NYC Restaurant Reviews | donuts4dinner.com https://www.donuts4dinner.com Reviews of the Best Restaurants in NYC Thu, 06 Jul 2017 20:20:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 7178521 Mamma Guidara’s at The NoMad Bar https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2017/07/06/mamma-guidaras-at-the-nomad-bar/ Thu, 06 Jul 2017 20:20:55 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6610 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.

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Chef David Santos’s Secret NYC Dinner Club, Um Segredo, at Good Stock https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2017/06/26/chef-david-santoss-secret-nyc-dinner-club-um-segredo-at-good-stock/ Mon, 26 Jun 2017 19:20:13 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6602 I’ve followed my favorite NYC chef from his West Village restaurant Louro to his taking-the-city-by-storm soup venture, Good Stock, but what made me first fall in love with Chef David Santos‘s cooking were his secret home supper clubs, which he called Um Segredo (“a secret” in Portuguese). Well, they’re back, and they’re not so secret anymore! In that they take place right out in the open at the Good Stock on Carmine Street.

But the same secret feel is still there: just you and five others in the tiny store front, gathered around a table while Chef Santos cooks directly in front of you, offering insight about each of the ingredients and just shooting the breeze like he doesn’t need to concentrate while shaving $100 worth of summer truffle onto your plates.

The fresh herbs and flowers were a beautiful compliment to the late afternoon sun warming the front windows. The roast duck with fresh cilantro and lamb with cumin-flavored squid ink were so good it seemed like a crime that this guy doesn’t have a tasting-menu-only restaurant. The cold peanut butter dessert was so comforting and just plain old yummy that you couldn’t believe he had the guts to serve a warm dessert after it, and then that was just as outstanding. I left feeling like I can’t go to any dinners that aren’t Um Segredo dinners. It’s such amazing food, topped off with an experience you can’t get anywhere else.

Follow Chef Santos on Instagram for the link to buy tickets to the next dinner!



Bien Cuit bread with bacon marmalade



Swimmer crab
Watermelon
Avocado pudding
Turmeric pickled rind
Shiso
Lime and olive oil


Bluefish pate
Pickled pearl onion
Biscuit crackers
Herb salad


Carrot dog:
Carrot cooked in olive oil and smoked paprika
Buttered bread and mustard puree
6-month-fermented beetkraut
Amaranth


Examining bitter:
Roasted porcini
Charred breakfast radish
Cocoa nib
Elderflower
Charred onion tea infused with elderflower stems and porcini


Pouring the onion tea


Schmaltz-cooked kohlrabi
Milk and aged creme fraiche pudding
Flowers
Summer truffle


Shaving the truffle



Red wine braised Portuguese octopus
Puree of its braising vegetables
Hazelnuts
Crispy shallot
Chives


Roast duck
Honey sous vide apricot
Goose tongue
Puffed rice
Cilantro


Sous vide lamb
Royal corona beans
Fermented vegetables
Squid ink cumin eggplant puree
Wild garlic flowers


The Elvis:
Honey roasted peanut pudding
Steel cut oat and sorghum crumble
Bacon and banana ice

(This picture does the dessert no justice, I’m sorry; I just got excited about the Good Stock cups.)


Warm strawberry and rhubarb jam
Roasted rhubarb
Biscuit crackers
Vanilla goat’s milk ice cream


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The Tasting Menu at Agern https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2017/03/30/the-tasting-menu-at-agern/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 19:04:58 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6588 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?

Good luck trying to find Agern. It’s tucked away behind the food hall on Vanderbilt Avenue side of Grand Central, and the sign for it should be, like, studded with flashing lights and possibly a siren, but instead it’s quietly painted on a door at the same height as all of the signage in front of it.

