July 2012 | I just want to eat!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pat's vs. Tony Luke's Cheesesteak in Philadephia, PA

I love Philadelphia: great city close to New York, with a fantastic food scene! Imagine that it is where there is the original Morimoto restaurant, where Marc Vetri has his amazing venue (review to come)! I will also mention the Reading Terminal Market, Sabrina's or Honey's for brunch!

But for sure, you cannot go to Philly without trying a Philly Cheesesteak! Now, there are many, many places serving this delicious sandwich, but not all of them are great. I remember that way back, we went to Philly with Jodi and a friend of mine from France, Malika. We found this amazing place close to the university that served us an amazing cheesesteak. It was not a popular joint and dinners were mainly students. Too bad that at that time I did not have the blog: no photo and no address! I then tried Geno's: this was fabulous! I remember the delicious bread and this incredibly tender meat. Then last year, we went to Geno's main competitor: Pat's King of Steaks.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Spotted Pig in NYC, New York - Overrated?

So we made it to The Spotted Pig over the week end! It has been a while since I wanted to try: I heard many people talking about this place and about what is supposed to be an outstanding burger! You do not need to tell me that twice to have a restaurant in my radar!

The place has its charm with a bunch of piggies all over the place! There is even a frame that reminded me of the movie Delicatessen!
From outside, it gives a feel of a house in the country, with all the plants.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Food Truck Festival at South Street Seaport on August 4th 2012 - NYC, New York

Great news! The Food Truck Festival is back! Discover amazing street dishes!
I went last year (see post here) and had an amazing time. It was crowded for sure and this year will probably be the same, but it is worth it!

Imagine that: over 30 trucks like: Taim mobile (check my review of Taim here), Valducci's pizza (outstanding), The Red Hook Lobster pound (a must have), Gorilla cheese, Kimchi taco truck, Takumi taco...

You can either go anytime or purchase a VIP ticket for a 5pm to 7pm tasting. 

South Street Seaport on August 4th 2012
From 10am to 9pm

Enjoy (I will certainly)!

And remember: I Just Want To Eat!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fraunces Tavern in NYC, New York - oldest building in NYC?

Recently, on a Sunday, we went for brunch with our friends Jen and Gary who proposed to go to Fraunces Tavern, downtown Manhattan. Fraunces Tavern is said to be the oldest surviving building in Manhattan per the Sons of Liberty who are the lucky owners since 1904. This building is filled with history! According to the Fraunces Tavern Museum website, the current building was built in 1719 by Etienne "Stephan" Delancey, a French Huguenot who married the daughter of New York's Mayor Stephanus Van Cortlandt. Delancey's heirs then sold the building to Samuel Fraunces who decided to open a tavern called the Queen's head. It is in this tavern that, before the revolution, gathered regularly the Sons of Liberty, a political group of American patriots that was formed, pre-independence, to protect the rights of the colonist from the rules set by the British government. 

But, one of the most famous story about this place lies in the dinner that took place on December 4th 1783: the "Turtle Feast". After British troops evacuated New York, the General (soon to be President) George Washington organized a farewell to his troops and said, in the long room: "with a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable."

After that, Samuel Fraunces became Wahsington's Chief Steward and, after the war, at the time New York was the Nation's Capital, the place was rented to the Government to house the Departments of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TGI Friday's in Iselin, NJ

Believe it or not, but the first time I heard about TGI Friday's was many years ago, before coming in this country, in Seoul, South Korea. I did not go for food but for drinks, before hitting a Korean BBQ joint for an amazing Bulgogi.
So, this time, I went to TGI Friday's in Iselin, New Jersey, for lunch. It was a Saturday and the restaurant was not that crowded. The service was very courteous and efficient.

We started with mozzarella sticks.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bonefish restaurant in Iselin, NJ

Bonefish Grill is very popular in Iselin as the long line and the wait the day we went could attest.
The restaurant was packed causing the service to be a bit slow. The restaurant, as its name suggests, is specialized in seafood. Of course, if you do not like it, you can order some beef or chicken. The grilled fish they serve is cooked over a wood burning grill that I did not have a chance to see.

So we started the dinner with the crab cakes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Food is subjective!

