Week in Review: Brunch at Resto, Sanctuary T, Christopher Norman Chocolates, Ciao Bella, and Big Booty Bread

I know some of you who have visited my Flickr photostream, I’ve put up photos of Tia Pol before Big Booty Bread but I’m saving that for another post. So, here’s another round of food.

Last Saturday, I went to brunch at Resto. You might be wondering, why the heck do I want to go to a Belgian restaurant for? I just wanted to try their burger since I’ve read many publications indicating that they have an awesome burger that is on par with my beloved Shake Shack burger.

Resto Resto

Interior of Resto Interior

Surprisingly, it was pretty empty. But I should note that it’s 10:30 AM on a Saturday morning, so I shouldn’t expect any early risers on a weekend. Anyways, I somehow wanted to get a drink. And I mean a framboise mimosa. I’m guessing the school life is killing me and coffee is no longer wanted at that moment. Also, I ordered my burger.

Framboise Mimosa and water glass
Framboise mimosa with water glass

Burger plate

Innards of burger Burger innards

The framboise mimosa was good. Nothing particular to note except that it’s bubbly with subtle hints of raspberry. My burger was quite delicious, even though it’s cooked to a medium-well. It has a beefy flavor, juicy, and the onions, pickles, and lettuce that accommodated this burger made it tasty. It doesn’t beat Shake Shack’s burger to the dust but it’s better than Burger Heaven. Their frites or fries were thickly cut, so it’s not very crisp but at least it tastes fine.

The frites Frites

After class was over, I wanted to snack on something and have tea accompanying it. So, I thought of going down to Sanctuary T, since this place has recently opened and I read little blurbs about this place in the NY Times.

Sanctuary T Sanctuary T

Interior at the back along the bar Interior at the back, toward the bar

InteriorPeople in back of me

Pastries at the bar Pastries at the bar

After seating myself at a table near the front, I perused their extensive tea menu and was interested in the Red Moon Tea. My server suggested their best selling iced drink, the watermelon lemonade. It sounded interesting, so I have that as well. I asked him for suggestions for dessert or sweets to go along with these drinks. He looked at those pastry display (on the photo above) and he said, “Try the meringue. If you don’t like it, we’ll work something out for you.” So, here I am bestowed upon a plate with an almond meringue.

Meringue Meringue

Innards of meringue Bitten

To tell you honestly, I don’t like meringue cookies that much. Macarons are a different animal, so you can’t fit this particular argument on me. It’s something about that dry texture that kills my palate. Me and meringue cookies are not meant for each other.

My waiter returned and asked me what I thought about it, I told him honestly that “I don’t really like it.” He said, “You don’t? Well, how about a brioche?” He gave me a dish with a brioche. He also asked me if I want to finish that meringue, besides that bite you see on that photo, I said, “No thanks.”

Brioche Brioche

Innards of brioche Innards

Well, the brioche fared a lot better. It’s sweet, light, buttery, and it has hints of orange throughout that bun. It’s good but I don’t really feel brioche-y. I just managed to eat the smaller half.

My waiter returned with my drinks, the watermelon lemonade and the Red Moon Tea.

Watermelon Lemonade
Watermelon Lemonade

The watermelon lemonade is a misnomer, in my opinion. It should be named watermelonade since I don’t taste any lemon whatsoever. Besides that, it’s a delightful drink. It’s cold, tastes like watermelon in a not-so-sweet way but just sweet enough.

Red Moon Tea steeping next to a timer
Red Moon Tea steeping…

The interesting thing to note was that he left me with a timer for steeping my tea. He said to wait five minutes before you start drinking the tea. For all the teahouses I’ve been to, this is the first time that ever happened to me. That’s pretty cool.

Red Moon Tea Red Moon Tea

The strong scent of strawberries keep wafting out of my mug as I patiently wait for that five minutes to pass by. I wanted to drink it NOW. But I waited. Once time’s up, I took a sip of the tea and it’s worth the wait. It tastes like strawberries with a touch of a spicy, savory component since the tea menu mentioned that there’s black pepper in the brew. The strawberry flavor isn’t very dominant, it’s more like a background flavor. It’s a nice alternative compared to drinking green tea at home everyday.

Back to my dessert qualms, after my waiter left me with my drinks for five minutes or so, he asked me about the brioche and I told him, “it’s good but I don’t really want a brioche.” He then said, “Hmm…Do you like chocolate?” I replied, “Of course!” What he then did was take a pair of tongs and gave me a tiny little chocolate muffin, at least what I presumed it was. He told me that it’s their chocolate flourless cake. So there I have it.

Tiny flourless chocolate cake

It’s a very dainty chocolate cupcake. It’s tasty on its own without frosting. It’s light, enough chocolate flavor and it’s slightly moist in the center. What I’m complaining about that it’s so tiny. My waiter returned and he inquired me about this cake, and I told him that I liked it a lot. Since he felt bad that the sweets didn’t worked out too well for me, he got me another one of those cupcakes and said, “It’s on the house.” Now, I felt a bit guilty about him giving me dessert freebies but I ate it anyways and enjoyed it.

When I asked for the check, he seriously didn’t charged me for any of the food I ate or at least take a bite out of. I was flabbergasted. I paid nonetheless and gave him a generous tip just because he put up with my crap.

My Check...
Check at Sanctuary T

Later on the week, I think it was Monday, I went all the way downtown in the Wall Street area to get myself and Kim (since her birthday’s coming up soon and I’m seeing her later on the week) some beautiful, delicious chocolates from Christopher Norman.

Interior of Christopher Norman Chocolates Interior

Once I stepped into this place, I was bewildered in what the heck do I want to buy. I mean, look at the choices! The flavors! Oh, if I had a huge expense account (or a sugar daddy), I would have one of everything.

