NYC – 12/30/17 – Atla and Momofuku Ko

Atla
Deserted on a frigid and snowy morning but excellent as always and worth making the trek for.

arctic char and farmers cheese tostada

ranchero eggs

Ko
Very belated and a bit sad in retrospect as this was my last visit to the Ko bar before the space was renovated.  I will eventually catch up to the new space and menu (which is awesome) but I loved the old one as well.

NYC – 12/29/17 – Flora Bar

The first time I tried to visit Flora Bar was unfortunately Super Bowl sunday and it was closed.  It obviously took me a long time to make a second attempt but was certainly worth the effort.

snow crab with miso mayonnaise


tuna tartare, sunflower, and hijiki
sea bream crudo with pomelo and chrysanthemum

chicories with pears, hazelnuts and Bayley Hazen Blue

potato and raclette croquettes

Futsu squash and black truffle tart

lobster and crab dumplings in yuzu broth

NYC – 12/28/17 – Ferris

It is fantastic to see more cool places move into the Nomad area of NYC.  Ferris makes the best of below street level location and overdelivers for its modest setting.  A definite must visit.

chips & dip – chicharrones, chicken liver mousse

blood sausage – grilled dates, toasted seeds

(I discovered I am missing a page of the menu and consequently descriptions for a few courses.)

octopus – egg custard, confit potato, pedro ximinez

beets – black sesame tahini, young coconut


carrot agnolotti – lamb neck, pickled squash

NYC – 11/11/17 – Momofuku Ko

Perhaps I avoid getting caught up on this blog because revisiting my favorite places in NYC just makes me too sad.  Yet another fantastic dinner at my favorite spot topped off by a perfect chocolate fernet dessert.

black bass, rye bonji, perilla

sea urchin, chickpea, hozon

ko egg, caviar

beef au poivre

razor clam, pineapple, basil

striped bass, eggplant, tomato

lamb, radish

foie gras, lychee, pine nut, riesling jelly

cheesecake

foie gras, lychee, pine nut, riesling jelly

chocolate, mint, fernet branca

NYC – 11/10/17 – Atoboy and Aviary

Atoboy
Yet another place that I have missed terribly since I moved.  So much so that I ate so quickly I forgot to photograph several dishes.

lotus root, dubu, seaweed, chili oil

beef tartare, nooruk, mustard green, myungran

sunchoke, oyster mushroom, black truffle, orange

octopus, kimchi, chorizo, parsley

Aviary
So much about the reviews is accurate and so much is not accurate at all.  I am certainly biased.  For me it will never be the same as Chicago, but the views sure do help compensate.

 
Up the Ice Ante – oat, marcona almond, white peach, horchata

Chicharron

Heart of Stone – pistachio, peach, fresno, lapsang, bourbon

Loaded to the Gunwalls – mace, pineapple, hazelnut, batavia arrack

NYC – 11/17 – Mondrian Hotel

The Mondrian recently opened before this stay and was still working out a few kinks. This room was definitely tiny. I loved the decor but it was very poorly designed for a trip that involved the need to work. There was no desk and only a small table however no outlet anywhere near the table and thus impossible to plug in my laptop. After a day of puzzling water in the bathroom I figured out that the toilet was leaking. And housekeeping neglected my room for an entire day. Despite these issues the staff was well intentioned and I actually booked a follow up visit (with different issues but promptly addressed).

NYC – 5/17/17 – Sunday’s in Brooklyn

While I had wanted to make a trip to Sunday’s in Brooklyn, this visit happened by chance when the spot we intended to visit was closed for a private event.  Lucky there was a table and we very much enjoyed our contingency dinner.

deviled eggs, smoked paprika

garden pickles

black sea bass crude, sunchoke, meyer lemon, pickled chili, fresh cream

toasted buns, green garlic, raclette cheese

chicken drumsticks, house togarashi, spring alliums, buttermilk

roasted cabbage, fermented black trumpet mushrooms, hazelnuts

burnt honey tart, sheep’s cream, mandarinquat

NYC – 5/6/17 – Bouchon Bakery

I don’t mind the food court feel of Bouchon Bakery at the Time Warner Center as it somehow then seems appropriate to visit post-gym still wearing workout clothes.  Consistently perfect. And I would love the recipe for the piquillo marmalade which elevated this avocado toast.

