Pearl at Longshore Restaurant & Bar

260 Compo Rd SWestport, CT 06880 • (203) 557-6260 • pearlatlongshore.com

Four!!!! That’s the knife count I’m giving, because it is very seldom that country club food is ever this good. Not even remotely. But once again, Westport manages to buck suburban expectations to show the world that you can have your crab cake and eat it too.

Like most country clubs the setting is a stunner, after all, you’re usually sitting amidst an immaculately landscaped golf course. But very few clubs are on the ocean, overlooking the water. Which decidedly takes things up a notch as you sit on the outdoor patio, overlooking a sailing class as they practice in the channel between there and Saugatuck Island. Also, a little know secret, Westport is apparently where Great Gatsby was inspired, looking across the Long Island Sound to the houses on the other shore. And while I sat there having my brunch, I must admit, I felt pretty great.

Things did start off a little rocky, however, with poor service and the Nutella cinnamon buns that tasted a lot like Pillsbury. Not that I have anything against the Dough Boy, but when I go out to a restaurant I expect them to up the game over things my kids could make.

But after that, Pearl went on a tear. The warm, fresh-baked bread and olive oil was so good you could tell it was the start of something special. Then came the Maine lobster benny which was absolutely superb! The eggs, runny, the potatoes spicy and the lobster…lobster-y?

The egg white frittata was also delish, although a bit inconsistent. My wife’s was loaded with all sorts of goodies and full of flavor. Whereas my mother’s was anemic with ingredients and the lesser of the two. So if you get gipped, I’d send it back for a do-over.

The French toast is also really good, soaked like a baller, dusted with confection and berries and hard to resist wolfing it down before anyone asks for a bite.

The only miss for me was the Belgian Waffle. It’s pretty pedestrian compared to the other options.

As for dinner, I haven’t actually been yet. Only for drinks, but watching some of the dishes go by, I have very high hopes.

Patisserie Florentine

10 S Dean StEnglewood, NJ 07631 • (201) 408-4890 • patisserieflorentine.com

Engle-fucking-wood Cliffs?! Are you kidding me?! How is this place in Englewood Cliffs? Scratch that- WHY is this place in Englewood Cliffs? Their Banana, Nutella, almond croissant is such a baller it needs to be playing on a much bigger court, like Manhattan.

This Ultimate of a pastry is messier than a Sean Spicer press conference, but far more enjoyable. Oozing in all directions with a miraculously well balanced treat that doesn’t overdo it, despite the potential to do so looming large.

Other players in the baked game are the regular almond croissants, which are great, and less messy than their banana-Nutella siblings, but they are also less novel. Of the muffins, the granola is the one to get, followed by the orange. But I say skip the blueberry. It was surprisingly the weakest of the lot.

Even the egg dishes are nothing to overlook as the eggs benny proves to be a savory powerhouse in its own right. But be sure to ask them to make the eggs runny, because they have a tendency to overcook them a touch. Tisk, tisk.

Where Florentine fails miserably, however, is with their service. It is god awful. So bad in fact that I feel a moral imperative to dock them a knife. It’s as if the entire wait staff is simultaneously starting their first day on the job. Every table in the joint is yelling at them. Complaining. “No silverware” over here. “No one has taken my order yet” over there. They are slow, forgetful and worst of all, inept. So much so that the last time I visited I asked for three of the Banana Nutella Almond croissants to go and they gave me three plain old almond.

So if you are the owner or the manager and you are reading this, please start over with the staff, because eventually people will grow tired of their shit, regardless of how great the food is. I know I am.

Hawksworth

801 W Georgia St. Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7 Canada(604) 673-7000 hawksworthrestaurant.com

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According to the concierge in the Rosewood Hotel, this is one of the top restaurants in Vancouver, and from my very limited sampling, you’ll find no argument here. And trust me, if there was an argument to be had, I’m you’re guy. But Hawksworth does just about everything right. From service with poise to a décor that feels contemporary and elegant. To one of the best eggs benedict’s (pictured) I’ve ever had, made with thick glazed ham and perfectly poached eggs sided with a wonderful roasted tomato and equally delicious potatoes. Even the fresh squeezed orange juice was a box-checker.

There is one shocker I will note, though. The chef’s recommendation was to serve the eggs cooked medium. But to be fair, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong. So I’m going to go ahead and give Hawksworth 4 knives, mostly because I’ve only had breakfast here, and that was only great because I zagged from the chef’s propensity to overcook his benny.

4 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

Brasserie

100 E 53rd St. New York, NY 10022 •  (212) 751-4840

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Unfortunately you can’t eat décor, but if you could, this place would be delicious… and it would get a much higher rating. I mean just look at that picture, I don’t just want to eat there, I want to move in! That said, the food isn’t bad, it’s just more of an after thought comparatively. Instead, I recommend Casa Lever just down the street, offering an equally impressive ultra modern dining experience, but with better food and friendlier service.

As for the grub at Brasserie, I have eaten here for all three meal occasions and they are consistently sub-wow. More on par with solid hotel cuisine and that’s sort of how the menu reads, loaded with those hotel staples you know and love, like bagels and lox, eggs benny, a burger, crab cakes, etc… All very French dishes as you might expect from the name “Brasserie.” KIDDING! And this is exactly my point. They try to be too many things to too many people, like a hotel. But a hotel does it out of necessity. Plus, what’s especially bizarre about this menu decision is that they are located in midtown, amidst droves of hotel restaurants, so why in the hell they would serve up a bunch of me too’s is beyond me. Sure, Brasserie also has tons of truly French options as well, from steak frites to onion soup, to a croque madame, but none of them are outstanding either. All as middle of the road as the double line itself.

3 teeth

Lafayette

380 Lafayette St. New York, NY 10003(212) 533-3000 • lafayetteny.com
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Unfortunately the third time was not a charm for this location. I loved it back when it was Time Cafe (RIP). And liked it very much as the Asian restaurant that came after, Chinatown Brasserie (RIP). But it saddens me to say that Lafayette is by far the weakest culinary tenant yet.

I strongly disagree with anyone who touts this bakery. I’ve had better pastries at scores of places all over the city and the country. And I’ve had better eclairs on airplanes!

Beyond that, the eggs benny was blahy, regardless of it’s interesting skillet-style presentation. And the special juice concoction wasn’t all that special. In fact, my wife’s Coqnac oatmeal was the only thing truly worthy of note, and maybe it’s just me, but I find it hard to get too excited about oatmeal outside of the cookie form.

The decor and service were fine, but the nominal plusses are not enough to bring me back. Hopefully the fourth time will be a charm again.

2 teeth

Boon Fly Café

The Carneros Inn • 4048 Sonoma Hwy. Napa, CA 94559 • (707) 299-4870boonflycafe.com

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This is my favorite breakfast spot on the planet. I mean, just grab some darts, hang the menu on a wall and let ‘er rip. Nothing is short of phenomenal.

The eggs benny with jalapeno hollandaise is the best eggs benny I’ve ever had in my life. The breakfast pizza with eggs over-easy and carmalized onions is the best breakfast pizza I’ve ever had, and almost every bit as good as the benny. And the donuts– well, there’s a hotlink, isn’t there? Which means only one thing, they’re friggin’ awesome. You really can’t go wrong here.

And the decor/vibe is perfect. Set in a bright red barn with a contemporary roadside diner feel. But not greasy or dirty. This is no dive. It soars!

5 teeth

Clinton Street Baking Company

4 Clinton St. New York, NY 10002 • (646) 602-6263 clintonstreetbaking.com

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I REALLY didn’t want to like this place after waiting nearly an hour for a table with a pregnant wife and a two year old. Plus, we got there before it even opened and the wait was already that bad, with a  line out front. You’d think they were giving their food away!

So as we sat there and waited, my doubts started to brew, “It couldn’t possibly be worth it.” Like when you’re stuck in traffic and you tell yourself “There had better be an accident!”

