BRASSERIE COGNAC EAST: A Quintessentially French Brasserie on Manhattan’s Upper East Side


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Brasserie Cognac East

(963 Lexington Avenue, at 70th Street, New York, NY 10021;



Situated on a quaint corner, Brasserie Cognac East’s stunning two-story space is as inviting and charming, as it is elegant and sophisticated. The main level is divided by a central winding stair case that  leads to the upstairs dining room, which can serve as a private dining room.

Neutral gray walls, burgundy banquettes and vintage mirrors create a relaxed, upscale brasserie feel, enhanced by a long brass bar, perfect for sipping wines and aperitifs. Upstairs, a shimmery ceiling and vibrant purple walls give life to the intimate room lined with windows and decorated with vintage chandeliers. Two working
fireplaces (one on each level) are added bonuses. Brasserie Cognac East also provides a delightful outdoor café for fantastic alfresco dining, weather permitting.

New York’s most rewarding restaurants have always been the small, charming finds and Cognac East avoids clichés, overly-trendy  shockers and global-molecular fusion, instead presenting contemporary  plays on classics at affordable prices with friendly service, looked over by the charming GM Bernard DuPont. There is also an outstanding wine list that extends to great cocktails and wines by the glass, such as the delicious VILLA BEL AIR, JM Cazes (FROM Lynch Bages)..

Here is an authentic French brasserie from Executive Chef/Partner Florian V. Hugo (Brasserie Cognac, Theater District NYC), an Alain Ducasse veteran and direct descendant of Victor Hugo; and Serafina Restaurant Group owners Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato.

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Chef Hugo listened to the loyal Upper East Side residing patrons of his five-year old Midtown West Brasserie Cognac (, by bringing a taste of France to their uptown neighborhood. Hugo, a native of Provence, is known for his traditional French fare with a sophisticated,contemporary twist.

Hugo’s culinary versatility shows in his modern creations, such as Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart on a warm puff pastry, and an amazing Tuna Tart, a thin tart flambé crust with wasabi cream and pickled ginger. Honoring the timeless classics, Hugo offers the best renditions of Cheese Soufflé, Niçoise Salad, an aromatic Lobster Bisque, classic Blanquette de Veau and daily special like a homey pot au feu.Guests can enjoy his signature Filet au Poivre, flambéed tableside with – of course – Cognac, or a singular roast chicken preparation as well as the outstanding COTE DE BOEUF, PRIME RIB COOKED ON THE GRILL,WITH GRATIN DAUPHINOIS, CREAMED SPINACH AND TRUFFLE BEEF JUS (for 1 or 2Pers).

Desserts range from: wonderful housemade cookies, a light and delicate FLOATING ISLAND (POACHED MERINGUE WITH CARAMEL AND VANILLA CRÈME ANGLAISE)  and lovely rendition of PROFITEROLES,  to a formidable Chocolate Soufflé, to name but a few.

Brasserie Cognac East, also named for the region in France known for its Cognac production, has an extensive Cognac selection with up to 50 labels, as well as three distinctive French beers on draft, as any reputable brasserie is known to offer. The restaurant also presents an interesting, predominantly French wine list, offering a combination of renowned labels and delicious affordable finds from little-known regions. Hugo personally curates the beverage program. Click Here For The List

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At Brasserie Cognac East, guests can begin their day with house-made Mini-Croissants, Fresh Ricotta & Raspberry Pancakes, and Orange & Espresso French Toast. Hugo offers popular ‘Œufs’ selections, such as Eggs in Brioche and ethereal Egg White Vegetable Frittata.

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Unique to Brasserie Cognac East is “Le Goûter”- refined French afternoon snack including tea service  (2:30pm-5pm), available every day with a fine selection of tea sandwiches, scones and house-made pastries, sure to please grown-ups as well as children.

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Brasserie Cognac East is open every day for breakfast, brunch, lunch, Le Goûter (afternoon tea/snacks) and dinner

Absolutely one of the five best upscale bistros in New York, BCE is packed with happy customers, so reserve.  For more information, go to Click Here for Website.

or here to make RESERVATIONS Click Here.

But by all means go. You’re going to like this one.


Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.



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Benares Midtown Is A Jewel In The Indian Restaurant Scene

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Benares Midtown is located at 240 W. 56th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway, 212-397-0707, and is open for lunch Mon-Sunday from 11:30am-2:45pm. Dinner is served daily from 5pm-10:30pm.

Benares Tribeca is well known for its remarkably diverse Indian cuisine and excellent service.  But what many people don’t realize is that the first Benares, created as a collaboration between owner Inder Singh and Chef Peter Beck (formerly of Tamarind Tribeca and Chola) is actually located in Midtown—serving some of the best Indian food in the Manhattan, and definitely the most diverse and creative. Service, under the direction of the energetic manager Nitin Jairath, is outstanding: Perhaps the best of any Indian restaurant in New York.

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Every 100 miles in India the food changes, from the Eastern areas influenced by China to the abundance of chilies for cooling purposes in the South.  Like the Tribeca location, Benares Midtown features specialties from all 28 states of India, but in a setting that suits its midtown location.  The midtown kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Surjeet Rajput who worked at five-star properties in India and the well-respected House of India in Bermuda before coming to the U.S. to cook at Devi as chef de cuisine.  He brings his considerable talent and over 20 years of experience to Benares Midtown, collaborating with and executing the original menu Chef Beck created for both Benares locations.

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One thing that distinguishes Benares Midtown is the very popular lunch buffet (not available in Tribeca). The buffet is perfect for workday lunches (saves time in ordering!), but is also available seven days a week, which makes it a great place for theatergoers and tourists to experience the distinctive cuisine that Benares Midtown offers on the weekends.  The secret to the quality of the buffet is that each of the options (three appetizers, three main meat courses, four vegetarian mains, four chilled salads, two desserts, breads, as well as condiments) that are offered each day are prepared only in small batches which are continuously replenished and served at optimal temperature throughout the entire lunch service. The menu changes daily, but a typical spread might be composed of meat dishes such as tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, goat, lamb or shrimp curries; and vegetarian dishes such as saag paneer, baingan mirch ka salan, delectable baby eggplant simmered in coconut with curry leaf-flavored curry and lush dal makhani, slow-cooked black lentils in butter and tomato sauce; and rice dishes such as basmati rice with cumin or peas pulao, saffron rice with peas.  Desserts may include terrific gulab jamun, honey-soaked dumplings, and narangi kheer, orange-flavored rice pudding.  The full a la carte menu is also available during lunch and dinner.

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There are also several dishes that are exclusive to Benares Midtown, dishes with a particular focus on shellfish:  appetizers such as angoori jhinga, grilled tandoori shrimp with ginger, garlic, green chilies and grape relish is the best shrimp creation we ever met in a NY Indian restaurant and crab milagu, a generous mound of lump crab meat seasoned with spiced pepper and roasted tomato is so delicious that you might want a second portion.  There are also special seafood entrees such as iggaru royya, shrimp simmered in a rich coconut gravy flavored with star anise and kekada kari, a traditional nadan kerala style crab curry.  Other intriguing entrees that are available only at Benares Midtown include kozhi varutha curry, a South Indian specialty, chicken cooked with roasted chili, ginger and garlic in coconut sauce and jodhpuri takari, a vegetarian tomato and onion based stew of soft tofu, soy beans and baby corn.

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The well-edited global wine list was specially selected to pair with Indian spices and flavors.  Most of the wines are available by the glass or by the bottle.  The light sweetness of the Washington State Chateau St. Michelle Riesling offsets the spiciness of the food, and the fruitiness of the Handcraft California pinot noir is a good match for lamb and chicken dishes.  There’s also a choice of 11 beers including Kingfisher and Taj Mahal. There’s also a creative cocktail list that incorporates the flavors of India, as well as alcohol-free yogurt beverages—the traditional lassi in plain, sweet and salted, mango, and rose flavors.

Benares mid dessert

Benares Midtown is without doubt an Indian restaurant that should on the list any diner that enjoys the real thing, with a creative bent and service that matches the food,  


Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


Cascabel Taqueria East Is A South-Of-The-Border Showstopper

1538 2nd Avenue @ 80th Street

New York, NY 10075
(212) 717-8226

Website: Click Here

Order Online at Seamless Web

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Cascabel Taqueria East has enjoyed enormous media exposure since its opening. So much success, that it has opened a west side branch and both are in the expansion process. The spic and span, no nonsense décor and modest prices are only part of the story. Add to this warm, friendly service, knock out cocktails, served in glass jars (costing as little as $6 at Happy Hour), and modern inventive takes on authentic Mexican cuisine that is better than many of the top Mexican restaurants we visited in Mexico City.

There is a short, inexpensive and well chosen wine list and loads of excellent beers as well as flights of Tequila and Mezcal. But food is the thing and it is fabulous, as is the amazing operation, which would clone beautifully.

Cascabel is named after the deep red chili peppers the. Menu is priced for the budget-conscious but created for the foodie, and broken into five categories: “(starters), (sides), “tacos,” “ (entrees) and (desserts).

Don’t expect standard Mexi-junk food. The owners and chef are serious and what the atmosphere lacks in a fine dining experience (super-casual), it more than makes up for in quantity, quality and pricing.

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They serve modern interpretations of traditional Mexican dishes. The signature cashable tacos are made from dried corn, treated and softened in lime water, not unlike the Aztecs used centuries ago. Drinks try top-shelf drinks from the bar, or select from a wide selection of craft beers, micro brews and wine, as well as the finest tequilas and artisanal mescals.

Make sure you check out the seasonal cocktail menu regularly too. They also offer refreshing, handmade drinks, made from citrus fruits pressed in an authentic Mexican juice squeezer and mixed with seltzer and organic agave nectar. In the mood for sangria, they make it fresh daily.

Cascabel is a casual, Mexican Taqueria offering fresh, handcrafted fare, inspired by the markets of Mexico.  We’re sure you’ll love our rocking tacos!

The  house salsas and hot sauces are made to complement the food we serve.  At Cascabel, It’s not just about food.  From the moment you walk through the door, we invite you to relax with their Organic Tequilas, micro brews, and have fun piecing together your perfect meal!


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Favorite dishes range from a first rate Guacamole Tradicional con TosTadas, served mild / medium / hot (go for the latter), spiked with grape tomato puree / thai chili / garlic / lime / cilantro.

Better yet are the stars of the appetizers: GordiTas con puerco,  moist, tender and grease free heritage pork belly / chipotle honey glaze / cucumber / cilantro / masa cake. Absolutely to die for. Also loved the delicious blue crab / corn / fresh salsa / piquillo pepper aioli eloTe asado (more like elegant conch fritters). Grilled corn / mexican aioli / lime / cascabel chili / queso cotija / cilantro
rabano was cooked to perfection and succulent. Also a steal for $5.

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Of the larger dinner plates, you can’t beat the Pollo asado, 1/2 rotisserie chicken / cascabel chili / creamed corn / cilantro / corn tortillas. Like a mirror image of chicken mole, with a white sauce, crushed nuts, herbs, spices and of course chiles. A masterful chicken dish! Also wonderful is carne a la plancha, grilled yucatan achiote strip steak / house made salsa verde / refried beans / rabano / red onion / cilantro. Pretty as a picture with its garnish of fresh sliced red radishes.

There’s great espresso and what desserts: a terrific Tres leche,s fluffy sponge cake soaked in three milks and the best churros, cinnamon spiced mexican doughnut, to dip in chilli chocolate sauce you’ll ever taste.

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Packed, noisy and a “no-reservation” policy but, for really great, natural and affordable Mexican food and drink, Cascabel is a joy and belongs at the top of any foodie’s Mexican list.

Cascabel is located at 1538 2nd avenue @ 80th street and 2799 Broadway @ 108th street. You will enjoy both dining venues

Walman Report Rating: A Major


Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


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