I thought I'd start off with a month in review for January. I have been very busy getting my food and drink on in an attempt to pass the winter nights. Here's our latest adventures:
1) Dressler- South Side Williamsburg, Brooklyn-
By far one of my favorite restaurants in the city right now. This was my third trip to Dressler, and I am head-over-heels for their food. The atmosphere is romantic and upscale, but still retains a casual neighborhood-vibe. The prices are great given the fact that the restaurant sports a michelin star, and the food can't be beat!
I love the raviolini appetizer stuffed with butternut squash. The dish is savory and satisfying, featuring the flavors of sage, parmesan, and mushroom. For my entree, I had the chicken, which is served with dumplings and swiss chard. My husband likes the short rib & hanger steak, which features two cuts of meat on one plate. The food really plays to the flavor of umami: savory, salty, and buttery. Everything is well seasoned and full-flavored.
My only complaint, after three visits, is the service is considerably less than sparkling. We have had delayed entrees, long gaps between service for dinner and dessert, and the staff definitely could take some notes from their peers at Union Square Cafe or Cru. But, the food is too good to stay away, and the price is soooo right for the quality. I'll be back!
2- Cru- 5th Avenue and 9th street
For Ryan's birthday, we thought we would try Cru, a well-known wino's heaven. The wine lists are bible-sized leather binders, one for white and one for red, and really fun to try and taste from. We really liked a glass of the barolo ($35) and enjoyed the sommelier's wine pairings for our meal. The bar is right in the front, and is quite dark. I was surprised by how well lit the dining room was. I definitely liked the vibe at the bar better- more intimate and less formal. The prix-fixe menu in the dining room starts at $78 for three courses, and we paired it with wine. I had a similar appetizer to the Dressler butternut ravioli, but featured some foam on top that actually tasted really good. Ry opted to try the extravagant black truffle pappardelle, which came with an entire black truffle sliced on top. No complaints there, and worth every penny of the supplement. If you like truffle, this is not to be missed.
Our entrees were a bit disappointing, but I think that is partly in comparison to how much we loved the wine and appetizers. Ry had the veal and I tried a beef entree that was paired with marrow. (Tried a similar dish at Landmarc- the marrow has a buttery flavor that is really awesome). Ry's veal came with some sweetbreads that we both bravely tasted. I actually really liked it- sort of like a gourmet chicken finger, lol. Desserts were good, I opted for a cheese plate, and ry had 2 desserts (one on the house- they also offer a free amuse bouche course...)
Unlike Dressler, the service was top notch and we walked out feeling like we had a truly special meal. I don't know if I'll splurge again for the dining room (but it was well worth it for a one-night-only blow out), but I'll be back at the bar sampling the wines for sure!
3) Planet Thai- williamsburg, N. 7th street- this is an old joint we used to frequent a lot when we first moved here 5 years ago. We haven't been in a year or two, and thought we'd take some friends. I was shocked at how dingy the place seemed these days- nasty bathrooms, poor service, and mediocre food. I think it might be time for a reinvention of this early 'burg spot. Never again.
4) Motorino- Williamsburg- Graham & Devoe Street- One of my new favorite local spots- inexpensive and delicious, and great for any night of the week. I really like the soppresseta pizza, the arugula, fig, and blue cheese salad, and OMG the tiramisu is amazing. Check this place out! See ya next week.
5) 10 Downing- 6th avenue and downing street- cute, but not my favorite. Every item on the menu seems to involve a mystery ingredient- thank god for top chef. I had a sunchoke soup and my entree was... forgettable, seeing as I don't remember what I had, lol. Ry tried the arctic char, everything was very clean and light flavors- which admittedly is not our palate. I bet this place will be mobbed come warm weather with its prime locale. Oh wait! I remember. It was the cacio e pepe. Solid, but nothing special. For the tab, go to Dressler or 5 ninth!! Probably not, maybe for drinks or a summer lunch?
5 Ninth has been on my list of must-tries for at least 2 years. The atmosphere is incredible, in a "bare" townhouse. Very dark and incredibly romantic, try to get a seat by the candle-filled faux fireplace or right by the windows on 9th ave. I hear there is a fantastic garden in summer, too. We skipped the restaurant week menu and opted for the regular one- we split an awesome appetizer of a mushroom gnocchi with parmesan, which was super! For my entree I tried the filet mignon, and Ry had the braised lamb. We were both really happy with our meals and too stuffed for dessert. The service was nice, and overall we had a great meal. We'll be back.