Chill Out: Seven Cold Summer Soups to Order Now

Soup that isn’t served hot can be a real drag. Unless, of course, it’s cold soup, in which case it is a delightfully refreshing blast of flavor on a hot summer’s day. Here are seven cold summer soups to order now — and the restaurants at which to do so. 

Ajo Blanco
Sometimes referred to as “white gazpacho,” ajo blanco is a subtle Spanish summer delicacy made from ground almonds, garlic, bread, and olive oil for a smooth and cool texture on the tongue. A specialty of the Andalusian region of Spain, you’ll find it at your better tapas restaurants and Spanish wine bars. It is a real hit when it’s on the menu at at Jaleo by José Andrés in Washington, D.C. Give yourself extra points for consuming the superfood that is almonds. [Photo courtesy of Jaleo by José Andrés]

Jaleo_AjoBlanco blog copy

Borsch
Borsch, or borscht, the storied beet soup of Eastern Europe can be served either hot or cold. A staple in New York’s Jewish community, it inspired the colloquial name of the old resort region in upstate New York: the “Borscht Belt.” But you don’t have to go to the Catskills to enjoy a good bowl of this purple pleasure. If you find yourself in San Francisco, schlep on over to the Inner Richmond district for a sanguine supper at Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant. Just be sure not to wear white unless your spooning skills are top notch. [Photo courtesy of Katia’s Russian Tea Room and Restaurant]

Katias Borsch blog copy

 

Chilled Asparagus Soup
Cold soup, it turns out, can be made from just about any vegetable or fruit, offering a wide array of flavors and textures. Carrots lend their natural sweetness and pair well with fresh herbs, grated ginger, turmeric, and more subtle spices. Leeks bring fragrance to the bland creaminess of potatoes. Avocados, asparagus, fennel — all of these can take the main stage in a sublime cold soup when they are seasonably plentiful. These days, you’ll be able to find a great selection of freshly made soups made with everything from artichokes to zebra squash. At Pub & Kitchen in Philadelphia’s Center City, chef Eli Collins is dazzling diners with a lovely chilled asparagus soup featuring rhubarb, queso fresco, and almonds. [Photo courtesy of Pub & Kitchen]

pub-kitchen-asparagus-soup blog copy

Korean Cold Noodle Soup
My completely unanticipated passion for cold soups began at a Korean-Chinese hole-in-the-wall somewhere in northern China where my host ordered us each a bowl of Korean Cold Noodle Soup (naengmyun). A full meal in itself, the large stainless steel bowl was filled with toothy noodles in an icy-cold, sweet, spicy, and tangy beef broth that I can still taste in my mind today. It was topped with an Asian pear, cucumbers, and more sliced beef. I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since. Stateside, Seorabol Korean Restaurant in Philadelphia makes their cold buckwheat noodles by hand in the traditional way. “This is the way Koreans have made and eaten naengmyun for centuries and we plan to keep that tradition and culture alive, even when it is not convenient,” says Seorabol’s chef Chris Cho. Seorabol offers two variations of the dish: bibim naengmyun (spicy mix), pictured, and mool naengmyun (in cold beef broth). Both are guaranteed to delight. [Photo courtesy of Seorabol]

Seorabol - bibim nengmyun blog copy

Continue Reading

August Restaurant Weeks: Dine for Less!

PBRWThe dog days of summer may not be here, but the savings days are! Restaurant weeks are happening now, and whether you’re on the road, or staying close to home, you won’t want to miss your chance to enjoy steals on meals this month.

* Alexandria Restaurant Week offers $35 three-course dinners for one or $35 dinners for two, August 15-24. Book now.

* Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week features $15, $25, and $35 prix-fixe menus, August 9-17. Book now.

* Baltimore Restaurant Week has something for everyone with $15 lunches and $20 and $30 dinners through August 10. Book now.

* Downtown Cincinnati Restaurant Week is serving up $35 dinners, August 11-17. Book now.

