Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Circle’


Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 by virginia

Josh and I recently went to dinner at Landmarc in the Time Warner Center with Felipe and Silva in honor of Felipe’s birthday. We’ve eaten at the original Landmarc downtown in Tribeca, but that was several years ago, though the menu still looks pretty much the same. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations for groups of fewer than six but we were able to get a table right away. It was sort of surprising considering it was prime dinner time on a Saturday night, but the restaurant is absolutely huge and has plenty of seating.

It was a bit loud by the bar but we were seated in a far corner so we could still carry on a conversation easily. We ordered a bottle of carmenere to share and settled in to enjoy our meal. The bread basket consisted of a loaf of chewy bread that had a relatively crispy crust and a slightly sour tang. There was a bottle of fruity olive oil on the table, which we drizzled over the bread.

Crusty sourdough bread

We decided to all share the crispy prosciutto and fontina flatbread for our appetizer. The flatbread was a bit floppy but had a nice chewiness to it, and it was sturdy enough to hold up to the toppings. It was draped with melted fontina cheese,  bits of crispy prosciutto, fresh baby arugula, and oven roasted tomatoes. It was a nice combination of salty and sweet, though I wish there was a bit more prosciutto in the mix.

Crispy prosciutto and fontina flatbread with roasted tomatoes and arugula

Felipe highly recommended that we try the burger so both Josh and I decided to order it. He added gruyere to his while I kept mine plain. My burger was cooked as requested, to a nice medium rare. The middle was still pink, and there was a decent sear on the outside. The meat was well seasoned and very flavorful, with an earthy, aged quality to it. I thought the bun would be too dry and flaky but it was pretty soft and non-obtrusive, as a bun should be. The burger came with tomato and pickles on the side, plus a small salad and thicker cut french fries. The burger wasn’t huge but it was definitely rich, and I was incredibly full by the time I finished. I didn’t even eat all of my fries!

Hamburger with fries and salad

Autopsy shot

Josh’s burger had a thick layer of gruyere melted on top – I couldn’t believe how much cheese there was! He ordered his burger rare but found it a bit too mushy for his liking. The burger had a very soft texture to it and was loosely packed so it was kind of falling apart. His was much messier than mine, and somehow he managed to eat all the meat in his burger but left 1/3 of the bun over. Nevertheless, we both enjoyed the flavor of our burgers immensely. The fries were also pretty good, though they could have been slightly crispier. I did like the soft and fluffy potato innards. The side salad was refreshing and a good way to cut through the richness of the burger.

Burger with gruyere

The desserts at Landmarc are pretty small portions that are just a few bites each so we decided to try them all ($4 each or $16 for all six options). We told our waitress that it was Felipe’s birthday, so they thoughtfully stuck a candle in one of the desserts. They were all pretty tasty, though the creme brulee was the favorite of the bunch. It had lots of vanilla bean flavor and the texture was silky smooth. The nutella eclair was also a hit, though I wish they had warmed it slightly because the choux portion was a bit cold and stiff. The blueberry crumble, on the other hand, was served hot and was chock full of syrupy blueberries. The chocolate mousse was on the thicker side but had a nice dark chocolate flavor and wasn’t too sweet. The tiramisu was fairly standard, but the lemon tart was a good way to finish off – refreshing and tart enough to cleanse our palates.

Lemon tart, creme brulee, nutella eclair, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, blueberry crumble

After we finished our meal, we moved over to the bar area to have another bottle of wine and chat. There are some small round tables by the bar and we were able to snag one quite easily. It was a bit loud but the vibe was still pretty low key. Overall it was a lovely evening with good food and great company. The burger is definitely one of the better ones I’ve had recently. The $16 price tag may seem a bit high but I think it’s pretty reasonable considering the venue and the top notch ingredients. The rest of the Landmarc menu is fairly extensive, with an assortment of pastas, salads, steaks, and assorted bistro-like fare. It’s a good place to go with large groups, as everyone will find something they like, plus it has an upscale feel to it without being overly fancy or stuffy. It’s definitely a nice restaurant to have in the neighborhood.

