All posts by Johnny Prime

The Family Value Pack

Good morning, Meat Minions!

I hope you are all surviving the madness of Covid-19. I know that grocery stores have become pretty thread-bare lately, especially in the meat department. I figured this was a good time to let you know about the Family Value Pack that I have in the shop.

Here’s what you get for $119:

  • 4 10oz NY Strip Steaks
  • 8 Half-Pound Burgers
  • 4lbs of Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts

CLICK HERE to order, and stay safe out there you fuckin’ animals!

Yours in Beef,

Johnny Prime

D’Espana

Despana is a little wine shop, gourmet Spanish grocery, and tapas/pintxos bar in Soho, all rolled into one. My wife won a wine tasting here in a silent auction, so last night we went in to give it a shot.

We tried six different wines from Spain that utilized grape varietals that I have never tried before. All were great. I’m not a wine snob by any means, but I do appreciate the good stuff and I know it when I taste it.

Speaking of tasting good shit, the snacks here are delicious.

That lean muscle lomo on the bottom right side of the charcuterie board was amazing. And that sous vide octopus? BUTTER!

Give this place a shot if you’re in the area.

D’ESPANA
408 Broome St
New York, NY 10013

Balthazar

In all my years in NYC, I never tried Balthazar until last night. I had heard all the great stories: awesome steaks, awesome fries, awesome bread. Only one of those is true, but there are other things worth noting.

My wife and I stopped in for a quick meal at the bar. We started with some nice stiff cocktails, and a pair of apps: escargots and steak tartare. BIG FRENCH.

The escargots were awesome. We crushed them quickly. The tartare was average to good, but the slices of toasted bread were awesome. In fact, the Balthazar bread is so good that other restaurants use Balthazar bread for their bread service.

For our mains, we had the burger and the steak frites.

The burger was really good. Nice crust, great flavor, ample cheese coverage.

The steak, however…

… was Applebees level trash. It was cooked nicely, but the quality was average at best.

I can make anything look good, but this was a 5/10 or 6/10 at best. At $42 this felt like a rip off, and I think it was either flank or flatiron. Not strip as I was kind of expecting. The fries were very good, but not quite at awesome level. Go across town to Raoul’s if a killer burger and steak frites is what you’re after. Here, I would stick to the bread, the burger, and the snails. And yes, the fries are still worth trying if you haven’t already.

BALTHAZAR
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

My Favorite Steaks

Inevitably, when discussing steaks, I am often asked what my favorite steak or steakhouse is. This is a very complicated answer for someone like me. For example, and by way of analogy, most movie buffs don’t have a single favorite movie. They might have a handful of favorites from each genre, though. Favorite horror (The Shining); Favorite Sci-Fi (12 Monkeys); Favorite Comedy (Trading Places); etc. That’s how I view steaks and steakhouses. So when I’m asked, I always tell people that it depends on the cut. So here we go:

RIB EYE

I often consider the  rib eye to be the true steak eater’s steak. Bovine bliss. So here are my favorite rib eyes, in order:

1. Antique Bar & Bakery‘s “Dirty Rib Eye”

I can’t say enough about this rib eye. There’s just something magical about what Chef Paul Gerard can do with that crazy 2000ºF oven of his.

2. Delmonico’s 45-Day Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib Eye

Delmonico’s consistently serves the best dry-aged steaks in the city, and the 45-day dry-aged rib eye is the top of the heap.

3. Osteria Morini‘s 120-Day Dry-Aged Tomahawk

This bad boy is only offered on the first Wednesday of every month, and they only get about seven of them, so you have to call ahead to reserve yours. Well worth the effort, and it comes with sides and apps if I recall correctly.

4. Delfrisco’s Double Eagle Domestic Wagyu Tomahawk for Two

This 32oz hunk of pure tenderness is the way to go when dining here. I love that peppery crust.

CHECK OUT MY BUTCHER SHOP!!!

PRIME RIB

This is a tough category, and I’m torn between high end/upscale and old school manliness.

1. TAK Room

This isn’t always available, but when it is, you have to get it. This is nearly a pound of Snake River Farms gold label domestic wagyu beef. Amazing.

2. 4 Charles Prime Rib

As my buddy Tappi recommended to me, so shall I recommend to you: Get the “English Cut” prime rib here, if you’re lucky enough to score a table in the first place. The other versions are great as well though.

Also, any steak or chop this place has on special is work ordering, whether it is a bone in tenderloin or a porterhouse.

3. The Grill

I’ve really come around on this place. At first I was a hater, but now I’m a huge fan. And there’s just something about this classically served prime rib that I can’t get enough of. Dining at The Grill is special, but eating the prime rib there is decadent.

4. Keen’s Steakhouse

 

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For the manly appetite, this is the place to go. This massive dry-aged, beautifully roasted chunk of beef is probably big enough to share. If you order like I do, you’ll share the mutton as an appetizer and then share this as your entree.

PORTERHOUSE

Ahh, the porterhouse. So many places do it well. But there are two that really stand out to me:

1. Tuscany Steakhouse

The way to go here is the off-menu cajun porterhouse. Tell them Johnny sent you and they will accommodate. It’s a great one.

