• Category Archives Restaurants
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  • Forgive me consumer for I have sinned

    The story is simple. We were in NYC, and needed a restroom stop. Starbucks was just in front of us (try to find a place in the US that you don’t have one in front of you), so we stepped in.

    I was waiting and was thirsty, plus I felt that I need to buy something as we were after all using “the facilities”.

    I’m not a big fan of Starbucks coffee, to phrase it gently, so I was looking at the cold drinks and saw the Cool Lime Refresher. Sounded good, and I was thirsty, so I ordered the large one, which had an outrageous price tag of $4.45, but I figured that for a good refreshing drink and a brief use of the plumbing I’ll for once bite the bullet and pay the price. Plus tax. And waiting in line.

    While waiting between a Grande Latte suit and a Tall Mocha Light Frappuccino brunette I watched the dedicated employee making my Cool Lime Refresher, not expecting a gilded rim and a carbon nanotube straw but at least a drink made of something that looks like it’s worth the money.

    Ha. This is what happened next: Into the not-that-huge cup the young-and-restless loyal Starbuckhipster  poured a concentrated liquid out of a carton, added some ice cubes, topped it with, no, not freshly spring water from the melting snow of the Upper Peninsula but with NYC’s own tap water, stirred a bit, threw in a slice of lime to make it look au natural and placed a good plastic lid over it.

    I’m not sure what I expected. Maybe some fresh lime juice? Something that looks like an effort to make a real drink for $4.45? Like a virgin cocktail? I guess I’m naive.

    But I paid.  So why do I say  forgive me consumer for I have sinned? Because by the act of  me buying that drink for that price I legitimize the price point, so I need to apologize to my fellow consumers for buying a (maybe) $1 drink for $4.45. So I said a few Hail Marys (being an atheist that was born Jewish it might seem a bit strange though) and I promise I’ll never buy it again.

    Though we did use the facilities.

    MoreBucks
    MoreBucks

  • Patisserie Florentine

    Patisserie FlorentinePatisserie Florentine
    10 South Dean Street
    Englewood, New Jersey 07631

    Map     Patisserie Florentine       Facebook      Yelp

    It makes me happy to find a place that I enjoy going to, gladly recommend and eager to schlep with me to anyone I can, anytime I can.

    My first bite at this place was at a croissant. That by itself is enough to get one addicted to this place. But by far it wasn’t my last bite, nor it is the only thing that will keep you coming.

    The baked goods and the food – I get an uncontrollable grin on my face when I’m there. Chef Tomer provides us with a mix of french, Israeli and originality that hits the senses in a perfect way – and makes me smile with joy. There are really so many good things there, and I’m yet to try something that wasn’t excellent. Here’s a sample:

    The croissant – so perfect, baked in a few batches during the day to assure freshness (really!) and on such a different class than these industrial crescents you get around here pretending to be a croissant and leaving that terrible margarine feel on your tongue. This one is a perfect  croissant au beurre and has nothing ordinaire ’bout it. You’ll fall in love.

    Lava cake. Well, just try it. ‘nough said.

    Omelet – choose your two fillings, and enjoy a great omelet with generous surroundings –  an excellent bun, Israeli salad, herbal butter, jam, feta – a beautiful tasty dish.

    Almond croissant – covered with almond, filled with the real thing, rich in almonds, butter and sugar (not the almond extract flavored gunk you get in other places), as perfect as you can get.

    Waffles – well, actually to be accurate it is  “Liège Style Waffle” – my daughter couldn’t stop smiling while “working” on these. I risked my life and asked for a bite, and I got the same smile she had. So good. No really. So good!

    Coffee. In a word, excellent.

    The staff – young, pleasant, smiling and attending staff, including the chef’s wife Amy, all making it a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

    The place and décor – pretty small, cute European style cafe’ setup, perfect for what it is, with a baker’s prep table at the far end where some of the baked goods are being worked on.

    To sum up, as you can understand, I’m sold. The place opened just a couple of months ago, but the chefs and staff are providing a place that serves baked goods that will proudly compete with any top notch bakery not only in the US, but pretty much anywhere include France. Excellent food, welcoming staff and in a pleasant environment.

    My predication? They’ll need a bigger place soon.

    Opine Away rating of Patisserie Florentine:

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$ (* changed from 5 $ range to match Yelp.)

    Style of visit Food Décor Atmosphere Price
    Family 8 8 $$
    Friends 10 10 10 $$
    Out of towners 10 10 10 $$
    Unmarried 10 10 10 $$
    In and out

    The reason for the lower family rating – the staff is extremely friendly to kids, but I do not believe it is great for the average family with young kids (i.e. they will not serve chicken fingers with ketchup).

    L.


  • SOHO on George – Restaurant Review

    Decent food, small deserts….

    www.sohoongeorge.com

     

    335 George Street

    New Brunswick

    NJ 08901

     

    Tel: 732-296-0533

     

    Map

     

    SOHO on George has good food, reasonable (not cheap) prices, good service, OK cocktails, OK décor.

