All posts by Johnny Prime

Oka

Some of you might remember my recent review of The Crimson Sparrow, up in Hudson, NY.

That was one of the best meals I had all year in 2017. Well, now the Chef/Owner has a Japanese-inspired small plates izakaya joint over in Murray Hill called Oka, and the meal I just ate there is likely to be one of the best meals I will have this year.

A little bit about Chef John McCarthy, which I have shamelessly jacked from the Oka Website:

John is a former lawyer who left a legal career to attend the French Culinary Institute. After graduating from FCI at the top of his class, he worked for Chef Wylie Dufresne at wd-50 for several years, ultimately becoming Chef Wylie’s research and development cook. John is also a certified sake sommelier, and has spent a considerable amount of time in Asia. He lived in South Korea for three years when he was in high school, and he typically travels to Japan at least once a year to either stagiaire or travel for food and drink research and development. For the past two years, he has partnered with Chef Hiroyoshi Amano to prepare two dinners for Outstanding in the Field at the foot of Mt. Fuji for Fujisan Winery.

Not only does he know his way around sake, but he has also crafted some really nice cocktails and curated an impressive selection of spirits as well.

In addition to the impressive cocktail and spirits menu, there’s also a really great happy hour from 5:30-7:00, during which the listed items are just $5.

I was happy to see one of my favorite Japanese beers on that menu, Orion:

Okay so let me get down to business. My wife and I tried a bunch of stuff here. Everything on the menu looked so good that it was really difficult to decide what NOT to order.

Okay so first, the baguette:

This unassuming dish was a great way to open up the meal. The shio kombu butter with smoked salt was wild and invigorating, and the perfectly grill-toasted Balthazar bread was excellent and fresh.

We actually dragged some of it through our second plate, which was the salmon roe with yeasted sunchoke puree and sunchoke chips.

I’m in love with all things sunchoke, so I jumped at this right away. This dish would make for a perfect light breakfast. It was just the right balance of smooth from the puree, pop from the roe, and crunch from the chips.

Just when you thought a Caesar salad couldn’t get exciting, John McCarthy serves you one that is.

This is Romaine lettuce with smoked Caesar dressing, nori panko, anchovy, crispy baked parmesan chips, and shaved, dried bonito flakes. For those of you who are all about that nice fish flavor in a proper Caesar salad, this is all you. It was bonkers.

Next up, steak tartare.

This was easily one of the best tartare dishes I’ve ever had. It stands out among the competition for its notably unique flavor profile. Chef John brilliantly swaps out some of the more standard tartare ingredients for things like pine nuts, gochujang and shiitake to bring this traditionally French dish into his Asian comfort zone.

This next dish was simple but so delicious. Deep fried maitake mushroom, seasoned with za’atar and served atop a smoked dijon mustard sauce. If for some fucked up reason I ever have to give up meat, I would need to consume a lot more fungus like this to try to fill the void. It was meaty, savory, and satiating.

This is grilled baby squid with charcoal garlic oil, kewpie mayo and micro daikon.

The charcoal garlic oil was really something special here. Very simple cook on the squid, but lots of complexity in the sauce.

These giant grilled head-on prawns were massive!

The simple preparation of soy, ponzu and citrus salt allowed them to really shine for the superb products that they are. Make sure you suck the juices out of their heads!

I really dig rice cakes. This Korean version is like gnocchi, only made with rice flour instead of semolina and egg.

This preparation is kinda like mac and cheese; it’s baked with creamy white cheddar and garlic oil, and then topped with spicy cod roe. It might sound weird, but this and the tartare were my favorite dishes of the night! These were like little pillows of chewy goodness with a touch of crunch on the outside, all in a velvety cheese sauce.

Hamachi collar.

There was so much meat on this baby, and every bit of it was juicy and bursting with flavor. I’m convinced this is the best part of the fish. I loved every bite, and it went well with the soy and yuzu lemon zest seasoning that was on it.

This next beautiful and tasty dish is fried rice with pickled mustard greens and mustard seed. Nothing goes better with fried rice than a sunny side up egg. Bur seriously, how gorgeous is this?

The hits just keep on coming. Buttermilk fried chicken:

All the best, most tender parts here. And that dipping sauce is a chili and black sesame mayo. Really nice.

STEAK!