2. Porter House Bar & Grill

Chef Lomonaco does the name Porter House proud with his delicious porterhouse. It always packs a punch of dry-aged goodness.

NEW YORK STRIP STEAK

I don’t order strips as often as I should. My typical game plan at a steakhouse is to share the rib eye as an appetizer, and then share the porterhouse as the main course. And since the porterhouse includes a strip in it, I’m sort of covered. But these two places offer some great stand-alone strips that are worthy of your time.

1. Strip House

Time for an updated pic! As their double-entendre restaurant name might suggest, Strip House serves a really good strip. It just wouldn’t be cool if they didn’t. Smear some of the roasted garlic across the always perfectly cooked and beautifully crusted beef, and you’re in heaven.

2. Harry’s

Transport yourself to the lavish days of Wall Street power meals at the newly re-vamped Harry’s, and treat yourself to their delicious strip. It is classically grilled and mildly dry-aged, but a perfect pink throughout. This meal is just as much about the ambiance as it is about the flavor.

FILET MIGNON

Since I don’t have a vagina, I almost never order a filet unless I’m having a light lunch. That’s not to knock the filet mignon by any means. I just prefer it attached to a porterhouse instead of by its lonesome. But here are a couple of my favorites:

1. Quality Meats

By far the best filet I’ve ever had. Super tender, big and beefy. Order it Pittsburgh style, so the outside has a hard sear and the inside is rare.

2. Gallagher’s Steakhouse

Another spot that needs a new pic! After this place remodeled a few years back, they really upped their game. Not only is their filet killer, but their dry-aged prime rib is worth getting as well.

OTHER CUTS

A list wouldn’t be complete without some outliers and specials; cuts that you normally don’t see on steakhouse menus, but they’re worth seeking out.

1. Catch Steak‘s Dry Aged Rib Eye Cap

This thing is amazing. It may be on the small side as far as entrees go, but I suggest you get one as an app if money is not an issue for you. Grab a second if you can!

2. Bowery Meat Company‘s Bowery Steak

A neatly presented pinwheel of spinals dorsi muscle (the delicious outer “fat cap” of the rib eye) with chimichurri sauce awaits you at Bowery Meat Company.

Go get it!

3. Le Rivage‘s Deckle for Four

They say it’s for four, but you can definitely take it down with two people. You have to call ahead and ask for this beauty. Similar to the Bowery Steak above, only large format and roasted, served family style. When you call ahead, request that they serve their Pommes Anna to go with it. You will thank me.

Oceans

My wife took me to this joint for a belated Valentine’s Day date. This spot has some great seafood. We tried a lot of it, so I’ll get moving.

First, their bread service is incredible. I didn’t take a great picture of it, but the focaccia and sourdough are perfect. They bring it out with a dish of whipped butter mixed with some seriously high quality olive oil.

We started the meal with some fresh uni. This was a bit steep at $38, but it was so damn delicious, seasoned simply with some flake salt.

The stone crab claws were probably the low point of the meal. It was difficult to extract the meat (didn’t come out in good sized chunks), and over all it was just average in terms of flavor. For $25 a pop, we would have spent that $50 on more langoustines or carabineros (you’ll see that ahead).

The octopus with gigante beans was a good dish, but not excellent like some of the others. I would pass on this next time and focus more on the other seafood options.

Here’s one of those excellent dishes now: grilled langoustines.

These were perfectly cooked and incredibly flavorful. Make sure you save some bread so you can scoop out the succulent brains and eat them together like a makeshift lobster roll.

The carabineros shrimp were our favorite part of the meal. These giant, head-on shrimp from Spain are so deeply flavorful that it’s almost hard to explain. That dark red flesh is packed with natural fatty juices too. You’ll want to wipe some bread into that shit as well.

For our mains, we had Japanese snapper and a Niman Ranch rib eye. Both were served as composed dishes with sides of vegetables, and both were cooked really nicely. The steak was a solid 8/10.

For dessert, 16-layer lemon cake. So good with that blood orange sherbet swirl.

I definitely plan to go here again. They have beef tataki and lamb belly pasta on the menu that I need to try, but the daily seafood specials will be difficult to pass up again, I’m sure of it. Go give this place a shot.

OCEANS
233 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10003

Ishikawa

My wife told me about this joint that just opened their second location on the upper west side. I took her here for an early surprise Valentine’s Day dinner, since she has to travel on the actual date.

Everything we had here was incredible, and at a price point of $155 for the premium omakase, you really get a ton of high quality pieces. I think there were almost 20. Below are a few of my favorites.

Of course, the one that involved wagyu and foie gras was awesome:

These two with highly marbled tuna belly were great.

This was also awesome; three different kinds of eggs:

I can’t wait to go back!

ISHIKAWA
207 W 80th St
New York, NY 10024

Jing Fong

Jing Fong on the upper west side might be my new favorite place for dim sum. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive than the old, storied downtown haunts, but the food is markedly better. In addition, while the classic dim sum joint will have rolling carts of tasty goodness meandering throughout the floor of the restaurant (which is a big part of the fun), those carts often smell like sterno, chemical flame or leaking natural gas. That smell always ruins the experience for me.

This place brings everything out that you order, sans carts. No smell. I liked that change-up, though admittedly there was a little less fun and intrigue to the experience. But over all, I really loved this place. Some favorites below:

Peking Duck Dumplings – probably one of the best dumplings I’ve had.

I usually hate these pork buns. Always too “bready” and almost always too sweet. Not the case here.

Take a peek inside the vagina slit below. Great ratio of bun to meat, and the meat wasn’t too sweet. Perfect.

Always important to eat your veggies:

Especially when there’s minced pork inside.

Very nice steamed rice rolls (though I wish they offered the ones with fried crullers inside too).

This crispy fried chicken with roasted garlic (entree dish, not dim sum obviously) was really nice too.

I’ll definitely be back here again.

JING FONG
380 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

Red Meat Lover’s Club “Feast of the Beasts”

The Red Meat Lover’s Club is a group of carnivores that hosts meaty events all over the place, and, in the process, the club raises money for charities through both ticket sales and auctions during the events.

I attended their “Feast of the Beasts” event, which was held at The Breslin and benefitted the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club. The menu was pretty incredible.

We started with passed bites and sips of fine whiskey, and then moved on to the main part of the meal.

First was a pair of roasted, crispy skin suckling pigs.

Absolutely delicious, especially the cheeks:

Then we moved on to lamb shanks. Endless amounts of lamb shanks…

But the main event was the roasted steamship round.

Check out this video:

The outer bits had so much great dry-aged flavor, and I was shocked at how perfectly cooked the inside was: a nice medium rare.

The sides were great too, roasted carrots, spicy broccoli rabe and crispy potato gratin.

I will definitely be hitting more of these events in the future, and you should too! They even sent me home with some cigars.

Rib Room

Rib Room overall score: 81

Our first dinner in New Orleans during our 2019/2020 New Year trip was here at Rib Room. I was dying to try some prime rib from here ever since I passed by it on the street two years ago. Here’s how it went down.

Flavor: 8

I had the king cut prime rib, which is a gorgeous tomahawk chop that’s roasted to perfection. The cap was delicious, and the eye was cooked evenly throughout, without getting too monotonous in terms of flavors and textures.

This baby came with a hard, pipe-hittin’ horseradish sauce that will known your brain out of your skull if you’re not too careful with how you apply it to your steak. I love that kick! But beware.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

There’s a good selection of cuts here, even beyond the standard prime rib sizes that you expect to find at a place that specializes in prime rib. They also served grilled rib eyes, strips, filets, etc. Everything is sourced from local producers and purveyors, but I didn’t detect too much dry-aged flavors coming through.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

The portions here are big, and you get a lot for your money on everything from the apps all the way through the entrees.

Price: 9

At $45 for the king cut of prime rib, which comes with a side and a salad, you really can’t go wrong. Coming from NYC it was a nice, refreshing reveal when the bill came.

Bar: 8

The bar here is nice. We hung out for a bit before being seated and enjoyed the beautiful hotel-lobby environs (Omni Royal). The martini I had was a bit too sweet though.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

In addition to an extensive list of chops and roasts, they also offer specials here as well. My wife had the prime rib “manager’s special,” which is a princess cut of prime rib that gets grilled on the sides after roasting. Here is a before and after:

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

We tried a few things as starters. Let me get right into them.

Lamb Pastrami Grilled Cheese:

This sounded better than it tasted. I had high hopes, but it came out a bit cold, and not too pastrami-flavored at all.

The cast iron baked cheesy oysters were pretty fantastic. Very unique.

 

The frog legs were massive, and breaded very nicely – fried to a golden, crunchy crisp.

The baked potato and salad came with the prime rib. Both were basic but good.

We skipped dessert and opted for some late night beignets at Cafe du Monde instead.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s standard steakhouse seafood fare here. I didn’t try any so can’t really rate it.

Service: 8

Service here was good. Our waiter Richenel was really nice, attentive, and made good suggestions. However the restaurant messed up my wife’s order a bit (they brought her out a princess cut of prime rib instead of the manager’s special – firing it on the sides meant it was a bit overcooked from how she ordered). As a result, her steak wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Another thing to note here, they don’t have a prime rib cart service here like at Lawry’s or House of Prime Rib. They have something a bit different: a central carving station on the side of the dining room where you can watch the meat master work if you’d like. I dig it.

Ambiance: 8

This place is gorgeous inside. The hotel spared no expense in decking this place out. High ceilings, dark woods, fancy music.

RIB ROOM
621 St Louis S
New Orleans, LA 70130

St James Cheese Company

This nice sandwich and cheese shop is a fun place to stop in for a quick lunch if you’re in the area. The bloodies are good, and the sandwiches and cheese are nice.

I could’ve used a little more roast beef on this sandwich, and thinner sliced, but the smoked blue cheese sorta made up for it. That was unique. But I think I’m starting to notice a NOLA trend with small amounts of sandwich meat down here. Not a good look!

ST. JAMES CHEESE COMPANY
641 Tchoupitoulas St,
New Orleans, LA 70130