I was having dinner with friends this week and they asked me if I knew of a place to go. Without hesitation, I chose Chimichurri Grill West in Hell's Kitchen, considering the fantastic feast, prepared by Chef Carlos Darquea, I had the week before at Chimichurri Grill East where I was invited for a blogger/influencer dinner. So yes, my expectations were high and I was not disappointed.
Lots of people are surprised to hear that you can get lunch and dinner at Ladurée, this place being known around the world for its macarons, that I admit are addictive. I was one of them. Well, until a friend of mine went there and told me about his meal, proposing to arrange a reservation as a knows the manager. So, we ended up at their location in Soho last Saturday. We entered in the restaurant and it was like stepping in a French salon de thé.
This week, I was invited to Paname, a French restaurant located Midtown East that I visited few years ago, in another blogger dinner. The place did not change, dominated by its Art Nouveau paintings and mirrors, that give a certain feel to the place.
This week I was invited to Chimichurri Grill East, the outpost of Chimichurri Grill West, located in Hell's Kitchen, opened more than 18 years ago by Chef Carlos Darquea and his wife Alicia Rodriguez, who is the General Manager and Wine Director. There, I had a great time with my fellow bloggers / influencers, tasting an amazing menu that I did not expect and enjoying the company of Chef Carlos who spoke about each dish and wine (yes, each dish was paired with a wine chosen by Alicia and it was not small glasses...).
We recently went to LIC Market, a seasonal restaurant located in Long Island City. It was right after the first day of open studio event in Jodi's building where she showed some amazing work. I really like this place, not only because of the delicious food, but also because it has this neighborhood feel: yes, the kind of place you would want near you. With its rustic decor and a covered patio in the back, LIC Market prints its menu on a daily basis, offering a large number of dishes that are perfect for sharing.
Alright: I admit that when I reserved a table at Davio’s, I knew it was an Italian Steakhouse but thought it was another spot that I saw previously, wandering around...Well, that was a happy mistake: Davio’s is a great spot if you want a delicious steak in a nice setting. The service, although a bit slow was good and at least I could see my food...I also appreciated the noise level that allowed us to have a nice conversation; well, until the table next to us came...I mean you just needed one loud guy to spoil a bit the whole thing: it drives me crazy!
Our friend Ciara's brother was visiting so they proposed to go to Vatan, a well known Indian restaurant in Murray Hill that serves an all-you-can-eat vegetarian menu. I had Vatan on my list for a long time and it did not take too much time for us to accept such a nice invite.
I was craving Italian food and decided to go to Bocca di Bacco in Hell’s Kitchen, a restaurant I had on my list for a while. I admit that that I did not know what to expect and had a wonderful time with my wife Jodi and my nephew Valentin.
I recently went to an event at Capital Grille in the Chrysler Center, near Grand Central and admit that I was blown away. Usually, when you go to a luncheon or dinner like this, you get a prix-fixe, like that time, and the food is good but not outstanding, similar to what you often get when eating in a place for Restaurant Week. In fact, I tested one of my favorite steakhouses few years ago for Restaurant Week and was so disappointed: the meat served was definitely of a lower quality. So, my expectations for The Capital Grille were low.
We were in Long Island City to check out Jodi’s new studio when we stumbled upon John Brown Smokehouse, a restaurant serving Kansas City style barbecue. In fact when you arrive in the vicinity of this place, you start smelling the smoker that is probably functioning all the time, a smell getting even stronger as you enter in the restaurant. I admit that I was expecting a much smaller place, not realizing that they also have a terrace in the back.
We recently went to Riverhead for a wedding and ended up eating at Bistro 72, a restaurant a serving farm to table menu located in the Indigo Hotel. First I should mention that the access is better by car than walking...I know: we made the mistake on our way, as true New Yorkers, but not on the way back to the hotel! Secondly, as soon as you enter the restaurant, you get the feel that it is in a hotel, from the decor to the atmosphere. But you know what, the food there was quite good!
It has been so long since I have been to Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant located closed to the heart of Times Square. So, as we were looking for a place to eat on Columbus Day, and craving a good couscous (the dish, not just the semolina), we booked a table.
We wanted to eat a pizza with my nephew Valentin and decided to go back to Don Giovanni in Hell’s Kitchen. The last time we went there was last December and had some good pizza, so, why not going back? The place was not crowded and, this time, the weather permitting, we decided to eat outside.
Located in the posh Bryant Park Hotel, Koi is not unknown to me, having discovered that place in another location few years ago for Restaurant Week. But the place in Bryant Park blew me away: beautiful, modern and with a lounge-y feel, it has a very cool atmosphere, without being scene-y.
Located a few steps from Penn Station and The Madison Square Garden, The Statler Grill is one of these steakhouses that has some history. As they wrote on their website:
"The Statler Grill harkens back to the golden age of the big band era, and is named after Ellsworth Statler, who ran the Hotel Pennsylvania from 1919 to 1954, when musicians such as Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie and Glenn Miller played at the Café Rouge, the hotel’s main dining room".
More casual than the Great Kabab Factory in the Radisson Blu, Noida, is Pirates of Grill at The Mall of India. Same concept there: an all you can eat joint serving delicious kebabs that are just...the appetizers! Yes, you need to remember that part because there is so much food that when people hint about the entrees, you are wondering what they are talking about, lamenting about the fact that you should have worn stretch pants...
