Thursday, September 22, 2011

Le Perigord - 405 E 52nd St (between 1st Ave & F D R Dr) New York, NY 10022 Neighborhood: Midtown East (212) 755-6244

Le Perigord is one of those restaurants where you would take your mother to for Sunday brunch after church. It's a reputable, classic French restaurant that has been around for decades but it feels more like a senior citizen center for the well-to-do in the upper east side. While I was waiting for my appetizer to arrive, I noticed that not one person in the restaurant was under the age of 50.

The selection they had for the restaurant week menu was very limited. I was only given a choice of two or three items for each course. I ended up getting the risotto with sea scallops for the main course and chocolate mousse for dessert. The risotto tasted very bland and the rice was actually still a little undercooked. The plating for the chocolate mousse was unimpressive. One scoop of chocolate mousse drizzled in some sauce with a few berries on the side wasn't exactly what I had in mind from this traditional French restaurant.
You get a sense of apathy from the waiters as they bring you your food. They move around in a very sedated, slow moving pace, probably because they're approaching retirement age as well. Overall, I really wasn't impressed with this place. The food was lackluster to say the least, and the decor feels very dated.
The purpose of Restaurant Week is to allow people to try out new restaurants at an affordable prix fixe price. It would have been worthwhile to dine here had the quality of the food been better. I would have appreciated the experience of trying old world French cuisine more. Instead, this will probably be one of those unmemorable dining experience for me.

Bottom Line:

Recommended: No

Price: Expensive (if you're not ordering from the Restaurant Week menu)

Service: Slow


Friday, March 11, 2011

La Maison Du Macaron - 132 W 23rd St New York, NY 10011 - (212) 243-2757

Macarons are little bites of heaven. Once you've had it, you'll be constantly fiending for it and finding yourself wanting it every chance you can get. The first time I've ever tried a macaron was at Pierre Herme in Paris and it was also the best I've had so far.

Since macarons are not as popular in the US as it is in Europe, it's been virtually impossible to find a place in NYC that makes them with the quality that is exquisite in both taste and texture. Some of the places that do sell them tastes somewhat stale or bland. The macarons at Bouchon bakery were sub-par at best. A lot of these places never seem to get it quite right. The shell should be slightly crunchy and the center rich, chewy, with a meringue-like texture.

I realized my infatuation with these colorful little french cookies was beyond normal when I found myself searching all over NYC for the ultimate macaron. My hunt was over when I found La Maison du Macaron. So far, this is the only place that came close to the one I had in Paris. This little bakery has a variety of flavors to choose from. These colorful, petite pastries all looked so good, if I could, I would gorge myself and eat them all. But sadly, at $2.50 a pop, all I could buy was a few to satisfy my craving. The Caramel Fleur de Sel was a popular flavor and won't disappoint those who love caramel. The white chocolate coconut was a favorite of mine. It instantaneously melts in your mouth, and that hint of coconut complements the chocolate so well. It's so sweet and satisfying, it's almost orgasmic.

At the end of the day, I had to remind myself that I'm not in Paris, and if you want a good macaron, this is definitely the best you'll get here in New York.

Bottom Line:

Recommended: Yes

Price: Expensive $2.50 per macaron

Service: Good


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

M Wells - 21-17 49th Ave., Long Island City, NY (718) 425-6917

I've been feeling a little adventurous lately and been wanting to try out different types of cuisines other than the same, usual boring stuff I'm used to having. Conventional foods like grilled steak and steamed bass have become so commonplace that I longed for dishes that are exciting, new and creative. So one Friday night, I went online in search for a new restaurant to try and came across M Wells, a new French Canadian restaurant that has recently opened in Long Island City, Queens.

The fact that M Wells was actually in Queens, (and right by my neighborhood too) got me really excited because it's nice to know that I don't always have to travel to Manhattan for new, ethnic cuisines. Outside, M Wells looks like an ordinary diner but inside, their food is anything but ordinary. With dishes like salmon coulibiac and foie gras tamales, their menu is filled with a wide array of amazing creations from the mind of Hugue Dufour. I knew I was in for a real treat when I found out that Dufour was a former chef at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal.

As usual, I could never decide what to order, but the veal brain was the first thing that popped out right at me from the menu. A lot of people would find that off-putting, and I had to admit that I was a little hesitant at first. However, I reminded myself that when it comes to trying food, I had to be more gutsy and adventurous. So with an open mind, I told my waiter what I wanted. "Excellent choice! It's a very popular dish tonight," he said. It had to be popular for a reason. So I had veal brains for the first time in my life that night and you know what? It wasn't that bad. It reminded me of sweetbreads because it had a smooth and creamy texture. It definitely looked like a brain, there's no doubt about that. It was lightly fried and seasoned with a rosemary and balsamic vinegar sauce. The complexity of the textures and flavors made this dish surprisingly good.

I also ordered the escargot in bone marrow. I've had escargot before so my expectations were really high. It tasted good and the plating was very creative and original, but I've definitely had better.

For dessert, I ordered the Paris brest which is a ring shaped choux pastry filled with praline flavored cream. The flaky pastry and fresh cream makes for an awesome dessert. The only thing that threw me off was that they charge $16 for it.

Their menu changes from time to time so if you're planning on going back to order the same thing, I would call ahead of time first to make sure they have it so you wouldn't be dissapointed once you get there.

As the saying goes, when it comes to trying something new, approach it with an open mind and an empty stomach and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Bottom Line:

Recommended: Yes

Price: Expensive $50-$75 PP

Main Course: Veal brains

Dessert: Paris Brest

Service: Good


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inoteca - 323 3rd Avenue at 24th Street New York, NY 10010 (212) 683-3035

I've been craving for prosciutto everyday since I got back from my trip to Italy last November. The prosciutto there is amazing. It was the first time I've ever had it and I can't believe what I was missing all this time. As soon as I got back to New York, I started looking for any Italian restaurant that would have it on their menu and that's when I happen to come across Inoteca. Their menu is entirely in Italian, but thank goodness they provide you with a glossary in English.

Inoteca is one of the many new gastropubs that is starting to pop up all around Manhattan. Gastropubs have become really popular lately. It's a place where people can go to enjoy their wine accompanied by fine food. Inoteca has a great selection of wine and their bruschetta is simply delicious. You can select from a list of toppings you want on your bruschetta with one selling for $3, 3 for $7, and 5 for $12. It's a great deal if you go in a big group. The toscana (chicken liver) is flavorful and slightly gamy and the ricotta is smooth and creamy. But under no circumstance should you order the tonno (tuna). It's extremely salty and it tastes like it came straight out of a can.

For the main course, I had the pappardelle with sausage and mushroom. The pasta tastes fresh and homemade and the sauce was excellent. If you don't want too much grated parmesan on your pasta, just remember to remind your waiter of that because they will pile that baby on like there's no tomorrow.

Needless to say, you can't come to a gastropub without ordering some wine. I'm no wine connoisseur so my waiter recommended that I try the 2006 Rosso di Spicca, Tenuta Le Velette, which was fruity and had a nice subtle finish.

I've also ordered the assortito dish; a platter with a variety of cured meats which, of course, included prosciutto. I must say, it wasn't quite as good as what I had in Italy but it will have to do for now until my next trip back to Europe.

Bottom Line:

Recommended: Yes

Price: Reasonable $25-$50 PP

Appetizer: Bruschetta

Main Course: Pappardelle with Sausage and Mushroom

Service: Good