Soho is known for its shops but not necessarily for its restaurants. You usually have to walk to Nolita or the West Village for the good stuff. Which was why it was exciting to hear that a bistro with European sensibilities called King was opening in the area. The credentials of the chefs and manager, all of whom spent their time at some of London’s best restaurants like The River Cafe and Clove Club, were also impressive. You knew they had a hit on their hands.Read More
India is an extremely diverse country home to many different religions and dialects, yet the food that is represented in the States is pretty one-dimensional. You usually have some sort of heavily curried meat accompanied by rice and naan bread. But with the openings of several Indian restaurants in NYC this year, that’s changing somewhat. Paowalla, the highly anticipated new restaurant from Top Chef Master Floyd Cardoz, goes beyond the standard tikka masala and tandoori. In fact, naan might be the only familiar item on the menu, and even that is more of a crisp and elegant flatbread than the doughy, buttery crust we’ve come to expect.Read More
There are few restaurants that I would stay up so late for. A 9 pm seating is my limit, and after that, I’ll move on and revisit once the hype has died down. But like the desperate girl who can’t play it cool when she’s finally invited to a party, I caved to the pressure and made an exception for a 10:30 reservation at Le Coucou. There was a little thought behind this, though. First of all, Ruoxi’s birthday was at midnight, so we would need to do some sort of big, late night blowout celebration anyway. Also, my friend Eugenia from Hong Kong was in town, and she was already going to be jet lagged, so why not shake it off by staying up as late as possible? All good reasons for me to bite the bullet on a super late dinner reservation.Read More
Maman in Soho is an Instagrammer’s dream, which is why it’s packed with stylish, pretty little things with nice manicures and handbags drinking lattes and quiches off of exquisite china. Charming French cafes with croissants and avocado toasts is a pretty winning formula, and not surprisingly, the Maman team has opened a second location in Tribeca, knowing that they will appeal to those fancy yoga moms and their well-heeled kids.
If Maman Soho is where all the young people are, Maman Tribeca is where the young people with families graduate onto. You’ll see former bros sporting baby bjorns with their well coiffed wives by their side. It’s much roomier, which makes it better for pushing through multiple strollers and seating actual large groups of families. They are so accommodating to babies, in fact, that should your stroller not fit through their entrance, they have a side elevator that can. Families need more food and service, and so the Tribeca branch builds upon the light menu and counter service of the Soho location with a proper full-service, fully staffed restaurant.
No meal at Maman is complete without its famous chocolate chip cookie, and an order of the pastry basket assures you of one. The fact that there is only one piece is a bit of a disappointment, as the word “basket” suggests a bounty of treats, but there’s only one cookie, one financier and one croissant. They were all very good, but more would have been better.
They don’t skimp on the entrees, thankfully. The squash spaghetti “a la carbonara” lived up to its promise as being hearty and filling. Don’t be fooled by the healthy headlines of gluten free and squash on the menu, at the end of the day, pasta swirling in melted cheese and runny yolk is rich and tastes glorious. The papa poule’s chicken caesar also came armed with some meat and some heft. The generous slices of chicken and avocado ensured that you wouldn’t go hungry, and its tangy, yellow take on the traditional caesar dressing was much more interesting than the typical white variety. Like a good mother, Maman is keeping her children, and her grandchildren, very well fed.
211 W. Broadway (between Franklin and White St)
New York, NY 10013
The team behind Estela have officially gone Hollywood with Café Altro Paradiso, their new, flashy Italian restaurant in Soho. If Estela is the quietly attractive bookworm, then Café Altro Paradiso is the conventionally beautiful pageant queen. She is dressed to impress, decked out in immaculate marble floors and white oak all around the grand dining room, and as she makes her way down the catwalk, she serves up plates of pleasant, beautifully plated Italian food, knowing that in order to win the votes, she needs crowd pleasers with broad appeal.
As you can imagine, with this Armani Cafe makeover, a little bit of soul got lost along the way. The different plates of pasta that we tried were all remarkably similar, variations of a perfected formula of olive oil, light cheese and citrus. They were glammed up versions of their more portly red sauce selves. I do have to say that the makeover was a success, particularly with the lasagnette, which was the true queen bee of the lemon pasta sisters. The spaghetti and gnocchi were lovely, but they lived in the lasagnette’s shadow. Even the normally robust cod and seafood stew had been edited down into a shallow pool of broth. Don’t even think about taking a plunge with some bread, the point is to dip your toe in and wade around nicely.
The carpaccio was the one dish I tried that still retained a bit of the quirky Estela character. The thin slices of very Paleo looking raw meat were just as flavorful as anything cooked, and the salt and the fat from the underlying potato crisps and the aioli brought a smile to my face. There’s a saying that it’s either your face or your ass, and I’m glad that they kept the carpaccio as a big-bottomed girl. If the pageant girl let herself go a little, she may be able to win the competition.
Café Altro Paradiso
234 Spring St (between Varick St and Ave of Americas)
New York, NY 10013