I considered both of those, how were they?
Always good. I walk in there and look around like I’m going to buy something different, then walk out with the exact same things every time
(The frozen lahmacun is also good. The fresh is tangier - more tomato - and has a bit more topping. Their fresh tortillas looked good too.)
I love you so much, Russian Vodka Room. I’ve been here a million times, but tonight was the first time I went with a friend from the former Soviet Union. The staff immediately identified her as a native speaker, so all the ordering and conversing was done in not-English, giving me a chance to use my 17ish words of Russian. I feel very cosmopolitan!
I hope the fresh, triangle pitas are on that list. My favorite in the city hands down. (Angel’s are great, too, but they’re baked in NJ.) But be warned, they last a day, two at most, before getting moldy.
I finally made the long trek uptown to Banh (and my companions were coming from Brooklyn, so an even longer trek!). I’d been advised to try the egg coffee, which was interesting, but in my opinion not as good as plain old Viet coffee. The top egg layer was very thick and sweet, and hard to mix in. It put me in mind of affogato, in its sharp contrast between very sweetened and not sweetened at all.
It being Tet, there were a few special dishes on the menu, and we (well, I, the non-meat-eater) chose the vegan fried rice cakes. These were terrific.
Summer rolls, because summer rolls are always welcome. I think they’re all pretty much fine, but my friend commented that these were wrapped especially well, so they didn’t fall apart all over you and make you feel clumsy. So, better than average summer rolls! (The peanut sauce was well above average.)
Sticky rice with sweetened egg yolk and young coconut (which is the best coconut - I am ageist).
And my tie for favorite, the vegan pho, which had an intensely flavorful broth and about a million different vegetables, notably oyster mushroom, grilled Brussels sprouts, and very thinly sliced (probably) delicata squash.
Pro-tip: If you go on a Friday for lunch, arrive around 1:15 or so. The crazy people who get there right when the place opens (holla!) will be finishing up, and you’ll get a seat.
Anton’s - This is Nick Anderer’s first after long stints at Maialino, Marta, Martina, and more. Another flawless meal last night. We love the Pate and smoked whitefish. The Camembert with Cherry Gastrique this time was a favorite even though the Camembert was lacking its usual aroma, and mild. Just loved the creaminess and combination.
Pastas are usually strong here. A well balanced Fettuccine with Mutton Ragù is Rezdora-esque. Hand-cut Angel Hair Francese was more like the pasta version of baked clams rather than the intended Chicken. Not a bad thing. The Ravioli is usually excellent tho I skipped last night. Next to the rest, the Bucatini Baczynsky, another classic from day one, was the weakest this time. As in Mialiano and Marta, the chicken is fantastic. Expertly cooked steak Lorenz is another classic. Good wine by the glass selection. Go!
Terrible lighting for pictures
Added bonus: last time we looked (ok, its been a year or so), Dennis M. our favorite longtime bartender at Otto was there waiting tables.
Not sure if any of them were Dennis but there was a bearded older gentlemen, one I can only and affectionately describe as Sideshow Bob, and our waiter, a younger bald fella with glasses
Here’s a photo of Dennis
Yep, thats the guy. Still there. Nice article.
A combination post-Valentine’s Day / Lunar New Year dinner at Che-Li, a place I’ve had on my radar forever. We had a fine time, but it was also something of a mixed bag. The atmosphere is the opposite of serene: a big crowd milling about the vestibule waiting for tables or takeout, servers tearing around and half-yelling into their headsets. Also, it’s HOT in there, especially if you’ve come dressed in a sweater, because it’s winter.
We were shown to our nice, semi-secluded table in the back a few minutes past our reservation time, and the host apologized profusely and explained that the owner refused to let anyone be rushed, and the party seated before ours was lingering. I appreciated the explanation, and I’m sure the trio he seated at the table next to ours 10:00 later also appreciated it, because he recited the exact same script to them.
With the distractingly high energy of the room, I was worried that our meal would be paced too quickly, but it was actually spot on, with each dish coming out just as we finished the previous one.
Some of the food was very good, like this longjing shrimp, not only perfectly cooked and seasoned, but also dramatically presented, in a roiling cloud (the video file is too big to post, unfortunately):
This little bowl of crunchy fermented mystery vegetable with edamame and hot pepper, which was on the table when we arrived, was also very good:
As were the egg custard crispy lava buns, which we had for one of our desserts:
Other dishes were less successful, like these tofo skin rolls, which were soggy, with wan, gloppy vegetables inside. (H loved these, though.)
I was excited to try the “favorite” eel, which was presented like Peking duck - something I’ve never had. But it wasn’t that exciting. The eel had an excellent texture, not to soft, not too firm, but its sauce was kind of one-note, very sweet and peppery. I guess that’s two notes.
And tofu crab stew, which I’m pretty sure I was also disappointed by at that other Shanhainese place we went to years ago, in Tribeca, maybe? Anyway, the stew was very comforting, like baby food, and didn’t taste like much at all. (H loved this as well.)
There wasn’t much on the drinks list that I wanted. Very few btg selections, and they were out of the only wine I wanted, a cava. We had the yellow rice wine, served hot in a sake carafe, with this piece of something (I thought the server said it was prawn, but that can’t be right). It was quite powerful, and not bad at all.
Dinner last night at Jazba, a newish place on 2nd & 13th featuring Indian street foods, from the Junoon team. I tried four dishes and two cocktails, and liked about half of it. The menu is divided into “half ticket” (aka appetizers) and “full ticket” (three guesses), but everything was pretty much the same size. The mains each come with a bread, which I suppose makes them a little bigger. I started with a “stinging vesper,” which was very nice, but not stinging at all - just a regular ol’ vesper. Second drink was the mezcal-based “pipli,” a bit more exciting due to its candied pepper garnish. My companion, who has spent considerable time in India, consulted at length with the server, who advised against the appetizer she had her eye on because it involved yogurt, and according to him you’re not supposed to drink alcohol and eat yogurt at the same time (this is a new one on me). So we ended up the dabeli, a little spiced potato sandwich, which was just okay, not too exciting.
Our second appetizer, the kachori kadi bhujje, was much better - described simply as “stuffed onion kachori, tempered buttermilk,” it had a delicate gravy offset by some chopped raw onion, which, improbably, worked very well.
I had my eye on the ros omelet, which was indeed very good, some prawns in an assertive red sauce with a thin omelet buried underneath. Unfortunately, this was served with pao, the same bread as in our first appetizer, and my least favorite Indian bread, since it’s just a dinner roll, basically.
Our other main was the atari paneer. My companion was doubtful about this, but the server was pushing it, so we got it, and it was fine, nothing special, and slightly redeemed by the butter naan that came with it. I think if we didn’t already have two other very saucy dishes, we might have appreciated it more. So! judicious ordering will get you a good meal, and don’t listen to the waitstaff.
Thanks for this; I’ve been wanting to try this place!
Get the basket chaat and let me live vicariously through you.
Will make a mental note, though I’m guessing if I go with some of my regular peeps, we will also have some items that you will not be wanting to live vicariously through! Still worth a trip, methinks!
I hope you get only things you like. Even if they’re things I don’t.
Bayon review is up on Eater