We had Cecconi’s in Dumbo on our radar for a while. Each time we went to that area, we saw this place full with sometimes a line at the door. Little we knew that this Italian restaurant had locations in many places like West Hollywood, Miami, Istanbul, Barcelona, Berlin and London. I did not imagine before eating there that it was so huge, but the best is their waterfront seating that offers stunning views of Manhattan and the Manhattan bridge.
Habanero Blues is back! After changing the concept to American Hall, a beer hall serving classic American dishes, the Reisenbach brothers decided to bring back the Mexican cuisine in this huge and amazing space, keeping the arcade room in the colorful downstairs area. I admit that I was looking forward to having dinner there, some of the items served there being delicious and not often offered on menus, like the Esquites en Vaso, a Mexico City street style corn made with chipotle aioli, cotija cheese and cayenne pepper. Unfortunately, it was not anymore offered, but we could enjoy their classic guacamole that is quite good: well seasoned with chunks of avocado as I like it (who likes a soupy guacamole?).
Since it opened, Hudson Yards has been the focus of many articles and Instagram posts, whether about the views, The Vessel or the restaurants. Often crowded, the mall there has many places to eat, from reasonable to expensive. On the latter, Estiatorio Milos sits on an upper floor (you have to climb some beautiful stairs from the bar to the dining room), with stunning views worth seeing at sun down.
We recently went to Legacy Records, a place located in a new condo in Hudson Yards. I admit that I was looking for a place at the newly opened Hudson Yards area and did not check the address until the day of our brunch, discovering, fortunately beforehand, that it was not where I thought it was. No, located in the Henry Hall Hotel, Legacy Records is for sure off the beaten path and I would have never discovered it if it was not thanks to Opentable. I was excited to go, thinking that the decor would relate to an old record label but it was not the case, bringing a bit of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the decor there is beautiful and elegant, quite huge in fact, with an impressive horseshoe bar.
I noticed Junzi Kitchen a few weeks ago, as they opened their doors few steps from Bryant Park. This fast casual place serves noodles and bings, these Northern Chinese thin crepes (also called Chun Bing) that I tried for the first time at Mr Bing in Urban Space Vanderbilt. I was excited to try it, although feeling the pressure in this type of restaurants to give my order quickly, people waiting behind me. Not that it was crowded though, but I thought it might have been because they opened recently in a location that is probably not ideal.
I had DaDong, a fancy Chinese restaurant few steps from Bryant Park on my list for a while and was convinced to go there after hearing a conversation in the street from three friends of Asian descent claiming this was the best Chinese restaurant in the city. Famous in China for sure, where chef Dong Zhenxiang opened more than 15 locations devoted to Peking Duck, a dish that duck lovers should appreciate: it is made of thin slices of duck served with a crispy and fatty skin. I could eat that every day, but it is not that often that restaurant serve half a duck and getting a whole one would only work if going with friends, Jodi being vegetarian...
We passed in front of Woodpecker by David Burke so many times that we decided to try it last Friday. For sure, the location is a bit forgettable, on 30th between Broadway and 5th, a bit off the beaten path and that might be why it was not that crowded when we went. Too bad because I found the food quite good and very interesting, not classic, with only few options for vegetarians though. This place has a nice atmosphere and although I found the service a bit spotty, surprisingly considering it was not that crowded, I would come back. Here is what we tried:
It has been a while since we went to Dafni Greek Taverna across from Port Authority and I admit that I totally forgot to post about our last visit. So, as we were looking for a place very close to this area because we were meeting Jodi’s cousin Rebecca , we booked a table for a dinner. The place was not that crowded (it was a Wednesday), and the waiter found a way to mix up dishes a bit, mistake that I would put on his difficulty to understand my French accent, although I was showing him the items we we were ordering on the menu.
We hear a lot about Mediterranean diet, so I took that dining experience as a way to improve our health, dessert included. Here is what we had:
We had a plan to go to the Whitney Museum Biennial exhibit but I admit that I was more thrilled about what was coming next: the brunch at Untitled, the restaurant on the side of the Museum (you do not need to go into the museum to go there). I cannot believe it has been two years that we went there and I was looking forward to eating two things: the burger and the cookie and milk that Chef Suzanne Cupps proposes.
Dining at Bar Boulud, one of the many restaurants of acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud, never disappoints: the food is great and a perfect representation of classic French dishes, like the cassoulet that has become more popular in New York the past few years, with even an annual competition where the best Chefs across the country are dueling over a very comforting dish for the title of best cassoulet in New York. This competition is called The Cassoulet War, a perfect name for a dish that was created during the 100 year war between France and Britain, 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.
