Clouds

Reeperbahn 1  Hamburg, Germany 20359 • +49 40 30993280 • clouds-hamburg.de
 

As the name would imply, this place is set atop a skyscraper “in the clouds,” overlooking the entire city with amazing views, particularly from the men’s room. Hands down the best urinal view ever. And speaking of penises, the building is right at the entrance to the Reeperbahn, which is the famous red-light district of Hamburg. But don’t let that scare you. These days the Reeperbahn is more for partying than for sexual escapades. Although there is an area within it so hardcore they don’t allow women. Rumor has it this is not out of sexism though, more to protect the customers from getting busted by their wives. It’s just bad for business.

But I digress, so getting back to MY business, let’s talk about the restaurant. Starting with the décor, which is definitely cool but clearly trying very hard to be trendy. The food also made a few worthy attempts, particularly amongst the starters, as both the duck fat fries and the asparagus were killer. As for the chateaubriand, I found it a touch on the chewy side, but decent. The sauce options, however, were very hit and miss. The red wine sauce being too watery, the Béarnaise lacking flavor and the peppercorn being the Goldilocks- just right!

Ending on a down note the desserts were all a miss for me and the so where the drinks. Their signature cocktail, the Green Goblin is like drinking a dayglow green, alcoholic sherbet you’d get at a Fat Tuesdays circa 1991, and our bottle of wine was also somewhat bland, not holding up to the meaty feast before us.

Teetering between two and three knives, I think I’m going to round up to a soft three. After all, that urinal view really is something to behold.

Konsolos

Meşrutiyet Caddesi No:56, 34430 İstanbul (0212) 219 6530 • http://www.konsolosistanbul.com
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Believe it or not, we walked out on a reservation at Mikla, listed as #96 on Pellegrino’s Top 100 list in the world, just to eat at Konsolos (unranked) instead, solely based on vibe/decor. Call me shallow (which is fair), but I’d say it’s more a case of Pellegrino letting those bubbles go to the brain. The crowd is Disney-hotel-depressing, filled with patrons in their 90’s or 9’s, all oohing and ahhing over a glass enclosed view that comes a dime a dozen at almost every major city around the world. So, trying to coast on view alone, the décor feels dated and sad. Especially by comparison to the top of The George Hotel where we had just come from having a drink and Konsolos, which we popped in for a peek just before arriving at Mikla. Sure, the food might be good (although a fellow foodie told us later that we dodged a bullet), but to be in the top 100 in the world, shouldn’t you be firing on all cylinders?

But enough about Mikla, let’s talk about Konsolos, and its striking dining room, which drafts its grandeur off of its former tenant, the American Consulate, set in a dramatic space where visas were once issued, they have since decked the place out to look like a Victorian masterpiece had sex with a black light poster from Spencer Gifts. I know that doesn’t sound all that appealing as I write it, but I can assure you it’s unequivocally stunning. Dare I say one of the most impressive decors I’ve ever laid eyes on and unfortunately even the photo above doesn’t do it justice, but just trust me. Hell, it made us pass up Mikla, didn’t it?

But this looker’s also got skillz, serving up Italian classics with a twist. For example, the rustic Italian bread comes with a tomato sauce for dipping, made special by the addition of mustard seeds, giving it a little heat, a little crunch and a lotta damn that’s good. Skip the other spread though. It’s walnut and soy based and it’s no contest.

The artichoke trio, while also interesting by Italian standards was pretty basic by Turkish ones, done in typical meze style, only instead of being topped with carrots and peas marinated in olive oil, it was topped with arugula and parmesan crisps, which kinda fell short on either side of cuisine expectations.

After that came the pastas and I have to say, mama mia Konsolos has game! Both the parpadelle ragu and the lamb shank fettucini were moist and delicious. Granted I think the parpadelle was actually fettucini and the fettucini was more like short cut spaghetti. Also, the lamb pasta was a bit over salted, but I think that was more due to the salt garnish around the rim of the plate. If you avoid mixing your pasta into it, or sliding your fork through it, you should fair much better than I did on my first two bites before discovering the culprit.

For dessert, while the profiteroles get full marks for inventiveness, they get very few marks for awesomeness. which was kind of a shame because we were both sorta hoping for a more faithful representation. Nonetheless, what you do get is a presentation not to be forgotten. The waiter actually pours liquid nitrogen (aka dry ice) over the ice cream at the table to create a crumbled “astronaut ice cream” effect next to the four different cream filled pastries. The pistachio cream was the best of the lot, followed by lemon and chocolate, with strawberry in the rear. But the pastries were too bready and the cream was too sweet. And the ice cream, well, it’s novel. I can say that. What I can’t say is that the meal lives up to the décor quite yet, but give this newcomer some time and I firmly believe greatness awaits, especially once winter hits and it becomes more en vogue to dine indoors.

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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.

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Limon

Yali Mevkii No:1, Gumusluk 48400, Turkey • Phone: 90 252 3944044 • limongumusluk.com

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I’ve spent three anniversaries in a row here, so suffice it to say that I like it. A lot. The view and  the setting make it such a wonderful departure from the same old harbor-side restaurants that make up virtually 90% of the places in the Bodrum area. But that’s only the half of it. Adorned with a quaint, eclectic mix of antique furniture and lanterns, you sit and dine in the middle of a olive tree field, overlooking the sea- taking in the natural beauty that is the Agean. The collective vibe sort of gives you the sense that you’ve been transported as a beatnik back to the 60’s. That is, until the inventive twists on Turkish classics, hit your table, like fried manti for example. Or blistered green beans in a classic olive oil dish, taking inspiration from the popular shishito peppers and then mixing it with incredibly fresh stewed tomatoes.

Scores of other things were also good. like the zucchini blossom dolma and this unusual bean salad that tasted like a cross between a lentil and a wheat berry, mixed with peppers and little crunchy bits of filo dough. The fish and octopus have also been very good. And most recently we did their special kofte (kebab), with a wonderful heat to it, tomato sauce and cubes of Ramadan bread which soaked up the juices from the meat and the sauce making it even more awesome than it’s already awesome self. One thing I highly recommend doing, which is not on the menu, is to ask for the sampler plate so you get to try a little of everything.

Dessert was the only spotty course. Ice cream is always a crowd-pleaser, but it’s nothing to swoon over. And the mosaic cake is also quite good, but not necessarily amazing. If you truly want to end on a high note, the strawberry cheesecake is the best of the bunch. More crust than cheese, which is atypical for cheesecake kind, but I honestly prefer it now that I’ve had it.

And last but not least, for such a trendy place, it’s nice to see that in three years the service has never dipped. But let’s be honest, no one is paying attention to the severs. The setting really is the true star here. Çok guzel (very beautiful) as they say in Turkish. Çok guzel indeed.

*Also, one MAJOR tip, go just before sunset. You’ll thank me.

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