Brunch at Balthazar in New York: boudin noir and tarte tatin!

Balthazar restaurant is an institution in New York. Located in Soho, it has been opened in 1997 by Keith McNally and co-chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson. The place is famous for its food and for the bakery, with a store located outside of the restaurant. You can even find Balthazar breads and viennoiseries (croissants, chocolate croissants...) in supermarket or other restaurants. I have to say that each time I had some, it was delicious. 

Coming back to the restaurant: the decor is impressive. It is located in an old leather wholesale building; it has high ceilings with fans, and the walls have impressive mirrors. But, it is a madhouse! You'd better get a reservation! Between the tourists who are coming because Balthazar is in all the guides, the people eager to see celebrities and those who really like the food, they have no problem to get customers (waiting inside and outside)! Unfortunately, it comes to a price: they have maximized the space with tables everywhere, sacrificing comfort either for the clients or for the wait staff. For instance, it was difficult for the staff to access our table located in a corner because it was stuck between a large round table and another long table, with no space to go in between. Despite this, the service was very efficient and I have to say, extremely nice.

The brunch menu proposes a nice upscale version of traditional French dishes, such as the salad nicoise that is in France served with canned tuna, but there, with seared tuna.
They of course have a basket of fresh baked breads and pastries from their bakery. Always delicious. You will anyway have the opportunity to try their bread as they bring a bread basket with butter to the table.
The Pain au Levain (sourdough bread) was excellent.

We then tried one of their best sellers: the warm goat cheese and caramelized onion tart. It was served with a salad. We did not know it was coming with a salad and ordered the mixed field greens with vinaigrette, but the waiter warn us that the tart came anyway with a salad. I have to say that I always appreciate that! In a lot of restaurants, they would just let you order.
The salad had sun dried tomatoes and there was also some tapenade (black olive spread) that was delicious. The tart was to die for! It was so flavorful!

Then, I ordered the poached eggs boudin noir. Boudin noir is a sausage of mixed pork meat cooked in blood that gives the black color. Hence the name of blood sausage. It is a traditional dish in France, but I never tried it before.

It was served with two perfectly made poached eggs, potatoes, caramelized onions and frisee salad. The sausage looked pretty good and shiny. But it was a bit tough to cut as the skin was thick. It tasted a bit like a pate with a similar texture. Like pate, I could eat so much of it. I probably left a third at the end.

We finished with an apple tart tatin. This was a deception!
It was like a gelee (jelly) on top and was so sweet. I did not finish it either.

At the end of the day, it was an ok brunch, on the pricey side. I think for the same price I would more go to The Standard Grill and for a less pricey to Marseilles!

Enjoy (meh)!

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

Where is my lunch??? 10th and Willow Bar and Grill in Hoboken, NJ

We decided to go to 10th and Willow in Hoboken for Brunch. The place is nice with a warm atmosphere rendered by the wood from floor to ceiling (high). We were given the choice of sitting in the bar room on high chairs and high tables or go to the dining room in the back. We picked the bar as it had a certain charm.

The menu offers classic brunch dishes or meals you would find in tailgate such as chicken wings or burgers (build your own). We ordered French toast and Huevos Rancheros (one of my favorites). I am not sure if they prepare the food out of town, but it took more than 30 minutes to get served and I had to ask the waitress if there was a problem with the kitchen so she took care of us!!! Clearly poor service! The table next to us arrived before us and when we left, did not even have their food! I have to say that I admired their patience; the Bloody Mary may have helped them...I did some research on the internet and it seems that poor service is one of the characteristics of this place!

So, 30 minutes later, our food arrived:

First was the cinnamon raisin French Toast, served with toasted coconut butter and fresh fruits. When we asked for some more coconut butter, they were nice enough to bring a lot more, although I was a bit scared that it would take another 30 minutes! The French toast was very good: crunchy and moist. 
The coconut butter was awesome and I am not a coconut addict!
I also appreciated the fact that they served the dishes with fresh fruits: it gives an impression of a complete meal.

Then there was the Huevos Rancheros: two poached eggs in a crispy corn tortilla shell with black bean salsa puree, shredded cheddar, spicy salsa, guacamole and home fries. The price of this plate is $15 so I was very surprised when I saw the quantities they were serving. It was probably worth $12. However, I am ready to pay a good price but it has to be real good! The guacamole was good, although missing a bit of acidity; in term of quantity, it was perfect. The eggs were well poached and the tortilla crispy as advertised. But, the black bean puree should have been called "thin layer of black bean puree"! I could barely taste it! And where was the spicy salsa? It was not spicy at all. So it was kind of disappointing. For good Huevos Rancheros in Hoboken, next time I will go to La Isla!

I am not sure it is worth giving another try. Especially considering the other good restaurants in the area!

Enjoy (meh)!

If you had a similar or different experience there, let me know by posting a comment!

10th & Willow Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Brunch at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Almond croissant at at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Almond croissant at at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

We went for brunch at La Bouche Cafe in Hoboken, a small cafe that opened this year, replacing a rice pudding joint called Miami Rice (!). I am not surprised that Miami Rice closed: first of all, you really need to know it is there as it is off the main street in Hoboken. Second, it was overpriced! Although it is always sad to see a business close, I was happy to see a cafe opening. 

Bread at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Bread at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

I thought that it would be like a French cafe, based on the name that means literally "The Cafe of the mouth". I would say that the decor with its little outdoor terrace and the nostalgia it inspires could remind me an old French cafe, as well as the viennoiseries (croissants and chocolate croissants), but it will stop there. The music they play is some old American 60's music and the menu, besides the croissants that are from Balthazar, is a typical American menu (bagel, eggs, sandwiches...). On their website, they mention quiches, but they were nowhere to be found when we went there.

From their menu, we tried:

  • The almond croissant: pretty good, but not as good as the one I got at the Old German Bakery in Hoboken. The later had a lot of almond paste in it that makes the almond croissant so good. Besides that, it was flaky, fresh and moist.
  • The smoked salmon omelette that was: smoked salmon, dill, cream cheese and scrambled eggs. It was good but like any smoked salmon omelette, a bit salty. The scrambled eggs were cooked perfectly (I hate when eggs are overcooked).
Smoked salmon omelet at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Smoked salmon omelet at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Smoked salmon omelet   at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Smoked salmon omelet at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

  • The Caprese salad served with avocados, basil and black olives. I though that the presentation was very nice! The avocado were ripe, the tomato and mozzarella delicious, although overdressed.
Caprese salad   at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Caprese salad at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Caprese salad   at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Caprese salad at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

They also serve coffee and tea. I would not go for the hot cocoa ($3) because it is simply Swiss Miss! They could at least propose a better quality cocoa!!!

The bill    at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

The bill at La bouche cafe in Hoboken, New Jersey

Overall, it was a nice little brunch at a reasonable price. And listen: if you like chocolate croissants, they have two bars of chocolate in it!

Enjoy (I did)!

La bouche cafe on Urbanspoon

Brunch at The Turning Point in Hoboken, NJ

We went for brunch at The Turning Point in Hoboken, New Jersey. They serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. This place is always packed and we wanted to see if there was a reason for it. Their menu is quite large, with pancakes, waffles, eggs, soups, etc...We went for the banana foster waffle and the scrambled eggs. I will start with the eggs as it is straight forward: the eggs were dry!!! I do not understand how difficult it is to make good scrambled eggs! On top of that, the potatoes could have been cooked a little longer!
The waffle was good at least: it was served with a sweet dark rum sauce and they put an entire banana on it. The only mishap was that they served walnuts instead of toasted pecans as indicated on the menu. 

Considering the price, I think the Turning Point is at the same level as any Diner and I would probably go back there for their waffles and pancakes.

Enjoy (I did)!

And remember: I just want to eat! 
Turning Point on Urbanspoon

Cedric, A French Bistro in Harlem

Cedric is a 40 seats restaurant in Harlem, New York City, that opened in August 2011. The owner, Cedric Lecendre, lives in Harlem and decided to do something in and for Harlem. The restaurant is bright and modern, with a nice atmosphere (at least when I tried it for brunch!). The service was very good and attentive.

For brunch, they serve standard dishes such as French toasts or eggs (scramble, benedict). They also serve some classic French specialties like Mussels and fries or foie gras. I tried their Escargots de Bourgogne (snails): they are prepared with butter, garlic and parsley. When they brought the dish, the butter was still bubbling! Not only the snails were deliciously cooked, the sauce was addictive. We asked for more bread so we could dip the bread in it!
For entrees, we had the cheeseburger and the Croque Monsieur. The burger was amazing! The bun was good (I hate when it is a dry bun because it is the first thing you will taste when you take a bite). The meat was a thick patty, well cooked (I asked medium) and very juicy. There was enough cheese and buried under the patty, they put a sauce made of ketchup and mayonnaise. It is definitely a good place for a burger!
Unfortunately, the Croque Monsieur was not good (imagine this: I did not even finish my piece!). The bechamel sauce was cold, the bread was just ok (they could have used a better bread like Challah) and the cheese on top should have been better gratine. The appearance of the dish was not very appetizing either.

Despite the Croque Monsieur, I would go back to Cedric to try their dinner menu.

Enjoy (I did)!
Cedric French Bistro on Urbanspoon
And remember: I just want to eat!

A French Brasserie In The Heart of New York - Brasserie Cognac

Brasserie Cognac, located near Columbus Circle in New York, serves delicious brunches! I never tried their dinner, but the brunch menu is quite good. I like the feel of the restaurant that reminds me of brasseries you can find in Paris. They in fact sat us next to the window, overlooking the street, and it was as if we were there (I am not comparing the streets of Paris with the streets of New York, just the relaxed feeling of eating outside, watching people passing by).
The Chef of the restaurant, Florian Hugo, worked under the supervision of the world renowned Alain Ducasse. I learnt that he is a direct descendant of Victor Hugo, the famous French writer of Les Miserables! Well, our food experience did not make us miserables at all!

So, for brunch, they have a prix-fixe: for a little less than $25 (in 2011), you get a drink (I got a nice belini -  Champagne with peach nectar), an appetizer and a dessert. One of their famous appetizers is the Gougeres: some warm cheese puffs served in a basket. Light and delicious. They also have a fantastic homemade chicken and duck liver mousse on toasts. Very tasty!
For entrees, their mussels mariniere (white wine, shallots, light cream, parsley) with fries are very good. The filet mignon burger is good too: well cooked (I asked medium) and moist. I wish they put more tartare sauce on it and found it overpriced when looking at the price on the menu ($18). 

The best is their Croque Monsieur! First, the way it is presented is awesome (on a cutting board, cut in stripes) and so appetizing! Then the taste: divine! Especially the cheese on top that is gratinee. It is served with a salad. 

Definitely it is a good brunch and I will probably try for dinner one day! Worth mentioning that they have a bakery next door where you can get some great croissant and pains au chocolat (chocolate croissant).

Enjoy (I did)!

And remember: I just want to eat!
Brasserie Cognac on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Marseille (New York, NY)

Marseille (no "s" at the end!!!!) is one of my favorite restaurants in New York; I went there for brunch or dinner and I have never been disappointed! The food there is so good and inspired from Mediterranean cuisine and Provence (hence the name, close to my heart and now stomach). It is one of the restaurants in New York where you can eat merguez (spicy lamb sausages)!

I like the restaurant: the large dining room is bright, with a brasserie decoration and feel. They always give a bread basket to put you in appetite, served with butter and jam. In term of food, it is simply delicious! Their burger (the chef is also in charge of Nice Matin or 5 Napkin Burger) is very good and tasty. It is served with caramelized onions and comte cheese. The moules frites are also a hit. 

