Tag Archives: Upper East Side

If You Wanna Be My Lobster

We all have our little litmus tests, ya know, to see if someone is worth the time and effort.   And mine just happens to be a family tradition.  You want to date one of us?  It’s rather simple.  To be my lobster, you have to eat a lobster.  And not just eat it, I mean really eat it.  If you can’t destroy a lobster, the future our relationship is questionable.  Is this shallow? No, it’s actually the opposite.  Eating lobster is about three things that are anything but shallow…hard work, pride and happiness.

Eating a lobster is totally hard work.  Sure, you can order a lobster out of the shell, but that’s just lazy.  The real way to eat a lobster is to have it served as its cooked and crack that shell one claw at a time.  Eating a lobster is seriously messy, if you eat it correctly.  And you have to be confident to get food all over your face when you eat.  Now, that’s the kind of pride I’m talking about.  And obviously this leads to happiness because delicious is a synonym for happy, or at least it is in my dictionary.

So where’s my favorite place to eat a lobster?  If you thought I was going to say Centro Vasco, think again.  I have another place up my sleeve that isn’t totally obvious.  Malaga is a small Spanish restaurant on the Upper East Side with great lobster and an unassuming atmosphere.  You know this is a place you can get a little messy.  Whether it’s broiled or steamed, this lobster is out of this world! Or should I say lobsters. Why order one when you can order two? That’s right, this Bite-Sized Blonde orders two lobsters, 1 ¼ pounds each, and I eat each and every morsel.  The lobster is always perfectly cooked, resulting in sweet and succulent meat.  Now that’s what I’m talking about it.

The lobster also comes with a salad covered in homemade house dressing, critical to the Malaga experience.  And you can’t forget the sides.  My choice, of course, is the homemade potato chips and broccoli in garlic.  Seriously yummy accessories to a great meal.

Speaking of accessories, lobster and sangria go hand in hand.  I mean, is there even another beverage option when it comes to eating lobster other than sangria? I don’t think so.  Malaga makes sweet sangria.  They also have live music on Sundays from 6:30 – 9:30.  Does it really get any better than this?

406 East 73 Street (1st Ave)
New York, NY

It’s Not Me, It’s You

As a single girl in the City, I’ve not only grown accustomed to dating, I’ve developed a taste for it.  What can I say? I love to date.  Of course, not every date is dazzling or disastrous.  Some dates are O.K. and the same can be said of restaurants.  Case in point, Cascabel Taqueria.

I have to admit, I was really excited about Cascabel.  My trusted sources at Immaculate Infatuation rated it an 8 out of 10…that is until last week.  They revisited the restaurant and revisited their opinion and determined that an 8 was too high.  Cascabel now has a 5.7.  After my recent visit, I understand the rating, neither high nor low.

Cascabel is an eccentric little taqueria on the Upper East Side, and what I thought was the perfect location for a night out with great friends.  Although they don’t take reservations, we were seated right away.  I heard about their tequila snow cones before I got there, so we ordered a round of cones for the table to get the night started.  Obviously.  While they were tasty, the snow cones weren’t cones at all.  They were shaved ice in a glass with tequila.  So, basically they were extra frozen margaritas.  There are a few things I never joke about, tequila included.   So, this was a disappointment.  Not enough to ruin a night with great friends.  After all, it’s not like they were trying to serve us bad tequila.  Now that would be a deal breaker.

We started with guacamole.  Each chip was one large tortilla, which I thought was awesome, a little hard to eat, but awesome nonetheless.  The avocados were so fresh but the guacamole was overly salted.   I felt myself bloating by the bite.

