Friday, August 13, 2010

Restaurant Tour

This week I was fortunate enough to have family in town visiting me. My aunt has been here several times and loves the culinary adventures I take her on. This time she was accompanied by two of my girl cousins - 13 and 17. They are all native Texans, and this was the girls' first time on an airplane. Needless to say it was a bit of a culture shock. Keeping this in mind, I had to be more selective in choosing the restaurants.. I was trying to find a balance between something they would consider "normal food" and also getting them to try something new. I am going to be one of those parents who forces my children to try EVERYTHING, no matter the struggle.

So, here's the restaurant run down.

Monday for lunch we were meeting in midtown before they went shopping on 5th Ave. I wanted to take them to get something simple, but thought the concourse at Rock Center would be too overwhelming for them. So, I sucked up my pride and met them at the Heartland Brewery on 51st Street. The food isn't bad, per say, but the service definitely is. I think it lives up to it's stigma of an overpriced tourist trap. The 13 yr old ordered a chicken caesar salad and the 17yr old ordered a philly cheesesteak. We split the buffalo spring rolls because they were so intrigued, and they liked them.

Monday for dinner I chose In Vino. This is an intimate Italian restaurant in the East Village (shout out to Friday blogger and her husband, one of their go to date night spots). I love the cavernous structure and dim lighting. The meal began with me ordering the following appetizers for the table: Prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella, polpette in ragu sauce, and a cheese plate. There were mixed reactions to these. The 13 yr old decided she liked 'fake' mozzarella, like string cheese, better than fresh buffalo mozzarella (gasp!). She also thought the cheeses on the plate smelled bad. My aunt on the other hand experienced nirvana. She had the waitress write down all the cheeses so she could have them again in Texas. She also discovered that she liked marinara sauce for the first time! She raved about the marinara sauce for the next few days.

Tuesday I wanted to show them some New York thin crust pizza. I chose Pulino's because I had been dying to go back. Not to mention Keith McNally is my favorite person. We got the burrata appetizer - my favorite cheese. Then we split two pizzas - Salami Piccante (house made pepperoni and olives) and Pesto with pinenuts. My aunt and I found them both to be delicious, but the girls seemed unimpressed yet again.

Wednesday we went to China Grill. This was the girls favorite meal which made me really happy as it was new food to them. The Crackling Calamari Salad is my all time favorite salad ever. Love love love it! If you have not had it, run fast and eat it immediately! We also got Sashimi Tempura, which is not the most attractive dish. When it came out to the table I was thinking oops, they're not going to touch this. They had never had sashimi, or any type of sushi. At first they were shy, but then I saw them sneaking more pieces onto their plate. Success!

I had a great time with my family, and can't wait for them to come back. I bought my aunt the Frank Spuntino Kitchen Companion cookbook as a thank you gift for taking me out to all of these meals. She was thrilled.

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