Sunday Brunch at North End Grill

Brunch might be maligned by some, but I personally love brunch.  I love taking a few hours out each weekend for a leisurely meal, especially after a work out at Barry’s Bootcamp.  My favorite place to brunch in the neighborhood is Locanda Verde, but unless you are willing to get there at 10am or not eat until 3pm, the waits are kinda ridiculous.  For those who live in the downtown area, North End Grill is a great alternative – great food, accommodating service, and nice ambiance.  It is also a relatively large restaurant, so on most Sundays, you can just walk in and grab a table, no wait.

To start, the husband and I always share a croissant…

But not just any croissant.  It’s a maple bacon croissant ($5)!  One of the best breakfast pastries ever!  The top of the croissant is brushed with an ultra thin layer of slightly sweet glaze and when you cut into the croissant, it is filled with bacon cooked in maple syrup.  YUM!

Next, we shared a corn chowder with clams, rock shrimp and linguica sausage ($14).  This was very tasty,  but not what I expected, the chowder was very thin and watery.  It looks like they made the broth from boiling corn cobs but didn’t really incorporate corn bits in the soup.  So while I enjoyed this soup, it wasn’t really exactly what I was looking for.

For his main, he had the Johnnycake benedict with lamb bacon, poached egg and chipotle hollandaise ($17).  I didn’t taste this dish, so I cannot vouch for its level of deliciousness, but this is the third time he has ordered it, so it must be good!

For my main, I got the Lobster egg custard with sea urchin and bonito flakes ($17).  Not typically the type of dish I would order at brunch but once I saw egg custard and sea urchin, I was sold.  This dish was an umami bomb!  From the bits of lobster, to the lobster broth incorporated in the egg custard, to the sea urchin, to the fluttering flakes of bonito – it was non-stop flavor.  Very very delicious – a ridiculously decadent incarnation of chawanmushi.  I high recommend this dish, if you are willing to part with preconceived notions of what a brunch dish should be.

North End Grill is a great additional to the Battery Park City/World Financial Center/Tribeca neighborhood.  I hope more people are willing to ‘trek’ down here to give it a try. 

North End Grill – 104 North End Avenue  New York, NY 10282

Tip: For families with children, they are very accommodating!

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Leisurely lunch at 15 East

15 East has a pretty good lunch deal.  $29 for a 3 course prix fixe.  On this visit, the first course was a choice of (1) home-made tofu served with ginger soy, (2) market greens with figs or (3) chilled summer corn soup.  Of course, I picked the corn soup – I love chilled soups and I love corn, really no other choice for me.  It was a very small portion, but the deliciousness more than makes up for the diminutive portion size, it was like eating corn off the cob in liquid form.

15 East – Chilled summer corn soup

Second course was a choice of (1) cold soba with shrimp tempura, (2) abalone risotto or (3) chef’s selection of sushi, 4 pieces and 1 roll.  All options sounded equally good, but today I was craving sushi.  I love that 15 East doesn’t dumb down the sushi selection and give tuna, salmon, etc.  Today, I got a negi toro roll, arctic char, snapper, yellowtail and scallop.  15 East has very high quality fish and a great selection.  Their sushi rice is quite good, I can’t say it’s as good as Sushi Yasuda but it is better than most places in the city.

15 East – Chef’s selection of sushi and roll

And I can’t leave 15 East without a few pieces of uni… 15 East had 4 types of uni on the menu today, from Chile, Santa Barbara, Hokkaido and Kyushu.  The uni pictured on the left is from Kyushu and the more orange-y one on the right is from Hokkaido.  The Hokkaido uni is more creamy, but the Kyushu uni had the more intense ocean taste of the two.  Both = sooooo good!

15 East – Hokkaido uni ($12) and Kyushu uni ($14)

The final course – any dessert off the menu.  I had the Mineoka Tofu, a scoop of home-made milk tofu in kuromitsu syrup.  Yum!  (Not photographed as tofu generally looks like a giant white blob with my poor iPhone photography skills)

  • 15 East – 15 East 15th Street – 212.674.0015

 

Kevin’s Birthday Lunch at Marea

I have been so busy between work and school lately, this post is seriously overdue – this meal occurred on Monday, August 6.  Sorry for the delay, but now on to the food!

Marea, the crown jewel of Michael White’s dining empire, is one of my favorite restaurants in the city.  If you want fresh seafood (raw and cooked preparations), expertly prepared house-made pastas, a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere and gracious service, this is THE place to be.

I’ve been for dinner on several occasions and my plan of attack for a table of two usually goes something like this:

  • Ricci (sea urchin, lardo, sea salt)
  • A selection of 3 – 4 crudo – they are all delicious, but I especially like the razor clams, parrotfish, and deep water snapper
  • Two appetizers: Astice (nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant, basil) and one other appetizer
  • Two pastas: Fusilli (red wine braised octopus, bone marrow) and one other pasta

If it is a table of four, we usually add two fish entrees or a large salt baked branzino to share.

I had the pleasure of taking a day off with my husband last Monday and decided Marea was the place to go for his birthday lunch. Marea offers a business lunch option for $45, which includes a primo and secondo.  Let’s get to the good stuff.

marea menu

Our appetizer choices:

marea soup

marea sardine

Sardina (seared mediterranean sardine, cured lamb’s tongue, frisee, salsa verde) – Kevin’s appetizer pick, I had a bit of the sardine and it was great!  Not fishy at all and cooked perfectly.

Zuppa (watermelon soup, heirloom tomatoes, surf clams, crispy shallots) – it was a hot day and a chilled watermelon soup seemed like the ideal option.  I’m not sure how much longer this dish will be on the menu as summer is ending soon, but this soup is soooo good – very refreshing, not too sweet and a perfect summer appetizer.

Our mains:

marea pasta

Fusilli (red wine braised octopus, bone marrow) and Spaghetti (fresh cut semolina pasta, crab, santa barbara sea urchin, basil)

We didn’t want to fight over who got which pasta so we decided to order both and ask the waiters to split it up, which ended up working out very well.  Both pastas are wonderful, however, since the fusilli has bone marrow in it, it is a very rich dish, maybe too rich for a hot summer day, so getting half of that, along with half of a lighter pasta was a good idea.  The fusilli is one of my most favorite pasta dishes, the octopus is super tender, the sauce along with the bone marrow coats your mouth in the most wonderful way and the pasta… perfectly cooked.  The spaghetti is fantastic too, the sea urchin gives it a wonderfully briny taste of the ocean and the fresh sweetness of the crab is the perfect foil to that taste sensation.  I was so satisfied after the two pastas, I didn’t even need dessert!

To end the meal, some petit fours:

marea petit four

Blackberry pate de fruit, salted caramel ganache, apricot mini tart… what a great way to end the meal!