Posts tagged ‘Restaurant’

February 2, 2011

New York: Oriental Gardens

Oriental Gardens

14 Elizabeth St
(between Bayard St & Canal St)
New York, NY 10013
Neighborhood: Chinatown

One of the greatest finds from our short New York visit was “Oriental Gardens” in China Town. I guess it was one of the most interesting experiences in the city. Since I moved from Sydney, I never really could find a restaurant anywhere else, which serves yum cha, or pretty much “dumplings on the trolley”. Or even just dumplings for that matter. I found some places in London, but they didn`t really make a good impression. But here in New York, yum cha was called “lunch” good lunch to be honest, I can`t wait to go back and have even more dumplings!

We found the restaurant by pure luck, and with a little Zagat help. Wandering around in China Town we were a bit lost. Shall we eat here or there? Everything looked good or interesting. And I was a bit afraid we going to miss out something really good. The choise went to Oriental Gardens, the price range noted in the book and the review was pretty good, and we were only a block away. The fact that we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table was a bit uncomfortable but very exciting at the same time. The place was PACKED, and packed is good, meaning the food is good! So if you visit you have to be very lucky to be seated straight away, and get ready to possibly share your table with somebody else. Which actually doesn`t bothert me, this way you can meet some interesting people!

So, the food. Waitresses were walking around serving chinese dumplings finest, like spring rolls, and bbq pork bun, and steamed chicken dumplings and many many fried goods. If you didn`t like that selection, or just had a few things in mind, you could ick from a very long list of dumplings, noodles, soups from the menu. We said yes to almost everything, and ended up eating a lot, but I knew im not going to see much dumpling for a while, so no guilty feeling there!

The dumplings were nice, my favourite of all time are bbq pork buns. I’m crazy for them. There were 2 things I really disliked, but at some point I expected it! The mini prawns!!!! In everything!!! You order chicken, there prawns in it! Pork..the same! And I don`t eat seafood, so it was a bit annoying, trying to dig them out with a chopstick! The other thing, the hot and sour soup was really disappointing! It was just pure hot and tasteless. Try and avoid it! But finally I had steamed pok choi again! One of my favourite vegetables, which are sometimes very hard to get a hand on in Europe.

If you are in China Town, visit Oriental Gardens, I highly recommend it!

January 24, 2011

New York: Les Halles Review

Les Halles Downtown
15 John Street (off Broadway)
New York, NY 10038
212-285-8585 phone, 212-791-3280 fax

Yes I`m one of those who admire Anthony Bourdain. It`s not because I`m a chef and I idolize him, or because I have to like him because it’s a written law..No I like him because he is cool and honest. Anyway this post is not about Anthony Bourdain, it’s about Les Halles, who is already “Long gone” if I want to quote ZAGAT`s 2011 review!  Still, there`s no Les halles without Bourdain, he is the reason foodies all over the world get excited even by just mentioning the name. It’s a little bit like mentioning Ferra Adrian or El Bulli, but a bit more realistic and affordable way.  The brasseries cookbook is available almost all over the world, written of course by “you know who”, and has recipes in it, which you can still order from the menu. Yes i do own the book…cooked from it? To be honest not yet, but planning, cos even the most simplest things like, tomato salad and french fries has a new level of approach in it.   So yes, I couldn`t wait, to finally dine at the famous Les Halles and taste the fries!

Of course not only the fries, to be honest if I had the capability ive would have eaten the whole menu, but I couldn`t even finish my own 2 portions.  Note to self the american “bigger portion” is different from all over the world, by translation it would be like “It’s a bigger portion” meaning”it is massive”!

Its January, the snow storm CNN was talking about has arrived. It is as big as it managed to clear the streets of Manhattan from people, and everybody decided to stay in. Well, almost everyone. As we arrive to Les Halles to out pretty late dinner reservation, something unexpected happens…the restaurant is empty! The weather is just as cold as it managed to freeze the citizens appetite and leave most places empty. Well,  crowd or no crowd we are eating here tonight! As for the service, it was pretty good, fast, and polite.  Hoping it is about the same when the place is full of costumers.  The menus are the same that were on the website no changes there, also there are not much specials tonight so we already pretty much know what we are going to eat.  The appetizers are home made terrine, and toasted brie with honey and black pepper. We get them in no time, but im not really impressed. Also I don’t know what I really expected? So the most simplest foods if they are done in Les Halles are going to taste and look different? Well, they don`t, and they didn`t. The presentation was a bit boring, as the taste was alright, but, I expected a bit more, a twist or a secret ingredient. The terrine might have been a bit of work, but the toasted brie wasn`t anything more, what an unexperienced cook couldn`t make at home.

