Culturesplosion.

The Breslin + Porsena: dimly-lit tasty lamby things

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Let’s clap our hands for good lamb dishes! I confess that I am picky about my “baaaa!!” meat. For me, it needs to be fresh, well-seasoned, and paired with a good drink. Thankfully, the following two restaurants totally met the criteria.

I went to THE BRESLIN BAR & DINING ROOM (map!) with fav restaurant buddy recently and we decided on the “chargrilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo & thrice cooked chips.” Seeing it on all our neighbors’ tables helped us make up our minds, and we weren’t disappointed. So tender, so tasty:

I bleated with jubilation at the first bite.

Accompanying our meal were a side of broccoli with aged cheddar (wow, it should be a crime for vegetables to be this delectable), scallops with yogurt & mint vinaigrette (ahhh, the taste of the sea…), and a prime serving of some cheesy bruschetta thing (I forget the name, argh!) that was such a treat because it didn’t taste like a brick of sawdust like 99.9% of other examples I’ve eaten:

Soft and tasty, like a delicious pillow.

We ended with the brioche donuts with spiced maple butter, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce. We had more sauce than there were donuts to dip! I was tempted to behave in an un-ladylike manner and just lick those sauce dishes clean:

Donuts donuts donuts

I must also take a moment to sing extra praises of the drink I discovered here to accompany my meal, and then returned to the Breslin soon after to have again. Behold, the Bitches Brew (mescal, tomato juice, fresh lime juice, spices, topped with beer):

Two for one!

I’ve never had a beer cocktail before, but now I’m a fan for life. If you like Bloody Marys, beer, and well-made cocktails in general, this is the drink for you. As the picture shows, it is accompanied by a can of Tecate beer for top-up (quite a nice deal for $12 total), and the slow transition from mezcal taste to beer taste makes for an excellent experience. I seriously heart this drink. Of course, what better to pair it with than more thrice-cooked chips. Om nom nom.

I was the prettiest potato....

As a final note, this place has really fun pig-themed decor. The restaurant is connected to the Ace Hotel next door, and you have to pass through the trendy hotel lobby to get to the bathroom. Everything is very hip and happenin’ and it’s a cool people-watching sort of place. Try not to dress like a hobo, unless it’s an ironic hipster hobo.

Onto the next! My visit to PORSENA (map!) was a rare example of solo dining, and I loved every minute of it.

Hello, hello! Would you like some awwwwwesome pasta?

Located in the old Village Mingala burmese restaurant space (which I had frequented in the past and really liked, so I was glad it got replaced by something good), Porsena has been noted for its excellent pasta, and I thought it was worth a visit. I arrived after the dinner rush and was seated right away. My waiter was attentive and cordial, and started me out with some bread and olive oil and a nice glass of colle moro red wine. I ended up choosing the “anneloni con salsiccia e rape” (ring-shaped pasta, spicy lamb sausage, mustard greens) as my entrée and it was fantastic!

More lamb at its finest.

The spicy lamb sausage packed a big punch of flavor, and the mustard greens were a nice contrast for the carbs. I rounded out the meal with a dessert of panna cotta and pistachio-chocolate bark and left feeling incredibly satisfied.

Notably, just a few days ago, I saw that New York Magazine chose the anneloni dish as the representative for Porsena in its “Pasta Porn: 101 of America’s Most Delicious Noodle Dishes” list. I am glad the NYMag peeps agreed, as this was some gooood pasta! Porsena is a candidate for many return trips, absolutely.

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