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.
It's been a while since we went to The Hoboken Gourmet Company, always discouraged by the wait in that small place that truly has a neighborhood feel. But the 4th of July came and allowed us to dine there for brunch. The issue with going to a restaurant on that day is often they are short staffed (they did a good job anyway and apologized for the lack of attention that we apparently got - did not really notice) or the shortage of ingredients (the Chef left the place saying "I need sourdough" and coming back minutes later with a back from a fine grocery store close by).
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.
I passed so many times In front of the Luma hotel, barely noticing the restaurant located on the first floor. Little I knew that this place, Ortzi, would be a fantastic experience, service and food wise. With its beautiful and warm decor, and its open kitchen where unfortunately Chef Jose Garces was absent, it does not have an hotel feel.
I recently ended up with my colleagues at JJ Bitting Brewing Company in Woodbridge. Interesting place indeed: big, rustic, you can see in the middle of the main dining room some of the fermenters used to make beer. Yes, as its name indicates, JJ Bitting is a brewery and I tried one of their beers, the Aldahat Amber, a medium bodied ale that was fruity and slightly bitter, exactly as they described it. I could have gone for their beer flight, but admit that I am a light weight and as it was equivalent to two beers, I passed.
My nephew wanted to eat at The National, the restaurant of acclaimed celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, located in The Benjamin Hotel. You do not need to long to convince me to go to a place to eat, and here we are, in this American bistro inspired by European restaurants as well as American dining rooms.
I recently got invited to Ms. Yoo, opened last July, is the new venture from Chef Esther Choi who gave us the fantastic Mokbar in Chelsea Market (and now Brooklyn). Taking its name from Chef Choi's Grandmother who taught her how to cook when she was a kid, Ms Yoo is not your traditional Korean restaurant, boasting a small menu perfect to share that is very creative and unique, a fusion between Korean and American cuisines. The space is also beautiful, and you cannot miss the cast iron trellises covered with vines, that give a certain elegance to the place, far from the casual setting of Mokbar.
This week, I got invited to the soft opening of Hudson Hall, a Beer Hall and Smokehouse located few blocks from the Grove St Path station in Jersey City that is opening on September 23, 2017. This is an incredible place: when being there, you would think that you stepped into an old beer hall, when in fact the space has been completely gutted and rebuilt, with lots of attention to detail. The space is divided into three different sections: the huge dining room, with its bar that has a round shape on one extremity, allowing six people to sit facing each over; the small dining room with its incredible ceiling (called "the deli"), and the tunnel to go from one room to the other, giving a glimpse into the busy kitchen.
Last week, I was invited by Chef Nick Wang to sample his menu at Amami, a Japanese restaurant with a rustic and zen feel in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I spoke a bit with Chef Wang who spoke about his passion to serve unique high quality food, using natural ingredients. In fact, Amami means "sweetness from the heavens" and the name written in Japanese calligraphy that is displayed on one of the walls of the dining room, also means harmony, representing the harmony of flavors as well as the harmony of the staff working in the restaurant like family as Chef Wang explained.
Few weeks after discovering Burger & Lobster near the Flatiron, I received an invite to try their new restaurant located few steps from Bryant Park and Times Square. I was very excited as my previous experience, posted just few days ago was great and I was looking forward to go back to try one of their items: The Beast, a burger topped with lobster, a decadent surf and turf.
It's been a while we wanted to go to Burger and Lobster, having heard about this place from our friend Tessa. So, we decided to go on a Saturday, at noon, the time they open, thinking that it was a small place that would be crowded quickly. Well, we were wrong: not only it was not that crowded, but I was surprised to discover such huge place (with red predominant to symbolize the color of the lobster) that has also a small room downstairs. Nice decor with the traps to capture lobsters and of course the fish tanks at the entrance where you can see some beautiful lobsters.
Last February, I went to Victor's Cafe to try their lunch deal that was pretty good, and was looking forward to go back for dinner. I love this place that serves some delicious food. Lunch and dinner are quite different, the quiet atmosphere being replaced by a busy, loud but still bearable one, with Cuban music in the background when it is not live music.
We recently went to Greek Town, a restaurant we did not even knew existed until we passed in front of it in a taxi on our way to Jersey City's Liberty Science Center, and we decided to check it out. We went for brunch and I admit that I wish we knew that this place, opened a year and a half earlier, was there. It is not a fancy restaurant and the decor is fairly simple, but the food was delicious and reasonably priced.
We were looking for a tapas place when we stumbled upon El Quinto Pino in Chelsea. I thought it was a small place at first, not knowing that there is a bar area and, in the back, a dining room of a good size. Menu wise, each item is made to be shared, the selection for brunch split between little tapas, sandwiches and salads, and eggs. For drinks, they mostly have coffee and tea as well as cocktails.