Tag Archives: NYC

Michelin Star Report: Jewel Bako

Recently, the revered, Michelin Guide, released its picks for Michelin Starred restaurants in New York and San Francisco for the 2014 year.  For many, like myself,  the Michelin Guide is  for the preeminent restaurants around the world. This year, 65 restaurants made the list, fifty three with one star, five with two stars and seven with three stars with three newcomers: The Musket Room, Carbone and Aska. Among the Michelin starred restaurants, eleven are awarded for their excellent Japanese cuisine including: Masa, Soto, Brushstroke, Ichimura at Brushstroke, 15 East, Jewel Bako, Sushi of Gari, Sushi Azabu, Kyo-Ya, Kajitsu and Rosanjin. Surprisingly, one of the most popular Sushi destinations, Sushi Yasuda did not make the list. Nevertheless, prior to the release of the new list, I had only experienced UES favorite, Sushi of Gari. Gari, which has now expanded to locations in TriBeca and the Plaza hotel (in addition to the UES, UWS and Midtown West. Unfortunately since expanding to the Plaza and TriBeca, Gari has regressed as the menu is less creative (no more Salmon of Gari for instance), become clearly more commercial and touristy and worst of all, akin to Torrisi, is now too expensive for its own good. To me, the proper way to accurately appraise the merit and value of each michelin rated restaurant should be based on excellent attention to detail in the form of service (and frankly should always offer amuse-bouche upon being seated), decor and obviously, outstanding food. For years, I had noticed Jewel Bako’s ascension among the Japanese elite as it has received a Michelin star every year since 2007 and has garnered exceptional praise as one of the “best dates”  in NYC.

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Upon entering into Jewel Bako, which shares space with its sister restaurant, Spanish Tapas Wine Bar, Degustasion,  I was impressed by the restaurants aesthetic beauty. Unlike most other notable venues, that are best known for minimal design, Jewel Bako’s intimate and beautifully designed layout justifies it as one of the most romantic Sushi restaurants in town. Contrary to other restaurant’s space which suggests the sushi bar is the best seat in the house, seating in the dining room is probably the best experience at Jack Lamb’s East Village gem. 

The menu is incredibly unique at Jewel Bako, comprised of several favorable appetizers such as Trio of Tartares (Salmon, Blue Fin Tuna and Yellowtail), a plethora of impressive Makimo Rolls, and delectable large portion sushi entrees such as Selection of Sushi, Sashimi and Makimono Omakase. While the Selection of Sushi ($38) was exceptionally fresh, and frankly a pretty good value compared to Gari’s $52 Gari Special, the most unique dish was the Makimono Omakase (Pictured Above).  Comprised of nine unique tasting of each succulent Makimono Roll, the Makimono Omakase $42 justifies a visit alone. Excellent and creative, the Makimono included: Japanese Snow Crab, Unagi, Scallop, Spicy Tuna and Yellowtail  and Anago among others. Overall, the attentive staff and impressive wine list justifies the high praise and accolade Jewel Bako has received over the years and while there are other equally fresh and delectable Japanese restaurants in New York City, one could argue there may not be a better value and romantic setting than Jewel Bako.

Jewel Bako

239 East 5th Street,

New York, New York, 10003

P: + 1 212 979-1012

Inside Look at Amy Sacco’s No. 8

Amy Sacco

Over the past ten years, Amy Sacco has been one of, if not, the most revered icons of New York nightlife. Following her fame from the uber-cool Lot 61, Amy is best known for the success of one of the most popular and exclusive clubs in NYC history, Bungalow 8. Sacco’s Bungalow 8 attracted the coolest celebrities and A-list personalities for nearly ten years and completely disrupted the nightlife industry by leading the wave of new openings in Chelsea on west 27th street. Following Bungalow 8, Amy opened a Bungalow 8 in London and now is the creative director for LDV Hospitality’s No. 8, which is inspired by the former Bungalow 8. With old faces like DJ Uncle Mike and Disco at the door, No. 8 can be seen as “the Bungalow 8 for 2.0″ according to Sacco. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydzJtv4W8OE

In addition to having great mixologists serving the famous Watermelon Martinis, No. 8 offers a unique dining experience, headed by executive chef, Anthony Russo, from other LDV Hospitality venues, including  Lugo’s. No. 8′s menu uses high quality ingredients, and is comprised of many delectable and succulent dishes including: Lobster Taco’s, Grilled Cheese (another favorite from Bungalow 8), Flat Bread Pizza anTuna Tartare among other noteworthy treats.

