Trading in the French Laundry’s country charm for New York’s urbane worldliness, you enter Per Se beside a replica of French Laundry’s famous blue doors (here you enter through sliding glass) and your dizzying expectations make your heart palpitate and your mouth water. Per Se is one of the ten best restaurants in the world. Which means on this night out of six billion or so people in the world perhaps a couple hundred are blessed to be eating in a restaurant of this caliber. The Monster considers himself lucky.
It’s a room that exudes both warmth and class. Huge floral arrangements, a fire flickering, the murmur of appreciative diners and the quiet flow of the servers. It’s not stuffy but it’s neither a party atmosphere.
The Monster hears much about Sushi Yasuda and decides to give it a whirl. His New York friends trumpet the meal as the best sushi in the world. With high hopes but much skepticism he enters into the beautiful restaurant. A long sushi bar dominates much of the room with well spaced tables filling out the rest.
While there is a menu of interesting appetizers and sushi, omakase is the choice for this evening. Sitting at the sushi bar, an order of sake placed, The Monster puts himself in the hands of the sushi maestros at Yasuda.
New York does many things better than LA. Jewish delis. Pizza. Bad weather. What they do not do well is Mexican food. So The Monster should have known better than trying out La Esquina.
Look, the upstairs is cute in a sort of Escuela meets hipster way with distressed hard wood floors, chipped and worn tables, cool art and a selection of records on a shelf adding to the laid back vibe. And the swanky downstairs where you must pass muster and make reservations an insane month in advance might be a lot of fun. But the food isn’t good.
A paean to seafood, Marea is chef Michael White’s showstopping tribute to all things from the sea. From its Columbus Circle location, the beautiful room is filled with well-heeled clientele that have come to sample from an encyclopedic menu while indulging in fantastic wine and conversation.
On this evening The Monster is meeting one of his best friends from childhood which promises plenty of good times and quite a few bottles of wine.
Michael White’s casual Italian in Soho, Morini Osteria’s aesthetic from the room to the menu is rustic, earthy and fun. Where Marea is his seafood queen, this is more soulful Italian. The stuff mom would make to fatten you up.
It’s a bustling room filled with a waitstaff eager to please. The Monster digs into the menu and finds many items he’ll be sampling.
Because New York is a freezing tundra and because The Monster is lazy and hates being cold he decides to try out Imperial Number 9 at the Soho Mondrian. Beautiful chandeliers clumped together hang from the ceiling, a wall of glass vases on a mirrored table separates the long bar from the dining area (and will surely be some drunk fools complete undoing one of these days). The space is, well, it’s as though no one had any idea what it should look like and so they tried a whole hell of a lot of different ideas. So it’s at once beautiful and dreadful. Like the chair The Monster is sitting in. It sucks. Uncomfortable as hell and should be in a garden, not in a restaurant. The very high vaulted 70’s style glass roof is ugly as sin. And what are the pictures of birds in costume? Seriously, what the hell are they?
Service is kind of take it or leave it, you’re being blessed when they offer a menu or refill your water. You could say that’s New York but that’s crap. How many people who work here can pass by and ignore The Monster? Four? Five? Six? Seven?