The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Big Apple Dining

Every July, I attend the International Fancy Food Show in New York City and where I dine is probably as important as the show. I view my expenditures for dining more generously in New York than I do at home. I wouldn’t spend $21.00 for a hamburger in Baltimore; although, I did spend it in New York. The Big Apple is food central for me: where great cuisine, atmosphere and service reign supreme - well worth the dollars and always an adventure.

Sheridan Square Restaurant

My first night in the city I met my friend, Suzanne Fass, a former chef who has turned her talents to editing and indexing cookbooks. While waiting for Suzanne and her husband, Paul, to arrive at Sheridan Square, I perched myself at the bar. The Australian or was it New Zealand bartender was fun to talk to and she was willing to mix up my summer fave cocktail, a lemon-basil martini – a new cocktail for her.

The recently opened Sheridan Square Restaurant is in the West Village. Suzanne used to work with their Executive Chef, Gary Robbins (formerly of The Russian Tea Room). The dinner was great, we shared 3 appetizers and 3 entrees and chef sent out one of every dessert they offered along with port. He eventually joined us at our table to chat. When chef discovered I blogged, he held up his fingers in the sign of the “cross” reflecting his distain for food bloggers. I took no offense and laughed, I understood his frustration. It was a very good meal, enhanced with good friends, free desserts and port.

Chef Robbins has recently left his position at Sheridan Square.
Sheridan Square on Urbanspoon

dell ‘anima (of the soul)

Our last night in New York, my friend and I dined at dell ‘anima in the West Village. I chose dell’anima for multiple reasons: an acquaintance of mine is one of the owners, Jamie Tiampo (food photographer and culinary expert), the manager Joe Campanale, is a former Babbo sommelier and thirdly the chef, Gabriel Thompson, a Le Bernadin and Del Posto alum. The restaurant is not large, the tables are very close together and reservations are highly recommended. There is also seating at the bar and in the back at the kitchen counter. When I go back, I’m reserving the kitchen counter for the very, up-close view of the kitchen at work.

I kicked off with the Tonnato Aioli Bruschetta which was very good. Other bruschette selections that night were Chickpea with preserved lemon, Rapini Pesto, Soft Scrambled Egg bottarga and Avocado with sea salt. My companion and I shared the Arugula, Lemon and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano salad which was quite large. We even sent a salad tasting to Sotto Sopra’s Riccardo and Monika Bosio and their Executive Chef, Bill Crouse who were dining at the kitchen counter.

The pasta, oh, was absolute heaven. I had the Garganelli with mushroom ragu and my friend had the Farfalline with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, asparagus, and ricotta salata. The Bosio’s sent over a sampling of Tagliatelle alla Bolognese and the Capellacci with carrot purée, ricotta, sweet peas along with a wonderful Spumanti Lambrusco Bianco “ Lambrusca”; Lini NV from Emilia Romagna.

My friend had munched a bit more than I at the Fancy Food Show and was full; but I continued on, trying their Chicken “al Diavolo” on roasted fennel. This was a boneless half chicken rubbed with a spice blend containing smoked paprika. I must say the chicken was cooked to perfection; both the thigh and breast were moist. There was no room for dessert so we packed up ourselves, took a walk, sat in a park and then rode the subway back to Central Park South.

Dell'Anima on Urbanspoon

BLT Market

After we wrapped up a couple more hours at the Fancy Food Show, my friend and I headed to BLT Market for lunch, our final splurge. The highly touted, BLT Market (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) is in the Ritz Carlton at the corner of the Avenue of the Americas and Central Park South. A beautifully appointed restaurant, whose menu is all about the seasonal foods. Featured in July's menu were black bass, flounder, soft shell crab, fluke, mussels, lobster, zucchini flower, Vidalia onion Swiss chard, morel, porcini, summer truffle, cavaillon melon, rhubarb and more.

You can shop in their chef’s pantry. The idea of being able to purchase the same farm-crafted, small-production culinary treasures and quality kitchen tools and accessories that the chef uses come together at BLT Market’s in-restaurant retail space.

Once seated, a warm baguette that was stuffed with a herb-butter mixture was put on the table - so good, so lush, and hinted of good things to come. My friend wasn’t very hungry and opted for the Mache Salad with deviled quail eggs, Parmesan cheese, and watermelon radish with country croutons ($16). I went for the grilled Black Angus burger with blue cheese and Parmesan garlic rosemary fries which were accompanied with a mini jar of ketchup and Dijon mustard ($21). Watching people meander Central Park filled any slow conversation moments with my friend. It was a lovely lunch and I enjoyed the environment as much as the food. There is al fresco dining; though on a warm day one might get an aromatic hint of the horse-drawn carriages from Central Park.

When I crave anything BLT, I have Laurent Tourondel’s new cookbook, Bistro Laurent Tourondel and have prepared his pho recipe. The recipes for Lemongrass Rock Shrimp Risotto and Cornish Hen Diablo have caught my eye and seem perfect for entertaining. The recipes are not for beginners but are doable for the cooking enthusiast.
Blt Market on Urbanspoon

I would happily return to these 3 restaurants; though, with new culinary adventures around every corner in New York City, I am enticed to try new restaurants on each visit.

Footnote: Sorry to say I left my camera in Baltimore - that is why you are lacking visuals.

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