This was a 30-day dry aged Niman ranch cut, which was grilled up and served with a nice house spice made with dried mushrooms and a bunch of other umami bomb type ingredients. Really flavorful!

And last but not least, dessert:

These are Chinese fried dough crullers with white caramel ice cream on a bed of chocolate coffee crumble. Such a dynamic and interesting combination of flavors.

In fact that’s kind of the theme running through the entire meal. Every bite keeps you guessing, and every dish is not only visually arresting, but amazingly tasty as well.

One final note about this place: I love how casual it is. The food is all stunning and delicious, but there is no pretense or attitude. There’s plenty of space to stretch out between tables, unlike other crowded izakaya spots around the city.

There’s also some great bar seating as well.

I highly recommend this place. Get over there and give it a try.

OKA
439 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016

Hwa Yuan

I went to Hwa Yuan with my wife and a group of friends to celebrate Lunar/Chinese New Year. We had a massive feast, but the very first bite of the meal was the clear favorite for all of us: crispy tangy beef.

This shit was like meat candy. So good that I wanted it by the bucketful.

Next up, Peking roasted duck.

Look at this fellow up close:

Our waiter sliced it up table side:

Here’s a short video of the slicing, set to American New Year music:

I also really liked this plate of sliced mountain yam with ginger, snow peas, goji berries and wood ear mushrooms. The yams tasted like giant water chestnuts.

This plate of eggplant was really tasty too, and I typically don’t love eggplant.

This dish was called “Amazing Chicken.” I really liked the sauce, but I wish the chicken had a bit more texture on it.

This was a roasted and stewed Barramundi fish.

And this bowl of ma po tofu was perfect. Just the right amount of silky texture and numbing spice with heat.

These pea sprouts were tasty too – almost like a cross between spinach and collards, simply steamed with garlic and soy.

Get your asses down to this joint and dig in. The food is really great!

HWA YUAN
42 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

Maysville

I popped into this joint to try their burger and wash it down with a cocktail.

I went with the Old Smokey.

It was really nice – lots of vanilla flavor to it – but a bit too heavy on the amaro. Over all, though, I really enjoyed it.

Here’s the description of the burger from the menu:

Here’s what it looks like:

This thing was near perfect.

This handsome double Pat LaFrieda patty is topped with American cheese, arugula, pickles, caramelized bacon onion puree, and “sauce 17,” which I believe is a house-made buttermilk-based ranch mayo. The sesame seed brioche Balthazar bun holds up nicely to intense scrutiny without flaking or breaking. All around this was unbelievably tasty, and the fries that come with it are pretty killer too. Go get one before this place has lines forming down the block. $23.

MAYSVILLE
17 W 26th St
New York, NY 10010

Misen Knives

Misen sent me this really beautiful three blade set to try out here at the food lab.

Here’s a short video of me using each one. I was particularly impressed with the bread knife. It went through the baguette on one pass – no sawing back and forth!

The blades are comfortable in my hands, and they have a nice weight to them. The handle colors are also available in grey and blue. Check them out HERE.

I definitely recommend there for the home cook. They are a great quality for a very fair price.

Maxwell’s Chophouse

Maxwell’s Chophouse overall score: 89*

I came here with a group of friends to tackle their dry-aged  six-bone standing prime rib roast. Watch this:

If their regular steak selections are anything like that monster, I think this could end up being one of the best steak joints in town. Read on.

Flavor: 10

These guys dry age everything on site, and this roast was aged for two months (61 days). The edges had a great earthy, nutty and mushroomy flavor to them from that aging process.

And as you can see below, the center was cooked perfectly.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

In addition to the four major steakhouse cuts, they also offer that prime rib as a regular menu item, king or queen cut. Everything is graded at prime and dry-aged on site. I also like the fact that they proudly state that the animals are raised on corn, which helps develop all that tasty marbling.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are all pretty good here from what I can tell. The sides are big enough to share with two people, for sure.

Price: 8

This place is on par with the steak joints in midtown, but the rack of ribs comes in at $80pp and includes sides. That’s a good deal.

Bar: 10

This place has a great long marble bar with elegant surroundings. I would definitely hang here. They mix up a nice martini too, and have an interesting signature cocktail list.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There weren’t any specials read to us (we had pre-ordered this monster in advance), but the prime rib rack is pretty damn special itself. As far as other meats go, you basically only have lamb or chicken. I can respect that though: focus on the beef!

