Category Archives: Restaurants

Calling All Foodies!

By Megan Kian

After a long hard week at work the weekend is finally here and you’re wondering what you should do with your two days off. The only place I can think of to spend my Saturday is at Smorgasburg, the food flea market located in Brooklyn. Two Saturdays ago I decided to head down to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to find out what Smorgasburg was all about.

The setting for Smorgasburg couldn’t be more serene. It’s set right on the water with a small park only a few feet away. But what is Smorgasburg? The idea for Smorgasburg initially sprang from the food that was being served at the Brooklyn Flea Market. There was such a following that the Brooklyn Flea Market decided to create a completely separate flea market that would only serve food — and good quality food at that. At Smorgasburg you can find 100 plus vendors selling everything from blood orange glazed donuts (they were delicious!) to fancier dishes like gazpacho and sandwiches with hand pulled mozzarella. You’ll feel like you’re in food heaven.

Smorgasburg brooklyn

Smorgasburg is aptly named. Turn the corner and you’ll find a completely different type of food than what you had at the stand a few feet away. While it can get pricey, I enjoyed every bit of it. Smorgasburg is featured on the Williamsburg waterfront from 9AM to 5PM every Saturday.

Have you been to Smorgasburg? If so, how did you like it?

Disclaimer: The Nutritioulicious staff was not paid to promote Smorgasburg. All opinions are our own.

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Dirt Candy

By Megan Kian

Since my recent stint as a vegetarian, I’ve stumbled upon a whole new world of restaurants in NYC. One of my favorite finds is a small, humble restaurant in the East Village called Dirt Candy. There are only about 10 or so tables in the restaurant and reservations are hard to get for a reasonable hour (I ended up eating dinner at 10 pm), but it is probably one of the best vegetarian meals I’ve ever had.

The philosophy at Dirt Candy is to center a main course around a vegetable and make it just as satisfying as a meat-based dish. After hearing so much about the wonders of Dirt Candy from one of my close friends I just had to try it!

Our first taste of one of chef Amanda Cohen’s creations was a starter of jalapeno hush puppies with maple butter. The contrast between the spicy and sweet made for a mouth-watering combination. Some of our other courses included steamed barbeque carrot buns,

Dirt Candy nyc

mint and tarragon pasta with zucchini and a yogurt and saffron sauce, and stone ground grits with corn cream and a tempura poached egg (all of the dishes were equally delicious!). Of course we had to indulge in some dessert so we decided to try the red pepper velvet cake. It tasted like a mix of red velvet cake and carrot cake – yum!

dirt candy vegetarian restaurant nyc

Whether or not you’re vegetarian I definitely recommend taking a trip to Dirt Candy for a delicious meal.

Have you ever been to Dirt Candy? What are some of your favorite vegetarian restaurants?

Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote this restaurant. All opinions are my own.

Photo Source: Dirt Candy website

Seasonal Dining at Rouge Tomate

By now I’m sure you know that I am a huge fan of eating based on what’s in season. I can’t think of anything I love more about dining out than a restaurant that embraces seasonal and local ingredients. That’s why I really love Rouge Tomate, a restaurant in Brussels and New York City.

Rouge Tomate is a member of the Green Restaurant Association and adheres to a nutritional charter called SPE, Sanitas Per Escam, which means “Health Through Food.” This charter was developed by chefs and culinary nutritionists and is an “innovative approach toward well-being through balanced and optimal nutrition that maintains, protects, and strengthens the body.” There are 3 key elements of the SPE approach:

  • Sourcing: Selecting seasonal and local ingredients with a focus on nutritional characteristics
  • Preparing: Using cooking techniques that preserve the integrity and nutritional quality of ingredients (for example, they don’t grill their food)
  • Enhancing: Optimizing the nutritional value of the food through product combination and menu diversity

As a dietitian, one of the things I love about this restaurant is that they have a culinary nutritionist (who is an RD) on staff. She makes sure that meals are balanced, including dessert and beverages. And unlike other health-focused restaurants, Rouge Tomate is fine dining at it’s best! Take a look at some of the dishes I had on a recent visit:

rouge tomate ceviche

Hawaiin Walu Ceviche with Avocado, Yuzu, Jicama, White Soy

rouge tomate restaurant

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache with Market Pear, Candied Orange, Hazelnut, Smoked Sea Salt

If you live in NY or come to visit, I highly recommend you check this place out! You can find more info about the restaurant on their website.

