We enjoyed a great short break during Easter weekend. As usual I had planned out most of the meals and there never seem to be enough time to go to all the places I want to go to.
Day 1 Friday - lunch
We had the lamb burger and the day's special roast beef sandwich with a dip. Both were fabulous, meat tender and rich but within the limits of decency and the cumin flavored mayo (I think) with the lamb burger was great with both the burger and the triple fried chips. Nothing green graced our plate, but it was start of our holiday. Other food that we saw coming out of the kitchen including a salad looked a gargantuan proportion.
Le Bernardin experience was everything I would have expected. The food was great - we went with the Chef's tasting menu. The highlight was the tuna starter and the dessert. TT and I are not dessert people but this was by far the best dessert we had ever had. The waiter though told us that he finds it too rich!
The wine pairing was perfect mostly though I wasn't too keen on the quince sweet wine. Service was perfect, making us feel pampered without being overbearing or snobby. Overall a great experience.
Day 2 Saturday - brunch
We went to the National for brunch. Somewhat humorless service but our beef hash and huevos rancheros were flavorful and filling. I found it quite hard to find a good place for breakfast in midtown / Murray Hill area we were staying in (other than the Breslin) so any advice for the future would be welcome!
We went to Sleep No More for the dinner experience. At 55 dollars per head I wasn't expecting much, but it was actually much better than what I thought it would be.
If you don't want details of the dinner please don't read any more....
We went in about 10 mins past 6, where we were directed to the bar and got a couple of glasses of red wine. TT went to talk to the pianist but apparently he wasn't supposed to be there, contrary to the rest of the performance after dinner. Everyone is seated at large tables all joined together. There are two starters, two main and a dessert, and they are all served family style. Hurry though and eat because they serve quickly and take away the plates quickly too as they are trying to finish dinner before performance. The first starter - cold salad - was great but while we were being polite it was whisked away by the waiter to everyone's shame. All the courses were very well done, and wine was topped throughout the meal. During the meal there are some random things happened, and at dessert a performance.
After dinner we were whisked away in random groups into separate tables with a bottle of port and glasses - so most likely you'll get separated from the rest of your group which is what they want you to do anyway. It felts like a long time to wait to enter the performance as you get taken down the elevator in groups of 8.
I enjoyed Sleep No More quite a lot. It was a little crowded and I missed out some of the cast (Hecate for example which I was a bit miffed about) but I liked the elaborate and large set and the ability to explore. TT however hated the mask and the dark so bailed after an hour or so.
Day 3 - Easter Sunday brunch
We ended up in Artisanal, which was quite a pleasant experience. We ordered the cheese and ham plate with jamon iberico added - which I have to say didn't look like it was cut properly (with the fat greased over the ham, mmmm.) The cheese selection was however fabulous and we didn't really have room for our next course of octopus and pumpkin gnocchi. I found them a little salty but it might be because I was also quite stuffed. If you are a chocoholic, should also try the French hot chocolate which was thick and wonderful.
Above was my eating trip to Manhattan. So few days and so many restaurants...
Pretty much everyone speaks very good English so don't worry about communicating. All the menus provided were in English too. Out of the restaurants we went to, I would highly recommend Blauw aan de Wal. Reservation is required but really worth while.
I'm off to Seoul to see family in Feb. I'm planning to go to Jungsik. I've been to the NY branch and it was excellent, so am looking forward to trying it there. However it's not really Korean food, more like Korean inspired haute cuisine. It's where you may expect it near/in Apgujeong-dong.
Korean food taste the best in Korea in my opinion, but I agree there isn't too much difference between traditional meals and after a week I get bored. Also the better restaurants in my opinion tend to be out of town.
Korean food is very strong in flavour, so it takes a little getting used to the cuisine to differentiate between restaurants. Also as Steve notes each restaurant specialises in a dish, so "Han-oo" or Korean beef place would of course serve beef, most likely simply grilled beef. There is however more to Korean food than beef so any rec will depend on what kind of food you like. Whenever we go out the dish decides the restaurant, and not the other way around.
I'll try to note where we go this time and do a trip report.
Unfortunately not... too much good food, not enough time!
My family went on a week long trip around Norway last week. A beautiful country, but food and drinks are very expensive. Also some of us found the food quite salty in general.
Here are our experience in the restaurants that we visited:
Oslo - many of the restaurants were closed so it was a bit of a struggle. July to mid Aug seems to be when everything closes.
First night: San Leandro tapas bar - this seems to be a chain. Small tables with high chairs, quite casual atmosphere. We ordered the small cold cut platter which came with more salami, cheese and jamon than we could eat between four of us as a starter. The quality of salami, chorizo and jamon iberico were very good. We orderd some prawn fried in garlic, meatballs and patatas bravas to follow which were ok. Overall a pleasant meal.
Second day lunch: Grand Hotel cafe - it was a beautiful day and it was a great place to sit outside and people watch. Mussels and french fries were very good, with big juicy mussels and great sauce. Prawn open sandwich and crayfish open sandwich were good too at not large but reasonable portion.
Second day dinner: Dinner - an upmarket Chinese restaurant. We ordered crispy duck followed by sea bass and vegetables with a Chinese bun each which were the fried version, and some dim sums to finish as we were a little peckish afterwards. Rice came included and were plenty for all four of us. The food was very good if not super authentic. The dim sums were freshly made with the prawn one topped with a big piece of what I think was crayfish.
Trondheim - we took the train there... if you take a train in Norway try to take some food and drinks with you! Again summer holiday meant that the fancier restaurants in the city were closed.
3rd day dinner: We went for a drink at Trondhjem Mikrobryggeriet. I'm not a beer drinker but the others reported good selection of beer. We then wandered for a bit and settled for a couple of pizza at Lillepizza near the shopping centre in the centre of town. We actually quite enjoyed the pizzas which had good thin crust and were cooked through nicely. It was also comparatively speaking reasonably priced.
4th day lunch: After wandering around the cathedral we went to nearby Vertshuset Grenaderen. They had a buffet on but we opted instead for a la carte. The selection was limited but the steamed mussel was good (no fries though) and quiche pie and prawn sandwich were both good.
4th day dinner: Went over to Bakklandet Skydsstation which is a charming little pub / restaurant in Bakklandet area. We ordered a reindeer stew and fishballs, but the order was mixed up and we ended up with two reindeer stew which were nice. Reindeer was less gamy than I expected. Afterwards we walked over to Den Gode Nabo - a great pub with lots of beer on tab but only one red wine. We sat outside on a deck right on the river and shard a fish and chips with drinks of our choice. Good chips, ok fish.
Trondheim to Bergen - Hurtigruten cruise overnight. Lunch was a buffet which was not great - we all opted for cured fish, cold cut and salad as the hot dishes didn't look very appetizing. We booked sit down dinner which again was quite mediocre. But then again, we should have perhaps expected that.
Bergen - for a change, the restaurants were all open!
6th day dinner: Highlight of the trip - Spisekroken. Our starters included one sampler which had three small dishes with three shots of aquavit, grilled scallop dish and cured ham with asparagus. The menu had either entree and another section called "This and That". I ordered baby goat ribs from "This and That" which was probably a bit small with very little meat on the ribs, but then again this was starter priced. Veal was special of the day which was cooked very well retaining its succulence. Dessert in comparison was probably a bit weak. My raspberry crumble was ok but felt a little more like breakfast than dessert.
7th day lunch - fish market. It's an experience, but can't say it was that much fresher.
7th day dinner - Hanne på Høyden. This one I feel a bit conflicted. I understand that they try to keep to local ingredients... they had two whale dishes on the menu (one for starter and another for main) which made our selection somewhat tough. Neither I or my fiance wanted it, and even my dad who has had whale meat before didn't want it as a main meal. He did have it as a starter (which was smoked but not to the extent it was cooked) which he said was miles better than the ones he had before. This meant that we all had the catfish for main, which was nice though slightly on salty side. I suspect that it is probably one of those places where you can have a great meal, depending on what's on the menu. However unfortunately it didn't compare well against Spisekroken. Prices were probably on par - Spisekroken was perhaps a little cheaper.
That's basically it - the last day before we flew out we did Norway in a Nutshell tour from Bergen back to Oslo which included six different transport and food at awful train station cafes. We ended up in a canteen style cafe at Flam where the sandwiches and fish and chips were passable but the "Norwegian stew" I ordered was awful.
Sorry no pics!
I just came back from a fabulous and too short a trip from Amsterdam. Firstly thanks to DutchGrub, and Amsterdam Foodie blog for guiding me.
First day dinner was at Blauw aan de Wal. A lovely restaurant which is like an oasis in the red light district. The menu was described to us in such a mouthwatering detail, and the wine list was not very long but clearly very thoughtfully chosen. Two items per course is offered and while the restaurant was mostly full we didn't have to wait much for our food.
