First Date Dinners

First dates are hard. What to talk about? Do I have stuff in my teeth? What should I wear? And while I can't help you with any of that I can help you find a great place for your first dinner date. Below are some restaurants with excellent food that your date is bound to love. All you have to do is choose! 

1. Bergen Hill- First you need to confirm if your date likes seafood and if the answer is yes then you need to go to Bergen Hill. The menu focuses on seafood and vegetables so you'll find hen of the woods mushrooms, fennel hummus, langoustine with egg yolk carpaccio and much more. Bergen Hill caters to both raw seafood lovers and fans of grilled octopus with hearty farro. The blue and white mediterranean theme decor, plush lounge seats and minimalist serving dishes are also perfect for getting to know one another in a beautiful place. To read more on Bergen Hill go here

Burrata, tuna tapenade with toast

Burrata, tuna tapenade with toast

Langoustine, egg yolk carpaccio, matchstick potato, crustacean sauce

Langoustine, egg yolk carpaccio, matchstick potato, crustacean sauce

2. L'Artusi- Pasta is a universally loved dish. If your date is into homey, authentic, handmade pasta then make reservations for L'Artusi. Their cheese plates and extensive wine list is also an added bonus guaranteed to make your date happy. L'Artusi is what I like to call a sexy restaurant. It's dim lit, has marble counter with a chef's table where you watch the chefs hustle and an amazing olive oil cake that will end the night on a perfect note. For more on L'Artusi click here.

Gnocchi, rabbit, basil, tomato, parmasean

Gnocchi, rabbit, basil, tomato, parmasean

Olive oil cake, raisins, creme fraiche, vin santo

Olive oil cake, raisins, creme fraiche, vin santo

3. Thursday Kitchen- Thursday Kitchen is a fun place to take your date. They have boozy Capri Sun drinks which will bring up nostalgic memories that you can both share with each other (Capri Sun for the win!). But don't overlook the food. Thursday Kitchen's take on Korean food is modern, involves cheese and is shareable. Since sharing food is a sign of affection and the dishes here are delicious you can rest assure that this date will be a success. To read about other dishes at Thursday Kitchen see here

Edamame dumpling steamed, citrus true oil, green pepper

Edamame dumpling steamed, citrus true oil, green pepper

Truffle mac and cheese with manila clam, fontina, gruyere, mozzarella

Truffle mac and cheese with manila clam, fontina, gruyere, mozzarella

4. Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery- Wish you could pull an Aziz Ansari move from Masters of None and travel someplace for your first date? Now you don't need to because you have Lafayette to transport you to Paris. Lafayette looks just like a Paris bistro and even radiates the smell of fresh bread being baked on the premise. The menu is rich and involves a lot of wine. This place is a win win for your first date.

Rotisserie chicken with potatoes (PC: @vee.kee.see)

Rotisserie chicken with potatoes (PC: @vee.kee.see)

Salmon rillette  with smoked salmon, cucumber and horseradish (PC: @mattbruck)

Salmon rillette  with smoked salmon, cucumber and horseradish (PC: @mattbruck)

5. Gato- I love the interior of Gato! It's spacious so your date won't be bumping elbows with your neighbor, the wood paneling is rustic yet modern and the Spanish- Mediterranean food from Bobby Flay is a homerun. The menu is perfect for literally anyone who enjoys food whether it's seafood, paella, beef or even pizza. You won't leave feeling hungry. 

Oven roasted shrimp, diavolo oil, oregano (PC: @onehungryjew)

Oven roasted shrimp, diavolo oil, oregano (PC: @onehungryjew)

Charred beef, Valdeon Blue cheese, brown butter, red wine, broccoli rabe-farro (PC: @gatonyc1)

Charred beef, Valdeon Blue cheese, brown butter, red wine, broccoli rabe-farro (PC: @gatonyc1)

Maison Pickle, younger brother of Jacob's Pickles opens on the Upper West Side

When I heard Jacob's Pickles Jacob Jadjigeorgis was expanding his empire I knew I would be a customer. Jacob's Pickles is an institution on the Upper West Side and a staple in the NYC comfort food scene that caters to the bloody mary lovers, fried chicken enthusiasts and biscuit & gravy fans. Jadjigeorgis' new restaurant Maison Pickle stays true to it's comfort food roots but elevates its menu options. You may not be able to find fried chicken biscuit sandwiches or meatloaf on the Maison Pickle menu but you will find just as good French dip sandwiches, duck fat fries, feta & olive monkey bread and bone marrow. The restaurant also offers a long list of cocktails that range from sweet, sour and stiff so rest assured that you will find something deliciously complementary for your meal. Maison Pickle is a welcome addition to the Upper West Side where there is a lack of affordable innovative restaurants. This is the perfect place for a date night, a girls night or a Friday night cocktail.  

Shrimp pillow dumplings in ginger butter, scallions and herb oil

Shrimp pillow dumplings in ginger butter, scallions and herb oil

Pull apart feta & olive garlic bread

Pull apart feta & olive garlic bread

Patty melt on buttermilk bread, American cheese, Maison special sauce served with coleslaw and au jus

Patty melt on buttermilk bread, American cheese, Maison special sauce served with coleslaw and au jus

Deluxe French dip with fried onions and gruyere fondue

Deluxe French dip with fried onions and gruyere fondue

Classic duck fat fries

Classic duck fat fries

Favorites

1. Deluxe French dip sandwich- Every part of this sandwich excites me. From the selection of the roll, the perfectly seasoned au jus, the tender beef and the richness of the fondue all of which makes me say "ahhhhh" with every bite.

