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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Mingles in Seoul, Korea

If you find yourself looking for that one splurge meal in Seoul, Korea, make it a meal at Mingles. On paper, it checks all the boxes on the status meal – it’s currently ranked the best restaurant in Korea for 2021, it’s ranked 10th on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and it was awarded 2 Michelin Stars. It deserves all those accolades, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is passing through the city. Korea has a lot of fine dining restaurants that do a fantastic job, but Mingles just does it with more finesse and creativity. Lunch is a great time to do it, since they offer a shorter and less expensive tasting option at 125,00 won–the current exchange rate is really in the US dollar’s favor, so this translates to $105, which is on a relative scale a pretty good deal for fine dining. Mingles is the best restaurant in Korea in 2021 so it makes so much sense to plan your meals in Seoul around it.

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Le Pavillon in Midtown East

When people would say New York City is dead, I would always point out the busy outdoor restaurants downtown to prove otherwise. But Midtown was a different story. It really did feel like the everyone had left this part of town. With people working from home and Broadway having gone dark, was there any real reason for Midtown to exist? So when I went to dinner at Le Pavillon, the new Daniel Boulud restaurant that opened at a Midtown office tower, I was relieved to see that things were back. The crowd seemed to reflect precovid clientele – date-nights, the finance bros, and even out-of-town guests! You know things are really back when the tourists are back.

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Sushi Ikumi in Soho

It’s been awhile since stumbling upon a neighborhood gem has been a mode of restaurant discovery. But now that the city is reopening, physically walking through neighborhood blocks and finding something interesting that is newly opened is more relevant. Case in point is my recent dinner at Sushi Ikumi, a small sushi restaurant that could not be more nondescript. I walked past the simple dark blue awning multiple times, not knowing a restaurant was there, and the absence of visible letter signage didn’t help, until that one day I happened to pay closer attention and saw diners through the window. I made dinner reservations soon after, and had an excellent chef’s tasting omakase. I went to Nakazawa a month earlier, which was also excellent, but Sushi Ikumi’s omakase surpassed that experience.

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