Friday, June 8, 2012

2012: Oh, the Places I've Been

Well hello! I needed to take some time off of the blog. Number 1: I kind of burnt myself out (there’s only so many ways you can call lettuce, ‘crisp,’ you know? Number 2: I’ve been busy with work, kickboxing, and moving all my shit into a new apartment in the heart of White Plains. Number 3: I suppose I may be afraid of success, lol. At least that’s what I’ve been told. You see, my blog was starting to get really popular! I felt I was writing reports for all the wrong reasons (obligation), as opposed to why I originally started the blog (merely to keep track of all the meals I had in the city).

So anyhoo, today, I really found myself missing my own write-ups. I was perusing the Platt 101: New York City’s Best Restaurants, and realized I had been to a lot of the places on the list. Not only had I forgotten what I ordered, I had plum forgotten I went!

So, in an effort to catch up, here’s a list of places I’ve eaten the past year, with what little detail I remember. In no particular order. Actually, I lie, I’ll put them in alphabetical order for ya:

9 Restaurant: Oh wow, this really is a testament to how out of the loop I’ve become. Don’t bother looking it up. Apparently, this place closed last month. I was totally going to tell you to order the buffalo chicken dumplings. They were off the hook!

ABC Kitchen: Everything you could possibly want in a dining experience. Ingredients were amazingly fresh and masterfully combined. After sampling a bunch of vegetables and salads to start, I surprised myself by ordering something pretty ordinary-sounding: the akaushi cheeseburger with herbed mayo and pickled jalapenos. But I did not regret this decision. It was a great cheeseburger. There was a homemade ginger ale there that also stood out. This now rates as one of my all-time favorite restaurants.

Ai Fiori: Did Eileen and I like our food? Oh yes. Crispy sweetbreads stood out as an appetizer, as did the rack of lamb entrée. I think Eileen said the lobster was the best lobster she ever had. I had a panna cotta for dessert that made me want to cry it was so good. But would we go back? Doubtful. The place just seemed kind of stuffy. Service and décor alike.

Ammos Estiatorio: So, my girlfriends and I had a $100 gift card to this joint, receiving it for participating in a 24-hour run benefiting Muscular Dystrophy research. We were just going to capitalize on free stuff, but we ended up staying for lots of free drinks from the friendly bartenders (I guess that still qualifies as “free stuff”), as well as one of the best, simplest, grilled lamb chops I’ve ever had. Check it out; commuters: it’s right next to Grand Central Station.

Bar Boulud: Probably my new favorite place to dine in Manhattan. I love the service, the décor, the ambiance… take away all that and you still have food that is second to none, especially the brunch! Do yourself a favor and take someone you love: get the 4-course prix fixe brunch: split the steel cut oatmeal and the pate grand-mere, and then the brioche French toast with roasted almond butter with the croque madame (Holy eff, that croque madame sings to me while I sleep). Good luck trying to fit the other two courses in your belly. ...God, I love Bar Boulud; did I mention that?

Bondi Road: I went on a fun date here a few months back. We did lots of oyster shots, fruity drink shots, along with mussels, shrimp, salt and pepper calamari. I just liked the chill, laid back vibe and the surfer motif. 

Ilili: Speaking of cool places to take a date, Ilili is a decidedly more trendy scene…. My friend knows one of the managers here, and when a big group of us visited, he really took care of the table: steak tartare, warm eggplant, brussel sprouts, batata harra (cute little cubed fries), veal sweetbreads in lettuce cups, duck shawarma, citrus trout, and all these amazing meats. I couldn’t imagine not ordering the same stuff next time I visit. …but I suppose I would also like to keep my tab under one million dollars. This place is a must visit.

The John Dory Oyster Bar: Loved everything about this place. Oysters were off the hizzle, excellently paired with a refreshing cucumber rickey. Also worth trying was the grilled octopus salad and the chorizo stuffed squid. I could go just for the oysters and rickeys, though.

Kin Shop: Our group had high hopes for this contemporary Thai restaurant, co-opened by Top Chef Season One winner Harold Dieterle, who also owns the wonderful Perilla in the West Village. The Fried Pork and Crispy Oyster Salad is reason enough for trying it; however, the spicy duck laab salad was so spicy it killed our tastebuds for the rest of the evening. The Steamed Sticky Rice was a wonderful side, especially when I spooned it into the curry dish I ordered (don’t remember which one). When we visited, the dessert menu looked sparse (only ice cream and sorbet), but it looks like they’ve added some good stuff: a panna cotta and coconut cream cake.

Scarpetta: You know, even though the food here was way better than decent (I had a bread pudding for dessert I still remember), this place almost made me take to the blog during my hiatus. I was pretty annoyed: I made dinner reservations as soon as was allowed, and, because we were celebrating my friend’s birthday, I had asked ahead of time that we not be rushed during dinner. Nevertheless, courses were piled on top of each other, plates were cleared immediately, and the check was literally dropped off along with our dessert. No coffee refills. Service was cold and frenetic.