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Mamma Guidara’s at The NoMad Bar
Jul 6th, 2017 by donuts4dinner

If you’ve ever thought, “Boy, I sure love Eleven Madison Park, but wouldn’t it be great if the chef instead used his immense skills to make me a chicken parm?”, Mamma Guidara’s is for you. It’s Chef Daniel Humm’s take on classic red sauce dishes, named in loving honor of his co-owner, Will Guidara’s, mom.

On Sunday nights, the NoMad Bar transforms into one of those red-checkered-tablecloth joints from the 80s, and although the decor is a little chintzy (in the best way), the food is just what you’d expect from a three-Michelin-star chef. And it’s only $74 for four courses that seem more like eight or ten by the time it’s all said and done.

Mamma Guidara’s is on hiatus this summer but will be back on September 10th! In the meantime, drool over what you’ll be getting, and watch this site for reservations.


a Blue Hawaiian cocktail to start, no shame


Caesar salad


crusty bread that we ordered more of in order to make sandwiches with our leftover chicken parm


fried calamari with marinara


seafood salad


meatballs


chicken marsala

One of my friends insisted that we get this when we were given the choice of chicken parm, chicken piccata, and chicken marsala and asked to pick which we wanted for our three shared dishes. The other five of us all wanted triple chicken parm, but she thought we should try at least one of the others, and we all scorned her. Until this turned out to be totally delicious, and it would’ve been really sad for me to have not known how good it was. Don’t be a fool! The chicken parm is big enough for four people; if you have a group, get the other kinds, and everyone will still be able to have some of everything!


chicken parm

If you think this looks like a normal-sized portion, this picture is misleading. It was equivalent to, I don’t know, a medium pizza? And made out of mostly fat and protein so nothing could be more filling in the world? Since our group of six had two of these plus the chicken marsala, extra bread was procured and take-home sandwiches were made.



side of roasted cauliflower


side of cacio e pepe


side of spaghetti


cannoli

I don’t care about cannoli at ALL and am never sure why New Yorkers freak out about them, but these have me convinced now that cannoli are delicious, even though I really know it’s only THESE cannoli that are delicious. The pastry was so much lighter than usual, buttery instead of crackery, and the filling was just . . . better. I wanted three of them to myself, and it’s a travesty that I can’t walk into a bakery and buy them.


cutting the tartufo



decorating the tartufo


There’s ice cream, and then there’s ice cream rolled into a ball and stuffed with jam.

Overall, this was such a totally fun experience, with familiar food that just happens to be way better than anyone’s mamma used to make it. I’m totally biased toward novelty dining (think the dessert magic trick at Eleven Madison Park), but I’m not sure how anyone could resist a place that serves Little Italy’s food without the surly attitudes and with cannoli that are actually worth freaking out about.

The Tasting Menu at Agern
Mar 30th, 2017 by donuts4dinner

Had you asked me a week ago if I had any interest in Nordic cuisine, I would’ve given you something like a polite, “Sure, I’m interested in all cuisines!” And then, you know, gone back to eating my tacos. But if you’d prefaced that question by mentioning that the chef at Agern, the restaurant inside of Grand Central Terminal, has a restaurant in Iceland called Dill, I might have thought differently. I LOVE dill. And it doesn’t hurt that the owner of Agern is the same guy who helped found Noma in Denmark, which has been named the best restaurant in the world, oh, I don’t know, four times?

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The Tasting Menu at Senses – Warsaw, Poland
Nov 4th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

I’m not sure people think of creative fine dining when they think of Poland, so it’s not surprising that Warsaw’s Senses restaurant only has one Michelin star, even if that’s a crime. My boyfriend and his family are from the area originally, so he took me there last month to see where he grew up, and naturally, I checked the Michelin guide. There are only two Michelin-starred restaurants in the whole country, and one just received its star this year, so we decided to give the new kid a try.

I emailed the restaurant for a reservation two weeks before our trip and was able to get us in at 8pm, although we admittedly were trying for a probably-not-so-popular Monday night. They offer 7- and 9-course tastings, which my boyfriend’s family all laughed at the impossibility of. They were super skeptical about their ability to eat so many courses and for so many hours, especially when his dad doesn’t even like seafood. But I basically forced them to forge ahead, and it ended up being one of the very best meals and experiences I’ve had anywhere.

In NYC, this meal would’ve been on par with Eleven Madison Park or Brooklyn Fare. It would have easily had three Michelin stars, and it would have cost $300. In Warsaw, it cost $99 and included about 20 extra treats not listed on the menu. And even value aside, the service was phenomenal. The servers spoke in English to me and then repeated everything in Polish for my boyfriend’s family, and just like at our two-Michelin-starred dinner in Vienna, everyone was hilarious. Just always anticipating what would delight us and making us laugh through every course. Having just visited Eleven Madison Park last month, I noticed a huge difference between the polite professionalism of the servers there and the way the Polish servers made us feel like we were guests in their home. Which might make sense when you remember that Chef Andrea Camastra is Italian and French.

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Bowery Meat Company is Weirdly Worth the Money
Sep 28th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

Last year, I spent a week on a yacht touring some of the islands of Greece with my boyfriend and three of his friends. One of those friends was visiting NYC last week from Romania, so I wanted to take her someplace new and well-rated. A co-worker happened to mention Bowery Meat Company to me that very week, and not only had the New York Times given it two stars, but it had meat right in the name.

