A couple of weeks ago, we went close to South Street Seaport to an art exhibit called Art on Paper. After that , we wanted to have dinner in the Financial District, remembering our experience with our friends at Adrienne's Pizza Bar, when we noticed a bunch of restaurants we wanted to try. For sure the atmosphere of Stone street was different this time as there were no tables outside and besides a couple of drunk people going from one bar to another, it was very quiet. We were looking for a place when we stumbled upon Vintry, a Wine and Whisky bar, that seemed welcoming.
On a Saturday, we were supposed to have lunch at Mi Nidito, a Mexican restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. After booking a table on Openable.com, I received a text from the owner who told me that they were not open for lunch and proposed to go to Mamasita, its sister restaurant located on 10th avenue, a couple of blocks away, that serves the exact same menu. We were craving Mexican food, so we accepted. Mamasita is a casual place that offers an impressive number of margaritas. But, it was not something I was looking for for lunch, having things to do in the afternoon...We started off our meal with guacamole. It was good, fresh and not spicy, as requested.
We were walking on 10th on a Saturday, going uptown to a Mexican restaurant we wanted to try for lunch, when we stumbled upon Method, a Japanese restaurant I never noticed before, although it has been opened for a year and we passed in front of it so many times. So, we decided to go back that day for dinner, after some time spent in the City. We showed up at 5:30pm, when they opened, and were surprised when they asked us if we had a reservation as we were the first to arrive and the restaurant was empty. Well, it was empty for maybe 30 minutes and the totally packed. After trying their food, I understood why: it was simply magnificent!
I am sure some of you may wonder what I was doing dining in Times Square considering that lots of restaurants there only care about foot traffic and less about returning customers, catering to a crowd made of tourists and theater goers who do not know that Hell's Kitchen even exists. And after that sad experience few weeks ago at Da Marino, one would think that I would not try again. Well, I did as I had nice surprise in the past and was thinking that maybe this one would be added to my list of unknown gems in that area. The food was overall good and prices reasonable, but the service really needs some improvement:
Located few steps from Central Park in the 1 Hotel Central Park, Jams, the restaurant of Celebrity Chef Jonathan Waxman is a little gem. I am always a bit apprehensive when going to a restaurant attached to a hotel, but at Jams, I was blown away. With its open kitchen in the back where the magic happens, the beautiful decor with its exposed brick and reclaimed oak, as well as the large windows, Jams serves an interesting menu made of seasonal dishes, some made to share.
Lotus Blue Dongtian Kitchen and Bar is not unknown to me as we knew their location in TriBeCa that was definitely more spectacular than this new one near Union Square. This restaurant serves Chinese cuisine, Yunan inspired, with a bunch of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. I started the meal by ordering a cocktail and chose the Toki Old Fashioned, made with Suntory Whiskey Toki, a splash of grapefruit and bitters. It was very good, delightfully tart.
After we went to Antique Bar & Bakery in Hoboken for brunch few weeks ago, we were really looking forward to trying their dinner menu. We had a reservation at 7pm with Opentable.com, but were told that seating would be between 7pm and 8pm and that we could sit at the bar. We arrived 15 minutes earlier (it was a Friday) and got indeed seated at the bar, although I noticed some empty tables behind us. And guess what: 10 minutes after and a cocktail down my throat, we sat to one of these same tables. I could not not think that it was a way to make people order drinks...Anyway, we were really wise to go early as, at 7:30pm, the place was packed, with tons of people waiting in the bar area and no table available.
Located in Princeton University’s new Arts and Transit neighborhood and across from The McCarter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, Cargot Brasserie is a French inspired restaurant that opened in July 2017. We got invited there last week for lunch, an occasion to go to Princeton not just for that, but also to visit one of our friends, Livia.
The last place we tried at Urbanspace Vanderbilt was La Palapa, a mexican restaurant that is not unknown to us as we went few times to their East Village location (great French toast for brunch!). Perfect for a quick bite, it was not the best tacos though...Here is what I tried:
Guacamole and chips: good but this is a tiny portion that they give! There is a larger portion but it is not worth the $15 they ask for. Otherwise, the guacamole, not made to order, was good.
