Blue Hill

Fantastic

In a rare act of fanciness, I agreed to spend more than $30 at a restaurant and went to Blue Hill.  I could taste the difference.  Though very expensive ($75 for the “farmers feast” price fix), they served easily the best breadsticks I’ve ever had, and a variety of pre-meal treats, as well as a palette cleanser in the middle.  My favorite of these were 2 “cheese burgers” that were the size of those gummy cheeseburgers you find at the convenience store- I’m still laughing at them being called cheeseburgers.  We shared the farmers feast and the Grilled Cobia (fish) which was just about the right amount of food for two.  I think my favorite had to be the “This morning’s farm egg” appetizer, each bite tasted differently and equally delicious.  I cannot actually say anything negative about any of the plates, they continually blew my mind.  Well, maybe except for the desserts; we finished off with the chocolate bread pudding and honey crisp apples, that were both delicious but only about the size of my thumb.  I usually need a little more dessert on my plate than Blue Hill has to offer.  All of the plates were on the small side, so I would suggest using this to try as many different dishes as you can.  It was really worth it, even if I can only afford to do it once a year.   On a side note, I’m no win connoisseur, but we did the thing that no one does and ordered the cheapest wine on the list (which is still $48) and it was completely amazing.  I strongly recommend the Domaine Grand 2009 from Cotes du Jura, France.  And yes, I’m only writing this so I can have it written down somewhere for the next time I go to a wine store.

75 Washington Place, between 6th Ave and Washington Square W

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Back Forty

picture from serious eats

Fantastic

I was impressed with everything they had at this place. Even the cocktails were completely amazing- I don’t normally order cocktails with a meal, but they looked so delicious I had to try them.   I was interested in them because they’re known for using local farms so their menu changes seasonally, which I generally think makes the food taste fresher. The result was a fantastic feast.   I would recommend ordering a side, all three entrees ordered were massive amounts of one item- for me it was the chicken.  Mind you the chicken was perfectly cooked and so delicious I have day dreams about it and sure there was a spoonful of potatoes hidden underneath, but I think that next time I’ll plan on sharing the entree family style and ordering sides.

190 Avenue B at 12th street, New York

Roberta’s

picture from serious eats

Fantastic

My pizza quest has let me to Roberta’s in Bushwick.  Roberta’s didn’t just have good pizza because it tastes good, but because they grow all their fresh ingredients themselves in the gardens that surround the outdoor eating area.  I’m pretty sure they even have their own chicken coop.  Their dishes are pretty creative, mixing vegetables not normally found on a pizza.  They’re original, fresh and seasonal, all of which I love.  I definitely would go back; it’s worth the trip out there.

261 Moore St. at Bogart, Brooklyn

Great Jones Cafe

I can’t get enough of this place. I have a problem when I go there- I always try to order something different every time, but inevitably order the Jambalaya, because it was so good every other time I’ve gotten it. Also the cornbread is comparable to Brooklyn Star’s (my highest honor): just a little bit of jalapeno, and topped with honey. The other night I ordered pecan pie, which I have to admit I’m normally not so huge a fan of pecans (probably from a childhood of gorging myself on pecans off the playground trees during recesses), but the pie was pecans at their best. I highly recommend it. I’m actually not as big of a fan of their brunch menu as I am of their dinner menu, so I recommend trying it for lunch or dinner.

Great Jones at Bowery

Kesté

Kesté ranked #1 in 2009 by New York Magazine so Tim and I took our quest to find the best pizza here, to the east village. Of the two pizza places that have made up our quest, I’ve ranked this as the best pizza. We ordered the Margherita and the Keste Pizza, of the two my favorite being the Margherita. The dough and the sauces were more flavorful than Motorino’s, and over it was just delicious pizza. Unfortunately, like Motorino’s, the atmosphere left something to be desired, it felt a little too generic (some store somewhere is making a killing from all these pizza places buying black and white photos of chefs making pizza dough). It was nice that you could hear Italian spoken everywhere from both waiters and guests, which would have made it feel more authentically Italian if not for the terrible easy-listening station playing over the crowd. However, pizza was great, the waiters were nice and there wasn’t a wait (at 6:30 on a Tuesday) so it was overall a very enjoyable experience.

271 Bleeker Street, between Jones St. and Cornelia

Pies ‘n’ Thighs

photo from piesnthighs.com

If you love fried chicken (which I’m assuming everyone does) or southern food, eat here now. Probably the best fried chicken I’ve had. We ordered the chicken and waffles, the biscuits and gravy and a sweet tea, all of which was gone in less than 10 minutes. The waffles were just the right amount of sweet and the chicken the right amount of juicy. Aside from this being the favorite hipster hangout of the moment, the whole experience was enjoyable. The prices were very reasonable, our waiter was great, and we even left with a cinnamon roll on the house as an apology for being out of donuts (which claimed to be the best in New York). Sadly, the cinnamon roll was not great; don’t accept that as a donut substitute. I’m looking forward to returning and trying some pies, which I’m really hoping are as delicious as their chicken.

Really though, just look how cute the owners are in this picture. This picture alone makes me want to eat there.

North 4th and Driggs, Williamsburg

El Ay Si

(The quality of this photo is not great- it’s super dark in there!)

So, I really like brunch. I also really like Groupon (www.groupon.com) so when I saw one of my favorite restaurants offering an amazing deal on Groupon, I took it. I was a bit hesitant at first; using a Groupon can be frustrating because it often overwhelms the business. El Ay Si is really narrow and only has a few tables.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised. We were seated right away and I ordered my usual Eggs Benny. One of my dreams is to be able to eat eggs benedict every day and not gain a pound. This will not happen, ever. El Ay Si offers a slightly altered version; with creamed spinach between the bread and the eggs. I like to think it’s healthier!

The service is amazing. Our waiter remembered us and was super friendly. Unfortunately, they no longer offer the 2 drink special with brunch. Now you only get one drink (choice of bloody mary or mimosa) with brunch, but our waiter comped our second drink because we are loyal customers.

I’ve only eaten the Eggs Benny here, but I’ve sampled their Shepherd’s pie and omelette- both extremely yummy. Their coffee is a very bold flavor and is included with every brunch. I love this place!

El Ay Si, 47-38 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City

Le Barricou

Some friends invited me here for brunch this weekend, and I have to say I’m a little disappointed I didn’t find out about this place sooner.  The food and drinks were pretty cheap, and both were definitely worth the trip.  I was told ahead of time that the bacon would be amazing and, I have to admit, it stands apart in the bacon world as being particularly delicious.  I was also extremely pleased with my apple omelet, though I think my favorite part was the chocolate croissants they left on the table when I sat down.

533 Grand Street,  between Union and Lorimer

Jimmy’s Diner

photo from Flickr

We were told (by the menu, multiple times) that this was the best fried chicken in Brooklyn and I have to say that I was definitely pleased. We ordered the fried chicken plate and chicken and waffles. Luckily, I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing chicken and waffles and knew the glory of the dish is hot sauce on the chicken, syrup on the waffle. Jimmy’s Diner tried to mislead us by putting a large bowl of gravy on the table- don’t go there.

Our one disappointment were the fried deviled eggs, which was a risk to begin with, that tasted better once you peeled off all of the fried and just ate it like a normal egg. Though, I have high hopes for the fried pickle chips next time we go.

577 Union Ave between N 10th and N 11th

Chimu

Chimu is an excellent little Peruvian restaurant right off the BQE in Williamsburg.  Each course of the meal was great and we will definitely be going back for more.  For an appetizer we had a delicious avocado stuffed with shrimp salad.  I went with the lomo saltado for an entree.  It was excellent.  A Peruvian/Asian stir fry dish containing steak, potatoes, onions and tomatoes served over white rice.  Karyssa had spaghetti in a basil and Spanish cheese sauce topped with a grilled steak.  It was really tasty and not what I would have expected to find at a Peruvian restaurant.

The presentation of the food is amazing and watching neigboring tables be served their plates is a great way to discover new things on the menu.  The portions are large and the prices quite reasonable.  The service was good and I believe the owner or manager is present many times helping out around the restaurant.  He easily sold me on the special of the day; a delicious tres leches dessert.