There is nothing more I look forward to every day than what I will eat. I love food. I don't want to call myself a foodie though because it is a bit pretentious term and I am NOT 100% knowledgeable about food. I wish I was. I'm learning, but my goal is not to be a foodie anyway. When I go out to eat, I equate it to traveling. I love discovering new dishes, flavors, food I could never re-create at home. My goal is to enjoy the meal, the service, the ambience of the restaurant, the conversation with an eating companion, people watching...
With that being said, I've been eaten at a ton of places in NYC and around the world. Some good, some ok, some overrated, and some absolutely seared-in-my-memory-forever delicious. It's very rare I find a place I want to go back and try other dishes and this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to come across two! Both are brand new, Covina and Le Coq Rico.
Covina is a Mediterranean restaurant from the owners of nearby sushi joint O-ya (which I've also been and is quite good). It's a great place for any type of occasion--date night, catching up with friends or family. There is a front area that's the "cafe" part of the restaurant where you can get coffee + breakfast. I look forward to trying this area next time! Then when you walk in, there is a huge wrap-around bar where you can drink cocktails or have a meal. The back area is the dining area and the decor is very modern, chic, but comfortable. I'm trying not to be the type of person who takes a million pictures in a restaurant so unfortunately I don't have any to share.
Service-wise, the waitress we had was great. The restaurant has only been opened a week or so when I went, and she was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu and drinks. My friend and I had:
- the wood-grilled gulf shrimp - Very juicy and the bed of polenta cream it came with was yummy
- the Hungarian fried bread - I was curious to try this. OMG IT WAS GREAT. Although it's fried, the bread was very light, not oily or doughy or too carby at all. It came with smoked salmon, which is something I sometimes like but not too much, and the combination of the salmon with the bread and the kefir ranch cream was perfect
- the mandilla - All their pastas are made fresh in-house and you can definitely tell. This pesto pasta dish is wrapped over ricotta cheese and was probably my favorite of all four dishes. I even took home leftovers and it was still so good the next day after re-heating it in the oven
- the margherita pizza - I love pizza. I could do a whole post on NYC pizza. This is more Neopolitan style pizza and it was quite tasty. You can tell they're using pretty high quality ingredients for the cheese/tomato sauce
I really loved every dish we ordered, which again, is a rare thing to happen for me at a restaurant!
IN SUMMARY: Recommend for people who are looking for a tapas-style place in a comfortable and cool but casual environment. Everything is shareable. For the price I thought it was reasonable given the quality of the food, service, and ambience. We had leftovers from the pasta and pizza dishes. Located on 27th Street btwn Park and Lexington Avenue, this place is easy to get to via subway. Just take the 6 train to 28th Street and walk 1 block south and then east on 27th.
TIPS: Didn't get to try the coffee, but had mint tea after dinner and it was a very promising sign that they do everything well. I love tea and it perfectly brewed. If you're a tea drinker, you know what I'm talking about.
Le Coq Rico
At Le Coq Rico, which is the first American branch of the Parisian-one, a question formed in my head that in all my 30+ years of eating I never thought about--what is the life span of a chicken?? I could probably google it, but I think if I knew, I would be sad and not eat chicken anymore. There's probably a ton of reasons why we shouldn't be eating meat anyway but...that's a whole other discussion/topic. I mean honestly, every day there is a study about what's good for you, what's not good for you. Eating meat will kill you, being vegetarian increases your risk of cancer, blah blah blah. I'm sure there is some truth to every study but I also think life is life, unpredictable and random. You can try to live a healthy life or one sustained in junk food but anything can happen so I rather just enjoy the present but be mindful. Anyway, at Le Coq Rico, their specialty is chicken and they're very particular about what chickens they use (how long they're alive for, how they're raised, what they're fed, etc.). Apparently it's American standard to take chickens in at 40 days, whereas this place harvests their chicken at 100+ days.
The hard thing about writing food posts is that there are only so many adjectives to describe what you're eating but I'll do my best. My friend and I ordered:
- en meurette - Wow, this was different. It's basically egg poached in a red wine reduction sauce and topped with bacon and mushrooms. The sauce was flavorful and the whole dish was just delicious. I didn't even know you could poach eggs in red wine. I must learn.
- fried & crusty - Also good, came with a lot of fresh veggies. This was my friend's order so I didn't get to try too much of it but I think mine was the better of the two appetizers!
- rotisserie chicken (quarter-size) with salad - I see the light of eating older chicken! The meat was very tender and the roast of the skin was crisp. The jus you can pour over it was great too.
- seasonal vegetable fricassee & potato puree - Basic side dishes, but very fresh. Our fricassee was a bit over salted though
- profiteroles - I'm not a big dessert person but man these were good. Very light, it wasn't heavy at all though I'm sure it's loaded with calories! Everything about it is a sugar lover's dream. I only had a few bites, my friend did the rest of the damage.
IN SUMMARY: Recommend for people who love their rotisserie chickens and want to try something different. Price-wise, I thought this place was reasonable, maybe a bit on the higher side given that it's comfort food but you can tell they're using fresh ingredients. Good place for date night, catching up with friends, business meals, and families. Located on 20th street btwn Park and Madison Avenue, this place is easy to get to by the 6 train or the N/R/Q line. Close to Union Square as well.
TIPS: Try to get a seat at the kitchen bar so you can witness the action.
S I D E N O T E:
Everyone's idea of how much to spend is all relative. Having lived in NYC my whole life, unfortunately I've grown accustomed to paying NYC prices. In fact, when I went to Amsterdam last year, I was SHOCKED to see a glass of wine was only $4. I knew that it's cheaper in Europe but hadn't been back in so long that I just forgot. So please know that my opinions of if a place is reasonable or not is due to the fact that I'm used to things being more expensive here. That does NOT mean I like paying NYC prices though! I do try to eat cheap whenever possible, usually if I'm eating alone. If I think a place is "reasonable" in terms of prices, it means that in my opinion, I think the prices are good/fair-value based on the quality of food, ambience, service.