restaurant review

London's Bluebird Cafe by Amanda Liew

_DSC0255_British Thanksgiving

Sometimes simplicity is all you need. I didn't have many things on my check list for my British Thanksgiving since I have already been fortunate enough to cross all the major sites off of my checklist, but the one thing I did insist on was grabbing some afternoon tea! Rather than go for a multi-tiered tea experience (while quite lovely isn't exactly an "everyday" event like Americans seem to believe), we decided to take a little trip out to the ever so quaint Chelsea to visit Bluebird Cafe. For an affordable £9, we ordered the a Tiny Tea which came with homemade scones and a delicious assortment of jams and clotted creams. It's amazing how something so simple could be so satisfactory, but the meal was just that! We all agreed the scones were some of the best we had ever had (a much higher compliment coming from the Brits as opposed to myself!) and we asked for jams upon jams to try them all out. The courtyard seating was lovely, even with the chill of November, and each table had blankets available to keep yourself cozy. The only downside of the experience, however, was the terrible service - and I don't say that lightly. We were routinely forgotten by all staff members (waiters, hosts, busboys alike), and had to ask 3 or 4 times for each item - it was all quite odd and we couldn't help but wonder if something had happened for them to all be so off their game. Nevertheless, for the price and scones, I would probably deem them to be worth a second chance! _DSC0253_British Thanksgiving _DSC0244_British Thanksgiving _DSC0248_British Thanksgiving _DSC0254_British Thanksgiving _DSC0258_British Thanksgiving _DSC0266_British Thanksgiving _DSC0270_British Thanksgiving _DSC0276_British Thanksgiving _DSC0239_British Thanksgiving

Sunsets on the Hudson: Pier i by Amanda Liew


Taste: 3.8 / 5Ambience: 5 / 5 Would you want to eat there again?: Definitely - more for the environment than the food, though! Was the price worth it?: Yes!

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to celebrate two very special people at Pier i: Tutu, who had just turned another year older, and Victoria, who completed her first half-marathon. We threw the phenomenal pair a semi-surprise party (one where they only knew something was happening, but not exactly what) and Pier i was the perfect location! It's often difficult to find locations where you can find good food, solid drinks, an excellent ambience, decent prices AND not have to deal with getting caught in a reservation. For events where you know people will trickle in here and there, perhaps spontaneously bring another friend along, forget to RSVP, etc., you need flexibility for your fun, and Pier i offers exactly that. Set along the Hudson River at 70th & Riverside, Pier i offers a wide variety of food options, but is also casual enough that you can easily pull up more chairs and tables as people arrive. The food, while quite tasty, is definitely not the reason you're coming here. Since there's no such thing as a secret in New York City, it's always tough to first stake out a good spot, but the wait is always worth it - I promise. If I didn't live on the East Side & wasn't so incredibly lazy, I would be at Pier i every other weekend.

What we ordered: Maine Lobster Roll, Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad, Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Calamari, Fresh Blueberry Lemonade_DSC0307_SemiSurprise _DSC0305_SemiSurprise _DSC0311_SemiSurprise _DSC0317_SemiSurprise _DSC0313_SemiSurprise _DSC0362_SemiSurprise _DSC0294_SemiSurprise _DSC0342_SemiSurprise _DSC0354_SemiSurprise _DSC0355_SemiSurprise _DSC0359_SemiSurprise

Bosie Tea Parlor: For the sophisticated lady in you by Amanda Liew

_DSC0139_Olivia Bachelorette


Taste: 5 / 5 Ambience: 4 / 5 Would you want to eat there again?: I'm already trying to organize my friends to come back! Was the price worth it?: Surprisingly, yes!


A few months ago, my dear dear "niece" Olivia asked me to be one of her bridesmaid and I was simultaneously ecstatic and panicked. Ecstatic because I couldn't wait to help Olivia celebrate a new life and journey with her hilarious fiance Kyle, but also completely panicked because I had no idea what being a bridesmaid even began to entail. Luckily for all of us, Olivia is probably as far away from a bridezilla you can get (but seriously, could you please force some more of your opinions on us?), and she's given us all considerable amounts of freedom. Olivia and her sisters came down to New York City to meet Audrey and I for the bachelorette weekend, and our "main" event was a tea service at Bosie Tea Parlor in West Village.

I had originally found Bosie through their amazing reviews on Yelp. While there are (surprisingly) a lot of places in the city with afternoon tea service, many of them only serve during certain afternoon hours or charge $50-60/person. While Bosie's tea service is definitely more expensive than your average brunch, the $30/person price tag is certainly affordable and perfect for a special occasion. Each person was given their own tea pot, 3 types of tea sandwiches (cut in half, so 6 each), 2 macarons, 2 mini scones with jam and clotted cream and 2 tea cakes. I was originally worried that the restaurant stayed popular due to the "cuteness" of the concept but that the food would be subpar - I was so incredibly happy to be proven wrong! The food was phenomenal and even better, extremely plentiful. We left with 3 boxes of leftovers which were perfect for snacking on during the rest of our day, and all of us raved over each item. I was particularly impressed by the fine details that Bosie included - from the small garnishes on the tea cakes to the tiny glass jars for the jam and clotted cream, it truly made the event feel elegant and special. The display is beautiful enough to suit the sophisticated lady in you, and the ambiance was quaint and adorable. I am not giving the ambiance a full 5/5 because it wasn't quite on-point with the charm you would hope for in a tea parlor. Nevertheless, we were incredibly happy with the venue and I think the bride-to-be was just as pleased.

