickles.

I haven’t even gotten to the meat yet, which was so tender and moist it bordered on deliquescent, the hallmark of a good piece of wagyu meat. Wagyu is Japanese for Japanese Cow, but in the states, it specifically refers to specially bred bovine that enjoy a luxurious lifestyle of fresh beer and massages. Put simply, the muscles of a wagyu cow are relaxed and tender to the point of being buttery. One bite is enough to really understand what it means to eat something and say it melts in your mouth.

Sandwiched between two piping hot and sturdy buns, the Malthouse Burger is a monstrosity and a marvel that I could not recommend more. As someone who has been avoiding red meat lately, I can say that this burger is a perfect poison that you will never regret while you are savoring it.

The Malt House's Wagyu Burger

The Malt House’s Wagyu Burger

For dessert, we were offered luxurious Manchego-filled crepes and cheesecake, both covered in berries and berry sauce. I had little room in my stomach left, but I was extremely impressed by the complexity of the crepes, as they took salty, full-bodied Manchego and caramelized the cheese into a filling that was salty yet saccharine at the same time.

Manchego Stuffed Crepes with Vanilla Ice Cream

Manchego Stuffed Crepes with Vanilla Ice Cream

Malt House Cheesecake

Malt House Cheesecake

Once again, owners Darren Shore and Eoin Foyle have made magic in Manhattan. I’ll definitely be returning to The Malthouse Fidi for my next celebration dinner (even if I have to invent something to celebrate).


The Malthouse Financial District

Address: 9 Maiden Lane (Between Broadway and Nassau Street), New York, NY.

Number: (646) 682 – 7577



Monday-Friday: 11 AM-12 AM Midnight

Saturday and Sunday Brunch: 11 AM-4 PM

Saturday and Sunday Dinner: 4 PM- 12 AM

Happy Hour is 4 PM – 6 PM on Week Days

On Sundays, all bottles of wine are half-price!

Nai Tapas Bar: Out of the Test Tube and Onto Your Plate

Molecular gastronomy is essentially food science, and the study of how chemical and physical transformations might be applied to cooking. In more recent decades, the term has started applying to a culinary movement that favors the direct involvement of these different chemical processes in flavor and presentation.

Under the influence of Chef Ferran Adrià, Spain has become something of a paradise for molecular gastronomy, and Nai Tapas takes this a step further by revitalizing Galician classics with all kinds of technological advancements! Inspired by Adria’s discoveries, a rigorous training in the kitchen from his mother, and studies abroad in Europe Chef Ruben  Rodriguez has cultivated a restaurant that joins simple bar snacks and bites with class and spectacle, breathing complexity and creativity into comfort food.

I sampled a vast array of courses that outnumbered even the most bountiful of Press Dinners I’ve attended in the past. Our first palette cleanser was an olive spherification, an orb of egg yolk-like texture made out of pure olive essence. It rolled and pulsated before bursting in my mouth with rich, salty flavor. This was followed by a platter of cured jamon and olives. The thinly sliced iberico ham was fatty and intense, even in small doses.


Olive Spherification


Next came the Airbags with Manchego Foam. Delicate pastries filled with the fluffy, deconstructed essence of sweet, nutty manchego cheese. The cheese within sublimated perfectly on the tongue, filling one’s senses with nutty, sheep’s milk goodness that continued to float around after the first bite was finished.


Airbag with Manchego Foam


The oysters afterward were topped with their own foam as well in the form of lemon air. The juicy oysters could have come from an enchanted sea of fruit. An air can be described as an even more distilled and isolated type of foam. The tender, savory oysters tasted juicier beneath the citrus clouds , and the seafood dish was as refreshing as a good lemon sorbet! They are served alongside a glass of cava, sparking Spanish wine.


Oysters with Lemon Air

After that, I tried the sea bass wrapped in toast and topped with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. A very decadent dish, I failed to realize it was fish right away. The fish within almost passed for a very hearty butter. It was just THAT creamy and deliquescent in texture! Between the crunch of the asparagus and the toast and the mingling flavors of meat and fish, this appetizer was unparalleled in complexity and enjoyment for me.