We ordered 4 different kinds of tacos to share – pescado, camaron, pollo chipotle, and carne asada.  For those of you who don’t remember your high school Spanish, here’s a little cheat sheet: pescado – fish; camaron – shrimp; pollo – chicken; carne – meat.  The pescado taco was filled with crispy yellowfin tuna belly, hearts of palm, olive and onion.  I took one bite of this taco and had to put it down.  I have an allergy to spicy food, and guess what was in this taco? Chiles.  A chile is typically one of those ingredients that is listed on a menu, or at least a dish with a chile is indicated as **hot**.  With no indication, there’s no stopping me.  Unhappy with the first taco, I moved onto the second: the camaron taco.  The camaron taco had roasted shrimp, fresh oregano, garlic, chili oil and black beans.   There were a lot of beans in this taco, maybe even more beans that shrimp.  Not what I was expecting, but not bad.  The pollo chipotle taco had amish chicken, avocado, green onion and chicken chicharron.  This taco was one of the better tacos we had. The chicken was packed with flavor.  The taco was one texture though.  It definitely could have benefitted from a little crunch.  The carne asada taco was my favorite, filled with grilled hanger steak, oyster mushrooms, house cream and crispy onions.  The steak was tender and satisfying.

Onto the sides…grilled corn and quinoa.  The grilled corn, which was covered in Mexican aioli, lime, and queso cotija, was sweet and creamy.  I love the taste of the grill, especially on corn.  And how could adding cheese be anything but great? Warning!! This is a “leave your manners at the door” dish, because there is no polite way to eat this corn.  Just try not to smile right away.

You know I love quinoa, but there was nothing exciting about Cascabel’s quinoa.  Mixed with a little queso cotija and cilantro, it was rather boring.  Not bad, just boring.

Just like the tequila snow cones, the churros were not what I was expecting.  Rather than churros sticks, we were served churros nuggets.  Three nuggets to be precise.  There were four of us at the table.  The worst offense though, was that they weren’t fresh.

A little tequila goes a long way, especially when it’s good tequila.  And good tequila I had indeed.  The watermelon margarita was sweet, tangy and refreshing.  Good drinks and great company was enough to make this a great night.  But the food left a little something to be desired, just like an O.K. date.

Sorry Cascabel, you seem great, you really do.  But I’m looking for something casual with you.  Ya know, every once in a while.  We can see each other, I’m just not ready to commit to you.

A Little Taste of Tokyo

When you think about going out for Japanese food, you think about sushi, right? Maybe hibachi, but usually not.  Did you know there is another kind of Japanese restaurant altogether?  No, it’s not a hybrid, like a maltipoo.  It’s an entirely different breed.  Yakitori literally means grilled bird in Japanese.  So, a Yakitori restaurant is, you guessed it, place to get several courses of grilled chicken on skewers. Yakitori restaurants can be found all over Japan, or so I’m told.  This Bite-Sized Blonde hasn’t been to Japan yet…one day, one day.   Until then, I’ll just travel a few blocks north to have a little taste of Tokyo.

Yakitori Tori Shin is located on the Upper East Side.  Tori Shin means true chicken.  The restaurant was so named because of their mission to promote the most authentic Tokyo style yakitori experience with the highest quality ingredients.  The restaurant cooks organic chicken on charcoal grills for a unique flavor.  This small restaurant offers 40 different chicken skewers, and lots of veggies too.  For the timid diner, Tori Shin offers “regular” skewers of breast meat and wings.  But, for those a little more adventurous, they offer gizzards, hearts, and livers!  I have a few adventurous bones in my body, so I decided to go with the Omakase, otherwise known as the Chef’s Choice!  The omakase came with pickled vegetables, grated daikon, 6 kinds of meat, 2 kinds of vegetables, a rice dish and dessert.

We started with edamame.  Nothing like a little taste of the familiar to calm your nerves.  The edamame was kept on the branch, which makes for a beautiful presentation.  It is prepared on the grill so it absorbs the smoky flavor. These edadmame were awesome!

The Shitake Mushrooms were delicious, as they always are.  They have a very distinct, woodsy flavor.

The Corn was so sweet.  I love grilled corn.  Other than my corn salad, it is my favorite way to prepare corn.  This did not disappoint!

The Shishitou Peppers rocked.  These tiny peppers are usually mild, but every now and again, you will get a hot one.  The anticipation will drive you wild, and you know how this BSB likes to be kept on her toes.

The Chicken with Scallion skewers were one of my favorites.  The grilled scallions take on a sweet note, and the chicken is smoky from the grill.

