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The NoMad Bar: Stunning Gastropub/Cocktail Bar Hybrid (very long, most of menu)

As usual, full review with all the photos (more than 2/3 of the menu!) on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

With only one dish above $20 and no reservations, the new NoMad Bar is meant to be the most accessible of the group of dining establishments operated by the Made Nice Hospitality Group, which include the 3 Michelin Star Eleven Madison Park http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/978936 and the 1 Michelin Star NoMad hotel restaurant.

The stunning bi-level space consists of a gorgeous back-lit bar on the ground floor and a comfortable dining room upstairs. It's pretty amazing how disparate the two are, as the volume from the mostly standing room bar doesn't seem to make much of an impact on the separate dining room. In a way, it reinforces my view that the NoMad Bar is a hybrid that is hard to classify as just a cocktail bar or just a gastropub.

The cocktail bar aspect is evident with two pages of the menu highlighting over 30 house cocktails as well as a few specialty reserve cocktails. Cocktails are currently priced at $16 each, and my favorite is the Repossession, although they probably have something for every mood and taste. And while many other places have large format meals, the NoMad bar has large format cocktails. But the NoMad bar is also a gastropub in the sense that there is also a strong focus on beer, and the food is still overseen by and rooted in the foundation of the NoMad hotel restaurant. In fact, some of the dishes come straight off the original restaurant's menu.

While people tend to associate gastropub fare with refined traditional pub food, that does not appear the case here. There is a burger, but there are no fancy versions of mac n' cheese, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, wings, or other bar favorites. Instead, I think the aim of the menu is to provide dishes that one would enjoy with either beer, wine, or cocktails, and that can be ordered a la carte and shared. While still elegant, the food is meant to be simple and comforting.

Food critics have so far been mixed on the NoMad bar, and while some dishes did in fact stand out more than others, I found my experiences to be consistently good. In fact, with multiple visits covering over two-thirds of the menu, this may be one of the most thorough reviews of the NoMad bar you'll come across. However, with Labor Day just around the corner, it wouldn't surprise me to see some of the dishes reviewed here changing with the season.

CRUDITE; RAW VEGETABLES WITH CHIVE CREAM ($13
)Available on both the bar menu and the original restaurant's menu, this is good for those who are specifically trying to eat some raw vegetables, but I wouldn't go out of my way to order it.

BROCCOLI RABE; SALAD WITH ANCHOVY AND PARMESAN ($12)
I wouldn't have thought to order this just looking at the menu, but this was absolutely delicious. The broccoli rabe didn't have an overpowering bitterness, and the classic anchovy and parmesan combo packed a nice clean umami punch.

BAY SCALLOPS; MARINATED WITH YUZU AND PISTACHIO ($14)
This was originally one of my favorite pieces from the original restaurant's fruits de mer platter (right behind the hamachi with horseradish), so it was nice being able to order just the scallops a la carte. It's simple, bright, and sweet, with a nice nuttiness and crunch from the pistachio.

EGGPLANT; BEIGNET WITH PINE NUTS AND MINTED YOGURT ($12)
These were more like small empanadas than beignets, and did not really stand out in any way. At these prices, just that alone was enough to elicit disappointment, but expecting hot fried goodness made it much, much worse.

SCOTCH OLIVES; LAMB SAUSAGE AND SHEEPS' MILK CHEESE ($11)
These have proven to be so popular that they made their way onto the NoMad hotel's main restaurant menu despite starting out on the new bar menu. I found these to be remarkable in that the salinity hit me immediately upon the first bite, but the savoriness continued without any lingering feelings of saltiness. It was hard to reconcile the overwhelming savoriness with the lack of moisture-draining mouth feel that usually accompanies salty foods. Those sensitive to salt, however, would probably still consider this dish to be too salty.

SWISS CHEESE; BEER MUSTARD, PICKLES, AND PRETZEL CHIPS ($15)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, given that it was essentially a hunk of cheese, after all. Everything went so well together, from the nutty, flavorful cheese, to the slight kick of the mustard sauce, to the excellent pickles, that I just wanted to keep eating it. The only thing missing was that there weren't enough pretzel chips, but my guess is that more would have been provided if I'd asked.

CARROT TARTARE; SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND MUSTARD ($15)
This may have been inspired by the carrot tartare at Eleven Madison Park, but the flavors were more reminiscent of a traditional tartare. The use of small strips of raw carrot gave it a nice sweetness and a texture which went well with the rye crisps.

CLAMS
BAKED; BREADCRUMBS, BACON, AND GARLIC ($16)
IN BROTH; CORN, BACON, AND TOMATO ($19)
Clams are offered on the menu in three different preparations. The baked version is tasty, simple, and rather traditional. But the dish that stood out to me was the clams in broth. Brushing aside the pieces of toast placed on top revealed a treasure trove of clams in a tasty broth that reminded me of the stunning tomato and corn broth I had in an earlier version of Eleven Madison Park's clambake dish. This delicious essence of summer in a bowl is also one of the best values on the menu.

