A prelude to the big day🍴

   
   

It so funny how when the holiday approaches, suddenly your have a hankering for all your favorite foods, and it is not only due to the taste, but somehow you are craving that feeling of home, that feeling of family. You all of sudden want pie everyday, collard greens from your from your favorite aunt, and macaroni and cheese from your momma. 

So just to indulge your impulses of needing home and home cooking you start to seek of out places that can potentially satisfy or at the least hold you over weeks or days before the big holiday.

So I decided to check out Pies and Thighs in Brooklyn, New York. My first attempt to this restaurant met me with people outside waiting patiently in the cold, and tons of people on the inside, food looking absolutely scrumptious, but unfortunately I was unable to wait. 

Round 2, to the same location, but on a different day and different time, and was comforted by being able to get a table right away, good timing was all, we simply walked in as someone was walking out. No, Pies and Thighs does not take reservations only a name on a notepad upon arrival. 

First item on the dinner table “chicken in a box” which consist of 3 pieces of chicken, one wing, one drumstick, & one breast, with a side of collards with shredded pork, and a side of cornbread. After a long, tedious, slightly inattentive wait, beautifully golden, super crispy fried chicken has finally graced me with its presence. Only it was the grace of God that I did not return the food, slam my fist on the table, and declare to the waitstaff that I had been hoodwinked, flimflammed even. Yes the chicken was piping hot, yes i heard myself crunch with my initial bite, but what I didn’t get was any flavor, sure it wasn’t detestable, and to be honest how often are any of us eating detestable food, but we are definitely eating fair food which is the complete antithesis to good and good being the enemy of best. 

Next up collard greens; it is my personal opinion that people who can cook delicious greens have been endowed with an annoiting from God, and upon first bite you will know if God has graced them or if they are working in their own strength. Well i have to write, own strength was working here, sure the greens was tender, not cut up in small enough pieces for my preference, but nonetheless cut up, spicy and vinegary. Although I realize that vinegar is a staple in most collard green recipes, i never expect the vinegar to be the prevailing taste, especially since you have the shredded pork inside of it. I mean where is the smokiness from the meat and where is the savory flavor, clearly absent. 

Third up cornbread, I refuse to deliberate over this cold, dry, over cooked, square piece of distastefulness 

Fourth up, macaroni and cheese, made with cheese sauce, lightly seasoned, however, no texture, which homemade mac and cheese should always have a certain texture, just to convince you that you are not eating cheese from a can, and again not detestable, but definitely not delectable.

Finally apple pie, simply because I felt remiss for trying the thigh or wing without the pie. The crust was flaky, buttery, and actually delightful. The filling appeared to made from scratch, cinnamon very evident throughout, but nutmeg seemed to be lacking, and we all know that it is nutmeg that brings an apple pie together. The apples weren’t tender enough, i am assuming that a baking apple wasn’t used, which isn’t a fatal flaw, but your cook time will increase tremendously. Needless to say I felt like I was eating pie from a local bakery other than eating pie from my kitchen which is exactly what I wanted to be tricked into thinking.

So to sum it all up, I was deceived by Pies and Thighs, the people waiting outside, the long list of names waiting to enter was all a smokescreen. The small space has a gimmick, the service is slow, which keeps the people waiting and the perception of being the hottest chicken place in Brooklyn going. 

Sure the food looked comforting, but it did not give me the similitude of home, it did not comfort me or give me the prelude to Thanksgiving that my palate desired. The food was not horrible it was absolutely edible, I would even rank it fair on the food richter scale, but the truth is, who wants to go out to eat fair food, you wanna eat delectable amazing food, food that makes you smile, that encourages you to brag on them, food that makes you rave and return.

