Joseph Leonard

Open Hours: Mon 10:30AM-12:00AM; Tues-Fri 8:00AM-2:00AM; Sat 9:00AM-2:00AM; Sun 9:00AM-12:00AM

Phone Number: 646 429 8383

Price Range: $20-25

Address: 170 Waverly Place

Website: www.josephleonard.com 

Station: 1, 2, Christopher Street; A, B, C, D, E, F, M W4Street; 1, 2, 3 14Street


How do I spend my last meal in NYC (at least until next year)? You guessed it – turned down the option of grabbing take out and dragged my suitcase to Joseph Leonard to have one last brunch.

The cozy cottage-like restaurant is intimate yet refreshingly welcoming. Vintage frames and mirrors are nailed across the worn out brick walls while other antique (and quite random) items such as ragged books and tin cans are scattered around the room. 

The bar is centered in the middle of the joint surrounded by steel stools. 

I chose this place mainly because they serve breakfast food until 3:30PM. My friend started us off by ordering Saucisson a Lail.

Slices of garlic fatty pork and sausage as well as the poached eggs were standard. Mostly impressed with their thick, yet crispy fried hashbrown topped with their crème fraiche. 

Next we had the Spring Vegetable Omelette.

Meh, ain’t worth your buck. Don’t go ordering this when you can clearly replicate it at home.

Lastly, we had the "Benedict". 

Interesting use of pain perdu as a base, which made the texture soft and spongy, similar to banana bread. Salmon was fresh and yolk of the poached egg oozed out perfectly. I’d give this order a go, but note that portions are not significantly large. 

 Bonus points for the complimentary pickles

Bonus points for the complimentary pickles

Overall highlights of this restaurant include the atmosphere, amicable service and interesting take on eggs Benedict. Although quaint (perfect for a quick work break chat), the food here didn’t blow me out of the waters and I would really wouldn't hesitate to cross the street and eat at CHALAIT. 


House of Small Wonder

Open Hours: Mon-Thurs 8:00AM-7:00PM; Fri 8:00AM-5:00PM; Sat-Sun 10:00AM-5:00PM 

Phone Number: 718 388 6160

Price Range: $20-25

Address: 77 N 6th Street

Website: www.houseofsmallwonder.com 

Station: L Bedford Ave. 


Question: What to do when we’ve tried all of the vendors at Smorgasburg?

Answer: Leave the market, find an all day brunch joint and continue to feast. 

My best friend’s sister has been wanting to try this place for over a year now, but never gave the effort because of the inevitable wait time. Since we made it this far out into Brooklyn, we were determined to snag a seat no matter how long it would take. The miniature treehouse café is boxed within four wooden walls so that those who are uninformed walk by and easily miss the entrance. The inside very much resembles a greenhouse styled structure with wooden beams holding up a glass ceiling. Rustic vintage photo frames and bohemian carpets are hung across the blue wooden walls as subtle jazz music floats through the seated booths.   

We were intrigued with their exotic drink menu so we opted for the Organic Apple Soy Shake.

Straight up smells like grandma’s Thanksgiving apple pie. Thick and milky with a touch of cinnamon gives this unique order a thumbs up. 

Next, we had the Avocado Goat Cheese Sandwich with a side of Sunny Side Up Egg.

Very disappointed. Easily could have made this at home myself; portion was small too.

Lastly, we had the Vegetable Yaki Udon.

Pleasantly surprised. The stir fried udon noodles paired with Japanese Worcestershire sauce and sesame oil truly resembled the ones we had in Asia. The huge portion that they gave us for this order did make us feel better about the earlier order. Added bonus: you can break the sunny side up egg on top and let the yolk ooze out for a thicker texture. Looks like their Japanese styled entrees are more of the way to go if you’re coming for lunch.

Overall, the highlights of this place include the quaint interior design and their exotic drinks. Don’t go ordering their sandwiches here because you can definitely find better elsewhere, but their undon and don are worth having a go if you’re feeling hungry. Don’t forget to come in advance because there will always be a wait. 


Hillstone

Open Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30AM-11:00PM; Sat 12:00PM-11:00PM; Sun 12:00PM-10:00PM  

Phone Number: 212 689 1090

Price Range: $60-100

Address: 378 Park Ave S

Website: www.hillstone.com

Station: 4, 6, 6X; N, R; F, M


Leave it to us to run an avenue from the subway station in the rain trying to make it to our already late reservation. But no worries, nothing comes between us and our lunch, especially if it’s at an upscale restaurant like this one. Hillstone looks like your typical steakhouse just with a swankier vibe. The place is dimly lit for a ritzier ambiance accompanied with oak booths, ceilings and tables and lounge music pumping in the background as businessmen chat over their meals.

We started off with the featured Tomato Soup.

Very creamy texture with a heavy emphasis on herbs. Nothing too special.

We had the Spicy Tuna Roll (not featured here) and Spicy Tuna “Osaka Style” as our main appetizers.

 Spicy Tuna "Osaka Style"

Spicy Tuna "Osaka Style"

I’ll just have 903824 more pieces of these please and thank you. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from their sushi selection knowing that this place was a grill house, but I’m so happy to have been proven wrong. Both sets of rolls offer fresh, soft tuna paired with smashed avocado spread, creating a creamy combination that melts right in your mouth. It’s not a recommendation, but a must to order these two rolls when you come. 

