e a t. h e r e.
wd-50, babbo, veritas, 66, atelier, burger joint, l'impero, town, fresh, caserta vecchia, washington park, daniel, bouley,
joe's shanghai, nobu, le bernardin, chanterelle, new green bo, crown royal bakery,
az, picholine, hangawi, arunee thai
the complete listing.
okay, note that all dollar amounts refer to approx. price of the main course. so, expect to pay a little more when you actually go (anywhere from $5-20 more, depending on how many courses, wine, etc.).
64-13 39th ave., jackson heights, queens.
it's actually not that far away (now, i just have to convince tim of this). and it's every bit at fantastic as they say. linda, ben, stoli, and i had the crunchy catfish salad, which was a supernal version of papaya salad atop lots of crunchy fried bits (which didn't seem much like catfish, but were damn tasty); tom yum soup, also the best i've had in new york -- or anywhere, for that matter; green chicken curry; beef offal soup, very much like vietnamese pho but without the noodles; some sort of pad kee mao-like thing with red peppers and ground beef. so so so good. there's a lovely little verdant courtyard outback that contrasts nicely with the very hole-in-the-wall, barebones front dining room, where everyone was seated today. i love this place. beyond a doubt the best thai i've ever had (and now, i'll just have to plan a jaunt to thailand). i'm definitely coming back soon. and i decided, i really love queens. $7
atlantic ave, near nevins. boerum hill.
the owners are very, very friendly and very nice. we sat in the front near the window, and it was not until a dozen people emerged from the back an hour in that i realized there's a (charming) little backroom as well. it was pretty empty, but it was also late and weirdly misty outside. started with the steak tartare and pate de campagne. both were good, the pate great even. tartare didn't have the overprocessed problem that plagues most places, but was heavy on the cornichons (and filler in general). and i was craving some gaufrettes or lay's or something to scoop it up with instead of slathering it on the (very good) bread they brought over. (a side note: the butter here is remarkably good, in that we both marvelled over its sweetness and lovely dairy purity.) pate comes with cornichons, a little ramekin of decent mustard, and some great little pickled pearl onions. drank some stella we'd bought from the deli around the corner. i had calf's liver with caramelized onions and garlic mashed potatoes. very, very tasty -- this liver is actually better than the liver i had at al di la a couple of months ago: just enough of a crust to balance out the iron-y flavor. tim's hangar steak was _PERFECT_. he ordered it rare, which the cook handled just right. i have to say, i haven't sampled a piece of beef this delicious in quite some time. the cabernet sauce was totally unnecessary, so toothsome was this steak. his fries, a substitution for the gratin dauphinois, were also great, rivalled only by heights cafe's.
we shared a slice of the tarte tatin for dessert, and while not especially great, it was respectable. could have used a greater ratio of ice cream to tarte, we think. all in all, a winner. and so much better than the multitude of would-be bistros on smith and court. i can't wait until they get their license. and those guys with their great accents ("zees ees, what you say, ah, zee beet?"). i love them already. a very welcome addition to the neighborhood; i think i might become a regular. $11.
the tasting room
1st and 1st. east village.
i ran into the chef of 71 clinton a couple weeks back, and he spoke glowingly of the tasting room -- which i hadn't even heard of -- but we didn't get around to checking it out until now. this guy from daniel, colin alevras, opened up this place in the east village with his wife, offering an ever-changing menu of small dishes (which can be upgraded somewhat to entree portions if desired) and a really massive list of wines. it is a wine bar, after all. similar to troquet in boston, but less conservative. tim deems it a real wine geek's place. we started with an asparagus terrine, a tidy little paved square of stalk, held together with veg aspic, accompanied by some remarkably savory grapefruit supremes; the foie gras, a modest lobe with lemon jam and some winey-saucey thing underneath, garnished with a big ol' pile of chives; poached cod with spring peas in a cardamom-laced sauce (so delicious, and yet there was still string in the cod from poaching, and the peas were veryundercooked. still, i would eat this one again, and again);and oh yes, the squid with chorizo -- while very, very tasty, the sausage dice was too large i thought and overwhelmed the delicate squid flavor. but the textures were nice, and i felt like it was right idea. we got a large (relatively) portion of the braised rabbit, and nearly licked the plate clean. excellent ciabatta in the breadbasket. the room is small but unassuming. lots of exposed brick, dark wood, bicycle paintings. the service has to be one of the least pretentious in the city, just alot of enthusiasm and sincerity. alevras is the nicest guy. we had some champagne with the starters, glasses of dry and yeasty blanc de blancs, and a bottle of pinot noir with the rest of the meal. cheese plate: i remember only the sally jackson and the point reyes, but they selected three others that were superb, and the cheese came with thin slices of dense, nutty bread, pesto, honey, and pickled grapes. pickled grapes are now my ideal fruit pairing with cheese -- i feel like dried fruit just reinforces the dryness of some cheeses, and regular grapes, while acidic, don't have the smack of pickling liquid. for the perfect dessert to cap off such a spring-y meal, lemon tart. fantastic. our new favorite restaurant in manhattan.
