There is a new Italian restaurant Uptown Hoboken, replacing Las Olas, the Asian fusion restaurant that I will always remember for its delicious wings. Yes, Apulia just opened and I was hoping to see something different considering the number of Italian places in Hoboken, the latest being Zero Otto Uno few months ago. The owners, Franco (originally from Apulia in Italy) and his nephew Frank completely gutted the place that is awkwardly in a U shape, giving more space at the entrance, with a dining room dominated by their wood fire oven. Service was courteous but the noise level was a bit too much for me, the music being too loud.
This post is a catch all for the various treats we had in DC and the last post in fact for that trip. Yes, besides the amazing food we had there, we also had cupcakes, gelato, cookies and milk...shake. Here it is:
Located in the lower level of Pinea, the restaurant of the W hotel near the White House, Root Cellar Whiskey Bar is like a hidden gem. No really, truly hidden and you definitely need to know it is there. This place boasts a large selection of whiskey from all over the world.
As Jodi loves pizza, I looked up for a place close to the National Portait Gallery in DC and stumbled upon Pi Pizzeria, à joint known for its St Louis style cornmeal crust that is said to be President Obama’s favorite pizza. Apparently, while in St Louis, campaigning for the election, President Obama asked one of his staffers to bring him pizza. That is how Pi Pizza ended up on his lap or should I say in his stomach.
I could have passed in front of Kinship without even noticing the one Michelin Star restaurant of Chef Eric Ziebold and partner Célia Laurent. Inconspicuous from the outside and undeniably delicious from the inside, it is like a secret gem that is not anymore secret considering how crowded the place was on a Sunday night. We arrived 5 minutes earlier than our reservation and they sat us in their waiting area with a fireplace that was welcome considering that for our last day in Washington DC, the temperature dropped.
If I were vegetarian I would for sure want to eat regularly at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw in DC. Well maybe I should more say, as a non-vegetarian, if I wanted a vegetarian meal, I would for sure want to eat at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw. This raw-vegan place is simply unique, elevating vegan food to fine dining like I never experienced before. And although there is no doubt that I love meat, I left this place as excited as if I just had the best steak of my life (I did in fact in Japan but it is another story).
We went to Zaytinya so long ago that we were really looking forward to having brunch at this Mediterranean tapas restaurant from Chef José Andrés. After our great experience at Jaleo, we were sure we would not be disappointed. And we were not. Meaning “olive oil” in Turkish, Zaytinya proposes a wide array of small plates with a large selection of vegetarian dishes.
Meaning “fuss” in Spanish, Jaleo is a Spanish tapas restaurant of acclaimed Chef José Andrés that I discovered few years ago on Top Chef and while dining in its other DC restaurant, Zaytinya that we also visited during our trip to the capital. Jaleo is a little jewel, with an incredible menu that can be a bit overwhelming, having many choices to pick for the vegetarians and carnivores. But do not think you can just show up on a Friday night for dinner: reservation is highly recommended.
On our trip to Washington DC, we ditched the breakfast at the hotel that are always overpriced and decided to go to Paul, a French bakery that is our go to breakfast spot when we visit my family in France. There is none in New York so I could not miss trying it in DC. Unfortunately, it was still closed 15 minutes after opening time and we changed our plan for Maison Kayser a couple of blocks away.
It has been too long we went to Parm and had an occasion recently to go back being in their neighborhood. Parm is a sort of old school Italian that serves some amazing dishes. Must have is their baked ziti that take 15 minutes to get ready. On its own, this dish is superb, but what makes it even better, besides the fact that it has tons of cheese and a delicious tomato sauce, is that they fry the sides in a pan, giving a nice crispness to it.
It’s been a while we wanted to try La Bergamote in Chelsea, passing by many times, but thinking that it was a small place that served pastries, until we looked for a brunch place and stumbled upon it on Opentable. I had no idea that they have a small dining room in the back.
Sometimes, when I see restaurants opening in Hoboken, I am wondering if the owners did some research before and it is sad to see some of them closing after only few months. But, when we learned that a Persian restaurant would open on Washington street, we thought it was very smart: there is no such restaurant in Hoboken. So we were looking forward for Seven Valleys to open. Know that The Seven Valleys is a book written in Persian by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í faith, that is the faith from the owner, Dale Ryan, who also owns Bwé on the next block.
