Dinner at Valerie

Dinner at Valerie

When I picked Valerie for a Friday evening dinner, I did not know what to expect: French firstname, description on Opentable saying they propose an American fare and menu featuring Asian inspired dishes like the Korean BBQ fried chicken sandwich. I was at a loss. And did not expect either to end up on such loud place, the saving grace being the end of the happy hour!

One Girl Cookies in Dumbo, Brooklyn

One Girl Cookies in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Located in Dumbo, One Girl Cookies is the kind of place that you are looking forward to visit, expecting, based on its name, to get giant cookies that would make you be unreasonable and defy your doctor for a minute or two. But no, no big cookies, rather tea treats smaller than the size of a dollar coin if you discard cupcakes, whoopie pies (the red velvet one is delicious) and the linzer torte that is not to be confused with the linzer cookies with its crumbly cookie and confectioner sugar: …

Mexican Dinner at Vida Verde

Mexican Dinner at Vida Verde

We were looking for a Mexican restaurant Midtown Manhattan when we found Vida Verde on Opentable. So we decided to go there on a Friday evening, not knowing that it would be so loud, the noise level making the entire experience there a bit painful. This bi-level restaurant with a rooftop would definitely satisfy margarita lovers and other guacamole aficionados (it is made table side but do not expect a cart coming to you like some places do: there is not enough space between tables to allow that and they simply put all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing them in front of you).

Ravagh Persian Grill in Midtown

Ravagh Persian Grill in Midtown

Operated since 1998, with few locations in New York City, Ravagh Persian Grill is, according to one of my co-worker who is Iranian-American, the best Persian restaurant in the city. So we had to try it and did so on a Saturday evening. With its two floors, the place slowly filled up as the evening went by, with quite a lot of Iranian patrons, a good sign that this place had some authenticity. Food wise, we were there for a treat, with large plates coming in front of us, enough for this diner and another.

Choc O Pain in Jersey City

Choc O Pain in Jersey City

As I had to be in Jersey City for an early meeting, I could not miss an opportunity to go to Choc O Pain few steps from the Grove Street Path Station. Smaller than its sisters bakeries, Choc O Pain has a nice neighborhood feel, with a rusticity that gives some coziness to the whole place, an a French touch from food to music.

Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook, Brooklyn

It has been a while since I wanted to try Hometown Bar-B-que in Red Hook, but I admit that going from New Jersey to Brooklyn can feel like a whole trip, especially on the weekends with all the construction in the subway. But, I saw that it was possible to go there using the ferry to the neighboring IKEA, a ferry that is free on week ends, but can be packed. So we ended up going the week end of Labor Day (yes, I know: this post is long overdue) at Pier 11 with my co worker Quentin, for what would be a phenomenal meal. 25 minutes after boarding, we approached the restaurant, noticing a nice smell as well as a small “portable” smoker on the side of the street, smoker that I guess is used in fairs like Smorgasburg.

Aunt Jake's Wine Bar and Pasta Lab

Aunt Jake's Wine Bar and Pasta Lab

I often crave Italian food, especially pasta, and was glad to discover Aunt Jake’s Wine Bar and Pasta Lab in Greenwich Village. I am sure we passed in front of it several times, unnoticed, until I found it on Opentable. Crowded for a Wednesday evening, a reservation was needed and people without one were turned away. We sat at a table, but I admit that my eyes keep looking at the counter where one guy kept making pasta over and over, wondering if he would not get bored at some point. Yes, they propose fresh pasta at Aunt Jake’s and I like the fact that you can make your own dish, choosing first the pasta (fettuccine, tagliatelle, cavatelli or rigatoni to name a few), and then the sauce to pair it with (marinara, arrabbiata, meatballs, all vodka, etc.), making each visit different. Of course, you can pick a specialty dish like I did:

Dozzino, pizza in Hoboken, NJ

Dozzino, pizza in Hoboken, NJ

Located off the beaten path, Dozzino serves pizza cooked in a wood fire oven with rustic decor and a relaxed atmosphere. It is one of my colleagues who recommended this place and told me that it is packed on week ends, but going during the week right after they open is perfect for some quiet time. The pizza itself is not that big, probably enough for one person, but perfect to share, with a nice mix between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The crust is crispy and not floppy in the center, with the outer part being puffed up and nicely charred. La Pizza is their classic, made with fior di latte that they make in house from curd from Caputo Brothers Creamery, tomato and basil.

Brasserie Cognac, French restaurant Midtown Manhattan

Brasserie Cognac, French restaurant Midtown Manhattan

I have been to Brasserie Cognac few times but for brunch, so it was time to try their dinner, knowing that there was one dish that I wanted to taste there: the cassoulet, a white bean stew that is up and coming in New York. Owned by a descendant of the famous writer Victor Hugo (Les Misérables), Brasserie Cognac serves a delicious French fare where classic brasserie dishes are proposed like escargots (remember, the butter sauce is the best with pieces of bread, but the salad that comes with it is as if they wanted to justify a higher price) or steak frites. Their cheese soufflé that can be served an appetizer or an entree (the entree will have a salad, the same as for the escargots by the way), is very good, elevated with truffle oil. Vegetarians have few choices like the cheese platter that I always consider to be a bit of a ripoff as you get small pieces of cheese for what you pay, or the goat cheese and