Archive for the ‘seafood’ Category


Cousins Maine Lobster, 77 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010, USA Phone: +1 212-651-4293 – If you are heading to CML, expecting the same price tag than at a seafood shack in the Maine, then you are seriously delusional. It is a fast food-truck franchise selling very good lobster meat in a big western city that is known for the hefty prices of its dining scene. Once I got  past that, everything I found here, as far as food goes,  was  hard to improve upon :

I did request my lobster roll connecticut-style (the top split bun served warm, the lobster flesh seasoned with a spritz  of lemon juice). It came with a slaw of quality cabbage which seasoning was light in order to let the cabbage express itself. With cabbage of such quality, that was the right thing to do (too bad the salad was  a just a meager spoonful of that superb cabbage). The wild caught lobster meat of my lobster sandwich  had its fresh maritime fragrance in evidence, the meat speaking for itself .

The tater tots were also flawless:  freshly fried with the right amount of heat and a superb taste. I know, it is not rocket science to make that tot, but they did an excellent rendition of it.

I also tried the lobster tails, which small size could hardly   charm someone like me who grew up in a fishermen’s village with plenty of massive lobster tails to be found everywhere , but in the context of a fast (sea)food joint, if they had to sell the sort of lobster tails that I am talking about, they may as well open a seafood restaurant. The tiny lobster tail was still of good quality, its cooking beautifully timed.

Bottom line:  Is there better lobster roll in NYC? I know there are many great lobster rolls in NYC, but this one is among the very best lobster rolls of NYC. But it was not just about the sandwich as every single food item   was executed with finesse and featured great flavours, timed temperatures and enticing textures. The price tag, oh..the price tag…I know. Not cheap.  Like most people, I am skeptical about chain eateries, but they gave me no other choice but to surrender: there was nothing that I could fault.  The cousins deserve their nation wide success story. 8/10

Tasting some of world’s better oysters in Southern France + In Fontjoncouse I tried what Michelin dubs a “special journey” + Paris lost one of its best classic French restaurants (Moissonier) + The best and the worst food of 2016 / 2017 + The reviews that you have perused the most in 2017 + Cannot wait to try world famed Sorbillo Pizza in New York

Posted: January 3, 2018 in aged beef, Best and worst food of 2017, Best and Worst restaurant dishes of 2017, Best meals, Best oyster, best pizza, brooklyn, Mediterranea, new york, oyster, seafood, steak, steakhouse
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Welcoming this new  year with an overwiew of the highs and lows of my 2016/2017 foodie adventures:

The best  meals of 2016/2017:
Le Coucou (NYC), Sushi Azabu (NYC), Dons Bogam (NYC) , Hvor (Montreal) — but Chef S’Arto Chartier-Otis does not work there anymore, Pamika brasserie Thai (Montreal), Ichimura (NYC) but Chef Ichimura does not work there anymore, Nozy (Montreal), Cocoro (Montreal), Argo (Fira), TO Ouzeri (Fira), Old Tavern of Psaras (Athens), Mere Michel (Montreal), Kelsey & Kim’s southern cafe (Atlantic City), Junior’s (Brooklyn), Jordan’s lobster dock (Brooklyn), The River Café (Brooklyn), La Caye (Brooklyn),  The steak at Wolfgang steakhouse Park Avenue (NYC)

The most memorable food items of 2016/2017:
1.Le Gâteau Mollet du Marquis de Béchamel et la Glace Fondue à la Rhubarbe (Pres d’Eugenie)
Wall of fame material.
2.Rutabaga fettucine, black truffles, hazelnut butter, mimolette cheese (Hvor, Montreal) – Lifetime achievement award!!!
3.Roasted pineapple (Le Coucou) –
They all say they can make it. In reality, few, very few can pull out some roasted pineapple of this quality.

My GO-TO places:

La Frite à Brigitte (Vaudreuil-Dorion). When I discovered Quebecois classic food, I was filled with awe. Simple French-based food but full of dazzling flavors. Quebecois people have an awesome palate. They have glorious food items like the Poutine. French fries, gravy, cheese curds. Sounds straightforward, right? Perhaps, but Poutine is one of the best inventions of all times. It is so tasty, so well thought, so great. La Frite à Brigitte is currently my GO-TO place for their superb poutine . I keep going there for more. La Frite à Brigitte Addr: 347 Boulevard Harwood, Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC Phone: (450) 510-5151. My other GO-TO place in Montreal is Reuben’s Deli & Steakhouse. I never tried any steak there, but their delis are some of the most refined and better executed of this globe. They seem to pull off great things after great things at Reuben’s: some of the best strawberry cheesecakes in town, the best sliders I ever had in Montreal, etc. I am not implying that it is the restaurant of the century, but at whatever it does, it consistently  outshines its competitors.  Reuben’s Addr: 1116 Sainte-Catherine W. Montreal, Qc Phone: 514-866-1029. My other go-to places in  Montreal: Gyu-Kaku, the current best local table top bbq grill restaurant.    Ichi Go Ichie (the best Isakaya, right now, in Montreal) , Escondite (the best local tacos and tequila bar),  Panama, my preferred Greek eatery in town, as well Loukouman Addr: 522 Jarry Ouest Montréal, Québec, H3N-1E9 Phone: 514-272-5272  (indeed, some of the best loukoumades in town eventhough they do not use the pricey honey that I am usually fond of, but regardless, they are as fine as you will get them in town, better than the ones of Mr Puffs, most Greeks will tell you, and that is what I think,  too). Another go to spot is Nouilles de Lan Zhou.  I also tried   Souvlaki Bar (the one in Laval) as well as the Marathon that is at 3313 Boulevard des Sources, Dollard-des-Ormeaux (the Marathon in Laval is disappointing) and both were good by Montreal Souvlaki Chain eateries (food cooked to order, the pork souvlaki as tender and meaty as it should at Souvlaki bar, the gyros you should prioritize at Marathon, the ingredients are fine at both places). Talking about Greek eateries  in Montreal, I had some of the best pork souvlaki in Montreal around 25  years ago at a place called Marvens in Parc Extension. Marvens used to also serve one of the very best homemade sauce, their special sauce boasting a light orange hue. Remembering how great it used to be, I went back this past summer and I am saddened  to submit that Marvens’s star  has faded: the special sauce is so sour, nowadays, that it made the food almost inedible. Inedible is also how I would describe the once stellar pork souvlaki which consistency is nowadays dry and tough. People who knew Marvens 25 years ago will be in a serious shock.  Away from Montreal, I am  a big fan of Jordan’s lobster dock (Brooklyn) that I never fail to visit every time I find myself in New York. Their seafood is so popular that it is even exported to Canada. This is the best seafood shack of  New York city. Jordan’s lobster dock 3165 Harkness Ave, Sheepshead Bay – Brooklyn, NY 11235 United States; Phone number (718) 934-6300; URL: .

The best food items of 2016/2017:
1.Mustard ice cream, grilled leavened bread, green tomatoes (Hvor, Montreal) – WOW!
2.Carpaccio of Quebec’s lamb, grated prosciutto (Hvor, Montreal) – You die  and are resurrected just for that!
3.Braised oxtail / potatoes (Le Coucou, NYC) – Even a 3 star Classic French Michelin restaurant in France would be J*E*A*L*O*U*S!!
4. Sea eel (anago) nigiri (Ichimura,NYC) – I thought this nigiri was  flown in straight from one of the best sushiyas of Tokyo!!
5.Langue de boeuf/ pommes/arachides/vinaigrette gingembre (Marconi, Montreal) – Ok, my life did not feel shattered, but damn ..that was GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6. The ramen at Cocoro (Montreal) – SLURP! …because, in the ramenya world,  that is the way to show how enchanted you were, about your ramen!
7. Grilled goat at Petite Ya quartier (Mtl) – With flavors like these….Oh you, Mother Africa, you make it impossible …. to stop loving you!

-The LOWS:

-The overall experience at Torishin (NYC)
-The oysters at Docks Oyster House (Atlantic city)
-All the food at Vizantino taverna (Athens)
-My meal at Miss Favela (Brooklyn)


The reviews that you have perused the most in 2017: The review on Montreal steakhouses is the one that you keep favoring the most year after year.  It is an old review, dating back to  2013. Definitely not the review that I was expecting  to captivate any attention  on this blog, but somehow you like it.  At some point I did consider removing all posts of more than a year on this blog, as they become irrelevant,  but it would be a  nonsense to do so (I never saw a food blogger proceeding that way). The second most popular review was the one on Sushi Sawada (Tokyo). I am glad to see that you were interested by that review as it proves one thing: people are, sometimes, more interested by the content of a review, the technical aspect of the food that  lies before them (is it well conceived, does it respect the fundamentals of good cooking, you know…the right texture, the right temperature, etc) , rather than food porn (sexy instagram-esque pictures —  I was ready to shoot the pictures, actually, but we have got to respect the rules of a house, which, in the case of Sawada, forbids photo taking to normal diners). The 3rd most popular posts are  the ones on Dons de la Nature(Tokyo) and this post I wrote on Gault Millau Montreal/Yakitori Otto/Bombay Mahal Tali/Chez Jano.

4th most popular post, among you – The review on Argo (Fira) as well as the one on Kam Fung (Montreal)
5th  – L’Arpege (Paris)
6th – Ishikawa (Tokyo)
7th – Nice  (Cote d’Azur)
8th – Sushi Oono (Tokyo)
9th – Kanbai (Montreal)

This  web blog’s main intent is to cater to some close foodies with whom I share information about places where to dine at.  In the process, it benefits to the rest of the web as well – obviously. It is also an opportunity to have a firm  idea of how the information on the web is manipulated by many  individuals of the restaurant world (expecting otherwise would be utterly naive … ): although I was pleasantly surprised by the considerable amount of hits on the 9 posts I have just mentioned above (numbers that could almost rival those web sites that have a PR machine behind them — certainly a surprise for a web site that is anonymous like mine), it is clear that some  restaurants around the globe are paying the search engines to filter what can be found on them. That makes sense as it is all about business, protecting business, masquerading their failures as success, etc, and it takes a non restaurant-friendly source like the current  blog to remind you of that. Apparently, based on the wordpress stats of this blog,   you do  not care  for some of the very best restaurants of this globe …  Trattoria Vecchia Roma offers some of the best Traditional Cucina Romana in the world.  Sushi Azabu, Ichimura (New York) are some of the best sushiyas outside of Japan. Le Coucou (New York), one of the best French restaurants outside of France. Dons Bogam  (New York), one of the best Korean BBQ outside of South Korea.  Le Casse Noix (Paris),  has some of the best  riz au lait and Ile flottante in the world. Readers of this blog could not care less. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I believe that    truly exists.  Lol…a nonsense as those restaurants are some of the most popular of this planet…

Paris lost one of its best classic French restaurants (Moissonier) –  Moissonier , which  had  the best French pike quenelles as well as rice cake  of Paris, did close this summer. Paris will never be the same without  this restaurant which served classic French food from Lyon and Franche-Comté as remarkable as the impressive resume of its Chef (an Ex sous Chef of culinary legends such as Alain Senderens, The Troisgros family). Certainly  the sign that people, nowadays, are more interested by hype rather than substance: the closure of this restaurant did not make the headlines…  Moissonnier Addr: 28, rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, Paris, Phone: 01 43 29 87 65

My special journey in Fontjoncouse – According to the Michelin guide, their 3 star restaurants “worth a special journey”.  L’Auberge du Vieux Puits in Fontjoncouse is a 3 star Michelin restaurant that is considered as one of the very best French restaurants in the world by those in the know. I had lunch and dinner there. You will find more, about my meals at L’Auberge du Vieux Puits, here.

A stopover in Northern Catalonia’s Perpinyà  – At approximately 60 kms away from Fontjoncouse, you will find   Perpignan. Northern Catalonia was Spanish, then became French in 1659. It is an area that the French call Pyrénées-Orientales.  In Perpignan, I tried Le Divil which was recently credited with the title of the best restaurant for meats in France by Internationally acclaimed  steak expert Franck Ribière of the movie ‘Steak Revolution‘  (click here for that review) .