Sometimes I get so excited to try a restaurant that I may forget that the reservation is not for that day, but a week later. So, when we arrived at Vandal on a Friday evening and saw the restaurant closed for a private party, I was a bit surprised and upset, thinking that they probably have tables in their lounge or somewhere to accommodate our reservation. But when the hostesses looked at me as if I had three heads, I realized that I was one week early...We’ll, it was not so bad as we finally ended up at The Musket Room that day and came back a week after to check out the food at Vandal.
Tucked on the side of Union Square Park and hidden by the farmers’ market is Bocce, an Italian restaurant that takes its name from the talion ball game inspired from the french boules (pétanque) and the British bowls. They even have a small bocce court on the side by the way if you want to play while waiting for your food to come. So I never really noticed it until we passed in front of it at night, as we heard music and patrons having dinner there. So, few days later, as we had to be in the area, we decided to try their brunch. Light brunch as we had a big dinner that day.
Le Privé is a new French restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen that replaced Hallo German, going from one European country to another but elevating quite a bit the dinning experience from beer and sausage to wine and escargots. Opened few months ago, we decided to try it as we were dining with Jodi’s cousins.
Not that busy for a Thursday evening, I like the Victorian-era space that has a nice feel, relaxed, with a very good service during the whole meal. Food wise, we in for a treat, each dish I tried being quite good. Here is what we had:
What do you do when you become vegan and crave French food? I am not talking about me but of Christophe Caron, the owner of Delice & Sarrasin, a French vegan restaurant in the west Village. French and vegan is a bizarre association, French cuisine being known for using lots of butter and cream, as well as meat, poultry or fish. So, if you want to eat a boeuf bourguignon or a cassoulet, you might be out of luck. Well, not anymore with Delice & Sarrasin: they offer a menu that can satisfy a carnivore like me. See for yourself what we tried in the two times we went there...within three weeks.
Last week, I got invited to The Freckled Moose in Astoria, a restaurant that opened last July and whose name comes from a Northern saying: “In the contest of moose vs car, the moose will always win.” and was also one of the nicknames of the owner, Peter Lyman. I got to talk a bit with Peter who has an interesting background, growing up in Massachusetts and learning skills of a chef on the job. The menu is his creation, inspired by his childhood.
There is a new Italian Bakery in town: Dolce & Salato. I never hid the fact that I was not impressed by Carlo’s Bakery that, for me, gained success thanks to its TV show, The Cake Boss, rather than to its pastries. No, for me, the best Italian Bakery is Giorgio’s Uptown Hoboken. Old school, it is consistently good. So I was curious to try Dolce & Salato, located on Grand Street. Result of the passion for Italy from Maurizio Dolce, Michael Nirchio and Brian Mazzei, it proposed not just pastries, but also various Italian products like cheese (not just Italian by the way:
As Jodi has her art studio in Long Island City, we thought it would be a good idea to explore the neighborhood a bit to see what it has to offer and I have to say that there are quite a lot of places there that are worth trying. The latest? Cyclo, a casual Vietnamese restaurant.
Last week, I was invited at Fedora, a restaurant in the West Village to celebrate the 100 years of Kaukauna cheese, a company making spreadable cheese. Kaukauna is a city in Wisconsin, approximately 100 miles North of Milwaukee, where the founder, Hubert Fassbender, created a distributing company, which soon became known as South Kaukauna Dairy and eventually Kaukauna Cheese.
Last week, I was invited by the Sinanaj Brothers to their outpost of Empire Steakhouse Midtown East, attached to the Kimberly Hotel. That place is impressive: it used to be an Opera house before becoming a club called Versaillles where Edith Piaf, represented in a large painting in the main dining room, performed. Smartly, they kept the spirit of it, setting this place apart from the traditional wood, leather and low light steakhouses.
