A Tale of Two (Food) Cities, Part II

Today Preston and I had lunch at the Modern, the restaurant at MoMA. It’s very close to Preston’s office, so he went to work. I did not go to work. I went to MoMA.

Lunch was sublime, just as it was last year. Here’s what we ate:

Appetizers:

Preston: SEASONAL GREENS: Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese, Smoked Grapes and Verjus Vinaigrette

Tami: SLOW-POACHED FARM EGG: Black Winter Truffle, Salsify, and Squid Ink Spaetzle (I’m a big fan of soft-boiled eggs with toast. This was like that except way, way, way, way better. It was something my Nana made for me. Sort of fitting that I had it today on the anniversary of her passing.)

Entrees:

Preston: BEEF TENDERLOIN “À LA FICELLE”: Pressed Root Vegetables, Horseradish, and Verjus-Pickled Juniper Berries

Tami: MAPLE-BRINED BERKSHIRE PORK TENDERLOIN: Crushed Walnuts, Mangalica Lardo, and Whole Grain Mustard Jus

Desserts:

Preston: MILK CHOCOLATE AND HAZELNUT DACQUOISE: Raspberry Sorbet

Tami: CARAMEL PARFAIT: Mango Ravioli, Coconut Tapioca and Ten Flavor Sorbet

We also drank a delicious bottle of white wine. It was DIRLER-CADÉ, Bergholtz Vieilles Vignes 2010 (noting here partly so when Preston turns to me and says “What was that wine we had at the Modern?” I can look it up … ) The service, like all USHG restaurants, was just wonderful. Warm and friendly, knowledgeable without being snotty.

Wonderful way to send off 2012 and get ready for 2013.

Modern Art, Modern Food

After the viewing the de Kooning exhibit, I met Preston for lunch at The Modern. This is Danny Meyer’s restaurant inside MoMA and it is wonderful.

Here’s what we ate, and every single bite was sublime:

Appetizer, Both: DIVER SCALLOP, YELLOWFIN TUNA AND SCOTTISH SALMON

Main Course, Preston: CHORIZO-CRUSTED COD with White Coco Bean Puree and Harissa Oil

Main Course, Tami: CREEKSTONE FARM BEEF TENDERLOIN “MIGNONETTE” with Butternut Squash, Chestnut and Juniper Berry Jus

Dessert, Preston: MILK CHOCOLATE AND HAZELNUT DACQUOISE with Raspberry Sorbet

Dessert, Tami: MANJARI CHOCOLATE PALET with Tahitian Vanilla Cremeux and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

(Sorry for the caps — I copied from the official menu. I have no ability to remember dishes once I’ve left the restaurant.)

per se

When Sam Sifton announced that he was stepping down as the restaurant critic at the New York Times he said that his last review would be his choice as best restaurant in all of New York City.

I was dying to know what he’d choose. I practically ran to the door that Wednesday morning, ripped open the paper and turned to Dining. Sifton had spoken: per se. As if it could be anything else. Preston and I had been thinking about going. A partner of his, a trained chef, had been wanting to go. Reservations were made and soon the big night was upon us.

{The bad news was that I am fighting off a cold, which is not how I’d choose to experience per se. Also we had to leave by 8:45 pm — we had a 6pm reservation — to close on a refi. Yes, really.}

It was outrageous in every possible way. Outrageously good, outrageously expensive, outrageously New York. So far over the top it can’t even see the top.

But man is the food good. So good. Made-by-God-good.

Highlights included the amuse bouche of cheese gougeres (“cheesy poufs!”) and then another of salmon tartare. The Oysters and Pearls — a signature dish — was as good as the hype. I also loved the salad which had an eggplant crisp that was so thin it was translucent. The butter poached lobster may have ruined me for any other lobster dish.

I could go on. The dinner did. Nine courses. Each is quite small, but nevertheless by the end you think you may never eat again. I’m embarrassed to admit that some macarons that came at the end went nearly untouched. (I did manage to stuff down a half of one flavored like a red hot. Sublime.) The flavors were just amazing from beginning to end. Go and read Sifton’s review — he’s much better at food journalism than I will ever be.

