Drinks »High Tea at Kings Carriage House

251 E 82nd St

Kings’ Carriage House only opened a decade ago but you’ll feel whisked away to the beginning of the century with the elegant, cozy and lovely decor. Admittedly a bit clueless about word of mouth spots above 14th street, I found out about this because good friend and fellow mom to be, Grace had her afternoon tea baby shower here. It’s a great place to host a private event and the tea was scrumptious.

We were served tea sandwiches complete with crusts removed including egg and watercress and cucumber butter. Smoked salmon pinwheels allowed me to cheat a little on my pregnancy diet (smoked salmon is a no-no, but one small bite can’t hurt) and mango goat cheese tartlets were surprising and yummy. The teas, chamomile and English breakfast were wonderful and served in the quaintest China I’ve seen since being at my English grandmas house as a kid.

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Posted on September 5, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop

On the Met Roof

It’s always great to see the various ways artists transform the rooftop of the Met, but perhaps none have transformed it so completely as Doug and Mike Starn with their elaborate work in progress, Big Bambu. The maze like structure of bamboo walkways makes you feel like your stranded on a desert island with a group of innovative architect students and a lot of bamboo – an illusion helped by just having watched the end of Lost and the hippie kids building the structure as we stood by.

We saw a group going on a guided tour, which climbs the structure as high as 110 feet. We didn’t go on the tour ourselves (pregnant ladies not recommended) but I sure it’s pretty amazing if you can manage through the guidelines of getting a ticket.

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Posted on June 13, 2010

Restaurants »Shanghai Pavilion

1378 3rd Ave

After just enduring a mediocre Chinese meal, I’m even more adamantly recommending Shanghai Pavilion, a well loved upper east side spot that we ate at when visiting my sister and her new baby at Lenox Hill. Tender, flavorful soup dumplings (called “juicy dumplings” on the menu) followed by a huge bowl of hot and sour soup made for a great start to our meal. Both are top on my personal list of favorite foods, but a bad version is nothing short of depressing (and we can probably all attest to the sad prevalence of bad hot and sour soups out there in your basic take out).

I was happy to find that our main dishes were also exemplary. The Shanghai Sizzling Beef was hearty and yummy and the chicken dish (which I believe was the chicken with garlic?) was phenomenal. Even the ring of bok choy (a bitter that neither of us is a great fan of) was tasty. The meat was not fatty or heavily breaded to cover the weird parts I’ve found at other spots and the sauces were distinct and delicious.

We were fully statisfied and skipped desert, but I am not satisfied that I don’t have an equally great option for Chinese much closer to home.

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Posted on March 21, 2010

Restaurants »Heidelberg

1648 2nd Avenue

As you’ll soon read on this week’s website pick, Bier Hall Crawl, my dear friend Mike has taken on the challenge of eating in every German beer hall in the five boroughs. This little endeavor means all sorts of schnitzel and pretzels for me! We began with a reservation at the seventy four year old Yorkville stalwart, Heidelberg, where the beer flows freely (and sometimes in giant glass boots) and the staff dons traditional costumes.

The menu is full of traditional dishes including Schnitzel a la Holstein – which my favorite way to take a schnitzel: with a fried egg, anchovies, and capers. It was the most impressive looking dish of the night (as you can see from the photo) and it was delicious despite the egg being far too set for my taste.

I got try a less familiar German favorite (and one that my friend Astrid enjoyed as a kid with her Oompah in Austria), Liver Dumpling Soup, a belly warming treat that I doubt can be found in many restaurants today. The dumplings are essentially like a matzo ball, but with veal.

Friends enjoyed bratwurst, meatballs in mustard sauce, and fluffy giant potato pancakes. How we managed dessert is almost beyond me, but I really wouldn’t pass on the refreshing Rote Gruetze, a raspberry, cherry, strawberry compote with vanilla sauce.

If you are extra lucky, Werner will play you a tune or two on his polka-ready accordion. Great place for a group.

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Posted on January 31, 2010

Restaurants »JoJo

jojo pavlova
160 East 64th Street

In Jean Georges’s mini gourmet empire, Jojo is perhaps the coziest spot, nestled in a narrow brownstone in the east sixties. While a nice meal out above 14th street can occasionally be quite treacherous for a long-haired couple that, through rich people glasses, look like a pair of dangerous hipster hillbillies hell-bent on taking the family jewels, if fellow diners made side comments and gave us horrified looks, we were so engrossed in great company and good food, we certainly didn’t notice.

If you recall my raving about at the namesake restaurant, you’ll understand that it was simply impossible for us to pass up the heavenly foie gras brulee, which, served with a spiced fig compote, was every bit as amazing as I remembered. For entrees Jim and I split a venison special with pomegranate seeds and pears topped with a flavorful reduction sauce and the truffle-tastic salmon featuring brussel sprouts so good even Jim finished his, truffle mashed potatoes (with real, honest to goodness chunks of black truffle) and an incredible truffle vinaigrette… both were the kind of dishes that induce people to roll their eyes in incredulity. A lovely spritzer passion fruit and chili bourbon drink was the perfect accompaniment. For dessert, there’s nothing better than high class pavlova, one of my favorite and one of the most hard to find desserts.

Jojo was the famous Vongerichten’s first venture on his own and when it opened 18 years ago it stunned restaurant goers and critics. It’s been gussied up with a makeover since then (including velvet and candle sconces) but it’s still a go-to bistro for reliably awe inspiring dishes without too much fussiness.

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Posted on December 26, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Schaller and Weber

schaller weber hot dogsIt's rare to absolutely adore a meat shopping experience, but Schaller and Weber, a classic German market that has stood on 2nd Avenue since 1937, is such a friendly old world kind of place with such kindly service that you leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Along with that warm feeling, I took home some extra spicy mustard, great bottled chornicons, a marzipan piglet, and a phenomenal few bright red hot dogs. Later snuggled in French bread along with that spicy mustard, these were some of the best dogs we've ever enjoyed.

What we didn't leave with was one of the cute classic steins in the windows. Another visit will be necessary for me to pick one up, and i'll probably take a couple more of those hot dogs too.

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Posted on July 6, 2009

Desserts »Cafe Sabarsky

Cafe Sabarsky

Why do I mention it now?

Because we just enjoyed a relaxing wine filled lunch here (it's a perfect
stop off after a museum day) and were again blown away by the scrumptious desserts. I can't recommend the Milchrahmstrudel: quark cheese strudel with vanilla sauce enough!

Here's what I said back on 4/24/06:

Located in the Neue Galerie which is now hosting a Klee show, this scrumptious Viennese cafe has some tantalizing dessert choices. Doug and I opted for a white chocolate mousse torte with citrus fruit. It was dense, decadent, and perfectly balanced, no flavor was too overbearing.

A perfect spot for a quick dessert and coffee during a museum day. Tip – if the line is long, the downstairs cafe has the same menu and not as many people know about it.

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Posted on June 15, 2009