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Mylo Coffee Co.

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As the brainchild of brothers Stephanos and Markos Mylonas, Mylo Coffee Co. is an independent coffee house that recently launched on Kavanaugh Boulevard in Little Rock, Arkansas. Brick walls meet reclaimed wood throughout the lofty space, with cute potted plants contributing to the interior’s nifty look.

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My friends Colleen and Mary took me there one afternoon during my last week in Arkansas. I tried the salad and grabbed a cold bottle of Loblolly’s hibiscus limeade. New York had turned me into a salad freak and suddenly salads were some of my favorite things in the world. Anyway, the salad was delicious! It was a tasty blend of vegetables and couscous topped with dill cream.

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The place is perfect for writing too. I really wished I’d brought my laptop with me that day. I would’ve loved to sit by the window with one of the freshly baked cakes (heard the cheesecake’s absolutely delicious, a  genius rendition of caramel and roasted macadamia!)  and just write the afternoon away.

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GROUND CENTRAL

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I visited Ground Central last year to review the midtown coffee house for Joonbug.com (read the review here) and instantly fell in love with the space. I chatted with the founder, French native Etienne Wiik about his vision for the shop and he explained that Ground Central was birthed on the premise of being a coffee shop that embodies the true spirit of New York City.

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The interior creatively channels the perspective of a fresh New Yorker to the locals — the murals on the wall pay homages to Andy Warhol’s work and the gritty ramp in the middle of the shop offers a slice into the city’s edgier side. It’s a charming coffee house that encapsulates the vibrant New York spirit.

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The coffee, needless to say, is top notch. So if you’re ever in the area, don’t be shy. Come for the coffee, stay for the charm.

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    GROUND CENTRAL
155 East 52nd St
(646) 964-4438

Read the full review here.

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HUDSON CAFE

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Roasted Beets Salad

Late last year, the West Village scored itself a cute new neighborhood café on the intersection of Jane and Hudson Streets: Hudson Café! It’s on the same block as Mole, the lively Mexican eatery helmed by restaurateur Nick Cervera and his wife, Chef Lupe Elizalde.

The couple built the place from scratch, infusing their personal touch into the cozy interior — they remodeled the ceiling with a herringbone pattern of reclaimed wood beams, installed industrial-chic lighting in the form of scones and lined the white tile walls with photographs of Cervera’s travels around the world.

White Beans and Organic Baby Kale Soup

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Wild Mushrooms and Taleggio Cheese Panini

Hudson Café is branding itself as more than just a local coffee house. Its menu extends beyond good coffee and pastries into salads, soups, sandwiches and dinner delights such as the lamb shank and pork loin.
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It’s the place to be if you want to read the morning paper while you sip coffee and snack on a chocolate croissant, or catch up with that friend you haven’t seen in weeks over the Green Delight smoothie — a refreshing concoction of spinach, pineapple, kale, agave, banana and orange juice —  and some delicious in-house Panini.

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Classic Cubano

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Green Delight Smoothie

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Strawberry and Caramel Cupcakes

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Read the full review here.

Hudson Café on Urbanspoon

HUDSON CAFE
628 Hudson St, New York 10014
(212) 390 1744

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EL MAGUEY Y LA TUNA

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El Maguey Y La Tuna continues to thrive in the Mexican food scene, catering fresh moles and authentic cuisine in its humble Lower East Side setting on East Houston Street. Appetizers consist of the delectable Flautas, where crispy rolled up tortilla shells are stuffed with chicken and served with pico de gallo and creamy guacamole.

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Apart from the crunchy taquitos, the Pancita is a delicious spicy soup featuring tripe mixed with spices, red chili peppers and chopped onions. It’s perfect for the cold weather and is also known as the ultimate hangover remedy a.k.a. hangover soup.

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This nutritious soup contains healing properties, so if you partied a little too hard last night and your head’s pounding like a drum, the Pancita soup will make you feel better. It goes well with a dash of lemon juice or lime.

The Chile Relleno, originally from the Mexican region of Puebla, is adorned with pumpkin seed mole sauce and filled with queso blanco cheese.

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El Maguey Y La Tuna’s moles are a family recipe passed down through generations, so it’s as authentic as it gets. When the Adobo Sauce with Pork arrived, we were told that the pork came from Puebla as well, and it was mixed in chilli for that spicy dash.

