3 Cool New Restaurants To Check Out In NYC

3 Cool New Restaurants To Check Out In NYC
Thai Diner on Mott Street

Ate at 3 terrific new restaurants over the last week. Highly recommend all of them, each for different reasons/occasions. But the one that will clearly become my go-to is THAI DINER (pics above). Not only is it right by my house, it is an off-shoot of Uncle Boon’s (my favorite Thai restaurant). ! I love it when things work out like that, don’t you?

Scroll down for reviews of each.
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Unique Foods And Beverages Of South America

Unique Foods And Beverages Of South America

Wrapping up South America with today’s food recap. The spectacle of the whole Asado thing is phenomenal (especially when gauchos are involved). But there is so much more to South American cuisine than BBQs.

Overall, I was blown away by the rituals, whether it’s asado with lamb on a cross or fishing in Lake Titicaca for trout or preparing mate. It’s definitely a slow food culture.

Scroll down for my 5 top foodie discoveries.
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Do Single People Really Need Help Dining Solo?

Do Single People Really Need Help Dining Solo?

EATER just ran a rather sad piece titled “21 Restaurants Ideal for Solo Diners.” A few days later, Food52 came up with “How To Grocery Shop For One.” Question for my single friends: is it that hard to enjoy a solo meal out or figure out a shopping list for one?

Eater really set me off with their article headlined – more or less –

One is never the loneliest number at these spots. A lack of dining companions? …Some restaurants make solo diners feel like second-class citizens.. Lost in a book at a table for one?

Eater
C’mon Eater…

And yes, I have friends who are not keen on dining out solo. But the tone of this Eater article reinforces the myth that solo dining is an awkward, lonely experience (subtext: for losers who have no friends). But believe me, it’s all in your attitude and how you approach it.

With 50% of American adults now single, it might be more helpful to explore solo dining through the lens of the confident foodie. For example, highlighting how much easier it is for solo diners to get into the hottest new restaurants by requesting a seat at the chefs counter/bar. In my experience, even high-end restaurants are now increasingly offering bar or counter seating. It’s certainly become my favorite place to sit – even when I am dining with a friend.

Over the years, I’ve come to view bar/counter seating as the perfect VIP experience. You invariably get to chat with the staff as well as fellow diners. When I travel (which I generally do solo), I always check for photos of restaurants I’m planning to visit to see if they have bar seating. I’ve gotten the best insider info from restaurant staff on what to do/see in their city – whether that’s Copenhagen or Tulsa. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, the chef will even give you a tour of the kitchen. That’s what happened in Copenhagen at Kodbyens Fiskebar. Pic above (lower middle) is from my kitchen tour with the sous chef there. It’s an unbeatable experience, really fun. And by the way, a photo from my review of Kodbyens Fiskebar has garnered almost 4 million views on Google! Can you believe that?

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Veronika, NYC’s Newest Hot Spot, Is A Disappointing Beauty!

Veronika, NYC’s Newest Hot Spot, Is A Disappointing Beauty!

In a nutshell, the restaurant looks gorgeous (designed by Roman & Williams). The menu and the food, on the other hand, total letdown. I predict the menu will be redone within 3 months.

MY RECOMMENDATION: come early, get a drink at the bar (no food served), go somewhere else for dinner.

Here’s what you can expect if you do go for dinner

Reservations are hard to come by. For this newest hot spot from Stephen Starr expect to wait at least a month and even then you may only find tables available right when they open at 5 PM or very late at night.

The space is gorgeous. It’s boilerplate Roman & Williams, high ceilings, beautiful lighting, extraordinary flower arrangements, dramatically romantic. This might be nitpicking, but the chairs are very uncomfortable.

Massive staff. We were there early but it looked like there were at least 3 people dedicated to our table of two. Cutlery was being put down and then taken away before it was even used, then replaced by more cutlery by yet another team of servers. When I actually did need something (salt), they delivered an empty salt container. They’re clearly still finding their groove. Even our waitress who was professional and friendly, didn’t understand the food. Instead, of offering informed recommendations, the best she could do was offer menu talking points.

Menu is just bad. It’s Eastern European which is an odd choice given Veronika is the restaurant associated with the Swedish-based Fotograviska Museum. I was hard-pressed to find a single item I really wanted to order (the caviar perhaps but at $200?). The majority of the menu items sounded old fashioned and heavy. I ordered the lamb goulash which is served tableside (video below). My friend ordered the Dover sole but left half on her plate which is not exactly a ringing endorsement. For a starter, I ordered the poppyseed milk bread with cultured butter. The bread was dry and overbaked. Sheri ordered the consomme nana – a chicken soup which she seemed to like (but I’m not sure she thought it was $24 amazing). For dessert, we shared a charlotte russe – also underwhelming!

One thing did not disappoint: the Corsair cocktail. My friend Sheri ordered it and the minute it arrived, I desperately wanted to order it also. It looked and smelled amazing. It’s made with rye whiskey, cognac, cinnamon, barolo chinato, cherrywood smoke and is poured tableside (video below). It took a lot of willpower to stick with my Dry January commitment.

bottom line.

WOW! Major disappointment. However, if design is your thing you must check out the space. But sit at the bar – and order that Corsair. And then perhaps get another drink downstairs in the Chapel (their speakeasy). It was very crowded on Tuesday night but it is worth poking your head in. Again, visually stunning.

