Tag Archives: eggs

Norma’s

To continue the journey of my final few days in New York, I decided to indulge in one of New York’s most beloved traditions. Brunch. Not just your mundane eggs benedict brunch at blah blah cafe, but the Gossip Girl-esque, Upper East Side brunch at the famous Norma’s located in Le Parker Meridien. The restaurant is always packed and you might have a better chance of winning the lotto than scoring a reservation here. That’s saying a lot for a restaurant that is only open till 3pm and serves only breakfast fare. As soon as you’re seated, you’re greeted with a delicious strawberry fruit smoothie shot, sweet touch (pun intended). Now Norma’s is notorious for a few items: the $1,000 breakfast frittata, and their fresh squeeze orange juice. Unfortunately, I can only afford the latter, but not by much. What do I mean? A glass of orange juice at Norma’s will not only cost you a pretty penny, but bring along a pretty gold bar as well. At a whopping $9, I better be served the damn nectar of the gods. The fact is hard to deny though, their orange juice is absolutely phenomenal and the silver lining is that you get unlimited refills, and boy did I exploit it.Another thing to note: The servings at Norma’s were not meant for those petite twigs you see on Gossip Girl, but for full blown lumberjacks with badass grizzly beards. The Scrambled Eggs and Bacon Breakfast Quesadilla with Monterey Jack Cheese, Guacamole and Salsa clearly represents what I mean. Despite the ginormous serving, the quesadilla is packed with flavor, mostly the juicy delicious bacon. However, a few pieces in you start to question yourself, is it really worth $21? perhaps..Next up we have the highly touted Potato Pancakes. As described in their menu, a James Beard award winning recipe with Homemade Cranberry Apple Sauce and Sweet Carrot Payasam. Simply put, this dish was garbage. The pancakes were cold and tasted like cardboard. I would’ve actually been irate if they served this to me on an airplane. No joke, but I’ve actually had better food at the free breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn. If you told me this trash cost $21, I would tell you to gag yourself with a sock, blow your head off and drown yourself in the ocean.

Norma’s Scores:
Food:  5.5/10 – How could you honestly serve those potato pancakes? I’m still steaming..

Restaurant Environment: 8/10 – The restaurant is absolutely beautiful, but takes a hit because of the pretentious crowd.

Service: 6.5/10 – Service was a bit slow, but wasn’t terrible. My orange juice stayed refilled, so that’s a plus.

Value: 2/10 – Dinner prices for some bacon and eggs? I’ll pass.

Overall: 5.5/10

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San Francisco – Wayfare Tavern

What more can I say about chef Tyler Florence? He is my culinary god that I worship day and night. I can safely say that he is one of the sole reasons that manifested my food obsession. The days of Food 911 and Tyler’s Ultimate were the good days of Food Network, unlike the new-age shows dominated with cupcake decorating and cake building. Maybe it’s all the Bourdain I’ve been reading, and his hatred of everything Food Network. Whatever it is, I’m growing further and further away from this once sacred channel. Sorry about the side rant, where was I? Oh yeah, when I heard Tyler (we’re on a first name basis now ok?) opened his new restaurant Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, it instantly rose to the top of my restaurant bucket list.As I made my way into restaurant, my jaw literally dropped, flabbergasted. Seeing Tyler stand in the kitchen with his arms crossed, I felt like a young teeny-bopper seeing Bieber for the first time in person. Screw Bieber-fever, this was Tyler’s Ultimate Fever. We’re lucky enough to be seated at a booth next to the open kitchen, I saw Tyler wave at me (not us, just me). However, I thought he was waving at somebody else, disregarded the gesture, and refocused my attention to the waiter. Again, I peeped over at the kitchen, and Tyler waved again. Acting like a dumbfounded idiot, I reciprocated with the most awkward wave that I will remember for the rest of my life. Sigh.

The meal started with warm buttery popovers that were crusted on the outside and ultra soft on the inside, served with some softened butter. Just awesome. I love when restaurants actually are meticulous and put some TLC in the bread they serve.

While sipping on some amazing Napa grown wine, a flurry of dishes is brought out before us.

