Venturing Into Alice’s Wonderland

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

Finding this place was a blessing and a curse. Here’s why:

BLESSING: This place could not be more adorable. It’s a branch of 3 Alice Tea Cup chains. This one, (like the others) is magical in more ways than one. The decorations alone transport you to another world. If you like mis-matched tea cups, an assortment of “tea party” bites and that overall antique/mystical vibe, this is your place. Basically, everything I love. And trust me, it’s not posh in anyway. People of all ages eat here. From little girls bearing sparkly tiaras to a couple of old friends catching up on their lunch break. There is a small space when you first walk-in (I think they did that on purpose to emulate Alice in that tiny door scene) but don’t think it stops there! There is plenty of seating upstairs.

The second-floor is gorgeous. It’s bright and cozy inside. My waitress sat me right away and was so incredibly helpful. I told her that I had a smaller amount of time for lunch and asked if I were to have enough time for a few cups of tea/scones. She said she would be extra-speedy and get that tea brewin’ right away. What a sweetheart. From the endless options of teas I chose the Herbal Chai. It came with honey and chai milk. I also ordered the 2 scone and 1 pot of tea — approx 3-4 cups, special. The scones were buttermilk and pumpkin glazed.

I will go out on a limb and say these are the BEST SCONES I have ever had in my entire life. And possibly for the rest of my life! I don’t know how anyone can top these pillow-y heaven filled pastries. The scones came with clotted cream and raspberry preserves which just added a sweet/tart treat to the already amazing scone. It was creamy and just perfect. I read my book and sat in scone heaven. All for $12!

CURSE: The amount of calories I consumed in Alice’s Tea Cup was probably an absurd amount, but who cares. Anything that tasty is worth it!*

*Calories don’t exist in Wonderland right?

156 E 64th St
New York, NY 10021
(212) 486-9200
 
alicesteacup.com

 

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Shake Shack Attack

Shake-Shack-New-York-007

I have been found guilty… of never trying Shake Shack until recently.
Seriously. Where have you been all my life?!

This SS is located right in the middle of Madison Square Park. The perfect place to grab a burger and a shake. Here’s some of my first impressions:
-They serve dog treats? Interesting!
-They give you the buzzers that you use in restaurants to know when your food is ready. Aka you can walk around the park and still get your food piping hot!
-Such cute to-go food containers.
-Reasonable prices? Sweet flavors? Heck yes.

I loved the organization of it. The staff was super friendly. One guy came around with free samples of the custard which was a nice surprise. Like many other places, I’ve heard so much hype… and this 100% matched it! I tried a vanilla shake which was fantastic… it brought me right back to my childhood — getting milkshakes right off the ice cream truck. The burgers are juicy and overflowing with LTO love which is what I (and hopefully everyone) look for in a burger. The fries are crisp, crunchy and pillow-y on the inside. Shall I go on? They also have a cute stand on the side of the kiosk where you can get free water, condiments, utensils/cutlery, etc. Super convenient. Super unhealthy. And SO WORTH IT.

shake-shack-shake-burger*Not to mention… not only was it beautiful weather at the time, but there was a jazz festival going on yesterday so I think that added to the overall ambiance/AMAZINGNESS that is SS. Smooth Jazz, Sweet Shakes and Sunny Weather…. first experience was a positive one! This is definitely my favorite location of all the shacks in Manhattan.

Madison Square Park
E 23rd St & Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-6600
shakeshack.com

Well Done, Bien Cuit!

PC: Yelp

PC: Yelp

After visiting Bien Cuit, you’ll never look at pastries the same way again. Is it possible to love something without even trying it yet? That’s how I felt about this little bakery.

To preface this review, I have a short story…
As most of my family/friends know, I hardly ever watch TV. But when I do it’s usually a show about food of some sorts. This brings me to my next point: “Unique Sweets” featured Bien Cuit on one of their episodes and whenever I watch these shows, I make sure to make a mental note to visit ESPECIALLY when it’s close by. Just from the images and descriptions, I knew I had to visit. Their featured item was the elusive Chocolate Almond Croissant… double baked in brandy. I’m such a visual person and was immediately enticed when watching the show. More or less, I was sold.

Bien Cuit, meaning “well done” is certainly appropriate. All of the desserts here are carefully crafted down to the very last bite. Upon arrival, the storefront is simple/minimalist and reflects the rustic nature of the inside. Although its spacious, there isn’t much seating to go around. I was there on a mission. My friend was cooking me dinner that night and I can never go empty-handed. So I asked the girl at the counter for suggestions (she was very helpful) and I ended up deciding on three pastries:

-Huckleberry Danish with Yuzu Curd, Huckleberry Jam: Flaky, tart and very flavorful. Those berries certainly packed a punch. This was my wildcard if you will. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t had this fruit before, so take a chance on it. It’s good.

