Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Le Pescadeux + Eileen's Cheesecake

Two weekends ago hubby took me on a date night in Soho. We ventured into the heart of the shopping/dining scene on a Friday night at the Le Pescadeux.

It's a really neat French-Canadian restaurant whose owner is from Montreal but immigrated to New York to become a Broadway actor in the 60s. Then he went on to open his own restaurant in Soho with a specific French-Canadian/Acadian flavor. He's an uber energetic and talented person - when we walked in he also came in with a bunch of flowers while singing and dancing a tune.

We were seated near a booth that boasted a cool buddhist sculpture painting and nice chandeliers. There was a long table in the middle that was under reservations. Most people there seemed to have reservations, although when we went it around 6.30 there were hardly anyone there.

We chatted with the friendly owner for a while before ordering. For starters, we ordered the Quebec  clam chowder that hubby absolutely insisted that I got. You can mix and choose two1/2 entrees, almost like samplers. I got the jumbo shrimp with sweet corn relish and the herb-crusted cod with potato leek puree and roasted pepper. Hubby got the black bass with sauce verte and grouper with artichoke and cauliflower puree.

We were served with a roll of sourdough bread when we were seated. It was really nice and crusty with a soft interior. Hubby really liked his, especially with the extra creamy butter sprinkled with some brown crystalized salt that looked like brown sugar. I actually thought it was sugar and smothered a lot of it on my bread, but then realized it was salt ><. (Brown sugar + bread would have been nice though!)

I waited until my soup arrived to dig in, and I'm glad that I did, because the clam chowder was absolutely divine. It was uber creamy, with a lot of potato and onion and clams at the bottom. The seasoning was just right, and the two pieces of toast blended nicely with the smooth texture. It was probably the best clam chowder I've ever had.

Quebec Clam Chowder

Here's a closer look at that bowl of deliciousness:

You can see that the soup is bursting with content and flavor, something that doesn't always happen with clam chowder soups, especially because I don't like it extra milky or buttery. But this was just perfect. The onions on top added a nice touch of color. I couldn't help but agreeing with the restaurant's motto - Quebec sait faire (mais pas la guerre).


With some help from hubby, I managed to finish my soup and my bread (he ate most of the bread though). After a few minutes of chatting with the owner (who pops up with every table now and then to check up on satisfied/dissatisfied customers), our main entrees arrived.

Herb-Crusted Cod + Jumbo Shrimp

It was beautifully arranged on a plate, although it it kind of emphasized the small portions. The herb-crusted grouper was on the left, and the jumbo shrimp on the right. There was a small portion of greens with vinegraite dressing up at the top.

Black Bass + Grouper

The pictures turned out pretty dark because it was a rainy day that night and by the time we got our food it was getting dark. The tables were filling in at this time - everyone who came in looked like they were old friends of the owner's, hugging either him or the waiter. I could definitely see why - this is your neighborhood joint to chat with old friends and neighbors.

We also ordered a side of brussel sprouts, bacon and apples, under the recommendation of hubby's coworker. I really liked this dish as it was pretty tangy and sweet. The apple and bacon combination was nice, and I even detected a hint of maple syrup drizzled on top.

I don't know if you can make out this picture, but it's hubby's grouper. All the fish were uber fresh and nicely cooked to a tender but firm interior. But I thought it could have been more flavorful because well, being Chinese, the fish is usually heavily seasoned. I didn't really enjoy my herb-crusted cod because I wasn't used to the herbs (too strong for my liking), and the cod itself was kind of tasteless.

But the jumbo shrimp (pictured above) was really nice - charcoal grilled to a perfection. I think they must have marinated these babies beforehand because the meat was well seasoned.

I traded one of my jumbo shrimps for a bite of hubby's black bass. It was pretty nice, but again, the fish was not that seasoned. I guess that's why there are so many purees with the fish dishes, so you can soak it in the sauce like French people do.