* Dallas-Fort Worth Restaurant Week begins next week. Get ready for $25 lunches and  $35 or $45 dinners, August 11-31. Book now.

* Denver Restaurant Week is just around the corner. Reserve for $30 gourmet dinners, August 23-29. Book now.

* Houston Restaurant Weeks have begun. Feast on $20 lunches, $25 brunches, and $35 + $45 dinners through September 1. Book now.

* Hudson Restaurant Week is happening now. Don’t miss $13 and up lunches and $25 and up dinners through August 8. Book now.

* Miami Spice is heating up. Get in on $23 lunches and $39 dinners through September 30. Book now.

* New York City Restaurant Week is on! Celebrate with three-course $25 lunches and $38 dinners through August 15. Book now.

* Coolinary New Orleans has rolled into the Big Easy. Let the good times roll with two- or three-course lunches for $20 or less and three-course dinners for $35 or less through August 31. Book now.

Continue Reading

Celebrate Spring with #SolarVortex Dining Specials in Boston, Chicago, New York + Philadelphia!

Solar-Vortex-Logo-finalThe winter of 2013-14 was one of the most brutal in recent memories. Frigid temperatures and brutal snowstorms kept even the most devoted diners at home, curled up in comfy pants and, assumably, bingeing on House of Cards. Between the Polar Vortex, the back-to-back storms in early February, and more, restaurants in several major cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, have experienced declines in business of anywhere from 11% to a whopping 28%.

Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, confirms,”I’ve spoken with restaurateurs whose business went down 10-15%, if not more, due to the extreme winter conditions. It was also difficult for employees to get to and from work during the snowstorms and a challenge for restaurants to accept product deliveries.”

Chef Harold Dieterle, who operates acclaimed restaurants Kin Shop, Perilla, and The Marrow, and his staff braved these storms, having to shovel snow from their sidewalks regularly and even skip a few services, despite being located in the public transit oasis that is New York City. “We closed for some lunches at Kin Shop due to the storms. And, if guests aren’t coming in, while it definitely affects the restaurant’s bottom line, it also hurts the front-of-house staff who rely on tips. It’s been a challenging season for the restaurants and the staff, for sure.” Both Kin Shop and Perilla are offering #SolarVortex specials, and all three restaurants, including The Marrow have just launched exciting new spring menus. “It’s been a rough winter for sure. I’m definitely looking forward to some warm weather, even though it’s not happening today.”

Despite the chill, to help celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring, restaurants in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia are offering #SolarVortex dining specials today through March 28. Cooped-up diners are invited to take advantage of unique offers, from specialty cocktails, such as the ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria in Manhattan and deep discounts, including $20 off dinner visit with a $50 minimum spend at Roy’s in Chicago, to almost-free lunch, like the $7 local-focused lunch special at Route 7 Grill in Great Barrington, and even free meals, such as Brandywine Prime’s in which diners receive a free brunch for two for every two guests. Continue Reading

Dining with the Stars: Kelly Clarkson at Buca Di Beppo in DC; Adam Levine at Mercer Kitchen in NYC; Charlize Theron at Tortilla Republic in LA + More

No word on whether Matt Dillon channeled his inner Dallas during dinner.

Recent celebrity sightings at OpenTable restaurants…

* Christina Ricci dined at Bocca di Bacco in the Big Apple. [NY Post]

* Non-lipsyncher Kelly Clarkson had a pre-inauguration meal at Buca di Beppo in Washington, D.C. [TravelersToday.com]

* Sofia Vergara stepped out at Katsuya in Brentwood, California. [Daily Mail]

* Son-of-rod and squeeze-of-Adrian Maloof Sean Stewart enjoyed some Italian eats at Meatball Spot in Las Vegas. [People]

* Singer Adam Levine lunched with friends at Mercer Kitchen in New York’s Soho ‘hood. [People]

* Jessica Alba and her husband had dinner at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills. [Daily Mail]

* Jessica Chastain also dined at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills. [DailyMail]

Continue Reading