SKEWERS
SKIRT STEAK; PARSLEY AND LIME ($17)
STRIPED BASS; A LA PLANCHA WITH FENNEL AND ORANGE ($19)
Both sets of skewers are served on more pieces of toast, and work well in sandwich form if you wanted to use your hands. The skirt steak was cooked nicely and featured a good but not particularly noteworthy chimichurri sauce. The striped bass, on the other hand, was on another level. The fish had real flavor, unlike the bland pieces of protein that merely serve as vessels for sauce often found elsewhere. Some might consider that flavor to lean a bit onto the "fishy" or "muddy" side, but I loved it. The fennel and orange also worked well with the fish, providing a great balance of texture and flavor and making for a great bite.

SHRIMP; TOAST WITH TOMATO AND BASIL ($18)
The flavors were fresh, clean, and tasty. However, there just wasn't enough shrimp to justify the price.

HOT DOG; BACON-WRAPPED WITH BLACK TRUFFLE AND CELERY ($14)
This is essentially the same hot dog as the Humm dog served at PDT, but with real truffles. It's delicious, but the value proposition here solely depends on how much you like truffles and how much truffle you happen to get. Both times I've had it the truffle smell was evident as soon as it hit the table.

DUCK; SAUSAGE WITH PICKLED RAMPS AND CHERRIES ($19)
This was probably the most composed dish that I had at the NoMad bar. The coarsely ground, meaty duck sausage might have been too salty by itself, but the balance of sweet and tart from the pickles and cherries worked well with it.

BURGER; DRY-AGED WITH CHEDDAR, RED ONIONS, AND PICKLES ($18)
A juicy, sizeable, 6-ounce burger cooked beautifully and full of aged beef flavor. I've ordered it every time I've been at the NoMad bar, and it's just as satisfying every time. Large enough to share, I consider the burger one of the best values on the menu. Also of note is that every group of people I've brought to the NoMad bar has remarked on not just how good the burger was, but also how much they liked the accompanying pickle.

CHICKEN POT PIE; BLACK TRUFFLE AND FOIE GRAS ($36)
The pot pie arrived at the table accompanied by a skewer of foie gras and a quenelle of truffle mousse/butter. The server then broke open the pot pie, mixed in the foie and truffle, and the smell was heavenly. Inside the pot pie were pieces of chicken, aromatic vegetables, potatoes, and morels. The puff pastry was buttery and flaky, and was terrific dipped into the absolutely delicious stew. It was very rich and luscious, but still evoked the comfort of a more traditional chicken pot pie. At $36, this is the most expensive item on the food menu, but still a great value in my mind when you consider the ingredients. Foie and truffle aside, morels are not cheap!

COOKIES AND CREAM; ICE CREAM WITH CHOCOLATE CRUNCH ($12)
CHEESECAKE; STRAWBERRY AND SHORTBREAD ($12)
BANANA; PUDDING WITH RUM AND BRIOCHE ($11)
CANDY BAR; LITERALLY, WITH DARK CHOCOLATE AND CARAMEL ($14)
The desserts as a whole were simple and tasty, and I liked the whimsical (and portable) idea of the candy bar. But for a few dollars more, I'd much rather have the desserts next door at the original NoMad restaurant, which I find much more complex and satisfying.

BONUS:
CANLIS SALAD; ROMAINE, BACON, MINT, OREGANO AND ROMANO CHEESE, DRESSED WITH LEMON, OLIVE OIL, AND CODDLED EGG ($12)
For two weeks a while back they offered their version of Seattle's famous Canlis salad. It was a nice salad, but I didn't quite get the hype as the only thing that really ended up standing out was the mint.

THE HUMM BURGER
You know, if you order both the burger and the hot dog from the menu, all the ingredients are there to make your own upgraded Shake Shack 10th Anniversary Humm Burger! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/978957

Overall, the new NoMad bar is a great addition and complements the group's other two restaurants. I believe they've achieved their goal of accessibility as I've brought more friends to the new NoMad bar in the past month than I had brought to EMP and the NoMad hotel restaurant combined in the last two years. While there's little room for error at these prices, I feel that as an overall food and drink experience the NoMad bar trumps many other bars/restaurants/lounges in the city at comparable prices. Obviously, I highly recommend the place, but even I haven't been back alone by myself. I think this is one of those places where the more people you have and the more drinking they do the more fun it is. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why it wasn't so well received by some of the critics.

16 minutes ago
fooder in Manhattan

Best sashimi-only omakase (not in an annoying way!)

