ABA Turkish Restaurant

**** (4 stars)

This Turkish restaurant is bustling with locals, so it’s definitely got the stamp of authenticity.

We tried the cold appetizer sample, which was a great assortment. Favorites were the eggplant and the tomato and vegetable mixture. Interestingly, they were served with crusty bread rather than the traditional puffy Lava? Turkish bread.

The hot appetizers we tried included falafel, which was crispier and a different shape that we were used to, and some excellent zucchini pancakes.

We also shared one entree that was an assortment of all the meats, and thought each was very well prepared. The lamb chop was my favorite, as it had a nice char.

Service was friendly and efficient, especially considering the restaurant was completely full.

ABA Turkish Restaurant
325 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 655-9368


**** (4 stars)

Just as this space has been elevated far above that of a traditional brasserie, so, too, has the food achieved a polish not often found in a simple brasserie. That is not to say that the dishes aren’t traditional, for they are. But everything from plating to ingredients seems top notch.

A standout was the salad Lyonnaise, the best I’ve ever had, with an absolutely perfect poached egg and sinfully good fried croutons. And the pomme frites that came with the burger were superb, crisped with duck fat, and almost hollow.

A compact selection of wines by the glass manages to offer a little of something for everyone. The “house” Altamarea wines are a good bet, especially the Oregon pinot noir.

Service is well intentioned and professional, if not quite at the polished level of the food.

100 E 63rd St
New York, NY 10065
(646) 869-2300

Eleven Madison Park

***** (5 stars)

I had the greatest meal of my life at Eleven Madison Park. I also had the second greatest here. I also had a disastrous one that featured lame table-side magic and a carrot grinder.

But I’m pleased to say that the restaurant has nearly returned to its past glory. Our latest meal still didm’t quite include those one-bite orgasmic wonders of their first menus, but every course was a home run, and the service was impeccable–perfectly timed, efficient, flexible, welcoming and friendly.

Highlights of our most recent meal included an assortment of delicious oyster preparations (high praise since I’m not a huge oyster fan); caviar served like miniature eggs benedict that you assemble yourself; a wonderful sea bass; celery root cooked in a pig’s bladder; and a chocolate guessing game for dessert.

They have started opening their older wines with port tongs, which may be a bit over the top but does provide an entertaining table-side show, and it certainly gets rid of any cruddy corks!

The biggest change is that instead of 16 or so mini courses there are now eight somewhat larger ones, and many course offer several selections. This allowed us, as a party of three, to sample nearly everything on the menu.

I like this new format, and the more professional level of the service overall. Say a happy goodbye to the magic show, and give it a fresh try.

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-0905

DB Bistro Moderne

**** (4 stars)

We really like db Bistro for late night dinner after the theatre. It’s a short walk from Broadway, and an 11pm reservation is no problem.

The interior  is stylish and well lit, and quite late in the evening, although I’m sure it can get loud earlier.

Service is friendly and efficient, and the menu offers a limited but interesting range of choices. The burger is famous, but because it is stuffed with short ribs and topped with foie gras, it is very rich, and should only be attempted if you are very hungry.

On this visit we started with some seared shishito peppers, these were smaller than usual and nicely seared, served with a soy dipping sauce.

My peekytoe crab appetizer was pretty, but didn’t have a lot of flavor. However the sunchoke soup was rich and full of flavor.

Amish chicken is tender and succulent, and served with an interesting pickled cabbage slaw that complements it well.

An nice variety of wines are available in 5 or 8 ounce servings.

DB Bistro Moderne
55 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 391-2400

La Grenouille

***** (5 stars)

La Grenouille is still doing things the same way as when they were founded in 1962, and that’s a good thing. I remember when the world was full of restaurants like this: posh, refined, attentive, traditional, and oh so French. Now it is the last of its kind.

The three course menu is pricey at dinner, but not absurd, and essentially the same food is available at lunch for less than half the price.

The wine list is mostly French (of course) and offers some values for those who browse carefully.

One thing you wouldn’t find on the 1962 menu was the sea bass tartare we started with, which was refreshingly limey and served on an avocado base.

