Monday, December 28, 2009
To all my dear foodies out there who have been patiently waiting for a new restaurant for me to critique. I'm sorry. I've been so busy with work and college and an internship as well as getting my business THE KOSHER GOURMET off the ground http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=119445593631&ref=ts its been a real challenge keeping up. However, the good news is that college ends in 2 weeks and after that, I WILL BE BACK!!!!!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
***This rating is only for the Estihana branch in Brooklyn and doesn't reflect the food in the Manhattan branch
On a typical night on which I'm too tired to cook and yet not at all too tired to eat my husband and I have our usual conversation "where should we go/get take out from?" And after about an hour of debate we unanimously decided to order from Estihana- AGAIN!
In my opinion, everyone has "their place", its not necessarily the restaurant where the food is the best, or where the service is most stellar, but its the place that for one reason or another becomes yours. You know what to order without a menu, you know what the food will look like and taste like without any surprises. And you can rely on this place to be consist ant with their food and service no matter the time of day. In our house Estihana has always been that place.
On Ave J, in the heart of Brooklyn lies a little taste of Japan. Estihana markets itself as a fusion restaurant- then again so does every other kosher restaurant that decided to put sushi on its menu. I personally consider Estihana to be Asian Cuisine.
Walking in, you immediately notice that though the restaurant is popular there isn't enough room to properly seat the patrons. Tables are so close together you almost feel like 1 big happy family (a bit awkward if you are on a date). The decor has perplexed me since the first day I entered, there are random posters in various languages including Italian and French, yet none it Japanese.(If any of you figure it out please let me know!)Once seated I usually order without even looking at my menu, like I said this is my place.
We started out with a Sushi, I ordered the Tropical roll,named for the fact that it has mango on top of a roll with imitation crab meat, avocado and salmon tempura inside. My husband, who likes raw fish more than I do ordered the Dragon roll which is spicy tuna with cucumber & avocado wrapped with fish outside. The sushi tasted very fresh and was delicious. It also didn't take 45 minutes to arrive like in other places.
we followed up our sushi with appetizers we ordered the shredded crispy beef which is shredded slices of beef coated with a sweet & spicy sauce mixed with crisped rice noodles.the crispy beef is a house specialty which can be ordered either as a appetizer or as a larger portion for the main course. Though I usually enjoy the crispy beef this time I found the beef to be dry and tasteless. It almost seemed like they took the scraps of meat that were left over from previous dishes, covered it in some sauce and served it to us. We also ordered the Pan Fried Won tons which is Fried dumplings stuffed with beef severed with a sesame teriyaki sauce on the side. The meat was again a bit dried out, but they were overall tasty.
For the main course I ordered (as I often do) the Garlic Steak, a Mongolian style steak floured in a crispy texture w/garlic brown sauce and served w/broccoli and white rice. Now if you were expecting a high quality cut of meat such as prime rib or Fillet Mignon you would be sorely disappointed. the garlic steak is a piece of overly pounded chuck meat. However, the batter and sauce are quite delicious and almost make you forget that you are eating a cut of meat best designed for hamburgers.
My husband ordered the Kung Pao Chicken-Chunks of Chicken thigh served w/mixed vegetables and Kung Pao sauce and topped w/roasted peanuts. Though my husband claimed that his dish was tasty, the mere smell of it made me nauseous and therefore I didnt even try it.
Overall, Estihana is a decent place with decent food. If you want luxury or gourmet cuisine- look elsewhere. If you are looking for a place to call your own; Estihana is the perfect place!
RATING: 2 1/2 stars
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Sunflower Cafe is located in the heart of Kings Highway in Brooklyn. Getting a table there during breakfast or lunch time can prove to be a difficult task however, I don't really understand why.
A friend of mine who is as excited about my blog as I am (okay, maybe not that excited), came in from New Jersey to rate Sunflower with me. We decided that Breakfast is a great meal to go for because most people are very particular about breakfast and any restaurant worth going to must be able to do it properly. Incidentally, my final exam in culinary school was to make an omelet - though it may sound simple, making eggs correctly is a fine art.
