Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Celebrating Life

Thank You to anyone who helped celebrate my 27th birthday; especially if you were involved with that  incredible dinner at The Modern. 

Maybe it was due to the Oscars; but the bar room was dead and I couldn't figure out why. Free corkage (up to 2 bottles) on Sundays, great food, and good service would bring me back more often if it was a bit closer. 

We sat down at a table for seven as the early birds finished their cocktails. A modern take on a classic negroni tasted like a cream-sickle as it went down a bit too easy. Or there was the Beneventano --an aperitif made with aperol, zucca amaro, strega, and soda. But what really got the night "poppin" (pun intended) was the Billecart-Salmon Reserve which was poured for us first thing (even before our water). It might have been a skip in service according to Chase; but who could be mad at that kind of mixup. 

We started off with some charcuterie and cheese while Lauren planned out our menu. Modern liverwurst, finocchiona, quail terrine, Alsatian garlic saucisson, wild boar cacciatorini, dried chorizo, Morcilla sausage, and jamon iberico all graced the plate and went beautifully with a great cheese selection of La Tur, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, St. Nectaire, Quadrello di Bufala, Brie Fermier Jouvence, Garrotxa, Challerhocker, Podda Classico, and Roquefort d' Argental. Hot walnut/cranberry bread kept us reaching back for more.

The switch to a complimentary soup course was a bit sudden; but again who could complain? White bean soup with smoked potato and crispy lentils were individually placed in front of everyone as the two tarte flambee rested in the middle. Although the one with bacon, creme fraiche, and onion would normally catch my eye, the mushroom flambee won my heart. Hen of the woods mushrooms, chive, and Comte cheese gratine made for a crowd pleaser. They also brought out Scottish salmon tartare, steak tartare, and a foie gras terrine. At this point we had been sipping a 2004 Grand Cru Riesling from Dirler while also drinking an orange wine from Sicily. The orange wine from Sicily wasn't the best; but a hell of a conversation starter. 

Next up we went into a fish course with grouper, flounder, cod, scallops, lobster, and yellowfin tuna to name a few. The Alsatian buckwheat spaetzle was a definite crowd pleaser with yellowfin tuna crudo, roasted foie gras, and a black pepper gastrique. My favorite was the slow poached egg in a jar which paired hon shimeji mushrooms and lobster with a sea urchin foam. The Atlantic cod with wild mushrooms and leek "brick" was another table favorite as it brought comfort food to a new level. And this point we were drinking the 99' Maison Leroy. 

The meat course brought an array of beautiful dishes like beer-braised pork belly, duck confit, braised tripe, a lamb duet, and a saffron tagliatelle with cider braised rabbit. Although I don't normally like tripe, the modern's was quite good. Saffron tagliatelle wavered on the lines of "too much" but ultimately showed the kitchen's skill in flavor and technique. A few nods around the table agreed that the meat course was the best; but every course proved to be excellent. And if the food wasn't enough, we had been drinking on  a 1991 Rhone, 1986 Languedoc blend, and 2000 Barolo. 

And if we left after that course, I would have been happy; but we still had more food and wine including what seemed like every dessert on their menu, amaro, grappa, a 2004 Del Forno Valpolicella, and a 1998 Vilmart Magnum to completely cap the night off. Ending with champagne wasn't our original intent; but it turned out to be the perfect ending. We drank alot of great wine, but that chardonnay heavy champagne stole the show. What an amazing dinner with some truly extraordinary people. 

Thanks again,


So sad that 1964 Biondi Santi was corked!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday Funday

The General

The EMM group are behind such clubs as Tenjune, SL, SL East, Revel Nightclub, and Finale. The group also operates clubby styled restaurants like The Catch, Abe & Arthurs, and Lexington Brass. Although its wrong to stereotype, these restaurants are all about the "scene" and not so much about the food.

That seemed more than evident when I went with my friend two weeks ago. We went to EMM's groups latest restaurant venture--The General. Located next to their club Finale on Bowery, The General attracts a celebrity clientele; but is that why you go out? If it is, then you'll probably see Russell Simmons or the girl who plays Nadia in American Pie. Great people watching for sure as this huge spot was jamming on a Monday night. "This place is filled with beautiful people", said Blake and he wasn't lying.

The food wasn't BAD; but one might expect more from the Top Chef winning Hung Huynh. The "asian fusion" menu has anything from sushi to childhood favorites like General Tso's Chicken. One might be thrilled by the possibilities while others might be confused by its lack of focus.

It was a fine experience all together; but nothing that would drag me back.

