Hard Rock Café is the quintessence of Americana: Rock, burgers and shakes are what comes to my mind when I think about this place. It is a fun place for sure that mesmerize amateurs of music, going around the dining room to look at some of the artifacts being a must do before or after a meal there. We went there with our friend Amy and her two kids, Bodie and Jaxon as we met in LA. It was that or Umami Burger that unfortunately closed in NY, but was further away and it was already late.
Located inside the W on Hollywood Boulevard, Delphine Eatery and Bar offers a contemporary American menu. This was our choice for dinner on Christmas Day as we were looking for a place to go not to far from our hotel that would be open that day. Big, I admit that the entrance of the restaurant made it look like a casual eatery, surprising for the W hotel, but then, inside, it has a bit more cachet. Not that it is an elegant place, but the space has some warmth with decor that is supposed to be reminiscent of Provinçal cafés. Not sure how, but it is apparently what they went for.
On Christmas Day, for lunch, we decided to go at The Highlight Room, the rooftop and poolside restaurant of the Dreams Hotel on Selma Avenue.
It was a beautiful day, but a bit windy and cold, so we were not surprised not to see anybody swimming. At least, we could enjoy some of the views of Los Angeles, with, on one side, the Hollywood sign that has a certain magic.
Housed in a stunning place, République was our choice for Christmas Eve dinner. Awarded a coveted Michelin Star, this place is incredible. Built in 1929, this building was Charlie Chaplin’s office before he lost it to one of his wives during a divorce proceeding. With its very high ceiling and stone walls, it is like entering into a church where the angels of food would sing: yes, with its three kitchens, this place serves a fantastic food. The owners, Walter and Margarita Manzke, have succeeded in creating a unique experience, with dishes that change on a regular basis, based on what they find at the market.
Located at The Grove, at the number 189, 189 by Dominique Ansel is an incredible place, that you can recognize with its yellow awning and umbrellas. The bakery is downstairs while the dining room is upstairs, with a terrace where we sat, the weather in LA being gorgeous. What we did not know is they they serve a special brunch, truly unique as it is served “dim sum” style: they pass around small dishes and, if you take some, they stamp your ticket; at the end of the meal, they calculate the bill based on what you ate. I think it is great because it has this excitement when you see these dishes coming and you can try a lot of different ones. The downside is that it can be pricey if you cannot resist...
It has been a while since we wanted to go to LA and finally decided to go for the Holidays, taking advantage of a warmer weather. The first day there, we booked a tour, like we often do, allowing us to see parts of the city we might not have seen on our own. I admit that we were also looking to see if there were celebrities around, and ended up seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger on his bike in Venice, the first area we visited. We walked around the beach, with the skate park, graffiti walls and market.
I discovered Natsumi few years ago and we decided to go back to this Japanese-Italian fusion spot created by Barbara Mutsumura and Chef Haru Konagaya, formerly of Haru restaurants. The location is not ideal because very touristy and you could see lots of patrons were having dinner there before a show. We sat in their small dining room, adjacent to the bar and had a nice dinner there composed of the following dishes:
Usually, when Jodi has dinner plans, I take this opportunity to try chicken places as, often, they do not have many options for vegetarians. So, last Thursday, as she was having dinner with her cousin Jessica at The Little Beet, I went to Crispy Chicken Kitchen with my friend David. In fact I was looking for a place called Unidentified Flying Chicken, a play on UFO, and later learned that they recently changed their name to Korean Crispy Chicken. Serving Korean fried chicken (double fried, yum!), it is an interesting place for sure, not that big, with the more striking element in the dining room being the self serve beer on tap.
Located inside the Yotel Hotel, few blogs from Times Square, Green Fig serves, since 2016, modern Israeli cuisine with influences from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, with a menu crafted by Chef de cuisine Yuval Litmanovich that had nice options for vegetarians. For sure the decor looks like an hotel restaurant that is surprising considering how Yotel is and we had the misfortune to go there while part of the dining room seemed to have been reserved for an office Holiday party (nice ugly sweaters though...):
Did Luzzo’s meet its match ? Well maybe: I always considered Luzzo’s as the best pizza in the city, Neapolitan I mean. And the Luzzo’s family of restaurants growing is always exciting. I discovered their new venture in Long Island City few weeks ago, not realizing that few blocks from there sits another Neapolitan pizzeria, Levante. We found it as our first dining plan fell through and this is the kind of find that is very fortunate, the food being delicious there.
When people visit from France, there are few things I tell them they must get: steak, burger and BBQ among others. So, after a fantastic steak at Chimichurri Grill West on the Tuesday, burger it was on Wednesday with my colleague Cyrille. And what a burger! The place of choice was Rare Bar and Grill in Chelsea, located next to the Hilton. It has definitely the feel of a hotel restaurant but the food sets it apart.
The first time Jodi went to Creamline in Chelsea Market, she came back amazed by the veggie burger she had, thinking after the first bite that they made a mistake with her order and not knowing that they were serving the Impossible Burger from Impossible Food, one of the few all vegetarian patty that tastes very close to meat. As they served other types of burgers as well as sandwiches (like fried chicken), I proposed to go back to check it out.
Times Square is changing: you see more and more interesting restaurants opening close to Port Authority, in an area where many restaurants care more about foot traffic than returning customers. So I was curious when I saw that Boqueria opened few steps from the busy bus station. We went on a Friday night and the place was packed, with the staff being a bit overwhelmed. We shared several dishes from the menu and I admit that it was tough to pick as there were plenty of delicious choices. Here is what we had:
We went for a long walk towards West New York, looking for a place to dine when we stumbled upon PF Chang’s in West New York. I have never been to this place that I heard about in few episodes of Top Chef and was curious to try it. We got a table fairly quickly, although the place was quite crowded.
It’s been a while since we wanted to try Spa Diner in downtown Hoboken, not that we thought it would be an amazing cuisine, but more for the fact that diners are typical American restaurants that are apparently slowly disappearing in big cities. Yes, when you go to a diner, unless it is an upscale version like Brooklyn Diner, you are expecting comforting and cheap food. But I admit that I was a bit disappointed with Spa Diner: they say they “go the extra smile”, when In fact the service was a bit rude and not as welcoming as their slogan says. Food wise, I did not like it much either and prefer Malibu Diner on the Uptown part of Hoboken. Here is what we had:
We were walking on Vernon Avenue in Long Island City when we saw Tamashii Blue, a Japanese restaurant serving ramen. The weather being a bit cold, we decided to dine there, looking forward to it as we did not have ramen in a while. Service was good and courteous and the appetizer delicious, but less than one hour after leaving the place, I got a massive headache that I guess was from the food, maybe MSG, I do not know. So, no, I would not go back...
You could pass in front of Scalini Fedeli in TriBeCa without even noticing a place that is worth knowing. Beautiful restaurant with a sophisticated decor that could intimidate diners looking for a casual Italian place, Scalini Fedeli serves an amazing menu crafted by Executive chef Michael Cetrulo. But know that they only serve a prix-fixe dinner that for $75 is a great deal. Here is what we had: