On Friday evening, after a beautiful day around the city (lunch at Soho House, walking the piers in Battery Park, cocktails at 202), a group of us went to EN Japanese Brasserie for a late dinner. There were 7 of us without a reservation, so we sat at the communal table in the bar area, which was perfect! We ordered a massive amount of sushi, sashimi, homemade tofu, edamame (soaked in dashi – delicious!), and various other small dishes – and we were all VERY happy with everythign! It was truly one of my favorite Japanese restaurants that I have been to in awhile…
The experience is that of a traditional Japanese restaurant in a beautiful, authentic space in the West Village of Manhattan. EN is a modern izakaya, a relaxed style of dining that centers on a procession of tapas-style small plates. Like in Japan, they cook with the seasons, and savor the peak flavor of ingredients.
EN adheres to the fundamentals of Japanese cooking: respecting the ingredients and their natural flavors, cooking in the moment, and not doing too much. The menu includes fresh tofu (prepared six times a night), saikyo miso black cod, stone grilled wagyu and a range of high quality sushi and sashimi. There is also a very welcome sake sommelier, Takahiro Okada, who has developed an extensive list of small-batch, artisanal sake and shochu to complement the dining experience.
After our dinner, we didn’t feel heavy or too full – we just felt very satisfied and as though we experienced a special piece of Japan. Even my husband loved EN, and he is one tough critic of Japanese restaurants…I am sure we’ll be making it a staple! ♥
435 Hudson Street (at leroy)
New York NY 10014
tel 212 647 9196
On Saturday night, after some delicious small plates at the bar in Faustina, my group wanted to find a nice spot to casually enjoy some good drinks and conversation. Being that we were on the Bowery, we tried Double Crown first, which was a huge mistake. The restaurant and bar were completely packed with a line formed INSIDE the restaurant to get into the back bar – awful idea for the comfort of the patrons trying to eat or get to the bathrooms. So, we left and my husband mentioned Temple Bar as a good option.
I had never been to Temple Bar, and I realized why I never noticed it when I saw the only sign was a small name plate sticking out from the side of Noho Star (see picture above). Once we entered, we were in a very prohibition-lounge vibe bar with red velvet and mahogany wood tables. It was full, but not so full that we weren’t able to find a table for six people. The drink menu was great (including SAKETINIS) and they brought out popcorn with dried beets and carrots mixed in – very nice!
The only downfalls were our waitress and the mojito that one of my friends ordered. The waitress had an odd attitude about the waters we wanted in addition to our beverages and the fact that one of our friends only wanted a club soda – not good. The mojito that my friend received was more like a soup of limes and mint leaves – it was not drinkable.
We still found ourselves having a good experience – we couldn’t have asked for a better location to feel like we were free to enjoy our company as opposed to being force-fed some ‘experience’ that the venue is trying to accomplish. ♥
332 Lafayette Street
(between Houston and Bleecker Streets)
I am very excited to be going to 15 East this evening for a birthday dinner. I love Japanese and especially good sashimi. I rarely get it because my husband hates anything raw. Thankfully, he’s recently caught on to the fact that he likes sushi that is cooked – panko shrimp being his favorite. So, I was able to con him into thinking he’ll be just fine this evening.
15 East feels rare and exotic with its small size and stark decor – I guess you could say it actually feels Japanese! The chef, Masato Shimizu, is a very talented sushi chef. He cures his own gari (ginger) and produces high-class, simple sushi in the classic Japanese style. There are no tricked-out maki rolls with kiwi or kobe beef on his menu, but what the chef does do is let the quality ingredients shine. You can get seven varieties of silver fish on the à la carte menu.
Finally, I will have myself a lot of sushi and sashimi this evening – I’m just hoping that there is SOMETHING cooked on the menu for my hubby…and maybe even some fancy Japanese birthday dessert for our best friend…♥
15 East 15th Street
On Friday, I went to August with my husband, in-laws, and another couple. We wanted to be the in the West Village, and I had always heard good things about August so I decided to give it a try. Sadly, it was disappointing and I was frustrated that I had taken the risk…
We had a reservation for 6 people on a Friday night, which is definitely a feat. We were seating right away, but my mother-in-law sat down on a soaking wet cushion…embarrassing. We had to pile 20 napkins under her to try to keep her skirt from getting even wetter – the waitress didn’t have any other solution.
