Monday, July 30, 2007

(The Mercer) Kitchen

Saturday, July 28, 2007
Dinner with Joyce and Eddie

Mercer Kitchen in SoHo is on the ground and basement floor of The Mercer Hotel and one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants. I loved the space. There is a comfortable, bright bar area at the restaurant entrance and lounge area which is also the hotel lobby on the first floor. Stairs lead down to the dining room, which has an open kitchen, brick walls and cool stone floors. Part of the ceiling is frosted glass with metal designs which is actually the sidewalk, so you can see footsteps above you.

Food was amazing. We started with a black truffle oil and cantina cheese pizza, which was wonderful. We also got some oysters from a pretty robust raw bar. I had a pork loin with leeks and beans, which was juicy and tasty. Joyce's salmon just melted in your mouth, and Eddie's chicken was done well also. A little pricey, but totally great experience.

99 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-5454


Saturday, July 28, 2007
Brunch with Scott

Public in SoHo (Elizabeth between Prince and Spring) has an awesome brunch, particularly nice in the summer when they open up the restaurant via their loading dock. The dining room is big and airy with red brick and plants.

Public has a great price fixe brunch -- a breakfast dish and drink for $22. We started with excellent peppery Bloody Mary's. I was impressed they also had Bloody Caesar and Bloody Maria options. We split a tea-smoked salmon and spinach benedict on sourdough with yuzu hollandaise sauce and a banana-stuffed French toast with bacon and maple syrup. The benedict was excellent, egg was perfect and the salmon and yuzu sauce were perfect. French toast, I mean how can you go wrong with stuffed French toast with bacon and syrup, so good.

210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012
(212) 343-7011


Friday, July 27, 2007
Dinner with Joyce, Eddie and friends

Landmarc in the Time Warner building is the second of its kind, following the successful Tribeca location. It is NY trendy with a great view of Columbus Circle, curvy bar, and cool "pods" which are cozy and quiet booths that look like cocoons from the outside.

We had wine and small dinner. The rock shrimp risotto with lobster butter was very creamy, filling and yummy. Joyce's trio of sides were also good, she had sauteed mushrooms, leeks and ratatouille (vegetable stew basically). $15 to $30+ entrees.

Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-6123

Dizzy's Club

Friday, July 27, 2007
Drinks and show with Joyce, Eddie and friends

Dizzy's Club is one of the homes to Jazz at Lincoln Center. On the 3rd floor of the Time Warner building on 60th and Broadway, the swanky club has curvy wood paneling and a great window wall looking out on the city. The show is set up in front of the beautiful night view. The performance on Friday was Flora Purim & Airto, a bossa nova group from Brazil. The group was great, and better off before Flora started singing. The best though was when they pulled up two percussionists who were at Dizzy's as guests, one was Meia-noite and I can't remember the other. Amazing.

There is a $35 cover for the show on weekends and $30 during the week. We didn't eat, but they had a decent menu with a Southern twist. We had a bottle of wine and a crawfish-crab dip with corn chips. You can get reservations on OpenTable.

Time Warner Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, 10 Columbus Circle, 5th floor, New York, NY 10019
(212) 258-9595

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sushi-bun 鮨文

Thursday, July 26, 2007
Breakfast with Shouma

Sushi-bun is my favorite sushi place in the world, in the row of restaurants outside of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. There are only 10 seats so I have walked in and waited about 45 minutes, depending on the day. If the line is long, they will bring you tea while you wait.

I highly recommend the omakase C-set. It comes with 10 pieces, 3 roll pieces, soup (アサリ汁) and tea. The 10 pieces include o-toro and chu-toro (fatty and medium fatty tuna), akagai (赤貝 a clam), uni (sea urchin), and their amazing and fairly famous anago (sea eel). The anago is boiled and has a sweet sauce. It is so soft the sushi chef tells you to use your hands because the chopsticks with crush it. I can't describe how incredible this piece is, just completely melts in your mouth.