Deviled eggs

avocado toast, piquillo marmalade, pickled red onion, radish, feta, pain de campagne

NYC – 5/2/17 – Per Se 

The only place where side-by-side sitting is acceptable is at the table in front of the window in the Per Se salon. Its one of my favorite views in NYC. Per Se is always a perfect experience and the Salon makes it so easy when you haven’t planned ahead and do not necessarily want a very large meal.



Oysters and Pearls – sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters

Hudson valley foulard duck foie gras – assaisonne au confit de canard, champagne gelée, brook cherries, and cocoa-hazelnut streusel

Herb-roasted elysian fields farm lamb – merguez sausage, chickpea hummus, shishito peppers, and meyer lemon jus

Velvet Elvis – banana-creme fraiche sherbet, peanut butter sabayon, and TKO crumble


NYC – 4/29/17 – Wildair

Sadly this ended up being my last dinner at Wildair before moving.  It is definitely one of the places that I miss the most and if I had lived in the neighborhood I would have been here every single night (and would have overdosed on tartare).  Love you Wildair!

beef tartare, smoked cheddar, horseradish, brazil nuts

fried shrimp, lemon, herb mayonnaise

tete de cochon on toast, ndjua, nettles

chocolate hazelnut tart

NYC – 4/27/17 – Jeremy Fox @ Momofuku Ko

One never knows about these visiting chef dinners. Often with great chefs they are not that successful due to just being out of their element, having to source different ingredients, or a kitchen staff that they don’t know.  But when the rare one works it can be fantastic.  I’ve been trying to come up with something that tops this but haven’t been able to so far.  Perhaps because while I would not have mistaken this menu for a Ko dinner (ok maybe I would have if I went less), it still felt just like Ko.

peas, white chocolate & macadamia

radish, chevre, sea moss & mustard

sunchoke, grapefruit, fennel, uni & shoyu

beets, berries, avocado & pistachio

pappa al pomodoro, ramp kimchi & burrata

fava bean & sorrel cacio e pepe

morels en papillote, foie gras & egg yolk

strawberry with polenta soffits

pork, kumquat, kohlrabi & dill

beef, brassicas, green peanut miso & marrow


lavender almonds

fresh ricotta & strawberries

bread au chocolat

NYC – 3/25/17 – Marea & Momofuku Nishi

Marea
So many years later still a standby and one of my favorite midtown lunch stops.  It is a bit scary to think about how much of the fusilli I have eaten in my lifetime!


polipo – grilled octopus, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, radish, chilies, tonnato

fusilli – durum wheat pasta, red wine braised octopus, bone marrow

sorbet



Momofuku Nishi

If only I could now transport Nishi to my new neighborhood on the west coast.  It quickly became one of my favorites in NYC.  Service has often been spotty and on this particular visit it took me an entire course to get our server’s attention to order another drink.  But the food somehow always trumps the less than perfect service and I continue to return. Plus finding a penicillin on a cocktail list is reason enough to visit.

penicillin

diver scallops – shio kombu, tiger’s milk, cucumber

romaine – walnut bagna cauda

beets & avocado – shiro shoya, quinoa, chia seeds

squash pancake & onion vinegar

roasted pork – brussels sprouts, barley miso

pound cake

NYC – 3/18/17 – n’eat

I have almost blocked it out but of course chose an incredibly cold day to trek far away from the subway to 2nd Avenue.    You have to order a fair number of dishes at n’eat to make a whole meal however it would be a great stop for pre-dinner snacks with more regularity.  I could have eaten several orders of the buckwheat toast and the duck heart tartare was absolutely fantastic.

buckwheat toast, crimini, aged cabot clothbound cheddar

spicy duck heart tartare, huckleberry, almonds

potato pancake, salt pork, pear marmalade

grilled prawns, Myer lemon, chili, egg yolk jam

NYC – 3/7/17 – Loring Place

I loved everything about the food at Loring Place except perhaps the pizza crust, but then there are few that I do like.  However as is the downfall of many restaurants, too many plates were brought at once and they barely fit on the table.  While I have list of dining pet peeves, this one is so irksome because there is just no need for it to happen.  Chef Kluger clearly has the experience to manage pacing of the kitchen. You know how big your dishes are and how large my table was, so at what point do you just tell the customer that they have ordered too much food?  And if you know as a server that the kitchen is going to send everything at once, warn me and don’t make me place my entire order at once.


