On a Friday night, we were looking for an Italian restaurant Midtown when we stumbled upon Lugo Cucina. Located close to Penn Station, I never noticed this place before, although passing close by many times. I never noticed for instance the two vespa in front, with the same colors as the front of that place.
I was really looking forward to going to Salvation Burger, the burger restaurant of Chef April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman, owners of The Spotted Pig, the Breslin Bar & Dining Room; but my wish got crushed at some point as they had to close because of a fire in their kitchen. Several months later, here I am, arriving several minutes before they opened, allowing customers to sit but warning them that the kitchen will only open after some time.
I was recently invited to an event at Bobby Van's, the steakhouse located on Park Avenue. Well, I should say their location on Park Avenue as they have several and I only tried the one near Times Square where I had a phenomenal dinner. So, needless to say that I was looking forward to going back there. Here is what I had:
It all started with some amuse: first was a mozzarella sitting on top of a slice of tomato topped with peppers.
Last Friday, I was invited at ROKI Le Izakaya a new Japanese brasserie just opened 2 weeks ago by Keiko Ono Aoki and Executive Chef Koji Hagihara. This is a spin off of Benihana, Keiko being the wife of late founder of that famous Japanese chain, Hiroaki Aoki, known in the US as Rocky Aoki. I had the chance to meet with Keiko and Chef Koji who welcomed us in this incredible space where the main attraction is the kitchen in the middle where one can admire the Chef and his crew not only cook delicious food, but also present it in a beautiful way.
Yesterday, I was invited to a Valentine's Day breakfast organized by Type 2 Creative at Sugar Sketch, a small pastry shop that combines Italian traditional flavor profiles with modern American designs. I was there thanks to my friend Malini, The Restaurant Fairy, whose perfectly painted nails (with a heart for the occasion) can be seen on few photos.
Haru is not unknown to me: I remember the first time I went there was at their location in Gramercy with our friends Jen and Chris, before this blog even existed. I was blown away by the original meal I had, thinking at first that it was a classic Japanese place. The meal went beyond my expectations and it was probably my first step into Japanese fusion. And this week, I got to try their new location in Hell's Kitchen, that just opened a week ago, the crowd definitely getting the word of it as it was packed from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.
Going to Sel et Poivre (salt and pepper in French) is so refreshing: there, you get not only to taste some great French cuisine, but the dining room is worked on by Chef Christian Schienle who prepares classic French bistro dishes, some of them with a refined flair. What amuses me is that Chef Schienle (that you can see on the photo above paying for parking) is not French, but succeeds to serve delicious dishes. To the point that I went twice this week: on Tuesday for a blog dinner and on Friday, simply because I wanted to try one of their specials only served that day: cassoulet.
Victor's Café is a great Cuban restaurant located Midtown. But know that this place proposes an elegant version of Cuban cuisine, more elevated than what you would have in places like La Caridad on the Upper West Side or La Isla in Hoboken. I could not resist to try their lunch prix-fix that offers, for $29, a three course meal that was quite good. Before the food came, they brought some plantains that are always a crowd pleaser.
Yesterday evening, I was invited at ORO, an Italian restaurant that opened last August in Long Island City, conveniently located five minutes from the Queensboro Plaza subway stop. I was really surprised when I entered this place as I did not expect a place so spacious, modern and elegant, but with a casual feel.
There are two places I love for Restaurant Week Midtown: Circo and China Grill. This year, I went twice to China Grill for their Restaurant Week offer that is a very good deal. You get an appetizer, an entree, a side for two and a dessert for $29 and can add a bottle of wine for an additional $40. What I like about it is the choices that are not only limited, but also can be found on their regular menu. The first time I went, I did not have my camera unfortunately, but the second time, I did. So this is what I had that time:
It has probably been 11 years since I went to Brooklyn Diner and was really surprised to see it pop up on OpenTable. When I lived in the city, I use to go there for their large hotdog, one of the biggest, if not the biggest in New York, measuring 15 inches. This place is still there, with its big cakes at the entrance, one slice being too much for just one person for sure. I like the decor, that makes this place a tad more elegant than your regular diner. And you know that I love diners, as for me they are reminiscent of Americana.
Jodi and I wanted to eat Korean food and ended up at Osamil in Koreatown. The name of this modern restaurant comes from their address, 5 west 31st street. 5- Oh, 3- Sam, 1-il. We went on a Friday evening and it was quite busy, its warm dining room being filled with hungry customers. I like the space: it is a mix between a modern and rustic decor, with an open kitchen in the back.
We were looking for a brunch place close to Herald Square, when we stumbled upon Petit Poulet, a French bistro and wine bar that is part to the Radisson Hotel in Koreatown. Although most of the hotel restaurants feel like... hotel restaurants, there was a bit of a feel of a French brasserie, thanks to the decor, such as the tables and bistro chairs, tin ceiling and mosaic floor.
We hate the New Year's Eve crowd and so, instead of going to a restaurant that day, we decided to go the day before, a sort of New Years's Eve's Eve. And we picked the Bryant Park Grill, the setting with the park and all the lights being perfect for a magical evening. I admit that I was not sure what to expect and was quite surprised to see such a big place, with its large dining room on the left side and its covered patio.
So, I am back at Del Frisco's Double Eagle, the fancy steakhouse located on 6th avenue, couple of minutes from The Rockefeller Center. Little did I know this place used to be a bank converted into a three story luxurious restaurant, the vault being transformed into private rooms surrounding an amazing cellar, the biggest in the city with rare bottles, for a total of more than $3 million in wine!
I love this casual Italian place that has an amazing decor that matches its name: a circus. Colorful and playful, it has a certain charm and the food served there has always been delicious. For the Bollito Misto meal, I was there for a treat, with a 4 course dinner that, at $49 with a glass of wine is a steal.
You should never judge a book by its cover and I surely should apply that to my experience at Black Tap Burger. This place is often covered in social media, especially on Instagram, where photos of their milkshakes have been legendary. And, if you passed in front of it, you cannot not notice the line in front of it. Surely the photos look appetizing and you would think that the hype surrounding this place is justified. Well, that it what I thought until we had lunch there, on January 2nd...