Favorites of 2008

By grace.g.yang · December 30, 2008
Under: Desserts,Dinner,Grace's Picks,gracenotesnyc.com,Lunch,My Life,Nightlife,Prix-fixe,Things to do in NYC,Travels

I can’t believe another year is coming to a close! Since my Favorites of 2007 was such a fun entry to write, I decided to do it again; it’s been a great year of at gracenotesnyc – we had a recent face-lift thanks to my brother, David, and we’re adding more great features to the site (stay tuned!!). As I was going through my entries from 2008, I realized that I had the opportunity to eat at a ton of great restaurants and *some* of my favorites are listed below. Here we go…

Favorite Pulled Pork Sandwich: Cookout, North Carolina


Maybe it’s not the clearest picture (I was in the car when I took it) but the sandwich speaks for itself. The pork is perfectly seasoned, falls straight off the bone, and the cole slaw topping makes for a perfect sandwich. Add a handmade shake with fresh fruit for a grand total of $5 and it gives me another great reason to visit North Carolina.

Favorite Restaurant to Bring Out of Town Guests: Employees Only

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When my friends come visit, I try to make reservations at hip restaurants that will leave them with a good impression of the city. My favorite place to take friends (under the age of 30, I suppose) is Employees Only. Not only is their food phenomenal (share the seared rib-eye), but they also have a drink list that is worth checking out. After dinner, you can hang out in the bar area, although it gets very crowded after 10.

Favorite Breakfast Dish: Cookshop

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The huevos rancheros from Cookshop are life-changing. Seriously. I’d had huevos once before (at a place called Mustang’s on the UES that’s not worth blogging about) and I almost forgot about the dish until I walked into Cookshop and saw so many tables enjoying the oven-finished dish. The in-house pickled onions are a great addition to the already delicious dish. It’s worth the trek out to 10th Ave, trust me!

Favorite Place to Eat Alone: A Salt and Battery

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The Bobby Flay throwdown video on youtube lured me to A Salt and Battery, which is literally down the street from Chris’ house. Their fried fish is freshly prepared to order, the tartar sauce is really tasty, and you don’t have to go with anyone else because there’s a counter where you can eat by yourself. Plus, you don’t want anyone else to know that you ordered and ate a fried Mars bar, do you?

Favorite Burger: Taylor’s Automatic Refresher

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I just realized that a bunch of my favorites aren’t from NYC this year….I guess I traveled for food a lot, didn’t I?! A birthday adventure for me and Chris took us to California, where we went on a culinary tour in Napa/San Francisco. Taylor’s Automatic Refresher’s burger was juicy, flavorful, and had a great secret sauce that was similar to In-N-Out’s. Another great thing about Taylor’s – there’s a cute lawn where kids (or adults) can run around silly while waiting for their awesome burgers and freshly made shakes.

Favorite Macaroni and Cheese: DuMont Burger

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The macaroni and cheese beats out Milk Bar, an establishment that I’m actually boycotting until they stop being such cheapo’s and bring back the two strips of bacon that used to be on every egg-in-a-hole. One of the great things about the macaroni at DuMont Burger is that it comes with a cheesy crust that gives every bite a lot more texture. Another reason to trek all the way to Brooklyn to try the mac and cheese is because DuMont Burger adds BACON to their mac and cheese. Seriously, it’s amazing.

Favorite Place to Quit the Atkins Diet and Carbo-Load: ad hoc

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Thomas Keller shows up on this blog quite often (I’m kind of obsessed, if you hadn’t noticed). ad hoc was the second Thomas Keller restaurant I’d ever visited (and definitely not my last) and it was a perfect way to start my birthday eat-a-thon. No, I wasn’t on the Atkins Diet when I went to California, but we ate so many carbs at ad hoc that night that if someone asked me for a recommendation of a place to go once they quit the Atkins Diet, I’d recommend ad hoc (that would be a pretty specific request though). The bread was freshly baked and sent over from Bouchon, the spring garlic risotto pangrattato was the best rice I’ve ever had (sorry mom), and the little bombolino’s were a perfect way to end the evening. Basically, if you want to have an carb-filled meal that makes you forget you ever gave up carbs, go to ad hoc and you will not be disappointed.

Favorite Place to Celebrate a Birthday: The French Laundry

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I have so many wonderful memories from my meal at The French Laundry. Chris and I celebrated our birthday’s there and were absolutely floored by the food and service (and price, but that’s a different story!) Our lunch lasted about 4 hours and was filled with so many interesting tastes and textures. If you’re looking for a special way to spend your birthday, going to The French Laundry is an experience you won’t forget.

