Sunday, March 30, 2014
Danny Bowien is a genius. Beginning with that premise, Mission Cantina exceeds the hype. Opened in a large corner spot once housing a burger joint and then Asian fusion, the staff here is warm and welcoming. One option is eating all small plates and with enough you are sated. Nothing is too pricey and you could take out a burrito for $10ish, but that is only take-out. Not on the regular eat-in menu, but definitely a warm weather option. I started with an appetizer of radish salad with anchovies and queso fresco. Super palate starter to mucho mas tacos. A calabazo- stewed winter squash, queso fundido was mad tasty. The hongos- mushroom, parsley and chicharron de queso was juicy and inventive. There are bigger plates of rotisserie chicken and whole fish, but the tacos are so unusual, mixing it up with a large group to taste is the best option. GO! Go!
Tufino's boasts a Neopolitan oven from Italy that creates the billowy crust we all love in Neopolitan pizza. The spot is small and friendly with many Italian dishes found on menus, but perfected here. The pizza makers are artisans here, swirling and perfecting the pie and it is perfetto. I started with arancini and a mixed salad. The rice balls dark and lovely for $10 were stuffed with fresh mozzarella and sausage ragu served on top of a nice tomato sauce. Wow! The salad with greens, fennel, endive goat cheese, pears, candied walnuts and balsamic was a great counterpoint to the arancini. For pizza, I went with a classic Margherita- $11. Pillowy balanced with sweet sauce and flor di latte, grana padano and basil- it was magnifico! GO!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Inside an old garage lies the latest M. Wells incarnation. A lush, lavish spot with wallpapered ceilings and chandaliers. An open kitchen and otherwise nicely spaced seating await those with reservations, otherwise a spot at the bar is available. On tap beers from Rockaway Brewery are available for $6 and mine was lovely- love the local brew. Service starts with a pretzel roll and plain rolls from TomCat Bakery. Good rolls, but I thought they would do their own bread. A ceasar salad was laden with parmesan and a hint of anchovy. I wasn't wild about the ceasar. Better was the East Coast oysters chock full of flavor. The main courses though did not disappoint- Beef butter for $25 with a side of Bernaise and aligot for $10. The beef butter is a fatty piece of Kobe beef cooked perfectly medium rare. It is a small, but loud piece of steak, not gluttonous- just the right amount. Cheesy French style mashed potatoes were the perfect accompaniment. Also, rocking here was dessert, housemade chocolate and caramel were the perfect finish to an exciting meal. GO!
Sunday, February 16, 2014
The Clam is far from a clam shack like so many that have sprouted around town. It is a corner spot in the scenic West Village with a local, sustainable mission and food that speaks. Hot, Parker House rolls baked in house are dreamy. A clam dip with zesty chips- the dip is good, could have been more lemony or peppery for me, but the chips were crispy, crunchy perfection. Also, well conceived was a butter lettuce salad, aged cheddar, apples and crispy pumpernickel with buttermilk dressing- fab. The spaghetti with clam sauce sprinkled with arugula was $22. Loved the arugula- I would have liked a richer, spicier sauce, but a good dish nonetheless. The star of the meal was dessert. All desserts are nine dollars. My chocolate, banana pie over chocolate ganache was spectacular. Nods to the pastry chef. GO!
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Bo's is a sweet and smashing Southern surprise right in the Flatiron. Calling this food Creole doesn't quite justify it's breadth and scope. The spacious. dining room with it's white brick walls oozes a select spot with it's 4 seater square tables and roomy design. Love at first sight. They make warm monkey bread a sweet, bread that's starts things off right. There are so many amazing sounding things on the menu, it was tough to pick. I went straight for the main. Shrimp Fra Diavolo- $28. Spicy Gulf shrimp grilled over cheese grits and tomato relish. Orgasmic mix of flavors and textures. For dessert we tried the hazelnut profiteroles and blueberry upside down cake with cardomon ice-cream. Both were delectable ends to outstanding meal. Nice retro bathrooms too. The vibe here is so friendly and laid back and the food well, I can't wait to come back. GO! GO!
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Refined Rotisserie Georgette with it's reservation policy is a reminder of when the Upper East Side was a culinary destination. Ladies and gentlemen of a certain age enter to a sophisticated and expansive rose colored dining room full of genteel touches in dining and service. Grandaisy bread with butter starts the service. The food here begs to be paired with wine which I missed this go-round. I also skipped the appetizers and headed straight to the mains. The poulet roti- $24 is a crispy half bird with a choice of seasonings. Herbs de Provence was my choice and paired with the jus of the gods it is delicious. The crispy potatoes- $7-dark and lovely packed flavor as did the side of Jerusalum artichokes, cauliflower and golden raisins- $10 which tasted better and better as I ate them. For dessert, I indulged in the pairfait. Housemade brown butter ice-cream over a mouse served with chocolate bits and with brown butter sauce- $14. I was perplexed by the presentation. Very neat on a silver dish- it looked like a Chinese restaurant ice-cream. I would have preferred a messier concoction, but the brown butter sauce was debaucherous enough to satisfy. Make a reservation and..... GO! GO!
Thursday, January 9, 2014
The iconic Empire Diner in Chelsea reopens with Amanda Freitag at the helm of this classic, comfort mecca. An one story stand alone spot, Empire Diner like the 11th Street Diner in Miami Beach is iconic. This spot is revamped and romantically lit with a rethought menu with dishes that deserve attention. On the savory side, I went with Pork on Pork- for $21 and chili cheese fries for $11. There were so many choices and with sides at $6, I was tempted, but was bad last night. Now, the heat had failed, the manager frazzled and pretty Amanda Freitag was there to greet, but the food was what I had meandered over for and the savories satisfied. The pork on pork, was a perfectly butchered pork chop with pancetta, cranberry beans over kale. An ideal plate on a frosty night with the pork chop cooked right and tasting delicious. The sweet fries with chili, cheddar and lime crema was a lovely sweet, meat and citrus marriage- very clever. The only food failure was dessert- I went with the warm donut holes with caramel sauce for $7. The holes came out looking like raw sugar and they were. The blobs were warm, though undercooked dough. Nice salted caramel sauce. I immediately sent them back and the cost was removed from the bill. The desserts generally looked underwhelming, but the doughy taste of the donuts was a shock to me. For great savory options and a real NY experience.........GO!
Sunday, January 5, 2014
On a frosty, frigid night, I headed to blizzard filled Brooklyn to dine in at Dinosaur Barbecue. Dinosaur normally fills up fast on a Friday, but on the night of the near blizzard was near empty. It's a big roadhouse spot and there is a lot of value in food here. I went with three ribs which came with two sides- $11. A chopped salad was $7. The homemade buttermilk dressing on the salad was mighty tasty, but the salad was just adequate. The ribs were the star- moist, and meaty- super duper. Sides of mac and cheese and turkey neck greens were delish, especially the mac and cheese which had a nice crust and a little spice to it. The Union St. location is down the block from the R train and within an eight block radius to two other great bbq spots- Ft. Reno and Fletcher's. GO!
Monday, December 23, 2013
The back of Carmine's is a surprise- red checkered table-clothed red sauce joint with a hankering for the Yankees. The bread here is house-made and the bruschetta that comes with it a fun difference from just extra virgin olive oil served at so many new wave Italians. The food here is good and cheap. My eggplant parm. with spaghetti was $10 and generous. Tasty, real eggplant with gooey cheese on top was satisfying. Fresh broccoli rabe with garlic was made to order and super. The sauce here while good is not deeply inspired like Joe's of Ave U or La Palina- my personal fave red sauce joints, nevertheless, this is a fine nabe spot to chow down. When on Graham- GO!
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Bubby's Highline son of Bubby's Tribeca is relatively new and the best Bubby's yet. A big, generous, corner space with a little area in the back for a quick coffee or light bight. All the purveyors Bubby's uses is listed on the back of the menu and it is impressive. The classic American grub is so well done here, I have been here several times recently and the meals are utter perfection. Spiced apple cider is a warm way to start a meal. Cornmeal encrusted whole trout with yellow potatoes and cherry vinegar peppers was tasty, and hearty for $26. There is great value for the quality of the food. House-made ice-cream- Rocky Road is no better way to finish a meal. Of course, Bubby's is known for their pies and their homemade desserts are a wonderful topper to a top of the line meal. Love the moist cupcakes. GO! GO!
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Back to the classics. While Cafeteria has been around since the 90's, it is far from a has-been. It maintains a popularity and with good reason. American comfort with value. Yes, there may be some attitude, but that is what you are paying for. I was there twice in the last two weeks and satisfied with both meals and ambience. The first time, we were seated by a big, beautiful drag queen and I loved it. The tomato soup with crème fraiche is delish. The biscuits that come with were a great surprise. Big bold flavor. You could go with a soup and half-sammie for $11 and be full. The mac and cheese for $9- cheddar and fontina was quite good. Especially loved the meatloaf with garlic mashed, green beans and tomato relish for $18. The entrees top out at $25 which is reasonable for prime Chelsea/Flatiron. The best part is the seating for four-tops on the corner and by the windowed front. Iconic! GO!
Sunday, November 24, 2013
The bagels at Beygl are exceptional, with floavor that you don't find in traditional bagels. The addition of brown sugar plus the kettle boil creates an authentic bagel with a unique flavor. I love Beygl's bagels. The bagels are divided into two types- traditional and artisan. I lean towards the artisan because of their originality. The sea-salt and cracked pepper as well as the rosemary, olive oil are my personal faves. The bagels are baked from light to dark so all bread mavens like myself can find one done to their liking Some yummy spreads and delicious coffee make this a great morning pit-stop, but if you don't live in "the Slope", these bagels are worth the trip. GO! GO!