Archive for the 'fine dining' Category

19
Jul
12

Revisiting Sòlo


When you have a meeting, date or get together over food that needs to go flawlessly, Sòlo (550 Madison Avenue; New York, NY 10022; Telephone: 212.833.7800 – in the atrium of the SONY building) is the place to be. A swank counterpart to the high tech-upscale Sony building and atrium it’s located in, Sòlo is what contemporary high class chic tastes like. From its sleek artsy glass exterior wall – flanked through by oil with infused vegetables – down to its impeccably styled up-scale food presentation, Sòlo defines high quality cuisine; the fact that it’s under strict kosher supervision is sub-rosa fringe to its superb fare and service.

Chef-de-cuisine Guillermo Quiroz, trained by Chef David Kolotkin was just a delightful; the look of pride as he brought and explained each dish, knowing without a doubt we would be as pleased to eat as he was to present it, added to the experience.

We stated our feast with a Big Eye Tuna Tartar accompanied by avocado, citrus, mango and chips. It was very fresh, succulent, and not in the least bit fishy tasting (a great start to a great meal!).

We followed with another appetizer, Crispy Veal Sweetbreads, it came with celery root and Bosc pear puree, Swiss chard in a pomegranate reduction. Since I do not – on principle – eat veal, CS had it all to himself. Considering he cleaned the plate, I believed him when he described it as “superbly spiced, and absolutely delicious.”

Beef Carpaccio with spinach and grilled endive salad in a mustard and lemon vinaigrette came next. Well seasoned, beautifully presented, just perfect.

Next, came the pièce de résistance. We got the Roasted BBQ Short Ribs, sides were German potato salad and cauliflower puree. They reminded me of Mike’s Bistro‘s ribs. Sauce and flavors were excellent, the beef superbly tender, yet not overcooked.

Typical Uruguayan that he is, CS preferred the 8 oz Black Angus Steak au Poivre (available in 16 oz. as well), with caramelized onion puree, basil mash potatoes, and grilled asparagus in a red wine sauce. It was very flavorful, the crisp pepper top was just right, I just loved the wine sauce and onion puree combo. It’s hard to believe that in spite of its flavor, in spite of its tenderness, it was not aged meat.

The last main was a Pan Seared Black Angus Filet with turnip puree, mushroom ragout and fingerling potatoes in red wine sauce. Superb fare!

We washed it all down with a very good Binyamina Shiraz 2007, served to us by our favorite waiter, the multi-talented Eka Halim (he’s a professional photographer, as comfortable on a fashion shoot as on a bar mitzvah!). CS described the wine thus, “Deep garnet in color, medium bodied with soft tannins and a gentle wood influence. Smooth, round wine with blackberry and plum notes, with hints of tar and licorice.”

For dessert we shared two incredible creations by Pastry Chef Felencia Darius, now at Prime Butcher Baker. Warm Chocolate Cake with gingerbread ice cream and espresso sauce, the molten chocolate cake was superb and so was the sauce, but I expected more from the ice cream.

The evening’s crown, however, belongs to the Hazelnut Rocher, a hazelnut mousse with vanilla cream and a candied nut shell. Take my advise, folks, do not even think of leaving Sòlo without trying this one!

We had reservations for 6:00pm, by the time we finished at around 7:30pm there was not a single free table, not even in the private alcove we were in. People obviously know what’s good.

Though it was a superb dinner, and one that guarantees we’ll keep on revisiting again and again, we do have a minor criticism. We wish the presentations, as beautiful as they were, showed less repetitiveness.

SYR

Both Sòlo and its sister restaurant Prime Grill have a

Nine Day Menu.

22
Aug
11

Chef Haim Dadi – The Dream Concrete


Since he was very young, Haim Dadi knew what he wanted to do. His parents had a restaurant in Israel and whenever he visited their place – as a child – he loved the hustle and bustle, the aromas, the sounds of the patrons.  He is currently Chef/Partner of 18 Restaurant on 81st Street and 2nd Avenue. I’ve watched and followed him through every area of his restaurant and – as amiable as he is outside the cooking area – it is in the kitchen that he truly comes alive as he cooks, as he talks to his staff, as he experiments with more delicious ways of preparing his fare.

