Best New York eats this summer

From the newest to the hardest to book restaurants - here's my favourite ones (19 - 25 July 2015)
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New York never fails to excite me every time I am back, it was much more leisurely this trip – I know strange that we can feel leisurely in this city but I feel I am so in my element with Y when we return every time. I don’t feel frazzled at all other than maybe walking with Y in the Times Square and Theater District area. This trip was just about hanging out with Y’s buddies whom we met after flying transatlanctic from Paris to New York on Air France. Our last trip to New York was back in 2012 watching the Madonna concert, and this trip our focus was just on enjoying the city and checking out old favourites (a stop to Shake Shack always a must – hence my cover photo) and new restaurants we haven’t been to.

The star for me this trip was definitely Blanca (recently crowned a second Michelin star) and enjoyed Gabriel Kreuther’s latest venture after he left The Modern. New mod Mexican restaurant – Cosme has reinvented Mexican food altogether. My most disappointing was Eleven Madison Park for it’s less than 3 star worth service and food – very underwhelming indeed. Here’s more juicy food photos on my fav restaurants in New York.

Blanca 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206, United States, Tel:+1 347-799-2807

Hardest table to get. Can only book online 30 days before your desired date. Set your alarm foodies! Tasting menu is US$195 per pax. Likely to spend closer to  US$250 – $300 including drinks and gratuities. Don’t go if you have too many dietary restrictions.

Watch out for this as the entrance to walk through to Blanca.

The story of Blanca is it started out as a tiny ‘tasting menu concept’ on one table within the Roberta’s set up years ago and eventually it led to a proper tasting room at the back of Roberta’s in 2012. So naturally, we weren’t that lucky in 2012 given it was the hottest and newest table then, but the food gods were in our favour this time and we got lucky when I went online the moment my ‘booking’ alarm reminded her. Fast forward one month later, we found ourselves walking past the dark graffiti cladded walls into Roberta’s Pizza – Blanca’s other famous establishment known for their yummy pizza of course. After mentioning my name to the host, we were brought through the restaurant, the back garden, and finally entered Blanca – a stark contrast to its sister restaurant. It didn’t help it my dear friends were all asking me at this point if they could have pizza, and I am like ???

Entrance area with vinyls and turntable set up.

Sleek kitchen.

Blanca tasting menu – a cool 19 courses.

Bearing rather clean and minimal interiors, we first noticed an L-shape counter table with 12 seats placed in front of a clean sleek stainless steel kitchen, and I could see Executive Chef Carlo Mirarchi pottering around in the kitchen with his signature Roberta’s red cap on his head. A reception area with a lot of vinyls and a turntable was also an interesting touch to this otherwise minimalist kitchen and one of the hostess would man this, switching the records through the entire service on top of serving us.

After we ordered an interesting aperitif to start with – Ginger Apple cider from Aaron Burr Cidery, the course began. The first seven courses (except the first course – Shigoku Oyster from Washington) are shown below. Generally these courses were lighter to start with but had very interesting flavours. I loved the pancetta which was sweet and had a melt in the mouth feeling. Looking almost like a sushi, the Cardoon apple dish with green apple, onion powder and anchovy above it was a surprisingly good combination. The raw fluke flat fish, served with plum vinegar and foraged flower from their garden was quite sublime. These first few courses somehow reminded us of the delicate nature of Japanese kaiseki dishes including the beautiful handmade plates the food was served in.

The next half of the tasting menu started to evolve into his Italian roots with 3 courses of pasta – lamb carbonara, agnolotti and a sausage ravioli which was really delicious. The cheese with fava beans, and brown onion was a surprising break in this course before being served fresh bread from the man himself, which was basically like the Naples style pizza bread. If not for the other courses, we would have loved to have more. My favourite protein dish that followed was definitely the Alaskan King crab with butter sauce.

Chef Mirarchi dishing out hot piping bread!

The answer to that mysterious delicious looking porchetta that was sitting on the kitchen counter table through our entire meal finally emerged after the pineapple sorbet, and was as delicious as it looked. The meal in its entirety was a visual feast and closer to the style of a Japanese omakase menu in terms of its execution and refined style of the dishes. Most of us (other than Aunt M whom I didn’t know did not eat many things) thoroughly enjoyed this meal which lasted around 3 hours plus. For sure, we were too full to even harbour any thoughts of taking away a pizza from Roberta’s.

