Category Archives: Nolita

Cherche Midi, another McNally restaurant

Cherche Midi
Cherche Midi
282 Bowery (and Houston)
New York, NY 10012

It has been ages, my friends. AGES. I feel awfully guilty for abandoning this blog for so long. I can give you the usual excuses of life getting in the way but it won’t make me feel any less guilty. The reason I’ve carved out some of my Sunday afternoon to write to you all is because quite a few of you have recentlyl told me that you MISS my blog posts and actually NOTICED that I haven’t posted in a while. I’m soooooo incredibly flattered and… just… wow, people read my blog consistently enough to be able to tell I’ve been MIA? M.L. told me today I am her sad-desk-lunch reading and it empowered me to get off my lazy bum and finally just start writing again so M.L. can resume reading about food while she eats food.

So here it is! My first post since… ALMOST A MONTH AGO (ugh). The post is about Cherche Midi, a Keith McNally restaurant that opened sometime last year. McNally is a big NYC restauranteur who opened Balthazar and Minetta Tavern (among many others). There are a few deviations from the “typical French” restaurant with some yuzu and shiso on the menu, but otherwise Cherche Midi is a pretty typical French establishment, with steak tartare, steak frites, and lots of butter in and on everything.

Cherche Midi First, the bread. Very important. Bread is the first thing you get to eat at a restaurant so in my mind it should give you a hint of the identity of the restaurant In Cherche Midi’s case, it certainly did.

Cherche Midi
The bread was traditionally French (baguettes!) served with amazing butter. The baguettes had a perfectly crusty crust and a great spring to it (when you squeeze, it bounces back). Center was chewy, stretchy, and soft-but-not-too-soft. Promising.

Cherche Midi We shared the Frogs’ Legs with green garlic velouté, garlic chips, and crisp parsley ($19 – expensive). Despite how fancy it sounds, it tasted pretty un-fancy. The legs were fried well, and were very tender. Sauce was creamy and had a hint of garlic. Nothing to write home about.

Cherche Midi We also shared the Homemade Lobster Ravioli in ginger beurre blanc (aka. ginger butter sauce) with piquillo peppers ($28), which ended up being my favorite dish from the night. Amazingly fresh, sweet lobster (large chunks of it too) coated in a buttery sauce with little sweet peppers and what I think is definitely LEMONGRASS. Oh man was this tasty. I was happy to see Cherche Midi deviating from a traditional French-only menu. The ravioli skin also had a great bite to it.  Continue reading

Cafe Gitane, French and Moroccan Brunch

Cafe GitaneCafe Gitane
242 Mott St
(between Houston St & Prince St)
New York, NY 10012

V.P. told me this is her favorite restaurant in the city. I find that few people in New York can come up with a singular favorite place so I figured I had to check it out. There are two locations, one in the Jane Hotel in the West Village and another in Nolita. While waiting for a seat with D.C. and M.X., I saw a waitress walk past with a delicious deep jungle green colored beverage. She saw the way I looked at it and said, “It’s the cucumber juice. You have to get it.” And so I did ($4.50). The juice was surprisingly lightly carbonated and almost a little fermented tasting… like kombucha. Don’t know how I feel about it though it did taste refreshing. The menu also boasts a number of yummy sounding teas, such as Iced Mint Tea and Turkish Green Tea. Things to try next time.

Cafe Gitane
M.X. ordered the Brie with Apple ($7.25) which came with a toasty warm piece of rosemary foccacia. Brie was just okay. Slightly hard for a brie and a little blander than most. Particularly compared to the brie I had in France which was hyper sharp. Unlike the brie, the apples were way too soft. They were almost mushy like apple sauce. I expected a crisp, sweet and tart apple, like a Fuji or a Gala, to go with the brie. The bread was good.

Cafe Gitane
D.C. was lame and had eaten with his other friends already so just had a Blueberry and Almond Friand ($4.00). A friand is a small french cake made with almond flour and eggs. I didn’t get to try it but D.C. seemed to enjoy it…

Cafe Gitane    Cafe Gitane
This was the “must-have” item on the menu: the Avocado Toast with lemon juice, olive oil, and chili flakes on seven grain toast ($7.25). Like many people before me, I agree that the toast is way overpriced. I make this all the time at home, especially when avocados are in season. Yes, it was creamy and delicious with a slight acidity and kick. Yes, the bread was thick, sturdy but soft, and deliciously toasted. But $7.25 for toast is hard to justify.

Continue reading

Parisi Bakery, over 100 Years Strong.


Parisi Bakery
198 Mott St
(between Kenmare St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012

 

If you read my last post on the Meatball Shop, you’ll know that the Meatball Shop completely changed my outlook on meatballs.  Since having them, I didn’t think meatballs could get any better…each meatball type that is served at the Meatball Shop is put through a rigorous selection process and emerged as a winner.  They don’t serve sandwiches and pasta with meatballs; they serve MEATBALLS with bread and pasta.  Well, here is life lesson for you: it is possible to be even better than the best.

Their meatball hero is orgasmic.  The bread is soft Italian bread that is chewy and dense, but fluffy at the same time.  Apparently, “whenever Frank Sinatra was in town, he would send one of his daughters down in a limo to pick up four loaves” of bread from Parisi.  The meatball sandwich is lined with a thin layer of mozzarella to protect the bread from the tasty marinara sauce and of course to add a bit of creaminess to this tomatoey sandwich.  The meatballs are SO incredibly tender, not crumbly at all, and if you give it a little squish, will feel that they are a little springy.  I’m seriously salivating just thinking about them.  Be right back, need to wipe down my keyboard.

 

Just kidding.  Totally kidding.

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Parm, comfort food that tastes homemade… in a bad way?


Parm
248 Mulberry St
(between Spring St & Prince St)
Manhattan, NY 10012

 

What do you do when Yelp gives 3.5/5 stars, Menupages gives 2/5 stars, NYTimes gives 2/3 stars, Chowhound boards have more-or-less raving reviews, and one of your best foodie friends claims it’s amazing?  Life is filled with interesting choices, my friends, and when presented with truly mixed reviews, you just have to go and try it for yourself.

 

Parm was opened by the same guys who own Torrisi Italian Specialties, an Italian (duh) restaurant that apparently is delicious and has amazing mozzarella.  Parm is right next door and is a much more casual Italian restaurant, known more for its parmesan sandwiches (I’m not being very insightful am I…).  As you can tell from the photo above, the red neon lights and bar seating evoke a diner-like feel.

  

Onto the food.  We started with a salad and a side of brussels sprouts.  Salad was an interesting combination of mozzarella and salami cubes, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, onions, and a vinaigrette.  The salad came before our sandwiches and the sourness of it all really made me salivate and excited for my meal.  Brussels sprouts were amazinggggg.  They were slightly burnt (YUM) and seasoned with lots of salty parmesan cheese.  The natural bitterness of the vegetable seemed to be balanced with a sweetness… did they add sugar?

  

Sandwiches.  Pictured left is the Chicken Parm on a roll and pictured right is the Eggplant Parm on a roll.  Both rolls were dry, airy, bland, and boring.  The least they could’ve done was grill the bun.  Actually, I think I remember finding very light grill marks … meaning they should do a BETTER JOB at grilling the bun.  If you’re making this at home, I understand buying the hamburger buns in bulk from Costco… but if you’re serving this at a restaurant known for its sandwiches, where bread is at least a third of the meal, shouldn’t you put more effort into it?   Continue reading

A Tourist Trap Isn’t Always A Trap … Lombardi’s Pizza

Lombardi’s Pizza
32 Spring St
(between Mott St & Mulberry St)
New York, NY 10012

Lombardi’s Pizza was never on my list of MUST-TRY-ASAP restaurants, mainly because it’s kind of in the Soho-ish area and is known to be very touristy.  I’m not a tourist, I’m a New Yorker!  I’ve been living here for almost 8 months now!  Okay fine, maybe I’m not a New Yorker… but ever notice how people pretend they are after they’ve only been here a couple months?  So many people here are just in transition.  ANYWAY.  Tourist traps are no fun.  Therefore Lombardi’s Pizza is probably no fun.  Probably.

 

You walk into the restaurant and you see tons of old photos and memorabilia hung on the walls, almost like a Hard Rock Cafe.  You’re brought to the back room where all the other tourists are being served.  You see camera flashes everywhere as people take pictures of their food, of themselves, of themselves with the food, and of you! – because they’re just that friendly.  Clearly not from New York.  You finally sit down and order.  You pick their original tomato base at $20.50 (large) and toppings at $3 each.  You sit and mentally prepare yourself for mediocre pizza.  You can’t be disappointed if your expectations are low, right? Continue reading