Food should be fun!

While I’ve mentioned The Mermaid Inn several times in this blog, I’m not sure that I’ve ever made my obsession with it totally clear. My friend Mary and I are at their Upper West Side location at least twice a month!

What makes The Mermaid Inn so amazing, you ask? Well other than the great food, atmosphere and reasonable prices, they also host the “Happiest Two Hours”  in all of New York!

Every single day of the week, from 5-7pm, Mermaid offers $1 East Coast oysters, $5 beers, $6 wine, $7 cocktails and other snacks like mini fish tacos or shrimp slider for $3-$7. Also… wait for it… wait for it… at the end of every meal, happy hour or not, you get a tiny cup of chocolate pudding for free!


See why oyster loving gals like Mary and I think of this place as a little slice of heaven?

This summer The Mermaid Inn introduced their Summer Crab Boil. Every Tuesday night in the summer they’d be covering their lovely linen table clothes with paper and for $26 you get a bucket of Maryland Blue Crabs, corn, potatoes and jalapeno cornbread. We’ve been meaning to try it all summer so when we found out that our friend Brian, a fellow Mermaid Inn lover who lives in St. Louis, would be in town it seemed like a perfect time to go.

We started out with our oysters as usual and then ordered 3 crab specials. After our oysters were finished a bus person brought a bucket of “tools” over. The bucket contained mallets, picks, extra napkins, wet naps and these fashionable plastic aprons.


We were also each left with a piece of jalapeno corn bread. A few minutes later our bucket o’ food arrived.

The buser literally come over with a huge bucket and then emptied it by piling a mound of crabs, corn and potatoes all covered in Old Bay seasoning in the middle of our table. At that point we knew we were in for some fun!


Eating a whole crab is a lot of work. There is cracking and hammering and picking and sucking involved. Every time we cracked and hammered, bits of crab went flying. We were up to our elbows in Old Bay seasoning and Mary and I both regretted not pulling our hair up before we started eating. It took forever and we were filthy and we had the best time ever! Everything was delicious, we could not stop laughing and getting dirty with abandon reminds you why you loved playing in the mud as a kid.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a crab boil, do it and if you live in or are visiting Manhattan you should definitely stop by The Mermaid Inn. If you visit the Upper West Side location make sure to tell them that Mary and Alli sent you!


If you read this blog at all, you know that there are certain chefs who I consider my personal heroes. One of those chefs is Bill Telepan, chef/owner of the eponymous Telepan.

Bill Telepan doesn’t have a regular TV gig and he’s not famous outside of foodie circles, but he’s widely admired in chef circles. His restaurant garners top marks, including a 27 Zagats rating. Bill Telepan is also a prime example of what I call “a true foodie.” He’s a chef who was sourcing locally and sustainably before that was cool and he is very active with local hunger charities.

His restaurant is also 3 blocks from my house!

I’ve been dying to dine at Telepan, but you may be shocked to find out that working for a social justice organization while living in the most expensive city in America doesn’t exactly leave me with a ton on expendable income. Luckily last week was restaurant week and restaurants across the city, including Telepan, offered a 3 course meal for $38!

I’m not as big on restaurant week as you might think because the special restaurant menus have limited choices which is not a great thing for people with food allergies. However, I took a look at the menu posted on Telepan’s website and saw what looked like many safe items so I messaged my friend Paul and Janet to see if they wanted to join me and booked us a table!

I booked through Opentable because it was hard to get a reservation so I wanted to snap up a table when I saw it. This meant that U didn’t call ahead to tell them about my allergies as I usually do, but rather typed a note about them to the online reservation. I wasn’t worried because Telepan is a high end restaurant which is where I generally have my best experience as an allergic diner. Also, I’ve used Opentable before, though usually for restaurants I’ve dined at before, and found that the maitre d always checks the notes.

I met Paul and Janet at the restaurant. When we checked in with the hostess I was surprised that she didn’t say “and we have a note about food allergies,” but I figured that our waiter would mention it at the table.

After we were seated at the table and our waiter came over I handed him one of my allergies cards and said, “I’m sure that you have this already, but please let the kitchen know that I have these food allergies.” I was greeted with a blank stare. This was clearly the first my waiter was hearing of my food allergies. Fail #1.

Telepan has a cool concept for restaurant week. For the $38 price you can order either an appetizer, mid course and entree, though the whole table has to order the same option. Since Janet is the only real sweet eater of the group we decided to go with the mid course option and then split a dessert off of the regular menu if we felt like it later.

