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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Chantilly’s Japanese-French Precision

Patisserie Chantilly is beloved, especially among some parts of the Japanese community here, for a particular kind of Japanese-French bakery perfection.

Their selection is small, but everything looks, and tastes, exceptional, says bulavinaka. They do each item with "honed precision and care that I just don't see anywhere else," says bulavinaka. "Each dessert seemed to have been created by a jeweler who is doubling as an artisan pastry chef. Each adornment on each dessert seems to have its place, with a sense of position and balance that is only achieved with careful thought and consideration."

The specialty: cream puffs. You don't get them out of a case. They're made to order, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to 20 minutes. "Again—this is the exceptional focus that Chantilly puts on creating the best possible rendition of this dessert that they will allow their customers to experience," explains bulavinaka.

Patisserie Chantilly [South Bay]
2383 Lomita Boulevard #104, Lomita

Discuss: Chantilly Patisserie v. Bonjour French Pastry?

A Friendly Place for Pig’s Ears

Lazy Ox Canteen is a casual joint with a sophisticated yet affordable menu, says stuffycheaks. It's "small, casual, comfortable, loud and most importantly, a place where you can gather with friends for a good meal and conversation."

There are small plates and a few entrées, and the best stuff seems to be the small plates. Crispy pig's ear with lime and horseradish aioli is a hit: The pig's ear is crispy and chewy on the outside, but soft and buttery inside.

Pig trotter and gooseberry is "one amazing dish," says stuffycheaks, with the trotter shaped into a cake and breaded. There's perfect buttermilk-fried quail with pomegranate, too. And cod brandade fritters with yuzu aioli are excellent, with good-quality cod and a soft, airy interior.

Lazy Ox Canteen [Downtown]
241 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles

Discuss: Review: Lazy Ox Canteen

Superlative Chicken Tenders

The Chicken Lady is a tiny place run by a woman known as, well, you can probably guess. She mostly caters to the studios, and she serves chicken tenders many ways, all of them superb, says QualityMart. She also makes great ribs on Fridays.

The staff is friendly, and the Chicken Lady herself comes out to talk to you and see how you're doing, says trojans.

The hours are short: weekdays, for three hours around lunch, since the eat-in part of the restaurant is secondary to the catering business.

The Chicken Lady [Mid-City]
416 S. San Vicente Boulevard, Los Angeles

Discuss: The Chicken Lady

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"Slightly crunchy tortilla—I guess they quickly bake the taco after assembly—with firm slightly smoked fish and soft cheese. Just spectacular!" - Ciao Bob, on Mariscos Chente's new smoked marlin tacos

"Bon Marche Bistro is a frustrating example of great intentions marred by inconsistency interspersed with flashes of brilliance." - exilekiss

"I took a ton of food to some friends who had suffered a loss in the family and everyone went nuts for the C&N and the pot pies." - Burger Boy, on chicken and noodles at Moffett's

Grading the Gastronomic Trend-makers

Playing Carnac, the Daily Beast presents the 10 biggest food trends for 2010. Hey, Daily Beast, it's only January!

The picks break down into three major categories: "Interesting!" "Wasn't That 2009?" and "Duh." And as a food writer who is occasionally compelled to have opinions on trends (which are often little more than a couple of anecdotes strung together), critiquing another writer's trend piece is damn close to cannibalism. Still, here goes. Pass the barbecue sauce and a blindfold, please.


Cooked-to-Order Baby Goo

It's such a drag when Mummy and Daddy are out to dinner and they have to lug along a container of baby sludge. Manhattan's GustOrganics restaurant solves the problem with an entire baby-food menu that, as the New York Times' City Room blog reports, "takes 45 minutes to prepare a 'chicken-carrot-bay leaf blend' that costs almost $10 and will be refused anyway."


Sweets to Remember Around Queens

Bauer's Bake Shop in Middle Village, a destination for generations of Black Forest cake lovers, has unfortunately gone the way of most of New York's German bakeries. In its place, edhopper reports, is a worthy successor, Framboise Patisserie.

He describes a lineup ranging from jelly doughnuts and chocolate cupcakes (both very good) to fancier stuff you might've expected to find at the much-missed Payard. In fact, the newcomer might belong in the conversation with some of the better places around town: Framboise's croissants are nearly the equal of La Bergamote's, ed says. Its crème brûlée reminds him of Eleven Madison Park's. "Surprising quality for an out of the way Queens bake shop," he promises.

The old Bauer's sign is still up, and the new owner has talked about preserving some of the old favorites. But for now, devotees of Bauer's German sweets may be left with only their memories.