This restaurant is one of my favorite places for brunch in New York! They of course serve the basic brunch staples but sometimes with a mediterranean twist: eggs, French toasts, etc...The last time we went there, I decided to try different appetizers instead of getting an entree. We ate:
  • Tuna tartare (photo 2) served with cucumber, jalapeno, spicy mayo in a crispy wonton: this was awesome! Very light and fresh! The mayo had a nice kick. The presentation in three little wonton baskets was very aesthetic. 
  • Goat cheese tart with tomato fondue and caramelized onions: do I need to say more? Simply delicious! It is so good that I wish they had a bigger portion. The goat cheese, onions and tomato fondue pair so well!
  • Garden salad with Bibb lettuce, hazelnuts and mustard vinaigrette: ok, it is just salad. But the most important about a good salad is not only the salad itself (Bibb is one of my favorites), but to not overdress it. 
  • Ratatouille nicoise: this one was ok. It did not really taste like ratatouille (check Maison and their ratatouille and goat cheese crepe...). Not something I would have next time.

So, if you are looking for a good brunch, check that restaurant: you will not regret it!

Enjoy (I did)!

Marseille on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Brunch at Amanda's (Hoboken, NJ)

Plate with Paris map at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

Plate with Paris map at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

Amanda's is a very popular restaurant in Hoboken, opened more than 20 years ago, whose name is in fact the name of the granddaughter of the original owner. 

We went few times in the past and the food was decent. They have an early dinner for $32 for 2 people (at the time of this post), Monday through Saturday with reservations at 5pm and 5:30pm; orders have to be placed by 5:45pm in all cases and guests have to leave by 7pm / 7:30pm. For that price, you get an appetizer, an entree and a dessert of good quality. In term of appetizers, the Creamy Polenta with Red Pepper Coulis, Fresh Basil and Three Cheese Sauce is the best! For entrees, I prefer the Sautéed Cod with Basmati Rice and Savory Cabbage and the Quattro Formaggi Ravioli with a Light Tomato Basil Sauce. Desserts are also delicious (apple strudel, key lime pie or chocolate mousse). Definitely, for $32 for 2, it is worth it!

So, we decided to try their brunch as Zagat voted them, in 2011, the best brunch in New Jersey. Well Zagat, before voting for a best brunch, you have to try several! I was very disappointed by the food! Let me explain why. We tried:

  • Croissant French Toast with Seasonal Fruit Compote: not sure where the French toast part was. It was just a croissant with a fruit compote on it and it was very, very sugary.
Croissant French Toast  at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

Croissant French Toast at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

  • Poached Eggs with Crab Hash & Orange Hollandaise: at first I liked it, but gradually, it started to taste sweet. I am not sure if it was the French toast effect or the orange Hollandaise sauce. It came with 2 poached eggs: one well cooked and the other one overcooked (based on one of the eggs, and you can see that on the photo, they must use an utensil to poach). 

Poached eggs with crab hash at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

Poached eggs with crab hash   at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

Poached eggs with crab hash at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

  • Honey Smoked Virginia Ham & Swiss Cheese Omelette: nothing memorable.
Ham and cheese omelet   at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

Ham and cheese omelet at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

In fact the best part was the bread basket...from Balthazar...It had some delicious scones, not dry at all, and buttery croissants! I guess next time we will go directly to Balthazar in New York!

Balthazar's bread basket at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

Balthazar's bread basket at Amanda's in Hoboken, NJ

I do not think I will go back for brunch, but certainly for dinner!

Enjoy (I did not)!

Amanda's on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: The Dining Room at Anthony David's (Hoboken, NJ)

The Dining Room at Anthony David's is the first restaurant Chef Pino opened in Hoboken. He is also the owner of Bin 14, that is one of my favorites!

The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

I love the feel of the restaurant with its rustic decoration. The menu is inspired by Northern italian food, but it is mainly apparent when you go for dinner! Their Truffle Risotto is delicious and they had it for some time at Bin 14, before removing it from the menu (please come back!).

For Brunch, they serve traditional brunch dishes: eggs benedict (11 different kinds!), French toast (small size that is great if you want it to share or have a small appetite!), salads (the goat cheese one is refreshing with a lot of cheese, roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes and toasted crostini), omelets... Finish your Brunch with a bourbon glazed donut and you are ready for a good nap!

Goat cheese salad at  The Dining Room   at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

Goat cheese salad at The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

Tuna  salad   at   The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

Tuna salad at The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

The food is good there, although I have been disappointed by some of the eggs benedict: the ricotta and truffle has nothing extraordinary (you cannot taste really the truffle part and the ricotta is overshadowed by the yolk); However, the potato pancake, tomato and sour cream benedict is quite interesting and the crab cakes benedict is pretty good.