After we’d placed our order and our drinks had been served, another member of the staff (not sure what to call him, maybe a runner?), came over with an amuse bouche of cheddar gourges. I asked if they were safe with my food allergies. He gave me a “how the hell should I know look?” and told me to ask my waiter. Fail #2. At high end restaurants they usually tell all the staff when a table has food allergies and I’ve been told at other high end restaurants more than once that they’s “Never offer me anything they hadn’t made sure was safe first.”

It took an absurdly long time for us to flag down our waiter. When he finally came over and I asked about the gorges his response was not, “I’ve already checked” or, “I’m so sorry I’ll check with the kitchen,” but “Umm, I mean I think there’s just flour and cheese.” Fail #3. Big, huge, fail. First of all that did nothing to make me feel safe. Second, really there are only two ingredients in your gorges, flour and cheese? Can I get that recipe then because I’ll make them every day. Needless to say, I didn’t try the gorges.

The appetizer was the only course I’d had trouble ordering. The only thing on that menu that I could eat was shrimp and grits, which I love, but they came with a coddled egg. I do NOT eat runny eggs. But I just figured I’d order it and eat around the egg, which is exactly what I did.


The dish was tasty. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and nice and spicy, though the grits could’ve been a bit smoother.

For the mid course I ordered the egg pasta with smoked brussels sprouts. Which I thought meant egg-pasta, not a pasta that would have another coddled egg on it. Oops! This egg was wobblier than the last. After a good laugh, Paul, a runny egg aficionado said, “I’ll take your egg.” So, with the precision of a surgeon I carefully slid my spoon under the soft egg, slowly lifting it from the dish as Paul held his plate close. We were so close with mere inches between my spoon and his plate when splat! the egg slid off the spoon on to the table and splattered. More laughter ensued though needless to say I was a bit embarrassed when a member of the waitstaff came to clean it up. “Oh excuse me, I don’t get out much.”


Obviously the photo above was taken before the unsuccessful removal of the egg. While I’m sure that the egg would’ve added an unctuousness, this dish was really delicious. The smokey smell was heavenly and hit you as soon at it was placed on the table and the flavor definitely matched.

For my main course I chose the scallop chowder. Which was the absolute standout of the night.


It was really a deconstructed chowder. Flavorful comforting broth with a bit of spice surrounded a bed of silky, creamy, buttery potato purée on top of which had been place a generous helping of succulent, perfectly cooked shellfish.

By the time we’d cleared our entree plates we were tipsy and it good spirits so we decided to take a serious look at the dessert menu. Apparently Paul and I forgot that we’re not big sweets eaters because, in solidarity with Janet, we both ordered dessert. In my defense though, lemon is one of my weaknesses and so how could I not order the lemon merengue tart with an accompanying citrus and white chocolate salad.



This was my kind of dessert, tart and sweet lemony custard with just a whisper of meringue encased in a light buttery crust. Yum.

The food at Telepan did not disappoint, which only made my issues with the service more surprising. You may be surprised to hear though, that I very much want to give Telepan another try. Based on everything I’d previously heard and my high regard for Bill Telepan I truly believe that this was just an off night and one not so great waiter. Next time though, I’ll definitely be calling first!

The verdict:
Food rating: A
Service/food allergy accommodations: C
Overall rating: See above

Del Posto

Del Posto is the most formal of restaurants in Mario Batali’s (swoon) empire. I had eaten there years ago when they first opened and was looking forward to giving it another try with my parents last Friday. It did not disappoint.

As usual I’d called ahead and let the restaurant know about my food allergies. The moment I walked in the host assured me that they knew about my allergies and would take good care of me. After we were seated our waiter came over to ask which one of us had food allergies and then again assured me that they were prepped and ready. I was definitely feeling confident.

Though you can order a la carte the menu is set up to encourage you to order the five course price fixed dinner so that’s just what we did!

After ordering we were presented with the amuse bouche; a “shot” of cauliflower, potato and fennel soup rimmed with parmesan, whipped ricotta in polenta cups and mini chicken and celery sandwiches. Each an everyone was heavenly, but I think the soup was my favorite. Of course I forgot to take a picture before we’d eaten two of the three items!

The bread basket was equally fantastic and was served with whipped salted butter and whipped lardo (that’s pork fat!). Yum!

For my appetizer I had my eye on the Chilled Lobster with Cipolline Onions, Meyer Lemon and Parsley. Unfortunately it also came with beans, but the waiter assured me that it would be no problem to leave them out. Score! The dish was lovely; the lobster was perfectly cooked and the slight acidity of the meyer lemon was perfect with the rich sweet lobster.

The five course tasting menu comes with two pasta courses shared by the whole table, music to this carboholic’s ears! For the first we chose one of Del Postos signature pasta’s
Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab, Sliced Jalapeno and Minced Scallion. O. M. F. G. This was the best dish of the night. The pasta was perfectly al dente, the crab meat succulent, the jalapeños had some serious kick and the scallions gave the dish a crisp bite.

