La Pecora Bianca in Soho

La Pecora Bianca is what I call a “pretty person” restaurant. Like its customers, the restaurant itself is physically attractive, styled to resemble some sort of beautiful sea-green Italian bistro. Its heated outdoor booths are some of the most well-built ones I’ve ever come across. If outdoor restaurant dining becomes a permanent thing in New York, this is the kind you would want in your neighborhood. Sometimes when I’m walking my dog in the cold I’ll pass by La Pecora Bianca and I’ll be impressed by the warmth that emanates from the heat lamps. The crowd is typical of who you would expect from the Soho shopping set – attractive, wearing expensive clothes and day drinking. I didn’t have high expectations for the food here since pretty people restaurants tend to be more style than substance, but I actually had a pretty great brunch at La Pecora Bianca.

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Yellow Rose in East Village

There’s a little bit of Texas in the East Village, in the form of a newish Tex-Mex restaurant called Yellow Rose. The restaurant captures the saloon-like vibe of a low-key bar you would find on Austin’s Sixth Street somewhere. Walking in here and looking at all the dark wood paneling reminded me of something you would find in Frontierland. The food, though, is much better than anything you would find at Disneyland (although prices are probably similarly high). If you’ve ever had a hankering for queso and good breakfast tacos, Yellow Rose should be your go-to spot.

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La Cabra in East Village

La Cabra is a Denmark-based coffee shop that recently opened a NYC outpost in the East Village. It has all the credentials of a proper coffee shop – a commitment to sourcing the best beans, refining its roasting technique to maximize the beans, being mindful of the seasonality of the beans, etc. But what really brings me back repeatedly to La Cabra are the baked goods. I always look inside the display case, intending on buying just one pastry to bring back home, but then I end up buying two or three. The pastries are that good. There is a very minimalist Nordic aspect to them. They’re not cute sweet buns with smiley faces or beautiful cakes with meticulously pipetted icing. They’re straightforward in their visual presentation but there are subtle layers to the flavors and textures that make them very memorable. La Cabra is a coffeeshop first and foremost, but in my opinion, it is one of the best bakeries in New York City.

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Fulgurances Laundromat in Brooklyn

I first heard about Fulgurances from a staff member at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Company, one of my favorite seafood restaurants in Brooklyn. The conversation came about when he saw that I was sporting a Septime canvas bag. (The backstory around the Septime bag is that I was never successful in getting a reservation at the famed Septime restaurant in Paris, so as a consolation prize, we went to its sister restaurants Clamato and wine bar Septime la Cave instead and bought this bag in the process.) He mentioned that Aaron Rosenthal, formerly of Clamato, was doing a residency at Fulgurances Landromat, the American offshoot of a French chef residency program. The concept in a nutshell invites young chefs from all around the world for a three to six-month residency where they can flex their culinary muscles in a $80 5-course tasting menu format. I was all over that online booking website to see when his residency would start.

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Septime in Paris, France 2021

Getting a reservation to Septime is near impossible. The online reservation is an exercise in false hope. The dates on the calendar seem like they’re open, but really they click through to a waitlist. And the waitlist never seems to move. So I guess the silver lining about the pandemic is that only a portion of the world’s population can actually come to Septime, which means tables are easier to come by. I was planning a trip to Paris in September, so I started looking for bookings in the summer. I had no trouble getting a table. It felt really good being able to click on a date and get an actual reservation. What a difference two years makes. Last time I went to Septime, all I ended up with was a tote bag from their wine bar. This time I left with memories of the most amazing dinner.

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