*Open from 6am-2:30pm, closed Sun/Holidays and market close days
*Check here for Tsukiji schedule, don't go on the red days

〒104-0045 東京都中央区築地5-2-7
〒104-0045 Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-7

Ichiba-sushi 市場すし

Thursday, November 22, 2007
Breakfast with mom and Take

We went back again - again thwarted by Sushi-bun, but I was impressed with Ichiba-sushi. Included in the seasonal tokujo-omakase was shirako (which is basically cod gonads), which was just amazing, ordered a second one.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Breakfast with mom

My mother and I trekked out to Tsukiji for the best sushi and were devastated when we discovered that we picked the one weekday of the month that the market was closed. Luckily a few sushi restaurants were open and we sat down at Ichiba-sushi, a place I had gone in the winter.

We spoke with the chef, this restaurant has only been open since August 2006, but it is quite good. We had the 3675 yen Tokusen Omakase set (特選おまかせにぎり) with 15 pieces of sushi. Always get the omakase at a sushi place, they know best (omakase means "chef's choice").

*Check here for Tsukiji schedule, don't go on the red days

東京都中央区築地5-2-1, 築地内施設8号館13号
Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Tsukiji Building #8 Store #13

Kuruma-ya 鳥焼車屋

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Dinner with Naoto, Elaine and Aya

Kuruma-ya is in the Ebisu Garden Place basement outside of Ebisu station (JR and Metro). Below Morgan Stanley Japan's offices, apparently it is popular with Naoto's former co-workers and there were a lot of suits.

We ordered the 2400 yen set menu which came with a few small starters like tofu and grated daikon (大根おろし) and drinks. Black vinegar (黒酢) is really popular in Japan now and they had a good black vinegar cassis drink. The set came with 5 yakitori -- I hate liver, so I substituted and got a wing (手羽先), scallion and chicken (ねぎま), small ground chicken ball (つくね), an asparagus wrapped in shiso leaf, and ground chicken with egg. So good :)

〒150-6090 東京都渋谷区恵比寿4-20-3, 恵比寿ガーデンプレースB2F
〒150-6090 Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 4-20-3, Ebisu Garden Place B2F

King's Restaurant

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Lunch with Yell and Kathy

Yell and Kathy took me to lunch at King's in Newtown for their favorite grilled cheese on bocco bread. I ended up having a very yummy pastrami Reuben and onion rings instead. The restaurant is in a cozy log cabin and has an excellent diner menu with breakfast foods and sandwiches. Great fries and onion rings.

*Open 7 days, 8am-3pm

265 South Main Street, Route 25, Newtown, CT 06470
(203) 426-6881

Sushi Samba

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Dinner with dad

I made a Restaurant Week reservation for Sushi Samba for dinner on my way home from JFK after my Spain trip. We were super early at 5:30pm, especially by NY standards, but the place was half full by the end of dinner.

We started with drinks and edamame, their mojitos are very good and pricey, then went with the Restaurant Week $35 price fixe option. I had a great seared Kobe beef and mushroom appetizer with a ponzu sauce, and my dad's tuna tataki was good as well. His rockfish a la plancha was pretty good though miniscule, but I found the sushi disappointing. The mochi ice cream desserts were tasty.

We both thought the restaurant was trying a little too much... A Japanese/Brazilian/Peruvian fusion restaurant, they have an incredibly large number of staff dressed in black that come by the table to empty your bowl of edamade shells every few minutes. I had been there a few years ago for a going away party for drinks and snacks. Probably best bet to go for drinks and a few bites. Overall, great drinks and overpriced tiny dishes.

245 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-9377

Oyster Bar

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Pre-dinner with dad

The Oyster Bar in Grand Central is one of my all-time favorites. My dad and I often sit at the bar for a dozen oysters or cherrystone clams and wine before going out to dinner in Midtown. Which is exactly what we did on the way back from getting me at JFK from Spain.

