Serge Birbrair International Cuisine of New York City Review

"A true gastronome should always be ready to eat, just as a soldier should always be ready to fight.”
~ Charles Pierre Monselet

I am sure there are cities out there with more diverse cuisine than New York City, I just don't know them.
The last trip to the Big Apple was marked with the visits to ethnic restaurants we don't see much (if at all) in South Florida.

updated July 3, 2007

French Restaurant
Eleven Madison.
11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

Location: Midtown Manhattan.

The wine list of the place is the size of the Gideon Bible, so Michael whoi was buying the dinner gave me the "budget":
Daily GNP of Cambodia.

And so we went.....

For starters:
2002 Jacques Prieur Corton-Bressandes
Lots of pedegree in this young one. Perfect balance will be achieved after oak fully integrates. Definate buy.
94 points

To continue with:
2002 La Pousse d'Or Corton-Clos du Roi
Still a bit harsh , scratchy tannins and stemminess. Lacks certain finnesse. My younger dining companians liked it more than me. So did Tanzer.
90 points

with the main course: 1966 Château Gruaud Larose
Light color with not much bricking, ruby, more Burgundy like than Bordeaux. Has enough stuffing to go and go for years. Definate "age before beauty".
90 points

and the finish with deserts:
2002 Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher Welschriesling TBA #8 Zwischen den Seen
dark golden color, peach, honey on the nose, and pleasant acidity to tie it all up. Outstanding!

Here is the menu:
Hors d’oeuvres
Royal Sterling Caviar
“Vichyssoise” of Caraquet Oysters
“Insalata Caprese”
Buffala Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Wild Scottish Langoustine
“En Gelée de Bouillabaisse” with Cape Cod Bay Crab
Êlevages Périgord Foie Gras
“Mille Feuilles” with Bing Cherries and Pistachio, Sour Cherry Brioche
Chilean Turbot
“Sous Vide” with Saffron Fumet, Ratatouille and Tarragon
Nova Scotia Lobster
Slow Cooked with Bacon Custard and Sweet Corn My Dish of the Night
Four Story Hill “Poussin”
Poached with Hawaiian Prawns and Vin Jaune
Jamison Farm Lamb
Roasted Loin, Braised Shoulder and Sautéed Sweetbread with Artichokes
Lynnhaven “Chèvre Frais”
Heirloom Beets, Laudemio Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel
Green Market Strawberry
Sorbet with Champagne “Meringue” and Mint
Araguani Grand Cru Chocolate
Symphony with Caramel and Maldon Sea Salt

Greek Restaurant
125 West 55th Street (between 6th and 7th avenues)
Tel: 212.245.7400

Location: Midtown Manhattan.

Another day and another blast dinner at Milos. I loved the concept of the place:
throw fresh fish on the ice open display in the middle of the dining room, charge prices thru the nose and pack the place with fish lovers who love the freshness and variety....revolution in the making,
and I salute this recent addition to the New York dining scene!

MikeW was hosting and was the wine picker. Incidentally he was the biggest authority on whites at the table.
We started with Greek wine, as I recalled dinner with Thomas in NYC and that Greek white we had was very impressive.

2006 Viognier, Gerovassiliou - Macedonia, Epanomi, Greece
Light straw color, fresh and crisp, very aromatic nose solid midpalate and medium finish. Great starter by all means, I'll look for it in the stores. 91 mental points.

2005 Emmerich Knoll Grüner Veltliner Smaragd "Vinothekfullung", Austria
I like Grüner Veltliner, 05 was a great year, but the nose was shut. Dark yellow color, mineralic finish. 89 mental points

2005 Leo Alzinger Riesling Smaragd "Steinertal", Austria
The wine hasn't left an impression besides being rather light. MikeW, let's try German the next time!

2002 Batard-Montrachet, Gagnard-Delagrange, France My very first white Burgundy and I am now ruined for life - the best Chardonnay I ever had and I thought I didn't like Chardonnay! 93 mental points

1999 Château d'Yquem, France
Elegance and pedegree were jumpimng out of the glass, tremendous effort in the so-so year. Solid 94 mental points.

