For her birthday, Jodi wanted to eat Mexican food, but only in a restaurant that makes guacamole. You may find it obvious that a Mexican restaurant would serve guacamole as an appetizer, but in fact, one of my colleagues suggested a place few months ago, but we did not go simply because there was no guacamole. So she picked Rosa Mexicano, the popular elegant Mexican chain where I had dinner few weeks ago. The food was good, but I admit that the poor service wrecked a bit the evening. You know, I like to spend some time with my wife sharing a meal, but it has to be on my own terms.
Opened last February, Ruumy's Tavern is the last venture of restauranteur Mike Kocak who also owns Akdeniz, a Mediterranean restaurant located Midtown West (Ruumy is the nickname of one of his relatives). There, Executive Chef Matthew Sadownick, who worked at Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe, crafted an interesting menu that he calls comfort food, made of small dishes as well as large ones. This is the interesting thing: we had a debate with the Chef and my fellow bloggers who were present at the dinner about what comfort food is as they disagreed with the concept.
We were walking around while waiting for our reservation for brunch at Talde in Jersey City, few blocks from the Grove St path train, when we stumbled upon Torico, an homemade ice cream parlor. It did not take long for us to decide to go back there after lunch for dessert, the weather being perfect for it.
For my birthday, I proposed to go to Butcher & Banker, a Steakhouse that opened several months ago that I really wanted to try. Located in the New Yorker Hotel, few blocks from Penn Station and The Madison Square Garden, it used to House the Manufacturers Trust Company and they smartly kept the vault, transforming it into a dining room. I like the place because it has its charm and is not your typical steakhouse. No dark colors or leather, but lots of red, and, in the main dining room, an amazing chandelier. But, what you cannot miss are the two black and white portraits that have a strange presence in the room.
Few years ago, we went to Talde, the eponymous restaurant of Top Chef alum Dale Talde, in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I totally forgot that he opened a second location in Jersey City and we simply stumbled upon it while going to a brunch place. Well, we decided to change plans, persuaded that we would have a great experience there. And we were not disappointed. This is a big place and we were definitely early, the restaurant being empty, quiet so we could enjoy our brunch. But when we passed by a bit later, it was quite busy.
I finally made it to Nusr-Et Steakhouse, the NYC outpost of Chef Nusret Gökçe aka Saltbae, a social media sensation known from the way he cuts meat (he is a trained butcher) and put salt on dishes, falling on his forearm. When it opened several weeks ago, the reviews were not that good: expensive (they do not even serve tap water!) and not good, with some sanitary concerns that could have violated the health code (you should not touch the meat with your bare hands once cooked; Salbae is now wearing gloves). But I admit that, when I went, I found the food excellent, although still expensive, and the evening quite entertaining, each dish being kind of a show.
It is undeniable that Le Cirque and the Maccioni family are icons in the New York restaurant business and as soon as I knew that they opened a location in Delhi, I had that place in mind. I was recently in the Indian capital and we tried to book a table at this renowned Italian restaurant on a Sunday night. Unfortunately, it was full, a party of 70 hungry Italians having booked the place. Fortunately, thanks to Mauro Maccioni, one of the sons of Sirio Maccioni, the patriarch of the family, who I met a couple of times at Circo (Mauro, not Sirio - maybe one day!), I was able to get a reservation, my friends not believing that it happened.
It’s been a while since we wanted to try Aureole, located close to Bryant Park. When making the reservation, they asked if we wanted to dine in the casual or formal dining room, where a tasting menu was served. We went for the latter and did not regret it. The food and service at this acclaimed Charlie Palmer’s restaurant were impeccable and they accommodated Jodi with a vegetarian menu that was definitely not an afterthought.
Hoboken has a new Moroccan and French restaurant that opened uptown on Park. Barbés is not totally unknown to me as it used to be in New York but unfortunately closed. Taking its name from the neighborhood below Montmartre, the restaurant serves more Moroccan dishes than French ones, if not for the duck, served confit as an appetizer or as a magret (duck breast) as an entree, or the steak au poivre. No, definitely I wanted to go there to try the Moroccan dishes, especially Tagines and couscous as there are not that many restaurants serving great ones.
