Friday, February 14, 2014

Bits & Morsels- Valentine's Day

Nothing says "I Love You" like La Dolce Vita Abbondanza from Eli Zabar, $150-$250.
by Erin Frankel

Valentine's Day Guide. In case you forgot, Valentine's Day is today. Whether you love or loathe this annual lover's tradition, there's really no evading it. Ever.

So, if you're at a loss (good luck to you, gentlemen) and still want to indulge with that special someone, we've rounded up some of the top Valentine's Day specials, pre-fix menus and gift guides that will pave the way for a memorable weekend.

Always a great pairing: Bodega Negra Spiced Pear Margarita and Bodega Guacamole.
For a lively Mexican fiesta, take your date to Botega Negra. UK restaurant operator Will Ricker and entrepreneur Ed Spencer Churchill have partnered with La Esquina's Serge Becker to import the popular upscale London restaurant to The Dream Downtown in New York City. Becker has designed Bodegra Negra to reflect the same entertaining, upbeat dining experience, with kitschy Mexican accents throughout, as its prototype across the pond.

The interior mimics a cozy Tudor Hacienda space abundant in dark shades; heightened by copper trim, mirrored panels, and a black A-frame ceiling from which a striking copper penny disco ball hangs in the center of the dining room. Yes, the décor is eclectic and a bit loud; the seating in the main dining room, which is upholstered in traditional Mexican Serape textiles, recovered military tents, and animal hide, is against a long wall of antique tequila barrels with furnishings of collaged antique Mexican paintings and screens composed of Mariachi uniform fragments and guitars.

The menu is pretty regular standard Mexican fare, appropriating a selection of crowd-pleasers from its London archetype like the Tuna Ceviche served with guajillo chili vinaigrette, avocado, chile and sesame seeds and the Soft Shell Crab Tacos, served with guacamole, shredded lettuce and chipotle aioli. Additionally, Chef Armstrong manipulates some of the typical Southern Mexican regional dishes with some Asian Flavors that he borrows from his most recent gig at Tao Asian Bistro in Las Vegas, including, most notably, the Peking Duck Tacos, served with mole negro, sesame seeds and a kumquat morita compote wrapped in hand-pressed tortillas (made in house daily).

Bodegra Negra is the ideal setting if you're missing that special someone and plan on celebrating (or lamenting) with friends. For in Mexico, Valentine's Day is know as Día del amor y la amistad, which means the day of love and friendship.

Bodega Negra

Dream Downtown
355 W 16th St
(212) 229-2336

Bodega Negra Tuna Tostaditas with avocado.
Bodega Negra Roasted Corn.
Bodega Negra soft shell Crab Tacos.
Bodega Negra Grilled Lobster.
For the more health-conscious couple, Rouge Tomate is offering a special 4-course pre-fix menu featuring hearty, luxurious, and flavorful dishes (sans the butter and cream) like a Celeriac and Roasted Chestnut Soup with Hudson Valley Foie Gras, black truffle, and celery; Long Island Duck Terrine with kumquat marmalade, pickled vegetables and sourdough toast; and Black Truffle Risotto with Parmesan and wild mushrooms.
Rouge Tomate's Farro Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Garlic, Lemon, Chili, Sourdough, and Bottarga.
And, since Valentine's Day isn't complete without a sweat treat or two or three in this case, Executive Pastry Chef James Distefano will be making a Chocolate-Banana Trio, featuring a chocolate-banana opera cake, caramelized banana, and a cup of hot cocoa. The $125/person pre-fix Valentine's Day menu is complemented with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and chocolate truffles.

Rouge Tomate
10 E 60th St
(646) 237-8977
Rouge Tomate's Special Valentine's Day Dessert: Chocolate-Banana Trio: Chocolate-Banana Opera Cake / Caramelized Banana / Hot Cocoa.
The Lambs Club
132 W 44th St
(212) 997-5262
Need a romantic spot before your Broadway Musical? Celebrate Valentine's Day this year tucked away on a red banquette at Geoffrey Zakarian's elegant midtown gem, The Lambs Club.

The Lambs Club will be offering an a la carte menu along with a 5-course prix fixe dinner on Friday, February 14th and Saturday, February 15th for $125, highlighting savory, sophisticated dishes like the Wapsie Valley Polenta & Mascarpone Agnolotti, followed by Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster and Grilled Calotte de Boeuf. Wine and champagne pairings will be available as well.

When making your reservation, you can additionally surprise your beau by purchasing a bouquet of roses that will be delivered table side at the end of your meal.

If you're catching a Broadway show and have some time constraints, you can make reservations in the Mezzanine Bar upstairs, which has plenty of a la carte offerings. DJs Andrew Andrew will be playing from 8-midnight so you can even return post-show.
Hamptons or NYC-bound, for only $65/person, Almond will be serving a "sexy" four course Blood Orange Menu, including "sultry" favorites like Iced Montauk Pearls with blood orange granite & basil seed; Quinoa Salad with avocado, palmita, pecorino, citrus; Duck & Foie Gras Agnolotti a l'Orange pistachios, & sage; Sea Scallops with blood orange soubise, brussels sprouts, and fried quail egg; Roasted Rack of Pork in a sunchoke puree, accompanied by blood orange-fennel mostarda; Loch Duarte Salmon: smoked, then grilled spiced root vegetables in a blood orange-ginger gastrique. And, for dessert, a Hazelnut & Blood Orange Torte (for two, of course).