Red Wine Grapes Red Wine Grapes

(Something) with Green Apple Caramel Ganache
(Something) with Green Apple Caramel Ganache

Cappuccino Cups Espresso Topped with Grand Marnier Cappuccino Cups Espresso Topped with Grand Marnier

Hibiscus Rose & Mango Hibiscus Rose & Mango

Coconut Curry & Orange Caramel Chocs Coconut Curry & Orange Caramel

Those were just a few of the plethora of other photos that I’ve taken from their display case. Most of the flavor combinations sound so interesting. But I refrained from buying everything, and went for a Mango, that chocolate thingy that looks like an apple, Pear William, and the Cappuccino Cup. I bought Kim about a dozen pieces of chocolate so she could indulge herself for her birthday. Anyways, after I paid the chocolates, the guy who took my order offered me a sample of their chocolates. It’s technically the imperfect chocolates that they won’t sell since it’s not pretty enough. I ended up taking their Champagne pyramid truffle.

My sample of Champagne Pyramid Chocolate Truffle
My Pyramid on top of my box of chocs

That chocolate pyramid was hard to put in my mouth since it’s quite large and it’s difficult to take bites out of since the chocolate’s tempered and it’ll shatter all over the table. But anyways, the Champagne flavor was quite potent, melding with the dark, bittersweet (about 70% cocoa) ganache filling. Oh, that was lovely.

Then I moved on to taking individual photos of my chocolates…


Mango innards Mango innards

(Something) with Green Apple Caramel Ganache
(Something) with Green Apple Caramel Ganache

Cappuccino Cups Espresso Topped with Grand Marnier Cappuccino Cup

Pear William
Pear William

The mango was intense. It’s smells like mango (if you bring that bonbon near your nose), it’s sweet but not very, and the mango filling tastes like you had mango puree and reduced it into half and incorporate it with white chocolate from the looks of it. It also tastes like they used a 60% bittersweet chocolate coating.

The rest I ate at home and they’re all very delicious. The things I remembered was that the Pear William tasted more like apple puree than a pear due to the filing was quite mushy like applesauce but had a very subtle hint of pear.

The cappuccino cup was actually a two-piece bonbon. The saucer was pure chocolate, around 60%, and the cup itself is the truffle. Rich, chocolate-espresso flavor with a punch of citrusy Grand Marnier. I would consider that my favorite of the bunch I had.

The apple shaped chocolate was cute to look at but again that apple puree didn’t work for me texturally since it’s like eating fine strained applesauce with tempered chocolate; it doesn’t work.

On Tuesday afternoon, after classes I was craving for gelato since it’s so humid and cloudy that day. The only gelato place that I haven’t gone to in the city so far was Ciao Bella, so I might as well try it.

Ciao Bella Gelato Ciao Bella Gelato

After perusing the flavors they have that day, I sampled the pistachio. Strangely, it had that alcoholic off-taste that signals my brain to say, “it ain’t pistachio.” So, I went for a small cup of hazelnut and coffee gelato.

My small cup of gelato
My cup of gelato

Top angled view of my gelato
Angled shot

Texture shot Texture shot

It’s creamy, dense, and the flavors tastes what it should be like. The hazelnut tastes like roasted hazelnuts and coffee tastes like coffee with cream. It’s not the best gelato I’ve ever eaten (as in transcends me to gelato heaven) but it’s very good.

On the morning of my lunch with Ariel at Tia Pol, I haven’t eaten breakfast so I went to Bryant Park to ‘wichcraft for some coffee and a pastry.

'wichcraft's coffee & pastry stand ‘wichcraft

Iced Cappuccino
Iced Cappuccino

Macro of Cinnamon Roll
Cinnamon Roll (macro shot)

Innards of Cinnamon Roll Innards

The iced cappuccino was decent for something that isn’t Starbucks. It’s a bit too milky for my liking but at least it has that bracing bitter bite of espresso at the end.

The cinnamon roll was pretty small than what I would imagine but it’s a good size. The bready bun with the spicy cinnamon swirl with a touch of sweet sugar glaze, tasted quite good but it’s not mind-blowing greatness that I had with Bouchon Bakery’s sticky bun. Even though it’s like comparing apples to oranges, it’s just the idea of a sticky, bread-like pastry that I’m just trying to differentiate.

Fast forwarding past my lunch at Tia Pol, I went to Big Booty Bread to try out their Cheese Rock and Guava Booty Roll that several people’s been telling me about.

Big Booty Bread
Big Booty Bread

Baked Goods Baked Goods

More Baked Goods More baked goods…

Guava Booty Roll Guava Booty Roll

Innards of Guava Booty Roll Innards

The guava booty roll was sweet, light, and somehow it tasted more like strawberry than guava. Hmm…maybe the guy who took my order got confused with their strawberry? But if it is a strawberry roll, it’s pretty tasty. I just wish for more filling.

Cheese Rock Cheese Rock

Innards of Cheese Rock Innards

Macro of Cheese Rock Macro of innards

The cheese rock is unlike any other roll I’ve ever tasted. It’s dense and it had pockets of cheese throughout the roll. I would imagine if this was fresh out of the oven, it would be mind-boggling good. Oozy cheese with bread, how can you go wrong with that?

So that’s my photo-riffic post again, my lack of words are due to the fact that I’m TIRED and it’s midnight as I’m writing this entry so, I need some sleep before I’ll start writing about Tia Pol and other food happenings, meetings, and what have you.


111 E 29th Street
New York, NY 10016

Sanctuary T
337 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Christopher Norman Chocolates
60 New Street
New York, NY 10004

Ciao Bella Gelato
285 Mott Street
New York, NY 10012-3430, US

Big Booty Bread
261 W 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.