New York can be charming, classy, and unpretentious all at the same time --if you know where to go. El Quijote in Chelsea has been operating since 1930, as it proudly states on their menu and their matchboxes. Serving some of the best lobster dishes in the city, the restaurant has seen it all, untouched by time the restaurant sticks to authentic Spanish cuisine.
The old world look and feel lingers around every table, every booth, and every stool along the old, dark wood bar. There's character here that is understated because it’s real and not re-created from last centuries interior designs.
Like the Schubert song, this restaurant serenades me and indulges my passion for seafood, bringing me back to the start of my love affair with shrimp, clams and anything else fish and seafood. Even as a little girl growing up in the city, a lobster dinner was a grand treat reserved for special occasions, and when on a summer beach jaunt, clams on the half shell doused with hot sauce was an absolute hit the spot choice. While many my age would be eating hamburgers and fries, I would challenge my taste buds with spectacularly fresh delights gleaned from the sea.
So I walk into this dining spot and the lyrics ring true. Ave Maria... Gratia plena. “Full of grace," with a deliberate seafood emphasis and an airy contemporary feel. First the atmosphere sets the mood, playing on the theme with conch shells lining the window ledges and clay toned booths. Proper white clothed tables about the space cast a nice balance of seriousness in honor of the culinary masterpieces about to be served. From business lunches, to an obvious romantic trysts, this room allows for all diners with a common passion; their seafood rich menu.
Chefs Michael White and Jared Gadbaw (the Chef Di Cucina here) are all about the accenting of seafood with Italian influence and unique interpretations of Mediterranean coastal cuisine. The menu is loaded with choices, using fresh catches sourced from both the Mediterranean and waters worldwide. For those who require no wrappings start with a basic platter of raw oysters, and a nice glass of effervescent Prosecco from Veneto, Italy.
Be sure to order one of their seafood-focused entrees such as the risotto with shrimp, lobster, scallop and bass. If you are looking to keep things simple, try the grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion and chilies. Though it packs a punch, it's certainly not overpowering.
In all of my years of being a seafood fan, I thought that I had tasted it all.
Not the case.
I enjoyed my virgin taste of razor clams at Marea; marinated with fennel and peperoncino. For Branzino fans, the local wild striped bass with roasted eggplant, fava beans and grilled ramps with an apricot mustard is delicious. At the end of the meal, my vote was for the razors. For me it wasn’t just about the stretched body of these clams, resting juicy and tender in their matching shell shapes, like bikini clad sunbathers on the beach. The length of these treasures translates to a larger size clam and at the end of the day being the seafood lover that I am, simply and splendidly it meant: more clams for me.
Summer is officially here and that means weekend Hamptons trips are in full swing. And it's about time. After a record-breaking winter, we're all ready to trade our wool coats for swim trunks, bikinis and flip-flops. Everyone, we're pleased to announce, the wait is over! The party has started.
So if you've been too busy trying to stay dry or longingly staring out the window wondering when you'd see the sun again, we have you covered. From what's new and hot, to what's returning in full glory -here's your guide to what's happening in the Hamptons this Summer!
The Lobsta Truck from New England is driving around LA stocked full with fresh crab and lobster. This product of Maine is fresh and flown in three times a week. Flex those seafood taste buds and savor the flavors from the east coast.
The menu is short but month watering. Have Lobsta Rolls and Crab Rolls (split-top roll, with a bit of mayo or butter), and Clam Chowder (cup or pint). For dessert have a whoopee pie and some Cape Cod chips. Worked up a hunger yet? Find out where they’re going to be next by looking for a red truck with a giant lobster on it or following them on Twitter.
A product of Maine, specialized in New York, is now available in DC for the month of August. Lobstah. Brooklyn’s Red Hook Lobster Pound will be serving lunch all around town. Lobster is trucked down from Maine nearly everyday. This mobile heaven shouldn’t be hard to miss. Silk-screen gives the truck a weathered wooden shack look with rusty a tin roof.
At the window watch original footage of Maine lobstermen on a flat-screen. Order Maine Root sodas with Maine-style lobster or shrimp roll (not sliced or minced) served cold with mayo, lemon, and celery. Need something warm, than try the Connecticut-style lobster roll. Whole claws and knuckle meat warmed in butter. But don’t forget dessert and have Maine’s whoopee pie.
I sometimes have a "Versace Moment," in my day when I feel I am in desperate need of a complete makeover, when my hair is lopsided and the screw is coming out of my cheap reading glasses. It's nothing a good walk up 5th Avenue and a few thousand bucks can't fix. Well, if one of you has a few grand to spare, send it my way, but until then, I'll stick to a splash of water from the bottle on my desk to toss in my hair and a plastic fork to mend those pesky glasses. But today, Miami, you get to have your own "Versace Moment," and it's not going to be to the tune of a month's rent and you won't have to take a trip here to New York to get the full effect.
Anyone wanting to see how much crustacean they can consume in one sitting might want to hit up Francisco’s Centro Vasco in Chelsea, where patrons can order lobsters up to 13 pounds in weight.* Though the gargantuan sizes can set you back up to $200, the more modest portions are actually great deals. I paid $19.95 for a 1 ¼ pound lobster^ which came with delicious sides of green beans, French fries that looked like potato chips and Spanish rice. Naturally, all the essentials for lobster consumption were included, i.e. a giant saucer of melted butter, big plastic bibs that the waiter ties around your neck (one of those rare moments where you can feel good about being treated like a giant baby) and post-meal moist toilettes. The décor included just the right amount of kitsch: giant lobster claws suspended from the ceiling and oil paintings of Spanish harbors and other places both real and imaginary. A great place for those seeking a bargain on a real delicacy.
Lobster lovers rejoice! From now until February 15th your favorite delicacy is on special at Compass Restaurant (208 W. 70th Street). Though the economy may be crumbling, it might still be worth it to shell out (no pun intended) $13 for a Maine Lobster Salad or $16 for Lobster Truffle Ravioli. Slightly steeper are the deals (yes, they’re still deals) on the Butter Poached Maine Lobster ($32) or the three-pound (!!!) Grilled Whole Lobster ($39). For those who don’t have a hankering for crustaceans, there’s always the Petite Filet Mignon or the Pear Soufflée as a zesty desert option. Also, the wine and cocktail selection is commendable.
Non-fish-eating vegetarians may be out of luck.