Atera **

This is my third visit to Atera and keeps being my favorite Kitchen Counter in NYC. Elegant setting with smart and attentive service in addition of one of the best beverage programs highlighting tea and non alcoholics. Food highlights the main ingredients with just a couple of components in each dish. Pure flavors.

Welcome Champagne
Lime & Juniper, hot & cold
Lime & Juniper, hot & cold
Salmon, nori, radish
“Champine”, white pine
“Tencha”
Oyster, yuzu, shallot
aebleskiver, bacon, peppercorn
golden assert caviar, pistachio, IPA
cucumber fizz, kombu, lime
cucumber fizz, kombu, lime
tea service for pairing
monkfish, cucumber, creme fraiche
squid, yolk, kombu
“martini”, apple, warm spice
halibut, cauliflower, brown butter
pretzel, creme cheese, onion
whole wheat baton
“atera T&T”, green tomato, tobasco
“atera T&T”, green tomato, tobasco
squab, mushroom, sunchoke
tea pairing
oxtail, cabbage, finger lime
“milkshake”, chocolate, hazelnut
tea pairing
kitchen in action
mandarin, squash, seabuckthorn
banana, almond, bourbon
white chocolate, blood orange
red miso caramel
sorghum, peanut
mint, chocolate

 

 

 

Contra

This is actually my first time in Contra which I been wanting to visit for a long time. I truly love the the concept and the way they change their menu. The way they update their menu and use of ingredients is a true statement of the quality of cooks that they are. The menu is unpretentious and delicious. A Very casual setting but with great flavors and an unbeatable price. A true value in one of the most competitive cities in the world.

Contra in New York City
Welcome snack, potato, smoked roe, pickled peppers
Bread service
Celery root, asian pear, scallops
Crab, buckwheat, golden enoki mushrooms
Albacore, olives and lettuce
Veal, onion and sorana bean. My favorite dish of the night. The veal was so perfect!
Meyer lemon and fennel parfait
Bitter almond and mandarin
Ice Cream

Cosme NYC (bar)

December 11th, 2017
Chef Enrique Olvera / Daniella Soto-Innes
No. 40 at The World’s 50 Best
www.cosmenyc.com

Cosme NYC by Chef Enrique Olvera

Cosme is a restaurant in New York City’s Flatiron District serving contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine. World-renowned Chef Enrique Olvera and his team create dishes rooted in Mexican flavors and traditions, while also celebrating local and seasonal ingredients from the Hudson Valley and surrounding region. Cosme’s beverage program focuses on artisanal spirits and mirrors its cuisine, letting the high quality ingredients shine.

A meal at the dining room or at the bar is sure to delivery an amazing and unique experience.

Bar set up and a margarita 
Abalone tostada, salsa macha, peanuts
Uni Tostada, avocado, bone marrow salsa, cucumber
Hiramasa tostada, plantain aioli, avocado, habanero
Scallops, pear, yuzu, vanilla 
Mushroom huarache, fava bean salsa, epazote, black lime
The bar at Cosme NYC
variation of a ‘painkiller’ cocktail. truly delicious
Grilled octopus, salsa veracruzana, blue eye potatoes. 
Fried collar bone
fried collar bone tacos
Nixtamalized apple, canela, smoked milk ice cream 
Husk meringue, corn mousse
Yogurt raspado, tepache, chia, palm seeds
Madeira, The Rare Wine Co., Baltimore Rainwater
Outstanding destilado de agave
Cosme

Sushi Ginza Onodera **

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Sushi counter at Ginza Onodera

Sushi Ginza Onodera, whose NYC outpost is led by Chef Masaki Saito,  was recently elevated to the exclusive club of 2 michelin stars making them the only sushi restaurant in the USA in that category (only Masa holds the almost unattainable 3 stars).

With three different menus for lunch ($100, $130, $150) and two for dinner ($300 & $400), Sushi Ginza Onodera exceeds expectations in every single bite.

