Tag Archives: Manhattan

The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival – Pier 94, Manhattan

The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival – Pier 94, Manhattan – October 17, 2015

Inset Photos Clockwise from Top Left: Thai Taco and Pork Belly Slider from Barcade, Pralines from Bernard's Pralines of New Orleans, Eggplant and Pepper Puree from Between the Bread, Lamb Slider from Pergola, and Shrimp Ceviche with Cricket Salt from Ofrenda Background: Grand Tasting Banner with Shop Rite Logo

Inset Photos Clockwise from Top Left: Thai Taco and Pork Belly Slider from Barcade, Pralines from Bernard’s Pralines of New Orleans, Eggplant and Pepper Puree from Between the Bread, Lamb Slider from Pergola, and Shrimp Ceviche with Cricket Salt from Ofrenda      Background: Grand Tasting Banner

Today was a very exciting day for me, and I got out of bed with a great deal of enthusiasm! My husband and I were fortunate enough to attend The Grand Tasting at the New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF). This was our first time attending the NYCWFF. The NYCWFF website described this event best:

NYCWFF invites you to spend the day exploring our signature Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite – our 130,000-square-foot culinary wonderland and the centerpiece of our Culinary Campus.

Nowhere else can you meet the greatest food stars in the country, sample food from local NYC restaurants representing cuisines from around the world, taste the most sought-after wines and spirits alongside up-and-coming labels from the Southern Wine & Spirits of New York portfolio and take part in exciting interactive experiences with your favorite brands and foodie products – it is truly a food and wine lover’s dream!” (http://nycwff.org/mcgtsat, 2015)

(To view more videos and photos of the NYCWFF beyond those featured here, including two short videos of chefs Aarón Sánchez and John Besh cooking together, visit my Instagram.)

The event had a plethora of food and drink to try, and try we did. We ate everything from lamb sliders to quinoa salad to grasshopper cotton candy. Yes, grasshopper as in the insect. Since we sampled so many things, I will feature the highlights here.

Barcade offered two phenomenal samples: Thai Tacos and Pork Belly Sliders with Beer Cheese. The tacos (seen in the photo below) were on tiny flour tortillas. The standout flavor was the nutty peanut sauce which made these a great departure from traditional tacos. I removed the cilantro before eating the taco. The sliders were so rich and unctuous from the pork belly and beer cheese, that the flavors filled my mouth instantly. These sliders would be a hit at any event.

Thai Tacos from Barcade

Thai Tacos from Barcade

Magnolia’s booth offered their Southern Sundae, and this was a decadent masterpiece. It consisted of dark chocolate buttermilk cake, pecan pie ice cream, bittersweet fudge sauce, salted caramel sauce, bourbon brown sugar chantilly cream, and pecan brittle. This sundae had salty, sweet, and bitter flavors along with a mixture of textures: creamy, smooth, crunchy, fluffy, and crispy. It did live up to its name by bringing southern flavors to the forefront: pecan, bourbon, and buttermilk.

Magnolia's Southern Sundae

Magnolia’s Southern Sundae

Hank’s Oyster Bar offered a magnificent smoked oyster spoonbread. The buttery spoonbread melted instantly on the tongue giving up the briny, smoky flavor from the oysters. While I am not one who loves raw oysters, I could eat this dish for days.

Main: Hank's Oyster Bar Logo Inset: Smoked Oyster Spoonbread

Main: Hank’s Oyster Bar Logo      Inset: Smoked Oyster Spoonbread

Chopin Vodka gave samples of Dorda Double Chocolate Liquer. They infused their Chopin rye vodka with dark chocolate to produce this luscious liquer. To me, it tasted like I was drinking a perfectly rich chocolate pudding. Completely delightful and indulgent!

Dorda Chocolate Liquer Bottles

Dorda Double Chocolate Liquer

We had to sample the grasshopper cotton candy from Black Ant. The cotton candy was sweet, as expected. The whole grasshopper inside the cotton candy was crunchy, similar to eating soft crab shells. While many describe the flavor as nutty, I found it to be more acidic. I can now say that I have tried it, but it was not a flavor I would seek out again.

Grasshopper Cotton Candy from Black Ant

Grasshopper Cotton Candy from Black Ant

As my regular readers know, I have a huge sweet tooth. So coming across the MarieBelle Chocolates table made me happy. Their packaging was colorful and gorgeous! They gave us samples of their chocolate chips, truffles, caramels, and ganaches. The chips packed a chocolate punch. While it was the simplest thing they gave out as a sample, it really was wonderful! When a chocolatier is able to make their simplest thing great, you know all of their other products will be fantastic! This was the case for the truffle, the caramel, and the ganache. Each succeeded in balancing the sweet notes with the chocolate’s bitter flavor.

Left: MarieBelle's Chocolates and Ganaches Right: MarieBelle's Chocolate Bars

Left: MarieBelle’s Chocolates and Ganaches      Right: MarieBelle’s Chocolate Bars

Finally, who knew that chocolates from Japan could be mind blowing? Royce’ Chocolate from Hokkaido, Japan makes exceptional chocolates. Their ganaches melt smoothly in your mouth, coating it with indulgent chocolate flavor. I adored their green tea ganache. The white chocolate base is blended with grassy green tea to produce a vibrant and creamy ganache that is decadent. I cannot wait to visit one of their stores here in New York City.

