A few weeks ago, I asked CH'ers to help me decide between a few restaurants, all with a sense of "urban rusticity" including The Orchard, August, Salt and some others in Brooklyn to celebrate our 4th anniversary.

As the subject suggests, we chose August - and partially because, well, it is August, but mostly because its description fit the mold of what we are all about these days.

We got there about 7:15 (Sunday night) and the place was fairly empty. We were sat in the back patio (glass roof was closed) per our request and enjoyed the cobble stone floors, church pew seats and box planters that dotted the room at eye level when standing.
photo courtesy of
My wife started with a romaine, goat cheese and watemelon salad ($9) that was crisp and evenly dressed with uniformaly (bite-size) cut pieces. I was tempted to try the onion tart flambe but was curious to try the special appetizer which was a melon soup (lemon, olive oil, sea salt, honeydew? and buratta whey) with toasted bread, buratta cheese (fresh mozzarella-like), crispy and very salty pancetta (yum!) and a pickled Padron pepper ($10). The server had a tough time describing this dish and I can see why. No one flavor stood out over the others but they all came together wonderfully. A fun dish.

I opted for the only rose' they had on the menu ($10) while my wife had a glass of the Valpolicella Classico - Sane Ripasso ($9) which was the perfect weight for her palate (that is to say not terribly adventurous, though hearty and leaning toward fruity more than dry).

For our entrees, she went with the Poached Char with melon (honeydew), beets, lemon cucumbers and horseradish creme ($22). This was perfectly cooked with all ingredients working well together. The wife would have liked a little more melon on the dish, but otherwise was pleased.

I went for the whole roasted Orata (sea bream) that was served with a mix of pitted olives and an unnecessary side pot of warm olive oil. The fish was presented, then filetted and then served. It was very good. A few big bones were left in the fish, but that's just the risk you take. Otherwise, it was fantastic. This went particularly well with the side of french fries and housemade mayonnaise ($7).

We shared an order of the profiteroles ($9) - which were standard but very good. Extra points for the waitress (a new person to the table) who poured the chocolate sauce on the dessert tableside.

Service was fine and not intrusive. Total bill came to $100 on the nose before tax...which, naturally brought it up to $108.37 - before tip.

By the time we left the place it was filled to capacity but didn't feel crowded. I look forward to going back here...most likely for brunch next.

A nice way to spend an evening and worth a visit.


Gramercy Tavern (Tavern Room)

Went for a quick bite at the bar last night and must say that it was an all around excellent experience.

Have only eaten in the main dining room previously (3 years ago) but had my eyes on that bacon dish for quite some time.

Photo courtesy of Joone!

Three empty seats at the bar (at 7pm) including the last one on the right, under a canopy of a large, vased plant. Ordered a Stone IPA from PA ($7 pint) and the Fresh bacon which is served with spaetzle, cherries, snap peas and a buttery glaze ($16.50). The bacon, three "logs" of it, was plush in the middle, crispy on the edges and absolutely decadent. The spaetzle - boiled then sauteed I assume - was crispy on the bottom, pillow-like on the top and added the perfect texture combo to the bacon. Snap peas and cherries not only made the dish visually appealing, but also more complex tasting.

I was going to leave after that but decided to hear about the desserts just in case something intrigued me and lo and behold...the sweet corn ice cream parfait.

Had to have it. It was a new dessert from the sound of it. In a tall fountain glass, there was sweet corn ice cream, sweet corn and blueberry compote topped with toffee coated popcorn and it came with a tiny cornbread muffin on the side.

The check came to $34 after tax (but not incl. tip) and was well worth it. That bacon dish might be one of my favorites in the city.
photo courtesy of

P.S. The noise level in the tavern room was lively but calm.


burger joint (at le Parker Meridien)

Expect to wait on a long line in a hotel to get a tasty, sloppy burger in a dumpy room (which might bring back memories of a roller rink/bowling alley cafeteria) that has a brick wall that Ashton Kutcher decided to sign "Ashton Kutcher Rules" on, as well as other celebrity signatures. Whoopdie doo.

No offense to my friends on the West Coast, but it is far too L.A. of an experience for my tastes and though the burger is good, it's not all that its cracked up to be. Though it does get points for the toppings and the ability to request different levels of doneness - go with medium rare of course.

The fries are also very good. For $12 you get a good burger, fries and a coke. Nothing more, nothing less.