Wild Grouper
Yellowtail with Japanese mustard
Cod Milt
Filefish
Monkfish Liver, marinated in red wine for two days
Fluke which has been cured in kelp
Stripebass
Baby Red Snapper
Japanese Barracuda
Japanese Tiger Prawn
Baby Shrimp
Blue Fin Tuna
Medium Fatty Tuna
Fatty Tuna
Jack with egg yolk powder
Miso soup, a mixture of three different kinds of miso
Uni from Hokkaido
Eel, two preparations: with wasabi, and with eel sauce
Egg Cake
Sushi Ginza Onodera NYC
Sushi Counter at Ginza Onodera NYC

Per Se (Salon) ***

December 10th, 2017
Chef Thomas Keller / Corey Chow
3 Stars Michelin Guide
No. 87 at The World’s 50 Best
www.thomaskeller.com

Champagne Laurent Perrier Rose

Many… many years ago I had my first experience at Per Se when I visited New York for a couple of days. Per Se was one of my first fine dining restaurants ever, and I was very intimidated and excited at the same time. Holding 3 stars from the prestigious Michelin Guide and 4 stars from the New York Times (at that time) it was a culinary adventure. Many years have past, and after over half a dozen of visits, I consider Per Se the best example of ‘Fine Dining’ in the USA.

Pictures of my last meal at Per Se (Salon). Worth every single moment.

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Salmon Cornet
Cheese & Crackers
Service at Per Se is always stellar, if not look at this 6 person drop
Lobster Bisque, shaved white truffles from Alba
Oysters & Pearls, sabayon of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and Regiis Ova white sturgeon caviar
Tartare of citrus cure Shima Aji, persimmon puree
Hokkaido sea urchin, lovage panna cotta and crispy salsify
Marco de Bartoli, Vergine, Riserva, Marsala 1988
Hen egg custard, ragout of black winter truffles

Domaine Ganevat, Chardonnay / Savagnin, Cuvee de Garde, Cotes du Jura 2010
Fricassee of pacific abalone, roasted cepes, wilted arrowleaf spinach and hollandaise with shaved black winter truffles
Bread & Butter, smoked paprika parker house roll and Diane St. Clair’s Animal farm butter
synchronize truffle shaving. White & Black
Carnali risotto biologico, shaved black winter truffles and parmesan mousseline
Hand-cut tagliatelle, shaved white truffles from Alba, Castelmagno and Beurre Noisette
Paitin, Soiri Paitin, Barbaresco 2001
Horsepower, Grenache, Sur Echalas Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley 2013
La Dame de Montrose, Saint Estephe 2010
Sirloin of Miyazaki Wagyu, melted caraflex cabbage, ruby beets, pearl onions and steak sauce
Sirloin of Miyazaki Wagyu, melted caraflex cabbage, ruby beets, pearl onions and steak sauce
Prime Rib of Elysian Fields Farms lamb, spaghetti squash rosti, pickled cranberries, winter chicories, and Jus d’Agneau
Gougere, aged gruyere with shaved black winter truffles
Selection of desserts from Per Se
‘The Last Word’, green chartreuse trifle, finger limes, juniper-scented pears
Chicory-Chocolate pudding, caramelized banana mousse, Nicoise olives, crunchy hazelnut praline
Frozen Orange Custard, cocoa nibs, maple nougatine, gingersnap crumble
Selection of chocolate bon bons
View of Columbus Circle

Tempura Matsui *

September 5th, 2017
New York City, USA
1 star Michelin Guide

No. 18 at OAD

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counter set up at Tempura Matsui

Tempura

The history of Tempura dates back to the mid-16th Century. Tempura became popular during the Edo period. Tempura restaurants using quality oil and ingredients were frequented by upper class in 19th Century. And today Tempura is available at many levels from casual to fine dining.