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Next up was the Chilaquilles Verdes with Scrambled Eggs, which was also offered on the brunch menu. The colors drew us in but the flavors kept us coming back for more. The sauteed sweet tomatoes and tortilla scraps sprinkled with cojita cheese were such a delight! It was simple but really, really delicious. The dish was served with rice and beans.

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Apart from serving the authentic Mexican dishes, El Maguey Y La Tuna’s small, cozy interior will entice you with its festive lights and friendly staff. Don’t hesitate to stop by if you’re in the area!
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EL MAGUEY Y LA TUNA
321 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, USA
(212) 473-3919

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AMAZE 82

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Amaze 82 on the Upper West Side prides itself on delectable Asian fusion food and wallet-friendly prices, with a menu that bursts at the seams with cultural cuisine from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Japan. Its interior verges on elegant minimalism — black tables and chairs are backed by bare brick walls and illuminated by wall lamps.

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This restaurant offers a great deal for lunch on weekdays: only $10 for a choice of entrée, appetizer and sake or wine! Snack on some edamame while you peruse the menu.

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I loved the Green Curry Chicken. It was served in all its steaming glory — a fresh and colorful medley of vegetables is drenched in coconut-infused green curry among tender slivers of chicken and served with a small bowl of white rice.
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AMAZE 82
466 Amsterdam Avenue, New York 10024

(212) 874-4888

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SEL ET POIVRE

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Back then, if you’d asked me about French cuisine, I wouldn’t have much insight to offer because I never received a proper introduction. And I’m pretty sure those cheesy escargots that my mother forced me to try five years ago don’t count.

My first introduction to real French cooking was at Sel et Poivre several weeks ago when I was invited to blog about the bistro’s dinner menu. Helmed by Chef Christian Schienle, the quaint eatery started in 1989 on the busy strip of Lexington Avenue and it offers “a taste of Paris on Lex.” For those wondering, Sel et Poivre literally translates into Salt & Pepper — core ingredients in the cooking.

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Rustic and refined, the interior features honey-colored walls lined with black and white photographs and walnut paneling. Elegant flower-shaped lamps bathe the dining room in a warm yellow glow, creating the perfect ambiance for a nice dinner setting.

Chef Schienle — an amiable, robust Austrian man with a huge passion for French cooking — swung by our table every 10 minutes to chat. Anchored by Schienle’s creativity and passion for authenticity, the menu features a variety of wallet-friendly French classics and a growing list of international wine.

The first thing to hit our table was the Celery Root Remoulade with Red Beets. Strips of remoulade-drenched celery perched upon a bed of beets, creating an exotic combination. It was delicious, tinted with a slight spicy tang from the sprinkling of yellow curry powder.

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Celery Root Remoulade & Red Beets

And then there was the Red Pepper Bisque—a piquant and flavorful reddish broth. Most soups are cream-based, but this was prepared strictly from potatoes. It was light and healthy.

Those two appetizers were great preludes into our entrees. Dinner rolled out with the Wild Striped Bass first, served with artichoke hearts, fennel and black olive lemon oil. This was one of the best bass I’d ever had, and I promise I’m not exaggerating. The succulent white flesh exuded freshness, crusted with a thin layer of lightly salted crispy skin. The artichokes and olive lemon oil complemented the dish well.

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Wild Striped Bass

As for the Duck a l’orangewith Wild Rice, the juicy duck meat was coated in a sauce made perfect with lots of butter, apples, onions and of course, salt and pepper.

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Duck L’Orange

Next up was the Aged New York Sirloin Steak, where slices of medium-rare steak were served with two types of sauces: Roquefort and Poivre. The latter was a spicy pepper sauce, while the Roquefort was cleverly crafted from sheep blue milk cheese that hailed from the southern region of France. Everyone at the table loved both sauces, but we all agreed that the Roquefort was simply genius.

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Aged New York Sirloin Steak

When the Veal Kidneys with Mustard Sauce, Boiled Potatoes and Spinach arrived, I held my breath. So yes, I grew up in an Asian household where things like chicken feet and gizzards weren’t uncommon, but veal kidneys were still pretty new to me. The kidneys tasted rather gamey, but the mustard cream sauce added a nice layer to the dish.