2. Patty melt- I was in the mood for a burger when I ordered this dish and it exceeded my expectations. It's a generous portion of patty that is not overshadowed by the cheese or the buttery bread which are both divine in its own right. The star of this dish is the patty and rightfully so. If you're a cheeseburger lover then you will love this dish. 

3. Shrimp pillow dumplings- These dumplings are in my top 5 dumplings. The chef puts a large chunk of shrimp in each dumpling so each bite is fulfilling and the ginger butter will have you licking the bowl. It's that good. 

Tuome or not to Tuome?

Tuome is what every date spot should be- intimate, great food, ability to share and strong drinks. Nestled away between avenues A and B on East 5th street, you'll find an unassuming restaurant with dim lights and a strong smell of brown butter. You'll be pleasantly surprised when you walk in to find that although the restaurant may be small, you can still enjoy dinner with company without having to wrestle for any elbow space. Tuome excels in contemporary American food with East Asian influences (think congee, curry, chili, etc.) which is why you can get rice with duck fat but still order chicken liver mousse in the same night. For me every dish at Tuome shines. The chicken liver mousse is sweet and savory due to the smart addition of maple syrup. The deviled eggs have a beautiful crunch to them and the spicy chili pairs really well with the mayo. The lamb meat falls off of the bone easily and tastes so delicious with the peanut toasted quinoa that you'll forget you're eating quinoa. Tuome is a highlight restaurant in NYC and I can't recommend it enough for a small group of friends or for taking a special somebody out to eat. 

Deviled eggs with crispy chilis 

Deviled eggs with crispy chilis 

Chicken liver mousse, maple syrup and milk bread

Chicken liver mousse, maple syrup and milk bread

Lamb shank for 2 with red quinoa, herb yogurt sauce and a side of bibb lettuce 

Lamb shank for 2 with red quinoa, herb yogurt sauce and a side of bibb lettuce 

Favorites:

Everything here is amazing. You cannot go wrong with any dish so order to your heart's content!

A trip to Uncle Boons is a trip to Thailand

Before there was a Mr.Donahues, there was Uncle Boons. The mastermind husband and wife duo first made their splash in Manhattan through this Thai eatery. A while ago a wise chef told me that Uncle Boons was his favorite restaurant in the city. I trusted this chef as his food is delicious (shoutout to Bergen Hill) however it took me some time to actually go. When I finally walked into this deceivingly small looking restaurant in Nolita, steps away from Mr.Donahues, we were told there was a 2 hour wait; you can only make reservations here for parties six and larger. Luckily two seats opened at the bar while we were contemplating whether we could wait two hours. We grabbed them without a second thought. Afterall there is a reason there was a two hour wait. You are able to order the full menu at the bar and we went to town. Every spice, every sliced vegetable in every dish was well thought out and brilliantly executed. The ambience, the decor and the outfits are not a gimmick. You will be transported to Thailand and the food simply elevates that experience. Expect a lot of chilies, peanuts, mango, coconut milk in dried spices and savory curries. Put it all together and you get an outstanding flavor profile. I am grateful for having taken the advice to go to Uncle Boons. It is among my top 5 restaurants in NYC.

Yum Mamoung- green mango salad-avocado, crispy dried squid, crushed peanut, chile and lime

Yum Mamoung- green mango salad-avocado, crispy dried squid, crushed peanut, chile and lime

Mieng Kum- Betel Leaf with ginger, lime, toasted coconut, dried shrimp, chilies & peanuts traditional thai snack

Mieng Kum- Betel Leaf with ginger, lime, toasted coconut, dried shrimp, chilies & peanuts traditional thai snack

Kai Yang Muay Thai- Half chicken with dipping sauces and green mango salad

Kai Yang Muay Thai- Half chicken with dipping sauces and green mango salad

Coconut ice cream with roasted coconut flakes and roasted peanuts

Coconut ice cream with roasted coconut flakes and roasted peanuts

Favorites

1. Yum Mamoung (green mango salad with avocado, cripsy squid, peanuts, lime & chilies)- If you like sweet, savory with hints of tart in your salad then this salad is your dream come true. The dried squid and grilled peanuts adds smokiness and crispiness to the entire dish. 

2. Mieng Kum (betel Leaf with ginger, lime, toasted coconut, dried shrimp, chilies & peanuts traditional thai snack)- Betel leaf is hard to find in NYC. I've been looking for this dish since I first had it in San Francisco. If you've never had it then let your first time be at Uncle Boons. You will be amazed at how something so simple as a leaf can pack so much flavor. Also I LOVE foods that you can scoop and dip. They always taste better!

3. Kai Yang Muay Thai (half chicken with dipping sauces and green mango salad)- I love this tender chicken dish in a coconut based curry with aromatic leaves. The addition of the wontons on top of the chicken adds crispiness and some saltiness which, I enjoyed a lot. Order a side of sticky rice and you'll be left to crave this dish for days.