The Fotograviska Museum on floors 3-5 is also a disappointment. I can’t believe they have the nerve to charge $28 a ticket. I’ve been to the original in Stockholm which is extraordinary. The NY version feels third-rate in comparison. I don’t get it. Low ceilings, horrible flooring. 3 or 4 small shows that are poorly installed. The whole thing is kind of tacky. Did they run out of money?

Scroll down for photos from our dinner and from the museum.
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What’s New On The Restaurant Scene?

What’s New On The Restaurant Scene?

Anybody else making their restaurant reservations through the Google Maps app? I’ve been doing it for a couple of months now and LOVE it.

It’s so efficient and supposedly it saves restaurants heaps of money. I discovered it by accident when I was checking out a restaurant recently. While making my way around the site looking at reviews and photos, I noticed, for the first time, that there’s now a RESERVE A TABLE button. It works like a charm. Google even gets back to you promptly if they have to actually call to make the reservation, e.g., because of the number of people in your party.

Their default for reservations is SevenRooms but they also use Resy and Open Table. But so far I give SevenRooms top marks for service versus their competitors.

brilliant idea.

Clearly millions of us are already using Google Maps to check out restaurants. My #1 photo on Google, with over 3 million views, is for Restaurant Kodbyens Fiskebar in Copenhagen. A more recent review and photo of Llama San has garnered over 55,000 views in under a month.

With so many diners already on the Google app checking out restaurants, eliminating the need to leave one app to log onto another, e.g. Resy, dials up the UX 100-fold. It just makes so much sense.

I have now shifted to Google reservations whenever possible. Highly recommend.

Scroll down for more on what’s new and trending in the restaurant and food biz
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2020: New Year, New Decade. Are You Ready?

2020: New Year, New Decade. Are You Ready?

What a crazy decade it’s been, right? And as we head into 2020, all I can say is buckle up because it’s only going to get weirder. And while this post is NOT meant to offer any kind of all-inclusive list of trends, I do believe that every topic I have included will impact our lives in the future. One thing I am absolutely certain of: change is inevitable and it’s coming at us faster than ever, mostly because of technology and the power of social media.

My criteria for what to include (or not) in this “next decade” post is based on the work I’ve been doing with trends and culture shifts for the Opinionator since its founding in 2014. It’s been extremely helpful to see which themes have gradually become more prominent, what topics have received the most comments and shares, and, importantly, what countertrends are developing as we become a more pluralistic, multi-track society. Like it or not, we are increasingly moving away from being ONE nation and instead we’re seeking out “our” tribes among the myriad of micro-communities that have sprung up around us.

Looking ahead starts with looking back, then connecting the dots that define the present. Only then, can one get clarity about the future.”

Steve Jobs
Scroll down now to begin this journey into the future!
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Sorry, But Sweetgreen Is NOT The New Power-lunch.

Sorry, But Sweetgreen Is NOT The New Power-lunch.

I recently read an article on how sweetgreen is where millennials are power-lunching!. I hadn’t been in a few years so decided I needed to check out this bold assertion in person. Five lunches later, I’m done.

Here’s what I found

I was excited to try sweetgreen’s three new Fall menu items. All sounded delicious especially the Curry Cauliflower (and it was!).

I also tried one of their bowls and one of their regular salads.

Two out of five menu items were delicious. Three were blah.

To me, that isn’t a ringing endorsement for the menu side of things.

The store itself is clean and easy to navigate and the staff is great.

And I appreciate the calorie listings although skeptical of them since in preparing your salad, they ask you how much salad dressing you want, i.e., light, medium or heavy (and we all know the dressing is where the calories lurk). They also offer a delicious-looking bread that I am sure is not included in the calorie count either. I asked my server about it. She was startled by the question but thought it was a good one!

Scroll down for more on sweetgreen’s hits and misses
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“The Market Line” at Essex Crossing Just Opened! Check It Out!

“The Market Line” at Essex Crossing Just Opened! Check It Out!

Phase 1 of what will be a huge 150,000-square-foot underground, multi-level food hall opened this Friday. There were a few start-up hiccups while I was there but it’s going to be absolutely awesome.

The food vendors I saw were fantastic. I can’t wait to go back and do some noshing.

Standouts for me personally included:

However, I expect The Grand Delancey to be the biggest attraction. It’s an upscale beer hall with over 50 beers on tap PLUS they invite you to order in from any of the food hall vendors. Judging by what I saw on opening day, the Slice Joint (serving you guessed it, pizza by the slice), Schaller & Weber and Ends Meat (from Sunset Park Brooklyn) will be the big winners among the beer crowd.

Bottom Line.

I’m definitely coming back here soon. I especially want to have oysters at Essex Pearl and some wine at People’s Wine.

When people ask why retail is collapsing, I say visit a food hall. Noshing has replaced shopping and food halls have replaced malls.

But I’m also starting to worry that we might be getting close to a tipping point. I mean how many food halls can NYC accommodate before they start cannibalizing each other?

I hope I’m wrong because nothing is better than a good food hall – and this one is a mere ten-minute walk from my house.

Scroll down for a walk-thru from opening day.
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