butternut “fries” with lemon-parmesan dressing

leeks & pears with walnuts, yogurt and sherry vinaigrette

fluke crudo with citrus, chilies and radishes

wood grilled broccoli salad, orange, pistachios and mint

portobello mushroom pizza, ricotta, mozzarella, cherry peppers and oregano

NYC – 2/26/17 – ALT x Atoboy

The trio of Laurent Gras, Alex Leonard and Tim Dornon, have been doing a series of pop-up dinners in NYC restaurants and have coined the endeavor ALT based on their first initials.  This particular installment was at Atoboy and the menu titled “La Riviera.” This menu was highs and lows with not much middle ground.  The crudo was beautiful and delicious and the nougat one of my favorite desserts in recent history.  But the steamed grains were bland and as if they were missing a multitude of ingredients and the much of the feet, neck and tripe dish I couldn’t even chew.  This was also one of the few times that I was starving after dinner and actually needed second dinner.

soupe de poisson a la niçoise, rouille a l’oursin – saffron fish soup, sea urchin’s rouille

fish crudo, lemon, olive oil, basil

steamed wheat & barley, fermented vegetables with olives

lamb feet, neck, tripe

almond milk, sea salt

frozen nougat

NYC – 2/7/17 – 4 Charles Prime Rib

I first went to 4 Charles specifically for the burger but was so envious of those around me and their amazing looking dishes of prime rib.  So of course I immediately booked a return visit.  Many many years ago I was a big fan of steakhouses but after one too many overcooked pricey pieces of meat I largely stopped trying.  It was lovely to have a fond reminder of why I loved this genre in the first place.  I think I had meat sweats all night and barely slept but it was completely worth it.
 

Shrimp cocktail
4 Charles house salad

Brussel sprouts

Chicago cut

Lemon meringue pie

NYC – 2/5/17 – Fowler and Wells

I thought that Super Bowl Sunday was the perfect day to get into an otherwise perpetually crowded restaurant.  But after criss crossing the city from White Gold and Flora, both of which were closed, I realized we would have to resort to a hotel restaurant.  [Side note that if you are randomly closing post it on your website or social media!]  So we headed downtown for drinks in the beautiful lobby of the Beekman and dinner at Fowler and Wells.  It was absolutely delicious and an easy choice over Augustine next door for future visits to this area.

marinated fluke with radishes and finger limes

chestnut agnolotti with celery root and black truffles

Embarrassingly I cannot remember entree descriptions!

Lamb

NYC – 2/2/17 – Upland

After having a terrible service experience at Upland soon after it opened I vowed not to visit again.  But needing something in the area with last minute availability I gave it a second chance.  The second time was a charm and it couldn’t have been better.


hamachi crudo, radish, yuzu kosho vinaigrette & red sorrel

beef tartare, black trumpet mushroom, puffed farro, anchovy & egg yolk

sausage & kale pizza

little gem salad, avocado, cucumber, ricotta salata & walnut vinaigrette

NYC – 1/13/17 – Leuca

I have yet to meet an Andrew Carmellini restaurant that I didn’t like.  This is a very large space but is very warm and inviting and the design makes it feel more intimate.  Perhaps one of my favorite spaces so far this year.  If I lived in Williamsburg I would be a regular at the large bar.  As I don’t this may become a regular stop before shows at Brooklyn Bowl.

Italian butter bean dip with wild mushroom sott’aceto

Mussels & clams, italian beer, pepperoni

Smoked beets, pistachio, ricotta salata

Artichokes alla gricia, duck egg, guanciale

18th avenue – mushrooms, parmigiano-reggiano, basil

Penne pugliese, rabbit, black kale, chickpea

Gelato

Sicilian pistachio cake, olive oil ice cream

NYC – 1/11/17 – Nix

Its nice to see a vegetarian spot doing so well as I lean this direction for most of the week (until the meat cravings hit).  There are vegan choices as well but I honestly ignored them.  The spreads were quite good and the gnocchi the definite winner of the dishes we ordered.  I read many positive reviews of the cauliflower tempura but I just didn’t get it as the cauliflower was lost and the sauce was a bit overwhelming.

avocado, mint & curry
red pepper & walnut

shaved brussels sprouts, gran queso & almonds

potato gnocchi, celery root, chestnuts & truffle butter

cauliflower tempura with steamed buns & house pickles

NYC – 1/8/17 – Pondicheri

Unfortunately this was one of the coldest nights of the winter and the back of the restaurant apparently has no heat or insulation.  In fairness we were offered a choice of tables and were warned of the temperature issue.  We definitely did not appreciate how bad it was but why not space heaters?   The food was delicious but my enjoyment was somewhat limited.  Everything arrived at once even though it could barely fit on the table and obviously got cold very quickly.  I am looking forward to a return visit but will wait until the temperature warms up.  And a few visits to the bakery case in the front until then.

