09
Feb
stored in: New York, Seafood

compass lobster

Lobster salad appetizer followed by lobster, clam, mussel AND chorizo gnocchi and then a monster 3 lb lobzilla! Its time to bib-suit up!

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I studied the menu for 5 seconds at this place and I was already drooling; unlucky for my friend to have to see it, but lucky for the menu that it was laminated.  The dinner started off with a chef’s amuse of tempura friend shrimp and a heavenly bread basket. Homemade bread with chives, homemade cornbread and salted butter in HONEY! Why doesn’t every restaurant do this? My friend pointed out that even KFC has honey and butter! Doh… KFC’s biscuits with honey and butter will now be the death of me.

compass salad

Going to make this review short because there’s a KFC within 3 min walking of me…The lobster salad was tasty and refreshing. The slightly salty lobster meat paired well with the sauce and sweet tartness of the grapefruit.

compass gnocchi

The gnocchi wasn’t that good. It kind of fell apart in your mouth and was a bit chalky instead of having the irresistible chewy, sticky yet melt-in-your-mouth texture gnocchi is known for. Can’t complain about the seafood or the always so yum olives.

lobster zoom

Here’s a zoom in.  Now, for the mamacita of all langosta, the 3 pound gigantor of a lobster. I should have gotten a clear picture of the claws but these things were a big as my hand! I was afraid a lobster this size might be a bit tough, but nope, it was tender and sweet and all things lobster. The three types of butter was a nice touch also, I loved the chives butter.

compass dessert

Pretty sad they didn’t have some lobster dessert. I’m reminded of Iron Chef savory desserts, though was a bit disgusted at the uni ice cream they once made. Anyways, this warm spiced chestnut cake with orange confit is probably one of my favorite desserts of all time. Warm chestnut….as a cake!  Oh, and they gave us two coffee cakes for breakfast.

Suck it Ross. Compass, “you’re my lobster”

Compass
208 W 70th St
New York, NY 10023

tabla

Ready? Go. Fresh Western food, fused with Indian style cooking, plated with French culinary precision and created by Floyd Cardoz, a chef from India who trained as a biochemist and battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, Tabla had a chance to be in a world by itself. It’s almost there.

Tabla, derived from a popular Indian drum instrument, lives up to its namesake. Loud colors and bold flavors lead a symphony of high flying creations that vie for all your senses. Don’t come here if you’re looking for the fresh, natural flavors in Californian cuisine. Cardoz is the lord of spice.

fluke-crudo

Fluke Crudo
Beautifully plated, you can see already see the chef’s influence in the spiced cider consume. The flavors were too overbearing however for me to taste the raw fish.

seafood-fricassee

Shellfish Fricassee
Rock shrimp, bouchot mussel & calamari, tapioca, coconut and mango in one dish? I see those ingredients and I think two things. Fried seafood and boba, probably not the best of combinations. But wow, Cardoz hits this one out of the park. Amazing.

mahi-mahi

Blackened Mahi Mahi
Forget the mahi mahi, the smoky curry infused navy beans, spicy linguica sausage and pea shoots were a dish in itself. Thinking about this just makes my mouth water. The fish was fresh and juicy but again, the spice rub was a bit too much and overpowered any natural flavors the fish might have had.

chocolate

Milk Chocolate with Brown Ale Semifreddo Tamarind in caramel? Beer foam with milk chocolate? I first tasted all the flavors separately and declared this a waste of a dessert. Then I tried combining all the ingredients and it blew me away. The semi-frozen milk chocolate was contrasted by the bitter beer foam, while the cashew brittle crumble added texture and the caramel a bit of sticky sweet.

Tabla
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010

Nougatine is a renowned establishment in the Michelin rated Jean-Georges’ restaurant empire. Jean-Georges is known for his daring combination of bold flavors and his ability to create a uniquely textured dining experience. His dishes play to all your senses; smell, taste, vision.

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But chalk one up to the critics of restaurant week. There are no choices in the dinner menu though it does seem to change everyday so make sure to call ahead. You’re might be better off visiting for lunch as that menu has a myriad of food choices. Either way, good restaurants at this caliber shouldn’t be hit or miss.