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Kellogg’s NYC in Times Square
Sep 26th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

I try to avoid carbs and sugar in my day-to-day life, so I never let myself have cereal for breakfast. I can’t tell you the last time I ate it, but I’m guessing it was in college, and it was probably something with “fiber” in the name so I could feel like an adult. But I secretly love cereal and was delighted to learn that Kellogg’s NYC opened in Times Square and that I’d need to eat a huge bowl of the stuff in the interest of reviewing it. The sacrifices I make, you know.

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Gabriel Kreuther Probably Deserves More Than One Michelin Star
Aug 23rd, 2016 by donuts4dinner

Chef Gabriel Kreuther left the Michelin-starred Modern a couple of years ago and took his pastry chef with him to open up his new namesake space in the Grace Building across from Bryant Park. Beloved from the get-go, the restaurant earned a Michelin star of its own in its first year, but having tried the 4-course, $125 tasting menu a few weeks ago, I can’t imagine that it won’t gain another star or even two in the coming years.

It wasn’t as fussy as the three-Michelin-starred favorites in the city thanks to touches of whimsy here and there in elements like a stork-patterned wallpaper (the stork is a symbol of rebirth in Kreuther’s native Alsatian homeland), but the main dining room felt classic and elegant with its cushy cream banquettes and exposed wood beams. The food was stunningly beautiful but still at times a little silly, and I mean that in the best way. Who doesn’t want a mezcal cocktail served in a coconut shell in the middle of a frou-frou French meal?

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Duran Sandwiches Brings Europe to NYC
Aug 11th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

Last week, I was surprised by a visit from to Tom Szebeni, the CEO of Duran Sandwiches with a huge box of his handmade European-style open-faced slices of wonder. I knew I was getting a complimentary taste of his creations, but I never expected that the President himself would walk over from their first U.S. location in NoMad to deliver them. But after talking to him for ten minutes, it made perfect sense. The guy just oozes passion for what he’s doing. He explained to me that he worked on the Budapest version of the reality TV show “Big Brother” for years and used to leave the dark studio (and his 48 monitors showing people stuck in a house doing the most mundane things) to get sandwiches across the street at one of the Duran locations. He wanted something more, though, so he decided to leave TV and spend weeks in the shop learning to make the sandwiches so he could bring them to NYC. He kept emphasizing how this is real food. Food that someone cared about when they made it.

I was like, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve eaten sandwiches before, buddy.” And then I opened the box, and a light shone down from heaven.

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Luksus Probably Deserves Its One Michelin Star
Aug 2nd, 2016 by donuts4dinner

Luksus, the Nordic tasting-menu-only restaurant hidden behind a door in Greenpoint’s Tørst beer bar, has been on my list for a long time as a Brooklynite who’d love to never have to leave the borough for her fine dining. I was scheduled to go see my family in Ohio over the July 4th weekend, but when my flight got canceled despite clear blue skies, I consoled myself by booking a table for two there in the hope of getting to sit at the bar and watch the chefs work. The OpenTable reviewers had given Luksus a 4.5, and Eleven Madison Park, which I would call one of the standard-bearers in the city, had a 4.8, so I congratulated myself on my good choice. But when I started talking to my friends, the consensus was that Luksus was good but probably not somewhere they’d return to. I thought about changing my reservation, but then I remembered the optional beer pairings and just had to try it for myself.

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Rocco Steakhouse Has the Big, Fat Bacon and the Schlag
Jul 11th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

The only thing better than being invited to try out a complimentary dinner at a new restaurant is being invited to try out a steakhouse. Rocco Steakhouse is the mastermind of owner Rocco Trotta, who put together a staff of big names from old school NYC steakhouses, including the man who served as the general manager at Wolfgang’s for a decade. (And Wolfgang, of course, started his steakhouse after working at Peter Luger, so you just have to love all of the entanglement within the NYC steakhouse strata.) With another well-known steakhouse on the same block, I asked GM Pete Pjetrovic why he partnered with Rocco and beverage director Jeff Kolenovic to open the space on Madison Avenue; he said he knew they could create a better steakhouse with the best ingredients, the best chef, and the best head waiter.

It seems like the neighborhood agrees. When I sat down right after work, the completely enclosed dining room was nearly empty, but by the time my thick Canadian bacon with just the right amount of char arrived, it was full of regulars. Or maybe that’s just how the waiters treat everyone who walks in the door. I heard lots of “how are the kids?” followed by handshakes and pats on the back. The staff was warm and friendly and let me annoy them for a picture where they wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulders like brothers. But of course when it was time to serve the steak, they were all business.

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The NoMad Restaurant: What I Tasted, and What I Immensely Regret Not Tasting
May 13th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

The little group of friends I eat all of my cow stomachs and whole suckling pigs with all love Eleven Madison Park but don’t want to necessarily drop $300 on a tasting menu on a random Wednesday night. Luckily, there’s The NoMad restaurant in the NoMad Hotel, where Chef Daniel Humm is serving the same elevated food for, you know, the same elevated prices, but at least you can only order two or three courses here if you want to save your pennies. The service was as kind and polished as you’d expect from a restaurant by this chef, the atmosphere as dark and cool as you’d expect from a hotel that’s as much known for its bar as anything. As with EMP, most of the food you get at The NoMad is a really great version of a thing you probably already like–I’ll never forget the “picnic” I had there once–but this is also the kind of place that’ll also make you like food you thought you didn’t.

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