Left: Royce's Nama Chocolate Ganache Right: Royce's Green Tea Ganache

Left: Royce’s Nama Chocolate Ganache      Right: Royce’s Green Tea Ganache

I left the Grand Tasting stuffed and satisfied. Thank you to Shop Rite, Food Network, Cooking Channel, and all of the other sponsors for putting on such a marvelous event.

Accessibility Rating for The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival

I used my wheelchair to visit The Grand Tasting, NYCWFF.

  • Entryway – 3: First, I must apologize that I did not get a better photograph of the entrance. In my excitement, it completely escaped me. The entrance and exit doors were wide. There were no stairs. The only problem I encountered was that the transition upon exiting was so bumpy that it actually jostled my wheelchair wheel out of proper alignment to the point where it would not work correctly. We had to remove the wheel, and put it back into proper alignment.

    Pier 94 Pavillion

    Pier 94 Pavilion

  • Bathroom – 4 (Men’s): There are two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to get close to the sink. The faucet was tall, and it had an automatic sensor. The accessible stall was quite dark due to the overhead bulb being out. I was able to make a 180º turn within the space while in my wheelchair.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The space is enormous. I was able to navigate quite easily, with the exception of the crowds which were to be expected at an event like this. Almost every booth had tables that I was able to easily reach over. The event space was brightly lit. It was very noisy due to loud background music and a great deal of talking.

    Scenes from The Grand Tasting (Clockwise from Top Left): Wine Gems Room, Mexico Booth, Walkways through Grand Tasting, and Colorful Mural with NYC Street Scenesat the North Stage

    Scenes from The Grand Tasting (Clockwise from Top Left): Wine Gems Room, Mexico Booth, Walkways through Grand Tasting, and Mural at the North Stage

  • Staff – 3: Upon our arrival, a staff member was very kind. He escorted us to the front of the line so we could enter before it became too crowded. He left us to the side of the front of the line, and instructed a volunteer to make sure we got in ahead of the crowd. The volunteer appeared to have forgotten about us as they began to let people in. We spoke up to another staff member, and we were immediately allowed inside. Beyond this experience, we had no interactions with staff from the group running the event. People at most tables were nice enough to me, but no one went out of their way to help me or ask if there was a way to improve my experience or assist me.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Treat House – Upper West Side, Manhattan

Treat House – Upper West Side, Manhattan – October 3, 2015

Ah, Unique Sweets on Cooking Channel! One of my resources for finding all of the latest and greatest dessert venues to review. Treat House is the latest place that I have discovered as a result of watching this show.

Treat House makes unique flavored rice cereal treats using their own homemade marshmallow. They also make breakfast treats. As per their website:

“Treats are always made with the customer’s health in mind. All Treats are certified Kosher Dairy; and unless specified otherwise, are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. Our Homemade Marshmallows are made using raw cane sugar — never corn syrup. Breakfast bars contain brown rice, oats, flax, dried fruits, and seeds (some contain nuts.)” http://treathouse.com/philosophy/, 2015

The rice cereal treats cost $2.50 each or you can get four treats for $9.00 or twelve for $26.00. I ordered a birthday cake rice cereal treat to eat in the shop. I also ordered four treats to bring home (chocolate pretzel, salted caramel, coconut, and butterscotch (seasonal flavor)). As of the writing of this post, I have not had the chance to try the treats I brought home. The treats are small. They are just two to three bites each.

I really enjoyed the homemade marshmallow in the treat. I was immediately able to taste the difference in quality between this treat made with homemade marshmallow and those made with store-bought ones. This treat did not have any artificial flavors or textures, which was great! The birthday cake treat was topped with blue marshmallow frosting and rainbow sprinkles. I was not able to detect was any birthday cake flavor. Additionally, the treat I had was a bit stale.

Clockwise From Top Left: Birthday Cake Rice Cereal Treat, Seasonal Flavor Butterscotch Rice Cereal Treats with Candy Pumpkins on Top, Treat House Bag, & Display Shelves with Rice Cereal Treats on Display

Clockwise From Top Left: Birthday Cake Rice Cereal Treat, Seasonal Flavor Butterscotch Rice Cereal Treats, Treat House Bag, & Display Shelves

Accessibility Rating for Treat House

I used my wheelchair to visit Treat House.

  • Entryway – 4: There is one somewhat narrow door at the entrance. I was able to get through the door itself without a problem. There is a ramp that is part of the sidewalk that goes up to the door. There are no stairs at the entrance.  The transition from the ramp to the inside of the shop is not smooth because the floor inside the shop is not flush with the end of the ramp. As a result, there is a large bump that actually tipped me backwards in my wheelchair as I entered. That was a bit frightening.

    Entrance

    Entrance

  • Bathroom – Not Applicable: The shop does not have a bathroom available for customers.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The space between the service area, counter, and wall is narrow but passable. The seating area was only passable when the employee working there moved furniture out of my way. The space is brightly lit. The shop was silent when I was there. I was the only customer in the shop at the time I was there, and there was no music being played in the background. I was able to fit comfortably underneath the table with my feet resting on the footrests of my wheelchair.

