Two nights in New York inspired by Anthony Bourdain!

It might be said that we were a little “obsessed” with the “Obsessed” episode of No Reservations we saw a few weeks before we headed to New York.  We added a few restaurants from that show to our ever-expanding list of places to go in NYC, including Co. Pizza which I already wrote about but what Neil was really looking forward to was the Black Label Burger at the Minetta Tavern.

According to their website, Minetta Tavern was opened in Greenwich Village in 1937. The Tavern was named after the Minetta Brook, which ran southwest from 23rd Street to the Hudson River.  Over the course of its long history, the Tavern was frequented by various layabouts and hangers-on including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Eugene O’Neill, E. E. Cummings, Dylan Thomas, and Joe Gould, as well as by various writers, poets, and pugilists.

This place has the feel of an authentic French bistro – it’s not a place for an intimate dinner.  Tables are very close together and you end up chatting with your neighbours whether you like it or not. It’s all very jovial. Add in a  cloud of smoke hovering above your head and old men at the bar drinking ballons of red at 10am and you could well be  in Paris.  Something else that made me think of Paris was the waiters. These people know their stuff. And take it very seriously. Again, reminded me of being in Paris where serveur is an actual profession and treated accordingly by those who practise it.

We started out with a champagne cocktail for me and a martini for Neil:

And since we knew from Bourdain’s show that serving sizes were large, we opted to share a salad.  This was a special of the night with chicory, mushrooms and a poached egg. Simple, elegant and a great start to our evening.

For mains, I chose the pork tenderloin special.

Had we known the price ($34) when we ordered it, we might not have done so. Because if you think that the photo above looks like a gigantic platter of meat, then you would be right.  This was so much meat and not enough of the delicious polenta it was served on. Oh, and one baby carrot? Seriously?

I actually sent this back because it was just a tad too pink for me and instead of cooking that portion more, they sent me back a new one, again, not quite cooked enough for me. I let it go and ate the end parts – Neil ate a fair amount of this but between us, we left a lot. I hate to waste food and wish that we had had a fridge in our hotel room to take it with us.  This would have been more than enough to share.  The flavours were spot on though.

For the second main, we knew we would end up ordering the Black Label Burger – the one Bourdain came here seeking out.  At $26, it’s not a cheap burger (especially when you consider it’s actually fairly small) but by golly it’s good:

Case in point: Neil ordered this medium and it came out on the rare side of medium and even I ate a healthy portion of this. The frites were incredible – crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  This was a great plate of food. Simply. Terrific.

And since we *were* there celebrating my birthday, we figured a dessert was in order. A soufflé.  Grand Marnier. (to share)

This was absolutely one of the best things I have ever eaten. With a glass of Orange Muscat (“Essensia” Quady Winery, CA ‘07, $11) it was a little party in my mouth.

We really enjoyed our meal here.  Though we were only able to get a 6pm reservation, they let us linger (nearly 3 1/2 hours!) which was nice.  Whilst it was loud, the atmosphere is very convivial and it just has a great feel to it.  If you know you are going to get (really) big portions in advance (though even we weren’t prepared for quite how big they were!), it will be easier to order accordingly.  Oh and if you’re a vegetarian, you might just want to go to Mamoun’s down the street for a falafel 😉

Minetta Tavern

113 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012-1201, United States
(212) 475-3850

Minetta Tavern on Urbanspoon

On our last night in NYC, we headed to Kampuchea where we believe that Bourdain was on a(nother) pork quest.  Their menu is a lot of small plates  – we ordered four small and two large to share.  Can you guess what we ordered?

The grilled corn was too intriguing to miss:

This was absolutely amazing – the creamy mayo combined withe kick of chili with the touch of coconut – out of this world.  Doesn’t sound like the best on paper but a match made in heaven!  Will be replicating this on the grill chez nous this summer!

Any chance we get, we order green mango salad.

This was wonderfully light and fresh but I feel the dried shrimp were a bit of overkill – way too “fishy” tasting and not necessary. This was a great palate cleanser though amongst some other spicier dishes.

Fried chicken (yes, this was Neil’s choice):

Taste revelation? The spiced fleur de sel. OMG! This was out of this world.  The chicken was pretty good (not greasy, moist and flavourful) but what really made the dish was the dipping salt. Again, this will be replicated this summer!

Pièce de résistance? Crisy pork belly:

Whilst pork belly is a bit too fatty for my liking, Neil ate his portion silently. In about 2 seconds. It was that good.  no wonder Bourdain sought this place out!

And for mains? Any guesses?

Well of course we couldn’t go past the ribs:

We actually saw these being served as we were entering the restaurant and it was hard for me to get Neil to focus on anything else.  This was tender, falling-off-the-bone meaty goodness.  The cilantro-lime sauce was good but we really didn’t need it at all. Now, to learn how to make amazing ribs like that at home…

Next up – what could be better than fried rice? BACON fried rice!

Oh yeah!  This was an amazing combination – the garlic, the bacon (and the fact that it was clearly fried in the bacon fat), the hint of spice.  My thinking cap is on.  Flavours seem so simple but I am sure it takes more than just what’s listed in the menu to make it. Hmmm…

This place was such a find – it’s on the Lower East Side where we don’t normally tend to go (though coincidentally this trip, both our brunch destinations were on the LES) but I would go here again in a heartbeat! Authentic Asian flavours bordering on unusual fusion, what’s not to love?

