We were looking for a restaurant on a Friday when we stumbled upon The Little Beet Table, a place located few steps from the Flatiron that focusses on local ingredients, mostly vegetarian, with only few non-vegetarian dishes. Their menu is interesting as the plates show some creativity: it is not an after thought and, for a carnivore like me, quite satisfying. Here are the dishes we tried:
The last time I went to Mont Blanc 52, it was called Maria's Mont Blanc and was located in the Theater District: same owners but different location as they lost their lease. The one on 52nd has less exposure to foot traffic, but equally good and welcoming. We went there for dinner, eager to try this time their cheese fondue. I admit that I was surprised about the price, as, for $54 of two, it seems a bit overpriced, and did not expect having a salad and some fried potatoes (called rosti) that then explained the price.
One of my colleagues, Abe, has been talking about Basta Pasta for a while and so, Jodi and I decided to go there for dinner. Little did I know that this place first opened in Tokyo, back in 1985, with the concept of having an open kitchen so diners could enjoy a sort of cooking show, offering entertainment as well as good food. Five years later, they opened their Chelsea location, where Chef Takada crafted a creative menu inspired from classic Italian dishes.
So right now is Restaurant Week until February 9th. I have to say that I am on a fence when it comes to Restaurant Week: it is a great event, but not all restaurants are embracing the principle that is for diners to discover restaurants and, in a way, want to come back to try their regular menu. No, some restauranteurs simply lower the quality of their food: too bad. But I have to say that Ruth's Chris is not like that: first of all, they have a delicious lunch menu that they serve all year long, crafting a menu for restaurant week is not too far fetched.
I recently went to Yakiniku Futago, few blocks from Union Square and I was blown away: the food there is superb and there is a nice and relaxed atmosphere, all the ingredients for a great evening. The decor is beautiful, elegant and zen, with a noise level that was perfect considering that I like to enjoy a good conversation with a meal.
We wanted to have a burger or maybe I should write I wanted to have a burger, and decided to go to check out Kings of Kobe, a place I found on instagram. This place is an odd to Americana, serving burgers and hotdogs made with all natural American wagyu beef. So I was expecting quality burgers, as going for both a burger and a hotdog would have been too much considering the size of the hotdogs they serve.
Alright, this post is a bit overdue, but I admit that the experience at Ice and Vice was quite memorable, their ice cream being quite original, with flavors like hibiscus, rose and Swedish fish fluff for their seasonal red ice cream, or cucumber, lemon-verbena, ginger basil-seed for their green ice cream. I have seen so many people posting photos on Instagram that we decided to go there, close to Chinatown, and I admit that, although very creative, it does not measure up to Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream, that is a fantastic place. Here is what we tried:
Few weeks ago, we decided to try Del Frisco's Grille at Rockefeller Plaza. Not that this place was totally unknown to us as we tried their location in Hoboken and I admit that at the time, I liked the brunch, but less the dinner. When we arrived, the place was packed and we were glad to be seated in the back of the dining room, a space that was less noisy and had a bit more light.
When people think about Hell's Kitchen, they think about 9th avenue, disregarding the great places that are on 10th. Ok, there are not as many there, but you can really find good quality food. One example is Mémé Mediterranean, a place that proposes Mediterranean tapas with a large Moroccan influence. In fact, mémé is an old word for grandma, the work mamie being used more often. Brothers Alon and Jacob Cohen decided to call it Mémé as an homage to their mother, called this way by their children and cousins.
When people ask about a place for a nice dinner, I often mention Morimoto, behind Chelsea Market. We went there many times and were never disappointed, the food being as good as the presentation of the dishes beautiful. So, this is where we decided to have a last dinner with my nephew Valentin, before he went back to France. He also loves this place that was one of the first dinners we had when he came for a visit few years ago, as we wanted him to discover Japanese cuisine.
Chez Napoleon is one of these old school French restaurants I wish to see more often in New York: casual and cozy, not pretencious, this is the perfect place to try some French classics like escargots, frog legs, cassoulet or liver. If you are vegetarian, you might be out of luck, the only choices being in the hors-d'oeuvre section (appetizers). This place, opened in 1960 and now run by a third family, the Brunos, is special to my heart as this is where we went for our second date with Jodi a long, long time ago and I recall, as a former vegetarian, she courageously tried the escargots, frog legs and rabbit that we got, not really liking them, but still impressive...
It’s been probably 11 years since we last went to Empanada Mama in Hell’s Kitchen and I did not recognize the place at all. At the time, it was a tiny spot (I believe the photo from their site below is how it was before), really crowded. Now, it is a fairly large restaurant serving more than just empanadas, but with still these delicious turnovers as the stars of the menu, with various options for the dough (wheat or corn), including one called “viagra”, that is not what you are thinking: it is apparently made of seafood (not sure the waiter gave me the right explanation...), and for the healthy conscious, there are some oven baked.
I love fusion food and I am always curious to see what restaurants offer in that area that makes them original. One of the great places for Japanese fusion is Haru Sushi, that I discovered many years ago, for a first exposure to this kind of cuisine. We went at their restaurant in Times Square before going to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It was our first visit in that location and I was not sure what to expect, restaurants in that area sometimes focusing more on foot traffic than returning customers. Well, the service there was courteous and the food simply delicious.
My brother and nephew Valentin invited us to Lincoln Square Steakhouse, a restaurant I never heard about before, admitting that I rarely hear about steakhouses on the Upper West Side. Well, that was a surprising experience. On the facade, I noticed two things: "Family style" and "Italian steakhouse". In fact, the only things that combined both on their menu was their Italian family style section that serves two, proposing dishes like eggplant parmesan, lasagna, or rigatoni a la Bolognese, as well as their dessert sampler that had cannoli and tiramisu.
When I was a kid, the only soufflé I knew was the cheese soufflé that my Mom was making. We never heard about sweet soufflés and it is only much later in my life that variations on soufflés started to appear, like the cauliflower soufflé we made one time with my sister. Then I discovered chocolate soufflés, and one time, banana soufflés. The latter is fantastic; well, if you like bananas! So, the recipe below is my take on a recipe I learned at the Institute of Culinary Education few years ago.
Few months ago, I got invited to Hudson Hall, the only beer hall and smokehouse in Jersey City, conveniently located few blocks from the Grove Street path station. I love the feel of that place: casual and warm, it is quite spacious. We were there at 6pm on Friday last week and were surprised to see so many families with young kids having dinner, in a relaxed atmosphere with music in the background, not too loud, maybe on purpose, but definitely allowing diners to hear each other.