    Left: Seating Area (with main area plus another area up three steps) Right: Service Area & Counter (Narrow space between display shelves and wall)

    Left: Seating Area      Right: Service Area & Counter

  • Staff – 5: The employee was helpful once she noticed me. She offered me a choice of tables to sit at, and she moved a bench and other furniture out of the way so I could access the table I chose. She offered me water to drink, which I politely declined. Upon leaving, she held the door open for me, and she answered my question about where I would be able to find a bathroom in the area. She went beyond normal service expectations.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Treat House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pig ‘N’ Whistle Third Avenue – Midtown East, Manhattan

Pig ‘N’ Whistle Third Avenue – Midtown East, Manhattan – September 13, 2015

This afternoon my husband and I met our friend, Tony, at the Third Avenue location of Pig ‘N’ Whistle in Midtown East. This is one of several locations in Manhattan. These restaurants are all Irish pubs. We chose this location because it was easy for us to reach from our home in Queens and for Tony from his home.

As is customary in restaurants on Sundays in New York City, the restaurant offered a brunch menu. I ordered a Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale to start. While the beer had a lovely caramel color, and was flavorful, I was unable to detect any actual pumpkin flavor. Quite disappointing. I was in the mood for a salad, so I ordered the Blackened Chicken Taco Salad. My husband ordered the Irish Breakfast.

The salad came with romaine lettuce, avocado, cheddar, red onion, kidney beans, plum tomatoes, crispy tortillas, and chipotle ranch dressing. I am not a fan of ranch dressing in any form, so I substituted salsa and sour cream. I had hoped the salad would come in a tortilla shell bowl. Instead, it was topped with tortilla strips. The salad was good, and I was pleased that they used romaine lettuce rather than iceberg. Beyond that, I found the salad to be filling but unremarkable.

I tasted things from my husband’s Irish breakfast. It came with eggs, Irish sausage, Irish bacon, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, baked beans, and a side of toast. I tasted a little bit of everything, and it was all very good. All of the meats were quite savory and flavorful. The beans were tender and the sauce did not overwhelm their flavor.

With tax and tip, the meal came to approximately $25.00 a person split between the three of us.

Foreground (Clockwise from Top Left): Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, Blackened Chicken Taco Salad, and Irish Breakfast Background: Glass Partition and Table

Foreground (Clockwise from Top Left): Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, Blackened Chicken Taco Salad, and Irish Breakfast Background: Glass Partition and Table

Accessibility Rating for Pig ‘N’ Whistle Third Avenue

I used my wheelchair to visit Pig ‘N’ Whistle Third Avenue.

  • Entryway – 5: There are two doors: one outside and one interior door just past the vestibule. They appeared to be narrow, but I was able to pass through without a problem. Both doors were open when we arrived due to warm weather. There are no stairs at the entrance.  The transition from the sidewalk to the inside of the restaurant was smooth.

    Entrance showing narrow door

    Entrance

  • Bathroom (Men’s) 0: The door frame was too narrow for me to pass through to use the bathroom. What made this worse was that when I called the day before, I specifically asked the staff member who answered the phone if the restaurant, its entrance, and the bathroom are wheelchair accessible. Twice she responded in the affirmative. This demonstrates a lack of understanding on her part of what wheelchair accessibility means and looks like. She told me that she has seen people in wheelchairs in the restaurant before, but this does not necessarily mean the entire space is accessible, which she did not understand. While I was there I addressed these issues with the manager, who said that he will address them.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The interior space was largely passable, with the exception of the bathroom door. The space is moderately lit. There was loud music playing while we ate. I was unable to fit underneath the table even with my footrests lifted up. I had to transfer to a chair to be able to sit comfortably at the table.

    Left: Dining Area Right: Bar Area with wooden bar and liquor bottles on display behind the bar

    Left: Dining Area      Right: Bar Area

  • Staff – 2: Upon our arrival, the hostess moved a chair from the table so I could attempt to fit underneath the table in my wheelchair. This was helpful. The reason for the lower score is due to the aforementioned experience where I asked a staff member over the phone about accessibility and was told the bathroom was wheelchair accessible. She was so sure that it is accessible solely on the basis of previously seeing someone who used a wheelchair in the restaurant. This is no way to make a determination of accessibility.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Pig 'N' Whistle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shake Shack – Upper West Side, Manhattan

Shake Shack – Upper West Side, Manhattan – September 12, 2015

Shake Shack started as an outdoor stand selling burgers and frozen custard in Madison
Square Park in Manhattan. Since then, they have expanded to many locations across New York City and through other states, and the original location has become a tourist destination. One  location is on the Upper West Side behind the American Museum of Natural History and near the New York Historical Society Museum and Library.

My husband and I went to see the Al Hirschfeld exhibit at the New York Historical Society Museum, so this was an opportunity to eat lunch at Shake Shack. I have eaten at the original Shake Shack location numerous times, but I have only been to this one a few times. We each had a single Shackburger, and we shared a large order of french fries.

A ShackBurger is a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce. The burger was meaty and flavorful. The lettuce was fresh, and a huge plus was that it was actual green lettuce and not iceberg lettuce. The tomatoes were juicy. The ShackSauce seems to be a mayonnaise based sauce that added creaminess to the burger, but not much in the way of flavor. The bun was your standard hamburger bun, which added nothing to the burger other than providing a way to get the burger from the tray to my mouth. It was good, but not my favorite burger in New York City. While I really liked that the fries were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, I found them to be too salty.

Two ShackBurgers with tomatoes and lettuce on buns and a paper boat of french fries on a tray

ShackBurgers and French Fries

Accessibility Rating for Shake Shack – Upper West Side

I used my wheelchair to visit Shake Shack – Upper West Side.

  • Entryway – 4: There are two wide doors. Both doors were open when we arrived due to warm weather. There are no stairs at the entrance.  The transition was bumpy due to an uneven transition from outside to inside.