For main course I decided to be a bit more adventurous so, i picked the raw meat and the raw egg. Yes I had a beef tartare, which is a bit of a risky order, but I figured it is a Tuesday, the stock must be fresh, it is made at the table and we have to live an adventurous life, so I went for it!. The portion was quite big, it was made at my table, but the ingredients for me were a bit surprising. As so far, from my dad (who is a chef for 30 years now) I only saw the mustard-butter-egg-salt-pepper-onion version for the mix. Here instead, were some capers, and tabasco, parsley, among the onion and mustard, it was nice, actually it was more then nice, it was indeed very tasty! It came with the famous thin and crispy fries, and side salad. The meat had a beautiful pink-red colour even long after the mix, and very fresh taste. I couldnt stop ordering bread for the tartar ( we eat it with toast, hungarian is a funny nation). It was a good choice, I didn`t have tartare for a long time. My dinner partner had “Choucroute Garnie” which might sound french, indeed it is a very German selection. It is a very typical german meal, which is the favourite among tourists at the Xmas markets. It’s a Frankfurter, a white sausage, a slice of smoked pork loin, and sour cabbage aka. “sauerkraut”. You can like or hate this dish, I guess there’s absolutely no fantasy in it, and you don`t need to b a good chef to prepare it.  Of course he got a pretty big portion from, it, as much i tried to warn him, he didn`t listen to me.  Later he admitted, he should have taken the tuna, as much heavy the meal was, it wasn`t too tasty.  Of course there was no room for dessert.

It was a nice dinner, but I’ve been missing something. Maybe more people in the restaurant, and a bit more twists in the food, or just maybe a unique taste. Maybe this is what happens when you raise the bar too high, and forget why You went there on the first place.

August 10, 2010

Budapest Restaurant: Vakvarju review.

Vakvarju Restaurant

Budapest, Paulay Ede street 7.

VI. district,

(There are 2 other locations in the city, You can find them on the website)

The blind crow funny or weird name for a joint, but it is worth trying it. Especially if you want to taste some good quality Hungarian food while visiting/living here. It`s located close Deak ter/Andrassy street, so very close to popular meeting points and tourist attractions, in Paulay Ede street. Vakvarju is the old slang name for a very simple dish which is like the all time favourite langos (fried dough) but it`s furnace baked little brother, which some people just call “The Hungarian Pizza”. If You out and about in the city and see some fairs or markets, you can easily run in to this dish, it`s pretty much the first time I see it on a restaurants menu.  But of course Vakvarju has lot more to offer!

The place is very casual the staff is very friendly. The design, well it is interesting. You can sit on a vespa at the bar, or punch someone in the male know, it`s completely up to you! By the way..the bathroom. The place is trying to get in the Guinness Book of records by collecting toilet signs from all around the world. If you bring them one, trust me it will be rewarding!:)

So, the food:

It was fantastic! Filling, tasty, interesting and the best about it cheap! I mean some places in the city which provide same or oven less service or quality food have this thing to over-prise their dishes. Vakvarju doesn`t do that. It`s very affordable, and nice quality food. They also do lunch deals as well, so for less than 1000Ft you can treat yourself with a 2 course meal.

We had pickle cream soup, with salmon. Oh dear it was fantastic. This cold and sour soup, was a real surprise. My forest mushroom-cappuccino soup was even better. Rich and creamy, it was gone in seconds really.  Also this pickle soup is very much trending among Budapest restaurants at the moment, as well among bloggers. No wonder as its easy and cheap to make, and it sounds interesting enough to attract foodie costumers.