Creme De La Creme

  
  
Oftentimes when people hear the word lobster they immediate begin to think the creme de la creme of seafood, the granddaddy. The often flock toward toward it because they have heard that its sweet and succulent, and all of that is true, but does that mean you dont have to do anything to it all? I guess there are circumstances where you dont have to do anything, I mean if you were on a boat and grabbed the lobster out of the water, cooked it immediately, and then cracked it open, I guess then maybe you wouldn’t have to do anything at all. But I am under the firm belief that in most cases a little seasoning, no matter how creme de creme is always necessary.

First up at Ed Lobster Bar in Manhattan, New York the fried pickles. Buttery and tangy sliced pickles, relatively good eating and very difficult to mess up, one of the quintessential bar foods. Second and last up the corn and lobster bisque. It was a nice thick texture just as bisque should be, it was hearty which is exactly what you show expect, it had admirable amount of lobster which as well it should, after all it is called corn and lobster bisque, but was the lobster sweet? Who knows, was it buttery? Honestly I have to write, no. What it was though was bland, no distinguishing flavors, no star of the show which should have been the lobster, no smiles generated after each spoonful, it was simple just a hearty bowl of soup with some stuff in there, which I guess is appropriate for a rainy day, but clearly the chef thought just because it was lobster once you put it in the pot nothing else was required, no tender loving care, just nothing. 

Well lobster I am not fooled by your creme de la creme lobster status, I will not let your bourgeois take me over, forcing me to think something is extraordinary when its really not, like I wrote earlier seasonings go a long way. Now think on that Ed’s Lobster Bar, think on that.

Voila🍴

   
    
 
Its the time of the year that we all wait for; the time of the year where we put our exploratory tongues in action; its also the time of year where we eat like a baller on a budget…its Restaurant Week NYC.

First up on my journey was DGDB Kitchen and Bar. Most times the prix fixed menus are simply put…sucky and I always find myself straying to the regular menu in an effort to find something to tantalize my palate, but not so this time.

1st course Grilled Panzanella Salad, a combination of goat cheese, seedless olives, & tomatoes with a vinegarette. Now it is here where I struggle, because I am not a tomato liker or lover, but I am a goat cheese and olive lover, so in mind the two items I would enjoy immensely would dominate the plate, unfortunately I was more than wrong. It was packed with tomatoes, sprinkled with little olives and the goat cheese was smudged on the side of the plate, which I assume was for decoration. A few bites of olives coupled with the smidgen of goat cheese, and a crouton was mildly satisfying, but definitely not a slam dunk, and not completely delectable, but indubitably at no fault to the chef, it really was all due to my disinclination toward tomatoes.

2nd course Grilled Shrimp and Grits with chorizo, and the word that comes to mind with this dish is voila, flawless even. Plump shrimp, buttery, scallions atop, and the hearty amount of chunky chorizo. Now for all the chorizos lovers out there, you know that chorizo can be cooked and served in multiple ways. Sometime you find it in small squares, sometime just a sprinkle for smokiness sake only, and sometime simply rubbery, but not here. This chorizo gave me absolute sausage, spices visible and savory, a real sausage texture, and cooked to a tee. The topper was the corn kernels which was a constant reminder that you were eating grits with each bite, the grit crowning moment. The grits in itself could have been a smidgen thicker, but this is certainly a personal preference not a default on the side of DGDB.

3rd course a plum tart, yes plum, with blackberry ice cream, or should I write eat it slow and savor the thinly sliced sweet plums, laid so ever delicately on a tart crust with no custard, which was the absolute grand prize for me. I think most tarts are visually appetizing, I always vacillate on whether I should try again, maybe my taste buds have changed and this time I am going to like the fruits swimming in custard, but my taste buds have not changed in this area, so this custardless tart was a tart from heaven as far as I was concerned. The blackberry ice cream with the toasted almond brittle was completely superb. The crunch of the brittle with ice cream, was amazeballs and somehow the perfect blend of sweetness on all sides, no water needed to wash it down.

It has been a minute since I have had what I call an absolutely delightful meal, one that makes me smile, one that makes me brag, and one that made my eyes close just a bit with satisfaction, well done DGDB, well done.

