For Valentine's Day, we decided to go back to Boucherie, but we discovered that they just opened, a couple of days before, a new location near Union Square, on Park Avenue South. I admit that we are always a bit reticent to go out that day because a lot of restaurants are packed (kitchen overwhelmed and short in staff) or propose an overpriced prix-fixe. But, considering the meal we had the week before in their West Village location, we thought it would be worth trying.
We recently discovered Boucherie, butcher shop in French, a restaurant in the West Village that is conveniently located close to the Christopher Street subway stop. With its brasserie feel, this place is quite big, with two dining rooms that boast a nice decor made of old commercials and photos, and white tiles to give that butcher shop feel.
When I booked a table at Da Marino on Opentable, I did not realize I passed many times in front of this place, where every time, there was somebody outside the restaurant haranguing the crowd to persuade them to come have a meal there, something that I always thought was unnecessary if a place is good. Well, too late: we already had a reservation and I was set on having spaghetti alle vongole, one of my favorite Italian dishes, as well as a tiramisu (yes, I most of the time know what I will be eating as we always scrutinize the menu before going).
We recently discovered a great place in Long Island City called The Baroness. Located few steps from Queensborro Plaza, it is a burger bar that serves fantastic burgers! Well, fortunately for them as this is their main purpose, but no, really, their burgers are so good that we went twice in a week. They have close to 20 different beef burgers made with Pat Lafrieda meat, that they cook medium rare and bring with a knife planted into them adding a bit of drama to the presentation. But, if you do not like beef, you can have lamb, chicken, ahi tuna or a vegetarian patty (that is house made), but with a much limited choice, all on the menus that are presented in old record sleeves.
I love Qi, a Thai restaurant serving a modern fair that relocated from Times Square to Hell's Kitchen, at the location where Chef Pichet Ong opened Chaan Teng, an eclectic Chinese restaurant end of 2016, that unfortunately closed. It is unfortunate as Chaan Teng was pretty good, but at least, it gives Qi a better chance to attract customers, the restaurant in Times Square being beautiful, but not the best location, with people also wondering if it was a lounge considering the feel it had. In Hell's kitchen, there is no doubt, even with the music playing, that they are serving food.
We were looking for a restaurant on a Friday when we stumbled upon The Little Beet Table, a place located few steps from the Flatiron that focusses on local ingredients, mostly vegetarian, with only few non-vegetarian dishes. Their menu is interesting as the plates show some creativity: it is not an after thought and, for a carnivore like me, quite satisfying. Here are the dishes we tried:
The last time I went to Mont Blanc 52, it was called Maria's Mont Blanc and was located in the Theater District: same owners but different location as they lost their lease. The one on 52nd has less exposure to foot traffic, but equally good and welcoming. We went there for dinner, eager to try this time their cheese fondue. I admit that I was surprised about the price, as, for $54 of two, it seems a bit overpriced, and did not expect having a salad and some fried potatoes (called rosti) that then explained the price.
One of my colleagues, Abe, has been talking about Basta Pasta for a while and so, Jodi and I decided to go there for dinner. Little did I know that this place first opened in Tokyo, back in 1985, with the concept of having an open kitchen so diners could enjoy a sort of cooking show, offering entertainment as well as good food. Five years later, they opened their Chelsea location, where Chef Takada crafted a creative menu inspired from classic Italian dishes.
So right now is Restaurant Week until February 9th. I have to say that I am on a fence when it comes to Restaurant Week: it is a great event, but not all restaurants are embracing the principle that is for diners to discover restaurants and, in a way, want to come back to try their regular menu. No, some restauranteurs simply lower the quality of their food: too bad. But I have to say that Ruth's Chris is not like that: first of all, they have a delicious lunch menu that they serve all year long, crafting a menu for restaurant week is not too far fetched.
I recently went to Yakiniku Futago, few blocks from Union Square and I was blown away: the food there is superb and there is a nice and relaxed atmosphere, all the ingredients for a great evening. The decor is beautiful, elegant and zen, with a noise level that was perfect considering that I like to enjoy a good conversation with a meal.
Ramen-Ya Samurai Edition is the second location of Ramen-Ya, a place I discovered a couple of years ago. Bigger than its sister restaurant, the Samurai Edition, the food there was delicious and quite comforting, especially in cold temperatures.
We wanted to have a burger or maybe I should write I wanted to have a burger, and decided to go to check out Kings of Kobe, a place I found on instagram. This place is an odd to Americana, serving burgers and hotdogs made with all natural American wagyu beef. So I was expecting quality burgers, as going for both a burger and a hotdog would have been too much considering the size of the hotdogs they serve.
Few weeks ago, we went to one of the locations of Bocca di Bacco in Hell's Kitchen and had a great time with my nephew Valentin. So we decided to go back, but tried their other location, still in Hell's Kitchen, but closer to Times Square. I admit that the experience was not as good: they were definitely understaffed in a place that was really crowded, affecting the service there. It started with the hostess who was not very nice at first, but then apologized, to the waiter who did not even check on us (forget the bread basket and the cheese on the pasta), to the food that took forever to come, prompting us to skip dessert.
We were walking on 10th avenue when we noticed a place called El Original, a Tex-Mex restaurant adjacent to a hotel that I cannot recall the name. The place is big and I was glad we went for brunch as it looked more like a bar and I could already imagine the noise level for dinner. There were definitely not that many people for brunch, besides a group of construction workers who seemed to be regulars.
We recently decided to go to JG Melon with our friends Jen and Gary, a place that I have wanted to visit for a while. My sole goal was to try their burger that I heard was phenomenal. So, here we are on a Saturday, at 12pm, in a place that is already very crowded and remained that way all along. I should mention that, despite the number of hungry patrons waiting for a table, they did not rush us, to the contrary.
Alright, this post is a bit overdue, but I admit that the experience at Ice and Vice was quite memorable, their ice cream being quite original, with flavors like hibiscus, rose and Swedish fish fluff for their seasonal red ice cream, or cucumber, lemon-verbena, ginger basil-seed for their green ice cream. I have seen so many people posting photos on Instagram that we decided to go there, close to Chinatown, and I admit that, although very creative, it does not measure up to Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream, that is a fantastic place. Here is what we tried:
Few weeks ago, we decided to try Del Frisco's Grille at Rockefeller Plaza. Not that this place was totally unknown to us as we tried their location in Hoboken and I admit that at the time, I liked the brunch, but less the dinner. When we arrived, the place was packed and we were glad to be seated in the back of the dining room, a space that was less noisy and had a bit more light.
When people think about Hell's Kitchen, they think about 9th avenue, disregarding the great places that are on 10th. Ok, there are not as many there, but you can really find good quality food. One example is Mémé Mediterranean, a place that proposes Mediterranean tapas with a large Moroccan influence. In fact, mémé is an old word for grandma, the work mamie being used more often. Brothers Alon and Jacob Cohen decided to call it Mémé as an homage to their mother, called this way by their children and cousins.
When people ask about a place for a nice dinner, I often mention Morimoto, behind Chelsea Market. We went there many times and were never disappointed, the food being as good as the presentation of the dishes beautiful. So, this is where we decided to have a last dinner with my nephew Valentin, before he went back to France. He also loves this place that was one of the first dinners we had when he came for a visit few years ago, as we wanted him to discover Japanese cuisine.