I heard for so long about The Musket Room that, in my quest of going to each and every Michelin Star restaurants in the city, I recently stopped by this place that celebrates New Zealand’s cuisine, a cuisine that Chef Matt Lambert, a native of New Zealand, masters perfectly, crafting a menu that is an incredible experience for the eyes and for the taste buds. The place itself has a rustic feel and warmth that can only be disturbed by loud diners who can make the experience painful...
Habanero Blues is no more and has been replaced two weeks ago by American Hall, a beer and arcade joint that can fit up to 600 guests. With the same owners and Chef, American Hall is all about comfort food, beer and fun with its large play room downstairs where people can play darts, pool, foosball or other arcade games for a low price while enjoying some drinks.
A while back, I published a recipe of vegetarian chili, made with tofu. Since then, I discovered a meatless product at Trader Joe’s (I am not paid for this nor was I asked by this company to promote their product!) that really looks like ground beef and has the same texture, but is made with soy.
It’s been a while since we wanted to go to Saxon+Parole to try their burgers. Especially their vegetarian burger that is called the “impossible burger”, a plant based patty supposed to taste like meat. Are we there in the future? I do not know but I have seen more and more places proposing the beef like patty from Impossible Foods. The secret? Well still a secret but they provide some clues on how they can come close to meat, per their website:
Ratatouille is a Provencal dish that originated in Nice, in the South of France. Needless to say that this dish became popular after the Disney movie of the same name and it is now not uncommon to see it on menus in New York. Comforting, this is the kind of dish where every family has its own recipe. Some cook the vegetables separately. others together. Even the way the vegetables are cut can differ, some preferring them grossly cut and others, like myself, small. Know that it has to cook for a long time and you will surely get a fantastic smell in your apartment.
We were in Harlem for an event when we saw Sexy Taco Dirty Cash. Those who think that it is a Mexican version of Hooters, you will be disappointed. No, it is just a restaurant with an interesting menu. Corails for instance have creative names that fit the theme: Thai me up (with Thai tea - my first choice, but unfortunately they ran out of Thai tea), Dirty Ole’Man (my second choice, but again, they did not have one of the ingredients) or the Victors Secret. As I was set finally on having a drink with Scotch, I settled for the Penicilin #3. Quite good, it was made with lemon and yuzu that gave a refreshing citrusy taste.
What you need to know about me is that when I am walking in the street, my head is like a radar looking around for restaurants and I often stop to simply look at the menu, even if I already ate...What I saw when we passed next to Cata on the Lower East Side was their dining room that was open. Not the menu. That was enough for me to grab my smartphone to check the menu there as, this time, we were looking for a place for dinner. Contemporary tapas ? Why not. We had an early lunch so were fine for an early dinner and we just waited for them to open, thinking that on top of that it would be quiet.
Going to Junoon for dinner, we passed in front of Tappo and, as Jodi loves pizza, we decided to go there for lunch the next day. So here we are, on a Saturday for lunch, arriving at the moment they opened. We sat outside, enjoying the nice weather and gave our order. Then we waited, waited and waited. As they saw we started being impatient, they advised us that they gave priority to a delivery of 25 pies. Not very professional as they knew when we ordered that they had this order and should have told us that they had to take care of that, and so our pizza would be delayed. No, it was as if they were annoyed by our impatience.
If like me you love chicken wings, you need to try Anchor Bar on 57th street: this is the outpost of the original restaurant located in Buffalo, credited with the creation of the Buffalo chicken wings in the 1960s. At that time, wings were used in soups or thrown away; owner Teressa Bellissimo got the idea to deep fry them and smother them in Frank’s Red Hot sauce, serving them with blue cheese sauce. Incredibly, they were served for free at the counter, before becoming an icon of American Bar food. My first encounter with Buffalo wings was in New York when I moved here as I only tried chicken wings in Paris at...Pizza Hut!
When you think that Mighty Quinn’s started as a cart in Smorgasburg in Brooklyn and now they have two locations in the city, the latest being few steps from Times Square. The one in the East Village is always crowded but not this new one that opened several months ago but does not seem to have gotten enough attention from the BBQ crowd or the tourists...That worked for us a we going with our friends Amy and Caleb on a Thursday evening and arrived a bit early to make sure we would have a spot for the four of us.
