Friday, September 17, 2010

200th Post and Breslin Review!

**Update 10/6/10** Congrats to The Breslin for joining the world's elite restaurants with their Michelin Star for 2011!!

This is my 200th post! That may not seem like such a big deal considering I've been blogging for over 1 1/2 years, but to me it's pretty huge.  When I started this blog I had no idea where it would take me, and thus far it's taken me through culinary school and all the way to the Food Network.  Who knows what will happen tomorrow.  I'm blessed to have had so many unique experiences and to have such great and loyal readers.  I thank you all!

This week has been the longest I've had in a while.  At work I was involved in catering several events, which made me realize once and for all that I hate catering, at least when it's not my menu or my recipes.  Since the catering part of work was really not my favorite (I could go on and explain why, but suffice it to say, it was not my cup of tea) I was much happier today when I got to take it down a notch and do prep work for Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.  I got to breathe and take time to focus on what I was doing.  I'm much more methodical and I like taking my time, which is not preferable in a restaurant or catering setting.  I know that speed is something I need to work on, but I feel like you have to walk before you can run, and "running" with knives in the kitchen can be very dangerous, just saying :)

I had a glimpse of a social life this week as well!  I met two bloggers for dinner this week, Dana from Food for Thought at Chop't (a "creative salad company" mini-chain) in Times Square, and Margaret of Savory Sweet Living at The Breslin.  I also had a great dinner bonding with the other Food Network interns at The Crooked Knife.  I have a couple reviews to share with lots of photos, so I will post one now and another later this weekend, so stay tuned for my culinary adventures!!  Apologies in advance for the photo quality, these locations were pretty dark and I did my darnedest to do the food justice in the limited lighting I had.

The Breslin
20 W 29th St
(between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 679-1939

April Bloomfield and I have something very special in common, in addition to our love and appreciation of unhealthy pub food (just look at this menu!).  We both love pigs.  She named her first restaurant after a pig, opening The Spotted Pig in New York's West Village in 2003, and after much acclaim, followed it up less than a year ago in October 2009 by opening this midtown gastropub located in the Ace Hotel. Though I haven't had the privilege of dining at her first restaurant yet, based on my visit to the Breslin, I can attest to the fact that there are many pig (and in that case cow and reindeer) figurines decorating this dimly lit, dark-paneled walled establishment.  Unlike it's sister who features seasonal British and Italian fare, the Breslin serves a unique twist on British pub food.  The Breslin can get incredibly loud both in the bar and sit-down restaurant area, and even if seated at a table, you will be elbow-to-elbow with your neighbors and have to practically scream (or at least raise your voice... a lot) across the table to have a conversation, but it's all part of the charm, trust me :)

To dine here regularly could and would cause health problems, especially if you make it a habit to indulge in the first item we selected, the Scotch egg.  It was my very first, and I assure you not my last.  A soft-boiled egg encased in pork sausage meat, breaded and then deep-fried.  If you aren't having a heart attack, you should be.  Any imaginary "diet" I was planning pretty much went to Hell after my first bite of this.  Crunchy crust, perfectly spiced sausage layer, soft egg white, and runny, fatty yolk.  A perfect bite followed by several more.

 Scotch Egg $6 each

Next we shared another decadent starter, the beef and Stilton pie.  Encased in a buttery, rich crust were unctuous fork tender chunks of beef stewed in their own juices.  I didn't taste much Stilton, but the beef was very flavorful and the crust was tender.  It was a small starter, which we shared, eliminating just a little of the guilt...

Beef and Stilton Pie $6 

Instead of selecting separate entrées, we decided to split one since we each easily put on a few pounds eating our appetizers.  It seems the Breslin is famous for their lamb burgers, and if you have ever had one you'd understand why.  This lamb burger is a crown jewel, a burger like no other.  The entire dish was a revelation, not just the burger.  I'm not being dramatic, just hear me out.  First the burger.  Cooked rare, so juicy that it practically soaked through the bottom bun, but without that super raw taste, and no gaminess from the lamb either.  The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender, topped with briny, salty feta cheese and sharp red onion.  The bun too was a revelation.  Not soft or mushy like most buns.  Even most good buns are still on the soft side.  This bun had a crust, a real crust!  As I went to cut the burger in half, my knife broke the crust on the top, and it crackled so deliciously, like a baguette being torn.  I knew this was a substantial bun, good enough for the best of the best.  Excellent burger: check!

French fries.  Thrice cooked.  Excellent, thick exterior.  Crispy, crunchy.  Fluffy interior.  Perfect harmony.  The only thing better than spot-on, hands-down perfect French fries is a dipping sauce that measures up.  The whole platter was served with a small dish of cumin mayo. Move over Sriracha aioli! There's a new kid on the block! I love cumin, it's easily one of my favorite spices, used in so many different world cuisines I enjoy. The cumin mayo was certainly one of my biggest culinary discoveries of the week! I'm not sure if it was intended to be spread over the burger, or hold hands with the fries, but either one would have been extraordinary. We decided to use it as a dipping sauce, and each perfectly crispy, hot French fry was baptized in decadent spicy mayo.  I bet baby potatoes dream of being dipped in cumin mayo when they're all grown up, praying that Ms. Bloomfield will select them for this coveted position of French fry extraordinaire.  Personally, I wish I was a French fry so I too could be dipped in cumin mayo. A girl can dream, can't she?

Chargrilled Lamb Burger with Feta, Cumin Mayo and Thrice Cooked Chips $17


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