E100 sour

complimentary ‘chips’

Roghan josh lamb – lamb & root vegetables stewed with coconut, almonds, yogurt, cardamom & Kashmiri red chili; carrot roti & saffron cucumber raita

chicken cooked in 25 spices & masalas with tomato, fenugreek & white poppy seeds

pistachio apricot naan with cilantro chutney
goat & lentil masala samosa

NYC – 1/7/17 – Sugarfish

I arrived at Sugarfish a bit oblivious as to how ridiculous the lines are.  But luckily it was snowing and I joined the line about 10 min prior to opening and made the first round of seating.  I appreciate Sugarfish as a good stop for lunch after a workout when I am still in gym clothes and want a relatively light lunch.  It is essentially the fast casual version of sushi.  But to wait an hour plus for a text when your table is available, I am baffled.

tuna sashimi

salmon sushi

albacore sushi

yellowtail and hirame sushi

toro hand roll

blue crab hand roll

NYC – 12/30/16 – Momofuku Ko truffle dinner

One of my earliest NYC food memories is of the wonderful truffle tasting menu at old Alain Ducasse at the Essex House.  At the time I couldn’t afford these types of experiences.  But I am blessed to have an aunt & uncle who prefer French restaurants and every time they came to town would invite me to dinner.  I am often asked how I got so into food.  I attribute it partially to the endless hours that I watched the Food Network in its early years.   But my love for fine dining came from these visits to places like Alain Ducasse, Bouley, and Daniel.

Anyway I have been a complete sucker for truffles ever since.  So there is just no way this could have been anything other than fantastic.  It is difficult to pick favorite courses in this amazing menu by Sean Gray (but I would certainly love if the honeynut squash made a reappearance next winter).  Excellent wine pairings from Chase Sinzer and service from the rest of the Ko team.  I wish I could do this one all over again. ❤


chicken oyster – montepulciano white

lobster – mornay, aragon black

otoro – scallion, dashi

scallop – sunchoke, aragon black



honeynut squash – benton’s ham, aragon black

royale – foie gras, naked pruner, montepulciano white

king crab – tofu, montepulciano white

madai – sweetbreads, aragon black, shellfish

dry aged beef – aragon black, lettuce

clementine

buckwheat waffle – montepulciano white, vanilla ice cream

Hozon blondie to go


NYC – 12/27/16 – Atoboy

It took me far too long to get to Atoboy but in my defense I knew I would be able to try much more if not dining alone.  Each orders 3 dishes for $36/person which has to be one of the absolute best deals in Manhattan and additional dishes may be added.  Looking back through my pictures I really loved everything.  There has been so much great tartare in the past year and this version certainly goes on the list.  And I can’t even look at the corn photo without getting serious cravings.  If you haven’t been, do not wait as long as I did.

Tartare – beef, oyster, potato


Leek – doenjang, cheddar, walnut

Fluke – moo radish, pomerol, sesame seed

Squid – pork, shrimp, salsa verde

Sunchoke – oyster mushroom, black truffle, orange

Corn – taleggio, bacon, doenjang

Octopus – kimchi, chorizo, parsley

Chicken – spicy peanut butter, garlic

Pork jowl – barley, ssamjang, romaine

Brisket – foie gras, ginger, garlic

NYC – 12/10/16 – Chaan Teng

On the occasions when I have tickets to a show the acceptable options for a pre-theatre dinner are slim.  So I was excited by this new entry (on 48th and 9th) from Pichet Ong who has perhaps been better known for his time as pastry chef at the former Spice Market.  Perhaps too excited as I did not realize that they were still awaiting a liquor license.  An unacceptable error on my part, especially when celebrating a friend’s birthday, but luckily there was a liquor store a few doors down.  Service was a bit spotty but I have to excuse it so close to opening.  And while everything was very good, the General Tso fried chicken was the standout with its super crunchy coating.  I have had a lot of great fried chicken this year and this may have been the best.  I also ranked it in my favorite dishes of 2016.  Next time I may just eat the entire order myself.