Memories and dessert: Seems Proust was on to something. E Eto can't shake a stubborn craving for a confection from the Armenian-Middle Eastern bakeries he frequented years ago in Los Angeles. Known as aish el-saraya (there are varying transliterations around the Mediterranean), it features custardlike cream, layered with syrup-soaked pastry, scented with citrus and rosewater and topped with crushed pistachio. Happily, it's turned up in Astoria at Cedars, a Lebanese place better known for meats than sweets. "I'm not sure how it compares to the one I get at Panos bakery in LA," E Eto writes, "but it was the flavor I've been longing for."

UnoLooTz's sweet longings also go way back, informed by years of experience working in bakeries. So he's as qualified as anyone to track the evolution of the Italian rainbow cookie, from the lamentable decline in the proportion of costly almond paste to an ingenious innovation at Stork's Pastry Shop in Whitestone. This old-school bakery, not afraid of new tricks, adds a minty layer between the cookie's sponge and its chocolate top. "Some people might not like that because it doesn't follow tradition," UnoLooTz allows, "but I am addicted to them and love the evolutionary step."

Framboise Patisserie [Middle Village]
64-59 Dry Harbor Road (at 64th Road), Middle Village, Queens

Cedars Meat House [Astoria]
41-08 30th Avenue (near 41st Street), Astoria, Queens

Stork's Pastry Shop [Whitestone]
12-42 150th Street (near 12th Road), Whitestone, Queens

Discuss: Framboise Patisserie, Middle Village
Cedars Meat House, Astoria
Cake Box in Bay Terrace — R.I.P.

On the Burger Beat, Some Southwestern Heat

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen kicks up the basic cheeseburger with a dose of Southwestern heat: roasted poblano chiles. The result is wonderful, says Jim Leff (who suggests a side of excellent, seemingly greaseless sweet potato fries). guttergourmet says this burger reminds him of a California favorite, Taylor's Automatic Refresher.

Hounds accustomed to the real deal, at places like Bobcat Bite and Blake's Lotaburger in New Mexico, may find Schnipper’s chile cheeseburger a tad tame. "If you're an expat New Mexican looking for a green chile fix, Schnipper's will disappoint," francesb advises. "I'd try ordering it with double green, but even then, I don't think it's spicy enough."

Elsewhere on the burger beat, the hound-endorsed RUB BBQ has just started making one. It's delicious, mch reports, "like a grown up Shake Shack burger." RUB serves hamburgers only on Mondays from 6 to 9 p.m., at least for now.

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen [Hell's Kitchen]
620 Eighth Avenue (at W. 41st Street), Manhattan

RUB BBQ [Chelsea]
208 W. 23rd Street (near Seventh Avenue), Manhattan

Discuss: Schnipper's vs. Shake Shack (vs. Taylor's Automatic Refresher vs. Bobcat Bite)
Schnipper's Review
Schnipper's Quality Kitchen
Burgers at RUB?

Azeri Meats and Cold Vodka at Sim-Sim

At Cafe Sim-Sim in Brooklyn, one smart order is the charcoal-grilled lulya kebab, an excellent thing to do with minced lamb, missmasala suggests. She's also high on the dill-seasoned fries that come on the side at this Azeri-Russian spot, as well as the fresh hot bread, the Georgian-style bean stew lobio and, unexpectedly, the Caesar salad.

Westminstress recommends borscht ("amazing"), eggplant or lamb's tongue salads, and kutabi, pan-fried crêpes filled with lamb or greens. She also digs great, greasy potatoes with chanterelles, which she describes as "diner potatoes on steroids," and warns us away from desserts.

"Service was very friendly, vodka was cold, and the big birthday party with hired crooner that took up most of the room only added to the festive air," missmasala sums up. "Totally worth a visit if you don't feel like going all the way to Brighton Beach or Rego Parkistan."

Cafe Sim-Sim [Kensington]
312 Ditmas Avenue (at E. Third Street), Brooklyn

Discuss: Cafe Sim Sim

Overheard on the New York Boards

"Mrs. GG's butterflied grilled snapper was so fresh I swear it was giving me the eye." - guttergourmet on Taverna Kyclades

"Whatever complaints of inconsistencies/service problem/lack of aesthetic appeal go out the window with this appetizer--and I've probably ordered it fifty times at the three different restaurants where she's worked. Best anywhere in NYC." - JRogan on Spicy Mina's samosa chat

"Wilfie & Nell is a good spot and won't be super young, it's kind of an older Gossip Girl crowd without the trust funds." - iFat