Category Archives: Group Fooding

Beyoglu Lunch: Upper East Side Lunch – Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 3)

Part 1
Part 2

captivated

captivated


Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had a special lunch planned with friends. We met in big, ‘ole New York City, and I had no idea that octopus would be in my future. It wasn’t until I was stared down by the menu item above that my meal fate was sealed.

We went to Beyoglu on Third Avenue and 81st Street; a short walk from their abodes. The waiters are friendly and the atmosphere is casual and laid back. The restaurant achieves it’s goal of transporting the diner into a lively, European meeting place. The decor is adorable, with tiled tabletops and an inviting bar at the entrance. There is some confusion about the type of food that is served at Beyoglu, but not of the quality. Whether you call it Turkish or Greek, the Mediterranean cuisine is top notch.

After sitting together and gabbing for a bit (as girls do), we noticed beautifully large rounds of bread delivered to each table. We instantly decided to share dips to put the bread to good use:

starting off right

starting off right


Just look at that hunk of bread! It was soft and pillowy in the middle, with charred edges and sesame seeds on top. It was the absolute perfect vehicle for the fantastic dips. The hummus was made of chick peas & tahini seasoned w/ cumin & garlic. The portion was large and made for a cozy snack. I can’t seem to find the spinach dip on the online menu, but I remember it the taste well enough. It was chopped spinach topped with homemade yogurt and spices. There was garlic in there, maybe some shallots? We didn’t leave a bite of either one.

While the girls munched on gorgeous, fresh looking salads:

salad one

salad one


salad two

salad two

I opted for a protein-rich salad for myself:

my kinda salad

my kinda salad


Listed as an appetizer on the menu, my main course at lunch was – Ahtapot Salatasi: char-grilled octopus marinated in olive oil & balsamic vinegar. The octopus didn’t exactly show any signs of ‘char’ or ‘grill’ but I have no complaints about the flavor and texture of my 8-legged friend. It was softer than the octopus at the Greek Corner, but that’s just because of the lack of heavy grilling. With a sprinkling of lemon, the small salad was an excellent lunch for me!

Thanks friends, for picking an awesome place 🙂

Beyoglu on Urbanspoon

Beyoglu
1431 Third Ave.
at 81st St.
New York, NY 10028
212-650-0850

Mother Kelly’s in Cedarhurst – Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 2)

Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 1)


A family owned business with a loyal following, Mother Kelly’s is a five towns restaurant that is never empty. With a huge menu, mainly focused on home-cooked Italian food, there is a dish for anyone who visits. Whenever I travel home, a visit to Mother Kelly’s is usually in the itinerary. The consistently great food makes it a go-to place for everyone who lives within a 5 mile radius.
Time to look at the food, but before we get into the main courses, I would be brain dead if I didn’t mention the complimentary garlic rolls and bean salad every patron receives:

complimentary starters

complimentary starters


The rolls are spiral shaped and filled with garlicky butter and herbs. I pick around the basket for the crispy pieces (like my mom), while my sister and Lauren go for the softer pieces. Regardless of the type you prefer, these rolls are insanely good. It is a near to impossible to refrain from downing the bread basket before the real food comes along. If you have zero will power and are full of garlic bread fear, it’s a good idea to stick with the bean salad. Varying types and colors of beans covered with a vinegar-y dressing make my palate scream in anticipation for a hot meal.

After a few plates of the bean salad and around 10 minutes of deliberation, Lauren and I decided to split a meal. The portions could feed 2-3 people as it is, so I was not worried about going hungry. Here’s what was delivered:

makes me melt

makes me melt


Calamari and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce over spinach (instead of pasta) – there is nothing bad to say about this enormous plate of seafood. Some adjectives that come to mind: homey, comforting, filling, healthy. This dish doesn’t force you to think too hard and that is appreciated – I just tucked into the plate of goodness and finally felt like I was home.

Per usual, I saved the best bites for last – in this case, the calamari tentacle-y pieces:

to me, this is art

to me, this is art

And my sister decided to test out her camera skills with my last beautiful specimen:

squiddie

squiddie

My family ordered envious dishes and I made sure to taste each one:

Mom's shrimpies

Mom's shrimpies


Shrimp marinara over spinach
Quote from mother: “it was an explosion of flavors in my mouth – the shrimp were plump, firm, salty, with just the right amount of fishiness; the marinara sauce was sweet with a touch of basil; the sauteed spinach was delightfully garlicky.” I think she liked it!
steroid clucker

steroid clucker


My sister (lovingly known as Poop) had the chicken francaise – the white meat chicken (or many chickens) had a wonderful meaty texture I don’t often enjoy.
I'm a beautiful chick

I'm a beautiful chick


My stepfather, Ricardo, ordered another chicken dish, but this one was stunningly glazed with a balsamic sauce. I loved this sweet masterpiece – a real knockout.

As if that wasn’t enough food, the Mother Kelly includes a side of spaghetti:

don't ignore me!

don't ignore me!

If you can possibly manage it (and I never can), the desserts look like they are worth a food coma:

this pic does NOT do me justice

this pic does NOT do me justice

Forget the 5 mile radius, if you can get your butt in a seat at Mother Kelley’s……..GO!

