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About Bonnie Tandy Leblang

Blogger Bonnie Tandy Leblang has been covering food since before it was hip to do so! She’s penned magazine, newspaper and syndicated food columns in addition to cookbooks. Follow her on twitter @BonnieBOTB and on Instagram@BiteoftheBest and at @BonnieBOTB "I eat for a living!” is her mantra, sharing what she’s sampled so you’ll know where (or where not) to go, plus what food products and gadgets to try. For her full bio go to the about us page.

Empanada Mama, Theatre District, NYC + The Cher Show

Head to Empanada Mama in Hell's Kitchen for reasonably priced Columbian fare. We did so before heading to the fun, memory-sparking The Cher Show a few blocks away with memorial hits like “I’ve Got You, Babe,” “The Beat Goes On,” and “Bang, Bang.” (The show closed on August 18.) For a complete theatrical review, click here. We started with Empanada Mama's housemade super-fresh guac with crispy plantain chips ($11.50) and chopped jalapeños for those who wanted it spicy large pitcher ($44) of Sangria. I ordered my favorite huevos rancheros. For the second time recently, this dish came with crisp — not soft, tortillas like I'm used to — along with [...]

By |2019-07-28T18:47:36-04:00September 21st, 2019|Big Apple Life, NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Restaurant Week at Il Mulino, SoHo

The restaurant menu at Il Mulino in Soho was only $26 with a choice of appetizer or dessert plus an entree. What a bargain at this upscale white-tablecloth restaurant with attentive service. Between the three of us, we tried each of the appetizers. One had the beefsteak tomato slice with Buffalo mozzarella, another the arugula salad with shaved artichokes and slices of Parmigiana Reggiano and I enjoyed the delicate eggplant slices with mozzarella and tomato sauce. For our entree, we each chose the perfectly cooked wild salmon with garlicky broccoli rabe. I'd go back in a heartbeat.     Il Mulino SoHo 331 West Broadway New York, NY, 10013 (212) [...]

By |2019-07-26T17:07:47-04:00September 19th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Almayass After the Launch of a WeWork Event Space

I was invited to attend the launch party for The Space, a new event area at WeWork in Flatiron.  They offered an open bar, music a tad too loud for my ears and hors d'oeuvres from Five Senses Catering, including the beet hummus crostini in the photo. We headed across the street to Almayass for a light snack after realizing the event space was inappropriate for my needs. My dining companion had not been before, so I let her choose what we'd eat. We shared the hummus topped with minced beef and sauteed Spanish pine nuts ($16) and the shwarma of certified Angus beef ($21.50) flavored with sumac, parsley and [...]

By |2019-08-09T11:31:30-04:00September 17th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Terry’s Place, Charlevoix, Michigan

Whitefish? My friends told me I had to sample both the Whitefish and Walleye from Lake Michigan while visiting. We headed to Charlevoix to Terry's Place, a restaurant known for their fresh fish. We lucked out getting a table as Terry's does not take reservations. Renee, our lovely waitress, shared that she had worked at the restaurant 28 of the 34 years Terry's was open. Her hubby Matt, the bartender, makes a mean martini — making the cocktail the way he likes to drink them — strong. We each had a fresh whitefish dinner with the green salad. Two of us had the evening's special whitefish ($32) beurre blanc topped [...]

By |2019-09-16T04:17:49-04:00September 15th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Zak Pelaccio’s Backbar, Hudson, New York

A group of us were walking the streets Hudson (NY) going in and out of antique shops when we got hungry. Right next to the shop we were in was a funky area that looked inviting. We sat at one of the outside picnic tables, without even looked at the name of the place or menu. On each table was a checklist of items we could order. Once I looked, I announced to the group to expect really good food as I noticed it was one of Zak Pelaccio's places. I was right on! I had the slushy "where there's smoke" cocktail made from mezcal, chili-infused Aperol and smoked agave [...]

By |2019-09-16T04:19:47-04:00September 13th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|2 Comments

A Return to Hakkasan, Theatre District, NYC + Waitress

When meeting a friend to see the fun musical Waitress, I returned to Hakkasan for a light lunch before the matinee curtain. When we saw the productuion, the show starred Shoshana Bean and understudy, Tyrone Davis, Jr (who I had seen in Invisible Thread at 2nd Stage). I also recognized Erich Bergen who I know as Blake Morgan in Madame Secretary.  Who knew he could sing?  Fun afternoon of theatre! For a complete review, click here. The restaurant is huge but cozy as it's a maze of tables divided with open screens.  The service was as spotty as it was my first visit about six years ago. I'm not sure [...]