To start, T had the lamb tartar which I had some reservations about but was fabulous. I had smoked salmon which was creamy and rich. For the main I had duck with honey apple and T had monkfish wrapped with potato. Both were fantastic. I can't tell you what the dessert was as it was recommended by someone else - but again, stunning. T's selection of cheese was very good too. One of our best meals ever, and not just Amsterdam. Certainly given the price of 55 euros per person for 3 course meal, it was superior to some more expensive places in New York or London.
The next day's lunch was spent at Gartine, where we were lucky to grab a table. Simple and cheap but great sandwiches and fabulous cakes. I had smoked salmon and pickle salad sandwich with eggs, asparagus and truffle mayonnaise, which I'll have to remember for serving asparagus.
Day 2 dinner was at Supper Club. Good food served on bed, it's a fun place if you are up for an adventure. I found the homo/hetero toilets a little disconcerting mostly because I didn't want to go in the same loo as the boys. The tables are quite close to each other so you get quite up close and personal with the diners next to you. On one side we had a gay couple, on the other side a hetero couple with the girl's parents so a good mix of crowd.
Day 3 lunch was at Van Kerkwijk. My Indonesian meat loaf was so so, but T's steak was fabulous. It was a tenderloin perfectly cooked served with herb butter. Original recommendation was with goat cheese with strawberries, which I thought he should go for and still think it would have been great!
Day 3 dinner - our initial planned restaurant Vis aan de Schelde couldn't accommodate one more person so three of us went to In de Keuken. It was a relatively quiet night for them so perhaps we enjoyed more attentive service, but again, a very good meal. We opted for 4 course surprise menu with matching wine pairing. Started with 4 amuse bouche which included red pepper paste shaped into domino pieces. We started with octopus with mayonnaise mixed with the ink, then lobster and asparagus pasta followed by a very well cooked lamb dish. Dessert was followed by great petit fours. The paired wine was explained in great details and poured generously, so much so that I had a hangover the next day.
On the whole, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of food in Amsterdam, clearly run by people with passion for food. I will be definitely back, and look forward to trying the ones that we didn't have time for this trip.
Went for a quick birthday weekend trip to Manhattan and had three excellent meals.
Momofuku Ma Peche - Saturday lunch
It was about 80% full which was a nice level of activity. We had reservation but there were several walk ins.
We started with a pork bun and shrimp rice rolls. The pork buns were great. I normally don't eat cucumber but it worked well with the rich pork and the sauce. Shrimp rice rolls were nice though I didn't think they were too special.
For main we had the striped bass and duck confit. Both were very well executed though I found the duck slightly overseasoned. The bass had a great combination of flavours.
Jungsik - Saturday dinner
I'll confess upfront, I'm Korean and my fiance, T, is a Brit. He loved Korean food when we went to Seoul but didn't enjoy his experiences in Korean restaurants in K-Town.
However we both loved Jungsik. Whether you would call it Korean restaurant or not (I wouldn't) bottom line is that this is simply great restaurant. Every dish we had was perfectly executed. I enjoyed it because I could tell the Korean influence in the dishes whereas he enjoyed the complexity of flavours.
Much has been written about the menu so I don't think I need to comment on them. The only issue we had was that because it was my birthday we ordered quite an expensive Bordeaux, which clashed somewhat with Classic Fish due to the spice level. They took out a very impressive Riddell decanter which was a nice touch. We would probably try the wine pairing next time.
Service level was very good, if not technically correct all the time. T can be a very hard to please diner but he was thoroughly impressed. We discussed whether we would go to wd-50 or Jungsik with friends when we return in July and agreed that Jungsik was overall much better experience. We've also been to Jean George and again, would prefer Jungsik.
ABC Kitchen - Sunday brunch
We started with the raw scallop and crab on toast. Both were excellent. The scallop had great dressing that T asked for a spoon to finish off. Crab was well dressed with a small dollop of mayo on each slice.
For main T ordered veal meatball pasta and I ordered roasted carrot and avocado salad as I was getting food fatigued. Here it felt like the food fell into the trap so many Manhattan restaurants seem to fall into - overseasoning. Both had very strong flavours which didn't really allow the great ingredients to come through.
I ordered two cocktails (after all it was my bday weekend!). Rhubarb mimosa was good though the blood orange bellini was much better.
The pizza on the next table to us looked great, sitting on top of metal grating so that the bottom won't go soggy. It looks like we missed what many people comment on, the salted caramel ice cream. Neither of us are dessert person but if we make it back we'd certainly try it.
Great weekend mostly spent at a table or another - cannot wait to go back!