Seabass wrapped in Toast

There was also a very interesting dish of fresh avocado stuffed with crab meat and topped with crumbled bits of serrano ham. It was a sushi roll with no rice and four times the flavor! Once again, the pairing of the charred bits of smoky ham with cool swirls of avocado and luscious crab meat created a diverse experience.


Avocado Stuffed with Crab Meat

More conventional but no less tasty was the shrimp in garlic sauce. The shrimp was thick and succulent and went well with the perfectly oiled sauce. Make sure to sop up that sauce with any bread you have–it’s a garlicky, umami dream!



Shrimp with Garlic Sauce


The second palette cleanser was a sangria-infused chunk of watermelon that was refreshing and definitely superior to enjoying things the other way around.


Sangria-Infused Watermelon

The meat courses were as plentiful and fruitful as the appetizers that preceded them. Smoked chicken skewers imbued with the strong taste of charcoal and tempered with an Asian-inspired honey sauce make for a great option. They are plated beneath a glass cover and just wafting with the strong, calming aroma of oak. There were also crispy Brussels sprouts with pork belly in a spicy mustard and spiced baby back ribs.


Brussels Sprouts with Pork Belly


Baby Back Ribs

The pork belly with pecans and a crescent of carrot puree was definitely my top pick of all the meat dishes, however. The most mouth-watering, fatty chunks of belly meat paired with nutty pecans, and a summery, light smear of carrot puree all complimented each other in an elegant, flavorful dish. Sugary, fatty, and hearty, I gobbled up every bit of it with no regrets. Very balanced, fragrant, and filling!


Pork Belly with Pecans

A surprise course of quail egg, chorizo, and Manchego cheese on toast brought us a more traditional tapa, but a well done one nonetheless. It was a perfect Spanish breakfast sandwich in one bite with the itty-bitty quail egg fried expertly so that the yolk was runny and the sides of the whites were crispy and poised to pop into the mouth. The chorizo, like all of the other cured Spanish meats, was flavorful, and fiery in all the best ways.


Basque Chorizo with Fried Quail Egg


Dessert consisted of churros injected with dark chocolate and homespun Pear Cotton Candy. The two were unique treats that further represented the many flavors and intricacies of molecular gastronomy, though I found myself extremely full by the time they arrived.



Nai also has an impressive Spanish wine collection, cultivated by the restaurant’s co-owner and manager, David Martinez. From 5-7 PM on week days, they offer a Happy Hour that consists of $5 wine glasses, $4 beers, and $22 pitchers of sangria. There’s also live Flamenco dance entertainment on Thursday and Saturday nights!


Flamenco is on Thursday and Saturday Nights at 8:30 and 10:30

Reuben and David have truly created a foodie’s paradise, demonstrating that the wonders of molecular gastronomy are not solely reserved for the absurdly wealthy, European, or nerdy!


Nai Tapas Bar

Address: 174 First Avenue (Between 10th and 11th)

Phone Number: 212 – 677 – 1030


Dinner is served from:

5 PM-11 PM on Mondays-Wednesdays

5 PM-12 AM on Thursdays-Saturdays

Lunch is available from Noon- 4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays

Happy Hour is 5 PM -7 PM on Mondays-Fridays.


Narcissa: From Farm to Table to Paradise

2016’s Springtime remains a cruelly inconstant lover, gracing us with its presence one day before ghosting us for a week! On terribly cold afternoons, it can be a difficult exercise in restraint not to order my meals through Seamless or Caviar. The middle ground in all this is to brave the elements and make sure I treat myself to something exceptionally exquisite. Lunch at Narcissa is a sacred, soothing ceremony that firmly justifies any midday excursion!