We all thought the menu sounded appetizing, and we ordered quite a variety to cover all of the different flavors. We received our first courses, and they were all fine, but my pickled vegetables were so spicy from jalapeno peppers that I wanted to shove an entire loaf of bread in my mouth after finishing – not pleasant. We waited about 20 minutes before our waitress brought us all a bowl of mushroom soup because our entrees were taking too long. Now…that may seem like a nice gesture, but I hate soup and I just wanted my entree – we all felt pressured to appreciate the complimentary soup.
Finally, our entrees came, and a few of us preferred the mushroom soup! haha. My fish was good, but no one was really impressed. The service was slow, the menu limited, the seat wet, and our food wasn’t anything special…I doubt I’ll ever be back…I’ll stick to enjoying the month of August instead. ♥
Last night I had another fantastic dinner at Faustina – Scott Conant’s new restaurant in the Cooper Square Hotel. I was with my husband, my Italian in-laws and another couple of friends. My in-laws are in town for a week from Milan, and we have been wining and dining them all over the city, but Faustina definitely stands out as one of the best dinners – service, food, and experience.
The service was impeccable and the atmosphere was very comfortable. Regardless of the distance to the bathrooms (which seems to be most critics’ complaint) I think that we couldn’t have asked for a better evening to introduce our family to our friends. We were able to order about 2 to 3 dishes per person plus the amazing bread and feel completely satisfied yet not heavy. Everything was the perfect portion and it was all very reasonably priced for the quality of the ingredients.
I am happy to add Faustina to my list of favorite restaurants in the city – keep ’em coming Scott. Let those critics struggle with the walk to the bathroom – they could probably use the exercise after all of their restaurant reviews! ♥
Last night, my husband, my in-laws and I had dinner at the Soho House. It was my first time sitting down for a full meal in their dining room. I was told that the menu was good and the prices even better…either I was lied to or things have changed…
We ate around 8pm and the dining room was nearly empty. The lights were so low that we couldn’t read the menu and we had to pass the candle around. Our waitress was so overwhelmed by every question that I began to try to answer my in-laws for her. She had everything written down in her pad, but she was flipping through it like a maniac to find the detailed description of every dish we ordered. Our wine took 20 minutes to come to the table, and then they brought out some very random condiments and put them all over the table without explanation as to what they were for. As the other tables began to slowly fill, the service continued to go downhill.
The menu was also very uninspiring. There was no real rhyme or reason to it – I couldn’t figure out the cuisine or their motivation with the items. My husband was also disappointed that the crab cakes were no longer offered – the one thing he spoke highly of after his last dinner.
All in all, I think they need to revisit their restaurant. The ambiance shouldn’t try to be formal just because it is a members-only club. People go to the Soho House for meetings, drinks, casual lounging – the restaurant should reflect those purposes. It should be an easy spot to sit down and have a meal with extra good service and a delicious menu – those should be the areas in which the restaurant shines as a club-like experience. ♥
Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. Even though I planned a party last Friday for him, I couldn’t leave his actual birthday without some fun and surprises! So, I planned to meet up with his two best friends (they all moved from Milan to NYC together – childhood friends). My husband was suspicious when I met up with him because I was being strange with my excitement, but he couldn’t have been happier with how his birthday evening went.
We went to Soho House to get a drink together and waited (him not knowing that we were waiting) for his friends and their girlfriends to meet us. When they showed up, after all of the hugs and kisses and excitement, we toasted with some champagne. We only stayed there for about an hour and then we headed over to Scarpetta for our dinner reservation.
This portion of the evening was full of delicious Italian dishes, amazing red wine, complimentary prosecco, sweets, laughter and fun. I honestly have never had a disappointing meal at Scarpetta and my husband loves Scott Conant’s cooking. To have three Italian men as happy as they were last night shows that Scott is doing the Italian thing right.
