Dosa Hut (photos of dosa, desert, Shamas)
102 Lexington Ave, on the corner 27th St.
Vegans love South Indian food because almost all of it is already vegan. This is a great place for dinner or lunch, and--because it's nice and still affordable--we often see people on dates there. Shamas Kahn, the owner, is extremely enthusiastic about the menu and is happy to answer any questions you might have. His true passion is traditional South Indian food, although he offers many more options to keep his customers happy.
Last night we were wandering around the West Village looking for a place to have dinner, when we came across Aki on West 4th, a Japanese sushi restaurant often praised on the Chowhound boards. Inside, we found 2 seats at the sushi bar waiting for us. Chef-owner "Siggy" was behind the bar, moving to a perceptible beat as he deftly prepared sushi for a full-house plus a stream of takeout orders.
We decided to share Omakase B, which included our choice of 3 appetizers, chef's choice of sushi, and dessert. "Omakase" roughly translates to "Chef, I'm in your hands." For our appetizers, we chose Uni mousse (uni mousse with junsai (thread-like water plant) in yuzu-flavored gelée), hamachi steak (sake lees marinated yellowtail, baby bok choy, enoki-mushroom ginger sauce), and tuna mille-feuille (pictured above; tuna, fuji apple, avocado, shiso and tobiko with white balsamic sauce).
When fresh and properly prepared, uni (sea urchin roe) is delightful -- sweet and melt-in-your-mouth good. Under any other circumstances, uni can be a less than an enjoyable experience and is not recommended. Thankfully and as expected, the uni mousse was excellent -- slightly sweet with a citrus undertone.
The tuna mille-feuille was beautifully prepared, and we found the combination of tuna, fuji apple and avocado very pleasing.
Chef-owner "Siggy" once worked as the private chef to the Japanese Ambassador to the West Indies, and the Jamaican influence was evident in the tuna with fried plantain roll served as part of our sushi selection.
Overall, a fantastic meal and attentive service, all reasonably price. We will definitely be back soon.
Aki on West 4th
181 West 4th Street
Btwn 6th & 7th Avenues
Pearson’s Texas Barbecue (170 East 81st Street): “The big cuts of meat—the pork shoulders and briskets—get cooked overnight; they go for twelve, fourteen, sixteen hours,” says barbecue legend Robert Pearson, who comes out of retirement this week to open Pearson’s Texas Barbecue with partners Ken Aretsky and Ellen Goldberg in the old Butterfield 81 space."
Grotto (100 Forsyth Street): "For now, [Lauren] Collura’s limited menu features toothsome crostini, an invigorating hazelnut-flecked smoked-trout salad, and rosemary-tinged chicken spiedini grilled in the backyard. Once Con Ed turns on the gas, she’ll debut the elegant pastas we remember from her boutique-basement days."
Loreley (7 Rivington Street): ". . . A dozen German beers are on tap just in time for Oktoberfest, and next week, the kitchen swings into gear with a menu built by Momm’s own mom, who aims to reveal German food’s little-known lighter side—liverwurst on organic seven-grain with sprouts, cod with mustard sauce and cucumber-dill salad, and even a Loreley Cobb."
Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar (246 East 5th Street): "Restaurateurs Jack and Grace Lamb like staying close to home: They live across the street from their sushi bar, Jewel Bako, and around the corner from their Blue Goose Café. But their latest venture, Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, is even more convenient—it occupies the first and second floors of their own carriage house."
Pacifico (269 Pacific Street, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn):"Owner Jimmy Mamary (of Patois, Schnäck, and Gowanus Yacht Club fame) has built on the site of a lot that was once used for parking off-duty frankfurter carts, but chef (and Mesa Grill graduate) Joe Pounds’s “glorified taco stand” menu (flank-steak fajitas, chile rellenos, and chorizo skewers) shouldn’t conjure up any dirty-water-dog ghosts."
Today's review roundup includes: Schiller's Liquor Bar, Say Cheese, 325 Spring Street, Annisa
Citysearch reviews Schiller's Liquor Bar (131 Rivington St):
At dinner, a nicely gamey chopped liver mousse, watercress salad with blue cheese and walnuts, and meatloaf with mashed potatoes (Tuesday's special) standout among the better-than-average bistro fare. But it's brunch and breakfast that showcase the kitchen's best work: From the eggs Hussard--poached atop a brilliant ham, tomato and mushroom mix doused with Bordelaise and Hollandaise--to the simple fines herb omelette and homemade donuts, everything is done well. For dessert, the dense, sticky caramel cake with vanilla ice cream is just about perfect.
