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Archive for November, 2006

Les Enfants Terribles serves up French-African cuisine, but I’m usually there just for the brunch since it’s situated between my neck of the City and Chinatown.  I’ve been here countless times since it’s opened and have never been disappointed with their brunch food.  Though, I have to say, I only recommend this place for brunch.  I’ve had dinner here once and it wasn’t enjoyable.  I ordered the duck confit, and it had a really jelly like consistency [too much fat I’m assuming].  Also, at night, they dim the lights down so low that I couldn’t even see my food. 

The original plan was to go to an all-you-can-drink brunch in Greenwich, but decided that if we were going to be hitting up wine tastings all day, we probably shouldn’t start the day off by getting completely smashed- since most of us drank a ton of wine just the night before.

While the space inside Les Enfants Terribles is small, the restaurant managed to fit a bar, which is where most of the action takes place every night.  Since the space is small, the seating is cramped, which would normally be very bothersome, but there’s generally no fights for space during brunch hours.  There are also a few tables outdoors.  It seems that they’ve taken a few tables that belonged to the school a few blocks away and incorporated them into their outside decor.  There’s even a little chalkboard indicating the day’s specials.  Thus, the outside decor gives off a very banishing kids from the classroom to sit in the halls to figure out what they’ve done wrong vibe, which fits with the restaurant’s name. 

les enfants terribles, outside
the floor to ceiling windows behind the school desk-chairs open up during nice weather

While they don’t offer any spectacular dishes, they have a good variety of choices for brunch.  One can perhaps find better versions of everything they serve here at other restaurants around Manhattan, but that’s just too much trouble.  I like it here for the cozy neighborhoody setting and consistently good food, which is what always draws me back.  Speaking of which, I’m offically back to my eggs benedict and salmon thing.  I got the eggs benedict norwegian, which comes with  ::drum roll:: salmon!  The salmon I believe was cured; it had a good flavor- nothing special or unsalmony about it.  I noticed they’ve changed their hollandaise sauce- it’s orange, not yellow like it used to be- or maybe there’s just too much cayenne [if they even used that – I didn’t taste it].  Anyways, the eggs benedict came with a side of fries and mesclun salad, with a light olive oil based dressing.  Another reason why I love coming here is because their fries are always soo crunchy.. except for today!  Mine were half crunchy, half soggy, but Phil’s were really crisp, so I just stole his.     

eggs benedict eggs benedict

The quiche special of the day was duck and that is what Rich ordered.  I enjoyed the flakiness of the crust and the cheesiness of the quiche, but the duck itself was a bit too hard for me.  I think it baked too long and the meat started to shrivel up into Chinese sausage like consistency, so I wasn’t too pleased with it.   

quiche

Phil got the equivalent to a philly cheese steak.  Under the mountain of gooey cheesiness, there were strips of steak and caramelized onions.  Can you see from the picture how wonderfully golden and crunchy his fries look??  Since he sat right accross from me, I had easy access to his fries.  Phil didn’t like the onions too much though, so Rich and I fought for them.  They were so sweet [maybe just a touch too sweet] and juicy, which is the only way I like my onions.  I didn’t get to try the meat so I cannot comment on that but Rich and Phil both gave it their thumbs up.  In fact, Caled ordered it two weeks later for himself.

steak

 Caled got the duck leg confit, which came with fries and bacon salad.  The duck leg was braised in herbs, which I haven’t seen before.  I was surprised that this dish would have a more spruced up salad than the others.  I don’t know why they would choose to put bacon in this salad, but I certainly wouldn’t complain becuase I love bacon.  Rich ordered this two weeks later and they both gave it their approval. 

duck leg

While Les Enfants Terribles may not serve the best of everything, they have a unique selection for brunch and can satisfy almost any palate.  There are veggie options and regular eggs and bacon! 

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About a year and a half ago, a few of my friends and I lunched at Tribeca’s Nobu.  I fell head over heels in love with the place.  For my birthday this year, I thought I’d recreate the love by going to Nobu 57.  However, I’ve been putting off writing about my experience at Nobu 57 because I was sadly disappointed.  I couldn’t wait to have the black miso cod again after all this time, and after tasting others that don’t quite live up to its name’s connotations in my mind.  When my sister volunteered to take me, I was estastic because I’ve been waiting to check out the new space, and this way, I wouldn’t have to foot the bill. 

David Rockwell, the designer for 57 actually lives a floor above my old boss, but I never got the chance to meet him [damn my boss’ private entrance].  When you walk through the big half wooden, half thick glass door, you are greeted by the bar, and have to go upstairs for the dining area.  The dining area is very spacious and floor space was not cramped because the tables were well spread apart.  The only thing that I found weird about the set up is that they have these half booth type things; there’s a bench with the split into two, and two regular chairs on the opposite side.  We sat at one of these half booths and felt that we were way too close to our neighbors than we would have liked.  The two next to us was definitely trying to have an intimate meal of sorts, and I don’t think it helped to hear every part of our conversation.

nobu outside nobu inside
the space outside  //  the space inside (part chic, part avant garde)

The waitress introduced the cuisine as Japanese-Caribbean; this was the first I’ve heard Nobu described as such.  I thought it was just “New Japanese,” and was not previously nor am I now aware of any Caribbean traits in the food.  Hmm..  now I’m swearing I heard wrong because the website clearly states “new style Japanese food.”  Either way, the waitress told us that they like to serve everything family style so we should get a couple of dishes to share… which is how I usually eat anyway…  

Before I question my hearing some more, let me talk about the food.  Originally, I wanted to do their omakase because I read somewhere that certain aspects of their omakase menu is even better than Morimoto’s, but decided to do a la carte instead.  Overall, everything was too salty and overpowered by soy sauce.  My palate likes salty elements, but this was even too much for it.  The level of sodium in the dishes severely kicked my ass – and my sister’s.  The presentation was very appealing though- all the colors were quite eye catching.

