Friday

Adrienne's Pizza Bar, August 31, 2007

Adrienne's Pizza Bar

I took an old colleague out to lunch at one of my favorite places to grab lunch in the Financial District. We got a pie with half sausage and pepperoni and half prosciutto. Despite being the Friday before Labor Day, Stone Street was jammin', with every picnic bench filled and lines flowing out of just about every business on the street.

As usual it was very good. Likely still the best pizza in Manhattan.

Thursday

Jean-Georges, August 30, 2007

Jean Georges

Great lunch as usual. Gayle King was in attendance today holding court - actually, waiting for a younger girl (actress or singer perhaps?) at the big round table against the window in the Nougatine room. She sits with the regular people folks!

As much as I wanted to have the corn soup (it makes for a great photo spread with the before and after pour shots, plus its corn season of course), I went for the heirloom tomato salad. The tomato broth I had at Knife + Fork, and then the macerated tomatoes at Blue Hill at Stone Barns got me to concentrate on the season's celebrated fruit. This was also terrific. Topped with goat cheese and specked with purple basil, this was a nice start to a lunch. However...it wasn't as good as the Stone Barns version, which was almost identical. Perhaps it was the super freshness of the tomatoes (likely picked earlier that day) at Stone Barns, or maybe it was the clotted and unpleasant (to the eye at least) visual the goat cheese and tomato broth created. Either way, it goes to show that Dan Barber and crew are masters with vegetables.
Pork Schnitzel with fingerling potatoes, herbs

This was terrific. Perfectly prepared and seasoned as it should be (salty). The evenly pounded pork was accompanied by tasty fingerlings and lardons. I spritzed the lemon over all of it which gave the dish that extra added element. A solid dish and so very generic for Jean Georges, but executed flawlessly. Could we be seeing an Alsatian/German/Austrian fall ahead? I think I need to head back over to Wallse this fall...
White chocolate cake, spiced banana glaze, date ice cream

This was very good. I was nervous about the "white chocolate" as it can be so cloying. But this was just right. The spiced banana glaze was excellent and I really enjoyed the date ice cream. The chocolate soil it sat on might have been a bit too strong for the date flavor though.


Flowers were nice enough today. Matched the dessert well.

Monday

db Bistro Moderne, August 27, 2007











Friday

Telepan, August 24, 2007

Telepan

I had lunch with Joyce today. I'm really enjoying the time we've been able to spend together. Again, location proved to be a deciding factor in meeting up with her. I hadn't been to Telepan since January, so now was as good a time as ever to revisit Chef Bill's Upper West Side townhouse.

POACHED EGG & FRIS√ČE SALAD
hen of the wood mushrooms& mustard vinaigrette

If you don't know by now, the man has a way with eggs. Your best bet is to order something where eggs are present. I chose to do so by virtue of the frisee salad. Now, this is not your typical bistro-style frisee salad. This has hen of the woods mushrooms that were so fragrant and flavorful that I could still capture the taste 8 hours later. Perhaps not a good thing if you have a date that night, but that wasn't a concern for me. The poached egg broken over it all was simply fantastic. Joyce ordered the chilled tomato bread soup and was greeted with a head shaking no from our waitress. You've got to love when waitstaff steer you in the right direction. I didn't catch her name, but she was great. She decided to go with the beet green and ricotta pierogi (with roasted beets, brown butter and ricotta salata) which looked terrific...for $3 more.

PAN-ROASTED TROUT
baby spinach salad, bacon & pine nuts

When this came out, I thought they were serving me a spinach salad. The trout was completely covered by the spinach to great effect. The effect being that the spinach now had the incredible flavors of the trout and bacon permeated throughout it. The trout was perfectly cooked and of impeccable quality. Nothing earth shattering here...just great ingredients cooked perfectly. Joyce had the same and was equally pleased.

We both opted for the selection of sorbets/ice cream. Todays flavors were strawberry, mango and if I remember correctly, yogurt. It was all very good for the same reasons as the rest of the food. You can go to Telepan and really never feel guilty...the food just works and is an enjoyable dining experience.




Thursday

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, August 23, 2007

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
"A Night of Music and Food"
"Una Noche de Musica y Comida"
August 23, 2007

The evening started out with a concert in the Hay Barn titled The Music of Spain. I will list the performance titles/notes below the photos of food. It was a very nice performance and a perfect way to whet our appetites for an evening of Spanish cooking. A Thursday night like this makes all the difference in the world. The food was fantastic and despite the limited amount of protein on the menu, Danna and I were perfectly sated (if not bordering on stuffed). The wines were excellent and appropriate for each part of the meal.

We started out with Avinyo Cava Nadal, Spain (N.V.) - something I've had before and genuinely enjoy. Next up (for the lettuce and squash dishes) was a surprising choice: 2004 Lieb Cellars (Chardonnay) from Long Island. As Sonya, the diner to my left (and, as luck would happen, a colleague of our standard dining partner Doug) correctly noted - didn't have the oakyness you'd expect. This was a refreshing wine. But my favorite wine of the evening was the 2004 Alvaro Palacios Les Terrasses Priorat, served for the eggplant/sea bass and bok choy/turkey dishes. I could drink this wine for nearly any occasion. In my opinion, a perfect summer red.