Yea he loves his fatty tuna and he slices most of his sashimi really thick! I still remember the first time I had his tuna neck/collar o-toro some 6 years ago. I think I used the word "ethereal". My friend who paid the bill used a different word I think.

Aug 19, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Best sashimi-only omakase (not in an annoying way!)

For purely sashimi, I would say Kurumazushi. Uezu should have no problem serving sashimi piece by piece, and he has always had some of the best fish in the city (rice was never his strong point). Not sure you'll get much in the way of creativity, as he's fairly traditional (he doesn't serve raw salmon). You'll probably end up dropping $300-500 depending on your appetite.

Another option is Kyo Ya. You'll probably find a lot more creativity there. I've seen him have some ridiculous sashimi, and he is underrated for that given the kaiseki nature of the restaurant. It'll probably be made into one large platter, although you can probably discuss that with chef Sono. Not sure about pricing.

Aug 19, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Momofuku Late Night Dinner Series: The Publican at Momofuku Ssam Bar

Considering they cleared out the rest of the restaurant, I would imagine if they did it at any normal dinner time the cost would at least double.

Aug 15, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Momofuku Late Night Dinner Series: The Publican at Momofuku Ssam Bar

It was Cosmo Goss, chef de cuisine of the Publican.

Thanks for the note about Blackbird, I looked up One Off and they do mention it as the flagship. I will change that on my blog. I would imagine the food of the Publican can be better transported somewhere else than the fine dining entrant.

Aug 15, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Momofuku Late Night Dinner Series: The Publican at Momofuku Ssam Bar

As usual, full review with all the photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

Last Tuesday night was the second in Momofuku's late night dinner series, and featured the chef de cuisine and crew of the Publican, the flagship of a mini-empire of restaurants in Chicago with a keen focus on sustainable ingredient sourcing. Dinner began at 11pm, the first of the two seatings that night (the other one started right after at 1am).

Since this was a unique event, I'll start with my general thoughts on the whole experience. Tables were put together into one long communal table that stretched the distance of the restaurant from the door to the kitchen. Food was served family style to diners in groups of two or four. Even though diners sat at one communal table, there wasn't much interaction and people seemed to keep to their own groups. This wasn't like a supper club where you meet and chat with other foodies. Also, it was loud. While this might be the normal decibel level at Momofuku Ssam on a busy night, it was definitely noticeable if you aren't especially used to it. Service was ok, but the whole setup did not seem like something they had taken a lot of time to prepare for. I had some leftovers boxed up, but at the end of the night they had a mix-up and gave me someone else's box instead.

Almost none of that mattered because of how great the food was. My friends who'd been to the Publican had nothing but good things to say about it, and this meal definitely lived up to that hype. While I wouldn't say any of their cooking methods or flavor combinations were very novel, the quality of the ingredients definitely shown through, especially the charcuterie which was mind-blowing at times. Based on this meal, which I guess was quite representative of the food at the Publican, I would highly recommend eating there.

LAMBIC DOUX
The meal came with extremely well thought out beverage pairings. The sour notes of the lambic were very evident at first, and made perfect sense once the charcuterie plate arrived.

CHARCUTERIE - from Publican Quality Meats, Chicago, Illinois
PQM prosciutto, salam d'al duja, spicy coppa, blood mortadella, pork pie, prune pate, snail boudin, and morteau sausage
I've always liked charcuterie but never craved it, but this whole plate was amazing. A great variety of textures and deep flavors that expanded in the mouth. Literally everything was great, but the one thing that I could just keep on eating was the blood mortadella, while I would have preferred the dough on the pork pie to have been thinner.

GOOSE ISLAND BEER CO., CLASS OF '88
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Goose Island Beer Company, this beer had an awesome finish and strong aftertaste. It's not for everyone, but I loved it.

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES - from Eckerton Hill Farms, Hamburg, Pennsylvania
Howard's miracle plum, buttermilk, poppy seed, and watercress
The buttermilk and poppy seed combination is one that fans of Momofuku know well. Although I'm personally not enthralled by this combination, it worked well here. The chef made a point to notice the plum, which has an extremely short harvesting season. It was good with the rest of the salad, but I don't eat enough plums to be able to comment on how it compares to others.

SPANISH MACKEREL - from Charleston, South Carolina
Piri piri and chimichurri
I don't recall having had chimichurri with fish before, but it made perfect sense with such a meaty and oily fish. The addition of pine nuts was also nice, and overall this was just a delicious dish, the type that will pretty much satisfy anyone.

SUMMER SQUASH - from Blooming Hill Farm, Monroe, New York
Harissa, feta, fried quinoa, and sunflower seed
This was a nice dish but not as exciting as the other stuff we'd had up to that point. I found the progression of the dishes interesting, because it wasn't a steady move from light to heavy. It was more that many of the dishes were heavy in general, and a salad would be thrown in between heavy dishes to cleanse the palate a bit.

