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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.

A Return to Friend of a Farmer, Gramercy Park, NY

I hadn't been to Friend of the Farmer in years. Neither had my friend. We both avoided their long lines on weekends. This weeknight, I wanted a burger and fries before leaving the country for a couple of weeks. We made a res and headed over, being seated upstairs in a spacious room. The moist cornbread topped with fruit as an amuse bouche was worth the trip! So was the grass-fed burger topped with sauteed onions, bacon, tomato and chipotle aioli ($18). It came with fresh arugula and crispy fries. Perfection. We also shared a bottle of Koha, Sauvignon Blanc ($54, Marlboro, New Zealand) and a platter of local country [...]

By |2019-05-27T10:38:29-04:00May 16th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Hudson Yards Grill at Hudson Yards + The Vessel

We planned an entire Hudson Yards day with an art exhibit at The Shed followed by walking the Thomas Heatherwick designed structure called The Vessel and dinner at Michael Lomonaco's Hudson Yards Grill. When the attendant told us it would only take 30 minutes for us to walk to the top of the 150-foot tall structure, we laughed. It didn't. The steps are done in such a way that you don't feel as if you're climbing stairs. It's an interactive fun network of steps and landings to experience on the walk to the top. There is one elevator. The day we were there they were only allowing those who had [...]

By |2019-05-29T09:34:27-04:00May 16th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Danji for Lunch in the Theatre District + Kiss Me, Kate

After raves from one friend, I decided to meet another for lunch at Danji, a small Korean place in the north Theatre District where Chef Hooni Kim combines French techniques with Korean foods. I did so before heading to see Kiss Me, Kate at Studio 54 on West 54th Street. Don't miss this toe-tapping Cole Porter revival starring the amazing Kelli O'Hara. For a complete review of the show, click here. Be sure you make a reservation at this 36-seat restaurant. I'd recommend the beef bulgogi bibimbap, the national Korean dish ($17), asking for the sizzling version. That one is served with hot crispy rice crust (+$3) in a castiron [...]

By |2019-05-10T08:04:46-04:00May 14th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

Finally Made it to Frenchette, Tribeca, NYC

Having read that dinner reservations at Frenchette "are scarcer than Burgundy truffles," we decided to go for the lunch they began serving in the fall. I learned that you sometimes may even be able to get at a table as a walk in. We had made a reservation. (NB: This may now be a bit more difficult as Frenchette just won the James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant 2019 award!) I dined with my friend, Italian winemaker Alessandro Pasqua. His publicist had asked the restaurant whether he could bring a bottle of their new Pasqua 11 Minutes Rosé (*) to sample with our meal. She was told, "we have a [...]

By |2019-06-25T12:02:54-04:00May 12th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Trip to Morningside Heights to Dine at Elysian Fields Cafe

Elysian Fields Cafe, a rustic-modern restaurant near Columbia University, offers Mediterranean cuisine with lots of Greek specialties. A friend and I walked up there one weekend day to sample their fare, as their publicist had invited me. We shared a bottle of the light Greek wine, the Assyrtiko, Dougos Winery, Drama, Greece, 2017 with citrus and mineral overtones ($39) as we looked over the menu. As I generally do at Mediterranean restaurants, we started with a meze. Specifically, their selection of three spreads ($13.95) with pita bread: whipped feta with smoked jalapeño (tirokafteri),  hummus and the tzatziki, yogurt with cucumber, dill and garlic — our favorite. We added a full serving [...]

By |2019-05-08T17:03:04-04:00May 10th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Return to Mary’s Fish Camp for a Lobster Roll + Fat Cat

I've been a fan of the lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar since my first bite. I recently was reminded that chefs Rebecca Charles and Mary Redding had once been sweetheart partners owning the restaurant together. When they split, Rebecca kept Pearl and Mary opened Mary's Fish Camp not far from the original restaurant also serving the classic roll. I was surprised to find a line outside Mary's Fish Camp before it opened on a Monday night. I'd been to Mary's before, but this time I tried the lobster roll on a mission to compare the two. Mary's is a fun small space reminiscent of a seafood house on the [...]

By |2019-05-13T12:32:53-04:00May 8th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

A Return to Norma Gastronomia Siciliana for Authentic Cooking

For authentic farmhouse-style Sicilian cooking, I head to Norma's, a small restaurant taking no reservations.  I met a wine colleague for lunch. In addition to a glass of Barone di Villagrande, Etna Rosso, 2016 ($16), we shared two items. I'd go back for the wonderful porchetta cabbuci ($19). It's a sandwich of roasted pork, arugula and provolone on a bread similar in thickness to pita, cooked in the wood-fired oven. Half was almost more than I could finish! That cabbuci would have been enough for me, but we had also ordered Norma's pasta con le Sarde a timballo ($22) — saffron-scented spaghetti with Portuguese sardines, wild fennel, raisins and pine nuts ($22) [...]