The main dishes were very nice as well. Some of us had pullet in a parmesan jacket with spinach pasta. And it was a massive portion, we had to ask help from the male friends to finish it. Some of us had rose duck breast with cabbage pasta and pears. Or traditional pork hock “pekne style”- garlic and beer overdose. Or steak with liver filled cannelloni pasta. (it`s easy to tell tho that the chef likes his Italian influence). I have to admit there was no room for dessert. To be honest you can`t really go wrong with the orders. Thou none of us has ordered a “vakvarju” but some people confirmed those were delicious as well.

If you are in Budapest, try it, it`s really worth it!

July 27, 2010

Birmingham: Ikon Gallery/Tapas bar review

1 Oozells Square

Brindleyplace,Birmingham, B1 2HS

+44 (0) 121 248 0708

I`ve been living in Birmingham for a couple of months before I noticed, that the Ikon Gallery, located in the heart of Brindleyplace and it has a Tapas bar. Strangly it wasnt advertised, and to be honest I didnt see many people dining there. In a city like Birmingham, where restaurant and pub-chains grow in every corner, its very pleasent to find a gem like the Ikon Gallery.

I have to admit Im a big fan of tapas food, but other then some restaurant chains, I didnt see much culture of these nice spanish foods in the city. The chains can be nice as well, but the ones in the city didnt really convince me to go back for meals. I may have ordered thye wrong things, but everything tasted exactly the same.

So, one night, I was reading the “Birmingham eats” venue page about the presenters, when i saw the Ikon Gallery. I was a bit surprised of course, and googled their menu straight away. Not only they are doing tapas, but the price is very much reasonable as well, with a very nice express lunch offer.  So one sunny sunday afternoon I went to check it out.

Very nice location, in the middle of Brindleyplace (trendy entertainment area in the city), at the beautiful Oozells Square, where, if we go around april, can be covered in 1000`s of falling cherry blossoms. The citys some famous restaurants are located here as well. The weather is surprisingly nice and sunny.Im sitting outside with my laptop (not really the date i was hoping for, but hey) the cafe also has free wi-fi, which is pretty rare in this city. I have to admit, theres no crowd, but the place is not empty. By the service I can tell the people dining there are very much regular. The wait staff is nice.  Im ordering Patatas Bravas, Chorrizo Pathe, and Chicken liver with dried plums. The pathe is there in no time, with some fresh bread, compering to how much it costs is a pretty big porsion. It tastes lovely, im a big fan of spicy food.  Now im thinking, i might strugle a littlebit with finishing my meal, if everything is going to be so hearty and big. Then comes the Patatas Bravas (Thick chips, with spicy tomato sauce) . The tomato sauce is a big surprise. Its very well seasoned and theres plenty of it on the potatoes. So far everything is very deleicious. Finally the chicken liver,  for a hungarian like me is a rare treasure to find liver on the menu in England, which is not pathe or parfait. Its nice and saucy, plenty of liver, it tastes perfect with the sweetness of the plums.

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For all of this with a drink i payed about 13 Pounds, i think thats a really good deal. They have a tapas selection for an express lunch for 7.95, choice of 3 tapas, thats also good to know. If its nice weather is a perfect spot for a date, or just to hang out to read the newspaper, or to have a chat with friends. They have live music on tuesday nights, where the musician plays gypsy and flamenco music, check out their venue page. If You are in Birmingham, its a must try!

July 26, 2010

London restaurants: Bocca di Lupo, Soho

Bocca Di lupo

12 Archer street, London,  WID7BB, T: +4402077342223

Its strange how England isn`t infamous about its food (or pretty much known how bad it is) its also known about their celebrity chefs, and World known restaurants. But even in London, where are foood shops, cafes, bistros and restaurants on every step, we need to look around where we eat, and how much we are willing to pay for it.

Couple of month ago, while reading Jamie Oliver`s magazine, I discovered a restaurat called Bocca di Lupo. The article went on and on about the regional Italian cusine, and how fantastic that they also offer the famous, supplis, and other well know fried goods from italian panetterias and cafe`s. Then I realised, even tho there are so many italain shops, restaurants, bars around here, i havent seen these kind of offers anywhere in England.  The place is located in the heart of Soho-where I have this habbit to get lost frequently, its nice to wonder around there with a known destination.

