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Review - A Voce (41 Madison Ave, 212-545-8555)

Review - A Voce (41 Madison Ave, 212-545-8555)

We had a pleasant dinner at A Voce the other night. For a Monday night, somewhat early before prime time, the restaurant was about 2/3 full, suggesting that its Zagat's popularity is definitely leading to lots of business. The decor is modern and stylish, perhaps more suited to something like Akvavit, than an Italian place.

We started with a glass of prosecco ($12) and some bread to nibble on. The wine list appears large, with lots of selections (especially Italian) at the sub $50 price point. I noticed plenty in the $30 zone as well, which would make it a good deal for a couple to get a bottle rather than have some indifferent by the glass. The menu is fairly compact, with a few daily specials, and other than the tripe seems to not be overly tilted toward the offal craze that Batali and others are offering.

Our first course was a plate of crispy sweetbreads ($15) which were plump, succulent and infused with a fresh white peppery flavor. I really liked them but the orange / citrus sauce they were in was a little odd. We also had a fine roast beet salad ($12) which was a good selection, and seems to be a staple at most restaurants at this time of year.

For our main courses we both picked pastas; I picked a lamb rigatoni ($25) and my wife picked a seafood ravioli ($24). The rigatoni was al dente and served in a mild red sauce flecked with dried ham. It was ok, but not really worth the money. The seafood ravioli was served in a metal brazier and had an interesting green sauce surrounding it, with a very soft rings of squid. She liked it and it was definitely unusual.

Afterwards, we had a plate of Tuscan doughnuts ($12) which were fried, creme filled dough, covered in powdered sugar, and then served with hot chocolate sauce on the side. Very tasty, but just as bad for you as a Dunkin Donuts Boston Creme. The service was excellent throughout dinner, and the stemware was top notch as well. We were in a bit of a rush to get out of there, but our servers sensed that and paced everything perfectly for us.

This is a popular place, and certainly deserves the praise it has been getting, but I don't think I would go out of my way to come here again. There wasn't anything really unforgettable here, and there are just tons of great Italian places in NYC that I have yet to try.

AKR

Apr 22, 2008
AKR in Manhattan

Review - Compass (208 W. 70th, 212 875 8600)

Another wonderful dinner at Compass last night. Started with the beet salad and then had the venision over a chard/shank/gnocchi mix. The service and food were as great as always. The take home muffin treats are such a nice touch too. I really cannot understand why anyone would go to Cafe Luxembourg over this, and the prices are not dissimilar.

Mar 13, 2008
AKR in Manhattan

Rehearsal dinner recommendations? 40-50 people

We had ours at Rene Pujol in the Theater District and would heartily recommend it.

Nov 30, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Where to find in Manhattan - Swedish Korv

Christmas is coming and we are trying to find those mini smoked Swedish sausage called Korv. We normally get them shipped in from the Midwest but would really love to find a local/Manhattan vendor of these. If we can find these we'll be the hero of the smorgasbord !

I realize this may be kind of esoteric CH'ers always pleasantly surprise me :)

Thanks

AKR

PS: We didn't find any at Swedish Church fair last week :(

Nov 28, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - Le Zie (172 7th Avenue @ 20th St, 212 206 8686)

Review - Le Zie (172 7th Avenue @ 20th St, 212 206 8686)

This is a solid neighborhood Italian place, with a Florentine feel. The layout is kind of rambling so finding friends waiting for you can be a little vexing, but it has a nice ambience.
We were seated in the back room , which has a nook for a fountain and a small bar. They allow corkage for $20, with nice Spiegelaus so we brought a couple of decent reds.

They brought some bread and garlic oil out to start while our appetizers were being prepared. The bread was good and went well with my salumi platter ($12). It had some cubes of grilled polenta which were interesting. The ohters had a bean soup ($6) and some carpaccio ($10) which looked ok, but nothing special.

For the main course I had monkfish wrapped in pancetta ($16) which was excellent, and very lobster/scallop like -- crispy on the outside, plump on the inside. However the dish was pretty small, perhaps more akin to appetizer size than entree size. The others had a fish special ($25) and a veal ragu over rigatoni ($15) which looked competent but nothing special.

I liked the place, but would not make great efforts to go back unless I was in the nabe and needed an Italian place at short notice sans reservations.

AKR

Sep 21, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

BIM lunches at Taam Tov

I love this place - it feels like such a secret. We popped in after picking up rings in the jewelry/diamond district.

Sep 21, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

West Side Italian Parent-Pleasers

Try Cesca

Sep 21, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Daisy May's Big Pig Gig

We had 12 of us for the big pig. Way too much, and as noted, lots of leftovers. I couldnt bear to see any more pork after all that, but the rest of our dining compatriots cheerfully loaded up and took some home.

