Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Aldea - Highly Recommended
31 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
212- 675-7223

At last, the highly anticipated George Mendes restaurant has opened.
And according to many reliable sources, Chef Mendes hasn't missed a beat. Formerly the Chef at Tocqueville, Mendes returns to the kitchen with nothing less than a mouth watering menu.

I had the pleasure of dining at Aldea last Thursday (yes, just a few hours after my heroic lunch at Bar Artisanal) with some friends, and it was spectacular.
The menu is inspired by the Iberian Peninsula and Mendes’ heritage. The chef adds a modern, seasonal approach to create a menu perfectly balanced between rusticity and refinement. His menu includes a variety of shellfish, various preparations of salt-cod, or bacalao, rice dishes and Iberian-cured hams.
I loved everything about the restaurant. The decor is modern, sexy, and the hospitality (for the most part) is spot on.
A colleague of mine had gone a few nights earlier and sat next to Danny Meyer himself.
After the meal, Danny congratulated George on a great opening and showered him with compliment after compliment.
I now know why. The food is amazing and extremely reasonably priced.
There is no doubt in my mind I will be back within the next few months to try George's next seasonal menu.
It truly is a real treat to eat his food.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bar Artisanal

268 West Broadway - Recommended
(at 6th Avenue, 1 Block South of Canal Street)
New York, New York


Great place for lunch.
Just what you'd expect if you were near Pastis or Balthazar.
This new Terrance Brennan establishment will surely get your bistro fix.

I had gone last Thursday with a colleague in the biz and with another 2 hours til our next appointment, we sat down and decided to indulge ourselves.
So get this, the prix fixe menu is $21 for any 2 dishes and $28 for any 3 dishes on the menu.
"Any" being the key word here, we were told we could order 3 entrees if we so desired.
So being the over eating men that we are, the 2 of us ended up ordering 6 very satisfying dishes.
Needless to say we over "indulged" and struggled the rest of the day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zeppelin Hall

Zeppelin Hall (Beer Garden) - Recommended
88 Liberty View Drive
Jersey City, NJ 07305
(201) 721-8888

Having lived in Jersey City for the past 2 and a half years, one critical thing missing was a beer garden. For all intensive purposes, if we wanted to get our Bavarian drink on, we'd have to trek over to Astoria for that unique Sunday afternoon experience. But not anymore.

Zeppelin Hall opened their doors last Friday to a soft opening.
It's a really nice place with around 20 beers on tap. An impressive layout, with ample room indoors and out.
The lack of professional servers there is a huge turn off, but there's just so much beer there to stay angry.
It was their third day opened when I went and to be fair, it's what I'd expect in JC.
A ton of people like me (30s), who live within walking distance from the Beer Garden, soaking up the suds and the sun.

You bet I'll be back!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why America Is Addicted to Olive Garden

It isn't just the bread sticks? I found this interesting article on Fast Company.
A highly recommended magazine for people who just have ideas popping in their heads about starting a business. This article is really more about the operations of Darden Restaurants franchise - but interesting reading nonetheless.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chanterelle NYC

Chanterelle - Highly Recommended
2 Harrison St NY, NY 10013
(At Hudson St)

An absolute delight! Simply the best!
My meal Tuesday night quite possibly may be one of the top 5 meals I've ever had.
Although this week (and it hasn't even ended) has been epic, with Telepan and Chanterelle back to back, I still have Aldea and Momofuku Ssam Bar to close out the second half. I can't help but feel I'm the luckiest guy on earth.

Like all great restaurants of this caliber, as you walk in, you are greeted by a beautiful receptionist who confirms your reservation and shows you to your table. But what impressed me even more was Master Sommelier Roger Dagorn waiting at your table and seating you personally. He does this for just about every table he is able to get to.
(FYI : Roger is one of only 171 Master Sommeliers from the Court of Master Sommeliers from around the world)

And to make a long story short, Chef David Waltuck and Master Somm Roger Dagorn are perfect for each other. David's food is etherial. No doubt about it. With only 80 seats, he is able to keep a close eye on every single dish coming out of the kitchen and we all benefit.
I don't think I've ever enjoyed a meal and bottles of wine more than last Tuesday night. The unison and harmony was magical and it was one of those moments you just know will always prelude "The first time I ate at Chanterelle..." conversations.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Telepan - Highly Recommended
72 West 69 Street
New York, NY 10023
Tel: 212.580.4300
Fax: 212.580.4379

Here's a restaurant I just can't believe I have never been to.
With my foodie radar cranked up for the past 5 years, it baffles me why I never once thought of going to Telepan's.
The food here is great. And the prices are even better.
Take for example the current prix fixe menu :

3 Course Tasting Menu $39
order before 6:30 PM
(Monday thru Friday)

4 Course Tasting Menu $59
with wine $105
(one from each + dessert)

5 Course Tasting Menu $69
with wine $125
(one from each + cheese + dessert)

I went Monday night and was joined by 6 others at the chef's table.
Great company, great food, and hilarious conversations.
Check out pictures of our tasting menu below.