Beginning with the Seared Sonoma Foie Gras served with roasted plums, tarragon and sea salt on grilled sourdough. What a phenomenal dish. The plums were sweet and succulent and a perfect complement to the buttery foie gras.Next on tap was a pretty similar dish, but something that I always order in the Salt Roasted Bone Marrow. The marrow is plated over a bed of Parsley-Shallot Salad with a Veal Demi-glaze on a Sourdough Toast with Molasses Butter. I’ll have to confess that I do love the foie gras more than this dish, but the bone marrow was no pushover either. I just think it was missing the unique element of something sweet to balance the saltiness.Our final appetizer was the Santa Barbara Sea Urchin from their raw bar. The sea urchin is presented on top of a Sweet Corn Puree, Bread and Butter Pickles, and Chervil. The dish was absolutely superb, and epitomized San Francisco dining with the use of fresh, in season, ingredients. The lightness of the sea urchin and sweet corn paired perfectly with the saltiness of the previous ones.On to the main events! This is Tyler’s rendition of Steak and Eggs. A Petit Filet Mignon topped with Soft Eggs, with toasted Dungeness crab, Asparagus, and a buttery Béarnaise. He should’ve called it the most decked out Egg’s Benedict in the world. Again, you notice the quality of ingredients in every bite and the perfect execution of every dish.The Wood Grilled Chicken Paillard is an artistic masterpiece of colorful ingredients served with Marin Organic Tomatoes, Frisèe, Bacon Lardons, Watercress and a drizzle of Roasted Chicken Jus. Honestly, if this is the kind of dishes that farmer’s eat, you can call me Old McDonald, because I’m putting on my overalls and carrying out my pitchfork.Finally, comes my dish, their Organic Fried Chicken dipped in a Buttermilk Brine, served with Roasted Garlic, Crispy Wood Herbs, and Lemons. To quote Usher, O-M-G! Drop everything you’re doing and fly out to San Francisco, make your way into Wayfare Tavern and order the most amazing Fried Chicken you’ll ever have in your life. The chicken feels as if it’s quickly fried and then finished off in the oven, since there’s no oily residue at all. The herbs and crust are simply divine. Every bite I smear the roasted garlic like it’s butter and squeeze some of the fresh lemon. This is in a whole different class of Fried Chicken, screw Shake and Bake, KFC, Popeyes, even the highly touted chicken at Blue Ribbon doesn’t compare. Mr. Florence, I see you in an even higher light.You might ask yourself, can this meal get any better? And my answer to you would be yes! (emphasis on the exclamation mark). Along with the three entrees, we also ordered a couple of sides, which included the best Macaroni and Cheese in the world. The Baked Mac and Cheese is laced with Jack Cheese, Garlic Breadcrumbs, and topped with Chives and Smoked Olive Oil. The cheese not only had extraordinary flavor but also had the perfect consistency, not too thick and not too watery. The use of larger macaroni pasta was a magnificent touch. Please, no more, this food-gasm is unbearable (in a great way).Our final dish was the Creamed Corn that was also topped with Smoked Olive Oil and Chive Blossoms. Continuing with the theme of the day, flawlessly executed and just marvelous to eat. I honestly think I’m running out of synonyms for this entry.But wait! There’s more! You thought that was all that we ordered? Keep dreaming, I have to end this momentous night with some dessert. Enter Big Papa’s Banana Cream Pie, filled with Banana Custard, Vanilla Wayfares (get it?), and topped with a Toasted Meringue. I’ve always loved banana cream anything, but just imagine Marie Calender’s Banana Cream Pie stepped up a few notches and that’s what we get here. Although it is a bit sweet, sharing this dessert amongst a few friends ends up being the perfect finishing touch.On our way out, we’re even presented with little Ginger Snap cookies that would’ve made the Keebler Elves quit their jobs.

I truly can’t say much more about how utopic the night has been. I enjoyed beyond a doubt one of the best meals of my life with some of the greatest people (Thanks Tiff and Vanessa). My only advice about eating at Wayfare Tavern (which would’ve made my night complete) is what I learned at the end of the meal. Is that Tyler loves meeting his guests and fans and is a very approachable individual. If you were like me and were simply waiting for him to come around and interrupt your meal, you’d be at a loss. Our waiter told us that we should’ve asked him to meet Tyler. But this only gives me more reason to head back to San Francisco and visit Wayfare Tavern Again.

Wayfare Tavern Scores:
Food: 10/10 – My first and quite possibly only perfect score. Not only did I enjoy great food, it was a great experience.

Restaurant Environment: 10/10 – To personally be at your restaurant shows a lot and how much you care about your actually restaurant.

Service: 10/10 – A kind staff and great recommendations, helped garnish a perfect score.

Value: 10/10 – To set this straight, you can’t enter Wayfare Tavern thinking Dollar Menu, but for what you get. I’ll gladly pay my first born.

Overall: 10/10

Paradou

When you think of words that are synonymous with New York City what are some that come to mind? Crowded, rude, freedom, driven, etc. If you ask me, it’s brunch. Not just any kind of brunch, drunk brunch to be exact. And actually, not just drunk brunch, but all-you-can-drink drunk brunch. With an abundance of these all-you-can-drink restaurants in the Greenwich area, that’s where we decided to head, a quaint little place by the name of Paradou.Make sure you either get to Paradou early or have reservations made. Unlucky for us we didn’t do either and had to wait a good hour or two until a table opened up.

For $29 ($35 for parties 7+)  you get your choice of entree with an unlimited champagne brunch. The kicker is not only is it just champagne, but you get your choice of mixer, making it an unlimited mimosa, bellini, etc. fiesta. The Oeufs Paradou or basically a Salmon Eggs Benedict over a piece of shitty toast (which they dare call brioche). Not the prettiest plate of the bunch, and not the tastiest either. So what does that equate to? You got it. A terrible dish.The French Toast with a Fresh Berry Compote was no different. Just tasted very average and not to sound boastful but was something I could’ve probably mocked up by myself. I would’ve never paid the menu price of $12 for it.Finally we get to the $5 supplement. An extra Abe Lincoln would get you this bad ass Duck Reuben with Fingerling Potatoes. Straight from the menu verbatim: “The Height of Decadence!!! The Royalty of Sandwichdom!!!.” And yes, they did have all three exclamation marks, which made me three times as excited. Pieces of Duck Confit, Duck Magret, Choucroute (not gonna lie, I have no idea what the last 2 were), and Arugula. It must’ve been worth it right? Wrong. This concoction was blander than cardboard and oilier/greasier than the Gulf of Mexico. If this was really the height of decadence, then shoot me now.

