Category Archives: Drinking

Grey Dog’s Coffee in NYC


I’m headed back to NY tomorrow for the holiday weekend, and my mind is already racing with all of the restaurants and coffee shops that will be nearby. During a trip this past spring I was introduced to Grey Dog’s Coffee on University Place. The vibe of the shop was laid-back, the coffee was super strong, and the scenery reminded me of my other home:

Atlanta on the table top

The tabletop had an extensively detailed map of Atlanta, complete with image representation. It was a cool collision of my 2 worlds – and it occurred by happenstance. Another funny, but not completely random occurrence is the focus on Grey dogs. I own a dog named Gray (which was part of the reason my friend chose this coffee shop for our meeting place). Other aspects of the decor reminded me of doggy back in Atlanta:

not the cutest pooch

My little lamb is quite a bit cuter not quite as grey:


I’ve only visited Grey Dog’s Coffee once, but I am left with fond memories and a yearning to go back. Maybe I’ll be able to make it this weekend…..

P.S. They deliver:

The Grey Dog's Coffee on Urbanspoon

The Grey Dog’s Coffee
(212) 462-0041
http://www.thegreydog.com

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TAP: A Gastropub in midtown Atlanta

Thursday evening, I was looking for a nearby restaurant to have a small dinner before a basketball game. After convincing myself not to go back to La Pietra Cucina for the 4th time in 3 weeks, and not being able to obtain a Tamarind Seed reservation, I secured an easy Opentable reservation at TAP.
Located at the corner of Peachtree and 14th, TAP is in the center of the Atlanta midtown scene. The al fresco patrons can watch the rooftop deck at Shout, the comings and goings at the 14th Street Playhouse, and the illegal parkers outside of Starbucks and Chick Fil-a. A self-proclaimed “american gastropub,” TAP aims to supply a “convivial place to have a pint or glass of wine”. Sounds aight to me, but what about the food? To answer that question TAP promises “seasonally driven innovative comfort food”. Let’s get to it –

To start we shared the black bean hummus and pita bread:

As you can see, the pita was charred and had just come out of the oven(or off the stove). It was hot and a wonderful device to scoop up the thick and creamy spread. The black bean hummus was topped with feta cheese and sliced jalepenos – the cheese wasn’t plentiful enough and therefore didn’t add much of anything, but the peppers provided a bite and a spice level to help the unexciting dip.

We dipped, scooped, spread, and wiped until there was no more:

I'm empty inside

We also shared an entree:

Seared trout with rapini and white bean ragout in a parsely, butter sauce. The fish was cooked well and tasted mild. While the barely flavored fish needed a strong sauce as an accompaniment, I felt the parsely/butter sauce was not the right fit. The sauce was green, and led me to believe it would be full of herb-y goodness, but the butter flavor overwhelmed the whole shebang. I absolutely love the combination of rapini (a bitter green) and white beans, but again, the sauce was a distraction (but not a fun one – sort of like cotton candy flavored fluoride the dentist fools you with in order to clean your teeth).

My portion:

The portion was quite large and conducive to sharing. As long as I wiped off a good amount of the sauce, I enjoyed the food.

[

I am


not beer


Obviously, I did not visit TAP for the intended purposes. A gastropub concept is lost on me, unless the food is stellar. The ever-shrinking menu makes it difficult for me to venture back over and over, but that’s not to say I adamantly disliked my food. For the time being, TAP will remain somewhere in the middle for me – not too much to rave about, but there is also no reason to write it off.

Plus, I can pretend I’m cool and say I go to a place that makes its own beer and has a ton of barrel wine selections (is that a cool thing to say?).

A glimpse of how it’s done below:


Tap on Urbanspoon

TAP
(404) 347-2220
1180 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
http://www.tapat1180.com

St. Regis Atlanta: Room Service Breakfast

Squid Dinner 016

classy or crazy?

