After our incredible meal at Daniel, the eponymous restaurant of acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud, we were looking forward to dining at Café Boulud, located at The Surrey Hotel on the Upper East Side. Boasting one Michelin Star, Café Boulud celebrates 20 years of existence in what used to be Daniel’s original location and is a nod to the Chef’s family run restaurant in Lyon (just so you know, Lyon is considered the capital of French gastronomy, although I am sure some people would disagree). The menu, prepared by Chef Aaron Bludorn, is very interesting, declined in four sections:
Last Tuesday, I was invited at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem for the launch of the Bazodee line of sauces, a set of Caribbean sauces from Mavis Foods, LLC. I love the story of this company: it all started with Ms. Mavis Davis, the daughter of a family of 12 children who has been cooking since she was 13 years old, complaining about the family not cooking and losing the legacy of the Caribbean and Venezuelan dishes carried from one generation to the other. That is how Bazodee, that means crazy, head over heels in love in Trinidad and Tobago, started.
I recently went to Ikinari Steak, the Japanese chain with few locations in New York where steaks are cut to order and customers are supposed to eat standing. For the latter, if you go to the location midtown, you will be properly seated. However, it is true that they cut the meat to order, with limited choices: ribeye, filet, sirloin and a cut I never heard about called wild steak that the waitress was not able to explain.
With a name signifying “passion”, there is added pressure for Junoon to deliver elegant contemporary Indian cuisine. Since opening in 2010, Junoon has been awarded a Michelin Star. Yes, 7 years: not a small accomplishment for a cuisine that is sometimes misunderstood. It has been a while since we wanted to go, but the list of restaurants on my list being what it is, it was often postponed: I regret it. The food crafted by Executive Chef Akshay Bardhwaj being superb, creative and beautifully plated. It is served in a nice atmosphere where the only negative is the light: it is so dimmed you cannot eat with your eyes.
Last Sunday, I ventured to Rego Park were I was invited to try a kosher Uzbeki and Middle Eastern restaurant: U Yuri Fergana. It means “Yuri from Fergana”, Fergana being the city from Uzbekistan from where Yuri Moshev and his wife Myra are from. Myra is the chef: she has been cooking since she is 15 back there and serves some of her grandmother’s recipes for the pleasure of their patrons. You would ask me probably what makes this place so unique, the city having many Uzbeki restaurants? Well, Yuri and Myra own their own livestock that they raise organically. At least they know where the meat comes from.
Back in May, I got an opportunity to dine at Nusr-Et Steakhouse, the restaurant from Chef Nusret Gökçe aka Saltbae, a social media sensation known from the way he cuts meat and even more famous, his signature move when putting salt. I knew he was there thanks to Instagram, and, as I was having lunch with a colleague, I proposed to go there for their lunch special where, for $27 you get a burger with fries, a soda and a slice of baklava. And of course, I got to witness the Chef do his show at the table next to us.
Chat’n Chew is not unknown to me as I went there many years ago, before they closed, back in 2014, and reopened few months ago where City Crab Shack used to be. I remember that at the time, I was not that impressed by this place that serves comfort food, having wings and Mac & cheese that I thought were subpar (yes, I usually remember what I ate in restaurants, even if years ago, but may not remember your name...). So we decided to check it out after an exhibit organized by the New York Academy of Art, where Jodi had 4 paintings. It was not our first choice to be honest, but the few restaurants we entered in on that Tuesday evening were way too loud, blasting music.
Gabriel Kreuther, the eponymous restaurant from Jean-Georges and The Modern Alum Chef is another example of how fine dining continues to thrive in New York. There, Executive Chef Kreuther and his team craft a luxurious menu with the Chef’s Alsatian influence. The prix-fixe menu offers mouth watering dishes where you can choose between 4, 6 or 9 courses. We chose the former that was enough, especially when considering the amuse that were served or the three variety of breads that accompanied the meal, a different kind after each course:
We have known Luca Brasi’s in Hoboken for many years but only ordered there and never went to their restaurant, until our lunch on July 4th. We wanted to try a new location on Washington street that serves sandwiches but it was closed for the holiday. So we looked around and as we wanted sandwiches, we ended up at Luca Brasi’s. This small Italian place takes its name from the fictional character of The Godfather. So, no wonder why they decorated the place with black and white photos of gangsters, fictional or not and, funny enough, they have a Luca Brasi sandwich made with tuna, a nod to the movie where the enforcer is killed and thrown into a body of water, “sleeping with the fishes”.