The good thing is that while you’re busy being lost, you can stop at Almanak in the Great Northern Food Hall, also owned by Claus Meyer, and get Brussels sprouts with crunchy croutons

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

or pastrami and lamb sliders

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

and then notice that Agern is right behind you. It’s a cozy little space with no windows but tons of pastel and chevrons and swivel chairs. It’s the kind of stylish throwback space you expect to find in Alexander Skarsgård’s grandma’s house. It was already 8pm, and our very sweet server told us a tasting menu would take us two and a half hours, so we jumped right into the Land & Sea tasting for $165 (including service), some of us with wine pairings and some of us with cocktails. We got through the initial little bites, or “snacks” as the restaurant called them, with, you know, reasonable fanfare. The soda topping the oyster was a nice touch, the guy who doesn’t care for celery thought the sliver of celeriac was really tasty, and who doesn’t love a little pocket of deep-fried bread? We were getting a lot of dill, a lot of creaminess, and plenty of salt, but we didn’t think a lot of it.

But it turns out that’s the essence of Agern. A little something green, a little something creamy, a good amount of seasoning, and then just a little something special to put it over the top. The Arctic char was our first real dish, and we were all just looking at each other like, “Are you tasting what I’m tasting?” Here’s this seemingly simple plate covered in fresh ingredients all familiar to us, but the sum is greater than its parts. Was it just the crunch of the pumpkin seeds? Or pumpkin seed puree, which we’d never had before? Maybe it was just that the pea tendrils tasted so much like peas.

The butter was made with skyr, the Icelandic yogurt. The beet, baked in a husk of salt and ash, was studded with caraway seeds. The Guinea hen thigh came wrapped in brown paper so we could pick it up with our hands and still maintain our overwhelming classiness. Everything was a little bit tart and a little bit bitter and a little bit challenging in a way that makes it really exciting to eat.

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
Cooper’s Cup: Rough Rider bourbon, cold brew coffee, sumac, NY maple syrup

(Drank these all night long. Can’t resist a coffee cocktail.)

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
oyster with radish and cranberry soda

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
celeriac and dill

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
cod skin “chip” with green tomato

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
deep-fried bread

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
cheese with celery and apple

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
little fried ball of dough with turmeric

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

One of our servers added some phytoplankton to some water in a French press contraption and then made us drink it. It was like swallowing a wave, except on purpose.

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
ocean broth

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
Arctic char, pumpkin, apple, pumpkin seed

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
beef heart, salsify, dill, elderberry

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
whipped butter with skyr

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
salt and ash baked beet root, caraway seeds, huckleberries

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
cod, caviar, potatoes, dill

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
Guinea hen, sun chokes, nordic bbq, peppergrass

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
buttermilk, whey, watercress, horseradish

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
chocolate, burned butter, almonds, plums

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
vinegar caramel, aerated chocolate

These little extras were maybe a little too challenging for our group. The aerated chocolate had the texture of a kitchen sponge and immediately dissolved in our mouths in an expected, not altogether pleasant way. And here are the faces my two friends made while eating the vinegar-flavored caramel:

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

But everything else was an absolute hit! I swear!

Agern NYC Tasting Menu
sea buckthorn marshmallow, pate de fruits

Agern NYC Tasting Menu

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The Tasting Menu at Senses – Warsaw, Poland https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2016/11/04/the-tasting-menu-at-senses-warsaw-poland/ Fri, 04 Nov 2016 20:05:50 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6549 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.

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
our menu in Polish and English

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

We each started with a little tablet on a plate next to us that I probably would’ve popped in my mouth without hesitation had I not wanted to take a picture of it first. But then our servers came around to pour some water on it, and it blossomed into a hot towel to wipe our hands with.

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

Our bread service came with a pipette of apple essence to drizzle on each piece to our hearts’ content.

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
sea trout, sorrel, apricot, red caviar, horseradish, bergamot

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
pierogi ruskie, bottarga, lard, smoked cream, red prawn

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
pork cheek, goulash, calamari, yuzu

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
hamachi, black caviar, cucumber salad, dill, lime

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
king crab, seasonal vegetables, pancetta, olive

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
kobe ribs, oyster, blood orange, Polish korma, spring onion

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Polish korma. Like Indian korma, but made with Polish ingredients!

