I just want to eat!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!  
image of Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

Frère de Lys is a French restaurant located on the Upper East Side that discovered last week end. I met with two of the owners of this place Alexis and Thibault Piettre, who before that worked in other restaurants in New York, before fulfilling the dream to open their own restaurant. Their mother was even there and chat proudly about this adventure. I was intrigued by the name as it seems to be a play on fleur de lys (iris flower), a symbol of monarchy in Europe; According to French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed (source: wikipedia). 
image of Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

Alexis told me that they are not royalist at all, but wanted to celebrate the renaissance period, their renaissance and as he and his brother have a fleur de lys tattooed on their arms, they thought about Frère de Lys as the name to their new adventure, frère meaning brother in French.
image of Alexis and Thibault Piettre from Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

Decor wise, it is a simple place with a lot of warmth thanks to the dark wood of the tables, chairs and long banquette, keeping a touch of modernity. 
image of bar at Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

At the entrance is the bar with its bulbs that give a vintage feel.
image of vintage bulb at Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

Then, the dining room, simply decorated.
image of dining room at Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

With of course a photo of an iris in the back.
image of iris flower at Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

Menu wise, do not expect to see a bistro type menu: there are no escargots, no confit de canard and no steak frites. There, the menu has classic French dishes, modernized and sometimes changed with an American twist. Know that we were there for a tasting, so the portions were smaller that what is shown on the actual menu. In fact, they were perfect portions for sharing and trying plenty of dishes and, who knows, their menu may include smaller dishes at some point!
image of bread basket at Frere de Lys, French restaurant on the Upper East Side, NY

Like any good French menu, it started with bread (toasted and served with olive oil) and wine. I got to try two wines:

The first one was a château de la sèlve palissaire 2012:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sprinkles Cupcakes in New York, NY

image of Sprinkles Cupcakes in New York, NY

If you are a fan of the TV show Cupcake Wars, you have probably heard about Sprinkles Cupcakes: one of Judges, Candace Nelson, is with her husband Charles, the owner. 
image of Sprinkles Cupcakes in New York, NY

It all started in 2005 with the first store that opened in Beverly Hills: they got sold out the first day in three hours and then sold more than 2,000 cupcakes the first week, starting a success story that continues today, with more than 10 locations in the US and projects to open in London and Tokyo.  
image of Cupcake ATM at Sprinkles Cupcakes in New York, NY

Sprinkles Cupcakes is also known for the first cupcake ATM in the world, introduced in 2012, where cupcakes are available 24/7. We did not try the ATM and went straight to the store. It was a week day, the week ends being crazy there.
image of Cupcake stars at Sprinkles Cupcakes in New York, NY
An allusion to the stars on Hollywood Boulevard
As soon as you enter the place, your senses are overwhelmed by an incredible baking smell that make you want to live there. It is a colorful place for sure...
image of Decor at Sprinkles Cupcakes in New York, NY

What I like about such a place is that they propose cupcakes in two sizes: regular or small, the latter being perfect for a tasting. But, know that not all cupcakes are available in the small size. So, here is what we tried:

Jodi, of course, got the coconut cupcake:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joe's Shanghai in New York, NY

image of Joe's Shanghai in New York, NY

It has been years since I went to Joe's Shanghai, having tried their midtown (food just ok and poor service) and their Chinatown location. But, after trying the soup dim sum at Red Farm, I wanted to go back and see how these restaurants measure up against each other.
image of Joe's Shanghai in New York, NY

We went on a week day and showed up a bit before the opening as, each time we passed by, there was a long line, this restaurant being recommended in a lot of guides. Surprisingly, there was barely anybody, so we got a table right away. 
image of dining room at Joe's Shanghai in New York, NY

The restaurant filled up slowly, but was not as crowded as expected. 
image of tea at Joe's Shanghai in New York, NY

Few minutes after we sat, the waiter came with some tea and asked us if we wanted the dim sum so they could fire them up in the kitchen. We answered affirmatively and proceeded to look at the menu to pick the other dishes we wanted to try. 

I could not of course resist ordering the fried quail, a dish that you can buy to go in few locations in Chinatown (or at Whole Foods, uncooked).
image of fried quail at Joe's Shanghai in New York, NY

There were succulent: a tad crispy, but still moist, that is not that simple as it is easy to overcook them. 

