what to order

Halloween: No tricks, just treats at Bouchon Bakery NYC

Get a load of these goodies

Bouchon Bakery New York (10 Columbus Circle, NY, NY, 212.823-9364) is serious when it comes to dessert.  

But the busy bakers know how to have fun too and they're dreaming up  new holiday goodies to add to their delicious favorites.

Inspired by the boulangeries and patisseries of Paris, restaurateur Thomas Keller created his Bouchon bakeries to provide bread for his restaurants and add a "layer of cafe life" to the communities they serve. The bakeries are perfect for a relaxed cafe lunch, to pick up a sumptuous dessert for your next celebration or simply to soothe a sweet craving.

Doughnuts are their newest delight to bite on weekends - a best kept secret no more - and, of course, the bakers have taken the tricks out of trick or treat.

With Halloween just around the corner, we're sure you'll be 'batty' about at least one of these whimsical treats!

Ganache-filled TKO Bats

Bat TKOs – A Bouchon Bakery Halloween favorite; crisp, bat-shaped chocolate cookies filled with sweet white chocolate ganache   

Spider Cookies – Homemade shortbread cookies festively decorated with fondant

Pumpkin Brittle – This classic brittle is fused  with pumpkin seeds to highlight the flavors of the season



Monday - Saturday, 8am to 9pm

Sunday, 8am to 7pm


Monday - Saturday,
11:30am to 9pm

Sunday, 11:30am to 7pm

Mother's Day Brunch at Ortine

Huevos Rancheros with cumin-dusted pita chips - BEFORE

Huevos Rancheros with cumin-dusted pita chips - AFTER

This afternoon we sauntered down Washington Avenue to Ortine (622 Washington between Dean and Pacific).  Ortine is run by former Pastis and Schiller's Liquor Bar manager, Sarah Peck, with husband, Steve Giudi.

The name derives from the Italian word ortin, which describes the small plot next to a farm house where workers grew food to feed themselves. It defines the small cafe's philosophy of healthy food, locally produced and simply prepared.

We ate in the charming garden with its budding greenery and new herbs.  The tables and chairs are turquoise blue wicker; a ceramic tiled loveseat sits beneath a evergreen pine a newly leafed tree.  Paper lanterns decorate the distressed paint slat-board fence surrounding the garden.

It was the perfect backdrop for a lazy meal, complete with book propped on the table - a sweet spot for a quiet brunch for two with Mom tomorrow.   

What to order

the plump succulent Portuguese sardines $4
Huevos Rancheros, meaty with Chorizo and thick with black beans $10

A sweet spot for a quiet brunch for two with Mom.   

Family recipes make the meal at Lolita's Mexican Restaurant

the sweet little dining room at Lolita's on Lenox Avenue

Sitting down to a meal at Lolita's is a little like pulling up to Mama's table - if your Mama is Mexican and knows her way around the kitchen.

Named after co-owner Vincente Barrera's late mother, the tiny restaurant at the outskirts of Morningside Heights fills a gap in an area that is slowly revitalizing. His late mother dreamed of opening a restaurant, but died tragically after being hit by a vehicle in 2004 while crossing the street. Barerra is helping keep his mother's dream alive.

Open breakfast, lunch and dinner, Lolita's menu is anchored by family recipes -- most notably a homemade mole of more than 31 ingredients, secret of course, prepared by Barrera's sister, Luz Maria. The chorizo used in their recipes -- try the quesadilla de chorizo con queso -- is made from scratch also.  Even the vinegar is made from tuba, an alcoholic beverage made from palm flower sap. 


"It's the closest you can get to a Mexican kitchen," Barrera said recently over a family style meal.  Truly a family affair, his daughter and son help out in the dining room and wife, Joselyn, an Allstate insurance agent, drops in after a day at the office.

We tried the Camarones ala Diabla, made with four chiles -- guajillo, chile de arbol, ancho and chipotle -- and not for the faint of heart, as well as the Carne Enchilada, and Enchiladas Poblana (prepared with Mole Poblano). Ask for the Camarones ala Diabla. It's not on the menu.  And don't miss the Nopal, grilled cactus.


