Upland

345 Park Ave S. New York, NY 10010 • (212) 686-1006uplandnyc.com

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Once upon a time this place used to be called Manzanilla, a terrific restaurant that for some reason caught the venom of the New York Times food critic, and had to close its doors less than a year after a brutal and undeserving one star review. Which brings me to my next point- Manza-who? Just one bite of Upland’s porchetta and egg sandwich and I completely forgot all about what’s its face. Served up with a nice helping of hot peppers and placed on a wonderful mini ciabatta- it’s yabba dabba delicious!

But if the sandwich was hog heaven, the Eggs in Hell (pictured) can only be described as hedonistic. Fried and floating in a spicy marinara sauce that is bread-sopping bodacious. Such an inventive twist on huevos rancheros I almost find it hard to categorize it as such.

On the less inventive front, the pancakes are also quite good, but not quite as interesting as the other dishes. And lastly, the citrus salad with olive oil and bitter chocolate shavings was a little too simple for my tastes. Not that it wasn’t good, but it was a little too simple for even me, and I like simple. Just not so simple that I could make it at home, just as well, in less than five minutes. It is nice and refreshing though, especially next to the heavier plates.

Such a great meal I can’t wait to come back for lunch and dinner, because everything else on the menu looked pretty ridic as well. So glad this new tenet is as good as the old. Guess this space just has good restaurant juju?

4 teeth

All’onda

22 E 13th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 231-2236 allondanyc.com

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Hype strikes again! Damn YOU HYPE!!!!

I swear this place must’ve made it onto at least half a dozen top lists in NYC, from Thrillist to New York Magazine. Well, unless you’re caught up in some cockamamie Brewster’s Millions scheme where you’re trying to squander your hard-earned coin, I’d say skip it, because it’s almost all’unda whelming.

From the moment the first starter hit the table things were off. The arancini with black truffles were so lacking they should be blacklisted. Not even the faintest hint of earthiness from the truffles, which most likely didn’t come from France. And no butteriness or creamy cheese to make the risotto shine from within.

The polenta crisps had their issues as well, served with a baccalà montecato dip (cod salad) that was so incredibly salty no one was able to endure more than a single bite.

The best of the lot was easily the duck crostini, but that was in large part due to the lack of competition. Almost like a foie gras terrine, the duck was silky smooth, spreading over the toast like a blanket of richness, sweetened with pickled Asian pear and contrasted with a little hazelnuttiness.

I shared the short rib risotto for two (pictured) with a friend, and fortunately she didn’t disown me after talking her into it, because it was a huge mistake. Both in physical and conceptual terms. Starting with the physical, let’s just say that I think they misprinted the menu and it was supposed to be for 20. That, or Fred Flintstone was in the kitchen and no one ever bother to discuss portion control with him. Also, it’s not a risotto dish. It’s the friggin’ side of a cow on a plate next to a drizzle of tomato mostrada and a tiny bowl of Arborio rice, so don’t be fooled by the misleading description. Also, just don’t order it, because it’s too expensive for what it is and how it’s served, “sous-vide” as they like to call it. Or “raw,” would be another way to describe it. The server tried to convince us that the color was a result of the sous-vide process, but I can assure you that the texture didn’t lie.

The garganelli was much, much better, prepared with peekytoe crab, citrus and tarragon. But somehow it still didn’t reach the level of expectations. If you want a truly special crab pasta try NoMad or Frankies 457.

Then, just when all hope seemed lost, All’onda rallied with an Ultimate. The Brussels sprouts are as good as the reigning champ Ilili. But this is no copycat. All’onda goes its own way, using candied pancetta and bottarga (dried mullet roe) to harness greatness. It was so incredibly good, the Japanese eggplant turned green with envy.

Another surprise came from the dessert course and while I usually don’t recommend olive oil cake, this was the best I’ve ever had. But considering it’s still just olive oil cake, it’s hard for me to get so excited that I can declare it an Ultimate. I suppose it is though, trouncing the likes of Maialino and The Inn at Pound Ridge.

The apples were also good, basically a deconstructed crumble. And the sorbets were delicious as well, the best being the kiwi.

And last but not least, a shout out to the cocktails. The basil gimlet was nice and refreshing and the La Serenissima was nice and spicy. But while it had its moments, it had its misses. Too many, if you ask me, to ever call it one of the top new spots in the city.

2 teeth