During a temporary brain lapse, I thought it would be wise to experience the newest 5 star hotel to hit Atlanta : the St. Regis in Buckhead. As it turned out, my mental break provided me with hours upon hours of joy (followed by weeks and weeks of no money). To cap off my stay and ensure the hotel remains in business for the next few minutes, I ordered the most expensive breakfast of my life: room service granola and eggs.

While the food was not exceptional (and we ordered quite simply), the coolest part of the experience was watching the dude set up a fully dressed table complete with coffee and all the necessary accouterments.

Squid Dinner 030

purple pleasure


My beverage of choice was a smoothie made with berries and vanilla protein powder. ‘Twas good.

Squid Dinner 117

guess who took home the tiny jams and ketchup?


House-made granola with a side of berries was a bit too sweet for my liking, and you could see the crystallized sugar on the little oat bits.

Squid Dinner 169

what's hiding under there?


Squid Dinner 168

poached eggs


The eggs came with an interesting serving of vegetables as well as toast. We did have to send back the first batch of eggs, as they were overdone.

But they got it right the second time around and all was good in the world,
Squid Dinner 152

except for my finances…..

Day 2 Las Vegas – Lunch & Dinner: Sushi Samba & L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

After eating Joe’s and Michael Mina meals back to back, it was time for a moderately sized meal. It was time to reel it back and settle down. This was attempted at Sushi Samba located in The Shoppes in The Palazzo hotel.
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I kept it light by sharing a seaweed salad and a tasting plate of seviches and tiraditos (a peruvian dish made up of sliced, raw fish marinated in lime juice; similar to seviche without the addition of onions thus resulting in a subtler taste)

you don't have to pick just one

you don't have to pick just one

Top Left: Jumbo Shrimp passionfruit, cucumber, cilantro
Top Right: Yellowtail ginger, garlic, soy
Bottom Left: Kanpachi yuzu, sea salt, black truffle oil
Bottom Right:Tuna grapefruit juice, jalapeño, almond

Fresh fish, clean flavors, many textures, small plates = the best way to eat (for me)

Sushi finished out the meal (yes, the same sushi I was dreaming about during my juice cleanse:

need some sushi at sushi samba

need some sushi at sushi samba


my soulmates

my soulmates


Spicy tuna roll, salmon avocado riceless handroll, shrimp tempura roll, uni ikura = a happy family

Also, since it’s vacation I just HAD to get a mocktail:
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Citrusy sweetness with fresh mint = awesome

Successfully edited lunch, although I did see a couple of people who had very heavy lunches while walking back to the hotel.

I ate too much

I ate too much


man, that turkey knocked me out

man, that turkey knocked me out

A few hours later it was time for my momentous meal at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. If you’re a Top Chef fan, you already know Mr. Robuchon was named the ‘chef of the century’. And you clearly saw how well-regarded he is by both his peers, young chefs, and the food nerd world. If you’ve read any of OctoSquid’s previous posts, you also know how pretty the chef’s food looks and the level of detailed care put into each and every plate.

After walking a solid mile inside the MGM Hotel, you will find the 2 Robuchon restaurants side by side. Walk into the hipper looking restaurant with tones of black and red:
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If you recall, I didn’t have the guts or the budget to enter the greatness of The Mansion.

Anyway, once you are seated at the bar it’s hard not to take notice of the surroundings:

food is art

food is art


you better believe the produce is fresh

you better believe the produce is fresh

Dried legumes and brightly colored produce was arranged around the room inviting me to head into a foodie wonderland. I was Alice in a French, culinary-loving, wonderful land. I was ready to hit the ground running.

After much, much, far too much research, I had settled on the Discovery Menu. Here goes:

discover me

discover me

L’AMUSE-BOUCHE: opted out of the Foie gras parfait with port wine and parmesan foam for something without animal organs.

no recollection

no recollection


Looks like there is some eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, herbs. Forgive me in advance, I don’t remember a ton from this meal because it was the cream in my Oreo sandwich of fabulous meals – meaning it sort of got lost.