I cannot believe I missed The Marshall for so many years, this place having been opened since 2013. It is probably because I often went for dinner in Hell’s Kitchen on 9th Avenue and started to go on 10th more and more this year, discovering true gems there. And The Marshall is one of them. Imagine: we went there for brunch on a Saturday and returned the following Tuesday to try their dinner. That is telling!
I love chicken: fried, pan seared, rotisserie, you name it. I discovered fried chicken in the US many years ago in a Southern cuisine restaurant and was blown away. Well, it has to be good: crispy with the chicken perfectly cooked and moist. The coating should also not overpower the taste of the chicken by having too much seasoning and I like when it is slightly greasy. So I was excited to try the second location of Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken that opened few months ago in Hell’s Kitchen and the cafeteria style joint lived up to my expectations.
Some consider Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint the best pizza in New York and, considering the line in front of it on a Saturday at 5pm, they are not just a few! Jodi tried to go last Tuesday with her friends but it was difficult to get a table so they ended up in a different pizza joint. So we decided to try, last Saturday, thinking that at 5pm, when they open, there would probably not be that many people, the crowd probably enjoying some happy hour elsewhere. We were wrong: we arrived at 5:05pm and there was a line outside.
I finally made it to Union Square Café, the first restaurant of acclaimed chef and entrepreneur Danny Meyer that reopened in a new location. I am glad it did as I was stunned by the news that it would close. I love the concept that Danny Meyer apparently tried to instill when opening it to make it successful: focus on customer satisfaction that is something I experienced in most of his fine dining restaurants, like Gramercy Tavern or The Modern (I still rave about this place), but also in more casual, like Marta. And I think that the non-tipping part of it is a great idea, allowing everyone in the staff to share the tip, sharing that is otherwise not permitted by law if I remember well.
I recently went to Blondie Sports on the Upper West Side with one of my colleagues, Michael, who loves chicken wings and recommended the place. I know the area, having gone to the restaurant next door, Burke & Willis, an Australian joint that serves a delicious kangaroo burger.
Blondie Sports Bar is your typical bar with one one side the bar and then a quite dark dining room with multiple screens where people can watch games. I am sure that it is crazy at that point and was glad we went on an off night.
Opened in 2016, Le Coq Rico is the outpost in New York City of the restaurant of the same name in Paris from acclaimed Chef Antoine Westermann. Originally from Alsace in the east of France, Chef Westermann maintained a 3 Michelin Star rating in his restaurant Le Buerehiesel for 31 years until asking the Michelin Guide to remove them, a quite incredible move for a Chef. The name Le Coq Rico is a play on cocorico, the French version of Cock-a-doodle-doo (yes, roosters speak French too!) and is, in the US, a tribute to American farmers and local terroir.
When Matt & Meera closed few months ago, I was heartbroken: I loved this place and we tried most of their menu, my favorite being the wings, the lamb kati roll, the dal tadka and the old Delhi butter chicken. But, to my surprise, it was just a revamp of the restaurant and Chef Hari Nayak came back with Soul Curry, an innovative Indian restaurant that definitely stands out. New decor and new menu, we already went twice since they opened less than 3 weeks ago and trust me: we will be back! I love the decor with the beautiful painting that dominates the dining room and the exposed brick that gives a nice warmth to this place.
We recently went to Greenwich Steakhouse, where Chef Victor Chavez, an alumni of Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse, serves various cuts in a modern setting far from your classic Steakhouse. I admit that I am not that impressed by the Smith & Wollensky reference as I never liked that place, having tried it few times for lunch or dinner: poor service and just ok overpriced food coming into mind. But hey, it does not mean that the same would reflect at Greenwich Steakhouse. In fact, the service was courteous and efficient. As far as the food was concerned, it unfortunately did not deliver for me: the steak was not what I expected and the dessert not good. At least I got a good cocktail, The Johnny Prime, made with vanilla infused whiskey, cynar, ruby, port, and mole butters. I should mention that this cocktail is named after a fellow blogger whose blog is mainly about steaks (check it out here).
As we got married on a 8th, we always go out that day and so I decided to find a pizza place as Jodi loves pizza. That is how we ended up at PN Wood Fired Pizza in Chelsea. This is not your classic pizza place: I guess they call themselves the “black Sheep” or Pecore Nere (PN) in Italian because they make pizza a bit differently. They put pride in saying that they do not break the rules, they make them. Considering how good the food was, I have no problem with that!