We also had the Chilled Jumbo Shrimp with cocktail and remoulade sauces.

Not a big fan of shrimp, but my friends gave it a thumbs up.

For our entrees, we ordered the California Burger.

Meat was high quality and grilled to a juicy medium paired with tomatoes, onions, cheese, lettuce and ripe slices of avocado. We’re a fan of the BBQ sauce that leaves a satisfying aftertaste. Fries were too soggy and soft for my taste. Would recommend just for the burger.

We also ordered the Ahi Tuna Burger.

Juicy and tender. Somehow it seems like they always get their tuna right. Their soft (almost brioche-like) bread is a yes, but would do even better if it were slightly toasted. Interesting type of burger we don’t see much elsewhere so would definitely recommend.

Lastly, we got the Flying Tuna Salad.

Tuna is fresh and nicely seared – again we’re impressed with the way they handle their tuna. Guess we’re lucky that we came with that specific craving.  Comes with a side of field greens, avocado, tomato and gigantic chunks of mango, which is all pretty standard.

Overall highlights of this restaurant include its tuna, the attentive service and of course the two rolls we ordered as appetizers. Honestly, I would go to this place for lunch just to order plates on plates of their rolls (yes, really it’s that good). Drooling right now just thinking about the different rolls I’ll be trying next time I make a pit stop here.    


Totto Ramen

Open Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00PM-4:30PM and 5:30PM-12:00AM; Sun 4:00PM-11:00PM

Phone Number: 212 582 0052

Price Range: $15-20 (per bowl)

Address: 366 W 52nd Street

Website: www.tottoramen.com

Station: A, C, E 50Street; 1, 2 50Street; B, D, E 7Ave


After a week’s worth of trying different cuisines, we found ourselves inevitably craving some Asian food grub. When given the challenge to identify the best place for ramen in New York, all candidates pointed to Totto…so to Totto we go!

Just as people had warned us, the line outside was looooong and it just got longer as it got closer to noon. Be prepared to take a number and wait if you really want the biscuit. As a party of six, we had to wait even longer, but the waitress was efficient enough to take our orders first before we were even seated.

Within 10minutes to sitting down, our food arrived bowl by bowl.

Our appetizer was the Char Siu Pork Bun.

Yes sir, we’ll have more of this please. Just enough tender fatty glazed with both sweet and savory sauce.

We had the Paitan Ramen with Pork and Seasoned Boiled Egg.

Their signature dish made in al dente style with soy sauce infused soup, scallions, onion and nori.

Here’s the Paitain Ramen with Chicken.

We also had the ExtraSpicy Ramen with Avocado.

 Spicy chili sauce on the side. 

Spicy chili sauce on the side. 

Next we ordered the Spicy Ramen.

Soup contains spicy chili oil (rayu), spicy sesame oil paired with homemade noodles al dente style, scallions, bean sprouts and nori.

Lastly, we had the Spicy Vegetable Ramen with Seasoned Boiled Egg.

I can’t speak for the rest of the ramen dishes, but mine had me going after the first bite, which is quite impressive considering the fact that I don’t even like ramen. The veggie option had a Konbu seaweed and shiitake mushroom based broth paired with avocado, veggies, Yuzu paste, sesame oil and spicy chili oil. Never thought avocado would go well with ramen, but the creamy texture meshed well with the chewy noodles that other ramen restaurants in the States can never seem to get right. A bit disappointed that the noodles weren't as spicy as I had hoped, but would definitely recommend to those looking for a lighter option or who want to go meatless.

We also ordered a bottle of Ramune.

  First one I’ve ever had and my friend even let me pop the marble.

First one I’ve ever had and my friend even let me pop the marble.

Overall, the highlights of this joint include the Char Siu Pork Buns, the rich broth and the delightfully chewy texture of the ramen (something quite rare to find here). As mentioned before, expect a wait and try to come either by yourself or with one other friend. It’s a hole in the wall place (literally almost missed it), but definitely worth trying if you need a warm, simmering fix of Japanese noodles and broth. 


ABC Kitchen

Open Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00PM-3:0PM and 5:30PM-10:30PM; Sat-Sun 11:00AM-3:00PM and 5:30PM-10:00PM

Phone Number: 212 475 5829

Price Range: $30-40

Address: 35 E 18th Street

Website: www.abckitchennyc.com  

Station: N, Q, R; L; 4, 5, 6, 6X Union Sq


One month – that’s how long in advance we booked our reservations for this restaurant to ensure we had a table for four. Good thing we did too because the line for this place started before doors even opened and those who didn’t have seats were forced to eat at the bar.

What once was just a trendy furniture store is now a creative collaboration between ABC Carpet & Home and Jean-George, where guests can grab a classy meal before tossing in the bill and browsing through the furniture selection. Upon entering the place which was already crowded by 12PM, I instantly fell in love with their famous interior décor. A variety of uniquely crafted mismatched chandeliers and wispy wired single light bulbs dangle from the crisscrossed cabin-like wooden beam ceilings. Brick walls are painted white and simplistic flower arrangements are placed around the space within tall, thin vases to mimic Kenzo fragrance bottles. Modern lounge music casually floats through the air as people sit down to chat while waiters donning plaid shirts scurry between the kitchen and their tables.