Walnut shrimp in lettuce – wild shrimp, honey walnuts, sesame, sweet mayo, bibb lettuce

Charred lo mein with egg and chicken – wok charred egg noodle, cabbage, mushroom soy, Cantonese spices

Dry fry long beans & peanuts – long Chinese green beans, Nyonya caramelized shallots, daikon preserve

Half General Tso fried chicken -with broccoli and ChaanTeng original sauce

NYC – 12/7/16 – Momofuku Ko

Ko continues to be my favorite restaurant in New York and the one always at the top of my list of recommendations for foodie friends from out of town.  I have stopped including in this blog my many visits for the shorter bar menu otherwise you may tire of these posts, but this trip was for the full menu.  I am still trying to figure out why I like the sea urchin-chickpea dish so much considering I dislike urchin and have texture issues so that this dish on paper is something I wouldn’t even want to try.  After much contemplation I think that the olive oil is the magic component.  The ko egg will never ever get old.  Of the new-to-me dishes on this menu it was a tie for my favorite between the sweet potato-brown butter and beef-au poivre.  If you haven’t been yet, GO.

pomme souffle


lobster paloise

chicken oyster

blackfish – barrel aged bonji

sea urchin – chickpea, hozon

ko egg – caviar

sweet potato – brown butter

beef – au poivre

razor clam – pineapple, basil

bouillabaisse – potato, saffron

duck – squash



foie gras – lychee, pine nut, riesling jelly

wild rice – kombu

melon – honey, mint
A

NYC – 11/18/16 – Marta

I enjoy all of the USHG restaurants for different reasons but what they have in common is that they are always solid and safe choices in a very good way.  The pizza at Marta may not have my favorite crust, but it is still very good and I can polish off one by myself quite easily.  I’m glad I didn’t give up on Marta after the early days when the service was almost dreadful.  A for improvement!


insalata di farro – farro piccolo, grilled brussels sprouts, honeycrisp applies, plave vecchio

suppli al telefono – tomato risotto croquettes, mozzarella

capesante – grilled scallops, romanesco cauliflower, pine nuts

funghi – fontina, mozzarella, hen of the woods, chanterelles, red onion, thyme
salsiccia – pork sausage, cremini mushrooms, pecorino

cookie plate

NYC – 11/16/16 – La Sirena

I went to La Sirena soon after it opened for drinks and was hoping to have dinner at the bar.  But one rude bartender later I found out that food was not yet being served at the bar and I left hungry and cranky.  I probably should have given up on La Sirena after this experience but gave it another try in the dining room.  The NY Strip was fantastic and perfectly cooked.  But the other dishes we ordered were average at best and not at all worth the inflated meatpacking prices.

Tuna crudo, pickled leeks, finger limes, habanero
Wild striped bass in scapece, grapes & mint

Roasted acorn squash, cacio di uova & smoked ricotta

Lardo crusted dry age bone0in NY strip with potato bombolini



A dessert that I unfortunately cannot remember

NYC – 10/17/16 – Cafe Boulud

Cafe Boulud seems to have become the place for the most frequent family dinners on the UES.  It was one of the first places I dined when I moved to NYC longer ago than I care to admit, and is just as solid as it was back then.


seafood ceviche – shrimp, scallop, tomato, yucca

beef duo “makgalbijjim” – braised shortrib, wagyu bavette, housemade kimchee

Running right off of the plate….

madelines

NYC – 9/27/16 – Wildair

If there wasn’t always a wait I would be at Wildair every night.  Actually even if I just lived in the neighborhood I would be here every night regardless.  I am pretty sure I could never get tired of the spicy tuna toast which was one of my favorite dishes of 2016.  A previous iteration I reordered for dessert.  Yes it is that good.  I just wish the secret wasn’t out.

Potato darphin, maine uni, jalapeno

Breakfast radishes, seaweed butter

Fluke crudo, pineapple, ‘nduja

Beef tartare, smoked cheddar, brazil nuts

Spicy tuna toast, tomato, scallion

Crispy grain salad, hearts of palm, tarragon

NYC – 9/23/16 – High Street on Hudson

For some reason I don’t think I had the same experience at High Street on Hudson that many others have had. My appetizer of smoked bluefish on toast was quite tasty but I couldn’t detect even a hint of horseradish, which is why I had ordered the dish. And while the happy valley beef was a great piece of meat, the promised chilies were also undetectable. The desert I ordered seemed so promising as how could anything with a snickerdoodle be less than amazing? Yet it was underwhelming as well. I would certainly give it another shot but with so many choices in NY perhaps my expectations are always too high and this just seemed average.