The most difficult part of the process was that they do not take reservations for groups smaller than 6 and don't have many tables to begin with. However, the woman I spoke to on the phone recommended that I called an hour in advance to get our names on the list which we did. When I explained my situation the day-of, our extremely sweet waitress (who was phenomenal all throughout) made sure to save us a table that could comfortably fit all of us. I highly recommend Bosie Tea Parlor - it's perfect for those special occasions with friends, sisters and mothers!_DSC0120_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0126_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0127_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0128_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0130_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0132_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0134_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0136_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0137_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0139_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0140_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0141_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0142_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0154_Olivia Bachelorette _DSC0156_Olivia Bachelorette

MEGU New York: Friends in high places lead to magnificent spaces by Amanda Liew

_DSC0087_Megu 2014

Taste: 4.5 / 5Ambience: 4 / 5 Would you want to eat there again?: Yes Was the price worth it?: No

"Do you have dinner plans for tonight?" And that was the little text I got which led to the best Friday night surprise yet. I first met my friend Amalie at Penn through Greek InterVarsity, but since moving to New York, we've become so much closer thanks to joining the same church and running in the same communities. Though she would certainly laugh that she's a "friend in high places," she does in fact hold a crazy cool job, and her boss had an unused gift certificate to Megu, an asian-fusion restaurant, that was going to expire that day. Ever so flattered I would be considered for such a cool outing, we quickly made reservations and battled the freezing cold to make it there alive. We were rather surprised by the fact that we could make a same-day reservation at the Tribeca location and by how empty it was (only half of the tables were filled), but we wondered if that was attributed to the awful weather outside. photo (29)

Because we had a restaurant voucher, the 5-courses were already pre-set. We started out with the "Crispy Okaki Aspargus" - Japanese cracker battered asparagus which was presented in such a fascinating way. The savory crackers added such an interesting (and familiar) flavor to the asparagus which we both enjoyed quite a bit. We were surprised, though, because it seemed to be quite a filling appetizer and first-course. Next, we had the Seaweed Salad which was light and surprisingly flavorful.

_DSC0092_Megu 2014

Our third course was a few different components. We had goat "meatballs", roasted peppers and scallops (not pictured). The goat meatballs were rich in flavor, but not overly oily which I appreciated._DSC0099_Megu 2014

For our entrees, we were given a few choices and I selected the kobe beef with caramelized onions. Little  did I know that it would come on a lava stone and be lit on fire. Casual. I snapped as many pictures as I could and absolutely love how the photographs turned out. Fire is such an interesting subject - it's constantly moving and you can never truly capture it's essence, can you? At the same time, the blend of blinding whites, oranges, yellows, and blues is such a beauty you can't find anywhere else._DSC0100_Megu 2014 _DSC0102_Megu 2014

I was amazed at how tender the kobe beef remained - I suppose the quick sear served its purpose to caramelize the onion and the outside of the beef, leaving the inside a perfect medium-rare. It was an excellent portion size as well._DSC0105_Megu 2014

Amalie selected the pork chop with (ginger?) sauce on it. She loved it just as much, although there were no flames on this one!_DSC0106_Megu 2014

At last, the 5th course of our meal was dessert! Little did we know that we would have not one, not two, but three components to desserts. We each got a mini creme-brulee, a multi-layered green tea crepe cake, and a chocolate lava cake. The creme brulee and chocolate cake were quite standard, so I was most excited to dig into the green tea crepe cake. However, I found that the texture was a little mushier than expected. The cream, without a doubt, was phenomenal and had a subtle tea bitterness to it which I thought made it more authentic. However, I think the crepe layers were in fact too thin and therefore became soggy from the creme. The creme brulee was the winner of the trio, but then again I tend to love creme brulee more than other desserts. (Unfortunately at this point, my DSLR died and I resorted to my iPhone)photo (33) photo (34) photo (35)

And of course, who can resist a 6th course of late night lattes?photo (32)photo (31)All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed the meal. However, by the end of it we started wondering whether or not we would have found the meal worth it had we paid for it in-full. The voucher on Gilt Group was $119 total, so at roughly $60/person for a 5-course meal, it would be more than reasonable. However, at a full-price of an estimated $200 or more, we agreed that it wasn't worth $100/person. Of course, the meal was still fantastic overall and if money is not an object for you, I would recommend it. Many thanks to Amalie for bringing me along and treating me to such a wonderful spontaneous night!

photo (30)

In terms of photography, I tried to use my 50mm prime lens, but with such dim lighting and social acceptable behavior severely limiting me, the photographs didn't turn out nearly as well as I had hoped. The ISO had to be blasted so high just to get some sort of focus, and even then I was too close to get the full subjects in focus. If any other photographers have some experience shooting in restaurants, I would love to learn more! Namely, how do you get a decent photo without completely embarassing the rest of your party? Haha luckily Amalie was a good sport through and through and even helped me move plates around so I could get better shots.

City Living | City Loving

I've realized that despite moving to New York City eight months ago, I still have yet to actually blog about this city. When I first moved here, I was so awe of this city. Even after two summers here, this city blows my mind time and time again with its endless beauty, mouth-watering restaurants, and a whole new breed of people. Without even realizing it, I started hashtagging my Instagram accounts with #citylivingcityloving - it just sounded so right, and I was positive I had heard it before. Soon, my friends started making fun of me with #countrylivingcountryloving and all sorts of ridiculousness. When I clicked on the hashtag itself, I realized that apparently I'm the only person in the world who uses this saying. So hey, in the spirit of that, I've started a new category on my blog to feature NYC at its finest: City Living | City Loving.