Well, it was worth it. Although, I do have a strong suggestion to make the wait more tolerable. About halfway into it I went in and got a chocolate chunk muffin that was easily the best I’ve ever had. So incredibly moist and gooey- we devoured it in about 3 seconds, like a pack of ravenous hyenas.

Then, about 20 minutes after that, we finally got our table. I had the eggs benny, my son had the blueberry pancakes and my wife had the Spanish scramble. All were excellent. The Spanish eggs taking last place, but the ingredients in everything are so fresh that it’s hard not to swoon over every morsel.

The next time I go back though, I’m getting a baby-sitter. A one hour plus wait with a two year old on the sidewalk is not my idea of a relaxing Sunday brunch.

4 teeth

Joseph Leonard

170 Waverly Pl. New York, NY 10014(646) 429-8383josephleonard.com

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Okay Yelpers, I’m done. Never again shall I listen to you. You have steered me wrong too many times and I think I need to start going my own way from here on. No more reading your recommendations. I mean, the croissant egg sandwich? Really? So much raving and for what? It’s as if everyone missed the 80’s when these things first hit the scene… at Burger King! And I’m sorry to rain on the parade, but it ain’t like this one is anything special. I’ve had FAR superior egg sammies at droves of other places. So please, please PLEASE don’t waste your order listening to the conformist cattle blabber on about this severely mediocre dish.

Instead, I implore you to GET THE EGGS BENNY!!! It is incredible! In my top three of all time. Just perfection. Made with lox and a scallion creme fraiche, which is brilliant for those who don’t like hollandaise (my wife).

As for decor, the place is quaint and charming. But my other major gripe is with the service. First, when the waitress brought my fresh squeezed juice, she ruined it by filling the tiny glass with ice, a pet peeve of mine, but that’s not the gripe. Upon asking her to bring me juice with no ice instead, she simply removed the ice from that glass, giving me back a 3/4 full SMALL glass of juice. As if for $4 a glass they can’t afford to top off a full 6oz squirt of OJ? Cheap bastards!

But that’s still not why I’m docking the knife for service. Upon clearing the table, the waitress actually had the fem-balls to rest the dirty plates on my shoulder as she stacked them on top of it!!! WTF?!?! Who does that?!?

Had I openly bitched about the 3/4 glass of OJ I might have understood it as revenge, but I said nothing. About either. Until now.

Sorry J.L. You’re good, but you’ve got some work to do before you’re great.

3 teeth

Citron

4040 Central Florida Pkwy. Orlando, FL 32837(407) 393-4621grandelakes.com/Citron-79.html

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While it may be located in a JW Marriott, everything about it screams same old Marriott food you’d expect. The décor is over-sized, underwhelming and it felt dirty when we entered by the simple fact that where they sat us, we were literally surrounded by about a half a dozen un-bussed tables.

Then, of course there’s a buffet, which is overpriced and nothing special. So we tried to be clever and ordered a la carte- which is usually the best bet in my experience, but alas it turned out to be a la pointless, because the food was basically the same shit they serve in buffet bins at twice the price.

For example, I had the eggs benny, coming HIGHLY recommended by our waiter who said it was the best thing on the menu. Eggs from farm raised chickens, country ham from their own pigs, etc…

Now, I warned him that I am a bit picky about my eggs benny, but he assured me it was amazing… Well, as you can probably guess from my set up, it was just about the WORST eggs benny I have ever had. It tasted like it came out of the wrong hole in the chicken. That or it was a frozen Weight Watchers dish reheated. Seriously. Freezer burn was definitely the predominant flavor. The only saving graces were the home fries and the fact that the eggs were runny, as they should be. But so disgusting I would’ve sent them back had I not been in such a rush.

The other thing we got were the Belgian waffles which I was assured were good by my mother, but from the looks of them I was skeptical and decided to cut my loses until later when I grabbed a KIND bar to eat, just to get the taste of freezer burn out of my mouth.

1 tooth