Back home now. Definately missing NYC already.
The rest of my trip was great.
After the great Banh Mi at Ma Peche I decided to make the trek down to Momofuku Noodle Bar. Great place for a solo diner! No matter which Chang restaurant I go to, I always end up meeting someone interesting to talk to and more often than not ideas on where else to eat - not only in NYC but wherever else they have been. This one guy owns a sushi restaurant in Chicago. When I was at Ssam, I got details on where to go in LA.
Had the brussel sprouts with a big punch of mustard and sausage flavour. This was great, and the sprouts were shredded and not whole, which made it into this kind of weird hot delicious meaty slaw. Had the Momofuku Ramen....not as good. WAY too smoky to be a ramen broth, but the actual pork and other toppings (egg especially) and noodles were really good. Glad I had it...wouldn't get it again.
Didn't end up at Kin Shop for whatever reason, but I did make it to Howard's other restaurant Perilla before comedy at the cellar one night. Tried his pan roasted chicken, which was great. They have figured out that you can't cook the whole thing perfectly, so they take the brown meat and braise it with mushrooms, nuts, kale, etc and use that as a base for a perfectly moist breast with a great crispy skin. Not the greatest scene for a solo diner, as it was mostly people at the bar waiting for a table.
Ate some more in Brooklyn - SAUL - with 6 co-workers. Very good, simple food. We had the 4 course prix fixe for $40 (amazing value) so it wasn't his best dishes I'm sure, but no fault with anything. Nothing that memorable except for that Baked Alaska!!!
A little dissapointed at DBGB, as it looked like a great place to eat at the bar. Unfortuantely, the bar was packed with obnoxious looking guys waiting for tables and taking all the bartenders attention. No one was really eating there, so I just got a table for 1. Good meal, great prix fixe price ($35). The best was the thai sausages, they were excellent.
As the trip neared a close, I started panicking that I hadn't visited all the restaurants I wanted to! There are just too many!
So...decided to go all out on my last night to make up for it - Per Se.
People have waxed poetic about this place in all sorts of publications, so I went in with sky high expectations. They were surpassed. Probably the best few things I have ever eaten, and by far the best solo dining experience I have had.
You walk in to the Salon, no reservations or anything, and they treat you as if they have been waiting all day just for you to walk through the door. I was given a wonderful table overlooking Columbus Circle/Central Park on what I would describe as a Chesterfield (a couch is too common a word) with a table at surprisingly comfortable height. I'm a big guy with temperature issues, and I'm never perfectly comfortable in restaurants. Here - I've never been so comfortable in my life.
In the salon you order a la carte, and service is included, so it really isn't THAT expensive. What is expensive is alcohol, so I skipped wine and cocktails here ($20 for Maker's Mark, $40 for most glasses of wine) and opted for free sparkling water. I was already in a cheery mood from Free Happy Hour at my hotel anyways (nice perk from Bryant Park Hotel).
I ordered the foie gras and the colette of bouef as my starter and main. I enjoyed the obligatory amuse's (cheese croquettes and salmon cone) before setting my sights on the bread basket with three types of bread with organic butter from california. Pretzel bread was the best, but they are all good.
Both dishes were fantastic, with the foie gras (a cold terrine, not a seared lobe) being somehow just much better than every other one I have ever had. With it were little pieces of butternut squash, roasted marshmallow, walnuts, 30 yr old balsamic, fresh black pepper, and two kinds of salt from brittany. As a vessel, they bring you a new mini brioche roll every 5 minutes or so, just so they are always warm. All of these together on a little piece of brioche was nothing short of heaven. Not too rich, not too sweet, just the perfect blend of balance and richness. The surprising bit was how much the black pepper really elevated the dish. I'm asking for it next time I have foie gras! I'll dare say that this was amazing value at $40 (service included).
The colette of beef was a cross-breed between Angus and Wagyu. They don't even ask you how well you want it, they just cook it "a la pointe"....or something like that. Pretty much, they do it perfect, so why would they want you messing it up?? My waiter said if you wanted something well done, they could prepare something braised, like a short rib. This got me thinking...you can't just "whip up" a braised short rib....so they purposely make things in the rare instance that someone wants well done beef. Crazy. This is what makes Per Se what it is....more on this later. With the beef was some pearl onions, some spinach, and a potato truffle hash that required some intense skills. Each piece of potato was the size of a pin head, and each one was seperate, and they were all perfectly cooked. $46. Again, I'll say great value.
Dessert. I happened to know someone who has worked with Mr. Keller at the French Laundry, and I wasted no time in sending him a message bragging out my upcoming visit to Per Se. He said one thing to me - order "Coffee and Donuts" for dessert, it doesn't matter if it is on the menu or not. Ok.....I guess there is a secret language at Per Se
There was no mention of coffee or donuts on either the $295 prix fixe or my salon menu....but I went ahead and ordered it..."Certainly sir!" Would you like coffee with that? I looked at him funny, because I foolisly thought coffee was part of "Coffee and Donuts."
