Paris Resort & Casino
3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
In the city of Sin, it’s tough to find a restaurant that won’t burn a hole in your wallet and at the same time prepares great food. Well look no further, Mon Amí Gabi does it all. From merely glancing over the menu you can tell that time and passion were involved in the selection of appetizers and entrees. Upon walking through the doors, you can see that same passion translated in the decor and the waitstaff. From the dark wood all around and brass railings to the mounds of lemons arranged playfully throughout, this restaurant is both comfortable and elegant to eat at. In the evening, dine on the outdoor patio or in the glass room adjacent to the outdoor patio. The Bellagio fountain show will be visible from your table and provide a romantic feel to the experience.
The opening bread comes in a clean white paper bag as if you had just picked it up from a bakery. It’s warm to the touch and every bit as delectable. The one entree that spoke to me was the hangar steak. Once saved as a “butcher’s cut” this style of steak has been slowly creeping it’s way into the public. If you’ve never tried it before, this restaurant would be a place to dive into it. I had it medium rare with hotel butter and it was flawless. The steak frites are also a side not to miss. Other entrees at our table included the braised short ribs which were on special. The ribs came out so tender and in such a sauce that even the more well dressed clientele were licking their fingers and plates.
Reservations are not required at this restaurant since it’s on the strip and has quite a turnover rate. The waitstaff is extremely knowledgeable and will attend to your every need. Entrees range from $18 – $27. When in Vegas be sure to make time for this desert gem.
25 Broad St. (Throckmorton St.)
Freehold, NJ 07722
Quite the Central New Jersey find. Eric’s is one of the area’s best kept secrets. Main Street Freehold is rapidly becoming a hot-spot for great restaurants, but Eric’s is located just one block away from Main Street. This gives it the great advantage of being a little less crowded and a little less well-known, although the food is every bit as great as what you would find on Main Street, and I think even a little bit better. You can almost always get immediate seating during the week, but reservations are highly recommended on Friday or Saturday nights. The restaurant never has a crowded feel and your dinner never feels rushed. The staff is friendly and very efficient. Service is excellent whether the restaurant is busy or slow.
You might think it’s not much to look at from the outside, as the restaurant is located in a run-down looking strip mall. However the inside is beautiful. It has a casual atmosphere but the decor is on par with a fine dining establishment. The bar is fully stocked and serves some of the best martinis around. The martini prices may look a bit high for Freehold at $9, but you actually get two drinks out of one order because they leave the shaker with you. Food prices range from $15-25 for an entree. Reasonable, considering you get a decent size portion and all entrees include choice of soup or salad.
Overall: excellent food, excellent drinks, reasonable prices. If you give it a try, you’ll find yourself going back again and again.
1069 Route 18 South
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
Sunny Palace is an upscale Chinese restaurant located on Route 18 in East Brunswick. The decor promotes an atmosphere of fine dining, but the overall environment welcomes the casual diner. Sunny Palace has a full bar, which is unusual for a Chinese restaurant and is one of the benefits of this establishment.
Menu offerings include the usual Chinese food favorites as well as many house specialties. The food is delicious and is presented well on the plate. Portions tend to be large so I would recommend an appetizer and one entree for a party of two (unless you are quite famished). Taking food home is usually not a problem, but remember to check your bag before you leave. On a recent trip, we received someone else’s left overs.
Service is great unless you are in one of the “low traffic” areas of the restaurant. The main dining area has a large circular elevated area with a lower area along the outside that is separated by a wall. If you are in the outer circle, the waiters pass by quite infrequently and it can be difficult to flag one down.
The prices are quite reasonable. Entrees range from $7 to $25. Keeping in mind that the portions are large, this is a great deal. The drink prices are reasonable as well.
While the service can be slow, it has never been terrible, and the food is excellent. This place is definitely worth a try if you want Chinese food, but don’t want to eat in your living room.
2003 Napa Valley Zinfandel
- Mild cherry presence. Spicy on mid palate, finishes clean. Slight tart flavor which is indicative of fruit. Initial aroma of saddle leather.
- Consumed with hangar steak and salmon wrapped in filo dough. A wine that knows no boundaries.
Consumed at: Spargo’s Grille
130 Route 33 West
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Spargo’s Grille is set in a shopping center in seemingly urban Manalapan, NJ. From the outside, the restaurant looks typical with the letters of the name in large purple neon. When you enter you see the attention to detail taken in the dining room. The layout is simple, a hostess station on your right and the main dining room in front of you. The floor is an off-white stone and the tables (around 20) give you the impression of eating outdoors. This central Jersey BYO sets the standard for fresh, delicious food.
As you open the menu, an insert lists the daily specials. The standard menu includes such items as hangar steak (a must try), osso bucco and shrimp and salmon dishes. The chef attributes the unique menu to his Californian/Caribbean influences. The appetizers, also equally delectable include fried fresh mozzerella, diver scallops and deviled crab cakes to name a few.
