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Skillet Licker's Profile

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Japan vs Japanese

15 East's wine pairings is a great recommendation.

The poster's question is a tantalizing one.

I wonder if there is, for instance, any great Italian food here that cannot be found, or found better, in Italy?

Aug 20, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Kyo Ya Rave

Kyo-ya is on my short list of restaurants when I want to amaze someone -- myself included -- with sophisticated deliciousness.

Aug 17, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

UWS - Epicerie Boulud: New baguette (and banh mi) option

Agreed. Better to call it what it is: Vietnamese hot dog, or Thai sausage roll, or whatever.

Aug 15, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

UWS - Epicerie Boulud: New baguette (and banh mi) option

This European-style stand-up at a table or take-out place has just about everything: charcouterie, cheese, espresso, sausages, meals, bakery, desserts, etc.

According to the manager, mostly everything is house-made at the Boulud commissary downtown.

The baguette is quite good and is what's served at all the Boulud restaurants. It is only available for sale, however, at this location. It is crispy and dense and chewy and a worthy and much needed addition to the city's baguette market. (I have not yet tried Maison Kayser, btw)

They even serve a banh mi made with grilled Thai sausage and French pate. Although I'm leery of non-authentic banh mi, I have to say it was surprisingly good. It would have been even better had it not been overly dressed with a somewhat watery "jalapeno mayonaise".

Even the cappuccino hit the mark.

Will definitely return to try more items, including the ice creams and some delectable-looking breads.

Aug 15, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Azuri -- rumours of great falafel are emphatically untrue

Funkalicious, since your scope is the USA, I know of one other exceptionally good falafel sandwich in the region. Its a family-run falafel stand at the Sunday Rhinebeck Farmers Market (approx. 2 hours north of NYC). It's probably the most expensive falafel pita anywhere at $7, or is $8? But it doesn't matter, its top notch: truly tasty falafel balls -- crunchy outside, fluffy inside -- and a nice selection of do-it-yourself hot sauce and and pickle toppings, as well as a substantial, homemade-like pita. Also, you can request of the sandwich maker to apply tahini, hot sauce and pickles in multiple strata, rather than having everything applied only to the top layer, thereby distributing maximum deliciousness throughout the meal.

Aug 12, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Azuri -- rumours of great falafel are emphatically untrue

I've been hearing for years how great their falafel is, so I finally tried the falafel platter which, in addition to a smear of every salad in the cooler trays, includes several very flat, very crispy, dried-out, tasteless discs of supposedly Israeli-style falafel. Many customers no doubt have a sentimental attraction to the place as it reminds them of Israel comfort food (it is kosher as well, I believe). Ok, but the falafel on a scale of 0-10 is a 1 (it gets a 1 because at least it didn't make me sick). The salads were undistinguished and indistinguishable from one another in flavor.

I'm no falafel fanatic, but when the mood hits, I hit up Mamouns for a near perfect rendition.

Aug 08, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Where can I get the best French Dip sandwich in NYC?

Nelly Nel its actually opposite: its the burger at Minetta that's pedestrian, albeit very rich, and the lunch-only roast beef that's exceptional. It was a while ago and I can't recall details, but the beef wasn't just grey-brown protein piled into a roll -- it was stand-alone tasty. The roll had perfect give to crunch ratio. And the au jus was on the side for dipping, as it should be, and rich, as it should be. Fries were good. And the scene was vibrant but not unbearable as it can be in the evening. I typically don't subscribe to buzz dishes: they're usually hop-on-the-bandwagon internet and news media creations. But the Minetta french dip justifies the press.

Jul 12, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Lincoln Ristorante - Need soothing words to calm me down!!

What are you looking for? If its overly rich, unimaginative, fancied-up International-Italian-American food, this is your place. For what its worth, although Marea is in the same general category described above, it is better. I've eaten things at Marea I can honestly call delicious. The very best thing I've ever eaten at Lincoln "Ristorante" is the baby lettuce salad, which is perfectly dressed and simple and just right. Everything else I've tried on the menu is a bomb. Particularly the $16 side dish of eggplant parmesian which I ordered thinking that a world-class chef at a serious ristorante would have a chowishly scrumptous trick up his sleeve. Turns out the sleeveless chef serves up a heavy cheese-bomb of a baked eggplant parm with less delicacy and flavor than a neighborhood pizzeria. There are things about the restaurant I like, like the architecture, the service, and the generally sophisticated vibe. But the food is the opposite of what you might get in Italy. The motherland serves up astoundingly delicious meals using a formula of simple recipes, perfect execution, and the freshest and highest quality ingredients. Lincoln is heavy and rich, boring and bland. If you want great Italy-style Italian food in that neighborhood, Salumeria Rossi is probably the best Italian restaurant in the city at the moment, IMO.

Apr 24, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Cider Rules

Can anyone recommend a restaurant or bar with numerous and varied hard cider offerings? Apple or pear cider -- are there other kinds as well? -- from America, Canada, England, France, etc. The more the merrier.

