Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Rest of Restaurant Week

With a busy work week my blog updates suffered - here is a recap of the rest of the restaurants we visited during Restaurant Week.

I'll quickly cover the places we visited that we didn't love.

Tuesday Jan 29th AJ Maxwell's

It is a nice steakhouse in Rockefeller Center with prices that are aimed at the business community paying on expense account. The service was distracted (our plates were mixed up every course) and the Restaurant Week menu choices were not from the regular menu. We both started with a salad that was pretty tasty. For dinner Michael had a steak and I had the shrimp and asparagus risotto. The risotto was either cooked incorrectly or had a spice that was new to my taste buds - it didn't taste exactly right. It wasn't bad, but just wasn't like any other risotto I've had before. Michael had cheesecake for dessert and I had the bread pudding. Both were fine, but nothing to make us go back.

I guess that was our only 'clunker' meal - and we definitely had worse the first time we did Restaurant Week.

Now for the good stuff.

Friday Jan. 25th Thalassa

Thalassa is a Greek seafood restaurant that is straight from a Greek Isle. The service is fabulous, very professional and attentive. The ambiance is very cool, tons of candles and fabric that makes you think there are tons of windows when it's really just brick wall. The food is well prepared and the Restaurant Week selections were offered on the main menu. They start you off with a slice of bread and four small bowls of dippers to go with your bread: olive oil, hummus, fava bean spread, and Greek olives. The olive oil had an amazing flavor, smooth and no tang that you can get in less expensive oil. We both started with the lobster bisque, it was different than other lobster bisques I've had before, but it was very rich and delicious. We added an appetizer (yes, suckered in to the up sell) and shared some grilled calamari slices that were wrapped around a soft cheese and pine nuts. Absolutely delicious - and low carb! We both had fish that was simply prepared for dinner. Probably the healthiest meal we had during Restaurant Week. And we both ended with a traditional Greek walnut cake soaked in honey. It was gooey and sweet. Thalassa was the first restaurant we ever visited during Restaurant Week. At the time we weren't that impressed - we didn't know how good we had it until we went to some places that just don't put out the effort to bring you back as a regular customer. (And for those of you who watch 'What Not to Wear' their studio is near the restaurant, because when they go back to the studio all put together you can see the sign for Thalassa.)

Monday Jan 28th - Beacon

Another steakhouse of sorts, but they boast a wood fired oven and offer several wood fired specialties. Their regular menu prices were really expensive! It was good food, but definitely not worth the regular menu prices, but we got a great deal during Restaurant Week. Again we both started with salads, they were fine. For dinner I had a really well cooked and juicy chicken in a brown sauce with mushrooms. Michael had a wood fired salmon filet. I had sorbet for dessert (mango, blood orange, and a divine coconut). I'm not sure what Michael had, but I do remember he ate it really fast - so it must have been tasty. The decor was Craftsman inspired, reminding me of the Napa Rose in Disney California Adventure. Unfortunately the service was terribly slow. The people at the table next to us waited 20 minutes for their check, we learned and made sure to request the check when they cleared our dessert dishes and we had payment ready as soon as the check hit the table. I was eating my salad and the fork felt very familiar, I looked at the pattern and the name on the back and it was a match to our flatware at home. I'm missing 3 dinner forks, I was a little tempted but rest assured I did not leave with any extras in my purse.

Wed Jan 30th Smith and Wollensky

Every Restaurant Week we enjoy lunch at Smith and Wollensky. It is conveniently located across from Michael's office and they offer a great value. Their dinner and lunch menu have the same offerings, and lunch is less expensive so we take advantage of the lower price. We were pleasantly surprised with the menu this time. The appetizer choices now include a crab cake and the main course still had our favorite - the filet mignon. We both started with the crab cake, it was a mostly crab with some filler. It was a very large portion and sat on top of a white (maybe remoulade) sauce. It wasn't the best crab cake either of us has had, but it certainly wasn't the worst and it was much better than the salad or soup of the day. Our filets were cooked to perfection and absolutely delicious. We added a side of creamed spinach - it's a bowl of green creamy goodness. By the time dessert rolled around we were stuffed, so we took our desserts to go and ate them after dinner. I had the pecan pie and Michael the cheesecake. One of the people eating next to us ordered off of the Restaurant Week menu, but he chose the salad and the burger. For the same price we had a crab cake and filet mignon - just something to think about.

Thurs Jan 31st Lure Fishbar

Lure is one of our favorites. We found it during our very first Restaurant Week and have been going back for the last year. They offer fresh seafood in a very cool setting. The inside of the restaurant looks like the inside of a large private yacht (from what I've seen on TV anyway - not like I'm cruising around in large private yachts everyday). They offer items from their regular menu and the normal prices are on the higher side so it's a great deal during Restaurant Week. I started with the shrimp tempura. It was served with the shrimp cut in to large pieces in a light tempura batter, topped with a spicy dipping sauce and black sesame seeds. I love how much flavor the tiny sesame seed adds to a dish. The shrimp were sweet and delicious and all of the elements of the dish worked together really well. Michael had his favorite, the salmon tar tare. He was pleased. For dinner he had fish and I had the sushi combo - 8 pieces of sushi and your choice of rolls (from a pre-determined list). My roll was salmon and avocado. My sushi was delicious; I really enjoyed everything on the plate. Michael's fish wasn't amazing, but he was happy and I shared some sushi (well just 2 pieces). For dessert I had a nice lemon tart and Michael had a warm apple cobbler. We left dinner full and happy. We had a great table kind of in the back of the restaurant and it was relatively quiet. Towards the end of our meal a group of 8 women were seated next to us, they were celebrating a birthday. Needless to say the noise level increased dramatically and we were glad it was time for the check.

And last but not least...

Friday Feb 1st T-Bar Steak and Lounge

T-Bar is a new restaurant in our neighborhood. Again the Restaurant Week menu selections were from the main menu and they were definitely a great value. I started with the Caesar salad and Michael had steak tar tare. My salad was great, I would have loved a tableside presentation and maybe a dressing that was a little less creamy, but the flavor was very good. Michael really enjoyed the steak tar tare - he even dared to put it on the same level as craftsteak! For dinner we both ordered the filet with a side of mashed potatoes. The filet was a perfect 6oz portion and cooked exactly as ordered. The outside was charred from the grill and the inside was tender and juicy. The staff was friendly and the decor was very hip. The dessert options weren't great; we both chose the cookies and out came two plates with chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, and biscotti. We took most of them home and I just finished off the last of them today. The front desk keeps an eye on the table and our coats were waiting for us when we walked up to the door. It is those small touches that really make a difference. I'm sure we'll be going back soon!

So now that the jeans are tight again we are headed back to the gym and looking forward to some salads for dinner.