Favela Cubana

26 Jun

PMap -Favelalace: Favela Cubana

Location: 543 LaGuardia Place (between Bleecker St. & 3rd St.)

Mimosa Rating: 

3 1/2 mimosas


The scoop: 
Looking for good drinks and food? You are in luck at Favela Cubana. We’d like to send a special thank you to Karen for inviting us to check out the brunch scene at Favela.

Favela Cubana entrance

It was such beautiful day that we decided to sit in the patio located at the front of the restaurant. The outdoor area is pretty large and can accommodate multiple tables.

wpid-20140419_163002.jpg

The hostess Andrea welcomed us to the restaurant and was very sweet and made sure we were well situated and taken care of. Our server was new, but he did a good job providing us with information.

Favela Cubana inside

The inside of restaurant is long and narrow. In comparison to the abundance of sunshine outside, the inside of the restaurant looked slightly dark (although you can’t tell in this photo). Congos were set at the bar to serve as stools. A pair of congos were at the entrance of the patio area as well. We found this super unique and fun.

Favela Cubana seats

Bottoms up: We suggest taking advantage of the one-hour bottomless special. The cost is $14.99 in addition to the purchase of an entrée or eggs. The restaurant offers six different types of drinks, so you are  bound to find one that you enjoy!Favela Cubana behind red and cava sangria

Red Sangria

Victoria enjoyed her red sangria. It had the perfect balance of a fruity taste without being overly sweet. The drink was pretty strong too.  

Sparkling Mojito

Erica loved the sparkling mojito. It had a great traditional mojito flavor with a sparkling kick. If you enjoy sweet drinks, you will love this. 

Bellini

Stephanie had a mango and apricot bellini. She thought she was going to like mango more, but she actually preferred apricot. While both were refreshing and served with what tasted like fresh juice, the apricot had more flavor.

Chew on this: 

Empanadas $7 / Served with mojo verde sauce. Choice of beef picadillo, chicken or sweet cornFavela Cubana empanadas guacamole

We were served three types of empanadas — chicken, ground beef and corn. We all agreed that the chicken lacked flavor and was pretty dry. The corn empanadas had the best flavor, followed by the ground beef.

Guacamole $8 / Fresh avocado, jalapeño, chopped tomato, red onions, cilantro and chips

It was a unanimous decision to order the guacamole to share. We all really like guac, and we enjoyed Favela’s version. It was blended well — not too chunky, not too mushy — and had good flavor. The servers were happy to give us more chips.

Ropa Vieja $15 / Braised pulled skirt steak with tomato, bell peppers, Spanish onions, white rice and black beans

Favela Cubana lechon

I will order Ropa Vieja at a Spanish restaurant 95 percent of the time, and this Ropa Vieja is worth writing about. I was glad that I was able to substitute the white rice for yellow rice. The meat was extremely flavorful that I did not have to go overboard with the hot sauce. It was a huge serving, and I was able to share some with everybody. I highly recommend this dish, especially if you are hungry.

Steak and Eggs $16 / Grilled hanger steak, two eggs any style, chimichurri, baby arugula and yucca fries

Favela Cubana ropa vieja

Like Victoria, I was eyeing the Ropa Vieja,  but we wanted to try a variety of dishes, so I went with the steak and eggs instead. The steak was cooked how I requested — medium — and the eggs were scrambled well. I was happy to see that the dish came with hearty sides of both fries and salad. The salad had a very light dressing on top. While this dish was sizable and kept me full, I found the food to be a little cold. Despite that, I’d still recommend this dish.

Open Faced Sandwich $14 / Poached eggs, asparagus, wild mushrooms, ricotta cheese, truffle oil and rustic bread

Favela Cubana opened faced sandwich

I craved everything in the dish’s description, but the dish just didn’t deliver. The toast was pretty flat, and despite the ingredients, it just wasn’t flavorful. Thankfully, Favela had great hot sauces to spice it up. The eggs were also overdone and not runny. I would shy away from this dish. 