Corner Bistro, the famous so called “bohemian” pub has a new location in Long Island City. It was not our first target there, going for some Vietnamese food, but, when we saw it, we could not resist. Opened in 1961 in the West Village, this place serves an amazing burger that some have named the best in New York. Yes, it is good for sure: the 8oz patty is tasty and juicy, sitting on a slice of onion that will enhance a bit the flavor of the meat, and squeezed between two pieces of a potato bun that seem too small to hold everything (especially when you put ketchup on it), making the experience delightfully messy.
I finally made it to Stingray Lounge in Hoboken: I waited for Jodi to have plan for dinner to go, not because I did not want to go with her, but more because of you are vegetarian, this is not really the right place for you. Unless you like cheese...I am sure though that if you ask nicely, the chef will prepare a salad or something you can eat so you do not spend your evening staring at your partner or friends enjoying their seafood.
Fusion food is always interesting, not just when people experiment but more when it is part of a culture. So I was curious to try Calle Daõ, a Cuban-Chinese restaurant located close to Bryant Park. It was not my first meal of this sort, having dined in the past few times at La Caridad on the Upper West Side, a much more casual place. I liked the food there, that I found quite creative, but the dimmed lights and loud music spoiled a bit the meal. So if like me you like to see your food and a quieter setting, I suggest you either go for lunch (hopefully quieter) or sit close to the door, on the few tables next to the windows...
Serving an all-you-can-eat vegetarian menu inspired from Gujarati cuisine, Vatan is the kind of restaurants that a non-vegetarian person like me would rave about: the food that they serve there is so good and full of flavor that you will forget you are having a vegetarian dinner. I love the concept: for $34 you get a full meal: an appetizer thali (slightly spicy), an entree thali (you can choose between mild, medium and hot) with its sides and desserts. As it is all you can eat, they ask you if you'd like more but trust me: it is so filling that you will not order as much as you think!
The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City is a great place to learn: it has an amazing setup and their planetarium is awesome. So we were excited when I got an invite for their evening event, LSC After Dark, that takes place every third Thursdays of the month: Grossology - The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body, where you can climb in various parts of the human body (you can see the inside of the nose) or play games that reveal the secrets of boogers, vomit, odors, and more. Yes, it is gross but at the end of the day, it is what we are and be honest: this type of stuff makes people laugh..I have to say it was entertaining as well as educational and I enjoyed it!
Boasting 13 locations across the US, Hot’n Juicy Crawfish serves seafood creole and Cajun style. Yes, seafood and mainly seafood. If you do not like it or are allergic, unless you are ready to eat corn, rice and potatoes, this place is not for you. But if you like crab, crawfish, shrimp or lobster, it is a fun experience. Notice the way I put it and understand that when I say a “fun experience” it means that I personally would not go often there, prices being high considering what ends up in your belly once you eliminate the shells that make up most of the weight of the food you order.
I love diners: they represent something I associated with the US during my childhood as I watched a lot of American series where there would be a scene at a booth, as characters were enjoying milkshakes (introduced in France by MacDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s) or burgers (well also introduced by fast food chains although when a kid I did not like ground meat and always settled for a filet’o fish...). So I was excited to try Big Daddy’s Diner near Union Square: the neon and walls covered with American TV series names, singers, etc, giving a particular feel to the place.
After our incredible meal at Daniel, the eponymous restaurant of acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud, we were looking forward to dining at Café Boulud, located at The Surrey Hotel on the Upper East Side. Boasting one Michelin Star, Café Boulud celebrates 20 years of existence in what used to be Daniel’s original location and is a nod to the Chef’s family run restaurant in Lyon (just so you know, Lyon is considered the capital of French gastronomy, although I am sure some people would disagree). The menu, prepared by Chef Aaron Bludorn, is very interesting, declined in four sections:
Last Tuesday, I was invited at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem for the launch of the Bazodee line of sauces, a set of Caribbean sauces from Mavis Foods, LLC. I love the story of this company: it all started with Ms. Mavis Davis, the daughter of a family of 12 children who has been cooking since she was 13 years old, complaining about the family not cooking and losing the legacy of the Caribbean and Venezuelan dishes carried from one generation to the other. That is how Bazodee, that means crazy, head over heels in love in Trinidad and Tobago, started.
