Le Club 55

Plage de Pampelonne 83350 RamatuelleFR • +33 4 94 55 55 55 • club55.fr

There is an old French saying that roughly translates to mean, “may this misery never leave us,” which is as sarcastic as it is perfect for describing what it was like to sail to Saint Tropez for the day and dine on the beach at Le Club 55. Yes, I live an extremely charmed life and I work very hard to keep that in perspective. So I tell you this not as a “look at me,” but rather as strong nudge to YOU, because if you should ever find yourself in the South of France, you owe this to yourself. Yes, it’s a bit of commitment (two hours from Cannes each way), but sacre bleu is it worth it!

Strung together like a bunch of Gilligan’s Island-esque straw huts, this place continues to grow and sprawl across the sand like the Zabar’s of the Cote d’Azur. And also like Zabar’s, it is as far from fancy as it is from Cannes. This is toes in the sand and swim suit on butt couture.

But don’t let the casual façade fool you, because getting a table is serious business, and so is the food. For example, their crudité bests some of the finest restaurants in the world, including Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Bohemian in NYC. Served on a bountiful wooden board (pictured) and loaded with farm-grown fireworks in the form of vegetables. The tomatoes speak for themselves, needing no salt, nor sauce. The radishes bite back. And the red pepper tastes like a conversation you simply can’t get enough of. Oui, it is an Ultimate of ultimate proportions.

Two other stellar dishes are the beef tartar served with crack-tastic chips and the bone-simple, equally magnificent, perfectly cooked whole fish. And that seems to be the name of the game here. Keep it simple, because when they strayed and tried to get a little too fancy they missed.

For example their salad with shaved parmesan and black truffles didn’t hold up to the rest. I’m guessing because the truffles weren’t real. Blasphemy to say, but they were virtually flavorless next to the crudité, which makes zero sense. And the other concoction getting trickier still, would be the odd variation on a caprese salad, made with tomatoes, goat cheese, hollandaise and mint. It wasn’t awful, but after having seen the tomato as a solo act, this seemed like a crime to drown it with such an odd combination of flavors.

On the simpler side of things I did also find a miss, ruined with a very simple error. The langoustines were very (and sadly) overcooked. But misses aside, Le Club 55 is a triumph, as if anybody needed another reason to love the beach.

Hanjan

36 W 26th St. New York, NY 10010 • (212) 206-7226hanjan26.com

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This is Korean for the other half. The half that can’t be bothered with the manual labor of having to BBQ their food themselves. The half that likes a little ambiance and inventiveness. The half that doesn’t want a hybrid Mexican version of Korean sold off a truck. In other words, my half.

Sure there’s a time and a place for that kind of Korean, but it’s nice to see a cuisine extend itself into a more refined experience. Not that Hanjan is fancy by any stretch, but compared to the typical Korean haunts in the 30’s, it’s Per Se.

To start, I went with the spicy margarita because, as we know, I loves me a spicy cocktail. And while it’s certainly not bad, it’s nothing special either. Basically just a regular margarita dipped in chili powder as opposed to salt (cue Debbie Downer music).

As for food, we started with the crudité and while good, one can only get so excited about veggies on ice, which sounds like the worst theatrical ice skating show in history. But the sauce they serve it with has some serious kick, so if you’re into heat and freshly chilled plants, go for it.

Next came the squid and scallion pancake, which is more inventive than it is awesome. Only truly reaching its potential when you caught a hot pepper from the sauce it was served with, which was only about two bites in ten.

The short rib with stewed potatoes and onions came next and it was easily the best thing of the night. Fall off the bone moist. Bursting with flavor. I loved it so much I wanted to crawl into the bowl and spoon it.

Being that the short rib was a tough act to follow, the pork belly skewers, fell short. Not terrible or anything, but I wouldn’t order them again. That said, if you choose to get them, make a mental note that they are MUCH better without the recommended lettuce wrap.

And batting clean up was the brisket fried rice. It was good, but sounds much better than it is. The egg on top gets lost pretty quickly in the morass of other ingredients. As does the brisket. Again, glad I tried it, not something I would order again.

That said, I would definitely eat here again. Service was great and not one thing was bad. Plus, there are a ton of other things on the menu I wanted to try, so stay tuned for updates.

3 teeth