So, italian restaurant, mostly italian staff as well. The inner design is posh and fabulous. Its tuesday night and jam packed, we can only take a seat at the bar. The wait staff is friendly and casual, they are all busy, but smiling and having fun. We dont mind the bar, at least we can see the chefs in action at the very much open kitchen. Theres complimentary olives and freshly baked bread, so the dinner starts with a very good kick.

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We pick a selection of starters for share from the fried goods. We pick the suppli (fried cheesy rice), deep fried bocconcini and fried artichoke. They are nice but bough of us had better before. The suppli is a bit dry, but its nicely seasoned. The artichoke looks funky but the tastes more like oil. The coat on the cheese is a bit thick, not letting to melt the bocconcini inside. Comparing to the simplicity of these starters its also a bit overprised for my taste. Meanwhile we ordered a glass of house rose and a bellini. The service is very fast, the rose is nice and dry, the cocktail is perfect as well. Looking at the menu we find some very authentic regional dishes, also what we really liked is, that they noted where in which region these meals are popular, or where they are originated from. An other advantage of sitting at the bar is, that we have a nice view on the dishes, which help us picking the perfect meal.

As main, my boyfriend orders pork and foie gras sausage, with spinach on the side. Im having tomato and pine nut tortelli. Theres nothing better then fresh hand made pasta. The sauce is nicely seasoned as well.  From some of the dishes the guests can order a smaller or bigger portion. Im having a small pasta as i would like to try some dessert as well. To be perfectly honest, i wasnt too impressed by the sausage as i couldnt really taste the foie gras. But the spinach was a big suprise. It was cold! It was fantastic! And the lemony sour taste made it even more perfect.

If You are dining at Bocca di lupo, the Canolli for dessert is a must try. An authentic sicillian sweet, with ricotta and pistachios. Its easy to tell its many costumers favourite, by the amount they sold in an hour.

The restaurant was a nice experience, its a bit pricy, but if you are a foody, its a shame not to try it. Our bill was about 80 Pounds, for 2 main courses, a starter selection a dessert, 2 house roses, 1 cocktail and 2 bottles of mineral water. I would advice for a reservation!

July 23, 2010

Budapest: Menza Restaurant

1061 Budapest, Liszt Ferenc ter 2. +3614131482

Since a couple of years now, Im a big fan of The Menza restaurant, which is located next to Andrassy street- fashion and cultural center of Budapest. It was always hipp and trendy, Young hungarians and also the foregniers living here liked to hand out at this restaurant, which had a very much decent menu, with decent price and nice service.  I was never dissapointed, only nowdays its better to have a reservation, You cant just walk in and aspect a table, this only shows the popularity of the place anyway. But in the last couple of months something happaned. Few of my friends, who were having lunch there frequently started complaining and moaning, about how bad the food was, and etc etc. I thought im going to check this out for myself, and i managed to dine there twice in a row this week for lunch.

The experience:

First, its a tuesday, with a friend of mine around 1 pm, the place is semi-full, there are only tables inside we dont mind. The service is tip-top they pick up our drink orders everything is going smoothly.  My friend is picking a meal from the lunch offer menu, im having a spring vegetable cannelloni. I picked that as not too many places in the city (even italian ones) have it on their plate so i thought i give it a go.

The soup my frined ordered was nice, a bit too watery but nice (potato and sausage soup). The main, “hentes tokany” with pasta. Tokany-is also a hungarian speciality again i coud say out somewhere between a stew and a ragout. This one looks decent, tastes decent, but its really not my cup of tea, neither my friends. This one is a bit sour made out of pork, ham, and gherkins. Dont get me wrong some poeple love it. He struggles but eats it, but i warned him before he ordered.  And, my cannelloni, which was nothing like a cannelloni. I very much think it was made out of lasagna sheets, also it was very very oily. The taste was so-so, but the spring vegetables in it, more or less reminded me on the ready cut vegetable mix ones can by frozen is supermarkets. Big dissapointment to be honest, also it wasnt a good choice on my side as well as its about 35C outside, and the dish is increadibly warm as well. Anyway, we decide to come back tomorrow for an other test run and to try the lunch, which sounds very promising.

