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Whitney Museum • 945 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10021(212) 570-3670untitledatthewhitney.com

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If you’re paying a visit to the Whitney Museum this makes for a nice, easy brunch before working your way up into priceless works of art on the floors above. It’s set on the garden level, which is a nice way of saying basement in New York City. But it’s not as dismal as that sounds. We were overlooking Jeff Koons sculptures on the veranda, so you could do worse as “gardens” go.

As for the service, it’s friendly and quick. But when it comes to the food, I would take many of the swooning reviews you see on Yelp with a sizable grain of salt. The cheesy scramble and the goat cheese, mushroom and asparagus omelet are both just adequate. What one might expect from a museum café. Granted the cheese grits are nice plus as a side.

The salmon tartine also doesn’t manage to wow either, but again, for a museum café it’s on par or slightly better than one might expect- granted it is a Danny Meyer museum restaurant.

That said, the French toast is quite the work of art. Best thing at the table by far. Made with a hint of citrus zest that ever so slightly brightens up the dish, taking it out of heavy-ville and planting firm roots in my-god-I-wish-I’d-ordered- that. Hence why I stole some from my 3 year old daughter. What? It says “ferocious,” not “fluffy” foodie.

3 teeth

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Birchwood Café

3311 E 25th St. Minneapolis, MN 55406(612) 722-4474birchwoodcafe.com

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Located in more of a residential area, you feel like you could be on Montana Street in Santa Monica (granted it only feels like this in the Summer, of course). It’s so hippie, granola cool. And such great food. I had the sweet corn waffle with the kitchen sink on top (pictured). It was near perfect minus the fruit on top- I think that pushed it over the edge of trying to do too much. I mean one should one expect so much from waffle in general as a rule in life.

The French toast was also kickin’. As are the drinks. The only downside is the line, so get there early. Like right when they open. It’s worth being seen with bed-head in public.

4 teeth

Le Jardin Du Roi

95 King St. Chappaqua, NY 10514(914) 238-1368lejardinchappaqua.com

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This is a very hard review for me, because various aspects of our experiences here are so vastly different from one another, that it’s difficult to distill it all into one knife count. So, please read on, and you will better understand my conflicted review.

Décor Outside: 4 knives. The outdoor seating area is very charming in a little garden right off King St., perched high on a patio with dappled light pouring through the trees above. A true “jardin” setting to its name.

Inside Décor: 2 knives. The inside seating feels a quite dated and run down. Especially the bathrooms. Granted I suppose one can’t be too particular about where one goes to pop a squat.

Staff Service: 2 knives. Apart from being slow, they were also quite bad. For example, we ordered two Arnold Palmers and apple juice for my son. When they delivered the drinks, they even cut the apple juice with iced tea! Fortunately, he quickly remedied the situation. Then, after ordering our meal, I am told they are out of mustard for the burger! A place that is SO well known for its burgers completely ran out of Dijon by 12:45pm during Sunday Brunch?!? This is sacrilege to me. And while this last one is the tiniest of nits, it’s indicative of the sloppiness at large. Upon paying the bill they delivered the check, post running my credit card, without a pen. Details people. Details.

Owner/Manager Service: 5 knives. This makes up for a lot. Joe came by, asked how we were doing. We told him it was our first time at his restaurant and that we had just moved to the area. He was very friendly, talked to us a while. Made us feel right at home, and even gave us a complementary order of French Toast. For this alone, we happily returned… for dinner.

Brunch: 3 knives. The burger was indeed good. Charred perfectly on the outside, juicy on the inside. Good quality meat. The lobster roll was just okay, as was the lobster salad that my wife had. And the French Toast was very good, maybe because it was free. Maybe because it was just really good. A simple baguette soaked through with eggy goodness.

Dinner: 1 Knife. So, as I mentioned above, we happily returned. But unfortunately “happily” was not how we left. Service was noticeably better and Joe was as friendly as ever, but man is the dinner menu bad. The salad with goat cheese and spinach wontons was meh. The special sole almondine with ratatouille was just okay. The bouillabaisse was flavorless and the moules frites was a shell of the one served at Red Hat. And the bread pudding was an edible nail in the coffin. So bad I felt the need to go back and update this review, docking it a knife.

