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Review of chowish weekend - most good, one really (expensive) bad!

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Review of chowish weekend - most good, one really (expensive) bad!

nader | Jun 14, 2009 10:58 AM

Hi all, thanks to a bunch of hounds on this board, we spent a wonderful weekend in NYC, enjoying the sights, a play (The Philanthropist, which was great for lovers of words!) and some really good food. To start, I should note that we are originally from Montreal and so love classic French fare and we are huge fans of anything ethnic, especially street-ish food. So, without further wait, here are our reviews:

Burger Joint
We were staying at the Parker Meridien, so we had to try this place (really, because we were starved upon check-in too!). I've got to say that the burgers were good, but not great... especially for $26 for lunch for two! We got 2 burgers, 2 fries and 2 cokes, and the fries were probably the best part of the meal. The burgers had a nice charred flavor to them, but were otherwise underwhelming.

Kefi
This was our first choice for dinner, and was absolutely incredible. The place was packed with a great vibe and lots of different types of people - from hipsters, to yuppies, to the older crowd. The food was top-notch, with lots of wonderful flavors mingling with each other. We started with the Cypriot sausage (wonderful!) and the crispy calamari, which was very fresh and cooked perfectly. For the mains, we shared the pulled rabbit with pasta - which was our best meal of the whole trip - and the braised lamb shank with orzo. The lamb shank, while underseasoned, was fall-off-the-bone wonderful meat with wonderful textures. The desserts (galaktobouriko and a chocolate cakey-thing) were also very good. The service was also great, as was the wine list and the suggestions of the server. Will definitely return to this place on our next trip and highly recommend it for all!

Margon
Based on the midtownlunch.com poll of best street foods, we decided to check out Margon (we'd already been to a few of the other choices, by mistake!, on our last trip to NYC and really loved all of them). We shared the avocado salad, which was nice, and got the steak & peppers and the chicken stuffed plantain. The food was all served with rice, beans and plantains, and was generally very good. The only problem was the chicken-stuffed plantain that tasted a bit fishy and had a weird consistency. Most people coming in were ordering the pork chops and the baked chicken - which we would recommend for others too. But I've got to say that for our meals, with a Corona and a coke at $23, was an absolute steal!

Bar Boulud
We went here to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. WHAT A MISTAKE!!! All of the food was below sub-par, the service was god awful, and the prices were over-inflated for what you were getting. What a joke of a restaurant! We got the braised cheek and tagine charcuteries to start. These were OK at best, got boring very quickly, and were grossly overpriced. The mains we got were the braised flat-iron steak with peas and the steak tartare. I'm a huge fan of steak tartare and will always order it if its on the menu. This one, at meal size and $28, was the size of a hockey puck at best. Are you kidding me?!?!?! Not enough seasoning, too much binders, not enough flavor, just horrible. And I asked if it came with frites, and the waiter said "A type of frites" so I didn't order any more. These "frites" were 6 fried potato crisps! How can they get away with this?? And the braised steak? The first few bites were nice, but then it got very boring very fast. The flavors all geled into one, not like the wonderful food at Kefi where each bite was different and added another layer. I've got to say that people should definitely stay away from this place, and those who like it must be blinded by the aura of Chef Boulud. Really too bad, especially when it set us back at $130 with only 1 beer and 1 caipirnha. What a shame. I hope this was an off day for them, but at this level, you should never have an off day!

Norma's
After a rough dinner at Bar Boulud, we headed to Norma's in our hotel for brunch. And for brunch, this place was great! The best deal had to be their drinks - the freshly squeezed OJ at $9 (refillable) and $7 French press coffee with wonderful beans - were fantastic. The meals we got were the shrimp with egg white frittata and the rock lobster with asparagus omelette. Both were perfectly done, with huge portions (a whole lobster tail in the omelette!) and great flavors. We really loved this place, that had wonderful service and an eclectic crowd like Kefi's. Next time, we'll try the waffles that the table next to us were having and loved. After this meal, we weren't able to eat a thing until we got home late at night!

So all in all, we had another great weekend in NYC and tried as many different places as possible. There were lots of highs (Kefi and Norma's stand out) and a huge low - Bar Boulud. We'll be back soon, and always enjoy trying out the interesting foods and flavors of NYC.

Cheers,
nader

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