Note: I am not a consultant for Rouge Tomate and I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own.

A Taste of Italy — Dinner at Il Buco

The following post was written by nutritioulicious™ intern Megan Kian
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Imagine entering the rustic home of a small Italian family. This is exactly how I felt when I was seated at my table at Il Buco on Bond Street in New York just last week. The dim lights, the cozy atmosphere, and the rows of handmade pottery created the perfect ambiance for an Italian dinner.

il buco italian restaurant new york city[Photo credit: IlBuco.com]

Eating out in the city can be tough. With over 24,000 restaurants to choose from, it’s hard to know where to go for the freshest and healthiest meals. Il Buco enters the category of a restaurant that is both nutritious and delicious.

As I was handed the menu, I noticed something especially unique about Il Buco’s dinner menu. If you flip to the back of the menu you can find a list of all the main ingredients that the chefs at Il Buco use in their various dishes. We, as patrons, aren’t usually privy to where the ingredients in our meals come from. Il Buco’s philosophy is that they use only the freshest ingredients in their simple, yet elegant dishes. I began to salivate as I eagerly awaited my Cachi con Finocchio (a salad of persimmons (cachi), fennel (finnochio), hazelnuts, mint, and parmesan). Once I finally delved into my unusual salad, I could see the philosophies of the restaurant coming to life. The luscious and fresh ingredients of the salad created a refreshing, yet mouth-watering combination.

My next course consisted of a moist grilled halibut with perfectly charred tomatoes and fingerling potatoes, topped with aioli, a sauce consisting of garlic and olive oil (olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fat!). Although fish has never been my favorite, I couldn’t help but like this halibut dish when it was accompanied by such appetizing vegetables. The charred outside of the tomatoes added another level of flavor to the dish, revealing a smokiness within the cherry tomatoes. The fingerling potatoes were perfectly cooked with a flaky skin that when cut into revealed the soft white inside of the potato.

As I finished my last bit of halibut, I realized that Il Buco had proved to me that you can indulge in a healthy, yet wonderfully tasty meal while dining out.

Read about Il Buco’s philosophy and the ingredients they use on their website.

*Note: Opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and I have not been compensated by anyone for this post.

Walnut Dinner at The Grange

As I mentioned yesterday, dinner the first night of the Walnut Harvest Festival was prepared for us by Chef Michael Tuohy of The Grange Restaurant in Sacramento. Chef Tuohy and his staff prepared dinner for us incorporating walnuts in every course. You may think this would lead to walnut overkill (if there is such a thing!), but when used imaginatively, walnuts can be part of a dish without you even realizing they’re there. Take a look at the delectable dinner we had:

First up we had a delicate endive salad with pears, pomegranate seeds, and a light coating of walnut vinaigrette.

endive salad with pears

Endive/Pear/Pomegranate Salad with Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette

Following the salad I had an amazing plate of sweet potato gnocchi topped with Chef Tuohy’s walnut pesto and a mixture of spinach and kale. The gnocchi were like little pillows — light and airy, leaving me with enough room for dessert.

sweet potato gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Spinach and Walnut Pesto

I’m not normally a fan of whole nuts in my dessert (I’m not talking peanut butter and chocolate here), but the cranberry-walnut tart was so good I could barely put my fork down! The tart was served with a smooth orange sauce and a light dollop of crème fraiche with orange zest on top, which provided my palate with a wonderful assortment of flavors to end the evening.

cranberry walnut tart dessert

Cranberry-Walnut Tart with Crème Fraiche

This meal was just the first of a feast that was yet to come the following day!