Our waiter started us off with a basket of bread.

Having been so excited to try this place, we had already searched up what we wanted to order the night before. We ordered the Pretzel Dusted Calarmi with Marinara and Mustard Aioli as our appetizer.

Crispy on the outside with only a hint of seafood aftertaste. We liked the proportion of less flour, more squid and how the sauces were mild, but memorable.

Next we ordered the Line Caught Tuna Sashimi marinated with Ginger and Mint.

Sashimi was fresh and went down quite lightly. Slight mint flavoring was a nice touch.

We heard a lot about their whole wheat pizzas so we decided to try their Asparagus and Bacon Pizza.

Three words: did not disappoint. Loved how the bacon was cooked to a crisp sprinkled with black pepper and the crust was toasted until crunchy. The blend of ricotta and parmesan made the cheese creamy and thick – we can see why it’s been all the hype. Highly recommend to those of you who love gourmet pizza. Note: this pizza has a generous portion of asparagus so you may want to opt for another topping if this vegetable isn’t your favorite. We suspect any of the other pizzas will be just as mouthwatering. 

Next we had the Veggie Burger.

Wrapped in a whole wheat pocket pita, the veggie patty is thick and crunchy – texture is much like a falafel. The real showstopper was the accompanying minted yogurt sauce that was distinct, yet light and zesty. Would recommend, especially for the yogurt sauce.

Last, we had the Ricotta and Farm Egg Raviolo.

I was rather surprised that there was actually only one raviolo, but quality over quantity right? We were delighted with the sunny farm egg that oozed out of the pasta paired with the soft marinated pork ragu sprinkled with ricotta, sage and parmesan that melted in your mouth. What can we say? Licked this plate clean and we’re sure you will too.

Overall, the highlights of this restaurant include the classy, yet quirky modern interior design, the rather affordable prices for such an upscale restaurant, the casual yet refined ambiance, the attentive staff and of course, the variety of fresh fusion dishes their menu has to offer. We love their commitment to crafting and serving aesthetically pleasing entrees that are free of pesticides, hormones and synthetic fertilizers as well as their pledge towards environmental sustainability. Jean-George in NYC has yet to disappoint me so I guarantee your party of guests will leave feeling full and satisfied with their culinary as well as creative adventure at ABC.  


 ABC Carpet & Home section in the back of the restaurant. 

ABC Carpet & Home section in the back of the restaurant. 

Smorgasburg

Open Hours/Dates: Saturdays from 11:00AM-6:00PM

Price Range: $10-25 (depending on what you order/how much)

Address: East River State Park, 90 Kent Ave 

Website: www.smorgasburg.com 

Station: L Bedford Ave. 


So much food, so little time. Solution? Find a place with a dense compilation of good food and eat your heart out.

Today we headed for Brooklyn in anticipation of all the cuisines Smorgasburg had in store for us.

First up we had Lonestar Empire’s Slow Smoked Texas Style Brisket Sandwich.  

Their signature dish did not disappoint. We’re all about their tender, marinated brisket that’s sandwiched between two slices of soft yellow brioche-like bread. Not a big fan of their Texas style mustard potato salad though.

Next we had Home Frite’s Truffle Fries.

Fried to a crisp, we’re definitely onboard with this choice topped with parmesan and herbs. Truffle oil with lemon garlic aioli = genius. Never had anything like it before and could possibly be the most impressive fries we’ve had in NYC by far. Definitely recommend this vendor if you plan on dropping by.

Next we had the Lobster Roll.

Juicy, chewy lobster meat over fried bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. Wouldn’t say it was better than Boston lobster, but it ain’t bad for New York.

We also made it a point to pick up Dough’s famous Hibiscus Doughnut.

Nothing better than fried dough. Very subtle flavor of hibiscus glossed onto our gigantic doughnut; quite an interesting flavor we never had the pleasure of tasting before. Would definitely recommend to those looking for a unique tasting.

Lastly, we had the Blackberry Peach Jasmine Pop from People’s Pops.

 People's Pops also make their shaved ice right in front of you.

People's Pops also make their shaved ice right in front of you.

Definitely recommend to all you berry fans. Perfect summer treat to cool yourself while looking through the vintage popup shops.

Gorgeous day to be out and about exploring Brooklyn for the first time. Definitely worth checking out all the different vendors if you have a spare weekend, just make sure you bring an empty stomach and lots of cash (because they don't except credit/debit cards here). 


 

Lobster Place (Chelsea Market)

Open Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30AM-9:00PM; Sun 10:00AM-8:00PM

Phone Number: 212 255 5672

Price Range: $30-$40 (Depending on what you order/how much)

Address: 75 Ninth Avenue

Website: www.lobsterplace.com 

Station: A, C, E 14th Street; L 8th Ave; 1, 2 18Street 


The last time I ventured into Chelsea market after brunch, my best friend gave me a tour of the Lobster Place claiming it was the best sashimi she’s had in NYC. As an avid salmon sashimi fan, I dragged her, her sister and her boyfriend with me to this place for dinner today so I could taste it for myself.