water st. DUMBO.
as claimed by all the zagat reports and such (though really, those mean jack), they make some great pie here. we came on a thursday at 2pm and still had to wait for a half hour. but it was worth it. i think we ate our pizza in less time than we actually waited for it. the fresh mozz turns the crust a little soggy near the middle, but otherwise, the sauce is very fresh, the outer edges nice and crusty, and the ambience is just perfect (that is, none to really speak of). and, dessert can be found right around the corner at jacques torres' chocolate factory. $10.
irving place & 17th.
pricey sunday brunch. (two course prix fixe, $27?!) they've got the usual buttermilk pancakes (but with a greenmarket fruit compote) and an omelet (with forest mushrooms and caramelized onions), but there's also spicy striped bass with corn cakes and fish cakes with lotus root and ponzu dressing. i went for the duck confit hash: delectable bits of shredded duck leg, caramelized onions, and home fries (or about five little potato cubes), and topped with a poached egg and surrounded by watercress and baby spinach, scones here are excellent -- light, fluffy, warm, and, best of all, complimentary. comfy little subterranean space with lots of light. friendly, competent service. i'd go back for dinner, but i think i'll stick to brunch in brooklyn. $13. 03.23.03
west village somewhere. doubt i'll ever be able to find it again on my own.
this is, as they claim, a supernal burger. fries are a little lacking, and the bun could be more substantial, but the ambience is just right (read: none to speak of), the clientele a mix of hipsters and old dudes. there's sam adams and mcsorley's. the bistro burger is a big, juicy, perfectly charred, medium-rare patty with bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheese. a little bite of burger heaven. $5.
32nd & park.
. we got the zamorza and chorizo fondue, which tasted not unlike a stouffer's french bread pizza. it was pretty uncanny, actually, the similarity, and i couldn't decide whether this was a good or bad thing. for $20, i think it was a bad thing. with the little fingerlings we ordered for an additional baigneuse, it resembled a wendy's baked potato topping. perhaps the stilton and sauternes would have been a better choice. the gougeres were tasty little bites, but 11 madison also offers them. and gratis, i might add. the chocolate souffle cake was pretty awful, so it all added up to one expensive starch-bomb that might as well've been retrived from my freezer. true, brennan and mccalman have assembled a mighty impressive list of cheeses, but that's to be expected right? i mean, it's a cheese restaurant. i think that i'll just make a trip to murray's if i've got a craving for some selles-sur-cher or garrotxa.
al di la
5th ave & carroll in park slope.
rainy night just on the cusp of spring, but wet shoes and a lost sock didn't keep us from finally taking a trip out to park slope to sample chef anna klinger's [mostly] venetian dishes. to start, tim had some baccala mantecato to spread on grilled polenta. i thought it was perfect, but he would have preferred a more creamy texture. i had the casunsiei: beet-ricotta ravioli with a butter-poppy seed sauce and a dusting of parm. soooo good, i wish i had room to try the other paste and risotti. lots of specials at al di la: a sweet pea and mascarpone ravioli, braised beef cheeks, braised whole pancetta, rack of lamb. he had the braised rabbit with black olives and creamy polenta (molto sapori) and i had the calf's liver alla veneziana (crisped on the outisde, creamy inside) with caramelized onions and more of the grilled polenta. i think this could be my new favorite place to eat in brooklyn. the space is a really highly-textured combination of the raw (exposed brick, chipped-paint ceiling) and the ornate (crystal chandelier, heavy draperies), and service was lovely. dolci: pear cake with bitter chocolate chunks. oh, and they have great bread as well. $20.
