One of the things I’ve found a lot of joy in lately is eating out. While I love cooking and making things for myself, there’s something really special about a prepared dish, good friends, and wine. Thanks in large part to the team at Blackboard Eats, I’ve indulged in this quite a bit lately.
For those that don’t know, Blackboard Eats is a free service that provides exclusive reviews and discount codes for top restaurants and culinary products. Since being told about it earlier this year, my taste buds have been truly blessed. I mean, people reviewing food for BE include writers from Eater, Tasting Table, Bon Appetit, Grubstreet, and Food & Wine magazine. (That’s just naming a few.) It’s available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. And no, they didn’t ask me to write this. I’m such a huge fan, I wanted to shout them out.
I bring this up because some of my favorite dishes of last month came from a Blackboard Eats special. Now, on to the good stuff!
What we ate: Grilled Octupus, Potato Gnocchi, Malloreddus, Spaghetti Neri, Roasted Cauliflower, Cannoli, Chocolate Ganache Tart
There wasn’t a single thing that hit my palate that I didn’t absolutely love. The two standouts for me were the Gnocchi and the Spaghetti Neri (which I was sure I was going to hate). Between the attentive service, who offered endless opinions from appetizers through dessert, to the surprising flavors, it become one of my favorite dinners since moving back to the city.
Park Slope, Brooklyn
What we ate: Heirloom Tomato Caprese, Ricotta Tartine, Meat & Cheese Plate (Including Chorizo, Soppressata, Manchego, Bucheron, and La Tur)
Honestly, I frequent this place more than might be socially acceptable. (Just kidding.) But really, I love my wine, and they have a crazy happy hour that goes from 5-7 on week nights and 3-7 on weekend. You heard that right, happy hour on the weekend. So, when one of my best girlfriends and I wanted to get together for happy hour, this was our choice. I’d already had the caprese (so fresh, so good) and the ricotta tartine (mmm) before, so the cheese plate was new. And incredible. Our lovely waitress gave us plenty of feedback on the cheese selection, and despite a packed house, continued to check on us with frequency so we had our fill of wine before happy hour was over. OH, and their happy hour red is to die for.
What we ate: Cauliflower with kimchi, pine nuts, and herb pistou (plus more, that comes later)
I’ve been talking about this meal for weeks. Thanks to Blackboard Eats, we got a deal on a five-course tasting menu with some truly incredible bites. But, my absolute favorite was the Cauliflower. It was perfection, and the herb pistou was the most refreshing sauce to rub those perfectly roasted Cauli-branches in. We had so much more, and it was all fantastic, so I’m going to give it a post all its own. But, I wanted to make sure to include this in my favorite dishes of the month. Because it honestly was.
What we ate: Bruschetta Trio, Grilled Shrimp with chickpeas, fennel sofrito, salsa verde
While visiting family in Portland, we went to this little restaurant around the corner in Beaverton. Of all the places I ate, this was by far some of the best food I had. I didn’t have the sense to snap the menu while chatting with my sister and my mom, and it changes frequently, so you probably won’t get the exact same thing I did. But everything I had was fresh, full of spices and incredibly filling. We had small bites, rather than full meals, and I walked away incredibly satisfied. If I can make one extra suggestion, there’s a spicy margarita on the menu you HAVE TO TRY.