Montmartre – Delectable French Cuisine on 8th Avenue

I haven’t been to Montmartre in quite awhile – it was time to give it another go.

It’s still that beautiful space, perfect for a girls night or an awesome date. And the food is better than ever.


Radishes with butter

A lovely, simple, delicious amuse bouche. Spicy radishes, tangy cultured butter, and a few sprinkles of grainy salt. All that’s necessary is a slice of the fresh sourdough bread that also lands on your table.


Chicken liver pate

Very damned good. Sweet, mild, fluffy mousse topped with a layer of sweet onions. It’s minerally without being too rich, thanks to the air incorporated into the mousse. It’s smooth and earthy – very good, though not quite to Sammy’s ethereal level.



If you don’t get these, you are a tool. The fries here are WOW-TASTIC. Crispy and well salted with lip-puckering malt vinegar and the greatest garlic aioli…well, ever. That aioli is good stuff – not quite to Amsterdam’s level, but not too far off, either. Smooth and eggy with just a hint of sweet roasted garlic. Excellent.


Steak tartare

Lovely and a great portion. None of that paltry-appetizer crap here. A hearty portion of tender, meaty beef, hand cut so it still has some heft and pleasant chew to it. It’s not too rich and is properly spiced with pepper, salt, and capers. It’s topped with a tangle of slippery pickled hon shimeji mushrooms and a large paper cone of fresh, whisper thin potato chips. I would get this again in a heartbeat.


Clementine pot de creme

Rich. bright. Topped with buttery shortbread and juicy citrus. What better way to end a lovely meal?

I love Montmartre. It isn’t cheap, but the portions are ample, the food is wonderful, and the service and surroundings are lovely. I can’t wait to go back ASAP.

Colicchio and Sons Delivers on Black Saturday: Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day rocked.

Not because of cards, jewelry, or even candy.

It was dinner.

Dinner was on POINT.

Colicchio and Sons has been on my list forever, but we didn’t get around to eating there till last weekend. For Valentine’s Day. Black Saturday. Ugh. How fair is it to judge a restaurant by its most difficult, busiest, overpriced day of the year?

Even with those prejudices, Colicchio and Sons still delivered.

The restaurant is high ceilinged and beautiful – chic and trendy with a grown up, elegant feel. A perfect date night.

20150214_190600 The Collins

Tomato infused gin, mint syrup, and lemon. Tasty but not amazing. It lacks that earthy, sweet tomatoey taste and the mint syrup is too sugary-sticky for my taste. I wouldn’t rush to get this again – it sounded so promising but failed to deliver.  20150214_192053 Parker house rolls

Warm, soft, and slick with butter and salt. Even better, after we ate 2, they were replaced with an entire new, hot pan. Excellent service on this front. I ate 2 and should have eaten more.
20150214_192104 Crab and cannellini bean fonduta

The warm crab dip of my dreams. Rich, buttery, and creamy. Hunks of sweet crab and soft cannellini bans. Garlicky, salty, and magnificent. This plus the Parker house rolls is quite the combo.
20150214_192849 Egg with caviar and garlic chips

Another winner – light but rich. This is the perfect way to start a meal. The tastebuds are awakened, the senses are aroused, and there are a million textures going on. Soft, crunchy, popping, smooth, salty, eggy, savory…this had it going ON. What’s more, no one could eat more than a few spoonfuls of this, so the serving size.
20150214_192918 Oh yeah. Egg on egg. Just the way I like it.  20150214_193712 Hamachi with citrus and yuzu-ginger emulsion

Wonderful. The hamachi is excellently butchered – entirely smooth and buttery with no unsightly or sinewy pieces. The citrus is vibrant and juicy and that ginger emulsion is cool and spicy – the combination of flavors and execution of this dish is pitch perfect.

(need I say that it was aca-awesome?)

