Lack of pictures is lame, but it's pitch black in there!

Bodega Negra is the brand new, uber trendy spot in the Dream Hotel downtown.  While the food was decent, the awkwardness of the service and elements of the try-too-hard ambiance knock it down a few stars.

First of all, they absolutely couldn't accommodate our reservation at 6 - but could do 5:30 - so I expected to walk in to at least a somehwat lively house - nope. We were the FIRST table to arrive, so that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit.  We got over the awkwardness of a 100% empty room with a cute circular table in the corner.  

Guac is a must, and I liked the variety of margaritas.  The Spiced Celery sour was my fave, and the rest of the crew really liked the Blood & Fire.  What was weird, though, was a friend asked the waitress for a recommendation - and she just refused to provide one.  She said she liked something fruity but not too sweet, and the waitress was like "umm...well....i'm not sure what to tell you, because I don't know which one you're going to enjoy...." It was super awkward.  

Anyway, as far as the food goes, the guac was solid.  We had that, a ceviche, and a variety of tacos.  The grilled fish taco was an absolute winner - I believe it was a sea bass that night, and there was some element of caramelization that made it sweet and delicious in addition to fresh.  Carnitas were a little dry - grilled corn salad was spicy and good.

Our wait staff switched something like 5 times, and they kept trying to take plates before people were finished eating.  All in all - the food was good, but I wouldn't go crazy over knocking this one off your to-do list.
 
 
Yet again, a hit from Jean-Georges.  Nougatine was a fantastic experience, and one of the best meals I've had in NYC.

First - the location is prime - on 61st just at the southwest tip of the park.  There's a terrace in the summer, and there's a pretty cool view of the CNN sign and other epic skyline landmarks.  Service is on point from start to finish - extremely polite and gracious hosting staff, knowledgeable waiters.  

The dining room is pristine, and the wine list is LONG.  We tried a California chardonnay that was explained to us in detail by the sommelier - something about being fermented in metal instead of oak? - and it was mild and tasty.  Good for a warm evening - the first of the season in NYC! - so my date and I were in a fabulous mood, and the wine only made it better.
There are a TON of seafood options - and we tried nearly all of them.  The salmon sushi on a bed of crispy rice is so unique, and the sesame seeds give it a rich kick in addition to the blending of soft fish / rice crunch.  Awesome.  Tuna tartare and crab cakes were both good - but I think the raw fish is the move.  Tartare is served on a bed of pureed avocado, with some derivative of an asian sauce...very light and much more blended than the usual tartare dish.  Hamachi sashimi was served with sliced grapes and I believe raisins? - although I could be wrong on the raisin part - but regardless, the fruit sweetened up the whole dish and made for a nice variety next to the saltier options.

My absolute favorite was a whipped goat cheese, beet, pistachio and olive oil dish - ultimate cheese dish that won't make you feel too heavy.  The goat cheese becomes so thin, it clings to the utensils and picks up tiny fragments of pistachio and beet - literally PERFECT.  Was absolutely in love and could eat this every day.
By the time the entrees came out, date and I were both borderline stuffed, but had a taste of the rigatoni and meatballs and lobster burger.  The meatballs were interesting - they definitely had a different type of savory flavor than I'm used to in a typical italian dish.  The lobster burger was on special - ridiculously decadent and fresh. Wish I would've saved ordering entrees for next time so I had more room - was really too full to get into it, but enjoyed what I tried.

It's the epitome of a perfect place to bring parents or clients- comfortable, upscale -but not sterile, with incredible food in an iconic location. Go JG.
 
 
Everyone's bugging out about the salt on here - and I see that at Fatty 'Cue, but honestly, Fatty Crab did nice work.  I think they're aware of what's going on on Yelp here, and they're working hard so their customers have a great experience.

It's approximately a 4 minute walk from my office and is constantly offering coupons and deals, so I don't know why it's taken me so long to get here.