Soufflés are the specialty here, and the cheese shuffle was superb as a main course. The Dover sole was extremely traditional, but perhaps not worth the upcharge, as cooking styles for fish have changed, and left this old standard seeming overdone and bland.

A half dozen or more soufflés are also on offer for dessert, and are a great choice. Alternatively, the cheese plate offered a great variety. A basket of madeleines and other pastries, and some truffles finish things off.

Service was very French and very professional, yet managed to also be welcoming and conversational. Let’s hope that La Grenouille can continue to carry on its tradition for another fifty years.

La Grenouille
3 E 52nd St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 752-1495

Momofuku Ko

***** (5 stars)

What a phenomenal experience. We loved the ambiance of this place, which is both romantic and trendy, vibrant yet conducive to conversation, epicurean yet accessible.

Not every course was a hit, but there were certainly plenty of home runs. But the friendliness of the wait staff, the chefs, and especially the sommelier, Chase, Sinzer, are what really made this a remarkable evening.

I suspect most people her opt for the wine pairings, which we often do, too, but if so they are missing a terrific wine list, with exclusively great producers, and some very reasonable prices.

Truly a special dining experience, and one I look forward to repeating.

Momofuku Ko
8 Extra Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 203-8095

A Voce

**** (4 stars)

Our first experience at this restaurant was during a busy brunch. We wanted to enjoy multiple courses and several bottles of wine, and it didn’t go well. The chef insisted we place our entire party’s order at once, and then proceeded to cover the table two layers deep in plates of food. Something about the concept of fine dining seemed to have been lost in translation.

A recent mid-afternoon weekday visit was much more successful. The place was almost empty, we had a lovely table by the window, and we selected from the three course lunch menu. The raw Fluke appetizer was the highlight of the meal, and worthy of a Michelin starred sushi restaurant. By Bronzino entree was perfectly crisped and seasoned, although I was less enthusiastic about my companion’s steak, which was nicely cooked but not particularly tender or flavorful. The desserts were also quite good.

Service was friendly and attentive.

My advice: go during an off time to enjoy this restaurant to the fullest.

A Voce
10 Columbus Cir
3rd Fl
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-2523

On The Border

**** (4 stars)

This turned out to be a surprisingly good choice for breakfast before our flight. Located in a bright, open space with a nice view of the runway, they offer a short but tasty breakfast menu.

The breakfast burrito was stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs (although there could have been more bacon). And the yogurt parfait was light and fruity.

We were in and out in thirty minutes.

On The Border
Orlando International Airport
One Jeff Fuqua Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827


Stonington’s Seafood

**** (4 stars)

This place surprised me with its extremely high quality fried shrimp and fried chicken. They were both delicious, and not too greasy. The chicken had a completely different coating that made it quite delicate, compared to the more traditional batter of the shrimp.

The sides were good, too, especially the side salad, which had lots of interesting ingredients; the mac and cheese, which had been baked in a little pie tin; and the corn bread, which had been fried on one side. Onion rings were rather greasy.

The operative word here is, of course, “fried”. Almost everything is. But for a splurge it’s very good.

Note this is not “fast” food. Even though you order at a counter, expect it to take twenty minutes to prepare your food. I suppose that accounts for its quality, but you can’t be in a rush.

Stonington’s Seafood
2316 S Kirkman Rd
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 522-6339


*** (3 stars)

We used to go to this Crispers all the time, but a number of years ago they reduced the potions sizes and we stopped going. I’m glad we tried it again, because it seems like things are back on track. My flatbread was good, and the Thai Chicken salad was excellent. Portion sizes are now generous, and the pricing seems reasonable. I like the “pick two” approach.

The thing that drives me crazy is the inefficient ordering process for a group, which is unchanged after all these years. They make each person place their order while everyone stands around waiting, and then process the credit cards one by one. This means the first item can’t start being prepared until the last item has been paid for, which is incredibly inefficient. And having six or eight people standing around at the register is really annoying. Every other counter service restaurant in town manages to put the same table placard number on each person’s check without this nonsense (see Pei Wei, for example). It’s time someone with some efficiency sense showed Crispers how to do it.

2228 S Kirkman Road
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 296-4551