Showing posts with label Soho. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soho. Show all posts


Spiffed Up Comfort Food With A Side of Surprise

Walking around the now swankified triangle of Lafayette St, Kenmare St. and Cleveland Place in Soho on a warm but crisp September evening, the dinner choices are endless, especially if you want a restaurant with windows wide open and tables spilling onto the sidewalk. It's cool, yet classy--the place to see and be seen, but also to chill and enjoy quality food. The vibe remains the same however if you walk a few blocks east on Kenmare to the relatively new American joint Ken & Cook.

Helmed by executive chef Richard Diamonte and partner Artan Gjoni (both veterans of Jean Georges’), Ken & Cook offers a simple menu of spiffed up comfort foods with fresh ingredients, all rounded out with a raw bar and a few surprises. Last week I was invited in for dinner with a couple of blogger friends (Laura and David) and we had a great time.

Walking inside, you instantly notice the simple, yet vast bar, lit up from behind and made from what seem to be metal pipes. The ceilings are pressed tin, the walls painted original brick, and the banquettes vintage leather. The dining room isn't large, but big enough, with a few more private booths in the back. The service was wonderful from start to finish. Our waiter kept coming by to check on us and was happy to make recommendations (although he pretty much recommended 85% of the menu).

Although the cocktail menu looked amazing, it was a wine kind of night for me. I ordered the Pino Noir they had by the glass, and it was a great compliment to my meal. For starters, we ordered the beet salad with avocado, radish, and cress ($14), the squid salad with yogurt, mint, and chili ($15), and the beef tartar with egg and toast ($16). The beet salad was the kind of dish which really let the ingredients shine. The beets were well balanced with the different color radishes (that I originally mistook for tomatoes) and I pretty much love anything with avocado. The squid salad was delicious as well and very flavorful. Having never tried beef tartar before, I was a little timid, but it was tasty. I'm sure it was how it was supposed to be, but I couldn't get past the texture, and only had one bite.

Beet Salad

Squid Salad

Beef Tartar

For entrees, I chose from their wide variety of seafood and ordered the Monkfish with Romesco sauce, fennel, and thyme ($26). I love Romesco sauce, but my only criticism of the dish is that it took up most of the plate and looked a little bit like an uncooked pancake. Do people actually eat that much sauce? Otherwise, the fish was wonderful. Perfectly cooked, moist with a crisp shell, and the fennel complemented the other flavors well. I'm not sure what spice was sprinkled around the edge of the plate, but it was tasty also.


Laura ordered the fried chicken ($19), what the owner told us was coming to be know as a cult favorite, and I believe him. Honestly, I kind of wish I'd ordered this, if only for the homemade biscuits and honey. The way to my heart is definitely through a warm buttermilk biscuit. The chicken was no sidekick though. It was super crisp on the outside, but filled with flavor and the chicken meat was super moist.

Fried Chicken

David continued his carnivorous meal with the NY Strip Steak ($39). Served with rosemary and thin cut fries, this was as flavorful a piece of steak as I've ever tasted. It looked a little lonely on the plate and steak can often be cooked poorly at non-steak houses so I was a little weary, but one bite and I knew that someone in the kitchen knew what he/she was doing.

NY Strip Steak

We were all pretty full by this point, but really wanted to sample some of the desserts. We decided upon the Apple Pie ($8) and the Peach Cobbler ($8) both with vanilla ice cream. David commented that he liked how the apples were thin cut in the pie and I have to agree with him--makes it easier to eat. The crust on both (I'm guessing it was made from the same dough) was perfectly buttery an not too sweet. The advantage of the cobbler was that it was in a little metal dish and hence stayed warm longer. However, the apple pie was probably bigger, so depending on what you're going for...or you could always order both.

Apple Pie

Peach Cobbler

The bar scene definitely started to get more crowded when we left around 9:30 (this was on a Wednesday), and a little birdie told me that the new downstairs lounge Lil' Charlies' opened last week for dancing and general debauchery (we snuck a peak of mug shots on the wall and lots of red light beaming up).

Ken & Cook on Urbanspoon


Not Your Typical Deli

Summer is a time for exotic revelry, but every so often I just crave simple comforts. After being invited to the Summer in Soho event at Delicatessen, I knew I was in for a slice of both. 

Especially in NYC, when you hear the word deli, you think of warm pastrami, matzah ball soup and perhaps some Dr. Brown's cream sodas. If you're in the mood for some of that, I'd say hit up Katz's, however, if you'd like a bit more ooh-la-la to your outing, I'd highly recommend Delicatessen on Prince and Lafayette in Nolita. The event I attended featured selected items from the new menu courtesy of Executive Chef Michael Ferraro and Pastry Chef Kate Cowan.

The party was held in both of Delicatessen's private party rooms -- The Courtyard, with it's awesome glass ceiling we watched the sunset through, and The Minibar, a dark cavernous, yet sexy space with, well, a bar. It was in the Minibar I was poured the signature drink of the night. The Tilly as they called it was my kind of summer drink -- muddled strawberry and lime shaken with Satisfaction vodka and pomegranate juice. I loved how the sweetness and tang melded together. And what a pretty color!

The Tilly
Looking up from The Courtyard
View of The Courtyard
The food was WAY better than standard deli fare. My favorites included the Flash Fried Tuna Avocado Rolls, which were just crispy enough for some nice texture but the smoothness of the tuna and avocado still came through, and the Tomato and Mozzarella Salad. The latter was definitely not your go-to caprese, rather the cheese was fried with tempura and the tomatoes were marinated. I could have had an unlimited amount of those puppies. Other delicious bites included the Smoked Chicken Tacos, Pork Mole Tacos and Sweet Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Flash Fried Tuna and Avocado Rolls
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Sweet Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Smoked Chicken Taco
Dessert was a whole other wonderful experience. Three words: Maple Bacon Beignets. Three more words: Bourbon Creme Anglaise. I seriously could have eaten a whole tray of these, but they were in such high demand that I only managed to snag two. Good thing the two other dessert were just as much fun. I was weary of the Chocolate Layer Cake because they always look so good but taste so dry. This version was super moist and the frosting was not overly sticky sweet. The fresh berries on top were also a nice touch. The other clever dessert was a cheesecake lollipop coated in chocolate - yum!

Maple Bacon Beignets
Chocolate Layer Cakes
Cheesecake Lollipop
Besides bumping into friends, my favorite part of this event was finding out about a cool venue with some very unique food. I will definitely be back for some trendy comfort sometime very soon!


Thirsty anyone?

New York is known for some awesome pieces of public art that can be intriguing, confusing, beautiful and thought-provoking. Who ever thought public art could be both spontaneous and functional? 

I saw this the other day on Spring Street near the intersection of Thompson Street and I just thought I'd share. There was something about the way the water was arching out from the hydrant to the street and the way the light was hitting it that caught me. Anyone ever seen something like this before?