Posts Tagged ‘brooklyn’

Junior’s (386 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY;  Phone: 718-852-5257;  http://www.juniorscheesecake.com) is a popular restaurant of Brooklyn, widely known in NY for its cheesecakes.

I ordered:

Combo reuben – corned beef and pastrami, grilled sauerkraut, swiss on rye. – an insignificant part of the pastrami was a bit drier than what I am accustomed to with my reuben sandwich at other North American delis, but that was long forgotten and forgiven once I started eating it as its deliciousness and flawless execution were firm indications this was a serious reuben sandwich, truely packing a punch. Montreal and NYC have the best delis in the world and a reuben sandwich of this quality would not be out of place at a top tier deli in both cities. 8/10

Potato salad – rustic style typical to north american delis, no flaws, just good homey flavors. 7/10

Some sides came with my order: a coleslaw (not the regular one, but one with vinegar – nice fresh crunchy vegetables, all delicious) 7/10, housemade pickles that were timely brined and expressing remarkable freshness (a world away from its tired looking examples that can be found at some inferior delis) 9/10, a first- rate corn bread 9/10, as well as some tasty marinated beets 7/10. Simple, simple stuff that are exquisite here, but that many restaurants do not seem to be capable of.

Then, I ordered the world’s “most fabulous ” cheesecake (their words, not mine), which is the cheesecake that virtually everyone is raving about in nyc. This is made with philadelphia cream cheese, its bottom made of sponge cake (instead of a crust of graham cracker) and was a fine version of a North American cheesecake, but its cheesecake flavor paled a bit in comparison to the richer taste of Montreal-style’s best cheesecakes. Furthermore, its rustic appearance does not sit well with me: I love rusticity, but a cheesecake (especially, a strawberry cheesecake) needs to be easy on the eyes. In NYC, eventhough it’s not the same style of cheesecake as at Junior’s, the one from Ferrara bakery (195 Grand Street ) is the one that’s really knocking my socks off, for now. Still, Junior’s is artisanally made (they make a limited quantity, using artisanal techniques), it is a good cheesecake (just not as great as Montreal’s best) and you have got to sample it at least once if you happen to be in NYC. 7/ 10

All in all: Junior’s is oftently ignored in  most  listings of the great delicatessens of NY, but that is just because it has an extensive menu that  categorizes it as a diner, not a delicatessen. There are also little “technicalities” that keep Junior’s out of such listings. In the competitive delicatessen market of NY, whether the J is or is not the greatest samurai of the empire, it does not matter. At the end of the day, what we need to know is this: the delis at Junior’s are good. Really good. And that is coming from a Montrealer (Montreal is one North American city with world class delis, obviously)..

Bottom line: Junior’s can brag about anything they want (the word s “famous” and “fabulous” appear a lot on their menu), except for the cheesecake (sorry J, our finest cheesecakes in Montreal will beat yours, anyday!!) , I am down with them!

restaurant-m-la-nuitRestaurant Mimi La nuit (Addr: 22 Rue Saint Paul E, Montréal, QC; Phone: 514- 507-5449 URL: http://mimilanuit.com) is located in the Vieux port. We sampled their kefta (on this specific evening, the kefta more refined and slightly less spicy than what you will experience with some of its traditional renditions, but the flavor is genuine), salmon tartare (Ordinary – It may sound exaggerate to expect more from a basic mix of salmon and avocado, but such basic combination can and did dazzle at other bistrots ), sausage (Ok, but sausages need to truely stand out in order to make an impression when dining out whereas the effect of this sausage was as fine as the numerous sausages that most ppl are grilling in their backyard), lamb chops (the quality of the lamb high), crostini (a safe bet as expected), crab cakes (a gourmet take on the crab cake, with the cakes shaped like ping pong balls / this was pleasant on the palate and pretty to espy).

All in all : 6.5/10 In light of what I am used to in the category “french/north american/ cosmopolitan bistrot food”. It is hardly the best or one of the very best in that category, but it delivered pleasant food and sometimes, the food was more than just pleasant (the kefta, their condiments).

ntNos thes (215 Rue Sainte-Catherine Est Montreal, Quebec Phone: (438) 289-0418)- Tried NosThes, a Taiwanese-style restaurant which speciality is tea but that serves food too.

Braised beef tendon slices in thickened spicy soy sauce braising broth is what I had here on a first visit, the overall tasting genuinely fine with well balanced seasoning. That was a lunch special which came with a starter of marinated carrots (excellent marinade which complex sweetness did lift the natural fruity-ness of the carrots in a way that not many cooks can do). Soup was made of seaweed and eggs and this, too, was a properly executed version of this popular soup.
All in all : 6/10 Above average Taiwanese food by our local standards, offering decent Taiwanese-inspired  classical fares. Seems like a place where you are unlikely going to stumble upon cooking slips such as dry food, overcooked rice, unbalanced seasoning. And if someone does not find this place Taiwanese enough, then locate the country where this restaurant is located on a map and ask that person to say loudly where NT is situated. Not in Taiwan, but in Canada. Exactly… But certainly as Taiwanese as your food is going to taste in MTL.

 

La Caye (Address: 35 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217, USA Phone: +1 718-858-4160 URL: http://www.lacayebk.com/) – I went back to my (current) preferred Haitian-style bistrot in North America, La Caye. Like many, I am not too enthused at paying a lot of money — La Caye is pricey—- for casual food (although, if you are not the kind of person who tends to overlook ethnic food, it should not be hard to appreciate that La Caye elevates this food to adequate restaurant quality) but there are few tropical eateries that are appropriate for a date (the reason I picked La Caye in the first place…but ensure you do not go there for a date during peak hours as it is small and can be packed).

akraAccra– most ethnic eateries will serve you their tired looking accras they could not sell the day before (apparently, based on reports of many North American foodies,  this is more common in Montreal than in New York) . Not here. Freshly fried, with superb golden texture. There are many types of accras (Haitians tend to favor malanga as the star ingredient for their accras), but this is one example of a benchmark accra (easy-on-the-eyes refined exterior, exciting  seasoning, not greasy at all) . 10/10

lanbi-boukanenLanbi boukannen ( Grilled conch) In some tropical islands, they grill the conch in its shell, paving the way to some great flavor enhancement. But that is, of course, not possible for a restaurant that is miles away from any tropical sea. So eventually, the texture and the taste of your grilled conch is different at a tropical eatery in a city like Brooklyn. And that was not going to be an exception at La Caye. However, the conch was as good as your grilled conch will fare at any Haitian restaurant in North America, just not of the exceptional ‘freshly snatched from the sea’ sort of conch (as one would expect). Seasoned and grilled adequately, but I am not a fan of grilled conch (I prefer eating it raw or in a sauce — it appeared at my table only because my girlfriend loves grilled conch).

lanbiLanbi (conch) in sauce was as great as on my last visit here, the sauce exquisitely prepared, the conch boasting a superb chew. As submitted earlier, the quality of the conch itself is the same as what you will find at most Haitian eateries in North America, but this is still as great as it gets in a Haitian restaurant this side of the world (I can think of, perhaps, 2 or 3 lanbi sauces that did tantalize a bit more, but they were cooked by exceptionally talented Haitian Moms). 8/10

goatGrilled goat (pictured above) and goat in sauce featured goat of fine quality, and seasoning that was — again and again — packed with punch. My preferred grilled goat remains the one from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Ntaba, but this was another example of flawless classic caribbean cooking. 8/10

Fried pressed banana plantain  is easy to make, according to plenty of Chefs, and yet it is oftently leaden at most   ethnic restaurants. Here, no such issue but  freshly fried press banana plantains of perfected texture (light and crisp)  and flavor (10/10).

Black mushroom rice (Diri ak djon djon) expressed enticing aromas (8/10), the condiments were all first rate items.

All in all: 8/10 Consistently great Haitian / Caribbean cuisine by North American Caribbean restaurant standards, but La Caye is not cheap and at those prices, I need the litchi of my litchi sangria to be of the non-canned sort and to be available only when it is in season. Furthermore, La Caye really needs to make more exciting cocktails (the prosecco/ mango juice cocktail as well as Litchi sangria that I had were not exciting drinks).

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River Café, Brooklyn
Michelin stars: 1
Addr: 1 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
URL: http://therivercafe.com
Phone: 1 718-522-5200
Type of cuisine: American cuisine (Essentially Classic French cooking technique using American ingredients)

RCThe River Café (near the Brooklyn Bridge) is an iconic restaurant which is widely known as one of the most romantic restaurants of New York city. I am usually not a fan of 1 star Michelin restaurants serving classic French cuisine in North America because their cooking hardly leaves any souvenir on my mind, but this was a special romantic occasion and River Café was the appropriate restaurant in this instance.

The meal started with an amuse of Citrus and Olive Oil Poached Squid with Saffron Panna Cotta and sweet pepper Gelee. Pretty to espy and an indication that, although using classic French techniques, the creativity of this kitchen brigade is hard to ignore: the variety of colors is thoughtful, a cube of saffron panna cotta  with some poached squid is not a usual combination of food items at most restaurants, and yet they were complementary. My only regret is that I have familiarized  my palate with strong flavors to the extent that I have hard time appreciating the subtle flavors of this amuse. I won’t rate this amuse as I just do not have the required palate  to appreciate it.
RC2Tuna of prime quality served as a tartare with a layer of thin slices of the fish atop. This showcased a great understanding of how to get the most out of raw fish (well judged seasoning allowing the quality of the fish to be at the forefront while lifting up its natural flavor – I did not ask the staff if they did age the tuna a little bit, so I am not too sure if they did, but that was the effect I had in mouth and it dazzled. Miso/valencia orange/ pickled chili vinaigrette brought necessary complexity. 8/10
RC3Jumbo shrimps, poached to ideal doneness (tender while retaining a nice chew) served alongside a faultless citrus Maltaise sauce. Another display of some serious seafood cooking (superb produce, classic flavor combination but mastered really well) 8/10
RC5Steamed (with meyer lemon) salmon with an inspired  oriental broth (a shiitake mushroom broth that was as vibrant as some of its original Japanese renditions) was delicious, the aromas of the broth exciting and above all, balanced. This was served with jasmine rice. 8/10
RC4Poached lobster was another display of superb produce and great mastery of classic French cooking as the seafood tasted great, its poaching well timed, the classic French flavors enticing. If cooking using classic technique done this well is one’s definition of boring cooking, then I’d rather get bored lol. This came with lobster claw, spinach gratin and lobster infused marinara, squid ink cavatelli pasta (tiny quantity, wished I had more as that was  some great pastas that would not be considered as average in a good Italian restaurant ). 9/10
RC6Milk chocolate soufflé (served with toasted marshmallow, hot fudge, Tahitian vanilla bean ice milk) was risen properly but milk chocolate needs to be exciting at smell and in mouth to leave an impression. As with everything at the RC, this chocolate was of top quality, admittedly, but the soufflé was unexciting for my taste. Furthermore, when I see the mention of “milk”, I want to be blown away by some bold fresh milky fragrance….which was not the case with this dessert.  6/10
RC7Blueberry tartlet was  a proper rendition of the tartlet, the fruits of stellar quality, but the pastry lacking a bit of the exciting buttery fragrance that I prefer when enjoying a tartlet. Actually, this was made of caramelized almond which does  normally express very appealing flavor, but that was not put in evidence  6/10
On web sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp, some reviewers considered that the food at RC was average. I beg to differ. I would need to be totally ignorant of classic cooking (the presentation is contemporary but the food is backed by classic French cooking techniques) or to hate it in order to reach similar conclusion. For sure, this is not Eleven  Madison Park but they both are not bestowed with the same number of Michelin stars neither!
Pros: One unique / truely special romantic restaurant with an exceptional riverfront view over Manhattan, and one that chose not to rest on its laurels as even the food is not an afterthought.
Cons: A bit more “pep” (milk should be packed with bold lactic fresh flavor, caramelized almond should have the almond and caramel flavors better expressed, etc) is to be expected from the pastry creations I have sampled on that evening.
Bottom line: 7.5/ 10 (Category: North american/french/international 1 star Michelin). It may sound harsh to score an overall 7.5/10 for the food after the series of really good savory dishes, but this is a 1 star Michelin, therefore the desserts needed to leave an impression too. They were good desserts, not great enough for a 1 star Michelin. That said, this is proper 1 star Michelin  French/international/American  cooking.  Same applies to the restaurant (in the classic restaurant category , obviously). It is pricey,should I repeat, but above all this is a world class romantic destination.

 

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