So out comes this "signature" dessert, which looks just like a cappucino and donuts. The donuts are indeed donuts, but very good donuts simply dusted in sugar and cinnamon. The cappuccino, though, is a cappuccino flavoured semifreddo. It was sublime. Simple, but sublime. I owe my friend a coffee...maybe even a donut to go with it. So they make these just in case someone asks? I don't get it....but I like it.
Then came miganardines, then a little to-go bag of lemon thyme shortbread (the wife liked that I brought those home), then a tour of the kitchen.
All of that came to $100 plus tax.
Next time in New York, I'm eating there every second day. $2 pizza slices, then Per Se. Repeat.
Great way to end the trip.
Momofuku Noodle Bar
I am a couple days into my trip now, so highlights below:
Ma Peche - awesome banh mi for lunch today , and really nice bartender who let me sample their pork infused tequila! Crazy stuff, but works well with the food.
Franny's in Brooklyn : really good wood fired pizza!!
Wafels and Dinges - liege waffle with speckulous lived up to the hype - amazing.
The Modern at MOMA. Great bar scene, high end food at affordable prices, and lots of interesting people to chat with.
Brunch today at Breslin's was fun - bold flavors and great coffee. Any rec's for tomorrow brunch??
Heading downtown tonight - thinking minetta tavern for the burger (thoughts?) or kin shop.
Made reso's for Keen's next Thursday with work crowd.
Looking forward to the rest of my time here!
Wafels & Dinges
I will be in Midtown (Bryant Park) for 2 weeks in January and will be looking for great places to eat solo for dinners. So obviously places that have lively bar scenes that offer full menus at the bar would be great. I am coming from Vancouver, so no need for good sushi/chinese/ramen as I get my fill of that here.
I know the city reasonably well and I'm good to travel around on the subway system if it is convenient.
The goal is $40 per dinner (excluding tax and tip) and including one drink (beer, glass of house wine). Would be happy to exceed that to $50 or $60 for "Michelin" quality.
Ideally, $8-10 appy, $22-24 entree, $8 drink?
So far, my searches have brought up the following options:
Are any of these to be avoided? Are their any other things that are can't miss these days?? Love roasted chicken, really good rustic italian, and anything will big flavour!
Look forward to your suggestions
Just got back from Portland. Love it.
It really depends what you are in to...but here is a list
Salts - The Meadow (Mississipi Ave). This place also has great chocolate and bitters selection from Fee Bros.
Cognac/Brandy - Anything from Germain-Robin (waay better than even XO Cognac's from France, and half the price). Loved the XO, and the Shareholders Reserve.
Gin - 12 Bridges, No.209, lots of local stuff that is good.
Beer - Get a case from Rogue, Descutes, HUB. You really can't go wrong here.
Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley - expensive, but really good. Funny enough, the best deals will be at Safeway, where Pinot's are regularly on sale and are always cheaper than buying direct from winery. Example - Erath 2009 Pinot Noir (non-reserve). $35 in BC, $24 at the winery, $13 at Safeway.
Bulk 6 yr old Balsamic Vinegar from Cork
American Rye - Sazerac, Old Overholt, Bulleit Rye, Ri - all great - and make the best manhattens.
Vermouth - Punt e Mes (sweet, slightly bitter), Carpano Antica (sweet), Dolin Dry. Get these from the italian market on Mississippi and 24th (?)....by the food carts.
Hope that helps!
Lupo's food is amazing, but it's more of a romantic place, not sure it is the father/son(or daughter) kind of atmosphere.
Go for Cioppino's if he really likes Italian. A Vancouver landmark for sure. I've heard lots of good things about La Buca as well (I've never been), so I'm sure that would be great as well.
Another option is Market in the Shangri-La. Not an Italian restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, but they do have a great black truffle pizza and some delicious seafood and braised meats! Market is my go-to for out of town guests in the downtown core. Impressive building, big name chef, local ingredients (somewhat), and very consistent execution. Can get boring if your a regular, but a great special occassion diner.
I too prefer Campagnolo.
I know they don't have a wood fired oven, but they have the skills where it really counts - in the flavour category. My other fav is Nook.
For some reason, I find myself TRYING to really like Nicli because I appreciate what they are trying to do, but their product just doesn't sing to me.
Ah Beetz was the best pizza I've had in BC...really knee weakening. Can't wait for Barberella.
Downtown Sushi - besides Blue Water I would go to Miku - my personal fave. Very unique Japanese resto that specializes in Aburi sushi (some of the pieces are lightly flamed before serving). They also have some amazing kitchen items (I love their warm soba preperation with garlic, chilies, and squid). Don't skip dessert.
Japadog is interesting...and certainly unique. Worth a try, but remember - it is just a hotdog!
I wouldn't bother with La Belle Patate.
Other places to consider near you are Chambar (dinner) or Medina (brunch and lunch), which are two very good Vancouver experiences that are close by. Or, just walk a bit further and your in Gastown. There are lots of threads here about places there, but L'Abbatoir, The Diamond, and Pourhouse are all worthwhile (in that order).
For Tofino, drive to Ucluelet (20 min. south of Tofino) for Norwood's. Far and away my favorite restaurant in the area, and maybe even BC. Small operation, so make reso's. Local, very talented staff (only 3 or 4 of them, working together for the last decade!), and a wonderful experience.
Went to Nicli last night - was very excited and there was probably TOO much hype about this place opening for them to ever meet my expectations...
I agree with a lot of the comments above, but my pizza did arrive hot. I ate early, so it wasn't busy and this probably helped things.
The crust by far the best you can get in Vancouver right now, a real true neopolitan. The sauce is great (if a little underseasoned) and the cheese great. Toppings...however...are missing something. I can't quite pinpoint it, but it could just be a seasoning issue. Maybe that is why they give you the oregano and chili oil (which I didn't use...)
We had the Diavola and the Proscuitto with arugula.
My biggest complaint is the prices. While a margherita is very fair at $12 for this quality, I agree with YVRChow that the 3 slices of salami are not worth $6.
And the drink prices! $19 for a Rogue Dead Guy, which is $6.89 at BCL. $6.50 for a sleeve of draught, and $8 for a basic ceasar. All other cocktails are $10+.
I will pay for quality pizza - but not outrageous drink markups.
You could EASILY rack up a serious bill here - for pizza. It's not like this is a crazy high rent district.
I really want them to succeed, and it won't take much to make this a great place, shaving a few dollars here and there and tweaking a few menu items. Slice the pizza so we can fold it easily. Perhaps one "signature" pizza that will really blow away the taste buds. I'm thinking of a "ham and cheese" pizza I had at Co. in NYC - Fontina, gruyere, fresh mozz, carraway seeds, with beautiful prosciutto drapped over the whole pie after it came out of the oven. FLAVOUR!!
Best pizza in the lower mainland still belongs to Ah Beetz. Looking forward to Barbarella!!
Thanks Sam for the rec. We have tried their private room but found the menu limited (soup or salad, then burger or pasta). It was a good burger though!
We are trying Diva at the Met in one of their banquet rooms tomorrow, we'll see how that goes!
I need help. I meet with a group of business people every two weeks (Wednesday's) for lunch downtown. We need a private room, and good food - that is it. No powerpoint or any other fanciness.
We have been meeting at Market for the past few months...and the food has been fantastic, and the private room is great. But we are getting a little tired of the limited menu they offer us, and the service has gone downhill as they seem to take us and our $500 lunch tab for granted.
Any other suggestions? We are looking for a good 2 or 3 course lunch around $30 a head before tax/tip. It is $32 at Market for 3 courses.
I'm thinking of trying Diva at the Metropolitan, but there menu's are more expensive (in the $40 range).
Maybe we have the best it gets! Thanks!
Final inspection Jan. 8 I heard. So hopefully soon they will open! I'm dying to see what this place can put out as well. He said to bank on a December opening...but December is a tough month to get much done. Here's hoping for January! Crazy to think that this place was first slated to open in July 2010...
Ugh, horrible experience. Worst restaurant experience in all Vancouver actually. Went during the summer (not sure if it was Chica's yet, or the previous) but ordered two tacos hoping for some authentic Mexican flavours. Went for braised chicken and grilled steak. Steak was GREY and mushy...disgusting. Chicken looked similar, didn't even try it. And all this was topped with orange cheese and soggy lettuce...returned it, didn't even bother asking for a refund, and told them they should be ashamed to serve this kind of food. They just stood there with this sad look on their face knowing I was right.
I hope it was only an off-day...but I wounldn't risk it.
I too just got back the area (stayed in Ucluelet at the Black Rock - fantastic hotel by the way) and wanted to give another plug for Norwoods! One of the best dinners of my life for sure!
I am still in amazement that such as a small town can have such a great restaurant!
We started with a hendricks martini for me and a caesar for the SO - both were expertly made by the talented bartender - no shortcuts here.
We started with the scallop appetizer with a truffle potato puree and a spicy (?) sauce. Best potato puree ever, amazing texture, perfectly cooked scallop. I have never done this before, but as soon as we finished the first one, we ordered another one right away (one scallop per dish). Well paired with Road 13 Chenin Blanc, and inspired choice.