Bill Telepan is a city veteran who's worked in all the right places.
And surprisingly is as down to earth as you get.
He's in the kitchen every night, he's involved with various charities in the city, a wonderful father and husband and really kicks ass in the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Comping The Press

I can appreciate the Press needing to get somewhere first or perhaps getting to meet and interview someone prior to an event, but when the hell did they start getting to eat for free? Or getting to do anything for free for that matter. How is it, that by uttering, "we would like to cover..." equates to complimentary tickets to an event?

Perhaps this has more to do with manners than it is directed at the press...
But i'm sure this is probably something everyone who has hosted an event has had to experience but has pushed aside believing it's not worth fussing over because any negative publicity isn't worth the comps you would have to fork out.

Well this particular case really irks me and I just need to vent. So here it goes.

Not so recently, this no name magazine from Long Island (I won't name names... ) wanted to come to an event I was hosting and "demanded" 2 complimentary tickets.
Perhaps I wouldn't be so flustered if they weren't so cheap and unprofessional about it in the first place.
Seriously... Other venues charge close to $100 per head for similar events, but our tickets are $25 a piece you cheap bastards...
Anyways, things were fishy from the beginning. The individual used their personal email to contact us and claimed they wrote for a certain magazine based out of Long Island. (Interestingly enough, after doing some research on the magazine, it's extremely low circulating and is distributed mostly at CVS) Then they skirted around the "Press" issue and dropped hints of getting comped tickets like it was going out of style.

This just rubbed my co-worker and I the wrong way, and we just told them they needed to fork over the cash at the door. Come to think of it, if a local high school newspaper wanted to do a piece on our event, they would introduce themselves, offer credible references and make an attempt to communicate before asking really politely for free shit.
Well long story short, a few hours after being denied free tickets, they weren't interested in the event anymore and had the last word, "...we will not be attending, we usually get comped at these tastings..."

What ever dude...

Rip off 2 days in a row

Ippudo has clearly copied David Chang's pork buns, and "Poorly" to say the least. The only good thing about these buns at Ippudo are the buns themselves. They are fluffier and tastier. But the whole thing is just spicy and filled with Kewpie Mayonnaise. No pork flavor nor nor the rich fattiness you expect.
They are both priced at $8 for 2 buns but the winner is clearly hands down Momofuku.

What a disappointment!

Noodles on the other hand are quite good. I've been numerous times and they have always been great. I'm never disappointed with the noodles at Ippudo.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

A twinkie ripoff

I just had my first ever Magnolia Cupcake and I feel taken to the cleaners. I payed $3 for this, thinking, "Finally, here it is, in my hands, the one and only Red Velvet Cupcake from Magnolia Bakery".

Guys, it tasted exactly like a twinkie. Yes, the frosting had a hint (I use the word losely) of vanilla. But what the F!
$3 for 2 bites of a stinkin' knock off.
The worst thing is, the place is always packed, and their margins are probably 90% Gross Profit.

Arrrrgh, the injustice!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tako Yaki

This is a traditional Kansai(Western Japan) dish. Made of flour, baking powder, dashi, eggs, milk, octopus, scallions, beni shoga, and ika kasu.

You basically make the batter, pour it into the individual molds and fill em up with little bits of octopus. Wait til it browns on one side and flip with a long toothpick.
When they are formed into little balls, they are ready to eat.

You want to eat them while they're piping hot with some special sauce and ao-nori (dried seaweed flakes).

This was my first time making them at home. They are Grrrrrrreat!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

International Sushi Day - today!

Today is the FIRST Internation Sushi Day. No really, Bing it. Yeah, new one for me, too. I made sandwiches for lunch, but I think I should celebrate appropriately.

Keeping it simple

I wanted to surprise the wife for breakfast the other day so I got up a little earlier than usual and got started in the kitchen.
I toasted some bread, made some scrambled eggs, and sauteed up some (unfortunately not so great) chorizo.
I had it all ready and set on our backdoor patio as she woke.
Great way to kick start the weekend.
Words to live by : When the wife is happy, the house is happy.