     

    They might be a little too pretentious, it is not a high end NYC restaurant, but the food is good and presented nice. Sitting outside is nice except for the traffic behind you, which is blocked by a row of small trees, but is very very close…

     

    Opine Away rating of SOHO on George:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    Friends

    8

    8

    8

    $$$

    Out of towners

    8

    8

    8

    $$$

    Unmarried

    8

    7

    7

    $$$$

    In and out

    $$$

                                                   

    L.


  • Café Lalo – Restaurant Review

    Go for dessert or to sit and chat over coffee….

     

    http://www.cafelalo.com/

     

    201 W 83rd St

    New York, NY 10024

     

    (212) 496-6031

    Map

    Lalo is a noisy little café with a huge selection of desserts, good coffee, nice selection of breakfast and brunch items, full bar and a great atmosphere…

    Don’t expect to have lunch or dinner here (no meat on the menu)… this is a place to have dessert or eat a breakfast/lunch, go before or after a show or for dessert after dinner for sitting and chatting, or when you just crave for a dessert…

    Opine Away rating of Café Lalo:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    Friends

    8

    8

    8

    $$$

    Out of towners

    8

    8

    8

    $$$

    Unmarried

    9

    9

    9

    $$$

    In and out

    8

    8

    8

    $$$

                                                   

    L.


  • The NOHO Star – Restaurant Review

    The picture is not a mirror image, that’s the way the sign is…

    http://www.nohostar.com/

    330 Lafayette St
    New York, NY 10012

    (212) 925-0070

     Map

    The NOHO Star is good food, good service, nice atmosphere, somewhat diner style. We had brunch, steak and egg, served with grits, all were good, fresh OJ was good, coffee was surprisingly good, side bread that we asked for was pretty terrible, soup was good.

    Excellent to sit and chat, not too noisy, acoustics are reasonable, no pressure to go away….

    Great brunch place….

    Opine Away rating of The NOHO Star:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    6

    6

    6

    $$$$

    Friends

    8

    7

    7

    $$$

    Out of towners

    8

    7

    7

    $$$

    Unmarried

    9

    9

    9

    $$$

    In and out

    9

    9

    9

    $$$$

                                                   

    L.


  • Mantra – Restaurant Review

    Mantra Restaurant
    Mantra Restaurant

    Surprised me. 

    www.mantranj.com

    275 E, Rt 4 (Westbound)

    Paramus, NJ 07652

    Phone: 201-342-8868

    Map

     

    There used to be a different Indian restaurant in the same location. No comparison. This restaurant is higher-end one, with nice NYC-style decor, a bar that opens till late (relative to this area’s close-by-9PM places) and… very good food. I admit I ate here only once (yesterday…) but I’ll go again and if anything will change, I’ll update.

    Been there with a friend, and we both were surprised and very pleased. Had Samosas for appetizer, Chicken Tikka Masala (not on the menu, they have the Chicken Makhani which is the same without onions and bell peppers, but if you ask they’ll make it Tikka Masala), Rogan Josh, bread basket and rice pudding. All were excellent, served in nice dishes, and I’m getting hungry again thinking of it.

     

    Prices are not cheap. We had a glass of wine and a couple of bottles of sparkling water and ended up paying just over $50 each including tip, but it is justified by the excellent food, good service and refreshing atmosphere for a suburban restaurant. Will definitely go there again.

     

    Opine Away rating of Mantra:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    8

    8

    6

    $$$$$

    Friends

    9

    9

    9

    $$$$

    Out of towners

    9

    9

    9

    $$$$

    Unmarried

    9

    9

    9

    $$$$

    In and out

    0

    $$$$$

                                                   

    L.

    Update 9/13/2008 – Been there with a large group (11). Service was terrible. Slow, mistakes, everything that can go wrong did. The food was still very good. Even after complaining to the manager, they just couldn’t keep up with the service. We had two salads that the vegetables were not fresh. I still recomend this restaurant, but for small parties only.


  • The Greek Village – Restaurant Review

    For a full disclosure – I’ve been there only once, so I’ll add to this if anything changes in my future visits – and I will go there again….

    211 Livingston St

    Northvale, NJ 07647

    (201) 750-8570

     

    This is a tiny family-run restaurant with no fancy bit in it – but the food is good, the portions are generous and the service is efficient (this word was selected carefully, as they are very nice, polite and fast but don’t expect any ceremonial fancy over-smiling “may I wipe your mouth for you sir”…). The family is genuine Greek, the food is genuine Greek, and the service is genuine Greek…

     

    Don’t expect anything from the décor, that’s not the reason you’re going there… enjoy the food, the non-pretentious atmosphere, and again, the food….

    Opine Away rating of The Greek Village:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    9

    6

    8

    $$

    Friends

    7

    4

    4

    $$

    Out of towners

    7

    4

    4

    $$

    Unmarried

    8

    4

    4

    $$

    In and out

    9

    $$

                                                   

    L.


  • Carmine’s – Restaurant Review

    You’re not going to stay hungry.  

    www.carminesnyc.com

    They have a few locations (NYC, Atlantic City, Paradise Island). I’ve been to the two NYCs:

    200 W. 44 st.

    New York, NY 10036

    Phone: (212)-221-3800

     

    And my preferred one:

    2450 Broadway  (Between 90th and 91st)

    New York, NY 10024

    Phone: (212)-362-2200

     

    Carmine’s serves dishes family style – big, enough for a few people. I would recommend going there at a least a party of 4 – although I ate there by myself a couple of time… lots of left overs..

    The food is good and consistent.  My standard order is Carmine’s salad, fried calamari (one of the best I know) and seafood pasta in red sauce (lobster, clams, muscles, shrimp, fish…), if more than 4 adults, usually also the Chicken Scarpariello (pieces on the bone with lemon, butte, olive oil, garlic,  a little rosemary). That can feed 3 couples.

    For desert – Tiramisu is excellent ( enough for 3 couples…) and if you’re with kids, or a big party that want to have fun, the Titanic is a huge portion of ice cream with all the goodies – brownie, whipped cream, fudge, banana, strawberry, nuts….

    Carmine’s is reasonably prices. The ceiling is very high, and the place’s acoustics makes it noisy but not too noisy, just enough to make you comfortable to talk and not whisper.  The service is usually very good. Reservations are made only to large groups (over 6).

    Opine Away rating of Carmine’s:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

     

     

     

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    9

    8

    9

    $$$

    Friends

    9

    7

    8

    $$$

    Out of towners

    9

    9

    10

    $$$

    Unmarried

    8

    7

    7

    $$$

    In and out

    $$$$$

                                                   

    L.


  • Lucien – Restaurant Review

     

    Don’t tell anyone about it, I don’t want it to get too crowded.

    www.luciennyc.com

    14 1st Avenue

    New York, NY 10009

    Phone: (212) 260-6481

     

    Lucien is one of those gems you want to tell only people you really like about. The place is very small, with a small bar and amazing food.

    French food without any fuss. The Foie Gras appetizer and the Fillet Mignon are my favorites.  

    The Foie Gras is served with onion jam and kind of apples (they taste something between an apple and a pear…) and I can’t stop myself of cleaning the plate with the baguette after the Foie Gras is gone.  

    The Fillet Mignon is served with light black pepper cream sauce and amazing French fries – the sauce is so good, I clean the plate (again) with the fries until there’s no more sauce.

    Desserts are great too…  Try the Crème Brulee or the Tart Tatin… I’m getting hungry now….

    Prices are reasonable for the quality of food you get.

    Opine Away rating of Lucien:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother or irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    0

    0

    0

    $$$$$

    Friends

    10

    8

    9

    $$$

    Out of towners

    10

    9

    9

    $$$

    Unmarried

    8

    9

    10

    $$$

    In and out

    0

    0

    0

    $$$$$

                                                   

     

    L.


  • Sushi Samba – Restaurant Review

    They have a few of them in the US  – NYC, Chicago, Miami, Dallas… I’ve been to the two in NYC:

    www.sushisamba.com

     

    245 Park Ave S

    New York, NY 10003-1404

    Phone: (212) 475-9377

     

    And

     

    87 7th Ave S

    New York, NY 10014-3415

    Phone: (212) 691-7885

     

    I’m writing one review for both, because it will sound practically the same…

    If you’re looking for a traditional Japanese sushi, this is not the place. Saying that – they have very good food.  Sushi and Sashimi are creative and fresh, other dishes like the Moqueca Mista which is their version of a seafood paella with coconut milk (I like this dish very much) are great. The deserts I’ll skip, nice presentation but usually pretty disappointing taste. Selection of tea is not great…  Sushi is prepared in the middle of the restaurant, so you can look at the sushi chefs at work…. Pretty good bar.

     

    Prices are high, no doubt about it. The place looks great, has excellent atmosphere, you have no chance of being taller than the hostess…. or leaner for that matter…

     

    The service is just OK – not fabulous, but reasonable.

     

    I recommend going from time to time with friends to have fun, and with out of towners. You don’t need a second mortgage for it, but it is expensive, but to have, drinks and good food in a very nice environment it’s a great place.

     

    Opine Away rating of Sushi Samba(s) NYC:

     

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$$

     

     

     

     

    Style of visit

    Food

    Décor

    Atmosphere

    Price

    Family

    $$$$$

    Friends

    8

    9

    9

    $$$$

    Out of towners

    9

    9

    9

    $$$$

    Unmarried

    8

    9

    9

    $$$$

    In and out

    $$$$$

       

     

     

     

     

     

    L.