 We started with the salmon skin salad as an appetizer.  The salmon skin was crispy with good portion of salt cured dried salmon on it.  The salmon was lightly grilled and wasn’t too hard as sometimes dried fish is.  The salmon came apart fairly easily with the use of my chopsticks.  There were a few good sized pieces around the bed of mesclun greens, which were topped with carrots and sesame seeds and some dried fish flakes.  I liked how the salmon was placed along the outside of the salad tower, so I could see the actual portion of salmon.  The salmon skin was not too salty in it’s own right, but since the salad came with a dressing made with a soy sauce base, it made the whole salad salty.  I’d even go for a typical Japanese teriakyi sauce than to have my salad drown in sodium.  Come to think of it, if there was just a light drizzle of low sodium soy sauce, [or one of the nice aged ones Nobu has lying around], it wouldn’t have been so bad.  The soy sauce just took over all my senses and I couldn’t concentrate on the actual salad. 

salmon skin salad 

There was no way I was going to leave Nobu without having the black miso cod, and that is just what I ordered.  I also wanted the chilean sea bass, but we really weren’t too keen on ordering all fish for dinner.  My cod looks different from one in my memory [where are the blacken sides?!  This looks like miso covered regular cod, but then again I’ve seen back cod look like this before too- I guess I was just expecting exactly what I had all those months ago].  Did you know that black cod has antifreeze proteins in its blood?  Maybe that’s why it tastes so good.  Anyways, the cod meat had a very soft, smooth, silky texture, and I literally slurped it down.  Unlike the salad however, the saikyo miso was not salty, but it was a touch too sweet.  Someone probably added too much sugar to this batch of miso.  I was saddened that I didn’t experience the same foodgasm I did the first time I had black miso cod.  The dish was still good, and I’d definitely order it again, but it just didn’t live up to my mind’s hype.

black miso cod
(from Nobu’s website)- how the fish was presented the first time I had it

 black miso cod black miso cod 2
black miso cod from nobu 57

I also decided to order something I normally wouldn’t; beef.  I blame the iron chef.  I forgot for a split second there that though I’m more open to meat now- it’s just the kobe beef I’m partial to.  It also slipped my mind that I was disappointed by the meat during my last Nobu visit.  By the time I remembered this, I already placed my order in for the beef toban yaki.  This is a dish of sliced beef, asparagus, and enoki and shiitake mushrooms in what I’m going to call a soy sauce based sauce because I’m quite sure there was something else in the sauce, I just couldn’t make it out by taste.  Everything came in a toban, which is the name of the platter used to cook the beef.  The concept is that the beef comes medium raw and would continue to cook to the customer’s desired state as long as it stayed in the toban.  My sister and I wanted a medium/medium well meat, but we couldn’t figure out a way to plop the meat face down without drowning in the sauce.  I thought of spooning the sauce out and use it as a dipping sauce, but we had no spoons, and even if we did, we had nothing to spoon the sauce into.  As a result, the sauce seeped into the beef and it was the saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted [saltier than the salmon skin salad even].  I realized not only didn’t I like the sauce, but I didn’t like the taste of the beef either.  I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about the beef.  I’m thinking it has a lot to do with the way the sauce interacted with the meat that I didn’t like.  I tried to eat as much of it as possible as not to waste it; the mushrooms and asparagus helped to cover the saltiness and the odd flavor of the beef.  Eventually, my sister and I gave up.

beef toban 

We decided not to order dessert because nothing really caught our eye.  She had the bento box before, but that comes with chocolate and I was not about to go to the other extreme and sugar myself up after my insides swam in salt for the last hour. 

In the end, I regret not ordering any sushi.  I remember a lot of people saying that you’re not suppose to come to places like this for the sushi, but for the food.  Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people actually giving praise to Nobu’s sushi.  Maybe I should’ve ordered a roll or two. Mm.. spicy tuna roll. 

Ultimately, this experience made me think about Anthony Bourdain’s book, A Cook’s Tour about his search for the perfect meal.  No matter how one tries to recreate and manipulate current circumstances to reflect a previous experience, it will never be the same.  Bourdain talks about how he’s trying to duplicate his first foodgasm in France and realizes that no matter how hard he tries to prepare himself for it, times have changed, and so has he, and he won’t be able to relive that experience again.  That’s how I feel about Nobu’s black miso cod this time.  I sayNobu’s because I’ve had the dish elsewhere before, but it was at Nobu’s that first gave me the euphoric experience.

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It seems that it wasn’t only me who didn’t have a good experience at Nobu 57, the chowmaster felt gypped too.

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This week, from Monday to Sunday, you can eat at some of the big Downtown Manhattan names for $30 for 3 courses.  Some restaurants include Les Halles, Roy’s New York, and Delmonico’s.  Hmm..  I really want to go to Roy’s New York.

Check out the list of restaurants here

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