By |2019-09-16T04:23:21-04:00September 11th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

The Public Kitchen at Ian Schrager’s The Public Hotel

After wandering around the shops of SoHo, we headed to the fairly new Ian Schrager hotel, The Public, first for a drink on the rooftop, and then to dinner in the namesake restaurant. Unless you're a millennial who's looking for high-priced, low-alcohol cocktails in a noisy setting with a view, skip it. Instead, head to their Jean-George Vongerichten market-driven restaurant, the Public Kitchen. We sampled much of their interesting menu. For "snacks," we pulled at and nibbled the popcorn-cheddar frico sprinkled with crushed chili ($10) and the burrata with sliced plums, peaches and nectarines with teeny balls of crystallized wasabi ($23). I loved the unusually delicious appetizer of sugar snap [...]

By |2019-09-16T04:31:49-04:00September 9th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Mexican Treat at de Mole, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Daniel Flores greeted us as we entered the cozy Mexican restaurant on the corner of Hope and Roebling in Williamsburg. We were to be his guests that evening at this family-run restaurant. We began with their expertly crafted cocktails. I sampled the mezcal old fashion ($13) made with Montelobos mezcal, Hornitos Reposado, bitters and a charred orange peel strip served  over one large ice cube; my dining partner had the less alcohol forward Blood and Popocatepetl ($15), made with Wahaka Espadin mezcal, blood orange, sweet vermouth and Luxardo maraschino cherries. We selected a few items, Daniel had the chef choose the rest. Knowing we'd be sampling a lot, we asked [...]

By |2019-08-18T16:44:06-04:00September 7th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Authentic Italian Restaurant Peasant, Lower East Side, NYC

Another restaurant critic mentioned Peasant on the Lower East Side as one of her favorite Italian places in the city. I had to try it. When I arrived and chatted with our knowledgeable waitress, I learned the 20-year-old restaurant serves an array of multi-regional authentic Italian dishes. While perusing the menu, we nibbled their crisp-crusted bread and whipped ricotta. Worth the calories. Next, the refreshing combo of diced colored beets, arugula, pistachio, fennel and red onion from this night's specials menu. A wonderful start to what would be a delicious meal in this rustic Italian restaurant. I was seated on a church pew bench along one of the exposed brick [...]

By |2019-07-07T10:49:11-04:00September 5th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Brunch at Grand Banks, Pier 25, Hudson River Park, NYC

One gorgeous sunny perfect day for dining on a boat, I did so. We had brunch at Grand Banks, the floating restaurant at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park from Executive Chef Kerry Heffernan. If you haven't been, his menu is built around sustainable, wild-caught seafood and seasonal produce. Check the weather before you go as you'll be dining aboard the historic wooden schooner, Sherman Zwicker, to celebrate my friend's birthday. Because it's a wooden ship, no candle's allowed for birthday wishes! We started with cocktails (what else!). I had the spicy bloody Mary ($16.50) while my friend had the sweeter Tropicalia, vodka spiked watermelon, rhubarb and citrus juices ($16.50). [...]

By |2019-08-18T17:43:45-04:00September 3rd, 2019|Big Apple Life|1 Comment

A Return to Cafe Fiorello + Rolling Stone at LCT

Always love the antipasto bars at the Fireman Hospitality restaurants. If you haven't been to their places including Trattoria del Arte, Bond 45 and Cafe Fiorello, I suggest doing so. I returned one night before heading to Lincoln Center Theatre to see Rolling Stone, not a play I'd recommend. For a complete review, click here. We ordered the five antipasto selections for $25.75 that included the fried cauliflower Milanese (my favorite!), Sicilian eggplant caponata, fava beans with fava beans & ricotta, asparagus and roasted mushrooms with garlic and herbs. We also shared the jumbo lump crab & avocado salad with fresh fennel and orange supremes ($30.50). Refreshingly good. As de [...]

By |2019-09-01T08:26:16-04:00September 1st, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

A Fun Visit to The Spaniard, West Village, NYC

The Spaniard, a West Village bar, serves great food and strong drinks, offering over 100 types of whiskey. I thoroughly enjoyed dining at this fun place, sister bar to Wilfie & Nell. Their New York Old Fashioned ($16) is made with American brandy, bourbon, bitters, a slice of orange and delicious Amarena Toschi Italian black cherry. (So delicious my dining partner suggested buying some to serve over vanilla ice cream! Yes, that good.)  I had my first drink their way over crushed ice. I suggest ordering it instead with one large cube as I did the second time. Do not miss the charbroiled Watch Hill, Rhode Island oysters ($18) seasoned [...]