The icing on the cake for us was the special take home gift – a Roberta’s homemade peanut butter – the best peanut butter in the WORLD! I almost wanted to call them to make a bigger bottle for me to mail to me. Christmas is just round the corner, maybe I should ask them?

Back in Singapore and enjoying the special Roberta’s peanut butter that was our take home gift.

Gabriel Kreuther 41 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, United States
Tel:+1 212-257-5826. Booking available via Opentable.

This was another restaurant I was looking forward to. After all Gabriel Kreuther used to helm The Modern at Moma (another of my favs) for almost a decade, until he left in 2014 after The Times New York gave it 3 stars. This restaurant named after himself had just opened barely for a month when we came here in late July, so I was curious if it would live up to his prior accomplishments or would it top it?

The restaurant is located just across from Bryant Park in the dynamic building – Grace designed by famed architects award-winning architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Interestingly because of the building’s signature curved in walls, we almost missed the entrance to the restaurant.

The interiors are modern and sophisticated, with light palette tones and salvaged wood beams gives it an interesting edge. The dining room was cosy with plush chairs and the walls decorated with soft floral wallpaper. The floral arrangements in the centerpiece tables were also beautiully arranged. If anything, we were surprised that it wasn’t full house on a Friday night considering it had just opened for a month.

Gabriel Kreuther who helms from Alsace has a strong background in French fine dining cuisine – some call it post nouvelle but he doesn’t try to do too much of the molecular bit that I am not a huge fan of. I think the menu was of great value – we all opted for the four course prix fixe at USD 115 which included our choice of 3 savoury courses and 1 dessert. The hardest part honestly was deciding on which courses because everything looked so good. I just regret the pictures below don’t even showcase half as close to what the actual product tasted given our dearest friends had to take turns taking pics of their dishes and it’s hard to manage my camera without steady hands.

I could spot the attention to detail from the long thin cutlery by Vera Putscher to the soft fromage blanc bread with chives and olive oil butter. And every course we each had was good not to mention the wafer thin mille-feuille at the end, although I preferred my main course of crab to the frog legs I had for starters. All in, we spent around US$175 per head including a bottle of Charles Baur Gewurztraminer 2011, which I think was pretty reasonable considering the quality of the food and the service.

This restaurant is great place if you want to go for a modern classic New York restaurant feel kind of restaurant, other than the likes of Gramery Tavern and The Modern for instance.

Cosme 35 E 21st St, New York, NY 10010, United States
Tel:+1 212-913-9659. Reservations available through Opentable.

Again one of the hottest table in New York this summer, I was told to go here not because it was just some new trendy place, but the food was seriously good. First I have to qualify that somehow Y and I are really not big fans of Mexican food, but hearing that Cosme has interpreted Mexican in a refreshing modern way, I think it was worth giving it a try, and am glad we did.

Chef Enrique Olvera may be new to the Manhattan food scene, but he is definitely no stranger in the culinary world. He is known for having ‘revolutionized Mexican food” in his 13 tables only restaurant – Pujol in Mexico. I am just glad he has now opened an outpost in New York with Cosme and although it’s not as haute cuisine as Pujol, he has managed to create a succinct menu with fresh modern interpretations of what we traditionally know as Mexican food. The menu – perfect for sharing, comprised of just under 20 items and had a good balance of raw and cooked seafood, interesting vegetarian dishes and the heartier meat dishes such as duck carnitas and NY strip loin. Tortillas were probably the only familiar looking Mexican dish, although much of the flavours seemed familiar and accessible through the dishes. Their tortillas are so good we had to stop ourselves from having second helpings, and don’t let me get started on the pork crackling which I gladly ate most of it, when everyone else was too stuffed with me ordering close to the whole menu.

And of course, having spotted John Kerry (US Secretary of State) just seated on a table behind us, with secret service agents standing strategically but discreetly in the restaurant was pretty awesome too!

The dark interiors of Cosme packed full of people.

On a side note, another amazing restaurant which I went to in 2012, but a pity I didn’t have the time to go back there this trip is Blue Hill at Stone Barns, almost an hour by car from New York City. It is still ranked as my top 5 favourite restaurants in the world, for its true authenticity in paying homage to the farm-to-table concept plus the dining experience from start to end is quite special, always focusing on the freshest produce on that day so you never know quite what to expect. I am glad in a way it doesn’t have Michelin Stars as I don’t think it needs it at all, although it was just inducted this year into the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants at #49. Just remember to book early, as reservations are hard.

Check out #loveyinnewyork on my Instagram @loveyloi to see what other eats I gobbled up.

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