No. 8

357 West 16th Street

New York, NY, 10011

P: + 1 212-206-1096

Le Bilboquet Opens with a Bang

After months of anticipation, UES hot spot, Le Bilboquet, finally reopened in its new location next to fi:af on 60th between Madison and Park. While I was initially concerned that opening at a larger venue would undermine Bilbo’s exclusivity of being small, intimate space, the new location in many ways works better. Now offering space for up to 100 patrons and more room for unique art by Peter Tunney, Bilboquet’s new space epitomizes the restaurants maturity, success and clear fact that it indeed ranks among NYC’s elite restaurants, beyond just a UES hangout.

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Despite the larger setting, the restaurant maintains its people watching, long waits and extremely difficult tables that require “reservations” or in other words, connections to be seated.  As expected, prices have slightly increased, portions are slightly less substantial and the attitude is just as arrogant as the original but one thing is clear, Bilboquet remains the hottest restaurant on the Upper East Side.

Le Bilboquet

20 East 60th Street

New York, NY, 10022

P: + 1 212 751-3036

Lafayette Everything Balthazar Isn’t

Among the most highly anticipated openings this Spring, Lafayette is arguably the most talked about restaurant to open in some time.  Andrew Carmellini, Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom, responsible for the immensely popular The Dutch and  Locanda Verde are behind the new 150 seat French Bistro that is in the former Chinatown Brasserie (and club Rehab/Fez).  In addition, Tom Colicchio’s longtime partner at Craft, Damon Wise, is responsible for curating what is a very attractive and excellent menu. While many french bistro’s abound in New York, seldom do restaurants have the range, depth and innovative creativity that Lafayette‘s possesses. While Lafayette’s menu is comprised of a French-Gallic influence, it is best described as being very South of France, thus incorporating traces of Italian and French. As a result, the menu offers a unique combination of french bistro classics including: Beef Tartare, Grilled Mediterranean Octopus, Oysters Sargent and Steak Frites. In addition, the menu is also comprised of exceptional Italian pasta’s including: Linguine Noir with Seafood and Chorizo, Macaroni with Veal Ragout and Brebis, and Spaghetti Nicoise with Tuna, which is a unique French-Italian hybrid.  While there is no one stand out “signature dish” the two big winners are the Duck Au Poivre and Rotisserie Chicken. The Duck Au Poivre is served with organic grains, radish and smoked bacon. In addition to Au Poivre being highly unique way of preparation for french bistro’s, the Duck was exceptionally tender, flavorful and exquisite.

Lafayette

What stands out at Lafayette, in addition to the outstanding food and impressive menu, is the scene. Located on the corner of Great Jones and Lafayette, in the heart of NoHo, Lafayette is currently one of the most talked about “it spots” in town. On a Tuesday evening at 930P.M, the restaurant is completely full, with what would appear to be a unique blend of  discerning foodies, socialities and tastemakers. Usually, restaurants that are “scenes” are not known for their food (I.E: Waverly Inn). However, Carmellini’s Lafayette defies conventional thinking. Rather than be known as a scene for the scene, why not be a scene because of the delectable cuisine? Despite close proximity to perennial favorites Bond St., Indochine and Acme, Lafayette is immediately  not only among the best French bistro’s in town, but also, is a legitimate scene comprised of some of Manhattan’s finest (that is not a tourist trap) that in many ways represents everything Balthazar was but no longer is.

Graydon Carter’s, Beatrice Inn: the Quintessential Clubhouse for the A-List

Upon descending into the West Village speakeasy, I immediately am confronted with a moment of deja vu as I cogitate and reminisce of the former Beatrice Inn, headed by Paul Sevigny and Matt Abramcyk, which ruled the NYC nightlife scene for over two years in the late 2000s. Best known for attracting models, socialites and heavy party animals, The Beatrice Inn was the place to be at the pinnacle of its brief existence. However, over two years following the Beatrice’s demise,  Vanity Fair icon and Editor in Chief, Graydon Carter, announced his plans to transform the former denizon of transgressions into an upscale, neighborhood chop house. Considering Carter’s massive success with the celeb infused Waverly Inn and takeover of midtown’s Monkey Bar, hype immediately emerged regarding Carter’s third undertaking.