Camarones ala diabla (Spicy shrimp)

While the menu is one that is sure to please carnivores, chef and co-owner Fiacro Moran is happy to prepare vegetarian versions of his dishes for non-meat eaters.

Dinner for two is easily under $25.

Alejandro Astudillo is the restaurant's very amiable and accommodating manager and catering director.  Lolita's seats about 30, but handles outside catering for more than 200 and will arrange entertainment such as mariachis.


For more info: Lolita's 57 Lenox Avenue at 113th Street, 212-222-6969  BYOB, near the 2/3 at 110th St

Shhhh, it's a secret - Iron Chef House sushi

Iron chef house 12.2.08 046

I am miserable at keeping secrets. 

Fortunately, this is one secret I am happy to divulge.

Iron Chef House is a delightful neighborhood sushi restaurant that ought to be a destination for those who don't  live in Brooklyn Heights.  It's worth the trip -- for the grilled fatty tuna belly ($12.95) alone.

"It's the best part of the tuna," says owner and veteran sushi chef John Li.  "Tuna is a wild fish. You must know how to pick a good one."

I couldn't agree more. Li knows how to pick fish.  When the fish trucks leave Fulton Fish Market, their first stop in Brooklyn is Iron Chef House and the demanding Chef Li. 

What to order

  • Salt and Pepper Shrimp crispy jumbo shrimp and spinach served with spicy peanut sauce
  • Grilled Tuna Belly (ask if you don't see it)
  • The Monster  a platter that lives up to the name with the day's freshest fish,crabmeat, mango and avocado
  • Grilled Chilean Sea Bass served with a choice of Chef's special fantasy miso sauce or butter soy sauce

This intimate restaurant with its exposed brick and bamboo accents is a great  place for a date -- first or 50th.  Service at Iron Chef House is the best blend of friendly and unobtrusive - from a staff who knows how to pamper their guests without hovering.

The food is fresh, visually appealing, moderately priced and - of course - tastes great. That's why this little restaurant packs them in, even on typically slow nights.

 Li is not only a veteran sushi Chef, he is super personable and loves to create special dishes.  Don't hesitate. Just ask. And be pleasantly surprised.   Dinner for two with drinks - under $50. 

For more info:

Iron Chef House

92 Clarke St.

Brooklyn, NY 11201



Credit Cards: All Major

Reservations Accepted

Open 7 days

Mexican comfort food at Piramide on Fifth Avenue

Piramide paella & molcajete Piramide on Fifth Avenue should be on everyone's wish list for a night out.

Open just a year, the unassuming Mexican restaurant and bar owned by Pasquale and Geraldine Viggiano, is full of pleasant culinary surprises.  

Start with the guacamole prepared tableside. The heat of the spice is adjusted to your taste by a server who seasons the traditional molcajete or lava rock bowl with pestle-ground jalapeño pepper. Added to the seasoned molcajete is a beautifully ripe avocado, which is mashed and mixed with tomatoes, onions, cumin, and salt, then finished with a squeeze of lime juice.  The housemade tortilla chips are delicious and they aren't stingy with the refills either.

If you haven't filled up, these are the recommended appetizers:

  • Queso fundido -- three cheeses melted and mixed with chorizo and served with warm tortillas
  • Quesadilla de camarones y piña -- a grilled pineapple and shrimp stuffed quesadilla
  • Ceviche de camarones -- lime marinated shrimp with avocado, olives, capers & tomatoes
  • Pulpo al ajillo -- grilled octopus in a garlic sauce

Don't miss the Molcajete Noreteño ($20), grilled strips of prime sirloin, grilled shrimp, poblano, and queso fresca served in a traditional lava rock bowl with a salsa of  chipotle, chile and tomatilloes and warm corn tortillas.

Ceviche camarones y pina

Seafood lovers should have the paella -- ask, it's not on the menu -- served with a half-pound lobster and chock full of clams, mussels, and chunks of chicken and chorizo. This traditional rice dish is not only delicious but an excellent value at $24 -- generous enough for two. 