Then, we shared the fried spring roll.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Paname, French restaurant in New York, NY

Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!  

image of Paname, French restaurant in New York, NY

Paname, that means Paris in slang, is a French restaurant located Midtown East, opened a year ago by Chef Bernard Ros, a veteran of the New York food scene, known not only for his cuisine, but also his mentorship in the industry, helping people get jobs or training them, solely for the love of food. The adventure started in 1967, when Chef Ros came to Montreal for the World's Fair. He then decided to go visit New York...and never went back to France, working in many restaurants, before opening Meli Melo and then Paname.
image of Chef Bernard Ros of Paname, French restaurant in New York, NY
Chef Bernard Ros with the "Marilyn Monroe's legs"
I spoke at length with him during my dinner at Paname and truly felt that he was more interested in making his customers pleased with the experience at the restaurant, serving them classic bistro dishes, reinvented, at low prices, creating a loyal clientele, instead of one time diners. 
image of dining room at Paname, French restaurant in New York, NY

Chef Ros goes everyday to the market to pick ingredients, putting an emphasis on the quality of the meat and seafood he will serve. If you go to Paname, you will definitely see him (he is there 7/7) going from table to table, to ensure everything is fine. 

image of dining room at Paname, French restaurant in New York, NY

Menu wise, you will find classics, but as I mentioned before, reinvented. For instance, there are escargots (snails), but not cooked the usual way, with garlic and butter. Also, everything is homemade, including the desserts, that can be a challenge for a Chef, but not for Bernard Ros, as you will see in this post.

We started our meal with an amuse bouche that was made with gorgonzola and a tomato coulis, a perfect combination. 
image of amuse bouche at Paname, French restaurant in New York, NY

Then, I tried few appetizers:

Tomato and mozzarella:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Per Se in New York, NY

image of Per Se in New York, NY

We dreamt about going to Per Se for a while and decided, for our wedding anniversary, to go there instead of traveling. It was worth it. Acclaimed Chef Thomas Keller and his crew, led by Chef de Cuisine Eli Kaimeh are like magicians. They not only make disappear your appetite and a large sum of money from your bank account, they also erase any memory or reference to any good meal you had before going to Per Se. Yes, after dining at Per Se, any good restaurant will be like going to MacDonald's after tasting the burger at Minetta Tavern. This team shows so much technique and artistry that we were blown away.
image of Time Warner Center going to Per Se in New York, NY

Before I talk about the food, let me tell you a bit about this restaurant. Located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center, the American Chef Thomas Keller opened Per Se in 2004. It soon received the accolades of critics and easily gained three Michelin stars, reaching the top of the New York dining scene and being constantly mentioned in best restaurants ranking, including world best. 
image of Per Se in New York, NY

Arriving at the restaurant, my heart was beating faster from the excitement to finally go there. We sat few minutes in their anti chamber of heaven, looking at the blue doors that are a reference to Thomas Keller's flagship The French Laundry in California (the dining room has 62 seats like The French Laundry - another reference?).
image of Per Se in New York, NY

Then, it was time to start this culinary adventure. We were warmly welcomed by the staff and got seated at a table overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park, the latter reminding me that I would probably need the gym later on...
image of Per Se in New York, NY

To make sure everything was at its place, they brought Jodi a little stool for her bag...
image of Per Se in New York, NY


I started by ordering a glass of wine picked from their impressive list displayed on an IPad. 
image of wine list on iPad at Per Se in New York, NY

I went for a glass of Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py, 2012:
image of Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py, 2012 at Per Se in New York, NY

We made our choice from the menu. Per Se proposes two prix fixe for $310 service included: the vegetarian menu (Jodi's pick) and the Chef's Tasting, each of them having 9 courses. For each course, you have two choices, some of them including an up charge, as prepared with luxurious items such as foie gras, caviar or truffles. Know that the menu will change on a daily basis, although some of the dishes, search as the first course I got seems to be a recurring choice.

So, let's see what we got!

Amuse-Bouche:

For Jodi, it was a cone with Belgian endives, grapefruit and cream cheese:
image of Amuse bouche at Per Se in New York, NY

For me, a cone with marinated salmon and cream cheese: