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My NYC TOPS list – September 2010

September 2nd, 2010 No Comments

A friend of mine just asked where to stay and chow down while in NYC for a few days.  They don’t have much time so I offered up my TOPS list.

Where to Stay:

The new Trump Soho Hotel

Restaurants:

Locanda Verde – Tribeca, fresh fare, great scene. You need a reservation or just walk in and enjoy a drink at the bar while you wait.

Marea– The hottest restaurant in town right now.  Chef just won the James Beard award. Ridiculously expensive.

Co. – my favorite gourmet pizza that will put Dolce Vita to shame

Alidoro – my favorite local sandwich shop on Sullivan in Soho.  I love the Brando, but you can’t go wrong.  It’s like the Seinfeld soup nazi in there so stick to the menu.

La Esquina – exclusive and delicious Mexican. Get a reservation to eat downstairs, especially for the weekends.  It becomes a fun lounge at night.

Bar on top of the Standard – cozy up in a booth around 4:30pm before the trendsetters descend. Order a martini and a few apps as the sun goes down.  Amazing views!

Morimoto – uber chic Japanese in the meatpacking district.  Best cod I’ve ever had in my life.  Also order the Tuna pizza.  SO GOOD!

Maialino – Danny Meyer’s new spot in the bottom of the Gramercy Park Hotel.  Best for lunch in my opinion.

Kitchenette – The best casual breakfast, go in your sweats. Order the Lumberjack with their famous turkey sausage.

Stumptown Coffee – in the Ace Hotel (29th and Broadway) – Best cappuccino in NYC and where all the cool kids hang out in the lobby.

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September 2nd, 2010 No Comments

 

I don’t know why I came back to Brasil for breakfast this morning.  Actually, I do, the wheat bagel I had last time was so good and the food looked solid.  The coffee was a  disappointment (remember the crater face foam), but I thought why not give them another chance.

Well, I’m sure you’re already shaking your head and don’t need me to tell you today’s cappuccino was almost undrinkable.  Burned beans and thick, bubbly foam. The barista, if we can even call her that, was rude and has no idea what it means to steam milk properly. At least TRY!

And, how….

Watch out, I’m about to go on a rant.

How can a place be nominated for “best coffee shop in Houston” and not serve whole milk.  AT ALL.  No whole milk in the joint. You can’t make a proper cappuccino without whole milk.

And the beans make Starbucks roasts look smooth.

Then, I ordered “breakfast eggs” (yes, I know they’re dangerous right now, but I thought I would just go wild this morning) and a bagel.  My grand total: $12.  Twelve dollars for eggs and bad coffee!

The staff must have been laughing as they watched me move from table to table trying to get a wifi connection.  Thankfully, a nice patron directed me to a corner where I could get online and complain about this poser coffee shop for 15 minutes while I waited for a holier-than-thou goth chick to throw down overcooked scrambled egg whites on my wobbly table.

No, the blonde priss is not pouting in the corner and slamming the keys as she types… but it’s just frustrating that I can’t find a cozy spot that appreciates the simple things in life: a proper cappuccino and eggs cooked beautifully.  I would gladly pay $24 if I could find that little corner of Houston.

On to actual important things.

 

This little hideaway, Agora, is more my speed.  It was also nominated for best coffee shop in Houston and is right across the street from the dreaded Brasil.  Right now I’m sipping on a Pellegrino, so the cappuccino on my next visit will be the true test.

It’s just so pleasant to sit inside this forested little nook that somehow is not stifling hot.

 

 

 

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Not a pretty face.

August 5th, 2010 No Comments

Good morning crater face cappuccino.

Ugh.

After a long night only to be followed by an early morning, I was determined to find a solid cap in Houston.

Big mistake.

I ventured out headed to Inversion on Montrose where they claim their coffee is “artistically inspired and brewed to perfection.” Unfortunately their espresso machine was broken. Seriously? Fail. Then to boehme and Taft Street which were both closed. On my way home I attempted to find Agora which is hidden inside a small forest. Finally I set my sights on Brasil a block away. If it weren’t for Google Maps on the iPad I would have never made it this far.

I stroll in to see platters of fresh scones and I thought I had hit the jackpot.

With my expectations set high (Brasil is up for Best Coffee House in Houston), I ordered my cappuccino, no special requests, even with whole milk.

And this bubbling caldron of coffee is what was set down in front of me. The froth is obviously a catastrophe and the beans taste burned.

Big Frown!

Thankfully, the wheat bagel is DELICIOUS.

