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Just A Guy That Loves Food

Fred’s at Barneys - Lunch on the Upper East Side on a Friday in August 2013

Fred’s at Barneys – New York, NY

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Food: American

http://www.barneys.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-BNY-Site/default/Freds-Start

  • Overall: 5.0 vs. restaurants priced $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Ok.
  • Food: Ok.
  • Service: Needs Improvement.
  • Wine/Drinks: n/a.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: Fred’s just isn’t my kind of place. There are too many other great places to visit in NYC before spending your time and money at Fred’s. Having said that, it is convenient if you are shopping at Barneys given it’s located on the 9th floor at Barneys on the Upper East Side. If you want to potential run into a socialite, then Fred’s is your spot. Or, if you’re looking for an “Upper-East-Side-Ladies-Luncheon” dwelling then this is your place. If not, stay away. The women here like their Pinot Grigio and get louder the more it flows. If you’re male and in your 30s, watch out; the cougars can get aggressive after a few bottles. It’s pretentious and feels “Upper East Side”.

Ambiance: Great interior for a brunch/lunch. If you are attending Fred’s for lunch, you’ll notice how bright the restaurant is, the light flows in, reflecting off of the cream colored table and light chairs. Or maybe that was the reflection off the Chardonnay?

Food: I didn’t really flex the chef’s muscles…I only had the chopped salad, which was tasty and of decent size.

Service: The hosts at the entrance set the tone for a restaurant and refusing a customer that would like to sit by continually reciting in a sharp and rude tone, “we don’t seat incomplete parties and you must wait” is just not how one wants to be greeted. So I had to stand, right in front of the host, just waiting for my guest. Having perused other reviews, I am amazed at how many customers, myself included, note how rude the hostesses are. Mr. Fred – maybe a time for a personnel change?

Wine/Drinks: I didn’t have anything and although I should have viewed the list, I didn’t.

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

EN Japanese Brasserie – Dinner in the West Village on a Sunday in July 2013

EN Japanese Brasserie, New York, NY

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Food: Japanese

http://www.enjb.com

  • Overall: 6.7 vs. restaurants priced at $$$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Very Good.
  • Service: Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Exceptional.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: En Japanese Brasserie is a very good restaurant, one that I’d recommend to someone that loves sushi and is looking for a “cooler” vibe than a traditional Japanese restaurant can offer. Chef Abe Hiroki offers a modern approach, not only offering traditional sushi but also cooked dishes: Saikyo Miso Black Cod, and Washugyu steak. It’s a fine restaurant; jut not a must-visit restaurant, in my opinion given how expensive it is.

Ambiance: The interior is dark, large and cavernous; I like the vibe. I am a stickler for detail and there is one that I would have thought that given the price point, management would have gotten right. The seat level of the benches are significantly higher than the seat heights of the chairs. So, typically the woman sits on the inside on the bench, then she towers over the man joining her. A little detail, but one worth fixing. Also, although I am tall (6’2”), I am not gigantic so chairs and tables should fit me. I was disappointed that I was unable to sit at the table without my knees lifting up the table. Yes, En has short table legs.

Food: Top notch and you really can’t go wrong. But, be prepared for a hefty bill. Everything is expensive. 

Service: Gets the job done. Can’t complain, but also can’t rave about it.

Drinks: - There are very good options for wine by the bottle and by the glass and excellent options for sake. En does Saki really well offering an extensive list of small-batch, artisanal sake and shochu. If that’s what you are looking for, En is definitely worthy of a visit. 

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

Malatesta - Dinner in the West Village on a Friday in August 2013

Malatesta, New York, NY

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Food: Italian

http://www.malatestatrattoria.com

  • Overall: 6.9 vs. restaurants priced at $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Very Good.
  • Service: Very Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: Located on the West Village’s bustling summertime corner of Washington and Christopher, Malatesta is a true Italian trattatoria. It almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time, in to an Italian kitchen in the countryside. Every server is native Italian, so you can expect “buonna serra” in a thick Italian accent coming at you. The food is very simple, very tasty and reasonably priced (more like a $$½ out of 5). Malatesta is best in the warmer months when you can sit outside and people watch. There are no reservations, so try to arrive early; by 7pm there will be a long wait. Bring cash with you because no credit cards are accepted. There is an ATM next door if you need it.

Ambiance: Malatesta is very small, but in the summertime, the side doors open up and its tables sprawl out onto the city sidewalk. The tables are wooden, the chairs are tiny, and there are no table clothes here. Be prepared to take in some bizarre sites as the crowd spilling out of the Christopher Street PATH train trots, saunters, parades and sashays by your outdoor table to the Christopher Street pier. 