Landmarc (multiple locations)
10 Columbus Circle at 60th St.
New York, NY


Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 by virginia

Josh and I both had off from work the day after July 4 so we decided to go for a late leisurely lunch at Nougatine, the more casual restaurant attached to Jean Georges. They have a three course lunch for $26, which is a pretty good deal considering the quality of the food. Josh and I have eaten at Nougatine many times before (we’ve posted about the Nougatine menu/food here), and part of the appeal was that we could choose any two savory dishes from a long list of options. When we tried to place our order this time, however, our waitress told us that we could no longer choose any two dishes from the list, but that we had to pick one appetizer and one entree.

We were sort of shocked and confused because looking at the menu, it still said that we had a choice of two plates, and a dessert. The menu doesn’t even have headers that differentiate between “appetizers” or “entrees”, though the list is divided into two sections separated only by a space. On previous visits, we were told that the small distinction indicated which dishes were lighter and which were heartier, but we had always been allowed to choose whichever dishes we wanted. We had originally wanted one of the lighter dishes and three of the heartier dishes, but we begrudgingly changed one of our selections and continued on with our meal.

The layout of the menu

After we finalized our orders, we settled in and started munching on the bread, a plain slice of a rustic peasant loaf. It has a slight sourdough tang to it and is tasty enough though nothing really exciting.

A slice of rustic loaf

Josh and I went halfsies on our meal, starting with a pea soup and the tuna tartare. The brilliant green pea soup was garnished with little croutons, a small bit of brie, and dill, though what stood out most to us was the vibrant flavor of the fresh sweet peas. Each mouthful was a delight, and even though I’m not usually a fan of peas, I apparently love it in soup form. It was a simple dish, yet extremely satisfying.

Sweet pea soup

The tuna tartare was the appetizer we chose when had to change our order. It was prepared in the same way that we had it last year, with avocado, radish slices, and a ginger marinade. I liked that the tuna was carefully cubed, not ground or sloppily chopped into small pieces. The radishes added a nice crunch, while the avocado helped temper the slight spiciness of the dish. It’s a decent tuna tartare, though not the best we’ve ever had.

Tuna tartare with avocado, radishes, and ginger marinade

For our entrees, we selected two different kinds of fish – the red snapper and the cod. We had also wanted to try the roasted chicken with summer vegetables and a light mustard sauce, but when we had to swap for an appetizer, we thought the fish dishes looked more interesting. The cod was pan roasted and served on top of stewed tomatoes, summer squash, and wax beans. The fish was perfectly cooked and well seasoned, and the vegetables underneath were sweet and fresh. It was a seasonably appropriate dish and very well prepared.

Pan roasted cod with stewed tomatoes, summer squash, and wax beans

The red snapper was also pan roasted and perfectly cooked. It was crispy on the outside and the skin was properly seasoned. The snapper was served with broccoli rabe and a sweet garlic-lemon broth. The rabe was soft but not bitter, and the broth was rich yet bright. I preferred this dish over the cod dish, as it was a bit more elegant and refined, but both were very well done.

Pan roasted red snapper with broccoli rabe and a garlic-lemon broth

There were only two options for dessert, a chocolate cake and a white cake with strawberries and red wine sorbet. They were nearly identical to the desserts we had at the Terrace last year, and we opted for one of each. The chocolate cake was the classic Jean Georges warm molten cake served with vanilla bean ice cream. The interior is a rich, fudgey chocolate river that runs out when you cut into the cake. It’s decadent but a bit heavy, so it’s definitely a dessert you’d want to share with someone.

Warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream

I was happy to see that they vastly improved the vanilla cake from last year that accompanied the strawberries and red wine sorbet. Last year the cake was a small, dry, flat round, and this year, it was a moist sesame-citrus sponge cake that had body and flavor. Although the syrup that ran off the strawberries was a tad too sweet, I thought the sorbet had just the right amount of tartness, and was very refreshing.

