Category Archives: New York

Joseph Leonard. A fly on the wall of life

I’m in a room bright with candle light, with

The girl who let two men flirt over her

The girl who left her man to smoke

The girl who tried (in vain) to kiss the boy she brought along

The one who had her heart broke

The boy who didn’t let the girl kiss him

The one who spoke to me like I was the only girl in the world

The boy who was gay but didn’t know it yet

The boy the girl left cold

 The bartender who just moved to New York from Paris

The one who made me a drink off the list

The waitress who brought me the dessert menu

The chefs that drank beer at the end of their shift

I’m in a room filled with mirrors

A room bright with candle light

The room has old photos on every wall

This room… I could spend my entire night.

I’m at Joseph Leonard in New York’s West Village. A neighbourhood restaurant that will make you want to move to this neighbourhood, just so you can call it your own. I drank ( Rye Not cocktail with rye, tamarind tea, fresh lemon, bitters at $12) and ate (mussels special in Thai green curry at $14 and ricotta fritters at $7). But also… I lived a little.

-p

Joseph Leonard on Urbanspoon

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Filed under American, Bar, Bar food, Cocktails, New York, Open kitchen

M. Wells. When you just know

There are cities, bigger cities, and then there is New York. I’m a Bombayite learning to be a Londoner but cannot deny how much in awe I am of this most cinematic of any city I have ever visited.

I just knew this was going to be a special trip.

For the first time a charming stranger flirted with me all the way from Heathrow to JFK. For the first time I have a plan. And for the first time ever I have a response for when someone asks me “what is the best thing you’ve ever tasted?

The boss said he was taking me to a diner in Queens. Once I got over the dread of another meal with the boss that day, curiosity took over.  A disastrous dinner at London’s Kopapa aside I have never had a bad meal with the boss. Plus I’d never been to Queens, so…

This is M. Wells; a diner that used to serve as a pit stop for truckers until French Canadian chef Hugue Dufour and his Queens-raised wife Sarah Obraitis took over. They started out serving only breakfast, then brunch, then dinner and still don’t serve every meal every day. The wait for our table was over an hour. We grabbed our free beers (on the house to make up for a busted AC) and sat down outside for some people watching.

One beer turned into a few, as did the diners on the waiting list. M. Wells is a diner, sure, but even a cursory glance at the menu will tell you that you are not going to be served any sloppy sliders here. I haven’t seen oysters and foie gras on too many diner menus, have you? The boss calls their food “kooky”. I’d say its eccentric. Both mean the same thing – it doesn’t belong to any school and you can’t put this chef in a box.

I’m glad I was dissuaded from ordering the ribs. We ordered cocktails and salad and maybe something else too but all that is a blur. All I can remember is the pure pleasure of a BiBiM Wells ($40). No description of mine will do this dish any justice so all I will do is list out the ingredients: oysters, scallops, gravalax, and foie gras on a bed of white rice, topped with a poached egg, avacados, julienne of green apples, carrots and zucchini, drizzled with yam chips and a stunning Korean chilli maple sauce.

This is the best dish I have ever tasted. Ever.

You take a job that changes you forever, walk into a diner and eat the best meal of your life, meet someone – and you just know. You don’t recognize the biggest day of your life until you’re right in the middle of it.

-p

M Wells on Urbanspoon

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Filed under American, Bar, Design, Diner, French, New York, Oysters, Seafood

A symphony of (Michelin) stars

Yo-Yo Ma is playing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major (Prélude). I walk into a room that radiates style and substance. It was only when I sat down did I realise that there was no music in the background. The goose bumps on my arms – the room did that all by itself. I am at Daniel, one of New York’s most revered restaurants and my first ever three star Michelin adventure.

An ordinary danger of a “party for one” (as they say in the US) is that ‘the one’ is more often than not settled into a corner. Not tonight. I spent the most electric evening in the company of great food, excellent service, and had the best seat in the house.

