Tag Archives: restaurant

Bistro Ten 18

Dining starts in the eyes, before you order and even before you sit down. Dining starts when you first enter the restaurant. And I must say, it was a fabulous start to my dinner when I walked into Bistro Ten 18.

The restaurant was dark, perhaps darker than the twilight outside. Yet, as night closed in over the restaurant, I became lost in the soft, intimate glow of candles. Wine racks lined an entire wall, and the white space behind them radiated from some unseeable bulbs. The windows were wide and plenty, but I barely noticed anything besides the superb ambience.

Kentucky Country Ham & Crispy Poached Organic Egg salad

I started with the Kentucky Country Ham & Crispy Poached Organic Egg salad. I’m not quite sure what I expected, but the dish tasted much like a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on salad instead of bread. Don’t knock it until you try it, though. Clumped on top of the bed of ham were mustard greens and snap beans, all dressed with a dijon vinaigrette. The light and sweet flavors of the salad balanced out the rich, salty taste of ham, egg, and cheese.

As soon as I finished and settled back in my chair, a waiter rushed forth to take my plate and refill my water glass. He was one of many waiters I had. Neither he nor any of the others waiters spoke much, though. They simply minded their own business and let me be, which isn’t such a bad thing on a date.

Next, I had the Braised Berkshire Pork Shoulder. The dish was simple, but perfectly so. Basically, it was a chunk of meat surrounded by beans and topped with a little bit of greens. It was warm, hearty, and unbelievably tender. The thick jus had completely soaked into the meat. I could’ve used a spoon to cut it.

Again, when I finished, a waiter took my plate and said next to nothing. I tried to speak to the waiter, but I realized how loud I was speaking. I could barely hear myself talk. Thus, I wouldn’t recommend this place for a first date. You can’t connect well with someone if you can’t hear what they’re saying. Yet, if it’s not your first date, the noise helps the romance. In order to converse, you need to lean in towards each other. From so close, your date’s eyes will glimmer in the candle light, and blaze like two elegant tongues of flame. You might not know what your date is saying, but you’ll certainly enjoy the intimate stares.

Finally, I got the Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae. Following in the pork shoulder’s footsteps, the sundae was simple. It wasn’t anything more than it needed to be. However, I was a little disappointed. Was it delicious? Definitely. But, it arrived in the classic sundae glass, topped with nuts, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry. It was clichéd. I wanted something more original. Plus, I could easily make a sundae without spending $10.

Regardless, Bistro Ten 18 was a great experience. The ambience was wonderful and the food was fantastic. And one final note: Bistro Ten 18 delivers. If you just want to cuddle up at home and eat a juicy pork shoulder, there’s nothing stopping you.

Bistro Ten 18

1018 Amsterdam Avenue at 110th Street. NYC



A Great Restaurant Week Pick

Ocean Grill is hands-down one of the best picks among the Restaurant Week selection! Not only was the environment great for an upscale yet cozy date night, but the food was absolutely delicious!

Waiters were very friendly and knew the menu well. The dining room looked as if it was converted from a townhouse. It could get a little noisy on nights when the tables were full. But generally the environment – with dim lighting and Hampton style decorations – was good for a romantic occasion.

Out of the pre-fix menu, the port poached Bartlett pear salad was delicious, even though there was a bit more goat cheese than expected.

The star of the night was the entrée – seafood cioppino. A linguine pasta with a generous serving of seafood: shrimp, clams, mussels, and hake, finished with red wine and tomato sauce. The smooth texture of the linguine and the fresh seafood combined to make it the perfect pasta dish.

Ocean Grill offers a very wide variety of options. From the regular dinner menu, the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass is highly recommended. Perfectly tender and full of flavor, a friend (a total foodie who has tried out a ton of restaurants) has described it as “the best sea bass” he has tried and has come back to the restaurant several time just for this dish!

Besides several seafood entrees, Ocean Grill is famous for its raw bar with different types of oysters and clams, hand-selected and seasonal. It also offers a sushi bar with a wide selection of maki rolls.