I spoke to Chef Haim recently to find out what makes him tick, what it is that spurs him on. Twenty five years ago he opened his first restaurant in Beersheva with his brother, serving mostly shawarma and a few other grilled items. Three years later, he arrived in New York and opened his first venture in Forest Hills – Tel Aviv Haktanah, though very successful he did not get along with his partner.

He left for a place in Manhattan called Shelanu, which eventually evolved into Mr. Broadway. It started out with a limited Israeli menu, yet considering the demographics in and around its location, it did not work too well. Over a period of seven years they slowly introduced various new types: deli, Chinese, shawarma and sushi. With the addition of all those cuisines Mr. Broadway, soon had one of the largest menus in Manhattan. With very moderate prices and the rich selection they expanded over the years and became a very successful venture, a fixture of the New York kosher Scene.

About a year ago, Chef Dadi was ready for bigger challenges. Together with Sidney Cohen he opened up 18 Restaurant on the premises of what used to be the high end Turquoise. In spite of the high quality of its servings, Turquoise had become a victim of the new recession.

Walking into 18, with its turquoise wall and aquarium, opposite an antiqued stone wall and red fixtures, gives the impression of an upscale expensive place. A quick look, however, at the menu immediately dispels the notion of “expensive.” The food served here is of higher quality than at his former place and in the year since they’ve opened they managed to gather a faithful following that fills the restaurant every day at lunch and dinner. The sushi is superb, and coming from someone who never touched fish until two years ago, someone who never thought he’d ever taste sushi, you can take it as very high praise indeed. I can never resist ordering Chef Haim’s Yemenite Meat Soup, or his juicy hamburgers. He doesn’t serve exotic dishes, instead he specializes in a wholesome array including Eastern European, Mediterranean, sushi and deli selections. He envisions 18 as a purveyor of high quality food at reasonable prices and… the concept works!

As a young child, Haim Dadi had a dream; as a man, he’s made the dream concrete!

CS

07
Jul
11

The Kosher Scene’s Prix Fixe Special at 18 Restaurant


It’s summer and you don’t feel like cooking every evening, besides the kids are likely in camp and it’s just the two of you at home. Why not let someone else do the cooking and avoid the preparation time and the cleanup? Of course, you want reasonable prices, so… with the lazy days of summer in mind we bring you (starting on July 18th):

18 Restaurant

240 East 81st Street, New York – (212) 517-2400

THE KOSHER SCENE SPECIAL DINNER PREFIX MENU

$32.00 per person, tax and gratuities not included. All wine, beer and alcohol billed separately.
Any item not on the Prefix will be billed separately

May not be used in conjunction with ANY other special

APPETIZER

Combination Platters:

Humus, Babaganuosh, Turkish Salad, Tahini

Mixed Green Salads

Assorted Breads

Photo by: seamlessweb.com

ENTREE

Eighteen Mixed Grill Kebob Special Combo Platter:

Chicken

Beef

Side Dishes: Choice of 2

grilled vegetables

french fries

mashed potatoes

basmati rice

DESSERT

Coffee/tea

Assorted Rugelach or Slice of Cake

Cold beverage (non alcohol) included

The food’s delicious, the price is very reasonable, the portions are generous, the ambiance is elegantly casual, a perfect eatery to take your wife, your date or the family. Go ahead, treat yourself! All of you deserve it. (For this Pris Fixe, please print out the following  .pdf)

18 Restaurant
240 East 81st. Street (map)
New York, NY
Telephone 212.517.2400
www.eighteenrestaurant.com

CS

10
Mar
11

Kaizen! Perfection at Prime Ko


Have you ever had one of those microcosmic moments in time encapsulating a window onto something so much bigger in its depth and substance? Though most of mine have not been food moments, this one surely was this past week at the Japanese inspired restaurant Prime Ko (217 West 85th Street New York, NY 10024-3901 – (212) 496-1888) when I tasted Chef Makoto Kameyama’s signature sushi Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna appetizer. But more about that in a moment…

CS and I were escorted into the ground floor dining area; they’ve got a lower level with a wet bar, TV screen and more seating. Décor showed subtle Japanese influences. The waiting area had these lovely brown leather boxy ’kabuki’ shaped chairs and couch, fresh orchids on a dark rectangular table, with a wall of hand-painted coral peonies on soft aqua…

Wall dividers of slatted mahogany separated one area from another; windows were shaded with white bamboo semi-transparent treatments. Seating was brown textured suede on wood, a few striped suede backed benches, all tucked into square darkwood tables. Settings consisted of simple white geometric china, flatware laid out on deep red bamboo textured placemats, and chop-sticks resting on logo enhanced wood pieces. Lighting was recessed in one area and a framed oval shaped ruched red fabric with a back lit center aperture against the far wall, with a row of rice textured globe light fixtures in the other area.