I am in New York; the city that demands single women order a Cosmopolitan. But the latest Sex And The City movie has left me disgusted and I could not bring myself to pay tribute to the TV series. The White Cosmopolitan (Vodka, Elderflower Liquor, Lime Juice, White Cranberries) at $19 is a delicious compromise. Its served in a martini glass with a giant ice cube decorated with frozen orchids. The show has definitely begun.

I opted for the 3-course Prix Fixe menu ($105). The sommelier helped me choose two reds that would be perfect with the scallops and beef I ordered. I started with the Louis Jadot Beaune, 1er Cru, 1999 ($25) and went on to the Californian Ridge Santa Cruz Mountain Estate ($25). Both wines were completely luscious.

I am not sure if it was cleavage or charisma but something worked and what followed (instead of standard 3 courses) was a symphony of “with compliments of the chef”. I am no food critic and I would much rather eat the meal than describe the ingredients but I have to make an exception this time. Here is what I was served:

–          Amuse Bouche 1: A trio of beet including roasted yellow beet and beet cured octopus

–          Amuse Bouche 2: Clams with horseradish and pineapple

–          Amuse Bouche 3: Crab salad with Persian cucumbers and sesame coulis

–          First Course: Hazelnut crusted scallops with morels, Swiss chard & pink peppercorns

–          Amuse Bouche 4:  Sesame crusted cod with asparagus tempura

–          Second Course: Duo of Beef: Black Angus Short Ribs and Wagyu Tenderloin

–          Third Course: A selection of 5 cheeses included my favourite  Époisses de Bourgogne

–          Surprise Dessert 1: a strawberry soup with strawberry sorbet and strawberries

–          Surprise Dessert 2: freshly baked madeleines

–          Surprise Dessert 3: a selection of 6 gorgeous petit fours including a pistachio macaron

And as a bonus, my request to meet the chef was rewarded with a tour of the kitchen. Oh the joy!!! Even though patron Chef Daniel Boulud was in the house, the five minutes I spent with Executive Chef Jean Francois Bruel were far more inspiring than the several minutes Chef Daniel spent at all the important tables.

For several reasons, starting with holiday remorse, I had to force myself to go out this evening. There is much to be said about working from the inside out. Tonight, I had to work from the outside in and discovered that it works just as well. So go on, be your best sexy and watch the world smile for you.

-p

Daniel on Urbanspoon

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Filed under French, Michelin meal, New York, Restaurant, Tasting menu

At home

It is only right that my first Table for ONE in New York is breakfast at Sarabeth’s: a meal that is fast becoming the favourite part of my day, at one of the City’s culinary institutions. I first dined here four years ago, and ever since then have craved their Fluffy French Toast ($16). All this time later, the breakfast doesn’t disappoint.

Sarabeth’s is a people-watcher’s paradise. I witnessed 3 birthdays, 2 anniversaries and tens of other celebrations. I forgot for a moment where I was until the guy sitting next to me at the counter asked me how I am (as everyone does in New York), and “Where is home?”

I think a lot about what it means to be ‘home’. Almost everyone in my everyday life is on their way to, or on their way from somewhere else. As am I.

  • My childhood friend left India 20 years ago. She has a new life now but not a conversation goes by when she doesn’t reminisce about home.
  • My colleague grew up in two countries and now lives in a third. It is always interesting asking him where home is.
  • My Aussie friend hasn’t lived in his home country in nearly fifteen years and seems to finally be getting homesick.
  • My sister has had to create a life 8,000 miles from everything and everyone she has ever known. And all this time, all she has wanted to do was go home.

“Home is where your heart is.” But what happens when your heart is in several places?

A giant part of my heart is in Bombay. It rests with my mother, and my two best friends Lina and Foram. An equally large piece of my heart is in Tifton because that is where my sister lives and my heart lives with her. My heart also lives in Hyderabad; home to my father and my happiest childhood. I suppose my heart is in London too, with me :-). And when I leave New York I know I will leave a piece of my heart behind.

Where is home then?

I don’t know yet, and for now it is OK that I don’t know. Until I do, to borrow from Maya Angelou, “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
-p

Sarabeth's on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee, New York, Restaurant