Sunflower's decor is lovely, there is bright colors and interesting wall murals and mainly it just feels like a warm and inviting place. We were seated by our waiter and given our menu (can someone please explain to me why their menus are written on pages that are 2 Ft long, how am i supposed to sit and read it comfortably?)While deciding what to order I was bombarded by the terrible acoustics of the place. Tables are cramped together making everyone speak over one another just to hear themselves talk. then to make the sittuation more unbareable the blender would go off and everyone would just yell louder. I now know that the woman who was eating salad to my right is in therapy for clinical depression!!!! When our waiter came to take our order my friend asked for the "Eggs Paris" described on the menu as Two Fried Eggs on a Croissant served with Garden Vegetables, Fresh Squeeze Orange Juice and Coffee or Tea. He then asked her how she wanted her eggs (umm it says how the eggs are made on the menu) to which she decided for the heck of it to say scrambled- I got upset at her because I think its really hard to mess up scrambled eggs and therefore it wouldn't be a fair rating. Boy was I wrong! I ordered the capriccio delicacy which is supposed to be eggs any way you like them served over a grilled cheese baguette served with Garden Vegetables, Fresh Squeeze Orange Juice and Coffee or Tea.I specifically asked for my eggs made "over easy: firstly, because this is the way I like them and secondly because its a more difficult dish to make (you have to flip the eggs without breaking the yolk). our eggs arrived and I was tempted to send mine back, one of the yolks were missing,there was a yellow colored valley where the yolk used to be but somehow between shell and plate it got lost. the other egg was not cracked so at least I had one.The eggs were highly under seasoned (imagine no seasoning) the grilled cheese was just a piece of bread with some melted processed American cheese on it. My friend, however, fared much worse than I. Her Croissant that was advertised as being served under the eggs arrived a good 10 minutes ahead of them, cold and on a separate plate (how is that eggs on a croissant?) when her eggs actually arrived they looked like they had been cooking for the better half of an hour. they were dry, tasteless and lacking seasoning. overall I think my toddlers can make better scrambled eggs. The positives are that their breakfasts are fairly cheap, the fresh squeezed orange juice was incredibly refreshing and their vegetables were extermely fresh,they have delicious freshly made salad dressings.So as long as no one in this restaurant has to go near a stove to make your dish you'll be safe.
Rating: 1 1/2 Stars!
Monday, August 3, 2009
***This is a rating for the branch of Cafe K on 18Th Ave. This rating does not reflect the other two locations.
Cafe K, named for its first location on Ave. K in Brooklyn,NY is known for its dairy cuisine, primarily its pasta and fish dishes. having been to all three of their restaurants, (the other being in Midtown Manhattan) I prefer the one on 18 Ave.
First thing to note when entering Cafe K is that the decor is very pretty, if you go there in the evening you will find dim lighting, soft music and candles at every table giving the place a romantic ambiance. However, the restaurant is small and they try to accommodate a lot of patrons and therefore the tables are all very close together (this is not where I would go if I wanted to have a private chat with someone). Due to the large number of restaurant goers all speaking at the same time it is often difficult to hear the person you are sitting with. When the restaurant is not as busy, this of course is not a problem.
Secondly, one should have an idea what they would like to eat before stepping into the restaurant because there are no menus! There is a chalkboard on the wall stating various dishes, however, it is difficult to understand if you don't know for instance what a puttanesca sauce is. (I was once having dinner with someone who asked for a pasta puttanesca with cream sauce and was quite embarrassed when the waitress had to explain to him that a puttanesca is a form of tomato sauce with chunks of veggies.- had there been a menu that stated what pasta puttanesca is this could have been avoided). similarly, when ordering mozzarella sticks, one would assume they are getting deep fried, breaded, string cheese (or whatever is in mozzarella sticks) but if you order Mozzarella sticks in Cafe K you will get a mashed veggie and a bit of cheese deep fried - not really the same thing, and since there is no menu there is no way of knowing that.
Service is another area in which Cafe k is sorely lacking. Due to their lack of man power both in the kitchen and in the front of the house, expect to wait over 45 minutes for your main course. Also once a waiter actually comes to your table (which could take 15-20 minutes) make sure to ask for everything you need (though they will probably not remember some of it) because getting a waitress to return to your table can be a long and excruciating process. They are also known for mixing up tables and dishes, so before you dig in make sure its what you ordered
The good part of Cafe K is that there is a pasta and fish special everyday. As a rule I always order one of these, though most of their menu is lacking variety, their specials are usually well thought out and well prepared. The fish is always fresh (except in their cooked sushi rolls where I have a feeling they use the previous days leftovers - they are not spoiled but do have a more potent fish smell). The pasta noodles are not homemade, however, that are cooked nicely to al dente.