Food: The pastas are very good, however on this night I opted for protein. To start off I had the grilled calamari, which is plentiful – the portion size is incredibly large. I love how they grill the calamari rather than fry it. The wood fired grill gives it a smoky flavor. The chicken cutlet with arugula and tomatoes finished with olive oil is incredible. The chicken is pounded thin and lightly breaded. On this night, there was a sea bass special that was very tasty. The caprese salad is good, however the mozzarella could be moister.

Service: The staff is laid back, attractive, and it seems are all recently off the boat straight from Italy. You can’t find a waiter without a thick Italian accent, which adds to the authenticity of Malatesta.

Wine/Drinks: The wine list is fairly limited and not extensive but that’s to be expected given the price points. The wine options were selected to accompany your meal, not to be scrutinized as a stand-alone wine. If you are looking for great wine to eat with dinner you’ll have to go elsewhere.

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

L’Artusi – Dinner in the West Village on a Monday in August 2013

L’Artusi, New York, NY

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Food: Italian

http://www.lartusi.com

  • Overall: 7.5 vs. restaurants priced at $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Very Good.
  • Service: Very Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Exceptional.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: L’Artusi is a great spot to bring family or friends. The food is always impressive and the service is spot on.

Ambiance: Located in the heart of the West Village on West 10th between Hudson and Bleecker, L’Artusi has become my neighborhood go-to eatery. It’s not easy to find, look for the Gratamacco wooden wine box adorning the outer wall facing the street. The restaurant has an upstairs and downstairs, which each has its own vibe. Being next to the bar, the downstairs tends to be a little livelier. L’Artusi is another West Village establishment with an open kitchen – soak up the energy spilling out in to the dining room. If dining in the summer before the sun goes down, I’d suggest eating upstairs where the large skylight allows the natural light to fill the corners of the room. Be aware that when the upstairs is full, the acoustics can make for a loud dining experience; so if you have a “quiet-talker’ in your party, avoid sitting upstairs otherwise you’ll be saying “what” / “pardon” all night. The private room is also upstairs and is encircled by L’Artusi’s wine cellar. Because the upstairs dining room is loud, and the private room is only separated by sliding doors, it’s not the best private room to host a dinner where you need to hear a speaker.

Food: There are so many great dishes to try it’s hard to do it in just one night…you’ll have to come back for seconds and thirds. The menu is broken down into Crudo, Verdura, Pasta, Pesce and Carne. If you are a twosome, I’d suggest five to six dishes in total.To start, I’d recommend the Hamachi tartar with grapes and almonds infused with white gazpacho and the roasted mushrooms with pancetta, a perfect fried egg and ricotta salata. There is also a dish that I don’t see on their menu that is a must try – ask the server about the ricotta cheese, it’s incredible. My favorite pasta is the orecchiette with sausage, salumi, and pecorino. For meat, I love the hanger steak with crispy potatoes, salsa bianco and the braised short rib served with parmesan polenta. For fish, my favorites are charred octopus and the bass, both of which are served with pancetta. For sides, you gotta get the brussels sprouts. These ‘ain’t’ your momma’s brussels sprouts.

Service: L’Artusi never fails to deliver. From Matt or Catherine, the sommeliers, to Amelia who runs private dining, to Heather the GM, the service is always incredible. I live in the neighborhood and the staff goes out of its way to give me a local’s experience.

Wine/Drinks: L’Artusi has an incredible wine list. I really enjoy the way the wine director has formatted it. L’Artusi is focused on Italian wines and the wines are broken down by Italian region, with the map included. There is a great selection of wines from all price points. I’d suggest asking to speak to the sommelier who will help you make a great selection.

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

S.Y. Kitchen - Dinner in Santa Ynez (Santa Barbara wine country) on a Saturday in July 2013

S.Y. Kitchen, Santa Ynez, CA

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Food: Italian

www.sykitchen.com/index.htm

  • Overall: 6.8/10 vs. restaurants priced $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Good.
  • Food: Good.
  • Service: Very Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Very Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: I suggest trying out S.Y. Kitchen, but keep your expectations reasonable. Having opened in April of 2013, there are numerous reviews highlight how S.Y. Kitchen is bringing Los Angeles to Santa Ynez. The restaurant has a nice country charm to it, but I don’t see the grittiness that would be typical of an LA establishment. There is a “farm to table” feel, it’s not pretentious, not fancy, and definitely not chic or trendy. The food and the service make the experience an enjoyable one. There are some things to be aware of though.

