I didn’t make it out to California for Christmas. I think since I moved I’ve only been back home for Christmas once and was sort of traumatized because of the travel and chaos that ensued. Blame it on anxiety!
Christmas usually means that a bunch of your friends go away to see family and New York City is left like a ghost town- which I do not mind, at all! But then there are those whose family is in NYC and going back home means visiting from San Francisco to New York.
I’ve known James since I was in my twenties living back in San Francisco. James is an actor and makes the occasional visit to NY every year to visit his family and/or for work. On these trips back to the right coast we’ll meet up for drinks, dinner or shopping at Uniqlo- SF currently doesn’t have a store yet.
This time we had a nice Northern Italian meal at Osteria Il Paiolo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
See what I mean? Christmas = no amateur hour!
Anyway, I really liked the space. It had a warm, industrial yet cozy aspect to it.
Insalata di Barbabietola, Organic beet salad with arugula and goat cheese
James and his bass dinner.
Il Branzino Al Forno A Legna, Wood burning oven roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass with black olives, cherry tomatoes, and baby fennel
Spaghetti con funghi e gamberetti, shrimp and mushrooms
Whoa… that’s a gigantic pepper grinder!
Tortino Al Cioccolato Caldo, warm chocolate cake and balsamico gelato
The dinner was lovely. We talked about about old times, caught up with the new all while eating a great meal.
Thanks for dinner, James!
Cameron is a talented artist that is a skilled painter, interior decorator, illustrator… and the list goes on. He is a close friend and one that I can text last minute for happy hour meetups. For Cameron’s birthday, we thought it would be a grand idea to finally dine at his boyfriend’s restaurant in Carroll Gardens, The Grocery.
It was an intimate gathering; just me, Maria and the Birthday boy. Hunter was in the kitchen working, as well as making sure the patrons were taken care of and that our table was continually stocked with delectable dishes.
The food was amazing! Impressively presented and damn delicious. You can tell that everything was made with care and that the menu was well thought out; high quality, fresh and flavorful.
Before I go on with spoilers… let me show you what we had:
Squash soup to start
Potato croquets (5 potatoes per 1 lb of butter!)
House Smoked Organic Salmon
brussels sprout leaves, lemon dill creme fraiche
goat cheese ravioli, fried shallots, toasted pine nuts
white bean & garlic gratin, belgian endive, toasted bread crumbs, paprika, lemon
parsley, fennel, celery root, calamata olive, black risotto
Cotes du Rhone, Mourre du Tendre ‘05, Rhone
Slow Rendered Duck Breast
aligote, garlic and chili bathed broccoli rabe, japanese turnips, caramelized red wine sauce
Roasted Pork Loin
collared greens, sweet potato popover, apple, sausage & poblano pan sauce
Trio of Sorbets
**** Happy Birthday Cam!!! ****
Hunter and the rest of the crew came out to surprise Cam with this special home made chocolate cake. It was to die for! Rich, creamy and had just the right amount of sweetness to end a perfect birthday dinner.
Chocolate Birthday Cake
with home made ice cream
The Chef & the Birthday Boy!!!
This was truly a worthwhile dining experience. I will definitely eat here again. The staff was super friendly, readily attentive and natural. The place had a minimalistic feel and housed 30 seats which made it a special space for intimate dinners. It’s clear that when you dine here, your focus is on the prize… the spectacular food!
To Hunter…. thanks for an exceptional meal and wonderful dining experience :)
Last weekend my partner in crime, Lily, and I started our Michelin Star Challenge. Our first choice was Eleven Madison. We tried several days to get a reservation but no luck. Who were we kidding? This place was recently donned 3 stars and just released their new book so how did we ever think we would get into this place for our first shot… even this year! I even called other 3 star rated restaurants in hopes that we could get started with a bang. No such luck.
We finally decided to bring it to our home borough of Brooklyn. We nabbed a reservation for 3 at Saul Restaurant in Cobble Hill. As the day neared… our 3rd had to bail.
Oh… the challenges that we’re facing already!
So it was just me and Lily.
We had met for an early dinner and decided to go for the tasting menu. The tasting menu is an 8 course meal that gives you a bit of everything great that Saul has to offer. We shared our desserts (as you’ll soon notice).
This is what we had:
Apple Sauce Soup
Crudo of Japanese Yellowtail
marinade of citrus extra virgin olive oil, cilantro, peppers
Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi
sugar snap peas, parmesan, prosciutto
Grilled Spanish Octopus
slow cooked pork belly, grilled scallion, kohlrabi, sriracha chili, honey, lime, sesame
Sautéed Striped Bass
spring vegetable ragout, smoky ham hock broth
Foie Gras Terrine
duck confit, brioche, cherry
Roasted Breast & Confit Leg of Squab
potato puree,brussel sprouts
Milk Thistle Farm Pannacotta
Warm Chocolate Cake Bread Pudding
squash, pear ice cream
The meal was really spectacular. Every dish was flavorful and was brought to us in a timely manner. The ambience of the restaurant, itself, was humble but posh. Not overwhelmingly huge but quaint. A lot of older couples and a few 30 somethings here and there- and my 20 something date.
Our take aways from our 1st restaurant adventure: