Monday, November 17, 2008

Quick Update: Serpentine

We made it back to Serpentine for brunch last weekend, just as we promised after our dinner review. The brunch menu is great on paper, but slightly disappointing in execution, if only because we had extremely high expectations. In fact, it's a solid brunch that we'd recommend although not in a drop-everything-now-and-go type of way. The Bloody Mary was a stand-out for me; it was nice and light, yet spicy and included a great pickled carrot garnish. The savory bread pudding is a must order, and is worth the trip alone.

Information, photos, and map for Serpentine on Center'd

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Review: Blue Ribbon Brasserie (New York, NY)

When we lived in Manhattan and my wife would ask, "Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?" my reply, more often than not would be, "Blue Ribbon." I could eat at this place at least once a week and be happy.

Blue Ribbon Brasserie, New York, NYLocated in Soho, Blue Ribbon is the flagship among four other restaurants with some form of the same moniker, and is a staple of Manhattan chefs because it's open until 4:00 AM and has excellent food. If you want a great meal late, and a quintessential Manhattan-never-sleeps experience, head here after midnight (you'll be amazed when people are still being seated after you pay your check).

I'm a big fan of appetizers, and Blue Ribbon's menu seems like it was built to please me. There are about 14 options to start, and my favorites are the steak tartare, the shrimp remoulade which comes with small crispy zuchini fries, and the smoked trout with an awesome relish and beets. Blue ribbon is known for it's seafood, and the the seafood tower is a popular appetizer although we've never tried it.

Entrees are solid as well, but to be honest we usually split one because we load up on appetizers. The catfish with collard greens is nice if you want something lighter, and the fried chicken with honey is decadant. All the other entrees we've ordered have been great, so order whatever strikes your fancy.

This is a popular dinner destination that doesn't take reservations, but if you get there before 8:00 PM you shouldn't have too long a wait (true New Yorkers don't eat dinner until after 8:00 PM). They do take reservations for parties of six or more.

The Verdict:
My favorite restaurant in Manhattan, and a must try.

Recommended Plates:
Smoked trout, steak tartare, grilled shrimp remoulade, oysters, country pate, sweet and spicy catfish, fried chicken

Recommended for:
Dinner, Late-night dining, Seafood, Appetizers

Bar stats:
Small bar area with about six seats. Full bar and good wine menu.

Information, photos, and map for Blue Ribbon Brasserie on Center'd

Blue Ribbon Brasserie website

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quick Update: Conduit

We happened by Conduit on our way home from an event yesterday evening and got a few appetizers. They were all good, but the ravioli with Swiss chard and almonds was amazing - it's a must order if you make it by Conduit any time soon.

Information, Photos, and Map for Conduit on Center'd

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review: Coi

We had been hearing a lot of positive buzz about Coi (pronounced, "qua"), and have a new-found interest in molecular gastronomy since visiting WD-50 in New York, so we decided to give it a whirl for an annual family dinner with my foodie sisters this past weekend.

Coi restaurant, San Francisco, CAHelmed by chef Daniel Patterson, Coi is located down the block from the nudie bars on Broadway and Montgomery. The design is modern with an eco-feel to it (exposed wood, natural tones), and once inside you're mentally transported away from the scene outside.

There is a lounge, which unbeknownst to us prior to booking, serves an a la carte menu. We ate in the main dining room where an 11-course tasting menu is served.

Stand-outs were the roasted cauliflower with smoked bone marrow foam which had an excellent balance of flavors, the slow cooked farm egg (a molecular cuisine standard), and the quince and huckleberry parfait, which the table agreed hands-down was the best dish of the night. My wife and I also enjoyed the kabocha squash soup, but all-in-all, the rest of the dishes seemed average for a restaurant of this supposed quality and price point.

One controversial item was the "wine" pairing, which not only included wines, but beers, wine-based cocktails, and sake. I thought this was quite inventive and a highlight of the evening, but some at the table we quite upset as they were expecting a wine pairing... we agreed that the restaurant should either label the offering as a "drink" pairing, or have the server make a particular note of it before ordering.

The Verdict:
Given the hype, a bit disappointing, but it is good. I'd recommending sticking your toe in the lounge water before diving into the 11-course pool.

Recommended Plates:
Quince and huckleberry parfait, Roasted cauliflower, Slow cooked farm egg

Recommended for:


Bar stats:
Lounge area with a couple non-eating tables, as well as seats along a wall. Wine, beer, other (sake, etc.), no hard alcohol.

Information, photos, and map for Coi on Center'd

Coi website