Break out the confetti and champagne!! It's a perfect ten! Chef Chris Cosentino knows exactly how to work his way into that soft spot in my heart. All it took was a few of his crazy, funky, zany, inventive, and downright delicious over-the-top meat-filled culinary creations. Yes, that's right — I'm giving this place my first and only flawless 10/10 review, so buckle up for a long one as I explain why I'm so obsessed. You may know of Chris from his many stints on food TV, but I've found myself uncontrollably drawn to him because he cooks only the kind of food that he wants to eat. With his cooking, there's no remorse for pushing people's palettes to the edge of fear. Fear? Yeah, most of his food utilizes all of the delicious miscellaneous organs and obscure cuts of meat that many other chefs won't even dare to work with that most people don't ordinarily choose to consume — frequently involving complete nose-to-tail dishes. Fortunately for me, I share his love for well-prepared organ meats.
Just because I moved away from NYC doesn't mean I still don't have a few more gems tucked away to tell you all about. One of my more frequented go-to date night spots from my New York days is a tiny Portuguese restaurant located on the western edge of SoHo serving homey, upscale, and unusual food in a cozy, window-lined space that faces out onto the quiet, infrequently trafficked streets. I think Pao! still remains off-the-radar for most people and prior to Union Bar & Kitchen opening, it really was the only viable date night option in the area.
As a recent transplant from NYC to San Francisco with plenty of reasons to be back in NYC often, JetBlue's brand new Mint service definitely had my attention right out the gate. It's a premium service flight offered only between New York JFK and San Francisco SFO or JFK and Los Angeles LAX. Considering that most of my family is still in the New York area (and I frequently need to fly between SFO and JFK), it feels almost as if this service was designed specifically for me.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. It ain't easy finding great restaurants out in Silicon Valley, but they do exist if you look hard enough. Downtown Mountain View has proven over and over again that it's loaded with great spots and the Latin inspired tapas joint Cascal is no exception. Buckle up, this is gonna be a long one. But I guess that's bound to happen when you dine tapas style as a party of eight. I'll try to keep my commentary concise because honestly all of the food was really awesome.
Fort Lauderdale is a funny place. On one hand it's the place where everyone's Jewish Grandma goes when the Tristate weather is too cold and on the other hand it's a beachy, party-your-face-off Spring Break destination with a clubby nightlife scene. And yet somehow it works as both simultaneously. This visit happened to coincide with most college Spring Breaks, but that wasn't the reason I was in town. I was actually coming for a relaxing weekend, to lounge on the beach with my girlfriend and family and have a quick visit with Grandma. But, as you already know, no matter where I am, I'm going to seek out great food and this trip was no exception. So on Saturday night we headed to the downtown Las Olas strip to a loungey bar restaurant that was seriously called, wait for it, YOLO.
Delicatessen is a really interesting place. Located in the heart of Nolita, it's definitely a scene. You know, the kind of place where the cool people hang out. The ground floor is a nice, spacious, sunlit restaurant known for its classic American comfort foods like mac & cheese and burgers. These qualities also make it a very popular brunch destination. On top of all of this, the basement below Delicatessen is a sort of loungey nightclub that regularly fills up with models and the rest of the cool crowd. In general I try to avoid popular, sceney places like this, but I've found the food and experience at Delicatessen is great every time. They serve really good, quality food in a casual atmosphere without any of the pretension you might expect. They serve nice cocktails, have a good wine list, and serve big, hearty dishes making it a great spot for a date night or a meal out with the family.
*Editor's Note: I'm sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open. Along the Greenwich Village strip of MacDougal between Bleecker and 3rd Street, there is an extraordinary density of fast, cheap eateries and college-focused sports bars. This probably developed as a direct result of its proximity to the heart of NYU. Even with so many choices, I still always get excited when new additions arrive. For instance, this week I was treated to the opening of Dogmatic, a diminutive, pristine, bright white, glowing shop with a small and unique menu that recently relocated from the Union Square area. The menu consists mostly of hot dogs and hamburgers and claims to make "naturally good fast food".
Ah yes, Umami Burger. I had been so anxious to try this food since I first heard about their burgers inciting drool up and down the West Coast. "Umami", the 5th sense of taste, is an indescribable savory richness that Adam Fleischman, Umami Burger's owner, claims to have invented a number of recipes around. Personally, I'm a huge fan of meaty, savory, salty foods so this sounded absolutely perfect to me.