We often crave Italian food and were looking for a nice place for a Friday night, looking at the list of Michelin star restaurants in the city. That is how we ended up at La Sirena. When reserving the table, I chose the dining room instead of the bar room: it was a bit of a mistake in a way. Yes it was quiet, but I thought that the bar room had more character, the dining room being a bit...boring.
Opened in 1993 and relocated in its current location that was once Le Cirque in 1999, Daniel is the quintessence of what fine dining means: an incredible experience from beginning to end where hospitality has a real meaning. Some might be intimidated by the place and the omnipresent service, but the fact that it is not stuffy and very welcoming gives a different vibe to this culinary institution. There, Executive Chef Jean-François Bruel, Chef de Cuisine Eddy LeRoux and Executive Pastry Chef Ghaya Oliveira crafted sublime menu where you will not find classic dishes:
Instagram is a great way to discover places, but photos can be misleading as a dish can look fantastic but may not taste good, unless the description is more than just what the dish is. Anyway, I may love a dish that others would hate. Still, when I see a mouth watering photo, I often put the restaurant on my list to of places to try. Needless to say that that list is quite long, New York and its area offer so many options! So it is through Instagram that I found Cuba Bakery in Union City, New Jersey. A fellow blogger, Eat in Translation, posted a photo of masa real de coco and, knowing that Jodi loves coconut, I proposed her to go there.
We finally made it to Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, the acclaimed Italian restaurant located few steps from Washington Square Park. This place, that opened in 1998 and got the “Best New Restaurant of 1998” award from the James Beard Foundation, is the first restaurant in New York of Chef Mario Batali. But, it is now owned and operated by Joe Bastianich, who used to be Batali’s business partner before the recent allegations of sexual misconduct of the celebrity Chef that, at the time of this post have not been to trial.
When my friend Benny proposed to go to Astoria to a Greek restaurant, I was excited. He got a recommendation to go to Stamatis, a family owned restaurant located few steps from the train station. We went on a Friday and this place was so packed with patrons coming and going endlessly, to the point that at 9:30pm, they were already out of desserts: that was a bit disappointing as we really wanted to end our meal with something sweet...
Located Midtown Manhattan, Café China is a discreet restaurant that won a Michelin Star this year. With its 1930s Shanghai decor, this non-pretentious place serves Sichuan dishes. Service there was good, courteous and efficient, but I found the food to be ok, not that amazing to the point that I would die to go back. Is it because we did not order the right dishes? Maybe. I let you judge after you read what we had:
Few minutes from Grenoble is La Corne D'Or a restaurant located in Corenc with stunning views of the city and its surrounding mountains. There, the Borrel family created a relaxed atmosphere in a wonderful setting, where Chef Alexandre Bonnel feeds hungry patrons not only stunned by the views, but also by the creativity of his food. This is not a Michelin starred restaurant, but it surely deserves to be recognized.
I love burgers and I am always curious to try something different from a classic cheeseburger. Few years ago, I discovered the Mac and Cheese burger at The Ainsworth in Chelsea, that I still consider the best of its kind so far, not that there are many places proposing a burger smothered with a good mac and cheese. As there is a Ainsworth in Hoboken, Jodi and I decided to go for brunch, early enough to see the end of the soccer World Cup game between France and Argentina (4-3 with a victory for France). The place was not crowded, that was great as I like a quiet environment when I eat and it seems that most of the people were routing for my country of origin.
I have been drinking whiskey for some time and wanted to learn more about it. Looking for classes, I stumbled upon The Flatiron Room, a restaurant with live jazz located near...The Flatiron. This place is incredible as they offer more than 1,000 variants of whiskey, from many countries that I did not even know produced whiskey. And they have classes for beginners and experts that take place in their upstairs tasting room. So I went there with a friend of mine, for their beginners class, whiskey 101, that consisted in tasting 6 different whiskeys. I should mention that they say in their description that they serve light appetizers, and it is...very light as there are only few slices of cheese with a small amount of bread.
Last Sunday, we went with our friends Jen and Gary to see the David Bowie exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and Jodi was tasked to find a brunch place. Her pick: The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights, where Chef Saul Bolton of SAUL Restaurant in the Brooklyn Museum, Red Gravy in Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bangers serves an interesting menu in a very relaxed atmosphere. And the food there was phenomenal! In fact, it has been a while I did not have such good brunch and I am talking about brunch in its literal sense, not a meal during brunch time that has nothing to do with what a brunch should be.
It might be easier to find somebody in Grand Central Terminal than finding Agern, a Michelin Star restaurant serving seasonal Danish cuisine. If I would not have found a directory in Vanderbilt Hall, I think I would have ended up calling them to ask for directions, Google Maps being useless once you enter in the beautiful train station that is Grand Central.