I Ignored my Dad & See what I Got🍴

   
   
When I think of a smokehouse, I immediately think of bbq pits out back, smoke coming out of the stack, the smell of slow cooking meat permeating the air, and the cooker knowing that there is a clear distinction between grilling and bbq.

You should never open a restaurant because you believe that there is a certain food choice needed in that location. You should open a restaurant because you are a darn good cook, you know your craft, and you would count it a privilege for anyone daring enough to try it. 

Well Route 66 Smokehouse you opened up a restaurant in the financial district of New York, not because you labored in developing your craft of good bbq. You opened it, because everyone gets tired of bringing leftovers for lunch everyday and also there are the lazies like me, who rarely bring their lunch from home, so any neighboring restaurant from my workplace will do as long as it looks clean and if people appear to be enjoying themselves.

Unfortunately my eating experience at Route 66 Smokehouse only gave me the pleasure of sitting outside, because who doesn’t love to eat outside on a beautiful New York day. 

First up the pull pork sandwich on a brioche bun, the name alone compelled me to try it along with the semi-thin fries. Upon my first bite I thought “do I have a piece of meat in my mouth?” because I tasted absolutely nothing, the sandwich was completely and unequivocally bland; I added extra bbq sauce, but nothing could help this lost cause. Now it is super important to always give credit where credit is due, so I write that to write the meat was very tender, but what is tenderness without taste, its kinda like having faith without works. The brioche bun was buttered, but it didn’t taste buttery I am just assuming it was from the sheen on the top of the bun. The fries were undercooked, and in my novice opinion I always think that when people cook fries they should always have a rule of thumb which is, “how can I make these better than McDonalds?” Third up corn on the cob which should be a staple at every bbq joint, and theirs were actually ok, grilled, a little dark sparks on the kernels for presentation purposes, lightly buttered and lightly salted. But how many of you know that if you have good sweet corn, no salt is required and very little butter is needed. Fourth up, jalapeño corn bread…Route 66 just take this off the menu now, and I do mean right now. Why in the name of all that is lovely would you decide to serve greasy, unsweetened, dry, non-buttered, rubbery cornbread or should I write cornmeal? Was that your way of saying I got your money anyway, so I dont care what I serve you? Or is it simply unskilled culinary at work? Now if you insist on keeping the cornbread on the menu i am going to make a recommendation that will be completely free of charge, here it is. Contact Warmdaddy’s in Philadelphia and ask the chef if he would give you a skillet cornbread lesson, and if he says yes, make sure you recognize the gift in front of you, take him your weight in gold as an offer to him, because it will officially change your life, as it is the best cornbread on the PLANET!!! Last up macaroni and cheese with pulled pork, or should I write kraft box cheese macaroni. Again giving credit where credit is due, you definitely get points for presentation of placing the dish in a cast iron skillet, but again you do know that presentation means nothing if the food isn’t good. Clearly box cheese was used here, with no obligation to season along with the bland pork equals an unacceptable meal.

It is not very often that I come across a restaurant where everything ordered was sub par, but clearly it does happen, and I dont feel that bad because the food was crummy, I feel bad because I recommended this place to my lunch date, and no one wants to be remembered by the poor food they received.

I will totally take the blame on this one, as I completely avoided my father’s grand advice when selecting bbq, which is dont go in if you cant smell the bbq from the outside & definitely do go in if you cannot 

smell it on the inside.

Find another lane Route 66 Smokehouse, because the one you are on is beyond crooked.🍴

Had my Doughnut & Ate it Too

   
   
The guilty pleasure of a glazed doughnut in the morning is not that guilty anymore. No need to feel sad about the sugar or the carbs, because something great has been added to soothe your pain and it is lavender. Thats right you read correctly, a glazed doughnut with sprinkled lavender leaves.

