Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Croissant notes

These are from a while ago.

Pret a Manger: good shatter, nice and soft, warm, decent-good chocolate, tasty overall, little lacking ina wholeness of buttery flavor. 6.5

Amai Tea House (now closed, sadly) - flaky on the outside, a little spongy on the inside, almost as if there were a touch of pastry cream. Both the dough and chocolate were very savory. A touch greasy. 6

Claude Patisserie - flaky on outside, a little too thick/bready on inside. Also lacking in flavor. Not a great fan of the chocolate used. But warm. 5.5

Madeleine - choc croissant light, partially flaky. Pleasant. Choc good. Choc-almond is much denser, more brioche-like, tasty thick pastry cream-like filling. Good. 7/7

Petrossian - superflaky, mod greasy on bottom, excellent choc, wonderful buttery flavor, made me want to finish it. 8.5

Tisserie chocolate almond: like Madeleine. Not flaky - a little soft. Avg ingredients incl chocolate but overall effect quite tasty. Powdered sugar + choc + flour always good combo. 7.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Locanda Verde

Locanda Verde, located at 377 Greenwich St. in Tribeca, is the latest incarnation of a Robert Deniro-owned restaurant formerly known as Ago. When the name was changed, the chef was as well, and Andrew Carmellini, formerly known for his superlative work at A Voce, took over. The prices dropped too.

When I visited LV, it was filled -- even on a Tuesday evening. The restaurant sports a contemporary but woody atmosphere, and the servers and hostesses were without exception friendly and charming.

The food was delicious. The appetizer bread, a sort of pizza focaccia, was crusy, earthy, and had a delicious covering of melted cheese on top. It was served room temperature, and its thick fluffy dough and heartiness made me ask for another.

My main course was a pasta course, a malfagliatti, which was cooked in a pesto sauce with parmesan. The pasta, the pesto, the accompanying pine nuts, and the parmesan were all excellent. No missteps here, except for the fact that the portion was too small. There is no way you could eat just that portion and be full.

So I also had a side of broccoli cooked in olive oil and gratings of cheese. Also fantastic. The broccoli was perfectly cooked, the garlicky spices delectable.

Finally, and certainly no slouch, was dessert. I got a panna cotta with strawberry and rhubarb on the side. The panna cotta -- and I'm usually not such a fan -- was like an incredible cozy vanilla pudding. The strawberry and rhubarb were fresh and complemented it. They were accessorized with a small chocolate biscuit, also baked with excellent technique. The dessert as a whole was scrumptious, although, again, perhaps too small. Though given health issues maybe that's a good thing!

All in all, the reinveted restaurant at the corner of Greenwich and N. Moore is a warm and very human creation, with a menu that conveys the charm, personality, and culinary acumen of its creators.

Stars: 5/5

Monday, March 23, 2009

Num Pang

Num Pang is a new Cambrodian sandwich shop that jsut opened on 12th St. between 5th Ave. and University Pl. It's a spin-off from Malaysian restaurant Kampuchea on the lower east side. I ordered their sole vegetarian sandwich, a scrumptious grilled cauliflower and eggplant that is a spiritual cousin to banh mi. Moderately spicy (and the spice level can be increased with the little pods of Sriracha they'll give you for hot sauce), tender eggplant, slightly chewier on the cauliflower, and good, warm sandwich bread (though perhaps this is the sandwich's weak point all said and done) -- this sandwich is a clear winner.

Stars: 4/5

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Cream is a relatively high-end Mexican restaurant in Chelsea, on w 17th st. between 6th and 7th. I loved the look inside, especially its bathrooms, which had a natural motif -- pebbles were layered in the washbasin, and the water drained into them, and pebbles were also embedded into the bathroom floor.

I ordered a vegetarian "royale" platter (as opposed to the regular veg. platter, which came with fewer things), which came with a bunch of things:

* yuca fries - which were thick and garlicky and tasty, though perhaps a touch undercooked
* a truffle empanada, quite tasty, although the empanada was baked rather than fried - this is not my preference usually
* black beans and rice - both quite good though not standout. The rice was not the usual red Mexican rice.
* grilled vegetables - good
* a potato enchilada - this was excellent, small and fat and tasty

Overal the foods had a set of earthy tastes and textures, and were accompanied by a small "shot" of an extremely spicy and tasty salsa.