GRILLED SQUID - from F/V Teresa Ann, Monterey Bay, California
Blood sausage, new potato, shishito, and caramelized aioli
Even though I have no problems eating Chinese blood pudding, I don't particularly enjoy morcilla. But the blood sausage here was (I shouldn't have been surprised at this point) amazing. Solid texture and chew without any extraneous fillers or herbs. It was a well composed dish, but to me the blood sausage was the star of the show.

VIRTUE CIDER, THE LEDBURY
Another tart drink which proved necessary when the final course showed itself.

HAM CHOP "IN HAY" - from Heritage Foods USA, Trimble, Missouri
Corn, cranberry bean, and sorrel
BARBEQUE[sic] CARROTS - from Phillips Farms, Milford, New Jersey
Dill and pecan
Simple, well done, and delicious. From the looks of it, it was unclear how the slabs of pork belly would taste, but as soon as it hit the taste buds, the comforting taste of smoked ham was the first thing that came to mind. The carrots were a good accompaniment, although I would have preferred them less crunchy.

BRAISED CHERRIES - from Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, New York
Anna's sour cream coffee cake, creme legere
"KYLE'S AFTER PORK" DIGESTIF
Staying with the overall theme of the menu, the dessert was a simple, yet substantial and delicious cake. The digestif tasted like Chinese herbal medicine, one of those things that you drink only because someone tells you it's good for you. I'm used to it but it certainly wasn't for everyone.

Overall, I would highly recommend trying the next one. I have plenty of faith that the quality of invitees will continue to be stellar, and the food easily made up for the shortcomings in the dining experience that weren't to my liking. At $123 all-in including tax, service, and beverage pairing, it was a very good value even discounting the hour at which we had to eat. There's no guarantee that the next dinner in the series will feature comparable quality and quantity, but I'd be shocked if there was a big drop off.

Aug 14, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Large Format Aged Prime Rib at the Breslin

Here's a decent list
http://ny.eater.com/archives/2014/07/...

I've had the prime rib at Keens, and while it was tasty and huge, there was no real funk to it to the point that I wonder if it was aged.

Aug 11, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

NYC's Underground Japanese Eats

Sounds great. I'm originally born and raised in HK, but haven't even been back to visit in a few years. How's the restaurant scene lately? Must not be great if you're eating from the supermarkets every night!?

Aug 07, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

NYC's Underground Japanese Eats

These all look really good! I can't really get out for lunch any more though. Are you back in NYC, kosmose?

Aug 07, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

NYC's Underground Japanese Eats

Is Tsukushi still around? Do they still have no signage?

Aug 06, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Large Format Aged Prime Rib at the Breslin

It doesn't feel like a particular bargain, but I wouldn't call it unreasonably expensive. If we price it out at say $15 for the salad, $9 each for the two sides, $6 for the Yorkshire pudding, and $9 for the mousse, we're looking at $47 for the prime rib with sauces.

There's a prime rib large format at Burger and Barrel that's $75 per person, but I'm not sure if that's aged, especially since it only requires 24 hour notice.

Aug 01, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Large Format Aged Prime Rib at the Breslin

As usual, full review with all the photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

There are now many large format meals at restaurants all over NYC. Some may be ambitious and kind of a spectacle http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/919465 , while some are just great family-style dinners http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/970104. The prime rib meal at the Breslin belongs in the latter category, as it is primarily chef April Bloomfield's version of a Sunday roast.

MARKET VEGETABLE SALAD WITH CARROT, RADISH, FETA, AND HERB VINAIGRETTE
The meal started off with a delicious and satisfying salad. The flavors of the vegetables were clean and clear and not overpowered by the feta and vinaigrette. There was great skill on display as the vegetables were cut purposefully into sizes which enhanced the different textural contrasts and flavor combinations in each bite.

DRY AGED PRIME RIB OF BEEF WITH RED WINE SAUCE AND HORSERADISH CREAM
There were about 9 slices of prime rib each cut to about 1.5cm thick for the 7 of us (the meal is charged per person at an 8 person minimum), with a few very delicious bones served in a separate bowl. The steak was very tender, and while there wasn't an strong aged funk in the flavor of the meat, its presence was noticeable in the fat. The red wine sauce was nice, but I loved the horseradish cream, which was creamy and delicious, providing a nice kick that didn't overwhelm as horseradish often does.

BABY BEETS WITH GRATED HORSERADISH AND HERB VINAIGRETTE
ROASTED BROCCOLI WITH CALABRIAN CHILI AND ANCHOVY
Both vegetable sides were excellent. The beets were not too sweet, and the broccoli retained an excellent texture.

