Categories: Australian, Brunch/Breakfast, All-day
Date Visited: July 2018
Address: 219 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012
Reservations: They don't take reservations!
Verdict: A hundred times yes! A laid-back spot in Soho with excellent food. Summer vibes all-year-long, Ruby’s is where you want to go for a casual meal any time of the day. Reasonable prices too. 9/10.
Durante degli Alighieri (commonly known as just Dante) was an Italian poet of the Late Middle Ages. Famous for writing The Divine Comedy.
One of my favorite verses was the last verse of Inferno 34, which he wrote:
"e quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle"
(translated into “and thence we came forth to see again the stars”)
Others have also translated it to: "we emerged to see—once more—the stars"
Categories: Steakhouse, Japanese, Fast-Casual
Date Visited: March 2018, April 2018
Address: Multiple locations throughout NYC
Reservations: Nope, none needed. Just walk in!
About: Ikinari is a famous chain from Japan, best known for its highly affordable but high-quality steaks. You can order, eat, and get out of here in 30 minutes. The menu is very limited as they only serve steaks and selected sides but they do offer a few different cuts priced by the ounce (Ribeyes, Sirloin, Filet). They weigh and cut the steaks in front of you.
There are no servers, no high-end decor, no dessert menu. After ordering, you sit and wait for your steak (takes ~5 minutes) and then pay before you head out the door.
Clearly, this isn't meant to replace the time-honored, pedigreed steakhouses that run sacred in the New York dining institution. But frequenting old-fashioned dining rooms covered in mahogany and brass for is not exactly realistic for many people as well. Sometimes, you just want a good steak without the dress up and the fancy wines.
Ikinari is a great option for a decent steak without having to cook it yourself.
All steaks are accompanied by grilled onions, a side of corn, and a garlic paste on top of the steak that's referred to as “magic paste."
Categories: Japanese, Sushi, Omakase
Address: 15 E 15th St, New York, NY 10003
Date Visited: Jan 2018
Price: ~$320-400 for two ($65-140 for omakase sets)
Hours: Thurs-Sat 5:30pm-12:30am, Sun-Wed 5:30pm-11:30pm
Reservations Needed?: Yes
Thoughts: Disappointed. Given their price point and newly "Michelin" one star status, I expected quality on par with some of the other better omakase places around the city. Unfortunately, while ambiance was on point (slightly casual but nice), food was a letdown. Certainly not what you'd expect from one of Manhattan's "best sushi" spots.
We ordered a 15 piece sushi omakase set ($115) and a 15 piece sashimi omakase set ($115). While nothing was "bad," the omakase experience was very boring. There wasn't a single standout dish; nothing on either the sashimi omakase set or sushi omakase set that made me go, "wow, that was amazing. I want it again." Portion sizes were unreasonably TINY and we both left still hungry. For $115 per set, the omakase we got (especially the sashimi - refer to photos below) were underwhelming.
The fish was not particularly fresh. Both the quality and creativity of here pales in comparison to the other high-end sushi restaurants I've been to in the city (Sushi of Gari, Nakazawa, Gaijin, Sushi Seki, etc.) Honestly, I would've gotten MUCH better sushi and double portions at Tomoe Sushi at 1/3 of the price.
Just not worth it. Michelin, what were you thinking?
Categories: French, Brunch, Wine Bar
Date Visited: April 2018
Address: 22 West 8th Street, New York, NY 10011
Price: $/$$ (Very affordable for Manhattan!)
Reservations: Not necessary for brunch for a smaller party. At least I had no problem getting a table at walk-in. For dinner, however, reservations are strongly recommended!
Thoughts: The menu here consists of quintessential French brunch dishes: burgers, omelets, salads, eggs benedicts, croque-monsieur, etc. For a medium to larger sized party, I would recommend ordering one of their charcuterie/cheese combo platters, which is great (I tried it for dinner on another visit). Service is friendly, although it could be faster and coffee quality definitely needs some upgrading.
Otherwise, this is your solid friendly neighborhood brunch spot when you're too lazy or tired to line up for 1+ hours for brunch! They swapped out my potatoes for avocado without extra costs. Also, all the dishes are very price-friendly for what it's worth! Very affordable considering they're located in a high rental cost area in Manhattan.
Categories: Steakhouse, American
Date Visited: March 2018
Address:101 Arlington St, The Castle at Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02116-5306 (Columbus)
Price: $$$$ / ($60-80 for steaks, $10-14 for sides and appetizers)
Reservations: Probably yes on weekends! I managed to snatch a table for 8 on a Saturday night on the same day but I think we got lucky.
Thoughts: Better than most NYC steakhouses I've been to (and I've been to 6-7 pretty highly ranked ones). This Bay Bay location is set in a beautiful stone castle built in 1891. Once served as the headquarters for the First Corps of Cadets, the castle-turned-restaurant feels like a royal dining hall full of historical artifacts. Service was superb as expected, although food took a bit of time to arrive after we ordered. If you’re looking for an excellent steakhouse in the heart of Boston, look nowhere else.
Recommendations: Their signature USDA Prime Bone-In Rib Eye 24 oz. ($66) with Foie Gras Black Truffle Butter ($8) was very well prepared with a medium-rare sear. Definitely order this. Their Creamed Spinach ($11) is highly addicting and I could've eaten the whole thing myself (sorry friends). Their BBQ Yellowfin Tuna ($42) was also surprisingly not bad! The tuna was of sashimi grade, thick and fresh. A little too much BBQ sauce but you can easily wipe it off.
Categories: New American, Speakeasy
Date Visited: April 2018
Address: 239 W. 4th St (between Charles & W.10th St), New York, NY 10014
Price: $$/$$$ ($24-$36 for dinner entrees, $15-20 for appetizers)
Perfect for: Date Night, Friends Gathering, Dinner with Parents
Reservations: Popular on weekends and Friday nights but should be reasonable on a weeknight. The restaurant is pretty small and snug so make one just in case! Link here.
Thoughts: A neighborhood gem; very well-executed all-round restaurant. Excellent food and drinks make it a quintessential no-brainer West Village dinner spot. Classically decorated with exposed bricks, rustic wooden tables and a tall bar table, this sort-of basement establishment is the kind of place I would not mind visiting again and again. Whether it is a date night, a gathering with close friends or a dinner with family - this spot works. You’ll find simple delights like steak tartare with smoked cream, roasted cauliflower, roasted chicken and brussels sprouts with bacon.
Categories: Brunch, American
Date Visited: March 2018
Address: 348 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (Williamsburg) ~ around a 10 min walk from the Bedford Ave (L train stop)
Price: $45-60 for two / $18-$25 for main brunch entrées
Reservations: Brunch is almost only available on a walk-in basis with the exception of a limited number of early reservations for brunch via their website. They do take regular reservations for dinners and weekday lunches though. Check on their website! I strongly recommend coming early, making a reservation or visiting on a weekday, but if not -- a 1.5 hour wait IS WORTH IT (which I almost never say).
Thoughts: I have found my favorite brunch spot in NYC! :)
Sunday in Brooklyn is the kind of restaurant you'd never be able to find in Manhattan... and the sort of brunch place that makes it worth a trip across town. It is filled with everything you'd ever want from a great Sunday brunch: phenomenal food, great drinks and cocktails, friendly hip staff and a cozy vibe that makes you want to stay there forever. With plenty of sunlight spilling through its large paneled windows, the restaurant looks like a perfectly designed Pinterest feed; original, eclectic but flawless and pleasing. There's plenty of rustic charm and it reminded me a little of L.A. --- white stucco walls, timber ceilings, marble table tops and geometric shapes; while it may sound a little pretentious, trust me it's not. Sunday in Brooklyn made it work and is worth all the hype you've heard.
"From veterans of Eleven Madison Park, Catch, and Sadelle's, Sunday in Brooklyn combines a market, bar, coffeehouse, and sit-down restaurant into one all-day spot." - Thrillist
Recommendations: Food-wise, I really don't think you'd go wrong with anything on the menu but definitely order their signature malted pancakes. I'm usually not a fan of sweet brunch dishes, but this blew my mind. Thick and fluffy (oxymoron, I know), the pancakes were coated with a sweet-but-not-too-sweet were divine and "almost naughty." The turmeric bone broth was hearty and delicious; a great way to start the morning or afternoon. The ricotta avocado toast was fresh and on point.
Categories: Fast Casual, Californian-Mexican
Date Visited: Multiple times in 2017, 2018
Address: Multiple locations across NYC and Chicago! Check out locations here.
Verdict: HECK YES! People who know me well know that I've been frequenting Dos Toros way too much. Similar to Chipotle... but fresher and tastier!
The menu is very straightforward: burritos, bowls, tacos and quesadillas.
Create your own meal by picking your choice of protein(s): carnitas, grilled chicken, grilled steak, market veggies, + rice and/or beans and/or salad + generous toppings of (optional) grilled fajita veggies, shredded cheese, tomato salsas and sour cream. And last but not least... just +$0.92 to top it all with guacamole!
I find the ingredients simply more fresh and less watered down than Chipotle (esp. the sour cream and guacamole). Try it out!
Who: Humans who like to hike + dogs who love nature/play
What: They say Fort Funston is "Dog's Disneyland." IT'S TRUE.
Where: Fort Funston, San Francisco, California 94101. There is a huge parking lot off of Skyline Blvd. There is a sign that tells you where to go and where to park.
Why: If you love your dog, you must bring him/her here! Your dog will be super happy and therefore make you happy. What used to be a military fort has now become a popular off-leash dog park and beach with a ton of trails. You can stroll on the various trails, meander on the beach, and hike along the cliffs. It is the only park in the GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation area) that allows off-leash dogs.
There are typically HUNDREDS (yes I know) of friendly, well-behaved dogs for your dog to play and socialize with.
My dog is normally very happy. But never have I seen him THIS happy. If you love your dog, bring him/her here and he/she will have the best time!
Being next to the Pacific, it can get very windy and cold. Bring a jacket!
What: New York Fashion Week
Who: Marcel Ostertag
Where: Gallery II at Spring Studios , 50 Varick Street Floor 5 New York 10013 NY US
When: February 14, 2018 (Wednesday) 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Why: Showcasing Autumn/Winter 2018 Collection
Marcel Ostertag is the name brand of German designer Marcel Ostertag. A graduate of the renowned Central St. Martins College in London, Marcel Ostertag started his own label in 2006 and claims to draw his inspiration from nature and travels to foreign countries – though he claims to never forget his roots. His pieces are all exclusively made in Germany, which is impressive given that we all know the reputation of German craftsmanship.
I stalked his Twitter account and his bio says: "Crystals, Diamonds, Studs, Pearls and blossoming flowers explode like fireworks in your mind. Fragile seduction, sensual explosion." Bizarre, right? I guess his colorful personality translates into his interesting designs!
P.S. He was an ex-ballet dancer!