The second pasta was another Del Posto signature, Yesterday’s 100 Layer Lasagna alla Piastra, which is made with 50 thin sheets of pasta layer with meat sauce and bechamel and then charred on top because, as our waiter said, “you know how everyone always fights for the burnt corners.” Unlike our idea of gooey cheesy Italian-American style lasagna this one had no cheese, but was just as heavenly. The layers just melted in your mouth.

For my main course I went for the Sardinian Lamb Chop, Roman Artichokes, Bruised Mint and Saffron Potatoes. Lamb is my favorite meat so I order it often. Like my beef I prefer it medium rare. The meat was perfectly cooked and there was an added treat of braised lamb neck meat hidden under the chops. The meat was tender and buttery. This was a perfect cold day comfort dish.

As often happens in restaurants, a different waiter came to take our dessert orders, but I need not worry because he too had been prepped on my food allergies. When he brought the dessert menus he let me know which desserts were safe for me or could be modified to be safe for me. I decided on the Butterscotch Semifreddo Crumbled Sbrisolona (cookies). The Semifreddo normally comes with melon agrumata (ices, I think?), but since I can’t do melon they happily left it off for me.

I love butterscotch and I hate the bad rap it’s been given by that cloyingly sweet stuff you get from plastic containers. This butterscotch semifreddo could single handedly redeem all butterscotch. It was not overly sweet at all. The texture of the Semifreddo was perfect, so creamy and smooth and it sat on top of a pool of rich deep dark caramel.


Yes that’s a candle in my dessert… 😉

But wait we’re not done… Because then they brought the petit fours. Six different petit fours to be exact and all six were safe for me! Unfortunately I was stuffed and tipsy by that time so the picture I snapped is terrible and I don’t remember what each different petit four was, but my favorite was the donut filled with lemon cream and topped with cinnamon sugar. I’m not a big donut fan because I usually find them heavy and greasy, but this one was light as air. As much as I loved my Semifreddo, I actually think that donut was even better.


All in all a wonderful meal.

The verdict:
Food rating: A
Service/food allergy accommodations: A+
Overall rating: OMG

Pickles and friends and beer oh my!

I hope you all had a good weekend last weekend. Mine was pretty crazy awesome! Two of my very favorite people in the world, my friends Heather and Justin of Halloween party fame came to visit!

Heather is one of my besties who had the good sense to marry someone as awesome as she is. OK, truth is we’ve all admitted that Justin is kind of the male version of me; a loud mouth liberal who loves beer and sports so it’s no wonder we get along so well.

I had been saving that special bottle of beer that I won, Hill Farmstead Vera Mae, for Heather and Justin’s visit and also planned dinner at a restaurant in my neighborhood that I’ve been dying to try, Jacob’s Pickles. Neither of those disappointed.

After a nice day of walking around, seeing decorations and visiting the Columbus Circle Christmas market we headed home to relax before dinner and open that prized bottle of beer.

I didn't take pictures of the beer because I'm embarrassed by my selection of glasses, Yes, that's Justin pouring beer in to a mason jar.

I didn’t take pictures of the beer because I’m embarrassed by my selection of glasses, Yes, that’s Justin pouring beer in to a mason jar.


O.M.F.G. Seriously one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. Vera Mae is a saison style ale which happens to be my favorite type of beer. We new we had something special on our hands the moment we opened the bottle and were hit with an intoxicating citrus and yeast aroma. It poured a beautiful pale hazy yellow with a thick white head (uh huh huh, she said “thick head”, yes thank you Beavis). Then of course came those first sips. Vera Mae has this mild sweetness from the honey it’s brewed with, sitting just behind a bright tartness and an earthiness that rounds the whole thing out. This beer is truly refreshing and you need to remind yourself to sit back and savor the flavor because it would be easy to slurp this drink back. Heather, Justin and I all declared ourselves Vera Mae fans down to the last drop!

After we finished our beers we headed out to dinner. Jacob’s Pickles, a southern style restaurants that’s gotten great reviews, has been open in my neighborhood for about a year so I can’t believe that I hadn’t eaten there yet. They have a great great craft beer selection too, so I’ve been there for a drink at the bar and snacked on their amazing fried pickles, but this was my first real meal there.

The three of us met up with two other friends and we were immediately overwhelmed, not because the menu is huge (it’s average sized), but because everything looked amazing! Naturally we asked out waiter, who was totally adorbs btw, what his favorite menu item was. His response was, “If I could eat the Mushroom Gravy Smothered Chicken Biscuit Sandwich everyday of my life and not weigh 1000 pounds I would.” Well with that endorsement…!

