Faro. 436 Jefferson St. Brooklyn. NYC

We came here for the freshly-made pasta and bread, meats that are sourced sustainably and certified Animal Welfare Approved, and a bit of good wine and atmosphere. Faro didn’t disappoint at all, with a large space devoted to making diners the stars, in calming wood surroundings and fantastic lighting; this could’ve easily beaten Manhattan at its own game. The husband-wife team that opened this a few weeks ago were also behind a couple of big names like Le Bernardin and Northeast Kingdom, and they really have hit upon something here: it was packed at 10pm on a Wednesday night when we went. The squid ink chitarra was the only average item on our table, fresh and tangy but lacking a variety of textures, while the wood-fired scallops were perfect, served on a bed of peas and emmer.
The gnocchi sardi (braised goat, artichoke and ricotta) was excellent. Parker House rolls with honey butter ($5) was probably the finest in-house bread I’ve ever tasted in my life, and I wish I had ordered my own portion: sharing was regretful. Both pasta dishes set us back $17 while the scallops were $20; pricey – especially for the area – but with this much attention to detail, it’s worth every cent, if you’ve got it.
I’ll be ordering a cocktail next time, as the bottle of AlbariƱo we had was not even close to the memorable white wine we cherished from our Madrid days. And others have sung the praises of the bar’s mixes, so it’ll surely be whiskey sours next time.

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Subway: Jefferson St

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Tutt Cafe. 47 Hicks St. Brooklyn Heights. NYC

An unassuming, even unkempt little Egyptian cafe-restaurant in a very pricey part of Brooklyn, Tutt or ‘Tutt Heights’ does a good range of mezze, platters, pies and grilled meats. Service is friendly, though usually down to one overworked waiter, and there is a steady stream of regulars. Prices are great, with our large falafel platter ($5) and spinach & cheese pie ($5.50) substantial and filling. Their babaganoush has a thicker texture than Lebanese moutabal, and just isn’t not smoky enough in my opinion, but that is a small complaint in such a remarkable neighbourhood institution.

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Subway: High St

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‘Disiac Lounge. 402 W 54th St. NYC

As in ‘aphrodisiac’, because they really do push the sensual descriptions and indulgent ingredients of all the cocktails and some of the food too; just be thankful they didn’t name the place ‘Afrodisiac’ as it does technically go under the description of a Moroccan bar. It was very busy on a late spring Sunday afternoon with a varied crowd, mixing the moody with the energetic.
We tried a pitcher of the Tantric Red Sangria, a Dark’n’stormy and a Seductive Storm (Makers Mark, ginger beer, green tea and sweet vermouth): all were excellent. Guacamole and humus plates were also tasty but took an eternity to emerge from a kitchen that was apparently ‘really backed up’ according to the sweet, apologetic staff that deducted an arbitrary $5 from the final bill. Unpretentious and friendly, it’s such a cute little patio in a part of town not full of these sorts of places, so we will be back.

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Subway: 50th St/ 59th St

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Umami Burger Williamsburg. 158 North 4th St, Brooklyn. NYC.

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The small burger chain from LA has opened up a Brooklyn branch – its third in NYC – and it looks like it’s the biggest one here on the east coast. It is also the best burger that Delusionaryculinary has ever tried in his life, perfectly cooked and seasoned and far superior to beef patties anywhere else in the world. There’s a new menu with this location, and the Korean BBQ burger ($13) with its gochujang glaze, caramelized kimchi and sesame aioli, is exclusive here. All the other burgers sound great too, and you make your choice depending on how rich, spicy or truffley you feel you can take it. Maple bacon fries and onion rings are sides that you really must order, as well as decent sweet potato ones.
The ice-cream sandwich for dessert really didn’t do it for me, but service was extremely personable and helpful, and the ambience is great for a date, a classy family outing or a meal with friends – it’s an adaptable space. I hope we come back here very regularly.

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Subway: Bedford Ave (L)

Candle 79. 154E 79th St. Upper East Side. NYC

This upscale organic vegan restaurant is innovative and inspirational if you’re devoted to avoiding meat and dairy. For the casually interested and flexitarian, it reeks of try-hard sophistication and feels like it lacks real soul in its ingredients. Service was snooty and hot sauce took three attempts and a full ten minutes to arrive on our table. Prices are high, especially for basic burgers and soups ($15-23), but the pomegranate-BBQ seitan skewers ($13) and polenta fries were tastier than anything else I tried that day. There is apparently a cheaper more casual Candle Cafe which I might be willing to try. But here, these portions need to be larger, side salads served gratis, or else vegans deserve more than just overpriced blandness. It’s got its fair share of hip regulars, wealthy wives and ladies-who-lunch, so it’s doing just fine.

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Subway: 77th St

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Thelma on Clinton. 29A Clinton St. Lower East Side. NYC

A Diner’s Deck card (from a pack of $10 gift certificates) brought us here after two other restaurants we’d chosen were closed that night, and how serendipitous; we would never normally have chosen French cuisine for a date night. It really is a beautiful bistro with personable service and chef/owner Melissa O’Donnell hanging out at the bar, teasing me about the glass I had just broken. We had the creamy cauliflower soup which was truffly heaven, and the miso-glazed salmon seared perfectly on a bed of cukes and red onion. I can’t remember the prices of anything we had, and with food this good, frankly, I couldn’t have cared (check out http://thelmaonclinton.com/menus if you do though). A good selection of beer and wine means that we’ll be back here again too.

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Subway: Essex St / Delancey St

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Goa Taco. 79 Delancey St. East Village. NYC

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Parathas are layered, pan-fried flatbreads, and the sign on the counter says that one of these unleavened discs of dough is equivalent to two tacos in size and substance; with the fusion fillings here though, you’ll want to eat more than just your own. The combinations of imaginative ingredients is magical, with proportions matched well to paratha thickness. The pecado rojo lamb shoulder with eggplant salsa and tzatziki ($9) was exceptional, and the honey-roasted butternut squash with salsa verde and kale ($7) was also perfect for the less carnivorous. We’ll be trying the pork belly with red cabbage next time. Margheritas are served for $7 with friendly service. Only about ten seats in here, so come in small groups or be prepared to take away.

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Subway: Delancey St / Essex St

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