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Exploring good food by any means necessary.

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202 at Nicole Farhi

 75 9th Ave
New York, NY
 

meh...

So…what a cute idea from Nicole Farhi eh? A nice little place in Chelsea Market that combines a store and a restaurant. Shopping and food combined…what more could I ask for? Well, for starters, some decent food. Brunch at 202 was…a let down. I had such high expectations. It’s a wonderfully cute place and I’ve heard such great things, but perhaps my robust Southern palate was just too much for the bland, flavor-numbed cuisine of 202. As great as everything looks (from the food to the quaint design of the store to all the cute merchandise…) the food just does not deliver on taste. The service isn’t that great either. Be prepared to crane your neck around the room to try and find your server, then get his attention, and then to actually try and get what you need from them. For the food, the cornbread looks enticing but is way too dry and a bit too salty. I think they change out the type of cornbread all the time or daily, i had feta and sun dried tomato. I just guess someone forgot to readjust the recipe to accommodate the already salty ingredients of the day. It still doesn’t explain the crumble-to-dust consistency of the cornbread.

My friend Kate had the tuna burger which was alright, but insanely difficult to eat. The only flavoring really came from the sauce slathered onto the bread which was an interesting flavor, but overall, it wasn’t terrible. What I had been looking forward to was the chicken curry. I wish I hadn’t. The saving grace of this dish was the cranberry chutney…or rather, it was what made the dish someone appealing to eat. Too bad there was just a tiny bit of it to mix in with the insanely bland curry sauce. The only thing that had to do with curry about that sauce was that it was somewhat the same color. Other than that, it was just a bland and watery mixture of tomatoes and onions. The chicken was alright…comparatively…as it wasn’t overcooked…but how can you really fuck up a chicken breast…but again…lack of seasoning made it simply…a chicken breast. And the rice was just…omg…atrocious. I don’t even know what was wrong with it…it just wasn’t very good. So stretching the only thing on that plate as far as I could, I just poured that cranberry chutney over everything. Chicken curry it was not, and good it was not either.

Then the bill comes and you just realize that this place is overcharging for crap food just because it has a cute atmosphere. But again…I’m sure it’s just my personal preference. I like flavor. A part of me feels most of the 202 clientele come for the scene (did I mention the wait was 45 minutes?) and to have some pretty looking food that looks adventurous but is really just the same old boring, bland crap. But hey…isn’t it cute? It’s a restaurant and a store!

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BLT Burger

 470 6th Ave
New York, NY
 

eh...

So BLT burger…another extension of the Laurent Tourondel empire that is slowly but surely covering the entire city and beyond. I myself have never really gotten into this whole burger thing that the city seems to have an obsession with, but one day I was tired of what I usually eat and BLT Burger is right next to school. So in spite of my usual qualms with paying decent penny for a burger, I gave it a go. Classic burger with cheese, curly fries, and a rocky road milkshake. Sounds good no? Well…no…it wasn’t. The burger was beyond sub-par…it was just…blah. The curly fries were neither crispy nor very flavorful, and the milkshake was an atrocity. I especially disliked the milkshake which was not only had a little too much ice but was inconsistent in it’s composition with a huge chunk of gloppy ice cream still floating around in the cup. Granted…the ice cream bit was yummy because it was rocky road…but the concept of the milkshake needs work. Aside from the thick ice cream vs. icey chocolate water mixture, all the marshmallows float to the top while all the nuts sink to the bottom. Actually getting a full taste of “rocky road” from the milkshake requires then quite a bit of effort. Add to this mess of a milkshake a boring and bland burger that just didn’t taste like it was put together / cooked properly and just some very sad curly fries…and what you have is a $20 BLT Mess…

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The Smith

 956 2nd Avenue
New York, NY
 

What a great place!

What a charming little place! This place really felt like a bistro in Paris to me. Crowded and noisy, it was like being back in Odeon or something, but with a New York twist, of course. The food was solid and just very good. The Mac & Cheese was good and different. Make sure they really get a crust on there. They just added fontina cheese to the mix which adds a nutty flavor to the dish, and the slightly firmer than normal texture of the pasta is different and nice. The burger is large and classic with wonderfully savory fries, although they could use a bit less grease and a little more crisp. I had the lamb schnitzel…and it was oh so very delicious. Reminiscent of the Southern staple of chicken fried steak I love so much, it was like a modern, updated, and elevated version of that staple comfort food that does not seem to exist above the Mason Dixon line, lol. Unlike regular weiner schnitzel which uses veal, the lamb gave the dish a flavor and texture more similar to steak, and the parmesan breading crust was just perfectly crispy and light. I myself adore lamb, so the flavor that the lamb added was what really just made me fall in love with the dish. It really took chicken fried steak to a whole new level with a much more sophisticated and complex flavor profile to accompany the expert preparation. Served with very thick, dense, and comforting smashed potatoes, the dish was an amazing rendition of a Southern comfort food classic using a European twist. The dessert menu looked great, but I was beyond stuffed, so I will have to come back to have a try at that as well as some of the other great looking menu items. And one more reason to love this place, like all Parisian bistros / cafes / brasseries, they give you a carafe of water, but at The Smith they automaticall give you one still and one sparkling…I gotta love that…

