Jones Wood Foundry

Dining Room

Jones Wood Foundry
401 E 76th St.
New York, NY 10021
(212) 249-2700
Website

In the late 1700’s, there was successful merchant named John Jones who owned a large land in upper Manhattan in what is today the Upper East Side. During that time, the area was known as Jones Wood. Fast forward four hundred years later, a restaurant housed in a 19th century building on 75th street by First Avenue was fittingly named Jones Wood Foundry.

At first glance Jones Wood Foundry looks more like a pub than a restaurant. A long bar greets you as you enter. After making your way through the bar and down a few steps is an area next to a tiny courtyard (use for outdoor seating on warmer months). It has exposed brick walls and a lengthy communal table in the middle sitting directly below the skylight. Behind it is the dimly lit main dining room with low ceilings. Worn out wooden floors, heavy marble tables with cabin chairs along with the décor, created a rustic interior in the space imitating an old English pub.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner as well as brunch on the weekend. The menu has a slight variation but for the most part dishes are available at all times.

Starters like the RICOTTA – sourdough, aged balsamic, thyme, rosemary were the blandness and thick textures of the ricotta was delightfully flavored by the strong balsamic vinegar. The CHICKEN LIVER FOIE GRAS PARFAIT- brioche, grape chutney, cornichon was buttery, extremely rich, and bursting with so much flavor. Toasted brioche was the perfect company for the parfait.

The soup of SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH -brown butter crouton, toasted pumpkin seed and its pleasant thick earthy sweetness was perfect for the cold weather. On the lighter side the KALE SALAD – red cabbage, green apple, spiced pecan, shaved parmesan was particularly fresh and lively. The crunchy leafy vegetable has a nice bitterness to it.

For the entrée, the FISH & CHIPS -beer battered cod, triple cooked chips, tartar sauce, lemon at $25 is probably the most expensive fish & chips I’ve seen so far in New York City. The batter has a beautiful crispness while the cod was incredibly moist and tender. The ORGANIC SCOTTISH SALMON BURGER red pepper relish, avocado, chancellor sauce has the right meat to bread ratio. Scrumptious salmon patty on a potato bun was cooked beautifully. Enhancing the burger are the toppings and its pickled sweetness. Served on a cast iron skillet was the hearty SHEPHERD’S PIE- lamb shoulder, mashed potato, cheddar cheese. This filling dish has different savory layers that will undoubtedly satisfy any signs of hunger.

For dessert, chocolate lovers will be pleased by the MILK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE – creme anglaise. This thick chocolate mousse was dosed in syrupy sweetness. The bitter citrus notes in background kept sweetness at bay.

The humble British fare is often seen in many New York City pubs and sport bars. But in the kitchen of Jones Wood Foundry it was given a certain refinement. They focused on serving dishes that looks appetizing and taste good. While its generous portions will not leave diners feeling unsatisfied at the end of the meal. Furthermore, the prices are not outside the norm for the area. They have good beer selections which consist mainly of American and English brew available in draft and in bottles. Surprisingly for a pub, they have a pretty decent wine list that includes “British Fizz” or British sparkling wines

Named after what the area was once called, Jones Wood Foundry does not only reflect the Upper East Side and its history, but it is also a neighborhood restaurant usually filled with locals. Its casual settings coupled with staffs that are genuinely friendly and willing creates a homey vibe. Here guest can have a nice cold pint while watching a game at the bar or dine in for some quality pub fare at any given time.

2016 Dining Recap

 

Having visited a handful of Michelin starred, World’s 50 Best and other top restaurants in Asia and Europe, 2016 was great dining year. My journey began at Hong Kong where I dined at Lung King Heen, the very first three Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in the world. Needless to say, it had an extremely high quality Cantonese food. The restaurants location on the fourth floor of the Four Season hotel boasts a panoramic view of Victoria Harbor. The two Michelin-starred Amber at Landmark Mandarin Oriental offers a terrific weekend wine lunch which consists of five courses paired with four glasses of wine. This was one of the best deals out there at 928 HKD for a restaurant at this caliber. Dinner at the L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (the only of the L’Ateliers with three Michelin stars) was also quite superb.

I waited in queue for hours at Tim Ho Wan in Sham Shui Po, which at that time was the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world (until that distinction was awarded to Singapore’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken in the summer of last year). The dim sum was tasty and I enjoyed every single dish that I had. Frog legs and chicken congee at Tasty Congee & Wuntun Noodle Shop in the IFC was nothing short of delicious. Even better was the chicken and fish congee at the concierge recommended Sang Kee Congee Shop in Sheung Wan. 208 Ducento Otto serves up wonderful cocktails while Angel Share Whisky Bar & Restaurant and its expansive list of whisky is a must-visit for enthusiast while in Hong Kong.