You must most definitely BYO for this event. It is well worth it.

Sep 10, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - Roberto Passon (741 9th Ave @ 50th, 212 582 5599)

Review - Roberto Passon (741 9th Ave @ 50th, 212 582 5599)

It looks like Chowhounds were right on about this Theater District Italian. We were there the other night and really enjoyed ourselves. The decor is serene (white and black wood) with linen tableclothes and napkins. Despite constant rumblings about service issues, we were treated fine although there did not appear be that many people when we went there for a pre theater treat before Jersey Boys (which was great as well).

We started with a Bellini ($8) and a cooling Soave ($8) which munching on their bread and bean dip. Our waiter cheerfully popped open a bottle of Falesco Montiano we had brought ($20 corkage) and brought our first set of appetizers.

My wife started with an artichoke special, which was sauteed artichokes in a thick puttanesca style sauce, served in crispy parmesan shell. I think it was $10 or so; it was quite nice, but salty in the Batali style. I had the white asparagus ($10), on top of prosciutto, with a poached egg on top. They give you a ton of food in both appetizers and both are well made for sharing. The poached egg was perfect, soft and golden in the middle with a nice crust of salty cheese sprinkled on it.

Then our pasta arrived, piping hot, and looking beautiful. The SO had the tagliatelle in the lamb ragu ($16 and recommended on the board here) and it was quite good, with lots of chunky lamb, but again heavily salted in the Roman style. I had the pumpkin ravioli with sage and butter sauce ($15) which was super, although a tick sweet. This was a delicious fall treat. Again, portions were large and the pasta was made fresh.

By now, we were too stuffed for any carne/pesce so skipped straight to dessert. We split a saffron creme brulee ($7) which was ok, but on the small side. It was the only thing I would pass on the next time I visit.

I really liked the place and it is a good value, conveniently located, that is perfect for folks in the nabe or visiting. A little less raucous than Becco, but a worthy standby choice for the area.

AKR

Sep 06, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Tout Va Bien or Becco?

Like both, but Becco is better. Chez Napoleon is "closed for Renovations" by the way.

Sep 06, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Looking for good mofongo

Try Sofrito at 57th & 1st for good mofongo. Loosten your belt before you sit down!

Aug 24, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

mama's fish house

I just had an amazing dinner at Mama's, some of the greatest fish I have had anywhere. We did have some small service issues, but the hostess graciously (and excessively) comped us two sets of drinks and apps to make up for some spilled drinks.

The place seems to be polarizing, but I for one loved it, and would go back.

Aug 13, 2007
AKR in U.S. Elsewhere Archive

Review - Becco (355 WEST 46TH ST , 212-397-7597 , www.becconyc.com)

I had friends who visited over the weekend and they dropped me an email this morning saying things were great. I guess it needs revisiting.

Jul 30, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - Il Corso (19 West 55th St, 212 957 1500)

Review - Il Corso (19 West 55th St, 212 957 1500)

We had a group dinner here last week and I was very impressed. The restaurant is small, and the tables fairly closely spaced, and their seems to be a constantly flow of visitors clamoring for a table, usually to be disappointed. But the food was excellent, and if the chef was somewhat more enterprising he too would be on FoodTV.

I started with a pear salad which had walnuts and blue cheese. Excellent and pretty good value at $9.

Then I had a half order of tagliatele with porcini, duck and truffle oil. It was unbelieveably good. Everything was in harmony with each other. I think this was $12.

For the main course I had the short ribs in a balsalmic sauce over mashed potatoes; again this was some of the best short ribs I've had. For $26 it was a bit fancy priced for a low end cut of meat but it tasted great.

The service was also solid, attentive without being cloying. This is a place to revisit, especially as the weather gets colder.

AKR

Jul 30, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - Amazing 66 (66 Mott St, 212 334 0099)

Review - Amazing 66 (66 Mott St, 212 334 0099)

We had dinner here last week - it was pretty good but quite a bit of a wait and very crowded and extremely noisy. We brought a flabby Auslese with us and had

* dumplings - ok, salty broth, not steamed, seemed boiled

* beef with turnip casserole - lots of gelatinous beef parts and mushy turnips. interesting to try once, but i would not get it again. looked like the odd bits leftover from a slaughterhouse!

* chicken in black bean sauce - very good - well balanced flavours - not that greasy either

* peking pork - excellent, crispy and great sauce. very hard to just eat one or two pieces.

* duck in 8 special - pretty good with a broad spectrum of things on top (scallops, squid, shirmp etc) with braised duck underneath.

* vegetable fried rice - about what you would expect

I liked it and thanks for the recco, BrianS, but I'll probably keep exploring Chinatown rather than come back to this one. It was good value - the four of us pigged out with tons of leftovers for $100 all in. They do seem to include service in the bill.

AKR

Jul 30, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Tete de veau and Andouillette

Try Cafe Napoleon and/or Tout va Bien, both are in the theater district and offer traditional French fare. I've had the TdV at TvB.

Jul 19, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Per Se critical review

I've always loved the 98 Latour a Pomerol, but just cant see how this would be $300. It was at Landmarc for $80 at one point. I remember buying it by the case for $550. I realize its not easy being a sommelier, and that it is a "sales" job, but generally don't want their input.

Good write up though!

May 15, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - F.Illi Ponti (39 Desbrosses St, 212 226 4621)

Review - F.Illi Ponti (39 Desbrosses St, 212 226 4621)
April 2007

This is a well established Italian place in Tribeca that does the classic "American" Italian foods well. We were guests here for a big party and sampled a broad spectrum of their fare.
Service and decor are positives, and if you like looking at vanity photos of the owners and famed guests, there are plenty here. I've seen some guidebooks refer to this as a moderately priced place, but I would dispute that - this place is pricey.

Anyways quick takes on some of the food

Lamb Rib Chops - delicious, frenched, and charred well
Calamari - Crisp and tasty
Brick Oven Fired pizza - not too crisp, too much cheese

Angry Lobster - roasted lobster in bread crumbs and spices, a signature dish but not much lobster meat really.
Lemon Chicken - excellent and tasty, with breaded cutlets
Veal Marsala - also excellent and tasty
Prime Rib - stuffed with garlic nubs throughout, and quite good

We had some pastas that were solid too, although not at the level of the Batali empire of course.

It's a solid place and I always enjoy coming here. The food is what Americans would expect of Italian food, not haute cuisine regional Italian.

AKR

May 02, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Title Scored Res at Babbo - need recommendations

I made reservs yesterday (for a month in advance).

It took 133 phone calls.

Apr 27, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Downtown BYO Spots

Just call small ethnic places and see if they will let you do it. Most of the time if you offer $8-$10 btl they will be happy. They're not really making that much off their liquor license anyways.

Apr 24, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Artisanal?

Gougeres are good there too.

Chicken under a brick seems to be a signature dish

Apr 24, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - Park Avenue Cafe (100 E. 63Rd St, 212 644 1900)

Review - Park Avenue Cafe (100 E. 63Rd St, 212 644 1900)
April 19, 2007

We had a small group dinner here last night and they gave us a great circular corner table in the back of the restaurant. I've always loved group dinners around big circular tables - it is much easier to speak to everyone.

They started by bringing us great baskets of bread (thin sticks, cornbread, and seeded rolls) while we figured out what to order. I started with the foie gras ($16), which was a pretty large slab/forchon with herbs on top. It came with ginger toast. Tasty and fatty; I ate all of it after passing some around.

My main course was the roasted loin of lamb ($39) which came with polenta and some olive garnish. It was a large piece and was tasty, but not transcendant. It's better at Aquavit in my opinion. We also had sides ($9 each) of french fries, mashed potatoes, asparagus and sauteed mushrooms. All of those were spectacular, in some ways better than the entrees in most folks opinions.

I was stuffed at this point, so I passed on dessert but most of the others went with the chocolate cube which was visually appealing.

This place has been around for a while, and attracts a staid blue hair crowd, but its actually quite good. A nice choice for reliable high end dining in that part of the UES, without much problem in getting a table. For wine enthusiasts, they may waive corkage if you bring a good bottle. Their stemware is excellent as well. Don't look at that as a money saving option though - this place will still be a rather expensive dinner.

I'll be back.

AKR

Apr 20, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Butternut Squash Puree

What about making a pot pie with chicken and squash under a puff pastry crust?
This April has been gold enough in the Northeast to merit a dinner like that!

Apr 19, 2007
AKR in Home Cooking

Review - Cafe Luxembourg (200 W 70TH ST, 212-873-7411)

Review - Cafe Luxembourg (200 W 70TH ST, 212-873-7411)
April 18, 2007

We had a pre theater dinner here before Madame Butterfly (lovely!) yesterday. We'd arranged for a table via opentable.com which was easy enough (without much advance notice and even a change accomodated) and were able to avoid the throng waiting at the bar. Tables are snug up against each and the interior feels kind of dated. Service was gracious though, no complaints there.

I had a Fullers ale ($7) and then we had the lobster roll ($27) and a dinner salad ($15). The lobby roll was pretty good but not on a New England style bun. It came with crispy fries and a cumin laden coleslaw. I liked the slaw but its non traditional. The salad was frisse, lardons and some blue cheese ; pretty good but salty.