Smoked bluefish on toast – cucumber, radish, horseradish cream cheese

Happy valley beef – late summer squash, chilies

Peaches pecan – snickerdoodle, buttermilk ice cream

NYC – 8/31/16 – Mimi

I may have gotten to Mimi too late.  Not because I didn’t want to visit but I just hadn’t been able to find a date that worked.  Perhaps I waited too long.  There is much to love about Mimi.  In my case the veal and the souffle that I can’t stop thinking about.  Unfortunately those thoughts came in retrospect as while at Mimi the noise was so deafening that I had thoughts of just abandoning the whole thing.  It wouldn’t have mattered who my dining companion was as it was impossible to carry on a conversation.  The table spacing takes NYC to a new extreme and makes using the restroom nearly impossible for half of the party.  We ordered much more than the tables on either side of us but before we hit the 2 hour mark were being given not so subtle ‘time to leave’ looks by our server.  I so want to return for the food but I’m not sure yet if I can do it.


Casco bay scallops

Tuna Ventreche

Gnocchi Parisian

Veal Chop

Souffle

NYC – 8/18/16 – Bar Gato

I really wish that I had discovered Bar Gato before everybody else. It completely stands out in NYC and just happened to be the perfect antidote to this less than perfect day.  The cocktails were thoughtful and delicious.  And the okonomi-yaki was completely different from the last version of this I had elsewhere but good enough that I ate the whole thing myself.

Far East Side – sake, tequila, shiso, elderflower, lemon, yuzu bitters

Goto pickles – house pickled local vegetables, yuzu-green chili paste

Gobo french fries – fried japanese burdock roots, red chili salt & wasabi salt

Okonomi-yaki

NYC – 8/15/16 – Jean Georges

Sadly I ended up sick in the middle of this meal after battling a migraine and did not make it to dessert.  The evening is consequently a bit of a blur but from what I remember this summer menu was lovely.




Caviar, buttermilk-chive panna cotta and tomato coulis

Madai sashimi, summer radish and nasturtium vinaigrette

Charred corn ravioli, cherry tomato salad and basil fondue

Black sea bass, purple potato butter and charred poblano peppers

Steamed summer squash and lobster, black truffle and lemon dressing

Fragrant spiced-lava lake lamb chop, cucumber yogurt and herbs

NYC – 8/13/16 – Eataly Downtown

A lesson in why to never go anywhere on opening weekend.  Despite what I had read, I found the layout to be completely confusing and I backtracked several times trying to find certain sections.  Some of the space already felt beat up with scuff marks on the walls.  And the size and design of the bathrooms was truly horrible.

I perhaps made poor menu choices, especially with the mystery crudo which was an insulting $2.80 per poorly cut piece.

pesce crudo

mozzarella classica with basil pesto

NYC – 8/10/16 – Sushi Zo

There was no menu and I did not take notes so unfortunately 2 months later I can’t remember what most of these were aside from the somewhat obvious.  NYC is becoming awash in omakase these days and it seems that many people I talk to feel passionate about one particular place, although often it seems to be just the latest opening.  I’m not sure that Sushi Zo is my favorite although I can find nothing negative to say.  The fish was impeccable and service flawless.  Just minor points of personal preference, such as more varied beverage choices, elsewhere.





NYC – 7/25/16 – Rebelle – Winemaker Dinner Series – Abe Schoener – Scholium Wines

I may have arrived soaking wet but I am so glad that I braved the elements for this winemaker dinner at Rebelle.  I have been trying to get to one of these since they started but the dates never seem to work out.  Luckily this one did and I could not pass up a chance to catch Abe Schoener and try so many Scholium wines in one sitting.  In this setting Abe’s past life in academia shines through in fantastic stories about each of the wines and incredibly interesting tidbits of information on California wine history.  I am looking forward to more wine dinners at Rebelle but the bar may have been set too high.


blossom beignet

squash and scallop

beet and green

quail and currants

comte

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

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

Clocktower
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

Olmsted
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?