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We tried a number of items during this feast. I’ll list them all and discuss.

Bone Marrow: 7/10

This had good flavor but there just wasn’t enough of it. The grilled lemons were a nice touch though, and the bread was delicious.

Bacon: 10/10

This is top notch shit from Nueskes. Easily on par with Angus Club or Tuscany Steakhouse, and very close to a top five bacon app.

Mashed Potatoes: 8/10

I’m rarely impressed with mashed potatoes after growing up eating my mom’s, which were butter- and mozzarella- laden trays of pure heaven. But they were smooth and buttery. Very nice.

Mushrooms & Spinach: 9/10

Both simple and delicious. I would get these again for sure.

Chocolate Cake: 9/10

This thing is enormous and can easily feed a table of four for the $25 price tag. In fact, this fed seven people (though we also shared another dessert as well).

Butterscotch Creme Brûlée: 8/10

Wow. Super rich, very sweet, but really fucking tasty. Share this otherwise you might overload on decadence.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s salmon, three-pound lobsters and big eye tuna on the seafood entree menu. I like how this and the chops menu are streamlined and slim, but that means fewer options for you picky assholes out there.

Service: 10

Impeccable. Everyone is attentive, really friendly and knowledgable. The bread basket here is quite interesting, and contains cheese baked flatbreads, chocolate and strawberry muffins, olive bread and other stuff. Very nice.

Ambiance: 9

This place is gorgeous inside. The floor space isn’t gigantic, but the ceiling height is. That really gives the joint a grand and spectacular feel.

There’s also a private dining room, which is where we ate:

I will definitely be back to try some seafood and their porterhouse.

MAXWELL’S CHOPHOUSE
1184 Broadway
New York, NY 10001

Tuscany Steakhouse

Tuscany Steakhouse overall score: 88

Last week the owner of Tuscany Steakhouse invited me in to take some photos and try out the food. This place used to be called Nino’s Tuscany Steakhouse, but just before the new year they did a big remodel and upgraded the place big time.

I was excited to try it, hoping that they made some improvements. I didn’t have the greatest meal at Nino’s, but this new joint was a much different experience. Check it out:

Flavor: 9

We ordered the porterhouse for two.

Let’s take a peek at the inside…

Oh fuck yes… nice and pink. Let me spread her open a little bit.

Closer?

More? Wider?

Okay… so this thing was perfectly cooked to medium rare. It had a gorgeous, crispy, well-seasoned crust on the edges. This is one of the better porterhouses I’ve had recently. 9/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

While they only offer the basic four steakhouse cuts – filet, strip, porterhouse and rib eye – they do a bang-up job on them, and they dry age everything in house. My porterhouse was aged for 29 days, and it came from Masters up in the Bronx next to my facility.

A couple next to me ordered the strip and it looked and smelled amazing. This place gets the job done nicely.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are big here. The sides are definitely large enough to share with two to four people, especially if you’re going heavy on steaks. Plating is basic for the steaks and sides, but the apps can get a bit more flare to them.

Price: 8

The prices are very fair here. The steaks come in about average for the location, or slightly cheaper. Some of the pasta dishes seemed high, but the sides and desserts are all great bargains, especially when you factor in the quality of the food for the price.

Bar: 8

This is a nice little bar, and it was getting a good crowd on a Saturday as we were leaving. Same set up as the old restaurant bar, but nicer and remodeled.

I snagged a few of the potato chips that they serve at the bar. I like that touch.

They mix up a great martini too.

There’s also a great selection of wines here, and a little wine room in the back.

We tried some muscat with our dessert and it was just right. Not too sweet, not too potent.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were no special meats offered up, but there were specials of the day like soups. As for other meats, they had lamb, veal two ways and chicken two ways. Not a bad showing at all. In fact, I saw a veal parm come out after finishing the porterhouse, and I was so tempted to order one to go. It looked amazing.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We did three apps to start. First, the bacon:

This was two slabs of thick cut Canadian bacon (we cut them each in half).

This shit was amazing. Easily on par with places like Angus Club and Maxwell’s Chophouse. This is a must order when you come here, and it goes very nice with their steak sauce (a tomato-based and horseradish-heavy sauce – also good with seafood).