Located next to the Museum of Modern Art aka MOMA, The Modern is one of the restaurants of acclaimed Chef Danny Meyer from Marta, or more popular...Shake Shack. What a difference between the latter and The Modern, where we had a fantastic meal! We decided to go to the formal dining room that had an exclusive view on the garden inside the museum, a room with a very high ceiling and huge windows that gave lots of light to that beautiful room. It was definitely in contrast with the more casual room that was next to the bar, dimmer and noisier.
We were looking for a brunch place near Union Square, when we stumbled upon Bowery Road, an American restaurant located in the Hyatt, where Chef Ron Rosselli serves farm-to-table dishes composed with products sourced at the Union Square Green Market close by. I like that the place is quite spacious with very high ceilings and the omnipresence of wood underlying the theme of the restaurant.
Meaning "Tide" in Italian, Marea is the restaurant of Chef Michael White who succeeded to get two restaurants with Michelin Stars: Marea and Ai Fiori. With its two stars, Marea is a fantastic experience, from the food to the service, focusing mainly on seafood, not surprising considering its name. If you are vegetarian, they are couple of dishes, and it is the sort of establishment that will accommodate without any problem to create vegetarian dishes on the fly (well, I am sure they have couple already created just in case).
I did not realize that Marta was part of the Union Square Hospitality Group founded by Danny Meyer, but got a hunch when the waiter told us, after handing us the menu, that it was a non tipping restaurant, a concept that Chef Meyer introduced after noticing the disparities in compensation between the front and back of a house of a restaurant, the law prohibiting tips to be shared by the waiters with the cooks and dishwashers. I think it is a great idea and for sure, we had a very good experience there, noticing that the staff at Marta were really working together.
I was recently in Phoenix for a conference and, as my uber arrived at the hotel, I noticed a Persian restaurant called the Persian Room. I admit that I could not resist going there for lunch, as I love Persian cuisine, New York City having quite few good choices, such as Persepolis or Pars Grill House and Bar. But definitely, The Persian Room has a more elegant decor and I could not believe how big this place was. The service there was on the spot and the food sublime. Here is what I had:
A year and a half ago, I got invited at Raoul's, a French restaurant located in Soho, for an event called Death In The Afternoon, reminiscent of the prohibition era. After that event, I promised myself I would go back and try their signature dish: the steak au poivre, so popular that I read that the cast of SNL used to go there just for that dish. And it is true that, while dining there, I saw a lot of these steak frites going around.
The first time we made plans to go to Annabel was when we wanted to see a horror movie with the same name, but then had to cancel. So, I had that place in mind, not knowing that this was a great find to be honest. We went twice to Annabel: for brunch and dinner, both times having a great experience food wise: the menu crafted by Chef Manuel Conrado is simply succulent. Here are some of the things we tried there:
We found Blue Dog Café thanks to Opentable, because, based on where it is and how hidden their door is, I am not sure I would have gone to that place soon...Yes, it is hidden, but, considering the number of people there where we arrived, they did not seem to have any difficulty to get patrons. Except that it seems that people came there before a show, because after 7:30pm, this place was empty, with only Jodi, I and the staff left. Weird!
I was looking at restaurants with Michelin stars in New York, when I noticed The Clocktower, a restaurant located in the New York Edition Hotel, in front of Madison Square Park. I admit that you really need to know that the restaurant is on the first floor, as when you enter into the hotel, you cannot see it right away. But, when you are in the main dining room, you are amazed by the beautiful decor, with its crown molding, paintings, and of course the big fireplace in the back.
I am a big fan of Chef Carlos Darquea, the co-owner of Chimichurri Grill who, with its two restaurants, one on the East side and one in the heart of Hell's Kitchen, serves fantastic Argentinian cuisine. So I was delighted to go back there, when Chef Carlos invited me to sample his Gaucho ribeye for two, ribeye being my favorite cut of meat. And what a feast! Here is what I tried: