Sakagura and a few thoughts on restaurants

We returned to Olstead when the weather was brutally cold.  One of the wonderful things about Olmstead is their beautiful backyard.  It is the perfect place to have a pre-dinner drink or an after-dinner drink or just a drink.  Not when it is below 15 degrees.  I didn’t take any photos as we had been before but the food was incredible.  Some of the most creative, delicious, interesting dishes I have had in quite awhile.  I am really looking forward to going back when the backyard is screaming spring is here.

We went to a new spot, Sakagura, that is not new to NYC but new to us.  They have been around since 1996 and consider themselves a pioneer in introducing sake to NYC.  Located in midtown, underneath an office building, in a large funky space.  There is something very edgy to the place as it isn’t fancy at all but has this great funky vibe.  A great sake menu and a really good Japanese small plate menu.  We shared everything and we enjoyed each bite.  The highlights were the raw, seared Kobe beef covered with daikon radish and ponzu sauce.

Sweet soy marinated salmon was the special of the day.  Each of us had one of these pieces that just fell off the bone.  Really good.

Unisoba is buckwheat noodles topped with sea urchin in a sea urchin broth.  Yum.

There were other dishes but those were the tops.  Even dessert was delicious and simple.  Sesame ice cream over a sesame creme brulee and a crispy sesame chip.

We also went to Union Square Cafe for a meal.  I applaud that they reopened the spot nearby after 20+ years but have yet to wrap my arms around the look of the new place.  It looks like the old place so it feels very 80’s to me and I don’t why they didn’t keep some references vs trying to just stick with the complete look.  This is not our first time there.  It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy some of the dishes but it was the service.  Super slow out of the kitchen and also slow in regards to paying attention to the table and that was the same as the last time.  Even the pasta with the white truffles of the season wasn’t shaved at the table but brought out already on the pasta from the kitchen.  I know that all of USHG restaurants have eliminated tipping but I am not sure it works here like it does in Europe.  People who work there are making a lot less income and the service shows.  Some other restaurants have tried the no-tip policy and have returned to it.  I’d be surprised if the data pointed to this concept actually working for the hospitality piece of the business.

Back to Sakagura and Olmstead for sure.