@victoriamargaux
 
Picture
All photos by Jake Romoser
Tucked into the end of a long cobblestone alleyway washed in red light is Ti Amo! Mediterranean Restaurant & Bar. The spacious downtown eatery, located at 12 SE 2nd Ave., is dedicated to using local, organic foods and you can taste the difference in every dish. The meals are filling yet light and full of flavor. 

Big oval lamps hang from exposed wooden beams, while brick peeks out from the dining room's walls. For this edition of Sunday date night, Jake and I were seated in a secluded corner. I sunk into my plush, high-backed chair and let the romance of the atmosphere take over.
Picture
Chicken Flatbread w/ Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese
After a game of eeny-meeny-miney-mo, we finally chose the Chicken Flatbread w/ Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese as our appetizer. The personal size pizza was uncharacteristically light with just the right amount of crunch. The sweetness of the peppers went well with the tangy aftertaste of the goat cheese. I know goat cheese is one of those ingredients you either love or hate, but I just can't get enough of this rich, decadent cheese.
Picture
Braised Local Lamb w/ Chickpea Panelle and Tzatziki
Jake went back and forth between the two lamb dishes, but in the end he chose the Braised Local Lamb w/ Chickpea Panelle and Tzatziki. The lamb was tender and the flavor paired well with the tzatziki sauce. My favorite part of the dish was the playful presentation. I wasn't sure what to expect of the chickpea panelle, but its texture was a wonderful addition to my palette. Crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside, Jake said it was his favorite part of the plate.
Picture
Tuna Loin w/ Artichokes, Grilled Bread and Caper Vinaigrette
I really wanted to try the Braised Oxtail, but unfortunately Ti Amo served the last one right before we arrived. Instead, I chose the Tuna Loin w/ Artichokes, Grilled Bread and Caper Vinaigrette. The tuna was sashimi grade and seared just right. The meat wasn't too tough and the capers added a nice saltiness to the fish. I actually ate every single one of my carrots—surprising for me. I was disappointed the dish was plated with potatoes instead of artichokes, but overall I thought it was delicious.

At the end of the meal both of our plates were completely clean.

Enough said.
 
 
WARNING: For the first time in Frittering Conch history I'm blogging about a place I'm not absolutely in love with.

Last night, I went to Ballyhoo Grill on West University and was not impressed. The service was actually great, but the food was definitely sub-par. Maybe I'm snooty, maybe I'm used to catching my own grouper, or just maybe this place really isn't that amazing.
All photos by Jake Romoser
Picture
Firecracker Shrimp
To start, we ordered the Firecracker Shrimp. I honestly probably should have read the description on the menu. I envisioned large, succulent shrimp tossed in cracked black pepper with a hint of chile powder.

Nope.

Instead, the shrimp were deep fried and then tossed in a spicy Thai sauce. The breading was far too thick and completely masked the taste of the actual shrimp, while the mayo based sauce left me feeling bloated and heavy.
Picture
Blackened Grouper w/ Zucchini and Squash
My Blackened Grouper w/ Zucchini and Squash was bland, bland, bland. I don't know about you, but when I order something blackened I expect it to have a nice kick. I ended up adding black pepper to the entire dish to make it have some type of flavor. The quality of the fish wasn't bad, however, I would have preferred the thrill of catching it myself.
Picture
Shrimp & Scallion Skewers w/ Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Out of the two entrees, the Shrimp & Scallion Skewers w/ Garlic Mashed Potatoes contained more flavor. The scallions were moist, buttery and delectable. The texture was the perfect consistency and not rubbery or slimey at all.

The one thing we ordered that I could not stop eating? The garlic mashed potatoes! With flecks of potato skin and a hint of garlic, this robust dish almost made me lick my date's plate clean. (Okay, so I ended up ordering my own side of mashed potatoes, you caught me.)

Despite being quite full when I left the restaurant, I don't think I will be returning anytime soon.
 
 
Picture
Foodspotting example from the site: Crabcake Benedict @ Paramount Grill, uploaded by foodspotter Jesse Morgan.
What's foodspotting you say?

Well, click 
here to read my INsite magazine blog post to find out what the new craze is all about. 

Plus, get all the details for joining in the foodspotting.com celebration at 
101 Downtown this Saturday.

 
 
You haven't experienced Southwestern cuisine until you've been to Agave, a delectable tequila bar and restaurant located in the West Village. The second you step through Agave's welcoming glass atrium, you're transported into a glowing, serene refuge perfect for warming up on a cold winter night. Relaxed and romantic, the ambiance is made with flickering candlelight, smooth adobe walls and latticed ceilings.

