Hunger + Milk Bar = Delicious

Avid readers of the blog know that BK & I fell in love with the cookies at Momfuku Milk Bar while we were in New York last summer – so, when I saw the Milk Bar pastry chef had a new cookbook coming out AND she would be in Seattle at Book Larder to promote it, I quickly snapped up tickets.  Mom & Mar came along too, so we met up for happy hour first at a new spot nearby that Mar recommended, Hunger.

We shared some small plates and enjoyed most everything that arrived.  My only disappointment was the fried gnocchi which sound amazing but needed more flavor.  The prawn bruschetta was a good bite and I enjoyed my stacked up tower of veggies:

At Book Larder, we were treated to a cup of cereal milk upon arrival as well as a plate of Milk Bar favorites.  We chatted around and looked through the new store (go visit!), then listened to the chef tell some stories of how Milk Bar came to be.  We got our cookbook signed, stuffed our purses full of more cookies to take home, and headed out full of sugary bliss.

Advertisements

The Meatball Shop

This place is great – well-decorated, nice vibe and thoughtful menu and presentation.  They know their focus:   meatballs.  There’s 5-6 different kinds, and 5 sauces.  From there, there are several ways to have your meat and sauce served to you depending on what you like – just mark up your menu and enjoy.  I loved it.  BK got 4 sliders so he could try lots.   I had a “smash”, which meant two chicken meatballs on a brioche bun with a parmesan cream sauce.  yum.  And because we couldn’t resist, we split one of their homemade ice-cream sandwiches for dessert – same concept:  5 ice creams, 5 cookies, you pick what you want to go together (Chocolate Chip Mint – fresh mint).  Awesome.

Babbo

Dinner at Babbo was really good and a great way to end our week of big dining adventures (Thanks Jon & Candi!). The setting seems formal, but if you listen closely they are playing Nirvana and things are actually pretty reasonably priced for such a well-known restaurant.  We chose the pasta tasting menu:

First up was a small plate of marinated chickpeas:

Then the first pasta, Black Tagliatelle with Peas and Castelmagno – I had never had squid ink pasta before but it was good.  The fresh corn was even better though 😉

“Casunzei” with Poppy Seeds – I can’t remember what these were stuffed with…

Garganelli with “Funghi Trifolati” – I tried to swap out this dish since it was all mushroomy but we both would have had to and I didn’t want  BK to miss out on mushrooms.  So I tried one and gave the rest of the ‘shrooms to BK.  The hand rolled penne tubes were amazing though…

Domingo’s Pyramids with “Passato di Pomodoro” – all these hand rolled and shaped pasta are just so fresh and nice…

Pappardelle Bolognese – last pasta dish, ending on a classic

“Bigne” with Fig and Lemon Crema

Above, Gelatina di Moscato d’Asti

Below, Chocolate “al Diavolo ”

corn ice cream, blueberry compote over cake so good but so big after all that pasta.  Try as we might we could not finish it…

We were so full leaving Babbo but in a good way.

Le Bernadin

Big dinner #3 was at Le Bernadin, owned by cute, popular chef Eric Ripert.  He was actually strolling through the dining room visiting tables as we arrived (sadly when I enquired at the end of our meal if he was still there he had already left).  Le Bernadin was very formal and clean – all the dishes and staff were super refined.  We of course did the Chef’s tasting menu, along with the wine pairing as Le Bernadin is revered for their sommelier and wine staff. 

First up, an Amuse Bouche of Watermelon Soup – yummy and fresh

Smoked Yellowfin Tuna “Prosciutto”; Japanese Pickled Vegetables and Crispy Kombu

Poached Pastured Egg; Osetra Caviar; Mariniere Broth and English Muffin – two poached eggs in 5 days for me?  whew.  still preferred scrambled 😉

Seared Langoustine, Mache, Wild Mushroom Salad; White Balsamic Vinaigrette – gave my mushrooms to BK of course…

Pan Roasted Monkfish; Hon Shimeji Mushrooms; Turnip – Ginger Emulsion; Sake Broth – I always think of Sallie when I eat monkfish…

Baked Lobster; Pickled Golden Beet, Fennel and Citrus “a la Nage” – these were the best beets I’ve eaten yet, but I still gave my extras to JJ after trying one.  I just don’t like them.  The lobster was delish – look how beautiful the claw is – who ever gets to eat the claw?  I think I’ve only had tails…

Crispy Black Bass, Lup Cheong and Beansprout “Risotto”, Mini Steamed Buns, Hoisin-Plum Jus – Bass once again, very popular on NYC tasting menus.

