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.
Chez Napoleon is one of these old school French restaurants I wish to see more often in New York: casual and cozy, not pretencious, this is the perfect place to try some French classics like escargots, frog legs, cassoulet or liver. If you are vegetarian, you might be out of luck, the only choices being in the hors-d'oeuvre section (appetizers). This place, opened in 1960 and now run by a third family, the Brunos, is special to my heart as this is where we went for our second date with Jodi a long, long time ago and I recall, as a former vegetarian, she courageously tried the escargots, frog legs and rabbit that we got, not really liking them, but still impressive...
It’s been probably 11 years since we last went to Empanada Mama in Hell’s Kitchen and I did not recognize the place at all. At the time, it was a tiny spot (I believe the photo from their site below is how it was before), really crowded. Now, it is a fairly large restaurant serving more than just empanadas, but with still these delicious turnovers as the stars of the menu, with various options for the dough (wheat or corn), including one called “viagra”, that is not what you are thinking: it is apparently made of seafood (not sure the waiter gave me the right explanation...), and for the healthy conscious, there are some oven baked.
I love fusion food and I am always curious to see what restaurants offer in that area that makes them original. One of the great places for Japanese fusion is Haru Sushi, that I discovered many years ago, for a first exposure to this kind of cuisine. We went at their restaurant in Times Square before going to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It was our first visit in that location and I was not sure what to expect, restaurants in that area sometimes focusing more on foot traffic than returning customers. Well, the service there was courteous and the food simply delicious.
My brother and nephew Valentin invited us to Lincoln Square Steakhouse, a restaurant I never heard about before, admitting that I rarely hear about steakhouses on the Upper West Side. Well, that was a surprising experience. On the facade, I noticed two things: "Family style" and "Italian steakhouse". In fact, the only things that combined both on their menu was their Italian family style section that serves two, proposing dishes like eggplant parmesan, lasagna, or rigatoni a la Bolognese, as well as their dessert sampler that had cannoli and tiramisu.
When I was a kid, the only soufflé I knew was the cheese soufflé that my Mom was making. We never heard about sweet soufflés and it is only much later in my life that variations on soufflés started to appear, like the cauliflower soufflé we made one time with my sister. Then I discovered chocolate soufflés, and one time, banana soufflés. The latter is fantastic; well, if you like bananas! So, the recipe below is my take on a recipe I learned at the Institute of Culinary Education few years ago.
Few months ago, I got invited to Hudson Hall, the only beer hall and smokehouse in Jersey City, conveniently located few blocks from the Grove Street path station. I love the feel of that place: casual and warm, it is quite spacious. We were there at 6pm on Friday last week and were surprised to see so many families with young kids having dinner, in a relaxed atmosphere with music in the background, not too loud, maybe on purpose, but definitely allowing diners to hear each other.
You probably think this post is déjà vu as I already described twice my experience at Chimichurri Grill, once in their Midtown East location where I was invited for a blog dinner, another one when I went to their restaurant in Hell's Kitchen with some friends. I have been talking so much about this Argentinian Steakhouse that Jodi absolutely wanted to go there; so I booked a table on Opentable for a Friday night and here we were, at Chimichurri Grill East, in their beautiful dining room.
I passed so many times in front of Alpha Fusion, mistakenly not noticing a place that serves some fantastic pan Asian cuisine: Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese mainly and more intriguing, a wide choice of vegetarian dishes. There, I spoke a bit with Chef Henry Yang who I met few months ago in Brooklyn. Owner of Alpha Fusion, that he opened 10 years ago, Chef Yang is passionate about his food: we talked about his upbringing when he came at age 16 in the US from China, and how he learned to make Japanese cuisine.
On a Saturday, after seeing The Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman in Times Square, we decided to eat in Hell's Kitchen with in mind an Asian cuisine. We stumbled upon Ajisai, a place we passed in front of many times, but that seemed to be always packed. We got lucky this time as only one booth was available for the three of us, my nephew being with us.
We were looking for a place to go to have dinner with Jodi's cousin Rebecca, when we stumbled upon Hao Noodle & Tea by Madam Zhu's Kitchen. I had that place on my list, so I was glad to find it. Unfortunately, it was full and the only seats possible were at one of their large tables, in the middle of the amazing dining room that was dominated by interesting chandeliers. Yes, this place was packed and, after trying the food, I understood why.
I was really looking forward to try Indikitch, a fast casual chain serving Indian food that has been popping up across the city. So, on a Wednesday evening, we went there with Jodi and my nephew Valentin, in their Flatiron location. The place was not that crowded, quite spacious, with seats on the second floor. You could tell that lots of people went there before by just looking at the garbage cans that were overflowing, preventing people from throwing their trash and leaving it on tables. Or maybe the staff was too busy...
We were looking for an Italian place on a Saturday evening when we stumbled upon Lattanzi, an Italian restaurant located in the Theater District, right next to Becco, the popular place opened by Lidia and Joe Bastianich. I admit that I was not sure what to expect, some of the places near Times Square being total let downs, and was really surprised about the quality of the food and the nice experience we had.
We were walking on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, when we noticed MP Taverna, a fairly big place serving Greek cuisine. Little we knew that this is one of the many restaurants of Chef Michael Psilakis and that we would have a great brunch there. The restaurant, with its rustic decor dominated by large windows, was not that crowded, allowing us to enjoy a quiet meal.