Chicago – 7/23/16 – Tanta, Honey’s & the Office

I have craved ceviche almost every day since this lunch at Tanta.  Thankfully it is finally fall as I never found anything that was a good substitute.

Tiradito cremoso cebiche – salmon, scallop emulsion, avocado, cherry tomato, chalaca, olive oil

Cebiche nikei – ahi tuna, tamarind-sesame oil leche de tigre, cilantro, habanero, cucumber, avocado, nori

Off menu!

Choclo – grilled with anticuchera, rocoto huancaina, fresh cheese

Super soltero – wheat, chickpea escabeche, cilantro, mint, parsley, queso fresco, cucumber, onions, mixed greens

I had Honey’s on my radar well before it opened but then did not read too much about it post opening so did not have any idea what to expect.  Sometimes it is best to be pleasantly surprised.  With a large group we we able to try most of the menu.  Beautiful presentations and all successful and delicious dishes (with the exception of the very salty quinoa).  Of course the downside of our large group was then apparent as second bites were unfortunately not possible.  A fantastic space with an absolutely gorgeous bar taking up most of the front room.  Congrats on all of the shining reviews!

marinated bay scallop – white gazpacho, grilled peach, apple, sorrel

hamachi – cucumber, grape, finger lime, verjus, pickled onion

spit roasted cauliflower – bread crumb, smoked giardiniera, basil

lamb tartare – shaved artichoke, cherry, black garlic mustard, crispy sunchoke

squid ink orecchiette – calamari, shrimp, octopus, pesto, mint, pine nuts

swiss chard – bagna cauda, fried shallots

rainbow trout – charred eggplant, roasted corn succotash, bacon, pea shoots

quinoa tabbouleh – lemon pistachio vinaigrette

grilled striploin – pommes dauphine, rapini, romesco, charred scallion

buckwheat pasta a la chitarra – morel mushrooms, thyme butter, pecorino, bread crumb

bass – brandade, pipperade, braised fennel

The Office
Unfortunately the power was out due to some crazy storms and a blown transformer. But if this is what camping looks like, I’ll take it!

NYC – 7/15/16 – Marta

Marta is yet another great place that I seem to keep forgetting about even though each time I am here I love the food even if service can often be spotty.  As somewhat of an expert on farro salads, this version was absolutely fantastic and is easily a dish that I could eat everyday.  And yes I ate the whole pizza by myself.  Don’t judge.

Insalata di farro – farro piccolo, grilled summer beans, sweet peppers, pecorino

Salsiccia – pork sausage, cremini mushrooms, pecorino

Washington, DC – 7/14/16 – Jaleo and Pineapple and Pearls

I happened to find myself on this block around lunch time and as somehow I had never previously visited Jaleo, decided it was a perfect time.  The G&T was exactly right for this exceedingly hot day even by DC standards.  And the two salads I ordered made for the perfect summer lunch.  Unfortunately I seem to have forgotten to take notes on the menu.  Heatstroke perhaps?

Pineapple and Pearls
There was so much that I absolutely loved about Pineapple and Pearls even though I did not walk away with the same effusive comments as many reviewers have had.  Even in seemingly well designed dining rooms I tend to not take notice unless there is something exceptional and too many these days tend to be on the generic side.  This room is easily my favorite that I have been in this year and I wanted to take almost every element home with me, from chairs to lighting fixtures to the flatware (which will be on my Christmas list this year).  It was a perfect mix of modern and mid-century modern and so well done that you could not stop looking at each element.

The fennel & absinthe one-bite bonbon started the dinner off on an excellent foot and a beautiful vintage coupe glass certainly did not hurt.  The subsequent 3 small bites were all fantastic and even the oyster I actually very much liked and they are not one of my favorite foods.  So much thought was put into the bread course that instead of being a side actually it was its own course and worthy of being such.  The egg drop soup and summer red curry were perhaps too many soups for a mid-summer menu, and while both were very good, were not great.

Upon arrival at Pineapple and Pearls guests are offered a welcome cocktail in the entry space which serves as a daytime coffee shop serving a lunch menu.  On the lunch menu, posted boldly on the wall, was fried chicken and after standing there for 5 minutes looking at the menu fried chicken was all that I could think about.  Absolutely brilliant to have a take out box in which was found a quite ‘dinner’ upscale version of a fried chicken wing.  The desserts were all excellent and as a whole far overshadowed the main courses of the menu.  The only slight disappointment were the donuts provided to go which were unfortunately stale by morning.  However the shortbread and cold brew coffee were a perfect breakfast snack and a lovely reminder of the previous night’s dinner.  The other quibble I had is that pours on drink pairings were very sparse.  I was trying to drink slowly to make small pours last through multiple courses but it was never slowly enough.  I couldn’t help but feel that I would have gladly paid for an additional glass of wine or two.