Tempura Matsui opened its doors in 2015 bringing tempura legend Masao Matsui out of retirement and quickly achieved their first Michelin Star in 2016 as being one of the best if not ‘the best’ tempura temple in the USA.

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Chef placing the first tempura pieces in front of the guests. Tempura Matsui is now run by his disciples after Chef Masao Matsui passed away in 2016

The “Tokusen” meal ($220 per person) starts with Chef’s selection of different bites featuring toro, duck, shrimp, caviar and eel. The presentation is impecable as well as the flavors. Foie Gras Chawanmushi (egg custard) is brough up next with very subtle flavors. The silky texture simple melts in your mouth.

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Sakizuke and Sashimi to traditionally start the meal
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Foie Gras Chawanmushi

With less than a dozen seats in the counter and only three small tables, Tempura Matsui is a very personalized experience. We can see and hear every single piece going deep into the very light tempura batter which is handled with perfection. Each piece is placed in front of you and a recommendation is given on how best to enjoy it either with the rock, salt, miso salt, lemon, or the tempura dipping sauce.

Tempura mise en place with miso salt, rock salt, lemon, tempura dipping sauce.

The Matsui Way

Mr. Matsui worked tirelessly to perfect the batter, which is as thin as possible, to just coat the ingredient, and not weigh people down. You can actually see through the batter which is one of the lightest I have tried adding an extra layer of depth to each bite of perfect ingredients.

Shrimp head
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Kuruma Shrimp
Sea Urchin from Hokkaido
King Crab
Shishito Pepper
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Abalone from Hokkaido
Japanese Whiting
Lotus Root
Scallops, probably the best bite of the night.
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Fluke
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Tomato and roe to refresh the palate
Tempura Donburi (aka Tendon) – rice bowl topped with lobster tempura served with a miso and tofu soup
Delicious dessert of green tea Kakigori

Have you been to Tempura Matsui? or Which are your favorite tempura places in the USA?

Gramercy Tavern

June 5th, 2017
New York, USA
1 star Michelin Guide

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Gramercy Tavern opened its doors in 1994

THE POSTER CHILD OF ALL THAT IS GOOD ABOUT AMERICAN FOOD TODAY

One of America’s most beloved restaurants, Gramercy Tavern has welcomed guests to enjoy its contemporary American cuisine, warm hospitality, and unparalleled service for over two decades. Chef Michael Anthony’s fiercely seasonal menu consists of elegant dishes with a rustic influence that showcase the restaurant’s relationships with local farms and purveyors.

As Lucky Peach said it: “The poster child of all that is good about American food today”

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Fish Collar

IT IS ALL ABOUT PLEASING PEOPLE

The restaurant can be enjoyed through two distinct dining experiences: the Tavern and the Dining Room. The Tavern serves an à la carte menu in a casual, walk-in setting and offers a daily four-course tasting menu at dinner. The Dining Room offers fixed-price and tasting menus with an à la carte option at lunch. If you are coming in for a date, a business meeting, or just a drink, Gramercy Tavern is always ready to please you.

The first time I visited Gramercy Tavern we enjoyed the tasting menu. Since them, I have return to the Tavern several times. The hospitality here is incredible, every time I feel like coming back home. This last time, no menu was presented. We were told that Chef wanted to cook for us. We knew we were in for a real treat.

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Duck Liver Mousse, Pickled Vegetables and Grilled Bread. This is one of my all-time favorite dishes here.

A FULL TABLE MAKES EVERYONE HAPPY

Dishes started to arrived. Our table was targeted with such precision that there was no space left, every surface of it was covered by a beautiful dish. As we quickly learned, this was the way the night was going to be all along and we were extremely happy for it.

A selection of Island Creek oyster arrived in three different presentations: Iced, Fried, and Roasted. All delicious in its own right but I believe most of us gave the Roasted oyster their vote. A selections of greens,vegetables and seafood paired extremely well with the Occhipinti SP68 Bianco, recommended by our sommelier Steven who became essential during our evening.

