One Girl Cookies in Dumbo, Brooklyn

One Girl Cookies in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Located in Dumbo, One Girl Cookies is the kind of place that you are looking forward to visit, expecting, based on its name, to get giant cookies that would make you be unreasonable and defy your doctor for a minute or two. But no, no big cookies, rather tea treats smaller than the size of a dollar coin if you discard cupcakes, whoopie pies (the red velvet one is delicious) and the linzer torte that is not to be confused with the linzer cookies with its crumbly cookie and confectioner sugar: …

Mexican Dinner at Vida Verde

Mexican Dinner at Vida Verde

We were looking for a Mexican restaurant Midtown Manhattan when we found Vida Verde on Opentable. So we decided to go there on a Friday evening, not knowing that it would be so loud, the noise level making the entire experience there a bit painful. This bi-level restaurant with a rooftop would definitely satisfy margarita lovers and other guacamole aficionados (it is made table side but do not expect a cart coming to you like some places do: there is not enough space between tables to allow that and they simply put all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing them in front of you).

Ravagh Persian Grill in Midtown

Ravagh Persian Grill in Midtown

Operated since 1998, with few locations in New York City, Ravagh Persian Grill is, according to one of my co-worker who is Iranian-American, the best Persian restaurant in the city. So we had to try it and did so on a Saturday evening. With its two floors, the place slowly filled up as the evening went by, with quite a lot of Iranian patrons, a good sign that this place had some authenticity. Food wise, we were there for a treat, with large plates coming in front of us, enough for this diner and another.

Choc O Pain in Jersey City

Choc O Pain in Jersey City

As I had to be in Jersey City for an early meeting, I could not miss an opportunity to go to Choc O Pain few steps from the Grove Street Path Station. Smaller than its sisters bakeries, Choc O Pain has a nice neighborhood feel, with a rusticity that gives some coziness to the whole place, an a French touch from food to music.

Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Brooklyn

It has been a while since I wanted to try Hometown Bar-B-que in Red Hook, but I admit that going from New Jersey to Brooklyn can feel like a whole trip, especially on the weekends with all the construction in the subway. But, I saw that it was possible to go there using the ferry to the neighboring IKEA, a ferry that is free on week ends, but can be packed. So we ended up going the week end of Labor Day (yes, I know: this post is long overdue) at Pier 11 with my co worker Quentin, for what would be a phenomenal meal. 25 minutes after boarding, we approached the restaurant, noticing a nice smell as well as a small “portable” smoker on the side of the street, smoker that I guess is used in fairs like Smorgasburg.

Aunt Jake's Wine Bar and Pasta Lab

Aunt Jake's Wine Bar and Pasta Lab

I often crave Italian food, especially pasta, and was glad to discover Aunt Jake’s Wine Bar and Pasta Lab in Greenwich Village. I am sure we passed in front of it several times, unnoticed, until I found it on Opentable. Crowded for a Wednesday evening, a reservation was needed and people without one were turned away. We sat at a table, but I admit that my eyes keep looking at the counter where one guy kept making pasta over and over, wondering if he would not get bored at some point. Yes, they propose fresh pasta at Aunt Jake’s and I like the fact that you can make your own dish, choosing first the pasta (fettuccine, tagliatelle, cavatelli or rigatoni to name a few), and then the sauce to pair it with (marinara, arrabbiata, meatballs, all vodka, etc.), making each visit different. Of course, you can pick a specialty dish like I did:

Hanco’s Vietnamese restaurant in Brooklyn

Hanco’s Vietnamese restaurant in Brooklyn

It’s been a while since we had Vietnamese cuisine and we were looking for a place to eat in Brooklyn before an errand when we saw Hanco’s a casual Vietnamese eatery that serves bubble tea, pho and banh mi. Empty at first, it started to get busy especially with a young crowd attracted by not only the food but also the price. This is a casual place, so you order at the counter and then your number is called in the back, where you will get your tray and can sit either in the front or in the small upstairs dining room. I was not so interested in a bubble tea that is a bit gimmicky and hesitated between a Thai iced tea and a Vietnamese coffee, both containing condensed milk.