YORKSHIRE PUDDING
A staple of the British Sunday roast, this was delicious and perfect for mopping up all the sauces and meat juices.

CHOCOLATE MOUSE[sic] WITH STRAWBERRY AND PISTACHIO
I'm usually not a mousse fan, but I enjoyed this as it was very light and airy and the chocolate flavor was not too sweet.

The large format meals at the Breslin have now expanded to two availabilities per time slot, with the primary seating done at the large "chef's table" right in front of the open kitchen, as well as a set of tables put together upstairs. Overall, it was a delicious meal that I would recommend for large group get-togethers. However, it is still just a fancy Sunday roast, so for foodies looking for more than just a nice meal together, some of the Breslin's other large format choices might be better.

The Breslin (inside Ace Hotel
)20 W 29th St
Manhattan, NY 10001

Jul 31, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Sushi Yasaka: Satisfying Pre-Theater/UWS Option

Yea I was looking forward to the salt, and by itself the salt had nice flavors. I think it didn't work because of the salt itself. It was very fine, like table salt. I think if he used a stronger sea salt that might have done the trick.

Jul 31, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Sushi Yasaka: Satisfying Pre-Theater/UWS Option

As usual, full review with all the photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

I don't tend to find myself on the upper west side above 60th street for dinner too often. When I do, I usually just end up at Luke's Lobster or Shake Shack for a solid, inexpensive dinner. There are other good restaurants in the neighborhood, but as in the case of my visit to Red Farm http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/931161 , I find them not to be much of a value proposition.

I'd read good things about Sushi Yasaka before http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/919857 , noting good quality sushi and tempura at a reasonable price. In general, I have a strong aversion to neighborhood sushi restaurants, often finding them to be overpriced while serving generic salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and rolls. But since I was recently in the neighborhood anyway, I decided it was a good time to give them a try. I went with their two signature menu items.

CHEF'S OMAKASE VEGETABLE TEMPURA ($18, 12 PIECES
)There was a good selection of vegetables, ranging from soft eggplant to crunchy lotus root to an interesting fried fig. Everything was fried well, with the flavor and texture of each of the underlying ingredients coming through. Accompanying the tempura was a selection of three flavored salts. The flavors were yuzu, green tea, and wasabi, and while they were quite delightful by themselves, they weren't really strong enough to assert themselves when sprinkled onto the pieces of tempura. There is a note on the menu about the seasonality of the vegetables and how they are fresh from the farm/market, but the percentage of root vegetables seemed a little high considering it was the middle of summer. It was a very enjoyable dish overall, and I guess the root vegetables helped to make it more filling.

OMAKASE SUSHI ($45, 12 PIECES + 1 ROLL)
While none of the fish was particularly exotic, there was good variety on offer, including an interesting piece of raw octopus tentacle. The seafood retained good texture and the rice was about on par with some of the slightly more expensive places in the city. Each piece came with its own non-traditional sauce, and was very reminiscent of Sushi of Gari. Some of these worked really spectacularly, such as a basil sauce on the king salmon, while none of the special sauces really felt out of place. Our uni, however, was so funky that it had a stink to it which was a bit off-putting. Luckily it didn't linger. The roll, which was half fatty tuna with scallion and half yellowtail with scallion, was pretty good despite limp nori. Overall, there were definitely enough highlights to feel that this was more than just one of those neighborhood sushi spots that I try to avoid.

Speaking of Sushi of Gari, one of the Sushi Yasaka's main draws is the price. At the nearby Gari on Columbus, vegetable tempura costs $20 (although it comes with rice) while 8 pieces of Gari's signature sushi costs $52. I haven't been to any of the Gari branches in years, but I don't think Gari's sushi is superior enough to justify the price difference. In an area that I consider lacking in good restaurants that aren't overpriced, I'm happy to add Sushi Yasaka to my rotation of food options.

251 W 72nd St (West of Broadway)
Manhattan, 10023

Jul 29, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

15 East - Pedestrian Sushi and A Scaly Foot

First off, that sucks about the poor experiences.

In both your EMP and 15E review you mentioned situations that I think could have been resolved if you spoke up. One of the things I personally like about both places is that if you mention something, they will take care of it quickly. While many prefer near-psychic, anticipatory service, I personally don't find a need for that, I just want issues resolved in the rare cases they come up.

Also on the subject of not speaking up, were you served by Masato himself? Did you engage and interact with him? Much has also been said on the board about the need to dine specifically with him. I'm sure if you mentioned your experience and what you were looking for, he would have more stuff that fit your palate.

I haven't been back to Kuruma in years either, but my last dinner at Kuruma was 3x the price of my last dinner at 15E. A possible conclusion might just be that in NYC, you need a $500pp meal to get what you would consider"non-pedestrian" level sushi, whether it be at Kuruma or Masa.

