Oh No! Not Another NYC Food Blog!

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Benoit

Old school French bistro that’s been around since 1912 in the theater district.

What We Had

We were on our way to a show (Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Waiting For Godot – which was fantastic), so we both opted for selections off the pre theater prix fixe menu.

I had the cheese soufflé, braised pork cheeks, and apple & pear crepe with vanilla bean ice cream.

My DH had the cheese soufflé, mussels and frites, and the cheese selection for dessert.

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The cheese soufflé (we both had shaved truffle over top) was divine. Pillowy, moist, cheesy and rich – it was truly a fantastic start to the meal.

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My pork cheeks were ridiculously good and scratched an itch for broth I didn’t even know I had. The cheeks were tender and the accompanying root vegetables were good, but the real star here was the cooking liquid. Reduced to the point of stickiness, it was the very essence of pork – intensely flavored, deeply fragrant and something I’d like to stick my face into a vat of.

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My DH’s mussels & frites were great – nice crispy fries, good quality mussels – and a good portion of them.

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My apple dessert was fantastic. Not too sweet and not whopping huge, it fit the after dinner bill perfectly.

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My DH’s cheese plate was also great – a nice bleu, a runny Brie, and a mild hard cheese with all the usual accompaniments.

Decor

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Warm reds and woods fleshed out the ceiling sky murals, giving the space an airy yet intimate feel; and the twinkling candle light reflected by lots of mirrors gave a sense that this place is somewhere special.

Service

Great.

Overall Impressions

We did not have huge expectations. First, this restaurant is French – and for every halfway decent French restaurant, there are about 99999 others serving terrible bland food. We’d mostly experienced the latter.

Second, it’s the prix fixe menu – sometimes those are great, sometimes they’re packed with pre-warmed food and so many cost cutting measures that they’re no better than something from a TGIMcFridayBees. We were hoping for the former , but expecting the latter.

I am thrilled to say we were 100% wrong on both accounts. The food was stellar, the service was great, and the atmosphere was really something special. Not only was this meal great value for money, but it gave us enough time to get to our show, and bolstered our stomachs for the frozen chaos that is anywhere within a 12-block radius of Rockefeller Center in the weeks before Christmas.

Rating

5 out of 5 for a fantastic meal, great service, and getting us to our show on time.

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Heart of India

Indian in The Village.

What We Had

My DH and I both had selections off the Prix Fixe $19.99 dinner menu.

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I had the crab samosa appetizer, followed by chicken tikka masala.
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My DH had the meat samosa followed by lamb rogan josh.

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Both meals came with naan and rice.

We also enjoyed a really good assortment of table chutneys (mint and tamarind) & pickled onions with crispy cracker.

All dishes were fantastically spiced and really well balanced. The samosas were perfectly fried and not greasy; the main dishes were deeply flavorful and wholly satisfying.

Decor

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A riot of rich colors and light Indian instrumental music. A good place for a relaxing meal.

Service

Out of the way and polite.

Overall Impressions

A really enjoyable meal for a great price.

Rating

4 out of 5 for fantastic food in a nice atmosphere.

Qi

Pretty upscale Thai near Union Square.

What We I Had

I stopped in to treat myself during a long day of holiday shopping and ordered off the lunch menu.
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I had the Spicy Thai Basil with chicken and steamed chicken & shrimp dumplings.

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Not bad at all. Nice chunks of identifiable shrimp in the dumplings and nice spice to the main dish. Lunch was light enough I didn’t feel too heavy, and had enough vegetables that it didn’t feel overly unhealthy.

I also had a glass of good pinot grigio.

Decor

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Pretty with lots of abacus (abacui? Abacusses?) and sleek furnishings.

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Service

Nice and unobtrusive.

Overall Impressions

Not bad. This looks to be a good date night place and it was certainly a nice lunch break from fighting holiday crowds.

Rating

3.75 out of 5 for solid food in a relaxing atmosphere.

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop

Noodles & rice bowls from acclaimed Ramen guru, Ivan Ramen. This is his first shop stateside.

What We Had

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Classic Shoyu Ramen
soy sauce, chicken + dashi double soup, pork chashu, rye noodle

Classic Shio Ramen
sea salt, chicken + dashi double soup, pork chashu, rye noodle

Yuzu Lemonade

Both ramen varieties looked the same and we had no idea which was which. Both tasted similar.

The noodles were nice and chewy; the broth was well flavored (though not as deeply flavored as our favorite joints – think a touch more delicate than Momofuku).

Not a bunch going on here, toppings-wise. A few pieces of chicken and pork and some strangely tasteless scallions. We both added egg, which was fine.