This pictures are not mine. I blatantly and knowingly stole them from Don't sue me.

This pictures are not mine. I blatantly and knowingly stole them from
Don’t sue me.

To start we ordered fried pickles and deviled eggs, neither of which I remembered to take pictures of! As for main courses, four out the five of us followed the waiters advice and ordered the Mushroom Gravy Smothered Chicken Biscuit Sandwich. Justin decided to go rogue and instead ordered the Sausage Gravy Smothered Chicken Biscuit Sandwich. He’s a real wild man. The sandwiches came with a side of cheese grits, which three of us went for while two in our party substituted with mashed potatoes.

The fried pickles were as good as I remembered. The pickles themselves are made in house so they’re wonderfully flavorful and crisp. They’re cut in to spears and fully enrobed in a batter that remains light and crispy and not too greasy and they’re served with a side of spicy aioli. YUM!

As for the eggs… I am so ashamed to admit this… I didn’t even try them. I love deviled eggs so much, but there was just sooo much food. Everyone else though, declared them just about the best deviled eggs they’d every had.

Terrible photo; amazing dish!

Terrible photo; amazing dish!

Our waiter, in addition to being adorable, was also not a liar. Mushroom Gravy Smothered Chicken Biscuit Sandwich was outrageous. The biscuit light and crumbly, the chicken perfectly cooked with a crisp thin coating, the gravy rich and flavorful loaded with earthy mushrooms, made the whole thing a transcendent experience. Oh and those grits! There are two kinds of grits in this world, terrible or great; there is no in between with grits. Unfortunately many people have only experienced the terrible variety which is a shame. Luckily for us the grits at Jacob’s Pickles   were of the amazing variety. Silky smooth and filled with goeey cheesy flavor.

I will definitely be returning to Jacob’s Pickles, especially since next time I have my eye on the Honey Chicken and Pickles biscuit sandwich!

Have you had any particularly great food, beer of friend experiences lately?

Treating Myself To Dinner

So I’m still playing catch up.

The Friday after Rosh Hashanah I had an errand to run at Chelsea Market (and by errand I mean picking up done cookies at Eleni’s, my favorite nut free bakery!). Since Colicchio and Sons is just across the street I decided to buy myself a drink at the bar.

When I sat down I was delighted to find that they had my favorite beer in the world, Tröegs Dreamweaver, on tap.


After a few sips, I realized that I was hungry. Luckily Colicchio and Sons offers pizzas that are affordable and filling. The bartender recommended the pizza with Taleggio, lardo, honey and figs, but I informed him that I was allergic to figs and went over my other allergies with him. He suggested I still get the pizza and he’d have the kitchen leave off the figs so I went with it.

While I was waiting for my pizza I talked to the bartenders about what a huge fan I am of Colicchio and Sons. I guess hearing that I’m a loyal customer prompted the always awesome staff to go the extra mile for me because a waiter came over and rewarded me with a tea cup of chilled corn soup with cucumber. OMG yum!


And fresh baked Parker House rolls!


And then it was time for this amazingly decadent pizza.


Thank you Colicchio and sons for your fantastic food and impeccable service. You never fail me!

Hoboken Pilsener Haus & Biergarten

I hate Hoboken

Hoboken is absolutely awful

Last night I journeyed to the depths of hell

Last night I made my way out to Hoboken to see my friend Karen. To say that Hoboken is not my scene would be putting it mildly. The only thing that could possibly get me there is Karen, who, for those of you who know Hoboken, sticks out like a sore thumb there as she does not work in Finance and has interests other than making as much money as possible during the week while still acting as crude and immature as a college kid on the weekends by getting as drunk as humanely possible, throwing up, hooking up and then not remembering any of it the next day. Karen is actually the polar opposite of that which is why she’s the one and only thing I actually like about Hoboken.

Karen took me to the new(ish) Hoboken Pilsener Haus & Biergarten, which was really nice. (Hoboken actually has really great restaurants, it’s just the patrons that kill it.)



We split the pretzel to start.


For the main course Karen had the Chicken Paprikash


And I had the Beef Goulash.


So much like a flower can grow through trash, even in a place like Hoboken if you have great friends, good food and beer; a great night is assured.

The NoMad

So I’ve been back from Europe for a couple of days now and I’m just playing catch up. I wish I could tell you that I love being back to reality, but I don’t. Send me back on vacation any time!

Anyway, the Saturday before I left for my trip we celebrated my dad’s birthday at The NoMad, the hot new restaurant in The NoMad hotel. We’d been wanting to try it for some time and when I found out my friend Thomas, who I know from his time at another of my favorite restaurants, was now the Wine Director at NoMad I was even more excited.

Of course, as always, I’d called ahead to let the kitchen know about my allergies. After we were seated our waiter assured me that he and the kitchen were both aware of my needs and would have no problem accommodating me. Unfortunately, when I asked after Thomas I found out that he was out giving a lecture and wouldn’t return until much later in the evening. Oh well, that just means I’ll have to make another visit to NoMad!

I always check the online menu’s of any restaurant I’m going to because it gets me even more excited. I noticed on The NoMad’s cocktail menu they also serve “soft cocktails.” I love the concept because of course some people don’t drink (generally people who I have nothing on common with…) and it’s nice to have something special for those guests. Generally the only soft drinks I enjoy are water, milk and black tea, having never developed a taste for most others, but when I noticed the Basil-Fennel “Soda” on the menu, a mix of basil, fennel, lemon and sparkling water; I knew I had to try it!

Tart and delicious, but don’t worry I drank plenty of wine too!

When the waiter brought over our menus, he let me know that the kitchen would be happy to make a modification to any items on the menu, for example omitting the cherries from the pork dish or the beans from the lobster. Score! I love it when restaurants are so accommodating because I’m not being picky, I have a health issue.

After we ordered we were presented with a warm loaf of rustic bread with zucchini on top and the waiter assured me it was safe for me. Heavily flavored with rosemary, the bread was pure comfort on a plate (well wooden cutting board, but you get what I mean).

For my appetizer I ordered the Tagliatelle with King Crab Meyer Lemon and Black Pepper.

As soon as the dish was placed in front of me the amazing scent of meyer lemons wafted up to my nose. The crab was plump and sweet which paired perfectly with the acidity of the lemon and the spice of the pepper. My dad had the same appetizer and we both agreed that it was perfection.

My choice for main course had me at hello, Bone Marrow Crusted Filet Mignon! Of course I ordered it medium rare and waited for the magic to happen. When it arrived I was not disappointed. The steak was cooked perfectly and the richness of the marrow was cut by just the right amount of garlic. The dish was served on a bed of whipped potatoes that felt like silk on your tongue and one of my favorite elements of the dish were the green onions that were served whole, roots and bulb and all, and pan fried crisp. I have a weird relationship with mushrooms, not usually loving the “fancy” kind, but even the mushrooms in this dish were great.

When it came time to order dessert I reminded the waiter again of my allergies which is an important tip. Remember that the people making and plating your desserts are rarely the same as those preparing the main meal. The waiter assured me he’d check with the kitchen again and wouldn’t bring anything unless it was absolutely safe for me. Yeah!

Feeling confident I ordered the Strawberry Shortcake with Lemon Foam and Strawberry Sorbet because once I see the word strawberry I never feel the need to look further. I don’t really know how you can go wrong with strawberry shortcake and this one was top flight. Perfectly tart strawberries, buttery flaky biscuits and airy lemon foam with just a touch of sweetness.

As usual I forgot to take a picture of dessert before digging in. The problem is I’m usually tipsy by the time dessert arrives.

The verdict:
Food rating: A+
Service/food allergy accommodations: A
Overall rating: OMG

Lincoln Ristorante

This is what awesomeness looks like.

This is the ticket my waiter received when my parents and I had Father’s Day dinner. Matt, our ridiculously awesome amazing waiter, showed it to me after our meal. Sorry that the qualities so poor, but down in the bottom it reads “ALLERGY,” which means Matt was prepped before he even got to our table. That translates to a fantastic and safe experience for me.

Lincoln, which I believe opened two years ago, is located right in Lincoln Center which is undoubtedly one of the prettiest structures in New York. Though I rarely comment on the ambience of a restaurant (I do notice, I’m just too lazy to blog about it), I have to give a Lincoln a shout out for utilizing their beautiful location. The walls on three sides (I think) are entirely glass so you really feel like your eating in the middle of Lincoln Center. Anyway, on to the food.

As Matt stood at our table taking our orders, he reviewed the ingredients of everything I ordered with me, assuring me he’d also of course make sure the kitchen was aware of all of allergies. Having a waiter who could run through ingredients with me and who was so attentive already put me at ease before a bite of food entered my mouth!

This definitely amused my bouche!