Dozzino, pizza in Hoboken, NJ

Dozzino, pizza in Hoboken, NJ

Located off the beaten path, Dozzino serves pizza cooked in a wood fire oven with rustic decor and a relaxed atmosphere. It is one of my colleagues who recommended this place and told me that it is packed on week ends, but going during the week right after they open is perfect for some quiet time. The pizza itself is not that big, probably enough for one person, but perfect to share, with a nice mix between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The crust is crispy and not floppy in the center, with the outer part being puffed up and nicely charred. La Pizza is their classic, made with fior di latte that they make in house from curd from Caputo Brothers Creamery, tomato and basil.

Brasserie Cognac, French restaurant Midtown Manhattan

Brasserie Cognac, French restaurant Midtown Manhattan

I have been to Brasserie Cognac few times but for brunch, so it was time to try their dinner, knowing that there was one dish that I wanted to taste there: the cassoulet, a white bean stew that is up and coming in New York. Owned by a descendant of the famous writer Victor Hugo (Les Misérables), Brasserie Cognac serves a delicious French fare where classic brasserie dishes are proposed like escargots (remember, the butter sauce is the best with pieces of bread, but the salad that comes with it is as if they wanted to justify a higher price) or steak frites. Their cheese soufflé that can be served an appetizer or an entree (the entree will have a salad, the same as for the escargots by the way), is very good, elevated with truffle oil. Vegetarians have few choices like the cheese platter that I always consider to be a bit of a ripoff as you get small pieces of cheese for what you pay, or the goat cheese and

Cocotte in Soho

Cocotte in Soho

With roots in Southwest of France, Chef Sébastien Pourrat succeeded in creating with Cocotte, a unique tiny spot serving delicious French-Spanish cuisine. Tiny restaurant with portions as big as the place though, keeping alive the reputation French restaurants often have (small portions). But it is not about quantity but more quality and there is something about this place that makes you want to go back: good food, nice atmosphere that makes it the perfect neighborhood hideout. Service is good, at the exception of one waitress that definitely spoiled the last time we went there and dealt with various issues with a definite lack of professionalism; fortunately, the rest of the staff was not like that. Dinner at Cocotte is quite good, but I rather go for brunch that serves amazing classic dishes like the œufs brouillés or scrambled eggs that can be served with mushrooms (champignons - Jodi’s choice) or chorizo with the possibility to do half and half.

Farm to Burger in Times Square

Farm to Burger in Times Square

Farm to Burger: what an interesting name at a time where the farm to table restaurants are considered more and more by diners who want quality food and are worried about the effect of processed or unnaturally fed produce. Grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free are more commonly displayed on menus and Farm to Burger prides itself on offering its patrons quality ingredients that are locally sourced. Opened in December 2018 in the Aliz hotel next to Port Authority Bus Terminal, it is a bit hidden. I admit that I thought it was a small place, maybe like Burger Joint in the Parker Méridien, but it is not: this 90 seater is big with a decor supposed to represent a farmhouse.

Frenchette in TriBeCa

Frenchette in TriBeCa

When it opened last year, Frenchette was the most talked about restaurant opening and remains a difficult place to get a reservation unless you are ready to eat really early or late at night. I was wondering what Frenchette means, thinking that it could be a term of endearment for French cuisine or some minimalism, until I discovered that it is the title of a song from David Johansen released in 1978 with one paragraph saying:

“Want you to come in my kitchen and not my kitchenette.

Want you to come in my dining room, not my dinette yet”. 

Starbucks Reserve Roastery: coffee shop reinvented

Starbucks Reserve Roastery: coffee shop reinvented

Starbucks is elevating its coffee shops with Starbucks Reserve, an elegant and sophisticated version that opened in NYC last December, right next to Chelsea Market. Already popular amongst New Yorkers, this 23,000 sqft place is amazing: two stories if not counting the downstairs floor where the bathrooms are, where a bar, sandwich and pastry stations feed an hungry crowd with some delicious food still casual but tasty, and Italian inspired. Sandwiches are made with breads from Le Pain Quotidien with a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices like the…

L'Appart: dining with a star

L'Appart: dining with a star

We recently made it to L’Appart, short for L’Appartement (Apartment in French), one of the restaurants of Le District, a French food hall located near the World Trade Center. You may not notice it when going from The District Garden (their supermarket) to The District Market with its stations and bar, as it is tucked in a hallway, like a gem that only the gourmets know. As soon as you open the wooden doors, you are greeted by David Coucke, The Maitre D’, with a house cocktail (it was a lychee, ginger and rose cocktail that was delightfully spicy) and introduced to the team, like when you go to a dinner with some friends and the host makes the introductions.