To learn more about New York Restaurant week, follow this link



384 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

b/t 77th St & 78th St in Upper West Side


Phone number:

(212) 579-2300


Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Chickpea Incident

If there’s one thing my mother taught me to be picky about, it would most definitely be cornbread. My mom uses her grandmother’s recipe, makes it on top of the stove in a cast iron skillet, and it comes out perfectly each time: mealy with some corn kernels left in. It tastes nothing like a corn muffin, nor should it. I find the notion that cornbread should be sweet to be highly offensive.



So, when I took my first bite of cornbread at The Dutch, a restaurant in Soho that my roommate Susan had been raving about since the moment we met, I knew it would be a restaurant I would like. It wasn’t my mom’s cornbread, but it certainly came in second place. It wasn’t sweet, except maybe for a little hint, almost like an aftertaste. In fact, it was kind of spicy, with chopped jalapeños cooked in. It came in a little loaf and despite my best efforts at self-restraint I ended up eating almost the entire thing.

I’ve been to The Dutch four times, twice to celebrate the end of classes, once for my birthday, and most recently for restaurant week. They’re hailed as an American restaurant but I’d call it American with a twist; their ever-changing and eclectic menu features a wide variety of dishes. I’ve tried a steak with kimchi fried rice and had a bite of a chicken mole Susan ordered. But then I’ve also had more traditional dishes like fried chicken with honey glazed biscuits and a light and spicy coleslaw, a side of wonderfully salty French fries, and a perfectly cooked hamburger with lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, and a spicy sauce. And then, of course, there are the pies. I’ve never been the biggest pie person; I’ve always been more in favor of a brownie sundae or molten chocolate cake, but suffice it to say I’ve been converted. Each slice I’ve had, chocolate, cherry, shoofly, and key lime, has been unbelievably delicious, quite unexpected and unique, and bursting with a variety of flavors and textures.

Each trip to The Dutch has left me with a different set of delicious memories. Obviously, I’m completely gaga over the food and I’ll always remember that first bite of cornbread, but I’ll also remember getting lost on the way there, accidentally tripping Susan on the way back, a long and in depth conversation about what I would do and where I would go if I could spend one month in Europe. I’ll always remember how hard my friends laughed when one of them got fluff in her hair and I stared horrified, watching as it slowly started to fall into her lap. Tongue-tied and far too panicked given the situation all I could do was shout “Catherine!” with increasing urgency as she stared at me in utter confusion until the fluff finally fell onto her leg. As she wiped it off she chuckled and said, “A simple ‘hair’ would’ve done the trick.” And then there was the time Susan picked the toasted chickpeas out of a side of spinach so fast that when she turned to me on the subway and asked, “Weren’t the chickpeas in that spinach so good? Didn’t they just make the dish?” I stared at her rather alarmed and exclaimed, “What chickpeas?!” I guess I’ll just have to go back and find out.












Restaurant Confidential: First Installment

The eggplant appetizer at Amali

It’s time I write this down, in hopes of making sense of it: I’m a declared pre-med neuroscience major. I have two years to take three years’ worth of classes (I jumped on the pre-med bandwagon a little late). I could have easily taken some courses this summer to lighten my load. I could have taken a clinical internship or worked in a lab to amp up my resumé. But no. I’m working at a restaurant. By choice.

It may be one of the least practical and yet best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m a firm believer, after all, in the concept of summer vacation. The whole idea of “break” tends to intimidate Ivy-Leaguers. “Break” feels like we’re erring from our destined path. It’s the one thing we don’t do well, but also the thing that would perhaps make us even more successful if we were more open to it. Breaks are healthy for the mind (a fully developed neuroscientist could prove it, but to be honest I’m just not on that level yet).

The point is, I’m taking a break from pursuing my scientific life goals for the summer, and I’m extremely okay with that. I’m exploring something that has always fascinated me; something that I will perhaps never have another opportunity to explore: the NYC restaurant world. I’m interning at Amali, a Mediterranean restaurant on the Upper East Side that prides itself on delicious farm-to-table cuisine, local and organic sourcing, and giving back to the community. It has been chosen as an NYT critic’s pick, raved about in Wine Spectator, and named one of the “Top 100 Greek Restaurants” by the National Herald. To say I’m proud to work there would be an Olympus-sized understatement.