    Entrance

    Entrance

  • Bathroom 4: Getting to the accessible bathroom (which is also the staff bathroom) was an odyssey. I had to be escorted by a staff member downstairs using the elevator. The staff member walked me through an area where many staff members were congregated to the elevator. Several staff members had to move out of the way so I could get to the elevator. While the door to the bathroom was wide, the area outside the bathroom was packed with boxes and kegs of beer that needed to be moved so I could enter and exit. There are two grab bars around the toilet. I could partially fit underneath the sink while in my wheelchair. The sink has long faucet handles. I was able to make a 180º turn in the bathroom in my wheelchair. The bathroom was brightly lit.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The interior space has some tight spaces, particularly when going to and coming from the accessible/staff bathroom, but most areas were easily passable. The space is brightly lit in the dining area, but much darker in the lobby/waiting area where you order food. There was loud music playing while we ate. I was able to fit underneath the table with my footrests lifted up.

    Left: Lobby and Waiting Area Right: Seating Area in Atrium area with Glass Ceiling and Wall

    Left: Lobby and Waiting Area       Right: Seating Area

  • Staff – 3: Until I asked to use the bathroom, no staff member acknowledged me or asked me how they might help me. Once I asked to use the bathroom, a staff member escorted me to and from the bathroom. He helped moved boxes that blocked the entrance to the bathroom. I am only giving a three for the score for this area because until I asked for help I was not even acknowledged.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Shake Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Time Out NY Battle of the Burger – South Street Seaport, Manhattan

Time Out NY Battle of the Burger – South Street Seaport, Manhattan – August 19, 2015

Sign at Entrance to BotB and Voting Token in Upper Right Corner, Sign says, "Come on in! Burger Shop is now open!"

Sign at Entrance to BotB and Voting Token (Upper Right)

Twenty burgers! How was I going to be able to eat twenty burgers? That was my thought as I headed to Time Out NY’s Battle of the Burger 2015 (BotB) presented by Amstel Light at the South Street Seaport. The event pitted 20 burger makers against each other to win the title of top burger in NYC. It was not a cheap event to attend, but I paid extra for VIP admission, so I could enter early and have a little more space and time to get around. After sampling the burgers, I was supposed to pick my favorite, and use a token to vote for that burger. The event did not go as planned for me, as you will read in the accessibility rating.

I arrived early, and ended up being the first person on line for the 5:30 PM VIP Group. This was good because for about the first 10 – 15 minutes I was able to move around the event somewhat well (with the exception of the cobblestones, which I will detail later). The cooks served either miniature burgers/sliders or burgers cut into halves or quarters. In the half hour that I was there, I sampled about 10 of them, but I do not recall many of them. This was due in part to my high stress from the crowd and the cobblestones, and from several of the burgers being unremarkable.

There were burgers with bacon, burgers slathered with various spices and sauces, and burgers topped with macaroni and cheese. But, the one burger that stood out was made by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. The burger was made with Kobe beef (as described to me by one of their workers), and it was topped with house buttermilk-dill sauce, blue cheese and arugula. The beef was really rich, and I loved the salty, funky bleu cheese against the peppery arugula. (For a video of the preparations being made for BotB click here.)

Various Burgers Including (Top Right) a Kobe beef burger with bleu cheese and arugula and (Lower Left) a burger topped with macaroni and cheese

Various Burgers Including (Top Right) Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer’s Kobe beef burger with bleu cheese and arugula and (Lower Left) a burger topped with macaroni and cheese

I only drank one-half of a cup of Strongbow Hard Cider, due to the difficult bathroom situation, as described in the accessibility rating below. The cider was mediocre, slightly sweet and slightly crisp. I have had other ciders that I prefer to this one.

What made this event even more unfortunate was that while I did not overeat, I ended up getting sick overnight. (No worries. I am all better now.)

Accessibility Rating for Battle of the Burger 2015

I used my wheelchair to visit BotB. (This is an annual event.)

Before I get into the formal accessibility rating, I need to let you know about the research I conducted about the event before choosing to attend. I contacted the staff at Time Out NY numerous times via both phone and email to find out if the venue is wheelchair accessible. I was reassured via both phone and email that the venue is wheelchair accessible. The mistake I made was thinking that the event would be held indoors. I thought this because all the media for the event listed it as taking place at 19 Fulton Street. I know that this is a building in the South Street Seaport. I should have been more specific in my questioning, but the event ended up being outside on the cobblestones. Additionally, Time Out’s staff should be more informed about what makes for true accessibility. (Yet again, a running theme on The Disabled Foodie, I find that educating staff as to what true accessibility is is crucial, but it does not seem to be happening.)

As any user of a mobility-assistive device knows, cobblestones are horrific to negotiate and move around on. This was surely the case for me. I had to negotiate a huge crowd that frequently would not move for me (which I expected and was prepared for from attending other large events), but this was made even more difficult by adding in the cobblestones. I know that the outdoor area of the Seaport is paved with cobblestones. I would have not attended had I asked for/been provided with the correct information I needed to make an informed decision. Namely, that it would be held outside on the cobblestones. I admit my role in not asking the right questions, and I should have thought about how all of the burgers would be cooked if the event was indoors.

The Americans with Disabilities Act states the following about cobblestones:

“A4.5 Ground and Floor Surfaces.