Jul 24, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Per Se salon, Marea or Momo Ko

I would vote for Ko if you can get a reservation. I've never liked the situation/ambiance in the Per Se salon, and I don't really think their food does well in an a la carte setting. Marea is excellent but I don't think is quite at the level of the other two in terms of food.

Don't know if it's still applicable, but I used to advise people to try for Ko reservations on Sat and Sun morning, when they're not fighting interns and people are still hungover.

Jul 24, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Costata: The Underrated Michael White Restaurant that Covers All the Bases

Didn't really have enough pastas to fully compare, but the excellence of pastas at Michael White restaurants seems to be pretty consistent across the board.

I was also surprised that while Costata's pastas may be slightly smaller in size, their costs are the same as those at Osteria Morini.

Jul 24, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Agree or Disagree: "These days, restaurants are rarely better than on day one." -Alan Richman

Yup that's me. I got my first IPod 4 years after it came out, and I just upgraded my smartphone last week. The previous one was still running Android 2.2

I also just recently reviewed Costata http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/983284 which falls into that category too.

Jul 23, 2014
fooder in General Topics

Agree or Disagree: "These days, restaurants are rarely better than on day one." -Alan Richman

Chefs moving on to their next project is definitely a thing now. I still haven't been to Gato even though most of the reviews have been good, but I'm kind of surprised to hear he's still on the line there. Even so, I highly doubt he'd still be there at my 9 month cutoff though.

Jul 23, 2014
fooder in General Topics

Agree or Disagree: "These days, restaurants are rarely better than on day one." -Alan Richman

In his latest review of Batard in GQ, Richman writes, "These days, restaurants are rarely better than on day one. They realize that hordes of bloggers, Tweeters, Instagrammers, and critics will descend immediately after the doors open. None of them wait."

While the hordes descending are certainly true, I'm not sure that that means the restaurants are more prepared and "better on day one". Do you think that's the case? I definitely know of restaurants complaining that professional critics are showing up too early after a place has opened.

I personally like to give new restaurants at least 9 months before I try them. If a restaurant can't survive and get better after 9 months, I probably don't want to go there. There are certain exceptions of course, but I use it as a general rule. What's an antonym for hipster?

Jul 23, 2014
fooder in General Topics

Per Se or Eleven Madison Park?

Like most of the responders, I prefer Eleven Madison Park. My most recent reviews of both:

EMP: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/978936
Per Se: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/968463

The general consensus seems to be along the lines of:
While both are excellent, Per Se seems to have peaked while EMP is still improving.

That being said, if you really enjoyed JG and Daniel, I think Per Se (and Le Bernardin) would be more similar to that type of experience than EMP would be.

Jul 22, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Costata: The Underrated Michael White Restaurant that Covers All the Bases

As usual, full review with all the photos (and bonus ones) on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

Chef Michael White is a well-known chef who, through the Altamarea Group, has seven restaurants in Manhattan. These restaurants are fairly wide in scope, ranging from his 2 Michelin Star flagship Italian seafood restaurant Marea, to his pizzeria Nicoletta, to his American supper club The Butterfly. My favorite of these is Costata, and while it is his steakhouse concept, I find that it combines some of my favorite things from his other restaurants as well. The majority of entree choices are various cuts of steak, but Costata also brings a great selection of crudo and pasta, comparable in quality to his more famous restaurant, Marea. And while the prices in general are on the high end, the portions are very large, giving off a sense of value much more like his rustic and casual Osteria Morini.

It's hard to call an expensive restaurant owned and operated by a well-known chef underrated, but it was relatively empty when we went on an early Friday evening. It could be because of the summer, although NYC restaurants may just be struggling in general, but the lack of customers may have contributed to us getting very friendly and attentive service.

FOCACCIA, WHIPPED LARDO
There are no dainty amuses here. This is a steakhouse and even the bread and dip sets the tone that it'll probably be a fairly heavy meal.

FLUKE CRUDO; STURGEON CAVIAR, GARLIC CHIPS, CREME FRAICHE ($21
)The composition of this crudo reminded me a lot of the marlin crudo at Marea, and this was just as excellent. I really enjoyed the relatively softer texture of the fluke here, as I often think of fluke as being too resistant when I bite into it.

SEA SCALLOP CRUDO; CELERY ROOT, BLACK TRUFFLE VINAIGRETTE ($23)
The truffle smell is evident as soon as the dish hits the table. Classic flavor combinations, and just so good with the sweet scallop. It's a pretty impressive plate in terms of portion, and felt like great value.

MARE; WARM SALAD OF OCTOPUS, SHRIMP, SCALLOPS, TOMATO CONFIT, FENNEL, OLIVES ($21)
This was perfectly executed, with great texture from the well cooked seafood highlighting the delicious marriage of simple flavors. At a comparable price point, I find this much superior to more common steakhouse seafood starter staples such as shrimp cocktail or crab cakes.