Well that's all I remember. I think the food as a whole was good, although perhaps expensive for what it was. I personally am much more excited by the thought of a more traditional Mexican restaurant with awesome guacamole and salsa than I am by this kind of fusion high-end Mexican, so I don't think it's on my list of revisits, but it's good to know that the cuisine is being pushed.

Stars: 4/5

Zero Otto Nove

Arthur Ave is of course the "Little Italy" of the Bronx, if you will, and unlike Little Italy, it still retains a relatively untouristy character. Small, active Italian grocery stores and old-school restaurants line the streets. Zero Otto Nove departs a little from this ideal, at least in its interior, which is a beautiful, high-ceilinged space backed by a fresco of a picturesque Italian town.

ZON is an Italian place known for its pizza, and the pizza is what we tried there. I had a margherita, while friends tried a quattro formaggio and a caprese (this latter had arugula, among other things). The crust was was wonderful, perfectly in-between chewiness and crispness, and the sauce and cheese were delicious and fresh. The cheese was from the highly-renowned mozzarella maker Casa Della Mozzarella. All in all, this was a highly recommended pizzeria, and properly so.

Stars: 5/5

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keep checking My Favorite Restaurants

Keep checking my favorite restaurant list, since I update it more often than I post new posts to the blog :-). Today I compiled a list of eleven guaranteed blow-your-mind NYC food experiences...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop

Eisenberg's is a jewish deli and a veritable institution. Its sits on 5th Ave. between 22nd and 23rd, and a friendly guy mans the place and infuses it with his attitude - jokey and casual. I ordered an egg salad sandwich, a chocolate egg cream, and onion rings (a gluttonous meal!). The egg salad was creamy and simple, pure in its eggy tastes and perfect smooth texture. The bread was good but could have been better. The onion rings were also tasty, and I especially liked the fact that the onion inside was cooked such that biting into the ring I didn't drag the whole onion out. The onion took well to the bite, in other words. The chocolate egg cream was excellent, with a great balance between chocolate, milk, and seltzer. Finally, a chocolate chip cookie with a hint of espresso made a great dessert. Its medium-size and dense texture reminded me a little bit of my favorite chocolate chip cookie -- the one at Chocolate Bar.

Stars: 4/5

Friday, February 20, 2009

San Marzano pizza

San Marzano pizzeria is a newish pizza place on the lower east side, at the corner of Clinton and Rivington. It has a simple, homey atmosphere with a takeout counter right up front and a menu prominently displayed on the board behind the counter.

SM has both pizzas and calzones. I opted for the former, and got a pomodoro (fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley), and half of that with caramelized onions and roasted peppers. The pie came out thin, but with a nice, slightly smoky twang to the crust. The crust was partway between crisp and fluffy, and was delicious, though perhaps a hair too dry. The cheese and ingredients were both delectable, with the tomato-cheese-garlic combination reminding me a little bit of the pizza at either Sally's or Pepe's in New Haven -- I can't remember which!

Anyway, really delicious, and a top contender for some of the best pizza in New York.

Stars: 5/5

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dessert Truck - Molten Chocolate Cake - EAT NOW

I had the molten chocolate cake with pistachios at the Dessert Truck this evening and it was simply out of this world. A rich, hot puddle of molten chocolate oozes from the velvety embrace of a thin layer of chocolate cake. As you eat it, they swoon into each other, and are tricked out with just a bit of an edge by salty roasted pistachios. Just unbelievably good. Fantastic. You must seek this dessert out immediately if you have any love for warmth, chocolate, and cake.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Delhi Heights

Delhi Heights is an Indian restaurant located in the highly Indian Queens area of Jackson Heights. Like many of its counterparts in places like Edison, NJ, it feqtatures a very long menu with South Indian, North Indian, and Indo-Chinese specialties. The ambiance is that of a fairly standard relatively inexpensive sit-down place. They offered a buffet, but we opted to go a la carte.

We started with a fried cauliflower Manchurian, an Indo-Chinese dish whose rendition was decent but nothing special. It is ultimately hard to screw up a dish like this, whose combination of a tasty vegetable, oil, and spices left it reasonably good. But the dough in which it was fried could have been fresher, and the cauliflower crunchier. We also got a papri chaat -- a dish with yogurt, sweet and spicy sauces, pieces of boiled potato, and crunchy pieces of fried dough all mixed into a melange. It was fine, but the yogurt was a bit excessive and the whole felt heavy and not really worth in taste the price in heaviness.

