Asian street fare comes to town

Standard

HAWKERS is a hit. No doubt about it.

The food at Hawkers Asian Street Fare, the new restaurant in Five Points in Jacksonville, is hardly “food from the street”. 

Image

Well, food from the street by the “American” definition…but we created the Big Mac so…I digress.

Asian street food is generally top notch, affordable, and quality quality quality. So, when I heard about Hawkers opening up in Riverside in Jax, I immediately thought about Hawker Centers in Asia that Anthony Bourdain so often frequented  in No Reservations and The Layover. If Tony went there and liked it, you know it was good. The guy has taste. And he is pretty debonair too. (sadly, he’s happily married)Imagepad thai

Well Hawkers Asian Street Fare seems to “hit the nail on the head” when it comes to modeling after the Hawker Centers in Asia.

The food was tasty, tasty, tasty. Flavorful and fun. The tapas-style portions were generous and perfect for sharing.

From the Pad Thai to the Coconut Shrimp to the Cod in Black Bean Sauce, everything was full of flavor, fun, and fabulous. The drink selection didn’t disappoint either. We know Tony Bourdain would like this part too.

Image cod in black bean sauce 

An extensive beer list and a specific section of the drink menu dedicated to hard cider #happycamper

Image

I tried a seasonal blend of McKenzie’s cider on draft. It went well with the food and tasted great, plus it’s made in the USA, is only 3 years old, and made in small batches in Buffalo, NY.

Overall, Hawkers was impressive and unique. Just what the doctor ordered for the Five Points frequenters. 

Image

The trendiest middle eastern restaurant in manhattan…and the food tastes good too!

Standard

Ilili is a hot spot. No question about it. When you walk into the restaurant, located on 28th and 5th near Madison Sq. Park, you can easily be in a Sex and the City episode. You could definitely find at least a dozen Mr. Big finance types here on any given after-work night…if you’re into that. (I judge)

This Lebanese hot spot with a great vibe is a smash hit. The lighting and open room with light wood paneling and nicely spaced tables makes for a airy environment in the main room. The back room is filled with closely aligned tables that definitely remind me of dining in a tight space in Barcelona, Beirut, or really any Mediterranean coastal city.

The food. It is authentic, well-portioned, and mighty flavorful. The grape leaves were filled with flavor from the parsley and tomato oils. ImageROLLED GRAPE LEAVES

The tabbouleh salad was also on point. Authentic and fresh…and your mom would be pleased you ate your vegetables! Well sort of seeing as tabbouleh salad is chopped parsley and tomato salad.ImageTABBOULEH SALAD

ImageARAK

Anyone reading this like alcohol? Like black licorice? The two combined = genius. I like black licorice, so I think it is da bomb.com. 

This magical concoction is called Arak and it has mystical properties to it that could solve any problem. Well, maybe not the problem of Justin Bieber being Justin Bieber. 

BUT on a serious note this amazing-healing-wondrous anise-based alcohol has holistic powers. FOR REAL.

Go here and let your inner child drink some Arak aka alcoholic liquid that tastes like Good N Plenty candy.

Instructions: drink good n plenty of the Arak but be prepared for the magical power of this (STRONG) drink. Cheers!

Let them eat cake…from Lady M Cake Boutique

Standard

Image

 

Checker Cake. Lady M cake boutique. From the Lady M booth at The Plaza Food Hall. Eloise ain’t got nothing on this. Kevin McCallister would definitely choose Lady M cake over the ice cream feast he had in his suite at The Plaza. Don’t like chocolate? You may some personal issues if you don’t like chocolate but you’re in luck because Lady M also has a variety of non-chocolate cakes. Mille crepe is their specialty and it is delicious. The checker cake was probably my second favorite of the Lady M cakes – who doesn’t like a fluffy, light, chocolate cake that has a wonderful checker pattern to it? The Picasso of cakes. Taking cubism to new levels. 

If you haven’t been to The Plaza Food Hall – you NEED to go. You can get lobster rolls, macarons, cake and MORE … all at the same place! Oh ya and if you don’t like chocolate- you need to work on that. 

Truffles are a foodie’s best friend

Standard

Wild about wild mushrooms? Black truffles, white truffles, truffle oil make your mouth water? Well the seasonal addition to the menu at Restaurant Medure is the fix that all you truffle addicts need. Truffles really are magic mushrooms…the legal kind. On the current menu at Medure there is a section solely dedicated to- you guessed it – TRUFFLES. If you are reading this post and don’t like truffles, well, I know for a fact I could change your mind – but – this whole post is not solely dedicated to the magic mushroom species. The truffle section on the menu at Medure is divine. I would’ve ordered all of the items on it…But there is only so much room in your stomach (and daily caloric intake…if you’re counting). 