ROMAINE CACIO E PEPE; ANCHOVIES, AGED PARMIGIANO, CRISPY CAPERS ($17)
INSALATA VERDE; HARICOTS VERTS, PICKED HERBS, RICOTTA, LEMON ($15)
Two of my friends ordered salads and enjoyed them very much, while I was more surprised once again at the generous portion sizes.

CAULIFLOWER; LEEK PESTO
CRISPY RED BLISS POTATOES; GARLIC, ROSEMARY, CHILI FLAKES
HEN OF THE WOODS; PARSLEY BUTTER
ARTICHOKES ALLA GUIDEA; LEMON, PARSLEY
ASPARAGUS (NO LONGER ON MENU, SEASONAL)
(all vegetable sides $10 each)
All the vegetables were excellent, but my favorites were the very addictive fried artichokes and the nice crackly crispiness of the red bliss potatoes. I thought they provided better texture contrasts to steaks than mashed potatoes or fries.

FILET OF BEEF 10oz ($47)
If you happen to have a friend who likes a well done filet of beef, they do a perfectly cooked version.

FIORENTINA; PORTERHOUSE 40oz ($122)
All the steaks at Costata are aged a minimum of 40 days, and the minerally tang definitely comes through. The porterhouse had excellent flavor on both sides, and I really liked the small touches with the grilled lemon and bouquet of herbs.

AFFOGATO; ESPRESSO, RAMAZOTTI AMARO, FIOR DI LATTE GELATO ($10)
A tasty affogato, but I still prefer the one at Marea.

While Marea and Ai Fiore are probably the most ambitious of his restaurants, I find that I am more likely to recommend Costata to people over them. The food is delicious and well executed, the portions considerable, and while there may not be as many super highs, there's also a much much lower chance of a miss. It's also a great restaurant for many eaters with different preferences to dine together, as you can make a wide range of great meals from salad and steak to pasta and crudo or even just a combined selection of excellent vegetable side dishes.

206 Spring St
Manhattan, NY 10012

Jul 22, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Bouley Lunch Tasting Menu Review: Best Fine Dining Deal in NYC

Enjoy! Looking forward to reading about your experience.

Jul 16, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Bouley Lunch Tasting Menu Review: Best Fine Dining Deal in NYC

I went on a weekday, and I don't know if the service staff is any different because of it. Didn't know that they do this lunch on weekends too but that's great!

My friend had the duck, and I was very tempted to get the pear but the souffle won out.

Jul 16, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Bouley Lunch Tasting Menu Review: Best Fine Dining Deal in NYC

It may not be the best fine dining meal in New York City, but the lunch tasting menu at Bouley is definitely the best fine dining deal. I hadn't done the lunch at Bouley since my last visit almost five years ago. I had a disappointing meal then, but I believe that Bouley's restaurants have improved across the board since he came back and retooled his mini-empire, opening Brushstroke and other concepts.

In those five years, the lunch deal at Eleven Madison Park has gone from $28 for 2 courses to $54 for 3 courses to being non existent, the lunch deal at Jean Georges has gone from $28 to $38 to $48 for 2 courses, while the lunch deal at Del Posto has gone from $29 to $39 for 3 courses. The 5 course lunch tasting at Bouley, however, has only gone from $48 to $55, while the whole experience has improved since that last disappointing meal there.

Atmosphere: Bouley pretty much looks the same as it always has, giving off a rustic, old school countryside vibe. It's a nice oasis away from the hustle and bustle of NYC, but sometimes it can feel cluttered and clunky.

Service: Service has gone from disappointing to passable, although water refills were still scarce. Don't expect to get much in the way of answers regarding the food. There appears to be a staff tier structure, but if so the captains never asserted themselves. I honestly can't imagine how they would be able handle a full dining room for lunch with the staff they had.

Food: The online menu was representative of the available menu at the restaurant, with at least two options for each course.

AMUSES: LOBSTER WITH FRUIT FOAM, CRACKER WITH TRUFFLE AND KUDZU
I don't remember exactly, but I think the fruit espuma was either blood orange or strawberry. There was also some grain and chia seeds which provided a nice balance of texture, but the overall flavor was one-note of sweetness. The truffled cracker, on the other hand, was extraordinary, with a depth of truffle flavor and a wonderful balance of textures with the crisp toastiness of the cracker and the soft and sticky kudzu starch.

BREAD AND BUTTER
The meal structure felt a bit weird in that they served bread and butter with the first course, but independent of the big bread cart which comes later.