By |2019-05-12T08:53:51-04:00May 6th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|1 Comment

Cedric’s at the Shed + Trish Donnelly Art Installation, Hudson Yards

To celebrate my friend's big birthday, we planned an entire Hudson Yards day starting at an art exhibit at The Shed. We're still laughing about Trish Donnelly untitled and basically unlit art installation — except for the natural light coming through a verticle opening — in a capacious room filled with large redwood tree trunks with bandages on the cuts and a pile of branches. Like other attendees, we kept looking for more! There wasn't any. We used our extra time that we had allocated to the art show before walking The Vessel to sample the just-opened Cedric's, the only place to get a bite inside the Shed. It's a [...]

By |2019-04-27T12:25:01-04:00May 4th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

A Trip for Oaxacan Food at Claro, Gowanus, Brooklyn

The trip from Union Square to Gowanus, Brooklyn took 20 minutes as the subway gods were with us. We arrived at Claro restaurant so early, the gate was still down! Once we got in, we were down to business negotiating what to order. We hadn't a clue that the portions would be so humongous that the two of us — who are really good eaters — ending up sharing one of our four dishes with the table next to us and took half of another home. We would have been stuffed with one less dish. That said, I wouldn't know which one to have given up as they were all [...]

By |2019-05-12T08:55:30-04:00May 2nd, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Stop at Tacuba After a Visit to the Richard Avedon Foundation

After learning that I was unable to attend the tour arranged by my ex-expats group, I contacted the Richard Avedon Foundation to see if I could go on my own. They were incredibly accommodating. Before going, I read up on this American fashion and portrait photographer. Richard Avedon (1923–2004) was born and lived in Ne York City. The New York Times obituary wrote that "his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America's image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century." While there, we saw much of his work, both on the walls and in the ultra-organized archives. We also met with Executive Director James Martin, who had worked [...]

By |2019-03-17T18:45:35-04:00April 30th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Other happenings|0 Comments

Henry at the Life Hotel Brought Back to Life by J.J. Johnson

After hearing that J.J. Johnson was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Restaurant Best New York City award, I was looking forward even more to sampling his quasi-African cuisine at Henry at the Life Hotel in NoMad. Pete Wells (NYTimes), credits J.J. Johnson with bringing the small restaurant back from the dead. The chef's pan-African cuisine (a blend of the flavors of Africa, the Caribbean and the American South) is evident as you taste each dish.  We started with the shrimp and Portuguese sausage steamed dumplings in a curry sauce, garnished with a plantain chip ($16 for 4) and lamb kebabs ($18 for three) served skewered with housemade kimchi, za’atar [...]

By |2019-04-28T10:39:08-04:00April 28th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Milos Wine Bar + Soundtrack of America,The Shed at Hudson Yards, NYC

Like many other New Yorkers, I headed to Hudson Yards following the buzz. This night, I had tickets to the Soundtrack of America at The Shed — their new arts center — and wondered whether we could find a casual affordable bite before the concert. We narrowed our options to the Milos Wine Bar and Mercado Little Spain. The former's a casual version of Estiatorio Milos, the pricy Mediterranean seafood restaurant the latter from Chef José Andrés and the Adría Brothers. We found the Mercado, located on the street level,  too chaotic, crowded and noisy. If we wanted a seat, we'd almost need hover to get one. Milos Wine Bar, [...]

By |2019-04-28T10:39:56-04:00April 26th, 2019|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Whiskey Tasting at The Foundry at The Westin Times Square

I met a friend at the Foundry Bar for their Whiskey Wednesdays and to sample their new menu, as their guest. The publicist had shared that they'll be offering a complimentary taste of one whiskey each week through August. That night, David Bailey Jr was pouring (and representing) Jack Daniels, graciously answering any queries about the whiskey. We shared some bar food while I sipped my Jack. The beer-battered shrimp ($19 for 5) arrive over a savoy cabbage slaw, drizzled with remoulade.  The freshly made guacamole ($16) generally comes with only chips and salsa; we requested some veggies for dipping. They were quite accommodating. In addition, we received sample portions [...]

By |2019-03-25T08:45:10-04:00April 24th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

The Soft Non-Opening of Home Base Bistro, Murray Hill, NYC

I headed to the soft opening of Home Base Bistro on the date of my invite. When I arrived, I found an empty restaurant and a surprised owner/chef John Sierp wondering why I was there. As far as he knew the opening was the following day. I found the email with the date to show John, who couldn't have been nicer. He sat us down at the bar to have a drink, while he went into the kitchen to whip us up something to eat. I had an Old Fashion while I learned about John. He's a native New Yorker who has been featured on a variety of prominent television [...]