20150214_195536 Squid ink campanelle with whipped lardo and piment d’espelette

The best dish of the night. I was shocked at how fantastic this was – better than any NYC pasta in recent memory. Squid ink occasionally has a bitter or “off” taste to me. This was so subtle. The pasta itself, obviously house made, with a toothsome, chewy bite. The sauce is soft and light, with the unmistakable taste of sweet and earthy pork. the piment d’espelette is spicy but not overpowering, and the sprinkle of breadcrumbs is just perfect – crunchy and sharp against the lush sauce and thick pasta. Colicchio and Sons does pasta RIGHT. 
20150214_195706 Agnolotti with black truffle

Less inspired than the campanelle but no less delicious. Pillows of soft, buttery pasta laden with cream and the heady scent of black truffles. I mean, this is just damned delicious.  20150214_201624 Sea bream with bok choy, coriander blooms, and spiced beets

By this time, I was filled to the brim, but I powered through. The sea bream is fantastic – seared with a crispy skin and moist, flaky meat. The beets are an unexpected and delicious twist on sea bream. They provide a minerally, super earthy counterpart to the fish – soft but not mushy and sweet/fragrant with the coriander blooms. I wish I could have eaten more of this!

20150214_203446 Coconut doughnuts

GOOOOOOD!!!! Macadamia nuts, passion fruit sorbet, and some sort of cherry gastrique. Like the pineapple upside down cake I always wanted, but with coconut. Coconut>pineapple. It’s simple math.  20150214_203452 Lovely mignardises, including an awesome passion fruit chocolate.  20150214_204634 Treasure chest 20150215_144524 Filled with tasty chocolate red velvet bar. For breakfast. Because Colicchio and Sons just gets me.

This was a fabulous Valentine’s Day meal. The food was wonderful, the surroundings are lovely, and the service was a little slow, but for Valentine’s Day, fantastic. I can’t wait to come back on a normal day and try more of the pasta.

Valentines Day 2015 – you win.

Billy’s Bakery – A Chelsea (Trick or) Treat!

Billy’s Bakery. Yes, a cupcake bakery. Shut up, I like cupcakes more than ever now that they are uncool again.

Just like jeggings.

I haven’t been here for quite some time, and wow…I miss it!

The Chelsea shop is diminutive – just a counter, a few fresh faced employees, and a couple of tables and chairs. Feel free to take your seat outside on the bench or bring it back to your casa. Be prepared for an influx of  kids if you go after school, but the scent of chocolate and sugar makes everyone a little kid-like, right?

Red Velvet

These cupcakes really are so good. They are just what you want in a red velvet cupcake – dense and a little chocolatey with a tender, moist crumb. The icing atop is tangy, smooth, and cream-cheesy. I could eat it by the spoonful and I’m honestly a little bummed that I can’t get a cupcake totally enrobed in icing.

20141030_154737 Vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting

Ugh, what a departure from that lovely red velvet cupcake. This cake is cottony and dry with nary a waft of vanilla. The frosting is good – very chocolatey and not at all greasy or chalky – but it can’t make up for that wretched cake. Maybe I got a bad one, but wow…this isn’t tasty.

20141030_154656 Icebox cake

Where have you BEEN all of my life?! Creamy, soft filling with a slight, pleasant tang. Deep, dark, chocolatey cookies that are tender and sweet. It’s like cheesecake-whipped cream-oreo filling-cookie goodness. This is incredibly rich – I couldn’t finish more than half of it, and I really gave it my all. I would get this again yesterday.


Billy’s is a small but generally wonderful bakery. The treats are fairly priced (that is to say, too expensive, but you are willing to pay it), most of the cupcakes are delicious, and the icebox cake is really craveworthy. Enjoy your weekend and make it a cupcake filled one!

Happy Halloween!

Weekday Breakfast at Le Grainne

This is a short and to the point write up:

Le Grainne is a lovely weekday breakfast spot.

It’s on 9th avenue, in that stretch of Chelsea just above Chelsea Market – you know, that street where there are still graceful brownstones and cute boutiques, like NYC wasn’t about to become one big shopping mall.


There is a very small but pretty sidewalk seating area, and inside it’s cozy and Parisian-feeling. The perfect place to catch up with a friend over a bowl of cafe au lait and a crispy croissant.