BIG EYE TUNA; GREEN APPLE, BERGAMOT, OSETRA CAVIAR
Both my friend and I chose the tuna for our first course, which was also our server's recommendation. None of the flavor combinations were particularly novel, and I was expecting a stronger smell from the bergamot, especially with the domed presentation. It was a good starter though, as the fish was fresh and there was a sizeable amount of caviar. I wish the fish was seasoned more as a whole, as the dish fell victim to the chef relying solely on the caviar to provide saltiness, a very common occurrence these days.

FORAGER'S TREASURE; WILD MUSHROOMS, SWEET GARLIC, GRILLED TORO, SPECIAL SPICES AND TRUFFLE DRESSING
My friend had the porcini flan which is a Bouley signature although I'm not a big fan of it. I had the forager's treasure, which sounded amazing and was quite wonderful, with earthy mushrooms and luscious fatty toro. The only thing that seemed out of place was that it was a little too sweet (I vaguely remember hints of either honey or coconut), although I couldn't tell whether it was from the sweet garlic, spices, or dressing. I would have preferred it if they had just focused on the rich earthiness of the ingredients.

BREAD CART
An impressive bread cart featuring over 11 different kinds of bread. Some were more traditional (sourdough) while others were chock-full of healthy nuts and grains. I tried a few, and they were all quite good, so I would just suggest being adventurous and going with whichever ingredient base sounds good to you.

SLOW BRAISED KOBE STYLE BEEF CHEEKS; BLUE KALE GNOCCHI
I've never really considered "Kobe-style" beef to be a particularly premium ingredient, but I would imagine putting those words there might help get ladies who lunch to order beef cheeks. Regardless of the provenance of the beef, this was just an absolutely delicious, sizeable mound of rustic, flavorful, tender braised beef and pasta.

TRISTAR STRAWBERRIES; AMARETTO ICE CREAM
Simple and delicious combinations of flavors, without being overly sweet.

HOT VALRHONA CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE; WHITE COFFEE CLOUD, COFFEE ICE CREAM, CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
A classic decadent, comforting dessert that reminds you that you've just had a luxurious and rich lunch.

PETIT FOURS

This is fine dining in its classical form, with rich entrees and desserts, generous amounts of luxury ingredients, and an overabundance of choices highlighted by the overindulgent bread cart. Just a tremendous value at $55+t/t. If you have the time to take in this lunch, I highly recommend this (barely a) splurge. However, I felt that the execution and service weren't at a level where I would rush to come back for dinner, when the prices get a huge jump.

163 Duane St (Tribeca)
Manhattan, NY 10013

Jul 15, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Long Gone But Not Forgotten! Manhattan Memories

The great, authentic Japanese lunch places in Midtown (Bryant Park area). They haven't been gone that long, and I no longer work in Midtown, but the stuff that is there now pales in comparison.

Chiyoda Sushi, which in addition to selling huge quantities of fresh sushi to go out front, had a sit down restaurant in the back of good quality, with a 12 piece lunch special that included anago, mirugai, and otoro. Now replaced with the dreadful Mai Cuisine.

Chikubu, which had a line out the door on Fridays for its ramen lunch special, well before the ramen craze took over. Also one of the few places in NYC that celebrated unagi day, offering a $5 unagi chazuke.

And more recently, Yagura Japanese market, which had great pricing on their hot food, and the after 4pm by the pound buffet had the best takeout katsu. I preferred it to both Cafe Zaiya and Sunrise Mart, although it was shabbier-looking.

Jul 10, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Jean-Georges' Tasting Menus

Most restaurants of JG's tier will have no problem changing courses between tasting menus if:
1. You're willing to pay any supplement
2. The two tasting menus have the same number of courses.

At JG, a lot of thought actually goes into crafting their dishes and menus. When I had a friend who couldn't eat a certain ingredient, they insisted on changing the entire preparation of a dish rather than providing the same preparation minus the one ingredient. I would imagine that more thought goes into the progression of the seasonal menu, and that substituting from the seasonal onto the signature would be easier than the other way around. Personally I just prefer the prix fixe to their tasting menus.

Jul 08, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
1

Hakkasan

My guess is that it's a mixed stir fry presented in a bird's nest (usually fried taro or some such), rather than the actual swallow's nest (saliva) because that would be too expensive to have a meaningful stir fry, even for Hakkasan.

I haven't been back in over a year, but from my recollection I would consider the individual dim sum dumplings to be large relative to traditional cantonese dim sum pieces.

Jun 27, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Eleven Madison Park: Spring 2014 Tasting Menu

Thank you. Re: menu change, a buddy actually ate there two weeks before I did and the menu was already quite different. We missed the mangalitsa pork entree, but I think the lamb was a better fit for the Spring theme.

Jun 16, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Shake Shack 10th Anniversary Special Celebration

Yes, but I think the Humm burger line on Thursday set the record as the morning line extended all the way to 26th Street.

Jun 16, 2014
fooder in Manhattan