Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lafayette Grand Cafe & Bakery - NYC

On a warm Sunday morning in early October, Lafayette's front patio is filled with New Yorkers brunching en plein air, hanging onto summer as long as possible. Inside the French cafe and bakery's front doors is a pastry lovers dream come true.  Fresh baked croissants line the countertops along with every tart, danish, muffin, macaron and cake imaginable.
    
Over on the other side of the restaurant chef and owner Andrew Carmellini sits in one of Lafayette's cushy banquettes eating one of his croissant sandwiches filled with thickly sliced french ham, gruyere and a fried egg.  It's only one of the must order items on his brunch menu. 

Wanting to over order at one of Mr. Carmellini's restaurants isn't something new.  If you've been to Locande Verde and The Dutch, you'll understand. Now at his third restaurant in New York in four years, he's bringing his style of French country cooking to the masses.  

Back at brunch other tables feast on the Brussels style waffles with homemade nutella and banana, the squash omelettte du jour, and overflowing baskets of the perfectly crispy and salty shoe string fries. 
A perfect Sunday if you ask us.                    
  

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Plaza Food Hall - NYC

The thought of sitting down to a meal in a food court is dreadful.  They can be dark. They can be dingy.  They can be packed table to table with fellow citizens less inclined towards personal hygiene, and the menu, well, let's just not go there.  But when it comes to food court dining, the times are a changing.

A short escalator ride down into the basement of New York's Plaza Hotel and you'll find fast food a level above.  The Plaza Food Hall (not court) has marble tables, leatherback bar stools and chocolate wood from wall to wall.  But more importantly, the menus.

Starting with the Maine course (see what we did there?) Luke's puts out small but generously stuffed lobster ($15), crab ($13) and shrimp ($8) rolls.  Pay a few extra dollars to upgrade to a combo and get a soda, chips and pickle. There's No. 7 Sub where $13 will buy you a braised shortrib sandwich with roasted green peppers, grape jelly, mayo and red onions.  Order a side of their red cabbage and fried garlic cole slaw for the cost of a subway ride.  And in case of a line, you'll find more sandwiches and salads at Tartinery and a slew of other stalls.

When it comes to dessert though things can get dangerous, especially with Billy's Bakery banana cupcakes in plain sight.  There's also Lady M's sophisticated cakes and macaroons, William Greenberg Desserts with their version of the ubiquitous black and white cookie (in not-so-namesake hues too), La Maison du Chocolat, Three Tarts and frozen yogurt at YoArt.

The hall is open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 9:30pm and Sunday 11am to 6pm making it the perfect place to eat away buyer's remorse with dignity post-Bergdorfs and pre-Barneys.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chantecler

Just a few steps from Grand Electric there's another restaurant filling seats right when its doors open.  In the heart of Parkdale, Chantecler has become popular for its cheap and cheerful $21 lettuce meal that easily feeds two people.  The dish comes with a piece of very tender braised beef and equally tender slow smoked pork shoulder, steamed rice, spicy sauces, pickled veg (including carrots, cauliflower and kimchi) and of course big leafy lettuce.  They also regularly have specials you can add on to the meal like duck leg or crispy tofu.

The rest of Chantecler's menu consists mainly of seafood plates that all sound appealing (wild pacific cod wrap, calamari with caramelized peanuts, albacore tuna ceviche and oysters with lemon and kimchi juice) but the spicy popcorn shrimp shown below is one you can pass on.  The shrimp wasn't as spicy as promised and the kitchen went too heavy on the popcorn batter.

Chef Jonathan Poon also offers a tasting menu.  Reservations for the November tasting is fully booked. December bookings open Nov 1.

The cocktail menu is fun and not overly complicated (a good thing in our books) and there's an extensive wine list.
The 30 seat restaurant is open everyday of the week, with the kitchen still cooking Thursdays and Fridays until 12am and Saturdays until 1am.