The Oyster Bar sits on the ramp between the main hall and dining area downstairs. Inside there is a dining room on the left, a small bar straight ahead, a bar/quick eating area on the right, and a saloon in the back room.

They have an amazing selection of oysters, though unusually they were out of Belons (very good). We had one each of Blue Point and Fanny Bay, and then filled out the dozen with cherrystone clams. The Oyster Bay consistently has the biggest cherrystone clams I have ever seen, almost can't eat them in one slurp. They also give you vinegar-ginger dip and a cocktail sauce that you can add Tabasco and horse radish to taste.

In general, they have great seafood--simply grilled or cooked fish of every kind and also an amazing New England clam chowder. I used to go for a dinner of the chowder and dozen oysters/clams when I lived in NY :)

Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10017
(212) 490-6650


Monday, July 16, 2007
Dinner with Lowell

I came across Nina in Lonely Planet Spain as a 'hot' restaurant in the Malasaña neighborhood in Madrid. The reviews were positive and pretty accurate in describing it as New York loft-like.

We had a drink around the corner at La Comercial on the corner of the plaza by the Bilbao metro station first. Malasaña is a really nice neighborhood and the most liveable place that we saw in Madrid. A lot of cute restaurants, bars and shops with tree-lined, cobblestone streets off the main roads.

Nina was empty around 9pm, but quickly filled up with a young-ish crowd. We had a bottle of Rioja, and started with an avocado and palm hearts puff pastry and a grilled foie gras. For dinner, I had a very good duck with an orange, sea urchin sauce. Lowell had a very small lamb, and we shared a coconut milk dessert.

While I liked Nina for its atmosphere and interesting dishes, as Lowell put it, they "are trying too hard to be too fusion... one too many flavors in every dish." While the dishes are good, there is a little too much going on some times. Worth it though, €70 total for the both of us with a bottle of wine, starters and entres.

Calle de Manuela Malasaña, 10, 28004 Madrid, Spain

Pasiones Argentinas

Saturday, July 14, 2007
Late lunch with Lowell

Lowell and I got to Madrid late in the afternoon and being absolutely famished (ok I was) stopped at the first place we saw by our hotel. Pasiones Argentinas was amazing.

We ordered the €30 set menu which included bread, salad, empanada, and fried cheese for starters. Then came the amazing platter of MEAT. I mean just enormous with juicy filets, ribs, sirloin pieces and other pieces, plus great chimichurri sauce. The set also included a bottle of wine for the two of us and a dessert (I had tea instead).

It was a lot of food, we ended up skipping dinner that night. Pasiones Argentinas was a great meal and great deal (even though it really isn't Spanish).

Closest metro is Plaza de España

Calle Leganitos, 28, 28013 Madrid, Spain


Friday, July 13, 2007

La Rambla 20-24, Barcelona, Spain

La Fonda

Thursday, July 12

Calle Escudellers, 10, Barcelona, Spain

Monday, July 23, 2007


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Biblioteca was a great find in Barcelona--upscale yet cozy with amazing food. A short walk off of La Rambla, the restaurant is very simply decorated with all sorts of culinary literature on white walls and low light. It is a bit cavernous and loud, especially for larger tables, but still comfortable.

They brought us a small watermelon gazpacho to start, really interesting and refreshing. I had a grilled vegetable appetizer and an excellent classic steak tartare. Lowell's tomato soup with fried olives and venison pastry with potato puree were both good, though I think Charles' slow-cooked lamb shank was my favorite. Meat just fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. Good buffalo mozzarella salad too.

*Biblioteca is open Tuesday-Saturday
*A review

C/Junta de Comerç 28, Barcelona, Spain

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chez Savy

Thursday, July 5, 2007
Dinner with Lowell, Christine and Rai

The GSB crew enjoyed a fancy French dinner in Paris the night before Naoto's wedding. According to the reviews Christine sent us, Chez Savy is an old Paris bistro founded in 1923 with Auvergne cuisine. The group was seated at a cozy booth in the back where Rai ordered us a great bottle of wine.

I had an aubergine appetizer, an amazing confit du canard (duck cooked in its own fat basically, yum!) with scalloped potatoes, and a rich mousse. Rai and Lowell's lamb is also in the picture. It was a great meal, all for about €60 per person.

Closest metro stop is Franklin-D-Roosevelt.

23, rue Bayard, 8e, Paris, France

Le Soleil

Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Dinner with Lowell

I came across Soleil in a Food & Wine review on Parisian restaurants. Lowell and I went for dinner on our third night in Paris. It is a bit hard to find, partly because the street numbers in Paris don't necessarily match on the left and right side of the street, but it has a dark facade with a picture of the sun. Closest metro stop is La Tour-Maubourg.

We were a bit nervous because there was only one other table and they were in suits browsing a Sotheby's catalog. But the hostess was very sweet with impeccable English (and had also talked me through directions to the place when we called that we were running late), and we got a cute table in the window alcove.

The waitress brought us great zucchini fries while we purused the menu (though we have decided anything fried is really good...) We had a beet au gratin starter (also anything with cheese is good) and then lamb chops for two with globe artichokes, olives and lots of garlic (another easy win). The lamb was as good as the description in the F&W blurb, including amazing tender artichokes. We had a cheese platter for dinner, yum.

The total was €105, including one bottle of wine, for a pretty good meal in a romantic Parisian restaurant.

153 rue de Grenelle, 7th Arr., Paris, France

Les Grillades de Buenos Aires

Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Dinner with Lowell

Wonderful steak with Argentine chimichurri and Malbec. Funny, we spoke no French and they spoke little English, so we ended up communicating in Spanish at this Parisian restaurant...

54, rue du Monparnasse, 75014 Paris, France

Chez Nenesse

Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Lunch with Lowell
We found this restaurant in Food & Wine magazine. Fantastic French bistro.

17, rue de Saintonge, 3e, Paris, France 75003

El Giraldillo

Sunday, July 1, 2007
Dinner with Lowell

El Giraldillo has the prime real estate on Plaza del Triunfo facing Sevilla's beautiful Catedral. It seems totally touristy (and is) but it was worth splurging one night for a romantic last dinner in Andalucia.

The menu is traditional Andalucian, and they have English also. We had a huge selection of Iberian ham for starters and vino de la casa. My sole was ok, but Lowell didn't stop talking about his shoulder of lamb for the rest of the trip--I think it was his favorite dish of the trip.

El Giraldillo is pricey, was about €100 and we discovered on the bill that they up the prices when you sit outside. But it was a beautiful night and we dallied at our table as long as we could.

Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, 2, Barrio de Santa Cruz, Sevilla, Spain 41004

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bodega Santa Cruz

Saturday, June 30, 2007
Pre-dinner with Lowell

Bodega Santa Cruz is a minute walk from Plaza del Truinfo where the Sevilla Catedral and Alcazar are located. There are a handful of small bar tables on their porch and an old wooden bar the length of the inside where several bartenders/waiters serve drinks and run tapas from the kitchen window behind them. I also love that they keep your tab with a list in chalk on the bar in front of you.

We started with little sandwiches, a chorizo and an anchovy y queso. When we went to the bar, we met a friendly couple from Valencia who recommended a tortilla de camaron and a flamenquito (sp?) which were both excellent. We also ordered drinks per their recs and loved the tinto del verano, which was something like cold red wine with lemon squirt. Good summer drink (and later discovered unique to southern Spain).

Fun for a few tapas and drinks (we had a light dinner after this), and pretty cheap with the tapas roughly €2 and beers a little less.

Calle Mateos Gago, Sevilla, Spain