Don't see what you crave? Use the magic word - please - and Chef Alfredo Luna will create a dish just for you - perhaps lobster and linguine with a garlic-olive oil sauce.

Average cost for a dinner for two is $50 with drinks; lunch for two is $15.

Visit often enough and take advantage of Piramide's Royalty Rewards program.  For every 200 points accumulated, you receive $10 for your next visit.

Owners Geraldine & Pasquale Viggiano

Weekly Specials

  • Loco Lunes ($3 margaritas and mojitos)
  • Taco Tuesday ($2 tacos)
  • Burrito Madness ($5 burritos)
  • Black Angus Steak Night (4 steak dishes each $17)

The first Thursday of every month, bartender Lori Burch hosts Burch's Belly Laughs featuring 10 local comics.  The free show starts at 10 pm; there is a two-drink minimum.


Making margaritas behind the bar

With the holiday season here, Piramide's offers full catering with menus ranging from $20 to $80 per person.  The downstairs party room is equipped with a sound system to accomodate iPods and MP3s so that guests can bring their own music or the restaurant will arrange live music.  DJs are welcome.

Open Monday through Friday at 1, Piramide's is open Monday through Thursday until 11 and Friday to 12.  Saturday hours are 11-12 am Brunch is Saturday and Sunday from 11-3

For more info: Piramide 499 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn 718-499-0002

Caribbean soul on fire at Red Bamboo

 Red Bamboo 11.18.08 017I am by habit a carnivore.  It's not a meal without meat, right.

But, that's changed since my recent dinner at Red Bamboo, a fabulous Fort Greene find that caters specifically to vegans and vegetarians.

Specializing in mock meat, the super ambient restaurant, located at the corner of DeKalb Avenue (271 Adelphi Street), could convert even hard core carnivores with its Caribbean soul infused signature dishes.

Try to get a seat in one of the discreet nooks upstairs (from Wednesay night on). Very speakeasy.

This should be illegal.  Thank goodness it isn't. Fantastic taste.Red Bamboo 11.18.08 008

Try these dishes if you try nothing else. Chef Billy Ahearn is skilled.

  • soul chicken, crispy panko breaded fried faux chicken
  • collard green rolls, spring rolls made with mock smoked ham and -- what else -- collard greens.
  • Mango chicken salad, vegetarian chicken, mango slivers, and mixed greens lightly dressed
  • grilled Portobello mushroom salad served on a bed of meclun
  • chicken parmesan & pasta     

       Red Bamboo 11.18.08 038Recommended drinks are:

  • Sorrel mojito (think sour-sweet wild strawberries and mint)
  • White Guava Sangria (wildly tropical and some of the best sangria around)
  • It's Not Your Mama's Fruit Punch 

For dessert, do Death by Chocolate or the chocolate ganache covered strawberry shortcake.

Cafe Remy brings back the supper club with nightly dinner and dancing

Cafe remy 2 The supper club is alive and thriving in Brooklyn at Cafe Remy.

Owner Eddie Batiz closed his Manhattan location of the same name and brought the show to his old neighborhood, Bay Ridge, where he's packing in the crowds weekly with live Latin Jazz, Big Band, Blues, Reggae and Jazz bands.

The club, which seats 100 plus for dinner or parties, has a dark and sexy ambiance, a working fire place, and gorgeous in-ceiling stained glass appointments. The full bar has cozy lounge seating in addition to bar seating. Coat check and valet parking round out the velvet rope treatment.

Dinner is served Wednesday through Sunday from 6-10 pm. After dinner, tables are whisked away to create a dance floor and nightclub action begins. Two seatings (12 and 2 pm) for Sunday"s $21 brunch offer two carving stations and unlimited mimosas.

Cafe remy interior Head chef Sixto Fuentes deftly walks the line between Latin flavors and continental cuisine. The ceviche is citrusy and meaty, full of plump tender shrimp, scallops and calamari. Served with a shot of white sangria and garnished with edible orchids, the starter is tropical elegance. The mofongo, presented in a sculptural tower, features mashed plantains with savory pork and gravy and is a deliciously different take on a Puerto Rican specialty. Be sure to order a pitcher of the fruit-packed red sangria.