Gelato and Dessert EmpanadasFavela Cubana dessert

We ended our brunch feast with gelato (or ice cream) and dessert empanadas. The menu stated that it was gelato, but from the taste and the way it melted, it was clearly ice cream. After having savory empanadas to start the meal, we couldn’t resist ordering the dessert empanadas to cap off the meal. The empanadas were crispy on the outside and warm and filled with apples on the inside. They were like mini apple pies. A bite of an empanada together with the ice cream was yummy!

The final bite: Favela Cubana is a unique Cuban fusion restaurant with an outdoor space that can’t be beat on a sunny afternoon. Overall, the space and options for both lunch and brunch will likely bring us back to Favela Cubana.

Favela CubanaReviewed by: Brunch Gang — Erica, Stephanie & Victoria

 

Brunch Beat: Mother’s Day

9 May

What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day? Brunch of course!

Looking for special spots to take mom? Check out the following:

It’s going to be a nice and warm day, so snag an outdoor seat at Pera Soho. Not only can you sit in the comfy outdoor patio, but you can enjoy a complete brunch meal for only $21.

Sotto 13 is offering a Mother’s Day prix-fixe menu for $39, which includes pizza, brunch items, and unlimited drinks. Sounds great!

Hotel Chantelle has a fantastic rooftop for brunching. Not only are they serving the essential cocktails — mimosas, bellinis, and bloody Marys — for only $3.95, but they also have a Mother’s Day two course prix-fixe menu for $29.92.

Looking for more outdoor dining? Dopo East just recently opened their private garden! The restaurant is serving special Mother’s Day dishes all day long.

The gang wants to send a special thank you to our mothers, Cristina, Debbie, and Paula, for being the best!

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms! 

Corkbuzz Wine Studio

7 May

corkbuzz_mapPlace: Corkbuzz Wine Studio

Location: Union Square, 13 E 13th St. (between 5th Ave. & University Place)

Mimosa Rating: 

3 1/2 mimosas


The scoop:
Corkbuzz is conveniently located around the corner from Union Square, making it an easily accessible destination. Corkbuzz goes beyond your expectations of your typical wine bar — there’s more than just cheese and wine here. They have a fantastic food menu that will impress your palate. They also have hard-to-find wines.

bar_corkbuzz

When entering the restaurant, we walked into their lounge and bar area, and in the back there were communal tables and additional high-top tables. For brunch, the atmosphere is great. It’s busy but not too loud or too crowded. You can easily enjoy your conversations.

table_corkbuzz

We chose to have brunch on Marathon Sunday since they were showing the marathon on a large screen in the back area. It made for a nice viewing experience. They did squeeze a little too many of us in the communal table, as I don’t think they were expecting such a good turnout. The staff and servers were pretty friendly.

Chew on this:

Pork Belly Eggs Benedict $15 / With potato hash or salad

porkbelly_eggs_benedict_corkbuzz

You guessed it. The Pork Belly Eggs Benedict is exactly what it sounds like; an eggs Benedict with the ham replaced by delicious pork belly. The pork was tender and shredded easily with each bite. I was surprised that a typical English muffin was used instead of something a little more exotic. The eggs were delicately cooked to perfection. The side of potatoes hash was more representative of diced potatoes, not hash.

French Omelette $13 / With potato hash or market salad and choice of three: bacon, ham, tomato, Swiss chard, mushrooms, onions, cheddar or Swiss cheese

omelette_corkbuzz

I am not sure what makes this “French” omelette as opposed to a regular omelette. While it was good, it was average overall, nothing super amazing. If you typically order omelettes as a safety dish, I would recommend going out of your comfort zone, as Corkbuzz has some great, unique dishes.

Short Rib Hash $15 / Sunny-side-up eggs, scallions, jalapeño aioli

shor_rib_hash_corkbuzz

This was definitely one of the more interesting dishes. It was unexpectedly layered and full of flavor from the pork and jalapeno aioli. The bottom layer contained a decent amount of shredded pork. On top of that was a layer of thinly sliced potatoes and two sunny-side-up eggs. The sauce was lightly drizzled over everything. The mixture went so well together, and each bite became more delicious.  I would recommend this dish.

Lamb Shashuka $15 / Chickpeas, poached eggs, green harissa

lamb-shashuka_corkbuzz

Traditionally an Israeli dish, shashuka is a delicious mixture of simple ingredients packed full of flavor. Corkbuzz did prepare their version a little different. The dish was not served in a skillet/clay pot and the eggs were poached rather than overeasy. But I loved their harissa sauce, which gave the dish a little spice. The lamb was nicely prepared, and there was a decent amount of it. I would also recommend this dish.

The final bite: Corkbuzz Wine Studio shouldn’t be overlooked for brunch. They have a great wine bar atmosphere that translates well during the day. It’s also a great place to catch up with friends because it’s not too loud or crowded. Their menu contains unique brunch dishes and hard-to-find wines. I would like to go back and explore more.

entrance_corkbuzz

Reviewed by: Erica

 

Brunch Beat: 4/25/14

25 Apr

Manhattan:

Another The Meatball Shop location (84 Stanton St.) now serves brunch! Balls Benedict, anyone?

Chicane (430 Broome St.) is serving brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their French toast includes blueberries and kiwi-Chartreuse jam.

Popular brunch spot Il Bastardo recently closed its doors. Another New York City Restaurant Group haunt Bocca di Bacco (191 Seventh Ave.) now occupies the location in Chelsea.

Queens:

Fiamma41 (214-26 41st Ave.), which is fairly new to Bayside, serves $5 mimosas, bloody Marys, screwdrivers and sangria during brunch on weekends. Word is an unlimited option is coming soon.

Sagaponack

18 Apr

sagaponack_mapPlace: Sagaponack 

Location: Flatiron, 4 W. 22nd St. (between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave.)

Mimosa Rating:

3 1/2 mimosas

The scoop: Summer exists all year around at Sagaponack! We had a reservation for five after visiting nearby Kleinfeld for a wedding dress fitting for Stephanie’s sister.

menu_sagaponack

The name of the Flatiron restaurant is very apropos as the exterior and interior decor — from the dining area to the bathroom – has a beach theme. Sagaponack is actually the name of a village in Southampton, N.Y. The menu that hangs in the window has starfish stuck on it. Seashells and lanterns are strewn throughout the inside of the restaurant while soothing colors of blue and green surround you. Pictures of the ocean hang on the walls. There was even a small replica sailboat behind our table! The chairs backs and seats are made from wicker. Everything about Sagaponack screams the Hamptons. It’s the perfect spot to get your summer fix during winter and early spring when the temperatures are still chilly!

inside_dining2_sagaponack

There is a long bar at the front of the restaurant and a staircase that leads you to the second floor in the middle. The top floor is ideal for private parties as it can accommodate up to 45 guests. There was a baby shower taking place on the second level when we were brunching.

bar_sagaponack

Bottoms up:

East End Sunrise $5.95

When the waiter brought our the East End Sunrise to our table, we all agreed that this drink was very pretty. The colors of the drink appeared separated in the glass; the orange juice on top and raspberry on the bottom. Before we drank, we mixed the two juices, and the raspberry flavor was more prominent. 

drinks_sagaponack

Bellini $5.95

The bellini was another great drink. The bellini wasn’t as sweet as the East End Sunrise. The slight taste of peach had a good flavor without being too overwhelming. 

Chew on this:

Basket of muffins / Complimentary

muffins_sagaponack

We received a basket of complimentary mini muffins — corn and banana — and mini scones — chocolate chip — to begin our brunch. The muffins were soft, and the scones were flaky. They were the perfect size! We ate them up pretty quickly. What a nice treat.   

Almond crusted french toast $12.95 / Brown sugar flambé, fresh whipped cream, bananas and strawberries

french_toast_sagaponack

Since we were both craving something sweet and salty, we split the French toast and an egg dish. The French toast was served with three slices of bread, which was a perfect portion for each of us. We weren’t overly stuffed, but we felt satisfied. The crust of the bread was a tad crunchy and the middle was cooked as it should be — soft with no sogginess. With a touch of syrup and the mixture of nuts and fresh fruit, this French toast fulfilled our craving. We did notice there was no whipped cream, but the dish was sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Smoked salmon omelet $13.95 / Scallion, tomatoes and onions; with hashed potatoes

salmon_omelette_sagaponack

Our second dish was the the smoked salmon omelet. The salmon omelet was pretty good and included large pieces of salmon. The potatoes were tasty and had good flavor. They weren’t too greasy which is always a plus. We didn’t know toast came with the omelet. When we asked if we could have wheat bread instead of white, which was what we were served originally, he gave us wheat as well.

