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gastrodamus

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  1. Excellent recap and photos. Thanks for the chefs' backgrounds. And yes, it's virtually impossible to find any in-depth info about FREJ online. Not only is it the best deal in town, it's the best-kept secret.
  2. About five weeks ago, FREJ launched quietly as a popup inside Kinfolk Studios in Williamsburg with Chefs Fredrik and Richard (didn't catch their last names) at the helm armed with a toaster oven and an induction burner to crank out some amazing modern Scandinavian plates. Both chefs come from Corton, and they worked a couple of doors away from each other on Clinton at WD~50 and Falai once upon a time. For $45, you get a thoughtfully arranged 5-course tasting with an amuse bouche and a couple of surprise dishes in the mix. I'm guessing the space can accommodate 25-30 diners, and it's only open Monday through Wednesday 6-10pm for now. Last night was my second visit, and I must say they're doing everything right: Unique mix of local ingredients that are perfectly cooked and balanced, telepathic service, cool space, solid cocktails, and approachable wines. I'm not going to do a good enough job explaining the dishes in detail, so i'll leave it up to you to check out their menu. I can only recommend that you reserve a table as soon as you can before it gets mobbed. It's without a doubt the best deal in town.
  3. Dined here tonight, thanks to your report and photos. For a restaurant that's been open for about a week, it's surprisingly well-oiled. Unique menu, perfectly-cooked dishes, well-balanced flavors, great service, revamped space; the place is going to get really busy soon.
  4. That's a very valid point. It was a good year at least for me because I never felt a shortage of decent options regardless of the opening date. What Sutton says about 2011 is unrelated, and I made it confusing by including the link.
  5. Great rundown. Putting Totto Ramen, Masten Lake, and Palm on my list. To add to what you said about Ciano, the sommelier put together a fantastic pairing for us. He kept it fun and loose and also introduced us to the pastry chef at the end of the meal. Those little things make such a HUGE difference.
  6. It's that time of the year again. The critics are starting to release their lists, but I'd like to hear your highlights of the year; both old and new places. Standouts for me in loose order: Corton Ciano M. Wells (RIP) Minetta Tavern Maialino Tertulia Ushiwakamaru The Dutch Recette What Happens When (Yeah, I know) Fedora Kin Shop Corcoron Soba Zabb Elee Bab al Yemen in Bay Ridge Forcella (even without a beer/wine license) Wallsé Parm Honorable mention: Saxon + Parole, Family Recipe, Fatty Cue in Bburg, Sauce, Sip Sak, Rubirosa, Calexico, Brooklyn Star, Edi & the Wolf, El Almacen, Miss Lily's Wanted to like but didn't: Lotus of Siam, Redfarm, 1 or 8, Ellabess, Leopard at des Artistes, Veselka Bowery, John Dory Oyster Bar (2nd worst experience of the year), LTO (the worst experience of the year) Standbys: Sorella, Degustation, Bohemian, Prune, Balaboosta, Cafe Katja Overall it was a solid year to dine out; the best since 2004 according to Ryan Sutton. I'd love to hear your favorites.
  7. he's awesome. i appreciate eric's straightforward descriptions that actually make me want to try the dish. i'm not a fan of critics who resort to a contrived figure of speech when a tangible adjective will do. i'm hooked after his first paragraph and walk away more knowledgable. perhaps eric would be reluctant to give up his role as the wine editor, but i hope he'll be named the next NYT restaurant critic.
  8. completely agree with sneakeater. while minetta isn't a classic steakhouse, its côte de boeuf is hands down the best steak in the city. we should be comparing cut to cut; not by narrowly defining what a steakhouse is. minetta also serves one of the best burgers in town even though it's not a classic burger joint.
