Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Morton's The Steakhouse: The Legend Lives On (And For Good Reason)!

By: Anne M. Raso

The luxurious Morton's Steakhouse on Fifth Avenue is as great as ever and I think ever steak maniac should have it on their "bucket list"! There is a nothing like a prime piece of Midwestern grass-fed beef grilled in a specially made broiler just for the restaurant--and you can watch from one of New York's most luxurious dining rooms that actually has a dark yet modern ambiance. Wait, let's make it more of a Hollywood glamour ambiance! The decor is definitely Hollywood movie star inspired with oversized ceiling lamps and comfy banquets with the wonderful, brightly lit cook staff area at the helm. On the trip downstairs to the restrooms, black and white photos of current Hollywood megastars line the walls including one of then late 30s George Clooney with Morton’s staff.
Every great Morton’s meal starts out with their hot and fresh Onion Bread, and I ate a whole loaf with fluffy salted butter by myself! I then asked for a “refill,” it was THAT good! Then I ordered the 12-ounce filet mignon done medium rare ($53) with three sides--Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Mac And Cheese (all sides at Morton's are a reasonable $13 and oversized). All of Morton’s meat—thanks to their custom broiler—has a nice charred edge to it, whether you order your steak rare or well done. This is a trademark and its customers love it. There are many side sauces and butters offered for the Morton’s meats, including classic Béarnaise Sauce. I wanted to taste my meat in its purest form and declined on trying the sauces. I will say that as expected, my filet experience was world class. I really did not even need the provided steak knife to cut it. To borrow the age-old Brooklyn expression, “the meat was like buttah”!
Mac And Cheese
The sides were so full of flavor—the Horseradish Mashed Potatoes were whipped nice and firm (how I like them) and the horseradish was not overpowering. The Mac And Cheese was made with ridged curly cue pasta, aged cheddar and heavy cream. It could possibly be the ultimate comfort food. I think a little truffle oil was slipped into the mix as well. The Roasted Brussels Sprouts was a huge three-cup portion and they were obviously roasted with onions, bacon and OVOO! As you might imagine, my dining partner and I had to take home doggie bags on these and everything tasted even better heated up two days later—if that is even possible!
Cooking Steak!
For dessert, my dining partner and I shared the Grand Marnier Souffle ($14) and Apple Crisp ($14.50). Keep in mind that the soufflés made need a half hour prep time, so your wait staff person will check in with you about a half hour before dessert time to see if you are ready for them to put it in the oven. I have to say that the while the Apple Crisp is done in an old-fashioned style with a tower of French crumbs and a big scoop of Haagen-Dazs vanilla with caramel sauce on top, the Grand Marnier Soufflé was one of the dessert highlights of my entire “foodie” career. I can still see its beautiful golden brown color and the elegant way the server cuts it in half for you and your guest. The alcohol taste was pretty much eliminated after being baked and the subtle orange taste of the liqueur shined through. This dessert is a triple wow! I would go to Morton’s post theater to have this item alone and close my evening out with a sugar rush!
Apple Crisp
The Morton’s credo since opening their first eatery in 1978 back in Chicago has been: “Quality. Consistency. Genuine Hospitality.” You certainly get all of that in spades. Wait staff goes through a corporate training class according to the server I got—who also trains new waiters and has been with the Morton’s organization three decades. People spend almost a lifetime at this company—which now has about70 restaurants worldwide—and it’s great to know that they treat their employees as great as their customers. I adored not only the world class service I got from friendly assistant manager Nobel Gonzalez and server Jeff Keene--who have been with the company 18 and 21 years respectively including corporate training of new employees--but I loved the ambiance of being in a luxurious steakhouse with its own niche in the beef lovers’ world. I will definitely be going back to try the giant Porterhouse in the near future—and I also plan a road trip to their Great Neck destination to compare it to the midtown Manhattan location! (They do offer a gluten-free menu to those who need it, BTW, but Morton’s is attentive to any dietary restriction a guest might have.) In a nutshell, Morton’s is a class act—with Béarnaise on top!

Morton’s The Steakhouse
551 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10017
(212) 972-3315
Cuisine: American/Steakhouse

Morton's The Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 17, 2014

The New Grace's Marketplace: Grace, Style And The New "Foodie Central" of The Upper East Side!

By: Anne M. Raso

I was lucky enough to attend the opening day of the eagerly anticipated new Grace's Marketplace at 1299 Second Avenue on the Upper East Side. It was back in April that proprietor Grace Doria learned that her successful business of 29 years had to move from its convenient location at the corner of 71st and Third (the landlord simply did not want food businesses in his building any longer). Ms. Doria found even bigger digs in a newly constructed building at 68th and Second, and it opened on the exact day (November 4th) as her old space opened 29 years ago.
Grace's Grand Opening

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Grand Tasting At The New York Food & Wine Festival: Feasting, Fun And Doing Something Nice To End Hunger!

By: Anne M. Raso

I recently attended my first-ever Grand Tasting at The New York Food & Wine Festival at Piers 92 and 94 even though it’s been happening for seven years now. I was expecting something like the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center, of which I am a longtime veteran. There are a lot of similarities although there are less foreign food brands than at the Fancy Food Show. Do you get as stuffed walking around and sampling from more than 100 booths? You betcha. I gained five pounds yesterday from all that feasting—plus, this year there were more than 100 types of wine to try, not to mention a lot of bourbon and rum!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

All Hail Haldi: Curry Hill's Newest And Possibly Best Eatery!

By: Anne M. Raso

As a matter of fact, the first thing that the server asks you after the gratis papadam (which is in a unique burrito shape) and accompanying condiment tray appear on the table is if you like your food mild, medium or super spicy! I will also say right here that their Raita is extra mild as opposed to having the strong cucumber taste that is traditional. Haldi is a simple yet striking Indian restaurant smack dab in the center of the legendary Curry Hill. There is copper cookware hanging from the ceiling but otherwise it is a modern space with clean lines and the occasional piece of classic Indian and New York street scene artwork. There is a fun wall mural of a Checker cab driving by the Taj Mahal to the immediate left when you walk in. The wonderful smells of Indian spices as you enter make you salivate but don’t worry—if you are someone who prefers your Indian cuisine mildly spiced, they take that into account!

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