Entries Tagged as 'empanada'

Celebrating Birthdays at Estrella Negra

October 18th, 2013 · No Comments

estrella_negra_menu

Estrella Negra is located almost exactly one mile from our house and for some reason, we have not been there in the 5 years we’ve lived here. We’ve driven past it a million times, but never have gone in. Until last night. Brian and Mike picked it as a place to celebrate their birthdays. Brian’s birthday was earlier this week and Mike’s is next week (on my due date!).

estrella_negra_empanadas_sampler

I liked this place. The Dia de los Muertos decor was really unique and I liked that they had some things on the menu that were unique to the other local taquerias we frequent. Dallas and I shared an empanada sampler for an appetizer. There were three – goat cheese jalapeno, spinach and artichoke, and chorizo with corn. These were dressed up and a little fancy (compared to something like the empanadas at El Nandu), but we really liked them.

estrella_negra_el_diablito_camarones

Dallas also had to try an appetizer called El Diablito Camarones, which was
“nine plutonium-grade spicy grilled shrimp balanced over the edge of a martini glass. No wimps allowed.” Actually, though, everyone said they weren’t really hot at all.

estrella_negra_tamales

For his meal, Dallas got the ceviche tostadas. I had a few bites and it was really light and fresh tasting. For my entree I got the tamales, which is a house specialty, and something you can’t usually get at a lot of taquerias (along with empanadas and ceviche, too!). I got one of each of the three tamales available: 1. Cheese (parmesan, romano, & muenster) spinach and artichoke stuffed tamales, topped with salsa verde, muenster cheese, chives, tomatoes and sour cream, 2. Fresh corn kernel tamales topped with the elote man’s favorite toppings: parmesan cheese, mayo, butter and chili, and 3. traditional spicy pork tamales, topped with salsa verde, muenster cheese, chives, tomatoes and sour cream. That’s the order they were listed on the menu and probably the order that I liked them too! I know spinach and artichoke is not traditional in a tamale, but it was soooo good.

estrella_negra_bean_dip

Oh, and for my side I got the house-made bean dip, which was served in a little tortilla cup and garnished with a tortilla star. Loved it.

estrella_negra_dallas

We didn’t try dessert, although my coworker Karen said it is good. I baked cookies earlier in the day and gifted them to Brian and Mike for their birthdays and everyone enjoyed them as a sweet treat afterwards. Some at Estrella Negra and some at Quenchers and The Beetle, where people headed afterwards, when I headed home.

estrella_negra

Overall, Dallas and I liked Estrella Negra. I think we’d go back, given its so close to our house too. When we were there for the birthdays, the kitchen seemed to have a bit of a hard time keeping up, but we had 17 (Me, Dallas, Rita, JP, Kelly, Todd, Sara, Brian, Christine, Adam, Vanessa, Damien, Arun, Mike, Todd, Marty, Larry!!) people in our party and it was pretty much like trying to deliver food to half of the entire restaurant all at once. The tables around us seemed to have more consistent food coming out. Also, I really liked our waitress, who was super personable to Dallas and I, since we were the first ones to arrive. Oh, and Estrella Negra is BYOB, so everyone brought their own wine and beer and it helped keep the cost down.

estrella_negra_birthday

Fun night. Maybe the last night I’ll see these guys for a while?

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Saturday in Brooklyn

May 24th, 2012 · No Comments

On Saturday Jess and I headed to Crown Heights in Brooklyn to visit Shannan and Tien at their new(ish) house. They bought it in the fall (I think) and have been doing a lot of work, so we wanted to check it out. I had never been to Crown Heights and it was cool to check out a new neighborhood too.

Shannan and Tien’s place is on a quiet street in a long row of houses. They have 2 floors, plus a basement. When we arrived they were doing a lot of back-breaking work in the front of the house, transferring dirt and planting. We visited for a bit, then got a tour of the house, which was amazing. Shannan and Tien are doing so much work. I can’t even imagine taking on a project like this myself. It’s not really structural things or major renovations, but still, a lot can go into cosmetics. There is gorgeous wood everywhere, but through out the years people have painted 8 layers on top of it. So they are doing things like stripping down to the original wood. I can’t wait to go back for a visit next year and see all the progress they have made!

