The Malt House FiDi.9 Maiden Ln, New York, NY 10038. Website: www.themalthousefidi.com

The Malt House

The Malt House

Vin and I attended a press dinner for the Financial District outpost of the Malt House with some of our food blogger friends, and we instantly felt like we were in the modern day Manhattan version of “Cheers” at this American tavern.  This downtown location is wayyy roomier and nicer than the one in the Village; like the sophisticated older brother version compared to the fun frat brother digs.

The Malt House - main bar

The Malt House – main bar; Photo credit: The Malt House

The Malt House Fidi has the largest collection of whiskey in downtown Manhattan, as evidenced by not one, but TWO beautiful bars.  This place also has an intriguing and tasty cocktail list, an extensive beer menu, and one of the best deals for whiskey flights in town.

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I was invited to a press meal at Sel et Poivre in the UES with Vin and a few of our food reviewer friends.  This classic French bistro has been in business for YEARS, as in this institution is nearing their 30th anniversary!  The current owners are a husband and wife team who focus on several “F” things in life: family, friendliness, France, and FOOD.  As soon as you walk in, there’s a classy wood bar on the right (loved it!) to go with the wood décor throughout the restaurant and welcoming family photos on the warm colored walls.  It made the restaurant look very traditional and elegant, but oh so inviting.  The restaurant was packed with regulars in a comforting and homey environment and I was impressed with the wait staff that attended to everyone’s needs without thinking.  Many of the staff have been here for years and you can tell how in tune and attentive they are to the guests.  Can’t beat that kinda service!

I scanned the regular dinner menu and was excited to see some authentic French dishes on the menu (Calf’s liver! Veal kidneys!), but we were given a preset tasting menu with some other great offerings.

Beet and celery remoulade

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The Malt House. 206 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012. Website: www.themalthousenyc.com

MH is for MALT HOUSE!

MH is for MALT HOUSE!

Vin and I were invited to a press dinner at The Malt House in the Village.  As I walked in my first thought was, “Whoa.  A place like this wasn’t here when I was at NYU!”  I was used to, how to put this lightly, seedier and cheaper and more rambunctious venues that more often than not resulted in bad decisions, like hangovers from crap booze and stomach aches from crap food.  No, if a place like The Malt House was around when I went to NYU, I’d probably be a broke but well fed regular!

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OPP

Taureau

Taureau. 558 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013  Website: www.taureaunyc.com

Tonight’s lovely press dinner is brought to you by a repeat guest: Didier Pawlicki, the energetic owner/chef of the romantic La Sirene.  Both restaurants share the same kitchen yet have completely different concepts.  Taureau is all about fondue and only about fondue and is probably the only all fondue restaurant in the city.  I had slight qualms about an all fondue restaurant ever since a sad, traumatic experience at The Melting Pot (tres gauche), but Didier worked his magic again to make this another fantastic food fest.

fondue pots down the table

Fondue pots down the table

I remember walking into La Sirene thinking, “Oh, it’s cute in here,” but with Taureau, it was intimate, dark and sexy. My initial thought was, “How does it relate to a bull?” since Taureau means “bull” in French, but the enigmatic Didier had all this thought out: the element for the astrological sign Taureau is “earth” and all the ingredients and components were from or of the land.  AND, this side of the premises had a raw feel that reminded me of a wine cellar, with slightly arched ceilings and exposed brick decor.  Had it not been for the window looking out to the street, we could have been dining underground!  Quite ingenious how this whole concept ties together, Didier.  Very smart.  He also takes pride in creating the fondue recipes and pairings himself.  You may ask yourself, “Really, how complicated could it be to just melt something?” The chef really considered the additional ingredients that would compliment the melted cheese or bring out the flavors of the sides dipped in the fondue pots for each course so that every pairing and combination would work.  He really is a creative genius.  I’m convinced this guy could mastermind a plan to take over the world and no one would realize it until it’s too late.  =)
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We just had dinner at the Empire Steakhouse on 54th and Broadway, right on the border of the wasteland known as Times Square. Vin just felt like going to a steakhouse, and even though I couldn’t eat much today, I happily accompanied as his date.  Since we knew that he’d have to finish most of my meal, we went straight for the basics as part of his “control” for ratings: entrees, one side, and dessert (no martini though).  He got the ribeye (apparently it was delicious =/ *sniff* I had half a bite of it) and creamed spinach (also good), I got the cold seafood platter (the lump crabmeat was very good!) and for dessert, creme brulee.

Quite possibly the most perfect creme brulee

Quite possibly the most perfect creme brulee – Photo by Vin!

Now, the attentive and knowledgeable waiter Tim recommended it and said it was the best dessert on the menu.  He ain’t kidding.  It was light and perfectly creamy, topped with the perfect amount of sliced strawberries so you could have a bit of tart to break up the sugar on sugar action of the dessert.  I only intended on having one spoonful of it, lest my insides fall apart due to the dairy, but I totally risked it and had another half spoonful it was so damned good.  Not too sweet, just the right amount of burnt sugar, and the not-just-for-show strawberries.  Creme brulee is Vin’s fave dessert, and I’ve made it a few times just for him.  But it was totally OK Vin said this to the waiter in my presence, “This is one of the best creme brulees in the city!”  I completely agree.