-Apple Cardamom Danish with Pureed Apple and Cardamom Strudel: Second favorite of the night. I’m a HUGE fan of apple desserts so this was a win-win. The unique pairing of flavors certainly works.

-(The true star of Bien Cuit) Chocolate Almond Croissant/Twice-baked with Brandy: If you have to pick an item, CHOOSE THIS. You can thank me later. It’s everything a croissant should be — flaky, soft, buttery, nutty (from the almond paste)… you get the idea. And the fact that its baked in brandy? Say no more. It’s a true showstopper.

Bien Cuit-Assortment

Yes, Bien Cuit may be a tad bit on the pricier side. But I can guarantee the quality is there within every single bite. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

120 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

(718) 852-0200

biencuit.com

Brick Oven Bread? Homemade Hummus? YES Please!

I must admit, I’m new to the world of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine. Being that it was heading towards the last days of Restaurant Week, I wanted to venture into something new. When looking at the price fixe menu, theirs immediately caught my eye. With such a diverse assortment of foods, I was all in.

My friend and I kinda made last-minute plans to dine, so the only reservations we could get were at the bar. I usually don’t like eating at the bar since it tends to be very crowded and I had no idea how big or small the inside of Taboon was going to be. When I stepped inside I was pleased to find it was not only spacious but beautifully decorated. Low lighting, clean accents and a rustic feeling. And that oven! You could just smell the aroma of fire-roasted foods waiting to be eaten. As for our seating arrangements– probably the best dining experience I’ve ever had at the bar. Our bartender was on point. He was attentive, friendly, talkative, and just an all around awesome guy. (And might I add good-looking too.)

Now onto the food:
Bread-Taboon-Their signature, known-for flatbread cooked in the taboon oven was ridiculously delicious. One bite and you’ll be transported to your food happy place. It was well seasoned, crispy and buttery. As well as it came with a trio of dips–homemade hummus, tzaziki and baba ghanoush. They were all silky, earthy and creamy.

-(Appetizer) Creamy Yukon Potato and Asparagus Soup: Very creamy & savory and just hit the spot with all this cold weather happening lately.
Chicken Taboon-Taboon
-(Entree) Chicken Taboon: Organic free-rang chicken breast with cured lemon, Israeli couscous, broccoli rabe, pearl onion confit and all topped with a panzanella salad. This dish was very refreshing, light and refined. The chicken was tender, juicy as well as flavorful. All around it was a great dish.

Silan-Taboon

-(Dessert) Silan*: I saw so many outstanding comments about this dish and had to try it. Decadent vanilla ice cream with puffed rice cereal, date honey, caramelized pistachios and shredded halva. I have no idea how this was thought up but thank you to whoever did.

_______________________________________
*Alright. Let’s just say I was in a beauty pageant, and they asked me what would make the world a better place. You’d think world peace right?? NOPE. SILAN. Silan is what should make the world go round.

773 10th Ave
New York
New York, NY 10019
b/t 53rd St & 52nd St in Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown West
(212) 713-0271
taboononline.com

Ritas and Fajitas

Cilantro, you may not be the most nutritious… but you’re certainly delicious.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about this place from my co-workers. What first caught my eye was the $5 ritas. Can’t get much better than that! I ventured here after a long day at work and was craving some quality Mexican food. My friend and I sat outside under an awning which was nice for a change. Perfect spot for surveying the area. That’s one of the many beauties of dining in NYC, if there’s space… they’ll put seating there.

Chips-Cilantro     Fajitas-Cilantro

LOVED the crispy banana chips and corn chips with salsa. What a unique take on the usual chips and salsa. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that done. The fresh salsa had a nice kick to it as well. As for dinner, I ordered the chicken fajitas (my usual) which was absolutely delicious! I ordered it with whole wheat tortillas (always a plus). The chicken was sliced thin and not only was it juicy/tender but packed with flavor! I don’t know what spices they used, but I really enjoyed it. Along with the sauteed onions/peppers and the guac/sour cream… it was a great meal inside and out.

The ambiance was festive, colorful and most importantly inviting. Back to those $5 ritas, wowza. They did not skimp out on the tequila. One or two and I’m good to go. Also, our waiter was awesome! He was attentive, always made sure our water glasses were full and made some light conversation. Nice guy.

Cilantro has several locations around Manhattan. I highly recommend you stop by if you’re looking for reasonable Mexican food that doesn’t skimp out on the flavor. Ole!

1712 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10128
b/t 88th St & 89th St in Yorkville, Upper East Side
(212) 722-4242
cilantronyc.com