Being a blogger has its perks and one of them is that you get sometimes invited to previews of upcoming menus or collections such as the 2017 Valentine's and Easter Collections event organized last week at La Maison Du Chocolat on The Upper East Side. Well, I was not just excited about the chocolate, although I could easily imagine being locked inside this place all night...It was also because I got the opportunity to meet Geoffroy D' Anglejan-Chattilon, Managing Director of La Maison du Chocolat with whom I had a nice chat.
I love NY for the diversity of its food and was not disappointed after eating at Esperanto, a Latin restaurant located in Alphabet City that is celebrating its 17th Anniversary. This place has a neighborhood latin café feel that I always like to find, far from the famous places where there is no soul. It is not a big place, but it benefits from having space outside for a few tables, so patrons can enjoy the last bit of good weather before winter comes. Esperanto is not a big place; it is colorful and warm, with a rustic feel.
When temperatures start to go down, I am always looking forward for ramen. I was really looking forward to try Mentoku in Hell's Kitchen. I saw that place while walking down the street and noticed their spicy ramen with...whipped cream. Not that I was going to try it as it seems to be really spicy, but still, I was a bit curious. We went on a Saturday to this small cash only place that was not as crowded as Totto Ramen that we passed by few hours later.
The last time I went to Fogo de Chao was few months after this upscale steakhouse opened, back in December 2013. I even went to one of their locations in Sao Paolo that I found of lesser quality than their sister restaurant in the big apple. Well, the location itself is amazing with its three floors and I cannot imagine the rent they pay a month.
Roni-Sue's Chocolates is not unknown to me as I got to a try few times their amazing chocolates, even recently at the Great Big Bacon Picnic in Williamsburg where they presented a delicious bacon butter crunch toffee.
I heard about Haandi, a fast casual restaurant serving Pakistani and North Indian cuisine: it is apparently a favorite spot for taxi drivers and the line of taxis in front of this place when I arrived seemed to confirm this, although when I entered the joint, it was not that crowded and the customers who came later seem to be business people rather than cabbies.
I will not surprise anybody by saying that Empanadas Café serves mainly...empanadas. If you want to eat something else, you are going to be very, very, very, limited. I was excited to go there, not only because I love empanadas, those little pockets of deliciousness that are either baked or fried, but also because they offer a wide variety of them, away from the classic beef or cheese ones.
People always talk about John's Pizza, Grimaldi's or XXX, but there is a little gem on Bleecker Street that I highly recommend: Kesté Pizza and Vino. Serving sublime Neapolitan pizza, one of their best credentials is that their owner, Roberto Capiruscio is the president of the US branch of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli (APN - Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers), that ensures that Neapolitan pizza are made following strict guidelines (water temperature, specific flour, etc. ).
That brownie was one of the best I ever had! Wait! Flashback: this is supposed to be a post about a healthy place: how did I end up talking about a brownie? Well, EXKI, from the French word "exquis" that means exquisite, is a healthy casual eatery with more than 75 locations in Europe, trying to appeal to the busy and health conscious New Yorker (no brownie so far). With two locations in New York, this one is not new, but they upgraded their space to make it brighter (thanks to the carrera marble, white walls and light colors) and simpler, letting the food shine.
Food wise, there is no duplicity, rather authenticity and Executive Chef Gian Pietro Ferro crafted a menu that would satisfy any palate eager to discover Italian food. There are of course the pizza with the thin crust, but their homemade pasta are also noticeable. I decided to start the meal with a cocktail and went for the Paolo Uccello, named after a Renaissance painter. It was made with tequila, blood orange liquor, fresh rosemary and lime.
I was recently invited to a dinner prepared by Italian Chef Walter Potenza for the launch of Pasta Lensi's line of legume pasta. Yes, you heard well: legume pasta. At first, I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by this pasta, and not just because of the recipes cooked by Chef Potenza, his logic being to make the pasta the star of the dish (he only uses three ingredients to keep the recipe simple and the flavors clean) and not just a "carrier" for a sauce.
After our trip to San Francisco and our fantastic meal at La Taqueria, we were craving Mexican food. So, as we were going to see a movie in Times Square, I searched for a restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. That is how we found El Centro, a very colorful place with an interesting decor, especially the figurines made of metal that cover one of the walls.
I was looking for a French restaurant when I stumbled upon Chez Jacqueline, a bistro in Soho. Besides an interesting menu, what convinced me further to try it was their Wednesday deal: $15 for steak. And not just a couple of cuts: you can choose sirloin, filet mignon, skirt, etc. Of course, for that price, do not expect a ribeye or porterhouse!
Located in Hell's Kitchen, Esanation is a Thai restaurant with a lounge vibe. Serving northeastern cuisine (Isan province = Isan nation for the name of the place?), they serve patrons in a modern decor with couple of neons (Love neon in the back or the disco ball in the dining room) playing an upbeat music, setting itself apart from many restaurants that will play Thai music. In fact, it reminded me a bit Viv, another Thai place close by.