The Foodies went to New York City for five days in July (yes, we are just now getting around to these posts). We had a fantastic time and have so many places to share with you. Each day will be covered in a post.
Sightseeing: Central Park Zoo
Hubby and I were on our own Friday. We started our morning at the Central Park Zoo. Yes, the zoo is small – we saw the whole thing in about an hour and a half. But it was a really fun respite from the concrete and crowds. The animals all looked happy and well cared for. Just look at this sea lion hamming it up for the crowds. No one was there directing him to do this!
We also saw three kinds of penguins, a polar bear, red pandas (actually a cousin of the raccoon), Reeves’s muntjacs (crazy little deer with fangs), a whole nest of mongeese, bats, birds, reptiles, frogs, etc. Regular general admission tickets are well worth it at $12 for adults.
The third day we started off at the Central Park Zoo, which was a lot of fun. Super cute fluffy animals. How can you go wrong?
Day of the Week: Friday, 7/26
Total Bill: $157.32 (before tip)
Breakdown: 3 oysters, 6 clams, 1 salad, 1 starter, 2 mains, 1 side, 3 drinks
Pros: Delicious & fresh seafood, fantastic service, stunning to look at.
Verdict: A must-visit.
We went to Oceana for the first time last year. Hubby found it in the Michelin guide (it has received one star annually since 2006) but forgot it was that nice and we showed up with him in cargo shorts and sneakers for our lunch reservation. The hostess did not bat an eyelash and was ready to seat us but we told her we would be more comfortable in the bar. We ate at the bar this time, too, but dressed a bit nicer.
Dan was tending the bar and took excellent care of us. I told him I wanted three raw oysters to start but I had no idea what kind. He brought me a selection of East Dennis ($3.50), Peconic Bay ($3), and Glidden Point ($3). I could actually tell the difference! Peconic Bay was my favorite – mild and tender. I also had a green salad ($12) with “shaved baby vegetables and garnacha vinaigrette,” which was very fresh and not a skimpy size.
I had the lobster sandwich ($23) with bacon, avocado, and lettuce on pain au lait as my main. This sandwich is really brilliant and I don’t consider myself a big sandwich eater. The bread is soft and buttery, the lobster is fresh and perfectly cooked, and the toppings really bring all of the flavors together. I ate the whole thing, except the bite I spared for Hubby. Hubby and I shared a side of homemade gnocchi ($10), which comes in a simple, light sauce of butter and parmigiano reggiano. I also had a bite of Hubby’s General Tsao’s lobster ($46), which is really to die for but just too heavy for me to eat and then walk around. (I think Hubby’s disappointment below is because he hyped it up so much in his mind.)
I cannot say enough good things about Oceana. They deserve every bit of that Michelin star (I might argue they deserve two). If you want to splurge on an exceptional meal in NYC, Oceana is the place to do it.
For lunch we went to Oceana. This place was great. I had the crab cake app. Lots of crab, not much filler, which is the key to a good crab cake. For my main I got one of my most favorite dishes in the city, General Tso’s lobster. It was very good but not as good as I remember it to be. I would probably try something different next time.
Pre-dinner drink: Eleven Madison Park
Day of the Week: Friday, 7/26
Total Bill: $161.14 (before tip)
Breakdown: 2 large beers, 1 cheese plate
Pros: Beautiful restaurant, extremely knowledgeable & professional service, excellent beer selection, master mixologists.
Verdict: We plan to go back for dinner.
Hubby discovered that Eleven Madison Park has Cantillon Iris, which we’ve been trying to find for ages. We were having dinner nearby at The Hurricane Club so stopping by EMP first made sense. EMP has three Michelin stars, which you will quickly discover they deserve. EMP is a gorgeous restaurant: immense ceilings and huge windows but intimate at the same time.
We ordered the Iris ($60 for 750ml), which attracted the attention of Sarah, who is in charge of their beer list. When we told her how excited we were to finally find it, she presented us with the cork in a little keepsake acrylic box. Hubby asked her to leave the bottle so he could take a picture, which prompted her to ask if she could soak the label off and laminate it on a piece of card stock for us. This is the treatment usually reserved for people buying bottles of very fine, very expensive wine.