Go early and stay late.  Don't forget your dancing shoes.

For more information: Cafe Remy 7110 Third Ave Brooklyn 718.745.0748 

Yellow Hook Grille family-friendly Bay Ridge destination

Yellow hook grill 036
photo by Mary MacRae Warren

Every night can't be date night, so at Yellow Hook Grille the kids are always welcome.

"We're very family friendly," says partner Stephen Jackson of the grill that opened two years ago at the corner of Ovington Ave.  "We have crayons and a menu just for kids."

Yellow Hook Grille is not just for the kiddies, however.  The dinner menu is serious about good food at good value. The wine list is moderately priced with easy on the palate reds and whites (bottles start at $18).

We started our meal with jumbo shrimp cocktail ($11.95), goat cheese quesadillas ($9.95) and sliders -- mini-burgers  ($9.95).  The shrimp were huge, tender and succulent.  A different take on an old favorite, the quesadilla had a pleasing combination of mushrooms, peppers and onions for texture and balance to the smooth-tart bite of the goat cheese. For beef lovers, the sliders were the perfect one-bite mouthful, juicy and flavorful.

We might have stopped there because the appetizers were hearty, but we were glad we didn't.  

Our entrees included filet of sole ($16.95), filet mignon ($21.95), salmon steak ($15.95), a clam pie ($13), andkids mac 'n cheese ($5.95). 

The filet of sole, served with a traditional caper meunière sauce, was light and flaky to the fork. Grilled exactly to medium rare temperature, the filet mignon was pink and juicy.  Served with a dijon dill sauce, the salmon steak was moist and tender -- as it should be. The clam pie blended fresh mozzarella and savory clams for garlicky perfection; the kids mac 'n cheese was cheddar-rich and bread crumb topped.

Our dessert favorite? The decadent brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce won hands down. 

Jackson and his partners, James and Robert Long, are no strangers to Bay Ridge.  They grew up in the neighborhood and opened their first bar and grill, Fairways, on 86th Street.  Chef Gene O'Connell of Long Island, also a partner, is responsible for the extensive menu of American comfort food heavily influenced by Italian and continental cuisine.

After four months of extensive renovations, the partners opened the grill in the landmark location of Lento's Italian ristorante.  All that remains of the 72-year-old neighborhood icon is a butcher block that the partners transformed into a communal table in the 30-plus seat bar.

The main dining area seats 70 and there's a whopping 80-plus seats outdoor in warm weather.

Check out Tuesday's recession special with $7 pies to go.  Happy hour drafts are $1 from 3-7 pm weekdays.

For more information: Yellow Hook Grille 7003 3rd Ave Brooklyn, NY 1120 718-238-1089 Kitchen open 7 days from 11:30 a.m.

And a Good Time Was Had By All

Food & georgia 073 Southern cooking has come a long way from buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes.

The Feed Store (3841 Main Street, College Park, GA 30337, 404.209.7979), a sleek, contemporary restaurant with an innovative, young chef is proof in the banana pudding.

Housed in the former J.D. South Grain Store, the restaurant and bar features smart modern design with whimsical metal chicken fittings for doors, a sculpturally screened dining area and bright revisionist artist's portraits of chickens, of course. 

The Feed Store is the brainchild of Celita Bullard, granddaughter of an original owner of the grain store.  Ms. Bullard and executive chef Peter Golaszewski have designed a concept and menu that sustains local farmers while reinterpreting favorite traditional foods. 

Chef Golazewski, a former journalist originally from above the Mason-Dixon, left his writing behind to pursue his passion for creating memorable meals.  Nowhere could his love for fresh ingredients, slow food, and fine dining be more apparent than in his eclectic ever-changing menu. He marries tradition, innovation and super-fresh ingredients to create some of the best of New Southern cuisine.

Begin your meal with house smoked sweetgrass goat cheese served with poached Ellijay apple, zucchini bread and a scuppernong reduction ($12), a spicy butternut squash bisque with pecan crusted fried Shiitake mushrooms and creme fraiche ($7) or a simple mixed mesclun salad dressed with apple cider vinaigrette and garnished with -- what else -- celeriac-boiled peanuts. 