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland
raspberry, yogurt, cherry, rose, honey

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

A cloud of fog poured from a vessel in the center of the table and whooshed over all of our desserts, wrapping them in a white haze.

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

The Tasting Menu at Senses in Warsaw - Poland

Senses
Bielanska 12, 00-085
Warszawa, Poland (map)

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Bowery Meat Company is Weirdly Worth the Money https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2016/09/28/bowery-meat-company-is-weirdly-worth-the-money/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:30:26 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6536 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.

The inside was all warm woods and mid-century designs with space age sconces on the walls and Chef Josh Capon waltzing around the dining room in shorts and a chef’s coat, holding a slab of meat in his fist. When I’d looked at the menu before making the reservation, it somehow seemed reasonable, someplace you would just go with three of your friends on a Thursday night to catch up. But faced with the choice of what to actually order, it suddenly seemed insane. Two deviled eggs for $18? A burger for $24? A side of onions for $11? How could I have forced my friends into this?

But then the food started arriving, and it was really, really good. My boyfriend had the wagyu meatballs, which were sitting atop a cheesy polenta that I gave myself permission to have one bite of. And then three more. My Chinese sesame pork belly was sweet and crunchy, the plate full of everything I’d need to make spicy lettuce wraps with pickled vegetables. The New York strip was topped with a shallot that melted under my boyfriend’s fork, while my 14oz ribeye was piled with blistered shishito peppers. I pay about $20 for 14oz of organic grass fed ribeye from my local frou-frou grocery store and didn’t want to be okay with this $48 version . . . but then I was. It was just delicious, with all of the fat rendered perfectly and a nice char on top. I had to admit that dry-aging does matter, and it turns out I don’t have a temperature-controlled room set aside in my apartment for that. Fine, Bowery Meat Company. You win.

Plus, I have to say, the $11 onions were mouthwatering. It was truly just a dish of grilled spring onions, but they were buttery and browned and so salty I forgot I was supposed to feel bad about not ordering one of the more classic artery-clogging sides like the sour cream & onion hash brown that sounds so, so delicious, someone please get that and let me watch you eat it.

Throw in a few $17 cocktails and a complimentary salted caramel ice cream bon-bon on top of it all, and you have a really, really expensive casual dinner. But one that you won’t regret, at least until you get that dry-aging room in your house.

Bowery Meat Company NYC

Bowery Meat Company NYC
complimentary bacon bread with slices of salami

Bowery Meat Company NYC
wagyu meatballs, creamy polenta, tomato pan gravy, parmesan

Bowery Meat Company NYC
Chinese BBQ pork belly, butter lettuce, pickled vegetables

Bowery Meat Company NYC
Prime New York strip 14oz, roasted shallot

Bowery Meat Company NYC
grilled ribeye 14oz, blistered shishito peppers

Bowery Meat Company NYC
cheeseburger, griddled onions, raclette, tomato aioli, fries

Bowery Meat Company NYC
Marmalade Sky: Absolut Elyx vodka, ginger beer, lime, pink grapefruit

Bowery Meat Company NYC

Bowery Meat Company
9 East 1st Street
New York, NY 10003 map

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Kellogg’s NYC in Times Square https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2016/09/26/kelloggs-nyc-in-times-square/ Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:00:35 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6508 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.

Surrounded by the massive M&Ms and Hershey’s stores, the Kellogg’s store is a tiny sliver of a thing that looks like a real NYC diner. Only without the fake plants in the corner, the booths still there from the 80s, and the old waiter in the wifebeater growling at you for trying to make a substitution. The employees let me sit down even though my friend hadn’t arrived yet, and they actually offered me a glass of water while I waited. Maybe I need to spend more time in the touristy parts of NYC.