Soda Bottle Opener Wala is a fantastic Irani Cafe located in The Mall of India, in Noida. It was recommended by one of my colleagues and I have to admit that I was not sure what to expect. The food there was amazing: different, tasty and delicious, in a relaxed atmosphere.
Located on the second floor of the Cyber Hub in Gurgaon, Soi 7 is a pub and brewery that serves Asian fare. Yes, it is a brewery and you can see the beer fermenters from the dining room that definitely have a nice pub feel, as well as a rooftop where the most surprising part is the boxing ring, not used for the purpose of kicking the bottom of the customers who try to leave without paying, but as entertainment.
I cannot imagine what it is to have a peanut allergy and not being sure how food is made when you are traveling. One of my colleagues has one and eating in India can be challenging, a lot of dishes containing some sort of nuts. So, he was glad to find Jamie’s Pizzeria at The Ambience Mall in Gurgaon near Delhi. He talked so much about this place that I decided to try it. Little did I know that it was a restaurant from celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver. Located on the third floor of this giant mall (7 miles of stores), this is a nice little place where they cook pizza on a stone.
Dons Bogam is not unknown to me as I discovered this place 4 years ago, looking for a restaurant for lunch on Christmas Day, before seeing The Hobbit. So, I was excited when I got invited to their new location Dons Bogam Black, also located Midtown. I guess the "Black" from the name is similar to what you get with an American Express Black card: upscale Korean food, but fortunately without outrageous prices that would make you wish you had that coveted credit card...
We were looking for a brunch place near Herald Square on OpenTable and reserved a table at an Italian restaurant called L'Amico, realizing only when we were there that we knew this place. Well kind of: we passed so many times In front of it, thinking that we should go check it out one day. I did not know at the time or more did not pay attention to their sign, that this is another restaurant of French Chef Laurent Tourondel who gave us BLT Prime or BLT Steak. This is a nice place, with an elegant rustic feel.
Few weeks ago, we discovered a small Thai place near the MeatPacking District called Pad Thai Noodle Lounge, a restaurant with a nice decor and definitely a lounge-y feel with its dimmed lights and music. With its nice decor, it boasts an interesting menu where classic curry are present, as well as a nice selection of noodles that you would probably find in any other Thai places, except that they are highlighted not only on the menu it also in the name of the restaurant.
After we went to Le Relais de Venise for lunch (great steak frites there), we decided to have some frozen yogurt at Culture An American Yogurt Company in the West Village. This small joint manufactures its own yogurt and frozen yogurt, with no preservatives or additives, right in the back where you can see the large tanks. And when they are making yogurt, the light is on...
It's been a while since we went to Green Rock Tap & Grill, one of the first restaurants we tried in Hoboken, raving about their burgers made with English muffins rather than buns. It a cool place, like your old-school bar where dark wood is omnipresent. Conveniently located few steps from the path train, we just needed to find a day when no game would be playing, enjoying the quiet time of a place that can become crazy.
I recently discovered Osteria Al Doge, a restaurant serving Venetian fare near Times Square. I am always a bit wary when eating in that area, lots of restaurants counting more on foot traffic than really returning customers; but, at Osteria Al Doge, not only was the food good, but the service was on point.
Recently, we went to Williamsburg to see the exhibit of one of Jodi's friends, Marco, and, as usual, I was in charge of finding a spot to eat. I had two in mind, a primary choice, Pies'n Thighs, and a backup, The Rabbithole. The former was full with a long line in front of the door, line that I was not ready to face. That's how we ended up at The Rabbithole, and I have to say that I am pretty happy about that!
It's been a while since I went to Empire Steakhouse and definitely never been to their new location attached to the Hilton Hotel Midtown. I went there on a Thursday for dinner, eager to eat some good steak that is aged for a month. I love steak (my favorite cut being the ribeye) and was expecting the kind of meal that makes you regret not wearing stretch pants...
It's been a while since I wanted to try Estiatorio Milos, the upscale restaurant of Executive Chef Costas Spiliadis, that has locations not only in New York, but also Montreal, Miami, Las Vegas or Athens. And I was not disappointed by this place specialized in fresh seafood. I could say that it is a beautiful place, but it would be in reference only of their downstairs dining room as they were undergoing renovations and their main dining room was therefore closed.
Every year seems to bring its new ice cream sensation, as if people get bored with classic ice creams and are looking for something spectacular. Move over Blacktap Burger (that I did not like, preferring Birch in Hoboken) or Eggloo (still part of the craze though): Taiyaki is the new thing. Named after the fish shaped cakes that replace the traditional cone, Taiyaki served some interesting combination, the star being the cake, but also they soft served ice cream that they make in small batches to preserve the quality.
We were looking for a nice brunch place with my brother and nephew close to their hotel Midtown and settled for The Smith, the trendy American Bistro that has fed hungry crowds since 2007. I love their philosophy translated in their name and described on their website:
Smith [smiTH] noun 1. A maker skilled in creating something. Cooksmith, Barsmith, Blacksmith, Locksmith
When people visit from Europe, I always suggest to go for steaks, a suggestion rarely discarded unless people are vegetarian or...told all steaks in the US are full of hormones! So, as we had to plan a dinner with my brother and nephew, I was looking for a steakhouse with a great setting and decided to go to Michael Jordan's Steakhouse in Grand Central Station, combining the eating with sightseeing.