Le Coq Rico

30 E 20th StNew York, NY 10003 • (212) 267-7426 • lecoqriconyc.com

According to our waiter, the chef gave up his Michelin star to open this place. Which, in the echelons of stupid decisions, ranks right up there with Jordan’s decision to leave the Bulls so that he could play for the White Sox.

Why so harsh? Well, first because I’m ferocious. And second because this place is literally for the birds. It also just might be the first place I’ve come across that’s as overpriced and overhyped as Eleven Madison Park. Not one thing was amazing save the price tags, ringing in at digits you’re more likely to see at The Strip House. But without the gluttonous satisfaction you at least get from a steakhouse meal.

The Plymouth Rock whole Chicken for example, rings in at nearly $100 and is no better than the one you get at Whole Foods for less than the sales tax on this bird. But shame on us for listening to our waiter who always recommended the most expensive thing on the menu and never chose a single winner, including the wine, going 0 for 3.

The blah continued, even with a layup like seared foie gras, which is actually the first time in my life that I didn’t finish this dish because it was so bland. The terrine version is much better, but even that failed to truly impress me. It’s just the better of the two options if you simply must dine on goose liver.

The fries are also just okay, again, grossly over-hyped by comparison to the likes of the Phoenician Fries at Ilili. Even the profiteroles for desert were a big ole ball of meh.

In fact, the only dish of the night I would feel comfortable recommending is the artichoke salad with gizzards. It’s quite good and between that and the décor it’s just barely enough to keep this place from getting one knife… Barely.

Waka

95 King St. Chappaqua, NY 10514 • (914) 861-2727 • wakafusion.com

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I have only actually been there once, so most of this review is based on delivery, which I have done about fifty times. Usually for sushi, although this last time I tapped into their pan Asian offerings and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised on the Chinese. Thai not-so much.

But first let’s get back to the basics. The décor is contemporary and clean. Service is warm and friendly, with that local, small-business vibe about it.

And as for the sushi, it’s pretty impressive by delivery standards. I honestly don’t think we have better sushi delivery in Northern Westchester. In fact, when we lived in the city we didn’t even have better fish. Which is really what makes Waka shine. They seem to always get extremely fresh tuna, salmon and yellowtail. Eel is cooked so it doesn’t count.

They also have a ton of inventive rolls, but freshness is obviously the true measure of a Japanese restaurant. You can always hide sub-par fish beneath a gaggle of maki companions and still make it taste good.

So apart from Azuma in Hartsdale (haven’t tried Nanase yet), there’s none better in the burbs.

And to think that they can pull off Chinese well too? Two hats off. The Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce was on point and so was the crispy shrimp with pineapple. Haven’t ventured into their lo mein as of yet. Or any of the other Chinese, staples, but I will, so stay tuned.

Unfortunately they fall WAY short of the trifecta, however. Their Thai needs some serious help. Both the pad Thai and red curry beef tasted like the cardboard partition they stick in the delivery bag.

But please don’t let that discourage you from giving them a try, after all, doing two things well is still mighty hard. Heck, Michael Jordan couldn’t even do it!

3 teeth

Norman’s

4012 Central Florida Pkwy Orlando, FL 32837(407) 393-4333 • normans.com

MONGO+VEAL

Oh Yelpers, I find it laughable that you compare the service here to the likes of the French Laundry. I have been to both and it’s like comparing Michael Jordan to some guy who owns a basketball. The sommelier , while good, was an apprentice as opposed to a master. The waitress and back servers made several mistakes including taking away a plate while my friend was still chewing and leaving a newly presented dish go unexplained. I think you’re letting the fact that it’s in a Ritz Carlton fool you. Now I’m not deducting a knife or anything for this, but I am calling bullshit on the “impeccable” service.

And as for the romantic décor, it isn’t. It’s nice. But you can’t help but notice you are in an expansive hotel wing.

But don’t think this is another bash session on Yelpers, after all, they got a few things right. For example, the Yucca stuffed shrimp with habanero was very good. I expected a little more heat from the dish, but it’s still definitely worth ordering. Another great recommendation was the pork belly served with an artichoke puree, brussel sprouts and a sherry reduction. Best thing we ordered. And finally the key lime cheesecake was another solid call from the Yelping contingent.