It was in every way an amazing experience.

per se
10 Columbus Circle @ the Time Warner Center
NYC 10019
(212) 823-9335

First, follow the lawyers to lunch

When you are on jury duty you have two chief concerns.  How long am I going to have to sit here?  What am I going to have for lunch?

I quickly discovered the perfect trick: follow the lawyers.  El Marinero Coffee Shop, directly across from the Civil Court in Jamaica, isn’t anything special.  But the food is quite yummy and the scene is truly amusing.  Huge tables of lawyers joking around and hoping from table to table like it’s a high school cafeteria.  They all know each other and they all know the waitresses.  You feel like you’ve crashed a private party.

Anyway, if you find yourself in Queens serving jury duty, stop in and join the party.

El Marinero Coffee Shop
89-18 Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica, New York
718-658-4124

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In Da Club

My sister was in town this past weekend for our 9th Annual Anti-Superbowl Party.  My husband has been wanting to go to the 21 Club for a long time now, and it was just the right combination of special and New York kitschy to make me agree to go. 

I was worried, though.  Venerable institutions are not always known for great food.  I was pleasantly surprised — the food was much better than I expected.  I advise sticking with classics — Caesar salad, dry-aged sirloin, apple pie.  Wylie Dufresne would die of boredom in this kitchen, but sometimes old-fashioned American cuisine is the right answer. 

The service is over-the-top.  You glance in the direction of a waiter and three descend to cater to your merest whim.  If you are looking to impress, this place will not disappoint.

And my sister really loved it, which was the important part.

21 W 52nd Street at 5th Avenue (Map)
NYC
(212) 582-7200
               

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Yeah, it is that good

Last weekend my husband decided he had a hankering for corned beef.  We’ve been to 2nd Avenue Deli many times and in Queens we like Ben’s Best.  But a woman my husband works with declared that Katz’s Deli is the best. 

Katz’s was made famous as the place where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm in When Harry Met Sally.  The famous line, of course, was the woman sitting at the next table who declares, "I’ll having what she’s having."

I’m guessing she was having the pastrami.

Oh. my. god. 

Despite my Irish-Italian-Portugese origins, I come by pastrami naturally.  My family hails from Dorchester, Massachusetts — a working class neighborhood that, at one time, featured a mix of ethnicities including Irish, Italian and Jewish.  In any event, my mother used to make "hot pastrami" for my sister and I all the time.  We loved it.

Anyway, back to Katz’s.  I don’t know, what to say about pastrami?  If you like it, go there: you’ll love it.  The corned beef was also orgasm-worthy.  So maybe she was having that.

Either way, I’ll have more, please.

Side dishes are good, too.  Pickles were delicious.  Latkes are good, but, frankly, not as good as mine.

So, go already.  Eat.  They made this food for you, the least you can do is eat.

Katz’s Deli
205 E Houston Street at Ludlow Street

NYC

(212) 254-2246

Map

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Thai One On

A colleague from Denver was visiting recently and had two requests: 1. Pay homage at Dean & Deluca in Soho and 2. Eat some yummy Asian food.  Luckily, we were able to fulfill both desires with one subway ride downtown from our Flatiron office. 

The place we originally hoped to try turned out to be closed, so we wondered down Spring Street and found refuge at Kin Khao. 

First, I must highly recommend the Watermelon Tini.  I’m usually not one to go for cocktails, but I could drink these far longer than is probably wise.

The fried spring rolls were filled with huge chunks of really fresh crab meat.  They made you realize how bad many spring rolls are.  The chicken satay was really good, too.  I mean, this shouldn’t be hard, right?  It’s grilled chicken and peanut sauce.  But most places the chicken has the consistency of cotton batting.  At Kin Khao the chicken was plump, moist and very flavorful.  High praise for the humble chicken.

