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2010 List

Hi!  Have you missed me?!  I have missed this venue for sharing my musings on eating in NYC, which some people actually read (much to my amazement).  I am not back for good, but I did want to share the 2010 list (as much for me as for you…The List is my personal reference guide).  The race began on Wednesday with a trip to Joseph Leonard (charming spot, food is good not great, but it’s well worth checking out) and continues tonight with a visit to l’artusi.  If there anyone is still reading, I welcome your input.  Here’s to a great year of dining!

  • Apizz
  • Bill’s Bar & Burger
  • Cafe Cluny (brunch)
  • Cascabel Taqueria
  • DBGB (I am skeptical, but I need to see for myself)
  • Defonte’s
  • Faustina (I am not waiting for the reviews…Scott Conant can do no wrong)
  • Gramercy Tavern (I’ve been to the “fancy” part of Gramercy, but I’d like to try the more casual tavern menu)
  • Il Bagatto
  • Joseph Leonard
  • Kuma Inn 
  • l’artusi
  • La Sirene
  • Maialino
  • Malatesta
  • Mercadito
  • Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar
  • Motorino
  • Novita
  • Otto Enoteca
  • Penelope 
  • Po 
  • Prime Meats
  • Pylos
  • Shopsin’s 
  • Sorella
  • Suenos
  • Supper

LES Mexican – Barrio Chino

A few things have become apparent about this blog.  First, while I used to add new posts almost daily (see November 2008), I am now lucky to post once a week.  Second, as a result of my sporadic postings (or maybe it was when I stopped lugging my camera to dinner), my audience has dwindled and Marjorie might be my only reader now.  Thank you, Marjorie.

Quick update on our anniversary dinner at Corton – it was fabulous.  As soon as I can wrap my head around what we ate (so many flavors, so many side dishes), I will share my thoughts.  In the meantime, I have been wanting to tell you [Marjorie] about Barrio Chino for some time.

Our summer of reservation-free dining took us to Barrio Chino in August.  For us to trek to the LES takes every ounce of energy that we can muster, and this trip was no exception.  Happily, Barrio Chino was worth the effort. 

When we arrived, the extremely affable host was happy to take our number and have us kill time at one of the many watering holes that dot the neighborhood (we opted for Allen & Delancey and their yummy cocktail list).  The host called in fewer than 30 minutes to offer us seats at the bar, but we opted to finish our drinks and wait for a table. 

Once we were seated, my initial reaction was: this place is very loud and very dark (not to mention cramped – it was a feat of spatial relations wizardry to fit a foursome at the two-top next two us).  Clearly, I am not the target demographic. 

After my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, the first decision was which margarita to get.  I wasn’t sure if the jalapeno lime tequila would be too spicy so our extremely affable waiter (do you see a theme here?) offered to bring me a taste of the jalapeno-infused tequila.  It was bracingly, but not overbearingly, hot – sign me up.  My husband went for the more innocuous lime margarita.  Both margaritas were outstanding.  My only complaint about the margaritas is that they are served with a sugar rim unless you request otherwise (a colleague had forewarned me about this quirk). 

After settling on our drink order, we ordered the requisite chips and guac.  The chips were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  Best ever in NYC – hands down.  The guac was very good, too, but it was an afterthought compared to the chips. Continue Reading »

Mary 1, Pearl 0

A week after our wonderful meal at Mary’s Fish Camp, I decided that we needed to do some field research by visiting Pearl Oyster Bar to compare the restaurants.  The story behind the restaurants is that Mary Redding, who was a partner at Pearl Oyster Bar, struck out on her own in 2000 to start Mary’s.

Whereas our dinner at Mary’s began perfectly – we were ushered to a table for two that was available upon our arrival – our dinner at Pearl started on a not so perfect note.  We arrived a little before 8:00 on a summer Friday and were told that the wait would be 35 minutes.  Almost an hour later, we were ushered to our table for two.  And so went the rest of the meal. 

Pearl is a much bigger restaurant and, as a result, it lacks the charm of Mary’s.  Pearl may have come up with the idea of recreating the rustic milieu of coastal New England, but Mary’s rendition feels more authentic. 

