Category Archives: Restaurants

Restaurants I would go back to

Alexandre is coming to town

Chilling out at Johnson's

Chilling out at Johnson's

So Fabrice came to New York and left and it went very well thank you. And now Alexandre is coming. Which was discussed at length when Fabrice was in town. See, Alexandre is a different animal. To my greatest despair, Alexandre doesn’t eat. Or worse yet, eating is only a purely physical need in his mind. Also, he doesn’t read blog. That’s a principle (I was shocked to learn this from Fabrice and need an explanation on this one).

Don’t get me wrong, Alexandre is a very dear friend of mine. And also of Florent & Fabrice. Hence I feel safe to say that us three were the ideal combination to design the perfect four-day stay for Alexandre in New York (and it’d better be, perfect, as it took us 2 whole years and a lot of gentle reminder on my part and pushy harassment on Florent’s part to convince him).

Eating yummy smoked beef sandwiches @ Char

Eating yummy smoked beef sandwiches @ Char

Now that you know what Alexandre dislikes, let’s go over what alex likes:

  • Beer. Cheap.
  • Happy Hour. Because it usually is synonymous to cheap beer;
  • Rockn’roll r&n b and rap, un peu;
  • Hype. But not in an obvious way. More in the “discover the hype before anyone else does” kind of way. Think  Williamsburg meets Cobble Hill and they have a drink on the Gowanus Canal.
  • Habits. He likes to go to the same places and get to know the owners.
  • Night. Alex doesn’t really understands why God created days. He thought he should have gone for nights all along.
Sweet Cocktails @ Clover Club

Sweet Cocktails @ Clover Club

So I guess you have a better picture now. Here is the dilemma: find cheap beer spots varied enough to give Alexandre a good selection of Brooklyn/Lower Manhattan sweet spots AND make him to come back and see us again.

We will start by the Gate if the sun is shining. This way he ‘ll get an idea of park slope’s real values. Hopefully there won’t be too many kids. We/I Might eat a burger at Bonnie’s Grill (I’ll escape the Gate if I have to). For after dinner (or rather post-apero, pre-cocktail hours) we’ll try Brooklyn Social. Nice cocktails. And, if the bartender is nicer than last time, Alex might even be able to listen to the wonderful juke box selection he will have put together.

On Friday, we will be heading to Barette to fulfill Alex’s needs of a Happy Hour (2 pints for the price of one ($ 5to6) from 4 to 7pm). I know, we’ll need to get there early – Lovely terrace, lovely Prospect Heights crowd. And then we’ll move two blocks down to Soda.

Alex will drink $1 wisky shots @ char 4, while I try again their lamb sausage. Very nice. Clover Club will be our late

Drinking $1 whisky shots @ Char 4

Drinking $1 whisky shots @ Char 4

night hang out. Very nice cocktails, but @ $10-15 each, we might have to put Alex to bed before then.

Then, we have a very special plan for the week-end. We will HAVE to venture to the LES and try Welcome to the Johnson’s. $1.75 a beer & nice juke box. What else can you ask for? Also, they tend to attract a lot of cute 20-something arts students who are a real pleasure for my aging eyes. Very refreshing. And perfect for Alex’s hungry eyes. At some point we will have to check out BKLYN YARD and see what’s happening (although we may have to bring our own beers). Dancing in silence with your headphones by the somewhat rusty & smelly Gowanus Canal. It doesn’t get any cooler.

(all photos courtesy of Fabrice – Merci Fabrice)

Advertisements

Rosewater, Park Slope – Do’s and Dont’s

IMG_0440

Go to Rosewater:

  • For dinner;
  • For the entrees. Florent’s roast chicken with fingerling potatoes, cipollini onions and watercress ($21) was the highlight: very moist chicken, and I liked the crispiness and bitterness of watercress, balancing the overall sweetness of the dish. My sauteed fluke with trumpet royale mushroom, baby bok ckoy, beluga lentils, meyer lemon aoli ($23) was also very good. Fluke cooked to – almost – perfection (but I am a perfectionist); I liked the sauce a lot – although would not call it an aioli (but that’s because my father was the only one to make aioli).  Our friend’s lightly smoked duck breast, poached rhubarb, grilled ramps, arugula, blood orange ($25) was, according to him, good although he could not quite taste the rhubarb. Which is a shame, I will agree. I stayed clear from his dish because of the ramps. I am traumatized;
  • If you like chicken (see above);
  • If you like desserts. Especially the caramelized brioche. So on the comfort side of food;
  • If you like brioche (see above);
  • For the ingredients, in general. It is particularly nice to see a chef paying so much attention to freshness and taste;
  • For the service: they offered us our deserts because we waited so long;
  • If you like free desserts (see above);
  • If you are only slightly mildly hurt by the nasty rampant recession. Bill was $174 with tips (there were 4 of us and I am a good tipper). Included a nice $43 Hautes-Cotes de Beaune, Domaine Rollin 2006. So more on the high end of the scale for Park Slope.

