As my wife had too much work to catch up with, my daughter and I decided to go to New York for a culinary weekend. Let’s see how many times I say “delicious” in this post.

Before we left for New York, I met a couple of students at Mr. Bartley’s, across the street from Harvard Square and right next to Harvard Books. The famous hamburger dive which has collected accolades like “best hamburgers in the USA” from the Wall Street Journal, and has been featured by National Geographic, New York Times, Squire, and many other media outlets and movies. The laundry list of celebrity customers and fans includes Johnny Cash, Jaqueline Onasis, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bill Belichick, Al Pacino, Adam Sandler, Tom Werner, and Katie Couric. It has a wacky atmosphere with a dining room like a dorm room, filled with posters, bumper stickers, and funny signs.

As we arrived in New York, we went straight to the first restaurant in our list: Popular, at the NY Public Hotel. The description couldn’t be more appealing:

At POPULAR, diners have a special opportunity to enjoy authentic, original, healthy, and globally inspired Peruvian cuisine by Chef Diego Muñoz, who helmed The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ #1 rated Latin American restaurant, Astrid y Gastón, in Lima. Chef Diego, a rare talent, proudly brings to New York City, the ultimate international gateway, the best of his Peruvian homeland’s multicultural cuisine—a microcosm of some of the world’s greatest culinary traditions—Incan, Spanish, Moorish, African, Italian, Chinese and Japanese. To accompany Chef Diego’s flavor-forward, healthy dishes, POPULAR serves enchanting, best-in-class pisco cocktails and a selection of international wines.

Astrid y Gastón, in Lima was indeed SPECTACULAR, so I figured this should be awesome too. But it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing to complain about. Maybe my expectations were too high. But it definitely did not live up to the hype.

On Saturday, after a nice stroll through Central Park we went to the real highlight of the trip for lunch: Le Coucou. Let’s say I love EVERYTHING about this restaurant. Their marketing says:

After taking Paris by storm, internationally acclaimed chef Daniel Rose returns home with Le Coucou. A gracious modern nod to fine European gastronomy, Rose shrinks the intercontinental divide separating the City of Light and the Big Apple, proving that the true essence of fine French dining can thrive in any time zone.

It truly is a corner of France in New York’s SoHo. From the decor to the service to the food: absolutely delicious and adorable. Honestly, the sauce of the Vol-au-vent “Coucou”, with veal sweetbreads and lobster, puff pastry, vermouth and white wine tarragon cream, is something I will not forget in a long time.

After a ride on the Staten Island ferry, and with such a very tough act to follow, we decided something completely different for dinner: Yakiniku Futago. In their own words:

Yakiniku, in Japanese, means to barbecue! The owners of FUTAGO were born as twin brothers in Osaka, the most popular city for yakiniku in Japan. Futago means “twins” in Japanese. Establishing their first FUTAGO restaurant in the year of 2010 in Tokyo, we developed a unique “FUTAGO style” concept, which is selecting the best quality meats and serving it at half the portion and price, compared to all the other BBQ restaurants.

It was nice, and enjoyable. But it’s difficult to compete with the many other excellent Japanese restaurants in NY. Although, as my daughter added the requirement “meat”, this one surely hit the right note.

On Sunday we went to MoMA (both museum and store). As they extended the exhibition dates, we were lucky to see Refik Anadol’s mesmerizing ‘Unsupervised — Machine Hallucinations’, and a bunch of other pieces before going to our final restaurant of the culinary weekend: La Mercerie. Maybe it was the brunch menu and vibe. Maybe it’s usually this bad. But we left (something we rarely do) after ordering and eating an apetizer. The service was rude, the wait long, the food mediocre… the only thing that was nice was the decor. Fortunately the cute Canal Street Market was around the corner, so we did not go back home hungry!

Here are some photographs.