I'm surprised hard cider hasn't fully caught on yet. Its so refreshing and clean tasting, light and fruity - but not sweet, and of course, intoxicating.

Feb 16, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Meatball Shop - Calories without pleasure

The filler seems like soaked white bread, which is not necessarily a bad thing as it can impart to meatballs a smooth, luscious texture. However, here it tends to produce a bland and mushy meatball. In fact everything on the menu tends toward the tasteless and the limp and the lame. They even serve foccacia with the balls, instead of crusty bread, thereby underscoring the theme of softness and flabbiness. I hate to come down so hard on this soft place, but it is truly undeserving of acclaim (i.e. its not even good, let alone great). Gastronomically, its a total bore and unworthy of patronage by sophisticated diners. However, its dedication to "mushy food" makes it perfect for children and toothless gum chewers. There. I'm done.

Feb 08, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Meatball Shop - Calories without pleasure

Finally slipped into the west village restabot of this acclaimed and popular franchise. I like meatballs, I thought, how bad could a restaurant be that specializes in them? Plenty bad. I ordered the spicy pork meatballs -- "no mix and match", warned the menu -- with marinara. "Great choice"!, I was assured by my server. And, at only 4 bucks a pop, I decided to have a mini feast of sides: Kale with garlic, butternut squash with ricotta salata, and risotto.

The risotto was hard nuggets of rice in a tar pit of butter and cheese, but without any discernible flavor -- just richness. The squash was equally inedible, served warm and mushy and flavorlessly. Chilled cubes of al dente squash, and maybe some salt and lemon, would have made a much better dish. Kale was without flavor, just something whipped together by a distracted line cook, like everything else.

The meatballs themselves were not at all spicy as advertised. Worse, they lack zest and character and texture, like a conceptual exercise in softness and blandness. Do they poach these things into existence? A child could really love these meatballs: crustless, tender, bland, and milky. The marinara, on the other hand, was very flavorful.

The scene is mostly young and youngish diners attracted to the casual, hip vibe, the relatively low prices, and the media fame garnered by the operation.

To call this place overrated is an understatement.

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The Meatball Shop
64 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011

Feb 07, 2012
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Chorizo on UWS (Grocery Store)

By fresh chorizo I assume you mean not-dried chorizo. Fresh chorizo is sold either at the meat counters of all the supermarkets, or brand packaged. As a lover of chorizo, I've found that the very BEST is made by D'ARTAGAN (sp?). It is sold at Gourmet Garage on Broadway / 96 Street, and probably at Fairway and a few other places as well.

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Fairway Market
2127 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Gourmet Garage
2567 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

Nov 28, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

New Paltz - Gomen Kudasai has closed [False alarm! It's moved. see below]

Drove by a "Restaurant for Lease" sign. Website is down. Any word on what happened to the Japanese couple who ran the excellent-by-upstate-standards-restaurant / art gallery / mini cultural center??

Nov 13, 2011
Skillet Licker in New York State (exc. NYC)

Carcinogenic sandwich at Freeman's

Not when they're well-seasoned. But a very apt comediculinary thought indeed!

Nov 01, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Carcinogenic sandwich at Freeman's

Ok, maybe the title's a little hyperbolic, but I wanted to try this restaurant despite all the bad reviews -- in part because of the acclaimed cool location. Yes, the alley is way cool, but the taxidermy just highlights the utter fakeness of the place.

Now on to my carcinogenic lunch. Heeding the chorus of negative reviewers, I kept it simple: turkey and bacon on grilled sourdough, with fries. How badly could they screw that up, I thought.

The bread, laced with vivid black track marks, tasted and smelled of burnt and dirty grill. Yet the bread was also soggy. Burnt and soggy. Yum. And the fries -- yikes! They tasted of burnt old oil, the kind that does a body harm. And somehow the individual fries even had scorch marks on one side only! How did they manage that? And of course the fries, too, were soggy. Burnt and soggy.

I could think of a thousand better restaurant concepts for that alley. What a waste.

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Freemans
Freeman Alley, New York, NY 10002

Nov 01, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

unpasteurized apple cider

Migliorelli Farm, of Dutchess County, makes NO PRESERVATIVE apple cider. Not sure about whether its pasteurized, but I think it is. It is the cleanest, richest, fruitiest cider in the region -- by far.

Oct 11, 2011
Skillet Licker in New York State (exc. NYC)

When exactly does Red's Eats close for the season?

I'm hoping its still open in early October.

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Red's Eats
Main, Wiscasset, ME 04578

Sep 25, 2011
Skillet Licker in Northern New England

Looking for "Authentic" Salade Nicoise in NY

Le Pain Quotidian serves a very respectable traditional version -- although it may be a special, and not on the regular menu.

Sep 16, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

The Dutch

Totally agree about the EATER NY shilling, which was flagrant, relentless and repulsive.

Jun 24, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Masa

Sifton was quite clear about why he gave it three stars: Service was not up to the level of the food -- especially given the cost. Reviews are explicitly based on food, service, and ambiance (relative value is an implicit factor as well). It is not enough to serve great food to be awarded four stars. The dining experience must be great from the moment you walk in until the moment you walk out.

