18 May 2008

Le Souk, 47 Avenue B (between 3rd & 4th St)

Le Souk (a Haiku)

North African food
How delicious and tasty
Why did we go to Cuba Cafe when we could have had this?

Ok, so it's not a Haiku, but seriously...we were down between Cuba Cafe and Le Souk originally, and decided to go there first. What a grave, grave mistake.

Anyways, Dave, Dave and I arrived at Le Souk about 7p on a warm Saturday evening. Upon walking in, we were ID'd at the door (weird...) and amidst some chaos by the waitstaff (there were probably about 20 employees wandering around), were seated in an empty restaurant.

After perusing the menu, we decided on some crusted shrimp with a "cole-slaw"-esque salad and the mezze plate for appetizers, and for the main course, I got the Dajage Bastilla, Chan got the duck confit, and DVH got lamb chops. (Please excuse the vagueness of the meals in this entry; the 2008 menu is not posted online and I can't quite remember everything we had.)

Our appetizers soon arrived, and if they were to shed light on how the rest of the dining experience would be, hot damn. The shrimp were incredibly seasoned, with a sort of flake on them, and when combined in a bite with the cole-slaw mixture (it had apple in it, not sure what else, didn't really taste like cole-slaw, just looked like it)....wow. I could have eaten a plate of those for dinner and been content. The mezze plate was awesome as well - an assortment of middle eastern spreads on vine leaves. Dave and Dave used the bread to dip into the spreads, however my thought was - why dilute the spreads with bread? Just eat them on the vine leaves. Incroyáble.

Soon after those disappeared, our main dishes arrived. I thought I had chosen well - with my traditional chicken pie made of thin layers of fillo pastry marinated in moroccan spices, raisins and sliced almonds, but nay, Dave's duck confit was by far the best plate at the table. My dish arrived as a square pastry, dusted with cinnamon and sugar. While tasty, and very filling (who knew dough could fill you up?), I felt like I was eating dessert. Meh.

The duck confit on the other hand....wow. We might have discovered heaven on a plate with this one. It was perfectly cooked, and came with a side of some sweet potatoes over greens. DVH claims his meal was the best (the lamb chops), and they were good, don't get me wrong - but the duck confit was superior by far.

I always complain that I never chose the best dish at restaurants where we dine. This is definitely one of those cases (but the tables will soon be turned, have you no fear my good readers). I can't fault Le Souk though, all of the dishes were incredible, and we walked out completely full and satisfied.

Lastly, the décor was very slick too - a very Moroccan feel and excellent music as well. By the time we left, the wedding party (explanation for all the waitstaff) had arrived, filling the back room, all of the tables for us normal diners were also filled, and Le Souk was about to go on a wait. I can definitely understand why.

Le Souk gets 4 / 5 forks.

14 May 2008

An update from a ‘less-than-critical’ critic....

An update from a guest writer, the author's very own father!!!!

City Crab (235 Park Ave S at 19th St)

On the evening of Good Friday, 2008, Katie and Terise and I decided to hit the City Crab restaurant for some good Catholic non-meat eats. By the way, dinner was a precursor for an evening spent visiting Manhattan’s finest Belgian Ale haunts. Another religious thing you see, because the monks do make all those rich Belgians and what better way to be anointed and holy.

We were seated upstairs by a large window (at the author’s request which was met with much disdain from his NYC classy daughter – Katie was quick to point out that the hostess seats you where she wishes due to server station control – forget about the diner’s preference) overlooking 30th Street. Our waiter was a virtual encyclopedia of pertinent menu information. We pondered our culinary course of action over glasses of a wonderful Malbec...yummy with a basket of breads and unusually tasty crackers with herbed butter.

The meals selected were crab cakes, trout and a ‘something-crusted’ tuna cooked rare - forgive the author, his memory is slippery as oysters on the half shell. The tuna was as good as a Roger Clemens strikeout. Breathtaking and so very tasty. We shared meal morsels and agreed that our selections were very good indeed. Terise’s crab cakes were a bit underdone though and she could not complete her assault on those french fries you see in her meal photo. The Malbec was gone too quickly and you may wonder why a red with this Catholic meal...well, think Communion wine please, remember it was Good Friday.

Off to discovery what the Belgian monks are up to!

3 and 1/2 rating forks.

Dinosaur (646 W 131st St at Riverside Dr.)

This was an “I would have waited another hour to eat smoked, tender pork here” restaurant! The experience was a Saturday night excursion into wood smoked barbecue decadence. Our 7:30 reservations turned into two hoppy beers and 8:30 seating. A fun Smuttynose IPA draft beer wait. In attendance were Terise, Katie, the author and two friends of Katie, David and Logan. Interestingly enough, as Terise and I launched our trip back to Cleveburg we spotted this along the train route – notice the signage in the lower middle of the picture!

After lengthy discussions and angst about what to order, the three of us ordered the same thing; with side dish variations...a delightful combination entitled appropriately – Tres Hombres...three different pork portions for the three of us. The only differences being in the salad, simmered greens, Cajun corn, or fries for the accompanying sides. David and Logan, being veterans of the Dinosaur were much more conservative in the selections.

The three meats were brisket – melt in your mouth good, ribs – melt in your mouth good, and pulled pork, which was, surprisingly enough – melt in your mouth good. Sadly one of the hombres was defeated by her entrée...she just had to score a take-it-home doggie bag (the next day’s breakfast). Was it a smaller tummy or perhaps the Dumpling Man seared dumplings that she enjoyed just a few hours before dinner? Speaking of appetizers check this out - where have you had an appetizer sampler that included ‘better-than-Mom’s deviled eggs and fried green tomatoes?

Not to surrender to the night we decided to treat ourselves to a bit more fun by ordering a mud pie / chocolate, peanut-buttery creamy concoction that was really very rich and good and filled us to the eyebrows. A fun, great and filling experience at a fun place.

4 rating forks.

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