I was born to the sound of the sea waves hitting the rocks – It is magical. It really is, because all your life you remember the smell of that sea, the noise of the waves hitting those rocks and the treasure you sometimes found on those rocks. On those rocks, there were ..oftently..oysters! One of the ‘gemstones’ of the sea.  Decades later, oysters do not stop to fascinate me. While in Southern France, I had another opportunity to flirt with them, once again. This time, they were in one of France’s most important destinations of oysters, Leucate. Leucate is a commune in the department of Aude, a department with some of France’s most picturesque communes (Peyriac-de-Mer, one of its communes, has the potential to leave the most in awe). Most part of Leucate is composed of swathes of  beautiful landscapes (beaches, blue waters, the sea, the mountains).  Unexpectedly, the oysters ..those jewels of the sea…well, it is in the less pretty part of Leucate that you will find them. An area called Le Grau de Leucate where less than 30 oyster stands are offering the local Cap Leucate oyster. An hour away from Leucate, I had  the opportunity to taste some  dazzling oysters in Bouzigues which is located on the northern side of  the  Étang de Thau (famous for its oysters). In Perpignan, I pursued with the spéciale de claire and pousses en claire of Alain Laugier Goulevant from Marennes-Oléron and  I feasted on some  cupped (creuses) Prat-Ar-coum  oysters  as well as some Aber-Vrach flat (plates)  oysters  of  Yvon Madec at the  seafood restaurant 7 ème Vague Boniface .  I also found some of my preferred oysters of France, Yves Papin ‘s bivalves, in Perpignan.  All world class oysters.


Cannot wait to try world famed Sorbillo Pizza in New York – New Yorkers, those lucky bastards! Lol. They attract the best of the best! Sushi Saito (Tokyo) is the current best sushiya in the world. Guess what… they had one of their Chefs who was ready to go working abroad, but it had to be ..guess where…in NYC, of course (Chef Shion Uino now working  at Sushi Amane at Mifune ). You remember the legendary Jiro, of Jiro Dreams? Well, that is not ‘new’ news anymore, but his apprentice  Nakazawa (one of the main characters of the movie Jiro Dreams) is ..guess where? Examples of great Chefs attracted by New York are endless (Ferran Adria, Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Rene Redzepi, Massimo Bottura, Enrique Olvera), with the latest being Legendary Neapolitan Pizzaiolo Gino Sorbillo. I have long been fascinated by Pizze, particularly the Neapolitan Pizza. Actually, my next major ‘foodie’ project is to spend 3 months in Naples and review every single of their Pizza shops (a bit like what this guy did, many years ago, but I will stick to Naples, world’s ‘temple’ of the Neapolitan Pizza).  It took me a while to be prepared for this project: first, I wanted to spend years tasting all sort of Neapolitan pizze, understanding  the techniques, the ingredients, etc. I did that for the past 20 years and do, consequently, nowadays, feel ready for the last step before visiting all the Pizza shops of Napoli:  doing an apprenticeship at 3 of the best Pizza shops of Napoli. This will not be easy, perhaps even impossible, but where there is a will, there is a way!  If that happens, the 3 shops will not be reviewed  (I am a bit ‘old school’ about this, and do have nothing against those who think otherwise — I mean we are in an era where most critics do not care about such details — but I insist on never reviewing establishments that I am familiar with), but revealed, of course  (I would like the relevant blog to feature videos of what I am learning at those shops, as well as detailed written  accounts of my journey as an apprentice pizzaiolo in Napoli) .  Regarding Sorbillo NYC, expect the food journalists of  NYC to review it inaccurately as they never went to Napoli and will review this shop with their North American taste. You will not fail to identify those who have no clue of what to expect from a Neapolitan pizza: they will complain about the crust being a bit limpy (Americans prefer a crispier crust). Well, it is the way it is done in Napoli, folks! If you want a pizza which pie is crispy, them opt for a Roman style pizza or any of  your usual  Italian-American pizze. In the meantime, Sorbillo NYC, here I come !  Zia Esterina Sorbillo  334 Bowery Street at Bond Street, NYC Phone: (646) 678-3392 Facebook:

The GREATEST CHEFS of the globe – My generation was gifted with some of the most talented Chefs of all time. One of them was Jacques Maximin. Chef Maximin  has inspired legends such as Ferran Adria as well as highly regarded Chefs like  Franck Cerutti, Christophe Moret or Bruno Cirino. Nowadays, he is not an active Chef anymore. He stood out for his impressive creativity. Oftently, he was able to create, with limited time, what many of the  other legendary  Chefs would, sometimes,  take ages to achieve. Perhaps the culinary Genius who had the more wit, the best natural instinct when it came to Classic French cuisine:


Series “Follow this CHEF” – There are NOT that many TRULY talented world class Chefs around the globe at this moment. Many are marketed as such, for sure, but few are THAT talented. One superb talent is Chef David Bizet. He is largely considered, by those in the know,  as one of this globe’s  most underrated star Chefs right now. David is relatively young, and yet he has been the right hand of several multiple  michelin starred Chefs (Christian Lesquer, Phillipe Legendre, Eric Briffard). David will, sooner or later, have  its 3 Michelin stars and he will deserve them (which is not the case of some Michelin triple starred chefs who earned their stars just by following following the ‘checklist’ of what it takes to get there). For now (January 2018), David is at the helm of L’orangerie (Four seasons)  in Paris.

New York City’s Michelin Stars for 2018  –  I do not understand the Michelin guide (yeah, I know, it is trendy to say so, in the anti-Michelin circles, but it is NOT better in the anti-Michelin world, neither! ) on one hand, you have plenty of Japanese restaurants in NYC  that are awarded stars, and deservedly so… because, yep, truth be told,  we are talking about hard working people, proud of their craft rather than a bunch of money hungry bums disguised as restaurateurs as widely seen elsewhere in some other supposedly food cities. But then, why demoting Jean-Georges? I do  oftently visit  NYC and do know Jean-Georges well  and there is no difference between  Jean-Georges  in its current form Vs the one of the other years. Same for Daniel, btw! Is it, because Michelin, came to the conclusion that they should  not have been awarded  3 stars in the first place? Well, if that is the reason, then dear Michelin, you should have thought about that…in the first place! Is it because both Jean-Georges and Daniel do not have the “grandiose’ looks and feel of   3 star Michelin restaurants  like Per Se and  Eleven Madison Park? The special ‘cachet’ of Masa? I am sure NOT,   as Michelin does not have a  limited vision  of what the restaurant world should be about: to the contrary of what the anti-Michelin lobby is trying to sell to us, you do not have 1 type of restaurant that Michelin favors. Michelin stars were awarded to plenty of restaurants that do, actually, fit the mold of its competitors and detractors  — for example, L’Arpège and L’Astrance in Paris, which are restaurants that Michelin competitors  such as Le Fooding and  San Pellegrino top 50 restaurants do regard as ‘non-Michelin enough’, ‘non-Palace enough’. Well, in reality, both L’Arpège and L’Astrance have … 3 Michelin stars! Examples like those abound: MirazurOsteria FrancescanaAsador Etxebarri are  all  San Pellegrino top 50 restaurants ‘bestsellers’. Well, they ALL have  Michelin stars, too!  Business is business…you can “bark”  as loud as you want, but at the end of the day, they are all competing for the same thing! At least, Michelin has managed, up to now, to avoid  laughable  decisions such as marketing  an ordinary restaurant  which best meal is  spaghetti and lobster …. as one of the top 100 best restaurants of the globe! A recent  “exploit” in the world  of  one of  Michelin’s  competitors (if, at least, that was the best spaghetti or the best obster out there, but no..not at all, not even close….Rfaol!).  Back to Michelin NYC 2018… I am not done with it: Torishin, the 1 star Michelin yakitori…can someone tell me how no Michelin inspector ever ran into the mixed bag of a service that did put me off when I was there (as reviewed here). What…??..the bad waiters I met at Torishin are nowhere to be found when the Michelin inspectors do visit Torishin? That mixed service would be BAU at a hole in a wall eatery managed by bums, nothing to do with a Michelin star restaurant!


