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

No. 28 Pizza from Naples

I visited Numero 28 in the West Village this week, and I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.  Mostly because on my pizza quest I’ve come to accept that the only places worth visiting have at least an hour wait if you get there past 6:30.  This place, maybe because there’s more than one location, seated us immediately.  I’ll admit it, I was pleasantly surprised.  We tried the Margherita Reginella Pizza, and it was definitely comparable to the other pizza quest contenders (Keste still being my favorite).   We also had pesto spaghetti, and also delicious, was just a plate of spaghetti in a thin coat of pesto, so I’m glad we ordered the pizza to share for some variety.

28 Carmine Street, btwn Bleeker and Bedford

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

Café Condesa

photo from http://www.snackish.com

We’ve been here a couple of times for brunch, and I always leave pleased.  The brunch is pretty reasonably priced, and though the portions can run a little small depending on what you order, it’s always good and the coffee is excellent.  It’s pretty tiny but there’s rarely a wait for brunch, I think it’s better known for its dinner.  The huevos rancheros have been one of my favorites, and the home fries are so good, I wish they’d put more than 4 on my plate.

West 10th St and 7th Ave

The New French

Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a French restaurant. It’s more of a mix of different cuisines found in New York- pho, barbeque, Italian and, ok, a little French. The waitress was really nice and the prices weren’t too bad, but the pulled pork sandwich came so soggy I had to quit half way through, and wasn’t really worth going at it with a fork and knife. Though, Chris ordered some kind of brisket sandwich that was pretty tasty. I’d like to give this place the benefit of the doubt- it seems to get a lot of really positive reviews online, and I really shouldn’t have ordered pulled pork since I’m a complete barbeque snob. On the whole though, I wouldn’t say it’s worth traveling to if you’re not already in the neighborhood.

522 Hudson Street

Otto

Of Mario Batali’s restaurants, this one is probably the most reasonably priced. We ordered 3 different pizzas, 3 different pastas and a cheese plate and everything was delicious, my favorites being the clam pizza and the Spaghetti alla carbonara. We finished off our meal with Guinness, Pistachio and Olive Oil Gelato, all of which were also surprisingly tasty (Guinness, who knew?). Service, not so great but the food and ridiculously extensive wine list completely made me forget about our waitress being annoyed by our very existence.

Actually though, my favorite part of the whole experience was that instead of writing down your name they give you an Italian city name, and then they post your city on a full size train station arrivals flip board when your table’s ready. It’s mesmerizing. It gets pretty crowded, so I would suggest making reservations.

1 5th Ave (actually on 8th street) , Manhattan