L'Ecole is the Restaurant on the ground floor of the International Culinary Centre in New York City.
The Students are in the final phase of their training and they actually cook dinner in the kitchen under the supervision of the teachers who are professional chefs and they are marked on their work - the dishes they send out.
We chose the Brussel sprout salad which was served cold and was delicious, followed by the cheeseburger.
The Cheeseburger goes straight into the top ten all time great burgers. It was truly scrummy.
Made from Black Angus Beef it was tender, tasty and cooked perfectly.Even the cheese on top was good. It was accompanied by home made french fries.
Dinner started with an Amuse Bouche and we also had a nice bread basket. Its rare to find good bread in NYC but this was very good.
Dessert were a Chocolate Mousse and a Baked Alaska. Both were perfect.
We will definitely go back to L'Ecole. Its nice to be a part of the students getting to practice on real customers.
L'Ecole 462 Broadway. New York 10013. Tel 212 219 3300
The menu offered lots of choice and was reasonably priced.
Three courses for $38 was a bargain.
There are so many restaurants to choose from in NYC, its often hard to know where to start.
Its always hard relying on someone else taste and especially if you read reviews in places such as Trip Advisor and Yelp. One mans Olive Garden is another mans fancy Italian. I only pay attention to reviews from people with a review history who sound like they know the difference between Espresso and 'Expresso'. I completely ignore those with only one review to their name. Its usually a rant.....
I've read the NYTimes good food guides, the Michelin Guides and Time Out Restaurant recommendations and we've had some amazing food on our visits to NYC.
This year we were there in time for Restaurant week so we decided to visit some places that weren't on our radar before. I thought I would do a quick summery of the five places we visited. Any that stand out will also find themselves on my Restaurant Blog too.
Capital Grille - 120W 51st.
Excellent quality, service and choice. We rolled out after a substantial lunch. I wouldn't normally of tried this 'chain' restaurant but I'm glad we did and we will go back.
Read more here.
DB Bistro Moderne - 54W 44th.
We have been to a couple of Daniel Boulud’s other restaurants and always had great food so thought we would give this one a try... its was sadly disappointing. The service was excellent, but the food was just OK. Veal stew had no flavour and the rice was a step away from being soup. Dessert was good, but I'd go back to DBGB ten times before going back here.
The Russian Tea Room - 150W 57th.
This is one of the oldest restaurants in NYC and was opened by the Russian Ballet. They only served Tea during prohibition but now of course have a list of Vodka from around the world available.
Foor was tasty, and substantial, although quite 'basic'.
It was an 'interesting' restaurant to visit.
Not sure I'll be rushing back though.
Petrossian - 182W 58th.
This felt a little like going back to the 70's.
The restaurant week menu included their speciality - caviar alongside some old classics such as smoked salmon served with toast and roasted chicken breast with puree potatoes .
The other guests were a strange mix, old guys in suits and women in fur who are from an era where people dressed for dinner out. Overall the atmosphere was a bit stuffy..... you won't find us in here again anytime soon....
L'Ecole - 462 Broadway.
This is the restaurant for the International Culinary Centre. All the guys in the kitchen are students being watched and trained by their teachers and they are marked on their work.
We stayed quite safe but food was amazing quality. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for somewhere new in NYC.
Read more Here
We have tried to get into NoMad several times and never managed it.
This time we decided to have a Sunday early evening meal and managed to get a table.... I did book 4 weeks in advance!!!!
The restaurant is set inside the hotel NoMad and its all very dimly lit.
We arrived a little early and were asked to wait in the hotel lobby area. It was only after entering the restaurant that we noticed a fabulous bar through the other side of the restaurant.
The Bar would of been a much nicer place to wait. Sadly we weren’t give the option.
Our waiter was lovely and funny... which is quite rarity in NYC. there were LOADS of staff. Everything was delivered and cleared away promptly, there were people just kind of floating around making sure everything went smoothly. It was a very pleasant place to dine.
Dinner was excellent. it started with a delicious flatbread with cumin seeds.
The food was all excellent quality and cooked perfectly.
We had Tuna Tartare, Foie Gras, Beef and Lobster and the only criticism would be that the main portions could be a little larger. We were still peckish after we left. That said it was a lovely evening and we would definitely go back again.
NoMad 1170 Broadway and 28th Street. New York. Tel 212 796 1500
We were greeted warmly by two charming maître d who were all smiles and cheer - despite the freezing weather.
The restaurant is dimly lit and the spaced tables and small booths give a nice intimate feel. At lunchtime it wasn't too busy, mostly business lunch types in suits. The restaurant menu had a nice selection of their signature dishes. I chose clam chowder followed by cheeseburger and truffle fries and classic creme Brûlée and hubby had the cob salad followed by the sirloin salad and again the creme brûlée all for $25 each.
Iced tap water arrived quickly after we sat down, followed by a bread basket.
The wine list was presented on an iPad which I much prefer to the huge telephone directory size books some restaurants still have.
Clam chowder was rich and creamy and the side salad was, well, a slice of iceberg lettuce with bacon and dressing.