Favorite Overall Dining Experience: per se

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Dining at per se, another Thomas Keller restaurant, is oftentimes referred to as a life-changing event. I mean, David Cheng of the Momofuku empire literally cried after his meal there. My brother, David, also said it was a life-changing meal for him; he had just completed his first 100-mile bicycle race, had recently lost 50 pounds, and the meal showed him that he didn’t need to stuff his face to appreciate food. The food was a tad better than The French Laundry’s (although both were very good), the service was impeccable, and the company was the best part of the meal:

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Joe, one of my best and kindest friends, invited me to dine with him at per se and I said that we should make it a big event – I invited David, Chris, and Ariel (and Ariel invited his friend, Kait). It was a special meal not only because of the food, but because I was able to share it with the friends and family I have in New York.

There you go – my favorite places to eat in 2008! I have a lot of great blog posts for 2009, including a recap of my Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid adventures, food reviews, and great recipes! What were some of your favorites of 2008? Do you have any resolutions for the New Year? Be Safe, Stay Warm, and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

By grace.g.yang · December 25, 2008
Under: My Life

My friend took this picture of her two pets and I thought it was too cute not to share:


Hope you are enjoying the holidays with your family – Merry Christmas!!

Revolutionary Road

By Justin · December 22, 2008
Under: My Life,Things to do in NYC

Hi, this is Chris filling in for Grace. One of the perks of being Grace and having this well-trafficked blog is that you get invited to blogger-only sneak previews and other free events. One of the perks of being Grace’s boyfriend is that when she’s away you get to attend one of these events for her. (There are other perks as well.)

This time Grace was invited to an early screening of Revolutionary Road (opening Dec. 26), starring Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio, and directed by Sam Mendes (who just happens to be Winslet’s husband). The movie is adapted from a 1961 novel of the same title by Richard Yates, a writer well-respected in literary circles for his depictions of suburban emptiness in the fifties, but not widely known outside those circles.

The story is basically this: a young couple get married (possibly because of an unplanned pregnancy) and move to the suburbs. The couple, however, find themselves miserable, suffocated by the empty conformity they’ve come to embody. The two thus end up tearing at each other until we get to a tragic ending.

So was the movie any good? I really enjoyed Michael Shannon, who plays an acquaintance of the Leo-Kate couple on break from a mental institution and who has no filter between what he thinks and what he says. He kills in both of the scenes he is in, and he’s alone almost worth it.

On the other hand, I found most of the movie to be just relentlessly, relentlessly bleak. It would’ve been nice if the movie was a bit more subtle, perhaps gradually revealing how a once-good marriage fell apart and maybe offering some counterbalancing notes suggesting that there is possibly something actually appealing in the gentleness of living outside the city limits. Instead the suburbs represent just “hopeless emptiness,” and it’s clear the Kate-Leo couple hate each other from the minute the film starts rolling. Hey, I hate suburbia and conformity as much as anyone else, but depicting things in such a lop-sided manner only undermines whatever underlying notes of truth the movie may have.

But anyway… come back in a few days for more Grace and more food blogging!

Let’s Jump at the Louvre!

By grace.g.yang · December 15, 2008
Under: My Life,Travels

No time for a real post, but we went to the Louvre and took some pictures I thought you guys would appreciate:



My mom is getting really good at taking my jumping pictures and it definitely takes skill to take the picture when there are TWO jumpers – sometimes, you end up with pictures like this:


But then you end up taking 20 more pictures and have a gem like this to post on your blog:


Don’t worry, we’ve been to the Louvre before so it’s not like we spent the entire day taking pictures in front of the Louvre…or DID we?

David and I are getting dressed for Le Cinq right now – thank you to everyone that e-mailed me suggestions for places to eat – especially MetroDad and Julot!

In Paris!

By grace.g.yang · December 13, 2008
Under: Dinner,My Life,Travels

At dinner last night with my family:


We arrived yesterday around 2PM, walked around, and had dinner near our hotel. I woke up at 4AM and woke everyone else up, so we’re heading to breakfast and then the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre! I’m not sure how often I’ll be updating gracenotesnyc.com, but I have access to e-mail and will be updating my twitter feed (on the right). We’re going to Pierre Gagnaire on Wednesday and I’m trying to squeeze in Le Cinq – cross your fingers!

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