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New York 2013 – Eataly

6 Jan

The final post from my New York experience is one reserved to the place so nice, I actually went twice – and I was only there for 4 days! That place would be Mario Batali’s Eataly. From the uninitiated, Mario Batali is one of the first big celebrity chefs from the early Food Network days. He has built up quite a little restaurant empire within New York and a few years ago, he opened up Eataly near the Flatiron building in midtown Manhattan.


At its core, Eataly is a Italian food market and quite an amazing one at that. Whatever Italian speciality ingredient you are looking for, they probably have. Aisles of olive oils, pastas (gluten-free or not), wine store, cookbooks, amazing meat counter, housemade mozzarella counter, chocolates, gelatoes, a bakery, coffee shop…. This place is a food paradise. I could have spend hours in there sampling all the food in there.





But the brilliance here is not the amazing quality of the market but how Batali has incorporate restaurant experiences within this setting. In the same space, surrounded by all this wonderful food to buy and bring home, there are 7 sit down “restaurants” where you can enjoy a nice meal – that utilizes the same things you can buy inside. Each one is located closest to the market area that services the majority of their menu.



On our first visit, we chose to sit down at Manzo – the restaurant “attached” to the market butcher. I ordered the Pappardelle with braised pork and radicchio. Just a great plate of pasta with absolutely no complaints from me.


And then on the way out, I stopped by the dessert counter and picked up some fresh cannolis. Wonderful fresh ricotta based cream with pieces of candied orange mixed in. Add the light shell covered with cinnamon and you get an amazing dessert.


On our return visit, we “sat” down at La Piazza – which is serviced by their mozzarella, salami and cheese counters. For the occasion, we ordered some wine and got a tasting plate of cheese and meats. Great mix of different meats and cheeses to enjoy with bread, some olives, figs, honey and candied oranges. Not a single bad items on the entire table. I could have stood there for a few more hours and simply continued to order more wine, cheese and meats to enjoy. Just a great experience.


From a foodie’s perspective, Eataly is simply an heavenly experience. Any future NY trip will most definitely include return visits because I simply didn’t get to try everything this market has to offer. New York is very lucky to have a place like this to call their own.


200 5th Avenue
New York, NY
212 229 2560

Eataly on Urbanspoon


New York 2013 – Katz’s Deli

6 Jan

Smoked meat vs. Pastrami on Rye. Similar to the bagel discussion, this is a heated topic between Montrealers and New Yorkers in the culinary arena. Which one rains supreme? As a native Montrealer, I think you can all guess where I stand on this topic but regardless, I felt it was important to try a true Pastrami on Rye sandwich while in New York. Naturally, I chose to head to Katz’s Delicatessen, a NY institution. This place has been serving people since 1888 and known for a number of classic deli dishes including their pastrami sandwich. People may also know Katz’s as the place where the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally took place. There is actually a sign in the restaurant noting actually where they were sitting.


The deli makes me think of Schwartz’s here in Montreal – if Schwartz’s were about 10 times larger. The place doesn’t look like anyone has touched the decor in at least 10 years and the walls are littered with picture after picture of celebrities coming in to try out their fare. The place apparently always has a line-up and it most certainly did when we walked in… At 4pm on a Tuesday.



Prior to the sandwich, I got some fries and a root beer, my classic deli drink. The fries, quite honestly, were terrible. Too much of a large cut, the fries were not very crispy and didn’t have much going for them. The sandwich really needed to step up to the plate now.


The sandwich was a lot closer to Montreal Smoked Meat than expected. It is a wetter approach similar to what you see at Smoked Pete’s than Schwartz’s if we want to make the Montreal comparison. I wasn’t provided an option of lean vs. medium cut but this was closer than medium in terms of cut. Very flavorful and tender – they certainly know what they are doing. It is not Montreal smoked meat but honestly I came out of there with a much more favorable option of Pastrami than I did when I walk in. Katz’s deli is certainly an experience worth having if you’re heading into NY. Just expect having a hard time finding a cab to bring you back uptown if you need it 😉



Katz’s Delicatessen
205 East Houston Street
New York, NY
212 254 2246

Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

New York 2013 – The Lambs Club

6 Jan

For New Years’ Eve, I had the opportunity to head down to New York City and experience the city for the first time. Now, the trip was relatively short and with that, the opportunity to make a serious dent into my NY culinary wish list pretty slight. We had to pick and choose a few selected spots to try while there. The big dinner of the trip took place at the Lambs Club, located just off Times Square at Broadway and 44th street in the Chatwal hotel.


The draw for me to the Lambs Club was that it is run by Geofrrey Zakarian. If you watch any amount of the Food Network, Zakarian is a chef you have seen. He is one of the more recent Iron Chef winners and a chef whose style of cuisine really appealed to me. It is described as modern American and I think that it the right way to characterize it. This was definitely a meal I was looking forward to.

The restaurant is, according to the website, a 90 seat space but honestly it feels a lot smaller than that. The room has an amazing Art Deco look with red banquets, dark panel walls, beautiful standing lamps and a fireplace with black and white head shots of famous people from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s all around the room. Add to that amazing jazz and crooner music as well as some low lights and it makes for a nice sophisticated and intimate experience. And I haven’t even talked about the food yet.



The dinner service is a fixed price 3 course meal with options of additional sides for a price. Prior to your selection, you receive a small amuse-gueule – a marinated cherry tomato. Nice and sweet, a good way to start the meal. Add to that my drink of choice for the evening – a gold rush cocktail (12 yr old bourbon, honey syrup and lemon juice) and we have a good beginning.



As a starter, I selected the Spanish Octopus a la Plancha with squid ink pain perdu, spiced short rib and black garlic. The octopus was perfectly prepared with none of the chewiness that you fear to get. The short rib was nice and flavorful and the pain perdu was quite good – the squid ink didn’t overpower the rest of the dish which can be a concern.


As a main, I went with the Long Island Duck Breast with turnips, figs, huckleberries and coffee molé. Don’t the chance too enough to eat some duck so I jumped on the opportunity. The duck breast was perfect – the crispy exterior without the meat being dried out. The figs and huckleberries added a nice sweetness to the dish. Very well done.


For dessert, the Chestnut Opera cake grabbed my eye. Nice, sweet and light cake to finish off the meal. The candied chestnuts provided a nice spiced element to the dish.


The Lambs Club was a great experience and a wonderful to start my time in New York. The entire experience, from the food to the decor to the wait staff, was top notch and worthy of your consideration next time you visit NY. It may cost you a good penny but will be worth your while.


The Lambs Club
132 West 44th Street
New York, NY
212 997 5262

The Lambs Club on Urbanspoon

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