Following the soft opening in late 2012, The Beatrice Inn, like Carter’s previous two “clubhouses” received less than favorable reviews regarding its menu and in fact dealt with high turnover as Per Se alum, Brian Nasworthy, only lasted a few months, prior to being replaced by A Voce, alum, Hilary Sterling.

Beatrice Inn

It’s five past Nine on a Friday evening and the front bar is bustling with beautiful people. Akin to the Waverly, the Beatrice’s bar deserves tremendous praise as it not only represents a great place to hang before being seated, but is also acts as a perfect destination to people watch and grab a speciality cocktail before going out. After hanging for nearly twenty minutes, our group was seated. Overall the room was packed, with nearly every table comprised of an eclectic mix of upscale, discerning patrons. The range in age reminded me of a typical upscale restaurant in Paris where no definable age bracket abounds. As we approached the table, I noticed Sting and his wife seated to our right, which underscores the power and influence of Graydon Carter.

Although the menu is limited, it nevertheless is comprised of some auspicious starters including: Garoe Sausage ($15), Marinated Beets ($15) and Dumplings ($14/$26) . The Garoe Sausage (Wild Boar, Squash Brodo, Egg Yolk and Pine Nuts) was small but tasty and the Marinated Beets (Pistachios, Foie Gras, Tardivo and Orange) was quite good. In fact, Carter and Sterling’s menu is indeed vegetarian friendly, focusing on a plethora of vegetable based sides and appetizers that are worth a try. The standout starter were the Dumplings, which were served hot, including ham, goat cheese and gnudi. While the price based on the miniscule portion was prohibitive, the soft texture and creativity of the handmade dish, which reminded me of a warm mozzarella side I relished at one of my favorite’s, Antico Arco, in Rome, is easily one of the best on the menu.

While the menu is devoid of any one standout entree, it features american classics including: Roasted Chicken ($26), Halibut ($32), New York Strip ($45), Veal Breast ($29) and Lamb Porterhouse ($45). Like the Dumplings, quality over quantity abounds at the Beatrice as portions are relatively small but yet the substance and epicurean is omnipresent.  Overall, the food and menu at the Beatrice does not encapsulate the modern speakeasy’s brilliance and charm and unique character. The Beatrice Inn stands out amongst many pretentious “wanna be” sceney restaurants because it does not pretend or try to be cool, it is cool. Carter forwent a active website, omits to publicly display a number (a mobile number is used to confirm reservations via text) and continues to fortify his most recent creation by maintaining a very “in the know” crowd, thus, creating a level of comfort and social affirmation. In a city that is inundated with private membership clubs and modern speakeasy’s, The Beatrice Inn represents one of the most genuine and sophisticated rooms that proves to be a quintessential clubhouse for the A-List.

The Beatrice Inn

285 West 12th Street

New York, NY, 10014

La Goulue to Reopen, Cafeteria to Expand to TriBeCa

La Goulue

Longtime French favorite, La Goulue, which closed in 2009 after 36 successful years on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side has plans to make a return to the UES after years of speculation regarding its plans to reopen. According to Grubstreet, La Goulue plans to reopen on East 61st street in the near future, finally confronting years of uncertainty created by Jean Denoyer who proclaimed he was “aggressively looking for a new spot” following the closing in 2009. La Goulue’s plans for returning to the east 60’s will certainly spark controversy as longtime French favorite, Le Bilboquet, also plans to reopen on east 60th this Spring. For now, foodies who can not wait til La Goulue’s return can still enjoy delectable french cuisine at its sister restaurant, Orsay on 75th and Lex.

