Archive for the 'fine kosher dining' Category

11
Nov
13

Solo – A Chinese Variation on a Theme


Solo has always been a very classy act. Perhaps it was the red interior, accenting Solo’s newest Chinese themed cuisine, that caused a mind-melding color association with a movie I once saw called The Red Violin. A master violin maker, Nicolo Bussotti, creates a magnificent red colored violin of impeccable sound and quality; the story fans out as the violin passes among its talented owners, spanning many countries and the breadth of four centuries. Solo in many ways resembles the exquisite violin in the story. Throughout its variations from meat to dairy and back to meat in oriental presentation, Solo has – since it opened its doors – provided masterful fair, exemplary high end quality dishes, service, artful presentation, with creative recipe variations yielding delightful results. Valentino, Solo‘s manager – a mother hen, in a good way – is there from early morning until midnight, day in and day out, making sure that Solo‘s standards remain at the top of its class.

At the request of its many loyal habitués, Solo has kept some of its most popular items like cowboy steak, and beef sliders. It’s a good thing too; CS and I started off our meal with Solo‘s Yellowfin Tuna Tartar, topped with avocado mash served with kimchi and mango salsa – some variations since last we sampled it, but still perfection. Their Salmon Carpaccio…

kosher-scene-copyright-copy22

SoloCh1

was the ultimate example of high quality fare Solo is so famous for. You must must try the Porcini Mushroom Soup. It was just fabulous; you could wean babies on this creamy caramel colored delight. I don’t know how, but I just gotta that recipe. I could have eaten three bowls full. Maybe we’ll kidnap Eka, our trusty waiter, whom we’ve just adored for years, and torment him with heavy Jewish recipes ’til he gives up some kitchen secrets. The Hot and Sour Soup

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was almost as good to our palate as the mushroom soup that preceded it, though the first one remains an undisputed favorite.

We sampled two more fabulous fish dishes, check that, we devoured them! The Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass…

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with bok choy was outstanding, subtly sweet with just the right kick of pungent; the Salmon Teriyaki, cut triangles from the choicest part of top quality organic salmon, had the finest veil of spiced rice powdered crispness – again, superbly flavored! I have never enjoyed fish more.

Hagafen‘s Sauvignon Blanc 2011 accompanied our fish dishes – it showed very little personality except for its nice fruity bouquet. We switched to Hagafen‘s Pinot Noir 2011, a bit more flavorful for the meat courses that followed. Interesting Crispy Chinese Beef Balls – lemon flavored meatballs – they were uniquely lemony, moist and delicious.

Pan Seared Beef Dumplings…

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followed and they were light and delicious. Our final entree was the Mongolian Style Beef Filet, brought sizzling to the table, very Chinese, spicy savory, quite good. I don’t know if Chinese is the last cuisine variation that Solo will ever introduce, perhaps they will offer a fusion of just superbly crafted dishes. What I do know is that however they may vary their menu, Solo remains one of the finest orchestrations of fine dining in New York City.

SYR

23
Jul
13

Sòlo – Revisited


We’ve reviewed Sòlo in its prior incarnation (here, and here), so why are we reviewing it again? Sòlo (550 Madison Avenue; New York, NY 10022; Telephone: 212.833.7800 – in the atrium of the SONY building), has reinvented itself as a dairy restaurant. We liked it as a meat eatery, now it changed… We had more than enough confidence in Prime Hospitality Group‘s Corporate Chef David Kolotkin so we decided to give it a try and see what a former meat restaurant turned dairy could do…

SYR had an out of town guest, whose home cooking is the stuff legends are made of (I should know, I’ve stayed in their guest house many a time over the years!), and she came with me. We chose a busy time, on a busy night, with last minute reservations to best test the service. As soon as we were assigned a table, we found ourselves in the able hands of Eka Halim, waiter extraordinaire!

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Fritto Misto all' Italiana

Fritto Misto all’ Italiana

We started our repast with Fritto Misto all’ Italiana, an assorted plate of rice balls, potato croquettes, eggplant and zucchini served with a trio of unique dipping sauces. The tastes were subtle yet definite, the sauces, rather than overpowering, introduced nice variations; we both loved it!

We segued with Big Eye Tuna Tartare – a raw big eye tuna, local farmed apples, roasted pine nuts, marinated in a red wine vinaigrette, served chilled – and Branzino Carpaccio…

Branzino Carpaccio

Branzino Carpaccio

…it consisted of raw, thinly sliced white fish, citrus  salt and capers, drizzled with an artisanal imported Italian olive oil and squeezed lemon.

