I continue to eat my way across Manhattan, most often with Craig, my wonderful partner in calories. Here are some of the restaurant experiences we have had during the “cold” winter months when we wine and dine ourselves silly.

Quality Meats

This was Craig’s dream steak house to go to so I took us there as part of his Christmas present back in December. Our excitement and high expectations did not lead to disappointment. This placed lived up to the hype and more. I have now eaten at The Palm, Strip House, Del Frisco, Delmonico’s, and I will say that this was the tastiest steak I have had in NYC. We were blown away by how flavorful and delicious it was. It was cooked perfectly (medium rare for both of us, always) and had a perfect coating of salty seasoning. We both ordered the 24 oz Ribeye, or “The Flinestone” as it is affectionately called by the staff. You can see why.

The food is excellent at Quality Meats. From the freshly baked bread sprinkled with coarse sea salt and rosemary, to our side dish of “French onions,” a French onion soup minus the broth.

And last but definitely not least, Quality Meats is known for having scrumptious homemade ice cream. Ice cream happens to be a favorite of Craig’s, so we ordered the Cookie Monster (bits of oatmeal cookie, chocolate chip cookie, and peanut butter cookie), which came with a free choice of sauce: Chocolate, Caramel, or Butterscotch. The ice cream was great but when dipped into the freshly made butterscotch sauce, it elevated it to a whole other level. Other unique ice cream flavors listed on the menu include Maple Walnut, Coffee & Doughnuts, and Orange Creamsicle Sherbet, so I recommend trying to save a little room for dessert. Not easily done.

Both me and Craig of course had leftovers from our ginormous cut of steak so the goodies continued the next day. For a special occasion, try this stellar and more hip version of a NYC steak house. You will leave very full and very happy.

Le Relais de Venise

Craig got a Gilt City coupon for 2 for 1 dinners at this restaurant that serves only ONE meal. It’s a Parisian steak and frites restaurant that has two other locations, one in London and one on Lexington at 52nd Street. The price per person is for an appetizer and entree. The appetizer is a delicious French style salad. The lettuce was tossed with walnuts in the mustard vinaigrette that is classic French cuisine  (this salad was served alongside the majority of things I ate in Paris and lots of dishes found at NYC French restaurants).

The only entree at Le Relais is a Steak and Frites entree. The steak is cooked to your liking, which the waitresses, dressed in French maid-style uniforms, mark on the paper table clothes in crayon.  The frites are unlimited (I ate what felt like a lifetime supply that night) and the steak is smothered in a green sauce. The waitress would not say what was in it and the restaurant’s webpage describes it as a “secret recipe sauce containing various herbs, spices and condiments.” Whatever it is, the steak in the sauce is extremely tasty. The frites were so fresh and thin, it was impossible to stop eating them, especially when our waitress came back with seconds, which turned into a huge frites mountain on my plate.

I recommend this place for going with parents or grandparents. It is classic in food and ambience with excellent service. We had a really lovely time here.

Cafe Mogador

I met my friend Kristen for dinner at this Morrocan restaurant in the East Village (St. Marks between First and A). It has a super cute and bustling atmosphere. I wanted to give them a shout out for the atmosphere, their delicious mezze, and exotic Morrocan menu choices. We split the Mixed Platter – tabouli, babaganoush, hummus, salad, and their hummus was some of the best I’ve had in this city .

Other menu items include a variety of cous cous-based and tagine dishes that come with you choice of chicken, lamb, or merguez (beef-based sausage). The menu describes a tagine as “long simmered stew seasoned with a traditional blend of herbs and spices” and come served with basmati rice or cous cous. You get to choose among a variety of different flavors, such as  the “Casablanca” (chickpeas, raisins, onions), “Potato Turnip and Saffron,” or the “Charmoulla” (spicy green sauce). Kristen and I split a Lamb Casablanca tagine. It came on the bone and was very flavorful.

This restaurant is a great choice for a catch up with a friend or a date, with its charming atmosphere and unique food.


Last but not least, this restaurant was my choice for Winter Restaurant Week. It is a classy Lebanese restaurant in Gramercy Park. Imagine all your favorites (hot and cold “mezza”, kebabs, and delicious middle eastern dishes that are the highest of quality. The space is really special too, grand with high ceilings, golden wood, and an array of round tables.

What made this restaurant week menu so special was that instead of the regular one appetizer, one entree, one dessert, Ilili lets you pick 2 appetizers (mezza) a person. We both wanted to try the Kebab Kerez (lamb & beef meatballs with cherry sauce kataifi and scallions). We figured each order would be small since we get  to pick 2 a person, so we ordered 2 of those, one hummus with fresh jalapenos (an extra $1) and roasted cauliflower over a bed of tahini, all served with fresh pita bread. Well, it was a meatball all-you-could eat bonanza.  Each order came with about 8-10 small meatballs. Ilili has great hummus also. We were full before we even got our entrees thanks to the four appetizer plates we split.

Even though there wasn’t much room for any, entrees came next. Craig had a lamb plate, which was not his favorite. It came with lots of fruits, which isn’t something either of us typically go for (fruit in savory dishes). I ordered a braised beef plate for a $7 supplement, which it was well worth. It was delicious and made for excellent leftovers since I ate about a third of it.

Desserts were small but that was fine. They were afterthoughts though after the quality and quantity of the savory courses. I highly recommend this place due to its wonderful, colorful Middle Eastern cuisine and it’s gorgeous ambience. Bonus points also for starting the meal off with one of the yummiest cocktails I’ve ever had, a “Not So Bloody Martini,” composed of “heavy water vodka, horseradish juice consommé of tomato, celery, jalapeno.” Refreshing and delicious. A must try for any savory cocktail lover, like myself. It was a combo of two of my top drinks when I’m hungry, a bloody mary mixed with a dirty martini.