Wednesday, 1pm again, four of us this time. No tables at all and people are already on the waiting list inside. The girl at the door tells us we can take the corner table outside, but its right at the sun, or we can wait a littlebi. We take the table. The drink orders take a bit more time today and some waiters are just helplessly running around, trying to deal with the crowd. Theres no more lunch offer! At 1pm! I find that unacceptable. Not even an alternative choice for that prise. One of my friend backs off from eating there, as he had way too many dissapointing moments nowdays, im ordering a goose-lover pathe with vegetables, i figure if yesterday the warm food didnt do well, some cold will be better.  Theres alos a cold fruit soup order and a “Hagymas rostelyos”-also hungarian specialit which incoled beef stake, fried onions, brown sauce and potatoe wedges. The overall experience this time is nice, everything tastes good. The pate is a decent portion with enough bread and vegetables. Also its lot better to eat that in this heat then a complete meal.  My friends “rostelyos” is massive, and he likes it. I had that once there myslef and it tastted fantastic, also, then it was winter.

So thankfully, the food we got was nice, but Menza puts a lot of pressure on the costumers now. Will there be lunch deal? My food is going to be cooked? Is it going to taste nice?-these questions never came up before. Hopefully everything will go back to normal soon,till then im keeping an eye on them!

July 21, 2010

Budapest: Manga Cowboy

We are on Raday street, in Budapest, famous restaurant-pub-entertainment street in the heart of the city, close to universities and major attractions. There are restaurants right next to each other, also Budapet’s very first Michelin star restaurant-“Costes”. Also there are places in all kinds of price range, also providing daily lunch offers. With a friend of mine we picked Manga Cowboy (Raday street 33), to be honest only because of the name, i was wondering how they manage to infuse these 2 completely different kind of style and culture.

To be honest, the eastern part of the deal only appears in the name, and maybe in the wasabi-mayo, also the items listed on the menu, have “funny” and “cute” japanese names. Pretty much thats it. The decoration inside also reminds us the western world. On their website I find out, they would like to infuse hungarian-asian-american influencial cuisine. That sound interesting, also very dangerous. Because in this case they not only have to master 1 but 3 completely different and unique kitchens. And yes, many things can go wrong. Their menu is more or less american, with its cesar salad, burgers, and big sandwiches. Me, I dont mind burgers, if they are good, not necessarily thinking about fast food chain products. The burger itself can be hard to master, if we dont want to serv something dry and over-cooked for our costumers. And the creativity comes with the filling which can be anything from tomato to peanut-butter.

Also good to know about Manga Cowboy, they have all day breakfast, they have bagel which is very rare in this city. Also they have stand-up comedy night, also sometimes english stand-up as well.  They do lunch time offers, 5 days a week, and we can pay with ticket restaurant vouchers as well!

Our lunch:

Well the place started with some hickups, while i was waiting for my friend, i didnt even had a chance to look at a menu or a drink-list, for about 10 minutes nobody really cared if im ordering or not. In this heath i could have really used a bottle of water to be honest. Thankfully things speed up after my friend arrives. She is having a lunch deal, im having a burger. The lunch time offers are actually pretty good, the costumers can either choose from a soup-main or main-dessert variation, from 2 different mains a day. The price-range is very friendly as well, around 800Ft-s with a drink, which is about 3 euros.  There are also more asian and hungarian dishes on the menu, everything from the very traditional to the more creative.

The soup she is having (spring vegetable) is pretty nice, she gets it withing 3 minutes. The main “tokfozelek”-(fozelek is a traditional hungarian dish, made out of vegetables it can be anything from cabbage, potatoe, or in this case pumpkin. Its hard to find an english example for it, the best i can come up with is stew, but still, its nothing like a stew). Anyway, the tokfozelek, is a pretty nice portion with 2 meatloafs, very tasty as well. My burger comes with chips and coleslaw salad. It looks like a decent burger, nothing extra nothing new, with tomato-onion-gherkin-cheese filling. The loaf is a bit raw inside, but still edible. Costs 1800Ft-6,50 euros. Its nice and filling, theres not much more i can say about a simple burger to be honest. Our waitress is nice, so i dont really have problens with the service.

Manga Cowboy could develop a bit more, but if they serve decent good priced food im very sure will survive on the market. If im in the area, will very sure use it for lunch..or maybe stand up comedy?