My next ‘immediate’ foodie project  – It is about time, for me, to take   my passion for food to another level. Cooking since my tender childhood and submitting my palate to all sorts of taste sensations  from all around the globe as well as trying to see what the girls and boys of the restaurant industry were  up to  (the sole reason I enjoyed visiting  restaurants) was useful, for sure. But now, I have seen what I had to and I am more than ready for the next steps: as mentioned earlier on, learning how to perfect the art of the Neapolitan Pizza, in Naples, is one of the next projects that is of interest. That can’t be done right away, though. Therefore, my next immediate foodie project is to focus on pushing taste sensations to dimensions that we are not used to, this side of our sphere. Lately, I have been experimenting a lot with the moringa (pictured above). It is ‘trendy’ , in the western world,  to introduce exotic ingredients in  our vocabulary, therefore the moringa is on everyone’s mind, but what matters to me is how complex, in terms of taste sensations, the moringa is. It is rare, in one single ingredient, to get to experience with a collection of clashing taste sensations like the ones delivered by the moringa. The moringa, on a culinary perspective, …it is a real ‘pain in the butt’, but as with everything that is not ‘easy to deal with’, it leads to interesting opportunities..

May 2018 be joyous, fruitful  for the epicurious in us and above all….DELICIOUS!


Docks Oyster House (2401 Atlantic Ave, Atlantic city, Phone 609-345-0092 Url: is an institution in Atlantic city, having fed its share of mouths for more than a century (since 1897).It is their destination seafood restaurant, in Atlantic city, with Zagat considering it as an iconic Jersey shore eat, the thrillist calling it ´quintessential’. Great then, as I happen to be a longtime seafood fan, and perhaps a bit more than just your average seafood fan as growing up in a fishermen village was not just an opportunity to appreciate the scenery of the village, in my case.

On to the food:

Lettuce/cranberry/grapefruit/apple salad – the ingredients were fine, on their own, but the apples and grapefruit did not manage to lift that salad to another level (which is possible as done elsewhere, with the exact same ingredients). Complete absence of cohesion between its  ingredients. This  had the effect of 3 ordinary salads in one.  5/10

I wanted to test a bit the technique of the kitchen brigade, therefore I ordered the pommes souffles. The pommes souffles had no crisp (tired-looking elasticky texture), the potato flavor muted. 0/10

Desperately looking for a way to improve the enjoyment of my food, I took matters into my own hands and I decided to “stop asking what the kitchen can do for me” and to … “ask myself what I could do for the kitchen“. I found the safest solution one can think of, at a seafood restaurant: oysters! The kitchen will just have to shuck them. I therefore ordered, not just one type but a variety of oysters, to …multiply the pleasure … of what can’t fail to be a joy in mouth. A platter of bivalve molluscs made a spectacular appearance at my table: cape may salts (Cape May, New Jersey), malpeque (prince edward island), rappahannock (Virginia), blue points (Long island), chesapeake bay (Maryland), Long island medium (Norwalk, connecticut). The mignonette sauce as well as the ketchup/horse radish/lemon/tabasco sauce were properly done. I particularly liked the latter. However, I tasted every single oyster without any sauce and I was surprised that none of them had any flavor. Yep, you read this well: zero flavor! I do not know for you, but on my side of the wall, oysters do have a flavor. They can be farm-raised, they can come from the sea, some have less flavor than others, but they do have a flavor! What I was having, despite the variety of oysters that I ordered, were uniformly flavorless oysters. I mean, I know my palate perceives the seafood of the Atlantic ocean as less flavorful than their cousins of the Indian Ocean and the mediterranean sea, but the bivalve molluscs of the Atlantic ocean are still flavorful as they have been right here, in Atlantic city, at (at least) two other seafood eateries I ate at on that same week I dined at DOH. Therefore, it is not as if the nearby Atlantic ocean had just lost its maritime flavor or that the oysters served in Atlantic city happened to be on strike, their union deciding they would be devoid of any flavor on that particular week. 0/10

I came here for their lobster. They are known for their sizeable lobsters. Their lobsters come from the Maine, and have not seen any sign of hunger and drought. The babies are big, they look healthy, and if eating a 2lbs lobster is the norm your side of the wall, well here, those babies can triple that weight, as lobsters of 5, 6 or even 7lbs are waiting for you. They steamed mine correctly, as expected from any eatery offering seafood. But the lobster dipping sauce was like the … oysters: flavorless. Who knew that a sauce that’s supposed to be made of butter and garlic and lemon juice…all ingredients used to enhance flavor… would taste of  the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to taste? That is purely and simply hard to forgive. ​Ok, Houston, we have  a problem here! There is a reason that sauce is served with lobster, and that reason is to accentuate the flavor of the lobster. This  seemed  not  “obvious” enough to someone in the kitchen at DOH on that specific evening …

I initially had planned to order a dessert, but in light of what kept coming from the kitchen, I figured that was not a good idea.