After ravishing our oyster crackers, we split an order of the smoked Atlantic salmon with crème fraiche over a johnnycake.  This was a very good dish – I would have preferred more crème fraiche and less salmon, but that’s because I can handle smoked fish in small quantities only. 

My husband got the lobster roll – I didn’t give him a choice…we needed to see who made a better lobster roll – and I got the pan-roasted scallops. You will have to keep reading to get the results of the lobster roll throwdown.  As for the scallops, they were just ok.  The preparation was very fresh and seasonal – with sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes and a few other things that I don’t recall – but the dish was rather bland and several of the scallops were overcooked.  If you consider the price of the dish ($20), it wasn’t half bad, but it didn’t hold a candle to the fish tacos that I had at Mary’s (which cost $2 less).

For dessert (I can feel the lobster roll anticipation mounting), we split the blueberry crumble pie (since reviewed on Serious Eats).  The topping was a bit sweet for my tastes, but the pie was a pretty good dessert for a fish joint. 

As for the lobster roll, Mary’s was the winner, but it was a hard-fought victory.  According to my husband, the lobster salad was more or less the same at both places.  Pearl got a nod for the more generous serving size (for $3 less…a “mere” $27), but the bread (which he described as “buttery goodness”) at Mary’s pushed it over the edge in to the winner column.  The fries were better at Pearl, but that’s beside the point.

I am glad that we tried Pearl once.  I can’t wait to go back to Mary’s.

flowers

I started this blog last year with a review of Jean Georges, where my husband and I celebrated our second anniversary.  Today is our third anniversary and what a lovely three years it’s been – filled with many happy memories and good meals (of course).  We are going to not one, but two, anniversary dinners this year (that’s just how we roll).  Tonight we are going to one of our favorite spots, the little owl, for a low-key dinner and Saturday we are going to get dolled up and see what all the fuss is about at Corton (details forthcoming!).  Happy third anniversary to my wonderful husband and happy almost-one-year birthday to this little blog.

Tia Pol taking reservations

Last night, we met our friends Yael and Bryan, who were visiting from London, and a big group of their friends at The Half King in Chelsea. John and Amy, who you might remember from previous posts as they are frequent dining companions and always willing to help us cross somewhere off The List (Keste most recently), were in attendance and looking for somewhere to eat dinner so I sent them to Tia Pol.

I am smitten with Tia Pol and have been for several years (although I realize now that I have never written a proper review of this gem…for shame). It came to my attention recently (thanks, Jess) that Tia Pol has started taking reservations. I was incredulous until I went to the restaurant’s Website and there it was: we are now taking reservations for parties of 2 to 10.

I don’t know how to react to this change. Assuming that I can actually get a reservation, I suppose the change is a good thing, but going and hovering over a glass of cava and an order of fried chickpeas in the cramped bar area is part of the experience (for better or worse). I hope that the new reservation policy does not portend other, more dramatic changes (I would hate to see Kefi’s fate befall Tia Pol). For those of you who have been deterred from going to Tia Pol by the likelihood of an hour-long wait, you have no more excuses. It’s time for you to experience the best tapas in New York (for now at least).

If the pomegranate margarita was the drink of 2008 in our apartment, the drink of 2009 is the Rhubarb Sophie, which I discovered at Minetta Tavern. I remembered the ingredients for the drink from the menu and tracked down the essential ingredient, rhubarb bitters, from a little website called Amazon.com. I then consulted my sister-in-law, who bartends in LA, about the ratio of the ingredients. What resulted was a pretty good rendition of the drink.

Then I mentioned the drink to a colleague, whose Google skills are apparently superior to mine. Within a few minutes, my colleague identified where to procure rhubarb bitters in NYC and found the actual recipe for the drink, which the folks at Minetta had shared with Time Out Magazine.

But that’s not nearly as much fun, now is it? Happy last weekend of summer!

Whole Foods cometh

To clear up a few points from the article, the store is located at 97th and Columbus and the trip north is hardly arduous.  The store looks gorgeous.         I can’t wait to see it for myself!

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