Next was the tuna tartare. This was delightful.

It came with lightly salted avocado slices, lime slices, cucumber slices, toasted bread slices and a slice of tomato, along with some unsliced arugula. It was bright and fresh, and dressed perfectly.

We also tried an order of oysters. Just a half dozen, to see how the quality was.

They were excellent: Perfectly shucked with no bits of shell in them. Great size – not too big, not too small. Crisp, clean, briny, and fresh. Here they are, all dressed up and ready to get raped by my mouth:

For our sides, we ordered sautéed spinach and hash browns. Both were great, and very large portions. The spinach was seasoned just right, nice and simple with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic.

The hash browns were nice and crisp on the outside, while still tender and soft inside. I loved these.

For dessert, we had a slice of tiramisu and a piece of chocolate mousse cake. Both were excellent, and I really loved their shlag.

Seafood Selection: 9

There’s sea bass, tuna, salmon, lobster and shrimp in the entree portion of the menu. That’s a fantastic showing, and I bet they do a great job since this is essentially an Italian joint, and Italian joints are known for having good fish. While I only tried the oysters, I am confident that this section of the menu is well above average.

Service: 10

The waiters are awesome here, and the management is super nice and engaging. They all know their stuff and can answer any questions you have, whether it’s the basics of the steak cuts or the specifics of aging.

The table bread consisted of onion rolls and some sliced Italian bread, served with butter. This stuff is also great with their steak sauce.

Ambiance: 9

This place made a great turnaround in ambiance. I loved the brick walls in there last time, and the overall cozy feel to the place. Now, with white-washed brick walls and deep, elegant wood finishes, this place feels more like what it is – a really nice steakhouse.

It still has some nooks and crannies in the dining room where you can get a more private feel, which I really like, and there’s even a separate room where you can host a party or larger group. They’ve really done a great job in here.

 

No bull: this place is really nice, and I’m glad it’s only a block away.

TUSCANY STEAKHOUSE
117 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019

Jade Sixty

I was recently invited into Jade Sixty to try some food and share photos on Instagram. Here’s how it went down:

We started with the following:

Pastrami Dumplings
Jade Chicken Sticks
Peking Duck Tacos

I didn’t do the ordering, but I would have wanted to try two of those anyway. The Peking Duck Tacos were my favorite of the three.

The duck was delicious and had quality crispy skin on it, and the fried wonton taco shell was a welcome textural pop.

I liked the Pastrami Dumplings best next.

They had a flavorful hit of that juicy pastrami meat inside with a nice crispy brown on the outside of the dumpling. Perhaps Russian dressing or spicy mustard would be a more fitting dip instead of traditional dumpling sauce.

Last of the apps: the Jade Chicken Skewers.

These were thin strips of chicken that were coated in some kind of light breading. Good to snack on for sure, but I probably would have tried the soup dumplings if choosing the dishes myself.

For our entree we had a rib eye.

This had a great dry aged flavor to it (45-60 days), and it was perfectly cooked to medium rare. In some parts it could have benefitted from a bit more crust on the edges, and overall it needed just a bit of salt or seasoning. Otherwise, though, I loved it and we finished every bite. 8/10.

For our sides we had crispy eggplant with sweet and spicy chili sauce, as well as vegetable fried rice.

The eggplant was expertly fried and had a unique texture to it that was both airy and watery at the same time.

My wife and I generally aren’t huge fans of eggplant, so we were kinda bummed when that is what came out for our tasting. However, I found myself going back for more. It was oddly addicting.

The fried rice was served in a cool metal bucket.

It was a very basic veggie and soy sauce mix, and suffered slightly from a lack of crisp. I was hoping for a bit more from this, as it is an Asian steakhouse, but it did make excellent leftovers with some strips of turkey meat.

For dessert we had their famous fried apple wontons and a scoop of mint chip ice cream.

Both were very good on their own, but didn’t necessarily pair well together as an “a la mode” kind of dessert.

I apologize for the truncated review, but I am definitely interested in going back to try more things. The menu is really unique and interesting, and I think this spot would make for a fun group dinner where everyone can try a variety of items. I provided some rough estimates below, but note that this is tentative, since I didn’t have the opportunity to choose my own food. Stay tuned!