Ambiance: There are essentially three dining rooms, 1) the front room with the bar is very plain and has a homey feel to it, 2) an enclosed deck, and 3) a back room that could be used for a somewhat private party. The restaurant has the right amount of country style married with modern decor. I can’t speak to all of the rooms but you should be aware that the enclosed deck is extremely loud when the room is full. If I recall, the ceiling is made of tin and the noise bounces off the interior very easily. Also, at night, the enclosed deck area can be quite cold so you might need to ask the server to turn on a nearby heat lamp.

Food: S.Y. Kitchen feels like a “farm to table” restaurant. For those Paleo goers, instead of bringing bread to the table, they had fresh cut veggies in ice water, which was a unique touch. The artichoke soup was ok - I think you have to really love artichoke for it to really blow you away. The prosciutto di Parma with melon was incredible.

Service: The staff is very accommodating and they come with legit, thick Italian accents giving S.Y. Kitchen the air of authenticity.

 Wine/Drinks: Good overall selection of wines by the glass, by the bottle, and a varied choice of cocktails as well. Given the restaurant’s Italian roots, the wines are centered on Italian wines but it also has a great selection of Santa Barbara and Napa wines.

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

Altamirano’s Taqueria The Hidden Dolphin – Lunch in Santa Barbara on a Thursday in July 2013 

Altamirano’s Taqueria The Hidden Dolphin, Santa Barbara, CA

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Food: Mexican Taqueria

No website

  • Overall: 9.6 vs. restaurants priced $/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Exceptional.
  • Service: Exceptional.
  • Wine/Drinks: Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: I was extremely impressed. Located in the industrial or “Funk Zone” of Santa Barbara, Altamiro’s Taqaquira is a great spot to hit while you’re doing the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. Nothing goes down better with 10 glasses Santa Barbara wine than 10 tacos. I highly recommend it.

Ambiance: It’s a true taquaria and it’s priced at $/5 ($1.75/taco), so you shouldn’t be expecting much in terms of ambiance. It’s run by a husband, wife, son and daughter team and their smiles will fill up your soul.

Food: Tacos are $1.75 each and I had 12 of them: asada, pollo, fish, carnitas, rajas, barbacoa and all pastor (my favorite). They’re made right there in front of you and the corn tortillas are incredible.

Service: Like I said, the smiles will fill up your soul.

Drinks: They have some unique Mexican beverages, water and Diet Coke. Once again, it’s a taqueria so don’t expect too much.

Eat well my friends,

 - Just A Guy That Loves Food. 

Bear Flag – Lunch in Newport Beach on a Wednesday in July 2013

Bear Flag, Newport Beach, CA

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Food: Seafood

http://newport.bearflagfishco.com

  • Overall: 9.4 vs. restaurants priced $$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Exceptional.
  • Service: Very Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: A seafood wonderland, Bear Flag is a fish market but you can dine there also. I highly recommend it for a healthy, tasty lunch. Owner Thomas Carson grew up working on his father’s fishing boat and he’s brought that knowledge of the sea and his love for the grill to Newport Beach.

Ambiance: Relaxed, chill, California cool. There are a couple of locations, I was at the one on the Newport Coast, and it’s in a shopping mall. Bear Flag started in 2007 and is essentially a fish market where you can order lunch/dinner. They focus on healthy seafood cuisine in a cafeteria style. The other location is on the corner of 31st and Newport, tucked behind the parking lot for Ruby’s.

Food: Bear Flag is mostly well known for its fish tacos – simple, great, fresh seafood. Try any of the fish on a taco expect the halibut, which BF says doesn’t go well with the soft corn tortilla. My favorites were the panko grilled fish tacos with tommy sauce, fresh cabbage and a scoop of juicy pico de gallo. Also try the fresh seafood salad, grilled seafood plates, and sushi rolls. Everything is really tasty and really fresh. The website has some recipes with varying salsas like the grilled yellowtail with Bear Flag mango salsa and the Alaskan Halibut with Bear Flag strawberry, tangerine & fresh basil salsa.

Service: It’s cafeteria style, order at the counter, find a table, enjoy your meal. There are tables and seats outside, and the weather in Newport Beach can’t be beat.

Drinks/Wine: limited wine options, but for a quick casual luncheon location, at least they have some wine.

