Monday, March 29, 2010

Gracie Mews Diner

1550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10028, 212-861-2290

This is our Sunday place. It also seems to be everyone else's Sunday place based on the crowds and the perpetual line but, it's worth the wait. Although the place is large and crowded, sitting in a booth or by the huge windows gives you a sense of privacy. Service is fast, friendly and efficient. The menu is large and offers all the typical diner fare you'd expect. Breakfast and lunch offerings are delicious but dinner entrees can be bland. If you still have some room after your meal, try a hunk of one of their oversized pies or a slice of the excellent strawberry cheesecake. To avoid the big lines, we love to sleep late on Sundays, head out to a museum or the park on a lovely day and then wander back to the diner for a late lunch. There's STILL a line, but much shorter and we don't feel guilty about lingering over our meal.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gourmet Goodies

Agata and Valentina
1505 First Avenue, New York, NY 10075, 212-452-0690,

We live a block away so this store is a constant temptation. It's expensive and crowded and the staff is poorly trained but there's a lot to choose from. On the down side, we can't seem to find a bread we like there, the hot prepared food can be so-so and the deli counter moves at the speed of grass growth. But the cold prepared food choices are better and with interesting seasonal selections and the fresh produce variety is top notch. Looking for a specialty herb or unusual vegetable? You'll find it here. The cheese counter looks well stocked and dangerously delicious. Lots of prepared salads in individual containers make for quick selections for a great lunch or easy cold dinner. The white bean salad, wheat berry salad and cabbage salads are especially tasty. The line to pay is long but there are many registers and they move fast. Your trip to that register though, will take you past the dessert department with its many individually packed choices. As you wrestle with your willpower, you'll smell freshly baking pastries and look over a dizzying array of sweet choices but the flourless chocolate Gianduja is worthy of a 4 star restaurant and the mixed berry cake is another delectable favorite.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gracie's Cafe

1530 York Avenue, New York, NY 10028, 212-517-2667,

Gracie's Cafe
Chicken Souvlaki Platter

We honestly don't recall when this place opened but it was probably a couple of years ago. Walking past, it didn't seem like much more than a deli so we kept walking. But two things happened last summer - we got a puppy and Gracie's set up outdoor tables, nicely placed under an awning and enclosed by pretty planter boxes. We longed to be able to have our puppy with us when we ate out and noticed that many other couples did the same and the place was busy. Suddenly the run-of-the-mill deli seemed like something worth trying.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's All About the Gravy

Pot roast or brisket with onion gravy is delicious and familiar and comforting. We grew up with it and love it still. Mashed potatoes with gravy remains one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. But restaurant gravy tastes richer and fuller than the recipe I learned from my mother. A little research, some chef connections and some experimentation led to a relatively easy home version of that great restaurant flavor. Still comforting but fit for the fanciest guests :)