Jade Sixty Total Score: 84

Flavor: 8
Choice of Cuts & Quality: 9
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Price: 8
Bar: 8
Specials & Other Meats: 9
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
Seafood Selection: 9
Service: 9
Ambiance: 8

Jade Sixty took over the location from Blu on Park. Much of the space remained the same, with the exception of additional dining seats near the bar/lounge and basic aesthetic and decor choices.

JADE SIXTY
116 E 60th St
New York, NY 10022

Russian Tea Room

My wife and I popped in here with a deal we got on Groupon for a six vodka- and four blini- tasting.

Here are the vodkas we tried, in order of how I liked them:

Imperia
Zyr
Jewel of Russia
Karlssons Gold
Khortytsa

We also had Jewel of Russia Wild Berry as our sixth, but I don’t really count that as a true vodka since it is heavily flavored. It tasted more like a port.

We did two salmon and two trout blinis. The blini was buckwheat, and soft, with a generous amount of sour cream, some chopped boiled eggs, onions and the caviar. We both liked the salmon better.

White fish was also available on the Groupon but we passed on that one.

Overall this was a nice snack. Glad we did it. Just hanging out for a while in the dining room itself is worth the price of admission. So opulent and nice inside.

RUSSIAN TEA ROOM
150 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

Nusr-Et

Nusr-Et overall score: 77

HERE IT IS! The review you’ve all been waiting for. “Saltbae” has sprinkled himself all over NYC’s midtown steak scene, and I’m here to let you know how it was.

If you’ve been living under a rock AND on a different planet for the past year, this is Saltbae:

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et) on

He became wildly famous for being aggressively sexy with his meat – slapping it and rubbing it and what not – and then sprinkling salt on it with a highly unorthodox curled forearm slide technique. It became an internet sensation. At one point I even paid tribute to the craze:

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

Over the course of the year his fame and steakhouse brand has spread. He eventually opened up shop here in the greatest city on Earth, NYC, and right in my hood, no less.

Admittedly I had very low expectations for this meal. I read a few negative reviews beforehand, and I was never really a big fan of Saltbae’s elaborate displays on his Instagram profile. But there can be no denying the fact that Nusret is an incredibly talented butcher. He makes it look easy, and it isn’t. He’s also a very nice dude. Despite his showmanship, he’s quiet and humble.

Here’s how it went down:

Flavor: 8

What really intrigued me about this place was the unique spices and marinades being used on some of the menu items. Usually I’m not down with that shit, but I was curious.

For example, the Saslik steak is tenderloin marinated in milk and middle eastern spices.

The flavors were very nice, and I did like the onions, but the meat lacked any char, and it was too wet. It was also incredibly small, and I didn’t like that it was sliced up like stir fry. 6/10.

The other marinade you’ll see here is mustard. This was new to me. But, indeed, there may actually be some unbeknownst food science behind the mustard marinade: The vinegar in it helps to tenderize the meat even further (as if wagyu needs it).

There are two mustard marinated steaks on the menu: (1) the signature Saltbae Tomahawk, which is about 32oz for $275 and also has some dry aging on it; and (2) the Ottoman Steak, which is a similar sized tomahawk for $130, but isn’t dry aged. We ordered #1, and he sliced it table side for us. Here’s the experience:

That’s right: Saltbae himself fed me from his knife.

There wasn’t much flavor coming in from the dry-aging or marinade, but you can definitely taste that there was something different and unique about this steak. It was perfectly cooked to medium rare as well.

The only place where the tomahawk suffers is in the lack of crust on the surfaces.

I chalk this up to the limitations of cooking with a charcoal grill as opposed to pan searing, oven roasting, broiling or cooking on a flat top. 9/10.

We also tried the burger. This is a juicy-ass, thick fucking patty that’s cooked to a perfect medium rare. The unique part is that it’s cut in half and then grilled on the sliced portion as well, for a little extra caramelization.

It definitely lacks in the French fry department, as this $30 monster just comes with a handful of potato sticks on the board with the burger.

The cheese is ample and nicely melted. The delicately-packed grind is nicely formed and has great wagyu flavor and fat content. The onions are perfect. It’s not in my top five but definitely worth trying.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

All the meat here is high quality, BMS 9- and 10- scored domestic wet-aged wagyu, just like the strips I sell in my shop. It’s the best domestic wagyu or wagyu/angus cross you can get, and Nusr-et sources it from various companies.