I was only in New York for a short visit, but I found time to visit Agave on not one but two occasions. The first night I arrived this massive Fresh Strawberry Frozen Margarita was immediately placed in front of me. Unlike other frozen margarita's, the restaurant uses only top-shelf tequila to top off the season's best fresh fruit puree of your choice. 
Picture
Fresh Strawberry Frozen Margarita
Although the restaurant is classified as Southwestern, the menu is diverse and full of both traditional and non-traditional dishes. I made sure to try one of each. My non-traditional choice: Corn Crusted Calamari Cracklins with Chipotle Mayo. I've never used corn as a breading, but I must say I'm definitely a new-found fan. It gave the calamari a great crunch without being soggy. The star of the dish, however, was the chipotle mayo. Just the right amount of creaminess and zest, I wanted to dip absolutely everything in this sauce. 
Picture
Corn Crusted Calamari w/ Chipotle Mayo
My traditional choice? The Grilled Corn on the Cob. I may or may not have been inspired by Tyler Florence's grilled corn selection on Food Network's ultimate foodie drool fest, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I don't know how I've never ordered this Mexican style grilled corn before, but I made sure to order it during both visits to Agave. The chipotle lemon butter and queso cotija made the corn melt the second it touched my tongue.
Picture
Grilled Corn & Guava Agave Margarita
When my waiter, Mike, suggest the Short Ribs of Angust Beef I was pretty skeptical. When he offered to buy my meal if I didn't like it, I was downright curious. This picture doesn't do the meal justice. Nestled on a bed of chili-corn mashed potatoes and topped with green beans and carrots, this hearty classic provided instant comfort. The meat was extra juicy and not stringy or chewy at all. 
Picture
Short Ribs of Angus Beef
Out of all the margaritas and tequila flavors I tried, I enjoyed the Passion Fruit Margarita the most. Slightly sweet, rich and full flavored, this drink embodied all of the characteristics I prefer in tequila. The fish tacos weren't anything special. Next time, I think I'll pass in flavor of something less bland.
Picture
Passion Fruit Margarita & Fish Tacos
Each night I dined in I made it a point to try the most decadent desserts on the menu. The Xango, made with dulce de leche, crispy flour tortillas, vanilla ice cream and fried bananas, stole my tastebuds along with my heart. The varying textures and flavors made the dish playful, rich and fun to eat. 
Picture
Xango
I fulfilled my chocolate craving on the second night with the Molten Center Chocolate Cake. This may look like your average molten cake from Chili's, but I promise you it's anything but. The banana praline ice cream was a perfect match, providing a hot and cold combination that left me wanting more. I would have licked the plate clean if it wasn't considered indecent. 
Picture
Molten Center Chocolate Cake
Agave's staff is warm and welcoming whether you're a first-timer or a regular. I can't wait to go back and try every single thing on the menu—drinks and all.
 
 
New Year's Day was a bit rough, but I wasn't going to miss starting a new year's tradition—brunch at Sanford's Restaurant with the girls. Once I managed to escape from bed and get my butt down to Astoria (way past the appropriate time for brunch) I was a-okay. 

The restaurant's Prix Fix menu was exactly what I needed to recharge after a girl's night out dancing.
Picture
Mimosas
For just $14, you get your choice of a Mimosa, Champagne, Wine, Bloody Mary, Bellini or Srewdriver with one free refill, plus Coffee, Tea or Cocoa and an alcohol absorbing entree. Most of us went for the Mimosa and I'd say it was definitely a good choice. Fresh orange juice with a little bubbly is my favorite brunch staple.
Picture
Zucchini, Ricotta, Fresh Tomato & Pesto Frittata
I'm not sure why I wanted to go healthy the morning after New Year's, but I wasn't disappointed by my Zucchini, Ricotta, Fresh Tomato & Pesto Frittata. Each bite was a surprise and full of fresh flavor that tasted straight from the farm. The creamy ricotta was my favorite part and its texture contrasted nicely with the egg. My guilty pleasure? The crispy, salty potato wedges dipped in ketchup. 
Picture
Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes
The reason we came to Sanford's was for its Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes. Oh, my and gosh are the only three words to accurately describe this stack of flapjacks. Huge chunks of banana provided bursts of robust flavor amidst the peanut butter batter. My friend Samantha ordered her's with a side of whole wheat toast, but feel free to add any side you like.
Picture
Blueberry Cinnamon Pecan French Toast
I was only able to sneak one bite of Libby's Blueberry Cinnamon Pecan French Toast before she devoured it. I don't think this dish needs any explanation. Its title pretty much speaks for itself—heavenly.

At the end of the meal I was ready to scour the streets for an apartment and put the restaurant on my speed dial. You better believe I'm going to make this Queen's hangout a frequent Sunday breakfast spot when I become a permanent New Yorker this summer. 
 

Copyright© The Frittering Conch, 1600 Rose Street, Key West, FL 33040