Bonnie from BiteoftheBest.com

/Bonnie Tandy Leblang

About Bonnie Tandy Leblang

Blogger Bonnie Tandy Leblang has been covering food since before it was hip to do so! She’s penned magazine, newspaper and syndicated food columns in addition to cookbooks. Follow her on twitter @BonnieBOTB and on Instagram@BiteoftheBest and at @BonnieBOTB "I eat for a living!” is her mantra, sharing what she’s sampled so you’ll know where (or where not) to go, plus what food products and gadgets to try. For her full bio go to the about us page.

Don Angie, West Village, NYC

Don Angie is a fairly new Italian restaurant in the West Village from Quality Italian's chefs Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito. After Pete Wells 2-star review, it became hard to get a res at one of the 60 spaces in the small corner restaurant where Monument Lane was located. I've learned that if you arrive early — about at the first seating — you can generally get one of their unreserved tables. We did. Their wine person helped us find a reasonably priced bottle of wine to go with what we were ordering: seviche, octopus and one of the red-sauce pasta dishes that Don Angie is known for. We chose the Salcheto, [...]

By |2019-02-19T17:43:26-04:00March 19th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

My Raffle Winnings at Jacob’s Pickles, Upper West Side, NYC

At one of my realtor's appreciation events, I won a dinner at Jacob's Pickles. I used the prize to take a friend out for her birthday, as the restaurant was down the block from where she lives. Do not go for dinner unless you are really hungry!  To say portions are huge is an understatement. I started with Michter's American Manhattan ($16) served straight up like a martini with a blend of Michter’s American Whiskey, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, bourbon-soaked Montmorency Cherries and Angostura bitters. My friend had a beer, specifically the Rhode Island Narragansett Lager 5.0% ($7). We split a Southern BLT (my namesake initials both pre- and post-marriage) of [...]

By |2019-03-17T09:11:19-04:00March 17th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Ex-expat Chinese New Year’s Meal at Hwa Yuan Szechuan in Chinatown

My ex-expat group organized a dinner at Hwa Yuan Szechuan in Chinatown, a restaurant that one member had been to and another had read a raving Sam Sifton New York Times review. Over twenty of us went for Chinese New Year ($100 per person inclusive). We started with their cold noodles with sesame sauce that Sam had described as the "Best cold sesame noodles Manhattan ever tasted."  They were quite good, not too peanut-buttery as at other places around town. We had a few unremarkable other cold dishes followed by their hot and sour soup, redolent of what I used to make. It was chock full of tree ear mushrooms and dried [...]

By |2019-03-17T09:55:50-04:00March 15th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Return Again to Rafele, West Village, NYC for a Birthday

I returned to Rafele, a small Italian restaurant in the West Village, for a friend's birthday late lunch on a cold winter's day. The restaurant was very quiet, not at all like in the evening. Don't miss the melange of roasted cauliflower, black currants, caramelized onion, pine nuts and a soupçon of breadcrumbs ($14) as a starter. Since Rafele wasn't busy, I asked our very friendly server whether my pasta could be finished in parchment paper in their wood-burning fireplace as had been done with the night's special cacio e pepe papillote during my last visit. The chef was accommodating! I indulged in their rich fettuccine Bolognese en papillote. The thin ribbons of [...]

By |2019-03-08T08:47:01-04:00March 13th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

El Rancho Burritos, Hells Kitchen, NYC + The Other Josh Cohen

After going to an off-Broadway fun feel-good musical at the Westside Theatre on 43rd, we grabbed a bite at El Rancho Burritos two blocks from where the theatre. For a complete review of The Other Josh Cohen, click here. The restaurant has a takeout counter with a couple of tables. Skip the chips with guac and salsa ($6.95). The chips were okay, guacamole watery and salsa redolent of canned tomato sauce. A hearty burrito is what to order. We tried two of their signature ones. The “chili-bomb burrito,” a chili-seasoned tortilla filled with lots of rice, some beef and chunks of stewed jalapeños topped with some red sauce ($9.75) and an Al Pastor Burrito ($10.75) [...]

Korean Lunch at Her Name Is Han, Kips Bay, NYC

Like many other places in the big apple, it's easier to get into Her Name is Han for lunch than dinner. Midday, they take no reservations and offer small reasonably priced menu. I met a friend there one winter day. We started sharing an order of three pork-stuffed over-sized dumplings ($5/three large) with a flavored soy sauce. We each ordered one of the lunch specials that came with a plethora of small Korean treats. Our tastings included kimchi, tofu topped with crunchy sauteed onions, beet potato salad, an unusual chicken salad and a bowl of daily soup that warmed us on this cold day. I tried the bulgogi bibimbop ($16) [...]

By |2019-02-16T11:05:10-04:00March 9th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

On the Beach in Newport (CA) at the Beachcomber Cafe

What a treat to meet my friend at the Beachcomber Cafe on the beach in Newport for lunch one sunny-California winter day. I sipped a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand, $13) while trying to look at the menu. I say trying as I found it hard to take my eyes off the surf. On my friend's recommendation, we both ordered the fish tacos that she claimed were the best thing on the menu. The tender chunks of mahi mahi tacos sat atop shredded lettuce on flour tortillas, topped (2 for $17.95) with pico de gallo, cilantro cream, a dab of guacamole and pickled onions. They came with [...]

Back to L’Express, Gramercy-Flatiron, NYC for the Lamb Burger and…

Last I visited L'Express I had written, "The warm goat cheese salad was perfection ..." Could it be as good?, I asked myself as we returned in for a weekend lunch. It was, although, the price of the salad had about doubled from $8.95 to $16 in the last 7 years.  The other dish to have at this French bistro on the corner of 20th and Park is their tender and juicy lamb burger with fries ($19); do not order well done! And be sure to enjoy it with a glass of red wine. L'Express Gramercy-Flatiron 249 Park Avenue South New York, NY 212.254.5858

By |2019-01-20T13:13:28-04:00March 5th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Violet Fog, A Special Gin Moscow Mule

An attractively packaged and designed bottle arrived at my doorstep. Inside the thick gold-embossed black box along with the final two stanzas of the poem that inspired the McQueen and the Violet Fog name was a bottle of the eponymous gin. The press materials tout the liquor as "made with an unparalleled 21 sustainable botanicals from around the world, at least six of which are found in no other gin." This Sovereign Brands gin is a small batch one, bottled in Jundiai, Brazil. I decided to make the "Violet Fog" recipe (basically a Moscow Mule) that accompanied the bottle. I first made it with Bombay Saffire, the brand my dad [...]

A Coastal Italian Lunch at Scampi, Flatiron, NYC

Decided to wander my hood to find a place I hadn't written about and found Scampi on 18th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. I read mixed reviews as Eater liked it, The Infatuation didn't. I stopped by to make my own decision. The warm and welcoming host took the time to describe the menu to me in such detail that my mouth watered. While waiting for my meal, I nibbled on the thin breadsticks and housemade bomba that Rob, my friendly bartender served me.  Rob explained that the bomba is a traditional southern Italian condiment made from pickled shallots, mushrooms, artichokes and Calabrian chilies. The grilled swordfish sandwich on sesame strecci (soft [...]

By |2019-03-01T10:03:14-04:00March 1st, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Return to Bella Blu, Upper East Side, NYC

Since I'm always looking for a new place I haven't experienced or written about, I'm not a regular anywhere. Truth is that the best restaurant is often the one who knows you! I knew my experience at Bella Blu would even be better than my last visit, watching how the friend I walked in with was greeted. Our fabulous server Andrea took care of us as if we were old friends (AKA regulars!). We each started with the colorful orange-red Aperol spritzer as we nibbled the tomato pizza-dough bread served gratis. One had the breaded organic chicken breast topped with mixed greens and hearts of palm ($25); two of us the [...]

By |2019-03-04T10:02:36-04:00February 27th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Ristorante Il Melograno, Hells Kitchen, NYC

A new friend, who seemed to have similar tastes in restaurants, recommended Ristorante Il Melograno in Hell's Kitchen. I thought it might be good when reservations at the time we wanted were unavailable. It's a cozy restaurant on the corner of 51st and Tenth with teeny tables (so small it's almost impossible not to meet your neighbors) and a small (they call it compact) menu. In the Italian way, we ordered a few items for the table instead of a dish per person.  The unusual artichoke cakes come with nicely seasoned greens and a simple saffron aioli sauce ($14). Each time I took a bite, I had to remind myself they weren't [...]

By |2019-01-24T18:28:03-04:00February 25th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Quick Pasta at Il Pastaio – Eataly, Gramercy-Flatiron,

Seems every time I venture to Eataly, I discover a new place to grab a bite. We entered the 23 Street door into Alla Pala Pizza & Enoteca, the place to grab a slice of their Roman-style pizza. Once I noticed the no-back stool (at my age, I need back support) and the prices ($8.40 a slice with prosciutto and arugula), I kept walking. We noticed a counter a few yards further into the store replete with chairs at a pasta bar.  Il Pastaio di Eataly, meaning  "pasta maker",  offers bowlsful of fresh, housemade pasta daily.  Our servers explained that they had been schooled learning how to make pasta from [...]

