Checked out two new restaurants this past week. Both are phenomenal albeit with vastly different menus and hits to the wallet. Atoboy (Korean) is priced to become a regular go-to spot (lower two pics) while Le CouCou ($$$$) is only for very special occasions (upper photos)
Read on below for my take on both.
43 East 28th Street
I LOVE the industrial design of this restaurant. It has a very chic minimalist vibe. Every detail has been considered and the decisions are impeccable: from the succulents in the glass terrarium at the entrance to the distressed concrete walls, the lighting, the plateware (a collaboration with Korean-based ceramic artisan, Soil Baker—which marks the company’s first restaurant partnership in the United States). The servers’ Sungho Ahn aprons mark another collaboration and are inspired by traditional “Hanbok” or Korean clothing.
It’s a Banchan-style tasting menu which means it highlights all the side dishes traditionally served with larger Korean meals. The menu changes frequently and is tightly edited with 3 different groupings of dishes. In terms of size, it’s tiny, small and medium. Each person orders 3 dishes for $36 (one from each grouping). It’s ideal for sharing and especially great for a small group as you can taste almost everything on the menu.
I loved almost everything – the only dish we didn’t have that I would definitely order next time: the octopus. My favorite dish was the corn (I could easily have had a bowl myself). Other dishes that I especially liked were the eggplant, littleneck clams, and the brisket. I would not reorder the mackerel or the deep fried chicken (altho other people in my party enjoyed both).
For dessert we had the panna cotta with pomegranate seeds and the black raspberry cake – both delicious.
They serve beer, sake, sochu and wine (including my favorite Veltliner).
Will definitely return.
138 Lafayette Street @ Howard
Open for breakfast, dinner and brunch on the weekends. Lunch is coming soon.
The chef, Daniel Rose, comes from Spring Restaurant in Paris (the very same restaurant that Chef Daniel Eddy of Rebelle comes from!!).
The space was designed by Roman and Williams and is absolutely gorgeous. Although the menu, the presentation and the service all harken back to a 70’s/80’s era of French fine dining, the design and the vibe at Le CouCou is perfectly of the moment.
Here are some things you need to know:
- Reservations are impossible to get.
- It’s in the 11 Howard Hotel so if you’re staying there you might have a chance.
- We got there at about 5:45pm, walked in, and got seated (two of us). I had been told they allow for some walk-ins but when I mentioned it to the maître de’ as we were leaving, he pooh-poohed the idea.
- If you do have to wait for a reservation, the bar is beautiful BUT super uncomfortable to hang out there.
Our dinner was delicious, here’s what we ordered:
Fleurs de courgettes farcies (lobster stuffed squash blossoms, yogurt, mint, dill, cucumber)
Quenelle de brochet, sauce américaine (pike quenelle, lobster sauce)
Halibut, beurre blanc (daikon prepared as choucroute)
Bourride (black bass and shellfish fumet, aioli)
Chiboust aux figues (port wine, cinnamon)
Their bread is phenomenal – and they serve it with both butter and some kind of lard that is divine.
One note of caution: they offer a “house” sparkling water which comes in a small carafe. I was under the impression it was gratis but it turns out to be $6 per carafe.
Service is very professional and cordial.
I would definitely come back for a special occasion/celebration (if I could get a reservation).