For my main course I had the signature cheeseburger. This was a really juicy chunky burger served on a bun with lettuce, tomato, pickle and a generous portion of fries.
My husbands sirloin salad was also much more substantial than expected. It was a fairly large steak, cooked perfectly served with plenty of green leaves.
Creme brûlée was very good despite that it was served cold. I do prefer hot - especially the sugar layer but I guess that's a personal taste thing. It did come served with some fresh berries.
Service was very attentive from start to finish.
There was never a point where we waited for anything and our water glass was constantly topped up.
It doesn't take much more effort to get it right, sadly this doesn't always happen, but today at Capital Grille it certainly did.
Capital Grille 120 West 51st Street, New York 10020 Tel 212 246 0154
ABC Kitchen was busy !! Not a single table free busy.
It was hard getting a table here. I booked 4 weeks in advance and there was still no chance of an evening reservation. It was also a little hard to find, small sign and no idea of what is behind the door until you are inside.
Service was excellent. All the servers looked very young, but they were knowledgable and clearly passionate about their jobs.
Even though I was alone I got a great table with a good view of the restaurant.
Water was quick to arrive as was an explanation of the daily specials.
I chose the lunch fixed price 3 courses.
I chose a tuna sashimi to start - it was amazing. I could of eaten it ten times over. The marinade was slightly spicy and absolutely delicious.
My main was a fresh egg and ricotta ravioli served with pork ragu. The ravioli actually contained a whole fresh perfectly egg with ricotta cheese. The egg broke as I cut into the ravioli. It was a very pleasant surprise as from the description I thought the ravioli was made with a special egg !!! It was heaven in a bowl. Absolutely amazing.
Dessert was equally impressive. Chocolate with salted caramel ice cream and caramel popcorn. Truly scrummy.
Next time I book a flight to New York City I will be straight online to get a table here again....
ABC Kitchen 35 E 18th St, New York 212 475 5829
After a great evening at Heddon Street Kitchen we were really looking forward to dinner with friends at Bread Street Kitchen.
This is another Gordon Ramsay venture close to St Paul's Cathedral in The City.
The menu is similar to Heddon Street Kitchen - nothing wrong with that - but the restaurant is catering to completely different crowd.
Its all about the location.
It was quite quiet when we arrived in the evening of a cold wet Saturday between Xmas and NYE and in fact the downstairs bar was completely empty. I guess in fairness it was a Saturday evening and Bread Street Kitchen does rely on the City for a lot of its trade.
We stayed downstairs and ordered a drink but quickly thought better of it as the large windows that are great or people watching are not great at keeping the heat inside, so we gave in to the need to be warm and went upstairs to our table.
Things looked surprisingly different when we got to the top of the stairs to the restaurant area.
The space is really quite big and there were quite a lot of people already dining. the lighting was low and there was a view of the kitchen. Tables were well spaced out so you can enjoy your own conversation - not the one taking place on the table next to you.
Service was excellent, professional but friendly. Everything we ordered arrived together and was cooked perfectly. The food is not overly complicated, not too fancy. Everything we ordered - there were four of us for dinner - received great comments from everyone. My tuna starter was especially good.
I'd highly recommend Bread Street Kitchen, but when I come back I will come during the week, probably a Thursday evening. I think the buzzy atmosphere and people watching in the City is always fun. However, if you live or are staying nearby then this would make a great relaxing place to eat some excellent food at the weekend.
Bread Street Kitchen One New Change, 10 Bread Street, London EC4M 9AJ +44 20 3030 4050
In January when I booked my flights for this trip to NYC I was expecting cold, maybe snow, but certainly not the -27 with wind chill factor that we got when we landed in JFK in the middle of February.
As with most of my travel my husband was working and having business dinners and lunches so I was mostly alone. My initial plan was to use the hotel gym to get back to being able to run for 5k and take advantage of the Mon-Wed Mani & Pedi for $25 that is the norm of all the nail salons in town. I also thought it would be nice to spend a few afternoons wandering around a few exhibitions and maybe a little time shopping for some new summer clothes........ well I did some of that, in-between bouts of being frozen, having a numb face and ducking in and out of stores to take advantage of their heating..... The temperatures in NYC were brutally cold. I managed to do some of the things I wanted to do but there was no desire to stroll around the city.
Instead, I spend my time catching up on some reading. I have a HUGE backlog of books on my iPad and I managed to read 2 in the first week alone. I also spent quite some time working on German Grammar. I am having SKYPE German lessons twice a week and so thought I would also take the holiday time to consolidate my learning and my old grammar work into one German 'Bible'.
Despite the cold there was one definite upside to the timing of our trip.
We were in NYC for restaurant week.
This was a bonus and completely unintentional. Lots of restaurants give special fixed price menus for lunch and/or dinner. We booked quite a few and it was also a great opportunity to try some restaurants that we would not normally visit.
On our list were, Capital Grille, DB Bistro Moderne, Russian Tea Room, Petrossian and L'cole Restaurant of the International Culinary Centre. Some of my reviews will be posted in The Restaurant Blog section of the site.
