Restaurant Review: Brunch at The Smith

THE SMITH
956 Second Ave (at 50th Street)
The Smith has been my favorite NYC restaurant ever since my first experience a couple of years ago in the East Village location. Every time I bring up this restaurant, Jamie shakes his head and says, “you love that place.” He doesn’t seem to understand, but luckily everyone else who has been there gets where I’m coming from.When they opened the Midtown East location, I simply couldn’t stay away. Weekend visitors gave me the perfect excuse to drag Jamie & company out for an exquisite brunch on Saturday.
The Midtown location is significantly easier to get a table on the weekends. I still always reserve with Open Table, but it’s notably less crowded, regardless.
We settled in, and were given the complementary bottles of flat and sparkling water, and sourdough bread. The boys ordered coffee while the girls chose Bloody Marys. Their Bloody Mary is good. Nothing exciting or eccentric about it, but it never disappoints. Entree choices were as follows:
Mushroom Omelet: wild mushrooms, herbs, fontina, home fries

 

Chicken Sausage + Eggs: spicy corn bread, gravy, home fries
Croaker: smoked ham, gruyere cheese, sourdough rye, sunny up eggs
Potato waffle Benedict: spinach, caramelized onion

I ordered the potato waffle benedict – as I do every time I come here. They cook potato pancakes in a waffle iron, and top it off with poached eggs and a spinach/onion mixture. It’s a little over the top, and a lot delicious. Next time I’ve promised myself I will switch from my norm and order the chicken sausage. I also recommend the grits. They add jalepeno and the result is outstanding. I think the photos speak for themselves, if you’re looking for a hearty, comfort-food brunch, The Smith is a good go-to.

Restaurant Review: Lasagna Ristorante

As Alycia and I prepare to embark on a BluePrint Cleanse starting tomorrow (her second, and my first), I am sitting here in the early hours of Monday morning day-dreaming about carbs. Yummy yummy bread with cheese, or Thai noodles, anything starchy and filling to warm up this cold, cold morning. The mixed fruit I ate for breakfast is already long forgotten, and my mind is falling on the incredible lasagna I had with Alycia a few weeks back. And then I remembered that I never did write up my review of that deliciously layered goodness. So without further ado…

Lasagna Ristorante

941 2nd Ave, New York 10022 (At 50th St)
 
Ever since switching jobs a few months back, I have been walking home up Second Avenue from Midtown East to the Upper East Side, and passing Lasagna every day. The restaurant is warm and inviting with an open front leading to outdoor seating, under an awning that wraps around the corner property. I am always jealous of the people sitting down to delicious pasta as I pass by on my way to the gym. Blech. So when Alycia and I decided we needed another foodie outing, the Garfield in me suggested this spot.
 

We started off healthy with a gorgeous Arugula Salad with goat cheese, crostini, roasted pepper, and balsamic vinaigrette, accompanied by the complimentary garlic bread that is all the rave on Yelp

 
 
With 17 different kinds of lasagna to choose from, accompanied by a menu of other Italian favorites, choosing an entree was no easy task. I landed on the lasagna with hearts of artichoke and capers in pink sauce, and aLYCIA CHOSE THE lasagna primavera which had zucchini, yellow, squash, red and green pepper, broccoli, mushroom and carrots. 
lasagna with hearts of artichoke

The portions were enormous and more than satisfying. I’m not a lasagna connoisseur, but what came out was exactly what I had been craving. The artichokes an capers added a nice zing to the traditional dish, and Alycia’s primavera was to die for – I think it was the red peppers that did it for me. If I were to go back, I would probably order the primavera (and I will be returning!). Prices were reasonable, and we left full and happy.

Restaurant Review – A Voce

Right after returning from Europe, my boyfriend and I received a dinner invitation from his uncle and aunt. I love going out with them in the city – they are delightful to be around and definitely have their fingers on the pulse of great food in Manhattan. I broaden my horizon every time we go out with them. This occasion was no different. The spot? A Voce in Flatiron.
The restaurant itself was absolutely beautiful. The lighting is well orchestrated, and the back wall is lined with these wooden structures that I really loved. I wish I had snapped a picture. We sat at a table in the middle of the room, which had these excellent leather swivel chairs. I felt like I was in an executive meeting, but they were very comfortable and somehow fit. The service was a well-choreographed dance – at times it seemed like we each had a personal server.
The Menu
We began with three shared plates:
·         Ricotta: cows milk ricotta, extra virgin olive oil, mint, thyme, chilies – the cheese was rich and creamy perfection.
·         Funghi Al Forno: roasted trumpet royal mushrooms, fonduta, truffle, hazelnuts – The mushrooms almost tasted like meat. I can’t find the right words to describe it – they were smokey and delicious and the truffles were the perfect accessory.
·         Terrina Di Polpo: thinly sliced octopus, cerignola olives, citrus – The presentation of this dish was unique, the thin slices were in one uniform layer on a clear dish. I was embarrassed to announce my new food-blogging hobby, so I did not take any pictures until the end of the meal when my boyfriend announced it for me!  I wish I could have snapped a shot of this dish.
After the appetizers we shared some first-course pastas:
Casunziei: spinach and sweetbread filled pasta, fennel, pecorino, garlic – This was my first experience with sweetbreads, which are certain organs that usually come from a calf or lamb (according to Wikipedia the actual animal and part vary). I am glad I tried this dish, I absolutely loved the sweetbread. It was creamy and crispy on the outside.
We had another filled pasta that had sausage and goat cheese, but it’s not on the regular menu and I cannot remember the specifics. Anything with goat cheese gets an A in my book.
For my entrée I had the Branzino:grilled mediterranean sea bass, baby bulb onions, yukon gold potatoes, clams, bagnet vert, which was flavorful to say the least. Here is the only photo I took at dinner, Branzino:
With our entrees we also had sides of kale and polenta, which were perfect.
Have you been to A Voce? What did you think?