A partial view...

Esteemed Chef Makoto Kameyama, the former prized Sushi Chef at Prime Grill for the past ten years, has served as Executive Chef at Prime Ko since it opened last year. His experience began in Tokyo where he assisted his father, a prominent Edo-sushi chef running a successful restaurant in Japan. In1981, Chef Kameyama came to the US and opened his own Japanese restaurant. Transitioning to Japanese kosher posed quite a challenge. Aside from the dietary restrictions on pork, shrimp, crustaceans, etc. sourcing fine quality kosher fish for sushi and sashimi, replacing basic Japanese cooking elements like bonita flakes and dashi (made of fish bone, until recently unavailable with a kosher certification), achieving consistent textures and creating exciting sauces were but a few of the obstacles he faced.

Chef Kameyama is very pleased with healthy low fat and low cal Japanese cuisine becoming staple of the American diet. Be it the DHA and heart healthy fresh fish, lung healthy miso, or vitamin mineral-rich seaweed, it is thanks to Japanese cuisine masters like Kameyama that this healthy streamlined fare is taking the nation by storm.

Now, back to our meal… The opening appetizer was an assortment of Rainbow Roll, yellowtail, tuna, and salmon sashimi and that fabulous Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna I mentioned earlier. That was the defining moment of kaizen (Japanese for perfection) . The mouthful of toasted rice cake topped with spicy tuna pureed with bell pepper, topped with jalapeño and aioli sauce was a bite of pure perfection. The creative combination of textures and genius flavors conjoining to taste so remarkably well, spoke volumes about the artistry of a chef whose collective experience and expertise arrive at the table each time this signature dish is served. Bravo! Omedetou!

Sushi and Sashimi

But we were just getting warmed up… CS and I shared lovely grilled miso Chilean Sea Bass skewers in a spicy teriyake sauce served aside sautéed bok choy & veggies which couldn’t help but be outshined by an outstanding Tuna Delmonico, edged in breading served with jalapeño sauce, wasabi, beet and ginger sauce, with a side of soba noodles and pickled radish/onion/carrot garnish.

Tuna Delmonico

Our waiter, Al, our server, Lebron, treated us like royalty; they were friendly, efficient, informed. I thought we were getting the ‘special treatment’, but service to the tables nearby was just as extraordinary. Al, had the menu and wine pairings memorized down to the last nori seaweed bit & dot of sauce. Service was the epitome of high Japanese hospitality; water goblets refilled with Prime Ko’s own filtered carbonated water, napkins refolded, tables cleaned between courses, and soy sauce, dishes and silverware replaced with the arrival of each new dish.

We enjoyed a cleansing, refreshing Borgo Reale Pinot Grigio 2007 as we waited for our next course, a medley of kobe chopped beef dishes. We sampled Kobe Meatballs with ground ginger and garlic in miso sesame sauce, spicy Kobe Pizza - crispy dough, house made marinara topped with chopped salad & chopped wagyu. Wagyu Beef Sliders – a mini kobe hamburger with spicy aioli and teriyake sauce – completed this tasty Americanized trio.

Cutlery was replaced again with a fresh set including steak knives. I starved myself till dinner in anticipation, but this was turning out to be a most extravagant meal… The best was next! Three ounces of the most amazing Kobe/Wagyu steak resting on a slab of Himalayan salt rock witha side of white mushroom cooked at our table with a spritz of fresh lime. When quality is this good, extra spicing could only detract from it natural flavors – it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Taken before being cooked at table-side. 3 ozs of marbled beauty!

The second steak dish was a 6 oz. Grain Fed Chateau-Briand with vegetable rice served with a jalapeño/uzu/teriyake sauce, with salad and rice. The steak was so good, I would have preferred the sauce on the side.

Steak Chateau-Briand

Chef then surprised us with Eggplant Dengaku. Baked eggplant topped with miso and sesame sauce. Unusual, and superbly tasty. The evening’s crown,  came with the creative and most beautiful desert dish pictured below.

Beautiful presentation, superlative tasting

Two crepes laid out like a Japanese fan, topped with blueberries and strawberries with hot chocolate sauce, sprinkled with green tea powder and confectioner’s sugar that looked like fairy dust. Need I say more?

A brilliant meal overall. Our thanks to Chef Kameyama and the staff of Prime Ko for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

SYR

Prime Ko on Urbanspoon

04
Feb
11

More Superbowl Specials…


SYR and I spent such a wonderful evening last night with Sidney and Tammy Cohen at 18 Restaurant (240 E 81st St, New York NY10065; Tel: 212.517.2400). It was worth braving the cold and ice to have the opportunity to shmooze with them.  The restaurant was hopping with the evening crowd, who also ignored the weather to get a consistently great meal at 18. Tammi and her husband are so friendly and have such good business and food sense, it was great to see their restaurant thriving.

I had to have the Yemenite Meat Soup again, aside from the perfect weather conditions it’s just too good to pass up (this is winter comfort food at its best!). I’ve tasted this soup at a few well known establishments and I can assure you none came even close.

18‘s got a new sushi chef from NOBO.  I dont know what magic this guy puts int0 his sushi and sauces, but they were extraordinary. We  had his sushi roll and a  shredded fish salad, they tasted sensational. Considering that until 14 months ago I did not even touch anything remotely resembling a fish, you can believe this is very high praise!

If, unlike me, you are not into Indian food, 18 Restaurant is having their own Superbowl Special:

Colorful and delicious

  • 10 ASSORTED OVERSTUFFED DELI SANDWICHES
  • 10 ASSORTED SUSHI ROLLS
  • COLESLAW, PICKLES, POTATO SALAD
  • 30 ASSORTED MINI POTATO KNISHES, HOT DOGS IN BLANKET, MUSHROOMS IN PUFF DOUGH

$199

Now that they have their Liquor License,  18 Restaurant will – every motzey Shabbat (open from 8:00 pm to midnight) – give you a free glass of wine with dinner.

Warm and friendly

We raved about 18 Restaurant‘s food before, having revisited this eatery, we still rave about it. The sushi is superb, the soup is delicious and will warm your bones on any cold winter day, their hamburgers are in a class of their own. Why not give them a try? If this isn’t one of your favorite kosher restaurants already, it soon will be!

CS

03
Feb
11

Yummy Grill


It may be small and unpretentious, but don’t let that fool you. This hidden jewel, Yummy Grill (543 Kings Highway – off East 4th; Brooklyn, NY; Tel: 718.375.7557), serves up delicious food featuring Cavcasian and Israeli cuisines.

A partial view...

Chef/Owner Eli Hizkiyahu graduated, as Chef, from Israel’s famed Tadmore Hotel School in Herzliya. He arrived on the American shores about 19 years ago and made a successful career using food as his canvass. From fashioning Tfillin out of watermelons, to birds about to take off in flight – out of fruits and vegetables, he’s done it all as he travelled the length and breadth of the US plying his trade of food decoration at numerous catered and private affairs. About 9 months ago, Chef Eli and his wife opened up their current venue.

My companion RN and I stopped by for lunch, recently. She started out with a Lamb Soup…

Lamb Soup

It was nicely presented, spicy and very savory; in fact, it could have served as a complete meal by itself. It contained a few lamb bones, slivers of lamb and rice. Excellent! She described it as perfect comfort food for a winter day.

I started with an Avocado Salad. I have never been a fan of avocado, but the taste of this one was exceptional. Colorful, nicely but subtly spiced, it contributed to change my mind about avocado.

We then shared a platter of Baby Lamb Chops

Baby Lamb Chops

They were tender, juicy and had a very attractive aroma; came with a side dish of mixed Grilled Vegetables, consisting mostly of mushrooms, onions and peppers grilled to perfection.

We followed with a plate of Baby Chicken Kebab…

Baby Chicken Kebab

Tender, juicy delicious, it also came with those superb Grilled Vegetables (we just couldn’t enough of them!). All was served us in whimsically shaped but practical china, a delight to the eye. I washed it down with an Israeli malt. RN finished her meal with a delightful Tea w/Nana (mint leaves), while I had a coffee.

Ample portions, superb flavors, and very reasonable prices… isn’t it time to visit Yummy Grill?

CS

02
Dec
10

Natural Village Cafe


Warm, welcoming, classy, delicious… these four words give us a faint idea of my impressions of Natural Village Cafe (2 Avenue I – across from Shoprite Supermarket – Brooklyn, NY 11218; Tel: 347.492.5337 or 347. 417.6424). The restaurant is cholov Yisroel and pas Yisroel, with a mashgiach temidi and under the certification of Harav Meir Goldberg of the Va’ad Hakashrus d’Flatbush.

Upscale atmosphere, organic fare, beautiful and healthy in every possible way...

Nina Shapir, who presides over this eatery is truly a fascinating personality, the personal journey that changed her life and motivated her to open this establishment is full of commitment and dedication.

Fourteen years ago, Mrs. Shapir – a very young mother of three – found herself sick and unable to move, unable to cope. It was not a question of being financially overwhelmed, any such concerns were well taken care of. Medical tests and treatments produced no positive results, on the contrary things inexplicably kept getting worse. She met Harav Chay Azoulay, from Herzliya, who told her the real malady was not physical but rather one that affected her neshama. After some thought, trying to make sense of Rav Azulay’s words, she went on a detox diet with the help of healthfood stores, intent on ridding herself of all negative energies. This decision was followed by six very hard weeks before she saw any measurable improvements but soon after she was her old active, curious, intelligent, enterprising self again.

At this stage, Nina decided to help others who, though similarly afflicted, may not be aware of the real source of their health troubles. She went on to study Healing Arts at The School of Natural Healing in Utah from which she graduated. Seven years ago her first organic restaurant opened its doors. Her partner, however, was not frum and it proved frustrating eventually Nina bought her out. In 2008 she moved to the present location which combines her personal philosophy, her exquisite sense of aesthetics and the true love of a foodie for superb fare. She also has an an office adjacent to the restaurant where she treats the many in search of natural healing.

The restaurant sports geometric patterns on its walls and ceiling, with warm earth tones that give us a clue to the owner’s style and personality. Chef Bobby Brabaloni is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America – America’s foremost Culinary School – a fact which becomes obvious when you see the presentation, smell the aromas and taste the wonderful flavors.

My companion and I started our early dinner with a dish of Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

It consists of white mushrooms with sauteed onions, creamy pesto sauce, melted mozzarella and feta cheeses with a kick of chopped parsley. It was a perfect opener to a memorable meal.

We segued with their Village Pizza

Village Pizza

It came in a sesame crust, red onions, mushrooms, two types of mozzarella cheese and their very own red sauce. I know pizza, I’m a pizza addict and I must confess this one ranks among my favorites. My companion also found it delicious.

Next we had their Salmon Salad…

Salmon Salad

A superbly tasting salad fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, grilled salmon, pan sauteed red inions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms with a subtle teriyaki sauce. A fitting crown to our meal!

Wholesome food, warm ambience, reasonable prices, a nice bakery on premises… I know I’ll be back again and again.

CS

Natural Village Cafe on Urbanspoon

11
Jun
10

18 Restaurant


Eighteen ‘s marketing team has an innate business sense predicated by one important rule of the game; know your  customers’ tastes and quickly adapt accordingly. Just open three weeks,  18 is taking off like gang-busters. Inheriting a great restaurant design modified with red accents, its managing team created an upscale, sophisticated 21st century deli, with a few marvelous twists.  They’ve hired a terrific sushi chef from Salt Lake City, who creates one mouth-watering roll after another. Chef Haim Dadi, the main chef,  flips so many fat burgers-to-go, it’s making Popeye’s Wimpy cry (it’s the quality of the meat, baby! They buy top-of-the-line.).  Chef Haim kept the best of the Moroccan-Israeli fare, kept the great fish and salads, and offers a great assortment of grilled steak entrees.

Located where Turquoise used to be, 18 Restaurant (240 E 81st St, New York NY10065; Tel: 212.517.2400), opened its doors barely three weeks ago. We felt a welcoming warmth as soon as we walked in…

...a partial view

We sat on a corner next to the turquoise wall that once made the late Turquoise so distinctive. SYR and I started the meal with their Salt Lake City Sushi Roll.