Connected to the East Village Standard Hotel in Cooper Square, Narcissa dwells in one of those architectural marvels that looks more suited to a work of dystopian fiction than downtown Manhattan, though differences between these two urban models are rapidly fading by the week. The space inside is classy and pretty yet inviting enough not to dissuade a casual diner from entering.
Under the direction of Chef John Fraser, Narcissa follows the popular model of farm-to-table (the farm in this case being The Locusts On Hudson). It takes its name from an actual farm cow rather than the Harry Potter character, and themes its menu around meticulous ingredient selection and delicate cooking methods. The result is a simply dazzling seasonal menu!
I ordered off of the Lunch Prix-Fixe menu, a $28 offering that comes with an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. I expected something good if not a bit on the small side–quality trumps quantity in so many of these places, but I ended up being surprised.
I started with the Citrus-Cured Salmon, served with a bit of bread and frisee salad. It was an incredibly fair portion with crisp vegetables and the two very large salmon slabs were rife with salty goodness, the tangy hint of citrus perking up my taste buds while rounding out the entire appetizer. It was wonderfully refreshing and salty at the same time!
For my main I got the duck schnitzel as I love both duck and schnitzel and had never expected to see them in the same dish. The result was a fantastic marriage of a good crispy breaded exterior and moist, juicy duck leg meat. Beneath it was a pool of golden apricot sauce that mingled with the succulent dark meat. creamy potato salad, and zesty mustard to create a hearty sonata of spring flavors. It was by far the best schnitzel I’ve ever eaten and definitely one of my favorite uses of duck. And I might also add that the amount of duck meat was simply gargantuan. I expect that many of my readers might find two meals in a single entree with this dish, though I could not resist gobbling it all up. Taking it home to microwave later would have been a travesty.
For dessert, I had the Fruit Tart, a saucer of pastry crust filled with sweet cream that tasted like it was sourced from a magical fairy cow, tart muscat grapes, and slices of spiced plum that could only have been grown in a culinary sorceress’ garden. It was a perfect fairytale ending to a magical meal!
On a return visit for dinner, I also sampled the Lacquered Duck Breast, a large, incredibly juicy specimen  that was brushed and caked with a mosaic of crackling sea salt and spices. It is creative, exceptional, and worth every cent of its $36 price tag!
I’ll be honest, when I first looked at Narcissa’s decor, its menu, and its prices, I thought I would be dealing with an overpriced, underplated tasting rather than a decadent, imaginative feast, but I was SO SO SO SO wrong! This place is a Michelin-Starred chef’s playground and correspondingly a diner’s dream!


25 Cooper Square
(corner of 5th St and Bowery)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228 3344


Monday – Friday: 11:30am to 3:00pm


Sunday – Thursday: 5:30pm to 11:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 5:30pm to 12:00am


Saturday – Sunday: 10:30am to 4:00pm

**For the record, I almost called this article “Malfoy’s Mom has Got it Going On!”

The Malt House

Located on Thompson Street, only a few blocks from my alma mater, I was immediately struck by how crowded The Malt House appeared on a chilly winter week night. From your usual hipster suspects and NYU locals to corporate parties looking to inject some spark into their after-work dinners, there were plenty of happy patrons. In a neighborhood that often finds itself divided by age, vocation, and sense of community, it was fascinating to see a place that attracted all types. Brick walls, sconces, and dark wood furniture all helped to cultivate an atmosphere that felt classy yet lived in.

Owners Darren Shore and Eoin Foyle hail from Ireland, providing an old world sense of charm alongside delicious American comfort food. The lighting is sleepy though the bustling masses of patrons mitigate any drowsiness you might feel going in. It’s a bit like living in a period piece, but everybody has smart phones and the food is more than a set piece.

The meal began with a crispy, crackly bang as we were served a towering appetizer trio of bacon-fried onion rings, fried cheese curds, and fried tempura pickles. Each was golden and breaded with a salty, crunchy outside. I couldn’t get enough of the white cheddar cheese curds, which were perfectly gooey and succulent bits of cheese. Imagine the best mozzarella sticks you’ve ever had, then marry them to your favorite tater tots! Additionally, while pickles usually send my taste buds into sour hysterics (recall that I am a supertaster), I found the Malt House’s to be tastefully sliced and refreshingly delicate in both texture and flavor.


Bacon Fried Onion Rings, Fried Cheese Curds, Tempura Pickles

Chicken Wings came next, and they were very tasty. The Malt House goes the extra mile and bakes, fries, AND grills their wings. They came with a creamy Roquefort sauce (presumably to mellow out some of the spiciness), but I found them mild and tasty.

For entrees, we were equally spoiled. I tasted the Malt House Burger, the Steak Sandwich, the Lobster Mac & Cheese and the Malt House Salad.

The burger stood out with ample amounts of hickory-smoked bacon, sweet onion marmalade, and a large, baked bun actually branded with the initials of the restaurant. Its medium rare innards were very juicy and slathered with cheese. It also happens to be GIGANTIC! A devilishly delicious selection, and a good choice if you haven’t eaten all day and don’t plan on eating anything later that night!