Don’t go to Rosewater:

  • For brunch – unless you have the appetite of a bird (so not my case);
  • If you are in a hurry. We got there at 7 on a Sunday night (without reservation) and left the table at 10:30. Got seated at 7:30. Had almost finished our bottle when the entrees got there;
  • If you have not reserved (see above);
  • If you are in a hurry and want to eat duck breast (they told us the bird was responsible for the wait);
  • If you are broke (see above);

Thank you.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

So Fabrice is in Town

Nice steak & nice booze @ Jean-Claude

Good company, nice food & nice booze - Jean-Claude, NYC

Yes, he actually managed to overcome his fear of the swine flu. Good for him (and for us of course). Sadly we haven’t been able to visit all the places we wanted to take him to (yet). Typical, you will say: you have everything all planned out, and bim, Florent and Fabrice find more important stuff to do on their own. I actually  hardly saw them yesterday – apparently they had a video conference to attend to in the media room. When I tried to sneak into the room they had their headphones on and the Play Station was on. Weird. Also it was pretty noisy – sounded like a kung-fu battle with a metallic voice saying “YOU LOSE” once in a while. They told me not to worry. But I still worried a little.

That said, we did go out a little bit: I was disappointed by our Get Fresh brunch on Saturday, sadly: I could swear they did not serve as many pancakes as before. My scrambled eggs with heirloom beans and potatoes were not runny enough for me*. A bit dry.

Fabrice’s first reflex upon arrival was to drink a beer. Weird, I know. But the guy lives in Brussels after all. So we went to the Gate. Where else? And, since the weather was pretty nice last Friday we craved for Latin American flavors. So we went to Playa. Not much to say: the kind of restaurant where the food tastes AMAZING when you’ve had a lot of margharitas and beer before. But not so good when you go back there sober.

A nice discovery was Jean-Claude, in the city. I know, I know, a bit tacky to bring your French friend to a French restaurant in NYC (when the guy is only craving for burgers and various iterations of New American cuisine; whatever that means). But I must say I was really impressed by the quality of the meat there, both the lamb loin AND hanger steack: cooked to perfection, and nice gratin dauphinois. Good friends, good meat, and good service (for a French restaurant).

All in all, a nice start. We still have a lot of grounds to cover. It might prove even more difficult with the new swine flu surge. I had to convince Fabrice to get out of the apartment this morning. And that a mask with a pig groin is not (yet) trendy in NYC. We did manage to go to Root Hill for lunch though. And had a nice grilled cheese with bacon and tomato. I think Fabrice would agree that this could qualify as comfort food. Croque-Monsieur a l’americaine, quoi.

*Soon, I’ll write a post about scrambled eggs. And eggs in general actually. For there is one thing I don’t understand here, and it is the fear of eating runny eggs. Let me be clear, to me, scrambled eggs, soft boiled eggs, fried eggs are only good IF they are runny. The best being of course the oeufs a la coque. More on this later.



Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

A Perfect Dinner…ou presque

Homey & Designy Little Giant

Homey & Designy Little Giant

So here we are at Little Giant (Lower East Side). The sun is actually shining this time. A perfect Saturday evening is unfolding before our eyes (I know it is a perfect day when I sing Lou Reed’s “oh it’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you” for myself – no kidding).
I love the decor of the restaurant, there is a table on the terrace and Florent and I can sip our cocktails there – and we end up eating there as well. The menu sounds promising, all the more that there are some ingredients I quite don’t understand – and one in particular that pops up almost everywhere in the menu: RAMPS.

“Euh, excuse me, miss, please – what are “ramps” ?
“It’s a wild leek – tastes between a leek and a scallion.

Niiiiiiiiice, I thought: the sweetness of the leek with an onion twist.

So, as I said, it all started well, with a truly homy yet designy decor.  Florent, his cousin, his uncle and I ordered some of the “nibbles” well, to nibble on. The deviled eggs were a bit too dry for me, not enough mayo, quoi. I liked the ricotta in the braised artichokes: very rich. The artichokes were not very tasty though. I really liked the warm spinach & feta dip. I couldn’t quite taste the feta in there , but it reminded me of a dish I loved when I was a kid. My mother’s ex-boyfriend’s mother (my mother’s love life is…complicated) used to make it for me for Sunday lunch. That’s how I learned to like spinach:  it was a very rich and creamy spinach gratin, with the spinach du jardin and a nice thick bechamel. Delicious. And Little Giant is right to serve this as a nibble. It is pretty heavy, as you can imagine. So, Little Giant: for your Spinach Feta Dip – I am eternally grateful.