After dinner, we wanted to meet up with another friend somewhere closer to home. So, we headed to Pete’s Tavern for one last toast before heading home. A great birthday for mi amore ♥
Last Friday, I threw a birthday happy hour for my husband. He didn’t want anything too intense since I have planned quite the array of parties over the years for him – surprises, bands, hidden bars, dinner on the 44th floor of a building…this time, he just wanted to enjoy a low key time with his friends. I tried lots of bars – looking for the perfect spot for people to come and go, get drinks and food, and not have any fixed costs for the space or the number of people. It was tough, but the Tribeca Grand Hotel pulled through.
They were very generous with the space – they had a big corner saved for us with couches and bar access. We even had our own coat check. We were able to lounge, chat, drink and eat – and it ended up being one of our most successful birthday parties. He was able to enjoy all of his friends without any headaches. Even more impressively, I was able to enjoy myself without panicking about people not getting in, drinks not being paid for, or space being taken away.
There was even a DJ in our corner, which turned the area into a mini dance party at the end of the night.
The ONLY recommendation I could come up with for the Church Lounge is to turn the lights up a tad – it was VERY dark in there! We could barely see one another, and once we had developed night vision, going outside to the street lights was a shock… ♥
Last night, I had dinner at Don’s Bogam in Korea Town. I had never had Korean BBQ before living in NYC, and now it is one of my favorite categories in deciding where to go out to dinner. Typically, I love to bring visitors to Don’s Bogam because the experience is something that many people have never had and the cuisine covers all appetites.
I’ve tried many Korean BBQ spots on 32nd Street, but none have been able to steal me away from Don’s Bogam. I love it because it is the only Korean BBQ that I know where I can enter smelling like my perfume and exit NOT smelling like grilled beef and onions. Apparently, they have mastered the art of sucking the smoke up in their modern copper stacks at each table.
The restaurant is very modern and clean in design, but with fun Asian accents. The BBQ tables’ seats are sucken into the ground, which is fun but can be challenging when trying to leave the table. The staff is amazing – they watch over your grill and flip all of the meats for you. The BBQ ranges from chicken to beef to tuna to mushrooms and there are also many delicious appetizers and entrees as alternates – like bibimbap!
And let’s NOT FORGET to mention my favorite compliment to a good dinner…SAKE! Don’s Bogam has a sake list that makes my head spin every time I go. It is like going to Sake Heaven…the only improvement I would suggest is to add the SAKETINI – they don’t currently have any hard liquors and a saketini is not a saketini without the vodka. Regardless, it won’t stop me from heading to K-Town every chance I get – it’s more than just dinner…it’s an experience! ♥
17 East 32nd Street
the Jane Hotel
This past Saturday, we had dinner with three friends at Cafe Gitane at the Jane Hotel. I have been to the Cafe Gitane in Nolita, and it’s always been a staple hot-spot to grab a quick coffee or bite to eat – or a long one if I was lucky enough to score a table outside on a nice sunny weekend afternoon. I wasn’t sure what to expect for dinner at their new Jane Hotel location, though…
Since I have been to Marrakesh, I was probably a bit pickier about the authenticity of the French-Moroccan menu, but it did resemble Morocco at least. The attractive, Euro-chic clientele has certainly transplanted themselves from their Sunday brunch in Nolita to their Saturday dinner on Jane Street. The fashion set dine on warm avocado toast, brie with apple, and couscous towers served with chicken, shrimp or sausage and a dollop of hummus. My friends and I definitely enjoyed our dinner, but I wouldn’t say it was because the food was amazing – it was good and fresh. I can’t blame them for the simplicity of the menu, though – they’re cooking with electric burners in there! They could improve their bar selection, though. Their clientele definitely want Averna or Moscato at midnight…or at least a Moroccan equivalent…
High ceilings and more square footage make this location much more conducive to group dinners and table-hopping without bumping into the servers. The black-and-white checkered floor, marble bar, waitresses clad in apron-style dresses and male servers in sailor-striped t-shirts make Cafe Gitane at the Jane Hotel as charming as ever.
113 Jane Street (212-255-4113)