Owner James Mallios is my direct supervisor. He’s been called a “Greek Tony Soprano”—an eerily accurate description. Following him around has been an eye-opener in many ways. Most importantly, I’ve learned that owning a restaurant is a ridiculous amount of work. No, really—a ridiculous amount. I’ve learned that behind every cool-and-collected wait staff is a to-do list longer than the menu itself and a memory bank of every loyal customer’s favorite bottle of wine. I’ve learned that behind every polite “hello-gentlemen-how-are-you-this-evening?” is a whole lot of nerves and stress. I’ve learned that the restaurant world is basically show business. Or, to give it its own genre (which it certainly deserves), reality show business.

There are the daily tasks before and after meal service—cleaning and setting and resetting tables, moving tables upstairs and downstairs for private events and parties, making coffee, folding napkins, bleaching the counters, polishing silverware, washing the windows. The staff groups up and eats a meal before the dinner service. They are quizzed on the evening’s specials, and get to taste them if the dish or the server is new. They are informed of any VIPs who will be visiting the restaurant that night (on the UES, there are many). They are assigned to certain sections of the restaurant, and anticipate the arrival of their first guest.

When I’m not taking part in all this, I’m assigned other miscellaneous tasks: running errands around the city, emailing back and forth with event coordinators, trying to keep track of an ever-changing inventory, reorganizing the wine cellar (also a never-ending task), writing grants to build a rooftop garden, writing a dinner invitation from Amali to Michele Obama (a long shot, we realize), responding to nice (and nasty) Yelp reviews, updating online menus. There is always something that needs to be done. Though Amali is only open from 12-3 and 5-10, there is always someone at the restaurant working on something—even in the wee hours of the morning. Work is far from over after the last customer goes home. Actually, serving customers is a small percentage of a restaurant staff’s overall work.

I’ve also learned to be a hostess and a back waiter (the one who isn’t your server, but who might bring your food to your table), and I’ve just trained to be a server. There was also one occasion on which I bartended for a party of UES socialites. More on this feat next time.

I’ve tried almost every dish at Amali. My favorites so far are the eggplant appetizer, the lamb ribs, and of course the ricotta doughnuts for dessert. I’ve memorized most every dish’s preparation, ingredients, and presentation. I’ve come to love just watching the chefs work. It is truly a dance. The more chaotic the kitchen, it seems, the more perfect its final products. Even more amazing is the unwavering calm of chef Nilton “Junior” Borges, “a soft-spoken Afro-Brazilian with an easy laugh.” A million things are happening at any given moment, and somehow Junior is at peace. This is why he is a chef.

Just like the cast of a Broadway show, the staff at Amali is a family. We joke and tease, but we all have one common goal: making Amali successful. While other restaurants’ employees may begrudge going to work, Amali’s are happy to be there. It is, after all, a beautiful space run by hard-working, funny, close-knit leaders who do in fact deserve to be wildly successful.

Most importantly, I’m having fun. I come home exhausted, but “good exhausted,” ready for another day—and another show.

SMOKE: a meal and a concert, two for the price of one

The exterior of Smoke, courtesy of the lounge's website

SMOKE Jazz Club & Lounge

Where it is NOT located: 2751 Broadway New York, NY 10025

(212) 864-6662

I have noticed that, for some reason, students tend to neglect the local. It can be exciting and enriching to venture to faraway lands (as far away as any two places on the Manhattan island can be), but there are some phenomenal establishments within walking distance. SMOKE, a jazz lounge/restaurant, is not hidden, but I had passed it at least 10 times on morning jogs without thinking twice, so it might as well have been.

I went to see my professor and his Latin-Jazz band, SYOTOS, perform at a 10 o’clock set. On certain nights, there are two or three acts, so call ahead of time, or walk by 104th and Broadway to peak at the paper taped to the door.

There is no cover charge, but each set is approximately a $20 minimum. Basically, you can get an appetizer and dessert AND an intimate concert for a little over $20. If you want a full dinner, it might be a bit pricey, but you could just get a glass of wine and a dessert and call it a night. The music will not disappoint—not just any musicians get hired. You will feel swanky for the entire duration of your visit, I promise.

Now, for the more food-specific writing.