The night was saved by some apple cider punch and jazz in Alphabet City.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Marrow

Solid dinner at The Marrow with some friends last week. The meat centric menu is based on chef Harold Dieterle's Italian-German heritage. You might remember Dieterle from Top Chef or perhaps you've visited one of his West Village restaurants--Kin Shop or Perilla. Worth checking out, but probably more likely to go back to Kin Shop.

Nice Little Sunday

Started my day with breakfast at Raffles on Lexington. I don't normally venture  above 23rd St; but I met with Kayte and Trav before they needed to hop a train out of NYC. Breakfast was good, but mostly because of the company; definitely not because of the french toast. We had a great corner spot next to the window allowing us to gaze onto the streets. Service was typical of a diner. We left and headed to Grand Central and drank a few beers while we waited for their train. 

Later that day, i met up with Christa for some food and drinks at Chez Sardine. 

You might have heard of Gabe Stulman if you dine around the West Village. Stulman owns Perla, Joseph Leonards, Fedora, and Jeffrey's Grocery. He latest project is an "inauthentic izakaya" on the corner of West 10th St. Chez Sardine is tiny, only having 30 seats between the bar and tables but as Stulman often does, he turns cramped into cozy. We got here early and got two great seats at the "sushi bar" which overlooked the kitchen. After looking over the menu and sipping on some cocktails, the place was packed. Our server, John, fit the bill for Midwestern--a type that attracts to the Stulman restaurants. The staff were all laid back and super friendly.

The cocktails are all pretty well balanced and unique. Walking With A Panther mixes gin, fresh oj, pomegranate, fernet branca, and twizzler bitters while Cousin Scotty Fails His Driving Test brings together bourbon, carpano, sake honey syrup, and bitters. If you didn't want gin or whiskey you could get the Exceptional To See You--blood orange infused tequila, negroni syrup, and fresh grapefruit. Their wines by the glass were all French except for a German Pinot Noir. As far as beers, they had four on the list and only one was domestic--an IPA from Seattle. But if you wanted to more of a traditionalist you could drink sake. But the drinks are not whats important at Chez Sardine--its the food!

I was pleasantly surprised that they start you off with an amuse--marinated daikon with bonito flakes. Following the amuse, we got the chopped scallop with quail egg and trout roe alongside the spanish mackerel which was paired with crispy leeks and potatoes. We were then handed a pork and unagi hand roll, which were sent out compliments but later appeared on the check. Despite feeling cheated, I thought the roll was delicious. Barbequed eel with braised pork belly, avocado, spicy mayo all wrapped in nori. Brussel sprouts roasted with apple and brown butter came out next with charred octopus (bacon, lettuce, and tomato). Next up we got the roasted hamachi collar which was a verbal addition to the menu. Lets just say I'm glad I opted for the "one left" because it was awesome. Not quite full and interested in tasting more, we got the breakfast pancakes which might have been the best thing I ate there. Silver dollar size pancakes topped with salmon roe, diced artic char tartare, and yogurt were stacked in an artistic fashion that made the fish work in visually and flavorfully.

Our server then brought us pudding with maple and rice krispies which was the perfect fix for my dessert craving. Our server dropped the check even though we had just received our cocktails; but I get it. Overall, I had a great meal here. Might have to go back and get the foie gras and grilled cheese sandwich!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some January spots

Another great lunch at Mary's Fish Camp!
You know its good when Sarah Jessica Parker is sitting next to you

Late night at Wo Hop
Hungry around 4am? Try Wo Hop on Mott Street for some Chinese food and beers. Comfort chinese food like the sesame chicken or pork dumplings. Don't be surprised if the sun is up when you leave! BRING CASH!

Anthony David
Probably one of my best dining experiences in Hoboken. Had a great dinner with Dan and Sue here acouple weekends ago. Anthony David is a BYOB so we saved alot of money on booze--always a plus! AND they had good wine glasses! Don't you hate BYOB places with those shitty wine glasses?

The atmosphere was cozy and comfortable--a great date spot. The trattoria-like space was dimly lit with candles and the nose level was soft. It was a great place to catch up with friends while enjoying some good food! 

We started with a Chablis that I brought which probably wasn't the best pairing for our veal meatballs; but it was nonetheless delicious. The meatballs were made with currants, pine nuts, and aged pecorino which might have gone better with that 2007 Chianti I brought; but that would follow with our pappardelle with lamb osso buco. The pasta was delicious, but ended way to quick. 

For mains, I got the short rib special because I'm a sucker for anything that is braised for hours. Dan got the pork chop saltimbocco which was pretty good while Suzanne stuck with the branzino. All in all, all the food was quite good. We got some gelato for dessert!

Thanks for the awesome meal Dan and Sue!
We will definitely be going back!