By |2019-09-01T09:13:09-04:00August 31st, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Trattoria Stella, Traverse City, MI

We lucked out on our visit to Trattoria Stella an Italian restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan.  We were seated not in the dark dining area of what used to be the state mental hospital but at a quiet well-lit table in an arched walkway. (If you plan to go, ask for the arches when you make your res.) The char-grilled oh, so tender Spanish octopus tentacle with tomatoes, beans and orzo (although the menu said rice) is not to be missed. The documentary film Funke inspired our pasta dish of hand-rolled al dente cavatelli with a sausage and pork ragu with freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Interesting, isn't it, that the [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:08:36-04:00August 29th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Fraunces Tavern’s 300th Anniversary + Museum

When on an x-x-pat tour earlier this year with Kevin Draper one of the owners of the New York Historical Tours company, I learned about the Fraunces Tavern, which is a trademark of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York and is celebrating its 300th anniversary. The original building on Pearl Street was built in 1719 with this Colonial American Tavern operating since 1762, We booked lunch and planned a to visit the museum afterward. Although there are eight dining spaces, we were seated in an oak-paneled room with quaint furnishings and high eighteenth-century windows.  The menu is simple, with some old-world favorite including a chicken [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:15:41-04:00August 27th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

A Return to Harlem’s Red Rooster

On our way to a walking tour of Harlem, we stopped at Red Rooster for lunch. To start, we tried to order a bottle of bubbly rosè. I say tried as there was a mix up with the servers electronic ordering system. More than half an hour later the waitress found, opened and poured the bubbly into our glasses. Sadly after all that waiting, the rosè was at room temperature. We switched to a Sancerre ($75) that finally arrived after our food, not giving us enough time to be able to enjoy and finish the bottle before running off to our tour. Foodwise, we shared the shrimp with grits ($23) [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:17:44-04:00August 25th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|1 Comment

A Return to Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, Midtown + All My Sons

I expect prices to go up; I don't expect wine pours to go down. Four years ago when I stopped in at Aldo Sohm Wine Bar — the casual stylish wine bar from Le Bernardin's master sommelier — the lunch special was a selection of two courses for $14, add a wine selection for $11 more. Today that price is only $19 with the $11 wine pour only 3 — yes 3 ounces. We thought that was our taste to see whether we liked the wine. Do order the corn chowder ($9.50) — creamy from fingerling potatoes not dairy — that tasted like fresh summer corn. The roasted heirloom tomato [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:20:12-04:00August 23rd, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Dinner at Larimar, Spring Lake, NJ

There's an upscale place restaurant on Third Avenue in the beach town Spring Lake that I'd recommend you try. Both the food from Chef Anthony Palangi and service are quite good. Plus you get to bring your own wine with no corkage fee since they do not have a liquor license. I recommend the refreshing fresh summer strawberry salad with shaved fennel, fresh arugula, toasted almonds and chevrè came in a delicate champagne vinaigrette. Worth ordering. Their veal ragu over short twists (casarecce) of al dente pasta was a bit light on the meat although super-flavorful from olives and capers all dusted with shredded pecorino ($27). I also suggest the [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:21:32-04:00August 21st, 2019|USA Restaurants, USA Travel|0 Comments

Il Divo, Upper East Side, NYC

I discovered the cozy Il Divo on the Second Avenue at 71st Street when looking for a place to have lunch with a friend heading to Hospital for Special Surgery for an MRI. Like many other UES places, this one is quite pricey. We shared a salad that the menu described as mixed greens with roasted tomatoes and ricotta ($18), yet now that I'm writing about it I realize ours was missing the tomatoes and was all arugula (I was happy about that). Hidden at the bottom of that bowl was fresh pesto. We each followed that with an appetizer portion of tender and moist pan-seared octopus with white beans [...]

By |2019-08-19T12:06:50-04:00August 19th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Atoboy, A Korean Restaurant in NoMad, NYC

It's been a long time since I was blown away by a flavor combination of a dish. The combination of ingredients at Atoboy, a Korean restaurant in NoMad, did so almost from start to finish. Yes, that good. Junghyun Park, Atoboy’s chef, is the former Chef de Cuisine of Jungsik, a two Michelin starred NYC Korean restaurant. His wife Ellia Park, is the manager. This is an adventurous restaurant, serving unusual Korean-inspired shareable dishes. Atoboy has only a wine and beer license, so cocktails are made with Soju, a clear, colorless distilled Korean beverage. I was thoroughly surprised — and pleased — by their slightly spicy Jalapeño Rosso, with ginger [...]

By |2019-08-19T12:05:56-04:00August 17th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Bareli’s By the Sea, Spring Lake (NJ) in the Grand Victorian

Bareli's By the Sea is a fairly new restaurant with good food and service with ocean views from inside the Grand Victorian on Ocean Avenue in Spring Lake. Don't let the hostess's scowl put you off, the rest of the staff are warm and welcoming. I started with their Sinfully Spicy Margie. I was a bit worried about the muddled strawberries over-powering the drink. They didn't.  The drink had a nice spicy kick. I'd order again ($14)! We ordered from the "specials" menu that is so much more interesting than their regular one.  Enjoyed the refreshing chunks of watermelon and tomatoes sprinkled with goat cheese crumbles and fresh mint ($14).  [...]

By |2019-08-15T13:21:46-04:00August 15th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments