Cox

Lange Reihe 68 20099 Hamburg, Germany+49 40 249422restaurant-cox.de

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Perhaps it’s my internal Beavis and Butthead poking through (poor choice of words in conjunction with “cox”), but you have to at least smile at the name of the place, knowing that it is located in the Gay District of Hamburg. I can only assume it’s somewhat intentional, but if not, then I think it’s even more worthy of a chuckle. Granted, if I put aside my sophomoric indulgences for a second, deductive reasoning does also point to a second origin for the name, that of a coxswain in rowing, which is probably a pretty popular site along the Elbe River just blocks away. But that definition isn’t anywhere near as funny.

Further debunking my name theory, there really is nothing else about Cox that plays off of the neighborhood or penile innuendos, coming across as a very traditional bistro with a casual vibe, good energy and lots of inventive twists on the menu, tapping into an array of European cuisine influences (although the restaurant self identifies as German cuisine).

The first being the black sausage with curry spices. A mash up of Great Britain or Ireland and Northern Africa. It’s a tasty combination, but not quite amazing either. Whereas the lamb over waffles was very good. Far better than its poultry predecessor if you ask me.

But come dessert back down we went with a mixed berry sabayon that did little for me, even with the vanilla ice cream on top, which helped, but not enough.

What helped more was the killer Cote du Rhone Syrah we had, but since Cox isn’t a vineyard I can only give them so many props on the pick. And thus, two knives is my call.

2 teeth

 

Felix

340 W Broadway New York, NY 10013(212) 431-0021felixnyc.com/soho

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The fact that even a Yelp Elite would dock two stars just because the place only excepts cash or American Express is everything wrong with Yelp in one sentence. And while I am technically friends with said “Elitist,” they should be boiled in oil for such shenanigans, the very same “crack oil” they use on their French fries, which she swoons about in the very same review. In fact, she gave nothing but rave reviews about the food across the board and then coughed up an anemic two star rating. Not cool.

What’s also not cool is that places like Pastis (RIP), Morandi and Balthazar all get crazy over-inflated praise only to fall miserably short, whereas Felix actually manages to deliver where it counts, on the plate. I mean, who gives two shits that Mario Batali or Woody Allen eat there? Last I checked you can’t eat them Hannibal!

But even beyond the food, the are so many other things to love about Felix. First, I much prefer the more intimate-sized dining room, not to mention the amazing sun-lit corner location, especially in the summer, when they open up the glass sides and it’s like you’re sitting outside even when you’re inside. It’s the closest thing to a real Parisian Bistro in Manhattan, if you ask me. And with all of the shoppers strutting up and down West Broadway, the people watching is bar none.

As for the food, I’ve never had a bad meal, but the things I love the most are the eggs. They do such an amazing job with everything from omelets to benny, and as noted above, the fries on the side are pretty killer too, in both the slang and literal sense. Lunch is also pretty money, but I’ve actually never had dinner here. Not sure why, especially after seeing that picture above. Mmmm….

4 teeth

L’Express

249 Park Ave S. New York, NY 10003(212) 254-5858lexpressnyc.com

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L’Express is a solid French bistro. Great for bunch. Okay for dinner. Great again for late, semi-intoxicated dinner. It’s also a nice neighborhood staple, because the food is just good enough to keep you coming back, but not SO good that the place is impossible to get into.

The things they do the best are the bistro classics like Eggs Florentine, Steak Frites (pictured), etc… I compare this place to Felix in Soho, so if you like Felix , you’ll probably like this.

3 teeth

Red Hat

1 Bridge St. Irvington, NY 10533 • (914) 591-5888redhatbistro.com

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I honestly love so many things about this place. Good food, great location, wonderful decor, fantastic service. The owner really seems engaged with the place and it shows.

It’s located in the loft spaces right on the Hudson river and I highly recommend getting there early during the summer for a drink on the rooftop. Harvest on who?

Inside, they didn’t miss a trick. Feels like you stepped right into a Paris Bistro. Granted, it’s probably 3 times the size of most of the bistros I’ve seen in France, but you get my point.

Now for the food. The moules frites alone is worth a visit. One bite and you’ll feel like you’re in Cannes- just fantastic. I also love their salmon burger for lunch, although their regular burger isn’t too shabby either.

Now for the bad news. They don’t have high chairs, which is a bit odd in such a family oriented town. Also, the menu can be a little hit or miss if you stray from the tried and true, but since I almost always get the mussels and the salmon burger, I’m seldom disappointed.

3 teeth

Montmarte

158 8th Ave. New York, NY 10011(646) 596-8838 montmartrenyc.com

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After seeing the burger get rave reviews I had to taste it for myself (mainly because I have trust issues). And while it doesn’t quite make my “Ultimates” it is very impressive nonetheless.

First, it has all kinds of French going on. There’s creamed spinach and Bearnaise sauce and in lieu of a bun they use toast, which had me a touch skeptical I must concede, but the outcome was trés bon! Such terrific contrast in textures between the tender, perfectly medium rare meat and the hard, crunchy toast.

And the herbed frites that accompanied the burger weren’t too shabby either. Served with a airy mayo-like condiment instead of ketchup or Dijon, again, true to the bistro-like atmosphere.

Then, for dessert, we split the chocolate fondant, and this was a bit of a letdown I must say. Nothing worthy note. In fact, you can get a better one at Le Pain Quotidien.

The physical space is actually very small indoors, done up in the usual French bistro fashion with art all over the walls, dark wood and white. But with such a tiny dining room, the art starts to feel a bit all over the place thematically speaking. But I’ll let it slide, because you really shouldn’t be sitting inside anyways. The garden is the place to be. So much nicer and charming.

And service was very friendly, making it the most un-French-like attribute in the restaurant. KIDDING! I love the French. We kid with those we love.

But did I love Montmarte? Not yet. But let’s just say it’s a very strong like.

3 teeth