A quick skim of the wine list and their stemware suggested that this isn't going to appeal to serious wine enthusiasts, but they do allow corkage, for a $25 fee. It's an expensive nabe, so that fee is not as bad as it sounds. It was fun to go to, but I'm not in any real hurry to go back there, unless its for lunch.

AKR

Apr 19, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - CALLE OCHO (446 COLUMBUS AVE, 212-873-5025)

I've had mixed experiences with the service here. One thing I thought - how come no tableclothes given the price point they are at?

Apr 17, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - CALLE OCHO (446 COLUMBUS AVE, 212-873-5025)

Review - CALLE OCHO (446 COLUMBUS AVE, 212-873-5025)

We had a big group dinner here over the weekend and enjoyed ourselves. It's a Nuevo Latino place that's part of the Rain restaurant group, so its mildly corporate, but still pretty solid. We did have a slight hiccup on arrival, having to wait 25-30 min for a table that we had reserved well in advance, and the table we got was pretty apparently squished together -- they had taken a 4 two tops and tried to make it hold ten. The venue was crowded , hot / poorly ventilated, with the kicker of loud non Latin rock music. We couldn't hear the other end of the table the whole night, which eventually got tiresome.

That being said, the food is good and the place is fun. We started with lots of appetizers; we got the lobster ceviche (raw marinated seafood cocktail) to begin with, which was tasty. Then some whitefish ceviche, which seemed similar but mushier. (I thought the ceviche at Mercadito was better personally). The next item was the bacon wrapped dates, which was pretty awesome -- proving that wrapping bacon/prosciutto around any edible object is a winner. Then we had their arepas, which are fried corncakes topped with short rib slivers. This was very popular and a total winner. Then we had some rock shrimp tamales, which were also a hit. And lastly we had a platter of the gallitos, which is a big platter of soft beef/chicken/shrimp tacos. It was solid, but I noticed the tortillas were soggy. This is a good bar appetizer, but a bit bulky for a small table as the dish comes on a huge multlayered platter.

For the main courses I had the filet, which comes in a pile of spinach, mushrooms and garlic. It was pretty good but nothing extraordinary. It seemed the most innocuous thing I could find. My SO had the skirt steak over the fried rice, which was topped with a fried egg. It looked ok, but was a large portion, so some of it got packed for lunch. The dishes from a price perspective: the app level are mostly $10-$14 and the mains are mostly $20-$32 -- which is mid priced for prime Manhattan, but high for Latin styled food.

We did enjoy the food though and the service was solid. This is a good place enjoy cocktails and snacks / apps , but it is really popular, so you may end up waiting, even with a reservation. I'd come back for a bite the next time I have to be at the Museum of Natural History.

AKR

Apr 16, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Alouette report

It's a pretty solid BYO friendly spot for bistro fare in that nabe. The upstairs room is handy for small groups too.

Apr 16, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

Review - Sip Sak (928 2ND AVE , 212-583-1900)

Review - Sip Sak (928 2ND AVE , 212-583-1900)

We had a fine dinner last night at the this east midtown Turkish restaurant. We didn't have reservations but 5 of us walked in at 8ish and were seated after about a 5min wait at the bar. The place was happily packed and buzzing with good cheer. The restaurant seems to have upgraded their interior a little bit since I was last here a year ago -- there now seem to be interesting colored glass chandeliers as well as white table cloth service.

Our waitress got us started on some of their special appetizers, which are always worth ordering, as we mulled over the main courses. Their fluffy pita bread led things off, then some hummous, grape leaves, falafel to go with that. These were all pretty good. Then we had the grilled octopus, stuffed meatballs, and a flatbread lamb pizza like thing while we sipped a Rasteau I had brought from home. (They are corkage / BYO friendly)

For the main courses we went with Turkish dumplings (a bit odd, take a pass) , baked lamb/okra (ok but you need to like okra), a grilled sea bass, short ribs over mashed potatos and a ground beef in spinach stew. These were all solid, but I like the starters here better.
We drank some fancy CaliCabs with these, taking our time with the various courses.

Afterwards we had a thick halva pistachio dessert and some rice pudding along with a ridiculously thick Turkish coffe. The service and the owner are entertaining, and knowledgeable.

If you like Turkish food, or Greek/Lebanese/Levantine fare, you would probably enjoy this place. It's good value and they are also BYO / corkage friendly, so call ahead and bring something nice to pair with the grilled meat.

I should have been back sooner.

AKR

Apr 13, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

ISO Lamb Shanks to buy

Ottomanellis is superb.

Apr 05, 2007
AKR in Manhattan

fish tacos, revisited

Mercadito has really great fish tacos.

And on Mondays you can get 10 of them for $20. Wow.

Apr 05, 2007
AKR in Manhattan