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Le Bernardin – New York, NY

There’s a reason this restaurant has three Michelin stars, seven James Beard Awards and is  ranked 24 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.  Time and time again it’s impeccable.  I’ve been twice now, the first time having the Chef’s Tasting Menu and the second ordering a la carte.  Both were divine and different which was extremely satisfying.  Each dish is so beautifully composed and perfect from the presentation to the moment the flavors touch your tongue.  Mmmm…I just wanted more!  Definitely set your alarm to call two months in advance at 9am EST.  It’s worth the effort and money if you can manage it.

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Hamachi – flash marinated Hamachi, young radishes and amaranth crisp, Yuzu vinaigrette

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Langoustine – seared langoustine, fennel mousse line, spiced citrus-sambal sauce

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Snapper – crusted red snapper, pickled Persian cucumbers, green curry-goat yogurt emulsion

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Sushi Kashiba – Seattle, WA

I had the pleasure of eating here on my birthday this year…what a treat! This is Chef Shiro Kashiba’s new sushi venture located next to Pike Place Market where the old Campagne used to be.

If you don’t know anything about Chef Shiro, let me give you a quick little breakdown.  Before starting his own restaurants in Seattle, Shiro spent many years working alongside his sushi mentor Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi), who many consider to be the world’s greatest sushi chef.  He eventually made his way to America, convinced that in the Pacific Northwest he could keep the integrity of the way sushi is made in Tokyo.  He was right!  Fast forward to today – he has opened four restaurants, Sushi Kashiba being the only one he owns today, and has been nominated for the James Beard Award twice.

My husband and I decided to go with the “omakase” menu – chef’s choice sushi dinner.  Overall it was enough food, not too much, not too little.  Everything was outstanding!

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ABC Kitchen – New York, NY

Located in the basement of ABC Home (I didn’t get the chance to go there so it’s on my list for next time), ABC Kitchen is home to Chef Jean-Georges, winner of the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant of 2011.  The space is very urban with all the exposed beams and air ducts as well as the mix of materials…wood and concrete with splashes of decorative lighting.  The menu is well rounded offering a mix of seasonal ingredients all the while staying just small enough to not be insanely overwhelming.  Our reservation wasn’t until 10pm (welcome to New York!) and was still packed and lively.  Definitely a different city in comparison to Seattle but we already knew that:)

We started with the Line Caught Tuna Sashimi Marinated with Ginger and Mint.  Nice clean flavors…I could have eaten a lot more of this:)

We had to get the Pretzel Dusted Calamari with Marinara and Mustard Aioli.  I’ve never seen such a thing but in all honesty…it was so understated that I was barely able to detect the pretzel.  Good and cooked perfectly but didn’t strike me as anything “different”.

Special of the night: Truffle pizza…yes please!!!  Anyone who has had fresh truffles before knows that they’re much more subtle than the overly intense flavor of truffle oil.  I love both but think you have to be careful with the oil.  A little can go a long way.  These on the other hand…keep ’em coming!

I love, love, love brussels sprouts and always get them when they’re on the menu.  Roasted with garlic and rosemary, these were fantastic!  Lived up to my expectations for sure.

My husband and I split the Akaushi Cheeseburger with Herbed Mayo and Pickled Jalapeño.  With all the other food we ordered this was the perfect thing to split.  Packed with flavor, this wasn’t disappointing.

To end our already indulgent meal we decided on the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae with Candied Peanuts & Popcorn, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce…wow!  I would definitely order this again.  Although we hardly put a dent in it this was incredible!  I loved the hot and cold, silky and crunchy, salty and sweet…it was everything you could ask for.  Yum!

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