Our meal started off with the chef’s amuse, a shot of creamed fennel soup with a drop of basil oil paired with fresh crab meat over a crispy wanton skin. Already you have Jean-Georges signature texture. The perfectly crisp wanton skin with carrot brittle mixed into soft delicate crab meat. This all paired amazingly will with the creamy and smooth fennel soup which was bursting with the fresh flavor of fennel. Details make a dish and while the food tantalized my taste buds, the drop of basil oil in the soup wafted through my nose and I was in heaven. It was like taking in a breath of fresh forest air after the rain.

nougatine soup

Unfortunately, things feel back to earth with a crash. The butternut squash soup had too much cream. The salmon dish that came out next looked visually stunning but was absolutely tasteless. The salmon lacked its natural sweetness giving me the impression that it wasn’t all that fresh. I can cook up a better salmon dish any day. The beef was dry and the sauce overbearing. I wasn’t a fan of the texture either; too much going on in this dish.

nougatine dessert

The dessert was a sampling of all their signature sweets. All good but each with flaws I couldn’t pass up. That said, I am still definitely looking forward to eat at his namesake and flagship restaurant, Jean-Georges.

Nougatine at Jean-Georges
1 Central Park W
New York, NY 10023

Co-workers went and tried this out today and easy as cake.

“Starting today and continuing until the end of the month, .

Let’s keep this simple:
Who: You and everyone you know
What: Free Coffee
Where: Manhattan ()
When: February ()
Why: You drink coffee every morning and we think that you would prefer not to pay for it.
How: Walk into participating restaurant and ask for a coffee courtesy of SeamlessWeb. Keep wallet in pocket. Walk away with free coffee!
Catch? None.”

halal

The holy grail of all NY cart food never comes easy. Lines start forming 30 min before they open at 7:30pm and never subside. 4am? Line’s probably a 45 min wait. Rain? Probably a 30 min wait. The lack of tables also means you’re eating on the curb or trying to perfect the asian squat.

The chicken is juicy and the gyro lamb is probably the tastiest gyro meat I’ve ever had. The yellow rice is well flavored and this all comes with a few pieces of amazingly fluffy pita bread. Now, onto the sauces. The white sauce is like crack mayo, something is just so addictive about it, not that I know what…. nevermind, and their hot sauce is just pure evil. You think you know spicy? Try eating fire.

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I suddenly had an intense craving for a heaping bowl of chicken and lamb over rice smothered with their diet busting white sauce and beyond evil hot sauce. Outside it’s 30 degrees below freezing. The snow is coming down hard with wind gusts of up to 30 mph. I stupidly say to myself that there wouldn’t be a line tonight. After 20 minutes freezing minutes, I get my food. 20 minutes after that, I can finally feel my toes and fingers again. 20 minutes after that and my tongue is no longer on fire. Not sure what it is, but this chicken and rice mecca just calls your name. Mine included.

squat

Apologize for the craptastic sneaky photo from my blackberry, but I had include this to show just how crazy addicted people are to this chicken/rice drug. Remember, its 30 degrees BELOW freezing.

53rd and 6th Halal Cart
53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10079

New York is hurting bad.  Only a few months ago, I had trouble getting restaurant reservations and walk-ins were impossible.  Even my local neighborhood restaurants were packed.  Fast-forward to present day and reservations are almost guaranteed and lines are non-existent.  In fact, some nice restaurants are eerily empty on Friday/Sat nights.

It’s no surpise that places have extended NY Restaurant Week (which was already two weeks) to the end of February.  Some have even made this permanent for all of 2009…and some are offering to replace dessert with wine!  This website does a great job at aggregating the data.  Enjoy.  I know I will.

First of all, Asian restaurant and amazing service almost never belong in the same sentence. However, Home on 8th treats service like those Asian parents who would ground and beat you for getting a 95% on your math test. It had to be perfect, and perfect it was. I accidentally dropped a fork and instantly saw the waiter perform a sharp pivot to come and replace it. The entrees were served after the appetizers were finished and the check wasn’t at the table until the table was cleared, leftovers were packed and until we asked for it 15 mins later. No herding you out here.

