The Gorgeous Kitchen

Heathrow Airport: Terminal 2 London TW6 1EW United Kingdom +44 7795 636840thegorgeouskitchen.com

heathrow_17581830304528_thumb-580x300

I’m not exactly sure I would consider this place gorgeous, but it is nicer than a Cibo Express. The service is also nice, I have to admit. And most importantly, the food is good. Damn good, actually. Fresh, clean and simple, which from what I gather is the concept here. A beauty-in-simplicity/nature, which is probably the real reason behind the name. Either that or it’s for more narcissistic reasons per the photograph above of the owners.

So simply put, the scrambled eggs with Scottish nova and grain toast are spot on delicious. Full of flavor because they start with choice ingredients that don’t need to be drown in a myriad of spices, herbs and condiments in order to get something out of it.

Even their fresh squeezed orange juice was impressive for a country not particularly well known for its citrus.

My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is that they are a bit stingy with the multigrain toast, which is pretty awesome. So be sure to ask for more or extra or both.

Not a bad way to spend a layover, I gotta say.

3 teeth

Advertisements

The Blanchard

1935 N Lincoln Park W. Chicago, IL 60614(872) 829-3971theblanchardchicago.com

ct-food-0902-review-blanchard-20150827

The chef comes from very good pedigree having worked at some of New York’s finest such as The Four Season (RIP), Le Bernadin and the Gotham Bar & Grill. But now he’s making a name for himself in Chi-town, serving up French cuisine with a twist. And some truffles. And foie gras. And sweetbreads.

Starting with the foie gras, this guy obvious loves it (either that or he hates geese), serving so many dishes with it he ran out of names for them and just starting using numbers. For example “Seared Foie Gras #1” and “Seared Foie Gras #2,” of which I had the latter, crusted with black truffles, candied lavender and in a Madiera sauce. And while it sounds transcendent, it was really nothing memorable, especially when compared to the much less sexy sounding foie gras hot dog, which is doggone delectable. Topped with foie gras mustard, coz why not? Onion confit and served on a brioche roll.

Of the rest of the starters the only other one I would recommend would be the scallops, so don’t fall for your waiter’s swooning praise of the Oueff Outhier. The presentation is certainly nice, basically scrambled eggs put back in the shell with vodka infused crème fraiche and caviar on top. It’s good, but the scrambled eggs at Gato in New York and Bar LaGrassa in Minneapolis both trounce the shell out of this dish.

But the most disappointing of all the starters was the sweetbreads with chicken mousse, artichoke puree and bacon fat. Surprisingly bland for something so artery clogging.

The entrée course faired much better with all three being good. Granted I found the filet of sole to be insanely overpriced. It’s sole people. Not soul. But the dish worthy of the most adoration was the rack of lamb, served with a ratatouille tatin, roasted tomato and eggplant caviar all nestled in a natural reduction. So good Shaun the Sheep would wolf it down.

But as the evening went on, things just kept getting better and better, either that or I was getting drunker and drunker. Or perhaps it was something in between. Well, whatever the reason, dessert was the icing on the cake, delivering three winners in the form of a pineapple galette with passion fruit pastry cream, frangipane (almond paste) and a crème fraiche gelato. This was followed by a crepe gateau with Grand Marnier cream and hot fudge. And the cherry on top was an Ultimate crème brulee, of which I am normally not even a huge fan. But I scarfed that thing down like it was the only thing I had eaten in weeks.

Service is very good, other then the oversell on the eggs. And the décor is very nice. Striking that balance between warm and contemporary quite skillfully. And thus rounding things out for a fantastic four.

4 teeth

Lupulo

835 6th Ave. New York, NY 1000 • (212) 290-7600 lupulonyc.com
e2ccee2011d06f0d40bb215884253c18

I’ve been to Lupolo twice now. Once for dinner and once for lunch and while neither of them changed my life, of the two I actually kinda lean more towards lunch, to be honest. The expectations are lower for that meal occasion, and I think that helps this place a lot. Because while Lupolo tries very hard to live up to the New York scene it doesn’t quite stick the landing when it comes to the caliber of cuisine.

In terms of décor, however, I find the vibe to be high energy and equally high noise level, almost reminiscent of a fish market with its nautical ropes, distressed wood and beautiful ocean blue sea tiles- mixed with a healthy dose of New York hip (pictured). In pleasant contrast, however, the servers are all Portuguese-nice. Maybe this is a stereotype I have, but one has to admit that as stereotypes go, it’s a pretty good one to have.

From dinner, the only real stand out was the mackerel spread. The octopus, red snapper cru and Iberico ham all falling into the vortex of yawn.

Whereas for lunch, the bacalhau a bras, an open face scrambled egg sandwich with salted cod flakes, potato and black olive proved much better. But I say this with a grain of salt, or more accurately, with several drops of hot sauce, because it was only with their hot sauce that I found the dish worthy of my love. So be sure to ask for it. Just also be sure to use it in moderation, because it’s muy potento.

2 teeth

Estadio

1520 14th St NW Washington, DC 20005 • (202) 319-1404 • estadio-dc.com
p

Hey Estadio, the Spanish Inquisition called. They want their décor back. I kid Estadio because I actually like the place, but the décor really is a bit much with its giant throne seating and iron studded everything. I’m guessing Medieval Times must’ve had a yard sale or something. Boom!

Okay, I’m getting snarky, but to be fair, I did say “like” and not “love,” which means there is plenty of room for improvement in this mixed bag. For starters, the sangria was just okay, as was roughly half the menu. The jamon crostini, the pork croquettes, the grilled octopus and the short rib over horseradish mashed potatoes all falling into the land of not.

A notch above the ho-hum were the sizzling shrimp floating in a garlic olive oil that was bread-dipping good. Not great mind you.

But with so much meh, how could I still manage to like it, you ask? Because three dishes soared. The salmon crostini was fantastic, making the jamon look like the pig that it was and the foie gras scrambled eggs with black truffle butter served over toast was also a top two boxer, miraculously done in such a way that kept the flavors on the lighter side, so it was nowhere near as heavy as it sounds. Not that I’d recommend going jogging afterward, but it’s not a gut-bomb either. Just the bomb.

But the front-runner of the night was the crispy Brussels sprouts dish with pine nuts and bacon. They were so damn good they were damn near an Ultimate, tasting a lot like the prep you’ll find at All’onda in New York. In fact, they were so indisputable, that they’re probably about the only thing in DC that you could get a Democrat and a Republican to agree on.

3 teeth

Boulettes Larder

Embarcadero Plaza 1 Ferry Bldg. San Francisco, CA 94111 • (415) 399-1155bouletteslarder.com

photo

I absolutely love the location of this place, tucked away in a corner of the stunning Ferry Building.. And the décor is awesome with the communal table right there in the kitchen. Plus, the tables outside with a majestic view of the bridge is pretty sweet too.

But the food, like so many other places in San Fran, aiming for clean and simple, nets out as basic and bland. It’s like some SF chefs think that just because the ingredients are local, organic and fresh, that that’s enough. But news flash, you have to actually do something with them!!! They have local, organic and fresh ingredients in Napa too, but they also actually bother to put some herbs, spice, sauce, or spin into the dish!

As a case in point I ordered the lobster and eggs, not realizing that it would be just that, pieces of lobster mixed into scrambled eggs. No herbs on top. No spice or marinade or butter on the lobster. In fact, I doubt they even used butter on the pan to cook the eggs. Or salt. I mean c’mon! Eggs without salt, why even bother? You might as well serve granola without yogurt or milk. Oh the humanity!

2 teeth

Gato

324 Lafayette St. New York, NY 10012(212) 334-6400gatonyc.com

eatsrev16f-4-web

Being that he is a millionaire several times over, it’s not like Bobby Flay needs my approval, but after Mesa Grill closed down in New York and Bar Americain should’ve never opened, I thought he lost it. Spread too thin between Throwdown, Iron Chef and Beat Bobby Flay. Well, apparently he found it again. In spades. Gato is purrrfect!

The décor walks that line between cool and casual, inviting and elegant, topped with great energy and phenomenal service. Not a morsel of attitude from host, to bartender to waiter. And very spot on with the recommendations, lining up three Ultimates and not a single miss amongst six plates and two drinks.