The Malt House Burger. Are they going to trademark it?

If the burger was the Malt House King, then I consider the Steak Sandwich to be its princess. Thin slices of steak under a canopy of gruyere and arugula made for a very dainty sandwich, light in texture but filled with rich flavor. In particular, the rich garlic aioli really brought out the fresh ingredients on the sandwich, which I would describe on the whole as buttery and savory.


Steak Sandwich with Fries. There is a hefty layer of meat beneath all that cheese and arugula.

Made with a blend of white cheddar, parmesan, and gruyere cheeses, the Mac & Cheese can be considered another strong choice on the menu. The noodles themselves were firmly textured and the sauce was thick, but not too rich. The lobster claws on top acted as an odd, meaty garnish. Frankly, it really boiled down to classically good macaroni with some lobster plopped on top. I didn’t feel like the lobster was incorporated in the most creative way, but the ingredients were all tasty and fresh.


Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

With ample servings of grilled chicken and a zesty balsamic vinaigrette, the Malt House Salad also presents a decidedly healthy option, though I’d probably recommend one of the meaty sandwiches over it. If you want something light, get the steak. Again, it’s a very good salad, but The Malt House is the kind of place where you’ll want to soak up those extra calories of flavor.

Malthouse Salad.jpg

Malt House Salad with Grilled Chicken

For dessert, I tried the Choco Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and the Crème Brulee. Served beneath a ruby curtain of fresh strawberries and blueberries, the Crème Brulee managed to be decadent yet refreshing, and I adored it–easily one of my favorite items on the menu!



Malt House Choco Cake


Creme Brûlée


Selection of Craft Beers

Befitting its name, The Malt House has an impressive selection of craft beers and other alcoholic beverages! I recommend the Milk Stout. It’s so creamy it almost tastes like coffee.

If you’re in search of food, drink, or warmth, pay this tavern a visit!

The Malt House

206 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

Hours: 12 PM-4 AM


Telephone: 212 – 228 7310



Tareau: A Fountain of Fondue


Taureau is the third of Chef Didier Pawlicki’s restaurants that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, and it is definitely the most unique of the trio. Priding itself on a fondue-only menu (something that no other restaurant in Manhattan boasts), Taureau offers guests three courses of cheese, meat ( Fondue Bourguignonne), and chocolate fondue!

Each option is its own rich tribute to France’s deliciously gooey culinary tradition, but I recommend ordering all three with a friend or date for the full experience. Chef Didier allows people to order fondue for two, pricing individual fondues by pot while also offering a three-course prix fixe that runs between $42 and $52 per person.

Chef Didier spent many years honing his cheese fondue concoctions, painstakingly testing and tasting different combinations. Of the cheese fondues, I got to try the Devil’s Whiff, the Old Swiss, and the Perigord.
Comprised of pepper jack cheese and crisp red wine, the Devil’s Whiff managed to pull my tastebuds in as much as it kicked me awake at every turn. It made for a spicy and invigorating first course. The fiery notes of the cheese mixture invigorated my palette while preventing me from succumbing to the heaviness I normally get when I gorge on cheese. Certainly the best option for those who are looking for some heat on a cold winter’s day!

The Devil’s Whiff

The Old Swiss with 180-Day Aged Swiss was everything you might ever want from a classic cheese fondue. It was hearty and pungent in the most refined way possible with little hints of tart beneath a symphony of savory. This blend is certain to be a crowdpleaser amongst diners with different tastes–this is cheese fondue in its purest, most celebrated form with little in the way of embellishment, but much in the way of traditionally, cheesy goodness. Definitely my favorite of the cheese fondues! Sometimes I like having my expectations perfectly satisfied without anything extra added!

The Old Swiss


Lastly, I tasted the Perigord with Parmesian, White American Cheese, Truffle Oil, and Didier’s signature slices of real black truffle. I really enjoyed this cheese as well as the bits of truffle, but I found my senses bedazzled beyond understanding when I tried it. A small taste was all I needed to appreciate its rich complexity. Perhaps I was worn out from the first two cheese courses, but I found that a tiny bit of this cheese and its powerful blast of earthy flavor went a long way. If the Devil’s Whiff was full of little punches and kicks, the Perigord could best be described as an hour-long, full body massage for your tastebuds.

