All posts by Johnny Prime

Quality Bistro

Quality Bistro opened back in January, if I recall, right when I started a hellish new job with insane demands on my time. Then, of course, the entire city went into lockdown from Covid-19. Somehow my work-life balance got even worse. I’m only just now finally beginning to break away from the +60 hours/week grip of this gig, to get back out there and review restaurants for you savage bastards.

Anyway, the point of that bullshit preface is really just to say that I’m excited to finally write about a new(ish) joint that I’ve tried, especially one that’s serving some awesome food.

Quality Bistro is the newest restaurant in the Quality Branded restaurant group. You know them from my previous posts about Quality Italian, Quality Meats, Quality Eats, Maloney & Porcelli (rest in peace) and Smith & Wollensky.

Here’s my quick video run down of those spots, if you haven’t seen it:

First of all, this new place, Quality Bistro, is totally decked out. This is easily the most gorgeously decorated space in the entire Quality Branded suite of restaurants. High ceilings, beautiful booths, decor and tables – really on another level. They spared no expense. So when you go here, make sure you request a table inside. I recommend the booths in the room on the left when you walk in. The bar is sick too (hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to sit at one again).

The menu is decidedly French, which makes sense given the “bistro” restaurant name. But like all their other restaurants, they are aggressively beef-forward. I wouldn’t call them a steakhouse, per se, but they get very close to it. They offered five steak cuts when I was there: a filet mignon, a strip, a bavette, a tomahawk and a “cote de boeuf” rib eye for two. We went with the tomahawk, but let me run through the other stuff we tried.

We started with the escargots and the crab cake. The escargots are probably some of the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling Paul Denamiel’s at Le Rivage. Very close competition! And they’re in the shell too, which I love. Order these, and get a dozen because you save $10 when you jump from a half ($19) to a full dozen ($29).

The crab cake is massive. It’s about the size of an 8oz burger patty, thick too. Super crisp, great sauce. I think this would be amazing as a lunch sandwich with pickled green tomato on a brioche bun or a croissant, with a bit more green on top. Absolutely delicious.

Our mid course was the prime tomahawk. This comes slathered with Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese – a TON of it!

The smell coming off of this thing was so amazing. It filled the massive dining room with funk.

The cook temp was a perfect medium rare. So juicy, so tender, and so packed with flavor. This is an easy 9/10. I stripped the fucker clean!

We chased that with the corn custard brûlée. I had high hopes for this, but it fell short for two reasons: (1) The inside was less custard and more clumpy scrambled egg. This is usually a turn off for me, but the flavor was really good, so I still devoured it. And (2), a bit heavy on the caramelized sugar on top. Too thick for my liking. The flake salt, however, really made the flavors on this pop. I can see this side being a star with a bit more fine tuning.

*SEE UPDATED REVIEW NOTES BELOW!*

Our third course was the Moroccan fried chicken. They serve a whole bird for two in a beautiful tagine with fresh cilantro, Moroccan pancakes and a trio of dipping sauces (spicy honey, Moroccan cilantro chimichurri and citrus yogurt).

The breading is really nicely spiced, with great middle eastern earthiness and aromas.

Absolutely jerkworthy. I’d get this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m glad we ordered big, because we took more than half of it home. I’m about to eat the left overs right now, and I’m psyched!

Last, we had the apple tart sundae with cinnamon ice cream. This was really good, and big enough to share with your date at just $12. The cinnamon ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my absolute favorite cereal of all time!

I guess that about does it for now. I plan to go back and try some of the other cuts, particularly the bavette frites, since that’s a little less common on menus. Definitely give this place a shot. Gaetano, Scott and Roger will treat you right. They provide amazing, clean service here, and you’ll feel safely spaced apart and very comfortable. Can’t believe I have to even mention such things right now…

UPDATE 10/24/2020

My wife and I went back for round two, and tried a bunch more stuff.

For apps, we tried the taste flame, which is the joint’s take on Detroit style pizza + bread service. This was incredible!

Probably my favorite app here so far though, is this tuna carpaccio. Spicy, fresh, and deliciously refreshing.

These jambon beurre bites are pretty damn tasty as well.

This time, my wife went with the branzino. This was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. It comes with a choice of either salad or fries.

I went with the bavette, and also went with the French fries option.