Sifton gave vivid examples of how Masa failed repeatedly at high-level customer service, which is ironical given that that is precisely what the Japanese are world famous for. The problem with Masa, Sifton suggests, is that the overall experience feels more like a corporate rip-off, rather than a luxurious culinary oasis.

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Masa
10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

Jun 14, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Looking for a decent, affordable Thai place around 9th street and 6th avenue.

Why settle for merely "decent" Thai?

Jun 10, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Long Branch, NJ

Is IZU SUSHI Japanese owned and operated? Being Japanese-owned is no guarantee of greatness, of course. But not being Japanese-owned IS a guarantee of mediocrity -- at best.

May 14, 2011
Skillet Licker in New Jersey

Searching for FISHY fish roe pasta dish (Italian or Japanese)

great website -- thanks

Jan 20, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Searching for FISHY fish roe pasta dish (Italian or Japanese)

THANKS, bottarga will do the trick. I'd not heard of Perbacco, but I look forward to trying it as well as the other recommendations.

Oestra and sea urchin sounds like a resplendent combination.

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Perbacco
234 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10009

Jan 20, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Searching for FISHY fish roe pasta dish (Italian or Japanese)

Bellavitae had a great one, but they closed. Basta Pasta has the standard tarako spaghetti or menteiko spaghetti. I'm looking for a real fish roe lovers pasta dish -- one that's not ashamed to be called "fishy".

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Basta Pasta
37 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

Jan 19, 2011
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Osteria Morini - short review (meatballs!)

Went there for the first time, for lunch. The place is pleasantly outfitted in a faux rustic manner, similar to Morandi, and there are numerous seating options including a long bar or a main room ringed with 2-tops, with communal tables in the center.

The mixed salad, served in a deep bowl, was elementally good: numerous lettuces, cucumbers, shaved carrots, fennel, in a light but zesty dressing.

The bread basket offers two options: slices of generic and tasteless peasant white, or a warm and wonderful olive mini roll (which they also serve at sister restaurant Marea), and which begs to be slathered in butter.

A signature appetizer of meatballs -- made of pancetta and mortadella -- in a thick rich tomato sauce, are soft and meaty and deeply flavorful: for crying out loud, they're made of pancetta and mortadella!! The best in the city at the moment. Great.

Roasted brussel sprouts and pancetta, all heavily carmelized, has become a ubiquitous side dish, but was done pretty much perfectly.

Wines by the glass were, typically for upscale NY restaurants, a lot of dollars for a little pour.

The biggest -- and only -- bummer was fettucine-like pasta with mixed meat ragu. Unfortunately, the chef either doesn't trust his ability to create a meat sauce that can stand on its own, or doesn't trust his customers to discern and appreciate an honest ragu, because this dish -- about which the waiter raved -- tasted mostly of butter: layer upon layer of rich butter, with undertones of meat. Unsophisticated diners may rave about the "richness" of the dish, but how uncreative and cynical it is to produce an artificially rich dish by adding scads of fat, rather than trusting the main ingredients.

Affogato -- good, but isn't the espresso shot supposed to be poured in hot, thereby creating a brief, but exciting contrast of hot and cold, solid and liquid, creamy and bitter?

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Morandi
211 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

Osteria Morini
218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

Nov 20, 2010
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

Sau Voi: Back to Banh Mi Basics

I agree that Sau Voi is a quintessential banh mi hole-in-the-wall. They make what I feel is the best meatball banh mi in the city. Lately, one of the women has begun to understand my English language requests for more chili peppers and she will go heavy on the heat if you ask.

I also agree that the widespread popularity of banh mi is producing bland, standardized, souless banh mi shops opened by people who know and care nothing about banh mi but want to cash in on the craze. Baoguette - while I'm not necessarily putting it in that category - is certainly a step in that direction.

Aug 12, 2009
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

authentic japanese restaurants

Go Go Curry is quite good, but it is not great and is a fast food restaurant (albeit a civilized one). For rapturously delicious housemade-from-scratch curry in a thoroughly Japanese atmosphere, the only option is Curry-ya. Their dry curry (an occasional special) was the best ever. Come to think of it, so is their ("wet") curry. They are perfectionists. For curry fans, this is as close as you'll get to heaven.

Jun 14, 2009
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

UWS Wine Bar Survey

you may also want to visit Vintage on Broadway between 93rd and 92nd. Its a wineshop with a cozy bar area in the back. They have some cheese and salumi platters, and have a nice array of flights. Which bartender is on duty makes a big difference.

Although I have not been there, you may want to check out unWINEd in the Symphony Space building, entrance on 95th between Broadway and West End. Eclectic tapas and of course wine.

For a different scene entirely, there's Cafe de Artistes and their back-room bar.

Nov 06, 2008
Skillet Licker in Manhattan

dinner or just show at the Algonquin Oak Room?

Anyone have dinner there? I'm guessing the food is above-average cruise ship quality. I hope I'm wrong.

Apr 08, 2008
Skillet Licker in Manhattan