Alta

64 W 10th StNew York, NY 10011 • (212) 505-7777 • altarestaurant.com
Finally, a newbie with rave reviews that actually lives up to them! Yes, Alta is Al that (and a bucket of chicken). Set in a somewhat odd location for a tapas joint, an old Amish home (pictured). But, hey, if it works, don’t knock it.

In terms of the tapas itself, the hit ratio was most admirable. Going 10 of 12 with not one thing being bad and only two mehs. So let’s do role call, from best to mehs:

Top of the list has to go to the ridiculous parker house rolls with dill butter. So good you’ll wanna open a vein. Also muy delicioso are the bacon wrapped dates and olives (granted you could wrap garbage in bacon and I’d probably eat it), the scallops are money, the Brussels sprouts with green apple are inventive and much lighter than so many other sprout dishes getting love these days, and two different desserts, the sundae and the lemon tart also rounded out the best of the best. But there is an MVP from the meal that I feel compelled to give a shout-out to, the wine. The Morgon Beaujolais is phenom. This is now the second time I’ve had it (first at Scarpetta) and it is right up there with Prisoner, for those who are fans.

Now back to the food. A notch down toward very good, I would list the buratta with black truffles, the short rib with beet parpadelle and horseradish slaw and lastly, the warm chocolate cake.

Bringing up the rear would be the fried goat cheese with lavender honey. It’s clearly trying to do the Italian ricotta and honey thing, but misses significantly. The other non-starter, get it? Is the agnolotti with yam, shroom and cheese. As I caveated above, it wasn’t bad, but with so many other hits, it was surrounded by tough competition.

Speaking of, Alta is, or should be, some major competition next time you are planning to go out, because chances are, the place you’re thinking of going to isn’t as good. The name says it all. Alta is tops.

Plage Belles Rives

32 Boulevard Edouard Baudouin 06160 Juan les Pins, France+33 4 93 61 02 79 • bellesrives.com

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According to legend, the Hotel Belles Rives is where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote Tender is the Night back in 1925 and while that may very well be true, it has little to do with the food at their restaurant, which at the end of the day is all I really care about. Sorry Scotty.

Funny coincidence, though, this place seems to be attracting famous writers ever since, because I actually dined with Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. Two writers I infinitely admire and while that alone should be worth 5 knives, the restaurant was not, even with its unprecedented writer juju.

The other thing Belles Rives has going for it is the view, but if you’re going to head all the way over to Antibes from Cannes, then I’m not exactly sure why you would stop here as opposed to Eden Rock, which is far more stunning on every metric imaginable.

But since this is where I was, and not at Eden Rock, I partook in a feast of average, starting with an octopus salad, tossed over potatoes, tomatoes and onion. This was chased by an unmemorable sea bream with potato puree, roasted tomato and passion fruit.

The unexceptional performance persisted through dessert with an inventive sounding sea urchin lemon meringue. And while you are probably wondering what kind of Chopped basket brought upon this insane combo of sea urchin in dessert form, please don’t spend too much time trying to figure it out, because the dish is nothing of the kind. It’s just a lemon tart in dome form, with meringue spines poking out all over the place to make it sort of loosely resemble the shape of a sea urchin. Sort of how the restaurant sort of resembles a place you might actually think was worth the money, but it isn’t.

Nonetheless, it will still be a meal I will never forget, because how often is it that you get to hang with geniuses the likes of Thomas Friedman and Maureen friggin’ Dowd?!

2 teeth

La Mirabelle

24 rue St Antoine 06400 Cannes, France • +33 4 93 38 72 75

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Located on the main drag in Old Cannes, I had actually eaten here many years ago and while I vaguely remember what I had to eat, I do recall that I drank a  wonderful bottle of Chateau Margaux. And funny enough, I also remember sitting downstairs in “the cave.”

This time we sat upstairs, however, in the cozy little dining room right by the bar in front of the kitchen where you get to witness all sorts of interesting theater play out before you. For example, just watching the waiters try and squeeze their way out through the spring door with trays full of food, whilst also navigating their footing on a tight spiral staircase leading down from the kitchen upstairs is almost as nail-biting as watching Danny MacAskill ride his bike on the precarious railing of a skyscraper.