Here is the fish we had:
Scorpion Fish and what a beauty!
Turbot and Sea Brim
Fish after cooking
Needless to say I finished all the heads, I think my friends got used to it by now.

So far, the 2 dinners were the BEST gift I could have gotten for my birthday, thanks guys, you brought tears to my eyes.

Russian Restaurant
Tatiana Night Club and Restaurant
3152 Brighton 6th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11235
(718) 891-5151

Location: Brighton Beach, Boardwalk.

My first visit at Tatiana, but hopefully not the last.
What can I say?
Too much food, very GOOD food, indeed, too much vodka, too much fun and good show on top of it.
We had great time and no disapointments here. I wish a few friends reading this were there as well, hopefully on my 60th. Cheers!

Uzbeki Restaurant
63-42 108th St, Queens

Location: Forest Hills

MikeW and Katie enjoying the food and Van Gogh vodka. See full review below

Italian Restaurant
Il Cortile
125 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

Location: Little Italy, Downtown Manhattan

We have chosen the new to me Italian restaurant for a grand finale of our New York trip and so we went to Il Cortile in Little Italy. The wine list was rather pathetic, no vintage years, which is always a sign of mediocrity. I ordered a bottle of 2004 Nipozzano Chianti Riserva and Ceretto Barolo, 2001. The wine arrived and was opened behind my back, so I saw the bottles for the first times when they were brought to the table opened. I had to ask for a taste to make sure the wine was OK. The glasses were shaped like balls, not Burgundy, not Bordeaux, not Syrah, not any varietal glasses I know.

The server poured the bottle to 6 of us and the levels of the pours were all different!!!! Amazing!!!! The wine service were solid D-

The restaurant redeemed itself with a very good food, not a single dish we ordered was a disapointment and everybody enjoyed their choices. Chef's Sampler Antipasto ... A variety of cold and hot Antipasti served family style is a must.

To add a salt to the wound created by poor wine service, the restaurant added 20% tip to the bill, which explains total indifference of the waiter of our satisfaction. I do NOT recomend this place to anybody.

Updated February 2, 2007

Indian Restaurant
880 River Road, Edgewater, New Jersey
(201) 313-0555

Location: Across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

Our favorite Indian place in the area.
Excellent selections of Indian breads, very friendly staff and
BYOB with decent stems. Lamb shank is my favorite dish.
New York Times rates Kinara as "Very Good".
I rate it: "Worth the trip from Manhattan"
Inexpensive place and for every budget.

Malaysian Restaurant
Taste Good
82-15 45th Street
Elmhurst, Queens, NY 11373

Location: Elmhurst, Queens

Their second location in China Town was our favorite place in the city,
but it was closed, so we had no choice but to get ourselves on the subway and ride to Queens.
The original place is only 25 yards from the subway station, which wasn't bad at all.
Two our favorite dishes were no longer available: pork belly hot pepper soup and stingray,
but....the owner Helen Thong has promised us them both when we revisit her place in June.
Not too many customers come from Florida and travel to Queens just to visit their favorite restaurant.
We were the only non Asian customers in the place - always a sign of a good quality as far as ethnic food is concerned
BYOB and bringing your own stems is highly recommended.

My rating:
"Worth a subway ride from Manhattan"
Very inexpensive.

Turkish Restaurant
1030 Second Avenue, New York, 10022
(second location)

Location: East Village

Not the best Turkish food we ever had. Friendly staff, good ambiance,
chef has to work some more on the meats. No liver, no kaymak.
BYOB, no corkage fees, decent stems good enough for 1975 Pichon LaLande.
I'll look for another Turkish places in the City.

