Sunday, May 3, 2015

New York, Spring, 2015: Cosme, The Leopard at Des Artistes, Xi-An's Famous Food, All'Onda, Marta (Martha Washington), Au Za'Atar.


Cosme, the much anticipated Mexican influenced restaurant was opened in New York by Enrique Olvera, an accomplished chef who owns a number of restaurants in Mexico, including the internationally acclaimed Pujol.

Guacamole (promise....I did not order this...but, someone with us), with terrific house made tortilla chips.

The exceptional house made tortillas (made from strains of Mexican blue, yellow and purple corn), when arrived, accompanied by their fresh smelling, wholesome aroma. The tortilla was accompanied by pumpkin seed, garlic and habanero flavoured butter.

Uni tostada, avocado, bone marrow salsa and cucumber. Quite sensational for uni lovers.

Arctic char tostada, salmon roe and avocado.

Scallop aguachile, scallop sashimi, poached jicama and fresh wasabi-cucumber-lime. A dish well worth ordering.

Mushroom and squash barbacoa, chilpachole (stew), hoja santa (an aromatic sassafras like herb native to Mexico).

Burrata with salsa verde and "weeds".

Cod, cauliflower, olives, onion rings and chilhuacle (a Mexican chile).

I would have loved to have tried the duck carnitas for 2, which so many in the resto had ordered and enjoyed, including my neighbours to both my right and my left, but, i had been mostly on my own with all of these dishes and my eating partner could not handle that dish at all. If you go to Cosme, plan on ordering that dish.

Cracked meringue made with burned and pulverized corn husks and filled with a corn/mascarpone mousse. Very tasty!

Nixtamalized carrot ( a process normally reserved for hominy), highly caramelized, with cinnamon cake and cream cheese ice cream.

The terrific parsnip flan with thyme. Ate the whole thing virtually by myself!

Lemon cake with grapefruit sorbet and hibiscus jam.


Years ago, I used to enjoy coming to this restaurant when it was known as Cafe des Artistes and the renown restauranteur Georges Laing was the proprietor. i decided to return as it was well located to Lincoln Centre and I was off to the opera. What a delight to return and see the wonderful paintings from the 30's that made this restaurant such a delight for so many over the years.

Rosemary with chick peas with lentils, cannellini beans, tuscan kale, shallots and muscat vinegar dressing.

Roasted red and yellow beats with watercress salad, gorganzola and almonds. 

Bucatini with sardines, onions, wild fennel, pine nuts and raisins. 

Vegetarian platter of Sicilian chick pea fritters, "panella", with baked fennel, roasted carrots, sauteed brocolli rabe and spinach.

Warm apple "pizzetta" with caramel sauce and sambucca gelato (no photo).

Xi'An's Famous Foods

I saw a program on the food network that enticed me to try Xi'An's. The pics, below show the attention this resto has received. And it is true, every day at noon, a 30-minute line winds outside and down into this small store.

Anthony Bourdain. 

 Bobby Flay on the left and Andrew Zimmern on the right.

The line, from outside the store right down into the back of the store. There are just a few seats in the back.

Making the noodles fresh, on the spot, below:

A portion of the "menu", how one chooses what to order. Every dish is well described and the descriptives very enticing.

Tripe noodles soup

Pork noodles soup.

Cold skin noodles.

Was it up to all the hype? NO, the dishes had a rather similar taste. But it was an interesting experience. 


Remarkably, this restaurant was referred to as Venetian-Japanese, by NY Times food critic Pete Wells. Not sure I saw it the same way. Frankly, I expected more of the cooking by this highly regarded chef.

 Carrots with ricotta, ginger vinaigrette and cumin.

 Kabocha squash agridolce with pine nuts and raisins.

 Lumache with aged duck ragu, treviso and chocolate.

 Eggplant, miso, parmesan and tomato.

Black bass with smoked mussel broth, fregola and oyster mushrooms. This was a worthy dish of very tender, perfectly texture fish, nicely, slightly underdone with a very complementary stock.

Olive oil cake with ricotta gelato, lemon and basil.


This restaurant serves Roman style Italian food. I highly recommend the food in this resto.

Green risotto croquettes with mozzarella and fresh herbs are crunchy on the outside and very tasty.

 Roasted beets, watermelon radish, kale sprouts and crispy qinoa.

A single rib of the rack of herb rubbed pork spare ribs that are cooked in the wood burning oven. I was quite impressed with the ribs. They had a very pleasant smoky flavour, a nice exterior bark and the texture was very pleasing and peeled off the bone with a bight (and thank goodness they did not "fall off the bone").

Funghi pizza with fontina, hen of the woods and hedgehog mushrooms, red onion and thyme. A very good thin crunchy crust.

Patate alla carbonara, potatoes, guanciale, pecorino, black pepper and egg. A very good thin crunchy crust.

Roasted, smashed fingerling potatoes, cooked in the wood burning oven. Very enjoyable somewhat crispy exterior texture with a soft interior.

 Collard greens, tomatoes and chick peas.

Torta di Zuccha, kabocha squash and olive oil cake with cashews and whipped cream

Au Za'Atar

Named after Lebanon's signature spice mixture, Au Za'atar's cuisine is inspired by the golden age of Beirut when Lebanon was a french colony. The restaurant styles itself as an "Arabian French bistro". This is a very small and very very noisy restaurant.

Complimentary labne, lebanese yogurt with garlic and olive oil, served with crisped flatbread covered in za'atar.

Cauliflower marinated in Lebanese herbs and spices then fried. A very good dish.

 Hummous with tahini and lemon juice.

Spicey hummus with garlic, lemon juice and red pepper.

Baba ghanoush, charred grilled eggplant puree with tahini and lemon juice, had a very good charred flavour.

Saltet al raheb, chopped char grilled eggplant with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.

Mujadara, rice lentils and caramelized onions.

Moussaka with chick peas, cherry tomatoes, green peppers and sauteed egplant. 

 Felafel made with chick peas, fava beans, onions, cumin and parsley

Phoenician fries with sumac, parsley and garlic thyme aioli. Terrific well flavoured crunchy fries.

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