Springtime in NYC

IMG_1858Between fundraisers, work events, and spending a weekend in NYC, I am so behind on my posts and trying out new recipes in general!  I plan to test out a few new ones today and also have a delicious lemon blueberry quinoa muffin recipe to share, but in the meantime, I thought I’d do a review of some of the amazing restaurants I got to check out in NYC last weekend.

One of my best friends from college lives in the city, and I try to plan a visit each year either around Christmastime or in the spring.  I lucked out with beautiful weather, which was perfect for walking around and exploring new parts of the city and new restaurants!  My friend Nikki always knows about the best places.

IMG_1854Up first was Blue Water Grill in Union Square for lunch.  If you love seafood, it’s a must.  (Stop by the farmer’s market on the way).  They have a great selection of sushi, sashimi, bites, and small & large plates.  I finally decided on a bloody Mary and the Main Lobster & Shrimp Roll with herbed mayonnaise, applewood bacon, celery, and waffle fries.  It was served on the most delicious buttered grilled bread.  As if the lobster roll wasn’t enough, I also had to try the Warm Toffee Cake with roasted brandy pineapple.  Both dishes were amazing!

IMG_1876After a great day of walking around (7+ miles), exploring Battery Park , and shopping, of course, we ended up at Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy Park for dinner.  I was craving a burger, and their Grass-fed Barn Burger did not disappoint.  It was served on a brioche bun with sautéed onions, bacon, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, and farmer’s fries.  And again, dessert was a must, especially after all of the calories I burned walking.  I opted for the Country S’mores, which was planks of banana chocolate chip bread with nutella erved with sides of warm chocolate ganache and toasted fluffy marshmallow.  If I wasn’t so full from my burger, I would have eaten all of it!

IMG_1882All of this fabulous eating continued on Sunday with brunch, which is a must in NYC.  Aside from the veggie burger I had on my journey home, this meal was probably my favorite of all. Cafe Clover is a great little spot in the West Village.  They have outdoor seating, which is always a plus in my book.  I’m so cooped up during the work week so I love any chance to be outside, especially at restaurants.  If you go, you HAVE to order the chickpea flour and sweet potato waffles!  They were served with orange butter (I love butter especially when it’s flavored) and a dark maple syrup.  This was my first time trying chickpea flour, and it’s a great gluten-free option or healthy alternative to regular flour.  They waffles were just the right balance of sweet and savory & crispy and fluffy with a hint of thyme.  Needless to say I cleaned my plate and am still dreaming about them . . .

IMG_1894Since I would be traveling home over dinner, my friend Nikki suggested picking up takeout from The City Bakery for the trip home.  The City Bakery is located on west 18th just near 5th Avenue.  They are known for their stellar hot chocolate among other yummy treats!  They have different hot and cold takeout options including a non-traditional salad bar, lots of baked goods, sandwiches, and snacks like mini rectangular pizzas.  At Nikki’s suggestion, I chose the Pumpkin Seed Burger, and it quickly became one of my top 3 favorite veggie burgers!  It’s a delicious combination of chickpeas, bulgur, and pumpkin seeds served on Moroccan flatbread with avocado, carrots, red onion, cilantro, and tomatillo sauce.  It’s a good size wrap, but I could have easily devoured the entire thing in under 5 minutes it was so good.  I definitely have to figure out how to recreate it at home!

IMG_1900Lastly, I’ve been wanting to check out one of Dominique Ansel’s bakeries to hop on the Cronut® bandwagon, but since the Dominique Ansel Kitchen was close by our brunch spot, we went their instead.  I had also heard how good his Brown Sugar DKA (“Dominique’s Kouign Amann”) is and decided to get one since the Cronut® is not available at this location (next visit).  According to the website, the DKA is “a smaller version of the traditional Breton pastry, which is similar to a caramelized croissant. A crispy, caramelized crust on the outside gives way to a flaky and tender crumb within. This version has a slight extra twist in that we use brown sugar, for a deeper, almost molasses-like flavor.”  I ate it once I was home, and it was so good, I wished I had bought about 10!

Aside from experiencing all of these wonderful dishes, I’m so glad  and grateful I was able to catch up with my one of my best friends and spend time in a great city.  I’m a beach girl at heart, but I actually missed NYC a little when I first got home and returned to the quietness of the Jersey shore.  That’ll change in a few weeks though with the arrival of warm weather, tourists, and the opening of local businesses.  Beach days are coming . . .  finally!!! Hope you get to check out some of these places on your next visit to New York!

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