Posts

Showing posts from July, 2016

first thoughts: All Day (Downtown Miami)

Image
Most of the time, I skip breakfast. I know, they say you're not supposed to, most important meal of the day, blah blah blah – but a cup or two of my inartfully home-brewed coffee first thing in the morning and I'm usually good to go. And yet, I actually love breakfast foods, especially those on the savory side of the aisle: eggs, toast, bacon, sausage – these are all wonderful delicious things. And I'll gladly eat them any time of day.

So I was pretty excited when I heard about All Day, a spot that recently opened in the "Arts & Entertainment District" on the northern edge of downtown Miami. The concept is pretty straightforward: good coffee and egg dishes, served all day. I was even more excited when I learned it was run by Camila Ramos, the talented barista and former head of Panther Coffee's retail operations.


The coffee menu at All Day – posted on the wall in green neon behind a massive Marzocco espresso machine – is a bit enigmatic and designed to f…

Cobaya Qui at Pao

Image
Every time we do one of these Cobaya dinners, there are always any number of things which can go wrong. We ask the chefs to push themselves, to truly treat it as an experiment; and not every experiment succeeds. We encourage ambition, even when sometimes the reach may exceed the grasp. A dish just may not work, or the execution may falter when the scale goes from a test run in the kitchen to a service for a big group.

Then every so often we miss in the opposite direction, and fail to instill the trust or confidence that emboldens a chef to go outside of their comfort zone.[1] Even a very good meal can be something of a disappointment – for us, anyway – if it doesn't offer something different from the usual restaurant experience.

I'd been to Paul Qui's restaurant Pao in the Faena Miami Beach once before, very shortly after it opened (and wrote about it here, where you can also get much of Chef Qui's back story). I had a good meal – some dishes were great – but it felt …

best thing i ate last week: hokkaido uni at Shuko (New York City)

Image
Some sort of sound had involuntarily come out of my mouth. I'm not sure exactly what it was; it may have been a moan. It may have been a giddy chuckle. But when I came back to my senses, I saw that everyone on the other side of the counter was looking at me with an expression somewhere between bemusement and shock.

Shuko is not a stereotypically austere, somber sushi bar: the soundtrack is dominated by old-school hip-hop, and the chefs fist-bump regulars across the bar. But still, whatever I'd done had caught everyone's attention.

It was triggered by this bite of Hokkaido uni: the lobes of sea urchin cold and creamy, with a flavor both briny and fruity, like an oceanic peach, tucked over a pillow of rice into a gunkan maki of crisp nori. Beautiful stuff, worth embarrassing yourself a little bit.

You can see all the pictures from our omakase dinner at Shuko in this Shuko - New York City flickr set.

Shuko
47 E. 12th Street, New York, NY
212.228.6088

Quince Restaurant - San Francisco

Image
Quince Restaurant is something of an anachronism. In these days of bare tables and and backless stools and leather-aproned servers, here there are still white linens and cushions and tailored suits. Refinement. Elegance.

I wasn't so sure I cared about such things so much any more, but a solo meal there a few months ago left me feeling happily coddled like a soft, warm, perfectly cooked egg. It's not just the trappings, it's the entire gestalt of the place: you don't feel so much like a customer as the guest of a wealthy, thoughtful friend. If fine dining is dead, Quince never got around to reading the obituary.

I was basically killing time before a red-eye flight home from San Francisco, and Quince might not have been on my radar but for several people mentioning it when I went fishing for suggestions on twitter. Then I recalled that on our last visit to San Francisco, we'd stayed just up the street from its more casual sibling, Cotogna, right in the path of a clou…