Citysearch reviews Say Cheese (649 9th Ave):
This cherry sliver of a spot, bright with yellow porthole lights and bouncy pop music, attracts after-school teens, lunching theater folks, and weekenders on their way out of town--all of them happily indulging their inner child with gooey-good grilled cheese sandwiches. Take a seat at a wood table along the exposed brick walls--it's just as swift as takeaway.
NYMetro reviews 325 Spring Street (325 Spring Street):
Truffles are all over the menu at 325 Spring Street, and if you can’t actually bear to order them, you can peruse a little showcase in the foyer that is full of expensive truffle products (truffle oils, truffle pastes, truffle jellies) to buy. The restaurant is located on the far-western edge of Soho, in the old (truffle-colored) UPS Building.
. . . I counted eight truffle items on the appetizer-and-salad section of the menu alone, and if these don’t fulfill your truffle longings, you can order a ten-gram “supplement” of black truffles, to eat as a side dish, like potato chips.
. . . These creations are the conceptual work of Clément Bruno, a noted truffle hound from the south of France. Chef Bruno isn’t actually in the kitchen, however (he oversees the New York menu while operating a well-known truffle boutique in a town called Lorgues), and in his absence the proceedings can get a little rocky. Our table enjoyed most of the other truffle items, particularly a giant, crusty wheel of bread ($20) piled with shavings of white summer truffle (it costs $32 if you pile on black truffles, too) and four kinds of melted cheese. However, the chilled pea soup was gelatinous and not very fresh, and the wan, watery crab consommé tasted like something from the kitchen of an ambitious, up-market old persons’ home. The lobster minestrone was marginally better than that, although it was served flattened out in the bowl, so the ingredients looked disparate and a little lonely, like they’d washed up from the sea. And my order of vegetable ravioli was so overwhelmed with sage that my extremely herb-conscious colleague thought the kitchen had made some kind of tragic mistake.
NYNewsday reviews Annisa (13 Barrow St):
Anita Lo, the mega-talented chef at Annisa, will surprise you, but all the surprises will be pleasant ones. When was the last time you ate grilled squid with watermelon and fresh pandanus leaf, an intense green seasoning with a floral flavor? Never, I'll bet. What's more, at most restaurants, you would be skeptical about trying such a dish. At Annisa, a calm space tucked away on a Greenwich Village side street, you need not fear.
As with, seemingly, all that Lo touches, the dish was exquisite. Silken fluke sashimi with plums and pickled red onions was startling in its clarity. Zucchini blossom pancake and delicate globe squash with brilliantly applied "Korean spices" will perk up jaded taste buds that have suffered through one too many contrived dishes around town.
There is nothing boring here.
NY Newsday's Bistro Mania lists 10 favorite bistros. Below are their picks for Manhattan and Brooklyn:
Last night we paid a visit to the just opened Bao Noodles (391 Second Avenue, near 23rd St). It was very much a first week open experience -- inexperienced server, no liquor license yet, appetizer arrived afterour entrees, etc. But that's all to be expected. We had sugarcane shrimp, spicy beef stew and rice noodle soup, and crispy whole snapper with tamarind sauce. Overall, Bao Noodles is a great addition to the neighborhood, and we looking forwarding to visiting again in a few weeks to explore the menu further.
Via MUG, New York City Oyster Festival
"To celebrate the time when New York was the capital of the booming northeastern oyster industry …
wealthy merchants built elegant rowhouses like the Merchant’s House … and oyster bars lined
the streets of Lower Manhattan."
Saturday, October 4 from noon-9pm
Hanover Square and Stone Street
Oysters and Guinness, a shucking competition at 2pm, and live music
See today's MUG for a list of places to eat oysters (WD-50, Crudo, Pearl Oyster Bar, Mary's Fish Camp, and opening tomorrow Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar).
Besides many of the traditonal "Best Of" categories like "Best New Restaurant" (Otto) that you would expect, there are plenty that you wouldn't have thought of including:
Best 100-Year-Old Microorganism
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus
Yonah Schimmel Knishes Bakery, 137 E. Houston St. (betw. Forsyth & Eldridge Sts.)
Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
Fried Mars Bar
A Salt & Battery, 80 2nd Ave. (betw. 4th & 5th Sts.)