I tend to be boring at Thai restaurants and order the Pad Thai.  I know what it is and I can pronounce it.  But, truthfully, this isn’t a bad strategy.  If the Pad Thai is bad, not much else is likely to be good.  At Kin Khao it’s excellent.  We also got a really delicious steak dish (I should’ve made a not of the name of the dish, but I was one Watermelon Tini in by then, so …).

I’m told, by both my husband and Fred Wilson’s blog, that the best Thai restaurant in New York is in Woodside, Queens.  I’m sure I’ll find out soon.  In the meantime, Kin Khao is definitely one to add to the Rolodex.

Kin Khao
171 Spring St, between Thompson Street and West Broadway
NYC
(212) 966-3939
Map

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Cornered (Again)

Last night my husband was craving a burger and suggested TGIFridays or Santa Fe Steakhouse, both in our neighborhood.   It is my deeply held belief that eating in a chain restaurant anywhere within the five boroughs of New York City is a sin.  I parried with the suggestion that we try Corner Bistro, famed as the burger that Danny Meyer wanted to emulate at the Shake Shack.  Fortunately, I’d shared the heavenly Shake Shack experience with him so he was game.

Yum, yum, yum.  The burger, the fries, both delish.  I must confess that I think Shake Shack is better, but maybe I had one too many lunches there this summer.  But Corner Bistro is good and worth the wait to get a seat.  If you are not in the mood for a burger, go somewhere else.  The menu consists of burgers, a chicken sandwich, BLT, grilled cheese and bacon, and chili.  I think the only reason chili is on the menu is so they can make chili burgers.   It’s that kind of place.

Corner Bistro
331 W 4th St (Map)
NYC
10014

Mon-Sat 11:30am- 4:00am
    Sun 12:00pm- 4:00am
(212) 242-9502

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Cornered

My main criteria for restaurants is delicious food (obviously) and friendly service.  You don’t have to bow at the waist, but I don’t want to be made to feel like I’m back in the high school cafeteria, lorded over by the cool kids.  So when my husband and I decided to have a quick bite at the restaurant above a trendy nightspot, for the sake of convenience, I didn’t have very high hopes.  I figured the food would be mediocre, if we were lucky, and that the service would be snotty.

So imagine my amazement at the little gem that is Cornershop.  On the corner (get it?) of Broadway and Bleecker it is above Table 50, the aforementioned trendy nightspot.  The food is yummy!  I had a marinated skirt steak with thick fries and salad.  Preston, the aforementioned husband, had an upscale BLT with slices of avocado and chips.  He also had a lemonade that he pronounced "As good as you make" — a high compliment, indeed.

The service was truly friendly.  After the waiter took our order, a black-clad waitress noticed me menu-less and came whizzing over to make sure we’d been attended too.  When she came back to clear our plates I raved about the steak, prompting her to bring over two glasses of Muscadet. 

Plus, the space is gorgeous.  Well-designed, but approachable.  Comfortable without feeling sloppy.

An altogether superior dining experience. 

And the party downstairs at out-so-trendy Table 50?  Let’s just say that it was on a whole other level.

Cornershop
643 Broadway at Bleecker
NYC
(212) 253-7467
Open 24 Hours

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I found a better burger

I’m a red meat-eating kind of gal.  But I also like to pretend that I eat healthy.  Enter Better Burger.

Everything is antibiotic, hormone, and nitrate free.  The beef burgers are organic.  And fantastic.  Not in the mood for moo?  They also have turkey, chicken, tuna, soy, veggie, and even ostrich burgers. 

The "fries" are air-baked, also organic, and also yummy.  They also have smoothies, salads, hot dogs, and chili.  Mostly, it’s the little gourmet touches that make this a lunch above ordinary — condiments included Cajun ketchup, chipolte-honey mustard, and spiced wasabi sauce. 

In the mood for a sweet?  They have high-protein brownies and high-energy cookies.

Being bad never felt so good.

Better Burger
178 8th Ave @ 19th St
NYC
212-989-6688
www.betterburgernyc.com

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