A4.5.1 General. People who have difficulty walking or maintaining balance or who use crutches, canes, or walkers, and those with restricted gaits are particularly sensitive to slipping and tripping hazards. For such people, a stable and regular surface is necessary for safe walking, particularly on stairs. Wheelchairs can be propelled most easily on surfaces that are hard, stable, and regular. Soft loose surfaces such as shag carpet, loose sand or gravel, wet clay, and irregular surfaces such as cobblestones can significantly impede wheelchair movement.” (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html, 2015)

The stress of negotiating the crowd and the cobblestones upset me so much, that a staff member helped me leave early. I paid for a ticket that would have allowed me to stay until 8:00 PM, but I was so stressed that he helped me leave at 6:00 PM. I was only there for 30 minutes. I did not even get to use my token to vote for my favorite burger.

I regret choosing to attend what was a very expensive event where I ended up leaving very early due to the aforementioned difficult and upsetting circumstances.

  • Entryway – 1: The stanchions for the entryway aisles were placed too closely together to allow my wheelchair to get through easily. Staff had to move them further apart to allow me to pass through. It seemed to me that there may not have been any forethought about how to make the entryway accessible until it was necessary to make it so. Additionally, the cobblestones made passing through even more difficult.

    Outdoor Venue for BotB with caption inserted indicating cobblestones

    Outdoor Venue for BotB

  • Bathroom 1: There were no bathrooms within the enclosed event area. The nearest accessible bathroom was one accessible port-a-potty a little over one block away. It had two grab bars inside, and outside there was a foot-pump operated sink. Since it was foot-pump operated, I was unable to use it. I am sure this bathroom situation was not part of Time Out New York’s doing, but I would have appreciated an accessible bathroom within the event. It would have alleviated one of the concerns I had on my mind while attending the event.
  • Walkways/Space – 1: The aisles, once crowded, were very difficult to negotiate. I knew this would be the case no matter where the event was held. The reason for my low rating, yet again, was due to the cobblestones. Additionally, the lighting was good due to the event being held outdoors. The noise level was high due to the combination of people speaking loudly because they were competing with the loud music being played throughout the event.

    Various Scenes from BotB Including (Left) One of the twenty burger stands (Center) Cook prepping burgers(Right) crowd before it became even more jam packed

    Various Scenes from BotB Including (Right) crowd before it became even more jam-packed

  • Staff – 3: Some staff were quite helpful. The security personnel moved the entryway stanchions out of my way so I could get into the event. As described earlier, a staff member helped move the crowd out of my way when I needed to leave. The score is lower due to the fact that it seems to me that some education may be necessary for those staff members I communicated with who seemed to believe that the venue was easily accessible/negotiated when it was not.
  • Braille Menus: They did not have any material printed in Braille for blind patrons.


David Burke Kitchen – Soho, Manhattan

David Burke Kitchen – Soho, Manhattan – August 9, 2015

I love NYC Restaurant Week! Twice a year, New York City restaurants throw open their doors and lower their costs on three course, prix fixe menus. Lunch menus cost $25 per person, and dinner costs $38 per person. I only wish I had the monetary resources and unlimited time to try all of the restaurants that participate.

After looking over many menus, my husband and I chose to have lunch at David Burke Kitchen. We were excited about the large number of options available. Overall, it was a good lunch, but I was not blown away as I had hoped I would be.

From the list of appetizers, we selected the house-made ricotta and the chicken dumplings. The ricotta came with pickled strawberries, honey, black pepper, and toast. The ricotta was creamy, fresh, and had the perfect balance between smooth and grainy textures. I also detected a hint of lemon in the cheese. The strawberries, while pickled, still brought a vibrant sweetness along with the honey.

The chicken dumplings introduced a barbecue spin to Asian-style dumplings. They came with Jack cheese, schmaltz (chicken fat), cowboy barbecue sauce, and green onions. They were tasty, but the vinegar in the sauce dominated the entire dish’s flavor, which was disappointing.

For our entrees, we chose the Skuna Bay salmon and the crispy chicken thigh Caesar. The salmon came with sun choke and leek hummus, grilled zucchini, cucumber and radish, lemon, and olive oil. The salmon was perfectly cooked and delicious! The vegetables and hummus that it came with added crunch and brightness to the fish’s fresh flavor. The chicken in the Caesar salad was tender, juicy, and flavorful. The salad was decent, but I was not wowed by it.

Appetizers and Entrees Clockwise from Top Left: House-Made Ricotta, Chicken Dumplings, Crisp Chicken Thigh Caesar, and Skuna Bay Salmon Background: Woven Leather

Appetizers and Entrees Clockwise from Top Left: House-Made Ricotta, Chicken Dumplings, Crisp Chicken Thigh Caesar, and Skuna Bay Salmon      Background: Woven Leather

Dessert was the best part of the meal. We chose the cheesecake lollipop tree for two to share. It came with a variety of lollipops: cherry pink cashmere, triple chocolate tuxedo, and toffee top hat. The cheesecake itself was creamy and tangy. The toppings were crispy and crunchy, and it came with light and fluffy strawberry whipped cream. We both detected a hint of sage in the whipped cream, which brought an herbaceous element to this indulgent dessert.

Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

Accessibility Rating for David Burke Kitchen

I used my wheelchair to visit David Burke Kitchen.

    • Entryway – 5: The entrance has one set of wide doors at the main entrance. There are no stairs. Once inside the main doors, there is an elevator available to go down to the restaurant or up to the Treehouse Bar.