I believe only one cut is dry aged, and that is the tomahawk.

There is a stunning lack of porterhouse on the menu, so I am docking them two points for that. However there are three varieties of rib eye, several types of tenderloin preparations, and a strip/sirloin.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

As far as plating is concerned, something needs to be done with the Saslik and some of the other starters. They kinda look like a piles of dog vomit. Not sure what can be done to remedy that.

The larger, full format steaks look nicer on the wood boards, though. Perhaps the smaller, thinly sliced items need a little more artistry.

Portion sizes are a little bit on the smaller side for the price point, but that is to be expected with domestic wagyu. This product is also not as readily accessible, abundant or wallet-friendly as prime beef. As such, I took that into consideration.

Price: 7

Much of Nusr-et’s current criticism is coming in the form of value or price. I can understand that, especially to the untrained eye. But the meat here is the highest quality domestic wagyu available, and with respect to the tomahawk, even dry aged. I think it’s fair to compare the pricing to The Grill.

The Grill has a 36oz bone-in, dry-aged wagyu rib eye for $270. The tomahawk here it is 32oz at $275, but it also comes with a show, assuming he is in town (I was there for lunch on a Sunday and he was still bae-ing at that odd hour).

Beatrice Inn is even more expensive for the high-end cuts, and they’re not wagyu, just to put things into perspective. Oddly enough, value can be had at Beatrice Inn (pork shoulder, rabbit for two, etc).

Despite the staggering prices, there is value to be had at Nusr-et as well. For example, his unadulterated wagyu rib eye and strip/sirloin cuts are priced at $100 each. I saw his “Istanbul Steak” come out, and it’s only a little smaller than what I sell at $75 per pound, raw. So that’s not much of an upcharge. Here’s what the strip looks like in the meat case at Nusr-et:

I’ll bite.

As for the $100 rib eye, the menu describes it as “thinly sliced.” I hope that’s not like hot-pot meat. But here’s what the rib eye looks like in the case:

Great looking caps there. I’m down with that steak too, as long as “thinly sliced” means it’s pre-sliced prior to serving, table side, and not a glorified stir fry dish like the Saslik.

So is the dry-aging on the tomahawk worth the upcharge here? Probably not, but I’m still glad I tried it. I would have always been curious about it if I hadn’t. Like a closeted homosexual, struggling with locked up desires…

But there were a few places where I did feel ripped off:

Asparagus: $15 for eight relatively unseasoned and boring stalks.

Saslik Steak: Funny that the accents on the S letters in that name closely resemble dollar signs, as the price tag of $70 for about six to eight ounces is too high. This is an appetizer at best.

Despite all that, I didn’t feel ripped off on the whole, at the end of this meal. Then again it was just a light lunch split between four people. Our bill with tax and tip included came to just about $500.

If I was here for dinner I probably would have ordered the same amount of food for two people. Then I might have felt ripped off.

My overall value analysis is this: There are some starters I want to try, so I would certainly go back, but that’s me. I’m also very interested in the asado short ribs. As far as the common cuts of steak go, however, I would much rather have the 32oz wagyu tomahawk at Del Frisco’s for $95, despite the lack of marinade, dry aging or Saltbae showmanship. It has such a great crust, and that price point is bonkers for the size. Cheaper and better. That is, essentially, my short form-recommendation.

Bar: 5

There are no seats around the small, circular bar at Nusr-et. You can stand there and have a drink, I suppose, but that isn’t conducive for hanging out.

There are only a handful of standing-only high tops along the wall as well. I was expecting more from this midtown location. They could have easily attracted a good happy hour crowd and banked big bucks on booze, like the massive collection of Ciroc that sits on a shelf of its own – above even the Macallan 25 and Louis XIII – because Diddy and Saltbae are boys.

That said, I didn’t try any of their splendid looking cocktails. Maybe next time. But they’re a bit pricey.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

The alternatives to standard steakhouse beef cuts are as follows: (1) a full lamb rack, and (2) slow roasted asado short ribs. I would definitely like to try the short ribs. The lamb rack is too expensive at $250, however.

There is at least one item that was a special, not printed on the menu. Essentially it’s thinly sliced filet mignon that gets flash cooked tableside by pouring hot oil over it. If you’re a meat maniac like me, you’ve probably seen videos and images of this kind of thing circulating on the internet for months now.