Pros: They have the standard of hospitality I never fail to be partial to. They have the cachet of an elegant French brasserie (the main floor), which I am fond of. The dining room, upstairs, is pretty in its elegant simplicity. Even their restrooms, upstairs, caught my attention. DOH has all it takes to make me fall in love with a restaurant, except …

Cons: … the food I was having on that visit.

Bottom line: A bad night, for the food? Well, I hope. Seafood is pricey though, so I will let those who are paid to dine at restaurants and those whose meals are paid by others…to find out if the oysters and the lobster’s butter/garlic/lemon dipping sauce have reconnected with the flavors we came to expect from them, virtually everywhere in Atlantic city and around the world. I pay my meals with my hard earned money, therefore I’ll look forward to better seafood, elsewhere, next time I will drop by Jersey shore. Too bad, since I really loved the service and ambience here, which are aspects that I favor the most at a restaurant. But they failed to  seduce the  sea food lover in me. Overall rating (Categ: Seafood ): Food (4/10 When a seafood restaurant can’t deliver decent oysters, the journey starts on the wrong foot …), Service (9/10 Lovely service ), Ambience: 9/10 (civilized and yet festive).

Sushi Azabu, New York
Michelin stars: 1
Addr: 1428 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013, USA
Phone: +1 212-274-0428
Type of cuisine: Japanese (mainly a sushiya serving traditional Edo-Mae sushi)

In a city with many  great Japanese sushi Chefs, there is a sushiya for all kind of diners (the one who likes luxury, the one who does not, etc). My ideal sushiya has a great sushi Master at the helm, of course, and a decor that is intimate. A service that is great. A genuine feel of  Japan.  In New York, as far as top sushiya goes, Sushi Azabu is that ‘ONE’ for me. 

01 In NYC, you have Masa, which according to their local sushi experts,  is on top of the roof of their top tier sushiyas. Then, you have their other elite sushiyas , such as Nakazawa,  Yasuda, Azabu, 15 East. I tried Yasuda (I was missing the superb knife skills as well as the superior  work of the textures that I better enjoyed at other sushiyas in Nyc) and 15 East (I find Azabu better, in comparison, but 15 East had couple of noteworthy food items)  in 2015. Never tried Nakazawa, Masa and Jewel Bako. It is NYC, so keep in mind  that the price tag (therefore the cost performance, especially in comparison to what you can get in Japan at equal cost) will oftently be the issue.

I tried Azabu on Saturday Febr 4th 2017.
I picked the larger omakase and they fed my girlfriend on shrimp tempura and wagyu beef steak
The 1st course comprising of a piece of amberjack and salmon:
02Marinated Amberjack was seasoned exquisitely. As expected, from a kitchen of this quality, the marinating technique is flawless, its timing well judged. It came with a delicious piece of mushroom. (9/10)
03Smoked salmon boasted vibrant texture, the quality fish expressing plenty of complex joyous flavors 9/10
05Then an array of seafood items composed of octopus  (8/10 superb chew and texture), A first-rate piece of perfectly tenderized  abalone  which kept its maritime flavor at the forefront (9/10), amberjack and fluke and shrimp of impeccable quality. The wasabi is freshly grated wasabi stem imported from Japan. This was a first-rate collection of sushis, even by the standard of a mid level sushiya in Tokyo.
06My current girlfriend  ordered some shrimp tempura which she had nothing to complain about.  I can see how extraordinarily lighter such  batter could be in the hands of a specialist of the tempura, but Azabu is a sushiya, not a specialist of the tempura, and the batter was still very well executed, the tempura light and tasting delicious,  (8/10).

07She also had her wagyu  beef steak, which was fine but both her and myself do regard wagyu as a (generally) vastly overrated meat. The finest Wagyu I had in Japan have  not changed my opinion about that, as already debated here.