Sushi and sashimi are sliced and served at the in-store Omakase Bar in the center of the room. Servers are constantly scrambling to reset the bar table as guests move quickly in and out. Seats are always extremely limited so you may have to wait if you’re not getting take out.

We made our way to the Steamed Lobster Counter to order a lobster while we waited for some seats.

Lobster meat dipped in butter was fresh, chewy and juicy.

When our buzzer finally gave us the go to sit down, we ordered the Salmon Sashimi, Salmon Sushi and Tuna Sushi.

No words. So fresh, much happy, would kill to have more.

Overall highlight of this trip is really the fresh salmon sashimi. Boy will I be dreaming about this tonight. Tip: come during lunch because that’s when their sashimi is the most fresh. Dinner is usually leftovers.  


La Palapa

Open Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00PM-12:00AM; Sat-Sun 11:00AM-12:00AM  

Phone Number: 212 777 2537

Price Range: $20-25

Address: 77 St. Marks Pl

Website: www.lapalapa.com

Station: L 1 Ave; 4, 6, 6X Astor Pl; F 2Ave


High school reunion = good food, good company. After a long day of furniture shopping at Bed Bath Beyond (long story), we decided to hit up one of our favorite Mexican joints in East Village.

Outdoor seating is nice if weather permits where you can chat with friends or people watch as you sip your mojito. Indoor seating is more romantic, with dim lighting and traditional Mexican interior décor.

We started off our order with Guacamole y Totopos as our appetizer.

Chips were crispy and unsalted. The guac was to die for – especially thick and creamy with a touch of lime. Probably one of the best I’ve had in New York so far.

 Next we all ordered our own individual plates of quesadillas and tacos. What we love about this place is the variety of fillings of which you can mix and match. Fillings can include Al Pastor de Pork (Chile rubbed pork), Tinga de Pollo (chipotle BBQ chicken), Camarones (shrimp with poblano) and Chorizo (Chile guajilo sausage).

 We had the Quesadillas with Bistec and Tinga de Pollo.

 Cheesy quesadillas filled with char-grilled marinated skirt steak and Chile chipotle barbecued chicken. Meat was juicy and well flavored; three types of cheeses used include homemade queso fresco, cotija anejo and Monterey jack cheese. Portions look deceivingly small, but are actually quite filling

We also had Tacos with Chorizo and Hongos.  

The corn tortillas were a bit too dry, but the Chile guajillo sausage filling was on point. The mushrooms with garlic and epazote  filling was standard.

Overall, the highlights of this place include the zesty ambiance, the killer homemade guacamole and the diverse taco/quesadillas fillings. Do make sure you call for reservations if you plan on coming after 7PM because the place just gets more and more packed the later it gets. 


Levain Bakery

Open Hours: Mon-Sat 8:00AM-7:00PM; Sun 9:00AM-7:00PM 

Phone Number: 212 874 6080 

Price Range: $5-$10

Address: 167 W 74th Street

Website: www.levainbakery.com

Station: 1, 2, 3; A, B, C


After hearing my friend rave about this bakery from her spring break trip to NYC, I was determined to make Levain Bakery a priority pit stop. Bright and early we dragged ourselves out of bed to see what all the hype was about.

Having heard so much about their cookies, we knew the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie was essential to order.

For all you real cookie fanatics out there, look no further. Crispy and golden on the outside, yet fluffy and buttery on the inside. Thick in size with consistent texture seals the deal. Please, for your sake, order one of their cookies when you make a visit (or a dozen doesn’t hurt either).

Next we had the Oatmeal Raisin Scone.

Just as buttery and delicious. Crunchy on the outside, delicate and soft on the inside. Texture and flavor closely mimics the oatmeal raisin cookie. I would opt for this option for those of you with less of a sweet tooth.

We also had the Raisin Sticky Bun.  

Gooey and finger-lickingly delicious. Raisins add to the sweetness so I would opt for the walnuts if you’re looking for more of a balance.

Lastly, we had the Chocolate Chip Brioche.

Lined in between the soft chewy bread was light gooey chocolate. Probably one of my favorite orders because the chocolate wasn’t overwhelming.

Overall, the highlights of this place include its friendly service and the undeniably fresh-baked pastries and treats. Can’t rave enough about this place because it really set the tone for our day. The bakery itself may be a bit modest, but as the saying goes, good things come in small packages. Best part of this place is that it defies all the latest fat-free/gluten-free/yum-free crazy fads – it’s proudly and sinfully delicious and it really gives no damn.  


Chalait

Open Hours: Mon-Fri 7:00AM-7:00PM; Sat-Sun 8:00AM-7:00PM

Phone Number: 212 929 0266

Price Range: $15-$25

Address: 224 W 4th Street

Website: www.chalait.com

Station: 1, 2 Christopher Street; A, B, C, D, E, F, M W4th Street; 1, 2, 3 14Street


Happiness comes in the form of two things: a good cup of coffee and ripe avocado over toast. Luckily for me Chalait knows how to do both and what’s better – they do it with a touch of matcha. Today my best friend and I made plans to surprise someone at the JFK airport, but we couldn’t start the day without brunch.  

