Rose Hill

34 E 32nd St. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 448-1302 • rosehillrestaurant.com

I know this place is still green, so I will try to muster up a modicum of understanding while they get their footing. And boy do they need it. Starting with the layout of the dining room, which is a bit odd to say the least, situated to the side of a hotel lobby through a current. The room itself is long and narrow and I can only assume it was the coat check or storage once upon a time. Making matters worse, the tables are so tightly squeezed together along a booth that runs the entire length of the subway car dining room (pictured), that if you were sitting to the inside, you simply can not get out without displacing every table within a twenty foot radius, so be sure to empty the bladder before getting locked in. Fortunately for us no one was sitting next to us, but if the place had been packed, you’d probably have to go under the table, suffer the sneers of those around you or become very intimate with your new friends at your neighboring table as your genitals rake across the port side of their mesa.

The thing you will be sure to notice is that the staff comes off like a family of beaten children. All of them are so incredibly timid that the plates are shaking in their hands as they walk one overly cautious step at a time to and from your table. In fact, they were shaking so much one of our servers accidentally got some wine in my friend’s water glass while trying to pour in the wine glass! Fortunately she apologized and replaced it immediately, and truth be told I honestly felt worse for her than us because I can assume this only meant more beatings.

The wine itself though, was excellent. The 2015 Hosmer Dry Reisling from the Finger Lakes. Highly recommend.

But back to the beaten staff. Did I mention that even their voices are a bit shaky and they talk so softly you might think you were in a library?

So now the question becomes, is it worth it? Beyond the comedic novelty (and rarity) of seeing servers in New York act like this, as opposed to self-important, rude assholes. Well, it kinda is. I mean both starters were truly incredible. The first being the wonderful seared foie gras with cherry mostrada and black pepper. Simple and flawless. And second, the octopus was almost every bit as good, jazzed up with merguez, fingerling potatoes and smoked tomato. Again, nothing too crazy, yet crazy good.

Which only made the next course that much more disappointing, because the fall was from such a high. But both the lamb sandwich and the chickpea burger were as timid on the tongue as the servers were with everything else. No goat cheese or fire-roasted red pepper and rosemary aioli could save the lamb, tasting more like goat cheese on bread with some indiscernible meat. And the veggie burger was even blander still, the tzatziki and cucumber fading into the white noise of whole wheat and bland bean.

And so now I was really torn. The starters were a five. The entrees were a two. And the service and décor are teetering between a one and a two. Thus, dessert had to be the tie-breaker!

Well, it broke. The chef’s restraint on the appetizers fully escaped him on the deconstructed Key lime pie. It was so tricked-out that it tasted more like an experiment than it did Key lime. Rendering the final blow to Rose Hill and landing it a mere two knives. That said, I am feeling a rare streak of compassion for some reason. Maybe it’s the poor, beaten souls I feel sorry for. Or that the starters were just that damn good. Nonetheless, give them a chance. I think they will get there.

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The Whelk

575 Riverside AveWestport, CT 06880 • (203) 557-0902 • thewhelkwestport.com

Having been to Le Farm (RIP) many, many years ago and loving it, I was pleased to learn that The Whelk was actually the mother ship. Plus, I had heard from just about everyone who lives within 50 miles of Westport that this is the best place to eat in town, so expectations were as high as the studio producers who thought Office Christmas Party was a good script.

But The Whelk delivers, hype and all. With its casual Cape Cod charm and equally warm service, I was sucked into being a convert faster than Vin Diesel, strapped to Usain Bolt, glued to a cheetah, duct taped to a rocket booster, wired to nitrous oxide packs.

A great deal of that being due to our adorable server who made us feel welcome, special and taken care of. What more could you ask for? Well, good food, of course, and The Whelk answered that call without a moment to spare, starting with some heavenly deviled eggs topped with fried oysters (pictured). They were literally amazeballs- ball-shaped and amazing. Oh, and an Ultimate in two categories; deviled eggs and oyster dishes.