The Perigord

Next, we had the meat fondue, where we dropped raw slices of filet mignon, pork, and chicken onto sizzling oil. All three meats were very tasty when cooked properly, but I definitely favored the tender fillet mignon because I could cook it in as fast as 15-seconds (pair it with the truffle sauce Didier offers on the side for something luxurious). There is something magical about laying a cold bit of steak down and pulling up a morsel of medium rare goodness in seconds!
The chicken and pork were also very good, but as each bite could take close to a minute to cook all the way through, I found myself stressing over every scrumptious bite of them.
If you’re as clumsy as I am, you’ll have to make sure to grip onto the meat very tightly, otherwise you’ll run the risk of it sticking to the cauldron and being overcooked. I had to be more careful with the meats than the cheeses, but I greatly enjoyed them nonetheless.
Lastly was the decadent chocolate fondue for dessert. I got to try the milk chocolate and the dark chocolate with a colorful  bouquet of fruits, cookies, and marshmallows.
Rather shamefully, I found myself guzzling the milk chocolate like a schoolboy in a Roald Dahl novel. It swaddled the sweet treats perfectly in a creamy blanket with a silky texture that enveloped each grape or strawberry in a cocoon of cacao that was just saccharine enough to leave me wanting more. In contrast, I found the dark chocolate was just too rich and bitter. I left dessert wondering if I have the palette of a six-year-old–albeit a very refined and well-mannered six-year-old.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Taureau is unlike Chef Didier’s other establishments, and is not BYOB. However, it has a fine selection of French wines to choose from.
Mark my words readers, I had an absolutely delightful time at Taureau, and I can’t wait to bring my next date here (assuming I get one)! This is sure to be a hot spot for Valentine’s Day and the next batch of cold weather coming in!
Address: 558 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 228-2222
Hours: 5 PM-10 PM on Sundays-Thursdays, 5 PM-11 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
**Accepts Cash, American Express, and Bitcoin Only

10 Below: I Roll with this Ice Cream

Have you had the pleasure of trying the ice cream at 10 Below yet? Chances are you’ve passed by the Mott Street establishment numerous times on your way through Chinatown, but it’s also likely that you were scared off by the $7 price, or the insanely long lines! Throughout the fall and summer, 10 Below has attracted tourists and foodies alike, many of whom are willing to wait over an hour or more for a taste of the creamery’s Thai-inspired ice cream rolls!

The cool spectacle of watching someone literally turn a dollop of milk into ice cream before your very eyes is a draw that seems to yank crowds by their smart phones (think cool sculpting, but with ice cream instead of your abs), but even when that novelty wears off, there’s something special about the ice cream here. It’s light on the tongue and fresh! Strawberry Ice Cream just tastes better when the ripe, juicy berries were mashed mere moments before your first bite!




Additionally, 10 Below features an almost limitless toppings policy–I say almost limitless because there’s so much ice cream in one cup, you’ll run the risk of overflowing if you go too crazy with the fresh fruit, whipped cream, and cookies they offer!



Strawberry Shawty with Strawberries, Graham Crackers, Raspberries, and Whipped Cream!

As winter approaches the winding lines have died down tremendously. You can now get your ice cream here in as short a span of time as ten minutes! I’m sitting here on a Monday at 12 PM, and there are no soul-sucking, selfie-crazed sightseers in sight! I recommend you hightail it here ASAP. Seriously, I’m kind of hoping for lines now because otherwise, I just might eat all the ice cream!


10 Below Ice Cream

Address: 10 Mott Street, New York, NY.

Hours: 11-10 PM on Sundays-Thursdays,  11am – 11:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.





Zing’s Awesome Rice is Pretty Awesome

After another zany night of Improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade East Village Theatre, I found myself stumbling through the Lower East Side on my winding trek home with a ravenous appetite. The area has some food offerings into the wee hours of the night, but cheap pizza or tacos or bar snacks just don’t put a smile on my face these days. Luckily, I came across Zing’s Awesome Rice on Ludlow Street, and after enjoying every visit, I can definitely recommend this specialty “seared rice” eatery!