Follow your appetizer with one of several imaginative small plates or entrees that demonstrate Chef Golaszewski's culinary skill and  his wit and whimsy as well as his sense of tradition.  Crispy Georgia quail with macerated fennel and finely diced beets in a sorghum molasses pot likker consomme ($10, small plate) is not only delicious but pays homage to an old Southern comfort food.  Rare are the Southern natives who have not had their courage or health nursed with a cup of pot likker straight from the stove top pot.
Food & georgia 081
The mountain trout ($21, entree) served with an ingenious ravioli composed of tomato grits and thinly sliced steamed zucchini, is succulent and satisfying with its light garlicky and citrusy veloute. On the heartier side, enjoy country fried boneless braised beef short ribs and tomato gravy, served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, and brown butter Brussel sprouts ($27, entree). 

Ideal wine pairings for these dishes are a classic Italian white, Grechetto Marche 2006 from Conti Degli Azzoni in Umbria, and a Spanish Shiraz Tempranillo 2005 Berberana No. 1.  The Grechetto ($9) is a straw yellow, fruity with hints of pear and almond, very slightly sweet, reminiscent of a drier reisling, and moderately acidic.  Berberana, known for their fine Riojas, recently released the earthy and spicy No. 1 ($8) from Vino de la Tierra de Castilla.

If you still have room for more, don't miss the decadent banana pudding bread pudding accompanied by Nilla Wafer crumbled vanilla bean ice cream ($7). 

As they say down South: A good time was had by all.

A Dinner With A View


Dinner at The Breakers on the Ocean (1507 Ocean Ave, 732.499.7700) is an experience that transports diners to the glory days of Spring Lake’s landmark resort era.


From the spectacular oceanfront view to the restrained luxury of the dining room with its calming soft peach and creamy pale yellow palette, and high-backed upholstered chairs reminiscent of scallop shells, the formal dining room creates mise en scene for leisurely and elegant meals in the Continental tradition. 


Dine early for the gorgeous seascape, an expanse of flat, shimmering water stretching as far as the eye can see. Linger through a multi-course meal that defines what dining can and should be – gracious, well-executed and satisfying.


The menu features traditional Northern Italian fare as well as timeless seashore inspired classics such as Surf and Turf ($39) or New Zealand Rack of Baby Lamb ($34). The chef offers daily specials which reflect an on-going passion for culinary art. Entrées are accompanied by  creamy mashed potatoes and a house salad of crisp fresh greens, tomatoes, and shredded mozzarella dressed with an Italian vinaigrette. Each plate is garnished with an edible orchid.


We were in the mood for pasta and were in no way disappointed with our selections: plump cheese-stuffed tricolore tortellini ($12) and a lush lobster ravioli ($24), both served in a fragrant basil-flecked pomodoro sauce. At the manager’s suggestion, I had a glass of pinot noir that had a subtle nose, a round, fruity flavor and a soft finish. The pinot noir ($8) paired well with my dish, balancing the rich tomato and delicate lobster.


Service was impeccable and unassuming. Our waiter was pleasant and generous in accommodating my indecisive 10-year-old, something parents who enjoy dining out and who wish to educate their children in the etiquette of fine dining truly appreciate.


Dessert can be enjoyed in the dining room and diners have a sweet selection to choose from including Tartufo ($6), gelati and ice cream as well as a variety of pastry possibilities ranging from the richly decadent chocolate molten lava cake to the berry-filled Frutti di Bosco (both $8). Have dessert in the piano bar accompanied by live music and an espresso or wind down with a digestif or a brandy.


The gracious top-down management style of The Scardino family, the Breakers hoteliers for more than 30 years, is amply reflected in their restaurant where food and beverage manager James E. Vazquez keeps the flow smoothly and quietly efficient.


An evening at the Breakers is meant to be spent leisurely in the company of good friends or loved ones. The rhythm of the meal is ordered and paced, but diners don’t feel pushed. Their knowledgeable staff makes diners feel reluctant to leave, a far cry from the table turning experiences in other lesser establishments.


This is fine dining the way it’s intended.