Sesame-citrus sponge cake with strawberries and red wine sorbet

Overall we both enjoyed our leisurely lunch at Nougatine, though we are still disappointed with the change in the menu structure. The food is still tasty and well prepared, and there are still lots of options to choose from, but it doesn’t seem as limitless as it used to. When we left the restaurant, we confirmed with the hostess that this was a new policy, and she said yes, because people used to be confused and would order two entrees. I don’t think it was confusing before, because our previous servers have always told us we could order whatever we liked, but I do think it is confusing now because they haven’t changed the wording or the setup of the menu. It’s kind of sad that they are now going this route, because it makes the lunch seem like less of a deal even though all things considered, it’s still quite a treat and a bargain. Regardless, I’m sure we’ll be back, perhaps during a different season because the summer dishes from this year seemed to overlap somewhat with ones that we had last year. The beauty of this three course prix fixe is that we don’t have to wait for Restaurant Week!

1 Central Park West at 60th St.
New York, NY

Winter Restaurant Week 2010 – A Voce Columbus

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 by virginia

Restaurant Week is upon us, a twice-a-year ritual that has foodies and food lovers logging into OpenTable en masse in search of the best reservations. Well-known and high-end restaurants tend to book up fastest so if you haven’t made your Restaurant Week selections yet, you better hurry up!

Josh and I are usually laggers when it comes to making Restaurant Week reservations, which means we often end up with very few choices that really appeal to us. This year I didn’t want to get left behind in the mad scramble for reservations so I made sure that we booked early. We ended up getting a lunchtime reservation at A Voce Columbus, a restaurant that we’ve tried to book several times for Sunday night dinners (Josh’s mom has really been wanting to try it as well) but could never get a reservation at a decent hour. We snagged a 12:45 spot on the first day of Restaurant Week – an auspicious way to start off the two-week gluttony fest.

We were coming separately from our respective workplaces so we met up in the lobby of the Time Warner Center and headed up the escalators to the third floor, where the restaurant is located. After we checked our coats we were seated at a two-top in the back room near the tall and wide windows that look onto Columbus Circle and the entrance of Central Park. Unfortunately it was pouring rain so our view was slightly marred by the raindrops running down the window, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Rainy view but still lovely

The décor of A Voce Columbus is very sleek and modern, with tall ceilings and lots of natural light flooding in through the large windows that line one wall. The focal point of the room we were in was the large glass case that enclosed a huge wine rack full of bottles. There were also racks lining part of another wall, set behind glass windows. Despite the nice view and the interesting wine racks, however, I kind of felt like we were in a corporate cafeteria. The atmosphere was very sterile, the tables are a dark wood that aren’t covered in a tablecloth or placemats, and we were seated on white leather chairs with metal frames that contributed to the casual feel.

Even so, the room still has an elegant appeal to it, and besides, we were there to sample the food. After they brought us both the regular lunch menu and the Restaurant Week menu to peruse, they set down a wooden platter with slices of focaccia bread and a bowl of ricotta covered in olive oil and herbs. The bread was delicious – crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside, slightly salted, and not too oily. The ricotta was creamy and flavorful, a perfect match for the focaccia.

Fluffy focaccia bread with creamy ricotta and olive oil

I generally don’t like to book restaurants that don’t post their Restaurant Week menus anywhere, but because we were eager to try A Voce Columbus, we took the chance that it would offer a decent menu. Fortunately, we weren’t disappointed. For anyone who is looking, the Restaurant Week menu was as follows:

Minestre di cipolle (caramelized onion soup, bitto cheese fonduta, rye)
Mozzarella di bufula (mozzarella di bufula, calabrian chilies, dried grape tomatoes, arugula)
Tortelli di zucca (squash filled pasta, amaretti, parmigiano reggiano)

Brasato di manzo (braised shortribs, creamy polenta, grappa roasted cippoline onions)
Boreta (orata, mussels, clams, shrimp, san marzano broth)
Ravioli (ricotta and dried pear filled pasta, cinnamon, cocoa)

Panna cotta (chocolate panna cotta, toasted hazelnut)
Granita (espresso-amaretto granita, whipped cream, cocoa)

Since each diner gets to pick one dish from each course, Josh and I decided to get different things and exchange plates halfway so that we could try as many dishes as possible. We started out with the mozzarella di bufula and the tortelli di zucca. We both thought the mozzarella was super salty, as they sprinkled a lot of sea salt on top so that every mouthful had a crunch of salt. Texture-wise, it was a nice contrast to the creamy mozzarella and the accompanying chewy dried grape tomatoes, but after a few bites both of our mouths started puckering a bit from the salt. It was too bad, really, because it was actually a nice dish. The mozzarella was soft and flavorful, not too milky, and the dried grape tomatoes were very sweet. There was also arugula, which added a slight bitterness, and the whole thing was topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some chili flakes that weren’t spicy at all. When I got all the components on the fork together I could still taste each item individually but they worked really well together as well. The dish just didn’t need all that extra salt on top.

