Pasquale Jones, New York City, 5/22/17

exterior
exterior

Pasquale Jones is a medium sized place packed with small tables and a number of counter seats.  There is background music that adds to the noise level produced by hard surfaces and lots of people.  One wall of the restaurant is the open kitchen that houses 2 wood fired ovens and 2 other walls have windows out to the street.  There are some outdoor tables but the rain that day made them un-usable.  The lighting is low and the pace is rushed as they really want to turn the tables several times in an evening.  Service is included in your meal and they also offer complimentary house filtered and or carbonated water.  Servers are friendly but not particularly attentive.  There is a large wine list with one section devoted to reasonable but interesting wines.   Continue reading

Union Square Cafe, New York City, 5/23/17

front
front

Union Square Cafe has been in this new location for 6 months after having been closed a year for the new building to be readied.  It is a huge attractive place with multiple levels and seating configurations.  There is also a large bar area with stools and tables that accommodate walk-ins.  The tables are nicely spaced and there is a lot of art on the walls.   No background music keeps the noise level at a good level, which is surprising with the high ceilings and many hard surfaces.  Service was excellent, which is one of the things the restaurant stresses.  Our nice waiter Tomas, was happy to give advice and serve or split dishes as we desired.   Continue reading

Le Coucou, New York City, 5/21/17

exterior
exterior

Le  Coucou is a large place spread over several rooms, with one of those having the open kitchen.  It has been open for just under one year.  It has a pretty dressy feel with nice linens and lots of candlelight, however the small tables are fairly close together and there is a slight level of noise to contend with.  There is a combination of seating arrangements with some tables and chairs and also some bench seating along partitions.  There was no background music.  Service was nice but not overly friendly.  Reservations are a must and they do turn the tables.  All the food was rich with tasty sauces, but do go hungry as it is heavy food.   Continue reading

Tim Ho Wan USA, New York City, 5/21/17

exterior
exterior

Tim Ho Wan serves dim sum and expect a wait.  Someone is at the front to take your name and they will text you when a table is about ready for you, so you don’t have to wait in the cramped waiting area. It is fairly large but judging by the crowds it could be much larger.  It has no cart service, everything is made fresh after you order it and therefore there are not as many options as many dim sum places but what they have is really good.  There is a check off menu on the table and after you hand that to your server the food will be brought out, usually one dish at a time.  There are even options on tea.  Tables are set with soy sauce and hot pepper sauce.   Continue reading

Joy Luck Palace, New York City, 5/21/17

exterior
exterior

The Joy Luck Palace is a huge dim sum restaurant.   It was very crowded with a waiting area full of people.  Also people were coming through to pick up orders of take out food.  Tables for 2 are often shared as was ours, with 2 older gentlemen.  There is no soy sauce, vinegar or hot sauce on the table.  Service is by cart and is fairly impersonal.  The place got some hype on the internet and was certainly well patronized but overall the offerings were bland and tasteless.  We left most of it on the table.  Below are pictures of the things we got.  The custard bun had gotten a lot of mention as it is known to squirt out the end.  I did not find that the case as the interior was mostly solidified and yucky.  It was a disappointing sweet entry. Continue reading

Aska, New York City, 5/20/17

building
building

Aska is a medium sized 2- star Michelin place with large well-spaced tables.  There is a main dining room, party room in back and patio out back.  An open kitchen is the focus of the main dining room and at times there were 9 chefs in it.  Chef and owner Fredrik Berselius took 2 years to find and re-do this space that opened in August 2016 in an old warehouse. His Scandinavian beginnings show in his cooking and the smells are a huge component in many courses. They offer a tasting menu only of 19 courses, however that includes bread, amuse and some really small bites.  Wine pairings are available however there is not a different wine for each course.   Continue reading

Mr. Donahue’s, New York City, 5/20/17

building
building

Mr. Donahue’s is a tiny place with a couple 2-top tables and 9 barstools for various counters.  There are some outside tables if weather permits.  A retro look is accomplished with the tile floor,  marble top tables, round stools and the interesting decorations all over, including signs with pictures of the food.  The one server was very helpful and nicely opinionated about what to get.  Vegetables are all fresh and desserts made in house.  Drink options are limited but adequate.   They offer a small menu of a main plate with 2 sides and a sauce for $19.99 or a couple sandwiches.  There is roast beef after 5:00 pm.   This is the second restaurant by the owners with the first being a Michelin starred Thai restaurant.  This is just good old American food.   Continue reading