Got here way before my friend did, and they don't waste any time with the whole "is your whole party here?" business.  Sat down alone, and quickly ordered the Lower East Side cocktail - vodka, gin, cucumber - my usual faves.

When Julie got there, we shared a couple dishes that were all tasty (and not too salty!)  The watermelon pickle and crispy pork is probably their most lauded - and while it's certainly fatty, it has enough acidity to balance it out a bit and is super interesting flavors.  My fave, however, were the tea sandwiches - very tiny, but so flavorful: lamb, shallot raisin sambal, chilies, vietnamese mint.

A nice spot in a great neighborhood to catch up with friends.
 
 


**Photo stolen from site - had to play it cool, couldn't take pics.**

Perry Street is on the west, west, west side - on the river, on the first floor of a luxury condo building that has a drive-in elevator.  It's that kind of neighborhood.

Jean-Georges is my fave, through and through - from ABC Kitchen/Cocina, to his Chicago exploits (Pump Room) to now, Perry Street - always a hit in my book.

Had a great Valentine's date at Perry Street - and date didn't even realize it was JG when he booked, so...extra points for taste.

At the bar, Perry Street stocks bar snacks, like candied nuts, as well as...WASABI PEANUTS.  This strikes a personal chord with me, and I thoroughly approve.

We tried many a dish, but the all-time best was the rice cracker crusted tuna.  Raw perfection, crunchy outside, and super intense green onion aioli.  I could eat this every day.  I then tried the sea bass, which was bangin', while date had the fried chicken (apparently it's the bomb - I was too full to get into it.)  They sent over tons of amuse-bouche tasters, which I can't specifically remember, but I liked a lot.

Service was prompt, super polite - and a pretty formal atmosphere/crowd.  Good for client dinners, a date you'd like to impress, or bougie out-of-town family members visiting.
 
 
Went vegetarian in my visit to Mission Cantina, and didn't regret it for a second.

While everyone around was destroying entire chickens and pork belly tacos, my friend and I got a corner table and went for all the veggie tacos, and obviously, an order of guac.

I don't think they have a liquor license, so the drinks weren't all that exciting - beer, champagne and wine cocktails - I think I remember mine being ultra spicy. The guac is served with funky air-popped chips, too, which weren't my favorite.

But the tacos were totally awesome.  In order of eh to amazing:  

Pumpkin
Eggplant
MUSHROOM. The mushroom ones with the melted cheese? To die for. Super creamy and indulgent.

I've been thinking about those mushroom tacos for a while now, and can't wait to go back to try them again.  It's rare for mushrooms to have that type of power over me.

Good for groups, or for a casual date - best with friends.
 
 
Super-quick review for a super-quick bite at All'onda.

Sat at the bar for a snack with a friend prior to a movie in Union Square.  I've wanted to try this in a less abbreviated version since it opened, but only had 30 mins or so.  Corkbuzz, where we'd initially wanted to stop for a glass of wine, was ridiculously poppin off (1.15 wait for 2 people, at a wine bar?) so we rolled into all'onda's empty bar around 630 mid-week.  Definitely beat the dinner rush, as I know it's tough to get a reservation most nights.

We chatted with the pleasant bartender while enjoying a glass of wine, and shared the famous bucatini with breadcrumbs & uni.  I'm not much of an Uni fan, as I've mentioned in previous posts, but I'm getting used to it - and this was a good experience.  It wasn't as overwhelming as the sushi version - the overall flavor was a little briny, very different from what I'm used to in a pasta dish...but I definitely didn't hate it.  First bite might be somewhat jarring...the second a little better..and by the end, you're licking the plate.

 
 
Wow - came to Toro with a large party for a special occasion, and they really pulled out all the stops.  Fantastic experience and excellent Spanish food.

The space is beautiful, if located at the ends of Manhattan - almost across from Chelsea Piers.  It's a mix of urban, sleek surfaces and a kind of Hamptons-chic...Ivy and reclaimed wood in the dining room, an open kitchen, but dark black marble bars..a little more relaxed ABC Kitchen.