08My tasting menu continued with some utterly fresh uni from Hokkaido  –the firmer bafun uni on the left, the creamier murasaki on the right — as tiny as I remember them from the last time I had them in Japan. As explained elsewhere on this blog, I prefer some of the sea urchin from the mediterranea and California. But Hokkaido’s uni are among world’s best, for sure, with, this time, the murasaki standing out for its sweeter flavor. Sometimes, it is the bafun uni that can be the sweetest of the two 8/10
09Then a tasting of  lean, medium fatty and  torched fatty tuna. The quality, high, as expected. This, too, would not be out of place at a serious mid level sushiya in Tokyo. 8/10
10King crab miso – the flavor and aroma of this particular miso preparation lifting up the flavor of the grilled crab remarkably well. Eventful 8/10
11Then the “Chef’s choice of nigiris” featuring flawless sea urchin/tuna/scallop/salmon/salmon roe/squid/wagyu beef. The fish sliced with precision (even world class Sawada was caught with one or two pieces that were imprecisely sliced ..and that happened at other highly regarded sushiyas of NYC, too), the rice served at body temperature (my preference), the proper pressure applied to the relevant rice/topping combination, the rice not overseasoned, i.e., not too vinegary.  The sushi rice, which subtle  sweet and umami flavor notes went so well with the toppings,  is  from Tsuyahime from Yamagata prefecture. Again, even for a mid level sushiya  in Tokyo, this would be excellent. 9/10
12As part of the previous Chef’s selection of  nigiris, there was also a piece of tamago that I did regard as a benchmark of its kind. I liked it so much that I ordered 3 of them. As I wrote elsewhere on this blog, even some of the  best mid level sushiyas of Tokyo did not always deliver tamago that have impressed me, although the tamago will always be a matter of personal taste given the different types of tamago you will find at sushiyas. Either the umami flavor is  more present, or it is balanced with the sweet taste of the tamago,  or its focus is on the eggy flavor, etc.  I am fonder of the sweet kind of tamago. Azabu’s tamago is of the sweet kind, executed with great finesse, the fresh eggy aroma exciting on the palate, sweet like the one I had at sushi mizutani, as technically well crafted, but bigger in size and which I much preferred  (eventhough Mizutani’s featured a more complex set of nuanced flavors and  eggs of surreal quality) 10/10
13A miso that is a first-rate version of its kind, the taste enriched by the subtle nuances of the remarkable kind of miso they are using. (10/10)
14We ended the meal with some flawlessly textured home made green tea ice cream (for me) and an equally excellent Mochi and Vanilla / chocolate ice cream for her (9/10). I ordered the Mochi for my girlfriend to introduce her to the importance of textures in food for the Japanese.  There was a strawberry that came with her dessert, but I forgot to ask if it also came from Japan. The last time I was in Japan, I did try some of their most celebrated (consequently expensive) strawberries and left unimpressed. They tasted as good as any strawberry anywhere else on planet earth (which is exactly how this one at Azabu tasted like, too).
Pros: Azabu deserves to be considered among NYC’s top tier sushiyas. It is also a proper 1 star Michelin sushiya outside of Japan. Its does not have the tsukiji market in its vincinity but they import their fish from Japan. The knife as well as overall cooking skills  is strong for this  category of  sushiya (comparable to a respectable mid level sushiya if this would be in  Tokyo), the tiny space so cozy, the service genuinely hospitable.
Cons: N/A
15 Overall food rating (categ: top tier sushiya in NYC) 8/10 – Top shelf sushiya in its category.  Just remember that there are two seatings per night (we had our table available till  08:30 pm, therefore i presume that the first seating  is from 05:30pm till 08:30 pm) and that its sushis are of the classic sort  (no experimental sushi here).
What do I think days later: One of the foodie friends who has recommended Azabu told me to expect excellent sushi but not unparralleled one. Azabu was exxellent, indeed,  as they fed me, up to now, with some of the best sushis that I ever had in NYC. As ever, restaurants do sometimes change some items on their menus, as I noticed, in old online reviews, that they once had a tamago similar to a creme brulee at Azabu. I doubt that such tamago would have the same impact as this tamago that deserved my praises, but I can only talk about the food they served me, of which I admired the precise slicing of the fish and assured technique in virtually everything (marinating, smoking, coaxing delicious flavors, etc). Based on what I came to expect from a 1 star Michelin sushiya outside of Japan, Azabu did impress by not sticking to a safe/correct performance as it is so common at the big majority of eateries in North America. This was clearly the work of skilled Chefs with their personal imprint rather than some dudes replicating whatever someone else has asked them to simply replicate properly. Sushi Azabu also knows how to make the experience of a diner enjoyable, as, to take an example, there is no need for all parties of the same table to partake in a tasting menu. I can have my tasting menu while my girlfriend enjoys whatever she wants to eat. And here, there was not one single rotten apple that happened to find his way in the service with the sole intent of ruining your appreciation of the dining experience and the superb work of the rest of his team  as it was the  case during my last visit at another 1 star Michelin, Torishin. Was my foodie friend right when he mentioned that Azabu was not unparralled? If you find a 1 star Michelin that is unparralled, then it is a 3 star Michelin. Lol.  Unparralled is what you should expect at a 3 star Michelin, not 1, and yet a fraction of the 3 stars are unparralled. I loved sushi Azabu.

Summer is at the Gates (ironically, it’s not warm at all here in Mtl, despite being in the middle of May..anyways..). Time for some seafood feast!

When it comes to seafood, I skip lots of  requirements I would usually look for in most dining situations such as  the best value for my money or the layout at my eatery: I just fly deep into my gustatory involvement of the quality of the seafood that is put before me. What brought me to food has always been my  lifetime sacred veneration for Seafood. The problem: being born and raised on the banks of the Indian Ocean with Dad, on his spare times,  fishing the freshest seafood one tastebud can imagine raving over from the warmest sea waters, and I devouring them right there on the beach with barely any long delays between fishing to eating…you just grow up with very high expectations about seafood. Moving far from my  memorable seafood pals, being in so many places where  seafood rose as pure jokes, I litterally hoped that I turned allergic to them. But for some reasons, I just could not stop myself to try seafood everywhere I went with some places truly giving the seafood of my childhood an almost close “run for their money”.

Everywhere I go I knock at all possible doors that has seafood on their menu. Montreal is no exception.
Montreal is  a city that many regard as a great city for French/North American Bistro fares BUT only decent on the Seafood department. The reality is actually brigther than just “decent”: Lots of seafood tables  like Milos and La Mer offer seafood shipped from abroad (Mediterranea in the case of both previous mentionned restaurants) on top of some North American seafood products as well. In my humble opinion, there’s  in Montreal, a nice selection of restaurants who are truly serious about providing some solid quality seafood. It is just a matter of rigourously stepping into the field and finding them.

With time some few seafood tables in this city made their way among those I adopted  as personal frequent reliable seafood favourite tables, based solely on the remarquable high quality of their seafood  (Le Nantua when I want to be alone or with my sweat half in a quiet atmosphere of Classic French elegance, Milos — their lunch and late night dinner specials are un-matched bargains for such high quality seafood in this City –, Joe Beef when I am with a bunch of folks and feel like partying over high quality fresh seafood in a cool warm bistro-esque setting, Trinity when I feel the need of a touch of the stunning beauty of Mediterranea, La Mer once in a while, and — although I found myself at both places on very very few occasions — La Queue de Cheval, Rib N’ Reef. The latest are primarily Steakhouses BUT they do offer stunning Quality fresh Seafood.). And you have many more (Restaurant Les Crustacés is another one great seafood place that had served me top quality seafood too, Oyster Shack did a good job last time I was there about couple of weeks ago, and virtually the big majority of tables do offer drop me a word about those that have emerged as your favourite seafood restaurants in Montreal) , but those I mentionned previously stand out of the pack as far as top quality seafood goes in this city.

Naturally, one smart reminder would be this: you can’t buy top Caviar with Loonies!  As most will guess, for Seafood, you truly get what you pay for: do not expect stunning seafood in a $8 Lunch, or a $12 lobster please…I am not here to launch a debate over how much a lobster should cost. I am not here to debate over the best value for your $$$. I am here to talk about the best freshest quality seafood and to remind you that there’s a cost to it! And that cost, If one is well placed to have challenged it, it is your humble who used to pick the freshest top quality seafood right from the sea, for free! But I won’t. I wont because there’s no point for this: we are not at a stone throw from the Ocean, we are not fishermen and we need to be conscient that we have to pay for the cost behind a top quality seafood. Basta!

Event: Dinner @ Lucille’s Oyster Dive
Friday May 14th 2010, 18PM
Type of cuisine: Seafood
5626, avenue de Monkland (Montreal, QC)
Phone: 514 482-1471


Lately, I was curious about  this seafood eatery


that is attracting hordes of eaters in the Western side of Montreal  and where I never went to:  Lucille Oyster Dive.