We were in a bit of a rush so we were happy to see that Chalait was conveniently located next to the Christopher station subway stop. Upon entering, I was instantly charmed by the chic interior design with single dangling bulbs, all white walls and blackboards displaying their minimalistic menu. Seats were limited, but we managed to grab some stools by the bar next to the tall glass windows.

We had the Miso Butter Toast. 

IMG_6330.JPG

Creamy and slightly salty miso butter spread over a piece of crunchy toast, which paired well with the two poached eggs and soft cut up avocado. Thumbs up to this combination that straight up melted in your mouth.

Next we had the Smoked Salmon Benedict. 

Happy to see we were given a generous amount of fresh salmon piled on top of a thick slice of multi-grain crusted bread that was nicely toasted and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Poached egg was a bit overcooked, but the pea shoots were a surprisingly pleasant contrast. Highlight of this dish is definitely the sweet vinaigrette sauce drizzled over the salmon – both memorable and healthier than your average hollandaise sauce. Would definitely recommend to egg Benedict lovers. 

Of course we couldn’t come here without trying their matcha drinks. I got their famous Matcha Latte with 2% steamed milk. 

Order this, really just do it. Quite happy that the matcha flavor was creamy and detectable, yet not too sweet or overpowering like the way some drinks can be made.  

My friend ordered the Chalait Hot Chocolate. 

50% hot chocolate sauce and 50% matcha, what more can we ask for? Matcha is very distinct among the light chocolate infused flavor.

Overall, highlights of Chalait is its modern interior design, its healthy yet delightfully tasty food selection, its beautiful latte art and the friendly baristas. The only downside of this place is its hefty prices that really packs a punch to your wallet, but if that wasn’t the case you’d probably find me here enjoying a matcha latte and people watching everyday. Despite that, do treat yourself and take a celebratory trip here when you’re done with your last final.    



Perry Street (Brunch)

Open Hours:  11:30AM-3:00PM and 5:30PM-10:30PM Mon-Thurs; 11:30AM-3:00PM and 5:30PM-11:30PM Fri; 11:00AM-3:30PM and 5:30PM-11:30PM Sat; 11:00AM-3:30PM and 5:30PM-10:30PM

Phone number: 212 352 1900

Price Range: $20-25

Address: 176 Perry Street

Website: www.perrysrestaurant.com

Station: 1, 2


I don’t know about you, but my Sunday afternoons are strictly reserved for good brunches and quality conversations, or else why bother waking up? For those of you who’ve been well overworked this week, I say – or rather Parks and Recs says – treat yo’ self.

There’s much to be said for brunching at a refined, modern restaurant like Perry Street. From its plush patterned carpets and white leather couches to its overarching lamp lights and faint lounge music, this place is the epitome of chic. The tall panel windows that provide a full view of the Hudson River don’t hurt either.   

The waiters who donned their smart pressed collared shirts and black skinny ties started us off with bread and butter.

We ordered the Eggs Benedict with Chili Hollandaise and Smoked Salmon.

Fresh salmon with eggs poached to the right degree of runny – not much more I can ask. If only every kitchen could learn to poach the way they do, I’d never have a reason to regret ordering eggs Benedict again. Only thing I’ll say is the portion is a bit small. Note: you can also opt for the flying pig farm ham or sautéed spinach if salmon isn’t your thing.  

Next, we had the Russ & Daughters Smoked Salmon Tower.

Drooling? So were we. Again, their salmon proved to be fresh and we were in favor of their tofu-scallion “cream cheese” that lacked the heavy smell, but provided the smooth texture layered between the lightly toasted until crisp bagel slices. But the true highlight of this dish was the accompanying sweet and rather memorable tomato sauce that gave the sandwich its finishing touch.

Overall, the highlights of Perry Street are really everything from its quality brunch choices that are beautifully crafted and displayed to its white sophisticated interior design. Brunch prices are quite reasonable for such an upscale restaurant and service here is attentive. Next time you’re feeling in the mood for a sleek and sexy Sunday afternoon, I’d recommend clinking your flute of mimosa here over food that is unlikely to disappoint.   


Flat Top (Brunch)

Open Hours:  Mon-Fri 11:00AM-10:00PM; Sat 10:00AM-11:00PM; Sun 10:00AM-10:00PM 

Phone number: 646 820 7735

Price Range: $10-$20 

Address: 1241 Amsterdam Ave 

Website: www.flattopnyc.com 

Station: A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 


Hate goodbyes, love brunch. Guess the two balance each other out. We hit up Flat Top as our last destination before I jetted back to Boston for school, recommended by my best friend’s sister who’s got the deets to the eateries around the Columbia area. Good thing we got there bright and early because the place started bustling thirty minutes within opening – guess New Yorkers really do take their brunches seriously. Note that this place takes reservations so be sure to make one if you’re coming in on a Sunday.       

To my delight, the indoor décor was quaint and gave off a cozy vintage vibe.