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

Sotto Sopra – Dinner in Amagansett on a Saturday in June 2013

Sotto Sopra, Amagansett, NY

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Food: Italian

http://www.letseat.at/sottosoprahamptons/menu

  • Overall: 6.7 vs. restaurants priced $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Good.
  • Service: Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Ambiance: A beautiful place to be in the summer, especially if you can sit outside in the garden. The inside is pine wood with nice open windows and doors. The doors open up to make the restaurant and in and outdoor brasserie. After the sun had gone down I noticed Sotto Sopra did a really good job with the soft lighting.

Food: Gotta try the figs.

Service: The wait staff switched on us mid meal without letting us know, which isn’t ideal. As the restaurant got busy the staff was definitely pressed to accommodate all the people.

Wine/Drinks: Limited. 

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

Broadway by Amar Santana – Dinner in Laguna Beach on a Wednesday in July 2013

Broadway by Amar Santana, Laguna Beach, CA

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Food: Modern American Cuisine

http://broadwaybyamarsantana.com/

  • Overall: 8.0 vs. restaurants priced $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Exceptional.
  • Service: Very Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Very Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: I was extremely impressed. The appetizers, entrees and desert exceeded my expectations. Situated in downtown Laguna Beach and there is parking for customers. The restaurant opened in September 2011. 

Ambiance: The restaurant can feel a little crowded and quite loud but I’d take that any day over empty and quiet. There is parking, which is a bonus. The wooden tables are warm and inviting but somewhat conflict with the cement walls and industrial beams throughout. No table clothes here. The interior is a weird combination of shabby chic, industrial, and country – but I like it.

Service: The service is very good. It took a while for the waitress to take the order, someone stepped in to support her, but from then on it was seamless. I’d recommend however that the servers should give the customer wine list immediately rather than the customer having to ask for it.  

Food: Amar Santana has crafted some incredible dishes. The portions are on the smaller side but the taste and flavors aren’t. To start I had the: beer battered whole soft shell crab with roasted corn, avocado mousse, chipotle-lime vinaigrette and the Japanese Hamachi Sashimi with citrus miso dressing, avocado ice cream and baby cilantro. Both dishes were outstanding. For entrees I had the herb roasted Mediterranean Branzino with cauliflower puree, pickled clamshell mushrooms, and celery truffle jus. The mushrooms were incredible with a very sharp taste of vinegar.  I also tried the pork cheeks, which were ooo so smokey and topped with white asparagus. It was called the grilled smoked Kurobuta pork loin, braised pork cheeks, whit peach-harissa puree, braised collard greems. For a side you have to order the fried brussells sprouts with Chinese sausage, cilantro, and sweet and sour. And…for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Banana and peanut butter parfait or the chocolate mousse with crunchy peanut feuilletine (only miss - I wish they used real bananas instead of banana chips). 

Wine/Drinks: Good selection of wines by the bottle, half bottle, and a nice selection of interesting cocktails.

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

Saxon + Parole - Dinner in the East Village on a Friday in June 2013

Saxon + Parole, New York, NY

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Food: Traditional Grill Fare.

http://saxonandparole.com

  • Overall: 7.3 vs. restaurants priced $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Very Good.
  • Service: Exceptional.
  • Wine/Drinks: Very Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: Great food and great service combine to make Saxon + Parole a place you have to visit.

Ambiance: Shabby sheik. If you’re looking for an intimate one-on-one experience, sit in the back room rather than the front room.

Service: The servers are very well educated on the food that they are delivering, are extremely attentive, and are pleasant to deal with from start to finish. The service is one of the best I’ve come across.

Food: S+P always has a good selection of oysters and tonight I tried the seafood tower consisting of oysters, shrimp and mussels, which were very smoky. The second appetizer was a mushroom mousse with toasted bread. The dry aged steak was a great piece of meat and was perfectly prepared. The ricotta gnudi with English peas and truffles was a nice compliment to the meat. Do not leave without ordering the s’mores for dessert! Be prepared for the scent, the s’mores will fill the room with a strong campfire smell.

Wine/Drinks: On this occasion, I did the wine pairing alongside the entrees, and the sommelier perfectly matched the wine with the food. Saxon + Parole has a great selection of cocktails, and if I were only rating cocktails I’d give S+P an ‘Exceptional’ rating. The wine list is very good but could be a little more extensive.

Eat well my friends,

Just A Guy That Loves Food.