I went paying a visit to Lucille Oyster Dive this Friday evening and I was warned by friends who went there: this is a small and very busy table, as busy  as Au Pied de Cochon, Joe Beef,  Le St-Urbain. Exactly what I was seeking for: feasting as in seafood, feasting as in crowded! I went earlier than the 6PM opening to maximize my  chances of shooting photos before the rush hits the place.

I came at Lucille’s Oyster Dive

with pre-defined orders in mind (Rfaol): I was in for some oysters (I came close to ask if they could grill it like at Etxebarri in Spain…I am telling you, I just can’t take that place out of my mind. I need to go there, in this life or the next!) , Lobster roll (Heard that Lucille has the best ones in town: what do you think? Let me know. Not that I am a huge fan of lobster rolls — I prefer raw seafood usually and if cooked, I like them served on their own, with nothing surrounding them so that I sense them in their pristine purity or close to that  —but this place is known for it’s lobster rolls so I had to pick this item) and a Grilled Lobster (If you ask me what have been my most memorable lifetime meals, the answer my friend  are those tremendously fresh Grilled lobsters “‘with a bit of garlic butter aside” from my tender Childhood …Ah the beauty of the simple things, so delicious, so pure, that just make you so happy! ). And If I could humanly eat more without getting full, I would have surely asked for crabs, fish, and the sea too!

Kicked off with Blackberries Mojitos:

Sorry, but this was not a successful cocktail: more watery than memorable (rhum was muted and prdominance of lime would be better than those berries). Anyways, berries do not seem to be a friendly mojito ingredient. Just keep it classic (white rum, sugar lime, sparkling water and mint) and it will sing! 2/10

Jannice picked the Salmon tartare:

I stole some bites from hers: perfect fresh salmon, meaty, fully flavored, masterly spiced (kudos to the nice balance in spicings here). Very good 8/10

The wine I chose to accompany our diner:

2008 Simi Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County – Perhaps the most memorable white wine I ever enjoyed since a while: Oozing of unparralel freshness, it’s concerto of amazing fruity notes (guava, apricot. melon, apple) makes of this wine one that can be a crowd teaser particularly in summer with high quality fresh seafood. I now understand why this wine is highly rated among wine experts (it was the first time I was trying it). Lucille has identity, Lucille has personality as in hosting that heavenly wine in a an unexpected cute recycled Heinz Ketchup tin can:

Started off with my first order:

The Oysters:
Although I have rarely came across bivalve molluscs of stunning quality as those the Indian Ocean pampered me with, I still enjoy my bivalve molluscs friends everywhere I go: Sometimes, I was amazingly satisfied  On  some rare occasions, they were the opportunity for me to crack some smart jokes at the wait staff like “It’s from the Sea and not the fridge that you should have picked it up!”’.
SO at Lucille Oyster Dive, I started my seafood journey with an order of 12 bivalve molluscs and while sampling them with the hightest respect I always pay  to anything coming from the sea, I scribbled some notes:
-Marine robustness: HIGH
-Quality of the oyster: TOP
-Work of the shacker: 10/10
-Level of deliciousness: SUBLIME!
Their oysters come from various locations: New Brunswick, The Main, British Columbia.They offer some from the West (British Columbia), some from the East (Main, etc). Western ones were bigger in size, did I notice. Briny, with a remarquable depth of marine robustness, those oysters were among the best I ever had on any Montreal seafood tables and I am including the big names here! EXCELLENT oysters!  They were served with the classic mignonette sauce (expertly executed with perfect balanced acidity from the vinegar and an amazing freshness oozing out of the shallots), a Tabasco Green Pepper sauce (nice idea, try it! I prefer my oysters in their natural state but pick just one oyster, match it with that sauce and see if you like), and their in house tomatoey sauce:

You will never ever see me mixing oysters with sauces (I am a purist), but I had their in house hot sauce sampled separately from the oysters and that sauce rocks: it’s a delicious spicy tomatoey sauce, dense and instense, made of scotch bonnet peppers and vinegar. Delish! I know some friends who would love mixing up that sauce with anything, oysters to start with. 10/10 (the oysters, on this specific visit, were simply stunning!)

The Lobster Roll: I am not a huge fan of lobster roll. As you would expect  from someone who favors high quality seafood in it’s full pristine greatness, a lobster roll is just a comfort food item that can be undoubtly tasty when done well, so this is an exercice that I find pretty straightforward: I will judge my lobster roll not based on pre-defined expectations (just make it tasty and I’ll be a happy camper!) but solely based on how tasty it turns out to be.
-Quality of the lobster meat: Top
-Cooking of the lobster meat: Top
-Quality of the Mayo: Top (not overhelming. gently spiced, still flavorfully enjoyable)
-Quality of the roll: (Fresh bun, nicely cooked hot dog looking bun)
-Type of roll:  it’s hot dog bun roll as you can see on the pic
-Level of deliciousness: High. I have no complaint here. Realy well done, but I am just not into lobster rolls in general being a purist in anything seafood.  7/10

@ALL– So where could your favourite lobster roll be found (New England, I guess)? Let me know! To me, my lobster roll should be an equation of: great quality lobster meat + mastered seasoning/taste + an appropriately thought bun (I am not a baker, but there is surely some fun evolutive work to do on this department) + a well balanced mayo mix (way too much requirrements for comfort food, hein?)

The Lobster:
Poached? Grilled? After a slight hesitation I went with my lifetime favourite cooking of the lobster: grilled! Just put a bit of garlic butter aside, keep that lobster fresh, simple and I’ll walk away with a huge smile on my face.
In Montreal, you can get lobster virtually anywhere. The thing is to get it cooked the way I like it (yeah..yeah..ya..they all say it is easy to cook a lobster..sure..sure..sure…but very few have delivered the proper balance of nice cooking/great quality lobster/resulting memorable taste I search for. To me, a meal of Lobster is the epitome of the equation “talent behind a kitchen” + “top quality ingredient”).
So, here again, the notes that I scribbled on this one:
-Marine robustness: HIGH
-Quality of the lobster meat: HIGH
-Cooking of the lobster meat: SUPERB
-Level of deliciousness: PERFECT
-Work of the Fishermen: Lol..just kidding on this one ;p I highly respect fishermen, especially them!