All in all Cafe K is a nice place to go for some coffee, a salad or a bite to eat. Their salads are fresh and they have an assortment of various coffees and other beverages. As far as their sushi, the raw ones seem to be fresh however, the cooked varieties seem to have inferior quality fish. The main courses are tasty though unoriginal- except for their specials which change daily.
Cafe K is a nice place to eat and I am a frequent patron. My advice is to get the special- whatever it is that day and BON APETITE
Final note: they do not accept credit cards so make sure to have cash or your checkbook on you!
Rating : 2 1/2 stars
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
July, besides being known for the heat and school vacation is also my birthday. And how do you think a self proclaimed foodie would celebrate? Yup, by attending one of NYC's premiere kosher restaurants. Since I'm currently in culinary school, I decided that the 7 course tasting menu would be a perfect exercise in the development of a gourmet palate.Though it may surprise you, I had never been in Mike's Bistro before that night, but you can be assured I'll be going back again and again.
The ambiance at Mike's Bistro is magnificent(picture posted above.) It is spacious, and airy with beautiful lighting. Unlike many restaurants I've been to previously, Mike's Bistro is more concerned with the comfort of their patrons than filling every square inch of space with a table. The wait staff was exteremely cordial and we were seated promptly.
The meal started with a corn chowder topped with the chef's version of bacon (one of the specialties of chef Mike Gershovich is curing and smoking veal to make it taste like bacon). As someone who has had real pork bacon i can attest to the fact that the Chef's version was indistinguishable from the real thing. The corn chowder itself was creamy and the texture was velvety. I did, however, find the flavor a bit too strong for my taste buds - but my husband enjoyed it immensely.
For our second course we were served a legume and sprout salad with home made salami in a white wine vinegarette. I am not a fan of beans or sprouts in general, but I did enjoy the lightness of this course and thought it was a perfect palate cleanser after the thick chowder.
The third course was probably one of the best things I have tasted in my entire life(and I have tasted a lot of things). We were served a home made Gnocchi with a duck and chicken confit with portabello mushrooms and a duck jus. the gnocchi was made wonderfully and the duck and chicken added such a medley of flavors in my mouth. I savored every bite. As Chef Michael Gershovich, who by the way came out of the kitchen and spoke to all the diners, stated "its the ultimate comfort food". To be quite honest, its been three weeks since our dinner and I can still taste the flavor of that gnocchi in my mouth.
For the fourth course we were served a Chinese Style Steamed Market Fish with cabbage, ginger, scallions, garlic, sesame oil. This was a real asian dish and a real contrast to the previous three courses. the first bite confused me, but with every subsequent bite i enjoyed it more and more, and before I knew it I had finished my entire plate.
Course number five, though it may sound simple was just a perfectly executed chicken breast. This ain't your mama's chicken breast where its so dry it needs the jaws of life to cut it. This was a herb marinated chicken breast that literally melted in your mouth. I didn't even use my knife to cut it. It was chicken breast the way its supposed to be.
Our final savory course was a Braised Boneless Short Ribs with a barbecue glaze, cauliflower & potato mash, braised kale, and a celery root sauce. Though quite tasty, I found the Short rib overly fatty and thought this course would work better as a small appetizer rather than a large main course.
The finale of our incredible dining experience(and my husbands favorite course) was blueberry crisp, well actually to be more accurate it was a homemade blueberry ice cream served under a fresh blueberry sauce which was then topped with granola and oats. it was a very unique and flavorful dish. The crisp was light and a perfect completion to our meal.
If you want a good meal, go to Mike's Bistro - and order the Gnocchi!!!
visit their website: www.mikesbistro.com
Rating: 4 STARS
Never again should a person enter a kosher restaurant expecting a gourmet culinary experience only to be served reheated instant mashed potatoes under what looks like a previous customers leftovers ( yes, that actually happened to me). The restaurant experience should be pleasurable, if you leave unhappy there is something wrong! We have, for reasons unbeknown to anyone, allowed the kosher restaurant industry to get away with serving sub par food to their patrons. This stops today!!! This blog will be the start of a culinary revolution in kosher restaurants. Weekly, I will attend kosher dining establishments, I will eat the food (pray to G-d not to die of food poisoning), and I will critique them. This critique I will report back to you my faithful readers. You will once and for all know whats good, whats bad, and what and where to avoid. Finally, I will be giving establishments a star rating of 0-5 stars (how original huh?). Feel free to check this blog in order to make a more educated decision for future dining experiences. If there is a place you would like me to check out, either bad or good, email me and I will do so. WELCOME and Bon Appetite.