  9. went last night at 8:30 for the 24-course tasting and experienced quite the pronounced opening jitters that tested our patience. we were informed that a course would come out every 8 minutes. the first course came out about 45 minutes in. the next course, 20-25 minutes later. we had to inquire several times as to when the next course would hit the table. by 10pm, we were served our third course. we were served 2 more dishes over the next 45 minutes. not wanting to be there until 8am, we asked for the check for what we've had. the dining room was 2/3 full when we sat down but thinned out rather quickly, so the other diners must have pressed the eject button as well. as we waited for the check, we were hit with two additional courses, one that was supposed to be served much later in the journey. it was chaos. in the end the check was very fair, and the staff was apologetic about the jitters. the pacing might have been smoother had they offered two seating times; 7pm for 16 courses then 9pm for 24 courses. the menus are too ambitious to pace properly otherwise. there's no doubt that chef cooper is extremely talented and innovative. the courses were sophisticated yet playful. had it been a better paced dinner, it would've been one of the most memorable dinners of the year. i may still give it another chance. the dishes are that promising. however for such an ephemeral concept, i'm not sure if they'll have enough time to iron out some glaring kinks before moving on. would love to hear a more positive report before making another reservation.
  10. last night was m wells' 2nd night of dinner service. my friend and i were seated right next to hugue dufour and his friend. the chef told us that they want to keep dinner to tues-thurs for now as eater confirms. they're accepting reservations. the menu is so concise that you'll most likely flip it over to see if there's more. every item reads like a must-try. the big dishes starting at $35 are obviously meant to be shared. filet mignon tartare served with poached egg and vibrant greens is among the best in the city. perfect seasoning, texture, and temperature. escargot & bone marrow (cut length wise) is a welcome marriage of ingredients. from the big dish section, we split the head & cheese; fried veal brain, foie, ham and fried bread served on top of a wheel of brillat-savarin. the brains were spectacular. the chef had the same next to us, deemed the cheese was too ammoniated, and comped our dish. i detected a hint of ammonia but didn't find it objectionable. he clearly has high standards. he poured us a glass of wine from his friend's vineyard and kept us entertained for a while. from the space to the menu, i can't think of another place in nyc that even comes close in comparison. i know that's an obvious thing to say based on all the write-ups thus far, but it didn't fully register until i dined there. i doubt it'll be long before diners have to call far in advance for a reservation.
  11. great topic as i've been rather sloppy about keeping a list. but yeah, i see how this could easily spin out of control as others post their list. SHO corton bk fare per se (incredibly overdue) riverpark lotus of siam m wells buttermilk channel red rooster fedora ai fiori millesime ciano recette
  12. But wait, don't you think there's enough already? Unless you're referring to coffee in restaurants. In my neighborhood alone, make that micro-neighborhood, there are no less than 5 good to excellent coffee houses, not including the bucks on the corner of Allen and Delancey. I was almost ready to say enough already. yes, i meant more drip coffee in restaurants. either way, i drink 3-5 cups of coffee a day so there can never be enough coffee shops. i perhaps need to cut back.
  13. more offals, raw beef apps, northern european cuisine, drip coffee, and complimentary glass of prosecco if you have to wait more than 20 minutes past the reservation. most restaurants grossly underestimate how much this little gesture means. enough already with entrees for two. i'll always side with variety. also agree with less burgers and neopolitan pizzas.
  14. bohemian is a serene hideout behind japan premium beef that serves excellent japanese fusion. i'm not familiar with chef kiyo shinoki's background. the food and decor are minimalist. the space feels like a living room bookended by a bar and a mini garden. i doubt it was an accident that warhol once owned the property and basquiat lived there. branzino, uni croquette, foie soba, and short rib sashimi are my favorites. they're known for washu-gyu mini burgers, which are incredibly juicy and flavorful though last couple of times they were a tad overcooked. the sashimi selection is fresh, perhaps the reason why it's often incorrectly labeled a sushi den. i'm not sure how difficult it is to get a reservation these days or if they even enforce the referral policy, but once you have the number, it's pretty straightforward. i know it all sounds somewhat pretentious, but i assure you the staff is super nice. on an unrelated note, their restroom looks as if it could launch you into outer orbit.
  15. that's too bad. we didn't have the burger, but the dishes we ordered surpassed my expectations, including the desserts. having said that, i had very low expectations going in mostly due to the menu that's all over the map. the space is quite stunning though some would find it gimmicky.
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