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Wow this place has been quiet [Feb. 16th, 2009|05:03 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

I went to Red Bamboo on West 4th St. in Manhattan last night. If you are a vegetarian or vegan you will absolutely love this place. The food was fantastic. I am already planning my next trip back.
If you go, be warned, it is small. You could have quite a wait for a table.
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Indonesian food in Queens: Upi Jaya [Sep. 19th, 2008|11:56 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

[Current Mood |calmcalm]
[Current Music |t-rex]

76-04 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst, NY
It's a tiny space serving some very low key, humble but tasty Indonesian food. there were lots of choices for vegetarians and omnivores alike. The service was, interesting. Our server seemed very earnest and pleasant, but she kept teasing us with other people's food! It was actually quite funny, but she brought 'round a dish, actually placed it on the table not once but TWICE and then realized it belonged to another diner and removed it (luckily quickly enough that we didn't start picking at it). But overall it was quite a comfy, casual place with good food and an inexpensive tab.
what we ordered:

potato fritters with vegetables, which came with a nice sweet/hot sri racha sauce
fried tofu stuffed with vegetables - i loved these

rendang padang with white rice
gado gado

"melinjo nut" crackers - no idea what they were made of but they were good with the gado gado!

es campur (jackfruit/palmfruit with shredded coconut, ice, flavored syrups)
coffee with coconut milk

our bill only came to $38. the only disappointment came at dessert time. there were some rather tasty looking choices on the menu, but only the banana fritters were available (with or w/out ice cream). we passed on that and had the coffees.
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Turkuaz - Turkish cuisine [Jun. 29th, 2008|09:08 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

We went out to celebrate my birthday last night. We went to Turkuaz located on Broadway at 100th St. The food was fantastic. The bellydancer was great and a lot of fun. Our waiter could have been better. Very reasonably priced. Check it out:
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L'Absinthe Brasserie-Restaurant [Jun. 16th, 2008|12:09 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

I’m not sure what it is with French restaurants lately. First Les Halles a couple of weeks agao, and then yesterday afternoon (Father’s Day), I got to try L’Absinthe Brasserie-Restaurant on E 67th between 1st and 2nd. I had never heard of the place, but apparently, my father eats here often. He described it to me as a bit of Paris dropped into Manhattan. I’ve never been to France, so I had to take his word for it. But based on what I’ve seen on TV and movies, the atmosphere and décor of L’Absinthe really give the restaurant a Parisian look and feel.

The inside is very nice, fancy, but not too fancy. I really like the lighting (slightly dim, but not excessively so) and the ambiance. I felt comfortable in my khakis and polo-style shirt. I don’t know if I’d feel as comfortable here as I did at Les Halles, which felt like it had a little bit more of a relaxed atmosphere, but I didn’t feel underdressed. Also, it was Father’s Day, so people may have gone a little dressier than normal. And I did see a few people dressed very casually, so I don’t think this is a place where you have to be too concerned about attire.

The food was all excellent, starting with the bread and butter. I feel as if that comes up often in my posts here, but I love good fresh bread. They serve a cut of French bread (with seconds if you ask) and I couldn’t keep away from it.

For an appetizer we split the Alsacienne Pizzette, a very thin, personal size pizza made with bacon, onion, thyme, and muenster cheese. I snatched up about 3 slices of that thing and I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an appetizer suggestion that’s not on the appetizer list.

For my entrée, I ordered the Papillote of Loch Duart Salmon. This is two small, thick cuts of salmon cooked medium-rare in a phillo dough crust. The tenderness of the salmon mixes very well with the crispiness of the dough, and I really enjoyed this meal. Someone we were with got the same thing cooked well done and he enjoyed it just as much.

I also had a taste of my father’s meal, though I’m not sure what it was called. It was basically a thin layer of French bread with ham, egg, and cheese pressed kind of like a Panini. It was kind of a cross between a Monte Cristo and a Panini, and it was damn good. It probably had enough egg, cheese and butter to kill a lab rat, but you probably wouldn’t care.

Dessert was a tasty pastry that consisted of a dough filled with hazelnut cream. Good stuff, and not disgustingly rich if you like something a little lighter at the end of your meal.

The only thing that I wasn’t completely happy with was the wine. It wasn’t bad, but for the price you pay for a glass of wine at a restaurant like this, “not bad” shouldn’t be the verdict. But they do have quite a large selection of wine, so I’m sure that another selection might have been better.

Also, according to my father, they do serve absinthe and they serve it the old-fashioned way with the sugar cube and absinthe spoon. I didn’t see it on the menu anywhere, but he told me that he’s seen people drinking it there before. And really, when you name your place L’Absinthe, I think you’d kind of have to, right? I’m going to make it a point to give that a try, should I make it back there at some point.

Overall, it was a very good meal. If you haven’t looked at the menu yet, I’ll mention that the prices are a little high. I’d say you should expect to spend around $45 – 50 per person, depending upon your appetites, but I’ve paid as much for less satisfying meals before. At least at L’Absinthe, for a short time, you get the added fun of feeling as if you’ve escaped to a place where you feel like you should be contemplating writing the great American novel instead of what time you have to get up for work tomorrow.

L’Absinthe Brasserie-Restaurant
(Menus are on their website)

Note: There is a parking garage directly across the street from the restaurant. On a Sunday afternoon, it only cost us $13 for 2 hours or so. I’m sure Friday and Saturday rates are higher though.
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Update: Picnic [Jun. 8th, 2008|05:12 am]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

We're going to skip Chelsea Market and meet at 1:00 on the Pier for the picnic.
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Pacific Grill Restaurant-South Street Seaport [May. 28th, 2008|09:50 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

This past Friday I had gone to Pacific Grill Restaurant @ the South Street Seaport. Needless to say, despite the wonderful service I had received (even at 2 PM on a Friday afternoon) the wait staff and food were disappointing. I had ordered the tuna sandwich, but had asked "is the tuna a piece of grilled tuna, or is it a tuna salad with mayo?" The waitress has assured me that it was a grilled tuna sandwich. Well, when I got my sandwich with a side salad (not fries-more on that later) it was a tuna salad with mayo, not a grilled tuna fillet. So I immediately had it brought back because of that. After she came back, she informed me that "oh, sorry, we do not have a grilled tuna sandwich, but you can have a grilled tuna salad." I told her "sorry, thats fine, just give me a turkey burger." And I got just that, which was fine for me, though after the first bite, the bun was stale and nothing else really besides the side. Now I did order a side salad and not fries (I am watching my weight).

In my opinion, if you are looking for a fresher selection, the Pacific Grill @ the South Street Seaport is NOT the place to go. Hell, I could get a healthier, AND fresher meal @ Pizzera Uno, Seaport Cafe, or even the Heartland Brewery right across the street from the seaport.

Well, I do not know if you have any other ?'s. If so, post a comment.
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OMG Delicious and Inexpensive Asian food in NYC [May. 28th, 2008|01:54 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

I thought I posted about this place but since I couldn't remember the name up until recently, I doubt it!

I've been to this cute Asian fusion restaurant called Cafetasia twice now, and I have to say it was an awesome time both times. They have a wide variety of food for vegetarians and none, great specials and a really decent bar. The first time we got pineapple fried rice served in a pineapple that was so amazing it started a bit of an addiction for me. They didn't have it on the menu the second time.

Another thing I loved about this place was the menu style. It has the types of food divided into sizes instead of the usual "appetizers" or "entrees". I can easily put away an "extra large" by myself so I usually start with an appetizer.

The ambiance is very low key. The restaurant is pretty small with long tables and padded benches instead of chairs for the most part. There are tons of candles and faux candles which are made to look like they're falling from the ceiling.

But the thing that blows me away is the price. The extra large entrees max out around $12 and the second time I went there we had 18 people, who we fed and boozed for about $350 (with the 18% tip included). Not bad if you ask me ... especially with all the booze consumed!

The restaurant is located near Cooper University and NYU (so there are lots of neat dessert spots and bars nearby) at 38 East 8th Street.

I just made myself hungry. LOL
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Max Brenner's Chocolate Shop [May. 28th, 2008|12:28 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

djdysfunction was intrigued by my mention of Max Brenner last week, so I thought I'd elaborate.

As a rabid fan of chocolate, I was surprised I hadn't heard about this place earlier. Max Brenner's is a chain of eateries that started in Australia and recently opened up branches in NYC. It's called "The Chocolate Shop" because all of the entrees are chocolate-based. Ok, that's not entirely true- there is your standard fare of T.G.I.Fridays-style food, but that's not the interesting part. It's about chocolate.

For starters, there are drinks. A variety of choco-tinis, chock-tails (no, I can't take credit for making up that word), chocolate shots and chocolate coffees are available, often adorned with gummi bears and other candies in place of the more traditional olive. My favorite so far is the Chocolate Truffle Martini, but the Chocolate Banana Island Martini and the Maragnan were great too.

The drinks are just a warmup, though. The main courses are essentially chocolate desserts super-sized to become meals by themselves. The entrees that I'd particularly recommend are crepes stuffed with melted marshmallow and chocolate, waffles topped with bananas and toffee crunch, and of course, my favorite, chocolate fondue. Do not kid yourself- these are dense offerings. Chocolate is heavy, and these things eat like a meal, not like a dessert. It is ironic that the restaurant even offers "dessert" on its menu; I've always been too full to even think about that last page. I'm sure it has nothing to do with me chugging shots of pure molten chocolate (which they include with most entrees, supposedly to pour over your food to make it more chocolatey).

If you are a lover of things chocolatey, and want to try a meal made of candy, then this is definitely your kind of place.

There are two locations in NYC- one in Union Square, and one at the corner of 2nd ave and 9th st. The Union Square location is larger, but much more crowded- all the NYU students go there. I like the 2nd ave location better- it's a bit more off the beaten path, and I've always gotten a table there.

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Les Halles - Park Ave. Location [May. 27th, 2008|01:29 pm]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

This past Sunday, lemmywinks30 and I finally made it to Les Halles on Park Ave. in NYC. We had been wanting to try this restaurant out for a while, and I think it was worth the anticipation. The atmosphere is nice, and not too stuffy. Sure, the hostess greets you (and answers the phone) with a "bon jour," which under normal circumstances would come off as pretentious, but hell, it's a French restaurant, so what else would you expect?

The waiter was friendly, and helpful in choosing a wine that wouldn't force us to take out a second mortgage, but that we'd still enjoy. We ended up with a bottle of Chateau La Cardonne, which went well with our meals. I have to say though, that since finding out how much a bottle of it costs outside of the restaurant, I'm disappointed that we broke our rule of not buying wine when dining out. The mark-up is just ridiculous. But on to the food.

I started off with the escargots, because I figured it just made sense. 6 snails came out in a round ceramic dish with 6 holes each housing 1 of the little critters drowning in a butter, garlic, and herb sauce. The sauce was delicious and made for a great dipping sauce for the bread. It should be noted that the bread and butter that they give you before the meal was also particularly tasty.

Then, on to the main course. lemmywinks30 got the filet mignon and I got the mixed grill. She was pretty happy with the filet, although a bit disappointed with the amount of fat. Not that it was that excessive, but most of the places that we go for filet will give you very lean cut with almost no fat. Still, she enjoyed it, and I had a taste and can concur that it was a nice piece of beef.

My mixed grill was also very tasty. It comes with a small piece of steak, hanger steak, thick cut bacon, roasted tomatoes, a lamb chop, and merguez, which is Moroccan lamb sausage. And almost all of it was great. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the lamb chop, which was very fatty. But I'm not much for lamb chops. The pieces of steak were very lean and tender, which I wasn't totally expecting. I usually get filet mignon when I get steak. The bacon was very good. It's this huge, thick piece of bacon that you don't get unless you go to specialty stores. And the merguez was probably my favorite part. If you like Mediterranean food, you'd like it. There was also some other piece of meat served with it that looked and tasted kind of like kielbasi, and that was good too.

For dessert, we got the chocolate souffle, and I have to say it's probably one of the best I've had. Overall, I'd say that we both really enjoyed the food and the relaxed atmosphere. And yeah, the fact that this is Anthony Bourdain's old stomping ground kind of makes it a little more fun. But I'd say it's worth checking out even if you're not a fan.

All pertinent info can be found on their website, including menus: Les Halles
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Lunch Spots in Westfield Area? [May. 8th, 2008|08:35 am]
New York - New Jersey Cuisine

Hello all! I'm wondering if anyone can suggest a couple of places in the Westfield-Cranford area to have a nice lunch. I'm looking for someplace to bring my mother this weekend. Slightly upscale is great, but I don't want to spend $25 per entree. It also has to be vegetarian friendly. A separate veggie menu isn't required of course, but I'd also like a couple of options on there besides a side salad or the steamed vegetable plate.

Any suggestions??
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