West Branch

One of the things I love about New York City is the plethora of restaurants. There’s always someplace new to try and so many different areas of the city to explore to find whatever you’re in the mood for. During the week, Andy and I like to go out at least once for dinner and generally we like to stay in our neighborhood (as opposed to the weekends when we’re more likely to venture downtown), so we’re always looking for someplace new to try.

A couple of weeks ago we went to West Branch, a local bistro owned by chef Tom Valenti. While some of the items on the menu fall under the “comfort food” category (read: burgers, fries, fish and chips), there is also a seasonal element that of course I love.

I started my meal with a Panzanella Salad, an Italian salad that is generally made with day old, crusty bread, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

West Branch’s version had tomatoes, arugula, red onion, and whole wheat croutons. Overall it was delicious — the tomatoes were so fresh, juicy, and flavorful. My only complaint was that they dressed it with way too much oil (you can see a layer in the bottom of the bowl). They actually gave me a spoon for the salad, but I used my fork instead to let some of the oil drip off.

For my main course, I had a terrific grilled sea bass served over a sweet corn succotash, with a side of corn panna cotta.

grilled sea bass with corn succotash and corn panna cotta

grilled sea bass with corn succotash and corn panna cotta

I generally don’t like panna cotta becuase of the custard-like texture, so I was debating whether to get this dish. Boy am I glad I did! The fish was beautifully grilled and the perfect portion size — looks about the size of a deck of cards, just what I recommend. The corn succotash was mouth-watering — I couldn’t get enough of it! I even enjoyed a few bites of the corn panna cotta, which had actual pieces of corn inside.

Overall, I’d say my meal was fabulous. By choosing an appetizer that was full of vegetables, I didn’t have to worry that my main course sides were heavier on the starch (corn is considered a starchy vegetable), and I had a good amount of protein as well. Can’t wait to see what they have come winter!

Dinner at Blue Hill Stone Barns

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am seriously into seasonal eating. Another love of mine is dining out. Put the two together and you get Blue Hill at Stone Barns. This is a great restaurant in upper Westchester County that serves fresh-from-the-farm foods put together in interesting, creative ways. It’s not cheap, so it’s quite a treat to go there, but well worth it for a great dining experience.

Last night Andy and I went with another couple who had never been there before. Andy and I have been there a few times before and the menu is always different, based completely on what the chefs bring in from the farm that day. The meal started in quite a nutritious, but delicious, way, with tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce from the farm, shown here, for us to snack on:

The meal was four courses plus a dessert. Although this is a lot of food, the portions are smaller than what you’d regularly find when dining out, so we didn’t feel overly full when we left. Plus, there were lots of veggies, which kept the meal light and clean feeling. Here are some of the highlights of the evening.

Our first course was a summer fruit and vegetable salad with apricots, white peaches, heirloom cherry tomatoes, purslane, and string beans, in a tomato water broth. It was delicious! Here is a picture of it:

Another interesting preparation was a poached egg over kale and chanterelle mushrooms in an eggplant broth. This had a smoky, “umami,” flavor, but was also very light and provided a nice combo of protein and vegetables.

The other two dishes were mostly protein (fish and lamb) with very light and clean preparations as well. And finally dessert was a rectangular dark chocolate parfait with raspberry sorbet and fresh berries. Unfortunately I didn’t get shots of the other two savory courses or the dessert course, but they were delish!

And lastly, instead of petit fours at the end of the meal, we were served two plates of wild blueberries, white peaches, and apricots. What a nice, healthy way to end the meal!

As you can see, although this was a five course plus meal, the portions were small, balanced with protein, vegetables, and healthy fat.

What’s your favorite seasonal restaurant?