Jess and I had tickets to a festival in Prospect Park called Googamooga, so after visiting for a while, we headed over there. The park is not too far of a walk from Shannan & Tien’s, but it was quite a hike to get to the right part of the park…. there were no signs for the festival and the security staff was telling us opposite directions to get to the entrance. So frustrating. By the time we got there almost an hour of walking had past.

Then, when we finally got in? It was chaos. We bypassed the line that you had to stand in to get IDed and get a wristband to drink. The line was probably 100-200 people long. And then you had to stand in another long, long line to get your drinks. We were so hungry by then (it was about 4pm and we’d only had a bagel each early that morning) that we just picked a line we thought looked not too crazy. Wrong. We waited 40 more minutes to pay $8 for a hot dog!

When Jess first mentioned the festival it seemed like an awesome way to sample food from all different well-known restaurants in New York. I envisioned us going from stand to stand and sampling all kinds of different things. Obviously this was not happening. As for the music, the stage by us was on a break for the entire time we were in line. So, we only got a few minutes sampling of a Van Halen cover band at another stage as we were quickly exiting the fest. What a bust!

By then we were so tired from walking around and standing in lines. We were supposed to meet Tien and Shannan back in the city for dinner reservations, but the thought of going back and getting ready was exhausting us. Not to mention that we were extremely short on time, since getting to the fest and standing in lines took so much longer than we’d estimated. We ended up walking back to Tien and Shannan’s house and chilling out in the backyard while they finished up their yard work.

Later on we headed to dinner at Chavela’s. There was a bit of a wait, so we left our number and went to a nearby bar called The Crown Inn. Shannan said that this is a somewhat new place. Actually, she said that the neighborhood has changed so much since they moved in. Definitely seems like an “up and coming” place to be. We didn’t even have one drink before our table was ready, so we hustled back to Chavela’s.

I liked this Mexican restaurant a lot. It kind of had a Día de los Muertos theme going on. We started out with guacamole, some elotes (grilled corn on the cob with chipotle mayonnaise and cojita cheese) and a seafood empanada special. Shannan was raving about the tortilla soup, so we also gave that a try. It was so good. More of a green tomatillo base than any other tortilla soup I’ve ever had.

For dinner we decided to split two large platters. The plato don had chipotle chicken and grilled steak and the plato don pescado had shrimp and tilapia.. and then both plates had rice, beans, guacamole, queso fresco, pico de gallo and corn tortillas. This was all great and we were so hungry so we totally gorged.

The thing I will remember from Chavela’s, though, is the drinks. When we sat down we decided to get a pitcher of drinks and Tien asked if we wanted sangria or margaritas. We didn’t really decide and when the waitress came, he told her we’d have a half of sangria and half of margaritas. Problem solved. Well, here’s the thing: It was a pitcher of sangria and margarita mixed together! And it was SO good. It looked just like sangria with the red wine and diced fruit, but it was extra tangy from the margarita mixed in. We ended up getting a second pitcher even. That was definitely the most I have had to drink in months but it was so worth it.

Jess and I headed back for our train ride to her place in the Village. Overall a great, long day in Brooklyn. It was fun to see a neighborhood I’ve never been to and to hang out at Tien and Shannan’s awesome house.

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Girl & the Goat

February 1st, 2012 · 4 Comments

Dallas and I have been wanting to check out Girl and the Goat pretty much since it opened in the summer of 2010. If you haven’t heard of the restaurant, maybe you’ve heard of the chef/owner, Stephanie Izard, who is famous for winning the fourth season of Top Chef. From what we’d heard, Girl and the Goat is just slammed, like every single night, and is hard to get a reservation there. Every time we tried to go on Open Table and pick a date, it was never available. So, finally I just went on Open Table and figured out how far out you could reserve (three months). I picked a random Tuesday night and when three months passed we went.


Cute goat!


The goat appears all over the place. So cute.

This cute goat is all over their napkins, menus, cutting boards. I love it.


Dining room.

The dining room is really big. Like at least double what I was expecting. It’s moving and lively and LOUD. At some points Dallas and I were literally yelling at each other across the table. Other than that, I really liked it.