20140911_093912 Goat cheese and leek crepe

Maybe this isn’t how Parisians do breakfast, but this is how they should do it. Because this is both delicious and wholesome – sure beats that chocolate croissant in the “keeping you full” department. The goat cheese is melty and soft, less dense than cream cheese and with an unmistakable tang. The leeks are a little crunchy for my tastes, so next time I might go with goat cheese au naturel. The crepe itself is expertly prepared – whisper thin and crispy, substantial enough to hold the goat cheese but not at all doughy. The salad alongside is lightly dressed in a mustardy vinaigrette – fresh and tasty.
20140911_093916 This place is charming! The food is lovely, the prices are fair, and the service is a little more laid back than I prefer, but hey…it’s faster than it would be if this place actually was in France!

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Thrice at Cookshop

Continuing with revisiting places I love…


It’s not all about huevos rancheros but it IS all about eggs

20140326_095026 Egg white fritatta with roasted squash, DiPalo’s mozzarella, and walnut pesto

If you don’t think this looks good, just stop reading my blog. This is the PERFECT healthy breakfast. The squash is really sugary, which balances out the verdant, piquant pesto adds flavor to the egg whites. The mozzarella is creamy and stretchy, giving a little richness. And that pesto…wow. Fresh, garlicky, filled with basil and crunchy walnuts. This is just everything breakfast should be – filling but not heavy, multi-textured, and flavorful. Wow.
20140326_095030 Roasted broccoli and cheddar scramble

And if this doesnt’ get you salivating, please forget my name. I mean, for realsies. This is awesomely delicious. Ribbons of tangy cheddar cheese, stalks of sweet, tender but not mushy broccoli, and tons of sweetly caramelized onions. Creme fraiche enriches the scramble and makes it positively creamy. It sits atop a buttery, fluffy biscuit that is more doughy than flaky – hearty stuff that is the perfect antidote to the underdressed salad on the side. This is a great way to feel like a fatty without eating animal products.

Of course, a bellini doesn’t hut either – they make them strong and tasty.

If Cookshop was closer to my home, I would be in serious trouble.

Morimoto – Sensational the Second Time Around

I haven’t been to Morimoto in years. When I went back recently, I almost wept.

How much time I have wasted! How quickly I forgot how delicious the food is!

For a quick description of the ultra modern, dreamy interior, check out my previous review.

And yes, have a laugh at my expense…if I’m not a great blogger now, I was an ABYSMAL one then!

Now, onto the good stuff!

IMG950637 Morimotini with wasabi vodka and cucumbers

A drink worth mentioning. Not too spicy, but with a very slight nasal-clearing aroma that comes off as clean and crisp. It’s almost like a salad – it is light, fresh, and really stimulates the appetite. The alcoholic tang is really tempered by that slight wasabi kick.  It’s easy to drink this too quickly…be careful with this one!

IMG950638 Yuburatta with black truffles and dashi

This delightful play on burrata is actually better than it even sounds. Homemade creamy, smooth ricotta is wrapped in tissue thin yuba skin. When you break it, it indeed resembles burrata both in texture and rich taste. It’s soaked in a salty, savory dashi broth and topped with truffle shavings. Spread on chargrilled sourdough bread, it is UMAMI (in capital letters). It’s so intensely savory from the broth – it really enlivens the cheese and helps the milky, clean flavors shine true. And those truffles almost take it over the top but not quite – it takes the flavors right to the brink of being overpowering without overstepping its bounds. This is a must order.
IMG950639 Yosedofu

Some tableside magic that should make Benihana hang its  head in shame.

Did I just really mention Benihana in the same post as one on Morimoto? I really am FRITOS and foie.

Imagine a 140F bowl brought to your table, filled with soy milk. Imagine a server pouring a few ingredients in there, stirring it, then leaving it in the center of the table with strict instructions to leave it alone. Touch it at the risk of losing a layer of skin and being rebuked by your server.