The Quail Eggs were so unusual.   Not because they are quail.  Quail eggs taste just like chicken eggs.  But because they were grilled in their shells, they absorb that great charcoal flavor.  These are a must-order!

Neck.  I know what you are thinking.  No way Jose.  But, I have to tell you, it was mighty fine.  The neck tastes like any other part of the chicken.  If you don’t know it’s neck, you would never guess it.  Ignorance is bliss people! Ignorance is bliss.

The Dark Breast Meat was good.  It tasted like many of the rest of the dishes.  Because there were so many interesting dishes to try, this may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

The Meatballs were tender, the wings were flavorful, and the zucchini was sweet and mild.  It’s all about the grill at Tori Shin and they really know how to use it.

The Special rice dish is something I could have lived without.  Not only was I full by the time we got this, but it was soupy.

The extensive Sake list should be noted.  Not a sake expert? Don’t worry, they are at Tori Shin.  Another noteworth attribute: most of the seating is at the chef’s counter, so you get to see a show while you eat! You know how much this BSB loves that.

Need a little more vacation time this summer?  Head up to Yakitori Tori Shin for a little taste of Tokyo. It’s a vacation for your belly!

Yakitori Tori Shin
1193 First Ave
New York, NY

It’s All Hood Baby, Baby

This Bite-Sized Blonde is an Uptown Girl – born and raised.  Okay, well not really, well really not at all.  But I’ve been on the Upper East Side for ten formative years now, so that’s got to count for something, right?   While, the UES isn’t exactly known as the coolest culinary community, it isn’t exactly lacking either.

Case in point, Felice Wine Bar.  The deliciously inclined folks at St. Ambroeus and Casa Lever have another great restaurant in their family.  Felice is conveniently located, for me, on the Upper East Side.  The location brought me in, but the food and the service keep me coming back again and again, literally.  I’ve been known to frequent Felice several times in a week, just ask Jake, the manager.  Embarrassed or proud? I’ll stick with the latter.

The restaurant has about 20 tables, both inside and out, plus one, big communal table.  They also have seating at the bar, which is a great alternative if there are no tables available when you get there.  Since they only take reservations if you’re a party of six or more, it’s a sad possibility.

I have made my way through most of the menu, so I’ll share a few of my favorites and most recent orders.   Many of the pastas are homemade – but my favorite is the simplest one on the menu: Fresca Di Campagna – penne pasta with plum tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella.  The pasta has a nice bite and the tomato sauce is so simple you can taste the integrity of the tomatoes.   The combination of sweet sauce and fresh basil is intoxicating.  This is far from your mom’s spaghetti sauce, unless of course your mom is the chef at Felice.

Burrata is hands-down one of the best cheeses, ever. It’s flavorful and mellow all at the same time.  It is not always on the menu, but if you happen to be lucky enough to get burrata on the specials menu for the night, order it.  Burrata with prosciutto was a recent special that I could not pass up.  This dish starts with  salty prosciutto which sits on a bed of spicy arugula.  It’s topped with the creamy burrata and then drizzled with the most sinful olive oil.  The combination is expected but nothing else is.  The olive oil accents the delicate cheese perfectly and the salty prosciutto and clean and crisp arugula come together like beautiful Italian poetry. You don’t have to speak Italian to understand this cultural lovefest.

Branzino is a great fish.   It’s like a signature Louis Vuitton bag; it’s neutral and something that everyone likes.  The Branzino alla Griglia at Felice is perfect if you are in the mood for something light.  It is stuffed with herbs and then simply grilled to give the fish that great grill flavor.

Sometimes, you just need a piece of meat, and Felice is great for that too.  Their Tagliata di Manzo – grilled sliced sirloin – is a one of my favorites.  The meat is tender and flavorful, yet surprisingly light for red meat.  It is served over a bed of spicy arugula salad.  Add a drizzle of Felice’s olive oil and you are in business.

So, the next time you are on the Upper East Side make sure to stop by Felice.  Your stomach will thank you.

Felice Wine Bar
1166 First Ave (64th Street)
New York, NY