As a result of the constant pounding of delicious “champagne” cocktails, I wasn’t able to get around and take pictures of the rest of the food. Failed.

Paradou Scores:
Food: 3.5/10 – Although edible, it was nothing close to being enjoyable.

Restaurant Environment: 7.5/10 – Maybe it was because we turned the entire back patio into a playhouse, but we had a great time none the less.

Service: 7/10 – The constant refilling of the drinks might have frustrated most, but the workers at Paradou kept up a good job.

Value: 5/10 – For the food, I’d probably give it a 0, but for the unlimited drinks it deserves a 10, so I’ll meet it half way.

Overall: 6/10

Cafe Habana

Ever since moving to New York, I’ve developed this insatiable desire for great Mexican food. However, great Mexican food and New York City are far from synonymous and actually non-existent (no matter what individuals may claim). So I guess I have to opt for the next best thing, some Cuban food. But it turns out, Cuban food is abso-fucking-lutely delicious. Make sure you get here early before Brunch/Lunch rushes because it definitely gets packed. But once you’re able to grab a seat, you feel as though you’re instantly transported to Havana with their well decorated ambiance. Let’s just start right off the bat with one of Cafe Habana’s most popular dishes, their Grilled Corn Mexican Style. The corn is grilled, buttered and then topped with chili powder and cheese. The addition of a squirt of lime will help you complete what will most likely be the best corn you’ve had in your entire life. A warm bowl of delicious, spicy chorizo is a perfect complement to any meal.On a fatty note: It’s 3:30AM at the moment, and this picture is making my tummy roar. The Cuban Sandwich is stuffed with delicately roasted pork, flavorful ham, with warm melted Swiss cheese, with pickles thrown in for an extra snap. I might have to run out tomorrow to pick one up. Actually, I might just run out to Cuba and become the anti-Elian Gonzalez. You know the dish is authentic when you probably can’t even pronounce it. The Chilaquiles Verdes con Pollo is just that. Corn tortilla and shredded chicken casserole cooked in a green tomatillo salsa and topped with crema and cotija cheese. Although it looks like a plate of mush, it’s a delicious plate of mush. Introducing the Sloppy Pepe, an open faced “Hangover Sandwich” that is topped with BBQ pulled pork hash and 2 eggs with habanero pickled onions. To be honest, even though the sandwich was marvelous, save yourself some time and money and go with the Cuban Sandwich. I didn’t touch the salad, because it just looked unappetizing.

Cafe Habana Scores:
Food: 8/10 – I may have found a great substitute for classic Mexican food.

Restaurant Environment: 7.5/10 – Getting a short trip to Cuba, without having to step onto a boat and without having to worry about any military forces is a definite plus. However, the restaurant is on the petite size. Ask Marshall Eriksen, he’ll tell you all about being too big for New York.

Service: 7.5/10 – Pretty average, but it is amazing how they can keep track of all the people waiting. However, a couple of mishaps led me to call the hostess a bitch, which I think she heard.

Value: 7.5/10 – Finding a NY restaurant with consistent items under $10 is splendid, but compared to Mexican food, I might be breaking the bank.

Overall: 7.5/10

Balthazar

So Today I had a nice New York Sunday Brunch at Balthazar before shopping around in SoHo.Upon entering, we were told that the walk-in wait would roughly be around 45 minutes. But we could try our luck at the cafe. Again, a 45 minute wait at the cafe. HOWEVER, we could sit at the ultra super tiny table in the middle of the cafe without waiting. We happily obliged.

O well, it definitely beats waiting. A $4 small cup of coffee?? only in New York.What to order… what to order…

Balthazar bartenders busy at work; and their beautifully stocked bar.I opted to get the Bar Steak with Maitre D Butter and Balthazar’s world famous Pommes Frites. Also made famous by Bobby Flay’s spectacular piece on Food Network’s ‘Best Thing I Ever Ate’. Yes, that is the same Chef Lee Hanson from Minetta Tavern; which was from the previous post – giving Minetta Tavern a share of the title of Best Fries Ever. As far as the steak, it was a little tough, but edible. It’s almost acts as though the steak is the side dish for the fries.

Oeufs en Meurette (Eggs in Red Wine) – Poached eggs in red wine with mushrooms and slab bacon.

Balthazar was a spectacular meal indeed. However, with all the strings attached (long wait, limited seating, impossible reservations,etc) it definitely dropped to a somewhat mediocre restaurant. I’m not extremely ecstatic to return back to Balthazar, but if you told me that we were going to grab a bite there, I’d definitely give you a “sure why not.”