Studio Restaurant at Freehand Hotel. 23 Lexington Ave. NYC

We love this popular lunch spot next to Curry Hill, mostly for its breezy atmosphere, lack of pretension, and delicious North African-accented food. The new venture from Gregory Stulman’s Happy Cooking Hospitality group is a hit with the young Desi crowd and the number of fresh-faced gay couples is noticeable too; furni and colors, service and music are all laid-back and pleasant, and at times you can feel like you’re in a modest Brooklyn joint rather than a Flatiron hotel. We had the baked eggs with curried tomato, brik-style eggs (both $15) Simit bagels with lox and a side of tasty chicken sausage. Heavy on the Mediterranean flavors, ingredients are fresh and simple menu descriptions give way to more complex flavors of za’atar and harissa.  Later in the day, there are more small plates like Turkish beef dumplings and pungent purees such as taramasalata. Wait times can be high, so time it right.

 

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Subway: 23rd St (6)

 

 

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Mosaiq. Calle de Caracas, 21. Madrid

We came here with a large group for a birthday dinner. The set menu looked quite exciting on paper, but portions are meagre and ‘meat’ dishes somewhat lacking in the flesh of dead animals. The dining experience is fairly pleasant though, with beautiful decor and furniture, and staff that float around quite airily. It is certainly not value for money, nor is it interesting/exotic, but falls together quite neatly in a category of ‘restrained ethnicity’ appealing to the bankers and businessmen of the Alonso Martinez area of Madrid. Moroccan fare does come much better than this, but be prepared for simpler service and less flashy decor.

See review for Sahara

 

 

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Metro Ruben Dario/Alonso Martinez