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Dessert Truck

 8th St And University Place
New York, NY
 

Yum...desserts

What a novel idea…a truck selling gourmet desserts…only in New York! And to top it off…parked in NYU country right outside a dorm, lol. If I lived in that dorm…I would have gained much more than Freshman 15, lol. I will have to come back to try more, but that warm chocolate bread pudding was soooooo oh so good, and the accompanying creme anglaise was just delicious. I couldn’t really taste the bacon in the bacon creme anglaise, in fact…I’m still trying to differentiate the difference between the classic and the bacon infused…but I think there was some sort of richer, deeper quality to the bacon one…but aaanyways…I also tried the hot chocolate with valrhona and guittard chocolate…and…OMG…this shit is so rich and decadent…it’s like drinking pure melted chocolate. The high quality chocolate really adds a lot of character to the drink as there are many layers of flavor there as you sip including occasional hints of bitter toastiness and pure cocao-cacao-ness. I mean…a couple sips and you’re kinda done…you’re already getting that chocolate overload headache. The chocolateyness of the drink is just insane…But aaanyways, I digress, seeing as how wonderfully delicious the chocolate bread pudding was, I can’t wait to try the other gourmet desserts awaiting me at the dessert truck, hehe.
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Boqueria

 171 Spring St
New York, NY
 

Delicious Paella

Boqueria serves up some of the best paella in NYC. But aside from their paellas (which really are great! I haven’t had one I didn’t like!), they also serve an amazing array of tapas and starters. I recommend you go to try them all! Just go early! The crowds can get pretty heft, and waits can be long. But what’s better than lingering over a good paella with a nice wine! You’d stay at your table for ages too!

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Boqueria

 53w 19th St
New York, NY
 

Yum Paella

According to New York Magazine, Boqueria is supposed to have the best Paella in the city. Gosh I hope they’re wrong. I mean, the paella was good, but if that was the best paella in the city, then the rest of the city must be lacking in some amazing paella. After the hour long wait for a table (we snagged two seats at the bar and had some tapas), it was kind of a let down. I mean, it was alright, the rice was nice…but…it wasn’t really anything special. Nor was the Serrano ham on toast that everyone was ordering (that’s what I get for following the masses), although the toast rubbed with garlic and fresh tomato was a nice touch. The lamb skewers were a nice tasty bite. However, there is one thing that will keep me coming back to Boqueria again and again (and no NY mag, it’s not the paella)…they have this amazing dish…Xipirones Y Xocao…baby squid a la plancha with hazelnut and a cocoa nib vinaigrette…just…YUM…like…v. v. v. delicious. It was so simple and pure, and the it was just oh so good. I still want to try the suckling pig croquette…sooo…next time! hehe. Overall…the paella was good, but I have to believe there’s better in the city because it would be depressing otherswise, but the baby squid a la plancha is a must have…just…soooo goood…
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Sasabune

 401 E 73rd St
New York, NY
 

Life Changing

Sushi that changed my life, all I really need to say. The omakase at sasabune is just…omg… It changes constantly and the price tag is steep (very) but it was soooo worth it. I was in a food coma from beginning until three hours after I left. It was just…wow…and the use of warm sushi rice is very nice. The temperature of the rich and of every piece of fish is deliberate, and everything is amazingly fresh. They tell you how to eat each one, and it truly is omakase. It was just amazing…not a bad thing to say at all. The only part of the meal I didn’t enjoy was the bill…but hey…it was a life changing experience. YUM. YUM YUM YUM…just amazing…like…WOW
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BAMBU Dessert & Drinks

 10613 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX
 

Great Che in Houston

Whereas fruit snow / ice was the trend a few years back, I’d venture to say that BAMBU is the new trend in Houston. Taking the traditional Vietnamese dessert of Che and making it trendy, BAMBU not only offers the classic flavors but also offers a new take on the traditional offering. The BAMBU Special is the thing to get. Seriously. It is so ridiculously good…I can’t even describe it…just go and try it! You won’t be disappointed!

Bambu Special

Amazing. Get It.

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Golden Dim Sum

 10600 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, TX
 

Good Not Great

Establishing itself in the old My Canh space, an old stalwart of Houston Dim Sum from over a decade ago, Golden Dim Sum is large-ish restaurant that operates on the made to order mechanic of some of the better, smaller dim sum restaurants in Houston. The dim sum here is good, some of it is great, but I wouldn’t consider it among the best in Houston. Still, they’re probably still finding their feet, so I might try again in a few months to see where they’re at.

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House of Bowls

 6650 Corporate Dr Ste F
Houston, TX
 

Wow...so good...

I was really shocked at how good this place is. I went on the recommendation of my cousin, and I was not disappointed at all! Everything from the roast duck to the fried chicken wings with salt and chili pepper (?) was amazing. The chow fun with shrimp and egg? Ridiculous good!!! GET IT!!! And even their ramen was delicious. And there were still plenty of items we saw on other tables that I can’t wait to get when I come back. This is a new Chinatown favorite of mine! And the French toast for dessert? Perfect…

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