We then shared the spaghetteni vongole that came towering with a flurry of reggiano. Great simple pasta dish, everything cooked perfectly. Paired with Laughing Stock Viognier, a fantastic wine (hard to find) that I must buy a case of.
For mains, the SO had the seared tuna with pappadam crust, and I had the suckling pig five ways. WOW, usually in my opinion smaller fine dining restaurants like this do appy's really well and go downhill for mains, but not Norwoods.
The tuna was excellent (I tried to steal as much as I could from the SO...but she was playing pretty good defense) and the pork dishes were great. There was one preparation (mushroom sausage encased in belly) that was a little too heavy, but the rest was great. The green peppercorn sausage should be packaged and sold everywhere!
Too full for dessert, but next time...
Highly recommended, great service. Total bill was $165 after tax and tip. Good value.
Also had a great lunch at the Pointe (seafood chowder and beef/chanterelle pasta) and better than average breakfasts at the Black Rock.
Can't wait to go back!
Exciting! I love Ah-Beetz. Anyone know when Nicli Antica is supposed to open? I see his website is up and running...looks good....
I also love their scones and they even make a better-than-average turkey sandwich (actual roast turkey). Great addition for downtown'ers looking for lunch or great baking.
Tapenade looks great, I'll have to check it out soon and let you know how it goes. Flying beaver also looks intriguing...probably less of a "gourmet" brunch experience it looks like though.
I recently moved to Richmond (Brighouse area) and while we have been really pleased with some of the lunch/dinner options (Shanghai River, Green Lemongrass, etc) but we REALLY like an awesome weekend brunch...and there doesn't seem to be much going on. We tried the "One Cafe" but it is more of a HK style cafe and not quite the waffles and eggs benedict we were looking for.
So - anywhere in Richmond making a great brunch?
I went there last week for lunch, just happened to be walking somewhere else for lunch. They really screwed up the marketing for this place because they do make some really good pizza!
What caught our eye was a pizza and a pitcher of GI beer for $20! The pizza he made was his creation (not on the menu) with soppresetta, basil, carmelized onions, and fresh mozza. Very thin crust, good char, a little "cracker-y" but all-in-all a great pizza! The tomatoes really made it -top notch tomato sauce.
We actually ordered another one of their menu because we were impressed - a four cheese with gorgonzola and a balsamic reduction. Not as good as the first...but still good.
Check it out! They have a very urban patio in the back that will remind you of being in a NYC or Portland.
I wouldn't go so far as to say avoid Relish...it is a small place, but it is cozy, and their oysters are great for "buck a shuck". It is not top-tier Vancouver food by any means, but definately a solid choice very close to your hotel.
Bob's Submarine Shop in Richmond (No.3 Rd by the Staples, across the street from Richmond Centre) is definately DDD approved!
Old school steak sandwiches prepared fresh on a flattop for really good prices. They even have a Fieri sized "super sub" that adds double steak, double cheese, capicolla, peppers and onions! I think the 6" (which is more than enough, trust me) is $5.90??? They also have fried chicken, but haven't tried that...
Crazy little place, weird old 70's decor and round windows.
Was at Lumiere for their "Wine Dinner series" a few weeks ago - best meal I've ever had in Vancouver. In the running for best meal ever.
Was at West in the fall and was dissapointed. Not that anything was horrible (bartender was top notch, service impeccable, quality of indgredients great), it was just...simple. No real imagination on display there.
Lumiere, every bite was wow! Very interesting flavour/texture/colour combinations with everything working. Excellent wine pairings (it was South of France night) and great value ($95 including wine for five courses). Not sure if you will be lucky enough to be here on the last Monday in August...but I think they are still running some other deals as well.
AH-BEETZ!!! It is in Abbotsford, so a bit of a trek, but believe me, it is the BEST.
Very discriminating owner, will only use the freshest and best. You can watch him every night as he lovingly stretches the dough to order and lightly drops the topping. He cures most (almost all) of his own meats in house, gets his flour freshly ground from an organic mill (sorry all you 00 italian flour lovers...but your flour is stale!). Even his fior di latte comes from close-by Birchwood dairy.
Surprisingly enough, he cooks it in a regular flat pizza oven, so while not ideal conditions, the results are phenom.
They have them at Meinhardt on granville. The white can with red tomatoes going around the can horizontally. They are in my opinion the best. Around $5 a can.
Agreed, Mitch Millers is a great casual spot in Abbotsford with really good burgers, decent steak and surprisingly good soups...
Thanks so much for helping me relieve my amazing dinner there a few night ago!! We had the private room booked for 12 guys and we were blown away by the food, wine pairings, and the service. Extra credit to the service staff for adding in the Langoustine course (which they don't normally do for the private room - too many elements)! Spent a lot of money over the weekend, and this meal was the best money spent by far.