You can get your cereal without the ice cream, but you’d be a fool. So, start with a bowl of vanilla Blue Marble ice cream out of Brooklyn, and then add all the toppings you want. Corn Pops, Cracklin’ Oat Bran, Crispix, toasted coconut, dried cranberries, cocoa powder, coffee grinds, pecans, pistachios, Pop Tart crumble, chai tea powder, and so, so many more. You can also choose from the store’s premade concoctions like Berry Me in Green Tea or You’re Cracklin’ Me Up.

Then follow your nose to the row of cabinets on the wall,

Kellogg's NYC in Times Square

where you’ll find your bowl of cereal waiting for you inside with a spoon and napkin.

Kellogg's NYC in Times Square

I got ice cream, Frosted Mini-Wheats Chocolate, strawberries, peanut butter, marshmallows, white chocolate chips, malted milk powder, and Pop Tart crumble. It was a $12 bowl of cereal and worth every cent.

Kellogg's NYC in Times Square

I ate this more than a month ago, and not a day has gone by that I haven’t dreamed of going back to eat it again. They should probably put my mix on the menu to make it easier for you to order it, because it was basically perfect.

Kellogg's NYC in Times Square

And they even give you a token to get a toy from the machine on the counter at the end of your visit! Come on!

Kellogg’s NYC
1600 Broadway
New York, NY 10019 (map)

]]> 6508 Gabriel Kreuther Probably Deserves More Than One Michelin Star https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2016/08/23/gabriel-kreuther-probably-deserves-more-than-one-michelin-star/ Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:32:20 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6497 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?

I lived for the many loaves of bread that came out between courses and love a chef who makes me unable to resist ordering sweetbreads even though I sort of can’t believe that’s something we choose to eat as humans. But I mean, these were fried in duck fat. The sturgeon and sauerkraut tart is a must-order just for the dramatic smoke-filled dome presentation, and my blackberry chocolate dessert actually made meringue seem like more than just crunchy air. The flavors were bold, and there was always just that ~something~ on the plate–a celery leaf or a sprinkle of pancetta–that I wouldn’t have thought to put there.

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu

Creams and pinks and golds! Did I design this restaurant in my dreams?

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
buttery, crusty bread

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
a closeup of that chive fromage blanc

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
queso frito, passion fruit tostones, masa-yucca empanada

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
coffee-coconut cocktail with mezcal and a brown sugar crumble

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
foie gras terrine & black truffle praline, muscat gelée, seven grain toast

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
langoustine tartare, flying fish roe, cauliflower-macadamia purée

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
another helping of bread

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
sturgeon & sauerkraut tart, American caviar mousseline, applewood smoke

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
crispy sweetbreads roasted in duck fat, honshimeji, pancetta, pasilla

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
still more bread!

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
Nova Scotia halibut, celery root, hen of the woods, riesling-cockle sauce

(Someone doesn’t know how to focus her camera, sorry.)

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
roasted diver scallops, basil crumble, early spring vegetable nage

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
a sphere of melon on vanilla espuma

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
Comfort: cherry almond, sautéed cherries, almond mousseline, sablé breton

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
Decadent: blackberry chocolate, chocolate mousse, blackberry gelée, lemon verbena meringue

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
chocolates shaped like baby French macarons!

Gabriel Kreuther Tasting Menu
basically Pocky for grown-ups

Gabriel Kreuther
41 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036 (map)

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Duran Sandwiches Brings Europe to NYC https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2016/08/11/duran-sandwiches-brings-europe-to-nyc/ Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:17:54 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6489 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.

Duran Sandwiches NYC

They were ~so beautiful~. My friend said they looked mid-century modern. And not only were they gorgeous, but they were all so different and exciting. Shrimp with tomato and lemon, goat cheese with cucumber and olive, Black Forest ham with horseradish cream, Hungarian paprika sausage with pickles and egg. The breads were soft and chewy but had substance enough to hold the toppings without buckling. Everything was so delicate: a subtle smear of cheese under the sausage, a sprinkling of chives over the roast beef.