When the server returns…
IMG950640 The soymilk has transformed into silken tofu! It is cut with a spoon and served with a mushroom broth, dashi soy, and crisped rice.
IMG950642 Transportive. Very light but intricate in flavor and texture. Soft, crispy, silken, meaty…the mushrooms provide heft and earthiness and the pops of crisped rice are unexpected and fun. That tofu is otherworldly. It’s soft but not mushy, with a cloudlike mouthfeel. The broth is very full bodied – meaty, somehow, and savory but not at all heavy or muddy. It’s a clear, clean midcourse…and it beats the hell out of sorbet as a palate cleanser! IMG950643 Miso glazed bone marrow with ikura and chimichurri

The standout dish of the night. In fact, a destination worthy dish. This is unbelievable – by FAR the best marrow that I have eaten in a restaurant ever. Sorry, Ai Fiori. You have officially been displaced. This shows me what marrow can become when it surrounds itself with good influences. The marrow is unctuous and smooth but not totally liquid – it spreads like liquid gold on the thick bread. It is laquered with garlicky, herby chimichurri and salty, briny pops of sake cured salmon roe. It’s a little spicy from the miso glaze, a little floral from the chimichurri, and soft and decadent all on its own. Creamy, zesty, garlicky, and salty…it’s indulgent and it’s perfect to share. It would be far to decadent to enjoy alone but as part of a suite of shared dishes…it’s unbeatable.  IMG950644 Foie gras and eel with Meyer lemon gelee and Asian pear

Decadent and rich. Well seared foie with a crunchy exterior and a still pink, soft interior. The bbq eel is sweet and fatty – it really doesn’t taste fishy – it’s the prime rib of the seafood world. However, next to the foie, it does taste brinier and actually leaner. Of course, next to foie, anything seems like a diet food. The teriyaki glaze is sweet, the Meyer lemon gelle is sour, and the entire dish – minus the sour Asian pears – is unique and delicious.

There were no missteps in this meal – not one. From the excellent service to the hip but welcoming decor to the truly memorable food, it is a night out to remember. Who cares if it’s old hat by now? Who cares if the sushi isn’t the main draw? What matters it that the food – especially that bone marrow – is not only commendable but destination worthy. It isn’t a cheap night, but it is well, well worth the money.

Even the second time around.

Chelsea Market Treats

This weekend, I wound up at Chelsea Market. I LOVE that place! The restaurants, the clothing shops, the food stores…it’s like the mall of my dreams!

And, after all, no matter how I may try to escape it, I am a valley girl. I am bound by my birth to love a shopping mall.

One of my favorite aspects of Chelsea Market is the large food court area with tons of different vendors. Tiny homemade doughnuts, vegan salads and soups, and gourmet grilled cheeses abound. Here are a couple of my favorite treats:

IMG_20131215_145110_551 Thai chicken curry pot pie from Tuck Shop

Australians don’t only get cute accents, they also get meat pies. Aussies love this stuff, and why not? A flaky, buttery crust surrounding savory, hearty fillings is just the thing for a snowy winter (or in their case, a snowy summer) day. This pie really fits the bill. The crust is a little dense and tough, but the filling is excellent. It’s creamy but not gloppy, with a surprising kick of spice – those little plastic cups of Sriracha are not necessary. The creamy coconut sauce is loaded with tender chicken, spinach, soft onions, and other vegetables. There are the aromatic note of kaffir lime and coriander. It’s large enough to satisfy for lunch but small enough to eat quickly. Heartily recommended!

IMG_20131215_180104_694 S’mores candy bar from Liddabit Sweets

It’s not just this bar, it’s everything from Liddabit. The chocolate is all rich and thick, with just the right balance of creamy and bitter. The fillings, from fluffy marshmallows to boozy pecans, are all high quality. Their signature honeycomb candy, in delightfully irregular icebergs, is enrobed in such a thick layer of chocolate that it is more like fudge. The bacon caramel corn is enough to cause a frenzy in our home, resulting in pulled hair and hoarding of said corn.

Liddabit is totally awesome.

As are all of my Chelsea Market favorites!

Arepas, Tartare, and Aweseome Gelato

I have eaten a ton of great food lately – here are some of my favorite gems!

IMG_20130812_140327_739 Arepa from Palenque

When I hear arepa, I think of those floppy, thick cornbread discs filled with rubbery cheese – you know, the kind you find at street fairs. This arepa truck, quite frankly, spun my head right round, right round. The food truck offers all sorts of Colombian food, and the arepa is Columbia’s greatest contributions to the food world. This one is corn (though you can have it made out of yuca, brown rice, or other options), and is topped with incredibly moist, tender Angus beef. Served with mozzarella-like queso de hebra, chipotle mayo, salsa fresca, and spicy cilantro pesto, it is a really filling lunch. For only $8, you can’t really do much better than this. Spicy, crispy, juicy, and awesome.