Almond NYC
Twelve East 22nd St
Almond Bridgehampton
One Ocean Road
If you like reliability, check out any one of Chef Marc Murphy's restaurants on Friday. An all-time favorite chef of mine — I refer to him as a consistent innovator — is reveling in this lover's holiday with a breadth of special pre-fix menus at all of his restaurants. Kingside, located in the Viceroy New York on 57th Street, will be offering a three-course prix fixe Valentine's Day menu for $95 per person, featuring a Valentine's Day "Troublemaker" cocktail, followed by a choice of Roasted Beets or Sea Urchin Toast. Entrees include Roasted Lamb Loin, Butter Poached Lobster or Roasted Chicken for two.

Dessert is a tough choice between a Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta with passion fruit curd and roasted banana or Blood Orange-Olive Oil Cake with mascarpone ice cream.
124 W 57th Street (Between 6th and 7th Ave)
Murphy is also offering three-course Valentine's Day menus at both Landmarc in Time Warner Center and Landmarc in Tribeca. Both locations will showcase a three-course menu for $75 per person or $125 per person with wine pairings, including specials like their Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese with chicory & grapefruit; Long Island Oysters with winter citrus & American caviar; Cote de Boeuf with spicy sweetbread & butternut squash panzanella; Roasted Cod with beluga lentils, littleneck clams, bouillabaisse broth & shaved fennel.
Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese with chicory & grapefruit at Landmarc
And for dessert, you will have a choice between the Yogurt Panna Cotta with port wine poached pears & almonds or Chocolate Cinnamon Walnut Torte with whipped mascarpone.
Landmarc - Time Warner Center
10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Floor
212. 823.6123

Landmarc - Tribeca
179 West Broadway (Between Leonard + Worth Streets)
AND FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY enjoy authentic Spanish cuisine on your staycation in NYC with a special Spanish pop up restaurant at Bowery Station, hosted by Lezama's Catering.

highlight from Juan Suarez De Lezo's seven-course tasting menu.
Join Michelin Chef Juan Suarez De Lezo and eat your heart out with a delicious seven-course tasting menu.

The menu includes the following: Start off with a special Hot and Cold contrast presented on a Gin and Lemon Cocktail, the GIN FIZZ. You will start your meal with the TRUFFLE EGG SPANISH TORTILLA, a Truffle royal with Spanish omelet mousse served in an eggshell Paired with "Espiral" Rose Spanish Wine then move onto the LANGOUSTINE RAVIOLI, a Zucchini and langoustine ravioli served on a shrimp crème topped with chives Paired with "Freixenet" Spanish Cava.

Moving on, you will be presented with STUFFED SQUIDS with Papaya and caramelized onions with base of beans broth and crispy cilantro Paired with a Spanish Red Wine "Viriato D.O". The entrées include the CHICKEN AJI BUN, Peruvian style chicken with crunchy onions and Pak Choi Paired with "Marques de Caceres" Spanish Red Wine and the MENIER POLLOK Served on a toasted bread accompanied with white truffle caviar and cigar foam Paired with "Albariño" Spanish White Wine. Save room for the LEMON SURPRISE dessert, a Lemon shell filled with mascarpone passion fruit and cream cheese Paired with "Pacharán"

Bowery Station
168 Bowery Street

City Harvest is offering the Éclat "City Harvest Bar," created by master Chocolatier Christopher Curtin, made from creamy milk chocolate and cocoa nibs from Peruvian cacao beans.

A portion of the sales of these bars ($9) will go to City Harvest. For more than 30 years, it has been dedicated to feeding the city's hungry men, women and children.
This guilt-free treat is the perfect opportunity to give the gift that makes you feel as good as it tastes, and send a little love to New Yorkers in need. A portion of proceeds will benefit City Harvest to help feed hungry New Yorkers. Treating your sweetheart never felt better.

The "City Harvest Bar" is available at the following NYC locations (and online at

La Boîte
Dean & Deluca (SoHo)
Dean & Deluca (Madison Avenue)
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
Café Duke (51st Street)
• The Nomad Hotel - New York

Perhaps you forgot it's Valentine's Day and you need to order a tried-and-true gift basket. Our favorite Uptown artisanal food purveyor, Eli Zabar, is offering an enormous selection of chocolates, artisanal products and even breakfast in bed-style gift baskets. Below are some of Eli's top Valentine's Day products:

Chocolate Assortment – Eli's 24 piece artisanal sampler feature fillings including caramel, rum raisin, passion fruit, espresso ganache, and rich praline enrobed in dark or milk chocolate ($36).

Eli's Chocolate Caviar, $35.
Eli's Breakfast Basket, $150.
Chocolate Bars – Decadent slabs of 56% milk, dark or white chocolate are sprinkled with a generous amount of dried fruits, toasted nuts and candied ginger ($36 for 3 bars).

Chocolate Caviar – Two-ounce caviar jars filled with little chocolate granules to sprinkle on absolutely everything ($35).

Breakfast Basket – This basket offers the ultimate breakfast-in-bed experience, complete with freshly baked croissants and babka, granola, pancake mix, house blend coffee, teas, syrup and jams ($100 / $150).

La Dolce Vita Basket – Take your loved one on a rustic Italian-style picnic with this basket that features round Tuscan bread, Italian olive oil, Eli's private label pasta, chunk of aged Parmesan, salami, Parmesan toast, biscotti, fresh garlic and basil ($150 / $250). Eli suggests completing the basket by adding a bottle of wine from Eli's extensive selection of Old World wines!

And, if you want to really surprise your loved one
with a luxurious treat, gift her with an at-home on-demand stylist to give her a beautiful blowout right in her apartment before the big night out. It's all performed effortlessly on a new iPhone app called GLAMSQUAD. And, it's super easy to book! Just download the app, create a profile, and book a stylist up to 60 minutes prior to the desired time, all for only $50. Whoever said you can't make a girl's dream come true, right? Visit