I love delicatessen for the atmosphere and food they serve and was looking forward to trying Sarge's in Murray Hill. Opened since 1964, this place is the perfect example of a deli experience: lots of items on the menu, huge sandwiches and rude service. It is opened 24/7 and has this authentic feel that gives the restaurant some charm: diner like decor, Tiffany's lamps and celebrity photos on the wall.
I recently ended up with my colleagues at JJ Bitting Brewing Company in Woodbridge. Interesting place indeed: big, rustic, you can see in the middle of the main dining room some of the fermenters used to make beer. Yes, as its name indicates, JJ Bitting is a brewery and I tried one of their beers, the Aldahat Amber, a medium bodied ale that was fruity and slightly bitter, exactly as they described it. I could have gone for their beer flight, but admit that I am a light weight and as it was equivalent to two beers, I passed.
I recently got invited to Ms. Yoo, opened last July, is the new venture from Chef Esther Choi who gave us the fantastic Mokbar in Chelsea Market (and now Brooklyn). Taking its name from Chef Choi's Grandmother who taught her how to cook when she was a kid, Ms Yoo is not your traditional Korean restaurant, boasting a small menu perfect to share that is very creative and unique, a fusion between Korean and American cuisines. The space is also beautiful, and you cannot miss the cast iron trellises covered with vines, that give a certain elegance to the place, far from the casual setting of Mokbar.
This week, I got invited to the soft opening of Hudson Hall, a Beer Hall and Smokehouse located few blocks from the Grove St Path station in Jersey City that is opening on September 23, 2017. This is an incredible place: when being there, you would think that you stepped into an old beer hall, when in fact the space has been completely gutted and rebuilt, with lots of attention to detail. The space is divided into three different sections: the huge dining room, with its bar that has a round shape on one extremity, allowing six people to sit facing each over; the small dining room with its incredible ceiling (called "the deli"), and the tunnel to go from one room to the other, giving a glimpse into the busy kitchen.
Last week, I was invited by Chef Nick Wang to sample his menu at Amami, a Japanese restaurant with a rustic and zen feel in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I spoke a bit with Chef Wang who spoke about his passion to serve unique high quality food, using natural ingredients. In fact, Amami means "sweetness from the heavens" and the name written in Japanese calligraphy that is displayed on one of the walls of the dining room, also means harmony, representing the harmony of flavors as well as the harmony of the staff working in the restaurant like family as Chef Wang explained.
Few weeks after discovering Burger & Lobster near the Flatiron, I received an invite to try their new restaurant located few steps from Bryant Park and Times Square. I was very excited as my previous experience, posted just few days ago was great and I was looking forward to go back to try one of their items: The Beast, a burger topped with lobster, a decadent surf and turf.
It's been a while we wanted to go to Burger and Lobster, having heard about this place from our friend Tessa. So, we decided to go on a Saturday, at noon, the time they open, thinking that it was a small place that would be crowded quickly. Well, we were wrong: not only it was not that crowded, but I was surprised to discover such huge place (with red predominant to symbolize the color of the lobster) that has also a small room downstairs. Nice decor with the traps to capture lobsters and of course the fish tanks at the entrance where you can see some beautiful lobsters.
Last February, I went to Victor's Cafe to try their lunch deal that was pretty good, and was looking forward to go back for dinner. I love this place that serves some delicious food. Lunch and dinner are quite different, the quiet atmosphere being replaced by a busy, loud but still bearable one, with Cuban music in the background when it is not live music.
We recently went to Greek Town, a restaurant we did not even knew existed until we passed in front of it in a taxi on our way to Jersey City's Liberty Science Center, and we decided to check it out. We went for brunch and I admit that I wish we knew that this place, opened a year and a half earlier, was there. It is not a fancy restaurant and the decor is fairly simple, but the food was delicious and reasonably priced.
We were looking for a tapas place when we stumbled upon El Quinto Pino in Chelsea. I thought it was a small place at first, not knowing that there is a bar area and, in the back, a dining room of a good size. Menu wise, each item is made to be shared, the selection for brunch split between little tapas, sandwiches and salads, and eggs. For drinks, they mostly have coffee and tea as well as cocktails.