So needless to say my early Tuesday morning has been a little rough, but I’m determined to make this another productive day.

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Really + Disappointing – R+D Kitchen (Santa Monica, CA)

December 10th, 2009 No Comments

Really + Disappointing – R+D Kitchen (Santa Monica, CA)

After hearing Andy rave about the cafe on Montana and having one great experience with the chain (at the Dallas location) under my belt, I was expecting great things from R+D Kitchen when we ventured west for dinner on Sunday night.

Founded by the owners of Houston’s, R+D has to meet a certain standard.  We expect flavorful dishes and friendly service in a comfortable atmosphere.  In most cases two outta three ain’t bad, but in this scenario it’s really disappointing.

The menu failed me completely.  Apparently, the restaurant was opened as a testing ground for new dishes for Houston’s and Watergrill, but due to popular demand, began serving a few items regularly.  “Few” being the opperative word here.  The whole menu consists of maybe 20 boring options (including apps) and a couple of nightly specials.  We dined on pasta from a box topped with rubbery chicken meatballs and cold brocolli as well as the boiled cod special, which actually didn’t make me cringe but didn’t blow me away either.  When the server tells you the burger is the best thing on the menu, that should be a sign you did not choose the restaurant wisely.

With Cafe Montana only a few blocks away, I really don’t see the need to waste your time at R+D unless you’re looking for a lite bite in a bar setting or just need a reason to get frustrated.

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December 7th, 2009 No Comments

Lunch today at Boxwood Cafe of the famed Gordon Ramsey in The London Hotel. The hotel and restaurant have received terrible reviews. People are almost angry after eating here. But it is probably one of the most beautiful, modern hotel interiors in the city.

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December 7th, 2009 No Comments

How are you supposed to order from a menu that doesn’t offer a description of the preparation? It’s Gordon Ramsey so I’m just supposed to trust his Spinach salad is good? What if it has fennel??! Well, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Update: The menu inside the restaurant offered the ingredients, but nothing really jumped out at us.  We ordered lattes instead.  After the meeting I hit up Whole Foods for my favorite Broccoli Crunch and  a white chocolate pecan cookie.  Both were AMAZING (yes, you heard me, amazing – which means really good, but not noteworthy enough to think of a real adjective).  I really don’t think Ramsey could beat the combo. Kidding.  I’ll go back again.  And hopefully there will be more people and decent service on my second visit.

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CAFE BOULUD

October 20th, 2008 No Comments

CAFE BOULUD

Wow.

That’s really the best word to capture my feelings about Cafe Boulud.  You really don’t care that you traveled all the way to Upper East Side or that the atmosphere is as stuffy as your grandmother’s closet because the food is just that damn good.

Everyone knows Daniel Boulud is one of the best chefs in the world.  But not everyone has had the pleasure of enjoying his creations.  In the last four weeks, I have eaten at Bar Boulud twice due to the delicious food and casual atmosphere.  Well, casual for a Daniel Boulud restaurant.  His champion restaurant, Daniel, is one of New York’s finest, but not so trendy and fun, so I’ve always chosen a destination downtown instead.  After being mesmerized by Cafe Boulud, I’m getting over my fear of stuffy and moving Daniel to the top of my list immediately.

Back to Cafe Boulud.  There are 4 small themed menus to choose from:  Classic Country, Autumn Flavors, Market Inspired, and World Cuisine.  And of course the tasting menu, which is strongly recommended, but I had to pass on all of that food.  Instead, I chose Fall Squash Ravioli and Vermont Raised Chicken.  Usually I don’t order chicken, but the French really know how to keep chicken juicy.  Across the table was the Thai Coconut and Lemongrass soup and Monkfish.  Every bite was blessing.  The French white (the name escapes me) was so refreshing after all of the California Chards and Pinots I had been drinking.

And after all of that, I couldn’t pass up peeking at a dessert menu that is longer than some dinner menus.  After much debate, I went for the classic molten chocolate cake which did not disappoint.

Overall, it was one of the best meals I’ve eaten all year. Definitely the best French cuisine I’ve had since I was in France last summer.

My Head to Toe: Lunch at Trattoria Dell’Arte

June 24th, 2008 No Comments

The girls and I had lunch at NYC’s PR power lunch spot: Trattoria Dell’Arte.

Head to Toe:

  • Ray Ban sunnies
  • Alice + Olivia dress from last season that didn’t fit Megs (it was too big) so she gave it to me
  • Lai clutch that was a Christmas gift from Megs
  • Bernardo patent flip flops

Thanks for sponsoring my outfit Megs!