That same journey through Asia led me to Tokyo, Japan. I had my very first meal in this sprawling metropolis at RyuGin, Chef Seiji Yamamoto’s flagship restaurant which has three Michelin stars and ranked number 31 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant. The modern kaiseki that it serves is a reflection of the agricultural bounty of Japan. With each dish skillfully prepared, this was one of the best meals I’ve had. In Ginza, the Omakase at the three Michelin-starred Sushi Yoshitake did not disappoint. The fish and other seafood used in every single piece of Nagiris were extremely fresh. Sushi might be star of the show at this restaurant, but the cooked dishes were equally sublime. It was highlighted by the abalone liver sauce mixed with sushi rice which was a mind-blowing dish that still resonates in my memory.

Hideki Ishikawa is Japan’s most decorated chef/restaurateur with three restaurants under his belt totaling eight Michelin stars. He also has the distinction shared by the likes of the Robuchon’s , the Keller’s and the Ducasse’s to have two restaurants at the same with the maximum rating from the Michelin guide. At his eponymous Ishikawa, I was served a wonderful contemporary style kaiseki that shows simplicity with plenty of subtle flavors. I also visited Kohaku the other three star restaurant of Chef Ishikawa, which is located in the same area and within walking distance from each other. The kitchen is under Koji Koizumi a disciple of Chef Ishikawa. There are many of similarities between them, but the two are distinctly different at the same time. Kohaku is a more modern prepared kaiseki that incorporate foreign ingredients, which are not usually use in Japanese cuisine.

Japan is surprisingly home to one of the finest French restaurant outside of France. Others can argue that it might better than its home country due to the high quality of ingredients it uses produced by Japan. Many of the top French chefs has an outpost sprinkled throughout country, but a large number of them are concentrated in Tokyo. I had a superb tasting menu at Chef Pierre Gaganaire, Two restaurant Peirre Gagnaire Au Tokyo on the 35floor of the ANA Intercontinental, which was awarded two Michelin stars. Each plate were carefully crafted, using only the finest local ingredients. As a bonus, guests enjoyed the scenic view of the whole city as the backdrop while dining. In Roppongi Hills, I dined at Chef of the Century Joel Robochon L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Along with Paris, the Tokyo branch is one of the first L’Ateliers. Having previously gone to the Hong Kong location, these two Michelin starred restaurant are a lot more casual, yet the quality of food is equally top-notched.

Inside the train station in Ginza, resides a minuscule ramen shop called Kagari Echika, which has garnered a lot of following. They served me tasty bowl of ramen, with a broth that has a certain delightful creaminess. In Shinjuku, high above the mall of the train station is Tenichi, where I had some delicate fried tempura accompanied with fresh sashimi. While at Sushi Mamire, I was served with affordable yet enjoyable pieces of sushi and rolls. Pagliaccio Due in Shiba, is an Italian restaurant that serves pleasant dishes like the Seafood Rissotto, and the spaghetti with fish. Night caps in the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, were made lively with tunes from a funky jazz show. Soon after I feasted with the hotel famous weekend brunch. Finally, visiting Japan is not complete without trying the world famous Kobe beef. At Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511, I had a magical experience without breaking the bank. The beef was as good as advertised, and every bite was heavenly like cotton candy that melts in the mouth.

From Izakaya’s, to noodle shops, to high end kaiseki, sushi (as well as low end), and to fine French restaurants, I had the greatest time dining in Tokyo. The uncompromising use of quality ingredients in this city restaurant makes Tokyo the gastronomic capital of the world. The two weeks I spent there was simply not enough.

The next stop in my search and passion for fine dining was a short trip to Basel, Switzerland. I had the opportunity to dine at the three Michelin star, Cheval Blanc. The restaurant is located in one of Europe’s oldest hotel Le Trois Rois. Bavarian chef Pete Knogl, is in charge of the kitchen and under his leadership Cheval Blanc was elevated to culinary stardom. The tasting menu has global influences and shows the precision cooking technique of Chef Knogl. Each dish was light and has a fantastic complex combination of flavors and textures.