I don't know why they didn't refill our bread like other restaurants, because it would have been a bit more filling than having just the limited amount of fish and other veggies.

So alas, I finished everything on my plate - and I was still hungry!

By now, the reservations were filling in steadily. There were a group of people from Montreal who started sing O Canada. I joined in for a while, but then they stopped, and I was kind of disappointed. Then the owner came in with a birthday cake and started a birthday song for a table near the window. The whole restaurant joined in.

The table next to us ordered a whole plate of raw oysters, and I really wanted to try one after they were saying how delicious it was. We contemplated getting a dessert from Le Pascadeux (like the Quebec City Sugar Pie or the Caramelized Bananas with Vanilla Ice cream), but decided against it because hubby wanted to take me to his favorite dessert place nearby.

So we wandered around Soho for a bit before going to...Eileen's Cheesecake! It's a really small hole-in-the-wall with more than 10 flavors of cheesecakes. We got a blueberry cheesecake and small coffee.

Oh my goodness I have to say that it was the best cheesecake I've ever had in NYC. No wonder it's been boasted such a title. Mostly, the cheesecake was rich but not too overwhelming like a lot of other cheesecakes. The blueberries were real and wasn't drenched in a super sweet syrupy sauce. The main thing is that it retains all the original flavors without being too overbearing on your system.

We sat at one of the tables and enjoyed our cheesecake. I really wanted another one, but somehow found the willpower to resist myself. Behind us were two Chinese people debating which cheesecake they should get, and a table of two Japanese teenagers gossiping and giggling away. It's a very neighborhood friendly joint, just like Le Pescadeux.

Sweet way to end a lovely evening. And there's even this lovely subway motif of the young and old converging together at the opposite ends of the platform!

Le Pescadeux
**** (4/5 - mostly for the ambience, not so much for the food)
Kids-sort-of-friendly (reservations is a must!)

Eileen's Cheesecake
***** (5/5)
Not much room for kids

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apt 138

Alright everyone - this is looong, and I mean looong overdue. My sincere apologies for being so behind on my entries. It's been a whirlstorm of craziness lately (in a good way) so I haven't had much time to keep updated (although I have had time to cook/enjoy some good food).

On Columbus Day Hubby took me to Brooklyn. I've never been before, so it was my first encounter with the avant-garde gastronomical center of the world.

We wandered the streets a bit, and then went to Apartment 138 for lunch. I wanted to get Mexican, but missed my chance. So we ended up here.

It's a nice little place decked out with lots of greenery and natural settings that made it at once rustic and cosy, just like your own apartment. I really liked their dining tables made out of rustic wood, that gave it a cabin camping feel.

There were only a couple of tables occupied when we got it around 12.30. There were a table of ladies and one of their kids chatting away. It seemed like their regular hangout place. There were a couple by the bar chatting with the friendly bartender. It seemed like a pretty chill neighborhood hangout.

Being Canadian, I got the poutine, which was two eggs over easy on top of fries smothered with gravy and cheese curds. Tasted just like - if not even better - than the original Montreal poutine. Loved, loved, loved it!

I'm usually not a fan of eggs, but loved these eggs because they were cooked just enough to melt over your fries, giving a nice smooth contrast to the cheesy, crunchy goodness.

Only thing is that it can get a little overbearing at times, which is why I'm glad it wasn't served in a huge serving. At first I thought they were skipping, but upon my last couple of bites I knew why. It's too much to handle for someone my size, so they have to cut down on the calories lest you burst your belt.

Hubby got the house burger with a side of fries. I tried to persuade him to get a salad on our behalf, but he refused = (

All gone

I can't comment on his burger, but I'm sure it was pretty good, as he smothered it away before I even finished my poutine.

Last bite of poutine

I gave my last bite to him, and he finished it off with relative ease.

Then I check out their pool table/garden lounge downstairs. It's connected to the kitchen, so you can see all the chefs working away. Too bad it was too cold to play a game of foosball.