The hot pepper and egg salad was my favorite because I’m addicted to spice, but the best thing about these sandwiches is that they’re light enough that you don’t have to eat just one. I was able to share several with my friend and nibble at a few more throughout the afternoon without ever feeling heavy or grossly full. I can imagine picking up a box of these before a summer tea party, especially the ones with a spread of cucumber and farmer’s cheese, and letting my lady friends ooh and ahh over how artful they are.

Having taken a trip to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest last fall, these sandwiches transported me back to my time in Europe. They’re like nothing else I’ve seen in NYC, and I feel lucky that I live in a city where I can eat a little slice of the world.

Duran Sandwiches NYC

Duran Sandwiches NYC

Duran Sandwiches NYC

Duran Sandwiches NYC

Duran Sandwiches NYC

Duran Sandwiches NYC

Duran Sandwiches
62 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016 (map)

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Luksus Probably Deserves Its One Michelin Star https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2016/08/02/luksus-probably-deserves-its-one-michelin-star/ Tue, 02 Aug 2016 17:09:44 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6477 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.

My boyfriend and I awkwardly stood around the back of Tørst, near enough to the secret doorway that someone would ask us if we were there for Luksus, for five minutes or so until the hostess relieved us of our anxiety and slid the door open. The restaurant hidden inside was teeny, and the bar was reserved that night for friends of chef Daniel Burns (of the Fat Duck and the Momofuku test kitchen), but they seated us right by a window that looked out onto their backyard garden and gave my pictures some lovely lighting.

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC
beer + garden

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC
radish, lobster roe

Radish with a lobster roe creme fraiche and garlic bread crumble. Our server encouraged us to eat everything on the plate, so we picked those suckers up with our hands and tried to cram a full foot of radish greens into our mouths.

Luksus NYC
dandelion chip, paprika

If I could make these for myself at home, my low-carb diet would be much more successful.

Luksus NYC
mackerel, knækbrød

Danish flatbread with pickled kohlrabi and mackerel soaked in licorice.

Luksus NYC
mussel escabeche

I’m not the world’s hugest fan of mussels, but these were so briny and acidic. And also came with ~that bread~.

Luksus NYC
chicken skin, farmer’s cheese

Better than pork rinds!

Luksus NYC
fried oyster, cabbage, celery gribiche

I never tell a restaurant that I don’t care for oysters, but I’d decided that night that I would finally speak up and try to get something I really like instead, but our server asked me to try these. She called them “an oyster taco” and said they were a nod to the neighborhood, so I gave them a shot. The oyster looked like a miniature whole chicken and didn’t really taste anything like an oyster to me, because all I was tasting was sauce gribiche, that sort of tartar-sauce-like French mayonnaise-y concoction that I love so much, only this one was made with celery to give it even more flavor.

Luksus NYC

The sourdough bread service was amazing, partly because the yogurt butter was in that state where it would’ve been a puddle had it been one degree warmer in the place. That’s a restaurant that cares about its bread.

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC
snow crab, fava bean, sorrel

This was like eating springtime with all of the green, including some cool, sweet cucumber and a lovage sauce. The tough, fibrous garlic ramps were too much for me on their own but added nice texture when eaten with the rest of the elements.

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC
charred onion broth, English pea, Korean watercress

At this point, we were like, “Oh . . . another salad.” The powerful onions made this interesting, along with the mint puree. It probably just needed something rich alongside it for my taste. A little piece of fatty meat.

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC

Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien, my favorite of the beer pairings with its strong cherry and sour notes.