I wanted a nice crunchy, yet flavorful bread to go with the creamy scrambled eggs.
So I drizzled some olive oil onto the toasted sliced baguette, shaved some parm reggiano on top, and spooned 2 large tablespoons of the creamiest scrambled eggs I could make.
I could do this every weekend... Very quick and a crowd pleaser for sure.


Federici's in Freehold, NJ is a successful 3rd generation restaurant that specializes in homey Italian-American cooking.
Classics such as thin crust pizza, lasagna and tiramisu (to name a few) were favorites off the menu.
I went with a buddy of mine and we had a blast. Nothing wrong with a little Jersey once in a while.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

HIGH NOON, a suds show down!!!

Its about time something useful was created for us grillers out there. Now you can grill and enjoy a cold one...

Custom Leather Beer Holsters

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eggs, Mushroom, and Smoked Trout

Inspired by my restaurant research on my upcoming trip to Spain, I decided to make this dish - Soft Scrambled Eggs, Garlicky Mushrooms, and Smoked Trout served over Rice and topped with alfafa sprouts.

This was definitely a pantry dish for me as I didn't have much in the fridge, but wanted something satisfying. Obviously, not a real Spanish dish but I've seen tons of egg dishes, mushroom dishes, and canned seafood that I want to try while I'm out there. Very f'n tasty and uber satisfying...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sriracha Sauce

I've been wanting to write about how much I love sriracha sauce (properly pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) for a while, but I've been getting crushed at work. Any who, I need to take a break from work this weekend and the sauce has been on my mind.

Sriracha sauce is actually not a sauce originating from South East Asia, but from a Vietnamese fellow in California - a great NY Times article talks about Sriracha here. Well, over the weekend I ordered some good pizza at my local pizzeria and I decided why not drop some sriracha on it. The pizza I got was not from Grimaldi's or Lombardi's, so it's not sacred and I decided it may make sense. F ya it does...garlicky, slightly sweet, and great heat and flavor. Give it a try next time you get some average to subpar pizza and "kick it up a notch."

Btw - it's much better on cold pizza the next day and really makes bland buffalo wings sing again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bye Bye Frank

After 5 long years of questionable restaurant critiquing here in NYC, Mr. Bruni is stepping down this August from the hot seat.
His departure is conveniently timed with his book, "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater".
The book is mostly a recount of his struggles with his weight, his homosexual dating life, and the evils of eating all the time.

here are some highlighted points from the book... clipped from GrubStreet

Cuba – Bruni's displeasure at being called "gordo" by half a dozen waiters while vacationing there – 204

Dating life – announces he's gay during junior year of high school – 66
- starts dating at University of North Carolina – 96
- breaks up with a guy after throwing away a box of Valentine's chocolates that he's scared he'll eat – 140
- puts dates off while trying to reach ideal weight – 147–154, 207
- as a Detroit reporter, is ashamed that a boyfriend let him get to a size 38 waist – 176
- becomes a "practiced, accomplished celibate" as his weight rises, having just "five physically intimate moments across more than four years" – 208

Domino's Pizza – trying to get down from 268 pounds, he treats himself to a weekly binge: A large sausage pizza and Buffalo wings, and then a pint of ice cream and an ice-cream bar and Nutter Butter cookies – 229

Gay bars – Avoids them in D.C. because he didn't want to be rejected – 297
- the first-time thrill of picking up a guy at Therapy – 298
- going to them as much as once a week – 299 ("I liked knowing that the men who approached me or invited my approach did so without any knowledge of my job, which was considered unusually interesting by many people. These men were attracted by the way I looked."

Guacamole – "I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live." – 217
Hamburgers – prefers rare burgers "not out of taste but out of haste," because they come fastest off the grill – 66

Special treatment
- female waiters switched out for attractive males: "The restaurant had done its homework. It wasn't going to leave any trick untried" – 303

Waist size – 33" – 34" as a teenager – 65
- 35" down to 33" after college dalliances with Mexican speed – 123
- 36" while a junior reporter for the Times – 198
- 40" while on the campaign trail with George W. Bush – 210
- 42" shortly after – 227
- 38" during tour for Bush book – 234
- 36" two months after Maureen [Dowd?] starts him off with her personal trainer by writing him a check for two free sessions
- 35.5" while reporting in Rome – 263
- 33" by the end of the book – 328
Weight – 180 pounds as a teenager
- gets from 268 pounds down to 203. "It was a weight I could live with and sometimes even forget about, which was the main thing, the best thing." – 263

Diplomatic Hotdogs

clipped from the NYTimes...

It's true that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Could this also work with foreign diplomacy?

... Last week, the State Department informed its embassies and consulates that they could now invite officials from Iran to their Fourth of July receptions, all in keeping with the Obama administration's policy of openness to communication. Iranian diplomats have been off the invite list ever since a certain faux pas, the 1979 seizure by protesters of the American Embassy in Tehran.

But now, finally, representatives of the Iranian government are welcome to annual Independence Day parties, which, as The Times's Mark Landler reported, usually include "hot dogs, red-white-and-blue bunting and some perfunctory remarks about the founding fathers."

There is no record of the founding fathers ever eating hot dogs, no trace, for example, of mustard on the Declaration of Independence. But the hot dog has played a role in American foreign relations since at least June 1939, when the king and queen of England attended a picnic at President Franklin D. Roosevelt's estate in Hyde Park, N.Y., while soliciting American support for England in the war about to consume Europe...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The River Cafe Review

The River Cafe - Highly Recommended (for a celebration only)
1 Water Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 522-5200

For my wife and I's one year anniversary, I figured why not check out the River Cafe. I've heard the place is romantic and supposedly has solid food. Funny, when I was looking to the chowhounders for help, they all said the food is solid and not like the shitty Tavern on the Green. They were definitely right. Overall I give the restaurant a 85/100.

Our Menu

1) Amuse - Watermelon with goat cheese and mint
2) River Café Oysters *
fishers island oysters glazed with lemon ˜ pepper hollandaise, caramelized onions, smokey bacon and wild sturgeon caviar

3) Foie Gras Two Ways *
add classic pressed terrine with fig jam and banyuls wine vinegar; poached roulade with coffee, date and almond crust
4) Maine Lobster Special *
with poi, fried taro, and grapefruit
5) Colorado Rack of Lamb **
house cured lamb Merguez sausage, golden fondant potatoes,mint and mustard seed glaze, lamb jus
6) Atlantic Halibut *
light almond crust, Catalonian Romesco sauce, sweet Spring onion purée, stuffed baby eggplant
7) Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory *
Vanilla, Chocolate, Better Pecan, Strawberry
8) Coconut Bavarian**

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Dish Comments
1) Good looking dish, but average flavors. Watermelon wasn't as juicy or as sweet as I was expecting. If it were sweeter, the dish would have made more sense with the salty goat cheese.
2) I've been craving oysters for a while and these were quite fun. Slightly cooked, buttery, smokey from the bacon, a nice sweetness from the caramelized onions with a nice salty pop from the caviar.
3) With all the foie gras I've eaten in the past, I'm pretty picky with anything foie gras related now. The terrine was OK, but not that much flavor. The roulade was pretty good though with the interesting almond crust and coffee.
4) I saw lobster on the menu and couldn't pass it up - these were very good. Simply cooked where it's nice buttery and soft. Not sure what's up, but I'm really digging simply prepared lobster rather than the ones served at the higher end restaurants. Suprisingly pairs well with the thick poi - taro puree.
5) I think the last three expensive restaurants I've been too, I've ordered rack of lamb. These definitely hold up - albeit slightly salty. Perfectly cooked though - tender, juicy and full of flavor. The sausage was fun too, but surprisingly the thinly sliced haricovert kicked the dish "up another notch." Slightly crunchy and a perfect compliment to the lamb.
6) A fun dish. Moist halibut with a great combination of the rich romesco sauce and sweet eggplant. Would have been a great dish if the halibut was warmer than room temperature.
7) The River Cafe also owns the Brooklyn Ice Cream factory which is where they get their goods. Vanilla and Strawberry were OK, but the Chocolate and Butter Pecan kicked massive ars. Huge flavors and solid textures.
8) Basically a coconut creme on an angel food cake with coconut shreds on top. This totally worked and had a great combo of textures - chewy shreds of coconut, creamy filling and a nice light cake. Great dessert.