I am almost positive this was made just for me. The Doughnut Plant in Manhattan, NY instinctively knew that I needed to taste soft as clouds bread on my tongue, with the bonus of sweetness from the glaze. They knew that I firmly believe that days off are made of light and airy doughnuts and everyone nice. They knew that when the world has me topsy turvy I immediately think of a guilty pleasure, but they also knew inevitably guilt would follow, thoughts of having to workout twice in one day next week would plague me for days to come; so they gave me something to immediately relax my anxiety, lower my blood pressure, and provide the immediate calm that I needed so desperately. All I can write is…JACKPOT!!! So now not only is my tastebuds filled with joy my guilt has been eradicated by calm. Well done Doughnut Plant New York City, well done👍🏾

Its Something about the Ocean

        

Sometime you have to go down near the water, and not just any water, but near the ocean to find good seafood. Good seafood should have its roots freshness and be of a respectable size, with a chef who is not passing off gulf shrimp as regular shrimp, and it is Enterprise Fish Company in Santa Monica, California who has hit the nail on the head.

If anyone has had lobster bisque then you know that not all bisque are created equal. Sometime its not enough lobster, sometimes its bland, but then you come across a lobster bisque that is velvety, buttery, slightly tangy with a bonus of having puff pastry on top, it is then that you have come in contact with something delicately delectable that produces a humming sound of joy upon your first bite.

Up next seafood jambalaya with plump tender shrimp, succulent chicken breast, cracked open plum tomatoes, tender andouille sausage, and rice with a light red broth that is spicy, smokey, with robust flavor with a bay leaf to create that depth of earthiness. To make my smile wider a side of toasted corn bread with corn kernels and honey, decorated with onion chives just because all things are better to digest when there pretty.

There is a saying out there or is it a rap song, I’m not really sure, but basically it says “there is levels to this thing” and it is levels of flavor where Enterprise Fish Company has excelled to another level, they have taken something relatively common amongst all seafood restaurants and turned the flavor thermometer up to the next level and with the generous portions you leave feeling full not just in the belly, but full of happiness that your palate has just left an enjoyable party. Well done Enterprise well done. 

Americas Past Time



Pizza is like baseball, it is America’s favorite past time. On the weekend, indecisive about what to eat, not in the mood to cook, no worries eat pizza.

The problem with this concept is that  like baseball not all players are all stars, and not all teams are worth the money. 

It has been said for years possibly decades even that New York has the best pizza, and honestly who am I to dispute that, the trick is to find this “best” that everyone is talking about. Is it thin crust, is it thick crust, is it coal fired, is it the toppings, and the list goes on and on; and the truth is, its all of those things depending on your preference.

My pizza preference is a what I like to call “kinda thin” what I mean is that I want to indulge in the bread enough to get my chew on, and I also love for it to have a slight crisp to it as well. I want the tomato sauce to taste a smidgen sweet, I want my cheese to be gooey and not just oven gooey, I mean because the cheese has been delivered that day in its freshest state gooey, I want my pepperoni to be slightly peppery, and I want to taste all the herbs and spices that go into it, and I want my italian sausage to slightly transport me to Little Italy, because its fresh, because I can see and taste the fennel and pork, and I want the pizza to taste so good that I forget that this is baseball food, but a true meal indeed.

It is in my opinion that Campania Coal Fired Pizza has accommodated all of my wants and in fact nailed it at least on my half of the pizza. The other half of the pizza was not that much of a hit, but I dont think it fair to blame Campania. Whenever you order anchovies on a pizza you stand to take a risk of it being to salty even overwhelming so to the point you are forced to take a drink with each bite. I do believe that a good server would have noted that to the customer; with the richness of the cheese, and saltiness that comes from the cheese and sauce the anchovies might be a bit aggressive, but like my grandmother use to say, that was a bought lesson. 

I say to all you pizza lovers out there stick to the classics avoid getting fancy, after all its pizza for heavens sake order pepperoni and sausage and enjoy the Campania Coal Fired Pizza experience.

