Moscow 57

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I love trying new places, especially hidden gems that might not be on the same handful of food site’s pages (yes, it’s all PR, and, usually, if a restaurant is one one list, it’s on another’s and another’s). But I work for myself and seek out my own adventures and gems. What. So, I was off to Moscow 57 on the Lower East Side.

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Tucked almost right underneath the Williamsburg Bridge is a restaurant featuring a menu of multi-national cuisine made up of classic Russian, Georgian, Belarussian, Ukrainian dishes. The space is dimly lit and cozy, with vibrant lights by the bar and a red painted wall. They also offer live music every night, which was just great, a mix of Jazz and some R&B/Blues, when I was there. Not to mention, the entire staff there really makes you feel like you’re at home and truly welcome.

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They infuse their own vodkas in-house, so, I had to try one, and I went for Cucumber Vodka with soda. This was really great, it was refreshing and tasted exactly like a cool glass of cucumber water, but, you know, made out of vodka. Way better.

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All of their appetizers sounded great, so decided to get a couple of those to share. First, we started with the M57 Red Cabbage Salad (red cabbage, red pepper, cucumber, apple, celery leaves, onion, parsley and dill dressing with honey). I loved this salad, it was almost like a slaw, but with larger cut ingredients, making it a substantial, fresh, yet still light, salad. The flavors were really nice as well, a little zing and some added sweetness balanced out the salad. 

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Next, was the M57 Zakuski Troika (trio of Rose Petal and Mint Yogurt with Pomegranate, Silk Road Lima Bean Hummus, Eggplant Caviar). Now, this comes in two different sizes, a small and large size. We got the small size, but there was nothing small about it. For only $7 you get three generous portions of each dip with pita and pumpernickel bread on the side, perfect for a starter to share, or, even as a meal. All the dips were delicious too, it’s hard to pick a true favorite. The Rose Petal and Mint Yogurt with Pomegranate was really awesome, and I haven’t had something quite like it before. It was creamy, with a little tartness from the yogurt, but balanced with the freshness of mint and sweetness of the rose petal and pomegranate. The Lima Bean Hummus was delicious as well, really great texture and flavor, similar to a common chickpea hummus, but slightly different flavor. The Eggplant Caviar was excellent too, roasted eggplant, coarsely chopped with peppers, onions and tomato, made more with the consistency of a thick salsa versus an eggplant spread. 

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Now, I didn’t realize how generous these portions would be. I’m pretty conditioned to a lot of NYC’s portions, which, are much more delicate, for a much bigger price, so I was really pleasantly surprised here once dishes started coming out, including my entree, Pan Seared Salmon (with pistachio sauce, bulgur, roasted red peppers, spinach, almonds and pine nuts). This dish was so incredible, with a beautiful presentation, portion and flavor. The salmon was cooked perfectly, a nice medium/medium rare, tender and flavorful, topped with this delicious pistachio sauce, that, I’d love to have a little bottle of to put on everything. Almost everything. The fish is placed atop this fantastic bed of bulgur with vegetables, and then for added texture and flavor, you have the almonds and pine nuts. I love any dish with pine nuts, and between the salmon, pistachio sauce, bulgar and vegetables, this one just totally won me over.

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So, there was clearly no room for dessert, even though I am a firm believer that biologically, the stomach is engineered to have a special little pocket dedicated solely to desserts. However, with the delivery of your check in a little cup, you get some candies. Free candy? Hell yes. A little combination of hard candy and caramels was the best cap to the fantastic meal. 

The Shorts:
Name: Moscow 57
Location: 168 1/2 Delancey Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. I plan on going back soon, the experience was flawless and you really feel like you’re in your Russian family’s eccentric living room where they also perform for you…if that exists. 
Would I recommend it? For sure. The service is fantastic, the food in incredible, and the music is just delightful. You won’t be disappointed. 

Panther Coffee

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Coffee. Fuel. Life. I need it, and was on the search for a really great cup while I was in Miami. So, I headed over Panther Coffee In Sunset Harbor. 

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This locally based coffee shop specializes in the small-batch roasting of coffee beans, and preparing finely crafted beverages. I ordered a Cappuccino, which was just what I needed. Nice flavor, and a beautiful little heart in the foamed milk. 

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They also have an amazing looking selection of cookies, so, I obviously had to get one. I went for their S’Mores Cookie, because, duh. It’s about the size of a small child’s face, and super delicious (the cookie, not a child’s face). It has a nice, slight crispness on out outside, and a soft, chewy center, riddled with chocolate chunks, graham and tiny bits of caramelized marshmallow. 

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I got creative with it and made a S’Mores S’Mores Cookie with some Birthday Party Squish Marshmallows. It was off the charts. 

The Shorts:
Name: Panther Coffee
Location: 1875 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure, the space is open, bright, and you can tell they take a lot of pride in making each coffee.
Would I recommend it? Yes, a great spot to grab a cup, and definitely when it’s accompanied by a giant cookie.