Overall Restaurant Experience (85/100)

  • Food 8.5/10 – Very solid food with a few great dishes all plated nicely. Quite surprised since I didn't expect much. Bread they served was very good as well.
  • Service 9.0/10 – Server was very accommodating and they have an army of people looking after each table. Another bonus - they passed my pet peeve where they cleaned up the crumbs after each course...something Le Bernardin never did.
  • Atmosphere 9.8/10 – You really can't beat the atmosphere for a celebration. Looking out to the water at Lower Manhattan and underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Simply beautiful. The crowd consisted of a bunch of older couples (50's and up) and a couple of large groups. The only minus points they get is the spacing is a teeny bit cramped - you're basically sitting right next to another couple. Made reservations 4 weeks in advance for a Sunday and there was only 1 spot available at 6:30...bad economy be damned, this place still packs em in. Btw - make sure you ask to sit near the window. They have booths where you can sit side by side, but you won't be able to see the view. Also, another plus is they have valet parking.
  • Price 6.0/10 – Tough one to judge here, but here are my thoughts. For the food, the price is a rip-off. You can go to other restaurants in Manhattan where you'll have much better food for the same price. However, for a celebration, the atmosphere is really perfect so you're definitely paying more for that. I paid $95 for 3 courses and got jacked by the lobster which was $54 friggin dollars...albeit very fun to eat, it's more of a $36 dish in my opine.
Closing Comments
Probably will never go back unless it's a big celebration for someone, but it was still a great time and a memorable experience. And yes, the chowhounders were right - food is very solid but it's more about the overall experience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bon Chon Chicken

Korean fried chicken has taken the city by storm these past few years. And Bon Chon is no exception. It's the latest in the K-Storm of fried goodies to set up shop on this side of the pacific.

Bon Chon Chicken are plump juicy pieces of dark meat battered with an uber crispy shell.
The frying method is not shared, but one can imagine it done 2 ways.

1) Initial fry on low temp to get the meat fully cooked, and then dropped into a high smoking oil to crisp up the outer portions.
2) The chicken is dropped into a vat of medium high oil for a pre determined time and let cook and crisp naturally in the same pot.

It takes the average dish about 20 minutes to come out, but you are fore warned in the beginning and therefore its not so bad.

Its been 5 hours and I'm craving it already.
It only comes with 2 flavors.
Soy Garlic or Hot Spicy.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Kentucky F'n Chicken

Absolutely Unacceptable...

Take a look at this clip (below) I stumbled upon... and furthermore read this excerpt of a post I found here...
KFC is running a new, “multicultural” KGC commercial which features white, African American and Asian American actors. I had been channel surfing and upon catching the tail end of this commercial, I immediately re-wound the DVR just to make sure what I saw was what I saw. My initial reaction was “WTF.” Why are the Asian American actors wearing kamikaze headbands with what looks to me to be Japanese martial arts-type wardrobe, and speaking with foreign-sounding accents — while all the other actors and actresses came across as average Americans? What the hell is KFC trying to convey with those two Asian Americans? It’s stupid commercials like this that reinforce the idea that Asian Americans know martial arts (more than once as a kid I recall being asked if I knew karate, etc…) or that Asian Americans are “foreigners” (I’ve also been told that my English is excellent - which it should be since I was born-and-raised in the United States). Does reinforcing some Asian stereotype have anything to do in promoting fried chicken versus grilled chicken?
As an Asian American myself, KFC just lost one excellent customer.

Yakiniku Party

I had a few friends over my place Sunday for a yakiniku party out on my deck.
Great food, great company and a whole lot of Washyu (Black Angus and Kobe Crossbreed) Kalbi devoured.
Muy Macho! Muy Gordo!

Salad - Balsamic and Olive Oil
Antipasti - Red Peppers, Mozz, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil
Kalbi - Washyu Short Ribs

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Snack attack

So it's summertime and there seems to be an unwritten rule to not eat really rich or heavy foods during this time of year.
As a young lad, I was saddened by the fact that it was completely inappropriate to have a cassoulet, or a nice beef stew in the middle of summer. But as I grew older and marginally wiser, I realized it was important to capture the seasonal veggies grown and harvested in the summer.

So in the spirit of seasonality, I picked up a few goodies at my local Farmer's Market and made a delicious and refreshing lunch the other day.

Baguette : Jersey City
Basil : Jersey City
Cherry Tomatoes : Jersey City
Mozzarella : Hoboken
Pickled Red Peppers : Jersey City
Piave Cheese : Import

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Jersey City Diner

426 Jersey Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 433-0471
Get directions

The Brownstone Diner is an iconic destination in Jersey City.
Built close to 100 years ago, this diner is famous for their morning pancakes.
I finally made it there today, it was my first time.

Although I'm not a huge fan of pancakes, I felt compelled to order the local favorite.
It was spectacular. Easily the fluffiest and tastiest pancake I've ever had.

I ordered the blueberry compote pancake.
The breakfast sausage link on the side was pretty awesome as well.

If you are visiting or in the Jersey City area for what ever reason, do yourself a favor and make your way to the Brownstone Diner for a breakfast you'll never forget.

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