Les Halles, Anthony Bourdain’s take on a French Brasserie, is situated in midtown and has a very romantic feel when you first step in; dimly lit, cute lamps, and lots of booths for couples or small groups. It’s a very informal restaurant and serves a lot of different types of beef and other Parisian cuisine. Chris and I have been meaning to check this place out for their steak frites (I read that their French fries are really special because of their shape/taste). The menu has a lot of offerings and we knew that we were definitely going to order the steak frites, but we were going back and forth on our second entrÃ©eâ€¦I finally decided to order the coq au vin (a very typical French dish meaning “rooster with wine”):
The chicken was very tender and they definitely don’t skimp on the portions (I felt like they gave me an entire chicken!) but it was a little salty. Chris said it reminded him of the coq au vin he used to eat when he was studying abroad and said it evoked memories of the Oxford dining hall (apparently, the dining halls abroad serve much better food than the colleges in the US and they have a formal meal once a month).
Chris ordered the steak frites with French fries and salad:
Les Halles has a little butcher shop in the front so you KNOW that you have to order beef; steak frites was the default because it’s a European staple and who doesn’t like steak with French fries? The steak was very tender and well cooked; juicy, slightly pink inside (the good kind of medium rare) and very flavorful. I didn’t see what was special about the French fries (people say the shape is interestingâ€¦but they looked like regular pieces of fries) and the salad had too much onion.
The service at Les Halles was quite slow and we were seated in an area that had a lot of bugs flying around (Chris actually killed one with a napkin) but it was a good (not great) meal.
Paradise Moon, located in Newport on the Levee, is a pan-Asian restaurant I visited the first time I went to Cincinnati. I was there for a Procter and Gamble event and really enjoyed the food – we had an assortment of appetizers and other dishes and everything was pretty good (this was back in 2004). Since I was recently in Cincinnati for work, I thought it would be fun to visit the place again – Vikkie and I drove to Newport on the Levee (which is technically in Kentucky but the drive is only 10 minutes) and we decided to eat at Paradise Moon, even though it was completely deserted (the first sign that we should’ve left).
We started off with an appetizer of cold noodles:
I took one bite of the noodles and immediately knew that the meal was going to be sub-par, at best. The noodles were overcooked (were the cooks Asian? If they were, their mothers apparently didn’t teach them how to cook noodles) and the sauce was simply soy sauce. We should’ve cancelled our order all together, but since we ordered sushi, we decided to stick it out.
I ordered the spicy tuna roll and tuna with crab:
For both of the rolls, the fish wasn’t fresh, the nori was too soft, and the rice wasn’t even sushi rice (I think it was just regular rice with too much water used when preparing it so it just stuck together).
Vikkie didn’t have a bad experience with her rolls (they had some weird names that aren’t worth looking up online):
But I tried a piece and didn’t find it appetizing.
Seriously, you can buy better sushi rolls at a freaking WHOLE FOODS. Also, it was pretty expensive (around $15/roll) and the fish definitely wasn’t fresh. If you’re in the area, definitely skip out on Paradise Moon – the food’s crappy and it’s definitely not worth it!
One rainy day, I headed to Washington Square Park to fulfill my dosa craving (the winner of the 2007 Vendy’s) but the dosa man wasn’t there. BOO! Instead of moping around (or going to the Hampton’s Chutney Co. in Soho), I decided to grab myself a falafel from Mamoun’s:
I don’t even know what this area is considered – east village? West Village? I’m categorizing it as both. There are a lot of cheap restaurants in the area (whatever it’s called) and I went to Mamoun’s for some falafels. I just started eating falafels last year (truthfully, I didn’t even know what falafels were when I was in college) and I really love them. I try to eat them whenever I get street food.
I didn’t write a review about Azuri CafÃ©, a place on 50th between 10th and 11th, that supposedly has the BEST falafels in the city (I don’t have pictures and I didn’t think the falafel was that great), but Mamoun’s is definitely worth writing about. I ordered the falafel platter:
Six falafels with a salad for $5 – can you beat that?! Everyone knows that I appreciate value, but it’s not a good deal unless it tastes good, tooâ€¦and Mamoun’s tastes great. Their falafels are very moist (whereas Azuri’s were really dry) and the falafel also had a touch of lemon, which made them really delicious and it had a great kick. Also, the pita that the platter came with was really soft and perfect for making a sandwich, which I did, and I still had a falafel leftover! Mamoun’s is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a quick meal that’s also really delicious and cheap!
