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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Visit from the Fam = A Visit to New Restaurants

This weekend, my very special and amazing parents came to visit me! When you move from Savannah, GA to NYC, a visit from your family is usually long awaited and always wonderful. We played all around the city (tip: the Lower East Side Tenement Museum is a great activity if you want to see just how different the hip section of town used to be), but of course, my favorite thing about New York is the FOOD.

On Friday night, Dave organized a true feast for my parents, La La, Uncle Skip, and Cousin Rachel (who all also came to visit). We went to Paul and Jimmy's, a family owned and operated Italian restaurant in Gramercy. Dave's family has been frequenting the establishment for 3 generations so he called in a favor. We started with bruschetta, followed by calamari and fried zucchini. After a pasta course, it was onto the main courses: chicken with sausage and peppers, veal with portobella mushrooms, shrimp, green beans and carrots, and potato puffs. We finished it off with 4 desserts, the best of which were the rum cake and tiramisu. The limoncelo was the perfect end to the meal. I was a little under the weather, but that definitely helped clear out my sinuses!

Saturday night was my chance to pick a new restaurant. There is always immense pressure when choosing a restaurant like this. After all, my parents expect big things coming all the way to the big city from small town Georgia! After careful consideration (and several attempts at making reservations for some of the restaurants on my list to no avail), I landed a reservation at The Orchard.

  • I was a little worried when we arrived to find the place empty, but that was clearly only because we made an early reservation. 15 minutes after we sat down, the place was packed.
  • The restaurant had a good wine and cocktail list. Restaurant goers note, they only serve 2 beers: Bass and Stella. Bottles only.
  • Flatbreads are a must to start. They reminded me of a French dish: tarte flambee. We ordered the artichoke & goat cheese and braised short rib. Both were delicious - the short rib melted on my tongue.
  • We also ordered the drunken goat cheese salad. Romain hearts with a goat cheese that was made with wine. The cheese had a firmer texture than expected and the salad was light and refreshing.
  • The main courses were huge. I (along with Dave and his Mom) ordered the lamb. Seared on the outside, rare on the inside - perfect. It was served with a creme-fraiche orzo that was smooth and rich - of course, I ate the whole thing. It was also served with a pepper jam that was a nice substitute for mint jelly. Sweet at first but spicy at the back of the throat.
  • I couldn't pass up a taste of my Daddy's duck. That almost sounded dirty. Ew. With that idea hopefully out of our heads, the dish was wonderful. I wasn't crazy about the apple-raisin risotto as I always prefer savory, but he loved it.
  • My Mom seemed to enjoy her sole and Dave's Dad looked like he was happy with his veal ragu (as was Dave, who ate 1/2).
  • We couldn't say no to dessert, so we decided to order 3: Dave picked a cheesecake. You'll have to ask him how it was as I'm not a cheesecake fan. Daddy chose a chocolate-covered ice cream ball that the waitress described as "fun" along with an excited hand gesture. Good, I'm sure, but I couldn't even look in that direction as it paled in comparison to the flourless chocolate cake I ordered. It was sinful.
  • The crowd was young - nary a soul over 30. It made me feel hip and trendy (even though we all know I'm not).
  • Overall, The Orchard was a good pick: relaxed atmosphere, solid food, great LES location.

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