February 17, 2015

Momofuku Ko 2.0 - New place, same delicious food


After several years, we've finally made it back to Momofuku Ko -- this time in it's brand spanking new and shiny home down in the East Village.  No longer housed at the original noodle bar location, the new Ko, which I refer to as Ko 2.0. is much bigger with bar seating that surrounds an interior kitchen where the chefs prepare your meal course by course in front of you. While you still get the "show", you no longer feel as though you are sitting right on top of the chefs as you might have felt in the old 12 person seater.

Ko 2.0. I think seats more like 30-40 guests at a time (I could be wrong on the number, but you get the point - its at least 3x bigger than the old space).  The meal has been bumped up to $175/person from the $125/person at the old location, or the $85/person meal we tasted a month after it originally opened.  Keep in mind though, lunch at the Ko 1.0 was $175/person so this is really the same price...



Pricey yes, worth it? Probably.  The meal is about 2-3 hours long with 17+ dishes.  Mostly small bites/tapa style, all very pungent with flavor.  Most of the dishes felt new, but not to worry - you will get the shaved foie gras...his signature dish still made the exact same way as I remember with pine nuts, lychee and riesling.
Shaved Foie Gras
You won't however get the much instagrammed "Foie Gras Pheasant pithivier unless you are a "regular" or have done something special to warrant that special dish...while we were there, we only saw one couple receive that, and were told they had already been to Ko 3 times.  Wow...that's investment which surely deserves something extra special..

Here are some pictures of some of what you will receive...
Kabocha pasta with smoked duck
Poached Cod
Seared Mackerel
Soft scrambled egg with caviar
Sunchoke
Uni + Chickpea puree.  Interesting play
Overall, while Ko 2.0. lacks some of the intimacy felt in the original location, I thought the food was just as good, while even adding upon the repertoire with some new and interesting flavor combinations. I think the smaller the bite, the better it was - he's really developed the one bite wonder which I think is a departure from the old menu. I'll be curious to see how the menu continues to evolve - perhaps making this a once a year tradition for us. 

By the way - it's a little tricky to find...Extra Place is located between 1st and 2nd street and Bowery and 2nd Ave.  Sort of like a tiny man made alley :)

Momofuku Ko
8 Extra Place
Reservations

Cosme - Finally a new restaurant worth the hype

We used to go to new restaurants every week.  However, in the last 5-6 years, I don't know if it's just that we got lazy and didn't want to play the "game" of dialing or hopping on opentable at 9am sharp to get the latest "hot reservation," but we've tended to stick closer to home frequenting the same go to spots week in and week out.

On the off chance we did try a new place, more often than not it wasn't worth the hype or hefty price tag.

A couple weeks ago we happened to be walking right around the corner from our apartment - taking 21st street between broadway and Park...for some reason a route we never frequent (we seem to be more partial to 20th)...and happened upon Cosme.  It was the middle of the day so it wasn't open, but I peered in the window wondering what this new seemingly chic place was.  At first I thought, wine bar?  Then I realized a new Mexican place.  But I was afraid it would just be another Rosa Mexicano or Dos Caminos, so I quickly dismissed it wondering how long it would last in this area where restaurants come and go every year.

While surfing the Internet though, Cosme kept coming up - The New Yorker gave it a favorable review, so did the New York Times...

I decided, let's try it.  So I went on their site - and low an behold, of course...the land of 5:30pm or 10:45pm availability.  Okay...so I picked a lone 6pm reservation for President's Day.  Why not - seemed like a good way to end the weekend.

The decor at Cosme is pretty minimalist - very sleek and modern...and very dark.  There is great lighting right above your table, and as other reviews have mentioned - it lends yourself to focusing on just your partner and your food alone.  While trendy, it differs from a lot of the loud bustling places around town, and focuses on the food and company.  It's wonderful.

I'll get right to the food.  Cosme is pretty pricey - the menu has three sections (small apps, vegetarian apps and main courses). They recommend 3 dishes per person, but I think you could go with probably 4-5 total for two, especially if you get the duck carnitas which I highly recommend.

We started with the uni tostada - paired with bone marrow, it was delicious and unique...definitely leveraging the "it" factor of uni right now, but I'm not complaining.  It was a generous portion of Uni and I do think it can be shared for two - small, but who can really each that much rich uni anyhow.
Uni tostada and Sepia
We also got the Sepia - this was an interesting dish.  I had never tasted Sepia, and it was similar in texture to raw calamari, but had a delicious smoky smooth taste and texture.  A unique dish, but may not be for everyone as it is a bit fishy.

The burrata was as good as everyone says - smooth and creamy served with salsa verde and fresh micro greens.  Who would have thought? The salsa verde cut into the creaminess of the burrata in just the right way.
Burrata
For our main - we of course went with the duck carnitas - after seeing pretty much every table near us order the same thing.  It was magnificent. Really delightful - hot out of the oven...the way to eat it is to mix everything up - take the fork and knife and mix it all up - the skin, the greens, and make sure to dig up the fond on the cast iron pan.  Mash it together and its the most delicious, juicy duck you'll ever have.  It's an order for 2, but honestly I think it could have fed four.  We were stuffed half way in and had to take the rest home.  I'm not complaining.  I needed to save room for dessert.

