Posts Tagged ‘small plates’

Travelogue: NYC’s Estela restaurant

Beef tartare at Estela

Beef tartare at Estela

Named No. 3 Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2014, Estela restaurant is a self-described “beverage-driven” eatery from the minds and palates of beverage director Thomas Carter (Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Essex House) and James Beard Award-nominated chef Ignacio Mattos (Isa, Il Buco) in New York City. With shareable plates, an interesting wine list and solid cocktails, Estela focuses on “American food with European influences.”

I visited Estela restaurant earlier this year in the fall, and enjoyed its famous beef tartare with fried sunchoke chips, which give the dish a welcome variety in texture and subtle sweetness.

My dining companion, my cousin Phillip who is studying to become a sommelier, chose a funky white wine for us to drink, as well as the burrata with salsa verde and charred bread, one of the dishes the Obamas ate during dinner here less than a month earlier.

Burrata

Burrata

We also had the razor clams, which come topped with tons of freshly grated horseradish. I’ve never had a dish like this before, and I liked its spiciness, especially because it didn’t overpower the delicacy of the clams.

Razor clams

Razor clams

Since Estela restaurant is beverage-focused, we of course got cocktails. The Il Vittelone, with whiskey, sherry, amaro and vermouth, and the Tuxedo #2, with gin, white vermouth, maraschino, absinthe and bitters, were both winners. Il Vittelone is the bolder of the two — a “real” drink — and the Tuxedo #2 is a smooth operator.

Il Vittelone, left, and Tuxedo #2

Il Vittelone, left, and Tuxedo #2

Estela restaurant is pretty small and gets crowded, but we were able to walk in on the early side of dinner on a Friday night without a problem. It’s kind of great, actually.

Further reading:

25 Things to Do When Traveling Solo to NYC by Diana Takes a Bite

29

12 2014

The Wallace brings international flair to Culver City

Broccoli

Sprouting Broccoli

From former SBE corporate chef Michael Teich comes The Wallace, a shareable plates concept in downtown Culver City featuring an internationally influenced menu and a respectable cocktail menu from Mixologist Holly Zack, who also hails from SBE.

My favorites here include the sprouting broccoli served with tahini, marinated feta and dukkah (pictured above), as well as the braised pork cheeks with lentils, apple, horseradish and red onion agrodolce. Both pack flavorful punches.

Braised pork cheeks

Braised pork cheeks

The chicken liver mousse with balsamic onions and five spice and the roasted bone marrow with parsley, radish, tarragon and pickled shallots are solid choices, though I wouldn’t say they were the best versions I’ve ever had.

Chicken liver mousse

Chicken liver mousse

When it comes to dessert, if it’s available (I think this was a special when I went) get the house made gelato, sorbet and cookies. The marshmallow ice cream and  ginger cookie combo was my favorite, followed by the cream cheese ice cream and pumpkin cookie. The cherry sorbet with chocolate cookie was my least favorite, but I personally don’t like cherry-flavored things that much.

Ice cream, sorbet and cookies

Ice cream, sorbet and cookies

As for Zack’s drinks, the stirred pleased my palate more than the shaken (though that’s to be expected from me). I liked the Day Rate, made with coffee-infused scotch, cognac, honey syrup and chocolate chili bitters, as well as the Roundtrip with Angel’s Envy bourbon, byrrh, persimmon syrup and sour cherry bitters. I did like the Warm Fuzzies, a shaken drink made with Blackwell rum, cognac, Cynar, egg, lemon and simple syrup.

Day Rate, left, and Roundtrip

Day Rate, left, and Roundtrip

Warm Fuzzies

Warm Fuzzies

I really wanted to like the, ahem, Morning Sex, with bourbon, chai fennel syrup, passion fruit, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters, but it was just a bit sweet for me. It’s pretty, though.