I do not know if you remember the buzz last March surrounding the review of Olive Garden by Mary Hagerty, an 85 years old food critic for the Grand Forks Herald. Her article went viral and created a debate between those who thought that her column was hilarious, if not ridiculous, and those who defended her like Anthony Bourdain. Was it the start of a culinary war ? I do not know, but a lot of people were flabbergasted when Mary mentioned that the Chicken Alfredo was "comforting on a cold day", that the decor was "impressive" and that "All in all, it is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks". 

I ate at Olive Garden a couple of times and it was sometimes better than restaurants I went to! You want an example? I prefer their chicken alfredo than the linguine a la vongole at Intermezzo in NYC!

Like any restaurant, chains can be good or bad. I like fine dining and good quality food, but there is some food that suits perfectly a chain's menu, such as burgers, chicken wings or salads (I had a great chicken and pecan salad at Applebee's and a disgusting steak at Ruby Tuesday). I remember few years ago when Chili's was installed next to The Late Show with David Letterman (it is now replaced by Angelo's pizza): they use to have great chili either with meat (con carne) or vegetarian. I use to get their sampler that was not only a smart idea, but also delicious!

After, Mary Hagerty's critique has to be put into perspective: when you live close or in New York, there are so many restaurants. expansive or cheap, that you would probably not think about going to a restaurant chain. But when you live in suburbia for instance, it can be your only choice. 

Anyway, everybody is entitled to their own opinion and columns, reviews and blogs only reflect the opinion of their authors. 

In the next few days, I will be publishing some posts about chain restaurants I went to....Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Angelo's Coal Oven Pizza in NYC, New York

I went to Angelo's pizza several times and always preferred going to the location on Broadway as it is much quieter and less crowded. It is in fact surprising considering that it is next to the Late Show with David Letterman studio!

Both restaurants are on two floors, but the one in Broadway is much spacious and can much easily welcome a large party.

Besides pizza and pasta, the restaurant serves soups and salads, like the Insalata Siciliana on the photo below.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hudson Restaurant Week - July 23rd to August 3rd 2012

From July 23rd to August 3rd, enjoy the Hudson Restaurant Week, featuring the following restaurants:

3 Forty Grill   
Amanda's Restaurant
Bistro La Source
Boca Grande
Brass Rail
Casa Dante
Chart House Restaurant
Cityside Bistro
Clinton Social
La Conguita
Dino & Harry's
Edwards Steakhouse
Elysian Cafe
Goodfellas Bayonne
Hamilton Inn
Hoboken Bar & Grill
Komegashi Too
Las Olas Sushi 
Liberty House
Madison, The
Maritime Parc
Merchant, The
Michael Anthony's
Oddfellows Rest
Ohara's Downtown 
Pilsener Haus & Biergarten
Pointe, The
Porto Leggero
Porto Lounge
Satis Bistro
Skylark on the Hudson  
Sky Thai
Sushi Lounge
West Five Supper Club
Wicked Wolf Tavern

These restaurants will propose prix-fixe menus that will go, for lunch from $13 to $18 and for dinner, from $25 to $35. As usual, reservations are recommended (opentable is a good way to reserve!).

More information at Hudson Restaurant Week.

Enjoy (I will)!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Imposto restaurant and pizza in Hoboken, NJ

Have you ever noticed that, it is always the same types of food that you crave: burgers, pizza and subs! Imposto's does not serve burgers, but they surely serve pizza and subs!

It is a small place and when you enter, you cannot miss the original pizza they display. Imagine that: Mac & Cheese, Chicken Alfredo, Freedom fries (you mean FRENCH fries?) with gravy or buffalo chicken pizza!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

St Ann's Festival in Hoboken - July 20 to July 26 2012

The St Ann's Festival will take place in Hoboken, New Jersey from July 20 to July 26 2012.

During the Festival, you can try some homemade Italian specialties! Of course, there are the mandatory Zeppole (I love them, but when freshly made!), coal oven pizza, sausages...

Weekday: 6pm to 11pm
Saturday and Sunday: 1pm to 11pm

Enjoy (I will)!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Choice self served Frozen Yogurt and Juice bar in NYC, New York

We found this new Frozen Yogurt that happens to be also a juice bar, called My Choice. It not only proposes frozen yogurt, but also smoothies, ice cream, fruits and vegetables juices made freshly.

The Frozen Yogurt is self served.

Monday, July 16, 2012

New York Restaurant Week start Today until August 10th!

This is a reminder that New York Restaurant Week starts today until August 10th!