Duck Carnitas for two
The Husk meringue and corn mousse. WOW.  WOW. WOW.  This was a show stopper - the corn flavor wasn't overpowering, with just a hint of smokiness matched with the sweet meringue was a perfect and unusual dessert.  Well worth it.  I thought I was full, but I gobbled it up quickly.

Husk Meringue with Corn Mousse
All in all I would DEFINITELY recommend Cosme.  It's one of the few new restaurants that I really think is worth the buzz, hype and price tag.  Definitely worth a second, third, fourth visit....

Cosme
35 East 21st St between Broadway and Park Ave South
Reservations on opentable

February 3, 2015

Vic's - Comfort food in style...

Vic's is the "somewhat" new restaurant from the team that brought you favorites Five Points and CookShop.  Vic's has taken over the spot on 31 Great Jones street where the beloved Five Points used to hold fort - especially on Sundays for brunch!  The restaurant has been redesigned with a focus I believe more on lunch and dinner...not just Sunday brunch.  Five Points was pretty legendary for many years as being one of the hottest brunch spots in the city. Waits border-lined on epic, and it was ALWAYS crowded.  However, I think they struggled mightily to recreate the brunch business at night.  For a while they tried introducing themed nights - sunday supper, lobster nights, etc., but it just never caught on, and I think in New York, two days a week of stellar business won't cut it.

Introducing Vic's.  Given I was pretty heart broken when Five Points closed, I was a bit skeptical at first.  But boy, in a day and age where I'm actually finding it pretty hard to find new restaurants that stand up to the old tried and tested ones, Vic's will definitely go on my "go-to" list.  The vibe is somewhat of a family restaurant, but in a New York way.  I went on a recent Saturday evening, and the restaurant, while certainly doing it's fair share of "first date" dinners, also had a large contingency of "sophisticated" Manhattan/Brooklyn families -  large tables with generations of a single family. Perhaps because there is something for everyone on the menu. The food is well done - interesting pizza and pasta dishes (I am very partial to the Little Purse - delicious hot piping ricotta bursts into your mouth, slightly cut by the acid from the lemon).  Main courses - the pork and the oxtail were hearty and shareable.  Perhaps the right order is a pizza/pasta + a main course to share with a partner.  Of course you can't miss some of the appetizers...notably the Sweet Crispy Onions - pretty much every table had these. Think lightly fried onion rings dusted in tomato powder with a bit of bite.  Paired with a parmesan dip - it was like the best of onion rings + nachos combined.  Yum.

All in all - the ambiance was relaxed, not snooty or uptight...not too fashiony, nor too cavalier.  Was just right for any night of the week.  I haven't tried brunch yet, but am definitely looking forward to it. 

Highly recommend!

31 Great Jones
212-253-5700

May 13, 2014

Be careful tipping - Blue Ribbon Bakery tricked me...

This post is a little bit out of frustration and annoyance to a recent trend that I am seeing at restaurants.   These days many restaurants are putting suggested tip amounts on the receipts - 20%, 25% and 30% amounts.

I typically tip 20-25% on my bill.

When splitting the bill with friends, each person usually puts that tip on their individual receipt...thus the collective tips add up to the 20-25%.

Last night I dined at Blue Ribbon Bakery with two girlfriends and we split the bill 3 ways.  When we got our receipts there was a suggested tip amount.  In my stupor (perhaps that glass of wine hit me too hard)...I ended up just putting that amount as my tip - meaning I tipped 20% of the entire bill on my third.  Essentially amounting to a 55-60% tip!

I didn't realize this until I got home - and I thought about calling the restaurant.  But, I figured I would let it go this time...it amounted to an extra $12, which I can stomach for my own mistake.

But really, shame on them - this must happen often to unsuspecting diners and international tourists who are already unfamiliar with the tipping culture here....

Just be careful and ignore any "suggested amounts."  We should be smart enough to do the math on our own.

...Perhaps it's their way of punishing us diners when we ask to split the bill on separate credit cards.  Sigh.


May 6, 2014

oPhone + oNotes - Do we really want an aromatic phone?

Today I got an email announcing the impending launch of oNotes - the future of aromatic text messages is almost here...

Next time I send you a text about the awesome bakery down the street, you will get a scend of bread wafting to your nose.  OR, what about sending you an image of NYC on a hot summer day?  What scent will accompany it?  Shudder...

Hrmm...is this something the world is ready for?  Sensory overload?  Or a chance to experience everything with a click of the button.  No more need to wait 3 hours for that coveted cronut...you can just smell mine :)

Be the first to own your very own oPhone - from June 17th to July 31, you can purchase yours on indiegogo for $149.

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