Babbo - Dinner in Greenwich Village on a Thursday in June 2013

Babbo, New York, NY

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Food: Italian

http://www.babbonyc.com

  • Overall: 7.4/10 vs. restaurants $$$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Exceptional.
  • Service: Exceptional.
  • Wine/Drinks: Exceptional.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: If you are in to experiencing food and not just eating it, then Babbo is a must experience. A diner’s experience changes from one night to another,; the food, the service, the patrons, the music…I dined at Babbo two weeks prior to this night and both were incredible experiences.

Ambiance: Babbo is broken down into three areas: the front by the bar where walk-ins are seated, the ground floor, and the upstairs. My favorite is the upstairs where the natural light pours in through the skylights.

Food: For appetizers I had the grilled octopus with “borlotti marinati” and spicy limoncello vinaigrette, the goat cheese, the beet and ricotta and the two minute calamari. For pastas I had the Pappardelle Bolognese. Fo rmy entrée I had the pork chop. The appetizers and pastas will wow you. If you like pasta, I’d suggest trying the pasta tasting menu with wine pairing. It’s a lot of food and you’ll roll out of there, but if you have a big appetite you’ll love it.

Service: The staff is extremely well trained. The room is filled with staff that are there to help at any moment, all without making you feel as though you’re being watched.

Wine/Drinks: Once again I sought Sommelier Anna’s advice. As I’ve mentioned before, she is really pleasant to deal with and has always steered me in the right direction. Babbo has one of the most interesting and extensive wine lists I have come across. You can’t go wrong here from well-known go-to’s to obscure producers and varietals.

Eat well my friends,

Just a Guy That Loves Food.

Second Bar + Kitchen - Dinner in Austin on a Sunday in May 2013

Second Bar + Kitchen - Dinner on a Sunday in May 2013.  

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Food: American

http://congressaustin.com/second/

  • Overall: 7.0/10 vs. restaurants priced $$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Good.
  • Food: Very Good.
  • Service: Very Good.
  • Wine/Drinks: Very Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: If you happen to be in Austin ‘keeping it weird’ give Second Bar + Kitchen a try for some good American food.

Ambiance: Second Bar is located in downtown Austin and the staff is keeping Austin weird by showing off their tattoos and piercings. The restaurant is industrial modern sheik yet avoids feeling cavernous and cold. The long marble-top bar is a great spot to meet a friend and grab a drink or have a casual dinner side by side.

Food: The appetizers are the real treat. You cannot eat here and walk out with out ordering the fried pickles – so good. Also. don’t miss the sashito peppers,or the veal meatballs. The chef does a good job maintaining the moisture and flavor in the braised short rib.

Service: Much like the city of Austin, the staff members at Second Bar are chilled out and laid back. Expect a server with tattoos and a look that belongs more in a speakeasy than in a restaurant. The staff is attentive and pleasant.

Wine/Drinks: There is a nice selection of wines by the glass. It could improve upon its cocktail list.

Eat well my friends,

- Just A Guy That Loves Food.

Lee - Dinner on King St. West in Toronto on a Wednesday in June 2013

Lee, Toronto, ON

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Food: Asian Fusion
http://www.susur.com/lee/

  • Overall: 4.1/10 vs. restaurants priced $$$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Ok.
  • Service: Needs Improvement.
  • Wine/Drinks: Needs Improvement.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall Comments: This is my third time to Lee and once again, the overall experience was a disappointment. I’ve already given Lee way too long of a leash having gone three times; I will not be back again. Lee just cannot deliver on service and are 0 for 3.


Ambiance: If vibe and ambiance is all you care about then Lee is your place. The interior is modern industrial and trendy. The patrons are attractive, the service staff is attractive, the music is cool and it’s located on King Street West in a great location. When I was in my 20’s I would have thought Lee was “it”, but now that I’m in my 30’s I am looking for more.

Food: The tuna was ok, nothing to be excited about. The curry chicken was quite tasty. The chicken chow main was a miss. 

Service: For a restaurant at this price level, the service is extremely poor and it’s evident from the moment you walk in…too cool for school. Unfortunately it’s a trend and not a one off experience because this is my third visit and Lee has missed on all three occasions. The hostess should greet incoming guests and make them feel accommodated, “want to have a drink at the bar while we get your table ready?” or, “we’ll be right with you”…something. A blank look with no response just doesn’t cut it. The table and kitchen servers are understaffed and it’s quite noticeable by their hurried behavior. When a waiter says, “I’ll be back in a minute or two to get your drink orders” a guest shouldn’t have to search for the waiter and track him down 5-7 minutes later to get the drinks. There is a flow around the timing of the food at dinner, and when the guests start looking around wondering when the food is going to come out, it just makes for a poor experience; the time between courses is much too long. The waiter brought the incorrect drink out for a guest, on my second visit, our reservation was at 9pm and the food still coming out at 11:45pm. We were a group of 6 and the waiter accidentally threw on an extra $100, which is a mistake the staff just can’t make.