The meal was remarkable. I'll let the menu (and photos) speak for itself...

Tomatoes
macerated stone barns' tomatoes in a salad with clams and purslane

Lettuce
roasted lettuce with wild mushroom carpaccio and pea ravioli
Squash
little squid, curry and onion cream
Eggplant
eggplant confit with chanterelle mushrooms and wild striped bass

Bok Choy
sauteed bok choy on turkey with "pepitovia"

Apricots and Plums
en papillote

Apricots and Plums
after opening



Petit Fours
mint sorbet and chocolate croquettes

Chef Fernando del Cerro of Casa Jose (Aranjuez (near Madrid), Spain) and guests at our table. Sorry for the poor quality of this photo


Summer Concert in the Hay Barn: The Music of Spain

Quintet for Guitar and Strings, No. 4 in D Major

by Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)

* Allegro Maestoso

* Pastorale

* Grave Asssai - Fandango

Performed by Sharon Roffman, Nurit Pacht, Yonah Zur, Ella Toovy, Rami Vamos and Melvin Chen

Sonata K. 208 for Guitar Solo

by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)

Andante et Cantabile

Performed by Rami Vamos

La Oracion del Torero for String Quartet

by Joaquin Turina (1882-1949)

Performed by Nurit Pacht, Sharon Roffman, Yonah Zur, Ella Toovy

Suite Populaire Espagnole for Violin and Guitar

by Manuel de Falla Cancion (1847-1946)

Performed by Sharon Roffman, Rami Vamos

Galician Folk Dances for String Quartet (World Premier)

by Octavio Vasquez (1972-)

Performed by Nurit Pacht, Sharon Roffman, Yonah Zur, Ella Toovy

Sunday

Knife + Fork (Tasting menu), August 18, 2007

Knife + Fork

We (Danna, Sue Anne, Doug, Anna Lynn - SA's sister and James) were going to have dinner at Cookshop but ended up at Knife + Fork as a matter of getting a better reservation time. It would turn out that we didn't need a reservation at all, being that the restaurant was empty, on a Saturday night in the middle of August, with the exception of two people at the bar and a four-top seated behind our combined tables in the middle of the restaurant.

Let me start by saying that this might be one of the most underrated restaurants in Manhattan. That's not to say that this place doesn't have its faults (it does) but its hard not to love. Decent to very good food, charming atmosphere (I loved the vibe and room as a whole), great service (well, when you are the only ones there, I suppose you better - but our waitress was great) and how can you beat the price (answer: only one way...go to Brooklyn).
It's just that the buzz is minimal, and I'm not sure it doesn't deserve more.

I can't remember every single component of the dishes we had, but I'll give as much of an account as I can.

Torchon and beans

The torchon of foie gras was probably the poorest version I've ever had. It just wasn't as expertly prepared as I've had it in the past. Consistency and taste was slightly off. Now, I've had exquisite versions this year, and this just didn't shine. Was it passable? Sure. The beans, however, just weren't my thing. Loaded with truffle oil (ugh, please, no more of this stuff chefs), and undercooked = not so good.

We all enjoyed their bread though. The salt and butter (would have been nicer if it was more room temp) was served on slate and acted their part.

Tuna Ceviche

Not really sure if this was called a ceviche or not, but the tomato broth it sat in was remarkable. It was so fragrant and delicious that it would keep me on a tomato kick for the next two weeks or so. A terrific use of seasonal ingredients. Nice piece of fish as well. Microgreens found there way in many dishes, starting with this one. Didn't add much except for color, but I guess that works. Solid course.

Mussels and roasted red peppers

I wish remembered the rest of this dish. If anyone knows, feel free to post it in the comments. This was an interesting dish - possibly the most unique in both presentation and flavor combinations. I liked it.
Sea Bass with wild mushroom risotto

Solid dish. One thing that this place lacks is consistency in the presentation of dishes. In most cases, because I was taking pictures of the food, I got the prettier pieces/platings. This was the exception. Others certainly had nicer cuts, but it didn't effect the flavor. Solid flavors and texture throughout...and there's the microgreens again.


Lavender rubbed Duck with spring onion (?) confit and smoked lentils

Again, I'm not sure of the names of these dishes, but its what I remember. I definitely got the nicest cut of duck, but hot damn would you look at this piece. The layer of fat is remarkable (and delicious). Well-cooked, pleasantly presented and very tasty. The bacon-enhanced lentils were a thing of beauty. One of the best things I ate all night. The onion was also a nice surprise in its simplicity. More microgreens...



Since there was no one in the restaurant (and I mean no one at this point), we were given all of the desserts they'd prepared for the night. This included creme brulee (very good), a panna cotta that was PERFECT (among the best I've had) and a selection of cheeses (roquefort, tomme de savoie, morbier and a goats milk cheese that's name escapes me (good though)).
Overall I really like this place. All of this for about $45 a head is as good a bargain as you are likely to see. How can you not try it? What are you waiting for. But don't expect the best meal of your life. Instead, go thinking that this is a great place to take your parents, or a place to meet the inlaws, or maybe for your third date.