Prune is one of those places you want to go to because you’ve read about in magazines, you’ve heard your friends rave about the food there, and when you actually make it there, you realize it HAS to be good because the host declares it’s going to be a two hour wait and there are at least 20 people standing around with their fingers crossed (at least the host doesn’t pick favorites; Parker Posey and her friend tried to get in but the host, Dan, said it would be close to a two hour wait…well, can you really call Parker Posey a celebrity?). My brother, Chris, and I headed to Prune, hoping to score a table in the little restaurant that only seats about 20. Luckily, we only had to wait an hour and a half (yes, we were the fortunate ones).
The menu is simple and has staple brunch items – steak and eggs, eggs prepared in any way you’d like, pancakes, and bloody Mary’s prepared in 10 different ways. Since we added my brother to our usual brunch festivities, we were able to order a third dish to try (and for me to write about – yay!).
I started off with the pancake:
More like a cake than anything, it’s one huge piece of dough that is topped with blueberries and sour cream (with syrup on the side). It was a pretty huge piece of cake – not bombarded with sweetness, but it gets its point across. The sour cream and blueberries complemented the pancake well – they probably used a lot of buttermilk because the cake was slightly tangy. I thought the pancake was excellent – but it’s no Clinton St. Bakery (which, in Prune’s defence, I don’t think they’re trying to be).
David ordered the steak and eggs:
Dry aged steak with eggs (any way you want them) and a hash brown. The steak was a worthy competitor of any steak house in New York – very juicy, very tender, and VERY delicious. The steak was topped off with a butter and scallion mixture (I usually take it off because I don’t like anything interrupting the flavors of the steak, but in this case, I made an exception). David’s steak and eggs were huge, but somehow, we managed to finish/
Chris ordered the eggs Benedict:
I had half of Chris’ order and I must say – I LOVE Hollandaise sauce! I mean, what’s not to love about the fatty sauce that you drip over EGGS, HAM, and an ENGLISH MUFFIN? The side pancake style blob is a piece of hash brown (piece – is that the right terminology?) Slightly burnt, in my opinion, but very crunchy and VERY delicious. Chris liked the dish, but he thought that his order size was a lot smaller than expected.
Prune is a solid brunch spot that I’m sure people will want to try – I don’t see myself going back anytime soon because I just don’t have two hours on a Sunday morning to spare (sleep is important!). Parker Posey, on the other hand, may have time to go back during the week, when everyone else is working.
After making reservations at The Waverly Inn for our Friday night dinner, I realized that the menu at The Waverly is pretty limited and the food wasn’t THAT great there. We decided to skip out on our Waverly reservations and opted for a meal at Fatty Crab instead.
On my walks/runs around the west village, I’ve always passed the small eatery (and I’ve always been tempted to walk in), but the menu was a little tooâ€¦fatty for me. Yes, even I have limits to the amount of fat I put in my bodyâ€¦.but this was a special occasion – I mean, how many Fridays are there in a week?! Chris and I decided to go all out based on my friend’s suggestions – starting out with the watermelon and pork salad (basically combining two of my favorite foods):
The pork was super fatty – I mean, fattier than usual pork. Since it was so incredibly heart clogging, it was also really juicy and tasty. The watermelon was seasoned with ginger and I’m not a fan of making sweet foods salty (you know, like putting pineapple in salty dishes, apples in salads, etc), but if you ate the watermelon separately, it actually tasted really refreshing and sweet. It was a great way to start the meal, although I would’ve asked for more pork next time (we got quite a few pieces of fried FAT).
I ordered the signature dish – the fatty crab:
One dungeonous crab in Fatty crab’s signature sauce with toast points. First off, the crab was ginormous (at $36, it SHOULD be!). One drawback of eating crab is that it’s so much freaking work for so little reward – seriously, crab meat is difficult to grab and I was getting TINY chunks. The crab was very tender and the sauce was interesting (it tasted veryâ€¦southeast Asian-ish), but the sauce ended up giving me a headache afterwards, similar to the one I get after eating mole. Overall, we liked the crab, but our hands were so disgustingly messy after dealing with the crab and the sauce (and I am such a messy eater that I got it all over my new dress ).
Chris ordered the short ribs:
Lots of sweet coconut and a spiciness that hit you after the short ribs were in your mouth (like a sour patch kid!….but oppositeâ€¦kind of) Chris said the dish accomplished what it set out to – spicy yet sweet and very comforting. The dish was a tad too sweet for me, but I liked the short ribs in small amounts.
The meal was pretty expensive – around $80 for the two of us – but it was a fun experience. If I ever went back, I’d try the quail shooters (they were so cute – four quail eggs perched on a block of wood). If you go there, try to get a table that isn’t along the wall because the tables all touch, so it’s almost family style. Have fun!