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Veal Kidneys

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Veal Liver

Before we were done with the kidneys, Chef Schienle brought out Veal Liver and that was how I learned that the French really like animal organs. The liver was nicely cooked and served with lots of onions.

After the hearty entrees, we were spoiled with some of my favorite things in the world — Chocolate Lava Cake and Crème Brulee.

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Chocolate Lava Cake

The lava cake oozed with rich, viscous dark chocolate that was creamy but not overpoweringly sweet. It was coupled with vanilla ice cream, buttery cream and sweet raspberry coolie. The crème brulee hit the spot, its lightly charred surface cracking to reveal smooth and creamy custard.

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Creme Brulee

I thoroughly enjoyed my first French dining experience, and will definitely be heading back before the winter ends for more of that red pepper bisque and wild striped bass!

SEL ET POIVRE
853 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10021


Sel Et Poivre on Urbanspoon

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MARY’S PIZZA SHACK

My family and I spent a few days in San Francisco after my graduation (this was a while ago!), and we were thrilled to visit a quaint little town in the heart of the world’s third largest wine country (Sonoma/Napa Valley). We stopped in Sonoma for lunch and then continued the journey to the other wineries. I was enthralled by the town’s vintage charm -wooden white pillars and lamp posts adorned with Christmas heaths among pastel clapboard buildings.

 

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The afternoon was cloudy with a burst of sunlight. Traffic was minimal. Women pushed strollers as they window-shopped. Old friends laughed over fresh coffee in the warm interiors of cafes.Tourists paused outside trinket stores to snap pictures (that’s me).  

Along the short strip of stores was Mary’s Pizza Shack. You couldn’t miss it. A statue of a fat, oversized elf with striped stockings and curly-tipped shoes greeted you at the front with a large pizza. 
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Once inside, I quickly learned that Mary’s Pizza Shack is an Italian family-owned business. The restaurant received national recognition for its delicious pizzas. It serves Italian comfort food like soups, pizzas and pastas. This got me excited. You know how much I adore Italian food!
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The founder’s grandson who looked no older than 12, greeted us and led us to our table.

I ordered the seafood risotto because I hadn’t tasted risotto in almost a year. It arrived in a big white plate.  Shrimps and clams were nestled in a bed of creamy rice, garnished with peas, herbs and a hint of lemon.
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Best risotto I’ve ever tasted. The shrimps were juicy and fresh. And the rice, soaked in a creamy pool of sauce, was cooked to perfection. Everything about it was delicious.
My brother contemplated between a pizza and a meatball spaghetti. He ended up going with a pizza called “Mary’s Combination.” Since my parents were interested in having pizza as well, they all decided to split the large pizza.
When our pizza arrived, our jaws dropped. I thought we ordered a large, not a Ginormous. I later learned that the restaurant’s definition of a large pizza was 16″ and 10 slices. My parents had only been in America for a week, and were still incapable of increasing their appetite to more than two slices of pizza. I think I saw a flash of panic in my mom’s eyes the moment the waitress lowered the pizza onto our table.
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The pizza was a lot larger than it looks. But it was worth every penny. It was topped with salami, pepperoni, cotto salami, mushrooms and sausage. Toss in the best meats in the world and you’ll have Mary’s Combination. (No bacon on there though)
I was full from my risotto but I helped myself to a slice anyway, and then another. It was so good! I highly recommend the Mary’s Combination. I’m not a huge fan of meat but I really liked it. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t worry. There’s a Vegetarian Pizza on the menu too, specially for you guys.
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We ended our lunch with cake. I don’t know how the thought of dessert even crossed our minds because we were bloated from all the carbs. But my mom was craving cheesecake and the blueberry crumble cheesecake caught her eye. It was a lemon cheesecake caressed with sweet blueberries and streusel, with fresh cream on the side.
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So it was a little too sweet for my mom’s taste buds. She stopped after several bites and made the rest of us finish it. The sourness of the lemon was barely detectable beneath the overpowering sweetness of the cake.
Well, not trying to be cheesy… but I’m glad we ended on a sweet note!

Marys Pizza Shack on Urbanspoon