I couldn’t end 2016 without grazing the home front for some great eats. After all, no one can beat New York City in anything, (at least to a New Yorker that is). I had very good meals at the Upper East Side’s, The NUAA. This beautifully decorated restaurant serves refined Thai fare that’s geared towards the Western palate. Last year, I saw an onslaught of new eateries opening up in the Financial District improving the neighborhood’s restaurants scene. Among them is Eataly Downtown which opened to the public last summer. Much smaller than its older siblings in the Flatiron, this mega food market brought a slew of dining options that includes another outlet of the seafood haven, Il Pesce. The restaurant offers appetizing sustainable seafood prepared in the simplest form. As the last stop of my 2016 journey, West Village Carma Asian Tapas, served an unmatchable creative Far Eastern fare in small plate format. I enjoyed the way the kitchen recreated classic Chinese dishes, as well as using other Western ingredients that aren’t usually found in Asian cooking.

Though 2016 didn’t boast much of my hometown’s variety of eateries, it was a star studded year of dining in the international level. Overall, I would say it was great and successful year of eating. I’m looking forward to an even better 2017 where I plan to focus on New York City, its outer boroughs and state side. Hopefully, I can sprinkle few international trips here and there.

The NUAA

Dining Room

The NUAA
1122 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10065
(212) 888-2899
Official Site

The NUAA is a Thai restaurant in the Upper East Side next to the famous Dangerfield Comedy club. The owner and chef is Bangkok born Pitipong Bowornneeranar, a veteran of the New York City restaurant scene with over 20 years of experience working at different kitchens throughout the city. At the NUAA Chef Bowornneeranar serves modern Thai fare prepared with a great deal of attention to details.

Dining Room

The NUAA can’t be missed, with its red, wooden double doors along First Avenue. A lounge area with its own seating and a bar welcomes guests as soon as they walk into the restaurant. Toward the back is the dining room, decorated with detailed wood work, smooth dark table tops, coupled with matching armless leather padded chairs. Covering the ceiling and illuminating the space are metal plates shaped in petals with light bulbs. The stylish interior is made for a venue that can be found in the Meatpacking rather than the Upper East Side.

Lounge Bar

Though extensive the menu is not overwhelming. It’s broken down to soup/salad, starters, entrée’s and classic dishes. A cheaper prefix for $15 is available during lunch time with items that are also available during dinner.

SOM TUM-Green papaya salad, dried shrimp, peanuts, bird-eye chili vinaigrette KHAI LOK KHAEY Son-in-law fried quail eggs, Black pepper Brioche, crispy shallots, plum sugar-tamarind sauce

Salad like the SOM TUM-Green papaya salad, dried shrimp, peanuts, bird-eye chili vinaigrette was tremendously fresh and crunchy. Its vinaigrette dressing provided an extra depth of sourness and piquancy. Sprinkle of dried shrimp added textures as well as some saltiness to the salad. For appetizers the KHAI LOK KHAEY Son-in-law fried quail eggs, Black pepper Brioche, crispy shallots, plum sugar-tamarind sauce, was a classic Thai food that was reinvented at the restaurant by using quail eggs instead of regular eggs, and served on top of a brioche. The plum sugar-tamarind sauce sweet and sour elements were terrifically mixed with the savory quail eggs. LARB PLA Yellow fin spicy tuna tartar, Thai crispy taco, green herbs, red chili-kaffir lime vinaigrette, came in three delightful mini tacos with freshly chopped tuna. PO PIA TOD Crispy celery root-wild mushroom rolls, mixed vegetable, glass noodle, red Holland pepper-tamarind sauce, were spring rolls with tasty vegetables stuffing.

LARB PLA Yellow fin spicy tuna tartar, Thai crispy taco, green herbs, red chili-kaffir lime vinaigrette PO PIA TOD Crispy celery root-wild mushroom rolls, mixed vegetable, glass noodle, red Holland pepper-tamarind sauce

For entrée I chose the PLA NUENG Steamed Chilean sea bass, Soya bean, tender cauliflower, ginger soy reduction. A wonderful steamed fish that had a dense yet tender texture and was asserted by its tangy sauce of ginger soy. An accompaniment of colorful cauliflowers and vegetables created a visually appealing plate that tastes as good as it looks. PLA TOD Crispy skin whole Branzino, Caramelize cashew nut, green mango salad, spicy chili-lime vinaigrette was the most expensive item in the menu at $31. A whole Branzino fried precisely to have the skin side extra crispy while the inner part was pleasingly firm. Dipping sauce of spicy chili-lime vinaigrette provided an extra layer of flavor.

PLA NUENG Steamed Chilean sea bass, Soya bean, tender cauliflower, ginger soy reduction

PLA TOD Crispy skin whole Branzino, Caramelize cashew nut, green mango salad, spicy chili-lime vinaigrette

The KA NOM JEEN Colossal crab curry noodle Fedelini, pickled mustard green, sweet basil was a bowl of noodles mixed with delicious crab meat covered in curry. This was a well balance dish where each ingredient worked together without overpowering one another.  GAI YANG Kaffir lime infused Cornish game Hen 44 hours marinade, Brussels sprouts, eggplant caviar nam prik.  The hen was cooked beautifully and packed with flavors. Brussels sprout, eggplant and other vegetables was a pleasing addition to this dish.