Classic Eggs Benedict $12.95 / Poached eggs, Canadian bacon, hollandaise sauce; with hashed potatoes

benedict_sagaponack

Black Forest Ham Omelet $10.95/ Swiss cheese, onions, peppers and tomato; with hashed potatoes (add $2 for egg whites)

egg_white_omelette_sagaponack

The final bite: If you can’t wait for summer, head to brunch at Sagaponack. Not only will you have solid food and drinks, but the beach atmosphere is relaxing.

inside_wall_sagaponack

Reviewed by: Stephanie and Victoria

Tammany Hall

14 Apr

Tamanny MapPlace: Tammany Hall

Location: Lower East Side, 152 Orchard St. (between Stanton St. & Rivington St.)

Mimosa Rating:

1 1/2 mimosas

The scoop: I randomly came across a Groupon for Tammany Hall, and after viewing the menu, I thought it would be an OK deal to buy.

The inside of Tammany Hall is your typical dark bar. In fact, it was very dark as you can see in the picture below. There wasn’t much seating on the first level, but it was fine since the place wasn’t packed. Also, there is a second floor which overlooks the main area.

tammany hall

Toward the front, there was a stage and a band was setting up. Unfortunately, I was in a rush, so I didn’t have time to hear the music. I imagine that with a good band, the place would be rocking as there is a lot of space for people to dance around.

A lot of the brunchers seemed to have a Living Social or Groupon deal. The waitress was friendly, and she was readily available to answer any questions. I often hear that waitresses get annoyed when people have Groupons, but she didn’t seem bothered by it.

Bottoms up: Tammany Hall has a cheap and boozy brunch special. For $10, you can sip on unlimited mimosas, bloody Marys, Micheladas and domestic drafts for two hours.

Tamanny Hall Drinks

Matt really got me hooked on Micheladas so we both ordered one. Honestly, the michealda was probably the only part of brunch that didn’t disappoint. Served in a tall glass with a salty rim, the drink was very spicy — just how we like them.  The glasses were huge that I was content with just one. Since the deal came with two brunch drinks, I decided to get a beer for my second round. Bud Light was the only option. It was pretty gross and tasted extremely flat. I should have stuck with the Michelada. 

Chew on this:

Tammany Hall Burger $10 (add cheese +$1) / 8 oz. burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and pickles; served with fries or cucumber salad

Tammany burger

I know we weren’t at a gourmet restaurant, but I feel like you can’t really go wrong with a burger at a bar. Wrong! Not only was the burger tiny, it tasted burnt (Matt asked for it medium well). Also, the French fries were not fresh. 

Tomato, mozzarella, basil panini $10 / Served with fries or cucumber salad

Sandwich Tammany

My panini was OK. The bread was crispy and the tomato and mozzarella were fine. The description of the sandwich pretty much says it all. I opted for the cucumber salad which came in a small cup with some onion. I personally thought it was too oily. The dish wasn’t filling, and I think a full salad would have made the meal more complete.

Outside Tammany

The final bite: If you are looking for a cheap and boozy brunch, Tammany Hall could work for you, but don’t expect to have great food. On a positive note, I’m sure the live music will make it a lively atmosphere.

Reviewed by: Victoria

Brunch Beat: 3/28/14

28 Mar

Manhattan:

  • Rosette (171 E. Broadway) recently began serving brunch with shrimp and grits and flavor-of-the-day doughnuts.
  • Here are the top 10 brunch dishes that get the folks at Tasting Table out of bed on the weekend.
  • Tasting Table also has the scoop on new brunch menus at Alder (157 Second Ave.) and Estela (47 E. Houston St.).
  • Newly opened Navy (137 Sullivan St.) serves an eye-catching bloody Mary with an oyster on top.
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