Friday, November 9, 2012

New York: Brunch at Calle Ocho

On Sunday (Oct 28th) right before Sandy hit the East Coast, Jimmy made a reservation for us to have brunch at Calle Ocho, a popular Latin fusion restaurant located inside the Excelsior Hotel in Upper West Side.  Even though it was brunch, our reservation was at 2pm.  Why so late?  We knew we were gonna be hammered from the night before with the Halloween celebration, and none of us woke up before noon haha.  Good planning ahead :P

Calle Ocho is popular for brunch because of their unlimited sangria offerings!  As long as you are eating, you get to order any sangria off their menu, and damn they are strong.  Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the ones I tried, but really, I was not in the mood for any more alcohol in my system.  The sangrias were strong too since they add shots on top of it.  I can see this place being really fun, but after a heavy night of drinking, alcohol was the last thing I wanted..

Calle Ocho
Inside the Excelsior Hotel
45 W 81st St
Upper West Side
New York, NY 10024

Calle Ocho's menu.  Calle Ocho is essentially Cuban infused with other Latin cuisine.

Sangria offerings.  I want something lighter so I went for Blanca and that turned out to be one of the strongest... The Havana Banana was really good though.  Strong still, but refreshing at the same time.

All sorts of baked goods to start your meal.

cheese bread?
This was definitely our favorite.  In fact, it reminds me of the cheese bread you get at Brazilian restaurants.

strawberry butter
Strawberry butter.  Awesome.  

with butter
Smear that shiz on everything.

Link and I each got the Vaca Frita.

vaca frita
Cuban skirt steak, Latin fried rice, tomato escabeche, avocado, and fried eggs.  Sounds amazing right?  It was pretty bland though.  The colors were so vibrant so I was expecting flavors to pop.  My favorite was probably the eggs and the tomato escabeche, which is essentially seasoned and marinated tomatoes.

hot sauce
I asked for hot sauce and the waiter brought out 3 types!  The orange looking one is probably made with habanero, cause it was surprisingly spicy.  Even the chipotle hot sauce in the back had a nice kick to it.  The pickled jalapeno was very good and I killed that little cup in a few bites with the steak.

gallitos for two
Jimmy & Janice decided to share and went for the Gallitos.  Make your own tacos!

guac, pico de gallo, cabbage
Guacamole and other toppings.

scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs.  Fitting for brunch.

home fries
Cuban homefries.  

Chorizo!  Not as greasy and heavy as Mexican chorizo.

cuban sandwich
Edwin ordered the Cuban Sandwich.

Roasted pork, panela basted ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles.  This was actually my favorite.  Juicy pork, and the panela (unrefined cane sugar) basted ham had a nice sweetness.  Nice crunch on the bread too from the press.

Chimichurri fries.  A little different from the Argentinian chimichurri that I love but still good.

chimichurri fries
In fact, Janice & I liked it so much, we decided to order more to share haha.

In the end, I thought Calle Ocho was whatevers.  The food didn't stand out too much.  I'm sure I would've liked it A LOT MORE if I was actually in the mood to take advantage of the unlimited sangria.  Damn vodka!


Afterwards, we decided to walk through Central Park since Edwin needed to get macarons from Laduree as gifts.  By 4pm, half of NY was empty already as people were getting ready for Hurricane Sandy, and Central Park was pretty empty.  Definitely a first.

Outside.  Macarons here are expensive...

I ended up getting a dozen as well, and I originally planned to go home and take pictures of it in a nicer setting, but they told us the macarons will only hold for 4 days in the fridge, and I got stuck there for more than that... so we devoured Edwin's dozen one night after we drank, and I gave a few out right before I left.  For a dozen it was around $36.  Pricey drinking snack haha. Next time!

After Laduree, we headed to a few markets to try to buy some food since Sandy was pretty much shutting everything down.  Businesses were closing already even though the storm was hitting late at night.  Markets were crazy.  Long lines, shelves empty... definitely a new experience.  Afterwards, we got back to Jimmy's, rested for a bit, and got ready for our reservation at Momofuku Noodle Bar.