140 w.13th, near nyu.
tim agrees that they could do alot more with the space in front, or whatever this bar/lounge area is supposed to be. the tables here are over-large and feel a bit awkward. and the open kitchen is pretty damn ugly. the wide open space in the back for more privileged diners (or those with the foresight to call ahead) is airy and lovely. the food is pretty good and mostly honest: chicken liver toasts are delectable, as is the white bean garlic spread for more toast; the pizza has a pleasantly flaky, savory crust (light years better than the crud at otto, but is still some highfalutin' thing along todd english lines) but the "wild mushrooms" is scant few of the domesticated shiitake (italiano? no.) and buttons. this, however, is still more reasonable for $14 than otto's fat-on-a-cracker "lardon pizza". a nice, hospitable neighborhoody place. just saw a few inches off those tables and try a different configuration. $15.
170 thompson st. weirdly enough, i think i actually have their address memorized.
this was the first of my restaurant-week triptych and definitely the best. having just returned from my trip through the riviera, italy included, i have a real appreciation for this place. its feels like una vera osteria. pitch-perfect. great bread (focaccia? i don't remember now.) the bavette cacio e pepe was delicious; i lapped up every last strand. saltimbocca was also excellent. lupa's a particular winner for restaurant week, i think, because they actually offer dishes that are usually on the lunch menu. there's no scaling back of ingredients. (shoshana did point out, however, that their prices are somewhat comparable to the prix fixe price.) there was definitely a push through service though, but i can't really decide if that's a lunch thing or RW thing or both. i'll definitely be back for more. i can't wait to try babbo. $15.
cobble hill/carroll gardens, smith st. &.
in my ongoing quest for the perfect blueberry pancakes, tim & i finally stopped in here. (after brunch at the hill diner and the half-dollar-sized pancakes there, this just seemed like an inevitability.) they actually just started serving brunch in january '03, our server said, and it's a damn good thing they did, as they're the only ones in a neighborhood glutted with brunch offerings to have the p e r f e c t brunch no joke. great sausage made in-house (spicy or sweet links, or both). somehow, i chose the belgian waffle over my blueberry pancakes (sorry! next week, i promise), and was recompensed with a yummy scoop of pistachio ice cream atop the fruit compote on my waffle. tim pronounced my waffle "perfect" (i thought it could be crispier on the outside, lighter and more tender within, but not by much), and chose the eggs anyway-you-want-it with everything (which includes the sausage, good homefrieds, and a truly delicious cheese scone, also made in-house. it boggles my mind how we spent most of our brunch surrounded by empty seats, when just down the block at bar tabac, the house was full. brunch costs about the same at both places, but saul blows 'em all away. $10.
nolita, spring st.
it's everything they claim it is. i thought i'd read somewhere that plain cheese pie is the way to go, i have to say that the sausage and mushroom was pizza heaven, and the cheese was just a little happiness. i bet the calzones are tasty too. $15.
prince? spring? houston? near sullivan st.
another in the grand empire of brguest establishments, but i think this one has a lot more ambition than, say, park avalon. great interior. a little less hip or italian than lupa (but just a couple blocks away). funny one-armed chairs. service is really warm and accomodating and made up for any disappointment that usually results from restaurant week. perfectly serviceable braised shortribs. truthfully, i don't remember much else about the meal. maybe linda does.
cobble hill/carroll gardens. smith st. & union, brooklyn.
one of the best eating experiences i've ever had in new york; this could be my new favorite restaurant..cozy 30-seater, the husband-and-wife chefs hail
from gotham B&G and offer an ambitious (yet restrained for neighborhood tastes) menu. the appetizers on the whole are far more compelling than the mains (or read that way at least), and the sweetbreads are not to be missed. though not mind-blowing, the food is genuinely satisfying; you can feel how much they love what they're doing and how much they care about the food and the craft in each and every bite. interesting wine list. $24.