Continue reading SMOKE: a meal and a concert, two for the price of one

A Lovely Trip to the Spice Market

Do not be fooled by the quaint title.  I did not go on an adventure with a picnic basket through a wooded meadow to visit a literal spice market, although that sounds like it would be a lot fun and probably have opportune moments to break out into song.  No, I’m talking about Spice Market, the absolutely incredible restaurant in the Meatpacking District.  It was, by far, one of the most exciting, satisfying, and happiest eating excursions I have had in the last year in New York.  It all began when a few friends and I wanted to go out for Restaurant Week (so yes, this post is a few months late)…I texted Matt for a suggestion, and he replied, “You haven’t eaten in New York until you’ve gone to a Jean-Georges restaurant.  Go to Spice Market.”  Probably the best restaurant advice of all time. Continue reading A Lovely Trip to the Spice Market

Review: Burnt “Toast”

I’m going to be honest with everyone reading this post and I’m just going to say that I love cheeseburgers.  A lot.  As in they’re one of my favorite foods of all time.  I hope I haven’t offended any vegetarians or vegans or anyone who cares about the sesame seeds on the bun.  Now that I’ve finished with that, I’ll continue with my review of Toast on 105th and Broadway.  I am going to begin by painting you a picture of my night so you can understand my general frustration.  I went to Toast about a month and a half ago, and it was one of those freezing nights where the wind roars down the streets in New York in an angry wind tunnel.  My friend’s asthma was acting up so we decided to take Columbia’s Public Safety shuttle to go rather than walk through the wind.  Unfortunately, Public Safety was having a busy night, so it took them about half an hour to pick us up from the 116th gates.  The wait only functioned to intensify my appetite, and therefore, I was pretty excited when we finally got to Toast. Continue reading Review: Burnt “Toast”

Reviews: It’s, like, a $26 s’more.

I’m a college student.  Probably most of you reading this are, too.  There’s a lot of weight that gets carried around with such a statement.  That competitive cousin of your’s who’s still a senior in high school?  Sniff a bit, tilt your nose in the air, “I’m a college student.”  Job interview?  Cross your arms with confidence, nod, “I’m a college student.”  Friends inviting you out to do something fun that costs money?  Grimace, shrug your shoulders, “I’m a college student.”

Yep. Limited fun funds, especially for chocolate.

Eventually though, we get our allowance/paycheck/treasure chest from a long lost uncle filled with doubloons and, after a month of dining halls, we are ready to splurge.  My friend Christina and I needed it.  We spent two hours last Friday evening trying to find something to do.  We called a bunch of clubs because we wanted to go dancing (apparently, no 18+ clubs in New York).  We texted our friends (“I’m studying for my calc midterm”).  We even asked my R.A. for fun things to do (“watch Youtube videos!  Have you seen Grapist?”)  After being thoroughly disappointed, Christina remembered a place downtown that someone had told us about – Max Brenner.

Max Brenner is a chocolate bar.  That was all we knew.  And let’s face it – when you’re seriously bummed, would you reject an offer to a “chocolate bar”?  … DIDN’T THINK SO.   After spending several hours watching various plans go down the drain, we stood up against the world with our fists in the air and cried out “We are young and fierce and we live in New York!”   We proceeded to forget to switch to the Q at 42nd, but we eventually got to Union Square.  We proceeded to debate the very expensive menu outside.  We gave in and went inside a little after midnight.

The decor of the Max Brenner in Union Square is amazing.  It’s low-lit in a sexy, New York kind of way (the pictures look much brighter than it actually was).  There are stacks of giant chocolate slabs everywhere.  Tiny ganaches fill a glass display case in the center of the gift shop.  Pinks, oranges, reds, and yellows add to the flirty atmosphere.  Playful graphics by illustrator Yonatan Factor cover the posters on the wall and fill the “Chocolate: A Love Story” cookbooks proudly displayed on shelves.  The night atmosphere is worth the trip alone, especially on a date.

The chocolate, maybe not so much.  Christina and I ordered the “European Chocolate Fondue for Two” which is, according to the hostess, one of their specials.  Fondue originated in Switzerland as a communal melted pot of cheese into which people would dip bits of warm bread (ie toast).*   Our table was soon full with a ridiculous array of items ranging from brownies, marshmallows, bubble shaped bowls of melted chocolate, and an open flame.  Yeah, that’s right.  An open flame.  The waiter puts down a covered jar of coals and lights it, then walks away.  Blue flames lick outside of the jar, sending smoke into Christina’s eyes. Christina and I are dumb-founded.  Neither one of us has had fondue before.  And we had never heard of fire at a table.

