Marea

240 Central Park SNew York, NY 10019 • (212) 582-5100 • marea-nyc.com

Poetry comes in many forms and at Marea, that form is fish, named after the stunning Tahitian island and for good reason, this place is stunning. Not so much from a décor perspective, although it is clean and elegant. The food, however, handily solidifies this as one of the top places to get your fish on in the city.

And oh boy is it on. Starting with the seared yellowtail, blistered carrots and potatoes. It is so ridic, I can’t even remember how to spell the other half of that word.

Also swoon-worthy is the lobster caprese, which is essentially as it sounds, in other words, really friggin’ good.

The octopus starter is also very good, but I did find it to be the least inventive of the three and not quite at the same caliber.

For entrees, I only had my one, but one is all it took. So good I’m glad I didn’t share. Perfection on a plate, although when I tell you the accompaniments you’re going to think I lost my marbles. Lettuce and pistachio. Yah! That’s it. How it could be so good can only be described in a word, magic. AKA butter.

Come dessert, this is my only caution, because there is a miss in the midst. The affagato is made with WAY too much coffee to the point where it throws the who thing off balance and basically tastes like a cup of coffee with cream in it. For true affagreatness, I recommend Fortina in Westchester and Stamford, CT. But fret not, dessert is not a total bust. Case in point, the donuts, warm, deep fried proof dipped in lemon crème and chocolate. Oh daddy!

Now for my only real gripes. The wine list, while decent is a bit pricey. And although I sincerely appreciate the wait staff’s sensitivity to hovering by letting us have our space, it is at the peril of attentiveness, because if you don’t ask for things your meal can easily turn into a seven-hour time vortex. Which brings up a very real dilemma, because as you know, I HUGE pet peeve of mine is being rushed out of a restaurant for turnover sake. But I guess my frustration lies somewhere in the middle. Can’t we find a happy medium?

That’s really it though. Marea is pretty perfect. No need to come off as one of those people who is so bored with life, they have to find shit to bitch about. So I’ll shut up now and you go to Marea.

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Nico Osteria

1015 N Rush StChicago, IL 60611 • (312) 994-7100 • nicoosteria.com

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Nico is probably much better for lunch or dinner than it is for breakfast, so to be fair, please take this review with a huge grain of salt, after all, I had plenty to spare considering how insanely salty my eggs were. Between the prosciutto and capers I think my blood pressure rose a good 50 points on the spot, not to mention the salt they probably used in the dish itself. It was so strong I had to scrape off all of the mix-ins and just ate the eggs by themselves so that my arteries didn’t pop like water balloons.

On the plus side, the orange juice and the tea were both good and the décor is chic enough to hold up to the Thompson hotel it calls home. As for service, it was a touch non-attentive considering I was only one of two people in the restaurant.

1 tooth

Blackbird

619 W Randolph St. Chicago, IL 60661(312) 715-0708blackbirdrestaurant.com

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The first thing that struck me when I entered Blackbird was that the décor is very white without a morsel of black to be found anywhere, ironically. The other thing I noticed is that while the service is very friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, they are also unbelievably slow, to the point of distraction, taking 40 minutes just to take our order and that was only because I flagged him down. Not even bread or drinks came in this time. And once they did, our waiter dripped the wine all over the table and down the sides of the glass EVERY time he poured it. It was so bad I think I’ve seen less dribbling in the United Center!

Fortunately the wine was good (what was left of it after he dripped most of it on the table) and the Port of Call cocktail is just awesome and it comes with significantly less dripping, unless it’s self-inflicted. Also, I do want to mention that the wine list has some solid, affordable options and the bread was warm and yummy, served with a curried butter.

It was from that point on that Blackbird soared, from a tasty amuse bouche to a trio of incredible appetizers that resoundingly affirmed that this chef de cuisine got game!

The most creative of the three would be the panzanella salad made with sweetbreads and sweet bread. A fun play on words and ingredients, using Hawaiian bread as a sweet counterweight to the savory glands. As was the raspberry vinaigrette. But as good as it was, it was actually the weakest of the three, best by the turnip and foie gras soup. So creamy and rich you should have to pay luxury tax on every spoonful. And my favorite of the three, the endive salad, believe it or not. Served in a stunning bird’s nest (pictured) with a poached egg, crispy potato, basil, pancetta and dijon. Relatively simple, but positively brilliant.