After ordering, a food runner brought an amuse bouche to our table and explained that these were toast rounds with a mushroom, herb and goat cheese mixture. As I’ve said before, restaurant often forget about food allergies when it comes to the amuse bouche — well not so much forget as one station forgets to tell the other– so I eyed the amuse nervously when I noticed our waiter, Matt, nearby. I called him over and he assured me that they were safe for me and that the kitchen was aware of my needs and wouldn’t send anything to the table that I couldn’t eat. Upon hearing that I excitedly grabbed for my goat cheese mushroom toast and found it to be delicious. I loved the earthyness of the mushrooms with the creaminess of the goat cheese.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Next it was appetizer time. It’s soft shell crab season here on the east coast, a time that makes me very very happy! During the summer months blue crabs shed their hard outer shells leaving them “soft shelled,” which means you can eat right through the shell. I know that many people outside of the east coast have never seen soft shells and are a bit freaked out by the concept, but they are really delicious. The mean inside is, at it’s best, plump and juicy and the shell is really easy to chew through with just the slightest bit of crunch.

Left: mom’s prosciutto with artichoke mustard
Right: dad’s quail with barley, bacon, pickled currants

Lincoln served their soft shell crab tempura battered with pickled green tomato, cucumber, red onion, celery and tomato mayonnaise. It was basically like eating a northeastern summer on a plate. Though the crab looks heavily battered, the coating was so light and crispy with a hint of butteryness that highlighted the plump juicy crab inside perfectly. The vegetables were bright and crisp with just the slightest tang from pickling.

This is sexy food

The most frustrating part of my whole meal came early on when I had to order my entrée, the problem; too many awesome things to choose from! OK, I’ll admit that’s a great problem to have. With some helpful suggestions Matt  I decided on the Strozzapreti Neri Alla Puttanesca; squid ink pasta with shrimp, olives, caperberries and anchovies. Puttanesca is one of my all time favorite pastas and this was basically a crazy kicked up gourmet version. I wish I had the words to describe this dish.

Left: mom’s steelhead trout with polenta
Right: dad’s mixed seafood with fregola

The squid ink pasta itself was incredible. The pasta had such a fantastic texture I hesitate to use the word chewiness which might lead you to think that the pasta was undercooked and tough or over cooked and mushy, but the pasta just had a great feeling on your teeth. The sauce had a nice kick of heat with plenty of acidity and brightness from the tomatoes and that great salty kick of olives, anchovies and caperberries. The shrimp were fresh, meaty and perfectly cooked. I could eat this pasta every day and die happy.


Fun fact- strawberries are my favorite food in the entire world. As much as I love going out for these artful meals and experimenting in the kitchen myself, if you simply brought me a giant flat of the freshest juiciest (organic and locally grown of course ;)) strawberries I would be yours forever. So you can imagine that when I saw the ricotta cheesecake with macerated strawberries, black pepper crema and strawberry sorbetto I looked no further. My dad shared it with me and shared some of my mom’s Zuppe Inglese with raspberries and lady fingers too. Matt informed me that there was usually something with almond on the dessert, I think maybe the crumbs underneath the sorbetto, but the kitchen would simply replace it with vanilla for me. Love!

Right: mom’s Zuppe Inglese, rapsberries, lady fingers
Left: 2008 Vintage Turnina to accompany the meal

When the dessert came I had a moment of panic, as is common with people living with food allergies, but Matt assured me that the kitchen had taken care and it was vanilla and not almond on my plate. Feeling reassured, I couldn’t wait and dived right in and ate and ate and ate, until there were two bites left and I remembered that I hadn’t taken a picture. Sorry! The cake was so light it pretty much floated in to your mouth. The strawberries were perfectly sweet while the cake had just a touch of sweetness so they played off of each other perfectly. For someone who is not a huge sweets eater and has a take it or leave it attitude towards chocolate, this is pretty much my perfect dessert.

Petit freaking fours for me!

Once our dessert plates were cleared, a food runner brought over a plate of petit fours and placed it between my parents. I found this really considerate since all I heard was walnut this and peanut that. I wasn’t paying much attention since I never eat the petit fours out of concern that they haven’t been vetted for me, when I noticed Matt coming towards me with a silver platter. He’d brough out special petit fours just for me! Some kind of caramels that were amazing (seriously I could’ve eaten a bag full) and a bite sized buttery raspberry crumb cake. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever eaten petit fours before because no ones ever brought me “safe” ones before.


Seriously I wish that I could clone Matt and have him as my waiter at every place I eat!

As a broke ass non-profit do gooder I only go to these fancy joints when my parents are paying, but the food, service and atmosphere were so divine at Lincoln that I’m thinking of going back to grab a drink and an entrée at the bar. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Lincoln Ristorante and to Matt especially for making this allergic to everything gal’s experience so special!

The verdict:
Food rating: A
Service/food allergy accommodations: A+
Overall rating: OMG

Sweet Cheeks Q (Boston)


Last week I had to be in Boston for work all week and conveniently one of my besties wedding showers was on Sunday so I stayed all through the weekend. It was an exhausting trip (though spending the weekend with some of my besties was awesome), but left me with some great food experiences because, as you may remember Massachusetts has awesome food allergy legislation that let’s me eat there with very little worry. Love!