And just as we were descending back to earth, up we went again with the scallop crudo and another Ultimate, which is also amazeballs, but not literally this time. Blessed with heat and blood orange, this place definitely knows how to handle its mollusks, which shouldn’t come as a shock I suppose considering the name of the establishment is a mollusk.

Another brilliant starter is the crab toast. Bright and lemony with the perfect hit of spice on the finish. Simple, but perfection.

For entrees, I highly recommend hake if it’s still on the menu by the time you go. It’s cooked like a boss, with a beautiful preparation that I won’t taunt you with because it was already gone by the second time we went, replaced by a trout with collard greens that didn’t quite fill the void left by the wonderful hake.

What is always there, however, is one of the best burgers I’ve had in a very long time, so if you’re not feelin’ the fish, you will not go hungry my friend.

The only mortal dish for me that I have discovered thus far (apart from the trout, which technically I didn’t order) would be the salt and pepper squid. I mean it’s good, but no better than any halfway decent fried calamari you could get a bagillion other places.

Capping things off on high, we ended the night with the white chocolate and cherry bread pudding, which if you’ve been following me for any length of time you know is my weak spot. But weakness aside, The Whelk finished strong. And while the Banana Bavarian is also good, it’s not even worth comparing it to the bread pudding, therefore I won’t.

The place packs ‘em in almost every night, for good reason, so be sure to make a reservation, go on an off night or an off hour, or prepare to wait. Fortunately it’s worth it, because as those before me suggest, it truly is the best restaurant in Westport. Hell, I think it gives Pearl and L&W in NYC a run for their money!

Le Moulin de Mougins

1028 ave Notre-Dame de Vie 06250 Mougins, France • 04.93.75.78.24 • moulin-mougins.com

le-moulin-de-mougins

Moulin just might be the easiest three Michelin Star restaurant to get a reservation at in the world. We’re talking 24 hours notice on a Friday night kinda easy. Suspiciously easy. Like as in “is this place really as good as they say?” cause if it were, shouldn’t it be harder to get a table? Or is it simply the fact that Cannes goers don’t even have it on their radar? Thinking it’s too far or too expensive, neither of which are true.

Inside the décor is lovely with exposed parts of an antique mill poking through the walls here and there. However, the garden is truly the place to be, set on multiple levels with beautiful flowers triangulating every table. My one gripe would be on the lighting system, a lamp at the table’s center with the cord cutting across the top, dangling over one side. Can’t a brother get a candle up in this bitch? Or drill a hole in the center of the table and run the cord through? Or what about cordless lighting? Or overhead? I know I seem really distracted right now by something so seemingly trivial, but drawing even more attention to this problem was the fact that the lamp was attracting a horde of flies, which doesn’t exactly make for the most aesthetically pleasing centerpiece in the world. But dropping the subject since I can tell you’re annoyed, let’s get on with the review…

At the onset, things definitely started off cold, both figuratively and literally. The cold soup amuse bouche was so unimpressive I didn’t even bother to finish it, which had me nervous for a spell, but then a second amuse bouche hit the table and this one was very good. A spinach, bacon and cheese dip that when combine with their fresh baked fig bread was like a ballet of savory and sweet.

After that the hits were fast and furious with all three appetizers killing it! The seared foie gras with cherry compote and marinated slivers of cherry was excellent. As was the spider fish stuffed zucchini blossom and the asparagus risotto.

The two entrees I tried both rocked it as well. The duck, while served in an inventive, tubular presentation, was regrettably a touch on the dry side, but because it came with the dreamiest Ultimate mashed sweet potatoes, whipped into silk, this sidekick swooped in like Robin to its Batman, handily saving the day (and the dish).

Opposite the duck, the other main course was a moist, citrusy sea bass packed with favor and a touch of sweetness, also made special by it’s companion, an earthy black rice, that when placed together on the same fork was like a happy marriage between land and sea. Which, in a lesser-known ruling that the Supreme Court also legalized last week along with same-sex marriage.