Cassoulet at Felix: best in New York?

Cassoulet at Felix: best in New York?

It’s been a while since we went to Felix and I admit that my motivation to go there was to try their cassoulet that won best cassoulet in 2016 and 2017. Cassoulet is a white bean stew that has gained popularity in the US after D’Artagnan, the purveyor of meat and poultry started to organize and annual cassoulet war in New York. Historically, it is said that cassoulet was created in Castelnaudary (South West of France), with duck confit, pork shoulder and sausage while the city was besieged and people were asked to bring whatever ingredients they had to prepare a stew and feed the soldiers.

Indie LIC in Long Island City, Queens

Indie LIC in Long Island City, Queens

Offshoot of Indie Food & Wine, located in the Lincoln Center, Indie Lic is a cool casual place in Long Island City where the owner lives. Yes, there is definitely this cool vibe in this medium sized space that is filled with light, thanks to its large windows and its communal table in the center for people who do not mind eating with their neighbor. I would not go there for a full meal but more for small bites for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the choices being quite diverse between vegetarian and non-vegetarian, salad or sandwiches. For breakfast, I recommend their steel cut oatmeal that is cooked with cinnamon and milk, topped with sliced banana (a good amount), almonds (for some crunch) and maple syrup.

Lunch at Sugar Factory in the Meat Packing District

Lunch at Sugar Factory in the Meat Packing District

When Rebecca, Jodi’s cousin, asked to find a place with pancakes for brunch, we ended up going to Sugar Factory in the Meatpacking District, a place we wanted to go to for a while now. Yes, there were other places but not with time available on Opentable or Resy. When we arrived, it was clear that a reservation was necessary as people without were turned down and in fact, we got seated in a corner hard to reach for the staff, 30 minutes after our reservation. They were definitely overwhelmed despite the fact that we could see available tables upstairs. Sugar Factory is a big place for sure with a fun decor from candies to big chandeliers hanging from the high ceiling, without forgetting the photos of celebrities who had a meals there or let’s say more what makes them popular: giant crazy milkshakes like the one with a mini cheese burger squeezed on top, or the goblets, these big sugary drinks full of liquid nitrogen to give a dramatic effect.

Udon noodles at TsuruTonTan in Midtown

Udon noodles at TsuruTonTan in Midtown

I do not remember when was the last time I had Udon noodles, probably when ordering Japanese food from a small joint, not as impressed at the time by it and preferring the more classic ramen. Until I discovered Tsurutontan, a Japanese chain that is trying to conquer NY diners’ stomach. They started with a bold move in 2016, by invading the space left vacant by Union Square Café and have now a second location Midtown where we had lunch recently. Big space for sure with the open kitchen in the back.

Dinner at Thalia

Dinner at Thalia

When we went to Thalia few years ago, it was for brunch as I saw that, at the time, they had a creme brûlée French toast that was really good but that they since ditched, replacing it with a Nutella one (not a bad replacement in fact). At that point, we thought it would be great to go back for dinner and it took us until this last Valentine’s Day...Not that we celebrate but we just wanted to go to a quiet place, far from the crowd and ended up there: good choice because it was not that crowded and I kind of understood why. This new American and sushi place has simply the atmosphere of a restaurant that would be in a hotel, not so surprising as it is in the theater district, but still.

Fried Chicken at Sticky's Finger Joint in Times Square

Fried Chicken at Sticky's Finger Joint in Times Square

I discovered Sticky’s Finger Joint in 2012 on the Food Network when they participated to the show 3 Days to open with Chef Bobby Flay. I still remember that the main discussion was how to make their menu appealing, having chicken fingers on the menu not being enough and encouraging them to showcase their sauces. It makes sense: you can get chicken fingers that are as good in lots of places, MacDonald’s included, but Schnipper’s being better, but what could make a difference and entice you to go there? So they listened, developed their sauces and have now 7 locations, the last one being on 41st between 6th and Broadway that I recently visited.