LE SAUMON FUME: Smoked salmon in an herb gelée with a light wasabi cream

from the top

from the top


from the side

from the side


Can you even believe this is food? Edible food? It’s so interesting to look at – I stared down at the food like Fatty McFatterson in Mallrats trying to see a sailboat in a Magic Eye poster.
I’m not going to lie about the dish, even for my good friend, salmon. The texture was weird. Jello mixed with salmon chunks. The wasabi cream/green sauce was excellent and spicy/herb-y, but I wasn’t won over. I appreciated the artistic elements and the intriguing techniques, but my tongue didn’t get that swagger.

LES HUITRES: Poached baby Kusshi oysters with French « Echiré » butter
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This was pretty simple, which is how I believe oysters should be. The butter was a nice touch, and one that I am not accustomed to when eating raw shellfish. Added a richness factor to the briny, slimy creatures.

LE HOMARD: Maine lobster in a tomato sauce and green asparagus

uh uh uh uhwsome

uh uh uh uhwsome


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Now we’re talking. If I remember correctly, the top picture is the full portion (what Lauren got) and the bottom pic is my tasting menu serving. This rocked it out – big claws, spicy tomato sauce, pops of green color in asparagus form. Loved this course, but didn’t feel the larger portion was worth the $60 odd dollars we paid.

Didn’t get the foie gras ravioli, so instead they gave me this:
LES ANCHOIS: Fresh marinated anchovies with sliced eggplant confit

I'm better than a Monet

I'm better than a Monet


As I mentioned in the past, anchovies with eggplant confit, a perfect rectangle is formed with strips of anchovies and red pepper sauce covering the buttery (in texture, not taste), creamy eggplant. Chives and onions for garnish.
I would put this photo in a frame in my living room.

LA SOLE: Dover Sole with a warm leek salad and crispy potato

sole or soul?

sole or soul?


Huge improvement from Michael Mina’s version. Crisped fish skin, paired with soft fish flesh, and a couple of crunchy potato chips on the side. Cooked like only a trained chef could cook it.

Instead of the lamb/quail course I got:
LE KAMPACHI: Lightly seared kampachi with crispy onion rings

who else loves the word 'kampachi'?

who else loves the word 'kampachi'?


Another homerun! Just enough sauce, with the fantastic combination of the mild flavored fish and the bold flavors of capers, olives, and onion rings. It tasted delicious, but I can’t articulate much more (Oreo affect).

Time for dessert:
LE SAVARIN:pastry soaked in aged run with a tahitian vanilla cream.
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This dish did not leave a lasting impression. I’m forcefully trying to remember it by staring at the photo to no avail. The cream was excellent and very vanilla bean-y (see the speckles?). Also, it was fun to try edible metallics (gold). Still….not for me.

LA FRAISE: Strawberry meringue around a fennel parfait and creme fraiche ice cream

so right, even after 45 courses

so right, even after 45 courses


Unreal – loved everything about it. Melt in your mouth strawberry flavored meringue, hint of savory herbs surrounding a clean tasting, cold, creamy, iced, cream. The garnish made it super fun to eat, and I absolutely love colored dust that tastes good.

Not part of my tasting, yet I must include Lauren’s dessert.
LE CHOCOLAT: Chocolate sensation, « crémeux » Araguani, Oreo cookie crumbs

good friends are gold

good friends are gold


breaking in

breaking in


Mesmerized by the gold, I loved this masterpiece before I tried a bite. A true case of eating with your eyes. Love at first sight. It was sweet and creamy, but also had the crunch factor from the chocolate disc, and a bit of tartness from the fruity gel dots on top.

And because the French can’t end without coffee:

don't quit on me

don't quit on me


which came with an original, monogrammed chocolate.

What a day. Don’t even ask me how I ate a big lunch AND dinner the following day…..DAD!

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Enjoy your Saturday: drinks in Las Vegas, NYC, or Atlanta

If drinking is your thing- cocktails for most (mocktails for me) then this post is for you. Here is a list of some of my favorite drinks slammed over the past 6 months. Take your pick and go have a sip……or 5!

