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The Grill, 99 E 52nd St, NYC, USA

This article was first published on 10.10.2017 at, written by Michael on The Wandering Epicures that reports on restuarant meals.

The Grill describes itself as “a historically based American chophouse set in midcentury New York.”  It occupies half of the venerable space in the Seagram Building that was The Four Seasons from 1959 to 2016. Blair and I went for lunch on August 18, 2017.

The renovation of the Four Season’s Grill Room has left it rather stark with rich wooden walls on three sides and the old shimmering curtains on the fourth. But the ceilings are very high and the acoustics are good. By contrast, as one emerges from the stairs up to the dining level, there is the old open bar and a buffet for the evening appetizers.

We started with glasses of Roederer Champagne. Lunch rolls with chive butter arrived.

We made our choices from the fairly limited lunch menu and ordered a bottle of 2007 Louis Boillet 1er Cru “Les Angles” Volnay.

Blair wrote: The wine was delicate, the nose was nice, but the palate left you wanting more. Against the chicken dish it actually went well, if we had ordered steak I would have been disappointed.

Lettuce leaves were served to go with the first courses.

Blair started with

The crab cake was very good. It is a holdover from The Four Seasons where it was the most ordered dish. The disks were potatoes that had been crisped providing contrast to the creamy crab underneath. They resembled a small,  single layer of pommes Anna. The sauce was slightly vinegary and mustardy.

I had

The beef was obviously top quality. It had been minced and so the texture was right. There was anchovy in the spicing of the beef as well as the little pieces alongside. Very good.

Blair’s main course was

The chicken was cooked perfectly. Crunchy skin with a nappe of sauce and moist tender meat. The red pepper was pimento and therefore not hot.

Mine was

The lamb was first rate and flavorful. The sauce underneath was aromatic with Indian spices without being too hot. Alongside was a bowl of yoghurt sauce and a mound of mint jelly. It all work together perfectly.

We had a side of grilled zucchini.

This was a good match with the lamb and its curry.

For dessert we each had a
German Chocolate Cake

This slice of cake was rich and delicious. The light layers were coconut. The scoop was whipped cream.

This lunch was an excellent example of straightforward fine dining cuisine. It never got lost in complications. The ingredients were top quality. The combinations were not inventive; they were familiar and good without being boring. Really upscale comfort food, I guess.


Caffè Bianco,Via Dei Baullari, 147, Rome, Italy

My husband took me to Rome recently to celebrate a significant birthday. During the visit we were exploring the city and realised it was time for lunch. We turned a corner and my husband spotted the Caffè Bianco,Via Dei Baullari, 147, Rome, Italy. It was a great find!

Unusually, for a main street Ristorante Pizzeria in the centre of the city, Caffè Bianco advertises a lunch timecaffe-bianco special menu. It is as good as its word. You get a choice of various drinks, a salad, bruscetta and a choice of a variety of pizza and pasta main courses. We sat in the veranda area to the street side of the restaurant. It was busy, and we quickly found out why. The staff were polite, friendly and efficient. The diners are also somewhat protected by the weather by clear plastic sheets. Access for those with mobility problems is easy. On top of all that the food, for omnivores and vegetarians, was delicious.

My husband and I both chose soft drinks but requested a large bottle of still water too as the weather was hot and quite humid so we got dehydrated walking about the city. The drinks were served swiftly. Maybe we looked more dehydrated than we felt. The salad and bruchetta were served on the same plate. The salad was fresh and the tomatoes deliciously sweet. The bruscetta was not served on toasted bread as it is in the UK, but the fresh bread was warm. Altogether this made for a tasty starter.

caffe-bianco-insideI chose a maghuerita pizza and my husband swithered between the lasagne and a ham pizza, but eventually plumped for the pizza too. The pizza are made to order, so there was a few minutes to wait between courses. However, during that time, the cabaret came on: a diner arrived with his bodyguards. He entered by a side door and one of his bodyguards was stationed at each of the three entrances with one keeping watch outside on the street. Another minder joined the important person at his table. I was quite excited that it might be somebody really interesting, but it was a politician.