My friend Nadira and I traveled to Boston together arriving around dinnertime on Monday. Having worked in the morning followed by a 4 hour train ride we were tired and hungry. We quickly dropped off our things and headed out to a nearby BBQ joint, Sweet Cheeks Q. The restaurant, which is fairly new, had been recommended by several people before our visit, but it wasn’t until we got there that I found out it was owned by Tiffani Faison, a finalist on Top Chef season one!

Don’t let that little one fool you, she is hot hot hot!

When we arrived all the tables were full, but the hostess informed us that we could sit at any of the counters along the window and would still get waiter service there. How cool! We chose seats, got comfortable and studied the menus as soon as our waiter handed them to us. Our waiter explained to us that Sweet Cheeks is a true Texas style BBQ which means everything is dry rubbed and you put the sauce on yourself. There were 3 sauces in front of us, Sweet Cheeks barbecue sauce, a HOT habenero sauce and a Carolina style vinegar based sauce.

House Bill 819, not your mama’s ice tea

Normally I’m not a big cocktail drinker, preferring beer or wine, but when the waiter recommended the House Bill 819, Nadira and I both decided to order one. The House Bill 819 is made from tea infuse whiskey with mint, lemon and simple syrup and, like all the drinks at Sweet Cheeks, are served in a mason jar. The drink was strong and delicious.

Pretty much a perfect meal

For our dinner Nadira and I both chose pulled pork on bulky rolls. For $6 more you can get one “cold scoop” side dish and one “hot scoop.” I went with the mac and cheese and sour cream potato salad and Nadira went with the potato salad as well and the barbecue baked beans. I had given the waiter my allergy card earlier and he went to check with the kitchen after I’d ordered. Our very sweet waiter returned to our table and told me that the kitchen wanted me to know that the food I ordered was safe, but since they do use a lot of the foods I’m allergic too they might be “in the air.” I politely replied, “But none of the things on my allergy card are in what I ordered and you segregate ingredients in your kitchen right? OK, than I’m good”

Mini-rant time: While I appreciate their vigilance let me clear up two misconceptions. 1. Reactions to airborne food allergies is extremely rare. Most of us with potentially life threatening food allergies can be near those foods with no problem, we just can’t eat them or touch them (and even touching them, if you immediately washed your hands would likely only trigger itching/swelling/hives and not anaphylaxis though I’m not picking up a handful of nuts anytime soon). 2. Again I truly appreciate that the restaurant is trying, but obviously if I’m eating at a restaurant, any restaurant, I already know that there are ingredients I can’t eat “in the air.”

A little while later our trays emerged from the kitchen and did not disappoint. O.M.G. I don’t even think I have the words to describe how good this was! The mac and cheese and potato salad were delish, but the pulled pork was the star of the show. It was everything you want in pulled pork; sloppy, juicy, meaty and slightly smokey. Nadira and I are both big fans of spicy food and the habenero sauce was not for the faint of heart. Neither of us had much interest in the Carolina style sauce instead dousing our sandwiches with the flavorful barbecue sauce which packed a little kick and then carefully adding a few drops of the habenero sauce (even for spicy food junkies this stuff was lethal!).

Heaven, otherwise known as butterscotch pudding

We both finished about half our trays and asked for the other half wrapped since we had a refrigerator where we stayed. We were stuffed yet somehow Nadira, who weighs approximately 15lbs, can somehow always find room for dessert. As you know I’m not a huge dessert person and even though when waiter described the butterscotch pudding with salted caramel top to Nadira it sounded like my perfect dessert I insisted I wasn’t having any. Then the waiter brought out the dessert and informed me that he’d double checked with the kitchen and it was safe for me and after that, and Nadira’s chiding me to split it, how could I resist?

The dessert came in a half sized mason jar which made it the perfect petite dessert to split. The pudding was smooth and creamy and not cloyingly sweet. The caramel on top was gooey, sticky perfection and the flex of sea salt played perfectly with its sweetness. I’d consider selling a kidney for that dessert. We left fat and happy with Nadira vowing she’d return on Thursday night before she left to go back to New York. Nadira does not make idle promises…

I forgot to take a picture before we dove in

On Thursday, after our day of meetings, Nadira headed back to Sweet Cheeks and Kate (yes vegetarians can sit in bbq joints) and I, who both had dinner plans later, joined her for a drink. Nadira ordered another pulled pork sandwich, Kate got the House Bill 819 and I went with a cocktail again, the Dollywood which was a mix of vodka, lemon cordial, lemon juice and sparkling wine. I forgot to take a picture of it, but I loved it even more than the House Bill. A few sips in Kate suggested she and I get a couple of biscuits with honey butter. The biscuits were enormous and neither of us could finish them which was sad because they were crazy amazing. A little crusty on the outside and buttery, soft and fluffy on the inside.