Apricot Sphere, Fig, Sour Cherry Pearl, Candied Angelica – this was an amazing burst of flavor.  Really good

Gianduja Mousse, Hazelnuts, Honey, Banana, Brown Butter Ice Cream – no bananas for me obviously.  Yummy otherwise…

Bonus desserts!  I can’t remember what they were though…

So, dinner was really good – everything was perfectly cooked, perfectly served, perfectly matched.  With all of these dishes it really came down to the sauces – you know that’s where they spend the time on flavor, and then the techniques with the fish.  But in the end I think I enjoyed Blue Hill & WD-50 better overall because of ambiance – Le Bernadin was just so nice, but also big, so I always felt like I was being watched an judged a bit.  Even though Alinea is pretty formal, our room was more intimate so I felt a little freer.  Here I felt a little out of place – I have, however, now eaten at 4 of the top 50 restaurants in the world in the last 15 months.  craziness!  Would probably be 5 except Dan Barber from Blue Hill is on teh selection committee so they aren’t eligible…

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

The menu arrives as a list of ingredients currently in season and then you choose 5 or 8 courses and food starts arriving.  So this was truly a blind tasting menu, but JJ & I both specified pescatarian so I wasn’t too worried about what might arrive.

We started with cocktails – mine was black currant martini.  All the drinks had fresh farm ingredients in them:

to start, citrus spritzers and fresh veggies:

Tomato burgers:

Tempura veggies:

Charcuterie for the boys, sage-potato crisp for the girls:

Peppered melon for the girls, bone marrow and caviar for the boys:

Summer veggie salad:

Onions baked under coals overnight served with various condiments:

Potato-Onion bread (Sallie, you would have devoured this!)

Striped bass:

Poached egg in curry soup:

Lamb brains for the boys, Ratatouille Cannelloni for the girls:

more lamb for the boys, lobster for the girls:

Transition time – local cheeses:

and the first dessert, Strawberry milkshake:

fruits and corn ice-cream:

mmm, chocolate:

and finally, some grapes and honey:

Everything was so fresh and clean.  my favorites were the lobster, the canelloni and the grilled onion.  The bread was delish and the service impeccable.  We were full and happy as we zipped down to the train station and headed back to the big city.

WD-50

Our first big dinner in NYC was at WD-50 (http://www.wd-50.com), very similar to Alinea and Arzak in that head chef Wylie likes to play food and present things in ways that look and taste different then what they really are.  We started with cocktails at the bar:

 

First up was Razor clam, red pepper, halvah, yuzu.  It was really fresh and light, I like yuzu.

Next was Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese.  The bagel was actually ice-cream!  Really fun and good.

Ahhh, Foie gras, passionfruit, chinese celery.  The texture was hard for me on this one, but the passionfruit filling inside the foie gras was amazingly sweet.

Scrambled egg ravioli, charred avocado, kindai kampachi.  This was my favorite dish of the night – the egg was light and fluffy, the charred avocado nice and creamy.  I could have eaten several of these.

Cold fried chicken, buttermilk-ricotta, tabasco, caviar.  This was another favorite of the evening – we actually saw it on tv a couple weeks ago showing how they make it and it’s pretty interesting.  You can probably find it on youtube…

Striped bass, chorizo, pineapple, popcorn.  It turns out we would have striped bass on almost every tasting menu we tried – it must be in season right now or just popular in New York.  It’s good…

While BK had Beef and béarnaise (Beef consomme and bernaise gnocchi):

I had Israeli Cous Cous in cheddar consommé.  Really nice flavors.

and while BK had Lamb loin, black garlic romesco, soybean, pickled garlic chive:

 I had Iberico pork neck, endive, buckwheat, clove.  It was a little undercooked for me but still interesting.  I shared the pinkeST pieces with BK:

Transition dish:  Chewy lychee sorbet, pistachio, lemon, celery:

Hazelnut tart, coconut, chocolate, chicory

Rainbow sherbet, rhubarb, tarragon, orange, olive oil – this was really pretty and very tasty.  Almost as good as Baskin-Robbins rainbow sherbet!

Cocoa packets. Chocolate shortbread, milk ice cream

DBGB

Unlike his other establishments which tend to focus more on the higher end, DBGB offers simple food executed at a very high level. Much of the menu is centered around the 14 different types of house made sausages and several different burgers plus other chicken, beef and pork options.

We decided to split a couple of sausages to start and soon enough the Viennese and Tunisian sausages had arrived. The Viennese is a pork sausage with some cheese and the Tunnnisian is a lamb sausage.


Both of the sausages were great, the flavors were distinct without any one element being overpowering; just great food all around. The only disappointment was that there were only two of us there as I would have loved to order 5-6 of them to share around the table. For the mains I had the piggy burger which is a burger topped with BBQ pulled pork and KMJ a Schnitzel which very well may have been the best piece of pork I’ve eaten that wasn’t a BBQ rib.


Finally to put a topper on the whole meal we ordered a baked Alaska, though they call it something different on the menu. It was excellent and a great way to end the day before heading back to our tiny hotel room.