KA NOM JEEN Colossal crab curry noodle Fedelini, pickled mustard green, sweet basil

GAI YANG Kaffir lime infused Cornish game Hen 44 hours marinade, Brussels sprouts, eggplant caviar nam prik

There were only two desserts on the menu, the White Chocolate Coconut Mousse Mango passion fruit, pandan jelly, coconut coated chiffon which had a blend of refreshing and fruity sweetness and the Cream Fraiche Vanilla Cheesecake Walnut brittle, short bread, strawberry jam, jasmince cream was rich and sugary. Both dish were good enough to end a meal on a sweet note.

White Chocolate Coconut Mousse Mango passion fruit, pandan jelly, coconut coated chiffon

With an average price of $23 for the entrée The NUAA is a tad pricier for a Thai restaurant that New Yorkers are usually accustomed to but also reasonable by New York City standard. Justifying these prices was the skillful cooking techniques that the kitchen displays. The successful mixtures of sweet, spicy and sour produce bold and intense flavors while having a strong emphasis on appearance.

Cream Fraiche Vanilla Cheesecake Walnut brittle, short bread, strawberry jam, jasmince cream

After a year between visits, the menu has changed with some of the dishes I had previously were no longer available. Having been back to The NUAA a couple times in the last few months the food had remained particularly very good and the service, as always, pleasant and welcoming. The staff are always on point in addressing my needs and answering my questions.

Restaurant

Thai food is known to be one of New Yorkers quintessential fare. The love for it created a buffet of Thai restaurants in the five boroughs. The saturated market produces an even keel of terrific eateries, with some earning a Michelin star like Somtum Der, Pok Pok, and Uncle Boons. The NUAA, on the other hand, not only impresses diners with their flavorsome Thai food but also with its stylish interior and excellent service.

Shalezeh

Dining Room

*This venue is now closed.

When the Michelin guide awarded Shalazeh on the Upper East Side a star in 2010 and 2011 it was not enough for the dining public to travel north of Manhattan. Except for the people that live in the neighborhood, no one has heard of this Persian restaurant. Nevertheless, the few people I know that have dined at the place all have nothing but good things to say.

Located in the Yorkville section of the Upper East Side, Shalazeh is a neighborhood restaurant where the locals are the majority of the patrons. Regulars are greeted like family members, while new comers are welcomed with opened arms.

The interior of Shalazeh is simple, the spacious front space is dominated by tables covered with white cloth and chic French windows that open up on good weather; a portion of walls are exposed bricks while the rest are purposely colored in rust. A large 19th century map of Persia and its regions are on display next to marble bar; and a curtain in the middle of the restaurant serves as an entrance to a more intimate space in the back.

When I first visited this restaurant and I must admit that I have very little knowledge about Persian cuisine. The menu, however, listed dishes that looked very similar to that of other nations in the Middle East.

 

 

My entrée was the Saffron Chicken breast meat. Marinated in saffron and onion, the scent was unforgivably delightful. The chicken was soft and tender, and with each bite the saffron-marinate comes to life creating a nice flavor profile.

I started with the Yogurt Trio which consists of individual yogurt with cucumber, shallots and beet. It’s addictive—especially when it is graciously given as a dip to the bottomless basket of bread that the restaurant provides. The yogurt was light and each individual has distinguishable flavors of the ingredients.

I was impressed with my previous meal that on my most current visit I brought along three dining companions who were curious about trying Persian food.

Just like my first time at Shalazeh the staff was welcoming and pleasant. We started out with some appetizers that are mainly vegetarian like the Sambusa, Dolmeh and of course the Yogurt Trio which I recommend to them. The Sambusa is an appetizing chickpea puree stuffing and is very similar to what you use to stuff an Empanada. Along with the Dolmeh, these starters are more like an Amouse Bouche. My companions enjoyed the Yogurt Trio a little bit too much that I had to tell them to ease up on the unlimited bread to save room for the entrees.

 

 

Our entrée consisted of Salmon Kebab, which cooked so simple. The salmon was moist in the inside and nicely seasoned. We also had the Fesenjoon or chicken stew made with pomegranate juice. The juice provided the sweetness of tender pulled chicken meat. I’m not big fan of lamb but when one of my companions ordered the Lamb Stew I had to try it. The meat was soft, clean and has a lot flavors from the herbs and spices used in the stew. It was tasty but there just something about lamb meat that my taste bud rejected.

