Tag Archives: vegetable

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

Part 1
Part 2



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

1431 Third Ave.
at 81st St.
New York, NY 10028


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:



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:


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:

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….


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

(404) 347-2220
1180 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309


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

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


Vikings Cooking School: cook your dinner and then eat it

Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School, located inside the Viking store in midtown. This event was a perk that’s associated with my daytime job and happened to tie into my nighttime job (hobby) quite perfectly.

Here’s the menu for the night labeled “Dinner Around the World”:
Tuscan Grilled Vegetable Platter
Thai Spring Rolls with sweet & sour sauce
Roasted Chicken (5 different varieties)
Cuban-style Rice Pilaf with black beans
Chocolate-covered strawberries stuffed with Amaretto cream cheese
And now it’s time for another story by photo segment:

we arrived to some snacks

and drinks

the clean kitchen prior to cooking

our chef gets the lesson started with a raw chicken

Chang and Kenny dove into the poultry preparation

stuffed with an onion, among other things

Brad gets excited by chicken (or knives?)

ready for roasting

Eli gets comfy in his chef whites

and with his knife

the crew preps the ingredients

while some of the guys drink and stand around

Josh gets veggies ready for the grill

and Kim mans the grill

and she grills

and grills

a post-grill rainbow

Don't forget us! Eli and I also grilled

Eli and Josh focus: they learn to make a spring roll

plop in some filling

Kenny demonstrates the roll

ready for the fryer

Kim shows the hollowed strawberries for dessert

tip of the day: use a glass to fill a piping bag

tip of the day demonstrated

berries filled with cream cheese, amaretto, confectioners sugar

chocolate to be melted

Kim and Jenna dip the berries, but the chocolate remains on their hands

taste trumps looks

Brad likes the spread of food

and shows off his personalized plate

spring rolls ready to eat!

chopped chicken

grilled veggies topped with parmigiano cheese


extra desserts that we had nothing to do with

This event was super fun and I highly recommend it for a team-building outing, a girls'(guys’) night out, or just a change of pace activity shared among friends. We ate well, drank plenty, learned a few things, and most importantly – we didn’t clean up a thing!

Full menu will be updated shortly for those who are interested.

The Viking Store
1745 Peachtree Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309-2404


Chateau de Saigon Take Two (Continued)

So…..let’s get back to the main act of my meal at Chateau de Saigon. Well, it wasn’t exactly my meal but I did get to take part in the awesome experience that was La Vong Sizzling Fish. On the menu, it’s stated as ‘sizzling marinated fish filet chunks with sauteed onion & fresh baby dill served with lettuce, fresh seasonal herbs, and our House dipping sauce along with rice paper for rolling wraps. Cooked at the table’. Get ready for the Disney World ride of Vietnamese food. It is, in fact, a small world after all.

Explained best via photographs:


tableside cooker


onions and dill join the party


waiter brings over a pan of marinated fish and gets to work


squeezing in fresh lime juice


needs a lot of lime


time for herbs and veggies


stir it all around


necessary elements to create the wraps


dip the paper into water


put lettuce, fresh herbs, cucumbers, apples onto rice paper


throw on some noodles


and the cooked fish

We also added peanuts and super spicy chilis.

Let’s get rolling:


time to eat!

As you can see, this dish is uber interactive and a lot of fun with a group (or with people who are food nerds, i.e. ME!)

Chateau de Saigon
4300 Buford Hwy NE
Suite 218
Atlanta, GA 30345
ph: 404.929.0034

Chateau de Saigon on Urbanspoon