Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ Category

Elizabeth Falkner’s ORSON (SF)

April 8, 2008


Orson, Pastry Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s new restaurant in San Francisco is not to be missed. The restaurant is enormous with both upstairs and downstairs dining, and her desserts exude the same sultry sexy confidence that she does. Industrial concrete, dark table cloths and chocolate colored chairs make you feel just as sleek as your surroundings. Elizabeth also owns Citizen Cake.

Invisible, created by Elizabeth and her pastry chef Luis.


Black Espresso, Black Sorbet


Downstairs Bar/ Dining Room


Upstairs Dining Room


Orson
508 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

all photos © erin gleeson

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UM Redux: Shanghai Cafe (NYC)

April 8, 2008

This post is dedicated to Tmonkey and Wong Kar-Wai.

Went to see my acupuncturist the other day in Chinatown. Dr. Wu is a miracle maker, truly, and I send everyone to him for their ailments. Migraines, bad shoulders, allergies, bad knees, insomnia– whatever you’ve got, he’ll fix it, for real.

While pinning needles into my back, he told me I think too much and I eat too much. Perhaps he’s somewhat of a prophet? Dr. Wu multi-tasks: he’s not just a certified acupuncturist, but also my therapist and nutritionist.

So what do you do when the prophet tells you you eat too much? Well, go eat, of course. As a Dr. Wu visit ritual of sorts, I walked two streets over to one of my absolute favorite restaurant in NYC. Remember Tmonkey’s awesome video from last year? He wasn’t lying, this place is THE BEST for soup dumplings.


Check out this awesome lighting! As Tmonkey said, this place has a very 2046 vibe. When I come here, I like to pretend I am Zhang Ziyi on a hot date with Tony. I won’t let you break up with me, Tony!
As soon as you sit down, order the #1 on the menu- the tiny steamed buns with crab and pork. It takes some time for these to steam, so better to order them right away to avoid drooling all over the dumplings on the table next to you. Trust me on this.
What makes these superior to other soup dumplings in the city (Grand Sichuan, Joe’s Shanghai) is that the crab does not dry out, which leaves you with a hot hot bite of fluffy, moist goodness.
Make sure to get the Shanghai Lo Mein– saucy udon-like pan fried noodles. Another favorite. I get it with shrimp and mixed meats.
Not on the menu- sauteed pea shoots. Kinda expensive at $15, but if you’re there with a few people, it’s worth it.
Our spread. For all this- 2 trays of dumplings, noodles and the pea-shoots, it was $30 maybe? They have all sorts of other Shanghainese goodies on the menu, but I usually just gorge on the soup dumplings.

Ladies making the dumplings.

Dumplings steaming behind the counter.

Is that Tony?

Shanghai Cafe
100 Mott Street
B
twn. Canal & Hester Streets
New York, NY
T:212.966.3988

umamichatter: Rose Water Restaurant (NYC)

April 3, 2008

Larry works in publishing, and has lived in Park Slope in Brooklyn for the last few years. Had I known him back when I lived in the Slop (as I call it), I may have not moved out.

Ok no, I still would have. You see, the Slop, at least 7th Ave, is now barfbag yuppie central- lots of stroller rage, desolate by 10pm (except for the bars overcrowded with people who play professional frisbee), lots of brunch spots. You know what I’m talking about. Fucking brunch! Don’t even get me started.

But I will say that the Slop probably has one of the better, more quality restaurant communities in the city. Blue Ribbon, Al Di La, Flatbush Farm, blah blah.

Last week, Larry went to Rose Water on Union Street. Here’s his evaluation. Sorry, no pictures. Yes, Larry’s real name is “Lawrence”- Larry lives below 5th Ave, which makes him Marginal Slop Fringe, and much cooler in my eyes. Love ya, Lar.

Lawrence: i ate at rose water in park slope for restaurant week

me: oh wow i haven’t heard of that
how was it
what kind of food?
11:40 PM Lawrence: new american
the appetizers and the entree were okay.
but i was really wowed by the dessert
11:41 PM me: oh tell me more
what did you order
11:42 PM Lawrence: i just started with a salad.
me: go on
11:43 PM Lawrence: just a sec. i should look up the menu for a refresher.
me: ha
ok
i like your style
11:45 PM Lawrence: ok. i started with the market baby greens and herbs.
11:46 PM boring, right? but i just came from the gym and was feeling like starting off light.
me: ha
it’s ok
i feel you
11:47 PM then whaddya get
Lawrence: then i got the “roast chicken under a brick”
me: wow lar, sounds kinda boring
how was it?
11:48 PM under a brick???
Lawrence: ha!
me: what does that even MEAN?
Lawrence: i think that it gets roasted with a brick on top of it.
11:49 PM me: oh, ok, that sounds kinda neat
what did it taste like though
Lawrence: it was pretty good.
11:50 PM me: was it marinated?
sauce?
Lawrence: it was spiced up. i was like a fancier version of the rotisserie chicken you get at the supermarket.
11:51 PM me: hm yeah
Lawrence: there were turnips and onions involved.
me: typical restaurant chicken
nicely cooked?
i feel like restaurants never get vegetables right
at least roasted ones
Lawrence: it was. the meat was pretty tender and flavorful.
me: good good
11:52 PM ok now dessert
Lawrence: for dessert, i had the caramelized brioche.
11:53 PM it was really tasty.
me: i hope that came with ice cream?
Lawrence: yes, caramel ice cream.
me: ooooh
nice
flaky?
11:54 PM Lawrence: it was nice and flaky on the inside and but was all sugary and gooey on the outside.
me: droool
another thing that places don’t do right
pastries
Lawrence: i normally don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but i really enjoyed it
me: nice you found a good one
11:55 PM Lawrence: i also tried my friends cornmeal apricot cookie sandwiches for dessert
11:56 PM me: dude that sounds AWESOME
how was that?
Lawrence: i think i enjoyed that just as much
11:57 PM fresh apricots squeezed between two homemade cookies
me: OMG
with ice cream?
Lawrence: served with almond milk for dipping.
me: JESUS LORD
11:58 PM that sounds so great
apricots are totally my favorite
Lawrence: you would really love it then
me: apricots, apricot jam, dried apricots
poached apricots, apricot yogurt
11:59 PM but apricots stuffed in a cookie with dipping sauce?
dude i am so there.
ok now
interior? service?
12:00 AM Lawrence: the decor was nice. they’re going for the cottagey look, i think.
12:01 AM me: ah
Lawrence: it’s not a very big space, but i felt very comfortable.
me: the fucking cottagey look!
applewood, gramercy tavern…
Lawrence: i know — so typical park slope
me: for the love of god!
ha
Lawrence: we had very good service as well.
me: total after tip?
12:02 AM Lawrence: well, since it was restaurant week the prix fixe was $23
plus $8 for my share of the wine
12:03 AM plus tip comes to $38
me: for a bite of the apricot cookie
so worth it

Thanks for a great report Larry! Make sure to check out Larry’s website, The Larry Page, where he obsessively orders and reorders his top 100 films and albums of all time. The lists are dizzyingly comprehensive- but the boy has good taste (Prince is a Gold Inductee in The Larry Page Hall of Fame!)

Rose Water Restaurant
787 Union Street

Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.783.3800

Batch & P*ONG (NYC)

April 2, 2008


Everything about Batch, Pichet Ong’s new bakery on West 10th Street, is just as lovely, adorable and amazing as he is. Pink walls, yellow peonies and eclectic hand crafted chandeliers made me almost as happy to be there as the first bite of chewy crunchy peanut butter cookie right out of the oven. Then came the chocolate chip cookies- crisp and buttery on the edges, warm and gooey in the middle. To die for!

I think my favorite, though, was the walnut melt- a bite sized cookie dusted with powdered sugar similar to a mexican wedding cookie (however, the Vietnamese coffee cake with icing was a close runner up). Coconut Raspberry Green Tea Cupcakes also looked tempting. I have to go back to try more!

The coffee was great, and was served with thick and creamy half-n-half in a glass bottle that came from Manhattan Milk & Dairy, organically produced in the Amish country. If you’re into foie gras, you can get your puppy a foie gras dog biscuit, and then go next door to P*ONG and get your self a foie gras taco.

Batch, which opened last week, is next door to Pichet’s restaurant P*ONG in Greenwich Village.


Pichet’s friend Gary works in the front and Betty is the baker


Gary talking to my friend, chef Tessa Liebman

Pichet behind the counter

Here are some other delicacies I recently photographed at P*ONG.






all photos © erin gleeson

Batch & P*ONG | 150 West 10th street new york ny 10014
T 212 929 0898 | Batch closed Mondays

umamichatter: Waverly Inn (NYC)

March 27, 2008

*umamichatter is a new column where I chat online with people about their food adventures. Chats may be edited down to make shorter, but will never be added upon or manipulated in a way that makes a more positive or negative review. Please expect stream-of-consciousness bitching, complaining and other random mumblings.


My dear friend Matt wrangled himself into Waverly Inn the other night. WI is a super exclusive celebrity hang out in the West Village, opened last year to a lot of buzz by Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair. This place is no joke: a secret reservation line, Madonna and Kate Moss sightings in one night, camera-toting paparazzi outside, and $85 mac & cheese.

Here’s what Matt thought about the place. This was a work dinner, and the bill for three people was $700, after tip.


12:30 AM matt: yeah, not that coolme: to be expectedmatt: they were playing tom waits when i got in, and i was like, wow, gonna be cool

and then i turned around and there was this girl that looked exactly like kristen davis
12:32 AM and i was like, this is awesome bc charlotte is here
but then i looked again and it wasnt her
and then there were no more famous people
me: ha
charlotte!
12:33 AM matt: it was also pretty empty
the paparazzi outside said mcdreamy was supposed to be there
but i dont even know who he is
me: from grey’s anatomy
12:35 AM matt: yeah, i wouldnt know him if i saw him
it was also pretty emptyi will say, i had a much more enjoyable meal at smoke joint last night


12:39 AM
me: yup

12:41 AM matt: yeah
i would never do that myself it is the experience i guess
12:43 AM me: what did you eat
matt: tuna tartare which all the reviews said was what to get
not that good and braised short ribs
me: nice
how was that
matt: which was fine
but not special
me: right
12:44 AM matt: ive had better
not to be all particular, but the wine guy poured wine all over my menu
me: HAHAHAHA
matt: like fine if a waiter does
me: that’s AWESOME
matt: but this is the wine guy
12:45 AM mainly its bc you look like a retard to everyone else
bc they dont know you didnt do it
me: ha
12:46 AM what did everyone else get
matt: same
but a chicken pot pie
me: omg

how much was that
matt: i think the braised short ribs was the most expensive entree we got
which was 27
me: that’s not so bad
matt: ALSO, the mac and cheese is now 85
12:47 AM me: how did the bill end up being 700
if that’s the most expensive
did you get a bottle of veuve?
matt: no
two bottles of wine
me: ah how was the service?

aside from wine guy
12:47 AM
matt: ha
ok, little disorganized i felt
we had like three waiters
so we asked for the wine list
12:49 AM and then three people came around about every minute to ask if we made a decision
me: oh geez

hm
12:51 AM yikes

The bathroom is pretty uninspired for a place that charges $85 for mac & cheese.
Waverly Inn
16 Bank Street at Waverly Pl.
New York, NY
No Telephone!

Sushi Yotsuya (LA)

March 26, 2008


Whenever I get hungry for sushi it is hard to find the right place. Anyone can tell the difference between good and bad sushi, the fish must be fresh! People who open sushi restaurants think of it more as a trend, so they open the restaurant without any concern on how much tradition and passion sushi requires. It takes years to master.

I found a 5-star rated place in Tarzana, 5 minutes from my house. Sushi Yotsuya! From the outside it looked small, quiet, and hidden. Since there are so many sushi restaurants across the street and a few doors down, it was hard to spot.

After you walk in, right in front of you was a big sign that says, “We only serve traditional style sushi, no California roll, spicy tuna roll, appetizers, or American style sushi.” How cool is that!

It is a small simple place, probably about 13 seats at the sushi bar, and 6 tables.

On the right is Masa Masumoto (founder, proprietor, and chef; above right) is going on his 8th year after opening in 2000. Masa and his 2nd chef Chica are a good team, always communicating with one another. Masa’s goal was to have an original/traditional sushi joint since there is so many around his. He says he buys the fish every morning before opening, guaranteed! Can’t get any fresher than that.

We started with a cold beer, the best Japanese imported beer you can get: Orion (deep from Osaka, Japan). Not many Japanese restaurants carry this, it’s got a bite and it’s good.

Next we have the Katsuo (Skip Jack; above), and the Aji (Spanish Mackerel; below). I haven’t seen Katsuo any where around here; just melts in your mouth!

Then we have our Mirugai (Jumbo Clam; above) and our Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp; below). The Mirugai was so fresh it was moving slowly on the rice (as you can see in the picture it is curling), it was so crunchy, which ensures freshness.

The Ankimo (monk fish liver; above) was excellent. The Ankimo was grilled, had a nice color to it. It had this Japanese mustard miso sauce on it. Never had it with a sauce like this. It was flaky, and once again melted in my mouth.

Next are my favorite Uni (sea urchin; above left) and Ikura (salmon roe; above right). The Uni is a delicacy, it fells like a tongue and looks like tongue. It tastes like the ocean, very salty and explodes in your mouth. The best. The Ikura is usually marinated before service to enhance taste, and most places don’t do it right, but Masa was right on.

We got the Tako (octopus; above left) and the Ika (squid; above right). Both very fresh and crunchy; which is needed to ensure freshness, soo good!

Up above is Aoyagi (a orange clam; above), it was moving once again, very fresh, little bit of salt and lemon on it, and no soy sauce needed. It was crunchy and had a good citrus flavor to it, sooo good!

As we were trying to finish up, they treated us a round of their special fish for the day! Starting form the left was Managatsuo (Panfret; left), Tombo Toro (Fatty Albacore; 2nd to left), Kurodai (Black Snapper; 3rd to left), and Kinmedai (Alfonsino; 4th to left). They were all fish I have never eaten before; it was very new and exciting! They all tasted spectacular!

To finishing off, the best part is the Green Tea. Has to be dark as the Tea above, most places you go has weak light tea. You want to make sure you drink tea at the end of the meal to drain out all the oil and start digesting right away.

I recommend this place to any sushi lover out there.

Sushi Yotsuya
18760 Ventura Blvd
Tarzana, CA 91356
T: 818.708.9675

Deal of the Year

March 25, 2008

Dear Poor New Yorkers,
Please do yourself a favor and go to Blue Ribbon Sushi this week for dinner during Brooklyn Restaurant Week. For $23, you get a seaweed salad, this below, and green tea ice cream. No joke, this is the best deal you will get all year. I do this every year- sometimes twice during the week. How could you not?


They don’t take reservations, but I went tonight at 8:30, was seated in 20 minutes, and the place was pretty much cleared out by 9:30pm. Deal ends Sunday.

Buon appetito,
Kayoko

Blue Ribbon Sushi
580 5th Avenue (at Garfield)
Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.840.0404

A Night Out at Babbo, Pt. II

March 19, 2008

Preface:
A Night Out at Babbo
California Soul: Osteria Mozza (LA)

To celebrate Christi’s bday the other night, we went to Babbo. I would be too embarrassed to blog this–regularly patronizing such the hype machine that Batali is–but the food was just too good not to share with you.

We walked in without a reservation- figured we would get there around 6:30 and take our chances. The guy at the front, who was there the last time I went, is a gentile fellow, and told us to wait for seats at the bar. Fine. We ordered drinks, we waited. “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” blasted in the background. Oh, Mario and his music. We loved the Mode though. Violator!

It’s really cramped when you walk in, between the bar and the dining room. Servers taking orders, delivering food. Some drunk asshole totally fell into Christi. It was kinda funny. Anyway, standing there in the middle of all this commotion is not fun. But you gotta suck it up for the ultimate prize.

Just about an hour later, we actually got a TABLE! Right by the bar, tucked into a corner. It was romantic. The world doesn’t need another Babbo review (or a second one from me- you’re over it), but just let me show you the pics.

Babbo salumi: assorted meats cured in-house. Marinated onions (sweet) and olives. This was better than the Armandino salumi I got last time. Christi liked the veal (?) tongue. The “fatback” pictured below, is just cured pork fat! Like white sheets blowing in the wind. It was super intense- like nothing I have ever tasted. It was good with the onions.

Grilled octopus with “Borlotti Marinati”: this was pretty awesome. Better than what I had at Mozza. Drizzled with this limoncello vinagrette, and sprinkled with some candied orange rind or something, on a bed of white beans. SO GOOD. It was too “oceany” for Christi though. I loved the tentacles.

Our server was super great- Travis. Props to this guy. He totally arranged the order of our dishes and suggested good, cheap wines. We asked him for his recommendation of a pasta, and he suggested the black pasta. BINGO. This was definitely my highlight of the meal. (At this point I was pretty boozy, and abandoned my camera inhibitions and started shooting with flash. Tacky!). They are also nice about splitting the orders for you.

Black spaghetti with rock shrimp, spicy salami calabrese and green chile: I have nothing to say except GET THIS DISH.

Mint love letters: just as good as the first time. Surprisingly hearty. A good way to end a meal.
When all is over, this is my side of the table, vs. Christi’s side. Basically, you can’t take me anywhere.

But then, this guy comes and magically puts a napkin over the table to make all my spills disappear.

So it’s official- I am obsessed with Mario Batali’s food. All the hype… well, it’s all true. Batali is an ace. Classic and straightforward. Consistent. Casual and reasonably affordable considering it’s a white table cloth joint. Our meal, all of this, plus 2 quarter things of wine, 2 glasses of sparkling wine, and a bottle of fizzy water was $140 total. You could spend as much at Lupa, his even more casual joint around the corner (I am not a fan of Lupa). You would no doubt spend even more in the shithole tourist traps in Little Italy.

As someone who spends her entire income on eating in NY (after rent), I’m telling you: surrender to the hype. Splurge a little. Wait an hour for a table.

Babbo
110 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10011

Get Directions
T: 212.777.0303

California Soul: Joy Luck Place (Cupertino)

March 17, 2008

This post is dedicated to Hua and Wangster.

Whenever I go home, I gotta get my dim sum fill. My mom thinks this is so bizarre, cause she knows I always go to dim sum in NY. But it’s just different in the Bay somehow- dare I say better? I don’t know what it is- but I will say that dim sum hasn’t gotten any better for me than since we went to Ocean Jewel in Queens. That was almost a year ago.

So there’s this little place in Cupertino called Joy Luck Place in this all-things-chinese mall where there’s a Ranch 99. There’s a serious cult following- you wait a minimum 30 minutes for a table. That’s minimum. And ridiculous. But worth the wait.

Here she comes…

All my must-haves:
Shiu mai-

Meatballs- kinda a new obsession I share with my dad. Hideko is not into this.

Shao lom pao (soup dumplings)-

Pan fried shrimp and chinese chive dumplings. YUM.

All time favorite- pork spareribs.
Congee

Shredded chicken chow mein with chives and bean sprouts, American style.
Pea shoots.

Gotta catch the dessert cart-

Hideko’s favorite- Rice cake filled with black sesame soupy deliciousness, powdered with this soy bean flour (kinako, in Japanese)

This place is Hua and Wangster’s SPOT. I personally might like Dynasty, in the late Vallco Mall more. But basically whichever you choose to go, you won’t be disappointed. I never thought I would be someone who would say this, but: they’re just so CLEAN!

Joy Luck Place
10911 N. Wolfe Road
Cupertino, CA
T: 408.255.6988

Umamiventure #8: Puerto Alegre

March 13, 2008


We met up for our special SF Umamiventure on a sunny Saturday at Puerto Alegre (PA) in the Mission. This place has been around since 1970 (!). I was excited for a lunch of CalMex delights, but everyone else was unphased. To them, this was just another lunch, afterall. These people in Cali take their Mexican food seriously, but also for granted. It’s not fair. They’ll never understand what us New Yorkers have to go through for good Mexican (there’s one place on 101st and Amsterdam, but who wants to trek up all the way up to the Upper West Side??? Or the 7 to Jackson Heights? Forget it).

Started with a pitcher of their margaritas that Yelpers won’t shut up about (PA currently has 3.5 stars out of 329 reviews. Jesus). Petey and Stu had already had a pitcher by the time we got there, and were practically wasted. Point being that they were really good margs. Love me a perfectly salt-rimmed glass.

The Meal: on weekends, PA has a brunch menu, but thank god they also serve the regular menu. Ya’ll know how I feel about brunch- NOT a fan.

I think Alice got the combo plate- beef enchilada and chicken tamale, doused in red sauce. Yum

My enchiladas: this was definitely one highlight of my Cali trip. That mole was off the hook.

Andy and Jenny copied each other and both got the chilaquiles (my new favorite word. Say it: chi-lah-kee-less). I actually never had heard of this before, being the ignorant eater that I am (a deep fried burrito is a chimichanga??). So this dish is deep fried corn tortillas cooked in red salsa or mole. It comes with this cream stuff too that is pretty crucial- it’s simple and genius. Andy says that his friend makes this dish better though. Incidentally, I’m reading on Wiki that this is a common cure in Mexico for a hangover.

Stu got the Super Meat Burrito- no frills, they keep it real.

Petey: Huevos divorciados- an egg with red salsa and another with green salsa. Pete was not impressed- he’s from Santa Barbara so his standards are high. BUT, he did say that the salsa was “awesome”. I do believe that the quality of salsa says a lot about a Mexican joint, and coming from Pete, that’s high praise.

James: steak and eggs. He wasn’t into it- but let this be a lesson: BRUNCH MENUS BLOW.


I was super into the kitchy 70s decor. I’m sure little has changed since they opened in 1970.
Isn’t this picture dope? It’s mounted high up on wall behind the bar, and I can only assume that it’s the people who opened Puerto Alegre in 1970. Were you even born yet?

In the end, this place was totally average for these Bay Area folks. To me, my enchiladas were the best thing ever. Has living in NY for 6 years lowered my eating standards?? Something to think about.

When you ask any Californian where they go for their burritos, they will start a drawn-out soliloquy about their spot- everyone’s is different. Expect a heated debate. Love it.

PUERTO ALEGRE
546 Valencia St (between 16th & 17th St)
San Francisco, CA
T: 415.255.8201

Past Umamiventures include:
Pacificana – 02/08
Jackson Diner – 01/08
WINTERMARKET – 12/07
Sripraphai Restaurant – 11/07
Taste of Jackson Heights – 10/07
Red Hook Ball Fields – 06/07
Ocean Jewel Restaurant – 06/07