Enjoy (I will)!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Celebrating Bastille Day at Felix in Soho - NYC, New York

Yesterday was Bastille Day, the French National Day, celebrating the French Revolution (the Bastille was a fortress-prison where political prisoners were held by the royal government). 

In France, it is marked by the following events:

  • a ball. You typically have to wear something blue, something white and something red to represent the colors of the flag.
  • a Military demonstration on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
So, we decided to go to a French restaurant to mark the occasion. It is not too difficult to find one as there are plenty in New York! But I wanted something new, with a menu that was French (I do not remember which one I saw that had mainly dishes you would find in American cuisine, such as eggs benedict and pancakes...with no typical French dishes). That is how we ended up at Felix. I did not realized that it was across the street from Taka Taka, the Japanese Cantina (understand Japanese / Mexican fusion).

The place was big with high ceilings, old French ads (ex: Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet) and old wooden furnitures giving some authenticity to the place. The restaurant was fully opened to the street, giving the patrons full view, perfect for people watching. One thing that surprised me is that the music was not at all French, but more oldies.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Urban lobster shack food truck in NYC, New York

If you tell French people that you are eating a lobster in a piece of bread, they will think you are crazy! Not me! Since I discovered lobster rolls, I love it! Not all of them though: I hate when they smother the whole lobster with tons of mayonnaise, to a point where you do not even taste this divine ingredient!

I think the first time I tried it was in Boston, at Faneuil Hall. Since then, I have tried it in many forms, such as the Lobster roll benedict at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ.

Then, last year, I went to the Food Truck Festival at South Street Seaport and tasted a succulent Connecticut style lobster roll (poached in butter!!!) from The Red Hook Lobster Pound (see the related post: Food Truck Festival at South Street Seaport (NYC) on August 20th!).

Then, I noticed this red truck on the corner of 52nd and 6th in New York: Urban Lobster Shack. With a name like this, there is no question what it is about! They have in fact a brick and mortar restaurant Midtown, as well as one in the Financial District. I spoke with the Chef who told me that they started couple of month ago with the truck. The menu is defined everyday, based on her mood. For instance, the second time I went, I did not see the different dishes made with crab: she was not in the mood for it!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lime Jungle, Mexican Grill in NYC, New York

I love walking on Ninth Avenue in New York City: there are so many restaurants, big or small! That day, we wanted to eat Mexican. Our first choice was Ariba, Ariba! I love this place: they have amazing chimichanga and I had this incredible seafood enchilada loaded with crab and shrimp the last time we went there (it is the Seafood Enchiladas Verdes in the Chef's favorites). Unfortunately, the place was crazy packed and they had no immediate availability. So, that's how we ended up at Lime Jungle. We went there several months ago and liked it, so why not! The restaurant is big, with high ceiling and brick walls. I also like the wooden tables and the used chairs: all of it give a warm and rustic feeling to the place.

That day, the service was very slow, although the place was not that busy! I do not recall that it was like this the last time we went!

We started our dining experience with Guacamole. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Cuban restaurant in Hoboken, NJ

Few weeks ago, I went to The Cuban in Hoboken, NJ. I did not know what to expect as there are already several Cuban restaurants over there. Where La Isla seems to be the authentic cheap establishment, The Cuban seems to be more upscale and offers a contemporary twist to Cuban specialties.

 We decided to go, but not on a week end as this type of restaurant, that is also a lounge, can be packed and noisy: not the best for a romantic diner. They sat us next to the bar, on a high table made of dark wook. Jodi sat on the comfortable leather banquette while I faced her on a high chair (yes guys: leave the choice of the seat to the Lady!). 

The menu provides all sorts of dishes that can satisfy any palate: salads, meat, fish...Appetizers go from $6 to $12, while entrees go from $18 to $26.

At first, they brought us some bread.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Just Want To Eat! One Year Anniversary!

A year ago, on July 9th 2011, was born this blog I Just Want To Eat! This past year has been filled with a lot of food memories, good or bad!

Let me start with the good: amazing meals at Morimoto, Colicchio & Sons, Bin 14, Zylo, Dino & Harry, Molyvos, Taim, Morandi...There are so many, that I cannot list them all!

The bad: Curry in a hurry, sonic, Sol Caribe, Zen palate...

This area offers an amazing food scene and I am grateful that I am able to experience it!

I would like to thank (like in the Oscars) my wonderful wife, Jodi, for supporting me in this food quest, but also all the readers, not only for reading the blog, but also for their encouragements!