      Entrance

      Entrance

    • Bathroom (Men’s) 4: The accessible stall is enormous. I was able to turn my wheelchair around a full 360° within the stall. There are two grab bars around the toilet, and I was able to fit comfortably underneath the sink while in my wheelchair. The faucet had one handle that was of a moderate length. The bathroom is dimly lit.
    • Walkways/Space – 4: The main pathways are easily passable when the restaurant is not crowded. I was able to fit comfortably underneath the table while seated in my wheelchair. The space is well lit due to many windows along one side of the restaurant. The music got progressively louder as our time in the restaurant passed.

      Left: Bar Area Inside Restaurant     Right: Interior of Restaurant     Background: Wood Ceiling

      Left: Bar Area Inside Restaurant       Right: Interior of Restaurant      Background: Wood Ceiling

    • Staff – 5: The staff asked me what I would need to be comfortable, and after explaining that I would prefer a table with space for my wheelchair and space around it, the hostess gave me a choice of tables. She pulled the chair away from the table I selected, and she waited for me to make sure I fit comfortably at the table. The hostess even offered to push two tables together, so that we could have more space. I declined this kind offer.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Click to add a blog post for David Burke Kitchen on Zomato

Orsay – Upper East Side, Manhattan

Orsay – Upper East Side, Manhattan – July 13, 2015

Not only does New York City celebrate Restaurant Week twice a year, but around Bastille Day there is French Restaurant Week. Naturally, I decided to celebrate this by having the prix fixe lunch at Orsay.

For $35.78, patrons can choose either a glass of wine or beer, an appetizer from a choice of three, and a main course from a choice of three. It is the same price for dinner, but the choice of dishes changes. This was a great deal as lunchtime appetizers range from $14 – $20 and main courses from $16 – $32.

For my appetizer, I selected the two colors watermelon salad. It came with sweet yellow and red watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives, and cilantro in a sesame citrus vinaigrette. Had I known it came with olives and cilantro (my long-time readers know that I am not a fan of cilantro), I would have asked for those items to be left out. The sweet melon was complemented by the salty, creamy feta cheese, and the sesame flavor was quite pronounced in the vinaigrette. I love sesame so it was a nice touch, though I am still unsure of how well it meshed with the flavor of the watermelon.

My main course was absolutely delicious.  I chose the homemade chicken sausage over the baby kale caesar salad. It was presented to me in an adorable miniature Dutch oven pot. The sausage was smoky and meaty with a great snap when I bit into it. Chicken sausage can be flavorless and boring, but this was definitely not the case. The baby kale was fresh and vibrant with the expected touch of bitter flavor that comes with kale. The caesar dressing had the right balance of salt and tang, and the kale was not drowning in it, which was great.

Top: Two Colors Watermelon Salad Bottom: Homemade Chicken Sausage with Baby Kale Caesar Salad Background: Tile Floor Detail

Top: Two Colors Watermelon Salad      Bottom: Homemade Chicken Sausage with Baby Kale Caesar Salad      Background: Tile Floor Detail

Accessibility Rating for Orsay

I used my wheelchair to visit Orsay.

  • Entryway – 5: The entrance has two wide sets of double doors. There are no stairs, and the transition from the sidewalk to the restaurant’s interior is smooth.

    Entrance

    Entrance

  • Bathroom 4: The bathroom was moderately spacious. I was able to turn my wheelchair around in it, but I did bump into the tall garbage can in the corner. There are two grab bars around the toilet. The sink has an automatic faucet, and I was able to fit under the sink while in my wheelchair. The soap dispenser had what appeared to be a Braille label on it. The only problem was that the paper towel dispenser was up quite high on the wall, which could be difficult for some to reach from a wheelchair.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The restaurant had two areas: the main dining floor and a dining area next to the bar. I was seated at a table near the bar, as the hostess suggested would be roomier. She was correct. The main floor is tightly packed, and during busy dining times, could present difficulties for those using mobility assistive devices. The walkways were reasonably spacious at the time I dined there (1 PM). I was unsure if I would fit underneath the table (It appeared to be quite low) while remaining in my wheelchair, but it turned out that I was able to. The furniture is easily moved to accommodate different patrons’ needs. The lighting was dim where I was sitting, though it was a bit brighter at tables closer to the windows. The noise level in the restaurant was moderate, mostly coming from patrons talking. There was some music playing quietly in the background.

    Interior of Orsay including views of bar area and tables (Background: Detail of Lamp and Ceiling)

    Interior of Orsay (Background: Detail of Lamp and Ceiling) (Some pictures are dim due to the restaurant’s dim lighting and being back lit by the windows)

  • Staff – 5: The staff was incredibly considerate and helpful. The hostess realized my need to have more space without my requesting it, and she let me select an appropriate table in the area with more space at that time. Before attempting to sit at the table, she offered me a choice of sitting at the table while in my wheelchair or transferring to a chair. I chose to remain in my wheelchair. She moved the chair away from the table, and waited patiently to make sure that I was able to fit comfortably underneath it. A gentleman, who appeared to be one of the managers, held the bathroom door open for me when I entered and exited it. The hostess also held the front doors open upon my arrival to and departure from Orsay.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus. When I raised this question, the same aforementioned gentleman who appeared to be the manager, happily told me that they would read and explain the menu to anyone who requires that type of accommodation. This was the first time that restaurant staff responded that way since I began asking that question.

 

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NYC’s First Disability Pride Parade & Festival – July 12, 2015

NYC’s First Disability Pride Parade & Festival – July 12, 2015

Scenes from Disability Pride including Andrea Dalzell, Ms. Wheelchair New York 2015, on the lower right, and shots of various booths, the stage for performances, and people walking around

Scenes from Disability Pride including Andrea Dalzell, Ms. Wheelchair New York 2015, on the lower right

Today was a monumental and exciting day in New York City for the disability community. The first Disability Pride NYC parade and festival took place. I was honored that Michael Schweinsburg, Executive Director of Disability Pride NYC, donated a table at the festival to The Disabled Foodie so I could get this blog and its valuable information out to more members of the disability community. I am also thankful to my husband for his help at the table, and to the many people who visited me to support and learn more about The Disabled Foodie. It was great to see thousands of people out to support disability rights and awareness.

The Disabled Foodie Table at Disability Pride NYC

The Disabled Foodie Table at Disability Pride NYC

The day consisted of a parade which traveled down Broadway from Madison Square Park to Union Square Park, which was where the festival was held. Many people marched in the parade, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. At the festival, there was a stage with great live entertainment which included great music and dance performed by various groups from across the disability community. There were also many tables, including my own, which distributed information to people in the disability community about various services, agencies, and programs available to them.

Mayor Bill de Blasio marching in the Disability Pride parade

Mayor Bill de Blasio marching in the Disability Pride parade


Cheese and Gin with Brooklyn Gin at Bedford Cheese Shop – Gramercy, Manhattan

Cheese and Gin with Brooklyn Gin at Bedford Cheese Shop – Gramercy, Manhattan – July 10, 2015

Each summer, I take lots of fun classes to learn things ranging from languages (I am taking Beginner’s French this summer) to food (Later this month, my husband and I are taking a doughnut making class (Post to come)). So while perusing Coursehorse (my online resource that compiles class listings all over New York City), an unusual course caught my eye:

Cheese and Gin with Brooklyn Gin

“This is a class that you should be really excited about. We’re joining forces with the hand crafting gin makers over at Brooklyn Gin. They’re all about small batch production, local ingredients and selling only the finest product to you. We’ve got that in common with them!

This class will focus on using Brooklyn Gin in three drinks and pairing each drink with some of our finest cheeses. Not only that, but the guys from Brooklyn Gin will be teaching the class alongside our wonderful cheesemonger, Pippa, as she talks cheese and they talk gin.

This class can only be a great time!” (Coursehorse, 2015)

Cheese and wine? Yes! Cheese and beer? Sure! Cheese and gin? Now, I was intrigued. I immediately signed up.

The class took place at Bedford Cheese Shop. I review the store’s accessibility below, but in this section I review the class and tasting. The store has a separate classroom in the back. The classroom table was beautiful. Each taster had their own cheeseboard and glasses for the drinks.

Table with cheese boards & drinks

Table with cheese boards & drinks

The cheeseboard had five cheeses presented in order from the mildest flavor to the strongest. The first and mildest cheese was a goat cheese called Westfield Chevre. It was fluffy, light, and very creamy. The suggested gin pairing was gin and tonic. The bubbles from the gin cut through the creamy texture of this cheese.

Cheese Tray (Mildest flavored cheese to strongest from left to right: Westfield Chevre (goat), Arzua Ulloa (cow), Gouleroy (sheep), Gruyere Nosotros (cow), & Point Reyes Blue)

Cheese Tray (Mildest flavored cheese to strongest from left to right: Westfield Chevre, Arzua Ulloa, Gouleroy, Gruyere Nosotros, & Point Reyes Blue)

As an aside, Brooklyn Gin is an American-style gin. They hand crack the juniper berries, and not only do they include juniper berries in their gin’s flavor profile, but they also distill it with citrus, lavender, and coriander. It was interesting to learn that the majority of the world’s juniper berries are imported from Albania. To me, this gin had a more complex flavor than the in-your-face traditional gins which slam you with juniper flavor. Brooklyn Gin benefited from the bright citrus and floral lavender. I am eager to purchase my own bottle. They have a map on their website where you can locate stores that sell it.

The second cheese was Arzua-Ulloa, a regional cow’s milk cheese from Spain. I found this cheese to be very mild in flavor while creamy. Of all the cheeses, this was my least favorite, as I tend to prefer strong flavors. Again, the suggested gin pairing was with a gin and tonic to cut through the cheese’s creaminess.

The third cheese was Gouleroy, a raw sheep’s and cow’s milk cheese from the Midi-Pyrenees region of France. This cheese was salty and rich with a slight floral taste. It was paired with Brooklyn Gin straight up. The gin’s floral and citrus flavors balanced the cheese’s salty richness.

The final two cheeses, which were my favorites, were paired with a drink called The Bee’s Knees. This drink consisted of gin, honey syrup, and freshly squeezed lemon juice garnished with a lemon wheel and a spring of fresh thyme. The drink was bright and sweet. This was my favorite of the three drinks. The fourth cheese was Gruyère Nosotros made from raw cow’s milk. This nutty and salty cheese had a bit of a crunch to it due to the way the amino acids degrade during the cheese making process. It added a delightful component to this cheese.

Finally, the fifth cheese was Point Reyes Blue. The flavor profile was pungent, salty, and funky, as every good blue cheese should be. This cheese paired beautifully with The Bee’s Knees resulting in wonderful contrasts of sweet, salty, funky, and clean flavors.

The class was thoroughly enjoyable, and I learned a great deal about cheese and gin. I hope to attend a class there again in the future.

Accessibility Rating for Bedford Cheese Shop

I used my wheelchair to visit Bedford Cheese Shop.

  • Entryway – 5: The entrance has one wide door. There are no stairs, andthe transition from the sidewalk to the store’s interior is smooth.

    Entrance

    Entrance

  • Bathroom 3: The bathroom seemed to only be available to staff and those taking a class at the store. There is one grab bar that wraps around two sides of the toilet. I could not fit underneath the sink while in my wheelchair. The room is a decent size once I was able to close the door, but that was difficult to do once I was inside with my wheelchair. The same can be said about exiting the bathroom while in my wheelchair.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The store is spacious and has easilypassable walkways. The store itself is brightly lit. While I was there, there was moderately loud background music, but beyond that there was not much background noise. The classroom was a tight fit for me in my wheelchair. There is a large table withapproximately 15 chairs in the classroom, which made for less space for my wheelchair. I had to transfer from my wheelchair to a regular chair because the table was too low for me to fit underneath it comfortably in my wheelchair.

    Four views of interior

    Interior

  • Staff – 5: The staff was very helpful. In the store, they allowed me to purchase my cheeses and two delicious preserves (Rare Bird Preserves) while I took the class. This let me shop first, and leave right after so I could catch my paratransit ride home. Pippa let me enter the classroom before everyone else. She helped me access the bathroom by moving chairs out of my way, and then, she aided in my transferring from my wheelchair to a chair at the table.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


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El Paso Restaurante Mexicano – Spanish Harlem, Manhattan

El Paso Restaurante Mexicano – Spanish Harlem, Manhattan – July 5, 2015

After visiting the Museum of the City of New York this morning, my husband and I had planned to visit El Museo del Barrio which is right next door. Not only did we hope to see their fantastic exhibits, but my husband told me that the café there is really good. El Museo del Barrio and their café turned out to be closed, so we headed over to Lexington Avenue to find other options.

We came upon El Paso Restaurante Mexicano, and decided to try it. They were offering both their brunch and lunch menus at the time we were there. All of the options we selected were from the brunch menu, and as my readers know, we shared all of the dishes, so that we were able to taste more.

For an appetizer, we started with the kale salad. The kale was topped with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, pickled lemon skin, pumpkin seeds, and golden raisins. It was all topped with a light citrus dressing. The kale was well cleaned and dried, so it held on to the dressing beautifully. The highlights of this salad were the creamy avocado, the nutty pumpkin seeds, and the unexpected, acidic tang from the pickled lemon skin, which was a delectable touch.

We selected two entrees: Molletes (prounounced moh-yeh-tays) and Huevos Divorciados (pronounced way-vohs dee-vor-see-ah-dohs). The molletes were made with bolillo bread (pronounced boh-lee-yoh, and is similar to French bread), chorizo, pinto beans, eggs (we ordered them scrambled), pico de gallo, and a mixed green salad. The chorizo (in this case, it was Mexican style sausage) was disappointingly flavorless. The bread was fluffy, but also flavorless. The most flavorful parts of the dish were the pico de gallo, tomatillo, and guajillo (a type of chile) salsas. These sauces added acidic and smoky notes to an otherwise bland dish. The dish was also lacking in texture. Finally, the mixed green salad was too salty for my taste.

The huevos divorciados were slightly better. These eggs (ordered scrambled again) came over crispy tostadas with carnitas (stewed pork), grilled tomatoes, pinto beans, tomatillo and guajillo salsas, queso fresco, onions, and sour cream. I found this dish to be slightly better than the molletes. It benefited from the crispy tostadas, which gave it some texture, and again, the smoky guajillo salsa and piquante tomatillo salsa added flavor the dish was otherwise lacking.

Clockwise from top left: Kale Salad, Molletes, and Huevos Divorciados Background: Bar

Clockwise from top left: Kale Salad, Molletes, and Huevos Divorciados      Background: Bar

Accessibility Rating for El Paso Restaurante Mexicano

I used my wheelchair to visit El Paso Restaurante Mexicano.

  • Entryway – 4: The entrance has two wide doors (one outer door and one inner door). There is a slight bump at the outer door. Once inside the outer door, you must turn to get into the vestibule, and then, turn again to get inside the restaurant. I was able to do this with minimal difficulty.

    Entrance with arrow indicating slight bump at entrance

    Entrance

  • Bathroom 2: The bathroom (Women’s) is the one the restaurant has designated as accessible. There are no grab bars around the toilet. The sink has long faucet handles, though I could not fit underneath the sink while in my wheelchair. The room was very small. Once I was inside with the wheelchair, there was barely any room left inside. The bathroom is moderately lit.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The space has one main walkway which is right next to the bar. When there are people seated at the bar and the adjacent tables, there is probably little space for any type of mobility assistive device. The tables were a decent height. I was able to remain in my wheelchair and fit comfortably under the table. The staff had to move bar stools, chairs, and tables to make room for me to get to and from the bathroom. The lighting is moderate, so I imagine it would be dim during the night. When we arrived, the noise level was low, as there were only a few occupied tables. There was some background music playing. Once the restaurant filled up, the noise level was a bit higher.

    Interior

    Interior

  • Staff – 3: The staff was decent. They let us select the table that worked best for me. As mentioned before, they moved furniture out of the way so that I was able to access the bathroom. Beyond that, they did not ask how they could help me in any way.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


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