And so, there you have it, my NEW net, net… two knives

2 teeth.

 

Asiate

Mandarin Oriental 80 Columbus Circle New York, NY 10023(212) 805-8881http://www.mandarinoriental.com

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The view alone is worth the visit, but the food doesn’t disappoint either. Well, for the most part.

The wife and I had the brunch tasting menu comprised of 4 appetizers, two mains and two desserts. Of the apps, the ahi tuna and the butternut squash soup were both a tad on the blah side. The foie gras terrine and the edamame empeñada were much better.

The stand outs, came during the mains. All four were excellent. I went breakfasty, if that’s a word, with the caramelized banana french toast and the BLT and egg. While the wife went more lunchy, choosing the sweet potato ravioli with market veggies and the striped sea bass. I honestly can’t tell which of the four was the best, they were all that excellent.

Then, came dessert, a chocolate mousse and an apple cake. Both, unfortunately were lack luster, ending us on a down note.

That is, until you stop by the treat station on the way out, where you can load up on goodies to take home. And just like that, all was right with the world again.

4 teeth

Swine

531 Hudson St. New York, NY10014 • (212) 255-7675 • swinenyc.com

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I definitely think Swine is a solid 3.5 knives, but like I said, halvsies is an operational bitch so unfortunately I have to round down based on a few misses below.

But first let’s start with decor. Swine, as one might expect from the name, is a wonderful dive. And I mean that in the best, Guy Fieri sorta way.

As for service, it was excellent. Our waiter was very attentive and helpful with recommendations- plus, he gave us two free glasses of Muscat with dessert, because it was the wife’s b-day.

Now, as for the recos, he was mostly on point. For example, his reco on the Six Point Crisp beer was spot on. LOVED it. So was his call on both apps. First, the watermelon salad- yes, we got a salad, because we needed some form of escape from the rest of the fleshy gluttony that ensued. And besides, it was AWESOME. Best I’ve ever had. The parm is such a nice salty contrast with the melon. Plus, with the peppery arugula and cayenne spiced balsamic- it was WAY better than the feta versions you see everywhere else.

The other app was the nacho potato chips, smothered in three cheeses, jalapenos and pork belly. In a word, “heart-attack-inducing-yum.”

As for the burger, it’s definitely good, but I actually found that its accoutrements overpowered it. I liked it better clean (like Minetta Tavern). Otherwise it’s virtually impossible to taste the marrow- much less to discern that it’s brisket vs. ground beef. Also, the potatoes/fries that come with it are also awesome, not that I needed anymore after the “nachos”- but let’s not be judgey right now in the middle of my review.

As for Wifey, she didn’t fare as well. First, her Pinot Noir by the glass was a bit blah. And the pork porterhouse she ordered was a touch overcooked/dry. Still good however. Especially with its accompaniments.

And tlast but not least, dessert. Only one to choose from on the menu, but you only need one if it’s good, and this was killer! And by killer I mean I think my cholesterol was over 400 by the time we strolled out of there. -Oh, what was it, you ask? Basically french toast topped with Guinnesss ice cream and homemade cinnamon frosting. I think my arteries are pissed at me, but at least it was worth it.

Oh, and best of all, the value. We got a ton of food and drinks and barely broke a hundred. Hard to do in the NYC.

3 teeth

Penny Lane

Camino Del Colegio S/N | Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas 23400, Mexico • Phone: 526241225560

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I love this place! So charming. Something you’d expect to find in Santa Monica, CA. Trendy, yet quaint, with its patio roofed by an open lattice of dark wood beams, adorned by an eclectic mix of lanterns.

The server was very warm and attentive.

And the food was stellar. A range of brunch usuals that you’d expect to find in virtually any place of its kind, but made with farm to table ingredients, so everything is delicious. Even the juices and smoothies are great. As is the complimentary blueberry muffin, which is the “bread.”

I had the eggs benny, which was solid. Served with a yummy potato salad that boasted a local spin on ingredients (black beans, cilantro, corn).

But my son had the winner- the French toast with vanilla caramelized bananas. Deadly.

4 teeth