Overall meal impression was meh. Not bad, but we’ve had so much better.

Decor

Slurp Shop is located in the Gotham West Market – a large food courty type affair with 8 upscale food and grocery vendors, including The Brooklyn Kitchen. It’s an interesting place – very open concept.

Service

Counter service.

Overall Impressions

We won’t be making the long trek Gotham West Market is in Hell’s Kitchen on 11th in the mid-40s — far from our usual haunts special for ramen again. This was good, but not as good as our three favorites; and no where near as convenient to get to.

Rating

3 out of 5 for tasty but not overwhelming noodles in a space with a cool concept, but inconvenient location.

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Alder

More casual-ish offshoot of WD-50, located in the Lower East Side.

What We Had

Like WD-50, the menu at Alder is arranged from smaller dishes to larger dishes and sharing is encouraged.

Smaller Dishes

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Foie gras with pumpkin pie taste, pomegranate jam, maple flakes and cookie crostini — This dish was the first we had and really kicked the meal off properly. Just rich and luxurious enough for foie, with pretty much the essence of fall right there.

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Scotch quail eggs with onion marmalade and arugula — And now I’m spoiled on Scotch eggs forever. Yum.

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Pigs in a blanket – Chinese style duck and pork sausage with Japanese wasabi mustard and sweet chili sauce — I, for some unknown reason, wasn’t expecting much from this dish. I’m happy to say that I was woefully wrong.

Pickled Beets with clouds of coconut ricotta and crunchy Thai basil — Holy wtf. Fan. Freakin. Tastic, and the perfect mid-meal veggie.

Larger Dishes

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Day boat scallops with delicate little hushpuppies, Swiss chard wrap, and fresh kimchi — prefect scallops, little puppie pillows, and some nice little texture going on there.

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Tongue with smoked yucca fritter, pickled cippolini onions, and chimichurri dashi — if tongue could ever be considered sexy, it would be because of this dish. Luxurious and velvety meat tangle with some nice back bone from the fritter and a delicate broth.

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Root beer pudding with smoked cashews — this was so good it made me angry. I kind of had my way with it.

Our food was unreasonably good. I could be redundant and say each and every dish was Amazeballs, but suffice it to say – they all were, and sadly it’s unreasonable to expect every meal to be this fabulous.

My DH had the Reserve Special Black Ale and I had the Doc something to drink. Both very tasty.

Decor

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Modern and cool with slates and woods.

Service

Stellar.

Overall Impressions

There was no doubt that we were going to love this place. We love WD-50, and Alder was no disappointment.

Rating

5 out of 5 for unreasonably good food in a great atmosphere.

The Clover Club

American food + bar specializing in revival artisanal cocktails in Cobble Hill.

What We Had

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I had the Clever Girl Royale – Old Tom gin, vanilla, lemon, blackberries, raspberries & prosecco – Fantastic. Clean, bright and rich – perfect for brunch.

My DH had the Bourbon Bloody Mary – Really deep and complex – maybe too complex? Hits of vanilla and all sorts of stuff. Kept him guessing throughout the meal.

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For brunch, I had the Pork n grits – Braised pork served over cheddar Anson Mill grits, topped with a sunnyside-up egg and crispy shallots. Served with sourdough toast. This dish was fantastic. Hearty, filling and luscious with really satisfying bread.

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My DH had the French Dip (came with simple dressed greens) – Nothing to hide behind here – just a simple sandwich where quality shines through. Great meat and real jus.

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He also had his own side of cheddar grits – which were delicious, even without pork.

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And we couldn’t resist the Bacon Tasting – A selection of three styles of thick cut bacon. Maple bacon, black pepper bacon and duck bacon. Split verdict on the favorite – I loved the duck bacon; the DH loved the maple. All three were awesome.

Decor

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Black & white & dark wood & glass.

Service

Food was really slow, but the service wasn’t bad otherwise.

Overall Impressions

We came on recommendation of a bartender at one of my favorite bars in Manhattan – The Flatiron Lounge. Owned by the same people, both locations make drinks you can’t get out of your head.

Rating

4 out of 5 if you’re not in a hurry for stellar drinks and great food.

Five Leaves

New American gastropub/cafe in Greenpoint.

What We Had

My DH had the Red waddle pork chop with curry roast sweet potato, lime cream, cashews & lardon. His pork chop was underwhelming – he reported that he’s had better at home – which, while flattering, is not something you necessarily want to hear about a $20-something cut of meat. His sweet potatoes were great and I’m going to have to attempt re-creating them, along with the lime cream. He was sad that the lardon was more of a garnish than any real part of the dish. This dish was not bad or memorable.