Sadly desserts had the weakest showing of the night (other than the cold soup). The lemon tart was flat out terrible. The macaroon was okay and the chocolate, espresso tart was an imperceptible notch above the macaroon.

But all in all, one of the best means to be had in Cannesland. It’ll make you happier than winning a Grand Prix. Well, almost.

4 teeth

The Ultimate Granola (packaged)

Pumpkin-Spiced-Nutty-Granola

I don’t know about you, but I friggin’ love cereal in the morning. Granted I love all breakfast food- Okay so I love all food. Whatever. The point is this. Cereal is the only thing I can eat more than twice a week. So, considering I’ve lived roughly four and a half decades, you can do the math and assume that I’ve basically downed an assload of cereal in that time. And within those hordes of bowls, you can image I’ve tried my share of granolas, cereal at its best. So, here are my top 5 in descending order of greatness:

5. “House Blend” by Baked.

This granola is nuts. No seriously. It’s basically a bag of all sorts of nuts from hazel to almond with a sprig of granola and dried fruit thrown in. So, you’d think that I’d ding it for this, but somehow they pull it off. Granted I don’t know if I could hork down an entire bowl of this alone, but when mixed with other cereals (Kashi Blueberry Clusters & Trader Joe’s Frosted Maple Squares) it sings.

4. “Apple Crumble” by Love Crunch

Not sure I need to say much more than the name. I mean, who doesn’t love an apple crumble? Assholes. That’s who. So, assuming you are not an asshole and loves you some crumble, it’s a safe bet that you’re gonna love it just as much in a bowl with milk.

3. “Maple Pancake” by Paleonola

Okay, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not the kind of guy who loves flavored cereals. For example, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is probably the most vile thing I’ve ever had in a bowl, and yes, that’s including dog food, but, this really is quite a treat. Like two breakfasts in one. Granted I’m not sure I could down an entire bowl of this stuff all by itself, but it definitely makes whatever else is in the bowl that much more delicious.

2 “Chocolate Cherry” by Food Emporium Trading Company

All right, I know it’s crazy. I know there are a TON of other chocolate granolas out there. I even know that they probably use better ingredients. But what they all lack is balance. They all take the chocolate thing too far and it starts to taste more like dessert than cereal. Granted I’m okay with that for the Apple Crumble for a very good reason. I’m human. So I’m allowed to contradict myself as much as the next schmuck. So where was I? Oh yes. The balance it perfect. The cherries aren’t sweetened, so they bring a touch of bitterness. The almonds add nuttiness. And the chocolate is just enough to let you know its there, but not enough to make you feel guilty.

2. “Fruit, Nut & Fiber Museli” by Dorset Cereals

Here is the zag. The copout. Not only could I not stick to 5 granolas by playing the “tied for second” card, but to make matters worse, it’s a museli! Sorry. But as far as I’m concerned they’re the same friggin’ thing. One’s a less crunchy version of the other, because it’s not mixed with some sort of congealing agent like honey or molasses. But it’s time the two came together as one and we broke down the Berlin wall of breakfast. But enough defensiveness. I stand by my nomination. This cereal has it all. Loaded with all sorts of ingredients that all seem to pop off your spoon. I can only assume it’s due to the quality of ingredients. Unfortunately, however, they make you pay handsomely for those mixings. And ever since they shrank the box by nearly 40% and kept the price the same, it’s a bit ridiculous. But I do still love it.

1. “Granola” by Le Pain Quotidien

While it’s not exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think granola, it should be. Sure they have great salads and pastries and tartines and coffee, but none of that is important. What is important is that this granola, like the museli above, has everything you could ever want. And all of it booms with flavor. For example the coconut shavings alone make this puppy sing. But I think the true secret behind its greatness lies in the honey. I’m guessing they use something pretty special to bond those beautiful clusters together. Whatever it is, I’m buying. Regardless of the absurd price.