Mandarette Cafe (Los Angeles, CA)

Our super nice waitress

Mandarette is where magic happens. Literally! My friend is totally obsessed with Dexter and spent the whole day on a notable (annoying) looking-up-Michel C. Hall-on-the-internet-bender.  We met up for dinner at Mandarette that night and Michel C. Hall walks in with us! He even smiled at her! She turned to stone, starstruck–or having a heart attack– then her face lit up with pure bliss. Needless to say, we “had to” walk past his table all night while “going to the bathroom.” So, if there’s an LA celebrity you’d like to run into, think intensely of them all day, then you too might see them at Mandarette!

But I’ve digressed without even starting. Let’s get to the REAL reason we’re here: FOOD!

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Abistro (Brooklyn, NY)

International communal tables

For years, YEARS, I read gushing accolades for Abistro in total disbelief since the Senegalese-meets-French menu is such a dull read. Nor did I believe the internet buzz, composed mostly of unsubstantiated statements like “The food was SO delicious,” or “It’s the best! Just go!”… like, what does that mean (and let’s pretend I *never* say such things). So I put off a visit for years. But with my move out of the neighborhood looming, I mustered up the will to make the walk into Fort Greene… and thank heaven I did… for the good, the bad…and the BYOB!

A wet sloppy delicious mess

We began with the special appetizer of Sweet Plantains (which appears to be a standard special). The generous portion of ooey gooey fried plantains–smothered in maple syrup with a light sprinkle of scallions–is served with a side of pungent chipotle sauce. My Beau snickered as I gushed with delight over the creamy smoky sauce. “You know that is aioli… aka mayonnaise.” I didn’t–and I’ll admit, I cringed–but driven by flavor hypnotism, I summoned all my foodie courage and devoured the entire cup of my emulsified nemesis. If only all mayonnaises were as flavorful as this one… Continue reading