Kampuchea and The Norry Bar

78 Rivington St
New York, 10002, United States
(212) 529-3901

Kampuchea Restaurant on Urbanspoon

37 Responses to Two nights in New York inspired by Anthony Bourdain!

  1. Mr. Neil June 1, 2010 at 07:14 #

    That souffle photo is deceptive – the dish was a good 20cm in diameter, not a small creme brule size ramekin.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 1, 2010 at 07:26 #

      Think someone needs their eyes tested! Whilst it was not a small individual ramekin it was nowhere near 20cm across. More like 10, if that!!!!

  2. Belinda @zomppa June 1, 2010 at 07:57 #

    You’re making me miss NYC like crazy. Those prices are so reasonable…that corn…but really, it’s the pork belly I’m drooling over!

  3. candice June 1, 2010 at 08:23 #

    yes, yes! more places to visit next trip to NYC! Love the chicken with the dipping salt. I am a bit of a “salt addict”. AGH! I shouldn’t have read this post before breakfast! I doubt there is a chance there is Grand Marnier Souffle in my fridge for eats…

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 1, 2010 at 21:04 #

      There is always another place to visit in NYC, right? I hope you found a soufflé for breakfast!

  4. A Canadian Foodie June 1, 2010 at 08:55 #

    Great reviews. We were in the first place last March. It is a landmark and a not to be missed experience, I agree. Outstanding. Great memory to return to. We took a foodie tour during our visit, and she took us through this place. We booked immediately and came back. The style of adding the menu and having us guess what you had was great. Excellent to see the detail in the menu. I was wrong on most counts with the exception of the pork belly and the ribs. I thought you might have opted for the brisket and the vegetable stew. I was sure you would go for the house made sausage and the baby duck eggs. So, wrong again. But, it is all in the mood of the day and your choices looked amazing. You are so fortunate to have a man who enjoys the food adventures you do!

  5. penny aka jeroxie June 1, 2010 at 09:14 #

    Everything looks good. If we went, we will need to find a place with a fridge! Such big portions.

  6. Jason Phelps June 1, 2010 at 09:22 #

    NY isn’t a place my wife and I have really ever spent time in. I know we should and of course these reviews make that even more obvious. Bourdain does a great job with No Reservations. I love the variety of locations and while some of the foods are little strange to me I enjoy seeing the combination of culture, food and drink presented.


  7. Suzie the Foodie June 1, 2010 at 10:27 #

    What amazing culinary treasurers you are discovering and how cool you are following in Anthony’s footsteps, a very cool idea. I am not one for fries but those do look perfectly crispy. That souffle looks fabulous too! Wonderful.

    Oh and President’s Choice contacted me, I had no idea the promo was going on. I write about their products all the time, perhaps that is why they contacted me? Find out when and where they will be near you for their big promotion, I am looking forward to seeing what they’re going to do to celebrate.

  8. Magic of Spice June 1, 2010 at 12:10 #

    Great post! And Happy Birthday:)

  9. The Cilantropist June 1, 2010 at 12:16 #

    Wow, you are not kidding those portions look gigantic! I had to laugh when you said you got the grand marnier souffle for dessert since it was your birthday: I have done the same thing at several restaurants on my birthday for a couple of years in a row! A grand marnier souffle is really one of my FAVORITE desserts. If it is on the menu I just can’t pass it up. Awesome reviews, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Julie M. June 1, 2010 at 13:43 #

    What an eating extravaganza! It looks like you had some delicious treats while there. That souffle looks to die for. Yum!

  11. Lauren @ Healthy Delicious June 1, 2010 at 13:46 #

    I’m cracking up at the one baby carrot! That looks like enough for to easily feed 4 people!!

    I’m not big on the whole undercooked pork trend either. Some things are meant to be cooked.

    The second place here looks amazing though. Bacon rice? Yes, please.

  12. Alison June 1, 2010 at 14:12 #

    I love Bourdain, and most of all, I love this post. Looks like you guys had so much fun!

  13. Priscilla - She's Cookin' June 1, 2010 at 17:43 #

    Great post – descriptive writing, photos – everything! I’ll be looking for your recipe for the ribs 🙂 Thanks for sharing all your travel and food experiences.

  14. Cat June 1, 2010 at 20:03 #

    i can’t believe the size of that pork tenderloin platter – that looks like what i’d put on the table for our entire family! i guess you can’t say you don’t get your money’s worth when portions are that size, right? oh, and that cilantro lime sauce looks heavenly . . . off to look for a recipe like that . . .

  15. s. stockwell June 1, 2010 at 23:02 #

    Your post are always a big treat! Bordain is just untouchable for hilarious and insightful foodie adventures. We love your reportage! best, s

  16. Casey Angelova June 3, 2010 at 01:23 #

    What a fantastic adventure. I miss NY! Moving on, I love Bourdain’s books, but I haven’t see his show. I have a SlingBox and can watch US TV on my laptop, but that would cut into my blog reading time!

  17. Sarah June 3, 2010 at 02:22 #

    looks delicious, do they do takeaway to Israel?

  18. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction June 5, 2010 at 16:18 #

    Yum! You always find the best places to go. I will have to consult you the next time I travel for some recommendations!

  19. Conor @ HoldtheBeef June 8, 2010 at 15:05 #

    Ooh boy, Grand Marnier souffle sounds delightful! Grand Mardi-er Birthday Soufflé sounds better, though.

    Also, grilled corn + chilli + coconut = yes!!

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