Cafeteria

As if one was not enough, long time Chelsea hot spot, Cafeteria, will be expanding to TriBeCa in the newly designed Cosmopolitan Hotel, which is currently under renovations, according to DNAInfo. While the TriBeCa outpost will not be open 24 Hours like the original in Chelsea, it will serve iconic American dishes like the Mac and Cheese and Meatloaf til 2A.M. Considering Cafeteria’s failed expansion to Miami a decade ago and the fact it has a sister restaurant, Delicatessen in SoHo, it will be impressive to see the second outpost succeed.

Momofuku Ko To Celebrate 5 Year Anniversary with 2 Night Special

In celebration of Momofuku Ko’s five year anniversary, David Chang will host two nights of specials that will bring it back to 2008, when the restaurant opened, by featuring some of the original chefs and dishes from five years ago. In addition, Momofuku Ko will serve its prix fixe for the original price of $85 per person, a $40 reduction from the current $125 a head. According to Chang, the restaurant will begin to take reservations online starting tomorrow (Friday March 15th) at 10A.M. Please refer to Momofuku Ko’s website to secure a ressie.
Momofuku Ko

Momofuku Ko
163 First Avenue,
New York, NY, 10003

Torrisi Team Unveils Carbone in SoHo

Carbone

The boys behind NoLita Italian favorite Torrisi (and Parm), Jeff Zalaznick and Rich Torissi have collaborated with Mario Carbone to open a new Italian gem, Carbone tonight (Friday March 8th). Located on 181 Thompson Street, Carbone boasts art curated by Julian Schnabel’s son and uniforms for the waiters designed by Zac Posen. According to Carbone, the restaurant will play on the theme of fine dining from “Midcentury Italian American.” Carbone will feature a plethora of pasta’s, beef carpacio, caesar salad and lobster fra diavola among other delectable dishes. Based on the success of both Torissi and Parm expect Carbone to be a hit.

Carbone
181 Thompson Street,
New York, NY, 10012
P: + 212 254-3000

Plaza’s Food Hall Expands; Adds Sushi of Gari and Luke’s Lobster

This afternoon, the Plaza’s Food Hall will expand, adding ubiquitous brands Lady M, Luke’s Lobster, Sushi of Gari, William Greenberg Desserts, Tartinery and Pain D’avignon among others. Overall, the move not only verifies the success and relevance each brand possesses but more importantly demonstrates an aggressive move for the Plaza to re-brand its Food Hall. While the Food Hall has enjoyed some success since it opened in 2010, it was always confronted with the challenge of overcoming prohibitive prices for mediocre food.

In addition, the food sold previously at the Food Hall failed to associate with noteworthy brands, such as William Greenberg, Lady M or Sushi of Gari. Nevertheless, the decision to add these omnipresent merchants to what is clearly a touristic dominated venue is genius. Now, tourists do not have to travel around New York, going from Upper East to SoHo to Midtown to try their favorite brands. While the Food Hall was not too busy despite its opening this afternoon, it is only a matter of time before lines emerge.

 

Food Hall @ Plaza Hotel

1 West 59th Street,

New York, NY, 10019

P: + 1 (212) 986-9260

Bill’s Bar and Burger @ Tuscan Turkey Burger

In a city inundated with superlative burgers, New York may be one of the most difficult markets to successfully distinguish a burger amongst the rest of the competition. Nevertheless, despite the profound competition that exists, including classic burger spots: J.G Melon’s, P.J Clarke’s, Burger Joint and Spotted Pig among others, Bar and Burger has gained a tremendous degree of buzz and hype surrounding its selection of burgers. Among several delectable choices including: Bill’s Burger, BBQ-Bacon Burger and Spicy Jalapeno Burger, I went with the Tuscan Turkey Burger.

Prepared with freshly ground Turkey meat, the Tuscan Turkey Burger is mixed with aged Provolone, Mustard Aioli, Onions and Tomato on a Multi Grain Bun. Overall, while the portion of meat could have been greater (only 6 oz), the quality of the meat was impressive. In addition, the selection of aged provolone combined with the mustard aioli was delicious. While Bill’s Bar and Burger may not be on the level of Burger Joint, P.J Clarkes or J.G Melon’s, it deserves to be considered in the conversation regarding the city’s ten best.

Bill’s Bar and Burger Meatpacking:

22 9th Avenue,

New York, NY, 10014

P: + 1 (212) 414-3003