We ate absolutely everything, so Ill list my faves out:

Pan Con tomate - one of my favorite basic tapas.

Tortilla Espanola - REALLY good. I'm usually not into the egg/potato thing at dinnertime, but theirs was really nice.

Jamon Serrano - obviously necessary.

Patatas Bravas - also one of those basic staples you can't miss while eating tapas style.

Gambas al Ajillo - Garlic shrimp-  a little difficult to eat, and tiny portion, but SO delicious.

Setas - this was actually one of my absolute favorites - mushrooms with an egg yolk seated neatly in the middle of the plate.

Paella de Langostino - black truffle paella with Lobster.  Obviously a show-stealer...huge portions, delicious.  Whole lobster tail seated in the center, with seafood / veggies infused throughout...black rice made the dish really beautiful.

Great spot to bring family, clients, a date....all-around great experience.

 
 
Came to Colicchio & Sons for a work dinner recently, as it's close to the office and I couldn't believe I hadn't visited yet.

So I wouldn't necessarily call it my style - it's uber, uber upscale - and I like upscale - but it skews to a much older crowd, very white-tablecloth - extra fancy.  However, the decor is still pretty modern and chic - either way, you know you'll be dropping some major cash here.

The service was impeccable - we were a table of 6, and the wait staff coordinated each course with such precision, you felt you were watching synchronized swimming. We didn't even order apps, but they brought out 2 rounds of amuse-bouche. One was  a truffled cheese on a tiny cracker with caviar - Can i have this in sandwich form please!? Incredible.  And the other was a mouthful of crab soup, also ridiculously decadent.  With warm rolls served in steel trays, you almost don't need to order a meal.

I had the Truffle Roasted Chicken with wheat berries & mushroom.  So soft, you didn't need a knife, and the truffle was almost infused into the meat itself.  Very tasty, and the wheat berry salad was reminiscent of cous cous, so it balanced out the heavier chicken well.  

I wouldn't come back if it were on my own tab, as it's truly outrageously expensive - and I think there's better bang for your buck elsewhere - but if you're interested in feeling like a wolf of wall street on a corporate card, this would be a solid choice.

 
 
Have wanted to try Monument Lane since moving to the neighborhood - it's got a very shabby chic, country home feel inside, but is placed directly across from the greenwich village equinox - ie, fantastic people watching.

Started off with a bang with the bacon bourbon bloody mary - awesome brunch cocktail, and i think my friends liked it even more than i did.  the french 75 was fresh and light as well.  Service was attentive for starters, but tapered off the longer we drank there.  I had the Heritage Pork Benedict (with kale, cheese, hollandaise..) Pretty good.  The burger comes with a garlic mayo and skinny fries, which were awesome.  The scrambled eggs with caramelized onions are simple and delish too.  

Great spot for brunch if you're not going AYCD-style.  I want to go back for oysters at dinnertime.
 
 
Booked Willow Road due to close proximity to the office - had heard mixed reviews about the food, but as it's new, trendy, and the meal would be sponsored by work- I thought it would be worth a shot.

Tried a whole bunch of options, so I'll take it from best to worst:

Orecchiette with mushrooms and arugula - yum - listed as a small plate, but pretty hearty portion and very light for a pasta.
Fried Chicken - a little bit spicy, and a BIG hit around the table.
Meatballs -  good for a heavier appetizer.  
Bone Marrow - I personally don't love bone marrow, but the presentation was beautiful and it was served with a thick toast dressed with pork belly, which was pretty tasty.
Potato Crisps / Handcut Fries - nothing special.
Boiled Peanuts - with spices and ham hock - w. t. f. These were really hard to eat, messy, and unappetizing.
Service was very good, and i tried a variety of cocktails, all of which I enjoyed.  When we walked in, the restaurant was practically empty - but it was absolutely poppin' by the time we left around 9.   Decor is very cool & modern - would be good for a date or a business dinner in Chelsea.