Be Slow to Judge🍴🍴

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Tis the season not to judge a book by its cover, its clearly time to look past the fact that a man is standing in front of the restaurant begging you to come in and patronize their establishment as a sign of being horrible. No more looking at the number of guests inside the restaurant as a sign of tastiness, so is the lesson learned by eating at Amici II in New York’s Little Italy.

The only item on the menu this night was “Momma’s Traditional Lasagna.” Traditionally I never select lasagna, because I am not that fond of ricotta cheese and I know going in that no one is going to section off the lasagna with a non-ricotta section like my mom used to; but on a rainy/snowy night I felt the need to eat a hearty and warm meal and somehow that all translated into lasagna and OH MY SWEET JESUS it was a fabulous choice.

To start the ricotta was barely there which was an utter plus for my tastebuds, the tomato sauce so fresh, light, perfectly seasoned, made me imagine that they were just picked off the vine and prepared just for me, the mozzarella was indubitably more delicious than I could imagine. Piping hot it oozed down the sides which provided a string moment which is always a requirement when eating mozzarella, and the meat was somehow light, with a perfect texture, that consistently resembled delicious meat with every bite. Now just to be picky I would have loved to have the edges of the lasagna and cheese to be a little charred, but I am certainly willing to overlook that oversight.

There is always a test to determine whether the meal you have experienced is congenial to your palate and that is…did I need to add salt or pepper? If the answer is a resounding no, then the chef should be applauded for taking the time out to do what chefs do which is season your food so you dont have to. Kudos to you Amici II, this dish was a job magnificently done.

Happy Holidays

Oh How Sweet It Is🍴

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Ok, so I hear about this restaurant in Williamsburg also known as Brooklyn, New York called Sweet Chick Chicken Waffles and immediately I felt a sense of pleasantry and intoxication all wrapped up into one. Then I began to think, is this another restaurant trying to bite off of Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles on the west coast, are they trying to pull a fast one on these east coasters by making them think their waffles can be as good; well only way to find out for sure, is to go see for myself and attempt to chow down.

As I perused through the menu I wanna order everything and not because I think I can eat it all, but I just simply got beside myself on what to pick, should it be the mac & cheese, should it be the shrimp and grits, or should it be the pork belly, who can decide? I can decide thats who, so I start with the crawfish hushpuppies and my Lord what a winner it was. It has been so long since I had a hushpuppy, but my memory brought me back to a fried dry cornmeal ball, that really has no elements of being delicious, so why did I pick it since there was no association of jubilance? simply put the waiter recommended it.

These hushpuppies were turned up, simply because Sweet Chick said “turn down for what.” They were packed with sweet crawfish, they were fried nicely, and most of all they were moist, and when you dipped them in the romoulade sauce, an explosion of flavors transpires in your mouth, and simply causes your your hands to clamp together and thank God that He infused the chef with such an idea and skill set.

Next up the fried chicken and waffles; sure this is common choice and predictable for me to order, but nevertheless a preeminent choice. Never in my wildest dreams could I have asked for a better belgian waffle, it was so fluffy, light, with a backdrop of sweetness, that I am positive that I ate more than I should, simply because it was so light I didn’t even remember that my caloric intake had reached its max.

I always think finding great fried chicken is a feat all its own, sure the chicken can be crispy, which this was, and sure it can be juicy, which this was, but somewhere in the flavor category I missed something. It has always been my theory that when making fried foods it ls imperative to super season or at least to season enough to penetrate the fried shell and to do this can often be a difficult task. However the fried chicken did have something that was reminiscent of home cooking and that was, rosemary. Rosemary is my favorite herb it is not only aromatic, but it is very warm and earthy, and always adds something extra to any meal.

Last up was the Fettuccine Crawfish Monica…translation mouthwatering. The crawfish was grilled, the sauce was creamy and decadent, it was seasoned to perfection and no additions were required, and the noodles cooked with exactness.
Each time I go out to eat, I am always looking for the closed eye, shake your slowly, with a slight hum moment, and this pasta delivered all of those like a charm.