Mother Kelly’s
490 Chestnut Street
Cedarhurst, New York 11516
(516) 295-5421

Greek Corner in Carle Place- Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 1)

I am a lucky girl! On my most recent trip to New York, 4 of my 12 meals consisted of octopus, squid, or BOTH! To keep from droning on and on in a super long post (covering all 4 restaurants), I’ll have to break up the OctoSquid-licious-ness.

My first New York meal was spot on. I went to the Greek Corner in Carle Place. The decor was bright and reminiscent of a Disney flick (or even Disney World):

wall mural

wall mural


You can see how the painted wall extends to the ceiling depicting a pale blue sky, full of white cotton candy clouds. It was outlandish, but it also made me feel relaxed (it must have been the calming blue tones). The interior decorator also made a point to display the menu for people with vision problems:
look up and order

look up and order


And while that publicly jarring menu was appealing, I saw some show-stealers on the lunch menu:
#1

#1


But, I settled on an Aegean Salad with grilled octopus:
superstar lunch

superstar lunch


I could eat this every single day for lunch and most nights for dinner. The grilled tentacles retained an excellent char and crispy-ness, while the hunky pieces of meat were soft and tender. The salad was an average greek salad which came complete with crumbled feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (can’t remember if there were olives). Everything was fresh and everything was eaten. The diners at my table were also lucky that day in that they heard me rant and rave about the octopus topped salad throughout lunch and for many hours afterward.
Of course, I leave the best bites for last:
delicious-ness dragged on

delicious-ness dragged on

The guys (waiters, cooks, owners) were not used to having the restaurant photographed, so after some weird glances in my direction I explained my baby blog. Once they heard the word internet, the posing began:
smile

owner on the left; green haired guy on the right

owner on the left; green haired guy on the right

All in all, a fantastic way to start off the holiday weekend in NY.

More to come….

J’ Chanceux Macaron

Look at this beauty of a gift my sister got for me:

box full of love


perfect pastry post meal

She showed up at Thanksgiving dinner with a neat, little box of tasty macarons. For those of you who have not been introduced to the hamburger-shaped French pastries, they are “a traditional French pastry, made of egg whites, almond powder, icing sugar and sugar”. (wiki)

As told by Darby,” a new bakery opened with the cutest little lady owner – and she makes macarons’. That bakery is called J’ Chanceux Macaron and has only been opened for a few weeks.

info, held up by Darby

We did a taste testing in her apartment the next day. We got through them all, but since we were stuffed, never declared a winner. Looking back, the flavor that left a lasting impression on me was the coffee. It was sweet, but had a tinge of bitterness that added another dimension to the dessert.

Macarons are one of my all-time favorite treats – small enough to taste a few, crunchy with a melt-in-your-mouth outer layer, and a touch of cream.

If you live in New York City, go try out J’ Chanceux and give the little lady a chance.

Happy Thanksgiving OctoSquidlets!

Have a great day everyone! For most people, this day is devoted to turkey, turkey, and more turkey. Although I’m not the biggest lover of the bird, here is the almost 30 pound fowl that will be served at my family get-together.

(by the way, this is pre-cooked so it won’t be served as seen)



Everyone, have a great day…..and enjoy your cooked Turkey!!!

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

El Azteca for a work day lunch

During a busy workweek, it’s imperative to get out of the office for an hour or so to grab a bite to eat. This week, I lunched with my favorite work friend, Evie. We ran down the block to El Azteca, a mexican restaurant in midtown Atlanta. Although mexican food gets a bad wrap in Atlanta, the gnarly grub at El Azteca is consistently cheesy, fatty, and filling. It’s by no means great food (and many will argue it’s not even good food), but you do always get free chips and salsa.

I'm free!


The [free] chips and salsa come to the table right away. Hot from fryer and sprinkled with some salt, “it’s good” (says Evie). Personally, I like the non-chunky salsa for the nice amount of heat and the dressing-like consistency. The chips are a cunning distraction from the gaudy decor and the image-filled, Americanized menu.

the drinks are huge and refilled constantly

Evie got the lunch special: a chicken chimichanga with a guacamole salad (ensalada) and a side of [mexican] rice. (what makes it mexican rice, I have yet to find out.)

I'm the special one today!

The deep fried burrito was satisfying to Evie. Here is her review – “The pico de gallo was fresh, however the sour cream became warm and melty from the hot plate. Oh, and you can see the surplus of sour cream they give out in my empty plate picture below.” (Thanks Evie!)

job well done

In preparation for Thanksgiving weekend, I tried to stay healthy (which is quite a feat at El Azteca):

exceeded expectations


Other than the not-very-red-or-ripe tomatoes, the salad was pretty great. The lettuce was crisp, the avocado both firm and creamy, and the shrimp was seasoned well and sauteed to a T.

salsa was my dressing (you can see the extra drippings)

As far as El Azteca goes, it’s all about expectations. I had the lowest of the low expectations, and thus, I was pleasantly surprised.

My advice — come here for a quick mid-week meal with an empty stomach and your lowest expectations. Or, don’t eat the Mexican food and create your own salad.

Update: I was just told by a different work friend (Lauren) that her chicken tacos tasted like Campbell’s chicken noodle soup = FAIL. Quote, “it was even liquid-y and gross”

El Azteca Mexican Restaurant III on Urbanspoon

Buckhead
(404) 249-1522
1784 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30309