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It was Chinese New Years and I accomplished quite a few things with this meal. I finally found another good Chinese restaurant in the city. I finally found good food of any kind near Penn Station. Most amazingly, I finally had an ALL vegetarian meal! (if you don’t count the protein shake I had right before. It wasn’t dinner…)

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Onto the food, the Vegetarian Peking Buns (soymeat, scallion, hoisin sauce) had just the right amount of everything. The bread was fluffy, the soymeat lightly pan fried. Great texture, great flavors. The Cold Buckwheat Noodle with Peanut-Vinegar Sauce was very refreshing. However, I like my noodles al dente and these were too limp for me. The dish could have used some cucumber slices to cut the peanut-vinegar sauce as well.

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The String Beans, Eggplant & Bean Curd Sauteed in Spicy Garlic Sauce had bold strong flavors. The string beans were cooked perfectly, crisp and sweet. The Glass Noodle Curry with fried tofu, kabocha, and veggies could have been a bit spicier and the curry slightly thicker and stronger flavored but that’s really me just being picky.

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I may just have to go back tomorrow to try the meat dishes. Thinking about the halibut sautéed in white garlic sauce and black pepper beef are making me hungry…already. It’s a home run on 8th.

Home on 8th
391 8th Ave
New York, NY 10184

Café Boulud: the definition of a 5 star dining experience. Beautiful space, seamless service, enticing atmosphere, impeccable attention to detail, and delectable food.

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House Cured Salmon
Take all your pre-existing memories of cured salmon and flush it down the toilet. Cured salmon / lox dishes have a tendency to be stringy and really salty. These however are thick, sashimi grade slices of salmon. They really just melt in your mouth and have a lingering sweet taste. Simply divine.

squash soup

Winter Squash Veloute
Thick pureed soup bursting with delicate flavors. I couldn’t put the spoon down. This is probably the best soup I’ve ever had.

raviolo

Ricotta & Spinach Raviolo with chicken egg yolk and wild mushroom fricassee
Plated to perfection, this is definitely eye-candy. A very light and refreshing dish with long lasting flavors that seem to dance forever on your taste buds. The egg was slightly overcooked however, sadly failing to spill its golden yolk over the raviolo.

veal cheek

Braised Veal Cheeks
For those readers who haven’t discovered the magic of cheek meat, you’re missing out big time. Always the most tender and prized piece of meat in any animal. There’s fall off the bone tender then there’s Café Boulud’s veal cheek’s tender. I couldn’t have said it better than : “Cooked long and slow, the muscles of the meat break down and become even more tender until they are edible with a spoon. The collagen embedded within the muscles turns to gelatin, cloaking the meat in a full-bodied beefy glaze.” Yah, and you wanted to go vegetarian on me.

banana dessertPassion Fruit and Banana Cake with Banana Mousse, Passion Fruit Gelee and Lime Shebert

chocolate financier

Chocolate Financier: Chiboust Cream, Caramelized Pecan, Vanilla Ice Cream and Crème Brulee on a soft fudge chocolate cake!

I’m not a fan of bananas or chocolate but these desserts may have converted me to the dark side. Café Boulud, I’m in love.

Café Boulud
20 E 76th St
New York, NY 10021

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I’m not the biggest fan of boba drinks, but it seems like the rest of the world is. So when friends want boba, this is the one and only place I’ll take them. Like pasta, boba should be cooked al dente; a little resistance to the bite, firm but not hard, chewy but not sticky. Green Tea Café does it right. Their cold drinks/smoothies are a perfect blend of ingredients and flavors. Their warm drinks are heaven on earth. By far my favorite is the warm black sesame followed closely by the almond.

thick toast

But the real secret of why I bring my friends here? Selfish, hidden intentions! All along, while they enjoy their boba, I had intended to satisfy my food cravings. The fried red bean pastries are warm toasty bundles of O-faces. But speaking of toast and O-faces, do NOT skip the thick toast with condensed milk. No, I’m not sharing. Enjoy your boba suckers!

Green Tea Cafe
45 Mott St
New York, NY 10013

There aren’t very many reasons to leave Manhattan and visit the other NY boroughs….except for food. So when that food comes to you, consider your karma repaid! Anyone want to join me on my bday for this event? Click the banner.

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