Salt Lake City Roll, colorful, delicious!

It came with tuna, avocado, cucumber, tempura crumbs, soy glaze and a spicy masago. Neither, SYR nor I have been great fans of sushi BUT this roll was amazing!

We both followed with the Yemenite Soup with Meat.

Yemenite Meat Soup

It comes with potatoes, carrots and meat, its aroma and taste linger on for quite a while. This is a new favorite of mine!

Next we shared a large Israeli Combination Platter consisting of hummus, babaganush, Turkish salad and tahini, we dipped our Morrocan Cigars and the baguettes in it for new combinations of rich flavors. Their delectable Israeli Salad with chopped cucumber, tomato w/parsley, lemon and olive oil proved that fancy ingredients are not always necessary to create wholesome, delicious salads but… freshness is!

Next, SYR had the Eighteen’s Beef Burger, 8 ozs topped with mushroom and sitting on a bed of fried onions inside a brioche bun. It came with sides of a sliced sour pickle and French fries. It looked great, and tasted superb. It was obvious why this particular dish is one of their bestsellers.

I followed with Romanian Tenderloin Steak, it came with fresh grilled peppers and superb Yukon gold mashed potatoes.

Romanian Tenderloin

As I’ve said before, I grew up in Uruguay where steak was an almost daily dinner staple, I know steaks!  This one was tender, very juicy and full of flavor. Even my mother couldn’t have made it any better!

Whatever you do, don’t miss their Yemenite meat soup.  It’s delicioussssssssss! The portions are generous, the prices more than reasonable. What more can you ask?!?

CS

18 on Urbanspoon

03
Jun
10

Basil – Pizza & Wine Bar


At the edge of Crown Height’s Jewish neighborhood, we walked through the tall glass paned doors of Basil Pizza and Wine Bar (270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777). We were greeted by the lovely homey smells coming from their large wood oven, clearly center staged by design, partnered with an open bar and cooking area. Soft relaxing Latin music permeated a high vaulted room adorned with 13 honey jar shaped glass lanterns hanging at variegated heights back-dropped by a glass fronted honey comb wine casement.  Marble top tables and dark rustic wooden chairs filled the room commodiously, seating 45 comfortably.

Partial view of Basil. Clara Perez, the Manager, taking a breather in one of those rare low traffic moments.

The pizza and wine bar opened its doors in late February of this year. Just a few months in, with an extensive gourmet dairy menu created by his predecessor, Chef Adam  (who started his culinary training in Italy’s Costa D’Amalfi – then the restaurant’s sous-chef – was suddenly asked to take the helm as chef de cuisine.  Like the young Luciano Pavoratti in February 1965 – who was asked to replace the regular tenor – in an evening’s fateful  performance (Donizzetti’s Lucia de Lamermoor) at the Greater Miami Opera, young Chef Adam stepped up to the plate prevailing successfully without missing a single high note apparently, for he served up dish after dish of consistently delicious Basil favorites.

We began this, our latest restaurant adventure, with their Wild Mushroom Pizza made with Goat Cheese, Mozzarella and Truffle Oil, we took a side dish of their signature Basil Fries, sprinkled with Fresh Parmesan aside a  Garlic-Truffle Mayo Dip- clearly – not for the faint hearted.  Both were delicious.  The thin crusted pizza dough (made with imported Italian flour) was terrific, as were the wild mushrooms and goat cheese topping. CS predictably downed a respectable number of fries, loving the crispy strips dipped in truffle mayo. We both opted for Tishbi’s Chenin Blanc to accompany our meal. It was perfect for the table fare and the balmy summer afternoon. I had a respectable Arugula and Beets Salad topped with medallions of warm goat cheese sprinkled with pine nuts and a truffle vinaigrette.

CS, gnocchi Gnostic that he is, couldn’t help but devour the Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin rich with Tomatoes, Spinach and Parmesan Bread Crumbs. He found it flavorful, authentic Italian Campagna, done to perfection! We sampled three more mains; spinach ricotta dumplings, striped bass, and a saffron risotto.  I went for their Striped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream. Presentation was outstanding as you can see from the pictures below (we had a very, very tough time settling on only three photos of the dishes!).  The charred fennel was set like a sail atop a perfectly cooked striped bass a sea in a gustable green pea risotto. The Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Melted Mozzarella were ambrosial- especially with the enfolded Tomatoes  Roasted for 24 hours in Balsamic Vinegar, fennel seeds and just the right touch of chili flakes. Basil buys mozzarella curd and stretches it on location, enhancing the flavor that much more.  The Saffron Risotto with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, was quite aromatic. The forest mushrooms and white asparagus were savory & toothsome, though at this point we were quite full.

Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin

Stiped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream

Saffron Risotto, with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, Peas and Parmesan

We’ll have to come back and meet their pastry chef, Ehud Ezra; word on the street is that he is an amazing talent.  A graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education, he trained at Oceana in Manhattan and was Pastry Chef for several years at Whole Foods (among other prestigious establishments), before coming to Basil, we tasted his Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cheese Cake served with Turkish Fig Puree and Melon. He’s there at 5:00 am preparing his croissants and other pastries, opening for breakfast service at 7:30 am. Chef Adam also treated us to a tasting of his home-made colorful Sorbet Trio and Basil Ice Cream (made from basil, you read it right!). Yummmm!

Sitting on the cusp of this Lubavitch neighborhood, Basil stands at the edge of new cuisine and ambiance territory.  The reluctant humble yet flight worthy fledgling chef and his team run a successful operation with the help of their warm friendly manager Clara Perez, whose respect and reverie for the Lubavitch community is admirable. The convergence of crossed cultures amongst their staff and the harmonious blend of clientele dining together with Basil’s good food its nucleus, is nothing short of chevlei mashiach amazing. The obstacles were many; it shouldn’t work but it does, remarkably so! Some places are just plain blessed that way.

SYR

Basil on Urbanspoon

18
May
10

What Gives a Food Critic the Right to Critique?


Granted, CS and I have a combined prandial gastronomic, collectivistic consumption spanning nearly a century (we make no admission of time exceeding that!). Coincidentally, we were both blessed with superbly critical, highly skilled, culinary genius in the kitchen – parents of Polish and Hungarian descent respectively. They tolerated nothing but brilliance and excellence from their gifted, savant, miraculous offspring of the Diaspora and post Nazi oblation – instilling in us not only superior minds and egos endowed by birth, as well as a natural hunger for all things good. Our generation was brought up with the assumption that somehow we were born with inalienable rights to judge and critique the handiwork of our peers but never our parents. Both of us share the uncanny experience of every patriarchal inquisition into our lives and all critical moments predicated with the always relevant questions: “What did they serve?”, or “What did you eat? Was it good?”

The locus of kosher restaurants we’ve marked collectively through the various stages of our lives is equally impressive. From family style restaurants, to fancy upscale dating restaurants, from cafés for momentary pondering or perusal to married dating eateries, circling back to family restaurants and some of us back to dating restaurants again… we’ve done them all! The Shabbos tables we’ve set and served along with the tables we’ve guested at – often with suffered grimaced smiles of approval conceding to our napkins the putrid memorial – or being imparadised by occasional sensational dishes provided by our hosts! The trials and tribulations of experimental dishes imposed on our loving families without dis-ownership or dis-membership is legendary.

...eating our words

CS has an impressive curriculum vitae – having written many a fine food and/or wine review for well known global publications. I, on the other hand, am more the ‘everyman’, learning through doing, acquiring new skill sets, cultivating and advancing my palate and knowledge as I go along. And now we both sit here… judging others with culinary degrees and years of mastery in the art of Kosher cooking. Yeah, maybe we’ve cultivated our palates enough to judge… certainly as well as the consumers whose attendance make or break a restaurant. Mostly, we are grateful, grateful for the abundance of excellent restaurant choices and fine cuisine that we have been privileged to find and sample. It’s competitive out there and to keep the edge, a fine dining restaurant has to be good. We want a great dining experience and customers want to feel that the money spent was well worth the investment. The mediocre don’t survive for long. There are some food reviews that we’ll never publish, nameless here forever more…

There are many great kosher restaurants yet to review and savor. We love sharing our experiences with you and hope you enjoy sharing with us here at The Kosher Scene. With z’man matan Torah upon us, we would like to wish all our readers a Chag Shavuot sameach! May this time of Torah and harvest bring cornucopian blessings of plenty into your homes and lives.

We’ve collected some great Yom Tov recipes here and here. Enjoy!

SYR




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