Mozzarella di bufula

The tortelli (squash raviolis), however, were perfect. The delicate little pouches were filled with a creamy squash puree that savory, not cloying or over spiced. I’ve had too many squash dishes that tasted like pumpkin pie or dessert, but this dish highlighted the natural sweetness of the squash without overdressing it.

Tortelli di zucca

The raviolis were enrobed in a very light, buttery sauce that was really delicate and a dusting of parmesan cheese. The tiny amaretti crumbs scattered on top added a nice little crunch.

Tortelli up close

For the main course, we selected the boreta and the brasato di manzo. The boreta was a fish stew made from san marzano broth and filled with shrimp, mussels, and clams, and a large piece of orata (sea bream) on top. The orata was perfectly cooked with still-crispy skin. It was a white, firm, slightly oily, and flavorful fish, and it really stood out as the star of the stew. The broth was light, not super tomato-y, and had taken on the flavors of the shellfish. They thoughtfully provided a long toasted breadstick with the bowl to sop up some of the broth. Unfortunately, I thought the shrimp and the mussels were slightly overcooked, rendering them chewier than I prefer, but not super tough.


The brasato di manzo, or braised short rib, sat on top of a large serving of creamy polenta and a few sweet roasted cippoline onions. The short rib was tender and fell apart with a poke of my fork, but it lacked seasoning. It definitely needed salt but flavor-wise it was also very one note. I did like the polenta though, which was buttery and had nice texture to it.

Brasato di manzo

Because there were only two choices for dessert, we got one of each. Josh stuck mostly with the granita, which was espresso-amaretto flavored, appropriately icy, and refreshing. The espresso flavor was surprisingly strong, and the whipped cream in the middle and on top mellowed it out a bit, adding a nice creaminess and richness to the dessert. I could also taste a hint of cocoa in the background.

Espresso-amaretto granita

I favored the chocolate panna cotta with chopped hazelnuts. The panna cotta was not too firm, with the texture of a stiff pudding. It’s more dense than a mousse but also much creamier. I liked that the chocolate wasn’t too sweet or rich, and the whipped cream on top was also unsweetened. I could eat every last bite of the dessert and not feel too full or heavy afterward.

Chocolate panna cotta

Overall Josh and I both really enjoyed our meal at A Voce Columbus and thought it was one of the better Restaurant Week lunches that we’ve had. I was a bit disappointed that the dishes they offered aren’t on the regular menu posted on their website, but I don’t think the restaurant cut back on quality or variety. Though some of the dishes had a few flaws, they were in execution and were easily correctable mistakes. More importantly, I thought the composition of the dishes were harmonious and flavorful. Getting a taste of this restaurant during Restaurant Week has made me more eager to try its regular a la carte menu. And isn’t that the point of Restaurant Week? To give diners an opportunity to try out a restaurant at a reasonable price (three courses for $24.07 at lunchtime, $35 at dinner) in the hope that they’ll want to come back even when it’s not Restaurant Week? In that sense, A Voce Columbus has certainly achieved its goal by participating in this wonderful semiannual tradition.

A Voce (multiple locations)
10 Columbus Circle at 60th St.
New York, NY

Terrace at Jean Georges (Nougatine)

Friday, June 19th, 2009 by virginia


As a special treat for me, Josh flew home from Vegas on the redeye Thursday night to wake me up on my birthday with a kiss. Unfortunately his plan failed, simply because I forgot to unlock the security chain to our apartment before I went to sleep. Instead, he had to call me and wake me up so that I could open the door for him. Oops!

Nevertheless, he planned a lovely lunch for me at the Terrace at Jean Georges, which is an outdoor café attached to Jean Georges but serves the same menu as Nougatine, the more casual offshoot. We could only confirm the reservation on the day of, since the Terrace is closed during inclement weather, and even though it was cloudy all day, the rain held off to keep our lunch plans intact.

