I recently headed to the Hard Rock in Times Square to test one of the new drinks I have been obsessed with since learning about it entering the drink menu back in January 10th. It is called the Berry Sangrita-Ria and is a must for anyone who loves refreshing berry drinks that focus on natural berry flavor and that are not overly sweet. It is a huge drink for under 300 calories and has more real raspberries and blueberries floating around in it than any other drink in Manhattan right now. I also love the little plastic guitar drink stirrer that you get to take home. This drink features not only a tons of fresh berries but it is a mix of red wine, Wildberry Monin, cranberry juice, orange juice, Prosecco and the Hard Rock’s classic house made margarita mix (which consists of organic 100 per cent organic blue agave tequila, fresh lime juice, a squeeze of fresh orange juice and agave nectar).
There are other great new drinks on the menu including a must have for pineapple drink lovers called The Pineapple Honey Smash–which consists of Grey Goose vodka, Domaine De Canton Ginger Liquer, hand muddled fresh pineapple and a homemade fresh basil and lemon juice combo! It has a tangy memorable taste and you will be back for more!
We started out with the Grilled Chicken Arugula Salad which was so filling and healthy. It is made with farm fresh arugula, thinly sliced grilled chicken, spicy pecans, dried cranberries and fresh oranges tossed in lemon balsamic vinaigrette and then topped with crumbled feta cheese. It has a light, creamy vinaigrette dressing that gives an EVOO flavor kick to the highly textured melange of greens, cheese, chicken and citrus.
The other appetizer we shared was the Margherita Flatbread which featured yellow Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and herb sauce and a cold garlic aioli sauce poured on top after baking. It was crunchy and filling and the yellow tomatoes were oh-so-juicy! The mix of greens on top included fresh thyme and basil.
It goes without saying that the Hard Rock has one of the hugest and most diversified menus in the city. I had to try their beautifully marbled 12 ounce ribeye steak medium rare with their famous onions and fresh buttery green beans. My friend had asked for her steak to be done medium well and I had asked for mine to be done medium rare and the cook made them exactly to our liking! Both steaks had bones and it’s something that we both love and save for last. Cindi and I were in a pig out mood, so we also ordered the mashed potatoes and Mac ‘N Cheese (which they will let you order “classic” or spicy). The spiral ridged pasta that the kitchen staff use stands up well to the onslaught of cheese sauce!
I have to say that the everything tasted very farm to table and that in liked how the potatoes had the real homestyle taste that included a bit of skin. They were buttery but not overly so. The onion rings are truly giant and have a classic very golden breadcrumb mixture covering them. There is the beautiful crunch sound as you bite into each one meaning that they are truly just out of the fryer! The green beans are thin and tender and rival any served in restos that are considered “fine dining.”
For dessert, my friend and I shared the legendary Hard Rock apple cobbler which includes several scoops of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream and a thick layer of hot crumbs over the warm layers of apple that taste and smell like heaven. This is one of those desserts that has always been on the Hard Rock menu since their inception 30-something years ago and it is a real crowd pleaser.
The brownie sundae features a freshly baked brownie that is portioned for about four people and features hot caramel sauce, at least four scoops of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla and plenty of whipped cream. You have the option of also getting hot fudge sauce on it. The luscious brownie sundae has about 1,600 calories, so forget about dieting unless you have enough self-discipline to take only a few bites.
Do not forget to check out all the great memorabilia at the Hard Rock (walk around and burn off some of those calories from dinner). The most valuable piece of memorabilia owned by the Hard Rock is on display right after you walk down the steps to the main dining room: The Beatles’ suits and Pan Am bags that they used on their first trip to the Big Apple in 1964. This set of items is valued at well over a million dollars! Nearby is a photo of Elvis at The Paramount Theater at the premiere of Love Me Tender along with the suit that he worked and the guitar that he played in the film. It’s so appropriate for this Hard Rock as it used to be the Paramount back in the day. The building is landmarked and the Paaramount sign and entire front of the building must stay in its original form by law. The manager took Cindi and I up on top of the marquee where we got the perfect view of One Times Square where the ball drops every New Year’s Eve (and it goes without saying that Hard Rock staff takes advantage of the view every December 31st)! For more info, go to www.hardrock.com. Reservations are recommended but not mandatory and you can make them right on the official site.