Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Cold is TOO Cold?

Ok, really -- how cold is too cold in NYC? 30? 20? 10? Yesterday's low was 15 degrees F and its not going to be any better today. I don't know about you - but that's cold for this California girl! and, that's cold for my two California friends that are visiting as well!

Can you guess what the above picture is? Its a picture of Joy, Lye and me wearing long johns! haha. anything to keep us warm in this chilly weather -- and sadly, its still not enough! back out to the cold we go!

Penelope's Brunch in Murray Hill

Penelope's on 159 Lexington Avenue at 30th Street is a quaint little cafe/bakery/restaurant that serves up one of the best Egg, Ham and Cheese English Muffin sandwiches, also known as Penny Egg Sandwich. What makes this sandwich different than many other food establishments is the PESTO that lines the english muffin and the fluffy scrambled egg that sits between the bread. Oh, so delicious. Though, the brunch menu says its made with american cheese, its not the typical yellow american cheese you are accustomed to, its white and has a milder flavor. If you order the Penny Egg Sandwich, you have the option of putting it on a croissant, which in my opinion is a travesty. If you place it on a croissant, the heat from the ingredients will make the sandwich greasy, or way tooo buttery. Also, you can have the sandwich prepared with its main ingredients - eggs, cheese & pesto sandwiched between your bread choice for $8 - but where is the fun in that? Among your meat choices are ham, sausage, bacon, soy sausage or fakin bacon and since I already gave away what my favorite sandwich is, you know the best is with HAM ($8.50). Plus, it makes the sandwich less greasy. If I can leave you with one other piece of knowledge about this sandwich -- it is to order extra PESTO on the side -- you will fall in love with the sauce and would likely want to add more of it. So, go and enjoy one of the best egg, ham and cheese english muffin sandwiches I've ever had! (see you later McDonald's!)

If you're not a fan of this type of sandwich (blasphemy!), there are other things on Penelope's brunch menu that I'd recommend (all $14 entrees and served with your choice of Apple Cider, Mimosa or Coffee/Tea and Juice) and of course others I'd tell you to pass on.

The Salmon Wrapped Poached Eggs -- two farm fresh eggs wrapped in smoked salmon on black toast with green goddess dressing, served with greens. A definite GO and order menu... Ample portions and good breakfast item.

Nutella French Toast - three slices of french toast filled with warm chocolate hazelnut filling, dusted with powdered sugar, served with a side of fresh fruit -- sounds better than it tastes; the french toast is made with a baguette, which comes out hard and is not to my liking. This is a personal preference, but I prefer my french toast to be soft, not hard or crunchy -- they should change it to challah bread.

Pumpkin Waffles - with apple butter, dried cranberries, toasted cinnamon-cardamon pecans and warm baked apples -- again, sounds better than it tastes. If you're a pumpkin pie lover and want that pumpkin/cinnamon taste, you are better off ordering something else. You can barely taste the pumpkin or the cinnamon (hmm, perhaps its a good thing?), so I'd much rather prefer the traditional waffles.

Desserts/Cakes -- You really can't go wrong with anything that you choose; its all very delicious - so treat yourself to something sweet!

Though, I've talked a lot about its brunch/breakfast menu, I've also been there for lunch/dinner. I'd highly recommend the Curried Chicken Salad ($9.25), Mac & Cheese ($6.50) and Chicken Meatballs ($8).

This place is notorious for long waits over the weekend, so if you plan to have breakfast/brunch with friends, I'd recommend going early (as in 8-10 am), and go with just ONE friend. If you're a popular cat and is desperately trying to get a table for four or six people -- you will be painstakingly waiting for a hour or more if you arrive later than 10 am. On the plus side, you can enjoy their free coffee while you wait (um, probably not worth it especially if you're standing outside in the cold!). You'd be better off getting your breakfast at Banc on 3rd avenue! If you don't want to wait (who does?) and are only a party of two, you can also try to sneak into the bar area in the back, which is first come first serve or order to go and eat at home. :D

Happy Eating and don't forget to order that Penny Egg Sandwich!

159 Lexington Avenue (at 30th street)
NY, NY 10016
(212) 481-3800

About Penelope's: Penelope's opened in 2003 and is created and operated by Jennifer Potenza and built by her partner Michael Tsoumpas. The restaurant's menu is loosely based off of all the places that Jen has worked at - individually picking out certain items that she has loved to eat/drink at her previous places of work - which has varied from working/serving in clam shacks in Cape Cod, deli sandwiches in Montauk, coffee shops in Chelsea, cocktail nights in the east village, and Italian wines near Soho.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

No Plates - A new GastroPub in Williamsburg!

I just signed up on and wrote one of my first reviews... and here it is for "NO PLATES" in Williamsburg, Brooklyn!

If you're in Williamsburg, do not miss this delectable new gastropub that opened a week ago! The food is absolutely amazing; everything you taste from the chicken wings to the pork duo sandwich to the country fried chicken has a sophisticated taste that you will undoubtedly love and will make you yearn for more!