My dining companions and I decided to start with something from the expialidocious truffle section. We basically inhaled the mushroom black truffle and arugula tart. It tasted so good that I’m pretty sure I looked like Augustus Gloop scarfing down all that chocolate in Willy Wonka. 

photo (1)the magical mushroom and black truffle tart 

We also shared the beet and goat cheese salad as another appetizer. It’s pretty hard to mess up a beet and goat cheese salad, but the dressing was unique and made the dish tastier than most beet and goat cheese salads. Had to get some greens in there – eat your vegetables! 

We all enjoyed different libations while we waited for our main course. I enjoyed a moscow mule and it was pretty basic but good. Probably how Sochi will be described – on a good day.One of my dining companions guzzled down a peach whiskey drink that was pretty original. Note: be careful when drinking a sweet whiskey drink – you are at your own risk of hangover.

Onto the main courses. These were exceptional. First – my entree was absolutely delectable…and it was a chicken dish. I never, I mean NEVER, order the chicken dish when I am at a gourmet restaurant. But, this was one special chicken dish. This dish included just about everything that I like – yes truffles included. The dish was prosciutto topped farm fresh chicken with mushroom bread pudding and truffle spaghetti squash. I never want to have bread pudding as a dessert anymore – I’d rather have the mushroom bread pudding for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The chicken was very flavorful and the truffle spaghetti squash was the best thing since sliced bread…no carbs, I’m ok with that. 

unnamedprosciutto-topped chicken, mushroom bread pudding and spaghetti squash

My two dining companions both ordered the same thing to avoid getting order envyIt is serious business. They had the flounder francaise with whipped potatoes and feta cheese. I tasted it and loved it. Potatoes and feta cheese – for the meat and potatoes meets Greek goddess in all of us. photoflounder francaise with whipped potatoes and feta

We were dining on my friend’s birthday, so dessert was to be had by all…and it was pretty awesome.

Can you say flourless chocolate cake with kettle corn? 

photo (2)

AND last but not least – Cheesecake with raspberry sauce in a mousse-like preparation – #winning 

unnamed (1)

ICE PLANT: Ice has never been cooler

Standard

Ice plants are a real thing. Like people breakup and cut the ice and make the ice at these places…who knew.

photo-19

The Ice Plant in St. Augustine is an historic ice plant located in Lincolnville neighborhood. This area is about to take off. Even though gentrification is so early 2000s, at least Florida is finally catching up to the national trends. The Ice plant has only been open around 4 months…and Mumford and Sons has already had an after party there – it is that cool of a spot.

Ice Plant has basically everything we all love about restaurants and bars in cities like San Francisco, New York or Chicago, but in St. Augustine…the nation’s oldest city. OK so technically not America’s oldest city because that whole Spanish conquistador thing but I am sure you all took 4th grade level history…hopefully. 

The bar at Ice Plant is honestly the best ambience I have seen at a new restaurant bar area in quite some time. Amazing bartenders…ok MIXOLOGISTS…because there is a difference. Our mixologist – Amy – served us drinks from the menu and she created some crafty concoctions that were pretty much better than Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling as an onscreen couple in The Notebook. The drinks that really stood out were the Grapefruit Collins, the Florida Mule, and the Twig and Berries. The concoctions that Amy created were as amazing as the drinks on the menu and all that much more. Mixology is truly an art. I do not agree to disagree with that statement. Imagethe bar

The food was tasty and perfectly matched to the ambience. Can you say pickled vegetables and pimento cheese spread – despite some character flaws, the South really does contribute some great food and culture to the good ole USA. Image

Think it couldn’t sound more appealing than pimento cheese and yummy cocktails? The Ice Plant burger is pretty much the best burger I have ever had. And that is saying something because I have had my share of burgers during my hungover sundays in college. #sorryimnotsorry

Image

OH YA! Forgot to mention that bomb.com pickle – another thing I love about the South – they love them some pickles! If you don’t eat meat…well you should. But really if you want to stop being a vegan for a hot second and enjoy life a little (YOLO) – then get this burger and eat it all. Life is short and you should really eat more than a cube of cheese because that girl in The Devil Wears Prada looked really freakin’ miserable.