No need to go to Brooklyn anymore to have a delicious taste of Roberta's: their outpost at Urbanspace Vanderbilt is superb! Yes, the pizzas are small and a bit pricey, but they are worth it. These small neapolitan pizzas serve one person, allowing people to share a bunch. I love the crust that is crispy on the outside and deliciously charred and they offer a nice selection that can satisfy vegetarian and non-vegetarian patrons. For instance, we tried:
Mr Bing, located in Urbanspace Vanderbilt, serves jianbing, traditional Northern Chinese crepes, a street food that the founder, Brian Goldberg, tried while studying Chinese in Beijing in 1998. The way the crepes or bings are made is with mung bean, rice and wheat flour crepe coated with egg, sesame seeds, scallions, hoisin sauce, crispy chili paste, cilantro, and crunchy wontons. Then, you can pick the filling. Jodi ordered the classic vegetarian bing that is the crepe with no filling.
I love fried chicken, a dish I never had in France if it was not at...KFC in Paris! Yes, fried chicken is not something that you would find in classic French cooking, and I think it is too bad as I love it! So, I was really looking forward to try Delaney Chicken at Urbanspace Vanderbilt. Their menu is simple: chicken, chicken and chicken, offering three types of sandwiches.
I love food halls as they offer some food diversity, perfect if people have different tastes and usually not too pricey. We discovered last year Urbanspace Vanderbilt, a food hall located few steps from Grand Central, that hosts 20 different vendors, from Japanese ramen (Ippudo), lobster rolls (Luke's Lobster), to burgers and shakes (Hard Times Sundaes). We went for the latter, trying not just the burgers, but also their old fashioned egg cream, an item that screams Americana, that was quite good.
Finally! Choc-O-Pain, the French bakery located Downtown Hoboken just opened an Uptown location, replacing Ganache in the Hudson Tea Building. It is a good move as the north part of the city is missing some places like this, Brod finally withdrawing their project to open in the Maxwell Place building, close to La Isla.
Choc-O-Pain Uptown is quite big, with a lot of light thanks to the large windows, with even a small room where people with kids can enjoy some time there.
For Valentine's Day, we decided to go back to Boucherie, but we discovered that they just opened, a couple of days before, a new location near Union Square, on Park Avenue South. I admit that we are always a bit reticent to go out that day because a lot of restaurants are packed (kitchen overwhelmed and short in staff) or propose an overpriced prix-fixe. But, considering the meal we had the week before in their West Village location, we thought it would be worth trying.
We recently discovered Boucherie, butcher shop in French, a restaurant in the West Village that is conveniently located close to the Christopher Street subway stop. With its brasserie feel, this place is quite big, with two dining rooms that boast a nice decor made of old commercials and photos, and white tiles to give that butcher shop feel.
When I booked a table at Da Marino on Opentable, I did not realize I passed many times in front of this place, where every time, there was somebody outside the restaurant haranguing the crowd to persuade them to come have a meal there, something that I always thought was unnecessary if a place is good. Well, too late: we already had a reservation and I was set on having spaghetti alle vongole, one of my favorite Italian dishes, as well as a tiramisu (yes, I most of the time know what I will be eating as we always scrutinize the menu before going).
We recently discovered a great place in Long Island City called The Baroness. Located few steps from Queensborro Plaza, it is a burger bar that serves fantastic burgers! Well, fortunately for them as this is their main purpose, but no, really, their burgers are so good that we went twice in a week. They have close to 20 different beef burgers made with Pat Lafrieda meat, that they cook medium rare and bring with a knife planted into them adding a bit of drama to the presentation. But, if you do not like beef, you can have lamb, chicken, ahi tuna or a vegetarian patty (that is house made), but with a much limited choice, all on the menus that are presented in old record sleeves.
I love Qi, a Thai restaurant serving a modern fair that relocated from Times Square to Hell's Kitchen, at the location where Chef Pichet Ong opened Chaan Teng, an eclectic Chinese restaurant end of 2016, that unfortunately closed. It is unfortunate as Chaan Teng was pretty good, but at least, it gives Qi a better chance to attract customers, the restaurant in Times Square being beautiful, but not the best location, with people also wondering if it was a lounge considering the feel it had. In Hell's kitchen, there is no doubt, even with the music playing, that they are serving food.