We took turns guessing.  I dipped a strawberry in chocolate and tried holding it over the fire.  That didn’t do anything (except melt my chocolate even more.)  Christina thought atmosphere?  Maybe, but there was already a candle on the table… I stab at a marshmallow and lazily hold it over the fire, pretending it was a campfire.  We both exclaimed “s’mores!” as my marshmallow burst into flames.

It was fun roasting our marshmallows, dipping a chocolate brownie in melted dark chocolate (ugh, don’t try this), and making faces over the horrible caramel dip.  The low-key music and the sultry lighting incited various “I feel so rich” comments.  This sentiment didn’t last once we got the check.  At $26 with tax and tip, Christina and I decided that the trip to Max Brenner was a fun splurge, but definitely not something we’d go back and do any time soon.  Especially since we then had to take the subway back at 2 AM.  Note: the Q train is scary.

*Fun etiquette: Swiss tradition says that if a man drops the bread/meat/fruit/whatever into the melting pot, he must buy wine for the table.  If a woman commits the same tragic act of self embarrassment, she has to kiss the man to her left.  Quick, play earthquake when your friends are trying to eat!

[Photos by Amanda Tien.]

Do you like Mac’n’Cheese/do you believe in America?


I think America represents a lot of things.  The dream of getting off of a boat from a foreign country and through hard work, making millions of dollars.  Singing along with patriotic songs at the Fourth of July while watching fireworks.  Going to Washington, D.C. and taking one of those optical illusion photos where it looks like you’re holding the White House in your hands.  And, macaroni and cheese.

Okay, so I understand that my priorities might be a little mixed up, but I just really love pasta.

My name’s Amanda, and I’m a new writer/photographer for the CU Culinary Society Blog.  Throughout my youth, I moved around a lot.  I learned to adapt, and grow as a person [insert rest of college essay here].  Anyway, my birthday is September 18 – and usually, my birthday is a really disappointing affair because I have no friends to celebrate with.  However, this year, I made a lot of good friends right away because for once, I wasn’t the only new kid!  Last week, I was craving some intense mac’n’cheese.  So, for my birthday, I went out with some friends to S’MAC.

S’MAC is a heavenly gourmet mac’n’cheese establishment in the East Village.  It was started by husband-wife team Caesar and Sarita Ekya in 2006.  It’s a super cute place (walls are bright orange and brick) and the staff is really friendly.  Warning – seating is really difficult.  S’MAC has two locations right next to each other: one is the sit-down restaurant, and the other is just for take-out.  We got take-out and ate on a nearby bench.  Not sitting at a table was worth being able to walk our S’MAC boxes proudly past the sad people who were waiting for seats in the other S’MAC. 

We all got different things, but the consesus was that “Four Cheese” (Cheddar, Muenster, Gruyere, Pecorino*) was the best and that “Buffalo Chicken” was just straight up too spicy (but I’m sure there are some daring people reading this who will be able to handle it).  S’MAC takes your idea of mac’n’cheese (Kraft) and says, “Watch this.”  It then proceeds to bake your mac’n’cheese with bread crumbs, season it like nobody’s business, and deliver it to you in a hot, gooey mess of cheese.  Even though it is too hot to eat right away, you will burn your tongue so you can shove bites into your mouth as fast as you can.  And if you don’t…well, maybe you don’t believe in America as much as I do.  Just playing.  Sort of.  :)

I really loved going to S’MAC – the atmosphere was great and it’s a fun place to go with friends.  Recommendation: go to some of the vintage/thrift stores in this area afterwards.  If you ever go, tell me if you order and like the “Parisienne” (creamy brie, roasted figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms, and fresh rosemary).  I am working up the courage to try it.

{My friends Gabby, Mica, and me.  I swear I’m not this crazy all the time – pasta is special to me.}

*What’s Pecorino, you ask?  Good question, because I had never heard of it either!  Apparently, it’s a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk.  In ye olden times in Italy, it was preferred to the more expensive Parmesan.   It’s still a favorite among dishes in Rome and Lazio.  I like cheese, too.

S’MAC Website: http://www.smacnyc.com/what.html