 Digging the stained glass lamp and typewriter 

Digging the stained glass lamp and typewriter 

After a rather chilly few days in New York, we were excited to snag a window seat so we could enjoy the sun while chatting over our meal.

They started us off with complimentary cheese biscuits.

 

Aroma was killer. Fresh out of the oven, these warmly baked biscuits were crumbly and moist. I heard they tend to give out different complimentary goods each time, so I hope for your sake that they serve these when you make the trip here.

For main, we ordered the Hand-Milled Toasted Organic Oatmeal.

Serving size was large; oatmeal itself went down light. We were a fan of their sour cherries, shredded coconut and almonds. They also provide a side of brown sugar, butter and cream.

Next came the Blueberry Buttermilk Ricotta Pancakes.

What a handsome set of fluffy pancakes. We liked how the berries were a bit sour to counter the sweetness of the powdered sugar and syrup. I’m not usually the biggest fan of pancakes, but these were pretty satisfying to the taste buds.  

And of course, no brunch would be complete if I didn’t order Smoked Salmon Benedict.

Eggs were nicely poached with a generous portion of salmon – so much that I couldn’t even finish. Met all the right standards, would definitely recommend.

Overall highlights of this destination include its cottage-like ambiance, large-portioned/high quality food and friendly staff. Definitely pop on by if you’re hanging around the Columbia area and need a nice place to kick back and relax with a friend. 



Raymi

Open Hours: Mon-Thurs 5:00PM-10:00PM; Fri-Sat 5:00PM-11:00PM; Sun 4:00PM-9:00PM 

Phone number: 212 929 1200 

Price Range: $30-$60/person 

Address: 43 W 24th Street 

Website: www.rayminyc.com

Station: F, M, N, R, 1, 2


Why has it taken me this long to write Raymi’s review when I technically ate here a week ago for restaurant week? I could blame it on the midterms and projects, but let’s be real, there’s always time to write about good food…

I’ve got to admit it’s taken me awhile to get started on this one solely because I’m scared I won’t be able to do their food justice. Be prepared to hear a lot raving – something I don’t do very often (PS: I apologize for the terrible pictures. The lighting was awful and I was a bit too eager to finish my plate, guess the camera doesn’t always eat first).

Having never tried Peruvian cuisine before, my friend prompted me to order the Mixto Ceviche as my starter. 

Combination of aji rocoto, shrimp, squid, octopus and sweet potato where the aji was able to counter the strong seafood taste. Well done. 

We also ordered the Pulpo Meloso. 

I think I may have died and gone to seafood lovers’ heaven. This was a combination of charred octopus, aji limo mayo, endive, radicchio and spicy mayo. The octopus was fresh and left absolutely no seafood taste, topped with well-crafted seasoning which made this dish highly addictive. The way we devoured this appetizer encouraged our neighboring table to order the same. Highly, highly recommended.  

Forgive me, I can’t remember the specific name of the entrée my friend ordered, but it very well consisted of more seafood. 

His dish offered cod, shrimp, mussels, clams, choclo, baby corn, cilantro and a bowl of jasmine rice.

My main entrée was the Seared Salmon, which came with lentil tacu tacu, fried banana, cipollini onions and cherry tomatoes. I was quite happy with the richness of the seared salmon along with its crispy skin; accompanying sauce with the lentils was paired well. Would definitely recommend to salmon lovers.

Our drinks included their specialty Pisco Sour made with Pisco 100, lime, egg whites and bitters, their Peruvian Cusquena beer and Verdejo white wine. 

Of course I had searched up the reviews on the place before coming so I knew dessert was worth looking forward to.

We ordered the Chocolate and Quinoa. 

The Peruvian chocolate candy bar was rather standard, but I was pretty sold on the lucuma ice cream and candied walnuts.

We also ordered their famous Brioche Bread Pudding. 

Let’s just say I still dream about this dessert in the middle of class. The toffee-flavored bread was baked to crisp perfection served with their thick, creamy brown butter ice cream topped with raisins and almonds. Best dessert I’ve had this year for NYC’s restaurant week by far – I loved it so much that I may have devoured the dish by myself before we could “share” our desserts. #sorrynotsorry

Overall highlights of this visit include the pleasant ambiance, fresh seafood and outgoing/friendly service. Do not forget to try their charred octopus and brioche bread pudding, I promise you it’s worth damaging your wallet for. 




Momofuku Milk Bar

Open Hours:  Mon-Sun 9:00AM-12:00AM 

Phone number: 347 577 9504

Price Range: $5-$10

Address: 561 Columbus Ave. 

Website: www.milkbarstore.com 

Station: A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 


An overdue reunion with the bestie calls for dessert and…more dessert. We hit up Momofuku Milk Bar on Upper West side as soon as I dropped my luggage off at the apartment.

This place is more of a serve and go type eatery so the space is quite tight, but luckily we were able to snag the seats in front of the window. I was all about their pink neon milk sign and chalk written menu that offer drinks, cakes, cookies, ice cream and yes, even real food (like their veggie buns).

Of course it was mandatory that we order their Milk Cereal Soft Serve.

 

Really unlike any ice cream I’ve ever tasted – thick, creamy and a bit salty. Honestly, still in the process of deciding whether I like this approach to soft serve or not, perhaps it’s an acquired taste. Would recommend to those who are looking for a rather savory dessert. 