There are not that many restaurants that have a unique way of doing things that sticks in your mind. When people ask me about a life changing dining experience, I often think about Noma, where Chef Rene Redzepi showcases unusual ingredients that Mother Nature has to offer like moss or flowers. In New York, I think about The Marshal in Hell’s Kitchen, that cooks all the dishes in their wood fire oven (they do not have a regular oven, so even the S’mores are cooked in there) and in Hoboken, there is Antique Bar and Bakery, downtown.
Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies? I discovered them in France, when I was a kid: my brother made some at school, but it was really something we saw on TV, not that mainstream, that appeared few years later at the supermarket. Then, coming here, I had a revelation at Levain Bakery, on the Upper West Side: they serve the kind of cookies that make you want to lay down. They are big, heavy, chewy, with tons of chocolate. Sweet but not overly. My next cookie adventure was at City Bakery where I got the chance to try freshly made cookies that were so delightfully buttery that you refuse to share them.
As we were planning to go see artists in Dumbo for open studios (check out one of my favorites, Peter Drake that we never miss to visit), I was happily tasked to find a place for lunch. As Jodi loves pizza even more than I do, I looked up for a pizzeria and found Love and Dough on Pearl street, just few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. This place has a nice feel with lots of old black and white photos of Italian actors and actresses and the smell of their brick oven that sits in the back of the dining room. They offer Neapolitan pizza, made with flour imported from Napoli and apparently make their own pasta that I will have to try in our next visit.
It’s been a while we have been to The Kati Roll Company, a restaurant that serves these delicious street food wraps that originated in Kolkata, India. There are many variants, but, at The Kati Roll Company, they are made by wrapping warm paratha, a type of Indian flat bread, around a variety of meats, vegetables and cheese. But I would not compare them with wraps that you can find anywhere else: these are so flavorful that one is not enough, even if some are spicy…We went on a Saturday, at 7pm, and the place was already full. I should even say packed and we got lucky because our friend Caleb got a table and was able to resist the various attempts by hungry customers to storm it
We were looking for the best ice cream in Chicago and a quick Google search brought us, on a rainy day, to Cone Gourmet Ice Cream, a family run ice cream parlor with an Irish theme (between the “Lick me I’m Irish and ice cream flavored in Jameson whisky - that I did not like - or Baileys, you cannot miss that). That place has its charm and is cozy, with a neighborhood feel. However, I found the flavors to be a bit too much out there and wished they offered classic flavors like hazelnut.
We were looking for a breakfast place when we stumbled upon Mindy’s Hot Chocolate in the Revival food hall: this small place serves a bunch of mouth watering goodies besides bagels and we liked it so much that we went twice, our experience at Le Pain Quotidien being quite disappointing over the week end (yes, this place is closed Saturday and Sunday, so we had to find a backup…).
On our first day in Chicago, we looked up donuts places and stumbled upon Firecakes Donuts, a shop with a few locations in the Windy City. It is with excitement that we went to their Hubbard street location in the River North neighborhood and I was surprised to see a very small place with no seating area. This is the kind of joint where you truly get overwhelmed by the many tempting choices in front of you, knowing that you will probably go only once as a visitor. So we decided to try three donuts and not just two: there were a sprinkles donut, a buttermilk old fashioned and a honey glazed donut.
With a name like Goddess and The Baker, you can expect incredible food and so we decided to try this place for breakfast and then went back later on for a treat in the afternoon. The place is not that big and seems to be quite popular to the point that it can be challenging to get a table, especially if the tables outside are not an option because of the rain (and it rained a lot as we were visiting the Windy City).
With its one Michelin Star earned since 2011, Sepia has been feeding Chicago diners a seasonal menu working with producers who use sustainable practices. This West loop restaurant is a true gem for sure and we were glad we could get a table on a crowded Saturday. With a near perfect service, although overwhelmed as the evening went and the dining room filled out, we had a great time and ate delicious food as you will see below.
You may find that Fat Rice is too off the beaten path to go there but not going would be a serious mistake. Surely, when you think about Chicago, especially when you are a tourist, you are more inclined to try the deep dish pizza that the city has to offer and I admit that if we would have not seen the season finale of Top Chef in Macau (the finale was in Macau, not us unfortunately, although I visited this place many years ago) last March, we would not have gone there.