Spanish Restaurant
Cafe Espanol
172 Bleecker Street
Greenwich Village, New York, 10012
(original location)

Location: Greenwich Village

I've been going to this place for the last 25 years and it's not what it used to be.
Mariscada Ajillo was lacking ajillo (garlic), potato chips were nothing the way I remember them,
and even Pulpo (Octopus), one of my favorite dishes, was not anywhere near the way it used to be in the past.
My wife was wondering WHY I was raving so much about the place, and so was I.
BYOB, $15 corkage fee, so-so stems
Time to find another Spanish restaurant in Manhattan.

Italian Restaurant
La Mela
167 Mulberry Street,
Little Italy, New York - 10013

Location: Little Italy

Another disappointment. The restaurant has expanded and now includes the adjacent building,
but the food quality has suffered. The family atmosphere the original owner used to blanket everybody with is gone as well.
Oh well....
We'll try Brooklyn in June, our friends have a few places they were raving about.

Japanese Restaurant
Sushi Yasuda
204 East 43rd Street
New York City 10017

Location: Near Grand Central / United Nations

One of the best sushi we've had outside of Tokyo.
We hadn't had reservation FOR LUNCH and got there by accident - somebody cancelled their reservation.
We were the poorest dressed customers in the room, most of the customers were in business suits.
I don't know what led the Metro'D take us in, probably the few words I learned in Japan did the trick.
Elegant, well prepared sushi which requires no dipping, all rice is seasoned and requires no further sauces.
Even my wife who is NOT a sushi lover was impressed with the place.
Expensive, but...Toro (high fat tuna bellies) are 1/3 of the price from Las Vegas Sushi top notch sushi places.
Top notch, and I'll gladly go back there.

Good 'ole American
Bridge Cafe
279 Water Street
New York 10038

Location: South Street Seaport

The mussels appetizer was a top notch, but the main course was disappointing. Neither rib eye nor skirt steak were impressive.
BYOB and stems. Expensive. This is not the best Americana New York has to offer.

Ethiopian Restaurant
124 Macdougal St, Manhattan, NY 10012

Location: Greenwich Village

This was our least favorite restaurant on this trip.
Small, located in the basement, eating with hands was never my cup of tea.
The promised "prime cut meats" were barely chewable. I've been at this place twice:
first and LAST time. BYOB and stems and be willing to wait for your table.
Outrageously cheap and for a good reason.

Uzbeki Restaurant
63-42 108th St, Queens

Location: Forest Hills

This was our #1 favorite, the kosher Uzbeki restaurant owned by the immigrants from the former USSR.
I am familiar with the food and no wine was brought with us - vodka is a drink of choice with Uzbeki food.
We started with cold appetizers:
pickled cucumbers, Korean carrots, babaganush and home made specialty bread which can give French bakeries run for the money.
Uzbeki soup shurpa is the dish in it's own right, made of lamb on the rib stock with potatoes, spices and chick peas.
This was followed by all sorts of kebabs, sweetbreads. Lamb testicles kebab is worth a special note.
I never had kosher lamb testicles before and was pleasantly surprised, I recommend it highly for the adventurous types.
Even if you don't like them, you'll have something to talk about for many years to come. Not your every day food.
Closed Saturdays and I make sure we re-visit the place every time we go back to New York.
Inexpensive, dinner for 6 was less than $200, including tips and home take out. No leftovers, the food was THAT good.
Worth a trip from Manhattan, Long Island, Florida, West Coast and even overseas.

Chinese Restaurant
Big Wong
67 Mott St. China Town, New York
212 964-0540

Location: China Town

Our lunch place and what a place this is! Before you order, make sure that you order from SILVER menu,
which is authentic Chinese, the gold menu is for tourists from Nebraska.
Excellent quality, fast service, soup with wantons is a MUST.
(don't ask stupid questions "what is inside" and you'll be fine)
EVERYTHING is good there, from duck to beef which is practically melts in your mouth.
I'll go back again, and again, and again.

Net gain in 10 days - 5 pounds, due to the very cold weather which impeded on our walking.

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