The Branzino on the other hand was the best dish I had at Shalazeh; whole fish excluding the head, deboned grilled and sits on a bed of sautéed spinach topped off with asparagus and creamy sauce. The fish was grilled to perfection; the cream sauce is absorbed into the meat of the fish creating a very rich buttery taste.

It is typical in Persian cuisine to have rice to be eaten along with other dishes. In Shalezeh there are two types of rice that compliments their dishes; the basmati rice with lentil, saffron and raisin, (which I prefer with the stews to soak up all its goodness) and the basmati with marinated cherry that goes well with kebabs.

The Roasted Pineapple with ice cream for dessert was to my liking topped off what was already a fantastic meal. The caramelization of the pineapple created a nice texture while the ice cream on top gives the sweetness.

 

 

Surprisingly, Shalezeh has a respectable six pages wine list that is mostly French and California. Never would I expect for this restaurant to have bottles that cost as much as $425 to as low $20.

At the end of this dinner, my companions and I were satisfied and in agreement that there were no dishes that we disliked.

My visit at Shalezeh has been no less than stellar. Their food is flavorsome, the staff is friendly and accommodating and the atmosphere is casual with a local vibe.

In a city that has over ten thousands plus restaurant it’s easy to overlook the likes of Shalezeh, but dining here is a wonderful way to experience the flavor of Persian cuisine.

Shalezeh
1420 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10028
(212) 288-0012
Official Site

Tori Shin

*This venue has moved to another location

Tori Shin may not be your idea of a typical Japanese restaurant; they do not serve seafood but rather specialize in chicken “yakatori” or skewered grilled chicken. But don’t sleep on this Upper East Side Michelin starred restaurant. Its use of high quality organic ingredients, meticulous arrangement of food, and exotic mix of flavors will leave you mesmerize with a new appreciation for Japanese cuisine remixed.

Entering Tori Shin through its sliding black wooden doors feels like entering a restaurant in Tokyo. The hostess and the grillers behind the bar announce your arrival in Japanese for the entire audience of diners and staff. The authenticity of the atmosphere begins with the people, the Japanese staff and predominately Japanese clientele. On one occasion, I overheard a Japanese guy, explaining to his American friend what “yakatori” is and how it is very similar to the food in Japan.

The restaurant has an authentic Japanese dining interior. In the middle a three sided bar (similar to a sushi bar) built with maple wood is paired with red leather chairs all of which occupy the majority of the small intimate space. A long red swayed bench sandwiched between 2 Japanese plants serves as a waiting area. Some uncovered tables by the windows are also available. Soft lighting and minimal noise allows for a very subdued setting.

 

 

 

 

Whenever I come to Tori Shin I always sit by the bar to witness the artistry of the grillers. The grillers are masters at their craft. Knowing the exact timing for turning the skewers to get the right balance of heat, and knowing exactly how much soy sauce to add to bring out the right flavors takes years of intense practice. The highly specialized techniques they use are unmatched. During a lunch visit I saw the same grillers meticulously butchering chickens and preparing skewers with ridiculous precision for the dinner service.

The omakase dinner is highly recommended. Priced at $55, it consists of 10 skewers (6 meats, 1 special meat and 2 vegetables,) grated daikon (to clean the palate,) a rice dish, pickled vegetables and dessert. Submit yourself to the chef, as I did and he will wow you as you watch him work. With over 40 chicken skewers grilled in charcoal, you will want to try all 40; the skewers are that good! The freshness of the organic chicken prepared with various types of sauces is amazing. Skewers like the chicken meatballs are moist with an indescribable chicken flavor. The special chicken meatballs with egg yolk sauce are enough to make you want to return again and again. The rice balls are as good as the skewers especially the Special Oyako Don made with chicken and egg over rice, it was definitely a sublime taste. I enjoyed the texture of the rice, soft and watery. Contrary to my previous posts where I mention that Asian cuisine is not known for their desserts, Tori Shin is the exception; the “Shiso Sorbet” or “Japanese Mojoto” was a unique threat. It tasted like a mojito but 10 times better.

 

 

 

 

Lunch is also good and affordable. Their $20 lunch omakase comes with 5 skewer (3 meats and 2 vegtables,) salad, miso soup, rice and kobachi. The option of A la carte is also available for both lunch and dinner.

In the past Tori Shin was only known to the locals and hard core foodies. Hopefully with exposure from entrance into the Michelin Guide, Tori Shin can become a destination restaurant not just enjoyed by the Upper East Siders. Great friendly service and amazing unique food are the makings of a winning combination.

Tori Shin
1193 1st Ave
New York, NY 10065
(212) 988-8408
Official Site