For a main course, we got a lentil dish ("Dal Delhi Heights"), and also a "paneer bhurji" dish made with Indian cheese. We also got some naan for accompaniment. The dal dish disappointed despite the extensive overnight preparation required to make it. The paneer dish was pretty tasty but nothing I would go back for. The naan was also fine but very standard.

Overall the restaurant was an extremely average restaurant, and not the extraordinary place many reviews have made it out to be.

Stars: 3/5

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dirt Candy

I had dinner at Dirt Candy in the East Village recently, and it was a wonderful and organic-y experience. Dirt Candy is a relatively small space with reasonable but not great ambience, tucked into a niche on e 9th st. They are a very new operation, have few tables, and, because they're so popular, practically speaking require a reservation to get a table. You can get one on opentable.

To start with, their bread is outstanding, which is not surprising considering its provenance: it's from Sullivan St. bakery. Its memorable chewiness and floury goodness is an example of the excellent DC strives for.

I ordered jalapeno hush puppies as a starter, and they are deep fried balls of dough with japalenos in them. Unlike most deep fried foods, these were not heavy. They were light but at the same time crunchy and had the deep fried goodness you would expect. The lightness and complete lack of after-taste in the batter along with nice accent of the jalapenos made for a great start. They were served with a maple butter that was a little hard for my taste but beautifully cut the mild spice.

My main course was a tofu ragout on greens. The greens were beautiful and varied, the dish came out a vivid verdant shade. The website claims this is cooked in a keffir lime "beurre blanc," or butter sauce, and that's precisely how it tasted. The vegetables were cooked to perfection, and had a beautiful crunch, though not too much. The taste was understated but highly satisfying.

Overall, this is a superb vegetarian restaurant that takes seriously its mission of making great food that just happens to be vegetarian.

Stars: 5/5

Brunch at Dovetail

I had brunch at Dovetail, a restaurant on the upper west side. They do a prix-fixe menu with automatic starters and desserts, and you pick a main course. Their food, in a nutshell, is kind of expensive, and while good, is not startingly good. That's all I really have to say.

Stars: 3/5

Second Stop, Bespoke Chocolates

Second Stop:

Second Stop is an idiosyncratic and delightful new coffee shop in Williamsburg (524 Lorimer), close to the Lorimer stop off the L line. Full of tables surfaced with hammered copper and an old-style coke machine front as a bathroom door, SS has plenty of charm. Its Stumptown coffee is also particularly good, especially its "bees' knees" honey lattes and its definitely addictive doughnut muffins, coated as they are with granulated sugar and a slightly-crunchy, slightly melt-in-your-mouth texture. The only downside is that it's only been open a few weeks and it's already quite popular. Seating can be at a premium.

Stars: 5/5

Bespoke Chocolates:

This new chocolatier in the East Village off of 1st St. between the Bowery and 2nd Ave has only a small selection of chocolates so far, but they are superb. I tried an espresso milk chocolate truffle, with a semi-soft coffee filling on the inside. Its rich milk chocolate was mild and not cloying, and complemented the coffee taste very well. The Southampton tea truffles are large and beautiful and have a subtle tea flavor that blends in beautifully with the dark chocolate. Finally, the single origin dark chocolate truffle was probably my favorite. This chocolate confection was rich, soft, intense, and clearly fresh, and its dusting of cocoa powder made the experience just a little magical.

Stars: 5/5

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Momofuku Milk Bar: Seriously Not Good

This is the much-hyped bakery by Momofuku's creator, David Chang, and it sits in a prominent location east of Union Square, at 13th St. and 2nd Ave.

I've been here three times now and I've really tried to like it each time and each time I haven't. They somehow manage to mangle desserts that SHOULD taste great. Crack pie was TOO much butter! Compost cookie went down like a brick. Cereal milk is tasty for a reason -- because it comes at the end of a bowl of subtler cereal; by itself it's just too strong. Yudge. Candy bar pie picked the wrong types of candy bars to emulate -- the caramel tastes cheap. The soft serves are a bit better but still too much (and I say this as someone who usually likes too much). The pistachio flavor was too salty and bizarre when it existed, the chocolate malt that they serve now too malty. The root beer float flavor is too icy, and the orange julius tastes literally like frozen orange juice. Their cakes apparently are no better -- I tried the one with yellow cake crumbs and it was cold, with the cake hard, the frosting bland, and the overall cake tasting like a supermarket cake or worse, but for much more money.

Unfortunately, this is a place that is just plain bad.

Stars: 1/5