This week's adventures included mostly newbies, and an oldie.
Amitha first mentioned All'onda to me a few weeks ago, and before reading anything else other than the menu, I know this was right up our alley: a pasta with duck ragu and chocolate? Yum! The chef here is Chris Jaeckle, who was previously at Ai Fiori. The menu features dishes that are Venetian Italian with a Japanese influence. My palate is not refined enough to distingush Venetian from Roman, but I love pasta, so count me in!
Oh, what's this now? Jerusalem artichokes!
We ordered razor clams with sopressata to start, this dish was probably the only one out of our entire meal that I thought was just okay.
The scallops were fantastic! I'm not usually a fan of cauliflower, but I guess when paired with scallops, anything can be delicious.
And things only got better! We ordered two pastas: the bucatini and the lumache. The bucatini was topped with just the right amount of uni and bread crumbs. I don't remember the last time I had bucatini, but it is a thicker type of spaghetti noodle. Thick noodles + rich sauce = happy tummy!
Below is the lumache. I love a great ragu sauce (on the list of things to learn how to make this year) - and the lumache was a nice complement to the bucatini. It was a bit lighter (is it possible that a pasta can be considered light?) and had a different set of savory flavors. I couldn't quite pick up the chocolate specifically, but the ragu itself was splendid. Order both!
We ordered the sunchokes as a side. A good mix of sweet (brown butter) and savory (soy). In fact, there was a recent article in the NYT about the marriage of soy sauce and butter to create the fifth taste, umami. Of course, Sam Sifton can articulate that better than I can, so I will just say "oooh yummy! order this!". And next time I will order the polenta discussed in the article.
For dessert, we shared the chocolate tart with soy gelato. Don't be fooled, the gelato is not made with soy, it is soy flavored. It actually tasted very similar to a salted caramel. I loved this dessert! As our dining neighbors said to us after we ate our dessert, "We wanted to skate on the top of this dessert and then fall face first into it". Yes. I would do the same. And then lick the plate when no one is watching.
All'onda is located on 13th and University-ish, so theoretically, I could stop in and grab a seat at the bar any night after work and lick these plates clean by myself. Hmmm.
I came here for brunch on Saturday, and grabbed a spot at the bar. The restaurant was apparently celebrating its (first?) birthday - so as soon as I walked in, the hostess poured me a glass of champagne. Love at first sip?
Unbeknownst to me, Montmarte is actually the sister restaurant of Perla (more yum ragu) and Fedora!
I only ordered one dish - the sunchoke salad. This salad had a wide variety of textures (crunchy, crispy, soft) and flavors (sweet, tangy, sour). And it was light enough that I could still hit the gym after brunch for an intense workout.
Toro is the sister restaurant of the Boston based Toro, and has received a lot of coverage. I was a little worried about Toro since it only has a three star rating on Yelp, but Aaron and I enjoyed basically everything we ordered. This is probably
one of the best the best restaurant in Meatpacking, as the others I have been to are mostly sceney and tend to not have very high quality food.
Sidenote: it was fun to purse watch here. Oh, hi Medium Betty, Box Bag, Trio, Crescent Clutch, and Classic Flap bag with gold hardware. It was lovely to see you all.
Aaron and I were seated at the chef's counter area, so we got to see all the behind the scenes action. Also, this area had the best lighting in the house for the photos we knew we would take.
A snippet of the menu - tapas a la plancha. They were out of sunchokes, but we ordered the mushrooms and octopus per the recommendation of our waiter.
A Toro specialty is the jamon blanco. As you can see, it is thinly sliced jamon iberico served with a peach jam. The dish actually had garam masala flavors to it, we just couldn't pinpoint exactly what the warm, spicy flavors were.
We also shared Corazon - which is beef heart, served on toast. I've never had beef heart before, and it was delicious. We decided to play an instagram game in which we would upload the same photo and see who got the most likes. Well, Aaron won. But I have demanded a rematch!
Ah, here is more of that runny egg creating a "dressing" for the dish it sits on top of. This time, it was on the mushrooms.
Toro purchases an entire pig and cooks the various parts in different dishes - the section named "Brambly Farms" on the menu. We ordered the meson de cerdo (pork porterhouse) and the paella de cerdo y lumach. The porterhouse was just okay, but the paella was notable! Be sure to scrape off the crispy parts of the rice on the side into the pan, yum!
This is the one place I did not need to make a reservation at a month in advance. In fact, I did it on Wednesday for Sunday brunch! Yipee. Another bonus is that the restaurant has enormous windows which...yes you called it...are great for photographs! Oh, and also a bonus for letting in natural light. That's always a good thing, even if you aren't into food photos on instagram.
We started with bread with date butter and cranberries. I've never had date butter and now I'm a fan. The bread wasn't otherwise interesting, so I would probably skip this next time.
And the best part: the griddle bread with labneh. Do NOT skip this! You will regret it!
The labneh was of course savory (isn't that what yogurt is?), there was a nice melange of thick creaminess, mint, and spice. I actually did lick this bowl of labneh clean.
I ordered merguez with sunnyside eggs. The merguez is made in house and it was very tasty, the eggs were just your run of the mill eggs.
Bon Appetit has a recipe on how to make the griddle bread - I may have to try that out to get my fix. Or, just take the G train into Greenpoint again. I'll be back for dinner!