The restaurant believes in high quality, all natural ingredients -- serving beef from "Pat La Frieda", chicken from "Bell & Evans", seafood from "Wild Edibles", and seasonal, locally sourced organic produce. No Plates touts itself as a simple restaurant that serves "bar food" w/ classical French and Asian techniques.

If this is bar food -- then the nearby restaurants are going to have their draw drop and their cash register empty simply because this place is JUST THAT GOOD and AFFORDABLE!

So, lets get to the heart of this review:

Food. As you can tell, I'm a BIG FAN of this place. Here are the food items that my six friends and I ordered (yes, we were a bit indulgent!)

Fried Calamari w/ Wasabi Mayo and Popcorn Shrimp w/ Spicy Mayo ($7, $9, respectively) - both extremely tasty and you can't go wrong with these appetizers.

Classic Cobb Salad ($13) - produce is extremely fresh, so much so, that you do not even need to use the blue cheese dressing (definitely put it on the side) -- the crunchiness from the romaine lettuce and bacon combined w/ a thinly sliced hard-boiled egg w/ chunks of avocado are amazing!

Chicken Wings ($8 for six, $15 for twelve) -- if you do not order this dish, you will be regretting it! The Super Spicy Thai wings are deep-fried to perfection and are bursting with intense flavors. If you can't eat spicy, then I'd recommend ordering the Honey BBQ wings -- which were equally as good, w/o the spicy kick!

Pork Duo ($14) - Tender braised pulled pork and pork belly w/ pickled daikon, greens and spicy mayo served with extremely crunchy fries. Can I say the meat was absolutely divine and mouth watering? Yum. The whole-grain/7 grain baguette could be a bit softer, but still -- this dish was a huge hit at our table!

Country Fried Chicken ($15) - meat brined and marinated for one day, served w/ mashed potatoes and gravy - D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and S-U-C-C-U-L-E-N-T. Chicken was crunchy and juicy... and couldn't get enough of the mashed potatoes!

Full yet? Oh, yeah, there is still more to come -- yes, you'll get your dose of food coma here!

Hangar Steak ($17) - garlic herb marinated and char-grilled beef served w/ glazed carrots and those delicious french fries that I love! Steak was juicy and flavorful.

Three Cheese Lasagna ($13) - mozzarella, fontina, parmesan and fresh basil served with garlic toast. This dish takes 20 minutes to prepare, so order this when you sit down! Why? Its incredible. Usually lasagnas have this tangy or too sweet taste, but this lasagna -- which I'm not surprised since everything else on this menu is absolutely fantastic - had once again, the perfect balance between sweet and sour. Lets just say, after we finished all our foods, we just had to have another bite of this dish... and then another and another...

and finally...

DESSERT -- Order the chocolate cake topped with the chef's 'specially' prepared vanilla whipped cream. You would think we couldn't put another spoonful of anything into our mouths/stomachs -- but, we could and did -- This was an extremely decadent dessert.

If you eat here, besides having one of the largest smiles on your face, expect to have your belly double in size. Yes, wear your spandex pants that you've been hiding in the back of your closet (jk).

Drinks. BYOB for now. No Plates is still waiting for its liquor license,

Price. You seen it above. In NYC standards, its affordable and comparable to other food establishments.

Space. Can accommodate parties of 6 or more, probably would say 10 max since you want other patrons to eat here too. There is a bar seating area as well.

Executive Chef. Hooni Kim, who previously worked at Daniel and Masa, is a culinary genius! Akin to how people pair wine with food, Hooni Kim has by a stroke of ingenuity paired his food with beer! Ask him his thoughts on salt, citrus and other seasonings and you'll hear how "in love" and how much "joy" he receives from cooking -- its enough to make you want to become his apprentice, or sous chef! Expect to see his own restaurant opening sometime later this year/or next year! so we hope his sous chefs learn how to cook as well as he does!

Service. Good. Jeff is the general manager and moonlighting as a waiter at the moment. One of our food items was a bit undercooked and they replaced it w/o any hesitation and gave us a free entree to try!

Negatives. With all this good, there has to be some negatives -- though this is painstaking for me to say this -- its a bit chilly in here, so bring your jackets. The gastropub is housed in an old building, which surprisingly, didn't have a functioning heater! BRRR.

Happy Eating!!!

No Plates
280 Bedford Avenue
(between Grand St & 1st St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 302-2002

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On Vacation -- Check out my Travel Blog!

I've been dual posting on and my other travel blog that I recently started (do you like the "simply" continuation? haha; click on link here or on the link to the right under "fun links").

I haven't set up the automatic mail feeds for the new travel blog yet (and probably won't do it until I am back in the states -- so just bear with me and go directly to the travel blog for updates - thank you thank you thank you)

anyhow, its been difficult posting blogs while traveling, especially with the slow internet speeds... but be patient and you will receive. :D

happy travels and happy eating in the meantime!
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