The Menu looked appetizing too

The Menu looked appetizing too

So far so good – or at least OK. I can’t say I was hugely impressed by the appetizers (besides the Feta dip, that is), but I was in good company and I liked the waitress (efficient but not in your face). In fact, we were in such a good mood that we barely noticed that 30 minutes had passed and our entrees were still not served. Let me be clear here: I hate, HATE when you are barely done with your appetizers and they already serve the entrees. I may have a big appetite (and I think Florent tends to think that my appetite is really too big these days) but I need time  between my dish, so that I can look forward to the next dish. Donc, a good 45 minutes after we finished our “nibbles”, entrees were served. And that’s when disappointment arised. Big time.

We had a ramp theme going on on our table. I was rooting for the “ramps & orrecchiette, with ramp puree & braised ramps, poached organic egg & bread crumbs” but was keeping a close eye on Florent’s “veal shortribs, all-natural milk-fed veal, sauteed ramps stone-ground grits, roasted cherry tomatoes”. Let’s start with my dish:

  • the pasta was al dente – much to my liking;
  • braised ramps. What? Braised ramps? Where? Believe me I looked. But I couldn’t find them. So I asked:

“Excuse me euh sorry to ask but, where are the braised ramps please (and sorry again)? Well, they are in the sauce. Ah, ok”*

I was not convinced by her answer. Don’t mention braised ramps if they are not visible on my plate.

  • and then the taste.  Well, let’s just say ramps are very, very powerful, more on the garlic side than the leek side of the family. And that’s something I would have liked to know before ordering. Second, I am a firm believer of using garlic & onions in reasonable amounts. Florent doesn’t like garlic or onions so I have to play tricks. Here, I couldn’t finish my plate. Which is highly, highly unusual (to Florent’s great despair). Since then, I did a little research. Turns out it is a wild leek – which smells & taste half way between garlic & scallions and looks similar to scallions. It’s harvested in the Appalachians and apparently they go crazy over that little thing there. There’s a Ramp Festival, and even an entire website dedicated to wild leeks recipes.

Let’s focus on Florent’s plate now:

  • Sauteed ramps? Check . And it was not nearly as strong as my ramps puree (or maybe my palate was numb after the orecchiette)
  • Stone-ground grits. Ok, that definitely sounds cool and natural and fancy too. But does it imply that I can actually feel the grains of grits under my teeth? Well, not in my world. In my world, polenta – and grits are all about creaminess, smoothness and tenderness. Ok, there might be some graininess involved too. But these grits were not cooked enough.
  • Veal shortrib : tenderness? Check. But the ribs were white. I mean there was no color or crispiness there. It was a bit sad.

Ramps by Adrianne Picciano

Ramps by Adrianne Picciano

So yes, I was disappointed. Luckily the desserts made everything better. I am not usually not a fan of desserts but I would give a big high five for the sticky toffee pudding. And the lemon-ricotta fritters with lemon curd were also very light and the tanginess of the curd was nicely counterbalanced by the ricotta…

Sadly, the bill came. L’addition etait plutot salee.…$90 per person (we did order two bottles of wine though).

Would I go back? Well…maybe. First because I completely trust Catherine’s tastes, (she recommended the restaurant) and I am pretty sure that she had a very nice meal when she went there. Also, they change their menu all the time (they are all about seasonality, organic, all-natural, etc.) and I certainly commend them for using unusual ingredients. And, they made me want to try and cook ramps (if I ever find any).

*I have to say that, to my despair, I am not the most assertive kind of gal. I hate scandals and people yelling and am usually a perfect well-behaved costumer.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Booking a Table at Momofuku Ko? Check

Yehaaaaaaaaaa! I got in. And here is the proof :

Monday, May 11, 10:01 am

Monday, May 11, 10:01 am

See the green check at 9:30 pm? That’s me – At Ko – Sunday, May 17, 9:30pm.
OK – because I am an honest gal – I’ll have to tell you that I did not pursue and confirm the reservation: 9:3opm  is usually the time I go to bed on a Sunday (well – not really, but am in my pajamas). But now that I know I can do it – will do it again, and again and again, for when Fabrice is in town.