A post shared by Scott Gregory Thomas (@grillinfools) on

I have no interest in this. It overcooks the meat, and it’s wet and greasy when you eat it. Fuck that nonsense.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

As I mentioned earlier, the asparagus pretty much sucked.

But we also tried the baklava for dessert. The staff puts on a ridiculous and unnecessary show to serve it. I hated pretty much everything about this. Observe:

Do you feel like an asshole for having watched it now?

I noticed waiters doing similar shit with some of the appetizers as well. Also dumb and unnecessary in my opinion. The only show should be Saltbae, with the exception of torching shit for the meat sushi appetizer. Fire is pretty much always cool, no matter what.

In any case the baklava was awesome. Not overly sweet, nice moisture, great texture, and it’s served with a crazy good “ice cream” that is somewhere between gelato and cream cheese in texture. Very interesting.

I think this is $15 a slice, by the way. They may have forgotten to charge us for it, unless it was on the house due to how long it took them to bring us the check (see below).

I need to try more apps here, but for now I’m splitting the difference between a ten for the dessert and a three for the asparagus.

APP UPDATE: I tried the carpaccio a week or two later. It was a great value for $30, as I thought it would be much smaller.

Here’s how they prepare it table side:

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s only salmon and chimichurri lobster on the entree menu here. There are oysters, tuna and king crab on the raw bar menu. I cant even begin to think about what the pricing is on the crab and lobster. I think Satan charges less, since he only wants your soul, and not those of your unborn children as well. I didn’t try any of this.

Service: 8

Service here is a mixed bag. At some points it felt rude and obnoxious, yet at other points it was incredibly warm. The joint has only open for a week or two, so in all fairness that could be a part of it.

The manager Rami is amazing. Great guy. And as I said earlier, Nusret himself is super nice. He took pics with us, shook our hands, and was a great host. After witnessing his show in person, I’ve almost grown to like it, if only for the reason that he’s so fucking skilled and fast with a knife. Impressive. Especially in a dimly lit restaurant while wearing sunglasses.

But some of the waiter service needs improvement. Examples:

1) We asked a lot of questions about the menu, particularly the Saslik, before ordering. Our waiter was patient with us and answered whatever he could, which was great, but we still didn’t really get an accurate understanding of what was coming out for the Saslik. Perhaps the menu should have described it as an appetizer-sized stir-fry dish. It certainly shouldn’t be a main course.

2) We asked for water and they brought out one glass of room temperature tap water with no ice for each of us. Then they took the glasses away for some reason after we were pretty much still drinking them.

3) It took forever to get our checks and leave. I honestly think they forgot to bring it out, assuming we had already paid. Not a huge deal, as it allowed us to chat more with Rami and get a pic with Saltbae:

Ambiance: 10

This place is gorgeous inside. The only thing missing is a true bar, as I noted above. The wall of meat fridges near the glass case and grill is pretty fucking impressive, and the high ceilings and huge windows are stunning and reminiscent of Del Frisco’s.

And if Saltbae is in the house, you’re in for a treat.

Photo by @NYCFoodFOMO

NOTE – The numerical score on this review is based on merely five items, and I will do my best to supplement it over time if I go back and try more things. However, as my buddy who ate with me said: The menu is not designed for customer retention.

NUSR-ET
60 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

Monnier Woodcraft

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I stumbled upon Monnier Woodcraft when I was poking around Instagram.

I was really blown away by some of the designs Clint was making. There are some really intricate patterns and genuine artistry in these beautiful cutting boards and chopping blocks.

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I followed him and soon enough I found myself liking and commending on almost every post he made.

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It turns out that we have a lot in common, especially our love of STEAK!

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A few weeks later, he messaged me and asked if I would like one. FUCK YES I WOULD! I love how Instagram brings people together.

He made me one of his really amazing brick designs that made my jaw drop, and shipped it out to me.

Each block comes ready to rock, and with a nice letter from Clint and simple instructions for how to care of the piece.

I love the metal emblem of his brand on the side too. Really classy, nice looking stuff.

I was so excited to tell you guys about this gorgeous craftsmanship that I haven’t even used it yet. I can’t wait. I’m sure you’ll be seeing it in tons of my home cooked steak pics in the future.