The owner, Zing Bai left her hectic job as an attorney to pursue a more flavorful dream. Her seared rice isn’t only an original twist on classic Chinese fried rice, it is also a more health-conscious option!


Rice is such a ubiquitous food staple, yet before Zing’s Awesome Rice, I had yet to see much attention or care paid to it. Zing painstakingly tested over 20 different rice varieties before settling on sushi white rice (you can really tell in the texture), brown rice, and purple rice.



Not stopping there, she also claims to marinate and season each grain of rice like a steakhouse does with their steaks. By searing the rice as opposed to frying it, Zing avoids burning the rice or making it too greasy. The result is rice that has a nice crunchy texture on the outside that still maintains some nutritional value as its core.



Continuing to stay on the healthy side, Zing also makes sure each seared rice dish comes in a 1:1:2 of rice to meat to veggie to ensure balanced nutrition, and to limit calories to roughly 600 per plate. She also only sears her rice in olive oil for its heart-healthy characteristics. Lastly, she never salts any of the ingredients she uses, choosing to rely on the natural flavors of spices and meats.


Cute Menus!


I’ve tasted the Chicken Seared Rice, the Sausage Seared Rice, and the Surprise Seared Rice, which turned out to be a very nice fish. Of these, the Chicken and Fish stood out to me the most. The ingredients were just so light and fresh. It was just as filling and tasty as any fried rice, but it didn’t leave me feeling dehydrated and bloated. The chicken was especially flavorful. Zing marinates it the night before in a little bit of sugar and vinegar, resulting in juicy boneless bites with subtle notes of sweet and savory that mingle quite nicely together.


Chicken Seared Rice


Fish Seared Rice (Purple)

Lastly, the shop has true New York City hours, staying open on Sundays-Thursdays until 3 AM and Friday and Saturday until 5 AM. “I have friends who get out of work no earlier than 12 AM,” Zing says, “New York is a night-owl city, so I cater to that side of it!” I, for one, cannot even begin to express my happiness at knowing that I can get this delicious rice at almost all hours of the night.

Whether I’m performing comedy, studying late for an exam (ha, I don’t really do that, but you understand my point), or just famished after a night on the town, I’m happy to add Zing’s Awesome Rice to my list of favorite places. Zing’s Awesome Rice IS Awesome–—Sear-iously!

Zing’s Awesome Rice

Address: 122 Ludlow St, between Delancey & Rivington


Phone Number: (347) 857-7668




Byblos: A Lebanese Labor of Love

In 1990, Chef Sabeh Kouchou and his wife Sonia opened Byblos, where they served happy customers for about twenty years in Murray Hill. Unfortunately, in 2010 a fire decimated their original restaurant location. Taking time to regroup, Sabeh and Sonia revived and relocated, bringing Byblos to Midtown in 2012.

Chef Sabeh

Chef Sabeh

Byblos’ name comes from a Lebanese resort town on the coast that in turn shares an etymology root with the word Bible. It’s a name that conveys history and tradition, all the more fitting when one considers Sabeh’s use of his own family’s recipes. Sabeh and Sonia are both natives of Lebanon, though New York is where they met and where have made a home for themselves.
Byblos’ interior doesn’t try to live up to its Lebanese namesake. You’ll find know coast-inspired decorations or nautical imagery adorning the white walls here, though a few plants and red lighting go far in making an unpretentious oasis-like space.  The restaurant is also unbelievably spacious. I’d imagine that even at maximum capacity, it wouldn’t feel too crowded. Making use of this wide, open space, Byblos features live music and belly dancers on Saturdays!
Before Byblos, I’d never experienced Lebanese cuisine before. I found plenty of Mediterranean staples here alongside other treats. Lebanese cuisine focuses heavily on Meze (think Mediterranean style snacks/ tapas).
Out of all the meze, the Hummus impressed me the most, which surprised me as it is a dish that I encounter often, and one I do not typically enjoy. Byblos’ hummus is wonderfully light and creamy with a smooth texture that floats off the palette. Despite lacking the chunkiness I normally expect, it manages to be full of savory of the chickpeas mingling with the tang of lemon and nuttiness of the tahini. If you’re craving a little bit more firmness, you’ll enjoy the roasted chickpeas that garnish the top of the spread.
The Hummus--Order this one!

