Tag Archives: restaurants

Katz’s Delicatessen

One question that I hear over and over again from people planning to visit NY is “where should I go eat for a real NY experience?” The first answer that comes to mind is “Katz’s Deli“. If you live in NY and haven’t been yet, I’m not sure you’re a NY-er. There’s only one valid excuse from not going to Katz’s, and that would be that you’re a vegetarian – ’cause it ain’t much vegetable there other than french fries and pickles.

It opened in 1888 and I doubt it changed much. They still throw sawdust on the old floors when it’s wet outside. They still have fluorescent lights, an old water fountain at the back of the main room, the “send a salami to your boy in the army” program. I suspect that some of the plates are original, too. (kidding, they look like they’re from the 60’s or so).

Katz's Deli

There are many tempting things on the old menu, and all of them good to excellent, but do yourself a favor and get the pastrami. At least for your first visit. You might think you like corned beef or tongue or liver better – you’re wrong. You like pastrami. It’s still the best in the city, no matter what you hear about a couple of other famous places. And it still has the NY attitude – not nasty at all, they’re actually funny and nice if you’re a nice guy or gal yourself, but a sort of gruffness that’s only natural when they serve thousands of people a day, every day. Anyway, remember at all times that you’re there for the pastrami, and nothing else matters.

Katz's Deli

Make your visit as pleasant as possible and remember a couple of things.
1 – Upon entry you’ll pass a security guard that will hand you a small ticket that you’re supposed to give the guy at the counter after you got your grub. He’ll hand it back to you with the amount you owe written on it. Don’t loose that ticket or you’ll pay your meal a flat $50. If you didn’t misplaced it, you’ll hand it to the cashier by the exit and pay what it says.
2 – At the counter, ask one of the guys for “pastrami, fatty, on rye”. It’s not fatty at all (see pictures), just juicier. With mustard, and pickles of your choice, sour or half-sour.
The fries are unremarkable, but if you can’t do without – passable.

There is a row of tables along the wall that have waiter service, but I find that part of the experience is interacting with the guys at the counter. They cut your order on the spot, there are no back kitchen elves that sliced the pastrami 2 hours ago. They might give you a taste of the piece they’re cutting from if they like you. And if you like them, tip a buck or two per sandwich. There’s no other tip to leave in the establishment (unless you’ll sit at the waiter tables, of course).
As you probably noticed, it’s a fairly large sandwich. It’s also about $15. If you’re a light eater, share one or take home a doggie bag. Slim chances you’ll have leftovers but I’ve seen it happen.

THE pastrami at Katz's

Oh, and remember the famous orgasm scene from When Harry met Sally? Right, it happened at Katz’s. There’s even a sign above their table if you want to not only have what she was having, but also sit in her chair (which I doubt has changed since, either).

Katz's Deli

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Salt & Fat – Sunnyside

Salt&Fat is a new-ish restaurant on Queens Boulevard. It received pretty good reviews from the beginning and every time I passed by, I found it quite busy. Although it took us a year to try it – I have no idea why we waited so long! – it will definitely be a place we’ll return to.
Don’t let the name of the restaurant fool you: although there’s the occasional bacon in a couple of dishes, there’s no excessive fat or salt in the food. I thought I’d mention…
The food is very tasty, beautifully seasoned and harmonious in textures. It was 4 of us and we got a lot of food, some of the dishes were doubled (the scallops, the oxtail terrine, the shrimp and grits)

Loved:
Yellowtail tartare – yuzu gel, scallions, cassava chips;
Scallops – roasted carrot puree, truffled corn salsa, capers;
Shrimp and grits – slow cooked egg, bacon;
Crispy pig trotter – spicy mayo, slow cooked egg, scallion;
Korean BBQ wraps – marinated hanger steak, pickled daikon, miso;
Fried chicken – pickled daikon, herb ranch dressing

That makes it almost everything, the only disappointment being the oxtail terrine – I don’t know if we expected more, but it was kind of flat. It wasn’t bad by any means, just not fulfilling I guess.

The star of the show, as the entire internet is buzzing about it: the complimentary bacon popcorn in the beginning. I know someone who had about 3 bags of it. (Not me, I swear LOL)

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Toqueville

New York Restaurant Week – this time, Toqueville

I had the green and white asparagus with black truffle vinaigrette and loved it. White asparagus and truffles are made for each other. My friend had the chilled pea soup and in her opinion it lacked something, maybe a touch of mint could have been great. We both got the soft shell crab, crunchy deliciousness. For dessert, a ricotta mousse (did panna cotta go out of style?)   with a wonderful trio of berries: marinated strawberries, fresh blackberries and a raspberry sauce, and a chocolate millefeuille (since when are 2 layers of chocolate and mousse mille-feuille?)

A nice lunch, but I don’t feel compelled to go back anytime soon.


M. Wells revisited

A second visit to M Wells.
Got again the escargots & bone marrow and the beef tartare (both sooo worth it!) and tried the veal brains with sauce Grenobloise (absolutely perfect: creamy, with a mellow caramelized onion taste and a bit of crunch from what I think are mini-croutons with a vague bacon aroma). Also the Sauteed Animelles – lamb balls, sliced and grilled, lightly bathed in a honey-sherry-morels sauce (IMO the sauce, although not used in excess, overpowers the very delicate taste of the… ahem… balls).

Tried a couple of cocktails this time. The M. Gibson is so pretty! but darn sour for my taste. The After and Before might sound as a sweet cocktail but is not. Both strong and enjoyable.

So now I can say for sure that I love M. Wells and I hope they keep it up.


M. Wells diner

A shabby (on the outside) diner in one of the least foot-traffic areas of Queens – although a 5 minutes ride on the 7 train to Grand Central Terminal – has become the food scene darling for the last year or so. At first opened for breakfast only, after a few months started doing lunch and for the last few months they do dinner Mondays through Thursdays. The menu is comfort food meets haute cuisine meets diner fare and the result is, I must say, delicious.

The chef is Hugue Dufour, a Quebecois who has the famous Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon on his resume; he and his team of a few people pull an impressive few hours at dinner, when the small space is crowded beyond belief.
The menu (that changes often from what I hear) is printed and laminated as placemats. A word of warning: it’ll be hard to choose, everything sounds so good.

We were five people and ordered quite a few dishes. Missed pictures are the tureen that the soup comes in (it was more than enough for all), the butter chicken and a caesar salad.

The clam chowder is smokey, thick and delicious. The snails and bone marrow gave me goose bumps – the crunch of the breadcrumbs with the softness of the snails bathed in bone marrow is divine. The beau soleil oysters are delicate and maybe a bit overpowered by the coffee sabayon, but still very good. The beef tartare is one of the best I ever had and the braised octopus is smooth and tender. I didn’t try the caesar salad neither the tuna sashimi but I was told that they were very good, as well as the butter chicken.
For desert there was a huge and very good rendition of Paris Brest, again, shared.

And as I’m not happy at all with the pictures, I’ll have to go again – right?


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