LES/chinatown. delancey, near eldridge.
great charmingly kitschy wood interior. i'm pretty sure this place started the rice-and-stuff baked in a bamboo log (tasty), but one's got to try the place's namesake dish. sampan congee was great: slices of jellyfish, barbecued pork, peanuts. goose web (braised feet) with mushrooms was not bad, but the chicken with black bean sauce was fantastic: succulent and savory -- and those black beans are my favorite. $6.
71 clinton fresh food
LES. clinton, near rivington
matt reguin, you are the bestest chef ever. granted, i'm a bit spoiled, having had an 11-course meal here, complete with way too much wine (yes, there is such a thing) -- chosen by the very excellent sommelier/host, glenn (who is a very funny tipsy australian and fucking good at his job). memorable dishes and drinks: wagyu beef with strawberries. watermelon gazpacho with lime and an unbelievable pairing with a white, the stella bella. funky subterranean decor; it's a feat to squeeze into the spaces between the tables, but well worth it. $28.
around 3rd ave. and east 9th.
a tiny little storefront where you can queue up for a first-rate okonomiyaki or takoyaki (or if you're like me, both).
(and of course, they have a few other perfunctory items, but those really distract from the really good stuff at hand.)
the pork, shrimp, and squid okonomiyaki are all very tasty with generous doses of both mayonnaise (the japanese
kind is always best) and that salty-sweet brown sauce. the same tops the octopus takoyaki. so osakan. so damn
blue ribbon sushi
there are those naysayers who would pooh-pooh anyone who's got some measure of success. the bros who own all
the lovely blue ribbon establishments in manhattan & brooklyn know what they're doing. (see pickled tongue comments
under blue ribbon bakery entry, below.) tim & i did the omakase, and had some really gorgeous pieces of fish.
i still dream about this especially sparkly bit that was rather like yellowtail (and orders of magnitude
better) with a japanese name i never really heard properly. and too bad, as i'd really like some more. still a
very worthy contender for good sushi in new york.
blue ribbon bakery
west village. at downing, just a few skips down from 'ino.
a great neighborhood-y joint with a seemingly ginormous bakery operation down below (or from what i could
gather on my way back from the bathroom). a very generous menu and nicely edited wine selection (great barbera!).
the pickled tongue is not to be missed -- truly delectable morsels that come with zingy wee cornichons. the
tongue has a very umami quality about it. beef marrow with toast is another yummy treat: good especially for
rainy days. $18.
west village: bedford (6th ave & downing)
one of my favorites. some really tasty pressed sandwiches here -- great charcuterie and cheese selection and a pretty decent wine selection. the place is comfortable (tends to be noisy) and very neighborhood-y, with a strange bowling alley-like bathroom. no pretension (or not much, anyway), no bullshit. just good food. i'm working on my own version of their truffled egg toast, but no dice. this dish has to be tasted to be believed; heaven on toast. for dinner, i think the best way to go is to get the quattro panini (only $10!), which is plenty to fill you up. but the tiny bruschetta and the moderately-sized tramezzetini are just as tempting (and i'm sure they'd be willing to make any of the selection in any of the other sizes). $8.
cobble hill. smith i think?
a hip thai spot in brooklyn with kickass curry. i tried the drunken noodles, but they couldn't hold a candle
to tim's bowl o' yumminess. $10.
east village. 1st ave.
gabrielle hamilton dishes up some excellent offal dishes (and you know what sort of weakness i have for those).
i don't think i could wax more ecstatic about any other innard than the monkfish liver here: it definitely
gives foie gras a run for its money.$20.
LES, down the street from 71 clinton
a lot more pared down than i'd initially imagined, but still has its own quirky charm. fred had the spanish tortilla (with mushrooms -- porcini? portobella?), while i had the much-talked-about lamb tongue sandwich with almond butter and currant jelly. zoinks. this stuff is frickin' GOOD. leaves just enough room to walk over to chinatown or sullivan st bakery for a little sumpin' sweet. $10.
the village. bleecker.
everyone knows about this place and their cupcakes, yada yada. it even managed to get on "sex & the city." in spite of all the hype, i'm still a sucker for the banana pudding. so rich and creamy, this stuff can't be good for you. nice big crunchy bits of 'nilla wafer for a textural counterpoint. excellent key lime pie here as well. and those cupcakes aren't too shabby. heavy on the frosting. $4.
trump tower, columbus circle
one of my first and most memorable meals in the city. impeccable service, gorgeous dining room (both formal and casual overlook central park). gabriel kreuther was chef at the time, but i think he's gone on to something else (atlas maybe?). unfortunately, the photos are gone, and all i remember is the overseasoned salt-crust venison. well, that and everything else was nearly perfect. definitely prefer the main dining room to nougatine though for the experience. $35.
update: just went back (02.03) with tim for dinner and had a truly superlative meal. we did the jg tasting. the amuse bouche: a coconut milk soup topped with a kaffir lime/mint foam was _amazing_. i got a shotglass -- and i definitely wanted a pitcher. there was a foie gras thing and something else that was also tasty, but the soup eclipsed them both, and then some. i mean, i'm still thinking about it. young garlic soup with thyme and sauteed frog legs with parsley: so sweetly fragrant, i wish they made a perfume of this stuff. oh man. scallops in a caper-raisin emulsion, topped with cauliflower. probably the least successful, but still wonderful. the sauce was interesting in the greatest way, but the scallops were just halved or quartered pieces, and tim thought, in his usual french cuisine school-of-thought way, that the veg was undercooked (i thought it was fine). one perfect scallop would have been, well, perfect. poached turbot in chateau chalon sauce with a tomato confit could have used a little more acid element from the tomatoes, but great nonetheless. broiled squab with onion compote, corn pancake topped with foie gras -- yum (what else to say?). we had some great cheeses, and then EVERY dessert. i think we nearly finished all of them as well. the fruit one was my favorite, but the chocolate and caramel ones were also fucking fantastic. each was a square plate with four (i think) different desserts on separate smaller square plates. i remember a fruit soup (peach? nectarine?), jg's perfect warm chocolate cake, the archetype that started that whole trend (and surpasses all pathetic imitators). some incredible chocolate-peanutty thing. oof. just thinking about it all makes me nearly weepy, it was so good. chocolates and fresh marshmallows (cassis, banana, chocolate, thyme(?)-flavored) followed. $130 for the seven-course tasting.
i think this might be my favorite four-star restaurant in new york.
lex, b/w 28th & 29th
the friendly guy behind the counter was more than happy to put together a combo veggie platter for me (after noticing the bewildered expression on my face as i tried to decide what to get from all the choice offerings). the mujadarra (lentils, bulgur wheat, cooked to a fluffy, tender consistency and a bit of spiciness) is definitely boss. comes with some great pickled veg (beets!). chef gabriel really digs the falafel here (word on that after a return trip). this place has an unbelievable selection of spices, nuts, all things indian and middle eastern. fairly extensive selection of indian teas. eat upstairs at the makeshift tables and try a peach drink from the fridge. yum yum yummy. $5.
east village. east 3rd & 9th.
i haven't been to too many yakitori places in this city, but i'll definitely be coming back to this one. great chicken skin-on-a-stick (and chicken tendon, hearts, cow tongue...): just enough of a crust from the grill and not overly carcinogenic-tasting. perfect for the late-night munchies (they're open until 3am). think otafuku might be a better bet for takoyaki and okonomiyaki, but that remains to be seen. keep those asahis coming! $10.
19th (park ave so & b/w)
hardly compares to 'ino. and wayyyyy pricier. a really swank interior and plenty of muckety-mucks preening at the tables. i had the duck prosciutto sandwich (and taleggio? something runny) and erin had a pasta that she quite liked. my panino was not bad. flavors might ahve been a little too strong for my tastes, especially in combination. i probably won't return, but i'm definitely going to go to colicchio's real deal, the original craft. $12.