The $24 three course lunches available at many Jean Georges restaurants are truly a bargain. Not only is the food fantastic, but you also get the same impeccable service and fine dining experience at much cheaper prices than ordering off the a la carte menu. What makes the Nougatine menu an even better deal is that you order your first two courses from a long list of offerings that comprise both appetizers and entrees, meaning that you could order two entrees if you preferred, and you would get a substantial amount of food.

On the terrace

On the terrace

Since it was such a cloudy day, the Terrace was mostly empty but we enjoyed sitting outside and watching little birds flying around. While we perused the long list of options, a server brought by slices of bread and nice fruity olive oil for dipping. We munched on these as Josh and I debated over several choices, and finally we asked our waiter for his opinion. He named a bunch of dishes that we hadn’t even considered, so it was back to the drawing board! Eventually we settled on our order, and it just means we’ll have to come back again to try some of the other dishes.

Good bread and even better olive oil

Good bread and even better olive oil

To start, we had the tuna tartare with avocado, spicy radish and ginger marinade. Wow this dish had a lot of kick to it! I was impressed that a restaurant would be so bold with the spice, especially since tuna tartare is usually a lighter, more mellow dish.

Tuna tartare with avocado, spicy radish and ginger marinade

Tuna tartare with avocado, spicy radish and ginger marinade

The spicy radishes were offset nicely by the creamy avocado, and even though the tuna was a bit more finely chopped than I prefer, it allowed the ginger marinade to permeate throughout, binding the dish with a sweet and tangy finish.

Finely chopped tuna and big chunks of avocado

Finely chopped tuna and big chunks of avocado

Our second “appetizer” was the salmon with potato puree, julienned vegetables and basil vinaigrette. This is actually more of an entrée dish, but was recommended by the waiter. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the fresh vegetables and basil vinaigrette made the dish feel light and spring-y.

Salmon with potato puree, julienned vegetables and basil vinaigrette

Salmon with potato puree, julienned vegetables and basil vinaigrette

For our main courses, we selected the roasted chicken and the grilled beef tenderloin.

Roasted chicken with ricotta gnocchi, spring mushrooms and asparagus

Roasted chicken with ricotta gnocchi

The chicken was served with ricotta gnocchi, spring mushrooms and asparagus. This was comfort food at its best. The chicken was tender on the inside and the ricotta gnocchi melted in our mouths.

Beef tenderloin

Beef tenderloin

The beef was cooked perfectly rare to order, pink in the middle with a nice crust on the exterior. There was a chili sauce on the plate that looked like sriracha, but it was much more mild. I wish that it had more of a kick, as the overall dish was a bit boring compared to the flavors and spices of the other dishes we had.

Perfectly cooked beef tenderloin

Perfectly cooked beef tenderloin

For dessert, we selected both of the options available – warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream and vanilla cake with fresh strawberry salad and red wine sorbet.

Molten chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream

Molten chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream

The molten chocolate cake, a Jean Georges signature, was as good as it gets. The warm chocolate gushed out from the light and springy cake, and the vanilla ice cream just capped the whole thing off.

Molten chocolate center oozing out

Molten chocolate center oozing out

The vanilla cake, however, was a complete disappointment. The piece of cake was about the size of a silver dollar and completely dried out. I think it was supposed to be like a strawberry shortcake but it fell short. The strawberries were no better than the frozen kind you can buy at the supermarket, and the red wine sorbet had no discernable red wine flavor. The whole thing kind of tasted like bad strawberry daiquiri mix that you buy pre-made in a bottle from the supermarket. It was just a sad, sad dessert, and not worth the calories.

Vanilla cake with strawberry salad and red wine sorbet

Vanilla cake with strawberry salad and red wine sorbet

Aside from the bad vanilla cake dessert, overall this meal was top notch. Our appetizers and entrees were all skillfully prepared and properly seasoned. The freshness of the ingredients really stood out, making simple dishes seem like such a luxurious treat. The food is familiar and comforting, yet refined. The $24 prix fixe lunch ($35 at dinner) is really a great way to try out lots of different items from a first-class restaurant. I will definitely be back for more!

Terrace at Jean Georges
1 Central Park West at 60th St.
New York, NY