There were some successes and a couple of disappointments, but at least the disappointments were not expensive ones. The set lunches are $25 and the dinners $38. If you are planning to trip to NYC next year I'd definitely look out for when restaurant week is. If you can't avoid the cold in February then you can at least eat some scrummy food.
Whenever my husband comes home and tells me he has another business trip to Japan he barely has to finish the sentence before I am google-ing flight prices. Tokyo is one of my absolute favourite cities. From the very first time I went there I have been in love with the country.
We have been over 10 times and are always being asked for tips by friends who are going for the first time, so I thought I would turn those tips into a blog post.
The first visit to Japan can be a bit daunting. Its a big, busy, noisy city. There are signs written in Japanese everywhere and very little English is spoken outside of the tourist /ticket offices and hotels, but somehow it all works out. I've been to all of the tourist sites at least once, had mini adventures outside the city and eaten in many restaurants, most of the time I am alone, but I never really encountered any problems that couldn't be solved using a mixture of sign language and a big smile. My first bit of advice starts before you leave.... make sure you can use your bank card abroad.
A quick call to your bank should sort this out. When you arrive get cash out of Citibank at the airport. There are relatively few international bank ATM's in Tokyo. You can use Citibank and the Post Office Bank, but they are the only ones I've been able to use my assortment of credit cards at.......
Generally we get some cash and pay for everything in restaurants and shops with Visa/Mastercard.
The best way to get from the airport to your hotel is the "Friendly Shuttle Bus". The counters are in the airport just after you clear customs. The girls at the counter speak English and will point you in the right direction. Most buses do 5 or 6 stops and will drop you at the hotel door. The bus even has WiFi - though it is a little slow.
The whole area around Harajuku and Omotesando is great for people watching and shopping, especially at the weekend. Close by is Shibuya crossing and Yoyogi park with Meiji shrine. Both well worth a visit and fascinating for very different reasons.
Ueno Park is lovely to walk through, if you want to escape the craziness of the city or want to go to the Zoo.
Nearby is Ameyoko which is a great market area with some good food stalls and lots of good restaurants.
Sensoji Temple is a must see and the small gift shops on the walk to the temple are cute, despite being a bit touristy. Go early, as its on everybody's 'to do list' and it gets crowded.
Tokyo Tower near Rappongi - you can go up the tower and get great views to Mt Fiji if its a clear day. And afterwards maybe do a little bar hopping in Rappongi.
After these recommendations what you decide to see will really depend on how much you like to walk - there are several nice parks, if you are looking to go shopping - Tokyo Hands is amazing, or if you are especially into food and want to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market.
There is truly so much to see in this amazing, vibrant city. You can spend hours just wandering around and enjoy just being there. The food is amazing too. If you are not a Japanese food expert I would suggest doing a little research before-hand. There are lots of different dishes available, but most restaurants specialise in one style of cooking. A sushi restaurant won't usually sell Tonkatsu or Ramen Noodles for example. This of course rarely matters to me as I don't have to compromise when I am out and about alone, but can cause problems if you are desperate to eat sushi and your dining partner doesn't like fish...... nothing a little forward planning can't solve of course.
I have written a review of a fabulous restaurant Andy's Shin Hinomoto. I can highly recomend this place, we have probably eaten there 8 or 9 times. Its excellent.
Japan Tourist Board
When arriving at the hotel ask the concierge for the free guide that comes from the Tourist Office. Its orange. Its fabulous. It has a page for each area with the major sights listed on the opposite page.
The next thing you should do is to get a PASMO card. You load the card up with money and use it throughout Japan on the trains and buses. its like the Oyster Card in London or the Metro Card in NYC. There are instructions for buying one and using the machines on the PASMO site.
If your hotel isn't covered by the Friendly Airport Shuttle service then you can buy the PASMO at the airport and use it on the train into the city.
Now you are set to explore all over Tokyo using the amazing train system.
Tokyo Metro map looks terrifying...... but its very easy to understand. All the lines are coloured differently and all the stations are numbered. You can even get a free app for your smartphone.
When you are on the train platform the next station the train will call at is written on the wall.
There are so many things to do in Tokyo that I could write pages and pages. Some of it will interest you, most of it not. I find sightseeing to be quite personal. I love taking photos, people watching, visiting temples and finding off the beaten track places to eat, but these things may not be your cup of tea, so I won't bore you with lists of things to do, I'll just make a few recommendations...
This is a nice, quick easy to make tray-bake.
My chocolate drizzle needs a bit of work.... but these little bite-sized treats taste amazing.
Heat the oven to 200 C
Stir together the biscuit crumbs and coconut then add the condensed milk and melted butter.
Press into a greased square cake tin
bake for 10-12 mins.
Remove and let cool.
Turn out the 'cake' onto a board and divide with a sharp knife into small bite sized squares.
Separate them all slightly and drizzle the melted choc over them using small spoon.
Chill and serve ideally from the fridge (or the choc may melt)
These are quick to make.
170g digestive biscuits - crumbled
150g desiccated coconut
395g tin / tube condensed milk
175g chocolate - melted in a bain marie
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