Morning Sex

Morning Sex

While I’m glad to see new restaurants opening up in a neighborhood so close to my ‘hood, I’ve grown somewhat weary of restaurants that offer dishes from a what seem like a myriad of influences made from whatever is in season. Not that I’m opposed to fresh, seasonal ingredients — Teich shops at the Culver City farmers market located just steps outside his kitchen, and I think that’s great — but I sometimes feel like restaurants use this as an excuse to not choose a focus. I’ve read in more than one place that Teich’s menu is influenced by Italian food, but when I see a dish such as lamb with farro risotto, chickpeas, harissa and yogurt on the same page as duck confit with hoisin sauce, noodles and a sesame tortilla, I get confused. I appreciate having many choices on a menu, but it can also be a head-scratcher. To each her own, I guess.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further Reading:

Vegetables Take Center Stage at Soon-to-Open Wallace in Culver City by Los Angeles Times’ Daily Dish blog

Wallace Serves Up Playful Sustainable Fare in Culver City by Where LA

24

12 2013

Special correspondence: Plan B tapas bar in New York

Chicharron tuiles at Plan B in New York

Chicharron tuiles at Plan B in New York

This is the first post from ShopEatSleep contributor Deanna Ting, a New York-based writer and editor who hails from Los Angeles. She is a seasoned travel, lifestyle and fashion writer, having written for publications such as TravelAge West, Luxury Travel Advisor, Los Angeles magazine and WSAToday (a magazine that was entirely devoted to shoes). These days, you can find her working as a managing editor/senior editor for Incentive and Successful Meetings magazines, as well as scouring New York–and the globe–for her next favorite meal. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @deanna421.

New York City’s Plan B, an intimate tapas bar and restaurant inspired by Spain’s Basque and Barcelona regions, lives up to its name — both for better and worse. With Plan B, owner and seasoned New York restaurateur Hemant Phul (Masala Times, Earth Nightclub) has put together a restaurant that isn’t afraid to take risks — bulls testicles, anyone? — even if it sometimes stumbles in the process. All the elements are there, but it still feels like something is missing in a few of its dishes.

A case in point might be the chicharrón tuiles (pictured above): savory baked crescents of cilantro and butter wrapped around thick slices of fried pork skin. That combination of rich butter and salty pork, together with sweet garlic aioli, seems destined to be a success but, for some reason, it just misses the mark by being a bit too salty and soggy. Another example might be the hibiscus and Cynar ice cream, which was just a touch too icy and lacked a strong flavor profile.

Still, Plan B’s dedication to deliver the unexpected is something truly admirable and, if you happen to be in the Nolita neighborhood, it’s a great choice if (a) you’re feeling adventurous, (b) you have a hankering for Spanish small plates, and, (c) to be frank, aren’t entirely sure where you want to dine.

Keep Reading

23

06 2013

A slice of the Mediterranean in West Hollywood: Mezze

Mezze offers just what you would think — small, sharable plates of Mediterranean food. And what food it is! It’s flavorful and fun, and Mezze’s location, a semi-open space with an indoor tree (you’ll just have to see for yourself), complements the menu nicely. You can almost forget that you’re on La Cienega Boulevard a stone’s throw away from the Beverly Center.

My favorite “side” dishes at a recent dinner were the beet salad with chickpeas, sheep’s milk yogurt and haloumi cheese, and the Nantes carrots with harissa and lebne yogurt cheese. Both items were well-balanced and flavorful, especially the carrots.

The more substantial dishes really impressed me; I even liked the lamb in the Hashweh Risotto, which came topped with fried lemon, and I don’t normally like lamb. The shawarma made with brisket, amba (a tangy mango condiment) and house pickles are fun and satisfying. The white bass, with sea beans, cauliflower and coriander, was perfectly cooked and seasoned.

My favorite dessert was hands-down the Date & Ameretti Parfait with mascarpone and Turkish coffee — and I don’t normally like dates, either! The mix of textures and different types of sweet, but not too sweet, flavors was surprising and delightful. I would definitely order it again.

As for the cocktails, these were more hit-or-miss for me. The Baharat Milk, with Barbancourt rum 8 year, Remy VS cognac, Baharat (spiced) milk and pistachios, was delicious though heavy, but the George Dickel Pickle, made with whiskey, mustard seed, lemon, celery, pickle and serrano pepper, was not my taste at all (though Esther of estarLA liked it). You win some, you lose some. No matter; I’ll be back for the food.

Note: This meal was hosted.

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13

02 2012