That’s also the name of my imaginary band.

montmartre 002 Steak tartare at Montmartre

Gabriel Stulman’s Chelsea bistro isn’t  cheap, but it does have tasty, inventive twists on Parisian bistro classics. Take this steak tartare. Hand chopped beef in a very mild dressing with tangy mustard and briny capers. The beef isn’t’ too mushy nor too chewy. The egg yolk is rich and the shallots are just sharp enough. Smear the beef on the airy toasted baguette, and it’s the raw burger of your dreams. Best of all is the lettuce alongside. Yes, I said that the lettuce outlines the beef. The long romaine leaves are dressed in a warm garlicky oil that softens the lettuce and totally elevates the meal. They are crispy, incredibly savory, and when eaten with the beef, brings out the rich, mineral notes. I would come here for the oysters and sweet/salty mustard-dusted fries, but would stay for the tartare.

pix 002 Ferreroand Pistachio Gelato at Fresco

What can I say? This place just makes perfect gelato – yes, I said perfect. There aren’t any awesome toppings or wacky flavors(except for the awesomely tangy/sweet goat cheese flavor). Just thick, dense gelato with intense flavors. It’s the most perfect pistachio gelato that I have ever tasted – deep and nutty and buttery and rich. The chocolate hazelnut flavor is sweet and velvety, like frozen Nutella. It’s uber creamy and rich, with a velvety texture and a taste that is so vibrant that you won’t even want any toppings. It’s a schlep from where I live, but the flavor is so divine that I still say it’s worth the trek.

Willow Road – A Brunch Addiction

Another Sunday, another brunch.
The great thing about bunch is that you can eat a burrito and beer at 9 am or coffee with eggs at 3 pm.

There are no rules and no limitations.

Which is kinda the theme of Willow Road.

pics 001 This Chelsea restaurant (helmed by Top Chef alum Grayson Schmitz, who was in the kitchen the entire time that we were there) is the quintessential NYC spot. Spacious but bustling, trendy but with a cohesive menu, upscale but fairly priced. The feel is very cool but not pretentious – I would eat there by myself at the bar, on a double date with friends, or for lunch with my mom. It’s a really great, unpretentious vibe.

pics 002
pics 005 Grilled graprefruit with mint sugar

The best grapefruit this side of Florida? Yes, I think it is. the grapefruit is juicy and tart but not at all bitter. The edges are crispy and sweet with the caramelized sugar. The mint sugar alongside is the game changer. It’s pulverized until it is super fine and powdery. The mint is herbaceous and fresh without being too menthol-y. Its really just sweet and refreshing. As it melts into a gossamer green liquid over the hot fruit, you may be tempter to lick the sauce off the plate.

If you aren’t invite me over. I’ll do it.

pics 007 Crispy black kale with pecorino, chile, and garlic

Excellent. Crispy, saturated with olive oil but not at all greasy, flecked with spicy chile, salty cheese, and pungent slivers of garlic. This would be at home in any Italian restaurant, and I could imagine that tossed with pasta, it would be an ideal main course.

pics 008 Jar o’ pickled vegetables

Awww yeah. Garlicky, vinegary, storng and pungent. Cucumbers, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, and sweet cipollini onions. These pickles are crunchy, bright, and fantastic. I love them and could order these with a cocktail at the bar for a great happy hour.

pics 011 Seabass escabeche po boy with cucumber, fried shallots, and lemon garlic aioli

This is very tasty, though not what I thought it would be. I imagined  an acidic ceviche style fish. This was more like traditional tuna fish – creamy with crunchy cucumbers and sharply fried shallots on wonderfully crisp bread. It was good, but not outstanding – if I loved tuna salad, I would probably love this more.

pics 012 Mussels a la plancha with chili and green garlic butter

Hands down the best way I have ever eaten mussels. I LOVE the smoky taste of the mussels. Still plump and sweet but with an added savory, almost bitter edge of being grilled, not steamed. The butter is overtly garlicky, somewhat spicy, and perfect in every way. It provides fat and juice for the meaty muscles. Add a spritz of lemon and it’s literally perfect.

pics 014 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolatey. Peanutty. Not too sweet or light – nice and salty/sweet and dense as a brick.

