Left Bank

Casual Saturday night dinner with friends….

Even though I am not a huge fan of raw fish, my friends insisted that I try the tuna tartare.  They said it was of excellent quality.  I had a taste and agreed it was quite nice. 

The pastas are house-made and really delicious.  I especially loved the Farfalle (bow-tie shaped pasta) with wild mushroom medley.  It was very light and healthy…as healthy as pasta can be. 

The Capricci bolognese with pancetta, egg yolk, and black pepper was definitely heartier.  It had a nice bite to it.  

The Iron Roasted Split Chicken, with eggplant puree, roasted beets, pine nut & currant was amazing!  Crispy skin and the juicy meat made a perfect bite.  I didn't really care for all the veggies, which is really just  fancy  garnish to me.  I would come back just for this chicken! 

Verdict: AA.  Great relaxed place for a homey meal.  I would like check out the restaurant's sunday night movie screenings. 

Left Bank
117 Perry Street (@Greenwich Ave.)
http://leftbanknewyork.com

Joe's Shanghai

Late night visit to Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown because my friend had a hankering for pork soup dumplings. Even though we were closer to the midtown location of Joe's, my friend and I both agree that it was worth trekking down to the Chinatown branch for better quality dumplings.  It has been a long time since my last visit to Joe's. Apparently, Joe's is as popular as ever. At 930pm on a Sunday night, we actually had to wait 15-20 minutes for a shared table.  In fact, people continued to stream in way past 10pm. 

We ordered 2 baskets of the pork soup dumplings for the 2 of us. Oink! Oink! The soup dumplings definitely hit the spot, but I couldn't help but notice that the skin of the dumplings were not as thin as the ones from Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese soup dumpling chain that has made its way stateside (LA and Seattle). 

image.jpg

We also ordered stir-fried snow pea leaves, a veggie dish that's only available at authentic Chinese restaurants.

STIR-FRIED SNOW PEA LEAVES

STIR-FRIED SNOW PEA LEAVES

Verdict:  AA. Simple, satisfying meal. Joe's is still THE place to go for soup dumplings in NYC. 

Joe's Shanghai
9 Pell Street (Between Bowery & Doyers St.)
http://www.joeshanghairestaurants.com

Cherche Midi

This less than a month old restaurant on the corner of Bowery and Houston has already generated a lot of buzz.  

image.jpg

The interior of the restaurant totally reminds me of Balthazar, another one of McNally's restaurant. 

image.jpg

This Prime Rib Burger, already being compared to the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern, was the reason for our visit.  It did not disappoint!  The burger was super juicy and flavorful!  The combination of high quality prime rib, bacon marmalade mixed with chopped mushroom, and gruyere cheese was delish!  As an added bonus, the juicy drippings from the burger nicely flavored my plate of fries.  

PRIME RIB BURGER WITH BACON MARMALADE, ROASTED MUSHROOMS, AGED GRUYERE CHEESE AND POMMES FRITES

PRIME RIB BURGER WITH BACON MARMALADE, ROASTED MUSHROOMS, AGED GRUYERE CHEESE AND POMMES FRITES

The cheese selection looked quite good, but we wanted something sweet.

The Raspberry Soufflé was amazing!  Super light and fluffy. I really liked the slightly hardened shell, which tasted a bit like caramelized sugar. The creme anglaise that was poured into the soufflé helped cut down the tartness of the raspberry.  I almost ordered the chocolate soufflé as well, but I exercised some much needed self-restraint. 

image.jpg

There were several items on the menu that I would like to come back and try, the Lobster Ravioli being one of them. 

Verdict: AA. This place reminds me a lot of Balthazar. Comfortable setting, good bistro classics, and attentive service, without the madness of Balthazar. Adding this to my list of go-to French bistros in the city. 

Cherche Midi
282 Bowery (@Houston St.)
http://www.cherchemidiny.com

L'Artusi

High quality Italian food served in a brownstone setting. The restaurant felt warm and cozy, with a great sense of energy. There's bar seating along the entire length of the restaurant and an open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. 

image.jpg

Beautiful ricotta with a drizzled with olive oil, paired with rhubarb compote and sugar crackers was a great starter.  

HOUSEMADE RICOTTA WITH RHUBARB COMPOTE SERVED WITH SUGARED CRACKERS

HOUSEMADE RICOTTA WITH RHUBARB COMPOTE SERVED WITH SUGARED CRACKERS

Many people have raved about the pasta dishes at this restaurant, so I zoomed right into the pasta section of the menu. The Garganelli (flat, square pasta rolled into a tubular shape) with thick mushroom ragu was hearty and very yummy. 

GARGANELLI - MUSHROOM RAGU, RICOTTA SALATA

GARGANELLI - MUSHROOM RAGU, RICOTTA SALATA

The gnocchi was soft, pillowy, and light.  It was good, but I prefer the ones from Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria. Il Buco's version is lightly pan-fried, which makes the gnocchi slightly crispy on the outside. I also didn't think the rabbit cacciatore added much to the dish. It tasted like shredded chicken.

POTATO  GNOCCHI, RABBIT CACCIATORE, PARMESAN

POTATO  GNOCCHI, RABBIT CACCIATORE, PARMESAN

The side of cauliflower with anchovy, pine nuts, and olives was tasty, but a tad too salty for me.   

image.jpg

I can never pass up desserts. We got two desserts to share. The Rhubarb Ice Box was nice and refreshing. The granita on top was amazing!

RHUBARB ICE BOX PIE - STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB COMPOTE, ALMOND STREUSEL, BRACHETTO GRANITA

RHUBARB ICE BOX PIE - STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB COMPOTE, ALMOND STREUSEL, BRACHETTO GRANITA

It's hard to go wrong when pairing chocolate with salted caramel ice-cream.  

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT TORTE WITH SALTED CARAMEL GELATO

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT TORTE WITH SALTED CARAMEL GELATO

Verdict: AA.  Quality Italian food in a great atmospheric restaurant. 

L'Artusi
228 West 10th Street
http://www.lartusi.com

Minetta Tavern

This dimly lit, old-school institution is the perfect spot for grabbing late night drinks or dinner. I was here years ago when Minetta first reopened and reservations were near impossible to get.  I have to say, I like the restaurant much better now. More relaxed. Less pretentious. 

Expert cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table.

Expert cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table.

We hadn't planned on having a huge steak at 11pm, but we when saw this beauty (the gentleman who was sitting next to us at the bar was having this dish), we couldn't resist.

Bone-In NY Strip

Bone-In NY Strip

We even got the same mushroom side dish, which was equally yummy.

Sautéed Mushroom

Sautéed Mushroom

Their signature Black Label Burger, the reason for our late night visit, was much better than I remembered!

Black Label Burger

Black Label Burger

Not sure where we found room in our stomachs for dessert, but I am glad we did.  The soufflé was very light, with only a hint of the grand marnier. 

Grand Marnier Soufflé 

Grand Marnier Soufflé 

Minetta Tavern
113 Macdougal Street (Between Bleecker St. & West 3rd St.)
http://www.minettatavernny.com

Verdict: AA