I recently went to Ikinari Steak, the Japanese chain with few locations in New York where steaks are cut to order and customers are supposed to eat standing. For the latter, if you go to the location midtown, you will be properly seated. However, it is true that they cut the meat to order, with limited choices: ribeye, filet, sirloin and a cut I never heard about called wild steak that the waitress was not able to explain.
With a name signifying “passion”, there is added pressure for Junoon to deliver elegant contemporary Indian cuisine. Since opening in 2010, Junoon has been awarded a Michelin Star. Yes, 7 years: not a small accomplishment for a cuisine that is sometimes misunderstood. It has been a while since we wanted to go, but the list of restaurants on my list being what it is, it was often postponed: I regret it. The food crafted by Executive Chef Akshay Bardhwaj being superb, creative and beautifully plated. It is served in a nice atmosphere where the only negative is the light: it is so dimmed you cannot eat with your eyes.
Last Sunday, I ventured to Rego Park were I was invited to try a kosher Uzbeki and Middle Eastern restaurant: U Yuri Fergana. It means “Yuri from Fergana”, Fergana being the city from Uzbekistan from where Yuri Moshev and his wife Myra are from. Myra is the chef: she has been cooking since she is 15 back there and serves some of her grandmother’s recipes for the pleasure of their patrons. You would ask me probably what makes this place so unique, the city having many Uzbeki restaurants? Well, Yuri and Myra own their own livestock that they raise organically. At least they know where the meat comes from.
Back in May, I got an opportunity to dine at Nusr-Et Steakhouse, the restaurant from Chef Nusret Gökçe aka Saltbae, a social media sensation known from the way he cuts meat and even more famous, his signature move when putting salt. I knew he was there thanks to Instagram, and, as I was having lunch with a colleague, I proposed to go there for their lunch special where, for $27 you get a burger with fries, a soda and a slice of baklava. And of course, I got to witness the Chef do his show at the table next to us.
Chat’n Chew is not unknown to me as I went there many years ago, before they closed, back in 2014, and reopened few months ago where City Crab Shack used to be. I remember that at the time, I was not that impressed by this place that serves comfort food, having wings and Mac & cheese that I thought were subpar (yes, I usually remember what I ate in restaurants, even if years ago, but may not remember your name...). So we decided to check it out after an exhibit organized by the New York Academy of Art, where Jodi had 4 paintings. It was not our first choice to be honest, but the few restaurants we entered in on that Tuesday evening were way too loud, blasting music.
Gabriel Kreuther, the eponymous restaurant from Jean-Georges and The Modern Alum Chef is another example of how fine dining continues to thrive in New York. There, Executive Chef Kreuther and his team craft a luxurious menu with the Chef’s Alsatian influence. The prix-fixe menu offers mouth watering dishes where you can choose between 4, 6 or 9 courses. We chose the former that was enough, especially when considering the amuse that were served or the three variety of breads that accompanied the meal, a different kind after each course:
We have known Luca Brasi’s in Hoboken for many years but only ordered there and never went to their restaurant, until our lunch on July 4th. We wanted to try a new location on Washington street that serves sandwiches but it was closed for the holiday. So we looked around and as we wanted sandwiches, we ended up at Luca Brasi’s. This small Italian place takes its name from the fictional character of The Godfather. So, no wonder why they decorated the place with black and white photos of gangsters, fictional or not and, funny enough, they have a Luca Brasi sandwich made with tuna, a nod to the movie where the enforcer is killed and thrown into a body of water, “sleeping with the fishes”.
We often crave Italian food and were looking for a nice place for a Friday night, looking at the list of Michelin star restaurants in the city. That is how we ended up at La Sirena. When reserving the table, I chose the dining room instead of the bar room: it was a bit of a mistake in a way. Yes it was quiet, but I thought that the bar room had more character, the dining room being a bit...boring.