Tuome 
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

NYC – 6/22/16 – Alon Shaya @ Chef’s Club

Shaya was one of my favorite meals of 2015 so I obviously could not miss the opportunity to have some of Alon Shaya’s food closer to home.  It was fantastic although with a limited menu I couldn’t help but feeling that I just wanted to get back to NOLA.

Salatim served with pita bread – Louisiana crab tabouleh, bulgur, mint, tomato; Labneh, hold land trinity; Blackened eggplant salad, tahini, pine nuts

Fried oyster hummus, pecan brown butter

Cochon de lait shakshouka – slow roasted pork, stewed tomatoes, green chili zhoug

Louisiana shrimp – okra, paprikash, jasmine rice

Continuing the month long birthday celebration

NYC – 6/20/16 – Gramercy Tavern

I put Gramercy Tavern on the shelf for a few too many years always chasing something new and never going back to too many of the tried and true classics.  I’ve recently put it back into rotation although only in the Tavern room.  Such was planned for this particular night but when there was a long wait vs. no wait for the dining room my date chose the later.  We quickly decided to do the tasting menu and then somehow got to talking and I never even looked at the menu let alone remembered to take a photo.  So unfortunately no descriptions.  However if Gramercy Tavern has fallen off of your to-do list as well, do yourself a favor and go back asap because it is as fantastic as ever and holds up to anything we are all so intent on booking as soon as it opens.


NYC – 6/16/16 – Sadelle’s

Sadelle’s is one of my absolute favorite brunch and lunch spots despite the iffy service and hordes of people. But I put off dinner for some time based on the early poor reviews. I went in with low expectations and so was actually pleasantly surprised. The prices seem high especially for presentations that aren’t even worth commenting on. But portion sizes were large and all of the dishes quite good. Unfortunately the large plates and portion sizes do not work with the table sizes and I found myself having to rearrange the entire table quite a few times which has become one of my biggest pet peeves. The twice baked potato was perhaps the best possible version of this classic and may be reason enough for a return dinner visit.

Tuna tartare

Salad

“Kaspia” baked potato

Roumanian steak

Scallops

NYC – 6/15/16 – Contra & Restaurant Andre

Yet another great Contra collaboration dinner, this time with Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre in Singapore.  He is fantastic as is his food and I hope to someday make it to Singapore!

Baby mushroom croque en bouche

Oyster, lapsong gelee, peas

Rose champagne, heirloom tomatoes, poisson de roche

King crab, celery sabyon, capers

Elysian fields lamb, scallop lasagna, cresson-wasabe

Quail, fava, cherries

Camembert

NYC – 5/25/16 – Pasquale Jones

I’m not sure that I like Pasquale Jones better than its big brother Charlie Bird but it definitely holds its own.  But the addition of very good pizzas, with a crust that is my preferred style, certainly helps.  The sugar snap pea salad was absolutely fantastic as was the dessert although I have unfortunately forgotten the description.  I accept partial responsibility for how much I disliked the white asparagus dish as I generally do not love it and this was one of my least favorite preparations which is a shame because it could have been infinitely better roasted in the wood burning oven.  But slippery trout roe on top of slippery asparagus was extremely challenging to eat, even though this dish was beautiful and an instagram favorite while on the menu.

sugar snap pea, watercress, pecorino & cultured cream

little neck clam pizza, parsley, garlic, lemon & cream
steelhead crudo, breakfast radish & sorrel

white asparagus, nasturtium & trout roe

NYC – 5/16/16 – Contra @ Gramercy Tavern

I have absolutely loved all of the Contra collaboration dinners and this one was no exception.  While the floral displays and seasonal decorations at Gramercy Tavern are always stunning, the centerpiece of the large table in the private dining room was exceptional.  Looking back at this menu it is very difficult to pick a favorite dish.  And in several cases I am not sure which dish was a Contra vs. Gramercy Tavern creation which in my opinion means that this was a very successful collaboration.  Also impeccable service by the GT team!