But here’s what they missed:

The ciabatta bread is insanely good, tasting more like a beignet than ciabatta to me, but no complaints there. Just try to control yourself or you’ll never make it to dessert. I know, I sound like your mother.

Another miss is the consensus of praise for the fried green tomatoes. I’m guessing most of these people have never had the dish before because it’s typically savory and even a touch tart. Whereas Norman’s serves it in a tempura batter with a tomato jam on top that turns the dish decidedly sweet, which isn’t to say it was bad, but when you order an iconic dish, your mouth starts to prepare itself for a certain set of expected flavors, so to zag so drastically from it just didn’t work for me.

And the biggest infraction of the night was the chicken. So overcooked and dry it was humiliating… for the chicken. To have died in vain for such poor performance is a poultry tragedy. And while the preparation surrounding it was nice, it was brought down by its headliner.

The second biggest miss came right on the heels of the chicken, with the Havana Banana dessert. And normally I’m bananas about bananas, but this dish is so unworthy of the hype I almost want to hunt down the Yelpers who touted it and pull out their tongues because they obviously aren’t using them properly.

Funny enough, however, the free dessert that comes with your check was the best of the lot. The dark chocolate, hazelnut truffles are incredible. Great way to end a good meal. And while I am only giving it three knives, it’s definitely better than Primo across the way, which I also gave three knives. So consider this an honorary three and a half.

3 teeth

Señor Tango

Vieytes 1655 , Barracas, Buenos Aires 1275 , AR • (54-11) 4303-0231 • http://www.senortango.com.ar
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While this place is the living definition of a tourist trap, I can’t help but recommend it, solely on the basis that it will likely be one of the most surreal dining experiences of your life.

As you enter, you can’t help but be taken back by the airplane hanger-sized dining room. But what’s more impressive than that is that these walls that stretch to infinity are all coated in framed photographs of Señor Tango himself (yup, he’s a real person) posing with just about every celebrity imaginable. You name ‘em, they’re on there. Stallone, Goldie Hawn, Pacino, President Obama, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan… I could go on and on, just like the wall, but I’ll spare you, because there’s so much more to tell.

So, after your 10-minute walk back to your table, you will find yourself overlooking a rather substantial stage for a restaurant. But, this is more than just a restaurant. This is dinner theater at its finest, and by finest I mean cheesiest.

Now, as I start the four paragraph of this review without so much as a single word about food, I feel compelled to say that it’s just eh. But that’s not why you MUST still go here. That reason is coming in paragraph five.

Some three bites into my Argentine steak a man on a horse comes rushing past me, leaping up onto the stage. In a restaurant! That apparently has no health codes. And not just one horse, but two!!! And that’s not even the weirdest part! On one horse there’s a pilgrim and on the other an American Indian. There is a tense standoff for a minute or two, and then suddenly they break into what can only be described as a “horse tango?”

The Horse Tango is then followed up by an on-foot tango, as dozens of pilgrims and Indians join their respective sides of the scrimmage.

After that, a Gangster Tango wages between a pinstriped Mafioso, complete with Tommy gun and a roaring Twenties flapper.

And then came the piece de resistance, Señor Tango himself and some blond bombshell in a performance that quite literally took the art of tango to new heights. Yes, the stage had one last trick up its sleeve, a cylindrical platform that lifted the two of them high into the air, as they tangoed precariously on the narrow tip of this 15-foot tower.

Following his assertion of tango dominance, Señor Tango doesn’t stop there either. Oh no. He is a man of many talents and he is fully prepared to share ALL of those talents with you. So for his next act, vocals. Yes, Mister Tango will turn to you, the audience, and ask where you are from. Regardless of your answer, he will immediately break into the corresponding tune of that locale, swooning the likes of “New York, New York,” “Chicago,” “I left my heart in San Francisco,” “The last time I saw Paris” and “Back in the USSR”… It doesn’t matter. And you won’t be the only one. This goes on for at least half a dozen people. Fully distracting you from the meal and service, of which I only marginally recall.

I mean this guy is playing chess while you’re busy eating checkers. But please don’t let this discourage you from going, because once you appreciate him for who he really is, the Madonna of restaurateurs, then, and only then, have you TRULY been to Buenos Aires.