Anyway, that all gave us sufficient diversion before out main courses arrived. The pizzas were delicious. The bases were thin and the toppings generous. We enjoyed our meals at Caffè Bianco. I highly recommend this modest restaurant, without hesitation.

Valerie Penny


2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Some Good and Some Not So Good by guest author bojan131

There is a a place called Selera at 487 Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket, Auckland 1023, New Zealand. This is a Malaysian saloon right the centre of Newmarket. I think our buzz with Malaysian cuisine made us want to try different places just for us to enjoy more of it. And this place looked busy, which seemed like a good sign.


You get into Selera and it is rushed like anything. Sometimes you got to wonder if places only appear to be busy because of their size rather than popularity. Probably a bit of both with this place so I’ll try not to give you any preconceptions about the food before we review it. Very hard working waiter took our orders and explained some of the dishes quite well. We saw they had something called “Mas Sauce” and wondered if it had anything to do with Malaysian Airlines. It could have but the guy who came up with it went missing I heard.



We settled for King Prawns with Sambal (shells off), Acar Awak (which is like a mango pickle), a Cabbage Chicken Salad and a Chicken Rice (as opposed to your usual standard white rice). All of that came down to NZ$41 or US$30.60. I just noticed on the photo that they did Carrot Cake and I’m loathing not ordering it. That dish should be a reason alone to go back to Singapore. I’ll even risk chewing gum, urinating in an elevator and jay walking to get it.


The place is quite chaotic. We had a cup of chopsticks on our table and one of the waitresses kept on putting her arm between us to get them. Holding short of the excuse me or thinking about whether there’d be enough for us. Well, you don’t go to the place for the service if the water and tea is self service.

Then out comes the food, first we had our Chicken Salad arrive. This was actually quite nice. Tomatoes were fresh and the sesame seeds offered a great counter balance to the chicken and the cucumbers. OK, I’m really talking out of my ass and what I really mean is that the dish was very tasty and, take note Hollywood, low on calories.


Next was the Acar Awak. Now if you’re not a fan of mangoes then you’d probably dislike this dish. About 85% of the flavor came from the mangoes and I was sold. It was like a fresher equivalent of those Mango pickles you get from a suburban Indian restaurant and a lot less sweet. Nice touch with nuts sprinkled on top, too. Now if these were the only two dishes we had, we would have thought that we had a pretty good experience.


The King Prawns with Sambal, well, now we’re cooking with gas. Arrived on the table and it looked pretty tasty. Take the first bite, assuming the shells were removed, and you bite straight into the shell. My one backfired a little more than Casey’s because I inadvertently went for the head first so I got a good dosage of prawn guts. Delicious. So, f*** up no. 1: shells were not removed. The next thing was that the dish was way too sweet, almost to the point that it was designed for those not used to Malaysian cuisine. Picture the setting in the kitchen…

Waitress: And the Europeans ordered the King Prawns with Sambal. Shells off.

Chef: Hear that boys? Europeans. Alright, back up the pick up truck. I’m going to need a kilogram of sugar and a few liters of oil. And I think she said to keep the shells on. That’s right, I’m gonna need the shells on.

I know that there are a lot of restaurants in New Zealand that try to ‘Kiwify’ their otherwise traditional dishes by adding sugar and oil. This is slowly changing as more New Zealanders are going overseas and getting a flavor for the real deal. But it exists and I’m here to bring some awareness to the issue.


Well, rather than leaving it on a sour note (pardon the pun), I didn’t mention that chicken rice we ordered. This was just a standard white rice with chicken broth poured over it, giving it a unique flavor. Well, its just the kind of rice you get with Hainanese Chicken Rice but its worth going for this one over the white rice.



Well, it was definitely a mixed bag. Impressive salad, pickle and rice but a let down with the prawns. You’ve definitely got to look at the positive side to everything though. The prawns at least provided the foundation for some crude kitchen humor about Europeans eating at an Asian restaurant. And besides, who said we wouldn’t give them a second chance? Selera does Carrot Cake…




Bojan 131