By |2019-01-18T17:13:25-04:00February 23rd, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Mezcal Tasting at Rosa Mexicano, FiDi, NYC

The mezcal tasting invite began, "Rosa Mexicano’s Master Mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf will lead a tasting and explain how she crafted this unique mezcal – aged over two years in bourbon barrels from a 19th-century Nashville distillery." I couldn't resist heading downtown to the Rosa Mexicano location on Murray Street in the Financial District to taste this limited edition of their special Fidencio private label Mezcal from Oaxaca. Before the tasting got started, we were treated to the restaurant's famous guacamole at a buffet with many optional toppings that included pomegranate arils, bleu cheese, pepitas, chicharrones, mini shrimp and diced mango plus fresh tortilla chips. Servers also passed both mini flautas de [...]

By |2019-03-17T09:12:44-04:00February 21st, 2019|Rambling|0 Comments

Southern Food at Root & Bone, East Village, NYC

Venture on a trip to southern Manhattan to the east village for some southern cooking. Do be prepared to loosen your belt. My friend who doesn't like the taste of alcohol had their Sadie Hawkins made with rum, grapefruit juice and rosemary. I had their classic Manhattan ($12); I prefer mine with less sweet vermouth. As their guest, I wanted to sample as much as I could and so requested small portions of many of their dishes. I had to try the deviled egg, red from pickled beets and topped with a root chip ($7 for a full order of 3) or Grandma Daisy's flaky angel biscuits sprinkled with sea salt [...]

By |2019-01-15T09:37:13-04:00February 19th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Decadent Time at The Whitby Bar and Restaurant, Midtown, NYC

Looking for a quiet place to dine, we headed over the elegant Whitby Hotel Bar and Restaurant — the second Firmdale Hotel in New York City — that's a celebration of contemporary art and design from founders Tim and Kit Kemp. As we walked in a three-piece jazz combo began their set. We asked the hostess to sit us as far away from the music as possible. They were about to seat us at the furthest table from the music in that room when we noticed tables set in an empty room beyond glass doors and requested that. After some discussion. we were seated in the magnificent room. We sipped the unctuous chianti ($55 bottle) while eating [...]

By |2019-02-18T08:49:17-04:00February 17th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|2 Comments

Grand Sichuan, Chelsea, NYC + Malpaso Cuban Dancers at the Joyce

One freezing evening on our way to the Joyce Theatre, we stopped into Grand Sichuan restaurant directly across the street.  To get rid of the chill in my bones, I had a bowl of their steaming hot, hot and sour soup ($2.95).  Although I've had better (especially homemade), it was good. Good enough for me to decide to return when I'm at the Joyce again. At the Joyce, we saw the exceptional Cuban Malapaso Dance Company with their classically trained dancers and stayed for the curtain chat with founder and executive director Fernando Sáez and some of the company. I highly recommend seeing the Malpaso Dance Company perform when they're in town. Grand [...]

By |2019-01-13T14:28:01-04:00February 15th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Theatre|0 Comments

A Nighttime Nibble at Corkbuzz, Union Square, NYC

After seeing Green Book, the Golden Globe award-winning movie starring Vitto Mortensen and Mahershala Ali we stopped by Corkbuzz at the original Union Square location for a glass of wine and some apps. I had been to various private wine-tasting events there but hadn't ordered from their menu in many years, as I had found it a bit pricey for what they served. No longer. With our glass of  Stadlmann Grüner Veltliner '17 - Niederösterreich, Austria ($11) we shared the tender Berkshire pork meatballs ($14 for 5) in a marinara sauce snow-covered with grated parmesan and their crisp pommes frites with garlic aioli ($7). Perfection. Corkbuzz Wine Studio Union Square 13 E. 13th [...]

By |2019-02-18T08:50:43-04:00February 13th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

The Polynesian a Tiki Lounge at the Pod Hotel + Noura

After seeing Noura, a play inspired by Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at Playwrights Horizon, we began looking for a place to get a nibble. (For a review of the play, click here.) A few doors east of the theatre, we found the Polynesian, a new — less than a year old — lounge inside the Pod Hotel. Actually, our noses followed the enticing fatty aroma to the restaurant. They offer a multi-page exotic island drinks menu plus a few bar snacks. We skipped the tropical for regular beverages and shared a couple items, all of which I'd recommend:  the spicy Persian cucumber salad ($12), sliders on sweet buns ($18 for three) and — of course — fries. [...]

By |2019-01-18T18:44:02-04:00February 11th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

New Greek Restaurant Kyma in Flatiron, NYC

Kyma — serving Greek fare in a large lively new restaurant on two floors — opened last summer in Flatiron district. We arrived for our reservation on time, yet their CMS's calendar had us scheduled for two days later. I was told this wasn't the first time it happened. That said, the maitre d' said not to worry, he'd take care of us even though the restaurant was fully committed. Lucky for us there were two small tables in the front window that could accommodate the four of us. We didn't mind the gentle refreshing cold breeze each time the door opened and it was less noisy where we were sitting than [...]

By |2018-12-31T09:27:47-04:00February 9th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments