Favorites of 2008

By grace.g.yang ยท December 30, 2008
Under: Desserts,Dinner,Grace's Picks,gracenotesnyc.com,Lunch,My Life,Nightlife,Prix-fixe,Things to do in NYC,Travels

I can’t believe another year is coming to a close! Since my Favorites of 2007 was such a fun entry to write, I decided to do it again; it’s been a great year of at gracenotesnyc – we had a recent face-lift thanks to my brother, David, and we’re adding more great features to the site (stay tuned!!). As I was going through my entries from 2008, I realized that I had the opportunity to eat at a ton of great restaurants and *some* of my favorites are listed below. Here we go…

Favorite Pulled Pork Sandwich: Cookout, North Carolina


Maybe it’s not the clearest picture (I was in the car when I took it) but the sandwich speaks for itself. The pork is perfectly seasoned, falls straight off the bone, and the cole slaw topping makes for a perfect sandwich. Add a handmade shake with fresh fruit for a grand total of $5 and it gives me another great reason to visit North Carolina.

Favorite Restaurant to Bring Out of Town Guests: Employees Only

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When my friends come visit, I try to make reservations at hip restaurants that will leave them with a good impression of the city. My favorite place to take friends (under the age of 30, I suppose) is Employees Only. Not only is their food phenomenal (share the seared rib-eye), but they also have a drink list that is worth checking out. After dinner, you can hang out in the bar area, although it gets very crowded after 10.

Favorite Breakfast Dish: Cookshop

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The huevos rancheros from Cookshop are life-changing. Seriously. I’d had huevos once before (at a place called Mustang’s on the UES that’s not worth blogging about) and I almost forgot about the dish until I walked into Cookshop and saw so many tables enjoying the oven-finished dish. The in-house pickled onions are a great addition to the already delicious dish. It’s worth the trek out to 10th Ave, trust me!

Favorite Place to Eat Alone: A Salt and Battery

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The Bobby Flay throwdown video on youtube lured me to A Salt and Battery, which is literally down the street from Chris’ house. Their fried fish is freshly prepared to order, the tartar sauce is really tasty, and you don’t have to go with anyone else because there’s a counter where you can eat by yourself. Plus, you don’t want anyone else to know that you ordered and ate a fried Mars bar, do you?

Favorite Burger: Taylor’s Automatic Refresher

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I just realized that a bunch of my favorites aren’t from NYC this year….I guess I traveled for food a lot, didn’t I?! A birthday adventure for me and Chris took us to California, where we went on a culinary tour in Napa/San Francisco. Taylor’s Automatic Refresher’s burger was juicy, flavorful, and had a great secret sauce that was similar to In-N-Out’s. Another great thing about Taylor’s – there’s a cute lawn where kids (or adults) can run around silly while waiting for their awesome burgers and freshly made shakes.

Favorite Macaroni and Cheese: DuMont Burger

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The macaroni and cheese beats out Milk Bar, an establishment that I’m actually boycotting until they stop being such cheapo’s and bring back the two strips of bacon that used to be on every egg-in-a-hole. One of the great things about the macaroni at DuMont Burger is that it comes with a cheesy crust that gives every bite a lot more texture. Another reason to trek all the way to Brooklyn to try the mac and cheese is because DuMont Burger adds BACON to their mac and cheese. Seriously, it’s amazing.

Favorite Place to Quit the Atkins Diet and Carbo-Load: ad hoc

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Thomas Keller shows up on this blog quite often (I’m kind of obsessed, if you hadn’t noticed). ad hoc was the second Thomas Keller restaurant I’d ever visited (and definitely not my last) and it was a perfect way to start my birthday eat-a-thon. No, I wasn’t on the Atkins Diet when I went to California, but we ate so many carbs at ad hoc that night that if someone asked me for a recommendation of a place to go once they quit the Atkins Diet, I’d recommend ad hoc (that would be a pretty specific request though). The bread was freshly baked and sent over from Bouchon, the spring garlic risotto pangrattato was the best rice I’ve ever had (sorry mom), and the little bombolino’s were a perfect way to end the evening. Basically, if you want to have an carb-filled meal that makes you forget you ever gave up carbs, go to ad hoc and you will not be disappointed.

Favorite Place to Celebrate a Birthday: The French Laundry

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I have so many wonderful memories from my meal at The French Laundry. Chris and I celebrated our birthday’s there and were absolutely floored by the food and service (and price, but that’s a different story!) Our lunch lasted about 4 hours and was filled with so many interesting tastes and textures. If you’re looking for a special way to spend your birthday, going to The French Laundry is an experience you won’t forget.

Favorite Overall Dining Experience: per se

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Dining at per se, another Thomas Keller restaurant, is oftentimes referred to as a life-changing event. I mean, David Cheng of the Momofuku empire literally cried after his meal there. My brother, David, also said it was a life-changing meal for him; he had just completed his first 100-mile bicycle race, had recently lost 50 pounds, and the meal showed him that he didn’t need to stuff his face to appreciate food. The food was a tad better than The French Laundry’s (although both were very good), the service was impeccable, and the company was the best part of the meal:

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Joe, one of my best and kindest friends, invited me to dine with him at per se and I said that we should make it a big event – I invited David, Chris, and Ariel (and Ariel invited his friend, Kait). It was a special meal not only because of the food, but because I was able to share it with the friends and family I have in New York.

There you go – my favorite places to eat in 2008! I have a lot of great blog posts for 2009, including a recap of my Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid adventures, food reviews, and great recipes! What were some of your favorites of 2008? Do you have any resolutions for the New Year? Be Safe, Stay Warm, and Happy New Year!

Reader Comments

I still need to hit up a salt + battery, and I’m also going to check out Per Se in 2009. I think Joe’s Shanghai is my favorite of 2008. Happy New Year~

Written By Justin on December 30th, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

“Joe, one of my best and kindest friends…” Joe and kind should not be used in the same sentence!

My favorite was definitely Per se; the pic of us is great. You should send it in to page six.

Written By Ariel on December 30th, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

Hey Grace,

Love the post. You should check out these other websites. I think you could incorporate some of their great ideas into your blog –



Written By Cathy on December 31st, 2008 @ 9:59 am

Grace, I like your latest post. Hope 2009 brings you even more culinary bliss.

Written By joe on December 31st, 2008 @ 10:09 am

Wow, this makes me miss NYC!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Agreed about Employees Only and Per Se. You should also check out the Bougeois Pig if you haven’t already as somewhere to bring out of town guests – they have these amazing cheese plates and the baked brie in phyllo pastry is out of this world!

Written By Coco on January 5th, 2009 @ 5:58 am

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