On Friday, after all of my meetings were over, my friend Heather picked me up so that I could stay with her and her husband Justin for the weekend. While we were talking I mentioned Sweet Cheeks which Heather and Justin hadn’t yet tried. We had tickets to a Sox game the next day and, after hearing my description, Heather requested that we go to Sweet Cheeks for lunch beforehand. That’s right people, I was there 3 times in one week! Does that say something about how amazing this place is? I didn’t bother with pictures at lunch, but I once again had the pulled pork with mac and cheese and this time coleslaw, Justin had the brisket on Texas toast with two sides and Heather had the ribs with two sides. Heather and Justin loved the food as much as I did and I made them promise me we could go back every time I’m in Boston.

The verdict:
Food rating: A+
Service/food allergy accommodations: A-
Overall rating: Made me want to lick my plate in public!

Colicchio and Sons Tap Room

I cannot believe how far behind I am on blogging! I ate at one of my favorite restaurants, Colicchio and Sons, two and a half weeks ago and I’ve only now had a chance to sit down and document it.

Colicchio and Sons is owned by one of my favorite celebrity chefs and host of Top Chef, Tom Colicchio. The restaurant itself is divided in to two parts, the formal Dining Room in the back and the less formal and less pricey Tap Room up front. I’ve eaten at the Tap Room 3 or 4 times and it never ever disappoints. Not only is the food amazing, the service is impeccable and it’s one of the restaurants that keeps my food allergies in their computer so I don’t have to go through the list every time I call and the wait staff is already prepped before I get there.

I had made plans with 3 friends who had never been there before and I was excited for them to have their first Tap Room experience. My friend Nadira and I work together so we travelled to the restaurant together to meet Janet and Paul who had arrived just a few minutes before us and were standing at the bar. I checked in with the hostess and headed to the bar to greet the rest of my crew when I did a double take in to the dining room because what to my wondering eyes should appear? My dad was having dinner there with a friend of his! Though my mom knew I’d be eating at the Tap Room that night she hadn’t mentioned it to my dad so it really was pure coincidence. My dad, who works in the city, had apparently called his friend Ed at 3pm and asked if he wanted to grab a bite and they picked the Tap Room.

We had a good laugh and then I went back to the hostess station to be seated and guess where our table was? Yup, you guessed it; right next to my dad and his friend. They were already being served appetizers when we sat down so we didn’t overlap with them for too long, but it was still a crazy funny coincidence.

To start, we shared a plate of raw oysters (yum!), but I forgot to take a picture. Upon my dad and personal wine guru’s suggestion we ordered the Andrew Will Cabernet Sauvignon for the table which did not disappoint.

When I’m on my death bed I’d like Tap Room bone marrow as one of my final meals. Please remember that.

I love bone marrow! It’s one of my absolute favorite foods and Tap Room probably makes the best I’ve ever had so I get it every time I’m there. I know some people think the idea of it is disgusting, but I can’t understand why eating muscle (ya know like what meat is) is any less gross than eating bone marrow. Bone marrow has a buttery texture and an earthy flavor and is heavenly. Tap Room used to make a version with “Drunken Onions,” but are now serving it with anchovies, another of my favorite foods. Nadira and I shared an order and we both went crazy for it in all it’s marrow-y perfection, but I do think I slightly prefer the older preperation. Either way though I was a happy happy girl!

You know you want me, you know I want you.

For my main course I ordered the ricotta cavatelli with short ribs with tons of ooey gooey cheese baked on top. Do I really have to tell you how that was? I mean come on it was like eating pure comfort! The weather that night was miserable and rainy and this dish was like being wrapped in a warm blanket. It was so hearty that I could only finish half and I intended to take the other half home, but I was having fun talking to my friends and I forgot to ask the waiter. I was so upset after we left and I realized I hadn’t asked for my left overs which just means I’ll have to go back soon!

As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge dessert person so I only get dessert when there’s something that I feel like I can’t live without so while the rest of my crew decided to partake in some sweets, which they raved about, I finished off with a cup of tea. Here is my only complaint, which is something I dislike in many restaurants, they bring your tea already steeped. I drink my tea very week so I prefer to make it myself because by the time it comes to me it’s usually already way too strong. Still it’s a minor complaint in an all around great experience.

The verdict:
Food rating: A
Service/food allergy accommodations: A
Overall rating: Made me want to lick my plate in public!