Cafe Cortadito Exterior

Our last #MiniMimosaholic took us to alphabet city where we indulged in the amazing Cuban food at Café Cortadito. I have been to Café Cortadito at least 5 times, with groups of friends, with just 2 people, for birthdays and for my birthday. I’ve even attended with Casandra, of Food Before Love, on yet another brunch date of ours. Each time, the food and service is impeccable, and I do not ever remember seeing anyone leave hungry or dissatisfied. The restaurant is small compared to other popular brunch spots so book in advance, and, prepare to wait outside because there isn’t any waiting area inside.

My favorite part of brunch at Café Cortadito is the wide array of bottomless drink options that they offer. They have everything from margaritas to mojitos, sangria, and even beer. The mimosaholic in me always goes for the tropical mimosas which are a fruity twist on the traditional mimosas. This time around, we got a pitcher of the champagne mojitos and although I am usually a fan of mojitos, these were my favorite honestly. The added champagne made it a lot stronger than expected and I found myself babysitting my drink. Next, we tried the champagne margaritas, but these were even stronger than the mojitos and almost difficult to finish. So, trust me and stick to the tropical mimosas or white sangria.

Cafe Cortadito Exterior
Photo by www.cafecortaditolacuisinedecubanyc.com

Now to the delicious Cuban food. I’ve tried everything from the french toast to the lobster Benedict, but opted to try something new since everything I’d had thus far had been amazing. This time around I went for the ropa vieja which is a traditional Cuban dish consisting of shredded/stewed beef and vegetables. This one was not only filling but also super juicy and you could taste so many Cuban flavors going to work as you chew. YUM! A few other favorite dishes included the calentado which was a steak with a fried egg on top, served with rice, and a sweet plantain omelet.

Overall, Café Cortadito is still a spot I highly recommend for brunch, and was a great spot for our second monthly brunch meetup. This brunch ended with some guests talking about the Little Italy in the Bronx, and hosting a #MiniMimosaholic there. So, Bronx followers, be on the lookout, you’re up soon!

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Brunch Meal Essex Restaurant

The Lower East Side is one of my favorite neighborhoods to go to when I’m in the need of brunch. So of course, for the first #MiniMimosaholic we went to the LES staple Essex to try out their brunch. We went on a Sunday around 1:30 and it was pretty packed so I would suggest getting a reservation in advance to avoid a long wait. Essex has a downstairs level which has a few tables and the bar, and we were seated upstairs on the balcony level that was overlooking the bar below.

Mimosas Essex Restaurant

First the drinks. Essex offers unlimited mimosas, bloody mary’s, and screwdrivers, but our table stuck to the mimosas. We all know that nothing is worse than a bad mimosa. Either the ratio is too much orange juice, or the champagne tastes cheap, you know the ones. Well Essex has neither of these problems! The mimosas had the perfect OJ to champagne ratio, that being more OJ of course, and our waitress made sure that our glasses were never empty.

Brunch Essex Restaurant

I was so excited to see that Essex offered my all-time favorite brunch item, lobster Benedict. I have high expectations for my Benedict’s and this one didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of lobster on the dish, and it was very flavorful and juicy. It came with some home fries that were crispy just as I like it. Other guests went for the classic steak and eggs, and based on how quiet the table was once the food arrived, I am sure it tasted great!

Guest Essex Restaurant

Another thing I loved about Essex was that as our 2 hours of bottomless came to an end, our waitress topped our glasses off and let us know we could continue the fun downstairs at the bar. Once down there, we indulged in more laughs and mimosas, which the bartender kept flowing for us for at least another hour. We also ordered some hand-cut French fries which were to die for. It was a great start to our #MiniMimosaholic series!

Brunch Meal Essex Restaurant

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Couture Brunch Team Watermelon

As a foodie, who’s also picky with her food and was likely a food critic in her after life, I jumped at the opportunity to sit on a panel as a taster for Couture Brunch Team’s upcoming Chef Off competition called “Bon Vivant”. Couture Events is a small Brooklyn based promotional company that focuses on creating fun and festive events that not only brings social networks together, but allow patrons to enjoy cuisines at their finest. Their summer event will feature 2 chefs’ preparing an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for guests to indulge in, with a mixologist creating 2 signature drinks to pair with each meal. I had the honor of sitting on a panel with 4 other food lovers, including Erica of Catering by Elberta (Formerly of Elberta’s restaurant), and giving feedback on some appetizers and entrée choices from each chef.

The first appetizer we tried were Asian styled chicken wings from Chef Dell. I love a good chicken wing and the sweet and tangy sauce on these tasted amazing! They were sprinkled with sesame seeds which added to the overall taste. One of the main criticisms that was heard across the panel was the chicken not being hot enough, temperature wise and an expectation of something different as an appetizer, since you can get wings anywhere.

Couture Brunch Team Watermelon

The next appetizer was a watermelon-jalapeño salad by Chef Lisle. Let me just say, that when I heard the name, I was a little skeptical. I love watermelon, but jalapeños? I wasn’t sure about how this would turn out. As the chef placed some of it on our plates, he then topped it with some pop rocks. Yes, Pop Rocks! The little firecracker candy from when we were just children. You could head the pop rocks start to fizzle as they sat on top of the watermelon. I was still skeptical about what I was getting into, especially with the addition of Pop Rocks, but immediately after the first bite, I was sold. The sweetness of the watermelon paired perfectly with the jalapeño and the pop rock gave it this extra Kick (literally) in your mouth that had me scraping my plate for more after it was done. The pop rocks added a unique sensory experience because you could hear it and feel it at the same time. This was by far my favorite dish of the night.

 

Next up was the main courses, in which both chefs prepared salmon. The first one was an alaskan salmon with a sweet glaze topped with shredded zucchini, and sitting on top a bed of rasta pasta prepared by Chef Dell. The salmon was crispy on top just as I like it, and the glaze really gave it a kick of flavor. The cold zucchini on top really balanced out the flavors well .But the star of the show was the pasta, which was creamy and delicious, with a little spicy kick to it. Everyone raved about this pasta, and one panelist even suggested it could be a separate meal on its own. I’ve had many varieties of rasta pasta before, but this one was packed with so much flavor, and just paired so well with the glazed salmon.

The next salmon dish, by Chef Lisle, was sitting on top of a bed of fingerling potatoes and bok choy, and topped with some type of peppers. The presentation on this entrée was so great that I was almost afraid to dig my fork in. This salmon had a very different taste to it and wasn’t as crispy as the first, but the flavors from the bok choy and potatoes really added on to this dish.

Couture Brunch Team Salmon.JPG

After tasting each dish, all of us tasters were able to give the chefs constructive criticism and useful feedback about what we liked and what could use some change. Both chefs received our feedback well and will use it to prepare for the competition which will be taking place on July 9th at 23 Meadows Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn. This event will give patrons an up close and personal experience to learn about the featured appetizer and entrée, and will also feature music and vendor booths. For more details about the “Bon Vivant” event and their other monthly events, follow them on Instagram at @courturebrunchteam.

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