Fennel & Absinthe Bonbon

Asparagus, Pineapple & Country Ham

Baby Elotes

Oysters & Vodka

Black Pepper Pain Au Lait

Green Garlic Egg Drop

Fluke “Veronique”

Sweetbread Stuffed Chicken Wing

Summer Red Curry & Coconut Rice

Strawberry Shortcake & Brillat-Savarin

Coffee Kakigori

Crispy Buckwheat & Honeycomb Ice Cream

Chocolate Souffle

Washington, DC – 7/10/16 – Kinship

While I don’t agree with the recent assertions that Washington DC is the restaurant city of the year, it very well may be the most improved.  After a very long and stressful work day Kinship provided a calm oasis in an extremely well designed space that did make me think “Am I really in DC?”  Overall a very solid meal with some unexpected and creative menu items like the lobster french toast which was certainly a loose interpretation but delicious.  My only small complaint would be that the amount of dashi gelee overwhelmed the tuna tataki but once I pushed the majority of it aside, a delicious dish.  If I lived in the neighborhood exactly the type of place where I would want to be a regular.

Yellowfin tuna tataki – spring onion and butter pickle salad, shiso tempura and dashi broth

Pan seared redfish – shrimp and ham hock jambalya

Sauteed atlantic halibut – spring asparagus, royal trumpets, potato confit and tarragon-asparagus emulsion

Parker house rolls

Beef rib eye

Lobster french toast

NYC – 7/3/16 – Clocktower and Le Coucou

It has been quite a while since I have dined at Clocktower so I was looking forward to the opportunity for a return visit.  My last few times were for drinks only as there is no dining allowed at the bar (which I still do not understand).  While the cherry tomato salad was very good, and I can’t believe I am about to complain about a portion size being too large, I was suffering from tomato fatigue by the time I finished.  Of course avocado toast is overdone, but its so good when done well and I rarely have the willpower to pass it up on a menu.  But in a city awash in much better versions, this one was anemic and overall quite sad.  Thank god for the brittle and shortbread that appeared with the check.  Two of my favorite sweets of all time.

Heirloom cherry tomato, Brooklyn burrata, sourdough, basil

Avocado on toast, poached eggs

Le Coucou
Le Coucou may very well be my favorite restaurant opening of 2016 thus far.  Impeccable but incredibly friendly service.  Gorgeous dining room.  Properly spaced tables.  Energetic yet you are easily able to carry on conversation without yelling or struggling to hear.  Perhaps the first NY restaurant in ages that I would take my parents to.  And really really great food.  In a day of double Stephen Starr an experience worlds away from brunch.  The rabbit could easily be for 2 and the proper cheese course impossible to turn down.

Salade de homard, sauce lauris
lobster tail, basil, tomato, sauce lauris

Quenelle de brochet, sauce americaine
pike quenelle, lobster sauce

Tout le lapin
all of the rabbit

Cheese (obviously)

NYC – 7/2/16 – Nomad Bar, Olmsted and Grand Army

Nomad Bar
Of course there had to be pre-dinner snacks at Nomad Bar. For once I exhibited a bit of willpower and did not have the hotdog so I could chalk this up as a success or a failure.

Beef and tuna tartares

I followed Olmsted pre-opening as I tend to do every time a chef who has spent time at Alinea opens their own place.  A very solid market driven menu and I assume that by now the menu has changed several times over.  My favorites were the fried fiddleheads and the snap pea sushi (and no I have never met a pea dish that I didn’t love).  If I had one small complaint it would be the 5 pieces of the pretzel puffs for a party of 3.  I understand if the serving cannot be adjusted based on the amount of food prepped but if possible I wish we could have the option of paying more to even out the serving size when dishes are pretty much impossible to split up.  Well that and that I never saw the awesome Santimetre studio glasses that Chef Achatz had a day later, although other items were fantastic.  I’m very much looking forward to a return visit and it takes a lot for me to go to certain neighborhoods.  Congrats on all of the recent great press.  Extremely well deserved!

Charcuterie Pretzel Puffs

Fried Fiddlehead Ferns

Snap Pea Sushi

Crawfish Boil Crackers

Thai Beet Salad

Grilled Hake, Rhubarb, Brown Butter, Bok Choy

Harbison “Fondue”

Old School Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Creme Fraiche

Grand Army

I have been meaning to get to Grand Army since it opened and happy to now have another reason to get back to this part of Brooklyn.

NYC – 6/24/16 – Nomad Bar & Tuome

Nomad Bar

It wouldn’t be my birthday month without at least one Humm dog would it?

Very happy to put Tuome back on my radar after too many months.  The dishes that I have had before (Egg and Pig Out) are still outstanding and the watermelon salad had me at farro.

Egg – deviled, crispy, chili

Watermelon – ricotta, farro, chrysanthemum

Tartare – wagu beef, three hour yolk, lemongrass

Snow crab – noodle, summer squash, dashi butter

Pig Out – berkshire pork, spicy peanut noodle

And of course another birthday dessert