We wandered down the streets a bit afterwards. I found this cute picture of a Korean girl, that reminded me of myself.

There were some really tempting cake displays at Betty.

And who can't resist a cute little dinosaur sporting the "Melting Pot?" (not sure how they're related though...)

Apt 138

**** (4/5 stars)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Udon West

Midtown boasts some great Jap noodle bars that provide a warm and slurpy noodles bathed in broth. I visited one called Udon West (they must also have an Udon East?) with a friend.

By the time we got in - around 2.30pm - it was already kind of late. So the waiter asked us to speed up our order.

 We were seated near the entrance of the store opposite their sake collection.


I really like their natural decor with wood and Japanese letters that says "sushi" and "BBQ" (at least from what I could decipher).

I got a fish cake noodle bowl, and my friend got a tempura udon one with two rice mounds wrapped in lettuce leaves, which came pretty quickly.

The noodles came pretty quickly, because we and one other table were the only ones left. I think the staff was kind of mad that there were still customers at this hour, because they really needed a dinner break.

My fish cake udon was really good. I really like the taste of artificial fish and crab, so this was right up my alley. I also loved the noodles because they were just the right amount (if not a little too much for my little stomach). I'm not sure if they make their own noodles but it sure tasted like it.

But the broth was the best part - it was salty, slightly sweet and seasoned just the right amount with soy sauce. Plus it didn't leave your mouth dry with MSG like a lot of other broths out there.

This was my friend's tempura bowl with an egg beaten in. The egg heats up as it is soaked in the broth, which is nice because it adds a little more protein than just the two tempura sticks alone.

I slurped all of my noodles and soup during our 3-hour talk. It was catchup time, and I'm glad I had the time to slowly enjoy this lovely bowl of noodles!

Udon West
**** (4/5)
Kids-friendly (I think maybe during lunch rush need reservations...but then again, who would bring kids to Midtown on a weekday?)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Greek Yogurt

Ever felt like you need a quick, light meal?

The other day I was feeling like something light and healthy, and hubby happened to get me some greek yogurt that weekend.

It was a peach flavored greek yogurt with real peach jam in a separate corner. Basically you just open up with jam and make scoop out the jam to mix into the yogurty goodness. I think they also have other flavors like honey and blueberry (if only they had coffee!).

I tried a bit of the jam by itself and boy was it sweet! It was really nice with the slightly sour and dense yogurt because it gives it a bit of oomph.

And it tastes really nice with some cheerios to add some crunch!

Healthy and delish meal that you can enjoy while watching the TV, browsing some magazines, or making a long to-do list like me.

Lunch Hour Nachos

The other day I tried the Kimchi Taco truck parked outside of Park and 47th. I actually wanted to try Korilla, the regular taco truck that parks there. But for some reason I couldn't find it there that day.

Before deciding on this one, I actually ventured towards 47th to take a look at the plethora of food trucks there. It was crazy busy - the whole street was lined up with food trucks and eager office beavers waiting for their quick albeit delish lunch fix.

There was even a pizza truck! But that would defeat the purpose of Naples and the $1 pizza parlor nearby.

There was also a Peruvian food truck that I kinda wanted to try. But I wasn't feeling all that hungry that day, so I opted not to try it.

I didn't want a huge burrito, which was what the food truck was serving. But I did like their creative flair of incorporating Korean elements to Mexican food. It was like kimchi tacos, bibimbap on a tortilla, bulgogi quesadillas...I just got the Korean nachos, which were basically refried means with fresco cheese on top of fried wonton skins. They actually have a restaurant in Brooklyn as their homebase.

Very interesting combination. The wonton skins were fried to a crisp, but got a little soggy with the beans on top. Hubby liked this, and I thought it was pretty good as well.

But the serving was pretty standard, since this is only a side dish and all. I finished it in a gusto, and wanted some kimchi afterwards.

Kimchi Taco Truck
**** (4/5)