By |2019-03-17T17:02:44-04:00April 22nd, 2019|Big Apple Life|2 Comments

A Trip to Pizza Beach for the Launch of Chanmé Frosé

"I want to invite you to the official launch party for my client, Chanmé Frosé, the first ever frozen rosé available in a portable package," read the invitation for the party at Pizza Beach on the Lower East Side. I drink the bartender's special Chanmé Frosé frozen drink cocktail with the addition of Aperol and a splash of watermelon juice. Would be quite refreshing on a hot summer day. Pizza Beach's buffet included blistered shishitos, some meatballs and a few of their pizzas, each with a chewy crust as I like, cooked in wood-fired Italian Al Forno ovens. We sampled the Tulum, a California inspired one, with grilled avocado, cherry [...]

By |2019-03-11T10:07:56-04:00April 20th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Other happenings|0 Comments

Eléa for a Greek Brunch, Upper West Side

Like its sister restaurant Kyma in the Flatiron District, Eléa is an all-white coastal Greek looking restaurant with a hip downtown vibe. Eléa, which means “olive” in ancient Greek, opened for brunch earlier this year. When we arrived, the staff was quite friendly and helpful. Sadly, the service petered out once they took our order so much so we had no idea which person was ours!  I started with their Dirty Greek cocktail, their version of a bloody Mary with feta-stuffed kalamata olives in an oregano-and-salt rim. One friend ordered an Aperol Spritzer ($13, each).  The breakfast entrees were fine, nothing special. The friend who ordered the Loukaniko Omelet filled [...]

By |2019-04-19T12:13:14-04:00April 18th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

A Return to Robert Restaurant, Museum of Art & Design, Midtown West

One slushy day, I met a friend at MAD, the Museum of  Art and Design that champions contemporaries across creative fields, presenting artists, designers and artisans. We visited the exhibits each floor and dined at Robert, the museum's restaurant on the ninth floor. Robert has both artsy looking food and restaurant interior with breathtaking views of Central Park, Columbus Circle and the streets spiking off the circle. Service is good. Go there for the views and experience, the food is secondary. Decent, but nothing as spectacular as the view. I had a bowl of their brothy lentil and potato soup topped with crispy spud  shreds ($14) and a large farmers' field [...]

By |2019-04-20T11:24:35-04:00April 16th, 2019|Big Apple Life|2 Comments

A Birthday Celebration at Simon and the Whale, Flatiron, NYC

My friend had been wanting to try Simon and The Whale, Gabriel Stulman's eclectic cooking restaurant since it had opened about a year ago. I got a reservation for us for her birthday. We selected a Mauro Veglio, Barolo, 2016 ($78), a rich wine crafted from 100% Nebbiolo with intense fruit and an aromatic bouquet. Our first two selections arrived together. Don't miss the cheese croquettes ($9/four) in a red pepper (pimenton) coulis. They are fried balls of pâte à choux dough mixed with lots of gouda so much that when fried, resulted in oozing cheese in the center. Delicious. The house cold-smoked sea trout ($16) comes tucked over a [...]

By |2019-04-20T20:51:33-04:00April 14th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Il Punto, Almost Theatre District + Yiddish Fiddler

Before heading to the uptown version of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, I returned to Il Punto for a quick dinner. This Italian restaurant is a bit off the normal pre-theatre dining path as it's a couple blocks south of 42nd street on Ninth Avenue. I knew the food is good, the prices lower than other theatre area restaurants and that it would be a mere 5-minute walk to Stage 42. Their ziti comes tossed with oven roasted eggplant in a simple tomato sauce with a mountain of shredded mozzarella ($19); the red snapper ($28) arrived swimming in a tomato, olive and scallion wine sauce and served along with [...]

By |2019-04-20T20:54:40-04:00April 12th, 2019|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

Rosemary Spatchcock Chicken from Hero Dinners: Complete One-Pan Meals That Save the Day

My food-friends Marge Perry and David Bonom — a hubby-and-wife team who develop recipes for magazines — just released Hero Dinners: Complete One-Pan Meals That Save the Day. The cookbook offers 100 recipes using a sheet pan or a skillet so you're not left with a sink full of pots and pans after making dinner. This Rosemary Spatchcock Chicken recipe uses a large skillet. Don't be put off by the seeming length of the recipe. It's really quite simple! This team just tells you everything you might need to know to prepare this with fabulous results. "We just love saying the word spatchcock," they wrote. "We know, it almost sounds [...]

By |2019-03-18T15:58:58-04:00April 10th, 2019|Entrees, Recipes|0 Comments