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Table full of amazing dishes
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Wagyu Beef, extremely juicy
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What is best than potato to go with your beef?

THE MENU

The food showcased the best products available at at time and the collaboration Chef has with local farmers. The presentation is beautifully rustic and flavors very present. The cooking at Gramercy has always been one of my favorites and it is true to itself and a great reminder that simple things treated with respect can have a great impact.

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Arctic Char, Snap Peas, Basil and Garbanzo Beans
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View of the busy bar at Gramercy Tavern

THE ART OF HOSPITALITY

Part of the group led by Iconic Restauranteur and “The Dean” of Hospitality, Danny Meyer, Gramercy Tavern has a special ingredient not in their food but in their people. Hospitality Included as written on their checks does not only talks about tipping but a way of living and caring about people. The satisfaction of being here is very unique and difficult to find in an industry that grows bigger every day.

And of course, they know that sending all desserts is the right way to end an evening.

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Whipped Vanilla Cheesecake, Crispy Angel Food Cake and Sorrel Ice

Gramercy Tavern is a staple of American Cuisine and Hospitality. Always very happy to go back. Feels like home.

Which other restaurants have you experience with such high level of true and unique hospitality?

Jungsik**

New York, USA (June 23rd, 2017)
2 Michelin Stars

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The dining room at Jungsik NYC

Located in Tribeca NYC, Jungsik offers a modern and unique understanding of contemporary Korean cuisine – innovative chef Yim has christened it as New Korean. The name for the restaurant, Jungsik, is a play on words. In the Korean language Jung Sik is a formal dinner and it is also the name of the chef.

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Banchan: traditionally several small dishes served with Korean cuisine. “served as an amuse bouche”

Reinventing Korean Food

Chef Yim, started his culinary career in the Army extending his formal training at NY’s famous Culinary Institute. This was followed by externships at michelin restaurants in NYC as Aquavit and Bouley as well as Spain’s Zuberoa and 3 star Akelarre. Chef Yim returned to Seoul and in 2009 he opened his eponymous restaurant “Jung Sik Dang” instantly wowing diners from all over the world with his innovative the on Korean cuisine which he named “New Korean”

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Caviar & Toro
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White Asparagus with barely cooked squid and dash broth
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Octopus with gochujang aioli. Poached for about one hour and deep fried this is one of the best octopus dishes around.

New Hansik

New Korean, or as mentioned by Chef Yim “New Hansik”,  is all about redeveloping, refining, retouching and reinventing traditional Korean food. We can see his approach is more minimalistic and a lot of the focus goes into the product itself. Most dishes had very few ingredients with great flavors focused on the main protein or product and with great precision in the accompanying sauces.

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Branzino with aged sauce
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Tuna Kim Bap taken to the next level with perfectly crisp seaweed and truffle infused rice
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Wagyu Galbi on white rice which instantly brings memories for all those who have been to any Korean restaurant before

Reinventing

The sweets are inventive and playful. Definitely a change of pace in the meal as the room and service style leans towards the formal side. It was a great end of the meal with traditional Korean flavors reinvented. Jungsik brings a new meaning to Korean food to the United States.

 

 

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Entrance at Jungsik NYC
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Dining Room at Jungsik

Eleven Madison Park (retrospective menu)

New York, USA (June 23rd, 2017)
3 Michelin Stars
No.1 at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

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View of Eleven Madison Park from the Madison Square Park 

Recently named the best restaurant in the world at The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants Awards, Eleven Madison Park or EMP, as most of us calls it, does not stop. They announced that they will closed their restaurant in June in order to renovate their kitchen and dining room, something that will allow them to reinvent themselves, something they are very well know for.

While the renovation takes place, owners Daniel Humm and Will Guidara will open a more relaxed restaurant in the East Hamptons called EMP Summer House which will have an a la carte menu for the indoor dining room as well as some large groups specials as Fried Chicken Fest and Lobster Boil.

In the meantime, the EMP team decided to make an 11-course menu showcasing the greatest hits from the past eleven years. The menu is super interested as we can see the evolution of Chef Daniel Humm as well as how EMP has gone through phases until finding their own identity.

THE MENU

The Retrospective menu does not follow a specific timeline but rather tries to get the best expression of each year as well as major milestones of the restaurant and Chef. The menu starts with perfect “Gougeres” with grated gruyere cheese, a dish from 2006 and the only which has never left the menu. The second started is a “Sea Urchin Cappuccino” from 2006 which is served in classic martini coupe. The presentation brings you right back in time. Peekytoe crab and cauliflower pairs perfectly with the sea urchin foam.

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‘Little Neck Clam’ clambake with veloute and Parker house rolls. 2011

The 2011 “Clambake” makes an appearance showcasing the time that EMP started to implement intricate presentations as well as the guest interaction with the food. Local pieces exclusively made for EMP takes center stage and adds another dimension to any dish. Creamy clam chowder seats on a bed of hot stones and is beautifully adorned by seafood and house made parker rolls.

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‘Prawn’ roulade with avocado and yogurt. 2007

2007 is the year of “technique” and “precision” and it can be seen in two dishes of the menu from that year. The perfectly “Prawn Roulade” with avocado and yogurt and the “Poached Turbot” which pays homage to the scaling technique of Fredy Girardet and Joel Robuchon.

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Turbot’ poached zucchini and squash blossom. 2007

The 2004 “Foie Gras Torchon” with maple syrup and pain d’epice is the only dish that precedes EMP times and it was served at Campton Place to Danny Meyer. It is attributed to be the dish that landed Chef’s Humm the job in New York City.

During 2009 we can see Chef’s Humm introducing more table-side dishes as well as more  avant garde and modern techniques in the menu as we can see in the “Winter in Provence” with black truffles, celery root, potato, and chèvre frais. This was the first table side presented by EMP.

The 2012 brings more identity to EMP, with several accolades under their belt we can see they feel more conformable stepping out of their comfort zone and start strengthen their name as pioneers and game changers. EMP elevated table-side presentations to a different level, a completely different game. As a great example they feature the “Carrot Tartare”.

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‘Carrot’ tartare with rye toast and condiments. 2012

 

Along with presentations an table-sides, EMP pioneered the “Kitchen Tours” making it not only a quick visit but a guided tour of the heart of the restaurant so everyone can see where the magic happens. A cocktails is always enjoyed in the kitchen as you witness one of the best teams work with the upmost precision and elegance.

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With Miles Davis in the backgroud

The main course is a choice of two great hits. After getting rid of the famous “grid menu” and introducing long set menus for many years, EMP has revisited the way they structure their menu and now is more like a conversation. The guest gets to have a choice and in this case is a very difficult one between the 2006 “Suckling Pig” which is confit with rhubarb and onions and the 2010 “Poached Chicken” with black truffles, potatoes and asparagus.

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‘Suckling Pig’ confit with rhubarb and onions. 2006
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‘Chicken’ poached with black truffles, potatoes and asparagus. 2010

The sweets are perfectly balance showcasing modern techniques with the 2010 “Milk & Honey” and classic heritage with the 2008 “Chocolate Palette” with peanut butter and popcorn ice cream. The petit fours are abundant which was one of the first strategies that EMP used in order to try to achieve their third star. Well done!

 

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‘Chocolate’ palette with peanut butter and popcorn ice cream 🍦 🍫 2008

 

BEVERAGES

On this instance I opted for the non alcoholic pairing which was a great selection of non alcoholic “mocktails” which a surprising use of teas to balance the flavors.

Coffee, tea, and a private label apple brandy make up a great meal at Eleven Madison Park. I can not wait to see how they will reinvent themselves this time.

 

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EMP’s Apple Brandy