We also took a shot at their famous Crack Pie.

While I would say the pie’s hint of butter and brown sugar was deliciously strong, the dessert overall was a bit dense and overwhelming. But even so, I think it’s worth trying just because I was quite a fan of the flavor and texture. Definitely share this slice with a friend because I predict that neither one of you will be able to finish this in one go.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t eat too much due to the fact that we had dinner reservations in 2 hours, but I’ll definitely be back next time to try their infamous birthday truffles!



Hu Kitchen

Open Hours:  Mon-Fri 7:00AM-10:00PM; Sat-Sun 9:00AM-9:00PM

Phone number: 212 510 8919  

Price Range: $10-$15 

Address: 78 5th Ave 

Website: www.hukitchen.com 

Station: L, N, Q, R, F, M


I’m definitely an advocate of splurging on sweets and tasty eats while traveling, but sometimes I just really crave a dose of healthy food. After a week’s worth of nonstop restaurant hopping, I thought it was finally time to make a pit stop at Hu Kitchen.

Why was I so keen on coming here? Well, Hu Kitchen stands by 8 pillars when it comes to what they serve: unprocessed food, high quality ingredients, emphasis on veggies, making all grains whole, embracing healthy fats, grass-fed meats, elimination of artificial sweeteners and providing non-GMO foods. They’re a Paleo restaurant focused on bringing food back to the basics without sacrificing taste.

Won’t lie, the first time I tried this place I was rather overwhelmed. Hu offers already made entrees and sides from which you can pick and choose, much like a cafeteria sort of fashion. Options vary depending if you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also have selections where they sell granola, granola bars, raw dessert, prepackaged cold foods and juices.

I was intrigued by their Bowls where you choose your own “base” and “topping”. I chose the Raw Vegetable Medley as my base and the Organic Moroccan Chicken as my topping.

So very impressed. The veggies (shredded cucumbers and carrots) were crunchy and fresh. The Moroccan chicken was so well seasoned with onion, garlic, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Every bowl also comes with a grain-free Hu bread that I thought to be rather tasteless and bland.

Hu serves a variety of pressed juices. I got a Spicy Greens so I could claim that I had eaten my veggies for the day.

 We also got a Raw Chocolate Nut Brownie to see if they could actually make healthy dessert taste like dessert.

Ain’t bad, in fact, the lack of sweeteners and various ingredients make the cocoa flavor even stronger. Would recommend to those who like rich flavored dark chocolate desserts.

Don't forget to check out their Mash Bar where they serve smoothies and acai bowls. 

verall, highlights of this place include its eclectic atmosphere and, of course, its creative and diverse Paelo menu. I’m thoroughly impressed that they have managed to accomplish their Hu philosophy while refraining from compromising the taste of their food. Definitely a good place to grab and go when you're on lunch break with your coworkers. 


The Butcher's Daughter

Open Hours: Sun-Thurs 8:00AM-10:00PM; Fri-Sat 8:00AM-11:00PM 

Phone number: 212 219 3434 

Price Range: $15-$25

Address: 19 Kenmare Street 

Website: www.thebutchersdaughter.com 

Station: 4, 6, 6X, J, B, D


Sole reason why I woke up this morning was to head over to Nolita to have brunch at The Butcher’s Daughter with an old high school best friend. I heard so much about this place that I was determined to figure out what all the hype was about.

Take note that this place is tiny and doesn’t take any reservations so be sure to get here early. Since we got there by 11AM, we were able to get seats by the counter (and even then the seats were scarce), but within 10minutes of arriving, there was already a line of people waiting at the door.

With just one scan of the room, I instantly fell in love with their quaint interior design. Everything from their dangling pulleys to little potted plants to their white brick walls to even their glass bottled leaf water gave the place a cozy cottage house feel. Even the waiters were sporting cute health shirts that read either “Beet it” or “We serve designer kale”. I spent so much time admiring their décor and taking photos that I almost forgot to order. 

Both my friend and I had heard so much about the Smashed Avocado Toast Benedict that neither one of us would back down and order another dish to try. I had mine without hollandaise sauce. 

I’ve got to say I was highly disappointed with this brunch choice. Not only did the two slices of bread come in a small measly portion, but they were also soggy and rather unpleasant to down. The poached eggs were equally (if not more) disappointing; I was shocked to find how poorly poached they were with egg white still runny and dripping out from the sides. The smashed avocado was probably the only thing that I found somewhat adequate. Quite dismayed to report that the roasted potato hash were not any better. The dish was just bland and tasteless overall and no amount of pepper could change that. 

Unfortunately, my friend got the same order, but she also ordered a bowl of fruits to go with her meal. 

At least the fruits were fresh and nicely cut. We were instantly given agave upon request. 

 Receipts came in cute little buckets 

Receipts came in cute little buckets 

 Back of the restaurant has limited communal seating 

Back of the restaurant has limited communal seating 

Overall, the only highlight of this joint was the atmosphere experience. I loved the concept and design of the entire place even if spacing was a bit cramped but the unsatisfying low quality food is something hard to defend. Not gonna lie, I’m not the biggest morning person and can be quite a harsh food critic when my poached eggs are botched first thing Sunday morning.  