French toast and crispy bacon benedict  at The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

French toast and crispy bacon benedict at The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

Potato pancake benedict at The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

Potato pancake benedict at The Dining Room at Anthony David's in Hoboken, NJ

Their menu is original and many dishes are very good. I will probably try the other eggs benedict: maybe the lobster roll benedict or the guacamole and spicy chorizo one...

Enjoy (I did)!

Dining Room at Anthony David's on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review - Bin 14 (Hoboken)

Image of Brunch at Bin 14 in Hoboken, NJ

Bin 14 is one of my favorite restaurant for brunch, lunch or dinner. This wine bar opened in 2008 by Chef Anthony Pino who also owns Anthony David's in Hoboken (awesome for Eggs benedict lovers). The decor is really warm with a marble bar, red bricks walls and a brick oven. 

I like this place for different reasons:
- all dishes are small sizes, so it can be shared: not only it is a great way to try a little bit of everything, but it is also fun when dining with a group of people.
- the wine list offers a wide choice (more than 100) and they serve the wine by the glass in different quantities: 2 and 6 ounces. 
- the food is de-li-cious! They have a good variety of cheeses, brushetta, pizza (the truffle and creamy taleggio cheese is terrific) and small plates, such as meatballs in marinara sauce, arancini made with fresh mozzarella and warm tomato salsa (2nd photo), truffle fries with Romano cheese and black pepper (addictive), the sauteed shrimp with lardons and grits (3rd photo) or the mushrooms and truffle oil risotto. Try also the pasta that are made daily. One of their best brunch dish is the Goat cheese and mushrooms omelet (they are generous on the cheese - 1st photo). 

The only negative about Bin 14 is that there are no desserts, except if you go for brunch and try their zeppoles. 

Bin 14 organizes different wine events that teach the basics but also focus on specific topics such as Italian white wine. On Tuesdays, they propose for $19 all you can eat mussels and fries. The record is apparently owned by a woman: 8 servings. I have to say that after a slice of pizza and a brushetta, I could only eat 3...but I do not desperate to try to beat that record!

Last, they have a kid menu for brunch and kids under 8 eat for free!

Enjoy (I do)!
Bin 14 on Urbanspoon

Restaurant review - Bobo (NYC)

Salt and Pepper at Bobo in NYC, New York

Salt and Pepper at Bobo in NYC, New York

Bobo is a restaurant located in the West Village whose name comes from the contraction "Bourgeois" - "Bohemian" (people from upper class leaving a bohemian inspired life, e.g. simple and non materialistic). 

The restaurant is located in a brownstone and the entrance is below street level. They have a garden, but there is no shade. The interior is really nicely decorated with tables made of old wood that gives a special atmosphere to the place.

Blueberry muffin  at Bobo in NYC, Ne  w York

Blueberry muffin at Bobo in NYC, New York

Cherries  at Bobo in NYC, Ne  w York

Cherries at Bobo in NYC, New York

The brunch menu offers a variety of typical brunch items: eggs, french toast, burger, etc...We tried the french toast and the crab cakes benedict. The french toast were awesome: served with oatmeal streusel (crumbled) and bananas. You need a solid appetite to finish them (I guess no problem for me...)!

French toast  at Bobo in NYC, Ne  w York

French toast at Bobo in NYC, New York

The crab cakes were just ok: they were served with supposedly béarnaise sauce (did not really taste like it) and mache salad. The eggs were cooked perfectly, but I felt they should have served them with the english muffins so you can dip them in the sauce and the egg yolk. The crab cakes contained too much bread crumbs and not enough lump crab.

Crab cakes benedict  at Bobo in NYC, Ne  w York

Crab cakes benedict at Bobo in NYC, New York

Despite that, I would recommend this restaurant and next time, for brunch, we will try the griddled cheese (goat cheese, cheddar and gruyere!!!). We will definitely try the dinner that seems yummy.

Enjoy (I did)!

If you like this post, the photos or the blog, please feel free to comment or share it! Merci!

Bobo on Urbanspoon