Wine/Drinks: Limited wine options by the glass, but I acknowledge guests aren’t going to Asian Fusion restaurants for their wines. The cocktails are priced $16-$18, which is too expensive. 


Eat well my friends,

Just a Guy That Loves Food.

Babbo - Dinner in Greenwich Village on a Sunday in June 2013

Babbo, New York, NY

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Food: Italian

http://www.babbonyc.com/

  • Overall: 7.6/10 vs. restaurants $$$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Very Good.
  • Food: Exceptional.
  • Service: Exceptional.
  • Wine/Drinks: Exceptional.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall: The dining experience at Babbo is about as good as it gets. I’d highly recommend you try it for its taste bud tantalizing experience.

Ambiance: If you are eating before the sun has set, I’d recommend sitting upstairs where the skylight allows for natural light to immerse the room. It’s not easy to get a reservation at Babbo, but you can still dine there without a reservation; the tables at the front of the restaurant are reserved for walk-ins on a first come first served basis. You best line up early if you’d like a seat. Eating anywhere at Babbo is incredible, but if given the choice, it’s better in the back and upstairs.

Food: There are so many spectacular dishes on the menu that you really can’t go wrong with anything you order. For the adventurous types there is: tripe, lamb’s tongue, pig foot, calf brain, and more.  The pasta tasting with wine pairing is spectacular, but be prepared to roll out of there, it’s a lot of food. On this night, I had the grilled octopus with “borlotti marinati” and spicy limoncello vinaigrette, black spaghetti with rock shrimp, spicy salami calabrese and green chilies, chianti stained pappardelle with wild boar ragu, and “brasato al Barolo” braised beef with porcini mushrooms. The octopus was a conversation stopper; there were more than seven flavors erupting at the same time; it’s a very complex dish. The black spaghetti was highlighted as one of the must-have dishes, but I didn’t find it to be as good as the pappardelle.

Service: Babbo just does it right. The restaurant is well staffed and the staff, right from the host to the sommelier to the table , each person knows their place, and does a great job. I particularly like when a waiter gave an honest opinion about the best dishes rather than when asked, “what’s good?”, replying with “everything” - waiters need to have opinions.

Wine/Drinks: Anna, with her crimson hair, is one of Babbo’s sommeliers and is really pleasant to deal with. She has always steered me in the right direction and has done so with a smile. Babbo has one of the most interesting and extensive wine lists I have come across. Once again, you can’t go wrong here.

Eat well my friends,

- Just a Guy That Loves Food.

Kuruma Zushi - Lunch in Midtown on a Thursday in May 2013

Kuruma Zushi, New York, NY

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Food: Japanese Sushi

http://www.kurumazushi.com

  • Overall: 7.1/10 vs. restaurants $$$$$/5.
  • Ambiance: Good.
  • Food: Exceptional.
  • Service: Exceptional.
  • Wine/Drinks: Good.

My rating scale: Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Ok, Needs Improvement, Terrible.

Overall Comments: Guests should go because they love sushi. Do not go for the ambiance or a scene because neither exist; go for the sushi, it’s some of the best you’ll ever eat. 

Ambiance: It’s not in the best of locations located just east of 5th Ave on 47th street tucked away on the 2nd floor above a loud and bustling street. There is no sign, just a Number “7” located above a light colored door. Do not get Kuruma Sushi confused for the cheap Chinese restaurant right beside it with the same address. It is very small with dark wood trim and dark black hard wood flooring.

Food: I had two tuna rolls (had to order a second because the first was so good), two pieces of smoked salmon sushi (only do smoked salmon and not regular salmon), and 4 pieces each of tuna, medium fatty tuna, and fatty tuna. Admittedly, I am not yet a master sushi connoisseur but, the fatty tuna at Kuruma Zushi is the best I have ever had. The only other place that might rival it is Sushi Gari. As for the rolls, the rice is served perfectly with just the right amount of vinegar and served at the perfect temperature - often overlooked by restaurants.

Service: Very experienced. Courteous.

Wine/Drinks: There is a bar, however I didn’t have a drink nor did I look at the wine or the saké list.

Eat well my friends,

Just A Guy That Loves Food.