(PS: I learned my lesson - never order the same dish if you've never been to the restaurant before) 

Veselka

Open Hours: Mon-Sun Open 24/7

Phone Number: 212 228 9682

Price Range: $5-$15

Address: 144 2nd Ave between St Marks Pl and 9th Street

Website: www.veselka.com 

Station: 4, 6, 6X, N, R 


Honestly didn’t know what to expect when my friend suggested trying Ukrainian cuisine for dinner, but I’m always down for an adventure. Trekking outside in the snow for a good 30minutes to reach this restaurant definitely set some standards for me. The entrance is a bit deceiving because you think you’re stepping into a small diner when really it is quite spacious inside with lots of seating. 

My friend had been dying to try this place out for awhile now so she went and studied up the menu before we even stepped foot into the place. Since it was our first time, we agreed we would order smart and try a bit of everything that was recommended to us. Hint: take notes now because we’re providing you with a helpful rundown: 

First we ordered the Stuffed Cabbage with beef, pork and rice (there’s also the vegetarian option of wild mushrooms and rice). 

Let’s just put it this way: we devoured it all. The minced meat was soft and seasoned, smothered under rich mushroom gravy sauce (you can also opt for the tomato sauce). The dish wouldn’t be complete without the sweet beet sauce they serve on the side, which was probably one of my favorite parts of the meal. 

The Stuffed Cabbage entre from the Ukrainian Specialties menu also comes with your choice of side. We recommend picking the Potato Pancake. 

Fried until crisp and brown, this side is a crunchy alterative to chew on while you’re having so much meat as your main dish.

Now, onto the next target: we can’t come to a Ukrainian restaurant without having their Pierogi (Ukrainian-styled dumplings that can be served either boiled or fried). They come in plates of 4 or 8 and you can choose a mix of fillings including potato, meat, cheese, meat, spinach and cream cheese, sauerkraut and mushroom, arugula and goat cheese or short rib (note: short rib is a bit pricier).

We got the sweet potato, sauerkraut and mushroom and meat fillings and had them boiled. 

Nothing too special about the sweet potato and meat pierogi, but the sauerkraut and mushroom filling made the best impression with its slightly sour, but memorable flavor. I would still suggest ordering a variety of fillings to try, just make sure that this is one of the ones on your list. My friend liked the accompanying applesauce and sour cream, but I liked the sautéed onions more.

Lastly, we wanted to end our meal on a sweet note, so we took a peak at their dessert menu. They offer some pretty staple options such as brownies, cheesecake, carrot cake, apple pie, ice cream, etc. Our waiter recommended the Chocolate Custard, but if we’re exploring a new cuisine, might as well go all out right? We opted for the Kutya, a traditional Ukrainian pudding. 

First bite had us raising our eyebrows, second bite had us nodding our heads, third bite had us going for our fourth and fifth. To be less verbose, we loved it. The cold pudding consisted of white berries, raisins, walnuts, poppy seeds and honey. Tasted like nothing I ever had before, but I loved the texture of the walnuts and poppy seeds not to mention how guilt-free we felt with such a healthy, hearty dessert.

Overall, the highlight of this restaurant is its Ukrainian specialties including the stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi and kutya as well as the friendly service and affordable prices. We’re eager to try the fried pierogi at our next visit. Come to this diner to seek for comfort food and amicable waiters that are ready to give recommendations of all their favorite home foods on the menu. 

 

Jack's Wife Freda (Brunch)

Open Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00AM-Midnight; Sun 9:00AM-10:00PM

Phone number: 212 510 8550

Price Range: $15-$20

Address: 224 Lafayette Street 

Website: www.jackswifefreda.com  

Station: 4, 6, 6X, N, R, J


Brunch is your favorite meal of the week? Good, it’s mine too. Jumped right outta bed when it was time to head over to Jack’s Wife Freda because let’s face it, can’t start a Saturday morning off right without some poached eggs and avocado.

Here’s a tip: if you plan on coming here, realize that it’s a petite little joint. Seating is very limited, especially on weekends when their business is sky high and they don’t take reservations due to the high demand. Luckily, my friend and I got there early so we were seated within 30minutes (don’t worry there are places to stroll around here).

I’m a sucker for some cute puns, just take a look at their sugar packs. 

We ordered the Green Shakshuka just to see what all the hype was about.

Wonderful egg skillet dish made with a variety of veggies, seasoning and olive oil. We loved the toasted till crisp challah bread dipped in the zesty green mix – the two eggs sunny side up didn’t hurt either. Recommend this combo to those who appreciate some spice in their brunch. But keep in mind that this portion is rather small so don’t plan on being full from just this one order.

Next we had the Mediterranean Breakfast. 

They offer two eggs made in your choice of style, so we asked to have them poached. Tomato and haloumi were chopped and seasoned with a side of avocado and warm toasted pita bread sliced into four pieces. I was quite satisfied with all the fresh ingredients, but was especially pleased that the eggs were poached nicely and the avocado was ripe to the right degree. Would definitely recommend this dish.