So no Sweet Chick is not like Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, it is not even in the same category, it stands alone in its own delectable circle, and I feel absolutely privileged that they allowed me to join in, well done Sweet Chick, well done!!

Im a Ride or Die Fan🍴🍴

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Who doesn’t love Gina & Pat Neeley from the Food Network, they appeared to be the most loving couple on the face of the earth and what I loved most, was not only their ability to cook together with such synergy, but also the way Pat looked like he absolutely adored Gina; so it saddens me if the rumors of their split are true. But I am glad to hear that they have made a decision to continue to run their Neeley’s BBQ Parlor in Manhattan, New York together.

The excitement and anticipation I felt knowing that I would be eating BBQ at the Neeley’s made me think back on how Pat use to look at those ribs while he was cooking them, he would smile and look at those ribs longingly. I mean the look was so intense sometime I felt bad for Gina, I mean I agree that he adored her, but the look he gave those ribs, made me think “I don’t know if Gina can compete.” So whenever a man looks at his meat the way Pat looked at his, it is just not possible that you can go to their restaurant and try anything else but the ribs. Sure at Neeley’s BBQ Parlor they have chicken, and they even have seafood, but I wanted to feel that giddiness Pat displayed when looking at those ribs and the stimulation he felt when eating them.

So first on deck was the strawberry lemonade in a mason jar, if a beverage in a mason jar doesn’t scream southern, I don’t know what does. Not only was the drink refreshing, but it was quite sweet as well, not so sweet that it made your lips pucker, your eyes squeeze shut, and your head shake in disbelief of the sweetness, it was simply perfect and reminded me of a spring day in the south. Then the appetizer of corn bread, yes you read that correctly, appetizer. Those warm squares where reminiscent of eating cake, which who doesn’t love eating cake. Now for me the best corn bread on the planet comes from Warm Daddy’s Philadelphia, but this corn bread is a pretty close second which I did not think was possible, but sure enough they nailed it.

Next the main the course Memphis Baby Back Ribs, and to boot this dish was gluten free for all of you all sudden allergic to gluten eaters. The ribs were tender, not fall of the bone tender, but I also didn’t have to saw the meat with my knife, in my opinion it was just right. The sauce a little sweet, with a hit of tang, but sad to write the flavor of the actual rib did not generate in me that Pat Neeley type of giddiness. I mean it was a fair rib, it definitely satisfied my hunger, but it wasn’t a rib that I would relish over in the midnight hour or even come back and order again. I have always come from the school of thought that if your ribs are good they can stay alone without sauce, because the rib in itself packs such a huge punch, that the sauce is just a bonus; however these ribs were lack luster with the sauce atop so without the sauce, it would have just been plain pointless.

Alongside the ribs was Mac and Cheese and I am certain that this mac and cheese had multiple cheeses in it, but they are not disclosing how many or what kinds of cheeses are in it, and that’s perfectly ok, the mystique made me enjoy it all the more. The noodles were perfectly cooked, they even topped the mac and cheese with some breadcrumbs; it was the creamiest and richest mac and cheese. It was absolutely divine and kinda made me forget about the lack luster Memphis ribs. Now I must warn you the mac and cheese was so rich I had to go through a ritual which was…take a few bites, leave it alone, take a few bites and leave it alone, and repeat until the cast iron bake dish was almost empty. Normally I have a problem with foods that rich, but this richness lingered on your palate and made and imprint on your memory that said “eat again that was delicious” and so I did what any good food would do, I complied.

Overall I enjoyed Neeley’s BBQ Parlor enough to return, definitely for the mac and cheese and maybe even the daring move to try the fried chicken or the shrimp n’ grits. I do realize that everyone’s palate is different and who is to say that if Pat Neeley personally made those ribs I would’ve had a completely different experience, or maybe the chef didn’t translate over his recipe that well, but nonetheless I am a fan of the persons Gina & Pat Neeley so I am gonna try to make myself a fan of their establishment…now that’s star power.