Marta, another Danny Meyer venture

Marta, another Danny Meyer venture

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. 

The Persian Room in Phoenix, Az

The Persian Room in Phoenix, Az

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:

Raoul's Restaurant Francais in Soho

Raoul's Restaurant Francais in Soho

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. 

Fantastic meal at Annabel in Hell's Kitchen

Fantastic meal at Annabel in Hell's Kitchen

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:

Burger at Blue Dog Café

Burger at Blue Dog Café

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! 

The Clocktower, and its one Michelin Star

The Clocktower, and its one Michelin Star

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. 

Chimichurri Grill West in Hell's Kitchen

Chimichurri Grill West in Hell's Kitchen

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:

Union Square Burger by Cozy Myers...near Times Square

Union Square Burger by Cozy Myers...near Times Square

Yes, the name is misleading: Union Square Burger by Cozy Myers is not in Union Square, but near Times Square. I admit that you really need to know this place is there and it goes in direct competition with Shake Shack that is a couple of blocks away. Well, I do not think that the owner opened to be in direct competition with Shake Shack so to speak, but the stakes are high in that neighborhood and while Shake Shack was full when we passed in front of it, Union Square Burger was totally empty.

Azalea near Times Square

Azalea near Times Square

I passed so many times in front of Azalea that we finally decided to try that place and you know what? Although most of their patrons are theater goers and tourists (full before 7pm and start emptying at 7:30pm, so that's how I guessed that), it serves pretty good Italian cuisine, at the prices of Times Square (not cheap, but not outrageous prices). This is a big place with a nice amount of light thanks to the very large windows of the main dining room. In fact, I suggest you try to sit there, the little room in the back being quite dark, unless you want some privacy...

Sevan, Armenian restaurant in Bayside, Queens

Sevan, Armenian restaurant in Bayside, Queens

We rarely go to Queens, but could not say no to my friend Malini, The Restaurant Fairy, who was organizing a meal with a bunch of bloggers at Sevan, an Armenian restaurant located in Bayside. There, we met with Arthur Matevosyan who has been running this family restaurant since 2004, keeping in mind the advice of his father, a restauranteur in Armenia, gave him. The food there was delicious, the kebab being my favorite, especially the lamb chops that came in a very spectacular way to the table. Here are the various dishes we tried:

Vintry, Wine and Whiskey Bar in the Financial District

Vintry, Wine and Whiskey Bar in the Financial District

A couple of weeks ago, we went close to South Street Seaport to an art exhibit called Art on Paper. After that , we wanted to have dinner in the Financial District, remembering our experience with our friends at Adrienne's Pizza Bar, when we noticed a bunch of restaurants we wanted to try. For sure the atmosphere of Stone street was different this time as there were no tables outside and besides a couple of drunk people going from one bar to another, it was very quiet. We were looking for a place when we stumbled upon Vintry, a Wine and Whisky bar, that seemed welcoming. 

Mexican brunch at Mamasita in Hell's Kitchen

Mexican brunch at Mamasita in Hell's Kitchen

On a Saturday, we were supposed to have lunch at Mi Nidito, a Mexican restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. After booking a table on Openable.com, I received a text from the owner who told me that they were not open for lunch and proposed to go to Mamasita, its sister restaurant located on 10th avenue, a couple of blocks away, that serves the exact same menu. We were craving Mexican food, so we accepted. Mamasita is a casual place that offers an impressive number of margaritas. But, it was not something I was looking for for lunch, having things to do in the afternoon...We started off our meal with guacamole. It was good, fresh and not spicy, as requested. 

Method, Japanese gastropub in Hell's Kitchen

Method, Japanese gastropub in Hell's Kitchen

We were walking on 10th on a Saturday, going uptown to a Mexican restaurant we wanted to try for lunch, when we stumbled upon Method, a Japanese restaurant I never noticed before, although it has been opened for a year and we passed in front of it so many times. So, we decided to go back that day for dinner, after some time spent in the City. We showed up at 5:30pm, when they opened, and were surprised when they asked us if we had a reservation as we were the first to arrive and the restaurant was empty. Well, it was empty for maybe 30 minutes and the totally packed. After trying their food, I understood why: it was simply magnificent! 

Italian dinner at Bond 45 in Times Square

Italian dinner at Bond 45 in Times Square

I am sure some of you may wonder what I was doing dining in Times Square considering that lots of restaurants there only care about foot traffic and less about returning customers, catering to a crowd made of tourists and theater goers who do not know that Hell's Kitchen even exists. And after that sad experience few weeks ago at Da Marino, one would think that I would not try again. Well, I did as I had nice surprise in the past and was thinking that maybe this one would be added to my list of unknown gems in that area. The food was overall good and prices reasonable, but the service really needs some improvement: 

Fantastic dinner at Jams, Midtown West

Fantastic dinner at Jams, Midtown West

Located few steps from Central Park in the 1 Hotel Central Park, Jams, the restaurant of Celebrity Chef Jonathan Waxman is a little gem. I am always a bit apprehensive when going to a restaurant attached to a hotel, but at Jams, I was blown away. With its open kitchen in the back where the magic happens, the beautiful decor with its exposed brick and reclaimed oak, as well as the large windows, Jams serves an interesting menu made of seasonal dishes, some made to share.

Lotus Blue Dongtian Kitchen and Bar near Union Square

Lotus Blue Dongtian Kitchen and Bar near Union Square

Lotus Blue Dongtian Kitchen and Bar is not unknown to me as we knew their location in TriBeCa that was definitely more spectacular than this new one near Union Square. This restaurant serves Chinese cuisine, Yunan inspired, with a bunch of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. I started the meal by ordering a cocktail and chose the Toki Old Fashioned, made with Suntory Whiskey Toki, a splash of grapefruit and bitters. It was very good, delightfully tart.

Dinner at Antique Bar & Bakery in Hoboken, NJ

Dinner at Antique Bar & Bakery in Hoboken, NJ

After we went to Antique Bar & Bakery in Hoboken for brunch few weeks ago, we were really looking forward to trying their dinner menu. We had a reservation at 7pm with Opentable.com, but were told that seating would be between 7pm and 8pm and that we could sit at the bar. We arrived 15 minutes earlier (it was a Friday) and got indeed seated at the bar, although I noticed some empty tables behind us. And guess what: 10 minutes after and a cocktail down my throat, we sat to one of these same tables. I could not not think that it was a way to make people order drinks...Anyway, we were really wise to go early as, at 7:30pm, the place was packed, with tons of people waiting in the bar area and no table available.

Cargot Brasserie in Princeton, NJ

Cargot Brasserie in Princeton, NJ

Located in Princeton University’s new Arts and Transit neighborhood and across from The McCarter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, Cargot Brasserie is a French inspired restaurant that opened in July 2017. We got invited there last week for lunch, an occasion to go to Princeton not just for that, but also to visit one of our friends, Livia.

La Palapa at Urbanspace Vanderbilt

La Palapa at Urbanspace Vanderbilt

The last place we tried at Urbanspace Vanderbilt was La Palapa, a mexican restaurant that is not unknown to us as we went few times to their East Village location (great French toast for brunch!). Perfect for a quick bite, it was not the best tacos though...Here is what I tried:

Guacamole and chips: good but this is a tiny portion that they give! There is a larger portion but it is not worth the $15 they ask for. Otherwise, the guacamole, not made to order, was good.