Mena in Tribeca

I feel like every few years there’s a shift in countries that start influencing the flavor profiles in high-end restaurant. There was the stripped down Nordic wave that proliferated in the early aughts, and recently Korean food has been having a moment. But now I think Latin America might be due for its moment. I’ve seen the potential in the cuisine at Mena, a new restaurant in Tribeca run by Victoria Blamey, who draws from her Chilean background, as well as from her experience working in different kitchens around the world.

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The Burger at Au Cheval in Tribeca

We live in an age where high end burgers are now the new normal, and nobody bats an eye at spending more than $15 for one. We’ve been sold by the clever marketing that justifies the price tag because the meat patty is extra special due to its high-grade, dry-aged, grass-fed nature and because it comes with foie gras or truffles on top. The market for premium patties in New York is pretty frothy, which explains why Au Cheval, a restaurant in Chicago long touted as being home to the best burger in America, is now bringing its $17.95 cheeseburger out East, in a somewhat seedy alley in Cortlandt Alley in Tribeca that is dark and smells like piss. It looks like they were going for that secret speakeasy vibe, normally frequented by the members of the city’s underbelly, but its burger is so good that regular people should be willing to risk their lives to try it.

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Bubby’s in Tribeca

Brunch hot spots come and go, but Bubby’s is forever. This place has been around for nearly 20 years, yet it still manages to draw crowds for its brunch. Just a few weekends ago, a 10 am walk-in, which some may view as an aggressively early brunch time, required a 45-minute wait. Bubby’s gives the people what they want, which is an old-fashioned, all-American breakfast consisting of key comfort foods. They don’t challenge you with interesting reinventions or dainty small plates, because who necessarily wants that so early in the day?

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Frenchette in Tribeca

Once in awhile we always hear about that one annoying kid in high school who wasn’t that great but somehow got into Harvard. Someone like a Jared Kushner. That’s how I feel about Frenchette, the critically acclaimed French bistro in Tribeca that’s been on many “Best of 2018” restaurant lists. On the surface, it looks very pretty and polished, and there were glimmers of brilliant potential, but the meal lost a lot of steam very early on.

At the beginning of our dinner, I did indeed feel as if I had a seat at the table of one of the best restaurants in New York City. We had ordered the spanish omelette, and I was really blown away by it. It was truly better than a lot of the omelettes I had at tapas bars in Spain, and I could envision this plate coming out of the kitchen of Barrafina, an excellent restaurant in London.

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Tetsu in Tribeca

the open grill at tetsu

It’s crazy to think that a meal at Masa¬†in NYC, which costs ~$595 a person pretax, is comparable to the cost of a round-trip ticket to Europe somewhere. I’m not quite convinced that one meal, no matter how good, would ever be equivalent to a transcontinental getaway. Those of us priced out of Masa will never find out if the food there is worth an arm and a leg, but what we can do is go to its more accessible sister restaurant¬†Tetsu, a Japanese robata newly opened in Tribeca, where dishes are comfortably priced in the single or double digit range.Read More