Both were scrumptious; it was obvious the combination of ingredients was done with as much attention, as much focus on the final result, as the old master painters of the Renaissance put into the mixing of their colors!

Next we tried Eggplant Parmeggiana, slow baked alternating layers of eggplant with tomato sauce, parmesan and daily homemade mozzarella. Every ingredient shone on its own as well as a member of a well choreographed ballet on my palate. Wooow!

Before trying the pastas we had a Warm Goat Cheese Salad, with hazelnut crusted goat cheese croquette, arugula, roasted beet medley, caramelized local market pears, haricots verts drizzled with a red wine vinaigrette. Superbly balanced flavors. We segued into Rigatoni alla Carbonara Vegetariana

Rigatoni alla Carbonara Vegetariana

Rigatoni alla Carbonara Vegetariana

The rigatoni pasta came with with zucchini, garden basil, imported pecorino romano cheese, eggs, cracked black pepper and cream. Richly flavorful!

We followed with Homemade Truffle & Butternut Squash Ravioli, with truffle Parmesan sauce and sliced black truffle…

Homemade Truffle and Butternut Squash Ravioli

Homemade Truffle and Butternut Squash Ravioli

…the Parmesan sauce gave it all a superb taste without overpowering anything else!

Risotto al Pesto was Chef David’s next choice for us…

Risotto al Pesto

Risotto al Pesto

This delicate, aromatic risotto came with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and haricot verts. Excellent, is an understatement!

Fettucini alla Puttanesca came next….

Fettuccine alla Puttanesca

Fettuccine alla Puttanesca

Fresh homemade fettuccine with imported olives, capers, garlic and grape tomatoes, t’was a true masterpiece in taste and in looks.

Penne alla Vodka was our next dish…

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka

It came with tomato sauce, onions, cherry tomatoes  and romano cheese. Probably the best Penne alla Vodka I ever had.

Fish came next, considering that a mere three and a half years ago I could still honestly say I never tasted fish, I learned to appreciate the creatures rather fast. In rapid succession we devoured Wild Smoked Salmon and Mozzarella, Tuna Filet Pepper Verde and a Chilean Sea Bass Scallopini.

The wild salmon came in an avocado puree, with homemade mozzarella in a balsamic reduction; there is hardly anything as delicious as fresh salmon. The tuna filet was served with green pepper crusted big eye tuna steak, Dijon mustard, cream and a vodka reduction. The sea bass dish consisted of thinly sliced Chilean sea bass sauteed with lemon, white wine, capers, sundried tomatoes, parsley, basil and shallots. All three were a testament to the Chef’s artistry.

We washed this massive feast down with a Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, as suggested by – our waiter – Eka. Though it is a native California wine, its style is very French; it exhibits currant, berry, and cherry combined with a delightful earthy minerality. Its tannins are soft, smooth and well balanced, culminating in a long elegant finish.

We capped the meal with a Tiramisu, again it was obvious that while we had expected a delicious meal, we got a very memorable royal feast!

There is no question I’ll be coming back again and again!

CS

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

25
Jul
11

This Week’s Events…


The $32.00 Prix Fixe Special Menu at 18 Restaurant continues:

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

THE KOSHER SCENE SPECIAL DINNER PRIX FIXE MENU

$32.00 per person, tax and gratuities not included. All wine, beer and alcohol billed separately.
Any item ordered, 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

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 Prix Fixe, please print out the following  .pdf)

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

With the Nine Days fast approaching, tonight’s cooking demo by Lévana features:

Monday, July 25th

The meatless feast. Gluten-free

The nine days are almost upon us. Thank Goodness we hear less and less grumbling about being “limited” to meatless dining: Incidentally, this is the way we eat at home all week, so no hardship here, only delicious treats, with sizzling international flavors.

  • White gazpacho
  • Artichokes and carrots in lemon sauce
  • Mock crab cakes with red pepper coulis
  • Linguini with roasted cauliflower and bread crumbs topping
  • Green fruit salad
  • Pecan lace cookies.
Enjoy 18 Restaurant and Lévana’s Dinner and Show, gentle reader.
CS
17
Jun
11

Live from Nargila! – Part 2


This past Wednesday, The Kosher Scene Radio Show did a live broadcast from Nargila Grill (1599 York Avenue – between E. 84 and E. 85th Street – New York 10028; Tel: 212.535.3700).

From left to right: Esti Berkowitz (Primetime Parenting), Alessandra Rovati (Dinner in Venice), Marlene Mamiye (The Kosher Hostess), Yours Truly, at the controls (The Kosher Scene), Kim Amzallag (Mishpacha/Kosher Inspired Magazine); Suzannah Raff (The Kosher Shopaholic), not pictured - as she spoke to us on the phone - Amy Channa (The Gluten Free Maven) PHOTO BY: Irving Schild

Nargila Grill is a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean type restaurant, the decor authentic Middle Eastern, with softly piped in music to match.

Getting ready to order. PHOTO BY: Irving Schild

After the show we all enjoyed an incredibly delicious meal consisting of assorted Mediterranean salads, beef, lamb, and chicken kabobs. Each type of meat was done in a variety of styles and came on multiple skewers, each more succulent than the other!)

We are going back next Wednesday, to do another live show and to enjoy the owner’s mother’s Bukharian cooking. She comes in once a month to prepare some real delicacies. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Why don’t you join us at: Nargila Grill (1599 York Avenue – between E. 84 and E. 85th Street – New York 10028; Tel: 212.535.3700), next Wednesday evening? We’d love to meet you and we know you’ll love the food! We’ll leave the light on for ya. May we have the pleasure of seeing you there?

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

08
Mar
11

Cafe Renaissance


Last week RN and I had an early dinner at Cafe Renaissance (802 Kings Highway, NY 11223-2240; Tel: 718.382.1900). We were prepared for a sumptuous, scrumptious meal but even so we were pleasantly surprised.

RN opted to begin her early dinner with Sauteed Artichoke in a very aromatic lemon-garlic sauce. Delectable, she said.

I started with a colorful Green Dragon Sushi Roll, it consisted of spicy salmon, cucumber, avocado, topped with spicy mayonnaise and crunch…

Green Dragon Roll

We both found it succulent; the spicy salmon gave it just enough of a bite, a great meal starter!

Next I had a Citrus Salad

Citrus Salad

It came with Romain lettuce, baby greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and pomelo strips. The blend of flavors of fresh fruit and vegetables combined to form a perfectly harmonious symphony of wholesome flavors.

RN opted for the Healthy Salad, with low glyceride pasta, sauteed spinach, broccoli, olive oil, garlic topped with Parmesan cheese.  She described it as perfectly cooked pasta, with a superb cheese topping.

We then shared a Greek Salad with feta cheese, olives and more. Again, like the earlier salads, this one did not disappoint.

Starting the mains, we shared a very tender St. Peter’s Fish…

St Peter's Fish

It came accompanied with red, yellow, and green peppers with a flower carved lemon. It was juicy, tender and neither tasted nor smelled fishy. Quite good!

We segued the above dish with a Grilled Salmon for RN and a Salmon Teriyake for me. Both were delicious and while the list so far should have been enough to satisfy the most ravenous creature, we were not done yet…

We finished the meal by sharing a Four Seasons Pizza

Four Seasons Pizza

Its eight slices infour sections consisted of Vodka & Cheese (my favorite!!), Mushroom, Roasted garlic and Cheese, Tomato Sauce, Black Olives and Pesto over Cheese, and Roasted Tomatoes, Broccoli and Cheese. As a pizza connoisseur, I am compelled to give this combination very high marks.

We washed the meal down with a Bartenura Pinot Grigio 2008. A well balanced dry white wine with tangy lemon/grapefruit aromas and flavors and a great aftertaste. All in all it was a very enjoyable meal, beautifully presented, but…

Considering the amount of dishes we consumed and pleasantly surprised as we were at the consistency of freshness, quality, and unsurpassed flavor I felt obligated to speak to Cafe Renaissance‘ owner, Shaul Ashkenazi. We wanted to know about his background and how he developed the successful philosophy behind this eatery.

Shaul started out in the business under his father, 40 years ago; the father owned and operated a very popular restaurant on Tel Aviv’s Rechov Sheinkin. Among the restaurants habitués were many prominent politicians (including Golda Meir) and financial bigwigs who often concluded many a political or financial deal at the restaurant’s tables. Later, in 1975, Mr. Ashkenazi opened up his own place in Ramat Gan (Gute Gute), next to the Stock and the Diamond Exchanges.

Eventually, after the death of his father, since all his siblings were already in the US, he too emigrated to these shores. Ten years ago he opened Cafe Renaissance, he sought only quality fresh ingredients and required each Chef do things his way. While most Executive Chefs get to decide on the menu, here only Shaul and his wife Tikvah make those decisions. Any item on the menu gets rigorously tested by the couple and honed to perfection before it is ever served to any restaurant patron.

Shaul’s son-in-law Ronnie manages the Ashkenazis second venture Cafe Venezia (1391 Coney Island Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11230; Tel: 718.258.5400). We’ll just have to try it!

CS

Cafe Renaissance 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

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




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