Both entrees I tried were exceptional as well. Completely apples and oranges, but each superb in their own right. The halibut is perfectly cooked and artfully accompanied by peekytoe crab and gooseberries. It was also somehow both decadent (duck fat) and light at the same time. Whereas the beef striploin was a full on savory-palooza, cooked to perfection and surrounded by a wonderful chanterelle moat with additions of quince, horseradish and crispy polenta planks. Masterful!

The only miss of the night was the carrot cake, and by miss I actually mean that it was good, but in comparison to the complimentary eclair and the white chocolate bar I would skip it, because that complimentary duo beats the cream cheese out of that cake 10 times out of 10, and I’ve a HUGE carrot cake fan, so this is saying a lot.

What’s also saying a lot is that not since the Purple Pig have I had a meal this good in Chicago. Granted I haven’t been to Alinea yet, so stay tuned.

4 teeth

The Carlton Restaurant

InterContinental Carlton Hotel • 58 bd de la Croisette 06400 Cannes, FR+33 4 93 06 40 06 • http://www.intercontinental-carlton-cannes.com/en/your-stay-in-cannes/carlton-restaurant/

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The best part about the Carlton is that it’s the Carlton. So centrally located on the Croisette it’s the true focal point of Cannes, perhaps even more so than the Palais itself. And with its stunning regal architecture  (pictured) you just can’t help but swoon over the outdoor patio setting, overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean.

But then the servers show up, or not as is often the case, and just like that, the glow starting quickly slipping away. Well, not that quickly I suppose, because it can easily take 30 to 40 minutes before they even notice you’ve been seated. On the plus side, they are friendly, but I’m guessing those smiles are more because they know they are about to bend you over a chair and wallet rape you. Yes, the Carlton is crazy pricey and the food is crazy not worth it. For example, 39 Euros for a lobster BLT that tasted like it came out of vending machine. My advice, stick to using it as a bar only and you’ll be happy.

But, if people watching is your thing, or networking, or being seen, then pull up a table, someone with be right with you… in half an hour or so.

2 teeth

Alcaravea

Av. Ignacio Zaragoza esq. 16 de Septiembre, Cabo San Lucas 23450, MX • 624-1-43-37-30

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From the moment you walk in, you can tell the place is special. The décor is warm and charming with it’s wrought iron railing and tasteful art. And the vibe manages to somehow honor both Italy and Mexico at the same time.

As for the service, it was very friendly and accommodating, but unfortunately the kitchen is a tad slow, so don’t go if you’re in a hurry.

That said, the kitchen takes its time for a reason- some of the dishes are simply incredible. So good that you will forget you are in Mexico. For example, the eggplant parmesan is easily on par with the best I’ve ever had. The pastas were also fantastic. And the special catch, Halibut, was incredible. Unfortunately, the veal was a big miss, as was the caprese salad and the antipasta platter.

Would’ve tried dessert, but because everything took so long, we just ordered ice cream for the kids thinking that would be quicker, but even that took forever to prepare, for some unknown reason.

Also, one other watch-out to consider, because they have a beautiful open façade, with wrought-iron and ivy, while it makes for a wonderful setting, if you are sitting next to it, prepare to hear lots of engine noise from the street, as well as to breathe in lots of exhaust. 😦

So all in all, a positive experience, but not without its detractors.

3 teeth

Arun’s Thai Restaurant

4156 N. Kedzie Ave. Chicago, IL 60618(773) 539-1909arunsthai.com

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5 knives for presentation. However, the service suffers because of it. Somewhat understandable when you see the presentations, after all, it must take some 30 minutes each to put together, carving carrots into butterflies and fowl, but it really ruins the flow of a tasting menu when you have to wait 30 to 40 minutes between each course. I ate there years ago and if they had a few more courses in the tasting I’d probably still be there! I also have to say that while the food was very good, it didn’t necessarily live up to the hype. For significantly less money I could have just as satisfying a Thai meal at Star of Siam (also in Chicago) in a fraction of the time. Hell, I could have 6 meals at Star, back to back, in a fraction of the time.

3 teeth