The other thing that makes this a front row seat worth getting is that you will see all of the dishes on the menu before you order them, like the cote de boeuf, which looks like it is off the charts and only slightly smaller than the slab of cow Rocky Balboa used to train on. And then there’s the dorade, which we had and I must admit was very good. But a word of caution, both of those dishes are humongous and require sharing. So if you prefer an entrée all to your self, I definitely recommend the burger, served on a brioche bun, smothered in mushrooms, duck jus and black truffles. And while I found the burger meat to be somewhat mediocre and a little on the overcooked side for my tastes, the flavors were insane. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had better black truffles anywhere. So good, that I want to go and high-five the pig who sniffed them out.

The appetizers, conversely, were more like unappetizers and unfortunately so was the less than wonderful bottle of red this go around. I found the bread to be stale and the fried zucchini flower salad a bit tasteless. Even the caprese was nowhere near as good as the one I had earlier in the same day aboard a yacht. And while I don’t review yachts as of yet, should you ever be so lucky as to find yourself aboard the Grenedines III, ask for the caprese. It’s ridic. Oh, and yes, I am a complete and total douche for just name-dropping a friggin’ yacht. But as Ferris Bueller once said, “if you have the means, it is so choice.”

Ending strong, Mirabelle delivered with a tart lemon tart, topped with meringue florets and fresh strawberries which might be every bit as good as the one at Astoux and Brun. And the chocolate fondant is no slouch either, giving the one at Sushi Roku a run for its money.

3 teeth

Pomme Palais

New York Palace Hotel • 30 E 51st St. New York, NY 10022(212) 888-7000 • http://www.lottenypalace.com/dining/pomme-palais

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Midtown has no shortage of great patisseries, but please add one more to the list, located inside the New York Palace Hotel, and loaded with some of the best eclairs (pictured), tarts and danishes one could ever hope to pork out on. Everything is so diet-cheating good, you will be 10,000 calories in the hole before you even know what hit your waistline. But things are not just a feast for the stomach, Pomme will have your eyes drooling as well, with treats so stunningly designed you almost feel guilty biting into them, like gnawing on the side of the Mona Lisa.

They also have a handsome array of savory options as well, and an assortment of interesting teas and coffee to wash them down with, but I can’t vouch for any of them, nor how deep the bench is here, but of the four desserts I did try, all were merveilleux! That’s apparently good according to Google Translate.

Even the store itself is a jewel, making you feel as if Louis Vuitton has gone into the restaurant business or something. So skip Paris Baguette and Le Pain Quotidien down the street and fork over the extra coin for something well worth it. In fact, I love this place so much I’ll probably be upping it to five knives soon, after a little more “research.” Mmmm… research…

4 teeth

 

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

River Market

127 W Main St. Tarrytown, NY 10591(914) 631-3100rivermarketbarandkitchen.com

rivermarket-bar-and-kitchen

When I saw where it was located I have to admit that my skepticism grew exponentially. In a housing complex is usually never a good sign. But when we opened the door, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the décor. Contemporary lines. Earthy materials such as wood and brick. It’s very well done.

As for the food, the menu as a bit all things to all people with the intent of being farm-to-table. And while this would normally be a red flag for me, I kept my hopes up, because it is the sister restaurant of Crabtree, which I like very much. That said, it’s no Crabtree. And they wasted no time establishing that as the first major miss came with the first course.

The roasted oysters are a culinary crime against mollusk-kind. And at 18 bucks a crime against your wallet as well. Served tepid and tasteless.

Fortunately the other starter made up some ground. The seared foie gras with blackberries and caramelized apples was a solid good. Granted I’m not sure if I’ve ever met a foie gras I didn’t like, so please take that with a grain of salt.

As for “solid good” that was pretty much the theme from there on. The swordfish entrée and the spicy lobster linguini as well as the lemon tart were all just that- good. Nothing rose to excellent or sank to ridicule.

Not a must-try place. But if you’re in the area and aren’t sure what you want, chances are they’ve got you covered for a nice meal. Also, if you have kids, it’s a nice spot for an early dinner. Sort of like Village Social in Mount Kisco.

3 teeth