Before heading to a location, especially for seafood, I always phone and enquire about where the seafood comes from: the Gentleman over the phone explained that the lobster currently served (at this moment) at the restaurant comes from Nova Scotia. Their lobster weight around  1.5lbs/Maximum 2lbs and cost between $can28 – $can 32 (In Montreal, you can pay in between $52 to $80++ for some top of the top lobsters of that size..but again, that pricing probably reflects the fact that those tables  are not seafood distributors/providers). Quite a bargain for  top quality lobster, imho, but they explained to me that they are also distributor/providers of their own seafood, which explains the low cost. Their lobster is of exact same high end equality as those I had at $80 elsewhere …! At barely $30, half the $$$ I would pay at some highly regarded seafood spots, this lobster was remarquable: perfect depth of flavor, tasty, well cooked and of top quality.  The classic garlicky aside sauce was superb too. Excellent! 10/10 (This one lobster, on this specific visit, soared so high in terms of exceptional quality ).

Seafood soup – This place has idendity/personality. And this soup is just one example of just that: done differently from your usual seafood soups -> instead of a bowl full of seafood broth, you have here the seafood morsels shining atop (crab, clams) and a bit of the broth seating beneath. The freshness of the seafood continues to impress here: delish, tatsy and oozing of enjoyable saline flavors. The bit of broth beneath was delicious and harmoniously flavored. 9/10


Even when the boat could have sunk, Lucille fought back and shone:
Impressed, I should concede: even when the boat could have sunk, Lucille fought back and shone as in very little details like  those that will follow — very little details, barely noticeable to the most, but that I am taking time to write about because they mean a lot in my own  appreciation of this seafood spot:

Detail #1: At some point, while Jannice was talking to our main waitress, a young very tall charming lady, she ..the waitress…out of nowhere .. cut short to the discussion, dived in distraction, and hop la ..reappeared! I then said to myself  “Oh NO, I think Jannice will hate this move”…Jannice was a long time waitress, and such little details are noticeable to her. And she did notice it. BUT, the waitress came back, charming and focused as ever! From there on, she was shining on par with all best wait staff  I ever encountered in this province. When you come back strong like that, how to not fall under the charm of it all? Great come back ;p

Detail #2: Before going there, the Gentleman over the phone told me they usually have lobster in the kitchen and that I could just request that one is grilled. The same main waitress, instead of verifying with the kitchen, told me straight that there was no grilled lobster available. I told her that I was informed they would have lobsters in the kitchen but that it’s fine, we could forget about it. BUT she smartly thought about the most important principle in a restaurant: pleasing your guests as she managed to find a lobster for me. Another GREAT come back!

I know those are little details, but they mean a lot to a guest: it shows ACCOMODATION and DESIRE TO PLEASE! All of a sudden, the little futile sorrows turn into MINES OF GOLD!

The wait staff in general was great (always made sure that water was available, wine refilled, table cleaned from water drops. One young charming Gentleman even came and promptly fixed the unbalanced table we chose) and I should say .. HANDSOME.
Lucille Oyster Dive has deeply seduced me: this charming tiny spot has seriously made it’s way to the top of my favourite seafood tables in Montreal for it’s stunning quality of seafood, charming service, and cute minimalist and yet warm bistro alike decor. And this place gets crowded very fast (make no mistake: my pics were taken early, as soon as they opened the doors, a bit before people arrived, but less than half an hour later it got busy), so book in advance (albeit you still can find seats at the bar if you haven’t booked and are lucky enough).
Service on this dinner had perfect  timing: we started at 6PM, were done by 7:40PM with no feel of being rushed and enough space in between services to digest before the next food item would hit the table.Furthermore, the staff was accomodating with regards to the timeframe we wanted to follow. But anyways, this is purely a subjective matter: you should not go to a restaurant to complain about delays JUST arrange your timeframe with the wait staff (I never understood people complaining about slowness in a restaurant…what about talking to the wait staff and telling what you really want..instead of expecting them to guess for you??)

Lucille knows how to be distinct
I do not know for you, but to me , as little as they may appear, I like little details that makes a table distinct from others. I know that the wine presentation (in a Ketchup  tin can) or the unexpected rendition of the seafood soup (focused more on upfront presence of the fresh and top quality seafood items with just a little bit of soupy broth underneath as opposed to be entirely brothy) will not revolutionize the Gastro world, but they sent to me a clear message: this table is passionate about what it does.

Bottom line: Seafood is not just seafood. At least, an iodized saline soul like me  can’t  think that way. Quality in seafood is priceless, and Lucille Oyster Dive impressed me with top quality fresh seafood like I wish I could find everywhere else. I will run back at Lucille’s Oyster Dive way before running back at any of my other favourite seafood tables in Mtl, because of the overall cool, charming, unpretentious mood and above all, for the freshest seafood that this city has to offer. This report is disproportioned, purposely reflecting my sacred epic lifetime fascination for seafood.
Respect to the sea!    Thanks for reading, Aromes.

WHAT I THINK MONTHS LATER – My initial meal at LOD was a superb one in regard of the seafood bistrot standards here and abroad. Not only the food was delicious, but it was technically well accomplished. It remains,  years later, one of the finest meals I ever had in a Montreal restaurant.  The typical kind of issue  that unfortunately awaits this type of place (quality seafood bistrot)  is this: people, when things are pricey (quality seafood can’t be cheap) .. they do not care about details  such as the cooking skills, the quality of the food. It is the price tag that dictates how good is your food. And I will  add that the nice looking wait staff at LOD may bother some with a very high level of jealousy ;p  Oh well, too bad for those. There’s also the fact that ppl tend to associate  a certain type of experience with a price tag:  for example, Bistrot La Marine in Cagnes sur Mer is one  of world’s finest seafood bistrots. Consequently,  since it is quality seafood that is served there, there’s a price that comes with it. And yet, many flock there to complain about the place being a ..bistrot and that it’s too $$$ for a bistrot.  A way of foolishly suggesting that they expect a certain price tag to be associated with fine dining only … as if bistrots are condemned to earlier century’s  clichés with you know…the bottle in the hands…the hunter’s hat…It’s being a while that I haven’t re-visited LOD (it’s  far from where I leave),  but I hope they keep up with the standards I found on that initial visit (my second and third visits here  were not complete meals. I took oysters only, but quality oysters always leave a deep hole in a pocket when you pick them  at restaurants, so I’ll need to try another proper seafood meal here). But yes, it is not cheap as expected