A variety of margaritas are available at all Mesa Grill locations. They even started using agave nectar in a select few. I tried a peach version at the Las Vegas location in the Caesar’s Palace hotel.

oh so good

oh so good

For a refreshing drink in a peaceful and beautiful outdoor atmosphere, you can get a ‘Pure Mojito’ at Pure Food & Wine in NYC:

mocktail perfection

mocktail perfection

Of course, there is always the standard West Paces Mary at the St. Regis hotel in Atlanta.

Bloody Mary on West Paces Ferry = West Paces Ferry

Bloody Mary on West Paces Ferry = West Paces Mary

And if you’re tired of being pampered and fawned over, walk down the street for a true Mojito (or in my case, Nojito) at Nava.
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southernly and charming

southernly and charming

Whatever you do, just please be careful not to drink too much sprite spiked with cherries by the pool, or this could be you.
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6 Hours Left…

To get a $0.99 Bloody Mary or ‘West Paces Mary’ at the 5-starred St. Regis hotel in Buckhead.

What a great way to start a week and enjoy a rainy, Monday evening!

The hotel is breathtakingly beautiful and the drink is satisfying with the right amount of kick.

drink me

drink me

If you want to drink the drink in style, enjoy one in the rain, under the awning, while lying by the pool.

slurp

slurp

Run and go get one, before time runs out!

Offer deets

Hotel deets

A Jewish Juice Fast

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Inspired by my favorite ‘Real Housewife of New York’ Bethenny Frankel (@Bethenny), I embarked on my first 3 day juice cleanse. I planned it so that the last day of the food fast would land on Yom Kippur, a collective day of fasting. I also knew that if I made it to Day 3, I would not break down and eat until the bulk of the Jewish population broke ‘their’ respective fasts. The truth is, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Of course, there were many hours spent sleeping and laying in bed watching a ‘True Blood’ marathon, but Bethenny’s advice made it simple.

For example, “Don’t be a hero”. I didn’t make this extreme 3 day cleanse any more extreme than necessary. When I was absolutely starving, I nibbled on some raw broccoli or lettuce. It helped. Other than that I drank a variety of juices from Arden’s Garden that didn’t let me get too bored of one, single taste.

“Commit” – I didn’t make plans for the weekend so that I could relax, sleep, and detox. This helped too.

I followed some of Bethenny’s other suggestions such as dry-brushing the body with a loofah, lots of showers/baths, limited exercise, and a slow transition coming off the cleanse.

The constant liquids that I drank were water+lemon juice and an Arden’s Garden vegetable juice named ‘pH Solution’. In this juice, we got a mix of distilled water, celery, spinach, cucumbers, fresh lemons, and parsely. It doesn’t taste nearly as bad as it sounds – I really liked this juice (the lemon really makes it).

constants

constants

Other juices consumed:

variety is good

variety is good


Green Energy Machine – a fresh vegetable juice made of cucumbers, celery, apples, ginger, spinach, parsley.
Carrot Apple Ginger – self explanatory
Bubble Juice or Orange Chia – oranges, distilled water, chia seeds
2 Day Detox – grapefruits, oranges, lemons, distilled water.

Arden’s Garden manages to fit 2 pounds of fresh produce into each single-serving juice, which supplied me with many nutrients and didn’t cause a complete shock to my body. According to Bethenny & Arden, I will have brighter eyes, shinier hair, softer skin, and more energy. If you happen to catch a glimpse of me, let me know.

I will admit that while I sleeping through night #2 of the cleanse I had major food/eating dreams.

dreams of chocolate covered strawberries (without a disgusted face)

dreams of chocolate covered strawberries (without a disgusted face)

I’m glad I did the cleanse, but I won’t be taking on this challenge for quite awhile. This week calls for a celebratory sushi dinner!

Celebration is near

Celebration is near