Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bits & Morsels: Summer Eats

Ruby Prawns at Toy.
Summer Eats
by Erin Frankel

is the kind of restaurant you enter expecting one thing, and leave with a totally different impression. Situated smack-dab in the middle of the Meatpacking district, you would think Toy to be everything a foodie would despise: a scene-hunting crowd, lackluster service, and inadequate food. However, Toy surprises.

Upon entering the luxe room at the bottom of the swanky Gansevoort Hotel, Toy is a graphic novel come to life. The huge Jeffrey Beers-designed multi-level space is grandiose at every angle; from the large canvas on the wall that will rotate new-wave graphic artists, to the large, black fractured mirror on the ceiling. And, on a cool evening, you can escape the dizzying decadence inside and head to a secluded table on the spacious outdoor terrace, which is well-insulated from the action on the street.
Toy's playful interior, equipped with with DJ booth and glass ceiling.
The Rubix. Bubble Juice.
A protege of Top Chef alum, Susur Lee, chef Doron Wong has created an ambitious, modern Chinese-Japanese fusion of flavors and textures.

Start with the sushi list: there's a large selection of unique maki rolls and riceless rolls, most notably the Emerald Roll — a combination of panko crusted shrimp, crab salad and scallion, avocado, and mango topped with red tobiko and a dollop of eel sauce and spicy mayo; or the riceless Beauty Roll — a mixture of tuna, salmon, hamachi, king crab and masago wrapped with cucumber strips. If you prefer dim sum, I highly recommend the savory Sesame Puffs, a combination of sweet corn, edamame, and smoked tofu with an aioli scallion sauce.
Emerald Roll & Beauty Roll.
Beef Dumplings.
Shrimp Toast Cigars.
As for entrees, I'd suggest sharing the Caramelized Black Cod with braised leeks in a mushroom dashi sauce; and the grand 2lb Salt & Pepper Lobster, encrusted with tempura flakes and dipped in both a yuzu vinaigrette and a Chinatown tartar sauce.

The cocktails have as much flavor and complexity as the food here, our favorite being the Bubble Juice, a light mixture of Grey Goose La Poire, St. Germain, and lemon, topped with a bit of Moet and a selection of red & green grapes.

18 Ninth Avenue (at 13th Street)

Caramelized Black Cod.
Toy Salt & Pepper Lobster.
Mahogany Chicken.
Maslow 6 Wine Bar is one of the best hidden gems to hit Tribeca this summer. The small space is nestled in the middle of the block on West Broadway. The small outdoor patio (which fits only eight) spills into a narrow, rustic space that separates the wine store by an expansive glass wall where diners can scan copious bottles at every angle. Long distressed wood tables are situated against a brick wall that lines the space.

A former technology executive, Keri Kunzie, left her day job to follow her passion and educate people about wine through Maslow 6's Wine Club, seminars, and tastings that she will offer throughout the year. Maslow 6 offers an eclectic mix of both older vintages and cult wines and new, smaller producers from around the world (including Austria, Irouleguy, Châteaumeillant, Brazil, Uruguay, Bulgaria, Bukettraube; and even the Finger Lakes!)
Inside Maslow 6 Wine Bar.
Fun events range from Discovery Nights on Thursdays, which feature individual producers and visiting winemakers, to Freaky Fridays to kick off the weekend, where Keri gives her customers an opportunity to try unusual wines that are unavailable at retail stores or just plain hard to find.

Maslow 6 also operates a full-service kitchen overseen by Executive Chef Nickolas Kipper. Kipper's menu features an array of seasonal, Greenmarket-inspired small plates, with an entertaining twist on American comfort food classics. Start with some Artisanal breads accompanied by both housemade spreads like spicy rhubarb butter or artichoke with thyme and a selection of farmstead cheeses, always a perfect pairing with wine. Then move onto a the light and refreshing scallop ceviche with a tangy mango vinaigrette or the grilled swordfish in a warm corn tortilla taco drizzled with a salsa fresca.

The wait staff are all well-versed in the wine they serve and will help each diner pair their small plates with the right wines.

Maslow 6
211b West Broadway

Fish Tacos.
Artisanal bread & cheese plate.
Where else I ate this week:

Greek in Southampton. New to the Hamptons' restaurant circuit this summer is Nammos. Nammos retains all of the glitz and glamour of the old Nellos, but brings a new Mediterranean flavor with it.

You will find an impressive menu, albeit high-priced, with Modern Greek dishes and fresh seafood flown in everyday. Executive chef Emmanouil Aslanoglou takes traditional Greek staples and sleekly (and chicly) modernizes them. Starters span the usual spreads like the pikilia, feta-heavy salads, and the more mouthwatering kind like the soft shell crab moussaka or thin crunchy zucchini and eggplant chips with tzatziki — known as the "Nammos Special."
Pita and pikilia spreads.
Zucchini & eggplant chips.
Greek salad.
There's an eclectic mix of entrees ranging from classic hearty Greek specialties like the lamp chops accompanied by the chef's very own zucchini lettuce salad. And you can't go wrong with the linguini with whole lobster tail or the black ink pasta with a fresh foray of mussel, squid, and spinach in a spicy tomato broth.

And, of course, you can grill any fresh fish ranging from Red Snapper from the U.S., Alaskan arctic char, karavides from Scotland, tsipoura, fagri (snapper) and lavraki (European bass) from Greece, as well as the favorite, Trata-inspired tiger shrimp from West Africa.
Linguine with lobster tail.
Black squid ink pasta.
Lamb chops.
If you are seeking a quiet, romantic dinner, I advise you to request a table in the beautiful outdoor garden. Otherwise, you'll have to contend with the young hamptonites and Euro-club crowd inside, all dancing to the loud beats of Greek music. Still, come early with the option of staying late into the evening.

136 Main St
Southampton, NY