Best Angst-Ridden Baker
The Read Cafe, 158 Bedford Ave. (betw. N. 8th & N. 9th Sts.), Williamsburg
Best Place to Eat Seven Eel Rolls Because You Must
Kinoko Japanese Restaurant
165 W. 72nd St. (betw. B’way & Columbus Ave.)
Today's review roundup includes Café des Artistes, 360, Dumonet, Chennai Garden:
NYTimes Restaurants William Grimes gives Café des Artistes 2 stars (1 West 67th Street):
If ever a restaurant had fine, aristocratic bone structure it is Café des Artistes, with its zigzag floor plan, intimate booths and romantic bar. Diners have only to take one step inside, and the tumultuous New York world outside disappears in a flash, replaced by lush floral displays, flattering lighting and Howard Chandler Christy's pastel murals of naked beauties prancing through romantic landscapes. It's an erotic dream straight from the id of the Arrow Shirt Man. Diners still stare, transfixed.
The clientele does not look for experimental food, and the menu does not force the issue. In an odd way, Café des Artistes functions as a kind of neighborhood restaurant for Manhattan's upper crust.
RECOMMENDED DISHES Country pâté; pot au feu; lobster in basil-Sauternes sauce; John Dory with corn and chanterelles; squab with garlic flan; Ilona torte, banana torte.
NYTimes $25 and Under Eric Asimov reviews 360 (Van Brunt Street (Wolcott Street), Red Hook, Brooklyn) -- a $20 three-course prix fixe sounds like an affordable and worthwhile adventure:
By many definitions, one would call 360 French. The daily menu is written in French, in a blurred, overstruck font reminiscent of a clattering manual typewriter, and the wines are almost all French. There is a cheese course, and one of the owners, Arnaud Erhart, is from Alsace, though his English contains only phantom cobwebs of an accent. Yet every dish on the menu would be as at home in an American restaurant as in a French one.
. . . .The food is intensely seasonal, like a chilled corn soup that captures perfectly its late-summer sweetness and yet is never one dimensional. The chef, Alexander Tchistov, excels at pairings, serving sea scallops roasted to where they are about to explode with flavor together with crisp sautéed cauliflower and peeled cherry tomatoes, which look like orange and red baubles.
. . . .You will not find a rib-eye steak and French fries at 360; too ordinary. But you may find an astonishingly flavorful chicken breast with a pleasingly crisp exterior, puréed potatoes flavored with garlic and rosemary, or a dorade with green and yellow wax beans, the fish sautéed just enough to coax out its reticent flavor.
BEST DISHES Chilled corn soup; sea scallops; steak tartare; seared Spanish mackerel; field greens; spaetzle with braised chicken; roasted chicken breast; sautéed dorade; sautéed cod; banana and plum crepes.
NYPost Steve Cuozzo reviews the relaunched Dumonet (Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street):
Except for an inelegant but satisfying plate of fresh mackerel, I'd skip all the $14 first courses, which seem drawn from a 1960 resort menu.
I'd splurge instead on $19.50 "in season" starters built around fresh morels, as earthy and sensuous as black truffles. They are divine, none more so than cream-laden baked duck egg served in a cocotte.
Most entrees are worth $32, even when they're basically bistro dishes. Dreamy tarragon-hollandaise sauce could turn me off to sissy vegetable reductions - but it couldn't bail out dull poached halibut. On the other hand, a glorious cut of Pacific salmon is even better with "light" sorrel butter cream that more honestly is "extra heavy."
Village Voice Robert Sietsema reviews Chennai Garden (129 East 27th Street): First, what's a "dosa"?
These delectable vegetarian crepes are made from a batter of ground rice and urad dal (a tiny beige bean) that's allowed to ferment into frothiness over a period of a day or two. With a vigorous swirling motion the batter is spread on a griddle, heaped with a potato mixture, then rolled into a thick blunt. It's served with a dense coconut chutney for scooping, and a thin soup called sambar for dipping and drinking. Though the pancake part has been around southern India since the 10th century, the idea of stuffing and rolling probably came from the French, who plied the Coromandel Coast south of Madras in the 17th century.
Chennai Garden, a new and elegant walk-down café named after the modern moniker of metropolitan Madras, specializes in dosas and snacks—such as iddlies (ricey dumplings) and utthapams (thicker pancakes with vegetables mixed into the batter)—created by similar means. There are 14 types of dosa alone ($6.45 to $8.95). To the untrained eye they are barely distinguishable. Masala dosa is queen mother of all, as long as a baseball bat and toasty brown in color, invariably evoking oohs and aahs from Indians and non-Indians alike as the waiter bears it in like a retainer carrying a pasha's crown. Take away the potato stuffing and call it a paper dosa. The unfilled variety demonstrates that to its most ardent fans, the real payoff is not the filling but the crispy pancake. For the cost-conscious diner, however, that wad of starchy stuffing also containing cashews, dal, onions, and cilantro in a mild masala makes the treat a full meal.