Just like I like it.

Willow Road is a fantastic destination. The service was a little distracted, but extremely sweet and quick to rectify small errors. We arrived 15 minutes before the kitchen closed, and once we were pleasantly asked to order quickly,we were invited to stay for hours, even while the staff started to prep for dinner. The prices are fair, the menu is broad, and the food is wonderful.

Like brunch, this restaurant has many options.

And, like brunch, it’s totally addictive.

Co(pane) Was Worth the Wait

From the lost archives – my review of Co(pane):

I am not the kind of person who runs to a restaurant the day that it opens. I can’t stand lines or being on call-waiting for 30 minutes just to get a reservation. I figure, if the restaurant is great, it will only get better with time and practice. And if it isn’t, then all the better that I don’t waste my time and money while everyone else is doing just that!

So now you know where I stand…but that still does not excuse me.

 Co.(pane) opened in 2009, and I JUST made it here. Jim Lahey, bread guru behind no-knead bread (which, yes, I still have yet to make) and Sullivan Street Bakery (Home to truly delicious pizza bianca and other treats), opened this casual pizzeria as his first foray into New York’s competitive pizza world. Some people loved it, some were less than charmed. So how did it measure up?

 Co is a casual, breezy restaurant with lots of sunlight and a long communal table in the center of the room.

There is also a film projection of a fireplace. Consider me obsessed. Yes, there is a pizza oven behind that somewhere, but really…fake fire is just about the most fascinating thing ever.

 Veal meatballs with homemade sauce, Parmesan and basil, served with bread and butter.

I tried these mostly because Serious Eats had named them some of the 15 best meatballs in NYC. They are indeed delicious, but not what I would call the BEST. All of the flavors were spot on – mild, juicy veal, salty Pecorino and nutty Parmesan cheeses, fresh, acidic tomatoes and sweet basil. It was a textural thing for me. The balls were just too dense for me.

The bread served with it is totally exemplary. Sour, crusty, bouncy, with a loose crumb and some soft, sweet butter on the side.

Escarole salad with bread crumbs, capers, lemon, olive oil and anchovies

A truly awesome Caesar-type salad. Though it lacks the garlicky punch of Caesar, the salty, acidic, pungent dressing is like a breath of salty sea air and is totally amazing. No cheese is needed, with the brine and salt of the anchovies and capers giving the necessary salinity. The breadcrumbs were really freshly toasted croutons; thick, crunchy without and tender within. The escarole has the mild, verdant taste of romaine but the velvety mouth feel and stiff texture of endive.

Bird’s Nest Pie with Oma and Tallegio Cheeses, Asparagus, Quail Eggs and Truffles.

I was originally going to order the Margherita pizza, to see how they do a plain old ‘za, but…hello…truffles.

What kind of heathen doesn’t order truffles when the opportunity arises?

The aroma of truffles was apparent the second the pie hit the table, along with the deep scent of the Tallegio cheese.

Upskirt shot: charred in spots, but not burnt. Pliant but not flimsy. Exemplary crust.

And the pie itself is…fantastic. 

Fresh, light asparagus is shaved thin and piled on raw. Some pieces are snappy and fresh and some are charred to a crispy, almost sugary, carcinogen filled delight. The Tallegio cheese is melty and funky and the Oma cheese is buttery and rich. The eggs are delightfully runny and when broken  they create a rich sauce.

And the truffle. The bewitching, intoxicating, deep but heady truffle. Four thick and hearty shavings of it.

I love truffles.

The dough itself is excellent – not cracker thin, but still managing to be light and pliant and crispy at the same time.

I love this place. Great service, reasonable price point and some really amazing food. The Caesar salad was out of this world, and the birds nest pizza is something I could eat every day of my life.

Co was definitely worth the wait.

Co. (Company) on Urbanspoon