We decided a cheese plate ($18) would go nicely with our Iris. Unfortunately, EMP’s site doesn’t give the specifics of their cheese plate but it was the perfect little snack.
After the Iris, we ordered the Cantillon Saint Lamvinus ($70 for 750ml). Sarah informed us this beer was best decanted and brought out the craziest decanter I’ve ever seen:
Sarah also preserved this cork and label for us.
EMP’s dinner tasting menu is $195 per person. We had hesitated to eat there since there are so many things we don’t eat (foie, lamb, duck, beef for Hubby, etc.) and the menu changes each day. When we shared our concerns with the bartender, he told us they’ve done tasting menus for vegans and that our server would work with us to accommodate our preferences. We hope to visit for dinner on our next trip.
EMP also has a fantastic craft cocktail selection. The bartender we were chatting with gives classes at some big mixologist convention – cocktails are serious stuff there. Even if you don’t go for dinner, stop in for a drink.
This was the fanciest place I have ever been to that was not pretentious. It was a lot of fun there and not stuffy at all. They have an awesome rare beer menu with 8-10 Cantillon selections and other rarities that go up to $300 a bottle. Yes, for beer. We had an excellent cheese plate here as well.
Dinner: The Hurricane Club
Day of the Week: Friday, 7/26
Total Bill: $179.37 (before tip)
Breakdown: 2 starters, 2 Restaurant Week menus, 1 side, 2 drinks, 1 glass of wine, 1 coffee
Pros: Fun and delicious.
Verdict: A fun place for dinner, with or without a big group.
We’ve been to The Hurricane Club before, coincidentally also during Restaurant Week. We were impressed by the food and that the restaurant could pull off such a bold Polynesian theme without seeming childish. We originally planned to have company with us this evening but it ended up being just the two of us.
We both decided to get the Restaurant Week menu ($38 per person), with some additions. Unfortunately, the menu is neither on Hurricane Club’s website, nor on the website for Restaurant Week. So I’ll have to go by the abbreviations on the receipt and memory.
For starters, in addition to what came with our set dinners, we got the PB & guava jam sandwiches with prosciutto and Thai basil ($9) and the tuna miso roll ($13). The sushi was good but the little sandwiches were just out of this world.
For my menu I got the coconut shrimp (usually $15), a petite filet mignon ($32), and the Thai iced coffee ice cream ($6). For an additional $7 I got a glass of Kim Crawford pinot noir (usually $14). Hubby had the fiery pork dumplings ($14), chili lobster ($10 supplement to the RW menu, regularly $39), and Chocolate Kill-Devil’s Food Cake ($11). We also got a side of Hawaiian fried rice ($15).
All of the food was delicious. My steak was really awesome, almost as good as Bern’s and Charley’s – high praise! Hubby’s lobster was really well done (so easy to overcook lobster). The desserts were not mind-blowing but they were solid. The only thing I didn’t care for was the fried rice but that was just personal preference about having pineapple and bacon in my fried rice. Hubby loved it.
Our server, Brie, took excellent care of us and did it cheerfully. I wish there were more servers like her.
By the way, I just did the math. The RW menu saved us $22 on my meal (including wine) and $26 on Hubby’s. I read a light criticism of RW recently (Eater NY, maybe?) that said some participating restaurants tend to phone it in with the RW menus but that was not our experience at Hurricane Club at all.
Is Hurricane Club going to get a Michelin star? No. But it’s just so much fun, who cares! We will absolutely go back.
The food here was good. The coconut shrimp app was breaded in shredded filo dough, which was an interesting take on a repetitive dish. We also had a fresh and tasty miso tuna roll, pork dumplings, and my favorite app, the peanut butter, guava jelly and prosciutto canapés. The canapés are an interesting flavor combination that really works! For dinner I had the chili lobster. Super spicy, great texture, and amazing flavor. The only problem with this dish was that it was hard to get out of the shell. For the side we got Hawaiian fried rice topped with a fried egg and bacon. It was the best fried rice I think I’ve ever had.
After dinner drink: Eleven Madison Park
After dinner, we went back to Eleven Madison and had a ton of drinks that were fantastic. I told the bartender to make me something with tequila and the drinks kept coming out. As we were pretty drunk by the time left, we walked back to the hotel. Slowly…