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gastrodamus

your 2010 standouts and standbys

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as the critics' year-end roundups keep trickling in, i feel it's been rather an underwhelming year for nyc diners. it was the year for standbys. for me, the most accurate posts have been on eater (via kathrynyu) and gothamist (via @fwaychel). nearly third of my dining experiences have been repeats mostly because the new menus and reviews didn't excite me whatsoever. having said that i do have a few favorites; some trendy, some flawed, some ignored:

hung ry: a semi-upscale hand-pulled noodle spot is a welcome addition. killer broth and you just might catch a show if you time it well. a nice detour from the ramen wars.

vandaag: i'm surprised it wasn't on everyone's list. instead it was torrisi this and breslin that. i mean how many modern northern european restaurant openings were there? loved everything, especially the sweetbreads.

st. anselm: deep fried hot dogs, brains, foie pierogi (when avail), sliders, and disco fries are among the usuals here. unfortunately they had issues with the bldg and couldn't serve beer or wine even with a license. don't know if they're able to yet. i found st. anselm to be among the most unique openings of 2010.

osteria morini: the most impressive pastas i've had all year, which of course is no surprise. it's also the loudest dining experience of the year.

co ba: completely underrated vietnamese spot in chelsea. phở, which is not a trend but rather a way of life, is a must.

the commodore: fried chicken & biscuits live up to the hype.

northern spy food co: the sunday supper is a treat, and the fluffiness of the gnocchi rivals that of hearth's.

balaboosta: since the initial reviews, not too many people are talking about how refined and inventive the dishes are here. granted the wine list lacks focus, it deserved 2 stars from sifton.

the fat radish: yes, it's filled with beautiful people and could easily be dismissed as a scene. however, the apps and the entrees are spot on. celery root potpie, as pedestrian as it sounds, is amazing.

then there were the trusty standbys. the most repeated were sorella, prune, casa mono, degus, rye, yakitori totto, joseph leonard, marlow & sons, bohemian, ssam, and yasuda.

i'd love to know your favorite new spots and standbys of the year.

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My new favorite restaurants for 2010: Ma Peche; Riverpark

My continuing favorite restaurants: Momofuku Ko; Bouley; and Eleven Madison Park

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I'm in the same camp with Northern Spy Food Company, Co Ba, Osteria Morini, Manzo. And didn't Ma Peche open in 2009? Or was that just the mezzanine?

Some of the others I have yet to try but we just went to Beauty and Essex last night and sadly, it doesn't (and shouldn't) make anyone's list. Except maybe worst hamburger.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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And didn't Ma Peche open in 2009? Or was that just the mezzanine?

Nope, Ma Peche (the official restaurant) opened in the spring. I think the mezzanine opened earlier in the year (January?).

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And didn't Ma Peche open in 2009? Or was that just the mezzanine?

Nope, Ma Peche (the official restaurant) opened in the spring. I think the mezzanine opened earlier in the year (January?).

According to Eater, the mezzanine opened in November and started serving a lunch special at that time. Restaurant proper didn't open till March or so.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I was oddly disappointed this year by Pulino's (oh that awful crackery pizza), Kin Shop (not bad per se just not great), Traif (solid but not really worth going out of your way for), Brucie (ditto), Maialino's brunch (the bombolini are fine, just not exemplary -- perhaps I'll give it another go).

We moved from the East Village to the West Village so our standbys have gone from Grand Sichuan, Motorino, Momofuku Noodle & Ssam Bar to Perilla, Po, Pearl Oyster Bar, Joseph Leonard/Jeffrey's, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Joe's Pizza, Otto.


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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We moved from the East Village to the West Village so our standbys have gone from Grand Sichuan, Motorino, Momofuku Noodle & Ssam Bar to Perilla, Po, Pearl Oyster Bar, Joseph Leonard/Jeffrey's, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Joe's Pizza, Otto.

Joe's Pizza seems to be making a downhill slide, certainly in my last two visits.

My standbys - around the nabe are Cafe Katja, Schiller's, 'inoteca and only for the pho - Cong Ly on Hester.

Out a bit further, I still like Lupa, Rai Rai Ken, Arturo's for a "New York" style pie, Back Forty, Redhead...


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Some of the others I have yet to try but we just went to Beauty and Essex last night and sadly, it doesn't (and shouldn't) make anyone's list. Except maybe worst hamburger.

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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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.

I totally liked the space. The food, otoh, not so much. We didn't have dessert, save for the affogato.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I am an expense account New Yorker but I try to get around.

Locanda Vini y Olli in Brooklyn is more than worth a visit for the duck. I agree with the guy on Food TV that it is the best fruit dish I ever ate. I thought the other dishes lacked taste, however, although the calamari charcuterie was amazing. I have my doubts about an italian restaurant that does not smell of garlic and this place does not. It gets a Zagat 26 for food however, and is a bargain at the price.

Great vistit to Il Mulino for a veal chop milanese and an arugula and basil salad on top with a side of pasta and porcini mushroom cream sauce. These two restaurants have the same Zagat rating but could not be more different. I am coming back to Il Mulino, even at twice the price.

NoHo Star at the Bleecker exit off the 6 train, one block West of Broadway. Calamari salad and spinach ricotta omelette. Although I have never tried the Chinese menu, everything else is good here, too. Homemade ginger ale and limeade, too. This place may be my favorite everyday place in Manhattan. I was introduced to it by my late, great, super-cool friend John Ernst, who introduced me to Christ Cella, Iperbole, One if By Land, River Cafe, Fraunce's Tavern, Dean & DeLuca, and Ferrarra's bakery. He was usually right, and NoHo Star is a worthy spot.

I love everything at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central. I have convinced myself that the Atlantic oysters are safer than the Gulf oysters. I hope I am right. The clams and scallops are excellent, too.

Interesting small plate meal this year at the Carlton Hotel in the bar. 28th and Madison. Great wine list with bar food to complement it.

Finally, check out Napa and Co. in Stamford CT. Truly outstanding. Not quite New York, and not quite Napa either. But truly outstanding.


Edited by sclemmons (log)

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I think 2010 will be remembered as the Year of the Italian. With the debut of Eataly, the opening of Michael White's Osteria Morini and Ai Fiori, the return of Shea Gallante at Ciano, the birth of Jonathan Benno's Lincoln, and the rise of Torrisi Italian Specialties, Italian food had a banner year...and the food was just wonderful. Despite his recent split with Chris Cannon, and the expansion tear he has been on recently, I still believe that Mr. White is able to maintain the quality of food and service at all his restaurants, and I am truly happy to return to his restaurants time and time again. My other memory of 2010 is Momofuku Ma Peche: a prolonged debut, followed by a lackluster reception by the critics, only to see the same critics revise their respective opinions of the restaurant as the year ended and give Ma Peche the due recognition it deserves. Tien Ho has finally found his voice, and we are all the richer for it. The Momofuku empire has had its ups and downs this year, but the restaurants have maintained their relevance in the gastronomic discussion, and I remain a loyal and satisfied customer (ellenost, I know you broke my record at Momofuku Ko...congrats!). I also enjoyed my meals at the Brooklyn Fare, Aldea and SHO Shaun Hergatt. The food at M. Wells and Traif were also unique and interesting, and the pizzas at Paulie Gee's were also good.

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My other memory of 2010 is Momofuku Ma Peche: a prolonged debut, followed by a lackluster reception by the critics, only to see the same critics revise their respective opinions of the restaurant as the year ended and give Ma Peche the due recognition it deserves. Tien Ho has finally found his voice, and we are all the richer for it. The Momofuku empire has had its ups and downs this year, but the restaurants have maintained their relevance in the gastronomic discussion, and I remain a loyal and satisfied customer (ellenost, I know you broke my record at Momofuku Ko...congrats!).

Food Doc: You still remain the champ at Momofuku Ko: I think I recall you mentioning in one of your posts that you've enjoyed 40 visits; I think I'm at only #30. Congrats on your achievement!

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then there were the trusty standbys. the most repeated were sorella, prune, casa mono, degus, rye, yakitori totto, joseph leonard, marlow & sons, bohemian, ssam, and yasuda.

Noticed you mentioned Bohemian, a place that hasn't really been discussed much on these boards. What can you say about it? Also, is it still a mystery in terms of getting in?

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Joe's has been up and down recently but the last few slices I've gotten were just right - YMMV, as all pizza places have consistency issues IMO.


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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Joe's has been up and down recently but the last few slices I've gotten were just right - YMMV, as all pizza places have consistency issues IMO.

What was really weird was that I had two slices in the same visit. One was good, the other sucked!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Joe's has been up and down recently but the last few slices I've gotten were just right - YMMV, as all pizza places have consistency issues IMO.

My impression is that the variability is nothing recent. I've found them to be totally inconsistent for years. I've had very good slices there and really mediocre ones with little rhyme or reason over a long period...certainly back to the late 90's if not earlier. For the last few years, I've found that in that nabe, Bleecker Street Pizza tends to be more consistently good these days.

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Noticed you mentioned Bohemian, a place that hasn't really been discussed much on these boards. What can you say about it? Also, is it still a mystery in terms of getting in?

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.

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Two to note in a year that boasted many multi city food trips both in the US and World Wide.

1) Lux: Stockholm, Sweden. The highlight of a Noma-less Scandinavian jaunt that included 12 Michelin starred restaurants. The attention to detail in the sourcing, presentation and trueness to the ingredients made this a clear standout. The chefs, Henrik Norström and Peter Johansson presented dishes that were balanced in a Scandinavian way with distinctive sour and bitter notes not found in many other regions. Sadly, there was a fire in December the destroyed this memorable place.

2) Corton: NY. We ate here last Tuesday after the NY blizzard. Although the city was paralyzed, Chef Paul was rockin the kitchen and each and every dish had a depth of beauty in presentation and layering in flavor that was a cut above all else we have had this year. Out of every place we have eaten, I will go out of my way to repeat dining here (I would like to go back to Lux after the rebuild if we can score a noma reservation).

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