4.23.2015

happiest hour: The Cuban

RER 4.20.15
They were spontaneous for his birthday. It was a Monday and they decided they would not be quiet. They would step out of the box and sit at the bar.

This time the dark red walls of The Cuban were not suffocating and the low hanging lights felt brighter. Even the bar felt welcoming and open, not just high stools and slick counters. It was different. Better. They were celebrating a birthday.

They were ready to take on the menu. Both menus.

Their happiest hour involved a rainbow of mojitos and caipirinhas: blush with guava, golden with passion fruit, electric with apples and winter white with coconut. Each was distinct and flavorful, and strong enough to keep her giggling.

But the bites held an intensity of feelings and flavors, satiating hungry eyes and insides. Fatty and delightful pork pieces blending with slinky onions and garlic green mojo were hardly forgotten in the tumult of their mirth.
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Warm moments of sticky sweet plantains wrapped with thin salty bacon and showered with farmer’s cheese made them tongue-tied, when their mouths knew no bounds.  
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Mussels and chorizo sinking in wet broth and encaged by soft aioli-drizzled and smoky paprika-dusted fries made messes like wet kisses.
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They gulped down the drinks and the atmosphere, laughed too loudly, and showed their affection, through delicious bites and wide smiles. Of course they did, because it was his birthday...
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4.20.15
RER 4.20.15

4.21.2015

dinner and a DOUGHNUT: doughnut plant


RER 4.9.15
As always, after dinner, we needed something sweet. It was a trek and a half, but well worth it when we bit into one of our late night treats from Doughnut Plant. The shop was about to close, but we had just enough time to take big bites out of our pretty doughnuts.
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Crème Brûlée

This tiny doughseed was a gem. It was the most scrumptious of them all (well, all three I tried that night). The top was crunchy caramelized sugar as you would find on the creamy dessert. It was filled with thick dense custard, speckled with vanilla. The burned notes from the bruléed sugar brought out a kind of sweet smokiness in the delightful insides. Every time the smooth filling oozed out of the doughnut, my heart smiled.
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Strawberry
The strawberry yeast doughnut was giant and fluffy. Light pink sugary frosting flaked off of the treat and stuck to my finger and melted on my tongue. The sweetness of the frosting stood up to the light doughnut, which lacked the greasy feeling of so many others.
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Wild Blueberry Cake
It’s hard for me to resist pretty eats. The blueberry cake doughnut was a perfect purple hue, sweet but not overwhelmingly so and lovely to look at. Each bite seemed to be bursting with the fresh slightly tart sweet flavors of blueberries. It was dense and cakey, studded with the tasty fruits.

I am so glad we made it in time to sneak in a few absolutely delicious doughnuts. I continue to dream about the textures and the balanced flavors. Can not wait take another trip to a Doughnut Plant to satiate my continuous craving for yummy doughnuts.
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4.9.15
RER 4.9.15

4.17.2015

everything has its reason: the FINCH

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Stepping into The Finch is kind of like walking into your own kitchen, only it’s cooler. The lines are cleaner, the painted white brick is brighter—it’s just better.

And then passing the very open bar and the even more open kitchen, you step through a doorway, and you are transported to somewhere else. Wherever it is, it’s just as cool, just not as clean. This dining room has a formula, just as the front space does, it’s just not the same equation. Its exposed brick brings Brooklyn in and the classic furniture ties it to the front.
You sit down, and you want to explore. Your eyes wander, catching the mortar between the bricks, the different textures on display, the changing light coming in, and the many shades of green of plants. It’s intimate back here too, but it feels airy and open, almost outdoors.

The different spaces echo the streamlined menu and beautiful dishes; it’s apparent each is created, tested and perfected, but here too, there’s a formula. Everything’s there for a reason, even if you don’t want to believe it—like that unfinished back wall. Ingredients seem a little haphazard and unconnected at first, but you want to try everything, you want to see how it all works out.

And somehow, it does.
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Your appetizer is split gracefully into two large shallow dishes, one for each of you. Its arrangement is artful, crafted like sculpture, elements hidden and exposed. The sweet beets are roasted and red, soft and perfect, while the toasted traviso is bitter and smoky, cooled by creamy salted burrata. A savory brittle made with pine nuts crunches and plays to the sweet strengths of the beets and the mature savory moments of the traviso, while all unites with the mild and sensuous cheese. 
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Pork two ways makes for a whimsical dish, imaginative and sensible, hearty and delicate. A crunchy pork croquette, perfect and stringy, rests on a bed of soft cabbage and sunchokes studded with large pearls of mustard seeds. Every element melds to combat the delicious fattiness of the fried item, while a smooth apple puree marries pink centered slices of pork. There is no redundancy and yet a brilliant continuity is achieved.
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Your scallop entrée is a sexy surf and turf, bringing together sea and land seamlessly. The dish is a texture playground, where multiple feelings are playing tug of war. Stalemate. The soft, succulent scallops counter the rubbery, meaty snails that, too, have its own tenderness. There is heat and wonder written in slinky slender mushrooms and kernels of chewy Einkorn. Green things and grains bring in earthy tones and brilliant color, but you can swim in the richness and the decadence without getting lost…

Each bite and memory is meticulously constructed, precise and crafted, but also delectable and indulgent. You almost forget where you are and that your kitchen is nowhere as cool.

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4.9.15
RER 4.9.15