Amsterdam, Things I Ate

4 Stars: Cafe Bern

Entrecote fondue. Garlic salad. Nom nom nom nom.

That’s right – went to a fondue restaurant but didn’t have the typical dip veg, bread, meat into melted cheese fondue. But that’s ok. Better than ok. Instead the entrecote fondue is rare steak served with a cooled, herbalicious sauce. Placed on the flame, the sauce melts and the steak cooks just a lil bit more. Frankly, I thought the rare steak was served perfectly but I like my cow still mooing when I eat it. I just barely swished the steak around in the sauce, just to warm it slightly. Mmmmm.

They do serve a LOT of bread with dinner. I sopped up the garlic dressing from the salad with the bread. And mopped up the remainder of the fondue sauce. But all in all, I’m pretty sure I ate a half a loaf of French bread so I’m not sure how full I would actually have been if I were less of a carbaholic and just ate the salad and steak/fondue.

The decor inside is simple. The service is fast. It really was a pleasant dining experience and will definitely be back.

Read more about Cafe Bern.


Tuna Tartare with Foie Gras and Truffle Sauce. Heaven help me. Who’s been to Sushi Shop?


Who wants to go with me?

From the Sushi Shop site:

Situated in the heart of Manhattan, our first American store is open daily from 11 AM to 11 PM. You can eat in (100 seats), take away or have your order delivered at home or at your office.

Sushi Shop is the European leader of sushi’s restaurant and delivery. With more than 80 restaurants in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg for more than 13 years, the brand is now opening its first shop in New York. You can enjoy Sushi Shop’s creation on Madison Avenue, at home or at your office


Dialing In for a Reservation at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare…wish me luck

My first activity of my staycation will be to try to score dinner reservations at the now three Michelin-starred restaurant, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare. Reservations are only taken at 10:30 am on Mondays, so like watching for a pot to boil, I’m counting down till 10:30. Then my day can move on, hopefully without disappointment. Wish me luck!


Which fish are ok to eat?

Sustainable fish consumption visualized by the folks at Information is Beautiful

If you’re into spreadsheets, like me, this version is great to have loaded on your mobile.

Download this file

Or if you prefer, a fold-up pocket guide.

Download this file

Mary Queen of Scots


I have a new favorite spot, rivaling my affections for Fat Radish. Dined last night at Mary Queen of Scots and was utterly impressed with the lovely space, inventive Scotch based cocktails and of course the outstanding fare. Gents, I highly recommend MQS for a first of second date.

Must haves: Devil on Horseback and the Seared Fois Gras.


What Happens When


Music, art and scrumptious food – all in one glorious evening. Another reason to love NYC.


What Happens When is a playground for food. It is a temporary restaurant installation that transforms every 30 days for 9 months, offering guests an ever-changing culinary, visual and sound experience.

This delicious exhibition is a result of the collaboration between one chef, two designers, a photographer and a composer.


Village Vines v Blackboard Eats

I love dining out.  Dining out at a discount – even better.  Both Village Vines and Blackboard Eats offer their users (typically) a 30% discount off the bill at their partner restaurants.  Here’s a comparison and my two cents.

Village Vines

At Village Vines you pay $10 to secure their exclusive pricing via their website.  Everything is done on their site.  Their portal allows you to: make the reservation and pay the fee.  Reservations can be changed or cancelled up to two hours in advance and the feel will credited to your account. Once at restaurant, remind the host that the reservation was made with VillageVines and the discount will applied to the final bil.  Participating restaurants include: Bann, Seasonal, and Le Cirque.  


BlackBoardEats delivers a new special every week.  Users have the option of buying an annual pass for $20 for unlimited access to the discount codes or pay $1 per special.  Once at the restaurant, you provide the code to the host and the discount will be applied to the final bill. Participating restaurants include: Pure Food & Wine, Dressler and Mary Queen of Scots

My Two Cents
I recommend signing up for both – there’s no cost to do that.  (If you do sign up for Village Vines, would appreciate you using the referral code H45D145.) Each of these sites have their merits and unlike their competitors offer well edited dining options – you can trust that the meal will be high quality.  

I foresee myself using Village Vines for meals with business contacts or with my parents.  Their restaurant offerings are reliable with strong menus but a bit more conservative.  BlackBoardEats restaurants have more of an edge and are a great way to explore new venues – in the ever changing culinary world of NYC, it serves as an excellent compass.  You can’t go wrong with either option but it really all depends on what kind of dining experience you are looking for.  


The Vanderbilt NYC


Ventured into Brooklyn to use my Blackboard Eats coupon code at the Vanderbilt. Mapped out my journey on google maps, had a vague idea of where I was going yet when I popped out of the subway I still managed a confused look on my face and wondered: where am I? 

I don’t know what I was expecting but as I walked down Carlton Avenue, from the 7th avenue subway station to the restaurant, I passed these quintessential Brooklyn townhouses with large picture windows, high ceilings, and tenants who clearly had a strong sense of style and design. I was tempted to climb up the stairs of one townhouse and snap a picture of this stunning bulbous lamp that screamed please stop and admire me (and admired I did). Thank goodness it was freezing cold and I was starving or I would have definitely overstepped my boundaries. 

The Vanderbilt was warm – lots of dark wood and a great atmosphere (not too trendy, not too local, not too many first dates – just the right mix). It reminded me of DBGB – but less of a scene, lower noise level and easier on the wallet. I will have to go back to see if the menu is comparable in quality to DBGB.  We ordered off of a set menu because of the bbe discount, and all five of us ended up ordering most of the same things (parsnip soup or beet salad, cheddar kielbasa and spiced warm doughnuts), so didn’t get too wide of a sampling of their offerings. The beet salad and brussels sprouts (that we all ordered because every write up about the restaurant suggested we do so) were stand outs. 

I arrived early and waited for friends with a glass of “liquid gold” beer – just so when my friends did arrive and asked me what I was drinking I could say “liquid gold.”  (Yes, I’m a dork!) A friend waited with a hot toddy, a popular order based on a quick glance around the restaurant.  He was rather pleased with it – I wish I had asked for a sip.  I’m not a beer connoisseur but I liked the liquid gold along with the beers in our pairings. 

I will definitely be back just to be able to try other items on the menu that piqued my interest, like the blistered shishito peppers. Next visit will be in the heart of spring so I can walk the neighborhood more and linger around the windows a little longer.