Saturday

Jean-Georges (Nougatine Room), August 17, 2007

Jean Georges

Friday lunch. Nice Flowers today. I think, because the flowers have been so nice as of late, I'll continue to include photos of them. Let me know what you think.
Here's an interesting dish. Celery-pineapple soup with spiced, poached shrimp. Who knew that celery and pineapple could be well-matched. But indeed they are, at least in this case. The shrimp was expertly cooked, the cold soup was spot on and as a whole, all ingredients were individually discernable but melded perfectly together. Not an everyday soup, but this was fun.

I decided to stick with seafood, usually a safe bet at JG, and opted for the hake dish. This was a great dish. The fish was well cooked, though I did see inconsistencies with what was coming out of the kitchen. Several different looking pieces of the same fish gracing diners to my left and right. The dish was served with slightly undercooked potatoes, some tasty cockles, cockle broth andrunning beans.

I went for the fruit dessert over the chocolate/peanut butter dish. This was a warm berry tart with chantilly creme. Pretty delicious though nothing you'd consider groundbreaking or even memorable.

Thursday

Tracks, August 15, 2007

Tracks

I wanted to love my experience at Tracks, a logical pitstop before seeing the Justin Timberlake concert with my wife (she's a big fan) upstairs at the Garden. Pre-event dining in this neighborhood, or rather in very close proximity to the Garden is really limited. But unfortunately we were disappointed twice tonight.

First, we realized we had tickets for the next night, so we'd have to come back to the Garden again on Thursday. Two, the food was just mediocre. We were, truth be told, a little skeptical of the place so we skipped the oysters (which are, by many accounts from friends, quite good here) and stuck to traditional proteins: sharing a cheeseburger and chicken fingers.

The chicken fingers were passable, and according to the menu, made with a root beer batter. The essence of root beer wasn't clear, but an unfamiliar taste not normally associated with chicken fingers was definitely present. The burger, beside being overcooked, was remarkably uninspired. Anyone with ground beef and the most rudimentary of seasonings could improve on it. Though it didn't look all that bad.

Service was pretty good. The space is nice and just kitschy enough without going overboard, and the location is perfect. I'll probably return at some point for a quick bite if I'm going to a concert upstairs...but likely not again with the wife. The following night we opted for takeout from the Whole Foods Market in Columbus Circle (near my office) and ate outside of the Garden.

As for the JT concert. I was impressed. The whole show was excellent, including and possibly especially, the 25 minute set by Timbaland. That was awesome.


Monday

Meet Roxy, Our New Addition to the Family

Roxy is a 6 month old German Shepherd mix and won us over after a relatively brief search for a new family member. We adopted her through Almost Home Dog Rescure of New Jersey.

I'm happy to report she's in very good health (a little bit undernourished but that's about to change), already trained a bit (she knows sit and is housetrained) and is already adjusting to her new home and neighborhood.


Jean Georges, August 6, 2007

Jean Georges

Sat at the bar. Ordered the prix fixe. Same drill as usual. Here's what I got...

Corn and lemongrass soup with peeky-toe crab, onions and lime


The best soup I've had here in several visits. Perfectly balanced. You could taste all of the individual ingredients separately and yet it all came together too. Delicious. Here's a before the pour and after...


Slow-baked salmon with charred poblano rice and a cucumber-pineapple broth. I was skeptical but, time and time again, I learn the lesson the hard way. Nothing to be skeptical about. This was terrific. The rice was al dente, a nice contrast to the super soft, almost velvety, salmon.

Blackberry panna cotta, lemon sorbet and freeze dried cherry something or other. This was just okay. The panna cotta was rubbery and not very good. It sat awkwardly atop blackberries sliced in half - a bit of a pedestrian application. The sorbet was good, if a bit too tart and the freeze-dried cherry thing was sort of weird. I appreciate the effort, and its flavor was good but the texture made me feel like I was eating a darker-tinted slice of insulation. Or kissing a muppet. Your call.
The bartender today was really nice. He was happy to discuss the dishes in detail, a surprising rarity at this place. I appreciated it and he genuinely seemed to enjoy his job. Overall, a solid lunch.

Whym, August 3, 2007

Whym

Here's the deal with Whym from what I can gather after three visits and listening to coworkers who go on a semi-regular basis...stick with the entree salads.

This was a new salad on the menu - candy cane beets, grilled chicken, feta cheese and greens. I like the presentation, the size of the salad (not too big, not too small) and the seasoning and overall flavors worked just fine. Fairly priced, a nice atmosphere/restaurant and decent salads.


Thursday

Frank Pepe, New Haven, August 2, 2007

I'll let the history of the restaurant's famous fare, the photos above, and my interview on WTNH speak for the pizza. (hint: It's at least as good as you've heard...likely better)

Wednesday

Varka Fish House, Ramsey, NJ, August, 1, 2007