Hello my fellow food friends,
I hope you had a fantastic holiday season and New Year Celebration. Looking back, 2014 was a crazy year filled with amazing memories, a trip to Italy and of course delicious eats! I’ve had the opportunity to explore Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island more than ever. Along the way, I’ve discovered my love for new foods thanks to the help of my friends and food-lovers.
This year I’ve tried:
-Xiao Long Bao (Soup dumplings)
-The famous DKA from Dominique Ansel’s bakery (no cronut yet…. it’s on my list)
Etc., Etc., Etc. (to name a few!)
To my readers…. thank you so much, for taking the time to hear what I have to say. I hope you enjoy my perspective and maybe someplace I visit will become your next stop! So here’s to another year of GREAT food, WONDERFUL people and LONG LASTING memories.
For my first Persian/Iranian food experience, I’m so glad it was at Sufiya’s. From dining there, it has a predominant Mediterranean feel but with those additional cultural influences. I pass by here frequently, but never noticed this place! The shopping complex is currently renovating their storefronts, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled when driving along. It can be easily missed.
First impression? What a classy, cozy spot. Beautiful paintings/decorations with a spacious feel. And since it was a nice night outside, they opened up the front doors and let the cool brisk air in. That was a nice touch. Even though I looked at the menu briefly beforehand, I still couldn’t decide on what to eat. Oh, the choices! They have a dinner special (Mon-Thurs) after 3pm for $12.95, you can choose from an array of entrees with white or basmati rice. Very reasonable prices here.
I ended up on getting the Lamb Shish Kebab which came with Green Rice (seasoned with Saffron and other spices), a grilled tortilla and roasted veggies — onion, peppers, tomatoes. It was fantastic. To be honest, that’s the best lamb I’ve had in a long time. It was seasoned and salted perfectly. And I really enjoyed the grilled veggies… it added a healthy touch to the meal. The portions were also a good size. I couldn’t finish my meal.
We also ordered the Falafel appetizer which was very good. Crispy and flavorful. The dusting of paprika and parsley was a nice addition too. The staff were helpful and patient with my questions while I was ordering. And they really made me feel welcome there as a first-timer. I will DEFINITELY be back and I’m looking forward to trying their other menu items!
P.S. They have belly-dancing on certain nights. Sounds fun!
P.P.S. I was too full that night, BUT if you check-in to Yelp, you get a free dessert.
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
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.
*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
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.
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
I feel like I’ve just hit the jackpot.
And by jackpot, I mean I’ve discovered delicious, cheap, fresh food in the most unexpected place imaginable. Yes, I’m talking about in the basement of a hare krishna temple. Don’t you just love that?
You can wander past this place without doing a double take. There’s no large neon sign. No flyers. No people advertising outside. It’s good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth marketing and of course many thanks to all of you. When you walk in, look past the man that sits by the door and past the temple services and to your right you will find Govinda’s. Picture this: Walk down a flight of stairs into what looks like a much-needed-rennovation space that reminds me of an older catering hall/cafeteria. The walls are a interesting shade of green and it’s a veryyyy casual atmosphere. And….. I love all of it.
The staff here is incredibly friendly and always have a smile on their faces. If you look at the sign on the wall (see picture) it’ll tell you the price breakdown. Everything is made that day (buffet style) and fresh out of the kitchen. Their desserts for the most part are vegan so if you have dietary restrictions, always ask! They’re very accommodating.
As for the food. Holy cow (irony, I know) this stuff is GOOD. No GREAT. They offer vegetarian/vegan options without sacrificing any flavor. I’ve been able to each lunch here (Mon-Fri 12:00-3:30pm) a few times and their star dish IMO has to be the eggplant parm. It’s not your traditional eggplant parm by any means in that there’s a underlying hint of curry with every bite. Super “meaty” and cheesy. I’ve also had their: pumpkin soup, quinoa salad, curry chickpeas, roasted curry potatoes/veggies, vegan cookies and cupcakes. Their meals come with their own homemade multigrain bread which is pretty stellar like everything else.
Not only are the portions pretty hefty (I have yet to finish my full lunch), but they’re very reasonably priced. Everything I’ve had here has been nothing short of amazing. I’m looking forward to becoming one of their “regulars”.
305 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Oh, my childhood.
I have very vivid memories of coming home from school to the sweet, sweet smell of freshly baked cookies coming right out of the oven. I remember running up the stairs, so excited that I almost didn’t want to wait for them to cool. There’s something about your olfactory nerves — it can trigger the most vivid moments. Levain did just that.
This place has been on my “to-try” list for practically forever. I don’t make it to the UWS often, but since I was seeing a show at Beacon Theatre, naturally I had to go! From what I heard, there’s always a line… the inside is tiny… and it’s 100% worth it. At $4 a cookie, it’s not cheap but you’re paying for the king of all that is cookies.* From looking at the small selection, the obvious choice was the Chocolate Chip Walnut. Decent size, very pillow-y looking and that smell was heavenly. I just hoped it would taste as good.
One word: PERFECTION.
The best moment is when you take that first bite. Cookies have a serious power over people** and immediately transport them to their happy place. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Slightly crunchy on the outside but OOEY-GOOEY almost half-baked goodness on the inside. There is some serious magic going on in that kitchen.*** We were lucky enough to get a uber-fresh batch out of the oven. I was so surprised my cookie was strong enough to hold together. My experience there was everything that I thought it would be.
I don’t know if you’re the type to travel for food. But if you had to pick a place, THIS IS IT. You bet I’ll be back. No doubt about it.
167 W 74th St
*Levain=Heisenberg of cookies.
**Instant smiles/positive mood. Cookies should be the solution to all our problems.
***I bet you there’s Keebler elves working in the wayy, wayy back of that tiny store. Wouldn’t be surprised.
New York, NY 10023
b/t Columbus Ave & Amsterdam Ave inUpper West Side