So let’s kick it off with the booze and an interesting wintery twist on sangria. Called Sangree, it’s made with Gamay, which is a black wine grape similar to Beaujolais, rye, orgeat (orangeflower water) and nutmeg. The other was a simple ole glass of red, but it was excellent. Ya gotta love it when the by-the-glass selections aren’t a consolation prize.

And while we’re on the subject of love, the roasted octopus with bacon, oregano and tangerine vinaigrette was so delicious I wanted to curl up in its tentacles and declare myself its bitch. But, the scrambled eggs with almond romesco, boucheron cheese and tomato confit toast were equally deft at sweeping me off my feet. So, suffice it to say that things began with an Ultimate love triangle.

Fortunately for me though, things started to taper off a hair from Ultimates-ville, otherwise my head might’ve exploded from bliss overload, like the guy in the movie Scanners. So on the merely fantastic side was the charred beef with blue cheese and broccoli rabe followed by the paella, which was very different from most, due to the absence of seafood, chicken or sausage. But even though it was entirely void of the usual suspects, this vegetarian version still managed to please. Especially as a nice complement next to the charred beef.

Perhaps the greatest reco of the night came next, the walnut brown butter cake, something I would’ve never ordered otherwise, especially with things like the tart tatin in contention (pictured). But I’m so glad I listened (for once), because head-to-head, the walnut easily reigned supreme and would be an ultimate if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever had a walnut cake before, so it seems a bit unfair to crown it from a sampling of one. So TBD on that for now. What isn’t yet to be determined, however, is that Gato is the cat’s meow.

5 teeth

Untitled

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

unt_slideshow5_pancakes

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

2nd Avenue Deli

162 E 33rd St. New York, NY 10016(212) 689-9000 • 2ndavedeli.com

thumb_600

Forget for a moment that it’s not on Second Avenue. It used to be, but some greedy landlord hiked up the rent and they moved. Yes, it would’ve been ideal for them to find a new location somewhere along Second Avenue, but I’m assuming they tried that. And in hindsight, I’m guessing they probably wished they had chosen a different name for the restaurant, but I imagine they never thought this would ever happen to them. Guess they should’ve maybe read a few history books, because being displaced is hardly a foreign dynamic to the Jewish people.

But enough about the move, because regardless of where this place is, it will always be the quintessential New York deli experience in my eyes.  Corn beef sandwiches the size of your head (pictured), but quality meat. Not just packed on there for gluttony sake like at Carnegie or Stage Deli. Same goes for their pastrami. Knishes and potato pancakes as good or better than Bubby used to make. Their eggs with lox and onions is killer. The best rugelach in the city. Best matzoh ball soup. Even the pickles and pickled tomatoes sitting their free, right on your table are worth writing about, hence I am. If you are a Jew, and live within 50 miles of this place and haven’t been there yet, you should be ashamed of yourself.

5 teeth

Cookshop

156 10th Ave. New York, NY 10011(212) 924-4440 • cookshopny.com

cookshop-huevos-rancheros

I went here for Mother’s Day brunch, so the stakes and expectations were high. My wife had already tried it once for dinner and was underwhelmed, but I kept hearing so many people rave about it that I convinced her to give it another try, and on her special day no less… (gulp!)

Fortunately, the place, and the Yelping, lived up to the hype. The bread basket alone is worthy of poem. That zucchini bread? Oh daddy.

As for the actual courses, for starters we tried  the deviled eggs and the chocolate, banana croissant and both were quite good. Personally, I was partial to the eggs though.

Then for the mains, I got the scramble with salmon and it was fantastic. The eggs were light and fluffy, and the biscuit they serve it on goes so damn well with the flavors and texture of the eggs, it’s like eating a charming, old married couple.

Speaking of married, wife also went with eggs, choosing the special quiche of the day, which was also quite excellent. Leeks and ramps I believe.

And my Mom, yes, she was there too, she got the cinnamon apple pancakes… and WOW! So good, but a bit much for an entire meal. Fortunately we did sharsies and got to have a little savory and a little sweet. The only way to fly.

But gun to my head, I’d stick with egg dishes. They REALLY know how to do their eggs at this joint. For example their huevos rancheros (pictured) is money as well. Granted I had the huevos at a subsequent visit. I mean c’mon, I’m not that much of a pig. Well, unless it’s on an expense account. 😉

4 teeth