It's been a while since we wanted to try Cherche Midi, one of the multiple restaurants of Keith McNally, who owns Balthazar, Morandi, Minetta Tavern and Pastis. Not because of his other popular restaurants, but because we loved Pulino's the restaurant that used to be there before Cherche Midi. Unfortunately the restaurant did not work as expected and was replaced. It is a nice place, with some elements of the decor kept. A bit dark though when going for dinner...
I love Korean fried chicken: it is so crispy thanks to its double frying process, sometimes spicy and surely tasty. I admit that it has my preference from all fried chickens out there. So I was really looking forward to going to Turntable LP Bar & Karaoke in K-Town with my friend Benny. I discovered it few years ago at Turntable Chicken Jazz and put it at the same level as the popular BonChon. Interestingly, both Turntable places are like a hidden gem (beware that Turntable Chicken Jazz is currently relocating one block away from its current location): if you do not know they are there, you will miss them.
Few days after going to The Chinese Club, I was invited at Laut, a South East Asian restaurant near Union Square, opened many years ago by the same owners, Stacey and Salil Mehta. Laut is not unknown to me, as I went there few years ago, after hearing about that place that was the first Malaysian restaurant to get a Michelin Star in New York. We went when they opened at 1pm on Sunday and there was not that many people, until maybe half an hour later when the restaurant got crowded.
When being invited at The Chinese Club in Williamsburg, I had no idea about the history coming with this place. Stacey Lo, co-owner with her husband of this place that opened in March 2016, is the Granddaughter of Lo Fung Foo, the founder of the original Chinese Club, a restaurant in Darjeeling, India, established in 1914 (hence the reference on the facade), that catered to Chinese expatriates.
I love Mexican-Japanese fusion since I tried it at the regretted Taka Taka in TriBeCa. And when Las Olas opened in hoboken several years ago, I was really happy. We went several times there, but I realized that I never posted about it. Las Olas is a pretty popular spot Uptown Hoboken, offering deals all week long like the Monday's half price appetizer or the Thursday's unlimited chicken wings. Quite good deals, indeed considering how good their food is.
We've heard so many things about the little India in Jersey City, that we decided to check it out. We ate at Vaibhav, but it was not our first choice. No, we were supposed to eat at Vatan with a reservation at 12pm, but, after waiting close to 15 minutes in front of a closed door, we decided to go somewhere else. Don't be mistaken though: Vatan has nothing to do with the elegant Indian place in the city that I still need to discover.
Sometimes it is nice to do touristy things and as I told Jodi that in my last trip to India I went to The Hard Rock Café in Gurgaon, we decided to visit their location in Times Square that we've never been too. We went on a Saturday, not too late to avoid the crowd and got seated fairly quickly, keeping a tour of the restaurant for later as we did not want to miss the tons of memorabilia they have from iconic stars like Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones to name a few. There's definitely a fun atmosphere there whether you like rock or not.
We were looking for a place to have an early lunch close to the IFC Center where we were going to see the documentary "City of Ghosts" about the improvised journalists of Raqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (eye opening by the way), when we found White Oak Tavern on Waverly Place. Nice place, fairly big with a bar in a sort of U shape in the middle with an impressive collection of alcohol, especially whiskey. I love the rustic feel of the place that gives the impression you stepped back in time, with old objects and photos on the shelves.
It's been a while since I had Cajun and creole food, the only restaurant I knew in Manhattan being closed unfortunately, as I wanted to explore more of this cuisine after a wonderful trip in New Orleans few years ago (yes, I still rave about the beignets at Café du Monde). I did find a couple of food trucks but was never thrilled by the experience. Until I got invited at The Gumbos Bros, a small and charming place in Brooklyn that opened in December 2016, meeting with my friend Malini, The Restaurant Fairy. There, I got to try quite a lot of specialties and made up my recommended meal: fried green tomatoes (perfectly non ripe tomatoes deep fried), a po'boy (I cannot decide between the catfish and their best seller made with shrimp), and the banana pudding (I had to go and missed the beignets).