They developed a great char on the outside…

While maintaining a perfect cook temp on the inside…

This was a solid 8/10. Really nicely executed.

On the side, we gave the corn brûlée another spin, and MAN were we glad that we did. As I expected, with the improvements I outlined above, this dish was a star. Much nicer texture inside (real custard-like), and lighter on the sugar top. PERFECT!

So that’s two steaks down, three to go: filet, strip, and rib eye for two. I’LL BE BACK!

QUALITY BISTRO
120 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

Brad’s Burgers & BBQ

It’s been a while since I’ve been out to eat at a place I haven’t yet tried, and that means it’s been a while since I’ve posted a review. Well, here is my latest and greatest.

Brad’s Burgers and BBQ is a small spot on the Upper West Side that slings burgers and BBQ, as you might have guessed from the name. I tried a few of the BBQ-sided items on my visit last week.

Their brisket platter is different from what you normally expect from a BBQ joint. Here, the brisket is shredded instead of sliced, and it’s already hit with some vinegar-based BBQ sauce.  I guess you can call it “pulled beef.”

Despite being a fan of the more traditional sliced style, this was fine. The meat was cooked nicely, and it had nice flavor to it. The cole slaw was good (I usually don’t like coleslaw much), and the waffle fries were perfectly crisped.

The corn bread was standard issue, but we also tried the Mexican corn on the side. This just needed a hit of some salt and pepper to make it pop. Perhaps a little jalapeño heat would have helped too.

The pulled pork sandwich was hearty. It comes dressed with sliced pickles, tangy sauce and coleslaw.

The star of the meal, however, was the fried chicken sandwich. This was marketed as spicy, but it didn’t bring much heat. However, it did bring some great flavor and textures. Happy to report they use thigh meat for this baby. This comes with shredded lettuce, tomato, pickles, sautéed onion and special sauce.

We also tried their coconut cake, which was almost like a cross between cake and a cookie in terms of density and flavor. The cream cheese frosting was nice.

This place is no Hometown, Fette Sau or Pig Beach, but it should get the job done if you’re in need of a fix and don’t feel like traveling all the way to Brooklyn for some ‘cue.

BRAD’S BURGERS & BBQ
522 A Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

My Book is Now Available!

BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON!

That’s right you meat eating sons of bitches, I’ve written a book!

The Beef Bible: A Carnivore’s Compendium is a collection of articles, musings, and beef information that every steak lover should have at his or her fingertips. Inside my meat manifesto, you’ll learn all there is to know about the beef biz; from breeding to butchery, from calving to carving.

The Kindle edition is just $4.99. But here’s a money saving tip: Kindle is FREE as an app on your phone, and you should be able to borrow my book from the Kindle owners lending library for FREE as well, once you install the app! It can also be shared with you through the lending library by others who have purchased it. So you don’t even have to pay the measly $4.99 if you don’t want to drop a crisp Lincoln to support my sorry ass.

But in the rare case that you do want to support my sorry ass with a cash purchase, there’s a fuckin’ paperback version as well, and it won’t cost much more than a crisp Hamilton! It’s available on Amazon for just $11.99:

That’s my “proof” editing copy with the annoying “not for resale” ribbon across the front. Yours will be much prettier. And that’s Benjamin Franklin in the back, from the mini-series John Adams. Damn that’s a lot of founding fathers mentioned in one post, for no reason at all really!

Those of you who follow along here … “religiously” … will recognize some content, but everything has been updated and improved for the book. The Kindle version has full color photos for your phone and/or tablet displays, while the paperback is in regular old black and white, save for the cover art. A color print job would’ve meant me charging upwards of like $25 to even make a penny on the sale. Absurd! At that price, just go out and buy the fucking steak instead of reading about it.

In any case, I hope you savages read what I have to say, and continue to worship alongside me at the Holy Altar of Beef!!!

BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON!

A Knife Deal For My Readers!

MEAT MANIACS!

I have a nice deal for you.

You may recall me posting my love for Zelite Infinity knives on here in the past.

And I’m sure you’ve seen them on my Instagram feed as well.

Well, now I’ve got a nice exclusive deal for all my readers. They’re taking 15% off regularly priced items on www.zelite.com!

Just use coupon code 7G2PN46J. It is limited to one use per customer on the total purchase.

I really love these knives, and I hope you do too.

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