Budapest, Raday utca, ettermek erik egymast mindections. n meteren. Mi, egy baratnommel a Manga Cowboyt valasztottuk. Igazabol tetszett a neve es kivancsi voltam, hogy ezt a ket egeszen eltero stilust, hogyan tudjak osszehozni.

A keleti oldala a dolognak, igazabol csak minimalisan jelenik meg az etelek kozott, esetleg leves vagy wasabi-majonez formajaban. Ilettve a legtobb etelnek “vicces” japan neve van. Ennyi. Belul a dekoracio is, a tehenmintas falakkal inkabb emlekeztetik a vadnyugatot. Honlapjukon megtudom, hogy az azsiai, amerikai, es magyar konyhat szeretnek otvozni. Ez szerintem eleg veszelyes probalkozas, mert mar rogton 3 teljesen eltero kulturat kell igen makas fokon uzni, illetve a vendegeknek talalni. Az etlapjuk tulnyomo reszt amerikai, szendvicses-burgeres-salatas. Igaz, en nagy kedveloje vagyok a hamburgereknek, is ilyenkor nem feltetlenul kell a gyorsettermi-lancok termekeire gondolni. A huspogacsa elkeszitese amugy igen nehez dolog, foleg azert, hogy ne egy szaraz, odaegett husdarabot adjunk a vendeg ele. A toltelek pedig a paradicsomtol a hummus-ig barmi lehet, szoval gondoltam ezt ki is probalom.

Tudni kell meg a Manga Cowboyrol, hogy egesz napos reggelit kinal, ami kozott szerepel a bagel-is. Ez mar kis hazankban eleg ritka, tobb ceg probalkozott mar a bagel-ek arusitasaval, de valahogy senkinek se jott ossze. Elo angol vagy magyar stand-up comedy esteket tartanak, illetve ebedkor menujuk is van (inkabb ezekben jelenik meg jobban a magyaros, es az azsiai vonal), illetve ebedjegyeket is elfogadnak fizetes gyanant.

Az ebedunk:

Nem egy jo pontal inditott szamomra a hely. Mig a baratnomre vartam, nem lattam se etlapot vagy itallapot, senki nem kerdezte meg,, hogy szeretnek e valamit. Igazabol ha nem lett volna ilyen meleg, vagy nem lettem volna ennyire szomjas talan meg nem zavart volna. A pincerek picit elfoglaltak, de igazabol korulottem mar mindenki megkapta az ebedjet, es nem mondanam, hogy nagy tomeget kellett volna kiszolgalniuk. Addig a menu ajanlatot bongeszem. Egesz korrekt, naponta valtozo, arban teljesen megfelelo. A leves-foetel-desszert triot lehet parisotani, napi ket fajta foetel kozul. Amin a palacsinta, vagy brownie, vagy a fozelek, es a brassoi ugyanugy helyet kap a Tom Yum leves mellett.

Miutan mar ketten vagyunk szerencsere felgyorsulnak az esemenyek, baratnom menut valaszt, a levest szinte azonnal megkapja. Szeretnem hozza tenni, hogyha kint foglalunk helyet, az asztalok nem a legidealisabbak a designos tanyerhoz es konnyen az olunkbe borulhat az egesz. A leves amugy finom. En hamburgert valasztottam, ami 1700 Ft, sultkrumpli es coleslaw salata jar hozza. Igazabol, semmi kulonos, de finom. Szerencsere sok zoldseg van benne, amugy a pogacsa, kivulrol picit egett, belulrol egy picit rozsaszin, de meg az “eheto-nyers” kategoriaba tartozik. A tokfozelek, egesz nagy adag, es az is es a hozza jaro 2 fasirt is nagyon finom! A menu araban szerepel meg egy pohar udito vagy kave, amit en egesz korrekt ajanlatnak tartok, keves helyen kinalnak ilyet. A pincernonk, aranyos, kedves, a kezdeti nehezsegek ellenere, kellemeset csalodtam a kiszolgalasban

A manga Cowboy jol vizsgazott, bar van min fejlodniuk, de igazabol az alacsony araik mellett nem nagyon szamitottam masra. Ha ismetelten a Raday utcaban jarok, valoszinu, hogy oket fogom valasztani ebedre!