The service at Spargo’s is also worth mentioning. The staff is kind and informative without being overbearing. Your glass will most certainly stay full and feel free to inquire about anything. Spargo’s also offers a tasting menu which I have not tried yet, however, I have complete confidence in saying it will be excellent.
The wine that accompanied our meal was the 2003 Frog’s Leap Napa Valley Zinfandel. I chose the Zinfandel because I felt it would pair with the widest range of flavors. I don’t like a wine to limit my selection and that is why I love Zinfandels. Tasting notes
60 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
Between 5th Ave and 6th Ave
Before you even enter China Grill you can tell that this is no ordinary restaurant. The first thing you notice is the massive size of the place. Huge floor to ceiling windows give you a view into the entire restaurant that has very high ceilings and an open kitchen right in the middle of the action. In the front, you are greeted kindly (only if you have reservations, and they are recommended) but they are not necessary at this upscale spot. The bar area, like the rest of the restaurant is huge and the full service menu is available.
When you first look at the menu you may be shocked by the prices. Fret not, this is a family style restaurant. If you were to eat and entire entree yourself, you’d be too full to walk. The point of China Grill is sharing. If you pump the math out, this place will cost you no more to eat at then any comprable restaurant in the city. The difference is, what you get for the price. All dishes are expertly prepared to not only dazzle you visually but also so ignite your taste buds. Start with the duck or the calamari salad. Be forewarned, even the “small” portion is enough for 3 people. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can’t miss with the lobster pancakes.
Drinks and desserts are just as swanky at this midtown spot. They offer a full selection of “martinis” along with signature cocktails. Prices for these drinks are typical for midtown, around $12. The staff is very friendly and helpful and the manager/owner will always stop by to check on you and make sure you’re experience is a positive one. The bartenders can border on rude if you plan on making any special requests. If you still have room left over when the meal is complete, treat yourself to their “banana” dessert. That isn’t the proper name but they’ll know what you mean.
138 W Houston St.
New York, NY 10012
Between 5th Ave and Madison Ave
Prem-On Thai in New York, NY is a true gem. A veritable diamond in the rough. The food is excellent, the decor is modern but not overdone. The prices, well they speak for themselves.
From the outside, Prem-On looks like nothing more than one of the typical shops that grace that area of Houston. Upon walking in however, you are transformed into a modernly styled culinary temple where your palate can run free. The main dining area is small, with a bar on the left wall and a handful of tables on the right. A second room in the rear allows a more private dining. The loud techno style music and nuovo designs are done well and actualy enhance the experience.
Begin with a signature cocktail. I tried the Thai-tini which while not my normal style was excellent to sip on. If you are an experienced thai eater then go nuts on the menu and be sure to inquire about the specials. If this is your first time having thai, or if you are looking for a recommendation, the staff will answer questions honestly and respectfully. I enjoy all aspect of this restaurant which is what would make me return. The menu is creative and it truly displays the range of influences and the skill that Prem-On’s kitchen possesses. Try the mussels appetizer and the sea bass entree and you’ll become a regular.
11 E. 36th St
New York, NY 10016-3337
Between 5th Ave and Madison Ave
The Ginger Man in New York, NY is a place that I happen to frequent. Perhaps it’s the great beer selection that draws me in, or perhaps it’s the fact that this is a New York bar with no B.S. Let me explain:
The city has many bars as i’m sure you are aware. I’ve been to lots of them. Unfortunately, they harbor some pre-conceived notion that they are able to make you jump through hoops just to get in the door. Examples are waiting on line in the cold, outrageous covers or being denied entry because you’re wearing sneakers. Believe me, I’ve seen all of that tried. The Ginger Man stands out because without any advanced notice you can walk in and grab a great pint. I really enjoy this place.
Upon walking in you’ll notice dark wood everything and extremly high cielings. The layout is elegant and simple, a large bar on the right with upwards of 60 (yes, you read correctly) taps on the wall. On the left are booths and tables where people gather to share conversation with their pints. In the rear of the building is a second smaller bar that I’ve never seen used and a “living room” type setting. The “living room” offers table service and the perfect opportunity to relax on couches or sit a few friends around a table and talk. The Ginger Man also offers a full menu though I’ve not tried there food as of yet.
A full bottle selection exists if nothing on draught fits your liking. The list tops out at around 120(wow!) bottles that are suitable for session drinking or that one hefty pint before you catch a cab. Most pints will run you about $6 which is not terrible for a great bar in the middle of Manhattan. Rarities will obviously cost more, but are well worth the occaisonal splurge.
2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
- Hints of strawberry in the nose. Flavors of berries with cherry. Barn red look.
- Sauteed meats
2004 Ancient Vines Zinfandel
- Strong nose, prune, jam, raspberry, plum. Slight pepper, easy to palate.