A Perfect Brunch…

Le roi des bread basket @ Get Fresh

Le roi des bread basket @ Get Fresh

Yesterday I woke up in a perfect mood. Not too early – but not too late either. No hangover. I could feel that I was getting hungry – but not the kind of hunger that puts me in a bad mood if I don’t get fed with what I crave right away. (I know, living with me must feel like living with a pregnant woman 24/7 – and NO mum, Delphine, Nathalie & Francoise – I am not pregnant)*. So far so good. The weather was OK (i.e. not raining, not freezing, and sometimes there was a little bit of sun even).

And Florent and I had our entire day planned out: brunch with papers at Get Fresh, and dinner with Florent, his cousin & uncle and I (again, Florent’s extensive family) at Little Giant at 7. What we had planned in between didn’t really matter to me, as long as brunch & dinner were secured.

And it all started, really really well. Here we are at Get Fresh. I already mentioned Get Fresh as one of the mandatory stops when Fabrice is in town. And again, I was not disappointed – no no no. We had this perfect table – not outside because it was still a bit chilly for us – but next to the doors to the terrace so that we could pretend to be outside.

It took me a while to get used to brunch: in France, we don’t do brunch – we do breakfast and then lunch with real dishes (although apparently brunch is getting real trendy in France these days, so I am lying a little here). Quite frankly I did not understand what to make of this meal when, no matter which restaurant you would go to, you would get almost the same dishes all the time (that is: Egg Benedict, Pancakes, French Toast, Eggs, sausages & potatoes). But that was until I moved to New York and discovered perfect brunches. And then I understood: brunch is not about getting all original and fancy. Brunch is about cooking traditional meals to perfection – with the best products you could find. You could tell me that any meal should be just about that….Yeah, agreed, sort of. But with brunch, the selection of dishes available is not extensive: it’s the week-end, one is very probably hangover from the night before, or at least tired from the week. So let’s bring one some comfort food in its best form. And guess what – that is exactly what Get Fresh does. First: the bread basket. Comes with vanilla butter, orange marmalade & strawberry marmalade (which they make themselves, of course). Delicious cheddar & rosemary scone, marvelous warm pear muffin and, my favorite: the BRIOCHE. Boy they know how to make brioche there. And I am a big fan of brioche. The only thing I wished was that they didn’t toast it – it’s even better when it’s warm and tender. Baguette was ok (but I won’t go there – I gave up on finding fresh and crispy baguette elsewhere than in France – I am snob this way).

Pain Brioche Parfait (and no, it was not burnt, it's just the picture)

Pain Brioche Parfait (and no, it was not burnt, it's just the picture)

Then came the egg sandwich. A delish. The stars there were clearly the bun and the egg. Again, the bun (brioche – again, they make their own) was perfect: sweet but not so much as it would overpower the other ingredients. It might seem odd to list the egg as the star there – but believe me, it was. And for two reasons:

  1. It tasted like an egg. What? You don’t understand? Well, try to remember the taste of the last egg you ate. You don’t remember? Well, I guess that’s normal, because egg don’t taste like anything these days. I hate to play the “it was so much better before” card, but it’s true. And this egg TASTED like egg, and for this, Get Fresh, I am eternally grateful.
  2. And – it was cooked to perfection: it was poached, the white was white (and not transparent) as it should be – and the yellow was runny – as it should be.

Florent seems to want to loose weight these days (or he is pretending to want to loose weight to  have ME loose weight – I haven’t quite yet figured this one out, despite careful interrogation and scrutiny). So we ordered granola. And it was good too, I must say.

See the egg? It was Perfect

See the egg? It was Perfect

So, like I said, a perfect brunch, to start a perfect day. $40 was our total (with tips) – service was OK (I must say that I still get the feeling that the waiters are all new there and quite don’t know what they are doing – although they were all helpful and trying hard). I was content, and even more looking forward to Little Giant – as the idea of my next post was taking shape in my mind.

*I am the youngest of 4 in the family – and also the only one without kids. And thing is, when you turn 30, the old excuse of “I am too young, way too young” turns out to be a little old. So one has to find other excuses. The “I don’t have a job and we wouldn’t have enough money to even CONSIDER getting pregnant – especially in New York city” has worked for me so far. Also it would help if my friends stopped getting pregnant all the time – and if my sisters started having babies again.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Momofuku Ko – No luck

May 6, 2009 - 9:58 am

May 6, 2009 - 9:58 am

Oh well. Might have been one minute late. Yeah, you heard well. Will try tomorrow. And the day after.

May 7, 2009 10:02 am

May 6, 2009 10:02 am