The Hummus–Order this one!

Of the spreads, I also sampled the baba ghanouj and the muhammara. The baba ghanouj is heartier and heavier in flavor than the hummus as it utilizes charcoal-grilled eggplant as its core while the muhammara’s red peppers conjured some VERY strong, spicy notes.
Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush



Caked with herbs, the Zataar Pies were bites of flat bread that just exploded with zestiness. There was so much thyme, that I felt like I was literally grazing on an herb garden with a warm veil of olive oil around each slice grounding the storm of spices. Despite the wide array of powerful flavors, I found myself popping slice after invigorating slice into my mouth.
Zataar Pies

Zataar Pies

I also tried the stuffed grape leaves, which were filled with more chickpeas, spices, and rice. They were soft yet full and quite sour. Another dish to wake you up lest you fall into a meze-induced coma!
Stuffed Grape Leaves

Stuffed Grape Leaves

The last meze I tasted was the Fattoush Salad topped with grilled chicken. It was just an all-around, delicious and satisfying salad. The chicken was charred and juicy and there was plenty of it. Sweet citrus dressing and crunchy pita bits made for a varied range of flavors and textures. This salad could easily be served as a main dish and leave a party stuffed!
Fattoush Salad with Grilled Chicken

Fattoush Salad with Grilled Chicken

For the first main course, Sabeh served Kibee with Laban, Ground Lamb Meatball in Hot Yogurt Sauce. The meatball was a perfect dollop of spiced and marinated lamb with the yogurt sauce elevating the dish to new heights of decadence.  I never thought a yogurt-based dish could achieve such a warm, velvety Alfredo-like texture. Definitely worth an order!
Kibee with Laban

Kibee with Laban

The second main course consisted of a mixed grill of beef and lamb. The meats are juicy and dressed up rather nicely, and they come on a bed of veggies with rice on a very large platter.
Grilled Meat

Grilled Meat

For dessert we had the classic baklava and the Byblos “cheesecake,” which was literally a cake of baked cheese. Both were crunchy, flaky, savory, and drizzled with a lovely mixture of honey and rosewater. The cheesecake reminded me of a sweeter, more syrupy version of Greek Saganaki.

Lebanese “Cheesecake”



Byblos is a great spot to dive into Lebanese cuisine–something that too many New Yorkers never experience or taste. Additionally, Sabeh and his team offer catering and delivery services, and a bar stocked with rare Lebanese wines!
Address: 80 Madison Avenue Between 28th and 29th
Phone Number: 212 687 0808
Hours: 11:30-3:00 PM for Lunch and 3:00 PM to 11 PM for Dinner.
Live Music on Belly Dancing on Saturday nights from 9:30 PM to 1:00 AM.

The Scoop on Polpo Gelato

The summer before senior year of high school is always an auspicious period of time. Most kids spend the season scrambling to find a job–probably at an ice cream parlor if they’re lucky, but instead of leaving his fate in the hands of others, Laguardia High School Senior Harrison Geller planned something bigger and sweeter in beginning his own gelato pop-up.

After honing his craft in Italy, Harrison was determined to demonstrate what he had learned overseas. Named Polpo after the Italian word for Octopus in homage to the eight flavors Harrison offers, the frozen treat store is a welcome visitor to the Lower East Side’s dwindling summer days.

Harrison Unveiling a new Sorbet

Harrison Unveiling a new Sorbet

Aside from its youthful staff (comprised by none other than Geller’s friends and classmates) Polpo Gelato can boast a level of artisanship rarely seen in the industry today. All of its flavors and offerings are made by hand and from scratch without the aid of a machine–an impressive and meticulous feat!

I sampled several of Polpo’s flavors and enjoyed the Ricotta Gelato (which was cheesy and fluffy and unlike any other gelato I’ve ever had) and the Raspberry Sorbet (which pairs nicely with the incredibly tart Lemon Sorbet).

Sadly, Polpo Gelato is only running for a limited period of time. Remember, Harrison and co. still have a busy year ahead of them uptown after all.  The weather will be sticky and muggy in the next two weeks, so do pay them a visit if you’re in the area!

Thanks Polpo Gelato!

Thanks, Polpo Gelato!