Luksus NYC
rib eye, new potato, garlic scape

We’ve been making a lot of ribeye at home lately, so I was excited to see what a real chef could do with the piece of meat. And he definitely did something I would never do at home, which was to roast it instead of getting a thick crust on the edges. So it was fully raw in the middle and just kind of floppy on the edges like it had been microwaved for a minute, which I’m sure is a really unintelligent description of what went into this dish, but that’s how it seemed to someone who wasn’t in the kitchen to watch. Like, whyyyyy would you do this to a piece of great meat? The only redeeming factors were the way the fat was nice and tender and the big chunks of salt on top.

Luksus NYC

I was just kind of tired of leaves at this point and at least wanted them to be herbs, but I did love that all of the vegetables were pickled. And no one’s complaining about potatoes in ramp butter.

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC
whey, ginger

This whey sorbet with ginger cordial was a combo of super zingy ginger and funky milk flavor in one spoon-sized little scoop.

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC
rhubarb, spruce, bay leaf

Who doesn’t love a fine dining Fruit Roll-Up? My boyfriend and I had just been marathoning “The Great British Bake-Off”, where rhubarb features prominently in nearly every episode, so this dessert seemed so timely to us. Pine needle sauce and a bay leaf crumble that I could’ve eaten pounds of completed the off-kilter concoction.

Luksus NYC

Luksus NYC
flødebolle

This little two-bite treat is called a flødebolle and is a cookie topped with marshmallow meringue and covered in chocolate. I would buy these by the truckload if the restaurant was selling them.

Luksus NYC

I think the sensibility of Luksus can best be described as, “Here, I brought the entire garden for you.” I loved the freshness of all of the ingredients and felt like they were coming from a kitchen that really respects them, but it just didn’t seem like quite enough effort to me for $125 each. I’m fine with a concentration on vegetables, but I want something to be done to them. Make a sauce, make a jam, put them in a consommé. The whole radishes were actually novel when we got them, but then the whole meal that followed felt like it was just brought it from the garden when I want my Michelin-starred food to be a little more fussy. There were moments of greatness, though, particularly in the snacks at the beginning. In the end, I’m glad I visited and would recommend Luksus to someone who really loves greens and has a lot of money to spend on them. Once was probably enough for me, although I’d be sad if I never had beer pairings again.

Luksus
615 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222 (map)

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Rocco Steakhouse Has the Big, Fat Bacon and the Schlag https://www.donuts4dinner.com/2016/07/11/rocco-steakhouse-has-the-big-fat-bacon-and-the-schlag/ Mon, 11 Jul 2016 14:58:43 +0000 https://www.donuts4dinner.com/?p=6461 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.

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

With tender meaty parts and fatty parts that just melt away, this is so filling I split it with my boyfriend. So this giant hunk here? Only half of what you get.

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

The porterhouse for two, medium rare, from the house’s own aging box, served in sizzling butter. It was thickly crusted on the outside, beautifully pink inside, and seasoned by someone with no fear, and I mean that as the greatest compliment. At $51.95 per person, this is the most expensive porterhouse I can think of in the city, which probably explains why the room was filled with dates and business dinners alike; this is where you take someone to impress them.

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Huge sides of creamed spinach and lobster mac & cheese, big enough for the family but so fresh and homemade-tasting that you won’t want to share. I especially liked the sweetness the shredded lobster pieces added, along with that crispy cheese top. The spinach was so creamy it was like a bisque, but it still had a really natural spinach flavor that balanced the richness of the steak.

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

This is the thing I long to see most on a steakhouse dessert menu. If you don’t have schlag, don’t waste my time.

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Here, I’ll give you a second to admire it. Go on, drink it all in. Technically, it’s whipped cream. Just, you know, whipped cream so thick it eats like a meal.

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

The creme brûlée was baked in a thick dish that gave it a better lemony custard to caramelized sugar ratio than I’m used to. The cheesecake was from Junior’s, so you can come here as a tourist and not have to go to Brooklyn for your world famous cheesecake fix!

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse NYC

Rocco Steakhouse
72 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016 ()

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