Here’s my lovely plate of full from VegFeast (the first annual Vegan Thanksgiving dinner in Pittsburgh, that raised money for the PA Humane Society)!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I apologize for the big pause between #LauraLovesNYC post #3 and #4! I have been pretty busy with work, yoga teaching, being a yoga student, family, friends, and random appointments. Never fear, the next two posts are on their way!
Next two posts: Dinner at Les Halles, and Brunch at The Vandal.
Thanks everyone, for your continued patience and support!
*NOTE*: Neither Le Bernardin nor Eric Ripert asked me to write this post; I am just a Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who wanted to share this fabulous lunch that I had in New York City! Photos were captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.
Day two of the New York City trip! Once we finished touring the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my Mom and I went to lunch at Le Bernardin, located in the West Side of New York City.
Why was I interested in dining at Le Bernardin? Well, the restaurant is co-owned by Anthony Bourdain‘s best friend, Executive Chef Eric Ripert. I’ll never forget when we watched one of the first No Reservations: New York City episodes- Bourdain was meeting up with a bunch of his chef friends from dinner at Prune and The Spotted Pig. He briefly introduced each chef, and when it was time to introduce Ripert, my Mom was like: “Wait- who is THAT? Rewind!” lol. X)
Needless to say, my Mom and I were intrigued by Eric from very early on in No Reservations. Thanks to Bourdain featuring him on No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, I had the opportunity to get glimpses into the personality of Bourdain’s best friend.
Then again, Ripert does not need Bourdain’s help; he is very accomplished in his own right. Thanks to Eric, Le Bernardin has some Michelin stars, and is constantly named one of the top 50 best restaurants in the ENTIRE world!
My Mom and I were lucky enough to attend Bourdain & Ripert’s “Good vs. Evil” tour back in 2013, when it stopped in Pittsburgh. Needless to say, we both became ever bigger fans of Eric, as he gracefully took Tony’s mock interrogation on stage.
Mom REALLY wanted to go to Le Bernardin. I also wanted to go, but hesitated at first, because we had already made reservations for Les Halles Park Avenue, and I knew that would be an expensive meal. Lucky for my Mom, she didn’t’ have to “twist my arm” (metaphorically speaking) too far to convince me to make a reservation at Le Bernardin.
When we arrived, I was totally blown away by the elegance of the restaurant, and the meticulous detail (from the design, to the attentiveness of the wait staff, to the food)! Once the host sat us at our table, our waiter (who I could definitely tell was from France) greeted us and inquired about what beverage we would like served at lunch.
Knowing this would be a pricey (but memorable) lunch, my Mom and I both stuck with water. Pictured above is my Mom’s first course. I must say, I took one bite of the salad- I’ve NEVER tasted better salad in my entire LIFE! IT was such a simple salad, but yet so incredibly good!
How many people can say they’ve had a three course lunch? Pretty fancy, right? My second course was also delectable! The only other risotto that I’ve had that comes close to being as good as Le Bernardin’s was the former Le Pommier restaurant in Pittsburgh.
Of course, I am a HUGE artichoke fan; thus, this dish pleased me immediately. It might be hard to see in this photo, but there was a shaving of black truffle on top of the risotto. For those of you who do not know: black truffle is VERY expensive.
As Eric says: “the fish is the star”, and my Mom definitely felt that this lobster dish was the star of her lunch! I tried a bite as well, and of course, it was pretty incredible.
The minute I took at the menu, I knew I wanted the Crispy Duck dish! Although, above this dish, it said “Upon Request” (meaning, if you asked for it, and they had it, they would make it for you). Well, I asked, and they had it!
This was THE best duck dish I’ve EVER had! Between the savory-ness of the fennel, the tartness of the sour cherries, and the smooth texture of the medium rare duck, I was definitely in foodie heaven! This dish was almost too handsome to eat, but I managed. 😉
I didn’t get a chance to sample my Mom’s dessert, but from what I can remember, she loved this dessert (who wouldn’t?)!
First of all: mousse in ball form? I was very impressed by this original take on a chocolate mousse dish! I loved dunking each bite of chocolate mousse into the caramel sauce, followed by sampling the crunchy candied peanuts. Heaven on a plate!
I thought things couldn’t get any better- man was I wrong! This spiced chocolate ice cream BLEW the other dessert out of the park! This was the most decadent, and tasty ice cream dish I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming!
I must say, this lunch left me breathless. Unless I eat at some spectacular restaurant in Europe someday, I try believe that this is the best meal I’ve had in my entire life, and that it’s won’t get any better (at least in America) than Le Bernardin.
*NOTE*: Crif Dogs didn’t ask me to write this review; as a Foodie, I’ve decided to share my experience at Crif Dogs with all of my fellow Foodies of the world! Photos captures with an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.
Ever since I watched The Layover New York City episode, where Anthony Bourdain and David Chang both dined at Crif Dogs, I knew that someday, I needed to make a pilgrimage to New York City to eat said hot dog.
Low and behold, my opportunity had finally arrived! During the first night of my NYC vacation, my Mom and I decided to call an UBER car, and head over to the East Village for some hot dogs!
When we walked in, the restaurant was much smaller than expected (literally a “hole in the wall” type of place), but as my Sex & The City Tour Hostess said to my tour group: “in New York City, you pay for the luxury of living here- not the size of the space”. Man oh man, she was right.
Anywho: my Mom and I walked up to the counter, and were greeted by a very nice young gentleman with stylish black hair. He explained to us the method of ordering your hot dog at Crif Dogs: first, you choose your “hot dog type”. This means: do you want either a Crif Dog (the restaurant’s handmade & naturally smoked beef & pork dog), a New Yorker (the classic snappy grilled all-beef dog), or a Veggie dog (which I would image is probably a tofu hot dog). Next, you decide if you would just like to add toppings, or try one of the “signature dogs” (which are all the Crif Dog, pork & beef blend).
My Mom chose the classic New Yorker Hot Dog (right), with mustard, relish & onion. Of course, I went for one of the signature dogs (specifically, the Tsunami Dog)! The Tsunami Dog (left) is a Crif Dog that is bacon-wrapped, with teriyaki, pineapple & green onions. 😀
I must say, this hot dog may just be THE best hot dog I EVER had! I am a HUG fan of ham & pineapple pizza; thus, the pineapple worked for me. I am also a fan of green onions, and I love it Teriyaki sauce. Thus: Crif Dogs really hit it out of the park with my hot dog! I really enjoyed the pork & beef custom hot dog blend; in my opinion, that tastes better than your average all-beef hot dog.
As soon as I noticed waffle fries on the menu, I knew we had to order them! Waffle Fries are very nostalgic for me- when I was in college at Edinboro University (of PA, not Scotland. Although, that would’ve been pretty cool!), I used to sometimes order the chicken tenders and waffle fries with honey mustard sauce from John’s Pizza. After a fun “night on the town”, this was one of my two late night snacks of choice! Anytime I see waffle fries, it always brings back fond memories of Edinboro.
Luckily, Crif Dogs didn’t disappoint! These might just be the best waffle fries I’ve EVER had!
My only somewhat critical comment: I kept comparing Crif Dogs to Pittsburgh-based restaurant chain Franktuary; in my opinion, Franktuary has a more witty and original take on the gourmet hot dog. Plus they offer other items on the menu (such as poutine, salads and chili), and host a Sunday Brunch (pretty much every Sunday) at their Lawrenceville location.
Perhaps this would be something to think about for the future? I would love to see Crif Dogs make a chilli, using the custom Crif Dog blend of meat!