Warm potatoes, mackerel, spruce
Smoked trout & eel consomme, onions
Hake, parsnips, mustard greens

Sweetbreads, asparagus, lobster

Grilled coppa, mushrooms, fresh herbs

Off-menu dessert

Passionfruit semifreddo, wildflower honey, spruce

Strawberries, sour milk ice cream

NYC – 5/7/16 – Four Horsemen

I’m trying very hard to cross everything off of my Brooklyn to-do list before the L shutdown.  I’m so glad that I finally made it to Four Horsemen and all of the great things I had heard from many friends were completely accurate.  Really great food but perhaps more importantly an absolutely fantastic staff.  Not pictured are the many wines that we tried representing all spot-on suggestions from our server.  I feel like I was the last person I know to make it here but if you haven’t been, go!

warm house bread, cultured butter

black bass crudo, carrot dashi, puffed rice, cilantro

beef tartare, seeds, buttermilk, sesame cracker

snap pea salad, calabrian chili, cashews, mint, ricottaa salata

grilled bavette steak, ramps, asparagus, cress

NYC – 5/6/16 – Le Bernardin & Nougatine 

Le Bernardin
I know I am completely spoiled because I can drop into Le Bernardin for lunch any time that I want.

New Englander – Boodles gin, cranberry, yuzu juice

Sea Scallop – slivers of sea scallop, shaved fennel, citrus vinaigrette
Carrot Soup – Maine lobster, yuzu foam
Striped Bass – baked striped bass, sweet potato, sofrito sauce

Merluza – sauteed Merluza, pea shoots, shitake mushroom broth

Peruvian Chocolate – warm chocolate cake, caramelized fig, spiced chocolate ice cream
Sorbet

Nougatine
While this fantastic classic burger was all that I had, I found it particularly noteworthy because of the amount of ketchup served on the side.  As someone who can easily polish off a bottle of ketchup in two sittings I am always disappointed when I order fries and end up with one of those sad small stainless cups that is half full.  As crazy as it sounds I will go back for this burger on the basis of the ketchup quantity alone. Finally somebody has gotten this right!

NYC – 4/25/16 – Salvation Burger

I suppose good timing that I was able to visit before their kitchen fire but not good timing to finally be posting this now.  This may have been some of my favorite giardiniera and I would absolutely have a double order on my next visit.  And while in photos the burger patty appears to be a bit too ‘perfect’ I thought it was quite good and I loved the ramp butter.  Fingers crossed that it will re-open soon.


Giardiniera
Salvation Burger – roasted ramp butter, taleggio cheese

NYC – 4/14/16 – Ma Peche in the Chambers Hotel lobby

We had planned to just hang out in the lobby of the Chambers long enough to have a drink while waiting for Ma Peche to open.  But our server was fabulous and our seats quite comfortable so we decided to stay for a few snacks.  One of the few bright spots in midtown and I am guilty of always forgetting about it.

midtown collins – gin, calamansi, elderflower

smoked trout dip, seven spice, chicharron

bbq brisket buns, coleslaw, smoked mayonnaise, pickled jalapeños

broccoli salad, sunflower seeds, miso, lime

NYC – 3/27/16 – Corkbuzz Chelsea

Perhaps Easter Sunday was not the best time to venture out at all but I thought this would be a safe choice in the otherwise mobbed Chelsea Market and it was fairly empty.  While the food was fine, although not on par with my last visit, it was impossible to get a second glass of wine.  Either you have table service or one has to order at the bar but switches mid-stream are not cool and if you don’t want me to spend any more money, baffling but your loss.

Sopressata

Jasper Hill Blue
Farro & cauliflower salad – sage brown butter, dried cherry, goat cheese, hazelnut, sherry vinaigrette

NYC – 3/26/16 – Cafe Carlyle

I was going to pretend this whole experience did not happen and not include it on this blog at all. But the show I went to see was fantastic, so thankfully there was something redeeming about Cafe Carlyle other than the entertainment and company. My pre-show cocktail in Bemelmans was perfect, albeit it overpriced. There was a $75 minimum for the show and in retrospect I should have just spent it all on drinks. The shrimp cocktail I ordered was an insulting $28, or $5.60 per shrimp. Yet it seemed a better option than the salads which were nearly as expensive and looked pitiful. My steak frites was overcooked and was an even more insulting $59. At Minetta Tavern the excellent steak frites is currently $36. And even at Balthazar which is too touristy but more classic, the steak frites only comes in at $41. I clearly have no problem spending a lot of money on food but when the price is so completely unjustified based on the food quality and service (which frankly sucked) I can’t help but think of the things I would have rather spent this money on. Its really sad that a NY classic is not even trying.

Sidecar
Jumbo shrimp cocktail
Steak frites – grilled 12 oz. rib eye, julienne fries, chimichurri