I had the slow roasted Long Island duck with braised endive, black lentils & fennel-kumquat salad. I really liked mine. The duck was as fantastic as roasted duck always is – with mahogany lacquered skin and luxurious fatty richness. I also really enjoyed the orangey kick of the lentils. They gave a nice counterbalance to the richness of the duck. The big honking roast fennel was a tad awkward, but I love roast fennel so I made it work.

We also split a half dozen market oysters, which were fantastic.

I had a Southern Belle cocktail – black tea infused vodka, lemon, mint & sparkling wine – and it was magnificent.

The DH had a beer.

No dish pics – it was too dark.

Decor

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This is actually a bathroom shot, since the dining room was too full and dim.

Distressed wood and worn leather with iron and warm candle accents in the dining room, rustic ship accents in the bathroom. Eclectic music selection. The ambiance was really good – I was loving the candlelight reflected in water bottles and glasses all around the dining room.

Service

There.

Overall Impressions

Not bad. I’d been excited about having dinner here for awhile – we’re just so rarely in this part of town for dinner – and I’m glad we’ve crossed it off the list. If we lived in the neighborhood, I’m sure we’d go back – my duck was great, the oysters were great, and that cocktail was really something special. As it stands, though, there are many more places in town calling our names — including a really fun looking beer hall type place down the block.

Rating

3.5 out of 5 because mine was great and his was so-so.

Umami Burger

NYC outcrop of a popular California chain.

What We Had

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I had The Original – Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions & house ketchup – cooked medium-rare with no bun.

I also had an order of sweet potato fries with signature sweet salt (brown sugar salt).

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My DH had the Manly Burger – Beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked salt onion rings, house ketchup & mustard spread cooked medium-rare on a bun.

He also had thin fries (plain).

OMFG amazing. Definitely in our top 5 favorite burgers ever.. And that sweet salt … That sweet salt on the sweet potato fries with the diablo or jalapeño ranch sauce – I heard a heavenly chorus. The meat was great – the burger had a perfect hard sear while retaining lots of juice and perfect doneness – and the toppings were all placed in service to umami. Truly fantastic.

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Decor

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Built for mass traffic with durable slate floors, commercial seating and an open floor plan.

Service

We visited on a Saturday around lunch and there was a 10-15 minute wait presided over by an iPad equipped hostess who seemed to be on top of things.

Our server seemed to be operating in a general state of confusion, but still managed to deliver our meals quickly.

Overall Impressions

Zomfg, where have you been all my life? We need to go back soon and often.

Rating

5 out of 5 for a nearly perfect meal. It’s not cheap as burgers go, but it’s worth it – and has officially unseated shake shack as my DH’s favorite burger place burger.

Fiorentino’s

Old school Italian in Gravesend – filled with the local aged population at 5:30.

What We Had

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I had the Pork chop with cherry peppers – a nicely broiled double chop with good peppers – and the
sautéed spinach with roasted garlic in olive oil, which was also very good. Oily, but good.

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My DH had the baked ziti, which was also not bad. Exactly what you would expect, down to the dish it went under the broiler in.

The bread basket was very bountiful.

Decor

Cavernous and dated.

Service

Liveried waiters and white tablecloths speak of bygone eras.

Overall Impressions

Old school but not bad. The menu is varied, the quality seemed to be decent, and they actually seasoned the meat – despite being a hangout for the aged.

Rating

3.5 out of 5 for decent food if you happen to be in the area and in need of a sit-down dining experience.

Potlikkr

New American with a focus on dishes inspired by Southern cuisine in Williamsburg.

What We Had

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I had the corned beef hash with poached eggs and Boston brown French toast – Fantastic. Splendidly caramelized meat, subtly sweet bread and potato mountains. A few of my potatoes were underdone, but still delicious.

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My DH had the Philly French dip with pressed steak, caramelized onions & bell peppers, beer cheese and dipping jus. – Well seasoned steak and a lovely combination with the beer cheese. His only gripe was that the gristle quotient on the meat was high for a sandwich.

I had a tart cherry white sangria, which was happy making and huge.

He had a Bloody Mary with pickled pole beans, which was good but needed a little more salt element.

Decor

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Clean open interior – farmhouse meets modern

Service

Decent service

Overall Impressions

This is a cute little place and I’m glad we finally made it. Can’t wait to come back and check out the dinner offerings. And have more of that sangria.

Rating

4 out of 5 for really tasty food.