So, for the year to come: Enjoy (I will) and remember:

I Just Want To Eat!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

French Restaurant Week starts today!

This is a reminder that French Restaurant Week starts today until July 15th!

More information about French Restaurant Week by clicking here!

Enjoy (I will)!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Afghan Kebab House #1 in NYC, New York

Few weeks ago, we met a lovely couple in a wedding and we ended up (of course) taking about food. They mentioned the Afghan Kebab House as being a good spot to eat some kebab. I love kebab because of the incredible aroma that the spices will give to the meat while cooking.

So we decided to go. We enter in the restaurant; it is dark inside and there is one only guy sitting at a table, waiting for his food. The decor is made of murals and carpets. I noticed immediately that there is no music in the background; the only noise we hear is the one from the construction outside. 

When they give us the menu, I understand from the cover that we are at the Afghan Kebab House Number 1! Yes, there are several in New York City. At the time of writing this post, I count eight of them.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Recipe: Brioche with chocolate chips

Image of Chocolate chip brioche recipe
Brioche is a viennoiserie that is similar to Challah bread, where water is replaced by milk, has more eggs, butter and sugar.

The recipe below is very easy to make! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th Of July! Don't get the Crisp!

Image of Food Trucks in Hoboken, NJ New Jersey
Hoboken is going to be crazy today as it is the best spot to see the Macy's fireworks! Imagine that people already started to setup their spot in the parks along the Hudson river in this heat!

Smartly, the city allowed some food trucks to settle next to the ferry. Considering the number of people who will come in the afternoon and tonight, they will get some good business! The trucks we saw are:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rotondo's Liquor, deli and fine food in Clark, NJ

Image of Rotondo's deli in Rahway, NJ New Jersey
Recently I was in Clark and we decided to have a quick meal. So we went to Rotondo's that is a deli, a liquor and fine food store.

The place is big, but it is not surprising considering what they sell. I only went to the deli side of it and did not look anywhere else as we were in a hurry. The deli offers already made sandwiches, but you can also make your own. They have a pretty large selection that can satisfy any appetite. They also have bagels, already made salads (potato, macaroni...), chips, fruits, cookies...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Laddu recipe

One of my co-workers brought me some laddu for me to try as he knows that I love Indian food (I should say Food!) and sweets. Laddu or Laddoo is a popular sweet in India and South Asia eaten during celebrations or festivals. It is made of little balls (in sanskrit, Laddu means small ball) that are put together, fried and dipped in sugar syrup. The recipe can vary: for the flour, some use Bengal gram, dhal(chickpea), flour ((besan), wheat flour, semolina (suji or rava ), etc...
Image of Laddu Indian recipe
The one he gave me had almonds and raisins in it! It was deliciously sweet with a bit of crunch! Of course, it was smaller than the biggest Laddu in the Guiness World record: 5,570 kg obtained end of 2011 in India (the previous record was held by a temple in England - 551 kg).

Here is the recipe as he gave it to me:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

New York City Restaurant Week - July 16th to August 10th 2012

Celebrating its 20th year, here come New York Restaurant Week!

Imagine that after the French Restaurant Week that will celebrate Bastille Day from July 8th to July 15th, right after, you get the regular Restaurant Week! Isn't this awesome? As usual, reservations can be made on Opentable.com

As usual, you will be able to eat some delicious food (hopefully!) with a 3 course meal for $24.07 for lunch and $35 for dinner. Now, be careful about this because sometimes there are some traps! Let me tell you about some disappointing  experiences:
  • Beacon: awful service and overpriced as the most delicious items required to pay a surcharge. I also picked the wine pairing and the quantity of wine was ridiculous. We ended up with a bill that was far more than what we expected! On top of this, the food was of poor quality: I think a lot of restaurants sacrifice quality when they should serve their best food so diners would come back!
  • Steak Frites: the meat was not good at all! I noticed in several restaurants that when they propose a prix fix or participate to Restaurant Week events, they downgrade the quality of the meat. Last year, I put a steakhouse I love to the test: Dino & Harry (read the post: Restaurant Week - A Steakhouse put to the test!).
The only restaurant where I had a great experience was Fig & Olives! So beware! 

There are over 320 participants this year, including Spice Market, Dos Caminos, Nobu, Tao, One If By Land, Two If By Sea, Blue Water Grill.

Enjoy (I will)!