Rainier oysters special

The menu is divided into into sections for vegetables, seafood and meat. We tried to order off each of these sections, although you’ll see that our vegetable selection was actually a mushroom! Our server told us that the food comes out in smallish plates for sharing and she recommended that we order about two plates per person, not including the bread and oyster appetizer. We couldn’t settle on four so we did five. We started off with an oyster special. I don’t know what was in these, because it was the special of the day and I can’t look it up now, but they were SO delicious! And huge!


Bread with housemade butter and beer cheese.

Someone had told us ahead of time “don’t fill up on bread!,” which seemed like “duh!” but Girl and the Goat has 3 different breads every day that you can order. We got the one with the beer cheese spread. We liked it, but did comment that it’s not Rev‘s beer cheese (which we are so in love with we’d bathe in it).


pan fried duck tongues . shiitake mushroom . pickled watermelon rind . chili oil . coriander

To try something really different, we ordered the duck tongues. When they came out, it was more like salad-ish. Very light, with pieces of fried strips, which were the tongues. To me, they didn’t really taste like much, they tasted like “fried,” but Dallas couldn’t really get over the fact that they were little duck tongues. The day after we went to Girl and the Goat I said something about my stomach being upset and he said it was duck tongue karma!


grilled baby octopus . guanciale . wax beans . romano beans . radish . pistachio-lemon vinaigrette

Grilled octopus. Good. Light. It reminded me of the octopus we had at El Ideas except I remember the octopus at El being even more tender.


Hen of the woods mushroom ragout. sweet potato agnolotti . shroom creme fraiche . capers

The mushroom ragout is something that really stood out to me when we ordered. I don’t know why, but it was calling my name! Mushrooms, potatoes, creme fraiche, capers! What’s not to love? Well, this was the only dish of the night that I really did not like. There was some sauce that was really sweet and just overpowered everything. Dallas ate most of this dish.


smoked goat rilette empanadas . tuna aioli . celery . tomato salad

The empanada was good, but to be honest, we’re so spoiled by living next to El Nandu. We love their empanadas. If anyone is an empanada expert, let me ask this: Is there such thing as an Argentinean-style empanada? We love El Nandu’s style of making empanadas and are wondering if it’s the restaurant’s way of doing things or if that’s Argentinean style. They’re so light there. Not heavy or oily at all.


Everyone told us to get the pig face.


wood oven roasted pig face . sunny side egg . tamarind . cilantro . potato stix


Stir it up!

Everyone told us ahead of time to get the pig face. I actually remember when the restaurant opened and I looked at the menu online. Pig face. No thanks!!! I was imagining an actual face on a plate. What you really get is some patties made from pig… cheeks? jowl? Not sure. I think there’s just some novelty in actually saying and ordering “pig face.” Or server told us to stir it all up on the serving plate then dig in, so we did. I thought it was good. The patties are crisp on the outside and contrast well with the egg.


Dessert menu


Blue cheese from Westby, WI


chocolate-thai chili gelato . chocolate cake. peanut fluff . pomegranate . left hand milk stout


butternut malasadas . bourbon gelato . brown butter apples . hook’s cheddar

I was getting pretty full at this point, but the desserts looked so good, we had to give them a try. Dallas saw blue cheese on the dessert menu and had to get that first. It was pretty great. Then, in a complete roll reversal, Dallas went for the chocolate dessert and I got the fruity malasada. As Dallas took his first bite of gelato and dessert, his favorite Tears for Fears song came on and I think his eyes rolled back in his head a little. The dessert was that good. Or maybe it was the music! No really, this chocolate dessert was so delicious. The peanut fluff was more like peanut butter crispies and the pomegranate gave a nice freshness to the dish. The chocolate cake was so moist! As for my dessert, it was delicious as well. Probably the best malasadas I’ve had in Chicago. They were a bit more dense than those we get in Hawaii, but this might also be because they had cheddar cheese in the centers! Hats off to the pastry chef. The desserts were one of our favorite parts of our entire meal.

The Girl and the Goat was nominated for a James Beard award in 2011 for best new restaurant. Chef Stephanie Izard is in the Chicago news constantly, it seems. I thought the food was good. We definitely enjoyed our dinner and were glad we went. I just think it’s one of those things where there’s so much hype and build up (and a 3 month wait) that you’re expecting to be going to the moon and back! I would definitely go back and recommend it to others, but try to tune out all this hype!

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